open thread – December 1-2, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 786 comments… read them below }

  1. Magda*

    Really weird, specific question: I’m a novelist, this is research – is anyone here a doctor or otherwise medical expert familiar with cancer that’s acquired through exposure to toxins (specifically fly ash, which is a mix of contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic)? I would love to briefly interview you for a book (could be virtual if you dislike the phone, I will share more info in advance of the interview). You’ll be thanked in acknowledgements!!

    1. Hospitiful librarian*

      If you can’t find anyone, I’m a medical librarian and could find some articles for you

      1. Firsttimer_poster*

        not my exact area of expertise but I have adjacent expertise (PhD) and could potentially provide info

    2. Gyne*

      I’m a physician although that’s not my specialty, if you can’t find anyone more specialized I’m happy to parse the literature for you and answer whatever I can!

    3. JSPA*

      the Center for Coalfield Justice could probably hook you up. They might want to get a sense of your slant on the topic before expending effort, but on the other hand, they could probably also ask their members who are patients if they’d like to tell you their stories; not something you’d easily get otherwise, I imagine.

    4. Boof*

      I’m an oncologist but afraid really not familiar with those particular carcinogens – I’m actually not seeing on a quick internet search what cancers it’s linked to (“a variety”?) – which is entirely possible they see a higher incidence of a lot of cancers but most oncologists will either treat all cancers or specific types/organ systems (ie, lung cancer; melanoma; etc). Generally we don’t treat by carcinogen since those are hard to know much of the time

  2. Indigo*

    Hi all! I’m seeking advice for finding remote jobs for my specific situation.

    To put it plainly, I have a great fear of driving a vehicle. I have been stuck working at a convenience store in my very rural hometown for five years due to this issue. I have a bachelor’s degree in history and lots of experience with research and writing that I have not been able to apply since college. At this point I am feeling pretty desperate for a change but I think that a fully remote job is really my only option for the time being.

    I would appreciate any advice in relation to remote work, such as where to search for remote jobs or what sorts of jobs to pursue as someone who is just starting out in my career (i.e. data entry). Thank you!

    1. Yes And*

      Given your experience with research and writing, nonprofits are always looking for good grant writers. In order to get started, you would probably need to complete some certificate course work in grant writing, study your local grantmaking environment (especially any state, county, and municipal agencies), and do some volunteer work for local charities. But that can all be done from anywhere with an internet connection, as can the work itself.

    2. Bexy Bexerson*

      How about remote customer service/support jobs, like phone/email/chat support? Assuming your convenience store job includes working directly with customers, that’s good relevant experience.

    3. osmoglossom*

      check out Flexjobs — it requires a subscription to access because they vet the jobs to verify that they’re legitimate.

        1. ElinorD*

          This is great, all. I’m a community college instructor looking for part time remote jobs to supplement my income. Lots of good ideas in this thread.
          Good luck Indigo!

    4. ThatGirl*

      I think at one point “data entry” was considered this easy-to-get work from home job, but I’m not sure it exists anymore. At least not the way it used to.

      That said, you have skills! History, research, writing – all valuable. What kind of career are you interested in? I think you might be better served by looking for a job in a field you’d actually like to work in that happens to be remote.

      (Also, I hope this isn’t overstepping, but therapy can be extremely helpful in working on big fears like that, if it’s accessible to you.)

      1. Zephy*

        Lots of “data entry” type jobs are indeed not difficult to get hired to do, it’s just hard to get paid. There are a number of companies that offer services like audio transcription or basic database creation/QA (look at this crappy scan of a page of a legal brief, make sure the document ID number/filing date/whatever other information the client wanted were entered correctly in the software, either by a machine or another human). Some of them will let just anybody with an internet connection and English fluency create an account and start transcribing data, others have actual hiring processes, but the majority of them have a piecework pay model. You’re paid a few cents per minute (of audio, not per minute it takes you to do the work) or per page, so the more pieces you can process in the shortest amount of time, the better your pay rate works out to be. But work is released on a first-come, first-served basis, in batches, so if you aren’t fast enough, you might not even get access to enough work to make it worthwhile. And the easiest-to-get jobs, where Joe Schmoe on the Starbucks wifi can log in and start tippy-tapping away, also don’t release your pay until you earn up to a certain threshold (around $20), and then they take a cut on top of that, and that’s without even accounting for Federal or state withholding (if there is any actual job paperwork involved, you’re definitely a 1099 contractor). So if you’re slow at the work or not ready to go as soon as a new batch drops, you could chip away for weeks or months before you get a check for eleven dollars. “Entry-level remote data entry” pays beer money, it’s not a way to make a living.

