open thread – September 8-9, 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.

{ 1,005 comments… read them below }

  1. Social Media Hot Mess*

    To accommodate my disabilities, my employer has changed the focus of my work. Which is great. As part of this, I’ll provide some social media support. Other people currently take care of the social media (even though they have other priorities and don’t have time to engage much with it), and I’ll support them. I might have autonomy to try things out, and leeway to get more involved if that can help the organisation.

    The thing is, I’ve long had a side obsession with brand storytelling, including how social media can engage people by telling authentic stories about what an organisation is doing. (Our work is unusual and it’s for the social good, so it’s intriguing and impressive, but I don’t think we share that enough.) BUT, beyond being a good verbal storyteller and copywriter, I’m not social media savvy. I mean, I’m still getting to grips – barely – with Instagram reels. I am out of my comfort zone with video (though willing to try), and I secretly think I’m very clever when I manage to take a usable photo! I will never really understand digital culture when it comes to memes and other clever, creative stuff like that. I don’t have fluency.

    Any advice for someone who would love to get into digital storytelling and branding, but who always struggles a bit with digital tools and culture?

    By the way, everyone else there is very busy, so I can’t grab a more savvy-with-the-tools person and ask them to collaborate. Although there is a volunteer who has been helping with social media…so I’ll ask about that person and see if a meeting with them could be useful.

    1. Observer*

      Any advice for someone who would love to get into digital storytelling and branding, but who always struggles a bit with digital tools and culture?

      Two thoughts. One is that you don’t have to do everything yourself. You can, for instance be the person who makes Reels, Shorts, TikTok’s and longer form video happen, without being the person who shoots those videos. Just corralling all cats – ie finding and engaging the person who can shoot the video and coordinating the people who will need to be involved, while having a plan of how and where this goes can be a major deal.

      For photos, encourage your staff to take pictures of events and their work, using their phones. Then also encourage them to send you any photos that they think are at all nice. And then you deal with making sure it goes wherever makes sense.

    2. Gondorff*

      Keeping in mind that I’ve only tangentially done digital storytelling as part of broader digital campaign work, it seems to me like you might be coming at it from the wrong angle and focusing too much on how to use social media instead of the story or stories you want to tell. The story itself should help guide what social media makes the most sense (a video requires a different platform than a written story, as a very obvious example; or a 15 minute interview with someone would be hosted differently than a 30 second highlight reel). Tapping into the meme zeitgeist is honestly outside the realm of brand storytelling that I think you’re thinking of, so I wouldn’t worry about trying to go viral or anything like that.

      Social media is also very dependent on your audience and for what purpose you’re trying to engage them. Are you trying to get donations? Increase brand awareness in general? Make your existing donors more aware of what your organization is going with their money? Trying to create a TikTok account for your organization when your target audience is overwhelmingly 50+, for instance, isn’t going to achieve a lot.

      As a whole, I’d recommend looking at organizations that do similar work to what you do and see how they use social media. Take the time to think through what you’re trying to say before you worry about the best way to say it.

    3. Your Social Work Friend*

      If the organization doesn’t have one, look into them investing in a Canva (or similar) account. They have pre-fab graphics for social media posts (and flyers and banners, etc) that are super helpful. I am 10% media savy and I use Canva all the time because it’s already done, I just put the words on or change the colors.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        Seconding Canva. I haven’t done video, but this is an extremely helpful platform for graphic / text posts. Using their templates, even the limited free ones, I can make a post in minutes.

      2. Elsewise*

        Absolutely use Canva! There’s a free account that covers a good amount of stuff you might want to use, and if you’re a nonprofit you can get Canva Pro for free.

    4. ActualTeacher*

      Make something low stakes so you can practice. Get a throwaway account and create your story across platforms with something fictional. (Make it clear that’s what you’re doing.) Keep the privacy settings on high and see what’s working for you. Run it across all of them. But make it as low stakes as possible. If you “mess up” then that’s fine! This is all to learn. Find out what works for you, then you can move forward.

    5. beepboop*

      As this sounds like an avenue you may explore even more in future endeavors, I would treat this as professional/skills development. One idea could be to hire someone on fiverr and work with them to see how they approach the task and what their final product is; if it’s good, you’ve seen the process of a good product. If it’s bad, identify what’s bad about it and steer clear! As anything creative, a matter of taste and subjectivity is bound to come into play as well, so I agree with those that say to try low stakes and ‘find your voice’ in the medium.
      Another idea could be to engage with creators/brands whose style of content you enjoy and connect with, either by copying some of their methods (just like artists would copy the masters to develop their skills!) or asking them to collab and learning from them! Also a great way to network – and always helps when spreading the message.

    6. call me wheels*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about memes specifically, as soon as I see a brand using one I consider that meme kind of dead and I think that’s how a lot of other young people feel. And nothing annoys me more than seeing a brand misuse a meme so you might do more harm than good if you’re not super confident :’) I hate most social media so whenever I’m asked to do social media for internships etc. I usually need to spend an hour or two researching online to keep up to date with how the main sites work, there is a lot of info out there and its regularly updated as things change. Canva is really good also as some people have mentioned.

    7. Rose*

      I would be surprised if SkillShare doesn’t have a class in this. I haven’t tried the app myself but I see the adverts from YouTubers often enough.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I recommend you start by increasing a basic presence that connects with people straightforwardly and sincerely before you try to get really clever or sophisticated with it. There are tons and tons of recommendations and freebies out there for social media calendars and campaigns. Use them to build your skills and confidence with the tools.

      The first tool I recommend getting a handle on is a robust scheduler. Frequent, consistent engagement gives a bigger boost than you realize — especially getting the word out about events or initiatives, and replying to comments.

      My favorite cliche about this kind of work is, “Social media is social.” Just like with socializing IRL, showing up gets you 80% of the way there. Being charming and captivating is lovely, but doesn’t get you very far if you’re a flake. If your coworkers don’t have time to really keep up with it, the most valuable thing you can start doing immediately is regular engagement.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, I thought of another important thing: remember that people follow your social media because of what it says about you. They share your social media because of what it says about themselves.

        Posts get shared because they help the sharer demonstrate their own identity and values to their network. If they share funny things, they get social “credit” for making people laugh. If they share fundraisers, they identify themselves as helpers or philanthropists. If they share interesting thoughts or insights, they are seen as smart or insightful.

        This is not necessarily a cynical or calculating thing! It means the post resonates with the way they see themselves and the qualities or values that matter to them.

        So the way you increase engagement is to figure out common themes in your supporters’ values and identity, and ring those bells with your posts. Are they tender and compassionate? Are they heroes and champions for good? Do they passionately challenge the status quo?

        Give them material to help them tell their own story by sharing yours.

    9. Social Media Staff*

      I do social media for a business that’s work is very much about supporting people and families. It’s not a non-profit; but it is an interesting combo of services and community building.

      Take some classes! Other than my own personal experience beforehand (I’m an older millennial); I wouldn’t say I had a ton of knowledge about how to work it all. And it changes so frequently, there is a lot to keep up with. But I took some social media classes that were targeted at people in this specific line of work and that really got me started. I also used pretend accounts to learn how to use the functions of Instagram, etc, without making mistakes on the business’s actual account. And the social media presence is very much (for us) not about growing this huge following; but getting our info out to people locally who would use our services.

      I will say, as someone who works with Apple products and does use photo and video editing and basic graphic design programs with no background in graphic design, I find Canva to be an awful digital design platform (personally) that is not intuitive and tends to be overly time consuming. But if you take some classes, learn some beginning graphic design, photo and video editing…you can end up creating a very neat and interesting job. One I’ve found I’ve really liked and appeals to not only my creativity; but also my enjoyment of planning, scheduling and task management.

    10. mcm*

      subscribe to the “Link in Bio” newsletter on substack! And follow other folks who work in social media. You can get a sense that way of what people are trying/thinking about when creating digital posts, taking pictures, creating video content, etc.

  2. Veronica*

    I need some CYA scripts with my manager, “Wallace”, for keeping records through email rather than calls and when I need to say “I already mentioned this during our conversation”, “you tell me” (when being asked for something that he should be instructing me on), and a nice way of saying, “per our conversation”.

    Wallace appears very affable but he doesn’t listen or remember things. Wallace also threw me under the bus earlier this week for something I had been keeping him updated and in the loop on, and he kept pushing emails from his boss to him on me. It’s clicked that Wallace is quite excellent at doing nothing and mysteriously is nowhere to be found when issues arise, but he always appears back at the end with a “great job for looking at this, guys!”

    To cover my bum after this experience, I’ve been emailing him more, but he’s still pushing the: “let’s set up a call to discuss”. Would it be too snooty for me to come back with: “here are my recommendations of priorities, I’ll defer to you on what you want me to work on, can you please make your edits for prioritization? It will be helpful to have in writing so we can both refer back to this.” He seems to have a very fragile ego so I don’t want to come off harsh.

    He’s just going to keep pushing for these meetings to try to put the decisions on me. I’m still new so I don’t want to seem like I’m pushing back. These types of managers never want things in writing, always wanting to have meetings!

    1. BettySpaghetti*

      You could always follow up after these meetings with an email? Something like “here’s what we discussed, please correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything here”.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Exactly. Personally I err for calls sometimes because my eyes hurt from doing every darn task through a screen and typing. I went through a period of wrist pain as well. Being middle aged has made me more understanding in this regard. I’d love to do more via teams and email but my body doesn’t always cooperate

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I often follow phone calls up with email summaries.
      You can do the same for meetings or take minutes.

    3. jasmine*

      How about meeting with him, and then after your meetings, sending email summaries? It doesn’t have to be passive aggressive, you can say that it’s to make sure you’re on the same page, to facilitate clear communication, and/or that it helps you keep track of tasks and priorities. IMO meeting summaries are generally good practice anyways.

    4. EMP*

      I think your example with “It will be helpful to have in writing so we can refer back to this” is good phrasing. If he still won’t write anything down, I would have the call and then respond via email with a summary of what you discussed so you have the paper trail. “Hi Wallace, here are my notes from today’s meeting about the llama grooming accounts and the priorities we discussed.”

    5. Tio*

      After the call, send a summary email:
      “Hi Wallace, per our conversation earlier, I will be starting on the llama grooming improvement plan. We’ll begin with the new shears purchasing and then move on to the shampoo upgrades. If you need me to change priorities, or if they run out of fancy hair ribbons, let me know so I can pivot. Otherwise, I’ll be working on this until otherwise needed.”

      It shows what you’re doing, gives him a chance to change it, and if he doesn’t, that’s on him.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Meeting minutes. I know it’s just more overhead for you, but you asked for CYA, and this is CYA.

      If you know the topics beforehand, go ahead and set up a skeleton outline before the meeting starts. Date/time, location, participants, topics. Use whatever abbreviations or other cryptic stuff you need in order to keep up, and then after the meeting expand on it while it’s still fresh in your head.

      And do not be afraid to say “Just hold on for a second while I get this down so I’ll remember it” if Wallace tries to run at the mouth.

    7. Gyne*

      I’d just send him a follow up email after every conversation saying something along the lines of “Thanks for meeting with me today to discuss our progress on the project. Here’s a recap of what we went over. Anything else I missed or that you thought of afterward?”

      1. Tone police*

        I am a fan of the recap email when dealing with folks who don’t have written records for #reasons.

        Specifically, I really like the breezy tone of the wording. There’s nothing to get your hackles up about

        1. All Het Up About It*

          Agree! This is excellently breezy and strikes the tone Alison sometimes talk about of “of COURSE you are fine with these recap emails because why wouldn’t you be.”

    8. Observer*

      He’s just going to keep pushing for these meetings to try to put the decisions on me. I’m still new so I don’t want to seem like I’m pushing back. These types of managers never want things in writing, always wanting to have meetings!

      Have the meeting and then send him a meeting recap. Same for keeping him in the loop. CC him on stuff, forward relevant emails tagged “FYI” and send him recap emails after you brief him orally.

      If he asks you why you are sending these emails, you can tell him “We have a lot of conversations, and it’s easier for me to remember what we discussed if I do the follow up.” You can also add, if you think that it will help “It also means that if I missed something or misunderstood, you can let me know.”

    9. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I’ve had to do the written summary of what we discussed thing for this reason in the past. I’ll usually say it’s to check my understanding or because I do better with written things so I like to confirm when we talk. Sometimes I’ll add that I’m including my understanding of priorities and follow up actions based on the conversation.

      Then I’m pretty brutal. The summary might say thing like: Discussed X and Y options for the event, no decision yet. Action on hold pending you selection. I will follow up by email next week.

    10. M2*

      It’s because managers might get hundreds or thousands of emails each day. On a good day I get hundreds of emails on a bad day I get thousands. This is in addition to my own work, directing/ managing three departments, any work I am covering for someone who is out, meetings or calls/zooms, and travel for work.

      I am fine if people email me or I email them with action points afterward and/ or minutes about what was discussed and should be done. Lots can also get confused over email or text/IM so I think having context in person is usually good. Maybe do this?

      1. Veronica*

        We’ve mostly been communicating through the IM chat messaging, but he still doesn’t remember stuff we talked about, even when I tag him with an FYI

    11. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Sometimes calls really are better to talk through something, but that’s why I do follow-up emails or Slack messages to have a written record of what was agreed upon. That’s usually the best CYA.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        When he tries to push a decision on to you that you don’t have the ability to make, say that. “Wallace, I don’t have the complete background on X or the historical data on Y to make that decision. If you want to talk through the options to brainstorm, I’m happy to do that, but I’m not the best equipped person to make that decision. Once you decide the path, I’ll be happy to execute on it.”

    12. JSPA*

      “Here’s my approximate transcript of our call. Let me know if it’s missing anything important, and flag any mis-statements or topics we need to revisit before I proceed. If I don’t hear otherwise, I will per our chat first focus on [X], then shift to [Y], with the understanding that you will need to make the decision on [Z1 or Z2] for me to do the final steps of [X]. I will notify you when I’m shifting from [X] to [Y], which should give you at least 2 days turnaround to let me know what the final thinking is on [Z], while keeping everything solidly on track.”

    13. Corelle*

      Aside from taking minutes and sending them via email, I tend to write out options with pros and cons and recommendations and then a “if I don’t hear back from you, here’s how I plan to proceed.” I also do a lot of “here is the problem, here’s my proposed solution that I’m going to proceed with, but let me know if you have a different viewpoint on it and we can meet to discuss instead.” My organization expects a lot of independent decision making so I’m really just documenting that I’ve raised issues and communicated my path forward and given my boss a chance to interject and ask me to do something different, but I’m not waiting on them necessarily.

      When you email him your priorities as you suggested, the closer you can get things to quick yes/no answers, the more likely he is to naturally answer via email rather than insist on a meeting. But it’s also possible that he just strongly prefers to discuss things in person…some people just digest information better that way. I think it’s better for YOU if you frame this in your head as a personal preference and difficulty thing in your boss’s part, rather than being out to throw you under the bus or not being willing to make decisions or be available to work. He might prefer to meet to discuss things rather than converse over email. He might want you to make more decisions independently (are you okay with that? can you see that as a growth opportunity to pave the way to more exposure to how decisions are made at his level, and a way of making yourself more valuable, instead of feeling like he’s shirking or taking advantage of you?) He might have trouble remembering information or connecting dots, so frame your CYA documentation as helping him keep track and keeping on the same page instead of overtly CYA material. Even if you know he’s a lazy snake and you need to CYA, if you can compartmentalize that for yourself and focus on seeing and speaking to it as a positive thing you’re doing, I think you can find a way to benefit from it.

    14. Richard Hershberger*

      Note the universal recommendation for following up conversations with something in writing. Lawyers call this “papering the file” and it is the path of wisdom. This way, when the client comes back two years later and claims not to have been told something, there is a contemporaneous record of the conversation. Given this guy’s demonstrated willingness to throw you under the bus, do this every time, and as soon as possible after the conversation. If Wallace complains, make doe eyes at him and explain that it is so you don’t get confused.

    15. Lissa Evans*

      I’ve had this come up with multiple bosses, and when forced into a phone call or in-person meeting, I simply email them afterwards with a summary of what we discussed and what the plan is going forward, and end with a “Please let me know if there is anything we need to discuss further.”

    16. Miette*

      Follow up on the “He’s just going to keep pushing for these meetings to try to put the decisions on me.” part of your question: do you mean he’s trying to get you to make decisions he’s not going to back up if the shizzle hits the fizzle? Or he’s trying to delegate these decisions to you and you’re just not comfortable doing it yet?

      If the former, then all the advice above about emailing follow ups is a classic CYA move for a reason, so get used to it. If you think it’s the latter, I’d seek confirmation of that from him, then make sure he’s looped in on your recommendations before you pull any triggers, so he has time/room to comment on next actions before you commit to them. If it’s neither and he’s just averse to making decisions, I’d still have a recommendation lined up and ask for his guidance… then follow up with that email, because if he’s thrown you under a bus before he’ll do it again.

      1. Veronica*

        do you mean he’s trying to get you to make decisions he’s not going to back up if the shizzle hits the fizzle? Or he’s trying to delegate these decisions to you and you’re just not comfortable doing it yet?

        I think he’s out of his depth so he’s pushing these decisions on me so it doesn’t fall back on him.

        He’s never specifically said, “these decisions fall on you”, but every time I tell him my recommendations, the why and the next steps, but he doesn’t either listen or remember.

    1. tck*

      It depends what you mean. International schools themselves will not have much remote work for those outside the host country – the legal and work arrangements would be very complex when they already often mostly “import” their teaching staff. If you mean tutoring or other education in the informal sector, there’s a great deal but like a lot of freelance/self-employed work it does require a lot of start up work to develop your client base etc.

      1. Ria*

        Especially post-pandemic, getting a position as a remote instructor at an international school might not be as difficult as you’d think.

        I work in Central America at an American international school that’s administrated by a U.S.-based educational organization and routinely hires American faculty members. During the pandemic nearly all their American faculty members taught remotely from the U.S. Although we’re back in person now, they’re really struggling to hire the international faculty they need, partly because of the general teacher shortage but also partly because few people want to move to the region that I work in. They’re not specifically advertising for remote positions, but I imagine if someone reached out and asked about the possibility to teach remotely they’d be open to it.

        Legal & work arrangements could even theoretically be easier in this case, because they wouldn’t have to wrangle a work visa for you to have residency while you teach. (For me at least, the logistics of employment & salary, etc. were really easy because I’m technically employed by the U.S. institution and I’m a U.S. citizen. Getting me the residence visa for my host country was the hard part.)

        If you’re not looking for a teaching role, you could also check out international education accreditation organizations. For example, my school is accredited by MSA-CESS, which is based in the U.S. I know there are several more organizations like this for both K-12 and higher education. They may offer remote roles.

        Good luck!

      2. Kiki Is The Most*

        I do both of what the other commenters stated: teach in an international school and tutor.
        If you do want to tutor online from the US, you might look into tutoring specialists for China and SE Asia, as they often need vetted tutors for higher level maths, sciences, and english; or they also look for primary school native english speakers. I built my tutor clientele through current and previous schools, and then word of mouth in my city. Most schools will not put someone on their tutor list unless they have some sort of tie to the school. I live/teach in Europe, and this is common practice.

        If you’re thinking about international teaching, there are certain areas/countries that make it easier to have a family because having a nanny, housekeeper and cook are affordable and normal. Keep in mind to thoroughly check the international school. Just because some of them might pay more or have better saving potential does not mean that they are a good school. If you opt for this, try Search Associates, ISS or Schrole as a company that can help you find an international position. (I do not work for any of those companies, but I have used two of them before with varying success). Good luck!!

      3. New Mom*

        I was thinking more along the lines of administrative work at the university level. Like spots in study abroad or adjacent. Or roles that support international students wanting to come to the US or American students wanting to go abroad. I have lived abroad on two different continents and we are likely moving to a different country in Europe in the next few years so I’m trying to look at ways to pivot my current education field (not teaching) career into something that would help me find work when we move.

        1. Grogu's Mom*

          This may vary depending on the region you’re in, but in my experience higher ed admin work is almost exclusively hybrid now, typically defined strictly as three days in-office, two-days WFH so that you’re over 50% based in your tax jurisdiction. It is very rare at the institutions I’ve worked at to get approved to work exclusively remotely, even many of those who were remote pre-pandemic have been forced back to the office. On the other hand, it seems like hybrid is here to stay, not much talk about going back to office full-time.

          May also be region-dependent, but international education can be pretty competitive. Many jobs will look for a master’s degree in international education or higher ed administration, and several years experience. But you can tell if that applies to the jobs you’re interested in by looking at some job descriptions online. Almost all universities post public, easily searchable job postings. And higher ed is often very flexible in terms of counting experience from other fields, so you could certainly try to make a case in your cover letter about why you’d be qualified. If you speak another language, that can be a big plus.

          You will some ads for universities with fully-remote staffs out there, but mainly at places that a lot of people would balk at working for: sketchy for-profits, very low pay, less job security than the typical brick-and-mortar university, and/or overseen by folks with business backgrounds rather than academic/educational. HigherEdJobs dot com is a good place to start looking – they have a filter for remote/online, and you can search specifically for International Programs and Services and for certain metro areas or states.

        2. Kat*

          I have worked in higher ed research admin since 2007 and can confirm that in that part of higher ed there is a lot of 100% remote work available. We had 100% remote staff even before the pandemic and fully remote work has worked really well in our office. Currently we have a mix of 100% remote and hybrid staff. I also see a lot of job postings on our national listserv for 100% remote positions (particularly from universities in high cost of living areas). It might not be directly related to what you’ve been doing but it is interesting work and there are a lot of international research projects going on so it might be possible to at least hit a bit of your original interest area. I can’t speak to potential limitations on working outside of the U.S. but if you are U.S. based for now that field is definitely a possibility (and we need people, the listservs are flooded daily with postings!)

          1. New Mom*

            Could you let me know what type of listserves or titles to search? I have some research experience, a masters in international education, and over eight years of project management/program management experience. I just don’t know where to look but your answer gives me some hope!

            1. Kat*

              Sure thing! I am not sure that I can include links but the one I use most frequently and see the most jobs on is called the Research Administration Listserv and is hosted/run through healthresearch . org. There is also an archive so you can scan for recent posts. Job titles vary a lot by institution but some common keywords/titles include: research administrator, proposal administrator, award administrator, pre-award officer, grant officer, pre-award analyst, grant and contract specialist, things like that. The offices at the universities are sometimes called research administration, or sponsored projects, or grants and contracts.

        3. EA*

          I think ed tech would be a better space for you than higher ed if you’re thinking of moving. More flexible and more remote options, more people working in different time zones. There are some people who post lists of ed tech jobs on LinkedIn frequently.

  3. Tio*

    So, any recommendations for black, cloth work-acceptable stretch pants, WITH POCKETS, that at least hit the ankle? Most I’ve seen either a) don’t hit the ankle and are more capris or b) don’t have pockets so I have nowhere to put my phone and keys

      1. JimmyJab*

        Second Athleta – I recently got some very professional looking black pants with pockets and a yoga-style waist. Insanely comfy.

      2. Billy Preston*

        I love the Lands End Starfish and active pants with pockets. They come in several styles & lengths, and last a long time.

        1. Miette*

          Seconding these. They’re comfy, and available in a variety of leg styles (e.g. straight leg or tapered), and if you hit it right, they even have tall sizes. I say this because the availability of tall sizes is seemingly on a whim, so not all items from LE will have them, but when they do my sister is all over them.

      3. human-woman*

        I am wearing Athleta Brooklyn ankle pants right now and they’re super comfy and office-appropriate (IMO). I have a pair in regular length, which may be too short for OP, and a long/tall pair, which hit right at the ankle bone for me (5’8″ tall).

    1. Anonymous 75*

      I’ve had really good luck with Old Navy Pixie pants in ankle length. a ton of colors, including black, and they’re super comfortable and stretchy.

      1. Healthcare Worker*

        Seconding this! I LOVE Old Navy Pixie pants. Be sure to check for ankle length – they come in different lengths.

      2. Paris Geller*

        These are my favorite! I think they might be the only pants I own now. I personally prefer the shorter length (and I think that’s their default length–they seem to have more options/colors in the above-ankle length), but they do have some good staples in the longer versions too.

      3. Leia Oregano*

        Also chiming in on the Pixie Pants train! These are most of my work wardrobe when it comes to pants. The ankle length ones are the default and come in more cool, trendy colors/patterns, but the full length ones always have the business-y basic colors! (black, navy, usually a gray, sometimes brown/dark red/tan/a warm-toned neutral). I’m 5’2″ and the regular ankle length ones are full length on me, and the petite ankle pants are actually above-the-ankle. They also have tall lengths in most styles, I believe, for those on the other end of the height spectrum :) I find them super comfy, stretchy, and love the high-rise ones for myself. Just make sure to follow the washing/drying directions! My one gripe is that the black pairs fade a little bit, so I end up buying a new pair once a year or so, but I wear them up to 2-3x a week and try to catch them on sale when I need a new pair. My newer pairs say to hang dry (maybe they’ve always said this and I just never noticed?) but I do notice that hang-drying them helps a lot with keeping the color from fading as quickly and from keeping the fabric from stretching out. The pockets are front-only and an ok size — my iphone xr definitely sticks out, but my small set of work keys and my airpod case can fit in a pocket totally fine. The higher-waisted ones have slightly better pockets, imo, since there’s a little more room for them.

      4. anomnom*

        I used to love these but they either had no or too-small-to-be-usable pockets. I haven’t bought them in a couple of years, though. Have they changed?

        1. lemon*

          The wide-leg Pixies have amazing pockets. They’re positioned a little high and center (so not off to the side like jeans and most other pants) in order to accommodate the tummy control panel, I think. But they hold a surprising amount of stuff without making you look weird. I’m able to fit my iPhone 11 securely, which I’ve never been able to do with any other pants.

          1. anomnom*

            Thank you, thank you for this! My phone is exactly what I need to fit in a pocket. I didn’t realize they have wide-leg versions, too, now. Time to head back to Old Navy!

        1. lime*

          They list it under the “Fit and Sizing” section of the product details (not the size chart.) Can you tell I buy *all* my clothes from Old Navy, lol.

      5. Justme, The OG*

        I’ve never had Pixie pants that fit in the thighs, I don’t think they’re designed for the thick thighs club.

      1. Gondorff*

        Betabrand pants are the only thing I’ve ever purchased based on an instagram ad and they remain one of the best purchases I’ve made. Highly recommend, especially if you can get them onsale (they’re pretty pricey otherwise, but last for a long time).

      2. Pippa K*

        Yes! The ones called “dress pant yoga pants” come in several cuts and the fabric is quite substantial. They have lots of actually-usable pockets. And no one can tell that they’re not regular dress pants because they have styling details like belt loops and front buttons. They’re great.

      3. Rainy*

        I love my Betabrand work trousers. Right now they are having some supply chain issues and fulfillment is taking A WHILE. (I ordered two pairs of trousers and a top in early August and they still haven’t shipped yet. Customer service is super apologetic but obviously there’s nothing they can do but keep me apprised.) I will say that I don’t love the way the front pockets in their 7 pocket pants function, but they are decent sized and you might not find them as annoying as I do. If nothing else, though, they are still just fine to clip a work badge to.

        Athleta is also good, and their stuff is really well-made. I haven’t yet had an issue with my Athleta trousers wearing or ripping.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hue. I had a pair of ankle-length pants from them that I wore until they fell apart. Then I bought several more pairs in various fabrics.

    3. Alex*

      This is kind of an odd rec, but have you tried Duluth Trading? I have a pair of their NOGA relaxed leg pants, and while technically they are for yoga or whatever, they are cut like dress pants, have pockets, and you can choose the length. They also have other cuts–boot cut, slim leg, etc.

      1. annybt*

        Second Duluth Trading Co. Their “gardening” shirts are a staple of my wardrobe although I’m not currently doing any gardening. Their stuff holds up and most of it looks nice enough for work.

      2. Annika Hansen*

        I am wearing them now. I have the Namastash. It has so many pockets! And ones that are big enough for a phone! One caution is that Duluth Trading Company sizes are generous. If you wear a very small size, you might not be able to find clothing there. I love that you can choose the length.

        1. Sparkle Llama*

          Agreed on sizes. I am generally a large in women’s shirts at kohls, etc but am a medium at Duluth. I think on pants I just go one size down. I do think their clothes are pretty consistent so if you find a size that works it will work on all products unlike some retailers (ahem Loft)

        2. Loreli*

          Do Duluth pants come in “ladies” sizes/cuts? I have too much junk-in-the-trunk for men’s pants – if I get them to fit my rear end, there’s too much waistband in the back.

          1. All the Pants*

            Depending on your pant size, Torrid has some great work pant options and they usually have decent pockets. I think they start at a US size 10 and go up quite a few sizes, specifically cut for curvier gals.

    4. cardigarden*

      The Tronjori palazzo pants on Amazon isn’t stretchy, but they’re wide leg with huge pockets, and super comfortable. I like to dress mine up with a belt that has a neat buckle.

      1. Ssssssss*

        The Tronjori pants are great! I’ve also gotten Tapata brand pants in a couple styles and they have some of the biggest pockets I’ve seen on women’s pants

    5. Panicked*

      Old Navy Pixie pants are my absolute go-to. They hold up well, have good pockets, and hit at that flattering ankle mark.

    6. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I have been obsessed with the “pintucked fluid taper pants” from Loft. They are SO comfy (we love an elastic waist!) but look very polished and have deep, usable pockets. They also come in petite sizes, which is a bonus for me :)

    7. VV*

      Target has some that are basically sweatpants but with professional patterns (I’ve seen black before too) and stitching/cuts – their would filter for their A New Day line and they should be there. They are intended to hit the ankle. I wear them to work all the time and they look great and are so comfy.

    8. Anne of Green Gables*

      I have been wearing black or navy scrub pants as work pants for the past 18 months and love them. I am not in a medical field, and I wear them with standard work shirts/blouses. No one can teley are scrubs. They are comfortable and wear well. There are a variety of waistband, including yoga style wide elastic. I get mine from Uniform Advantage. If your workplace is super formal, this might not work, but in my business casual workplace, they’ve been great.

      1. AnonRN*

        A coworker just showed me some trousers made by Figs that looked nice and much more like “office wear” than “medical”.

    9. Carolyn*

      I have several pairs (and have gone through several more over the years) of officially ‘outdoorsy’ black pants from Columbia. They are extremely lightweight (I live in a hot place, and they are woven (not knit) but have a lot of stretch to them. For me they work well for work — they look tidy enough and are very comfortable. They do have a drawstring that I often tuck in/over the waistband if it’s poking my shirt out or something, but generally not an issue. I am average-ish height and I get the ‘regular’ length ones, and I prefer to size them a smidge on the looser side — because of that and the amount of stretch they even got me pretty far into a pregnancy before I absolutely had to swap to ‘real’ maternity pants.

      They have an extra panel of narrow fabric on the outside of each leg which may not be obvious in the picture, but with the black colored ones, you don’t see details like that much at all. There are two front pockets and a right rear pocket with a small velcro closure.

      Link included to show the ones I mean — they way they display sizing is out of order but you can click for more options.
      Columbia Women’s Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Pant

      I think they make several other styles with similar fabric, but this silhouette worked the best for me.

    10. Jaded Millenial*

      If you want ethical but pricy, try FreeLabel. Their bamboo fabric is so nice, and they’ve recently designed some nice work pants, though you may have missed the preorder.

    11. OtterB*

      LL Bean Perfect Fit pants or Lands End sport knit. I wear the Lands End to work but the solid colors are a bit on the casual side. They have prints that are work-dressier (plaids, etc.).

      1. BakerJ*

        Seconding the LL Bean Perfect Fit pants. They look dressy enough for work, are stretchy but hold their shape well, come in multiple cuts and have useable pockets. They are my go to work pants!

    12. Pants*

      I got a pair of Liverpool Los Angeles Kelsey Knit Trousers from Nordstrom that work really well on me. They have a waistband and closures, but feel more comfy than some of the pull on ones I’ve tried, and are super stretchy.

    13. InsufficentlySubordinate*

      Duluth Trading Company, NoGa black, a variety of styles but I find the Bootcut looks like regular black pants. The cotton has four pockets, the other type has a leg pocket and a waistband pocket (small). I live in NoGa pants.

    14. Anecdata*

      Old Navy also has a pleated front, full length, wide leg pull on with great deep pockets along the front- can’t remember the name but you’ll recognize them and in store they’re usually with the pixies. I am expecting them to be out of style in a couple years but I’m getting a lot of mileage out of them in the meantime

    15. Area Woman*

      Dress Pant Yoga Pants from Betabrand. They come in all styles and lengths and truly look like dress pants, but are stretchy!!!

    16. mcm*

      The brand Halara that advertises a lot on social media — I was skeptical but I found a pair of their pants at a thrift store and bought another pair directly from them within like two weeks. Genuinely feels like I’m wearing pajamas but looks super work appropriate

    17. Chaordic One*

      One of my coworkers (a tall gal who has trouble finding pants that are long enough) has said that lately she has found quite a few things in her size at a chain called “Buckle.” I had never heard of it, but they have one at our local mall. (Haven’t been to a mall in ages and I never noticed it.) They do have website. Maybe worth a look.

    18. House On The Rock*

      Eddie Bauer makes several different lines of stretchy waist, professional looking pants that have zippered pockets. Some are more capri length, but some are at the higher end of yoga-ish pants, but in thicker material. I have had great success layering these with longer cardigans and sweaters and they look perfectly professional.

    19. All Het Up About It*

      Old Navy has some wide leg yoga pants with pockets that are absolutely work appropriate and for sure hit the ankle. I have them in multiple colors. (I wait until they are having a 50% off athletic wear sale and grab them early.)

    20. Sprigatito*

      Look for Briggs New York pants on Amazon – I have a couple pairs and they’re super comfortable and have pockets, though not huge ones.

    21. Zephy*

      I’m wearing a pair of full-length, high-waist athletic pants with pockets from Target right now, their All in Motion brand. The fabric is matte, so from a distance they’re just black pants, but up close the construction and stitching make it clear these are yoga pants/athleisure. The pockets fit my Google Pixel 7 without issue. The pockets are triangular and extend down the side-backs of the leg about to the knee, rather than being hip pockets, another feature that makes them obviously athleisure if you see them up close.

  4. jasmine*

    I’m going on a work trip next week, and I was wondering if any of the AAM commentators had good scripts I could use to navigate my disability? I keep my legs elevated most of the time due to a medical condition. I usually work from home so that’s not a problem, but I’m wondering what would be a non-awkward way to handle it on the trip. I’d need to lift my feet up onto a desk or another chair.