      2. LAM*

        ArchivesGig posts archivey jobs including, remote metadata data entry jobs. These tend to be year contracts and involve working with older records. It can be competitive as many are getting their MLIS degree, though your schedule might be more what the hiring body needs.

    5. Lbkwrm*

      Fellow history degree/non driver. I am a data analyst and love it. There are remote opportunities. I find that it uses a lot of the skills I developed in college, just in different ways. I may not be doing what comes to mind when you think of research but I’m going through lots of information, finding what’s relevant, and then presenting a compelling argument. I came to this accidentally (found an in person job I could get to), learned on the job, taught myself some skills to make myself more marketable, and am having a successful career.

    6. anonny*

      Prospect Research might be a good field for you, your past with research and writing would make you a good fit for an entry level role. Many of these roles can be fully remote, though not as many are advertised that way as I’d like. Check out the “career center of Apra” (google that phrase to find it) to read some job descriptions and get a feel for it.

      (For reference, I have held fully remote prospect research roles since 2020, they were first involuntarily remote due to covid and then I found two different 100% fully remote roles not related to covid since then)

    7. Morgan Proctor*

      If you’re interested in developing out a freelance writing career, I recommend signing up for Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week newsletter, this really helped me find pitching opportunities and guides on how to do that. Just google it, it’s the first thing that comes up. Also, use twitter to look for freelance writing opportunities, I just search “hiring writer” or “hiring copywriter” and other terms like that.

    8. RagingADHD*

      There are a number of nonfiction publishing houses that use freelance researchers. It won’t always be history, and it might take you a while to find a full time steady job, but if you have the skills to do research and write it up coherently with citations, you can pick up remote gigs and build up.

    9. RecoveringSWO*

      Something different to consider would be fields where you work for temporary periods of time onsite. It wouldn’t work in every circumstance. But some people may have the resources and capacity to arrange transportation a few times a year to an airport/train station/bus station while they would not be able to arrange transportation for a more regular commute. The schedule of time spent onsite vs. at home would depend on the industry, position, and potential collective bargaining agreement. If you’re looking for greater benefits or salary, I would see whether there are desk jobs available in blue collar fields like merchant shipping, energy, etc. I know FEMA has started a reserves program, you could see if they have any temporary positions that would not require you to drive. If that sounds like too much, you could also consider working an onsite summer job like an academic camp and perhaps that would give you enough of a break to stomach your local convenience store job for the rest of the year.

    10. funkytown*

      I moved from retail into a fully remote customer service- adjacent (with some data quality/basic tech support stuff mixed in) job. I think I only got it because an organization I volunteered with needed a person to help with some very basic social media/website things which they asked if they could pay me to do, and having that really made a difference on my resume as “proof” I could work remotely in a professional environment, and my retail skills translated to email customer service. I wish you the best of luck, I know how discouraging it can be to feel stuck but I believe you can do it!

    11. Alison*

      My coworker’s son is using his history expertise as a writer for a video game company. He works remotely, so something like that might be a fit? Not sure how hard it is to break into the industry in those kinds of roles.

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I can’t help with advice about remote work, but is your town a county seat? After I was laid off from a library job, I got hired at the county assessor’s office, checking the property histories that have to be done as part of any real estate transaction. Also, my adult son who has a history degree and does not drive works at a local library.
      Or, if you can fit it in around your work hours, can you volunteer at any local library or historical society? It would really help to have something on your resume that’s more relevant to your degree field.

    13. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I found my remote job on Indeed. It’s a good place to start because you can filter listings by whether they’re remote or onsite. Good luck!!

    14. Indigo*

      Thank you all for the advice so far! It’s given me a lot to think about. ThatGirl asked what kind of career I’m interested in, and to be honest, I’m not sure, so I especially appreciate all of the suggestions about potential fields. I am excited to check out what’s available on Indeed and I plan to look into FlexJobs, too.

  3. Moving into a communication agency job*

    I’ve been at a small govt. affiliated agency for 5 years and am feeling like I’m rusting? The pay is meager and there are no real opportunities for future growth. I’ve tried to do more horizontal assignments and investigations to work with our Comms department as I do have an interest there (public relations, social media strategies, etc). Unfortunately there is a lot of turnover there and even the current director who I wanted to reach out to just left the company.
    I saw an opening for a business writer job that seems entry level at a Comms agency and am intrigued to apply. I’ve devised a lot of written/communication materials during my govt. employment career (working with translators and even a little public focus testing) and want to highlight that in my cover letter and resume.
    But, for those in Comms, are Comms agencies, well interested in potentially hires from non-Communication focused roles?
    How can I stand out? Are there specific job titles and boards to look out for?
    PS I know the spectre of AI looks large but this Comms role actually includes AI components, which I’m interested in.

    1. Mostly Managing*

      A couple of years ago my husband made a shift from tech support to comms.
      Comms, though, for a tech company – his previous experience was relevant.

      If the comms job is in an industry you know anything about, that will help.

      But you’ve done comms stuff in your current role. Apply. Worst that happens is you spend a few hours applying and don’t get the job. Seems pretty low risk!

      1. Miette*

        Adding onto this–look for PR agencies that rep govt agencies like yours–your expertise in the space will be appreciated and is something to focus on in your cover letter/resume.

        As a (past) hiring manager in comms and marketing roles, finding someone with the domain experience was always much harder than finding the hands-on comms experience. If you’re a decent writer, you can always be taught how to write a press release, a social post, a blog post. But knowing how to maneuver in a state agency is a very specific skill, and you may find you’ve got more to offer than you think.

    2. i drink too much coffee*

      Hi! I work in the Comms field.

      If you have portfolio pieces, those are excellent. Make sure to put those in your resume using keywords that are in the job posting (i.e. if they say this job will design flyers, and you’ve done that, put that on your resume!)

      The funny thing about this field is a lot of skills CAN be taught on the job, but passion can’t. And it’s a job where passion can come into play a lot. Willingness to learn goes a long way because this field is constantly changing, like having AI come in! If you can make it clear these are things that come easy to you, you can stand out.

      1. You've Got This*

        Echoing what “Coffee” said. I’ve had a lot of success finding people with the right soft skills and then training them for Comms, particularly because they then write and handle situations the way my company wants things to be done.

        Be mindful that when you are applying, you should have your entire application copyedited (preferably by more than one person) because we Comms managers are a bunch of nitpickers.

  4. New Mom (of 1 3/9)*

    I WFH full-time. Our new nanny started today. She is genuinely wonderful and so happy to be here. She’s going to be great for the baby (babies, next year).

    When our old our temp nanny, after awhile the working mom angst dissipated and I thought I could do this long-ish term. But our new woman is so great it makes my working mom angst WORSE. Because I’m so afraid baby will attach to her instead of me.

    =(

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Babies are capable of bonding and attaching to multiple people. You are your baby’s mom. You won’t be replaced. Baby can be connected to the nanny as well, but that will not replace you in your baby’s world.

    2. Exhausted*

      I have great news for you – babies can form attachments to multiple people! You will always be the only person with your scent and voice. Make sure you spend time with the baby holding them close and talking to them. Also, if your job allows it, could you do contact napping? If you baby wear for a contact nap, you can be hands-free to keep typing or talking. Of course, that wouldn’t work in every situation, but perhaps try it if you can.

      1. New Mom (of 1 3/9)*

        He won’t contact nap anymore sadly, but I frequently baby wear him while making dinner after work.

    3. parttimer*

      That’s your anxiety talking. Your mom, and you will be in your child’s life forever, not just a season. Hiring an excellent caretaker is just one mom duty that you’ve done a great job of doing!

    4. ThatGirl*

      I hear you, but no baby or child has ever suffered by having more love in their life. You’re their mom — nobody can replace you. And you having that kind of support means you can be a better mom!

    5. Heather*

      My grandmother always said, “Don’t borrow trouble.” So why be afraid of something that hasn’t happened? I wouldn’t worry so much about not having any attachment and focus on the times you do have to attach. Can you take a snuggle break during the work day so you have time to be with the baby? Maybe take your break at the babies normal wake up time so you can be the first person the baby sees after napping? Find small moments to attach and leave the worry behind.