    I suspect people will trickle into and out of meetings, so I can’t announce it to everyone all at once. My other worry is that I don’t need to have my legs elevated *all* the time and people will think “well she could sit normally if she really wanted to (we’ll also be going out to dinner and activities, so I’ll have to sit normally sometimes).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have a collapsible stool that, assuming the height works, seems like it would be ideal for this sort of thing – it flattens down into a disc about a foot or so across and 2-3″ thick, and has a shoulder strap on it to make it easy to carry around. To extend it, you just grab the top and bottom with a thumb and forefinger, twist and pull, and then opposite to collapse it. Mine is about 18″ tall, and a bunch of models (in different colors!) are available on Amazon (search “collapsible stool”) for under $20.

        1. JSPA*

          If you have a local direct-to-consumer medical supply store, they may have very much the same, with a very medical-institutional look (which in this case will serve you in good stead, and negate the need to explain anything).

          Failing that, you might be able to adapt musical instrument support, which should be quite portable and stable, though it will not be the cheaper option (thinking here of padding the hook of a saxophone stand).

          Regardless, I’m hoping most people should be clear that “leg mostly up” and “leg always up” are not the same thing.

        2. Rara Avis*

          I attend meetings with someone who is short, and carries this kind of collapsible stool so she can sit comfortably and ergonomically. It has never been an issue.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Are you traveling to a conference, or to an office? If it’s an office, is it your company’s office or another company’s? Different approaches for different scenarios. If it’s a conference (or a meeting room at a conference, where people come to you) then ask the organizers for an extra chair and don’t think twice. If it’s an office, you can do the same, but I would also make sure the space is big enough and laid out in a way to accommodate the extra chair. They might have ottomans or some other piece of furniture as well.

      You don’t need to announce. “I need to elevate my leg when I sit for long periods of time. Is there a way to put an extra chair or an ottoman in the space I’ll be using?”

        1. Rainy*

          I live in ski country, so we may be generally more tolerant of this as a region, but we quite often have someone in the office who needs to put a foot up or other accommodations and in general people don’t pay much attention. I’ve never yet met a stackable conference chair that didn’t basically destroy me inside an hour, so there are a TON of work-related events where I either sit in the back so I can stand/gently pace at intervals, or simply don’t sit at all. I was kind of attacked once by someone in the upper reaches of divisional leadership about it, but I said “I’m afraid I have a medical condition” about six times and the repetition got through to her.

    2. OrdinaryJoe*

      If it’s a set of work meetings, with set attendees, could you just email the meeting organizers, maybe with a cc to your boss, and explain/request something like a footstool or bring your own, if that would work. “Hi Meeting person, I need to request a way to keep my leg elevated while sitting. A blah or blah would work best but I wanted to check with you in regards to room set up as well. What do you suggest?”

      I think the key is to make it look professional and a normal, set thing, not just that you pulled a spare chair over and are propping up your feet … even if you are using a chair :-)

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I would say just do it without explanation, and people will get the idea. I don’t think you need to announce anything. I do think it would help if you bring your own stool or whatever, so it’s clear you have proactively planned for this need, vs. just putting your feet up, if you see what I mean.

    4. RagingADHD*

      “Excuse me, it’s a medical thing. I’m supposed to keep them up as much as I can…” when you start a meeting or come in and sit down will be useful. Putting one’s feet up in a meeting looks a bit eccentric if there’s no explanation at all. I wouldn’t worry about people coming in later. If you mention it to the people who are there at the start, the latecomers will take cues from them.

      Can you put something on your legs that reads as medical or injury related? Like ice packs or a towel that could potentially hold ice packs? Even if you don’t need them to be cold. Might help.

      1. Rainy*

        A special cushion or something that props them just that little bit higher and looks very medical would probably head off a ton of questions. I had one of those multiply-sprained ankles a few years back that was just SO slow to heal, and I eventually gave up and bought a selection of elastic ankle compression sleeves and wore one on the wonky ankle until it sorted itself out, and I found that the hot pink one made people VERY solicitous and understanding.

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      This isn’t a script, so ignore if not relevant: Would a visual cue work?

      That is, wear a brace, an ace bandage, etc. that signals “something is up with my foot.” They don’t know it’s loose and not providing physical support.

      When someone asks what happened, you can respond:

      (Casual tone) “Oh, I have a chronic condition, so this helps with that. Didn’t Susan do a great job at the presentation? I really appreciated how she…”

      1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

        I agree with bringing your own stool. Also, if it were me in the situation, I’d wear a medical knee wrap or something (even if I didn’t need it) just to signal that it’s a medical thing going on. Maybe that’s silly but if I was concerned about optics I’d do it.

      2. Kabocha Mocha*

        +1 This is exactly what I would do in this situation. The visual cue means you don’t have to keep explaining verbally.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      I think the key is to bring something and not plan to use a desk or another chair. Using a desk or chair is going to look overly casual and require an explanation. Bringing some sort of footstool (if that works) makes it obviously that it’s just not you making yourself comfortable.

      If you can’t bring anything another chair is likely to look more professional than using a desk.

    7. All Het Up About It*

      I have a medical condition where elevation of one of my legs is beneficial. It’s just second nature to me now that if I’m somewhere I can prop my foot up, I do. Both legs is a little more difficult, but honestly, I think this is one of those cases where you are probably overthinking it. Bring a stool or some such and prop your feet up. (I’m going to be looking into these disc collapsable stools myself!) It will be fine! No need for a preemptive announcement. If on the off chance you get someone a little too curious the above “I have a medical condition” or even “My doctor recommends it for my circulation when traveling” should take care of it.

  5. NandorILoveYou*

    After experiencing six months of escalating bullying, I reported a jerk to HR in the form of a hostile work environment complaint. He received a formal warning and has been told to stay away from me. Great, right?

    Well yesterday my idiot manager Max (first time manager) decided to do a retrospective with me about how I could’ve handled the jerk’s bullying in a better way. I made no secret of the bullying behavior. I kept Max and my former supervisor Sam informed the whole time and asked for their guidance and assistance. Max seems convinced though that I need to learn something from the experience. Makes me so mad.

    This was NOT the first time I’ve been bullied at work. It was not the second time either. Or even the third.

    Fellow women? Fellow POC? How do you deal with this crap your whole career. Does it ever get better? I’m in my late 20s and feel ready to drop out of the workforce.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I assume these bullying problems were all at different jobs/workplaces so it’s not just that this particular workplace is toxic? I would hazard a guess that some industries are more prone to this than others–is yours male-dominated? Or known for being competitive?

    2. EMP*

      (context: white woman in my 30s in tech). I’m not sure about “it gets better” but for sure there are better work environments! It sounds like you had a bully problem and a bad manager problem. I haven’t been bullied like that by a coworker so I can’t really speak to how my managers would’ve handled it, but you can definitely find work environments where you won’t be bullied by coworkers.

    3. Tio*

      My petty butt would be like “Oh yes, I have learned from this! I’ve learned that I should’ve gone to HR MUCH sooner and not tolerated anywhere near as much of this. None of what he’s done should have happened to me in the first place.”

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I don’t think that’s petty at all. It sounds like a very good answer.

        I’m guessing Max is one of those people who wants to believe that people get bullied because they are “too timid” or they “provoked the bully” in some way or anything that will let him feel he is safe from being bullied because it’s caused by something the victim can “learn to avoid,” something they do differently than him.

        I’m guessing what he really means is “tell me what you did that I wouldn’t do so I can convince myself nobody will ever target me.”

        1. Tio*

          Honestly, from what I’ve seen, Max is more likely trying to teach OP to “stand up” for herself so that she’ll deal with it (or put up with it) instead of going to HR and making him look bad. HR was probably like “Why did you let this go on?” and he does not like being called out. If you can make it seem like the person being harrassed’s fault, by making them think they could’ve/should’ve done something different that would have “stopped” the behavior, then he can minimize the problem and avoid a repeat. That’s why saying you’d go to HR twice as fast can be a good deterrent, especially since HR agreed there was a problem and disciplined the person.

          1. Marie*

            Interestingly, I’ve had situations in the past where I was bullied badly, and I was forbidden by managers from saying ANYTHING to the bully about it. You were supposed to report it all to your manager (if in the same department) and go to HR, which was absolutely worthless.

    4. BellaStella*

      first, Nandor, I am sorry you have been bullied and have a clueless manager. It depends on the work environment and I can tell you it can be better is some places yes. I am a white woman, mid 50s, and agree/would defer to others that is worse for women of colour in many places. I think you should go back to HR with this meeting context of how ‘you need me to learn from my bully’ convo of this inept manager Max and ask for him to be properly trained maybe? This is ridiculous and I am sorry.

      1. Observer*

        I am sorry you have been bullied and have a clueless manager.

        I’m not sure that the manager is exactly clueless. Maybe I’m cynical, but I think that it’s more deliberate.

        But I totally agree with going to HR. I just think it might be useful to get him on record on what @NandorILoveYou “needs to learn”. That will make it harder for him to play it as her being “too sensitive”.

    5. pally*

      Gah! It is 2023 and we should all be beyond this crap!

      No foolproof words of wisdom for you. Just indignation. I am sorry you are experiencing this.

      You got the bullying to stop. Objective accomplished. ‘Nuff said. Should have happened sooner.
      How were you supposed to handle the bully in a “better” way exactly? (I almost don’t want to know)

      Honest to Pete, how about management working with the bully to reform their behavior? Leave the recipient of the bullying alone regarding the ‘improvement’ talk.

    6. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I hate that can’t just tell Max was that what you learned from the experience is that Max doesn’t have your back.

      1. House On The Rock*

        I actually think there could be a way to say this to Max. Something along the lines of “what I learned is that it’s more effective to loop in HR earlier rather than later. I now know HR’s role in formal escalation and that they are the correct resource when one is experiencing this type of issue”. Any pushback he gives, can then be met with “again, I’d look to HR to handle that sort of thing, they are the professionals with the appropriate training”.

    7. Observer*

      Well yesterday my idiot manager Max (first time manager) decided to do a retrospective with me about how I could’ve handled the jerk’s bullying in a better way.

      Did he already do this retrospective or is he putting this on your schedule.

      If you can’t get out of it, go into the meeting and keep on asking him if he is claiming that you are at fault for the bullying, and how *exactly* you should have better handled the situation.

      You’ll either hear something useful (unlikely), he’ll bloviate and nothing will happen, or he’ll say something that you should follow up with HR on. That’s actually why I think you should be this direct – if, as I suspect, he sees it as somehow your fault or is trying to make it your fault because HR gave it to him, you want that to be out in the open.

      My sympathies. There are better environments. And Max seems like a really poor manager, even aside from the sexism.

    8. Twitterpated*

      Honestly it depends on the type of bullying and the personality of said bully. If it’s downright hostile and nasty, immediately I take a trip to HR.

      I do however think it’s worth a certain amount of introspection if this is happening consistently across multiple workplaces and with multiple colleagues. Maybe you’ve had a run of really rough luck, or absolute jerks for coworkers, but sometimes we perceive things as bullying that are not, and that may have been what Sam was trying to coach you on.

      1. Observer*

        I do however think it’s worth a certain amount of introspection if this is happening consistently across multiple workplaces and with multiple colleagues.

        She’s a woman and a POC. In many industries that’s all it takes to be a consistent target of bullying. And in this case, keep in mind that HR actually *did* tell the bully to back off. That generally doesn’t happen if the victim is really the problem or what’s happening is that “we perceive things as bullying that are not,“.

        Also, she specifically notes that she was keeping Max in the loop and asking for advice. Somehow he couldn’t coach her on useful stuff till HR got involved. That’s telling.

        PS It would be nice if people didn’t tell victims of bullying that it’s their fault or actually didn’t even happen unless there is significant evidence in the letter or post. And there is absolutely none to be had here.

        1. somehow*

          No one told the LW her situation is her fault, or that her situation didn’t happen. Suggesting the general possibility that things are misinterpreted at times (which I personally don’t think is the case with the LW – I believe her) isn’t either of those things. Could it please be possible to offer varying opinions here without being accused of something nefarious? Please?

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Introspection is frequently useful, but Twitterpated’s advice really doesn’t fit this scenario very well.

      2. Yikes on Bikes*

        I agree with this. Not to doubt OP’s experience…but when it has already happened multiple times in a career before age 30 I would want to understand what kind of bullying it is. I imagine some competitive/high pressure industries some things might “feel” like bullying but are par for the course in those worlds (again, not saying it is right, or that any industry should make someone feel bullied…but sometimes it is what it is, and if you want to avoid that, best to make a change in industry rather than subject yourself to what is possibly inevitable)

        1. different seudonym*

          The poster herself pointed out that it’s happening to her frequently. She doesn’t NOT know that part. She also thinks it’s racist and sexist. You’re not telling her something she doesn’t know, and you’re not in a position to judge the particulars.

          What you ARE doing, though, is casting doubt on her words despite the general imperative to assume truthfulness here (your disclaimer doesn’t help), and caping for some white man you’ve never met.

      3. JSPA*

        Can we please not question people on whether what feels like bullying is “really” bullying? Specifically when HR already has their back, which is unlikely to happen, if something is not eggregious?

        Yes, it’s possible that a non-woman or a non-POC would also have been ragged in some (different) way.


        a) the details (and the effect) are not comparable and

        b) plain old hazing and jerk behavior isn’t something we need to clear a wide lane for.

        Being surprised by harassment happening frequently is like being surprised by how many people have one or multiple “Me Too” stories. It’s simply not rare.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          These comments need more nuance.

          1) most if not all people are against hazing/jerk behavior. That doesn’t need to be written out. The problem is them not realizing they are doing it.
          2) You are forgetting that many cases have nothing to do with protected classes. They just come to you in the form of two people who seem to hate eachother. Yes, it may be true that one is 100% the victim. But that’s not what it looks like in real life. You literally can’t tell. It looks like two people who don’t get along. That’s why you need to listen, investigate it, or have a 3rd party investigate it. The question is not if you believe or not. The question is getting to the root of what happened and getting a resolution

          Often times it messier than you realize. That’s why you need to take a deep breath and investigate these objectively with the help of HR. Not just “believe” whoever comes to you first. Because the perpetrator can easily come to you preemptively, first, and then that would be a huge mistake to automatically take their side. THIS OP ASIDE, I’ve seen people not mentally register or remember that they insulted the other person sometimes multiple times. Sounds unbelievable until you live through it. Having a conversation like “don’t keep throwing your coworker under the bus, because you’re mad that they said your project sucks once” may read like victim blaming, but it’s not (if it’s based on things that actually happened) and it’s going to be part of the resolution process.

      4. Elsewise*

        Honest question, in the spirit of introspection: do you think you would have been as skeptical of Nandor if she hadn’t said that she was a woman of color?

        1. Twitterpated*

          100%. For what it’s worth I am in fact a woman, although not a woman of color. I am however in a male dominated field known to be a boys club.

          I kind of had to rush through my earlier comment as I was finishing my lunch break, but I’ll clarify more here.

          I am thinking of a particular situation with someone I managed. That person came to me and said that they felt that another coworker was bullying them. After investigating it turns out that it was a combination of a personality clash, and in my opinion (and the opinions of the other people involved in the investigation) if anything the person who claimed to be the victim was the bully. (Seriously some of the stuff the guy admitted to having said/done almost got him fired). HRs response was to tell the two of them to avoid each other outside of times they had to work together

          I also think of the reunion episode of 30 Rock where Liz has a whole skewed idea in her head that she was bullied, only to find out that she was the bully all along.

          My point was not to discredit the OPs claims, or say they weren’t bullied. I was suggesting something that I genuinely do in my own life when I notice a pattern, especially around interactions with others. I take a look at myself and say “ok, is there any way that what that something I’m doing is influencing this”

          All of this being said, at the time I posted my original comment there was no additional information from the OP on what the bullying was, and I’ll say straight out that none of what she said she’s dealt with is how I’d classify “bullying” it’s more “oh my god, WTF, you march into HR and threaten to tie this place up in so much litigation their grandchildren will still be untying the knots if this isn’t resolved immediately”

    9. Just to say*

      I don’t have answers to your questions at the end but just want to reinforce what you hopefully already know: It’s not in any way your fault that you were bullied. Some people love to account for bullying by saying that the victim did something to bring it on or handled it badly. This is pure toxic nonsense. Anyone can be bullied, no matter what they’re like or how they handle it.
      Also, being bullied can destroy morale and stress people out so much that they do weird things. So if you DID handle it less-than-perfectly (and maybe you handled it perfectly), that could be just because you were reacting to a totally destabilising situation.

      1. Rainy*

        Yeah. This feels like retaliation. It might just be that Max is the poster child for toxic positivity or a terrible manager, but being scheduled for a meeting where you are expected to act like you bear responsibility for being bullied looks like retaliation to me.

        1. lemon*

          It may be retaliation in spirit, but maybe not retaliation according to the letter of the law. Reportable retaliation refers to things such as being passed over for a promotion, being taken off of work assignments, or not receiving an earned raise or not being equitably compensated compared to others.

          1. Spreadsheet Hero*

            But don’t disciplinary actions often have consequences for compensation? So it’s possible that he could end up in violation that way.

            1. lemon*

              Oh, sorry, it wasn’t clear to me if this was a disciplinary action or just coaching. If the former, then, yes, could possibly be reportable retaliation.

    10. BellyButton*

      How did you respond to Max??? He is absolutely wrong! I would have called in HR.

      I am late 40s, white, woman. I have hadn’t much bullying, I have had more sexual harassment than anything else. I have seen a significant improvement in that area over the years, although it still happens, just not with people at my company. Thankfully.

      What I have seen is an increase in people saying racist and homophobic things. It has been shocking to see how much that has increased in the last 10 yrs. I know it has always been there, but I swear I never heard it from the mid 90s up until the last 10 yrs. We have certainly gone backwards there.

      During the years of the hack of a pres who won’t be named, my last company fired multiple people for racist comments. When I was pulling data about it, it had not been on record that someone had been fired for such a thing since around 9/11!

      My advice to you– it does get better as we get older. It does. We give less Fs and we learn better how to stand up for ourselves and shut it down. I can say that has been one of the best things about being over 40. I just don’t give an F now what anyone says or does and I will happily tell them to shut up and F off.

      1. Queen Ruby*

        This exactly! I’m probably a few years younger than you (mid-40s), but I could have written these same words.

    11. NandorILoveYou*

      Thanks all for the thoughts.

      Industry is defense tech. So, yes, utterly male dominated.

      The pattern of bullying is real and unfortunate. I do not think it is in my head and I’ve always waited as long as I could to involve HR. The first incident was sexual harassment. When I ignored the advances, he got very nasty. The next incident was a coworker trying to take credit for my (very successful) project. When I wouldn’t roll over and let him claim the work (wrongly) as his own, he sent me a threat. The next event occurred when I was recruited (because of my very successful track record) to lead a different program in my organization. That, you guessed it, another man felt entitled to run. This resulted in him launching a campaign against me, spreading rumors, mocking my contributions, and so on.

      The most recent bullying has taken place at my newish job. In addition to making bigoted remarks about my race, religion, and gender, the jerk refused to allow me to do key parts of my job, calling me incompetent. This of course led to problems because if I wasn’t doing those aspects, no one was. I did flag this repeatedly for Max and Sam. Finally I went to HR.

      Max wanted to discuss ways in which I could’ve worked around the jerk to do my job anyway. The jerk is highly senior to me in the organization. I could not have worked around him.

      To the folks who are saying that maybe I am the problem: ugh.

      1. BellyButton*

        “work around”??? NO, absolutely not.
        There is a type of bias known as Performance attribution bias. In performance attribution- when men and women perform an act, men are given credit more often than the women. Women are judged more harshly for mistakes, and mistakes are remembered longer. Men are given credit for the success- why did they succeed? Their innate brilliance. But a woman, was lucky- she had help- she had a great mentor. It also is the same for POC- they got their job/position because of diversity goals or affirmative action- not on their own merit.

        In DEIA trainings now we are talking about intersectionality- when someone has a two or more of the non-“in groups” attributes- exactly the category you fall into. It is a BIG deal, especially in white male dominated industries. Equality is being perceived by that group as oppression- because they no longer have as much given privilege and they are angry about it. They have no idea how much being a white male gave them a leg up and they are confused now that they have to perform more and better.

        **NOT ALL MEN**

      2. Nesprin*

        I’m really sorry- this is nonsense that no one should have to deal with, and probably against the law. It’s amazing how if its not happening to you in particular, sometimes these things can be just utterly invisible.

        It’d be a good idea to pull in your work allies and talk to a lawyer.

      3. Observer*

        To the folks who are saying that maybe I am the problem: ugh.

        x 1,000. I’m really sorry that anyone said that.

        Please let HR know what he said.

        I’m curious, did he explain why you should have worked around this guy instead of going to HR? And did he actually have any suggestions (even stupid ones), or was it just “well why didn’t you ~~ waves hands~~~” Also, did he explain why you were supposed to just roll over and accept the bigoted comments? I think it could be worthwhile sharing that with HR, as well.

      4. HonorBox*

        I am so sorry all of this has happened to you.

        As for the conversation with Max: “Max, given the seniority in play, I’m not sure how I could have worked around him. I wasn’t allowed to do the key aspects of my job, which would have led to the projects not being completed without upsetting the entire chain of command.” And then spin it around, I’d ask how he would suggest accomplishing what he’s suggesting. My guess is he won’t have any suggestions.

        1. Cardboard Marmalade*

          OP, success I just read an earlier thread on taking CYA ass notes in meetings with a manager, I feel like this upcoming meeting with Max could be a great opportunity for you to really pointedly be taking notes during the whole thing: “Hang on, Max, let me get this down… so you’re saying in the future, I should disregard direct orders given to me by a superior?”

      5. House On The Rock*

        I’m sorry you had to recap all this to support your question. And I’m also so sorry you experienced this and continued to experience it.

        At this point, I’d suggest 1) telling Max that there’s no “workaround” for something that HR agreed was an issue and you find it odd he thinks you should have found one, and 2) following up with HR on this directive from your boss. As others have said, this is at least retaliation-adjacent and the organization should know.

      6. Chauncy Gardener*

        Ex military here (white woman), now in Finance in tech, non defense. If I were you I would get out of the defense industry. It is the absolute WORST for sexism, racism and any other ism you can name. Please get thyself to another industry as fast as you can. It was rough 40 years ago and I know it hasn’t improved one iota.
        I wish you the very best of luck

      7. lemon*

        The most recent bullying has taken place at my newish job. In addition to making bigoted remarks about my race, religion, and gender, the jerk refused to allow me to do key parts of my job, calling me incompetent. This of course led to problems because if I wasn’t doing those aspects, no one was. I did flag this repeatedly for Max and Sam. Finally I went to HR.

        That’s not bullying. If he made remarks about your race, religion, and gender that’s discrimination. HR knows it, Max knows it. They’re hoping you don’t know it.

        I’d start keeping an eye on Max and documenting your interactions with him. I’d also be wary of being sidelined from projects that would put you in the orbit of The Jerk (or any other projects, for that matter), so I’d start documenting anything around that. Then, if you need to contact HR in the future about him, you can tell them you’re worried you’re experiencing retaliation for reporting discrimination. Once you say the magic words of “retaliation” and “discrimination” they know they have to take things seriously, or run into legal issues.

        It wouldn’t hurt to consult with an employment attorney, as well. Even if you don’t plan on suing or legally reporting your employer, it can be helpful to get strategic advice and have someone look over your documentation.

        If you need to work with HR again, it can also be helpful to think about what kind of outcome you’re hoping for and outline some specific asks. It may be all kinds of wrong, but HR may choose not to fire the offending parties here. But they may be able to do other things, such as ensure you’re able to keep working on the projects that are important to you and ensure that Max and The Jerk don’t interfere with your work.

        I’m a WOC who works in tech, so I’ve experienced a lot of BS as well. I finally realized that it’s so much better for my mental health if I give up the idea that I’m going to convince some people to change their prejudices or that I’m going to win them over with a hearts-and-mind approach to teaching them why discrimination is wrong. Instead, I’ve been trying to focus on outcomes: how do I get what I want out of the situation (which is usually just being able to do my damn job!). And also, build up your networks, find the allies you can and try to ignore the jerks to the best of your ability (as long as you’re able to do your job).

    12. JelloStapler*

      Did he talk to the bully about how not to be a completely hostile jerk? I’m so sorry. I cannot speak as a POC but as a woman, I think people (men especially) want us to appease and make everyone else feel better because we’re supposed to be more socially intelligent.

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. Were all these bullying incidents in the same organization?

      1. JelloStapler*

        I just saw your update, pls disregard the last question. :/ Sounds like part of the industry (does not mean it’s right or you should leave because others cannot act right). I sounds like Max wants to ignore it happened so they don’t have to hold the bully more accountable but there are office politics at play. And the common issue of jerks making it up high in organizations.

      2. BellyButton*

        It just screams “how not to get raped!” instead of “how not to rape.” Make the victim responsible. It is utter BS. And makes me so angry for OP.

    13. Yes And*

      Not a woman or POC, but I am an HR professional, and what Max is doing is completely unacceptable. Others have suggested that you report Max to HR, which is absolutely an option (although I’d understand if you’re exhausted having just gone around the mulberry bush with HR already).

      I would just add to that: if there is even the slightest whiff of a negative job action to you from this “retrospective” – worse job duties, denial of advancement, increased scrutiny of your work, etc. – that is retaliation. You are protected by law from retaliation for filing a hostile work environment complaint.

      1. Observer*

        I would just add to that: if there is even the slightest whiff of a negative job action to you from this “retrospective” – worse job duties, denial of advancement, increased scrutiny of your work, etc. – that is retaliation.

        That’s a good reason to get this on record with HR. Even if just in an FYI way, so that they have that context if you then wind up with negatives from Max.

        I mean, what do you want to bet that Max will ding her for “not being a team player” and “not being creative enough in dealing with roadblocks”?

        It’s gross to suggest. But it’s even more gross that he already wasted her time in telling her how she should have worked around someone much more senior to her with power to block her.

    14. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Retired now after career in R&D Engineering; my field was 95% male. As a WOC, I experienced racism and sexism in the early years, but luckily found a great (unionised) employer for the final 30 years that was very supportive and didn’t tolerate that shit.
      I found multinational unionised companies were best at having my back, because they had built-in procedures, trained HR and powerful unions who pushed for a safe workplace without harassment, but YMMV.

      All that worked for me in the bad old days was when I found someone in authority who had my back; then I’d keep them in the loop, especially wrt retaliation / denial.

      ==> in your case, I’d visit or Email the same HR person for advice about what to do wrt Max’s “retrospective” – forward any related EM he sent – and tell them I was concerned because I was the victim and did not want any hint from my manager that I shared responsibility for the harassment. Say I wanted to avoid being victim-blamed.

      With luck, they’ll coach Max and warn him off.

    15. NandorILoveYou*

      Closing this out with an update:

      I did reach out the HR rep who had previously helped me. The conversation was not great. She hedged, hemmed and hawed when I referenced the “bullying” behavior and insisted that instead “certain things were not handled appropriately.” This is much more milquetoast than how she had previously described the jerk’s behavior.

      As far as Max’s comments, her take was that “self reflection is healthy.” Ok lady.

      At least I was able to find support on this forum. My hope is to use this job to get a certain certification that will help me progress and make me a more attractive candidate for other positions.

      Until then, I’m going to do my best job nodding and smiling.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Best wishes, from a grumpy old white man who doesn’t like to see anybody mistreated.

        Life ain’t fair, but we ought to at least try to treat each other better. I wish your employers could see the value in doing so.

      2. moss*

        Start looking for another job now, don’t wait. If you’re in government, look in private industry. If you’re in industry, look at a different company or government.

        One of the gaslighty things that toxic work environments do to us is make us think we’re not good enough yet. You’re good enough to have a job where you can be respected for your skills. You’re good enough NOW. Go find somewhere that appreciates you.

    16. Megan*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you, and if it’s any consolation it also happened me to. I (female, late 20s at the time, white) was being bullied by another female (Anna), POC, early 40s. At first, I was so confused that Anna didn’t like me and was a bit mean to me. It took me AGES to figure out it was bullying as I constantly doubted myself and would replay every interaction in my mind thinking “am I insane or was Anna very rude”.

      I had many conversations with my manager about this, and one in particular centered around what I could do differently to make Anna like me and what I could have done to hurt or upset Anna. What I didn’t know was, at the time of that meeting and similar meetings, there was a whole bullying process going on behind my back that I wasn’t privy to, as the bullying had been witnessed by a third party, who had complained and ended up being interviewed about what they’d seen. I did not know this.

      It is infuritating to me that my manager sat me down and wanted to go over how I could have upset Anna, or what I could do differently to make Anna like me, when she *knew* Anna was bullying me and there had been at least one witness. That is not a way to treat a victim! :(

  6. SeededBrie*

    I’m currently working my two-weeks notice and am leaving on bad-ish terms (poor management, zero boundaries, crushing workload, a handful of very difficult team mates who outweigh the good ones). I’ve been with my company for quite a while but am keen to avoid a big deal about leaving. Is there a diplomatic way to engineer a quiet exit and avoid gifts, awkward speeches from grand bosses and catered lunches?

    1. Alex*

      Can you let your manager know that you don’t like being the center of attention and those things make you uncomfortable? That’s what I did lol. Fortunately, I was asked whether I wanted a “party” (a gathering in the conference room with cookies) and I said no thanks.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I second this suggestion. Maybe add an alternative, like, “If people want to do something, an ecard would be great!”

    2. tck*

      can you WFH? working from home on your last couple of days (maybe not the last last day to hand over equipment etc, but in the run up) can help take the wind of their sails a bit

    3. Fiona*

      If it’s the kind of the place that is dead-set on gifts, speeches, and catered lunches, I don’t really think it’s worth it to put up a fight and make a big thing about it. Just smile and fully lie if they ask you to say anything (“I’ll miss you guys!” – whatever). You’re not taking a polygraph test, you can literally stand there and mentally count down the minutes until your notice is up. You are getting the biggest gift of all – you’re LEAVING!!! It all feels so fraught now, but in a month, all this toxicity will be a distant memory and you’ll be on to bigger and better things.

      1. Anonymask*

        That’s what my current company does — they have IT shut all your access down at 11:15am which basically forces you to leave by 12pm.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      If you’re leaving during all of this, I highly doubt they are going to do a lunch with a present or speeches? If they are socially inept or not, you can slip in a few vague comments about workload and people will get the drift. You can also politely ask a person to stop a long speech “oh we don’t need to go into all of that” or “that’s enough gushing” or any of another 100 ways. In other words, go through the motions but just cut them off when parts take too long. Don’t let people give toasts, strongly encourage people not to order dessert because you need to get back to sort through a few last minute things, etc.

      I get that people are angry and just want to leave but sometimes it’s easy just to go through a few motions, especially when it only happens a few times per lifetime.

    5. Generic Name*

      Yes, you can leave the same week your company is having a major celebration for a company milestone, and is throwing a big wedding reception-like party. ;)

  7. Job Hunter X Hunter*

    I’m trying to get back on the job market after spending the past five years as a caretaker for my elderly parents. Are there any white-collar professions that are really struggling to hire people right now and would thus be willing to look past the very, very large gap on my resume?

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      If you have the skills and qualifications, accounting is overall hurting for people (regional/industry variations of course). You would need to acquire the skills however.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        Seconding this! Even if you have zero accounting skills, but are computer savvy, good at basic math, and have common sense, you may be able to find an entry level bookkeeping gig (A/R, A/P, or working part-time for a small CPA office that is willing to train you).

      2. Beka Cooper*

        Not OP, but I’ve recently been sort of thinking of acquiring an accounting degree of some sort. I was an English major so have always struggled to find well-paying jobs after unintentionally starting out in childcare when I graduated college in the 2008 recession. I never thought I liked math, but a few years ago scored 100% on a math exam for a job with my city and they suggested accounting positions. I had just accepted another job at the time, but that was when I kind of realized that the narrative in my head about my math aptitude was maybe wrong, haha.

        My most recent job was data entry in higher Ed, and I think maybe accounting would also fit some of the things I liked in my past job—attention to detail, following processes and fitting things into established rules and procedures, digging into the “boring” (to other people) database info. I’m definitely an introvert and like to just do my work, even though I have pretty good customer service and people-facing skills due to past jobs and my people pleasing tendencies. Can anyone comment on whether accounting sounds like it might be a fit for me?

        My other question/thought is how to go about getting the education. My local community college has a bookkeeping certificate which can then be added onto to get an associate’s degree. Since I have a previous bachelor’s degree, is it enough to get the associate’s degree, or would it be better to eventually transfer it all to my local university to get a full bachelor’s in accounting?

        I’m just tired of not really having any potential to make more money beyond clerical jobs, and this seems like a possibility I wouldn’t hate, even though I’m turning 40 and feel like I should know what I’m doing with my life by now (cry emoji). My real dream is to write fiction, and I actually do that and self-publish and I even recently got close to getting a short story published in a paid magazine, but I realized that I do my best writing and can be more creative when I have steady income from something else. I just want to earn more than data entry pays while doing it!

        1. Hillary*

          The certificate is enough to get you in the door. An accounting undergrad is limited value unless you’re going to get a CPA, finance is the business degree but probably not worth it for you.

          In your shoes I would get the certificate and go into either accounts payable or accounts receivable (not necessarily in that order, you could already do either one at entry level). They involve some customer service but not all day every day, they’re always in high demand, and they’re becoming more automated and data driven. You can leverage that experience into a more experienced IC role or managing a department.

        2. Nightsister of Dathomir*

          This is my *exact* situation (and question)! Approaching 40, holding advanced degrees in a creative field, stumbled into an accounting-related job…so many of the accounting jobs I see listed are asking for a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting (or related field). I’m currently completing an Associate’s, with the long-term goal of trying for the CPA license, hoping that Associate + experience + passing the exam would be sufficient. But I’m curious to know what those actually in the industry think!

          1. There You Are*

            In my state, you have to have a certain number of hours of graduate coursework to sit for your CPA. If that’s not a requirement in your state, most hiring managers will only care that you are a licensed CPA.

          2. callmeheavenly*

            At the time I took the exam (a While Ago now), they required you to have taken certain classes as part of your degree, and a certain number of hours overall. My sister had to stay in school for an extra semester because she somehow! did not realize you had to take auditing for the exam, so you might check up on what they require to sit for it currently.

      3. There You Are*

        I’m thirding (fourthing? fifthing?) accounting. I became an internal auditor with my accounting degree and 25 years of work experience in non-accounting jobs. I recently flipped my status in LinkedIn to “Hi, recruiters, I am open for opportunities (but please don’t tell my employer)” and have been FLOODED with interview requests.

        I’m fielding three different companies right now. One came in with an offer yesterday that is $20K higher than I’m making now and I told them (through an external recruiter) that I’ll need more than that to take their 3/2 hybrid role over the two fully remote positions that I expect to get offers from next week.

      4. Cj*

        accounting is hurting for people big time right now. you won’t necessarily need to have an accounting degree to work for a smaller firm doing bookkeeping or payroll.

        just make sure if you’re looking at the payroll side of things that you actually learn what kind of benefits are taxable, if deductions for benefits are pre-tax or post tax, etc and not just look at it as entry. I’ve actually worked for firms that stuck people on payroll without giving them this training. it did not go well. if you’re not doing in-house payroll, but work for a firm using ADP or similar, that is more on the data entry side of things.

        obviously, you need extreme attention to detail for anything involving accounting.

        1. Mid Life Spices*

          Is there any special place to find (ideally hybrid or remote) job postings for someone pivoting to Accounting/AP, other than the usual big job sites? I do have over 3 years of experience as an EA putting in Workday requests for new vendors, requisitions, and invoice payment, and working closely with our AP and Purchasing people to learn all the policies so I can act as the finance and budget liaison for my department. It’s a significant part of my role and I was surprised to find that enjoy it (I also have a humanities BA)! Would this experience be of value to an employer? I would like to have a role eventually that allows me to be fully remote, and EA work, while I do like it overall, generally doesn’t.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Check out USAJobs. The government is always hiring, and we need good people! (Caution, the process can take a long time, especially if you need a security clearance.)

      1. Panicked*

        If you do go this route, I encourage you to look at some of the free USAJobs webinars out there on how to create your resume. A traditional resume will not get picked up by the system; you have to create a new resume with very specific things on it.

        And I agree with Policy Wonk, this is NOT a fast process and can be quite frustrating if you don’t set your expectations ahead of time. I applied for several jobs years and years ago; I just recently got a rejection notice!

    3. Scientist12*

      Engineering/technician work. The folks in the lab helping experiments run and build the tools needed.

    4. Imprudence*

      I got back after a long gap (14 years) by applying for a niche job at a niche employer where they needed to be flexible. in fact, I didn’t even apply till they readvertised the job the day after the closing date of the first posting. by then I knew there was more chance they would consider someone who didn’t have any experience of the thing, but looked like they might be able to pick it up .

      Not sure how helpful that will be to you though

    5. Generic Name*

      Construction (there are tons of office jobs for the big construction companies) engineering, environmental compliance, architecture

    6. Tex*

      Energy related companies. (The big ones you have heard about, the big ones that might not be top of mind like EPC companies, and smaller, specialized firms that offer support services.)

      For all the big ones, the need is greatest in engineering and construction. But if you don’t have that background, there are plenty of support roles for adminsitration, labor relations, scheduling (MS project, primavera), procurement, etc. They are desperate enough to take cross over skills from adjacent industries. If you are interested, try to find a friend or someone who knows the energy industry. Lots of job titles are misleadingly understated in energy. For example, a Project Manager can be in charge of a couple thousand people to build a $9 billion plant.

  8. New Mom*

    I’ve been seeing a lot of jobs recently for “external relations” roles in the non-profit/education space. What does this mean exactly? It is a revamp of “marketing”? If someone has worked this type of job, or this type of role exists at your company, what do they do? What does their day-to-day or week-to-week look like?

    1. Elle*

      We’re doing this at my non profit! There’s even funding for it in my state. Basically, a lot of support services have very little visibility in the community to attract clients and donors. Our external relations folks meet with places that could refer clients and participate in community events to connect with businesses and individuals. In my experience this type of outreach is something non profits have not had the capacity to do and have suffered as a result.

    2. VV*

      I haven’t held the role but saw it often when last job searching — it is often used as a stand in or broader catch-all for government relations style work and sometimes seemed to include fundraising-adjacent work too.

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

      My org, non-profit higher ed, just renamed our Advancement dpt External Relations…the term Advancement is out of fashion i guess. It’s fund raising but probably has some component of government and community affairs too. MIGHT include marketing, but only tangentially in my experience.

    4. anomnom*

      I was on an External Relations team for 10+ years until last year, in higher ed, Division of Advancement. It was basically an umbrella over fundraising and any adjacent activities (third-party events, donor recognition, fund auditing, etc.). We did have to do a lot of our own marketing as the primary marketing teams didn’t see much value in advancement. I absolutely loved the work, although not so much the bureaucracy and awful pay of a public uni.

    5. Chaordic One*

      At bad old job in education it had to do with attracting students and going to places tangentially related to what our school taught to attract those students. It was also something that our DEI Officer did in attempting to attract more students of color.

  9. my cat is prettier than me*

    I’m currently in the process of looking for a new job and am having trouble describing why I was let go from a previous position. Essentially, my grandfather died somewhat unexpectedly (about a week after my wedding), and my performance declined. I was let go about six weeks later. What should I say when I’m asked why I was fired?

    1. ecnaseener*

      So sorry for your loss<3

      "I had trouble keeping up with my work while dealing with a family situation, and unfortunately I was let go. That situation has since been resolved and I'm ready to get back to work – and I know now that it's important to communicate those issues early on."

      Unfortunately I think you do need to include that last bit or something like it, even if it doesn't feel true.

      1. Lemoncat*

        You might want to be more specific than that: “I had trouble keeping up with my work while dealing with a death in the family, and unfortunately I was let go…”

        If you only say, “a family situation”, the prospective employer may wonder how many other “family situations” are on the way and if they are trivial or constant or distracting or what.

    2. Anecdata*

      Do you know what your previous employer will say if called for a reference? Can you negotiate something neutralish – confirm dates of employment only?

      If you can, I’d go with as little detail as possible – “I’ve been dealing with a family emergency, which has resolved so I’m ready to start looking for my next role”

      1. Momma me? Yeah!*

        this is best, unless you are extremely unique and can carry off more information with confidence.

        I know this because I was let go when I had 2 kids in 2 years and was a poor performer. a few part-time jobs and project work and 5 years later and I was much better at spinning it but less information is best.

    3. Twitterpated*

      “I had an unexpected family loss and I struggled with it to the point where my work performance suffered. Unfortunately I was unable to meet the needs of my company at that point and they had to let me go.”

      If you have anything that points to being a strong performer before, bring that out. The important thing here is to take ownership of the dip in your performance, and ideally come up with ways you could have handled things differently (not your grief, but could you have asked for a leave of absence or talked to your manager more about ways to mitigate your lack of productivity during this time? That kind of thing.)

      I’m sorry for your loss!

    4. Maggie*

      Don’t tell them you were fired and don’t use your old boss as a reference (obvious since they fired you). Just say you’re looking for something XYZ

      1. Anecdata*

        Given that they fired you after only 6 weeks, is it possible you were new in the role/only there a few months? If so, you might consider just leaving it off your resume entirely

    5. Bagpuss*

      Is it necessary to let them know you were fired?
      If so, maybe something like “I was dealing with a lot of high stress events in my personal life including the unexpected death of a close relative, and wasn’t able to perform to my usual high standards”

    6. NaoNao*

      Firstly, I would not volunteer that you were fired. I’m not saying lie, but you can use softer language like “mutually agreed to part ways” or “the role ended” or something like that.

      If an interviewer asks why you *left* which is more common, you can say something like “it was time for me to move on/looking for something more suited to my skills/background” or something very anodyne. Even better, focus on what is drawing you to the company–“the role changed and it wasn’t right for me anymore. But I’m very interested in X that your company is doing…”

      Being negative, even to explain a totally normal and understandable situation, is almost never advisable (and even saying something like “a death in the family made it hard to concentrate and I wound up leaving”–the interviewer may think “well, what other circumstances are going to crop up that means this person can’t work well?”) so I’d very carefully “spin” this into something else.

      If asked directly using the words “fired” you can first focus on your up until then good performance “I was very successful in the role for 4 years. In 2022 my grandfather passed away and I admit I was distracted and not doing my best work. The company decided to let me go. I’ve since developed some strategies for coping with unexpected situations like that, and that type of thing won’t happen again.” Or something similar.

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      My sympathy for your loss.

      “I suffered a sudden family bereavement which meant I struggled to manage my work for the next few weeks. I’ve recovered my equilibrium now and am eager to resume my career”

    8. thelettermegan*

      There’s great scripts here, but I think it’s important to remember that you should only use these if asked why you left your last position.

      In resumes and cover letters, your only message should be that you are excited about the opportunity and will bring great things to this company. Any information about why/how you’re currently not working will read as if you are more concerned about your employment status than the job itself.

      I’ve found it’s very rare for a hiring manager to ask why someone is currently unemployed or looking to leave their current position. So be honest if it comes up, but keep the conversation focused on what you’ll bring to the job at hand and why you want to work for this company.

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        I’ve had two phone screens so far and both were with recruiters, so I didn’t know what company I was applying to. They both asked why I left that position. One said that because I had been fired in the past, I would need two references in order to move forward.

        1. Anecdata*

          I also have found it pretty common to be asked in a first interview/phone screen why you’re looking – why you’re leaving your current/most recent job, but I haven’t been asked about anything before that. And haven’t had pushback on “I’m looking for more growth and excited about XYZ in new role”, etc answers

    9. HonorBox*

      I’m really sorry for your loss.

      I think if it comes up (and only if it comes up, don’t offer it), as others have suggested, owning the dip in performance and specifying WHY it occurred is the way to do it. People deal with loss and people are human, and I’d expect that most would understand.

      “My grandfather passed unexpectedly, and in the grieving process, my performance wasn’t what my employer needed from me, nor was it to the higher standard I hold for myself.”

      1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        I disagree with anyone commenting that you should own up to the performance issues UNLESS they ask directly if you were fired (which most jobs in my experience won’t ask). As a hiring manager, I would absolutely hold that against you — how am I to know you aren’t going to have another personal emergency while you’re working for me?

        The best script when asked why you left / are looking is something to the tune of “personal / family emergency led to me to leaving that job but that has since passed and I’m excited for a new opportunity!”

  10. Little Beans*

    Any suggestions for dealing with a boss who doesn’t reliably see email? Probably once a week, my boss will ask me something that I already emailed her about. Sometimes she’ll ask me to loop her in on something and I’ll just forward to her the same email that I already sent/cc’ed her on. We meet biweekly 1:1, and weekly with a team, and she will often ask me questions in person that require me to recap information I already sent her in email. In most cases, it’s clear she never saw the email/had no idea I sent it. I suspect what is happening is, anything that is not urgent at the time just gets pushed down in her inbox and then she never even opens it. So far, my only strategy is to repeat things in person and resend the same emails again, but would love to know if anyone has a better idea…

    1. bird bird*

      Do you have an instant messaging service in your work? Could you send it to her there (while also sending the email, to have a permanent record)?

      1. Little Beans*

        I definitely use gchat for anything quick and/or urgent and she is always responsive there. But the emails are replies to something, or a cc that other people are included on, or a longer message that has attachments, etc.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is there some other channel or mechanism for this kind of stuff? Project planning tool, shared spreadsheets, etc? It sounds like she’s only handling the information as it streams to her, instead of being able to access it when she needs it.

      If that’s not something that works in your organization, can you do something different with email subject lines so that it’ll stick in her head better, or so she can search her inbox more easily?

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I’d talk to her about what is the best way to reach her.

      For me, email is the absolute worst way and is the bottom of my list to check. If you want to reach me, Slack me.

      1. Little Beans*

        Yeah, that’s not the model in my organization though. Everyone uses email. Even very high level important people usually see and respond to their emails.

        1. Observer*

          Which is fine. But you need to communicate with her, not the model.

          So talk to her about it. Keep sending the emails if it’s necessary for enabling communications with the rest of the company. But check with her about the best way to communicate with her. You don’t have the standing to require her to get her email under control.

          1. Corelle*

            This. I’ve never had a boss with this issue, but colleagues in other departments have. They’re usually people who prefer text or IM. I figure out what works best (usually start by mirroring however they tend to contact me) and then ping them that way about anything important. “Hey, I just cc’d you on an email chain with VP, wanted to give you a heads up, if you can reply back by Monday and shoot me an IM if you have any questions in the meantime, that would be great.”

            Most of the time, people like this are aware of their shortcomings and have tried and failed to fix it, and are grateful for people who simply recognize it and do their best to accommodate it rather than shame them about it, so I do it for peers as well as bosses. But my job involves a lot of convincing people to do things I don’t have the authority to make them do, so building goodwill is important…your needs may be different.

          1. CTT*

            Yeah, I think there’s still room for conversation. I too am in an industry where everyone uses email, but there are also some people who are worse at reading everything than others and we’ve figured out methods to solve this.

      2. Magpie*

        I would second talking to her. Name the pattern you’re seeing, that she often doesn’t see emails you’ve sent and then asks about things that were in those emails. Ask her if there’s anything you can do on your end so this doesn’t keep happening. At the very least, it might make her realize this is happening a lot and make her want to change how she approaches her inbox. Or maybe she’ll have a suggestion for something you can do differently, like adding something to the subject line or flagging the email in a certain way so she’s more likely to open it.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think this is an indication that biweekly 1:1s are not enough. You probably need to be meeting weekly, if that’s what it takes to make sure she’s getting the info/communication she needs from you.

      My general philosophy is that trying to change a boss’s way of functioning is a waste of energy. She doesn’t see email. Assume that’s not going to change, and that verbal recaps are the best way. So you need them more frequently.

    5. Coveredbridges*

      I use standardize subject lines.

      “ACTION NEEDED: Acme project, change order update”
      “STATUS UPDATE: Acme change order executed, vendor services in progress”
      “FYI: Acme reporting completed, project closed”

    6. TX_trucker*

      I used to have a boss like that, and I simply kept a special “sent” folder just for him. So when he asked, I had the original email easily accessible. That was years ago, and since then, I have been promoted to “that” boss and now it’s my turn to be perpetually behind on emails. I constantly tell staff not to send me email updates unless I ask. AND to text me when they send it, so I know to look for it. I recommend you talk to your boss about what method works best for them. If they are asking for a verbal recap, perhaps you need to meet in-person more frequently.

    7. TechWorker*

      Honestly… I would think a bit more on what problem this causes for you. If your boss is missing info & making ‘wrong’ decisions because they missed your mail, that’s obviously a problem. If something comes up in conversation and they’re like ‘oh can you send me that again’ – it’s not *ideal* but is it the end of the world..? Would sending them the subject line of the email feel ‘better’ than re-sending it?

      Context: I get hundreds of emails every day. Sometimes I read stuff, mark down that I need to read it properly & respond, or read it but it’s not my priority to deal with it. (That goes doubly for things where I’m ‘just cc-ed for reference’). So yea, sometimes if it comes up in conversation I’ll ask my report to point me to the relevant email, because sent is a lot easier to search than the massive inbox. I don’t think I do this as much as your boss, but I also don’t think it’s quite as terrible as you think…

      1. JR*

        I agree. I think the answer is just repeat and resend. It’s a pain, but it presumably means she’s buried in emails. Sure, check with her to see if there’s a better way to reach her, but this may realistically be the best case scenario.

      2. Oh snap!*

        Agree. My team sends me email, and sometimes I glance quickly at it and don’t have time in the moment to read it thoroughly. Or miss it entirely if I am not checking email for a few hours or days.

        I have a busier schedule and more email then them, if I need a quick verbal recap or a resend, they should just resend it and it really should not be a big deal. Just like I do to my boss, because she is busier than me and gets more email than me.

      3. Little beans*

        I think I just feel awkward when I’m in a meeting with a lot of people, we’re all discussing a topic and my boss asks or says something that makes it clear she hasn’t read an email that we were all cc’ed on. Or she’ll ask “can you send me that email?” And I don’t want to say, in front of other people, Yeah, I sent it to you yesterday…

        1. TechWorker*

          ‘I think I forwarded to it to you already, I’ll check’

          Completely unoffensive, as long as you manage to say it without sounding like you think she’s an idiot, then you either re-forward or ping on messenger going ‘the info you wanted is on the thread ‘Exact thread title’.

          1. TechWorker*

            Or if it’s an email with a lot of people ‘I think you’re already on the thread, I can dig it out for you’

  11. Elevator Elevator*

    My small company is at an inflection point and as part of that I’ll be sitting down with the owners to discuss a new role and salary – any advice to help me prepare for that is welcome.

    We’re currently a company of five: Two owners, one Llama Manager, one Llama Tamer, and me, the Llama Wrangler. We had a second wrangler up until they quit last summer. I’ve been handling the increased workload on my own ever since (with a small amount of spillover passing to the tamer), and received a very small raise for it. When I asked about a second wrangler, the owners said they were evaluating staffing needs to determine if a new wrangler was the best path (vs a groomer or vet), so I didn’t expect the raise to reflect that I was doing the work of two people.

    Of course, that was nine months ago. There’s been no talk of a new hire, and I’ve been very aware of the fact that I received a 5% raise while saving the owners the equivalent of my entire salary. I was already starting to get my thoughts in order for requesting a significant raise at my next review.

    Now, the manager is resigning. This comes just before the business goes through two major changes that were already going to make fall an extremely challenging time. I had a brief meeting with one of the owners yesterday where he broke the news and I confirmed I’m willing to take on an increased role. We agreed the owners and I will meet soon to discuss what that looks like in terms of responsibilities, title, and salary. They’ll also hire a new wrangler, who I expect I will be largely responsible for training and overseeing.

    I’m planning on asking for a 40% raise. The outgoing manager has shared her current salary with me – it was shockingly low, and she hasn’t gotten a raise since negotiating it several years ago. The amount I have in mind is more than she’s currently making, but significantly less than the job offer she took (which is nearly a 50% increase over what she’s making now). She is taking years of knowledge with her that I won’t be able to replicate, so I’m a little unsure about asking for more than they paid her to deliver what feels like less in absolute value. This is offset by the fact that I have llama certifications she doesn’t have, plus a background in llama sales that’s proving very useful. Either way, this is a uniquely bad situation for the business to be in and it’s one that the owners created by cheaping out on staffing costs. As the only person they can really lean on to get through the consequences of their own poor planning, I think a 40% raise is justified.

    I’m also aware that they will expect me to stay at this salary indefinitely, so it’s not in my best interests to aim lower and then hope I can negotiate for further increases once I’ve proven myself in the new role. Circumstances have aligned to give me an amount of leverage I’m not likely to see again, so I really think I need to go as big as I can right now.

    (The owners don’t need to know this, but it would take a lot for me to leave over pay. I could make more elsewhere, but the structure here is a uniquely good fit for my specific mental health needs.)

    Any thoughts/advice/reality checks welcome, or any insight if people have been in similar situations!

    1. t-vex*

      I don’t think you need to talk about the percentage increase, just say here’s what I’m bringing to the table, here’s some examples of how I’ve done a great job, and I think that is worth $XX.

      1. Elevator Elevator*

        Oh definitely, I have a set dollar amount I’m asking for – I just said 40% here to illustrate the relative size of the increase.

    2. Tio*

      Make yourself a list of duties you expect to take on, and a list of duties you expect the other people in the company to take on. See how many direct reports you may have, and what additional duties overseeing them would have.

      A lot of people like to say “managers don’t do work” because managers are less involved in the day to day, but they’re not supposed to be involved in the day to day doing operations work. they need to be able to plan, supervise, set directions and goals, liase with the upper ranks and defend the operations people when needed. Expect a lot of planning and forecasting to be involved in the managerial work – build that time in.

      Then, look at the department, and decide what are the goals. Increase revenue? How? Streamlining, adding services, what? What are your goals for the department, and your goals for the individuals, and how will you track them?

      This is your time to control what goals you have and how to set them and measure them. If you let people above you dictate them, they’ll almost certainly be less realistic. But some of it will be set by them anyway. Coming in with the plan gives you control and shows you’re ready for a higher role.

      For the salary, do some market research. Make sure you’re hitting industry standards, possibly with a little on top, and make sure you know what you’re not willing to go below. If they fight you tooth and nail on the salary, and you absolutely can’t win, that’s a sign to take the title and immediately use it to jump ship to a higher job with your shiny promotion.

    3. WellRed*

      I wonder if it might be a good time to work with owner to reimagine and revamp this role given you have some different skills to bring to it and then figure out salary.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      It’s really hard to gauge these without specific titles/duties/numbers. But most people do not get 40% raises. So you really need a different plan or a backup plan, because there is a high likelihood it’s going to get rejected quickly. And then what? It will be in their court instead of yours, which you may not like.

      also it’s probably easier to get a large increase if you recommend phasing it in or doing part as a bonus. Especially in a small company.

      I’d also recommend against a common mistake I see in smaller-medium companies I’ve been at. People will come in saying “I’m doing the work of four people!” But when you drill down into it they really aren’t. They think they are doing social media because they made a few posts. They think they are doing Accounting because they did a few reports. Then it becomes a discussion about “well you really don’t do those things…” but also a business discussion of “if that person wants $10K more a year for doing social media, it now makes financial sense to outsource it to a company that specializes in it and SEO and has a good reporting platform,” for example. so be prepped for that by sticking to the core real value you bring and how it translates into money. Also don’t fluff up too much. For example, I’ve seen people using phrases like “project management” when they just sent a few follow up emails. It makes us think their self-assessment is off, which makes us think they might be playing up other contributions too hard

      1. MJ*

        But then if it were me, I wouldn’t position it as a raise when talking to my employer. It’s a salary negotiation for a new role that we are developing in response to the needs of the business.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          I’ve never seen any arrangement NOT phased in though. I guess companies use to to build trust or test a few times to see if you’ll actually fulfill the role. For example, if you add people management to your job, it’s not like you deal with 40 HR issues on day one. There is usually one here, one there, one the next month. The work sort of phases in over time and you need experience to figure out how to handle each situation

          1. Elevator Elevator*

            To provide a little more context of what we’re up against: One owner is approaching retirement and largely focused on maintaining client relationships, with zero understanding of day to day operations. The owner that does understand day to day operations is weeks away from maternity leave. The company is undergoing a major transition next month that will bring a massive operational workload. The outgoing manager would have been responsible for holding things together, but I am now their only option for getting through any of this.

            I take your point about these typically being more gradual transitions, but I’m not going to get a transition period. This is going to be straight into the deep end with a significant and immediate expansion of my responsibilities.

      2. Storm in a teacup*

        The context I think you’re missing is that this isn’t a raise for the same role but rather a salary negotiation for a different, more senior role in the same company.
        I agree 40% is steep but if it’s fair market value….

        Also OP make sure you know what your minimum is that you’re willing to accept

    5. Mad Harry Crewe*

      ASK FOR MORE. Don’t devalue your abilities just because you don’t have the knowledge that your manager does. Are you going to do a good job? Get paid for that good job.

      Figure out what’s the wage range for this role in this region? Ask for something in the middle of that. Don’t do their negotiating for them, especially since you know you’re negotiating not just for you-right-now, but for you-next-year, and you-in-five-years, with all of the advanced skills and knowledge you will add.

      1. Rekha3.14*

        Two different pieces of advice I’ve heard along the way – what is the biggest number you can ask for with a straight face, and whatever you think is a fair increase, add 15% if you’re female (to make up for the wage gap). And a bonus – after you ask, stop talking and wait.

    6. Storm in a teacup*

      I think you need to reframe this slightly.
      You’re not asking for a raise on your current salary which is based on your current role.
      You are looking to define your salary expectations for the new job you will be doing, which is a significant step up from where you currently are, it sounds like.
      Get an idea of fair market value where you are for your role and sense check it’s enough for you to do the role.
      Then pitch that salary to them. Be clear what you bring in terms of your lateral experience that’s useful, your qualifications and also your institutional knowledge.

    7. Midwest Manager*

      It’s incredibly important that you adjust your own focus away from what the business has saved by exploiting you as a metric for why they should be able to afford to pay you more. Business owners don’t think about it like that. Your plan to ask for what you would need to take on extra responsibilites is completely separate from what your manager is/was making from this company. Regardless of what happens with the manager’s role, they will have to pay more for less. As you stated, that’s a problem of THEIR making, not yours.

      I wish you the best success in leveraging this situation to your benefit. Don’t back down, and only agree to something if YOU think it’s in your best interest. They need you right now more than you need them.

    8. HonorBox*

      I think you should outline not only everything you’re bringing to the table in terms of certification and your sales acumen, have specific outline of the job duties you see that you’ll be taking on, as well as the knowledge that you (as of maternity leave for owner 2) will be overseeing day to day operations, while also supervising someone who will take on the role you’re vacating.

      Your manager had specific job duties, but it sounds like there will be more management and oversight due to the upcoming maternity leave, and your role may also increase the business’s bottom line more than your manager’s did.

      If you go in with a proposal for a job description and highlight additional things that are in there beyond what was done in the role previous, you’re really creating a proposal for a new position, which is how you should be looking at this. Don’t think of it as just moving up. You’re moving into a position that creates more value, especially at a critical time for the business.

      And as others have said, don’t base your salary request on your current salary. They’re going to need to pay you correctly for the new role you’re proposing. Heck, you might even want to indicate that you’d like to see a pay increase of X% at your annual review just to get them thinking that they can’t continue to not provide increases.

  12. Jinni*

    I have an odd question. I’ve been self-employed for most of my working life. For a brief period in the mid-2000s, I had an office job at a trade organization. In that job, nearly everyone had their own office with a window around the perimeter of the building, and in the middle of each floor were a few support staff, and office equipment, bookshelves, etc.

    In reading about empty downtowns and the ‘end’ of WFH, the biggest complaints seem to be about cube farms, bullpens, and hot desking.

    My parents always had offices, and for those friends that aren’t self-employed, they still have offices (but doctors/lawyers/TV writers/TV/MovieProducers – so maybe for confidentiality reasons or historical).

    When did the trend change from offices to open work environments? Are they the killer of productivity, and what makes WFH so appealing to some? I can’t see how I’d be able to think/work with people moving all around.

    1. Alex*

      My office moved from a office-centered office to a cube farm in 2014. It was awful. I think companies do it because it is cheap.

      Yes, it absolutely is part of what makes WFH appealing! Well, that and the lack of commute. And the ability to work in pjs. And to throw in a load of laundry during the day. Did I mention the lack of commute?

      1. Sloanicota*

        I could absolutely tolerate Cube Hell one day a week if I had WFH the other four, or even probably two days in three off, if they weren’t back-t0-back days – but I almost had a nervous breakdown working 5 days a week in a terrible cube farm. I just could NOT concentrate for even five minutes with the constant disruptions. Imagine trying to fix a complicated spreadsheet while next to you someone is hosting a loud webinar and on the other side someone just put their conference call on speakerphone.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It really started in the 90s. The main reason, as far as I can tell, was saving on real estate.

      However – some historical perspective. If you go find photos from the 20s through the 50s – especially of places like the white collar divisions of major manufacturers – the bullpen/open office concept was all over the place. Row after row of drafting tables, etc.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Yes, look up some of the aerospace manufacturers — Northrup Grumman just had grids of tables with identical dudes in white button-down shirts all drawing diagrams.

      2. Agree*

        Yes but these people would just be doing their jobs. No cell phones, computers, no meetings, limited need to interact with others. And much less socializing while at your work station.

      3. Bagpuss*

        Yes, historically lots if offices were like that – it used to be rows of desks like an old fashioned class room, with offices for more senior managers. Now it’s cubes, which is mostly cost – you can fit more in than you can actual offices, building materials and styles mean you don;t need as many interior walls (or pillars or other support) and the space is more versatile

      4. Annika Hansen*

        Yes, the Johnson Wax Administrative building was built in the 30s. It has a big open concept. This is in Racine, Wisconsin, not exactly a huge city. However, unlike the open offices of today, there is actually space between the desks.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      It’s been a pretty long time now–AAM and readers have been lamenting for years. And, yes, everyone but the people who are high up enough to still have offices hate them.

    4. Fiona*

      Simply put, it’s cheaper and easier to squish people into an open space than give everyone their own office.

      That said, I’m part of the teeny tiny minority that has always thrived in that environment. I can put on headphones if I need to focus, but the hum of everyone working around me is like productive white noise. I also find that it engenders collaboration and it’s easier for junior people to absorb the office culture and learn by osmosis. My dad had a small company that he started in the 80s and he had an open office, which was not en vogue at the time. They were all programmers and he said he couldn’t begin to count the problems that got solved by someone simply overhearing an issue. So I grew up thinking it was a plus. But again, based on all my peers, I’m an outlier.

      1. olusatrum*

        I also don’t particularly mind an open office, but I have found that the office/company culture has a huge impact on how well it works. In fact, I start to wonder if some of the problems folks have with open offices really have more to do with the communication culture at their company than the actual seating arrangement

        We had a pretty classic “mash a bunch of tables together with little 1.5ft dividers” open office at my first job, and I enjoyed it for pretty much all the reasons you list. The company had also managed to instill a culture of respecting everyone’s time and focus, for example it was extremely normal and expected to IM someone for small potatoes even if they were sitting right next to you. We got 1-2 WFH days a week and I didn’t even use them because everything just ran smoother in the office

        The next job had one of those awful bullpens where my tiny team of data analysts was scattered amongst a busy call center, with a TV in the front playing Cops with the volume on and a manager in the back sending nastygrams to my manager in her office any time he couldn’t see what I was doing on my screens. Hell on earth!

        My current job has a 70s style cube farm with high walls and it’s mediocre. I get some privacy, but the culture around communication sucks. Everyone just comes by my desk and I’m constantly interrupted. A few times I have literally had a line of people waiting to ask me questions. This somehow does not actually result in the kind of casual socializing and background bustle that leads to collaboration and learning opportunities. It’s like everyone’s either locked in a hellish 4hr block of virtual meetings, bothering someone else, or being bothered.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Two things I think – 1) I saw more offices and less cube farms in smaller towns or rural areas – cube farms are more likely in places where space is expensive – they seem pretty ubiquitous in DC now, I assume also NYC. 2) This seems to be a change from even a decade ago when I started working, in that the cubes are now no-or-low dividers, very small, and really packed in there – if there are even cubes at all, as opposed to just open shared desk spaces – but my experience is muddied by the fact that I moved from a rural area to an urban one around the same time.

    6. talos*

      Before working in one, I never thought I would like open offices. But here we are…

      My company has small open office sections (like you cleverly put a bank of conference rooms or a random wall so that there are never more than 20 or 30 people in one space), so the noise/distraction isn’t out of control and not generally any worse than a cube farm. The thing I like that you don’t get in cubes or private offices is that I can actually see people, so I know who’s around/available to ask questions to and who would need to be IMed. Back in cubicles I would frequently wind up IMing people who were sitting like 10 feet from me because I didn’t know they were there.

      1. t-vex*

        That’s interesting! We have offices in my company an no real instant messaging culture so I end up walking up and down the hall multiple times a day to find people.

        1. t-vex*

          I mean, I don’t *really* mind it because I get a little exercise and sometimes run into other people doing the same thing that I wouldn’t interact with otherwise.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think they are the primary thing that makes work from home so appealing to some. They may play a part, but I think saving maybe an hour or two each day on commuting, possibly being able to buy a home, as you can move to a place far from the city where houses are far cheaper, not needing childcare for older preteen and young teenagers who are too young to be home alone but don’t need active care, etc are more likely benefits.

    8. londonedit*

      I’ve been working since 2003 and I’ve never worked for a company where anyone below management had their own office. Usually, in my experience of London publishing companies, you’ll either be in a rambling old terraced building with smallish rooms where each team has a room to itself and everyone sits at a desk in that room, or you’ll be in a larger, more modern building with banks of desks and departments grouped together. I’ve never worked for a company with a ‘cube farm’ setup and I think it’s much less common in the UK than in the US. So I don’t have any experience of having my own office or of that being the norm.

      Maybe it’s because of that, but I’ve never found open-plan or working in the same room as others to be as hellish as people here tend to describe it as. It’s never been particularly loud or disruptive, and there have always been meeting rooms or other spaces where you can meet privately with people.

      I do enjoy WFH because it cuts down on commuting and my home setup is quite nice (no small children or sharing space with anyone else) but I also don’t mind working in an office, as I’ve experienced them. Where I currently am our office building has largish rooms with maybe 8-10 people working in each – the team I work on all sit together on the same bank of desks. I think it’s quite collaborative rather than people being squirrelled away in cubes or offices.

      1. t-vex*

        I agree on the collaboration aspect – I share an office with the other person on my team and I find it’s really a great way to work. But if we weren’t working on the same projects and it was just some random person next to me I can see how that would get annoying fast.

      2. Sloanicota*

        This is interesting – I probably wouldn’t mind it if I actually saw the value of this “collaboration” they’re always going on about, in my specific work. Like if the team all worked on something jointly and we were all in an office together, maybe. I’m usually in a more individual-contributor role with set tasks I need to do, so the chatter and disruption is just getting in the way of that for me, and I’m often sitting elbow-to-elbow with people whose work doesn’t impact or intersect with mine in any way. The “collaboration” comes in the form of people interrupting me because they can make eye contact and ask me if I know how to change the toner in the printer or if I can point them towards the bathrooms or whatever.

    9. Decidedly Me*

      Open offices have been around for a long while. I think whether they hurt and aid productivity really depends on the job, which is why they shouldn’t be used randomly. Companies also need to think about different personality types and how to accommodate those.

      Funny story – my partner got two job offers out of college at very well known companies. One had an open set up and one had offices. He went with the one with offices specifically to avoid open office. Now – he’s at a company with an open office set up and loves it. The company is very big on collaboration and the set up allows for that more easily. The company has never had a return to the office mandate since COVID WFH and most people have returned on their own for at least 2-3 days a week if not more.

      I’m WFH myself, so I don’t get it!

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The Wikipedia articles on “Cubicle” and “Action Office” give a lot of background and photos and provide links to primary sources.

    11. Freddie Mercurial*

      I feel like it’s primarily space/cost. We have more staff than office space. My spouse’s organization moved to a smaller building and most people will now be in cubes, even though they work with confidential information.

    12. Lora*

      Bullpen rows of desks were normal for many jobs including white collar jobs in the 1960s and 70s, the cube farms were invented by Herman Miller in I think the late 1960s and called Action Offices, but didn’t take off until the 1980s. They were intended to provide more privacy and sound damping than an open bullpen arrangement. Now we are back to the open rows of desks because as others have said, they are inexpensive and easy to move around, especially with the enforced impersonality of hoteling/hotdesking where you don’t have an assigned desk (though in real life, people will squat their favorites and arrive at different times to get “good” desks if they have a choice, just as they do with subway and bus seats). I would add a second function: they facilitate Bullshit Jobs, if you’ve ever read the David Graeber book. For people whose job consists largely of schmoozing and has few measurable outputs, spending a significant portion of the day socializing in front of their managers gives the impression of productivity where none in fact exists.

      It’s noisy. So, so noisy. Headphones help, to an extent, but not enough. There are often no considerations for acoustics or HVAC distribution and while some offices have a pretty strict culture around the appropriate way to interrupt someone, many do not and your day will be constantly interrupted by people who just want to hang out and socialize. Pre-pandemic I was working for a company that did the cube farms, and required everyone to be on site even though our work was very concentration-intensive and collaborations had to be somewhat formalized for regulatory reasons; we spent the live long day on Teams and Zoom calls overseas when we weren’t programming or working on reports, and rarely interacted at all beyond “hi” and “is anyone else going to (lunch place)? want me to grab you something?” When we had to have a collaboration, it was a scheduled thing in a meeting room with considerable documentation of the event, not a casual “hey, I have a question”. During the shutdowns and work from home, my output increased 3X simply because I wasn’t being interrupted for six hours a day for absolutely nothing. The list of things I can’t get accomplished in an open office in a timely manner due to the constant interruptions is a solid 75% of my job. If someone really needed me, they could email or IM, but the simple barrier of “you have to formulate a question and type it” was enough to deter the socializing.

      I have a spare bedroom in my house that became my work from home office. It has MANY more amenities than any office building ever provided me: my own private bathroom stocked with all my products, two large tables in addition to my desk (one for paperwork and drawings, one for my preferred snacks and electric kettle), my preferred glowing mechanical keyboard that makes a noise which absolutely does bother other people but which I personally love, bookshelves full of reference texts and office supplies in my preferred brands and colors, a very comfortable chair with extra cushions, rug and curtains and decor to my personal taste, warm LED task lighting instead of overhead fluorescents, my degrees and publications hanging on the wall in case of an imposter syndrome moment, a cat toy /scratching post corner, my fuzzy slippers. At office jobs I can bring exactly none of this, because mostly I don’t get an office, or a very small one at best. Nearby restaurants didn’t serve particularly healthy lunches, but at home I can get my 5+ fruits and veggies per day, no problem. My preferred yoga studio is nearby and I can hop in as I have time.

      Even in creative jobs, you need some space where people aren’t constantly hovering over you to critique your work, in order to work your way through prototypes and trying different things that might not work out, before you have something that’s worth showing to others for feedback – nevermind the many many jobs which require deep focus in order to execute well, and the additional jobs that aren’t particularly collaborative or suffer from a Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen situation. I can see where there might be some open office jobs that happen to have a culture that allows people to make mistakes, gives people their space and respects noise canceling headphones, but most open office jobs aren’t that, and numerous studies have shown that open offices aren’t, on the whole, very productive.

      And that’s before we get to the commute. Oh my god, I used to lose three hours per day commuting. It was expensive, it was time consuming, I didn’t have time or energy to do much more than basic personal hygiene when I got home, and had to use vacation days and sick days for household chores which I now get done easily after work. Nobody other than extremely senior management can afford to live close to work in my area – which is a major employment hub for my field, and all the other hubs (San Francisco, DC metro area, RTP) are in the same boat where nobody but the C-levels can afford a short commute. Public transit takes just as long if not longer. I bought my house nearly two decades ago and now housing prices are so astronomical that nobody in my area lives less than an hour away from their jobs. If you can offer remote work to people, you are then able to access a MUCH larger hiring pool than if you were stuck with whoever is within easy driving distance. My own employer whose headquarters (founded 150+ years ago in an area that has since declined in quality of life) would be in big trouble if they had to hire only locally, and whose satellite offices / labs struggle to hire any rock stars for similar reasons; they’re currently building a new facility in a rock star hub, as they had great success with a facility they finished last year in a major hub, but they’ve been able to punch well above their weight in hiring due to the ability to offer WFH.

      1. Momma me? Yeah!*

        when the baby boomer cohort (born 1946-1964) hit the workplace. makes sense. they all had relatively affordable and accessible college, many had GI benefits from Vietnam, leading to knowledge work and managerial positions. and they all hit the workplace at the same time, aged 22-25 or so, as companies were growing to meet the demand of a growing economy. where to put all these new workers? somewhere cheap and modular.

        hadn’t thought of it the same way as trailers at a local elementary school but it’s similar

    13. WellRed*

      I agree it’s a money thing but I also bet some if it was influenced by companies like Apple or whoever that seem so cutting edge with all these really modern spaces and “collaboration” and “nerf darts” that had stodgier companies emulating that.

    14. Aitch Arr*

      I’ve been in open plan, cube farm type office settings since 1998. (Downtown Boston and metro area.)

      Offices were reserved for management, or in many cases, there were no assigned offices, but you could book them like you could book conference rooms.

    15. Hillary*

      Cube setup varies wildly, and it can definitely be great or awful. I’ve been lucky enough to mostly work places that gave us enough space. My favorite setup was one where the cubes got the windows and almost all offices were on inside walls. The logic was people in cubes were going to be there more than senior leaders who traveled a lot so they should get the light. It had big cubes with waist-height walls and everything was new with light colors. They made an effort to seat teams together and it was great for collaboration & teaching. We weren’t tired after lunch anymore because we had the afternoon sun.

      I’d rather have that setup than a dark office with no windows (two different jobs) any time.

    16. Momma me? Yeah!*

      you’re thinking of jobs or positions that have traditionalist been higher-level, male knowledge workers, supported by staff often younger, less educated and often female. I bet the secretaries, receptionists, nurses, entry-level analysts or writers or editors did not have offices. as technology developed, the skills of administrative assistants and entry-level employees and mid-level employees merged. this was also a way of devaluing the skills and knowledge of support staff “oh you don’t need a word processing department, you can format your own documents.” no, you can’t. or make your own travel arrangements? what a time suck.

      also paperless trend means desks are cleaner and neater. if all you’re doing is plugging in, you don’t need privacy for confidential information. and offices seem to be less likely to to host people, so guests won’t see confidential information, anyway, so might as well put everyone in the middle of the floor

      just spitballing. good question

  13. A. Nonymous*

    I need to know if I’m overreacting or not.

    Back in September I was desperately trying to fill an empty role on my team with minimal support from our company’s recruiting and HR. I was working with an external recruiter to fill this role and hadn’t heard from him in 10 days. I emailed the head of the recruiting department asking for an update on filling the role, then sent him a follow up email six days later (this is important).

    Shortly after I sent the followup, my HR rep emailed by boss (whose inbox management is one of my primary duties) saying that I was “repeatedly” emailing the head of recruiting and causing a fuss. I checked all of my emails, calls, and Teams comms to confirm I wasn’t losing my mind. I sent the initial request, a “thank you” after the recruiting head replied to me, then a follow up tickler 6 days later. My HR rep either knowingly lied or failed to do the absolute base level of due dilligence before reporting my conduct to my boss. Am I overreacting, or was this kind of shitty?

    1. Former Retail Lifer*

      This is shitty. “Repeatedly” would be at least every day or every other day. You had significant time in between follow-ups.

    2. A. Nonymous*

      Two quick points of clarification:

      1. Temp recruiter might be more accurate — someone who is categorized as an “external consultant” but recruits only on behalf of your company
      2. Turns out said recruited had either quit or was fired a week before I reached out to the head of recruiting, and no one had bothered to tell me (or give me a new recruiter).

      1. HonorBox*

        Yeah, with the clarification, it is even more shitty. If they didn’t bother to let you know that the recruiter was gone (and that might cause a few delays), following up more than a work week later isn’t wrong.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Reads to me like the recruiting team is in over their heads and is lashing out because they know they’re dropping balls. I would say something to your boss like, “Yeah, I was surprised to see that email because I only reached out to them twice, but perhaps they’re just overwhelmed at the moment.” Basically, convey that that this is a them issue/not something you did wrong and that you’re being the bigger person about it. Goes a long way.

    4. Lemoncat*

      Make your boss solve it, that’s why Grommit gets paid the big money.

      “Hey, Grommit. We both know we need a new team member. I tried to get HR to accelerate a little, but they pushed back hard and even attacked me. I’ve done all I can do. Now it’s up to you, but if we don’t get that new team member soon, our performance will suffer.”

      In other words, your boss Grommit will look bad. So it’s now it up to Grommit to go bark at HR and solve the problem.

  14. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    I was curious reading the thread on the Fed change to the salaried exempt threshold earlier this week that teachers are usually not included when legislation like that gets passed. Anyone know the history behind why that is, or have reading recs that cover it?

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think there’s often special call-outs for what, IIRC, they call “learned professionals” – also farmworkers are almost always not included in these big policies.

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

      Just a guess…maybe because most public school teachers are unionized and therefore the ability to collectively bargain is assumed to cover them. Also, because they are usually state employees, the government always exempts itself.

      1. Observer*

        Nope. For one thing, the exception is not for PS Teachers, but for ALL teachers.

        One of the reasons is the “professional” nature of teaching. Another is that when this law was drafted, you worked in an office / factory, or you were either a farm laborer or household help. The latter two categories were exempted from most of the protections of the law for a whole host of reasons (including flat out racism). But teaching was the first “hybrid” white collar profession. It was pretty much the only profession where you came in to work during the day and then went home and did lots of other work including stuff you could not necessarily plan for (such as parent calls) so you could budget for it. So instead, you just pay teachers for whole week, regardless of how many hours of prep, marking, parent calls, etc. they do.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My first guess is always going to be either sexism or racism when a group of people is specifically exempted from being paid as well as would otherwise be required.

      In this case, I’m going to go with sexism.

      1. Rainy*

        My sister is a public schoolteacher and if they had to pay her OT for her hours over 40 in a week she’d make double her current salary. She spends 9 months a year working basically nonstop, and then collapses for 3 months. She literally grades assignments and papers on the treadmill.

        1. Stuff*

          Imagine how much better our education system could be if the school was in fact mandated to pay that OT, and in response decided not to, and instead spent that money doubling staff to reduce workloads. That would be so much better for both teachers and students.

          1. Rainy*

            Yup. She is in a new school district now but her last year in her old school district, class sizes were so huge that she couldn’t physically fit enough desks in the room. It was literally standing room only. The kids weren’t learning (who could?!), the teachers were quitting in droves, and the discipline problems were very extreme because the student to teacher ratio was in the high 40s to 1.

  15. Former Retail Lifer*

    I’m having trouble finding mid-level career positions that don’t require frequent local site visits/travel. I have a medical condition which makes driving unsafe. I work in property management, and there’s a trend for one manager to oversee several sites as opposed to just one. My position hasn’t been affected by this trend yet, but it looks like it could be in the future. Public transportation here isn’t expansive enough to make it possible to go back and forth throughout the day, and most job postings are specifically stating that you’ll need a driver’s license. Uber is not reimbursed, and there’s not a reasonable accomodation available when it’s such a significant part of the job. I’d consider switching fields, but anything else I seem to be qualified for (account management, real estate) also requires driving. Any suggestions? Being unable to drive seems to only allow me to be qualified for positions that pay significantly less than what I’m making now (and it’s not like I’m making six figures or anything all that impressive).

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Some of the largest companies may have AMs that need to travel, but I know many, many more that don’t. I’ve seen a lot that are remote, as well. In fact, all the AMs for the software I use at work are remote.

      1. Former Retail Lifer*

        I haven’t looked at software since I have zero experience in the field, but maybe something will be a good match so it’s worth a look. Thanks!

    2. Rainy*

      What about a role doing similar types of management but for an office complex or park, or on a university campus?

    3. RedinSC*

      Check in with your local city or county government, the need folks who understand property management to handle the leases and contracts for their buildings.

  16. TeenieBopper*

    So, I was partially laid off last week and it goes into effect next week. I worn two days a week and then collect unemployment for the other three. The state program that they’re using is intended to help companies retain employees and they’ve told me multiple times that they intend to have me back to full time as soon as possible. However, as possible could be as little as two weeks or up to three and a half months.

    That’s all well and good, but full time next week doesn’t pay my mortgage today.

    I’m fortunate enough that I’ve described myself as “stressed but not panicking” and can effectively use those three days for non-work/career related things (we just moved into a new house, so there’s work to do around it, plus work at my old house), but that’s really only true for a couple of months.

    How aggressive should I be with more passive job searching? Like, I plan to be sending out resumes and cover letters, but as soon as I was told, I immediately switched my LinkedIn profile to looking for work but only visible to recruiters. I’m connected with a couple people at my currently employer, but no one I work closely with, nor any supervisors. Should I set it to be visible by everyone?

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think I’d be doing anything and everything I can to find a better new job now. Personally, I would assume my job is never going to bring me back to FT and this is just a preliminary step in laying me off for good.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        I understand that though process, and honestly, I have a little bit of it too. But I believe them when they say they’re trying to retain me. They recruited me to basically start a new department; they just hired me before all the necessary pieces were in place for me to effectively do my job.

        My initial thought is to give them a two week grace period since that was the low end of the time frame they gave me and I can use those days to do things I was going to have to use PTO for. And then after that, if there’s no end in sight, go into hyper drive (with obvious networking, resume updating, and casual searching in that time).

        1. WellRed*

          They intend to, they are trying to. Well, they have to say that, right? Ask yourself, What is going to be different for the company in 3 weeks or 3 months?

        2. Observer*

          But I believe them when they say they’re trying to retain me.

          I bolded “trying” for a reason. I’m sure that they really want to keep you, but given that they don’t have the pieces in place, you simply don’t know that they will succeed. In other words, the problem is not bad faith but capacity.

          Keep in mind that they brought you on prematurely in the first place. What makes you certain that they will be able to get things in order in enough time for it to work for you?

          Keep looking. That doesn’t mean that if they get their act together you can’t go back. But it does mean that if they don’t get their act together you are less likely to be left high and dry.

          Giving them two weeks sounds not bad, but not more than that, no matter what they say.

    2. BellyButton*

      I would be aggressively job hunting. I don’t know your industry, but I have rarely seen that scenario turn out well. In my experience, I have seen companies keep people on like that for 6 months, always promising “next quarter”, and then lay them off completely.

      Good luck!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Partly the issue is, once your FT salary is “off the books” it sometimes ends up meaning they need to have a surge of *new money* to feel good about getting you back up to FT, as the status quo has become you being at PT. If it’s very likely they’re about to land a big new account / grant / client base (with less staff??) then the odds are more favorable, but even then they may feel they need to build up cash reserves or pay off debt before they do so.

    3. WellRed*

      Have you confirmed you’ll qualify for partial unemployment? We reduced some folks to part time at one point and they were just over the threshold and therefore didn’t qualify.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        Yes. My state has a specific program for situations like this and my company has been working with the state to make it as smooth a transition as possible for those of us affected.

        1. Girasol*

          You probably ought to be scoping out the job market just in case but don’t give up on your current employer too quickly. I had this arrangement some time ago – work some days, draw state unemployment as arranged by my employer on the others – and before we stopped enjoying our extra free time and started to worry seriously, we were back to full time again.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      You have nothing to lose by ramping up your job search process like Sloanicota says. I would be doing that for SURE.

  17. weird question*

    Should I put a silly message in my OOO message?

    Couple of things:
    • I’m going to a cryptid festival soon and will be on holiday for a few days. (I don’t actually believe cryptids exist, it’s just a fun fascinating idea)

    • Most of my emails go out to outside vendors

    • A couple of months ago, a coworker got married & was out for a month and put in her OOO that she was honeymooning in Thailand, communing with elephants & no one seemed bothered. Her emails go out to clients.

    1. Fiona*

      I don’t really see the benefit in making an OOO silly – people barely read them so I think the plus side (someone giving it a chuckle before deleting it) doesn’t necessarily outweigh the down side (someone being confused, someone thinking you’re not professional, etc).

      1. OrdinaryJoe*

        Second this … people really only care about when you’ll be back and/or who to contact to get their question or issue addressed.

        I think a honeymoon or baby are the only exception (and even then, unless I know the person, I don’t care) because people tend to ee those as a fun or cute or semi-social way to make the announcement.

        Standard vacation … stick with gone from X to Y, contact Z if you need help.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think that strongly depends on your industry. The most important thing is really to let people know who to contact while you’re out.

      Outlook does allow you to write different OOO to respond to internal and external emails.

    3. t-vex*

      I think it might depend on how we you know/want to know the people who might email you. My role entails a lot of relationship building with colleagues outside my company, so I like to give slightly more info about where I’m going. Like, “hiking in the woods with my dog (hope we don’t get lost!)” or “meeting my new baby nephew” to show my humanity a bit.

      Personally, I would love to hear more about the cryptid festival, and I would definitely ask you all about it when you returned.

      1. weird question*

        There’s one vendor I’m sorta chummy with (she sends me photos of her dog & talks about her hiking adventures) so I might tell her why I’ll be away for the week and use a generic OOO for everyone else.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      Ah, this gives me a chance to share my all-time favorite OOO that I received! It was definitely on brand for the person who sent it, although not really in keeping with my company’s overall culture.

      “I am out of the office [dates] with limited access to email. If this is an emergency, dial 911 or send a video to TMZ. [Actual work info]. Anything else you need, I’d suggest a good therapist or a nice bottle of red wine.”

    5. Maggie*

      I wouldn’t personally, I’ve never seen an actually funny one and unless it like perfectly speaks to someone they’re just going to think is either pointless or unprofessional

    6. Former Retail Lifer*

      I go to cryptid festivals! I’m not a believer but they’re always fun. However, I wouldn’t put it in an OOO message. You’ll be judged. It may not matter, but I wouldn’t risk it.

    7. WellRed*

      I don’t know what a cryptid is but would probably find this mildly amusing if puzzling. Don’t do it.

    8. ENFP in Texas*

      I vote No. Professional is the way to go, especially when dealing with external clients. ” I will be out of the office until X date, with no access to email or voicemail. I will return emails as soon as I’m back in the office on Y date. If you need immediate assistance, please contact Jane Smith or John Doe.”

    9. Rainy*

      I wouldn’t.

      Mine always says “I’m away from the office and don’t have access to email. I will return your email as soon as possible upon my return on DATE. If you need immediate assistance, please contact X or Y.”

      I add a paragraph to my external autoreply that points vendors at the colleague they almost always actually want. (I get a LOT of emails from people who don’t actually want to talk to me and are just emailing the first person on our Meet Our Team page that doesn’t have “Director” in their title, and for some reason they always email or call while I’m out.)

  18. Help me defend my weird schedule to the new boss!!*

    About a year ago I negotiated with my employer for a great schedule; I have a four day workweek but I’m paid as full time (not 4-10s; I work fewer hours). This happened because they were desperate; several people quit at the same time, and I was a part-time employee who they liked. They wanted me to go FT, but I was freelancing in the arts, so they were asking me to give up a sem-ilucrative side business. Over the past year, when something urgent comes up on my day off, I don’t mind chipping in if there’s no way around it, like an outside client specifically requests a meeting that day, but my current boss is pretty good about respecting my schedule. Now I have a brand new boss starting next week. I wonder how she’s going to react to this schedule, if she’s going to be respectful, and if she’s going to ultimately ask/tell me she needs me to be available five days a week for this salary. I want to be prepared to explain/defend it. My current boss introduced her today and explained that they gave me the schedule because of my arts freelancing; she said “we try to be respectful of her need for this day off because she’s a working artist as well.” I’m not sure this is the best approach as a convincing argument, but maybe it is better than just explaining this is what I negotiated when I started and I’m not willing to change it (with the subtext that I will leave if they change it, which I absolutely would; this job is very chaotic and it’s only worth putting up with because of the four day workweek). I think I’m pretty good at the job, but maybe they could find someone willing to do 5 days for the same salary, and s/he might also be good. What would be a convincing line to you if you were the new boss?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I wouldn’t really need convincing. Presumably your schedule and salary were set for reasons, so that’s what I have to work with. If something happens that I do need to ask you about changing, I would, but that would be something significant and probably coming from above me, not just me going “Nah, I want her to be full-time,” and then you and I would have the discussion and you would say “Mm, this is what I negotiated and this is what works for me, I’d prefer not to change it” and then we both figure out what wiggle room we have and if that means you move on, then so be it, but if I were to come in and just arbitrarily start trying to change people’s schedules or give them a pay cut (which is what demanding more hours for the same money or less money for the same hours would be), that would make me an asshole, and nobody wants to work for assholes.

    2. Fiona*

      I think if you’re willing to leave over a change to your schedule then there’s no reason to get worried about defending it or convincing your new boss or any of this! Just calmly, confidently do the job you’ve always done. The more you try to convince them, the more it has a “thou doth protest too much” energy. If your old boss has already communicated the schedule to your new boss, I wouldn’t even mention it unless they do. Since you’re willing to walk over this, you have the upper hand!

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I agree. If it comes up again, in general or as something your new boss is thinking about changing, you can just state the situation matter-of-factly. “Yes, this is the schedule I negotiated in order to be able to take this position, and it’s been working well both for me and the company. It’s important to me that it stays the way we agreed.”

    3. Tio*

      I feel like really the only thing you have in hand here is the fact that it’s this or nothing – If you’re not worried about losing this job, I’d just be very clear about needing to stay on the schedule to stay there. The most convincing things to businesses tend to be cost to them, and that’s the main cost to them. How well the schedule works for you to work another job is just… not very relevant to them.

      1. OP*

        Yes, if this was a regular full time job, I’d rather get a better full time job in a less crazy culture (this is really small organization and is kind of bananapants all the time, which I happily tolerate for this schedule and because I knew what I was getting into).

    4. Twitterpated*

      I would just lay it out like you did here if and only if your new boss brings it up first “I negotiated this as a condition of my job, and it would greatly impact my desire to stay if it were to change,” especially since you’re willing to peace it goes away.

      As a caveat though, if I really needed someone full time and thought I could hire someone, and if your salary was adversely affecting my budget, I’d probably still tell you that I needed you full time for your salary, and be ok if you decided to leave over that, unless you are equally as effective as all the full time employees working full time hours in your part time hours.

    5. Anecdata*

      Do you get as much done (with evidence is always better!) as if you were working 5 days/full time?
      I’m not sure I’d lead with that absolutely first, but I’d definitely get that info in front of your new boss within the first week or so

      1. OP*

        That is a good point, it wouldn’t hurt to have something like that in my back pocket at least. I guess I do have some insecurities about the work I’m doing – it’s pretty chaotic and I don’t get a lot of support, so that doesn’t help – but I’ll keep those to myself and just try to build whatever case I can. Maybe it will never come up.

    6. WellRed*

      Ugh. Your boss should have talked about the benefits to the company, how well it eorksyand how valuable you are. She made you sound less than serious.

    7. JR*

      Are there other people who do the same or similar work and get paid the same for a five-day week? If not, you aren’t paid full-time while working 80%. You work 80% and this is the salary you make. If they want you to work five days, why wouldn’t they assume they’d need to offer you 25% more?

      1. OP*

        I guess this is what I’m not sure of, but honestly it’s possible that there are people who do what I do for the same amount of money in a five day workweek. I don’t know if they’re any better at it than I am. Hmm.

        1. JR*

          Within your firm, or elsewhere? Unless they’re in your firm, and they’re roughly as good as you, I would just decide in your head that a full-time salary for the work you do is 25% more than you make, and you’re making 80% of that as a .8 FTE. And then if they push back gently, go with that. If they push back harder, figure things out then.

  19. Uncertain Path*

    There are lots of AAM responses about why asking for / taking a counter-offer can turn out poorly. My question is about talking to your boss about another offer, but not to get a counter.

    I started interviewing recently not because I want to leave my job, but because quite a few folks got laid off in a restructuring and I was scared. I have been moved to a different position in the same department, and no one from my department has been laid off. Yet. I have been assured that this new position is a good opportunity and is needed at the company. Part of the reason for the restructuring was underperformance of a specific department and an acquisition we were supposed to make but ended up falling through.

    I am likely about to get a job offer that would be a lateral move, essentially the same money (higher annual salary but no bonus), and would have me doing the work from my previous position (before I was moved in the restructuring).

    I love my current company, current boss, and while I loved the work I was doing in my initial role, I also feel like it would be good for my career to gain the skills needed for the new position I was moved to in the restructuring.

    I don’t want a counter-offer from my company, but I also don’t want to burn a bridge with the new company if I turn it down and in a month I’m restructured again, this time out of a job.

    Is it worth telling my manager about the offer if/when I get it, to say “hey, if the plan is to make further cuts, I have an opportunity to not struggle with unemployment. Should I take this or am I okay?”

    Or is that still bad for all the reasons AAM has stated regarding counter-offers?

    1. FWIW*

      Even if your manager answers your questions in good faith, they may not know what layoffs are coming. “Am I OK?” you will ask, but even an honest answer may not be fully informed. Burning a bridge to a company doing layoffs is not so bad.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      Yeah, it is still bad because they may genuinely not know about the cuts so tell you to stay, but they happen anyway. Or they know and can’t tell you. Or they lie to keep you. I think it is a go with your gut sort of thing.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Agree with FWIW. Your direct boss might want to keep you and think things are fine but then find out the next day more layoffs are coming, so any reassurance isn’t necessarily going to be as strong as you want it to be. Weigh your own factors about the offer but don’t rely on your current company to convince you to stay.

    4. Girasol*

      Worse, your boss could know that you are due for layoff but be required by their boss to keep that a secret. So you’d get a false “don’t worry” and your boss would be miserable for having had to be less than truthful with you.

  20. Dovasary Balitang*

    Any recommendations for work-appropriate women’s clothing that can conceal a large chest? At my previous jobs I got away with wearing hoodies, but that’s no bueno here – we’re business casual but with extra emphasis on the business. In colder times, I can make due with cardigans – but button ups are particularly awkward and oversized t-shirts don’t feel appropriate.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        I wear this shirt all the time and there’s no cleavage or too-tight at the top issues:

        This seems like it would create a cleavage issue, but it doesn’t at all. It’s light a flowy and again, doesn’t create a tight focus at the bust

        Basically, semi-fitted or slightly loose has been my go-to when I need to look professional but don’t want to highlight the size of my bust

      2. RedinSC*

        Agree, I have a few from Banana Republic and Express.

        Plus new fresh v-neck t-shirts when paired with slacks or skirts also work well. I have some again from Banana Republic and Quince.

    1. EMP*

      There’s plenty of high necked business-friendly “shells” for wearing with a blazer that might work for you. They usually don’t have buttons, so no gaping, but they’re usually sleeveless, so depending on the office you may need to wear them with another layer (like a lightweight linen blazer in the summer)

    2. Anonymous Demi ISFJ*

      Disclaimer: I’m a singer, so “business casual” means nothing to me, but I do know how to look nice!
      You might look at LL Bean – they have long- and short- sleeve shirts with crew neck, small-V-neck, cowl-neck, etc. options. Or pullover blouses instead of button-ups?

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Button-ups never have buttons in the right place to prevent boob gap. I recommend more blousy tops. You can usually find pullover tops and shells at most shops that sell professional women’s clothing.

      I pretty much always wear dresses when I go into the office these days. And work dresses often have appropriate necklines for work. Sheath dresses are generally flattering for all body types and don’t call out curves more than necessary. I’m(Unfortunately, really low necklines for casual women’s wear seems trendy now. I don’t need any help showing the world I have a bust.)

    4. EMP*

      Also, if your goal is making your chest look smaller, dumb question but have you considered other bras? Compression/sports bras can take you down a few cup sizes and many of them have a thicker front to hide nipples. I know there’s only so much a bra can do but like you said, oversized t-shirts wouldn’t be appropriate and most “appropriate” business work wear won’t be as cushioned/oversized as a hoodie.

      1. I go for the binder*

        If you go the compression top route, make sure to get the proper size. This seems self evident but it can be very uncomfortable wearing a compression top that’s too small.

        Personally I switched to TomboyX sports bras & compression tops and never looked back, but I’m also an NB with dysphoria so ¯⁠\⁠_⁠(⁠ツ⁠)⁠_⁠/⁠¯

    5. Your Social Work Friend*

      This is my eternal problem as well. I buy a lot of Apt 9 shirts because they’re formal enough for a business meeting and many are solid front with closures at the back of the neck. I also buy their button-front shirts about a size larger than I really need and wear them tucked in and “bloused” (not tightly in, I fluff them out at the waist so there’s no pull across my chest). I also wear a slip when I wear them, just in case there’s a button-based catastrophe.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      Never in my life have I found a button-up to fit my ample tracts of land! I go with V-neck or cowl-neck blouses/”shells” usually from suit separates that are on sale. V-neck allows for variation in size and I find the shape helps break up the giant melon shape. (None of these v-necks show cleavage at all). I think most of mine are Anne Taylor or whatever the equivalent is at Kohls.

      Most women’s business wear will be more fitted to show the shape of the body. If you don’t like that, you could try specifically searching for “modest” business wear or looser/flowy styles like a muumuu (dress barn?)

      1. Rainy*

        I occasionally find a unicorn of a button-up that works with my smaller-band I cup situation, but I haven’t had a lot of luck in several years. I mostly wear tops in jersey or other knits so that I’m not fighting the gaposis all the time. I also can’t handle turtleneck, mock turtleneck, crewneck, or any other very close necklines, so I wear V, scoop, jewel, or the looser draped cowlneck that is neoclassical in line (not the funnel-neck type!).

    7. t-vex*

      I have this problem too and a lot of things that fit up top are way too loose in the waist so the make me look significantly heavier than I am. Knits are your friends, especially with a drapey or cowl neck. Button-ups work can work if you only button them halfway, with a cami underneath to cover the cleavage, a scarf or chunky necklace to give people something else to look at, and a nice blazer over the top to make it business-y.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’m a large-busted woman myself, and I’ve noticed that a lot of the tops I’m seeing for women right now are very loose-fitting, sort of shapeless. Peasant tops and similar. Go for a V neck or scoop neck that isn’t too deep: too high of a neckline (turtlenecks, mock necks) can enhance a bust just like a super low one can.

    9. Whomst*

      If you have any degree of capability with a needle and thread, I’ve found that you can sew a hook and eye closure into a button up shirt to prevent gaping, if that’s the issue you’re facing with button ups. Takes me about 20 minutes and less than $5 of supplies, takes my sister (who is a much better seamstress) about 6 minutes.

    10. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      For me, tunics and blouses (from places like Lands’ End and Coldwater Creek) worked best (I’m both plus sized and large chested). Also dresses.

    11. Bagpuss*

      tunic style blouses?

      I think that you can also pick and chose among T-Shirts – styles which have some extra detailing look more ‘office professional ‘ and less ‘casual wear (e.g. I have a couple which have cap sleeves with some little ticks so the sleeves are more shaped, one or two with a dark T with a white collar, and some with 2-3 tiny buttons at the neck, and they all look (in my view) a bit more professional than just a plain T, while not having the issues of buttoned blouses.

    12. Anon for This*

      I tend to use a flowy blouse or light jacket over a tank. Also recommend you look into a minimizer bra. Doesn’t really reduce anything, but spreads it out a bit so things fit better.

    13. Attic Wife*

      I wear a lot of oversized shirt dresses and dress them up with vintage neckties. Nearly all women’s ready to wear clothing is designed for a b cup which is beyond frustrating but explains the gaping on all button downs.

    14. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I go with womens-cut crewneck tees, such as Kohls’ “Women’s Croft & Barrow Essential Crewneck Tee”, in patterns rather than solids. With an all-over pattern rather than a graphic, and more tailoring than a men’s t-shirt, they read as a little bit dressier than a “regular” t-shirt, and they’re cut to have enough room in the bust that I can wear a size appropriate for both my bust and my shoulders at the same time. (They’re sliiightly too big in the shoulders in order to be loose enough at the bust for my preferences, but not so much that it looks sloppy to my eye, anyway.)

    15. Jane Bingley*

      This depends on your shape but I find that wearing tops that have too high a neckline actually make my chest look bigger! If you can, try on a bunch of shirts with different neckline shapes and depths until you find one that flatters your shape and balances tasteful cleavage and breast size. I’m a 38I/40H and I tend to look best in scoop or square necklines that sit about 3 inches below my collarbone. If I wear a shirt that sits at my collarbone or higher, I have no cleavage but my boobs look comedically oversized like I’m about to fall over. Sweetheart necklines also make my chest look massive.

    16. DrSalty*

      Shells or light sweaters with a high neck and a blazer on top. Thick, nicely cut t-shirts (think like J Crew) with a high neck and a cardigan or blazer on top.

    17. Clothing tips*

      I think you can de-emphasize your chest in two ways. First is to break up the area – like others said, a lower neckline breaks it up, or wear an open cardigan, jacket or shirt over a top that is a contrasting color. A pattern or seam lines can also break up the chest area to make it appear smaller.
      The other way is to draw attention to another part of your body. Details on clothes will draw the eye, so look for details at the neckline, shoulder, sleeve or waist. Or dye your hair in rainbow colors and no one will look below your neck!
      If you want more ideas, YouTube has videos.

    18. Storm in a teacup*

      This is why I wear dresses and will often were camisoles underneath even if on anyone else of smaller boobage it’s not revealing.
      Honestly so much easier to wear a swing dress in a smart, work appropriate material and I don’t have to think about matching clothes.
      If I do need to wear trousers, a v neck jumper with a vest or camisole underneath or a shell top with a cardigan both work well.
      Ugh and I avoid most blazers too except for one I got years ago which is designed to have no buttons.

    19. Environmental Compliance*

      I wear a lot of either: plain v-neck tshirts under blazers or very flowy shells under a cardigan. I have summer and winter versions of both blazers and cardigans. Both with nicer jeans w/belt & boots.

      I also want to echo what another commenter said about higher necklines making everything look larger – definitely true. For me a mid-depth (? like 3-4″ below collarbone?) v-neck works the best. Scoop necks for me tend to be too wide, if that makes sense, and then shift weird. Crew necks both look wonky on me and annoy my neck.

    20. Generic Name*

      I can’t tell if you’re trying to minimize your bust to look flatter/more masc, or just don’t want to look like a Busty Lady. I’m a fairly femme identifying woman with a DD cup, and I wear round neck shells a ton. If I have something that is a v-neck or a lower neckline, I always wear a cotton undershirt to hide cleavage/boob valley. Cardigans for layering. In the winter, I’ll wear round neck cashmere sweaters. Scarves are also good for hiding cleavage. Suit jackets with jeans are another professional option. I avoid turtlenecks, because it’s just a vast expanse of boob.

    21. Synaptically Unique*

      A-line or sheath dresses (no defined waists) are my go-to choices. Easy to layer (bare legs with 3/4 sleeve jacket in summer, leggings and long-sleeve jacket in winter). Way more forgiving of small weight variations than pants.

  21. Federal Mercury*

    I applied to a federal role and know how looooong they can take with even hearing if you’ve made it past the referral stage. I just learned from a colleague that she reached out to someone on LinkedIn for that division for an informational interview. She ended up landing that role (probably for various qualified reasons) but I didn’t even think about reaching out to someone on LinkedIn about a federal role. The job postings are sometimes SO vague and I’m curious about what the work culture and day-to-day looks like. Is this good enough reason to reach out for an informational interview? Federal roles seem so mysterious to me.

    1. Lulu*

      You would need to be someone who is eligible for direct hire authorization. This includes previous fed who had recently been laid off in the local commuting area, disabled vets at certain points levels, some types of students, former student fed employees (Pathways), and maybe some political appointees. Without any of these eligibilities a position must be advertised-though there can then still be people in the competitive pool with hiring preferences that don’t rise to direct hire: additional types of vets, recent Peace Corp or land management workers. Check OPMs website for the term Direct Hire for more info.

    2. Anonymous Fed*

      The situation with your friend is extremely unusual and would probably not happen in my agency. I’m not sure what agency you are applying to, but I don’t think it would help in most agencies. It probably wouldn’t hurt, but I wouldn’t bother.

  22. MissGirl*

    Question on how to handle starting a new job while still interviewing.

    I was laid off in June and the market is tough out there. I made it to the final rounds at several companies with no offers. I finally accepted one three weeks ago. I wasn’t super excited about it but I wasn’t totally against it. It’s about 10K less than I was making but it had been a few weeks since any new companies had reached out for an interview.

    Within 48 hours of accepting, I got four interview invites with more since then. I am now interviewing at three other companies. I’ve also since heard a lot of bad things about my new company since signing from former coworkers who landed jobs there. One has already left and one is actively trying to.

    I’ve told the companies I’m interviewing at (long processes that won’t be over for at least a few weeks) that I’ve been laid off. Is there a point where I should disclose I have a new job? If I realize the job I’ve taken is bad and start sending out resumes again, do I put this job on it or leave it off entirely? I know a short stint won’t help and I’m worried it’ll hurt.

    1. Throwaway Account*

      I don’t know all the answers, but I do know you should put yourself first! If you need an internet stranger to say, “take care of you first” then I’m here to say that!

    2. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      I don’t know if this is the “right” answer, but I’d leave it off until I’d been there a few months. If you get a job offer and feel like you need to disclose it for background check purposes or whatever, you could say “I actually have a very recent position that didn’t make it on to my resume and it is ABC. I needed something to hold me over after my layoff, but I’m very excited about coming to work for XYZ!”

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Hm…tricky one.

      I don’t see an benefit to telling any companies your interviewing with about the new job and I don’t see how it would come up, unless it’s a small field and everyone knows everyone. Do prepare an answer if it does come up on why you’re still looking. Avoid answers like, “seeing what’s out there”, “felt rude to cancel last minute”, etc.

      Maybe alternatives would be, “I’m not sure it’s a good fit, as I’m looking for [insert characteristics of job you’re currently interviewing for].”

      Also, do know you’ll be burning (or at least scorching) a bridge with your current employer/manager if you leave. Can totally be worth it, just make that choice with open eyes.

    4. Goddess47*

      Allison’s script of “this opportunity just fell in my lap and it’s too good to pass up” would work nicely in this situation.

  23. Hannah*

    Does anyone have any tips for how to stop feeling badly/guilty about moving from a contractor to a government job? I was a contractor for 2 years and I feel like contractors are treated like second-class citizens by the federal agency I work at. I know I earned my spot, but still. Some contractors have been there for 5-10 years, but it doesn’t matter because they’re not on the federal payroll, they still miss out on a ton of stuff.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There are plenty of contractors who would NEVER want to be federal employees. The bureaucracy, the restricted salary bands, the lack of flexibility. If you don’t assume that they are necessarily envious of you, you might not feel bad.

    2. Lulu*

      Depending on the type of work the contractors do and your agency budget process, they might be able to keep working next month while the rest of us are staring down ANOTHER shutdown. Does that help?

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I had a contractor turn down a federal job when I wanted to convert them because they would take a pay cut. So while I understand your feelings, don’t assume they want your job. And, when you are in a position to do so, encourage them to apply for openings and give them tips on how to prepare applications based on what worked for you and others.

    4. ina*

      They’re 2nd class citizens because they’re not employees and the feds can barely focus long enough to keep their own people happy (& retain them). Contractors have always been seen as a ready but highly disposable supplement workforce. Which I never thought was an issue because contractors aren’t out to be adored by the federal government — to them, the fed are a paycheck and a steady one, honestly, because there will never be enough federal employees with the way they approach hiring (and how they let bad hires fester forever because they can’t afford to fire or the culture of the office doesn’t allow them to be fired.)

      I am really fascinated by the “earned my spot” language here…are federal jobs considered something you earn a spot for? I am not saying they’re easy to get, but a lot of the trouble with them is how vague they are, knowing the system, and simply having the time to get through the year long hiring and on-boarding/HR. I don’t think the aspiration for most contractors is to convert to full time federal employment…it’s very stifling to be a federal employee vs being a contractor. They’re just two different work environments and I suspect many are happy to not be on a federal payroll.

      1. Hannah*

        By “earned my spot” I just mean that I submitted a good writing sample, cover letter, resume, and went through all the rounds of interviews, so I wasn’t some sort of shady nepotism hire or anything. I know of a few other contractors in my office who did it first and I’ve had other contractors express congratulations and envy. Based on the other responses, it may just be the culture of my agency and department.

    5. Anon for This*

      Current fedgov contractor. What the other posters have written is true.

      There are a lot of crazy hoops that govies have to jump through that seem like a massive waste of time to us.

      We’re already bought and paid for, so furloughs don’t *necessarily* affect us. (They can though, if we’re only allowed to be in the office if there are govies there monitoring us.)

      And yes, many contractors make more than govies at equivalent roles. (Again, not a given, despite what many people think.)

      So a lot of contractors probably won’t really be jealous.

      But you are also correct that contractors are treated like second-class citizens at some agencies. Not trusted, despite having the exact same clearances as the govies. Always accountable, even if we’re unable to fully do our jobs because the govies that we need to make stuff happen drop the ball on their end. Getting (figuratively) slapped down for inquiring about resources for reporting sexual harassment on a discussion board that is for govie use only (wish I was joking about that one; thankfully I was not the attempted poster).

      So I would say, go forth and prosper, reveling in your (likely) improved job security and sick leave! :) Just remember that contractors are people too. As long as you don’t fall victim to the dark side, I don’t think anyone would hold your move against you.

  24. JustaTech*

    Anyone here work at a startup in biotech? Like, have funding but are still in clinical trials?
    I’m trying to get a feel for the average workload (or maybe better, the range of workloads).

    I’m a pretty risk adverse person in my professional life, which has led to some serious stagnation, so I’m looking at the landscape. I’ve always thought that I would move on to another large/established company because I was under the impression that all newer companies are the same – expecting you to work 80+ hours a week for something that will likely fail (because that’s science).
    But then I had a site visit with a client that’s in an early stage and not only did they have all the usual startup goodies (so many snacks and fancy coffee) and an interesting (new!) product, but listening to the staff chat, they clearly *don’t* work 80 hours a week. Most of them do a perfectly normal 40 hours (though there is weekend work that can’t be avoided, it doesn’t require everyone or more than 2 hours of work).
    I was amazed! These people had good pay, a nice work environment, an interesting product, *and* got to actually have personal lives.

    So, my question is, is this normal? Or common? I know with any biotech there are periods of super intense work (leading up to submitting for Federal approval), but it is normal to work normal hours the rest of the time?

    1. Snickers Bar*

      I’m not in biotech but a health tech start up and our company has made a conscious effort to have us not work more than 40-45 hours. There are times where I’m juggling more pieces than I expected from starting a few months ago, and it’s got WAY more busy, but they are trying to watch metrics to understand if we’re working too much. So I’d say it’s very possible with the right leadership.

    2. pally*

      If the start-up strategy is to make this a viable company around for the long-term, then they will have more normal working conditions i.e., reasonable-hour work weeks, with some crunch periods here and there. And they will hire on additional workers if the workload warrants it.

      If the start-up strategy is to get sold, then expect few resources and lots of work hours. No additional workers will be brought on to tackle the expanding work tasks. You’ll be told to just get it all done. They need to keep the expenses to the bone to attract buyers.

      The start-up I worked at was headed by people who had families. And lives outside of work. So they didn’t want anyone to have to work those 80-hour weeks like you mention. And we’re here -a fully viable, small biotech company- many years later.

      Just remember: at a start-up, those little ‘niceties’ you experienced at a large company- like annual pay raises, guaranteed COL raises, a bounty of benefits, lots of vacation time – aren’t always going to be there.

      The venture capital folks who owned us wanted to cut costs by cancelling health insurance for all employees. CEO refused but he had to battle hard to keep it. We didn’t have things like annual raises -not even cost of living. No disability insurance, retirement benefit of any kind, or life insurance or perks like snacks either. Still don’t.

      They also did some daffy duck stuff like not letting us know if we had the upcoming holiday off (i.e. Labor Day or Memorial Day) until the Friday before. They wanted us to “earn it” by working hard the days prior.

      Advice: get the highest salary you can when you accept the job offer. Remember, raises may be few and far between.

    3. Area Woman*

      My early-phase biotech company has about a dozen products in clinical trials. We have around $700million in investor cash, so even though we do not have revenue, we have the money to keep people happy and with work-life balance. My personal theory (as I am in management) is that there is always more work to do. If people start working too hard, that will be the new normal. My team (part of regulated pharmaceutical manufacturing and quality control) does a lot of metrics about upcoming projects and our workload to predict hiring and expand as needed.

      I refuse to burn out my team. I aspire to be a VP someday and my current VP has the same priorities. I think people who make mid-six figures like a VP can work those extra hours, but not my associate scientists or technicians. I think it does help that although I am not in CA, my company headquarters is, so we have a lot of laws protecting workers that normally would not. We expect high quality candidates though, and I have fired people who could not learn and/or keep up the pace needed for the 40-45 hours they were here. I set high expectations for output but not hours? If that makes sense?

    4. The New Wanderer*

      It probably depends a lot on the role. I have a relative who has worked at a succession of biotech startups at various stages of funding. So far, regardless of the company status, all the positions (doing roughly the same high-level dev work) have been 40-50 hours/week with generous vacation – either unlimited or negotiated for extra time off, unpaid if necessary. Work-life balance for my relative has been good, hopefully that has been true of the colleagues in other roles as well.

    5. Lora*

      I have worked for three startups and I am done with it. All wanted 60-80 hours/week…from me, specifically, because there were other people putting in only 20-30/week. I’m in process development and naturally as they get closer to regulatory milestones and the regulators start pointing out the gaps in the original research work and it was my job to backfill the gaps (hence 80 hours/week). So, I think it depends on what function you fulfill in the company, as early discovery work on animal models had some weekends but the molecular people worked pretty normal hours. Later development CMC work is a lot more and also tends to be under-resourced in startups.

      1. Darlingpants*

        I’m at a CDMO doing analytical work, and to some extent I *can’t* work 80 hour weeks (not that I’d ever agree to) because my cells grow at a fixed rate and I can’t speed them up.

        There’s definitely weekend/evening work at some points (I have to go in for an hour today and probably tomorrow), but it’s not like software where it’s physically possible to sit in front of a computer 80 hours a week and so you could be asked to do it. Even super ambitious startups can have normal hours.

    6. Coveredbridgerton*

      Was employee 35 at startup biotech. Worked there for 2 years – all the perks, good benefits, worked 40 hour weeks (year1 in business dev, year 2 in communications), company expanded Good job, except fda did not approve the drug, and all 150 of us got fired the next day.

  25. Hamster pants*

    Making mistakes at work:
    how do I stop and how do I handle this with my boss? And side question – what is even an “acceptable” mistake vs unacceptable? 

    I’m making a lot of “minor” mistakes at work lately and….I don’t know why. I hate even saying those words. These aren’t things like bad time management, or lack of knowledge/experience, or dropping huge balls. More like… putting a number in the wrong column when it wouldn’t affect any final calculations – like I should have known better that it doesn’t belong there. They’re annoying my boss (and me!)  

    Work gets reviewed weeks/months later and my boss will ask me why did I do that (not in an accusatory way but genuine curiosity) and sometimes I just can’t explain it. I’m baffled…like there’s no way I could have done that because I KNOW BETTER. But indeed I did! At first he was understanding of it, like of course no one could remember why they did something months ago but it’s piling up now. 

    This is what I’m doing:
    – I review things before submitting – if I’m stumped, I will research as much as possible before asking someone. Boss is the last person I ask.
    – I’ve made a list of all clients I’ve worked on the past couple of months that my boss and I have spoken about and put detailed notes on what the mistakes were and the takeaways. – I have a checklist I follow for almost every task. This is in addition to the checklist my dept has made. 
    – medicated ADHD/depression, regularly meeting with therapist to explore and discuss tools to manage everything 

    I just don’t know how to handle this with my boss with my demeanor and what I say. When it’s something I can’t defend, I don’t know what to say, so I fear I come off as either defensive if I say something, or dismissive if I stay quiet. I have a meeting with him in a few weeks (already planned months ago) but I have no idea how to even address this. Anything I think of just sound like an excuse. I spoke with my therapist in detail about everything and she said “well of course you’re struggling at work because of what you’ve been through [both inside and outside of work/health/personal things]” but when I think of mentioning any of it to my boss, I’m very reluctant because it just sounds so bad. Like…”Everyone has problems at home/health issues but they manage to be high performers.” Not that anyone has said that but that’s what I’m afraid of.  (btw yes this is me, I’m using a diff name b/c I got tired of potatoes not trying to be anonymous or “trick” anyone)

    Work is my safe space from my life and I’m not worried about losing my job but I really need to get ahead of it. The work challenges I had before no longer are an issue, but I’m tired of making these dumb mistakes too. 

    1. Throwaway Account*

      Just talk to your boss, even now, before the meeting. Say, Hey boss, just a heads up, I’ve had some personal challenges lately, and I’m aware that this is impacting my work. I’m taking some steps to make changes and wanted to let you know I’m addressing it.

      That is all you have to say! You can say medical challenges instead of personal if you want.

      I think the boss wants to know you know and that you are not ignoring it. At the formal meeting you can review the steps you are taking.

      Good luck!

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I like this and would suggest a slight modification: Instead of, “I’m taking some steps…” I would list out the steps you already shared above. Maybe be brief, maybe send them in writing afterwards, but this emphasizes that you *are* taking this seriously and that you’re working on it.

        It’s a good formula for acknowledging feedback:

        [Recognizing and owning the problem] + [an explanation/context] + [your action plan to address it].

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          If outlining the actual steps, I might generalize the one about medication and therapy by saying “and I’m also working with a medical professional on addressing the underlying medical issues.”

      2. Hamster pants*

        Would it be appropriate to send a short email explaining something of the sort? We have a deadline next week so I know he is extremely busy. Usually I am OK when talking to him, but if I sense any feeling of impatience through tone or facial expression, I tend to falter and trail off.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Yes, an email would work well. Some benefits, even beyond helping you stay on message:

          *Probably takes up less time for your manager to read rather than hear
          *You can wordsmith (though what you have written is great, though I agree with WantonSeedStitch about not going into detail about therapy)
          *Gives you a written record with a timeline to assess against come review time

    2. Jojo*

      I don’t really think consistently putting numbers in the wrong column is a minor mistake for an accountant. Have you ever considered getting a different kind of job?

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Wait, is OP in accounting? I didn’t see mention of the specific type of work they do, but I may have missed it.

        They did also say the mistake didn’t change the final amount, so that may mitigate the mistake some in non-accounting roles.

        1. Hamster pants*

          Yes, I’m in accounting. I’ve posted under other usernames in the past. The amount didn’t change the final amount

          1. Punk*

            Are we talking about incorrect entries in a debit/credit offset system? Because if that’s the case, it not affecting the total isn’t a mitigating factor, and I’m truly sorry but I can’t tell if you’re just saying that here to get softer responses or if this is one of the gaps in your education…and if you’re insisting to your boss that the mistakes don’t matter because the totals still match, he’s going to think you don’t know how to navigate a general ledger.

            I’m really really sorry but if the line about matching totals was going to be your explanation, it won’t work, because it’s not true, and because it doesn’t answer the question he’s asking.

        2. Over It*

          They are and they’ve been asking this same question for two months now. I’m not sure what they want to hear because they’ve received a great deal of good advice and yet continually ask the some variation of this question.

          1. Hamster pants*

            I am so sorry. I truly don’t intend to upset anyone, nor am I trying to trick anyone. I struggle with seeing the forest for the trees, so what looks like “asking the same question for months now”.. doesn’t always register, esp when I’m in the day to day thick of things. I have compiled a lot of the good advice I’ve gotten and actually do read it – but it takes a LOT of time for me to process and really understand things (like…everything, not just with my job!), and again, not always immediately being able to see the bigger picture. So I am truly sorry if my post/question has annoyed you and anyone else here. :(

      2. Hamster pants*

        It’s not consistent. It literally was that one time. My point was that – I knew where it belonged but somehow I put it there and I couldn’t explain why. It was like one of those baffling things, like, you know your toothbrush goes in the holder but you put it on the shelf for some reason. Idk if that’s a better analogy

        1. Jojo*

          You said you’ve been making a lot of “minor” mistakes and used that as your example. But it’s not a minor mistake. I don’t know what other mistakes you’ve been making, but you have been posting about not doing well in your job for months now. It may be a good idea to explore other fields is all I’m saying.

    3. JustaTech*

      Specifically about the spreadsheet thing: it makes sense that you wouldn’t catch numbers in the wrong columns if the numbers don’t impact the final calculation – because there isn’t any clear feedback from your system that the numbers are in the wrong places.

      When my work has had large spreadsheets with lots of hand-entered data (or even copy-pasted data) we have a process of data auditing where someone else goes through the spreadsheet to check for things like numbers in the right place, correct number of decimal points, etc. My coworker would do it for me, and I would do it for her.
      And I hated getting her report back because there was often one or two numbers where the decimal was in the wrong place, or the date was transposed or something like that. And I would berate myself so hard for that – what a silly mistake!
      But the truth is that everyone makes those mistakes, and they’re not 100% preventable because humans are fallible (and Excel is occasionally evil). So you have a system of checks.

      Would it be possible for you to set up a peer system like this? And if not, would it be possible to ask the computer to do some of it for you (like set up conditional formatting so if a number is wildly out of range it gets highlighted)?

      As a fellow ADHD’r, I know the pain of having extremely high expectations of yourself but also not having the attention to detail. So, like Analytical Tree Hugger says, explicitly outline the systems you’re setting up to catch this stuff.

      And you’re totally right that there’s no way you’re going to remember 3 months later that at the exact moment you were inputting that number someone sneezed and you put it in the wrong column.

      As to your question of why: I’m going to guess it’s because you’re tired and it takes a huge amount of energy to do super high-precision work even without ADHD.

    4. WellRed*

      Were you short on sleep at the time? Medications need tweaking? Are you a woman of a certain age? There’s a host of things that could make you start having these issues.

      1. Hamster pants*

        Tired is my default lol.
        I went through 16 months of severe sleep deprivation because of my daughter; she’s been sleeping through the night for about 9 months now, (and therefore I am as well) but maybe the damage is done. I get about 6-7 hours of sleep a night now that’ may or may not be good quality; I see my NP every few months to discuss the medications. Almost everyday there’s a short period where I’m sitting in front of the computer and literally feels like my eyelids have curtains on them. Im seeing a Dr in a few weeks to get a full bloodwork done but now I worry that it’ll all be blamed on being a 38 yo obese mom of a toddler with chronic illness. (but this is probably a post for the weekend!)

        1. Tio*

          How many mistakes are we talking? if it’s a few minor mistakes that you catch, correct, and move on, then that’s one thing. But if you’re making them at high volume, or there will be downstream consequences later, then might need a stronger action plan

        2. Anonynonybooboo*

          Oooohhh with that information make sure your blood pressure is controlled.

          I actually had to go on BP meds about a year after having my third kiddo (in my thirties and also zaftig) because I was a complete ditz – turns out one of the symptoms of slightly-higher-than-normal-BP in some folks is short term memory just blinking out.

          I would describe it as my brain just stopped filming. Like I’d have a roll of paper towels in my hand, and then it would be on the counter across the kitchen – and whatever happened in the middle just didn’t write to memory. At all. Clear sweep of the cache file.

          Good luck!

    5. Punk*

      So I think it actually would be helpful if you viewed this as a deficiency in knowledge and experience, since your coworkers likely have the standard battery of regimented accounting education and maybe internships, and you objectively did not go through a collegiate accounting program. Your job is built for people who have been taught things that you were not.

      I know that you don’t want to fill in those gaps in your formal education or move to a different field, but those are your options. There are things you don’t know, and you’re aware of that, but you don’t want to commit to going back to school. Rephrasing the question and characterizing mistakes as minor (even though they’re significant enough for your boss to make you worry about your job security) isn’t going to trick us into giving you a different answer. I’m so sorry. But I’ve been following this saga for years. The answer has always been that since you’re trying to build an accounting career but don’t have an accounting degree, you really do need to start there.

      1. Hamster pants*

        I actually do want to go back to school! but I also have to figure out the best time for it and everything involved with that. I know lots of people can do great things under worse circumstances than myself but at the end of the day I’m still me and I have ot figure out my way.

        1. Hamster pants*

          I agree with you, that it would be only helpful! I have always had this in the background that I can only go so far.

        2. Glomarization, Esq.*

          I don’t think there’s ever a “best time” to go back to school. In my experience, so purely anecdotally, I’ve taken the view that Program X takes n years to finish (maybe 2n if I do it part-time). OK. So if I don’t enter Program X this year, in n years I’ll still be at the same point I am now. But if I do enter Program X this year, in n years I’ll have the X credential. I may have had n years of opportunity cost with whatever employment I had to cut back on or even quit to do Program X, but now my earning power is higher and I’ve expanded my personal and professional network with the people I met doing Program X, so hopefully I can replenish my savings in short order.

    6. Hamster pants*

      @anyone reading this – I really am not trying to upset or annoy anyone. I struggle with seeing the forest for the trees so what looks like the same question in different ways, that’s something that I’ve struggled with all my life, not just at this specific job, but in pretty much every area all my life. It’s only with time, I look back and can realize what the actual lesson was but when I’m in the day to day, the thick of things, I get bogged down. It really takes a lot of time and effort for me to process and really understand things. I have gotten great advice in the past and today is no different, so I really hope yall can forgive me for posting.

      1. Lurky McLurkerson*

        If processing and retaining information is truly an issue that you’ve struggled with your entire life, then I’m going to gently and politely suggest that you get evaluated for a learning disability. I’m not mad at you and I mean you no disrespect whatsoever, but it seems that you ask this question, or some variation of it, almost every week in the open threads. You get similar answers every time. If you’re still not understanding or processing what you’ve been told, that suggests to me that you have issues beyond what this forum can address. Please discuss this with your therapist. I’m sure they can point you in the direction of someone who can help evaluate you for learning disabilities. If you want to go back to school, as you mentioned upthread, you should get this taken care of first.

      2. Gatomon*

        I have slow processing on top of my ADHD, and it can take me a while to wrap my head around things too. I’ll often ask questions that, in retrospect, are repetitive until I truly understand something. It’s okay. It’s so frustrating when things don’t click for me, but probing them from different angles is helpful.

        You’re doing everything I know how to do to address things. Just remember everyone makes mistakes sometimes, even my super experienced and knowledgeable coworker has one or two big oops a year. I cherish these moments, not because of anything malicious, but just as a reminder that perfect is impossible.

    7. All Het Up About It*

      I don’t have any specific recs beyond what’s posted here.

      But I did want to pop in to say if anyone actually said to you “Everyone has problems at home/health issues but they manage to be high performers,” you should Mentally throat punch them and start looking for a different job.

      1st, everyone is NOT a high performer. Period.
      2nd, even high performers might have times of not performing highly.
      3rd, no, not everyone has home/health issues. Some people are annoyingly, luckily healthy and even-keeled .
      4th, for the most people who have health/home issues, it all effects everyone differently and you can’t compare yourself to others.

      Good luck on giving yourself a break! Somehow, I feel if you could do that and stop feeling so guilty about making mistakes that you might have an easier time talking about them and explaining them to your boss.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Okay, read all the way to the end because there is bad news and good news.

      1) If you are DX and medicated ADHD, it sounds like this is a brain glitch. They happen, and unfortunately there is not one damn thing in the world you can do to magically make them stop happening. ADHD brains throw random error codes. It is just something that occurs, and if you could stop it by trying harder or being different, you wouldn’t have ADHD.

      They are more likely to happen when you’re tired, stressed, or in a hurry but there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. It’s truly random.

      2) What you can do is create robust, redundant error control processes that do not depend on you simply reviewing the work yourself. That isn’t enough, because by their nature, glitches are invisible to the brain making them.

      “Control of error” is a Montessori term that refers to designing materials or environments that immediately show whether something is right or wrong. The thing only “works” if it is correct. As an adult, it takes a bit of creativity to come up with appropriate procedures or controls for a given task, but the most effective ones are customized to the situation.

      I can’t tell you exactly what to do because I don’t understand the work. But if you are working on spreadsheets, there are normally ways to set up formulas that will cross check your work, and conditional formatting that will make things change color if the results are out of range.

      Other things that help with error control are checklists and procedures, working backwards, or reviewing a different format than the original. For example, could you have the spreadsheet output a graph that would show visually that something wasn’t lining up right?

      Then instead of coming up with an explanation or excuse, you will be able to tell your boss about the very practical things you are doing to catch these errors.

    9. RedinSC*

      As a former manager, and a current employee working with a colleague who just makes a lot of little mistakes, I would want to know what you are doing to address this? Not even on the personal/medical side of things, but what systems are you going to/have you implemented to make sure you’re catching these mistakes before they get to the point of impacting others’ work? Make sure you’re thinking about the mistakes, and the systems, and ask your boss for the help you need with those systems.

      Not acknowledging them is a really terrible look. Making light of them is also a bad look. acknowledge, understand the impact they have and your plan to move forward.

  26. Minimal Pear*

    Squeaky shoe etiquette?
    I’m walking around the office in new, podiatrist-recommended shoes, and I have my old orthotic inserts in them. I can’t change either of those elements–hopefully the shoes will adjust as I wear them more, or when I get new inserts they’ll squeak less. In the meantime, what’s the best way to avoid being annoying? I’m squeaking all over the place and people are in meetings. This is a pretty casual office, so I could probably walk around in just my socks if I had to.
    (Yes this is a silly question but I thought the commentariat might have fun with it.)

    1. Hamster pants*

      May be just me but squeaky shoes wouldn’t really bother me. My boss wears them sometimes and at least I know when he’s approaching (not that I’d need the notice or anything like that).

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I was had a woman in a store shush me over my squeaky shoes, lol! I wasn’t trying to make it happen!

      Overall, my shoes tend to squeak on certain types of floors. I always personally feel self-conscious about it, but aside from annoyed grocery store lady, I’ve never had anyone even glance at me over it.

    3. Throwaway Account*

      Maybe let coworkers know you are aware, that the shoes are now, cannot be changed, and hope the squeaking will stop over time and that you will try some fixes if it does not.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. Squeaky shoes are part of life. I usually joke about it with people. I don’t mind squeaky shoes nearly as much as I mind foot shuffling, which drives me bonkers.

      Try putting powder in your shoes under the orthotics. Mine squeak ridiculously and when I mentioned that to my podiatrist, she told me to try powder, which does work (though I have to be liberal with it).

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Going in the silly direction…

      Can you glue on googly eyes and name each shoe?

      “You’re so noisy today, Francis!”
      “Boslo is such a gossip…”
      “That was a good point. We’ll have to integrate that into our next TPS report.”

    6. Mill Miker*

      Keep a clown nose in your pocket, and if anyone complains, slap on the nose, make direct eye contact, and strut away in big exaggerated clown steps.

    7. Shirley Keeldar*

      If it’s the soles that are squeaking, a friend who was once in costume design recommended scratching the soles up with coarse sandpaper. The squeak is caused by those little dips or divots in the soles that act like suction cups and stick to the floor, and ruining the suction with the sandpaper helps.

      (I tried it and my shoes still squeaked…it was just something about that floor. They didn’t squeak like that elsewhere. But maybe you’ll have better luck!)

    8. There You Are*

      If it’s like my orthotics, the squeak is happening between the bottom of the orthotic and the top of the shoe’s insole. For that, I used a glide stick that is meant to reduce chafing of say, sweaty thighs rubbing against each other on a long hike while you’re wearing shorts.

      I smeared some of the stuff on the bottom of the orthotic and the squeaking stopped. I reapply it maybe once a month or so.

    9. RedinSC*

      OMG, I have some squeaky shoes!

      I just acknowledged that they’re squeaky, and said, sorry about that, I’ll just be squeaking around, you’ll always know I’m coming. I just made light of it. Squeaky shoes are a thing.

  27. ran1daph0b1a*

    New Guy in the office put up a Pepe the Frog meme in his cube. Obviously, this is concerning, and something should be said– at least to let him know what it means if he’s not already aware. (I’m not interested in having a discussion about the meme itself.) My question is about /who/ ought to say something. I’m a couple ranks up from him, but not in his reporting chain. Is this a situation where I should say something myself, or where I should bring in my manager?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I don’t know him. If you think there is a chance he is just clueless, it might be kind to ask if he knows what it means, and explain that it is a problem. If he does not immediately take it down, then go to his chain of command or HR. Honestly, I doubt he is clueless and think this is likely intentional – planting his flag. If that is the case go to his boss/HR.

      1. somehow*

        I dunno…I think the fair thing to do is to first assume he is unaware. I know I’d want to be treated that way.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I had to Google Pepe the Frog because I’m not familiar with him! That said, if someone has a meme up on the wall at work, I’d assume the person is familiar enough with whatever sort of charged environment surrounds the meme. It could be as simple as you stopping by his cube and saying “hey, a lot of people find this character offensive so you should think about taking it down.” The fact that you are a few ranks above him would be enough for me to go “oh shit! Noted, taking down.”

    3. Jess*

      I had asked my gen z son about this when I noticed he had a screen saver some time back. and he said Pepe is for everyone. In his original design he was apolitical (and I’m given to understand was a beloved character by the disaffected youts) I personally know i have seen him on the reddit long before he became coopted and problematic. Also, he is not Groyper.

      There even a doc about how he was coopted

      I personally would chit chat with this coworker and get a feel for him before I send him to management over a meme from 2005 to judge him. FYI I’m a target pop for alt-R so I don’t say this lightly.

    4. ina*

      I think the frog has gone back to being “apolitical,” as the original artist/creator had intended & who has been advocating to not associate his creation with those who have co-opted it (to the point where he has sued several orgs but allowed it in the Hong Kong protests a few years ago, as a symbol of resistance, I suppose).

      I think the use of it, at least with current online trends, is not considered an alt-right dogwhistle anymore. However, I can understand you being cautious of someone who would print out a charged internet meme in an office. It shows a lack of forethought in how other around them might see it.

    5. Stuff*

      I mean, I certainly wouldn’t post a Pepe meme in the office, but in my terminally online Millennial experience, Pepe isn’t solely associated with the Alt-Right anymore, and is frequently used by those on the Left or in the Center these days. It used to be a major red flag, but not anymore. I’m on the Left and I’ve started using Pepe because it’s become pretty normalized.

  28. Herowars Advert*

    The other day, a woman tried to stop me from using her to fare jump and my friend and I were laughing at her when she failed. She ended up being my interviewer for a role I was really excited about. She remembered me and it did not go well. What are my options?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t think there’s anything you can do to get reconsidered. But do you really want to work for an organization that employs immoral people? If she fare jumps, she probably also lies in the office.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Oh yoinks.

          Yeah, you’re screwed dude. Maybe stop breaking the law if you want to get a job.

      1. Pop*

        I read it the other way – Herowars was trying to fare jump. Regardless, I think the lesson here is don’t laugh at people.

      2. Rosyglasses*

        I was reading this as Herowars and the friend were trying to fare jump off the interviewer, but maybe I’m reading it incorrectly.

      3. M2RB*

        It sounded to me like Herowars was the one fare-jumping, but maybe I’m reading this wrong.

        Sounds like natural consequences of someone’s bad choices, either way, and the options are: learn the lesson (don’t be a jerk or be willing to accept the consequences of jerk behavior) or don’t learn the lesson.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m curious how old you are.

      I think your main option is to use this as a learning experience.

    3. Minimal Pear*

      Be sneakier next time you fare jump, and don’t laugh at people when they try to stop you? I’m pretty neutral on fare jumping, but using her to do it even though she didn’t want you to, and then laughing at her with your friend, seems like a dick move.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Fares are how public transport is financed so if you do it you’re a thief, end of. There’s no reason to be neutral on it if you want a functional transport system.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      Hopefully the option you choose will be to learn the value of ethics. You have no options for that job you were excited about.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      Questions for you to examine but Imm also curious for your answers: Why did you fare jump? Why did you insist on fare jumping, in what seems like creating an actual interaction with a then-stranger, when that stranger tried to stop you? Why did you laugh at someone who tried, unsuccessfully, to stop you from fare jumping? Is this the kind of person you want to be in the world, and if not, what would you do differently next time to be that person?

    6. Maggie*

      Maybe don’t fare jump or laugh at people? Your option is to look for other employment as they won’t be hiring you

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t believe this is a serious question, but just in case… Come on, dude. Seriously? Don’t fare jump. And if someone doesn’t let you or doesn’t want to let you, back the eff up and leave them alone. You’re not getting that role.

        1. ??*

          What does this mean? Are you implying AAM approves everything that posts to the open thread before it publishes because I don’t think it works that way.

    8. Anonymous Admin*

      If this was NYC “using her to fare jump” means pushing in to the same turnstile, right up against her body. If you did this to me, given my hair-trigger reflexes, you might catch my elbow with your trachea. Your options, as I see them, are a) grow up, or b) don’t, and see where that gets you.

      1. Yikes on Bikes*

        Ohhhh ewww. I wasn’t quite clear what they meant by “used her to fare jump” – I actually live in NYC and was not aware this was a thing; I just see fare jumpers…literally jump over the turnstiles. But yeah. If someone did this to me I would NOT be happy, and someone might get punched. I think OP not getting a job because the person they did this to was their interviewer is a MIGHTY FINE example of karma at work.

    9. *daha**

      Water under the bridge. Continue submitting applications elsewhere. Cleanse your social media. Get better friends. Pay your fares. Be nice to everyone, because anyone might be someone.

    10. Unkempt Flatware*

      What the hell? Your options are to grow the hell up, walk away quietly, and never try that crap again. Are you joking? You laughed at a stranger in public? You and a friend? Like, you bullied someone? Someone who doesn’t stand for cheating? WHAT?!?!!

    11. Yikes on Bikes*

      This is a fine example of “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” and “you reap what you sow” :/

    12. WellRed*

      Hero wars take dubious delight in forevermore being An Office Tale about the person who tried to pull this crap and then showed up for a chance at a job. Hell, we’ll probably read about you here in a future roundup of candidates do the dumbest things.

    13. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Are you 12? You’ve lost this job due to being stupid in public. You’re probably blacklisted within the entire organisation.

      Grow up, stop fare-dodging and all other public nuisance-making or you may lose other jobs too.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, I thought of that letter too. Sometimes people learn the lesson that actions have consequences the hard way.

    14. GythaOgden*

      Karma is real.

      As someone who spends a third of her salary on getting to work and is happy to do it to keep my train running every day…stop fare jumping. Please. There’s no good reason — railway, bus and underground/subway workers deserve to get paid just like you do. Sometimes governments subsidise fares, so everyone is paying for this through their taxes even if they don’t use it themselves. No-one except in Luxembourg where public transport is free can get on the bus without paying their way, and Luxembourg is a small rich country which can do that, but the majority of places in the world can’t.

      So don’t farejump, don’t abuse others legitimately paying for their transit and for the love of God don’t expect them to give you a job afterwards.

  29. Whyamihere*

    So last week I posted about our company reorganization. We got our offer letter and the director was demoted to manager and I did get a small pay raise. People were not placed where we thought they would and many people have not messaged they would be out today but are not here (and not on the PTO calendar) so we will see what the coming weeks will show.

  30. Come On Eileen*

    Should I ask for monthly reimbursement for my WeWork membership?

    I, like many of you, went fully remote in March of 2020 when COVID hit. There are no return to office plans for any of us and my company has embraced being what we call a “distributed workforce.” (That said, the offices are still there and a verrrry small number of people do go in. Zero people from my team.) I have found that it’s extremely hard for me to work from home and have no in person human interaction for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I decided to seek out a co-working space in my city and I signed up for WeWork. I absolutely love it – gives me the same feeling of professional camraderie to have a place to go every day, with space to work around others. I’m definitely more productive there than I am at home. (I feel like that’s the opposite of most people who found during the COVID era that they are more productive at home. I’m impressed by that because it hasn’t been the case for me)

    Which leads to my question – I’d like to ask my boss if the company would be willing to reimburse me for the $150 I spend each month for my WeWork membership. I could certainly make a business case for it, but I suspect the answer would be “no.” We don’t have a larger precedent for it, and there is technically still the office I could go into if I wanted to. (And work 99% alone from there) However, I don’t mind asking even if I anticipate that the answer will likely be no! Because who knows, they could look at my business case and find it compelling and agree to give me all or a portion of my monthly dues.

    What say you? Anything I should keep in mind?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Given that you have an office option, I suspect the answer will be no. However, the business case is your best bet. “The coworking space is beneficial to my role at the company due to X, Y, Z (more productivity, etc). The office doesn’t meet these needs because A, B, C”

    2. Gondorff*

      Is your/an office for your company in your city and do you have the option of going into it? I know you said no one from your team does, but not whether you could. If the answer is yes, it’s probably overwhelmingly likely that they’ll tell you to just start coming into the office. If the answer is no, you may have more of a chance, but it depends on your company. Many will point out free options you could use instead (library, coffee shop, etc.), regardless of whether those would accomplish the same thing. If you have concrete metrics you can point to in terms of productivity improvement, that’s probably your best bet. Also, if at the beginning of WFH, your office offered any kind of transition assistance, like offering to pay for a new desk chair or desk or what have you, and if you didn’t take them up on it, you can try to use that to leverage some kind of reimbursement, though it may not be monthly. Just keep in mind that for a lot of companies, it will unfortunately be a hard sell regardless.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m assuming the office is tough for you to get to? I wouldn’t even ask if the office is in reasonable commuting distance, regardless of whether you team goes in. You said the WeWork is in your city, but just checking that you’re talking, say, DC with an office in Chicago, and not Jersey City with an office in Manhattan.

      Anyway, if the office is indeed too far for you to commute to, and your boss generally considers you to be a reasonable person, you can bring it up. I would do this first in conversation, not over email.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        No, the office is actually very easy to get to. I’ve been with this company for 10 years and commuted to the office for 7 of those 10 years, it’s about a 15 minute drive. So yes in theory I could go there and work there. However, all of the professional camraderie that I am looking for is gone. There’s maybe one person working on “my floor” amid a sea of empty cubicles. So while it’s available to me to use whenever I want, I find myself opting to go to WeWork instead because I get what I need out of it (feeling like I am working with other professionals, more productive, etc). All of this makes me realize that my company will likely say no, but I figure I’ll never find out if I don’t ask.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I wouldn’t even ask, to be honest. You’re basically asking them to pay additional rent so you can chat with people. And listen, I get it– I dislike working from home. I dislike it A LOT, for just that reason. But I have been working for companies that are mostly remote, so I do it, and I find ways to make it more palatable– sometimes I work in common areas with my neighbors/friends, I go to coffee shops, I set up check-ins with colleagues, that kind of thing. Your solution is a WeWork, which is a fine one– but it’s your solution.

          There are certain things that I prefer for my own comfort that I would never ask a business to cover. For example, every time I fly to the office (a relatively short flight), I pay extra to get a better (for me) seat, with extra legroom (I am not especially tall, though I am slightly wide, and I fit into a single regular seat– this is definitely not a make-it-or-break-it need). It helps with flight anxiety, it gets me off the plane (and therefore to the office) quicker, it means I have more room to do work on the plane if I need to. But I would never submit the charge for reimbursement because the answer would be a firm no– their job is to pay for a seat, not to pay for a seat I like.

          1. Antilles*

            I agree. If they didn’t have an office already in the city, you could make a business case based on some combination of more reliable Internet, background noise in your house, meeting with clients, availability of printers, ergonomics, etc. But when they have an office already, the only argument you can really make is that you like having people around while working which just…I don’t see that getting any traction whatsoever.
            That said, in your example, you know your company better than I would so maybe you know they’re tight with every cent, but there are a lot of companies that wouldn’t blink over a $30 extra cost on a $300+ flight. Yeah, it’s only just for your comfort, but a lot of companies recognize business travel sucks and therefore would be willing to pay the few extra bucks to make it more comfortable. YMMV though, definitely a “know your company” thing.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              It would definitely be a “no”. :) It’s even implied in our travel policy (though of course there are exceptions to that every day). One of these days I’ll have status on my company’s preferred airline so I won’t be out of pocket at all.

        2. Grits McGee*

          This is just a suggestion if they tell you no on the WeWork reimbursement- could you shift where you sit so that you can be in a more populated part of your office?

        3. Yikes on Bikes*

          Yeah I am with Avon Lady… if the WeWork was 15 minutes and the office was 45+ and/or significantly harder to get to – then sure, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to ask. But since it is easy enough to get to the office, you really don’t have much of an argument for “need” versus “preference.”

        4. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, you need to go in or pay for it yourself. The company has budgets for your salary and other perks, but if it doesn’t already offer the equivalent to everyone else (e.g. travel passes, free parking etc) it would be a luxury too far IME.

          While some things that ‘if I give you this, I have to do it for everyone else’ would cover would be reasonable for other people to get, like extra vacation or sick leave or flexitime etc, this sounds like it would be inordinately expensive. Companies stay afloat because they manage their budgets carefully and spend on essentials and reasonable employee perks. But I think this is a meeting point where ‘do it for one, do it for all’ would intersect with an unreasonable additional expense, and that’s going to make the company just ask you to come in to their office which they’re already paying for in their existing budget.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      I would only ask if you are prepared for the answer to be that you should come in to the office. But agree with Decidedly Me that if you do propose it, the reasons need to be business ones – how this benefits the company, not how it benefits you.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      WeWork is almost definitely about to go under, so even if they did say yes – which I don’t think they will – this would be short-lived.

    6. WorkingRachel*

      They’ll probably say no, but I empathize–I also hate working from home but there’s no benefit to going to my dystopian suburban office park and sitting in an empty cube farm. WFH is bad for my mental health, but most roles I’m qualified for have gone mostly or fully remote. And I’d have to drive a little ways to find the sort of coffee shop you can hang out in for hours. In my case I’m having a baby soon so that’ll shake the whole thing up, and thus I haven’t sought out solutions, but if things were staying the way they are now I too would be sorely tempted to get a coworking membership.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Hey, congrats on the baby! I hope everything goes well for you and the little one comes into the world safely. There’s nothing more wonderful than having a tiny hand wrap itself around your finger and to bring up a child with love and dignity. I’ve seen my sister’s kids as babies and held a new baby cousin in my arms as a twelve-year-old. I’m not a mum myself (except hopefully to a kitty-cat at some point in the near future — been on the RSPCA website a lot recently…) but willingly giving someone else the gift of life is something to be excited about.

        And I totally get the feeling about office vs WFH. I’d love the opportunity to WFH, and my boss created a role which would give me scope to be able to do that 3 days a week and still work with the people I’ve been working with closely two days a week. She has to put it out to interview and it’s not a done thing (because let’s be fair I think it’s reasonable for someone else to have a go — there’s a huge tension between internal and external job-seekers and I can see both sides of the situation can feel fair or unfair depending where you’re sitting), but it’s been in the pipeline for months and finally on its way. I actually think getting up and going out to work — my job simply cannot be done from home RN — is more stimulating than being a perpetual hermit like I’d be if I didn’t have to, but NGL — the commute is one of the things grinding away at my wellbeing and something has to give sooner or later, so being able to reduce it but still be somewhere where I feel comfortable and supported is a real opportunity.

        But with your own little one on the way, as you say, it’s a good time to reassess what you want to be doing work-wise. I wish you all the best and please take care of yourself in the mean time.

  31. Pearl Puffin*

    Yesterday a coworker gave me permission to shut down people making comments to her about her body. She is very thin and is sick of people pointing it out. I already told a coworker that we don’t comment on people’s bodies. I struggle with keeping my tone light. Does anyone have a script I can use that doesn’t make me sound like a witch?

    1. Throwaway Account*

      All of the comments from these posts that are like:
      “What an odd thing to say about a coworker (or anyone)”

      With that mild tone of, of course you know that is weird.

      I wish for a list of comments like this to draw from when I have a situation like this! Does one exist here already?

    2. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      Frankly, I think a tone that sounds rude is appropriate for shutting down those kinds of comments. You presumably work with adults who Should Know Better.

      It’s one thing if you work in a pre-school or elementary school, where children are just now learning these things and do need to be corrected kindly.

      Adults who are being rude don’t get the benefit of non-rudeness when calling out their rudeness.

    3. Sally Rhubarb*

      I honestly wouldn’t be bothered about sounding bitchy or not. “Wow, that’s a very rude thing to say” works. Or “it’s weird to talk about a coworker’s body, don’t you think?”

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      “I feel really uncomfortable hearing talk about other people’s bodies.” Makes the person aware that this kind of talk can be a problem even when it’s not heard by the object of the conversation. And it keeps it from being a “you’re doing something wrong” thing–more of a “this is something I find upsetting” thing.

    5. nopetopus*

      – “I have a personal policy of not discussing coworkers’ bodies, so I’ll have to stop you there. (smile) How is [subject change] coming along?” If that subject change can be something you know about them, like their garden or the new book they mentioned reading, even better. But a work topic works too.

      – “She’d really rather we didn’t talk about her body, thanks for understanding (smile).”

    6. JustaTech*

      Depending on the situation (age and relative rank of the people involved, number of people, what they’ve just said):

      “Hey, can we not talk about people’s bodies?” – After you’ve said that once or twice, if it comes up again “Hey, can we not?” (I’ve had to use this a couple of times to ask people to not talk about particularly gruesome episodes of Game of Thrones, including my boss.) The tone here is that you’re making a totally reasonable and neutral request.

      “Dude.” or “Dude, no.” This would be in response to something specific like “Betty looks like she’d blow away on the breeze” with the same flat/mild disapproval you’d direct at someone who just intentionally belched and laughed about it. Works best on GenX/millennials.

      “Can we please not talk about Betty’s body? It isn’t helpful or kind.” This would be a response when someone expresses concern (real or feigned) about Betty to you. The tone is gentle, a mild correction. I’d follow that up with a re-directing comment (asking a question about a different topic, work or social, to keep the conversation moving).

      Good on you for having your coworker’s back!

    7. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I think “we shouldn’t comment on people’s bodies” is great and if they object that’s on them – we know they are poor judges of what’s appropriate already! I’ve also just gone “oop, no body talk at work!” in a light tone.

      People are so weird about thinness, I assume because they think it’s not an insult. I used to get this a lot and my ex (a very thin man) endured a truly insane amount of teasing at work. I fully believe those who are perceived as fat have it far worse, but really we should just all stop with the food/body stuff!

    8. Unkempt Flatware*

      Jim Halpert did a great job of this on the office with Michael Re: Holly’s butt. Anyone remember how it went?

  32. BellaStella*

    Anyone else have a personal phone (not paid by work) with a whatsapp team chat on it that you keep the chat archived because 1. its not a work phone or an actual work comms channel that is approved; 2. you cannot deal with 50+ messages a week of the chaos from a boss who is completely disorganised, share photos of people they meet at random meetings, etc.; and 3. is just annoying to have but almost all my family and friends use this too? I learned to archive stuff and now look at it once a week maybe and it has helped.

  33. desk platypus*

    Every couple of months my department has a few people who order from a local restaurant to try new foods. To start with, I don’t really care for my coworkers but I recognize needing to socialize since my role is so solitary. It’s okay, but a weird issue about tipping keeps happening. I always provided extra in my portion to cover delivery/pickup tips.

    However, I believe now the group organizer either leaves no tip or a very small one. I know people have different opinions on leaving tips for pick up orders but I’ve always given extra with the instructions of “for the tip”. On the day someone else was handling the money orders I more explicitly asked how much to give for the tip. She said we weren’t giving once since it was pickup, with the air of “we’ve never left one”. Now I’m thinking the usual group organizer has just been pocketing the extra. Wanting to keep the peace, I didn’t bring this up but instead told the organizer in the future I would cover the group’s tip expense since I personally believe in leaving one no matter if it’s pickup or delivery. She said this was fine and said nothing further. I especially didn’t want to make waves since I technically make more salary wise. Still, it’s frustrating nonetheless, especially since it seems the rest of the group doesn’t want to leave a tip.

    However, since last group order, more people joined the department and were invited to this lunch club. I might have a higher salary but now it’s crossed the line of how much I want to cover for other people’s tips. This order in thing wasn’t my idea, isn’t my favorite, and I’ve already been losing money on it. I’m trying to figure out a tactful way to say “you guys have fun but no way am I joining you again”.

    1. M2RB*

      Can you avoid attending for the next few meetings? Though that doesn’t help with the needing to socialize with coworkers issue :-/

    2. Maggie*

      I think you could either stop covering the tip or just casually say “no thanks I’m not ordering this month, enjoy though!”

    3. pally*

      Not tipping the delivery persons? Um, I’m not good with that myself. And I sure would not participate in any future group events if this was the case.

      Or, order your own, separate meal. And tip the delivery person yourself.

      You can always indicate “thank you for the invitation” but:
      “I have other plans for lunch”
      “I brought my own food today”
      “I not really in the mood for [food choice or name of restaurant they are ordering from] today. Maybe next time.”
      “I just ordered from xxx. So maybe next time.”

      Then indicate that you’ll be happy to join them (with your food) when they are dining.

      Pocketing the intended tip is a whole ‘nother issue. Also not okay.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      Some options:
      1. Continue ordering with the group and include a tip that you feel is both reasonable and an amount you’re okay with.
      2. Don’t order with them, but eat with them. To make it a bit more social, possibly trail them by a cycle – they order from a place to try new foods, the group discusses what’s good, you order something from that place based on recommendations the following time (and therefore tip as you wish for yourself only).

  34. Lily Rowan*

    I’m looking for a new role in my large organization, and am trying to figure out what’s the best way to network about it.

    There is a new leader (Angie) outside my direct area, who is going to be hiring for a new team, one in which I have a lot of experience. I don’t know Angie well, but we have met a couple of times, and held the same past role (years apart).

    I was thinking I might have a unique skill set to bring to this new team, but remembered a colleague (Becca) who has potentially an even better background, and maybe used to work with the new leader directly. We are pretty friendly.

    The new position hasn’t been posted yet, but I wonder if Angie is planning to hire Becca.

    So, who do I reach out to for an informal conversation? Both Angie and Becca? Neither? I’m trying to figure out how to potentially put myself forward but also not waste my time.

    1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Angie for sure since it sounds like they are the hiring manager. And I would reach out soon. Good luck!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, you’re right, thank you! I worry about being too forward, and that has definitely held me back.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Argh, I can’t find her contact information in our system! I’m guessing it’s an issue between her previous position and this new one. Oh well, next week will do, I guess.

  35. Whomst*

    Mostly just venting here:

    My company does contract work, and the contract I was working on has slowly imploded due to mismanagement on the part of the company contracting us. This has culminated in an announcement yesterday that the entire team will be dissolved and everyone will be moved to different projects by the end of the year, with a slowly dwindling team wrapping everything up by the end of the year. I wouldn’t normally be terribly worried, as my company has handled this sort of thing before and has plenty of other strong contracts/projects that need work, but this comes at a particularly tricky time for me – I’m expecting my first child and need to plan out my maternity leave.

    Baby’s due a couple weeks after the project is supposed to be wrapped up, and in normal circumstances I’d be one of the last people left wrapping things up due to my tenure on the project, but I do NOT want to be put in a position where there’s a bunch of project wrap up I still have to do and I’ve gone into labor. I also don’t want to have just a month on a new team/project before going on maternity leave. Heck, I was hoping I’d be able to work from home the last couple weeks of pregnancy, but who knows what my next team will allow for remote work. (Some projects are quite WFH friendly, other are not.) And then there’s all the stress of going back to work with a new baby when you don’t have the established history with the work and the team… Ugh. Hopefully they can figure out what project I’ll end up working on sooner rather than later.

    1. Ann*

      What if you take the lead on wrapping up the project, as usual, but keep someone in the loop constantly so they can pick up where you leave off? You can also keep a spreadsheet with key info, contacts etc. that they can refer to. I’ve done it several times. Admittedly, with mixed success – you do have to trust the other person to not drop the ball… but in the end, there is only so much you can do.

      1. Whomst*

        I guess my original post didn’t cover that this is highly technical software. I’m sure there are areas of work where keeping someone informed of where you’re at would translate to them being able to pick up where you left off, but this is definitely not one of them. Perhaps if the person being kept in the loop had worked on all the aspects of the software before, but at that point, just leave them heading the project and have me as a resource to them.

    2. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      I hear ya. It’s a little simpler in my case but I’ll also be going out towards the end of a project/ transition period and feeling a bit stressed

  36. BellaStella*

    Another question. Any advice on approaching a senior leader in your firm with a casual invite to lunch to ask for some mentorship on how to navigate moving up in the firm? I am very good at what I do but have not have COLA (none of us have) or any options to move up in nearly 4 years. I was told last November that a promotion would not happen because forms were not filled in right, team was top heavy, etc. BS basically because the missing stair got promoted this month so obviously promotions happen.

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Don’t immediately as for lunch. I’d suggest coffee or even a quick in-office chat. The number of people who approach me for things like this continues to grow and my time is already at a premium – I recommend you make it as easy as possible for the senior leader to help you. And if you do score a meet, come prepared with questions. I really appreciated the person who had note cards to be sure they didn’t get flustered and forget their questions. (They were clearly nervous at the beginning and the cards helped.)

  37. LucyGoosy*

    Any tips for seeing a former toxic boss at a wedding?

    I’m going to the backyard wedding for a former coworker tomorrow. Our super toxic former boss will almost certainly be there. I…quit in a moment of passion a few years ago after we had a heated argument in which she wanted me to do some really unethical things with some client records, and there were some less-than-ideal emails sent afterwards. (During our argument, she said, “Maybe this career isn’t for you.” I had already been interviewing was about to accept a better offer, so I emailed that evening and said, “I’ve given what you said some thought…” and I gave my two weeks notice. She immediately emailed that she had suspended my access to all work accounts and said, “Therefore, you won’t be able to perform any of your tasks that require access to the system. HR is checking how much PTO you have available so you can use that during the next two weeks.” I said, “Great, I’ll make my resignation effective as of today.”)

    Anyway….any tips for being around this person at a wedding?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Ignore them with the Cut Direct, and they will likely ignore you.

      If they approach you can respond with a curt “I have no interest in talking to you, please leave me alone” and turn away from them if they try and open conversation.

      Enjoy your coworkers wedding, just ignore the jerk.

    2. Not So Little My*

      I say you won that one, take the high ground, be pleasant to them and gray rock if they try to stir up stuff.

      1. WellRed*

        Thisthusthis. I love that she thought you’d work PTO for two weeks and you said no! Love it! You won.

    3. t-vex*

      Mild smile from afar, “hope you’re doing well,” walk the other way. They probably aren’t excited to see you either.

    4. cardigarden*

      “Oh, I’ve just noticed someone I absolutely must speak with! Bye!” if you get trapped in a conversation. Otherwise, it’s probably best to not pay attention to her at all.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ignore them. If they approach you, just say a brief hello, comment on how lovely the couple looks, and then magically see someone else you need to go talk to.

      1. samecoin*

        I Am definitely in the ” Throw a drink in their face” Camp as long as it won’t cause any long term repercussions

    6. Lily Rowan*

      I’m going to take a middle position of all of the above! Acknowledge her, smile briefly, but do not engage at all. Keep walking and just be on the other side of the room.

    7. Unkempt Flatware*

      Honestly, act like you don’t see her. You’ll know if she’s desperate to try and make eye contact with you–you’ll feel it burning a hole in the side of your head. Do not give her the attention she’ll want. Do not make it look like you’re ignoring her. Just act like she’s a ghost no one else sees either. People like her are unsafe and I fear she’ll take any opportunity to ask about you so she either feels better about the situation, or feels validated in the horrible way she treated you. She doesn’t care about you one single bit. Treat her like you know that.

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      I would be very friendly if she approaches you – you wouldn’t want to do anything that brings drama to someone’s wedding (even if it’s not your fault)

    9. RagingADHD*

      The same way you would deal with anyone else you don’t want to talk to at a wedding: smile, nod, and drift off to talk to someone else. If they approach you to talk to you, smile, be noncommittal, and excuse yourself.

    10. The teapots are on fire*

      Just seem very, very happy with your life. I am petty enough to treat this as a contest as to whom Fate felt it just to reward with peace and joy and I WILL WIN.

    11. Marie*

      Shun the toxic former boss! I’ve gotten quite good at this. Recently I was talking to a good friend at an event and a former friend, who became extremely toxic, was right there. I was talking to good friend, hugged her, etc., and just pretended toxic former friend wasn’t there. It worked!

  38. Rebeck*

    Anyone care to have some fun speculating with me? I had a one-on-one with my boss recently, and I told him that (as he knows) I am interested in being promoted, and asked him for some feedback on how I am doing, what my shortcomings are in his eyes, and any information on what other successful people in my role and in the role I am looking to move to are doing that I’m not. He just told me that I’m doing everything right to be promoted, that he is building a file to support it, and for me to keep advocating for myself. He gave me no actionable feedback / criticism. He told me the promotion won’t be today, won’t be tomorrow, but that he is working on it. So please help me baselessly speculate when it will come. Our typical merit increase/promotion cycle is in April, although my department does do a small number of high profile promotions in November. There are occasionally other off-cycle promotions but I don’t think that would happen in my case. I was last promoted in November 2021. I am thinking it won’t be this November, but maybe either April or November of next year. There are some complicating factors – I have a peer and it would likely make sense to promote us together, although he has been in the role for ~5 years compared to my 2. I don’t really see them promoting one of us without the other for a few different reasons. Having said that, I don’t know how his performance compares to mine, but I consistently get rated Exceeds Expectations and am ranked as a high performer / high potential. Before this conversation I had April 2025 marked as my goal for hitting this promotion but now I’ve got stars in my eyes for something sooner.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      Is it basically the same job and different title, or different role? Why do you seem in a bit of a rush for it to happen? Why are you discussing this now instead of in April when you did a review? Will the promotion give you access/permission to do stuff you can’t do right now? Perhaps these are rhetorical questions.

      I guess different industries are different, but I work in a pretty standard business operations setting and 2 years into a job is still newish, here and at my past job. We don’t rush people to get promotions because IME it’s a quick dopamine hit and then it’s back to normal the following week. Unless it’s a substantial change in the role, which many promotions are not.

      1. Rebeck*

        It is basically the same job, different title, more money. I’m not necessarily in a rush for it to happen, but I’ve learned that if I don’t advocate for myself and put myself and all of my accomplishments out there, it won’t happen. We were discussing it because my boss sets up one-on-ones midway through the year for exactly this purpose.
        In my viewpoint, I’m already doing the role, at a lower title and with less pay. I’ve changed a few details, but essentially, our department used to have an AVP that my peer and I reported to (me as a manager, him as a director). Our AVP left and was not replaced, leaving the two of us to run our divisions, and report up to our VP. From there, it took 2 years for me to get from manager to director, despite doing the same work as my peer who already had the director title (he was an external hire whereas I am a long-term employee). In the past five years, my division has grown. I have more people reporting to me and the product that we support has grown tremendously and is quite profitable. I manage my division very well – my boss gives me a lot of independence and things rarely bubble up to him.
        It makes sense for my division to be led by an AVP – other similar divisions are. We are the outlier. My peer’s division has not had as much growth and is borderline profitable, making the need for his team to be led by an AVP somewhat of a gray area. But based on his years in the role and other factors, as I said, I suspect that we may be promoted together. Once I am in the AVP role, I would not be surprised to be there the rest of my career. One, I don’t think our division will grow so large as to need a VP heading it up and two, I don’t know if that is something I desire for my career. The role should give me more insight/authority regarding budgets, staffing, and allow me to transition some things off of my plate to enable to me to think bigger picture and enact some positive changes, which would hopefully allow the product we support to be even more profitable.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          OK, this makes sense. I think you have a lot of ammo to ask for an off-cycle raise. I was assuming a move from Analyst Level II to Analyst Level III type move, by virtue of that being the more common scenario.

          I think you can use the “access to more information/decision making that I can directly” apply thing to push this sooner.

          I think it’s nice that you are nice and wanting to be “fair,” but you actually need to decouple your promotion from the coworker’s UNLESS their division is barely profitable for reasons outside their control. Like, really outside their control. Plant this idea in your boss’ head “do I need to wait around forever to get to the next level that we actually need someone in, to wait for another department to do better? Seems sort of illogical”

          In closing, it also seems like there is a need for someone at the level, it’s not really a “reward”

  39. Dragonfly7*

    I am resuming work today after being off for short-term disability for 6 weeks. I am really dreading returning. I’ve also realized that I need to be job hunting closer to where I grew up, both due to my own lack of support network as well as a parent’s declining health.
    Problem: I had to use up nearly all of my remaining PTO at the start of my leave. I can flex an hour here and there for “appointments,” (aka video interviews or actual appointments) but I can’t do this regularly, or even take whole days at all, without having intermittent FMLA in place. I already verified this with my manager.
    How would you advise dealing with this? Y’all have suggested temping until my lease is up at the end of the year or I find something new. I am not financially in a position to be able to move right away without a job lined up – the main reason I’m returning to work at the same place is to save up for that possibility. Anything else?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      This is a toughy.

      My best suggestion is to be upfront with employers if they contact you for an interview – something along the lines of “due to the nature of my current employment I am unable to interview during the hours of x-y. is that something you can possibly accommodate”

      Some will say no, but I know I would accommodate someone who was a good candidate that asked. You may not be able to flex your time but I can :) I’m sure you will find others willing as well.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      Is there a reason you wouldn’t take FMLA so you can have at least job protection for the time you need to take intermittently? You wouldn’t get paid if you’re out of PTO but they can’t fire you if you need to take time off for appointments (whether interviews or not).

      1. Aitch Arr*

        If OP is claiming intermittent FMLA for appointments that are not related to the health condition the FMLA was approved for (i.e., going to interviews instead), that is FMLA abuse. Don’t do this.

        OP, did you use up all your PTO, not just vacation?

        1. Dragonfly7*

          Exactly, I don’t want to be claiming FMLA fraudulently! And yes, both my vacation and sick leave come out of the same PTO pot. I’d already used most of it for the same (at the time undiagnosed) health reason and was required to use 40 hours at the start of STD. I’ll have 10 hours left for the year if I cancel the extra day I was granted for Christmas.

  40. Cookies for Breakfast*

    While I’m not a mum, this week’s post from the LW who’s a mother looking to “lean out” resonated with me. I saw commenters suggest that the LW consider technical writing, and wanted to dig deeper (I’m also a PM, don’t feel particularly good at it, and doubt it’s the long-term career path for me).

    I keep coming back to the idea of switching to technical writing because writing documentation and guides is one of my main strengths (with plenty of colleague and manager feedback to back that up). On tougher days, I pretty much think it’s my only strength! However, in my jobs so far, “documentation” has meant Google docs, support websites (Zendesk / Freshdesk and similar), Jira / Confluence, and Miro boards. When I look at job adverts, which I was doing just last week, I see the experience requirements are for more technical software, like GitHub, or dedicated app documentation platforms. That’s something I have no reason of using in my current role, so I wouldn’t be able to create opportunities to learn on the job before applying. I’m confident I could learn at least some of these quickly in a new environment, but of course, I wouldn’t have prior experience or a portfolio to show potential employers.

    For those here who are familiar with technical writing, how big a barrier is that likely to be? I should also add that English is not my native language, though I consider myself bilingual.

    And if anyone familiar with technical writing in the UK is out there, if you don’t mind sharing, what do salaries for this type of role look like in your experience? Most of the adverts I’ve browsed on LinkedIn so far didn’t have that information, aside from one that suggested I’d be taking a significant pay cut (and I’m by no means a highly paid product manager right now!)

    1. siamese cat*

      If you can find an open source software project that needs documentation/technical writing, that might expand your skill set and at the very least introduce you to GitHub. I did a bit of documentation, but many years ago.

    2. AllyAllyInFree*

      It’s not just writing technical manuals and guides, especially stand-alone documentation. Most users don’t read the manual first, they start clicking around the product. Sometimes you’ll be writing pop-up help where you click something on the interface and a one-line hint opens. It’s more likely to be content that is linked from the user interface, or links going the other way from the doc to the product. Look into user interface design. Companies that see the value in tech writers have collaboration between the UI, tech support, and the engineers.
      Also look into how to write for audiences for whom English is a second language, and for users who don’t want to read more than a few sentences. Check into “simplified technical English”.
      Because you’re bilingual you can also look into into localization (translation) companies. These often provide flexibility because their employees tend to be in many different locations.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Oh, it’s funny you mention that. I would love to work in a role or field connected to translation / multiple languages. I’ve always assumed companies prefer people with prior experience or a language degree for this, so never looked very hard before (my first language isn’t particularly niche, so I’d be one in a large pool of candidate, I’d expect).

        Also, your comment reminded me that I have experience with pop-up help tools. It was a couple roles ago, but I managed the entire project to implement one with one of the main providers at the time, and got to grips with the software to create product walkthroughs, which wasn’t particularly intuitive. That kind of reassures me on the skills front!

        1. city deer*

          Speaking as a translator by training, if you are interested in translation/localisation roles, it would absolutely be to your benefit, if not strictly 100% necessary, to take some kind of course or even go for a degree such as a 1-year MSc (there are several such programmes in the UK right now and they’re booming). Without writing a whole essay on the topic…people outside the field often think bilingualism alone qualifies someone as a translator, but being bilingual is really just the prerequisite. Doing that work well/effectively requires a lot of specific skills and knowledge, and you would be competing with people who have gone through specific training to develop themselves in that regard. Most jobs will want to see a portfolio of previous work, demonstrating that you can follow a brief and translate to set specifications. Completing an academic course isn’t the only possible on-ramp, but gives you a good foundation to build on.

          And to be clear, I mean all of this to be encouraging! It’s just a much more competitive field than I realised when I got into it, so I try to flag that for others where possible. I’d also caution that translation jobs tend not to pay particularly well. (I’ve had to switch fields partly because of this. Translation project manager roles in my area only pay around £27k whereas I’m getting £36k as an entry level software engineer.) But there are a lot of wildly varying possibilities out there — translation/localisation is inherently interdisciplinary and covers so much ground that it’s hard to give accurate generalised advice. I would recommend looking up Mona Baker’s website (monabaker dot org) and just exploring a bit from there; she’s a major figure in the field and posts a lot of content pertaining to both academic and non-academic translation issues.

          1. Cookies For Breakfast*

            Thank you! Everything you’ve said makes sense. It’s pretty much why I now and then kick myself that I didn’t study translation when I was younger (my degree is in a subject that, with hindsight, absolutely didn’t suit me).

            I’ve thought of going back to school in the past, and put that aside, because I doubted I could do it alongside a full time job. But I’d be happy to go work at a company in the languages business as something other than a translator, if it means my skills are more transferable.

            I didn’t know about the website you mentioned and will definitely check it out :)

  41. DutchessofDork*

    I am completely changing career paths (or at least planning to in the next few months). I’m in my late 30s and moving from Canada to Texas to attend community college for an accounting program with a goal of working in that field. I’ve worked in the legal services field (not lawyer, but clerk, assistant, transcriptionist et cetera) and am just done.

    What are some things I need to consider when transferring fields and, well, countries as well?

    1. Panicked*

      As a Texas transplant, let me caution you on a few things. Your experience may vary depending on what part of Texas you are in.

      1. It’s hot. Not just warm, actually oppressively hot for a good portion of the year. Do not underestimate this heat.

      2. No one is equipped to handle winter weather (the panhandle is an exception). We get ice and snow about once a year and when we do, everything shuts down. Please prepare well in advance and stay off the roads.

      3. The public policies here absolutely suck, especially if you’re coming from a more liberal area of Canada. We have very few worker protections, so if you’re able/planning to work, familiarize yourself with the local laws.

      4. Eat ALL the TexMex and BBQ you can.

      5. Make a pilgrimage to your nearest Buc-ee’s. You won’t be sorry.

      1. ENFP in Texas*


        I’ve lived here for the past 20 years. The heat is getting hotter, the government is getting redder, and I am just about ready to head somewhere else.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        Depends on where in Texas, also:
        1. Eat ALL Vietnamese and Indian food!
        2. Shop at an HEB Plus! at least just once.
        3. You will need a car. Yes, even in the cities like Houston, there are walkable neighborhoods, but you WILL need a car.
        4. The heat is real. Do not underestimate the heat. It is real and it’s spectacular.
        5. Do not underestimate hurricanes, if you are anywhere closer to the Gulf Coast.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Off the top of my head … Your educational and professional credentials will not be equivalent to American credentials. You will have to get more education and training, and you will not start at an equivalent salary and seniority level that you are coming from.

      Unless you’re a citizen of the destination country, you cannot study, work, or stay for more than a few months in another country without authorization from the immigration authorities.

      Gas is cheaper and taxes are lower in the U.S. as compared to Canada, but you’ll be paying more in government service fees and healthcare costs.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I always think it’s a bit funny when people come from the EU or Canada and remark on our low taxes in the US. I also had this conversation with a Brit extolling our higher salaries. I suppose taxes are lower as a percentage, but they don’t pay for your health care or your / your children’s education or childcare, so by the time you add those costs in post-tax it’s hard to say we’re coming out so far ahead. Plus add in tipping culture to help service people get to minimum wage and sales tax … oh and the lack of paid sick or vacation time comparable to other Western nations … hmm

        1. Sloanicota*

          Also nicely if I was moving to the US generally but Texas specifically I’d be prepared for an … idiosyncratic gun culture including open carry laws and some “stand your ground” stuff I’d want to research in advance.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I do want to point out that where I live (an extremely diverse suburb of a very large city), I have not once seen anyone open carry.
            Not that they aren’t idiotic and dangerous. But it’s really depends on where in the state do you live.

    3. Head sheep counter*

      Besides the weather… you might really want to take a look at some of the issues that have surfaced in the last couple of years and whether or not those would be issues for you. Things that might not be apparent would be the availability (if any) of OBGYNs for your own health.

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If you are female, you might want to evaluate what your options are re: reproductive health and everything around that before you move, too.

      Seconding everything about the weather, too both hot and cold–you might know how to drive in snow/ice, but others don’t, and the roads will NOT be prepped for it the way they are up north.

      A lot of stuff also depends on *where* in Texas you’re moving to, because it is massive and Houston is very different from say, Amarillo or El Paso or Dallas.

    5. There You Are*

      Native Texan here: If you have any choice in where you move to in the U.S., do not move to Texas or any other Deep South red state. It’s bad and getting worse by the minute. Watch a few of the early episodes of “Handmaid’s Tale” and, aside from the weather, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the politics, politicians, and laws are like in this state.

      If you are a woman of child-bearing age and/or a person of the global majority, doubly do not move here. It’s simply not safe.

    6. epizeugma*

      99% of homes have central air but very little in the way of insulating against cold weather. We have had 2 major winter storms in the past few years involving multi-day losses of power and water for many people. This summer there has also been the threat of rolling blackouts. The power grid is not robust here, and will not get better without significant (and unlikely) political change. Know what you need to do to keep yourself safe in the event of loss of power. People can and do die of heat stroke without A/C here. Have a solid emergency plan and supplies for both extreme heat and cold. Hurricane prep supplies are also needed if you are near the coast, and you will need to know what to do in the event of a tornado warning.

      Get well versed in how health insurance works here. Also be aware that many parts of Texas, including cities, are medically under-resourced (especially for OBGYN care), so try to get established with a primary care provider and any specialists you may need BEFORE you are ill or injured.

    7. WorkingRachel*

      I’m sorry to have to echo everyone else, but: are you sure about this? As an American who has lived in Texas and hopes never to set foot there again, I would give my eyeteeth for Canadian healthcare and maternity policies. (Although I suppose you’re not giving up your citizenship anytime soon, in which case, godspeed and enjoy your adventure!)

      Texas is hot, loves its Republican politics, and you need a car. People are provincial–get used to hearing the same few comments about Canada regularly. If you are not religious, you probably want to keep that to yourself, and if you’re not Evangelical, avoid anyone who invites you to church within the first month of knowing you–they are trying to convert you. The food is good, as are the amusement parks, and there is some scattered natural beauty. Clothes and household goods are inexpensive, so might be a good time to stock up if you have room.

      If you’re looking for a less Texan version of Texas, I recommend San Antonio or Austin.

  42. Sally Rhubarb*

    Is there a nice way to tell a vendor that their fuck up caused us to fuck up?

    Basically I was told by my Warehouse team that one of our vendors never sent X product. Vendor says they did. Go back to Warehouse with what vendor said. Warehouse reexamines rest of shipment and discovers the product was mixed in with the rest of the order (Think a box labeled llama brushes but in it was also llama hair bows). So in no way was it obvious that the missing product was there unless we dug into the boxes which we wouldn’t normally do until it was necessary because A) that’s a waste of time & B) We should be able to trust what you say is on the box is actually in the frekin box.

    I’m so tired of this vendor but I’m also tired of looking stupid because 1/5 times this will be the case. How do I save face & tell them that oh yeah sorry the product was there but maybe don’t throw a bunch of shit in a box & not label it?

    1. Llellayena*

      “After an intensive search, the product was found in a mis-labeled box. Please be sure to label the boxes with all included contents in future orders. Future mis-labeled orders will require us to charge you for the time spent locating the “missing” items.”

      1. Sally Rhubarb*

        Cheers. Unfortunately I can’t charge them or demand a discount for time wasted but that’s a better way of putting it than I have the brain to come up with currently. Thanks!

      2. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

        This, plus I’ve deployed “I’m sure you can understand” language a lot for this kind of thing. “I’m sure you can understand why this isn’t workable for us,” “I’m sure you see how this caused us delays,” etc.

    2. juneybug*

      That sounds like a terrible time-waste and stressor!
      For the future, are you hoping to change vendors or have them label the box correctly like Llellayena suggested?
      Either way – document, document, document! Show the trail of emails, time wasted looking for “lost” items, staff involved in looking vs doing their primary duties, etc.
      Then talk to your management team what steps should happen next – talk to the vendors about these problems so they can fix them (maybe their management doesn’t realize how bad it is), change vendors with the contract stating all boxes should be labeled correctly, etc.
      Good luck!!

  43. Not So Little My*

    Asthma inhaler etiquette: Is it ok to use it at your desk or is that one of those things that you should do in private?

    1. M2RB*

      I don’t have asthma so consider that. I would never expect someone to go to the bathroom/a private area to use an inhaler. An asthma inhaler is necessary to your breathing! Not for convenience or grooming or hygiene. Using an inhaler is completely different than clipping fingernails or flossing teeth (both things that should be done in private).

    2. Panicked*

      Use it when and where you need it. I can’t imagine anyone having an issue with it. I can understand people get squicked out by needles and other more invasive medical devices, but you’re just taking a few deep breaths. I wouldn’t give it a second thought.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Fellow asthmatic here and it’s never even crossed my mind that I shouldn’t be using it at my desk! To me, it’s no different than popping a quick Advil for a headache. Puff away in peace :)

    4. Dragonfly7*

      Totally okay to use at your desk! There will inevitably be nosy coworkers, though, so maybe have some lines prepared that correspond to how willing you are or aren’t to discussing it in further detail.

    5. Sally Rhubarb*

      Totally fine. The only time I ever stepped out to use mine was at the height of COVID so unmasking would have been rude (& also I was working in a shared space)

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      I use an inhaler and every type of inhaler I’ve ever used has recommended rinsing out your mouth immediately afterwards to avoid infection, and you obviously need to be near a sink to do that. However, if I was in a situation where I really needed to use my rescue inhaler and didn’t think I could make it to a bathroom, of course I’d do that at my desk and worry about the rinsing bit later.
      I wouldn’t care if colleagues used their inhalers at their desks, since needing to breathe is more important than etiquette!

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Definitely use it at your desk! It’s a medical need. This isn’t like clipping your nails or getting something out of your teeth.

    8. Elsewise*

      Totally okay to use at your desk, I’ve seen people do that all the time in different jobs. It’s a medical device, doesn’t involve displaying any body part that you wouldn’t otherwise display, doesn’t show any blood, and isn’t addictive. Totally public-acceptable.

    9. Your Social Work Friend*

      Use it at your desk. I would assume that if you need it, walking to the bathroom or other private area would be difficult. It’s a potentially life saving medical device, and it’s just an inhaler.

    10. Watry*

      I give myself injections at my desk (once I make sure that I’m not going to make anyone around me faint). Use your inhaler.

    11. C*

      I dont think it’s weird to use at your desk. I have never had any problems using my inhaler at my desk. My coworkers understood I needed it to breathe and if I was using it I needed it.

  44. excited but nervous*

    Script for asking about drug testing in a cannabis-legal state? I’m a finalist for a position I’m really excited about, but I use cannabis for medical reasons. I don’t have a medical card because my practitioners either don’t do certifications or aren’t MDs, though one is willing to provide documentation of the diagnosis that would qualify me. How would I start that conversation? Am I just going to have to let the opportunity go if they drug test? It’s not a role where safety would be a consideration, just company policy.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Could you ask for the steps that happen after an offer is made? “Should we make it to the offer stage, what would last steps be before onboarding? I’d love to get an idea of the total timeline.”
      Usually they will lay out “We do a background check and drug test” or something like that. Which lets you ask without asking?

      Also, can you set up a one-time appt with an MD to get an official card?

      I’m vehemently against drug testing and this is one of the many reasons why.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      If you’re not comfortable just rolling with it, I suggest you frame it as a question about the process.

      So not – do you drug test/test for mj

      But rather “If I am the successful candidate, what is the pre-employment process?”

      1. excited but nervous*

        The process for getting a medical card takes time and it’s not likely I’d be able to get it in time for this job. I know drug tests are part of the pre-employment process for this company, but many companies don’t include cannabis in the panel. So I’d have to ask specifically to find out.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Well then your options are really just flat out asking them or doing the test and see what happens.

          If your medical condition allows, you could also consider stopping to hedge your bets.

          Honestly if you get an offer, I would simply be upfront with HR – you use cannabis for a medical condition and will that be a problem.

    3. Frank Doyle*

      I think that if it’s legal where you are, it won’t raise any red flags for you to ask. And does it matter? If they say yes, they drug test, are you going to be able to quit using cannabis, or will you have to bow out of the process? If it’s the latter, I don’t think there’s any harm in just asking, so that no one’s time is further wasted.

      If you’re in a state where it’s legal, and there aren’t any safety issues at play, I feel like it would be incumbent upon them to mention it up front. The default assumption is probably that places *don’t* test.

    4. Head sheep counter*

      If its a federal job… you have a problem otherwise – you’ll likely just have to ask.

    5. ina*

      Someone below had a similar question and there is a script I wrote up for that. I don’t know if you should actually call out cannabis here without knowing how it will be perceived by the manager – these are the weird things that come from a long standing “war of drugs” – anything that isn’t caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine are seen as making people unreliable by association. (Now that I think about it caffeine, alcohol and nicotine have had amazing PR work done for them…even smoking is still something the “cool kids” do in movies. Lol. Geez.)

      Anyway, I would keep it vague at first: “I am taking a medically necessary medication that I’ve been advised may be detected on some drug tests. I’m working with my doctor to switch to something else currently, but could you inform me how I could go about navigating this? I am eager to begin the position and I would like to avoid any bumps in the road early! Thank you.” And then I would get your non-MD provider (what are they?) for documentation. If you can, I’d go to an MD that’s cannabis-treatment friendly for a note. Legitimacy matters, unfortunately. The best option would be to abstain if you know when they’re testing just to make a clean break of it.

  45. wannajustdodata*

    Opinions on getting a PG-cert from GA Tech? I’m also using data analysis to be more efficient at my current job since I haven’t been able to do actual data analytics in a paid position yet. Any advice? I’m using excel to create pivot tables, etc.

  46. A Simple Narwhal*

    Whelp my organization just announced that they want everyone back in the office three days a week (after being mostly remote and my commute is 1.5+ hours each way) and I think that’s the final push I need to start job hunting. I like my job, my manager, and my coworkers, but after 5+ years my job description no longer matches at all what my job has grown into, and there’s no opportunity for advancement or the option to change my title to accurately reflect my contributions. I was willing to put up with it because I had a baby last year and the job’s flexibility made the career stagnation worth it. But now that the flexibility is going away, I don’t think I can justify it any further. Sigh.

    My real question is – when I eventually (hopefully!) get interviews and they ask why I’m looking to leave, should I mention that it’s due to both the lack of advancement and the return to office mandate, or should I just pick one? I don’t want to sound like I’m piling on or complaining too much, but it really was a combination of the two that has me job hunting.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Lack of advancement is always a good reason for leaving. It’s literally the “I want to do more!” that all employers like hearing.

      If you’d be looking for WFH “on demand” and the office is a similar distance, I’d mention the return-to-office mandate as well. You can work it in to a question about what kind of flexibility the new job offers.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        That’s smart to bring up wfh as it comes up or fits into the conversation. I think I’m going to be looking for fully remote jobs, but if I end up interviewing somewhere local that has the occasional in-office requirement it would probably be good to bring it up then to hopefully be on the same page about what “occasional” really means.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’d focus on the lack of advancement for that question and keep it short and sweet. I’d ask them about WFH and flexibility in one of your questions for them.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Agree on lack of advancement, but in the DC area length of the commute is also a very common reason for looking for a new job, particularly now as traffic is getting worse. Depending on your area, that is also a good reason.

  47. Quiet Quitters?*

    Any other people managers seeing a marked change in employees since the pandemic? I know there is all the stuff out there about quiet quitting, etc., but I have people that have always performed well suddenly making newbie mistakes (not once or twice, but consistently), seemingly disappearing for part of the day, logging in, but not starting work until an hour into their shift, etc.

    Aside from these folks typically being better performers, it’s also strange because:

    * we’re fully remote, so no return to the office issues
    * we pay competitively (for real – I check comps myself and not just what HR tells me)
    * we have good benefits including things beyond just insurance/401k (WFH and fitness reimbursements for example)
    * we have regular raise cycles and everyone got an off cycle raise a few weeks ago
    * promotion opportunities are available

    In coaching sessions, these folks tend to seem checked out, but we cannot figure out why. We’re offering extra training sessions for knowledge refreshers, have taken tasks off their plates without adding new ones (the tasks taken off were part of the role from the beginning, not later add ons), are doing more (remote) social activities, etc.

    I’m at a loss. Anyone else experiencing similar things? Any ideas?

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Yes! My colleagues checked out during the pandemic and never checked back in. They complain about large workloads but aren’t actually doing a lot — I know this because of the projects I’m on with them; I’m carrying them. They also hold many, long, useless meetings.

      I wish I knew why! It feels horrible, particularly since we are government and taxpayers shouldn’t be funding this nonsense.

      1. Quiet Quitters?*

        We’ve seen similar. Any issue is immediately responded to with “it must have been busy then” or “I was slammed”, but the roles are ones where people have specific tasks and metrics don’t show this at all.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      I think it comes down to management and accountability. What are they supposed to be doing? Do they know that? Are they doing it? Is there accountability for not doing it?

      1. Quiet Quitters?*

        It is very clear what they’re supposed to be doing. Essentially, tasks come in and they work on them. There are clearly documented metrics and they can see where they are at on these at anytime. If they are unsure how to address something, there is a robust KB and people to ask at anytime.

        The team has leads (each person only reports to one of them), who in turn have a manager, and I oversee that manager. Accountability is the weakest part. The manager is working with leads on being more direct with feedback. Next steps would be coaching plans, then PIPs, and ultimately, being let go if no improvements. Those processes are starting, though given the number of people with these issues, I think there is hesitation to have so many people on coaching plans at once and what that could do to team morale.

        1. Sherm*

          I would not worry about morale. It sounds like some people need a fire lit under them. And right now, it could be that Jane The Former Achiever is thinking “Joe Slacker gets away with coasting, so why should I work any harder than he does?”

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            That’s a pretty important morale issue that shouldn’t be ignored.

            If you’re going to light a fire, light it in the right place.

            My manager and I had a frank (blunt) conversation about this a couple of weeks ago. He has improved slightly, but he’s still pandering to our Joe Slacker. When he deals with that problem, the Achievers are willing to resume our normal pace.

    3. Tired AF*

      How was your work affected by the pandemic, workload wise, turnover wise, etc?

      I could be qualified as a “Quiet Quitter”. Our workload tripled during the pandemic and we were subject to a lot of stress and some abuse. It’s been fine for literally the last 2 years now, but I’m still burned out and jaded. I’m the only one on my team who worked here during the pandemic, I’m a middle manager so I manage the team, I get paid the most, I’m highly trusted, yet… I’m not as engaged as I probably should be. I earned so much comp time during the pandemic and even using it for extended vacation didn’t help.

      I’m still here and mostly working but getting back in the groove is just… hard.

      1. Quiet Quitters?*

        Work load remained the same on a per person basis for the most part. Turnover went up among new hires, but not for people that have always been here. There were brief periods where workload was maybe a bit higher due to that turnover, but I monitor signals that lead to increased workloads to hire in advance of that typically.

        So sorry about the abuse you were subjected to! I don’t blame you for being jaded.

    4. BellyButton*

      Burnout? I have been having the leaders at my company evaluate work load and I have been checking to see when and how much PTO people are taking. I noticed people were not taking any time off and those were the same people who had a dip in performance. When I asked those people about it and encouraged them to take at least a couple of days many of them came back and thanked me and said after coming back they realized they hadn’t been performing at their usual levels. Burnout doesn’t have to be just workload- people are struggling in the world right now. All the social and political things happening are wearing on people.

      1. Quiet Quitters?*

        Should have mentioned – these folks also tend to take the absolute most time off. I really like this mention, though. One of my top performers in another role, who takes more upon herself, was showing signs of burnout and hadn’t taken any time off. So, she’s taking time this month.

        I hear you on the world! Weighs on me too.

        I do expect what’s happening in people’s personal lives (whether at a micro or macro level) leads to some of this. Part of the struggle is at one point do you start expecting people to focus on work during work? We’re all human and need a break at some point (I definitely have my bad days!), but this is happening long term.

      2. Filosofickle*

        The collective pandemic burnout is real. I’m disengaged and not performing at my usual levels, and I was WFH long before Covid so it’s not related to that or to workload. Like you said, I’m simply struggling in the world — an accumulation of grief, disillusionment, caregiving, and being in a wrong-fit job — and this is true for nearly every friend I have to one degree or another.

    5. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’m not sure how applicable this is to your workplace and situation, but I’ll share my experience in case it’s helpful.

      I used to be a supreme go-getter, often covering for other colleagues, fixing their mistakes, helping out above and beyond, chairing committees, etc. I was also often “voluntold” for projects since no one else wanted to do it. I burned out pretty hard, and after I switched jobs, I no longer do the most. I’m responsible for me and my stuff, but a lot of things can be “good enough” now. I know there’s a lot of errors that came out at my previous workplace because I wasn’t covering for them anymore. I’m also in academia where it can be very hard to get rid of low-performers, so take all that with a grain of salt.

      1. Quiet Quitters?*

        I have one person this applies to (separate from the folks this thread is about) that I mentioned above :) Not voluntold per say, but definitely a go getter and finds projects to take on herself. We recently had a conversation about focusing on what’s most important and nailing that, then we can expand from there.

    6. Magpie*

      Have you tried talking to any of these employees about the problems you’re seeing? Stuff like disappearing during the day and starting work late is probably happening because they think no one is noticing and they can get away with it. If you mention you have noticed it, that right there might be enough to make it stop. If it doesn’t, you might need to have another conversation about expectations around their job. For the mistakes, I would also bring it up when it happens and have a more serious conversation if it becomes a pattern. It’s possible these conversations will reveal a reason for the things you’re seeing, but at the very least it should put them on notice that you’re aware of it and they need to make some changes.

      1. Quiet Quitters?*

        The team leads have, though I suspect they are not being as direct as possible and their direct manager is coaching them on that. We’re definitely at the point of moving on to more serious steps, but I think the concern is that it’s so many at once.

        1. Anecdata*

          Since it’s a lot of people, and previously strong performers, I think it could be worth a one-time, large group reset conversation, so people aren’t blindsided by changing performance expectations (in addition to folks’ direct managers talking to them). Especially if there are things you’ve let slide during the pandemic that you need to reset overall expectations on.

          Structure is basically — we’ve extended as much flexibility as possible during the pandemic, but we need to get back to our regular levels of performance blah… This means:
          – Our typical working hours are X which means you’re expected to be accessible (or responsive on chat; available for meetings; whatever you generally expect)
          – Each associate is expected to manage 6-10 llamas, talk to your manager about your work load
          – Child care expected while working from home
          – Noise/privacy standards for WFH if applicable
          – If you’ll be offline for an appointment/etc/etc, what they should do

          Basically just gives people a heads-up that expectations are going up across the board; as well as gives people who might genuinely be confused a clear set of guidelines. Give a short grace period, and then start managing folks to those standards

        2. Chauncy Gardener*

          My money is on your team leads not doing a good job managing and/or communicating. They could be playing favorites, bullying or otherwise being inequitable in how they treat different members of the team. If they are helping a missing stair, that would make good performers totally check out.

    7. A Manager for Now*

      For me, a big part has been burn out. I was in person during the height of pandemic times, I have had several major life changes, I have been dealing with bad management and I’m kind of over doing The Most and Taking On Responsibility for no thanks and constantly shifting priorities as everything is emergency and for my terrible manager to be promoted. At some point, I run out of give-a-sh*t energy.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, I’m tired and I’ve been sick during the whole COVID thing. The lingering effects of being sick have made me weaker

      2. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        Oh my, you practically sound like my twin! Worked almost totally onsite throughout the pandemic, multiple crazy shift changes as a result of working onsite, a job change I really regret making, a death in the family, utterly clueless management and ineffective processes at the new job…

        I also am running out of give-a-sh*t energy, and my field-of-f*cks is mostly barren.

        Maybe there’s more of that going around than anyone might guess.

    8. Busy Middle Manager*

      It’s not this bad where I work but some things are harder. I notice WFH discussions all over the internet are in denial there are any downsides to it. Everyone works 200% at home and it’s “obviously” better. I really wish the very-pro-permanent-WFH people would be quiet (especially on Reddit!) so I can actually ask how to manage people like this without our company going bankrupt:-)

      My biggest issue is that employees will generally get unrealistic expectations more, while WFH, then I use the occasional in-person to sort of reel everyone back in and remind them what the point of the department is and what the business goals are. I blame this partially on socially media and curated news feeds and general career advice on some places like tiktok or reddit being very bad lately. Like most of it has turned into anti-employer stuff that is very adversarial and acts like you’re not dealing with real people at work.

      Other layers include:
      Many people deep down crave social connection or need social validation in order to do well, but they don’t see it. But you see it when they light up around people and start bouncing off ideas off eachother, They say they are shy and introverted but then talk nostop in the office and seem really engaged

      People stop complaining about eachother so much because there is no mystery as per what the other person is doing. It’s now obvious they’re ignoring you because they’re doing something else. They’re right there.

      this also goes for management. People have at times put ridiculous expectations on me because everyone now is “a management problem” but since covid I feel like I am mediating more personal or emotional problems. People stop constantly delegating first world problems to me when they can watch me in person running around like a chicken with its head cut off

      Work naturally gets evenly distributed among people in a way they like, with a bit of in office. Remote? Keeps turning into one person burning themselves out, one leaving for two hour lunches. Technically this should be easy to manage remote or not, but it’s just not. Human nature gets in the way

      Many people are not good at self-evaluation, but it’s fine because they’re doing OK. But the percent of people who don’t seem to be doing much seem to be talking about how busy they are more, while WFH. This is the problem bucket and then it becomes a choice between micromanaging, pushing for more in-person meetings/training. Commonly (in my industry anyways) the person is very busy because they are doing things inefficiently. Having long calls to do simple tasks. Refusing to use automation tools. Setting stuff up incorrectly so more manual work gets created. Fixing problems that shouldn’t have happened in the first place and not telling anyone about them so we can troubleshoot Etc. Really hard to diagnose that remotely when the person insists they are fine

      Training new people remotely is a pain. Everyone online will respond “it’s a management problem” or “then you are not using technology wrong.” But these are just knee-jerk responses that don’t mean anything. What specifically can you do? One huge hurdle is that people are less likely to call with questions. Or they ping me with 10 short messages so I need to sit there all day writing essays or begging them to pick up the phone to solve it and TBH it takes way longer than just sitting next to someone and ocassionally looking up and saying “don’t click there click there”

      In-office work is now a pain but because few people do it. So now every in-office day is meetings and a lunch, like a reunion. People forget that the more we do it, the more we’ll go back to it being a normal work day

      People just don’t like change. I know we talk about disabilities and people needing accomodations alot here. That aside. I know people who will complain about their work setup. Being bored. Wanting to do something outside their small house. But you recommend going to the office for a better setup and a change of scenery, and they act like you told them to go to the moon. While a percent of the population needs accomodations. I am seeing people who have no logical reason not to change except “it’s change.” This one is more relevant in HCOL areas where people are more likely to have smaller living spaces and offices tend not to require a long drive to get to

      1. Quiet Quitters?*

        Thanks for all this! We’ve always been WFH, so hasn’t been a shift (expect for people that weren’t WFH before being hired, of course), but I do believe the attitude towards WFH since COVID could be an issue. There is so much talk of people working two jobs (at once), being WFH and taking care of kids/elderly parents all day, etc. that I think people are forgetting that WFH is still work – even those that have always done it. The anti-work stuff is brutal. By all means, make sure people are being treated right, are fairly compensated, etc., but not every action someone dislikes is “evil corporation screwing over workers!”.

    9. EMP*

      I know a lot of people for whom the pandemic just made them realize that they didn’t like how much of themselves they’d put into work. Life’s short, there’s other things they want to do or wish they could be doing. For some people I think this translated into a healthier work life balance but for some it’s just constantly feeling burned out and wanting to be elsewhere.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        This is why I am so interested in the topic. It feels like a mashup of 100 thing. In this case, WFH very well may not translate into less stress or workload or problems at all. In fact you may just end up stewing at your computer way past a reasonable time some days….because it’s right there.

    10. Spearmint*

      I think some people simply don’t do as well when they’re WFH. Some get lonely, others develop bad habits (often unintentionally) and spend too much time slacking off. Some rely on that peer pressure get in face-to-face interactions to do well.

      I think you need to be more intentional about accountability. Name the issue to them and tell them it concerns you, and set up a regular meeting or email where they go over what they accomplished the previous week and what they intended to accomplish the next.

    11. Raisineye*

      I am the person you are referring to, although WFH was never an option for me. I had 3 years of undiagnosed depression/anxiety and insomnia. I just didn’t care. There were no therapists taking new clients in my area, telehealth is not something that works for me, and multiple doctors quit. I was finally able to find a therapist who recommended a doctor who has prescribed meds, and I worked w therapist on the insomnia issue. I’m not back to where I was pre-pandemic, but I am much better. possibly some of the reason is similar for some of your staff? (I didn’t realize at ALL how much anxiety I had until I started meds- almost night and day)

    12. Chaordic One*

      Among existing employees I’m seeing a lot of burnout. I’m also seeing them have to do a lot of extra work because the work they receive is supposed to be prepared for them ahead of time. They should be able to just do their thing and move on to the next case. But the sad reality is that the work they receive is frequently not prepared correctly and they have to spend a lot of extra time and effort getting ready for them to do their thing to it. Things will be misclassified or there may be as many as 6 separate cases all jammed together and listed as a single case, when they are not. It results in a lot of extra steps needing to be taken and a lot of extra work for them. Predictably productivity has taken a big nosedive and management is dismissive of complaints and doesn’t seem to take any actions against the people who are supposed to prepare the work for us.

      OTOH, we lost a lot of experienced people due to COVID and the fact that a lot of baby boomers are indeed retiring. There was a lot of institutional knowledge that went away. When I first started most of the managers had 10 to 20 years of experience and now we have to make due with people who only have as little as 3 years of experience in the field. It shows. I also believe that the quality of training has dropped and that because they want and need these newer hires to hit the ground running, they aren’t being given the training they need to do their jobs well.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Similar but slightly different and not sure it’s really a WFH vs. office thing.

        I’m seeing more burnt out mid-level people because younger workers are pushing back on stuff more. And they feel entitled to do so and in some sense are entitled to do it, since while wages are going up, inflation and housing have far outpaced them. So they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, which I understand.

        but now I’m seeing people in their 40s filling in doing tasks that people in the beginning of their careers should be doing.

        And its creating problems because the people in their 40s + 50s are supposed to be doing “big picture” work to keep the place running, but less experienced staff keep viewing doing the grunt work as just that, instead of “let me do this so we keep the place running.”

        There is definitely a lack of mobility in corporate America in general lately. Part of it is people NOT retiring (despite the internet making it sound like there was a mass retirement event, most just WFH more), and creating a bottleneck. And so now lower level people get stuck in those jobs for 7 years instead of 2, so start getting bored

      2. Cj*

        until I got too the “cases” part, I thought you were talking about me!

        it I mostly due to the inexperience of those that are supposed to have a certain part done *correctly* before I got it.

    13. Head sheep counter*

      I hope that folk review this comment when thinking about why so many businesses are changing direction on WFH.

      The pandemic has no doubt left sticky finger prints on my psyche. I’ve been in an office full time since Feb 2022 so its not entirely the WFH isolation that impacted me but it is all the things around what we’ve experienced in the last three years.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Agreed. I am tired of how the internet has decided it’s just commercial real estate or something. As if commercial real estate dialed up my boss who dialed up me and we all decided we’ll go back to help them out. That idea doesn’t even make sense. I mean, even if no one goes in, we still have an office for storage and files and printers etc.

    14. Aitch Arr*

      Have you (or the direct managers) actually asked these employees what’s going on in a 1:1?

      Not in a ‘your performance sucks’ way but in a ‘how are you doing, fellow human being? You aren’t acting like yourself and I am worried’ kind of way.

      We have seen an uptick since COVID of employees needing Leaves of Absence for mental health reasons. It’s been a really rough last few years for so many people.

      1. No Spoons Left*

        I not only lost people I care about to COVID but, in the past two years, a friend of 25 years was beaten to death by his son, my brother committed suicide, my mom developed dementia, two of my cats were diagnosed with chronic illnesses that require daily medical intervention by me, I was treated for cancer over the course of 10 months, my dog died suddenly, I broke my leg, a contractor ripped me off for a couple of grand, and all the grass in my [once-beautiful, was my sanctuary] backyard died.

        When I talk to my co-workers, most of them, too, have had a string of really traumatizing things happen in their lives since spring of 2020.

        No one has talked to me about my performance, though, because I gave up other parts of my life — like showering daily and keeping my house clean — to have energy for work. I dropped some minor balls during chemo, but my manager knew that my brain fog would be temporary.

        I wonder if the OP’s employees have experienced never-ending trauma / bad news, too, and are choosing to spend their decreased mental energy in non-work areas of their lives.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Oh my gosh. I am so terribly sorry you went through all of that!
          No wonder you are fresh out of spoons.
          Here’s hoping there are brighter days ahead for you soon

    15. Fish*

      Everything @Busy Middle Manager said.

      Whenever the Washington Post runs an article on WFH/RTO, the reader comments portray a world where every job can be done remotely and no one should ever need to set foot in the office. I mentioned an issue my then-employer had shortly after RTO, and someone responded the problem was that employer had an outdated staffing model.

      Some people discovered they could get away with slacking WFH, in ways they couldn’t in-person. Or they keep pushing the boundaries of whatever flexibility employers may offer. That ruins WFH and flexibility for those who act responsibly and do their jobs.

    16. Make performance more visible*

      Accountability is the weakest part. The manager is working with leads on being more direct with feedback.

      I think that’s the problem. Feedback is good, but the best way to address consistent underperformance is to have clear individual performance metrics that each person gets to see near real-time.

      Here’s an example: A CEO wanted senior management to start talking more with customers. To monitor progress, he ordered a report that used calendar information to collect the number of hours his executives spent in customer meetings (including his).

      Merely giving visibility into the metrics that mattered for high performance made the bad behavior of some executives (who spent zero hours a month talking to customers) impossible to be ignored, and soon everybody was making the right choices (for example, reducing the number of internal meetings so they could have more customer interactions).

    17. KathyG*

      I’ll just throw out there the fact that Long-COVID is turning out to be more prevalent than previously thought. It’s possible that at least some of your employees are trying to work through brain fog and low energy. People who were previously real go-getters do seem to be over-represented in the Long-COVID population.

  48. Maybe I Just Need GUMPTION*

    I work for a nonprofit related to community services, I’m not in the direct client services. For the purpose of this question let’s say I’m in bookkeeping. My agency has decided to hire contractors to take care of many business tasks, and my team’s job is being affected by this change. We have been told we can keep working for a couple of months while the contractors set up shop, but after that our jobs won’t exist anymore (we were also told we’re not “losing our jobs” because we can apply for new positions in the agency – the new positions will be open to anyone in the agency to apply for whether they are impacted by the changes or not, and the jobs my team can apply for are quite a step down in title and pay). Anyway, because being able to apply for an internal position is no guarantee of actually getting a job, I have been looking around for external positions as well. One of the contractors my agency has hired (Company A) is starting to open positions. I have researched them intensely and am impressed. Out of panic, I first started applying for any job anywhere if I met the basic requirements. Most of these have been manager positions, and I have really never wanted to be a manager, but again out of panic I applied anyway. I applied for 3 positions with Company A. I wound up withdrawing from 2 of the positions after the first interview and wasn’t selected for the other after 3 interviews. Now they have a non-manager position open that I really think I would enjoy and do well at – different from my previous positions but using the skills I’ve amassed over years of doing “other duties as required.” My question is whether I should apply or not given my recent misses with the company on the manager positions. Will I just look flaky or even downright unbalanced? I’m not full on panicking at this point but I do want some security in the job situation, and I think this might be a good fit, but I don’t want to ruin any chances I may have with the company by acting dorky right now.

    1. BellyButton*

      Go for it. The worst that can happen is they not interview you at all! You might even say in your cover letter that having gone through the interview process for a managerial position you have come to realize your career goals and skills better align with an individual contributor position. Good luck!

  49. AnneShirley*

    A question about drug testing: I’m thrilled to have an informal offer for a position that seems like an amazing fit for my career and lifestyle. During the offer call, my future supervisor mentioned that the offer would be contingent upon the background check and a drug test. (Funding-wise the job is connected to the state, so I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.) In my previous state, marijuana was medical only, and I had a medical card. My previous employer also did drug screenings, but our handbook specifically excluded marijuana with an appropriate card/without evidence of impairment on the job, etc.

    In my new state, recreational marijuana is very newly legal, which is awesome, so I didn’t bother signing up for a medical card when I moved. My question is: is there any way to professionally ask my future supervisor about their marijuana policy in advance of the drug screening, without overly exposing myself to stigma and potentially jeopardizing the job offer? The supervisor seems very friendly and approachable, and while I wish that the stigma isn’t there, I know it is, and it would be a serious financial blow to jeapordize the offer now. I can cut it out until after the test, but it isn’t scheduled yet, and I would rather not go without a helpful if not 100% life-necessary medication for potentially several weeks, especially if I do end up testing pos regardless.

    Setting aside the debate over drug testing and legal MMJ, if anyone has an guidance on approaching (or not approaching) the conversation, I’d appreciate it!!

    1. K8T*

      Ahh you’re in a tricky spot. If I were in your shoes, I’d take a break until the test. They may not test for, or count, a positive marijuana result since it’s legal recreationally. However this really depends on your field – for example a friend is a nurse in Denver and can still get fired for testing positive.

      Is there any way you can get a hold of the company handbook beforehand and see their policy? If you really think you’re 100% going to fail the test, you may as well go to your supervisor and be upfront about it. I’ve had managers give people a few more days to get a negative result if they were a stellar candidate (and really, in most industries they don’t care about rec mj on your off time).

      1. AnneShirley*

        Thank you! It is tricky. HR is going to be in touch with the formal offer, so perhaps there’s room to ask for the handbook in that line of communication more naturally.

    2. ina*

      I would look up how long THC or whatever they’re testing for stays in the system to work around the test or just outright abstain until after your test. I wouldn’t ask — I mean this without prejudice, stoner culture has done so much to make weed users be perceived as lazy, unmotivated, and lacking in good judgement. I would not risk making things weird with your future boss or jeopardizing this job, even if they seem approachable. The policy will be “no marijuana at work” and “if you fail the test, you will not get the job.” I don’t know how much more you need to discuss. It’s all out there and likely above your managers ability to intervene.

      If this is medically necessary, then you need to talk to your boss very vaguely. “I am taking a medically necessary medication that I’ve been advised may be detected on the drug test. I’m working with my doctor to switch to something else currently, but could you inform me how I could go about navigating this? I am eager to begin the position and I would like to avoid any bumps in the road early! Thank you.” And I would get a card and a doctor’s note and everything ready in case you have to use it and come out positive on the test. They might still treat it as a no-no still, so this is a last case scramble. I do advise abstaining and finding a substitute in the meantime.

      1. AnneShirley*

        Thank you! Definitely why I brought it up– I’m lucky enough that I can use some OTC alternatives to get me through, even if not as effective. My question maybe had some wishful thinking so I do certainly appreciate the reality check.

  50. Leia Oregano*

    Any tips for how to gracefully end a vendor relationship, when it has nothing to do with the vendor themselves? I plan events for a university department and we’ve used the same vendor for basically forever for a certain item, which is disposable and only lasts one event. We’re transitioning to a reusable replacement option, which will last for years and multiple events. I’ve never had to essentially break up with a vendor before! We were overall happy and had no problems with this vendor or their product, it’s just time for a sustainable change. Suggestions for subject lines would also be highly appreciated, as this will be over email. TIA!!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Fellow events person here, and I have sometimes had to deliver bad news to event vendors. I would recommend being as gentle as possible and emphasising that it’s purely due to a change in the type of service you need to purchase, not due to anything on their end. It will also be useful to be as honest as possible with them regarding why you’re not using their services any more, because this is potentially useful information for the vendor – they might want to consider adding the reusable option to their product or service line-up.

      A couple of times, I’ve been on the receiving end of emails from vendors who had to pull out of doing an event and I always appreciated it if they were honest with me about why they couldn’t make it happen. Just be as honest as you can, be apologetic (as appropriate) and say that you’ve enjoyed working with them (if that’s true.) Good luck!

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      I’m not an events person, but I’d lean into the ‘thanks instead of sorry’ line of thought. So maybe a subject line of ‘Thank you for past partnerships’ and body saying thanks so much for past work with us, our organization has chosen to move toward a reusable option, I’ll be sure to recommend your company if anyone in my network needs what we used to need. (Or similar.) Of all the reasons the decision to stop using their services, this is an easy one to explain!

      1. Policy Wonk*

        Agree. And keep their contact info because the day may come when your reusable supplies won’t work, or you don’t have enough, etc., and you want to call your old friend vendor to see if they can help in a pinch.

    3. Hazel*

      Frame it as a thank you!
      Subject line: thanks for everything – you’ve been great.
      Body: I wanted to thank you for providing us with excellent disposable merch. these last few years. As we have decided to go with reusable merch. this will be our last order, but we wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your services as a supplier.

    4. Coveredbridge*

      Have you already made the reusable order? Because thanking them and including them in the RFP for a reusable item would give put them in a position to decline your business.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        This is where my thought process was headed: You have a good relationship with the vendor. They might be able to meet your needs with the new product. It wouldn’t hurt to give them an opportunity to try.

  51. Niniel*

    Has anyone successfully negotiated with their boss a hybrid work schedule? My boss is the typical butts-in-seats type who doesn’t really believe in a WFH setup. However, he will allow it in instances of illness or if someone needs to be home with kids or if you’re going to be offsite and it’s too far to go all the way back to the office that day.

    I want to ask for a hybrid setup, but the only reasons I have are just….I would work better and be happier with that setup. He doesn’t take much stock in metrics so I can’t point to a higher output and have that be proven. Is it a lost cause?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I have coached a few people through this process with mixed results as butts in seats types don’t really change, but the bottom line is focus on how this will impact/improve things from a business perspective. Prepare a plan for how you will meet your boss’ needs.

      Maybe start by asking for one day per week at home so that you can devote uninterrupted time to the e.g., the weekly TPS report – you can’t get it done in the office due to myriad other demands on your time when you are here. Give him a plan for whichever day it is (strongly recommend against Monday or Friday as it will be seen as trying to get a long weekend), outline your week and what will be accomplished on which day. Answer every question he has before he asks it. The answer may still be no, but this will give you your best shot.

    2. ina*

      Pretty dependent on what this person *does* respond to. Is there anything you think would make him receptive to a Wednesday remote day?

  52. Plucky Pretzel*

    I’ve been in a leadership role at a really cool organization for a couple of years. It’s exciting, inspiring work. I work with talented people. I’ve got the best boss I’ve ever had. This is a true dream job for me. Except for…That One Guy.
    Every place has one of these – That One Guy who man-terrupts women leaders like it’s his job. It’s a rare day that I don’t repeatedly say “I’m speaking, I’m speaking” while he talks over me 10-15X during a 1-hr meeting.
    That One Guy also thinks the purpose of meetings is to man-splain Very Basic Concepts – to me, a well-respected, subject matter expert with double-digit years of experience in my field – about initiatives and projects I lead. And if he can double-down with a man-sult while he man-splains? Oh my, he can barely contain his glee! (“Llamas need oxygen to survive. I’m sure you’ve never learned about that Very Basic Concept during your career in llama care. No worries, I’ll take the lead on oxygen logistics”).
    No need for me to tax my tiny lady brain considering major decisions that involve my area of responsibility. That One Guy is on it! He has honed a special skill – Holding Meetings Without the Woman Leader – so he can do the thinking for me and man-struct my access to information. Occasionally, he will switch it up with some of his other skills: “inviting woman leader to meetings scheduled for times when she isn’t available” and “agreeing to invite woman leader and then just…don’t”, just to keep it interesting.
    You may be thinking, huh, That One Guy sounds like he won’t take input from anyone but himself, but you’d be wrong! That One Guy is happy to hear feedback from a junior or even an entry-level member of my team, as long as that person is (you guessed it) a man. Me: “My analysis indicates X.” That One Guy: “I’m not hearing any data to support X.” Nehemiah Newguy: “Actually, the analysis says X.” That One Guy: “Good to know Nehemiah, thanks for your work on that!”
    That One Guy never lets a “no” from a woman leader get in his way, he just man-euvers around her and asks her direct reports instead. Indeed, attempting to com-man-deer my staff is a signature move of his. That One Guy: “Listen, Nehemiah Newguy, I’m going to need you to run some numbers for me.” Me: “Nehemiah tells me you need an assist from my team on this project? Happy to discuss.” That One Guy: (checks playbook, pivots to “man-dermining” and calls our boss) “Hey boss, Woman Leader is sticking her nose in my work. I never asked them for input and they need to stay in their lady lane.”
    And if man-dermining me in private doesn’t yield results, That One Guy doesn’t just throw in the towel. Oh no. He’s got yet more skills, highly specialized ones. First up: sit through a big presentation by Woman Leader, and as the entire team listens, narrow eyes while making statements in an ominous tone like, “I’ll be speaking with Big Boss directly about that decision, thank you” and “What were you people thinking?”. If one of Woman Leader’s direct reports cries during or after said meeting, extra bonus points for That One Guy.
    If that doesn’t work, there is also “Getting Melodra-Man-tic”. Me: “I’d like to use our department meeting today to talk about your team’s contribution to the Llama Care Project. Llamas are still being overfed by 50% by your techs and it’s affecting llama health. How can we work together to fix this?” That One Guy: (rolls eyes, throws up hands, heaves loud exasperated sigh) “They’re hungry! Some of us care about the llamas! (chokes up) I don’t know what to say anymore. (turns away, looks at boss) Boss, please deal with her!”
    I got a promotion last year, elevating me from a level where I was That One Guy’s peer to a significantly more senior role. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the first thing That One Guy said to me when the organization announced my promotion was, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that! Are you even qualified for this?”
    I’ve tried So Many Things to deal with That One Guy. Feminist Fight Club tactics. Asking not to be interrupted. Carrying on through a presentation or a meeting after having my intelligence insulted or my experience questioned. Being a broken record about inviting me to meetings and looping me in when decisions impact my areas of responsibility. I’ve never once complained about him to my boss or colleagues. I knew he was never going to change: his brain is made of concrete.
    I’m depressed, and I’m starting to fear for my job.
    I’ve been waiting this situation out for well over a year now. That’s ridiculous. I came here to say this: women are just trying to do their jobs out here. And defending ourselves from “That One Guy” tactics is a super stressful, super sexist, whole extra job. Let’s help each other out: if you’re a woman leader who has worked with That One Guy, what have you done to keep your spirits up in that situation? And what creative counter-oneguyism strategies have you used?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Why aren’t you reporting his unprofessional behaviors to his and your bosses? He hasn’t had any real consequences yet, why should he change his behavior.

      1. Capt. Liam Shaw*

        Yep. I kept waiting in this post to read that someone has actually been alerted up the food chain to his behavior… and yet nothing.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      You’re boss needs to get involved in this like yesterday. If they’re also that guys boss he needs to explicitly call out the behavior with examples and tell him to stop. If they are not that guys boss they need to talk to that guys boss.

      If you haven’t Im a fan of directly naming and shaming the behavior. I see you have in the moment but Im talking more about “That guy. You regularly interrupt me when I am talking like you did just now. Is there a particular reason you feel necessary to interupt me?” “That guy, I am an expert on this. You regularly derail the meeting explaining very basic concepts. Is there a reason you feel this behavior is necessary?”.

      And finally, I know you haven’t complained but asking people who can be your allies to help is not complaining. Ask people you trust to shut him down in meetings as well. “That guy, let Plucky finish.” “That guy, stop interrupting you are derailing the meeting.” “That guy, as an expert Im sure Plucky is more than up to speed on that elementary concept”.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Oh and it may even help to call it out for what it is.

        “That guy, you consistently to x, y z, and it really comes across as you find me incompetent because I’m a woman.”

        He will absolutely squirm and deny. But thats ok – a lot of times when people are pulling the -isms, they think they’re cleverly getting away with being a jerk.

        Letting them know you see them for exactly what they are can make people stop or at least tone it down.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Seconding Fluffy Fish: it’s all about allies here of all genders. If you enjoy the workplace generally you must have friendly relationships with some of your peers and other meeting attendees. I guarantee others can’t deal with That Guy but, especially younger folks or men may not realize the cumulative effects. Give them permission to back you up and mention you by name! Often times people get stuck in the Polite Zone so tell them you would appreciate a “You interrupted Plucky, I want to hear the rest of that thought” or “Actually that was Plucky’s idea” or “C’mon dude, everyone in this company knows llamas need oxygen, that was uncalled for.” Many of your colleagues are probably thinking these things. Remind them they can say it out loud and not only won’t you mind, you would like their support.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      This sounds like a situation where a sit-down talk is needed, not just responding in the moment.

      Name the behaviour, name what you want to see, name the consequences if you don’t see it.

      How are the higher ups responding when he complains to them? Are they supporting you?

      1. Disappointed But Not Surprised*

        Linger – thanks for your reply. My personal belief is that one’s pain and lived experience shouldn’t be a “learning opportunity” for the person who caused the pain. Can he “learn” and grow” from this, yes – if he so chooses. The company, however, does not get to frame it as a “learning opportunity”.

        I was told they (supervisors) are not responsible for educating him, but they can assign modules. They want a conversation between me and them, so I can make them aware of how their actions impacted me. This is a common practice towards People of Colour.

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      He needs to go.

      If that authority is above your present rank in the hierarchy, you need to sit down with the person who has the authority, and lay it out in as much detail as you have here.

    6. Jinni*

      If your work is as brilliant as this writing…well, then I’m so sorry, because he sounds like a BEAR, and I already want to hear all your ideas.

      I’m a public naming/shaming person. BUT that’s always been my personality because what’s his comeback? I’m thinking a lot of sputtering into silence.

      If you have the stomach for it, I say take the advice of others here and go for it. It can’t be any more unpleasant or socially uncomfortable than That One Guy.

  53. RagingADHD*

    How’s your week going? Any big surprises, good or bad?

    So, it was announced in a meeting yesterday that one of the 2 C-Suite execs I support is no longer with the company, effective immediately. No further information given. About halfway through the meeting, I got a ping from someone in corporate that I needed to remove the fired exec, one of his skip-level reports, and a bunch of other people I don’t know from all meeting invitations.

    Both the people who got fired are extremely nice and as far as I could tell, doing a great job. The CEO is impatient and impulsive. My suspicion is that this was a political maneuver, and/or or they are being scapegoated because a startup can’t grow exponentially forever without any slowdowns. We are in a brief period of retrenchment to build up the infrastructure that we’ve outgrown.

    I was taking notes in the meeting and am supposed to be typing up the minutes today. I am having a very hard time concentrating and getting that done. I also need to unpack our latest supply shipment so that the skip-level report can pack up his office this afternoon. I feel terrible about it.

    It’s really soured me on the company. I’m glad my contract is ending soon.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      It’s so bad I can’t complain. it’s so bad people are work are like ‘ it’s great that you’re holding up under your job sucking so bad ‘ I’m going to bed tomorrow

    2. jellied brains*

      A coworker I didn’t have much contact with but liked was either fired or quit on the spot (rumor mill is unclear) because her boss is apparently a real micromanging hard ass. So that happened.

      But we’re doing work for a pro-choice group so that was an unexpectedly nice surprise. It’ll be a one off thing & LBR it’s all about the Benjamins/this group isn’t exactly widely known but it feels validating that the C-suite were courting this group.

  54. Robert*

    I have worked as a fraud analyst for almost a decade before my company laid me off in the beginning of the year. Since then I have managed to snag contract work, but I’m still looking for a permanent position (unfortunately my current gig doesn’t give me benefits or PTO, and I am not sure if they will make me perm.)

    One company that is popular in my city and especially among alumni (highly recommended to work for them) of my former company who have gone on to work for them is expending and is going on a hiring spree. One of my former coworkers who now works there suggested I apply and told me that with employee referrals, so long as we meet the qualifications for the role I would be guaranteed an interview. I saw an opening for a Senior Fraud Analyst, met all the requirements, got a referral from her and applied. The job listing said that my materials would be reviewed within 10 business days. Unfortunately, 3 business days later I got a rejection email. My friend was surprised, but suggested that since she has only ever seen people get senior positions internally that I apply for a more junior position. So I saw a listing for a junior fraud analyst that only required a year of experience, got another referral from her and sent the application. Again, the listing said that my materials would be reviewed within 10 business days.

    It’s been a month and I haven’t heard anything back. At this point, since I got a referral, would it be worth it to see if I can find a hiring manager or recruiter for the company on linkedin and try to connect and message them? Normally I wouldn’t go out of my way to do this if I simply applied for a position, but since I got a referral I am far more interested in seeing what the status of my application is.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Can your friend do some behind the scenes due diligence for you to find out what’s going on? Walk your resume in to the hiring manager?
      Good luck!!

  55. CherryBlossom*

    After years of working a very formal financial firms, I’ve landed a job at a start-up! It’s actually been a breath of fresh air, and it seems like I found a start-up that isn’t as disorganized as the stereotypes lead me to believe. But one thing I’ve been surprisingly struggling with: the dress-code.

    It’s a very jeans and t-shirt type of place, and there’s no written dress-code to go by, just a vague sentiments of “nothing offensive, otherwise just use your common sense”. I’ve been using plain shirts, and the occasional skirt or dress, but I’d like to bust out my collection of fun graphic tees. I’m just still not sure of how to navigate this, and would love some input (and recommendations for places to shop!)

    Also, are there certain type of t-shirt graphics people advise against, even in casual environments? I’ve seen retro beer/wine logos, horror movies, political, and promotional-tees, so my usual sense of what counts are professional is out the window here.

    1. big stripey giraffe*

      I’ve worked at a couple of start-ups and found them to not be stereotypically dysfunctional, so I’m not sure how many are. So, graphic tees – are often cutesy, or in-jokes. Eg, if you work at a company designing rockets, having physics equations on your shirt is good. At software, something like “there’s no place like”. I have a bunch of physics/chemistry ones because that relates to where I work. There’s a couple of t-shirts that are NSFW (pun/rhyme with “fucks”) – I wouldn’t wear one that is “the field where I grow my fucks is fallow” for example. I wouldn’t do political tees, and have never seen it, but clearly your workplace is different.

    2. Alex*

      I’m betting you can wear most of your graphic Ts without repercussion. I’d avoid things with words like FUCK on them, anything explicitly sexual, or anything really controversial, but otherwise I think everything’s fine. My boss (also a t shirt and jeans environment) wears graphic T shirts all the time, from nerdy science puns to random landscaping promo Ts from his college days when he worked landscaping on the side lol.

    3. aubrey*

      I personally would avoid the beer/wine, horror (if gory, something like a stylized Dracula poster would be fine), political, anything gross or suggestive, and anything you’d find awkward to explain to your manager if they didn’t understand the context (e.g. memes/fandom stuff that seems weird unless you get it). Even if others wear them, just to err on the side of caution I avoid those things. But most fun graphic tees should totally be fine! Maybe sprinkle them in to start so it’s not a sudden change that people might notice and then you become ‘bright colours person’ or something.

      But you should be just fine – in this kind of office, especially if it’s tech, most people are just happy if you’re fully clothed and clean lol

    4. DrSalty*

      In a casual environment, I would just avoid anything with curse words or sex references. Obviously, anything racist/sexist/homophobic/bigoted is a no-go.

    5. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I would avoid political, sexually suggestive, or tees with actual profanity. For example, I once I had to tell a student employee that a “Spank the Monkey” tee was not appropriate when they working a public space in the library. As others have mentioned, clever science/math tees are often appropriate if you are working in those fields.

    6. Sally Rhubarb*

      As others have said, I’d avoid anything gory, political, sweary, or sexual.

      Though it’s also worth seeing what people wear. My job is super laid back and I’ve definitely seen people wear ACAB shirts & I’ve worn a pro choice shirt without anyone batting an eye. YMMV of course!

      I’d still stay away from anything overtly sexual.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      This really comes down to your specific office.
      Probably best to just observe for a few weeks. As a general rule, if you have to ask yourself if it’s okay, it’s probably not worth wearing it.

  56. Rara Avis*

    My primary job is in education. This sometimes requires financial work — requesting a purchase order or a reimbursement, or running charges. When I started here 20+ years ago, this was done via paper forms — you filled it out, stapled a receipt/invoice, and then accounting handled the rest. 12-15 years ago we went to an online process — and I have never once in those 15 years successfully completed the online form. The accounting people are patient, but it is incredibly frustrating to have to constantly redo these. I’ve asked for help; I’ve taken notes; I’m careful and conscientious, and I’m always been considered intelligent. But without a background in accounting, I just can’t seem to ever get all the codes correct. I only do this once every month or two, so it’s a tiny part of my job. People who work in accounting, do you experience this in your work? Is it normal to have non-accounting trained people wrestle with this? Do they learn how to handle it?

    I’m just really frustrated with myself for not being able to learn how to do this correctly. But it seems like you need to be an accountant to figure it out.

    1. ItsAllForMyCats*

      Some thoughts you’ve probably already tried:
      *Can someone from accounting shadow you while you fill out the form and provide guidance in the moment?
      *Can someone from accounting draft a written set of step-by-step directions for filling out the form?
      *Have you discussed with your supervisor the difficulty in getting this form filled out correctly?
      *Could there be a compromise where you supply the data but someone in accounting fills out the form?
      *Is it possible this could be moved to be under someone else’s wheelhouse?
      *Does anyone you know in a similar role have to fill out this form or something similar? If so, what strategies do they use?

      Hope you’re able to get something figured out. Best wishes!

    2. Reba*

      My sympathies! I have a complex about vouchers and travel expense processing, ugh. Like, I am smart enough to get a PhD, why is this so beyond me? :<
      this is far from ideal, but I have actually eaten some small reimbursement-eligible costs because I'd rather do that than spend the time doing the voucher.

      I usually get my PO submissions done ok because I copy-paste from old ones. But even doing exactly what a contracting officer coached me to do last time, is not a guarantee that it will be approved this time.

  57. Cimorene*

    I could use some advice or inside information on a job I’m about to apply for. It’s a DAM role at MGM (I’m a librarian attempting to switch to private sector). I can’t find out anything about the exact benefits/vacation package or the working environment on the teams. Complicating it, the job posting is for 10 different locations so its vague on specific location details. I was wondering if any of the commentators work at or know of how things are run at MGM. Or any questions that I should be asking in the interviews aside from the obvious ones.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t know what MGM is but it’s not that unusual to have to get into the interview process to be able to obtain some of this information like exact vacation and benefits. There’s probably lots of variables and if you are used to the public sector it probably seems strange they don’t just put it out there.

      1. Cimorene*

        Yes, I was afraid of that being the case. At least this company is upfront with their salary range so I’m not completely blind going in. I even managed to dig up quite a detailed document on their health benefit package. (MGM is the big hotel/entertainment/casino chain)

  58. Bluebonnet*

    My friend G. accepted a job offer late last month. Sadly, she has found the new job to be toxic on many levels. She said there is no real training and people (including leadership) are fake and backstabbing.

    Unsurprisingly, she is already looking for a new job ASAP. If you were in her shoes, would you list this new job on your resume, or keep it off your resume? She came to this job from another job she had for around three years (that underpaid her).

    1. pally*

      Don’t include this new position on the resume.
      Note that a resume is not meant to be an exhaustive history of all the positions you have had.

      It like a car ad; it showcases your best features. It lists all true information but doesn’t have items that detract from showing you in your best light. Like a fancy sports car ad: It’s fast, does 0-60 in 3 seconds, comes in candy apple red, lots of shiny chrome. But there’s no indication of the poor gas mileage.

  59. MLIS career change*

    Career change suggestions for an MLIS? My husband has an MLIS and works in a university special collections department. He loves his job and his colleagues, but has basically hit the salary ceiling for his field (without moving into management, which he isn’t that interested in). He is looking to potentially pivot to something with more options, likely in the realm of data science/analysis (but open to other suggestions). Thoughts? Would love to hear from anyone who has made a change like this!

    1. Admin of Sys*

      MLIS is considered a dream degree for any sort of analyses / data modeling type jobs. If they can get some skills in tableau and other data visualization tools (databases/reporting)

    2. pally*

      Might look into Quality Assurance –>

      A lot of Quality Assurance has to do with keeping records and assuring compliance with regulations. A little different from books and libraries but managing a ‘library’ of documentation such that all is complete and accessible can be vital to the success of a company.

    3. ina*

      Data science and analysis is a highly saturated field although there seems to be room for more here and there. It sounds like he doesn’t have skills yet in data science but I suggest he look at the jobs he wants to do and the technical skills they want. The MLIS degree may be helpful to stand out as it’s a step away from the usual types that go into data science (but at the same time, this field can be annoyingly by-the-book in some respects).

      Really, really recommend he find or create projects in his current job to apply his newly found skills to – he will need something applied to speak to. What is his time horizon to change?

  60. ItsAllForMyCats*

    Hello! Looking for advice on how to move into medical coding from IT. Yes, I know it’s all about ICD codes, not Java or Python. =) I would love to hear from people who’ve made the switch from IT to healthcare as well as those who are medical coders. What was your career journey? How did you get into the field? What skills are transferable? Do I need a degree or certificate? What do you like and not like about the work? Thanks in advance!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am not from an IT background, but I’ve been a medical coder and/or manager of medical coders for almost 20 years. (!!!) I got into it mostly by accident – I was dropped into a six month contract to work on “an Excel project” that turned out to be mostly managing the billing documents for a trauma hospital and its associated outpatient clinics, and the guy I was supposed to be helping abruptly quit at the end of my first week. I was hired into his position at the end of my six month contract and sort of expanded my role by learning coding on the job (which is not really a thing you can do anymore) along the way. To this day, I have taken a single one-credit medical coding class – otherwise I’m self-taught. That’s very hard to do now; most hospitals/offices will require a coding certification and some level of medical administrative experience. A lot of the educational programs that prep you for a cert will include an externship to help with that required experience.

      There are two recognized certifying bodies in the US – the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and (I think) American Health Information Management Association? AHIMA. I’m not a member of that one, though I am certified through both. (AAPC requires that you maintain membership to maintain certification, AHIMA will let you be certified without actually maintaining membership, and my employer only pays one membership fee.)

      If you have the option for a degree, what I would suggest is to look at your local community colleges for a program that will offer an associate degree in Health Information Management, which should prepare you to take a RHIT (Registered Health Information Technician) certification exam. That will certify you as a medical coder, but also open up some other options if you want to stick a little closer to familiar ground and move toward medical IT/data management as well. :)

      Happy to answer any further questions!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        oh! Like and not like. I love my job. I work for a big hospital system (16 hospitals) and manage coder teams in outpatient surgery, observation, ancillary (clinics and non-bedded services) and ED facility spaces. (I don’t do anything inpatient and I don’t do anything related to provider coding, though I have done provider coding in the past.) I’m remote and have been for nine years, as are all my teams. Every day is different and I do a lot of situational research – this situation is weird, why is it weird and what do we need to do about it? I also sort of built my career on picking up the “other things as needed” parts of my job description :) as a result, I know a little about just about everything, have a lot of institutional knowledge, and know a lot of people who know the stuff I don’t know. :)

        There isn’t really anything I don’t like about my job, because I told my boss many years ago that I will do pretty much anything as long as she doesn’t try to make me talk directly to patients (because I do not have a good enough filter for that and there is some serious nonsense that comes out of people who call patient services) and she agreed to it.

        1. ItsAllForMyCats*

          Wow! This is exceptionally helpful! Thank you very much. I had started looking into programs at my local community college, so I will continue down that path. Really appreciate you taking the time to share your experience.

  61. Old Hampshire New Hampshire*

    As part of my job, I buy food supplies for the organisation I work for from a large (UK) supermarket. I’m signed up to the supermarket loyalty scheme. Using my loyalty card means I get money off the purchase price of the food, which is of benefit to the organisation. It reimburses me for what I buy (rather than giving me money up front).

    I also do my regular shopping and buy fuel for my car from the supermarket. I do this in a separate transaction so it doesn’t get messy. I use my loyalty card for these too. Sometimes I’ll buy the food supplies during the same trip as when I do my own shopping. Sometimes I’ll make a trip just for the food supplies.

    Using my loyalty card means I also get money off vouchers from the supermarket to use there. There’s a long date on them so I haven’t used any of them yet. Given some of the value of the voucher is from my own shopping and some is from buying food supplies for the organisation I work for, I feel I ought to use the vouchers proportionally against my own spending and the spending I do on behalf of the organisation. So, for example, if I worked out that the vouchers were from 2/3 my shopping and 1/3 from the organisation, I’d use 1/3 of the value of the vouchers against a future food supplies shop for the organisation.

    What would you do in this situation?

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I’d consider it analogous to getting travel perks from airline or hotel loyalty programs while on business travel and say you’re fine to keep the vouchers.

      1. Antilles*

        Same. I’d be keeping 100% of the vouchers and it legitimately wouldn’t even cross my mind to do otherwise. Ditto with the 2% loyalty cash back on purchases, the coupons that print out with a receipt, and so forth. Until this very post, I literally never even considered the idea of trying to divvy any of that up.

    2. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Is it a flat amount (like $1 per $100 spent) or does the percent value of the voucher go up the more you spend (like $1 if you spend $100, but $5 if you spend $300)?

      If it’s the first, I think dividing the vouchers between yourself and your employer purchases is very polite, but I also wouldn’t stress super much about getting it exactly right. Sometimes there are perks to a job and unless it’s piles and piles of money, it’s just not that big a deal to the organization’s operating budget. You’re already saving them money by using your loyalty card. At a past employer, I was specifically told to sign up for the airline mileage plans and make sure I was getting miles for any business travel, because it would be silly to let that go to waste. Slightly different because the employer couldn’t have gotten those miles, but still – I certainly didn’t pay for the flights.

      If it’s the second one, I think you can use a much bigger fraction for your own shopping. Your personal purchases are the reason the vouchers are so big, and you can take advantage of that.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      My gut reaction is that the reward points on your loyalty card are yours to keep, similar to how people who travel for business usually get to keep their frequent flier miles. You’re fronting them the money to buy these supplies, so my thoughts is that you get to keep the rewards earned off of spending your money.

      But I’m not an expert in this area, and I don’t know if there’s any ambiguity on rewards points vs cash off vouchers. Is there someone you could ask about this, possibly your boss or the person who handles the reimbursement?

      If they insist on you turning over the vouchers (or if you just feel guilty about using them on yourself), I suggest getting a separate loyalty account for the organization. Then you don’t have to worry about doing any math about what was earned off of your purchases and what was earned off of theirs.

    4. Rick Tq*

      Get a separate Loyalty card for the organization for a couple of reasons.

      First, having separate accounts makes tracking the benefits to the org much easier, their vouchers are for their purchases, yours are for yours without tracking.

      The second reason is so somebody else can do the shopping in the future and still get the rebates and etc for the organization’s purchases.

    5. Cordelia*

      you’re already saving them money by using your loyalty card, so I wouldn’t worry about the vouchers, unless you’re talking hundreds of pounds. But if it really is a lot of money, perhaps get a separate loyalty card for the organisation?

    6. Policy Wonk*

      I would check your employer’s policy in this situation, but it sounds to me more like a rebate than frequent flyer miles, which are tied to the individual. I honestly I’d get a separate card for the organisation and put those vouchers towards their purchases.

    7. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

      I’d consider this a perk that you get to enjoy in exchange for you kindly lending the company money for their purchases. If they were paying up front, they would get the rebates.

    8. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Keep the vouchers for yourself. Consider it a reward for loaning the company the money it costs to buy business supplies from the time of purchase to the time you get reimbursed. Also saving them the hassle of setting up a business account and loyalty card.
      If the company has a problem with that, they can get their own company card and loyalty card for you to use.
      In general, I have a real problem with companies expecting employees to make purchases for business use with their personal money. It’s flat out wrong, as common as it may be.

    1. pally*

      I’m tempted to bring my own coffee cup to interviews, and simply have them pour the coffee into it instead of using the cup offered to me.

      (and I don’t even drink coffee!)

    2. RagingADHD*

      I just got an office tour at the start of an interview today, and when he showed me the kitchen I was primed for the coffee trap. But no, he just said “and the kitchen’s over there,” as we kept moving.

  62. Conflict about ergonomics*

    I need advice about how to respond to my grandboss who got angry with me about the timeline for resolving an ergonomics issue and my filing a workers comp claim.

    I work primarily remotely but we have one mandatory day in the office and I’d like to come in more once I have an appropriate desk set-up. My workplace is overall a great place to work where people treat each other well and I have shared openly with our management that this is my dream job until I retire. They take employee health and safety seriously. However, a series of events ended up delaying getting my ergonomic issue with my desk addressed.

    My employer arranged an assessment by an external consultant at the end of last year. We had staff transitions on our HR team and somehow that got lost until I pinged them in the spring. It took a while to get the info. I have a specific chair that I know works for me having used it at my last employer. Three months ago, I ordered a discounted version and the vendor turned out to be shady and sent a broken version and resisted providing a replacement or a refund.

    My boss and grandboss have been supportive but my grandboss had to get approval to spend the high amount of a new chair. When I didn’t hear from them for a couple weeks, I reminded them and they got the authorization they needed. A vendor was listed locally and I was all set to drive over and pick it up myself but it turned out that was just their headquarters. I ordered it and they said it would be delivered in a couple weeks but it only finally arrived this week after a month and a half.

    I have a condition related to the poor ergonomics that I’ve been waiting to have looked at because I hoped I’d have my new chair and it would go away. Because my condition hasn’t improved, I informed my boss and grandboss as an FYI that I was going to submit a worker’s comp claim. I was not confrontational in any way and wanted to loop them so it wasn’t a surprise. I’m committed to working in the office and would actually like to come in more often once my space is set up properly.

    My boss was fine and said they hoped it would help the organization learn to respond more quickly. However, my grandboss got really angry and blamed me for it taking so long. This is really out of character for someone I worked with years ago elsewhere as well as in my current role. They demanded to know if the chair had arrived yet (coincidentally, it just had) and interrogated me about the delays. When I explained that I couldn’t get the chair locally, they asked why I didn’t try a different vendor. I did actually and said so but they responded they couldn’t believe that in our major city no one had this particular chair. I said it was backordered and maybe it was a supply chain t