    6. SQLWitch*

      Oh my dear. It’s not a zero-sum game. Whatever attachment baby has to nanny will not diminish baby’s attachment to you. Babies have a pretty limitless supply of attachment energy to distribute among all their caregivers :)

      They are also creatures of routine and as they develop cognitively they start to object when their expectations are disrupted. Which means if Mommy does something that Nanny usually does, baby might protest a bit. That DOES NOT MEAN that baby is “attached to nanny instead of Mommy”. It just means “this is different and I am surprised and need reassurance that everything is okay”.

      1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

        This is such a great point, and so clear. I’m not the LW but I appreciate knowing this!

      2. Too Many Tabs Open*

        And even when there’s not an outside caregiver, sometimes the tiny human is in the mood for Other Parent rather than Birth Parent; it doesn’t mean that the tiny human is no longer attached to Birth Parent.

    7. TeenieBopper*

      Growing up we had a babysitter. My sister became very attached to that baby sitter, so much so that when my sister started going to school and didn’t need to go over there anymore, my sister would continue to interact with her and would even do sleepovers a couple times a year. I can’t speak to how my mom felt about that, but I can say my sister never once felt less attached to our mother.

      1. New Mom (of 1 3/9)*

        My own mother, who was a SAHM, told me an interesting story recently. She knew of a family in my hometown where the Mom worked in finance and, so my Mom says, had both a nanny and an evening babysitter as well. My Mom recently saw the mother and daughter on the train together and was gobsmacked that they were laughing and talking animatedly–like they were close.

        Obviously there are many counterexamples to this, but as they say, “this really says a lot about society.” (About my Mom AND the other family!)

        1. Gyne*

          It doesn’t strike me at all as unusual for a mom who works to have a loving relationship with her kids. But if that’s the messaging that you’re getting from your family, no wonder you’re anxious about working. If anything, I’m seriously side eyeing your mom for being “gobsmacked” a mother-daughter pair are close despite the mom working out of the home. That’s some majorly toxic internalized misogyny there.

          1. New Mom (of 1 3/9)*

            Yes haha, that’s what I meant about it being revealing for all parties involved! My Mom is supportive since I WFH full time and I always know what’s going on–that’s most of the reason why she stopped working.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Adding in my experience as a former child here. One of my parents was a stay-at-home parent until I was about 8 or so, my other parent worked full-time throughout my childhood. I loved both my parents when I was child, and still love them and am close to them now that I am an adult.

        For even more diversity of experiences, I have some childhood friends whose parents both worked full-time throughout their childhoods. When we were children, they loved and were attached to their parents and the friends I’m still in touch with now also still love and are close to their parents as adults.

    8. Alex*

      Former nanny here! I promise you, your babies will know you’re Mom, even if they also love the nanny. I took care of the second baby in the family from day 3 of her life but there was no attachment like attachment to Mom.

    9. Annie H*

      Trained early years person here. Please don’t be afraid of your baby’s attachment to your nanny. Babies will and should attach to ALL their carers. Without attachment to your nanny your baby would feel stressed when with them.
      I understand from my own experience as a parent and from working with families how much stress and guilt we can feel around childcare. Good attachments all round are what we want for each child to thrive.

    10. Frieda*

      Totally normal to be anxious! But having more people in baby’s life will benefit them and you. I’ve done childcare and had children and at no point did I ever see a baby prefer the nanny/babysitter to mom or dad, even when they loved their care provider and enjoyed spending time with them.

    11. Generic Name*

      Flip this around. You have one child, and another on the way. You have a limitless capacity to love your children, right? Children and babies also have a limitless capacity to bond with their caregivers. It’s one of the things that makes us human. I think it enriches their lives to have more people around they can feel safe with. I grew up with my mom’s best friend in kind of an aunt role in my life, and as an adult, I love her like family and think of her a bit as a second mother. It takes nothing away from my mom, and I’m really glad I have lots of people out there who love and care about me.

    12. Tiffany Aching*

      My baby has been watched by her uncle (my brother-in-law) since she was 5 months old, she’s now 15 months. She LOVES her uncle, spends more daytime hours with him in a given week than either me or her dad. But no matter how much she loves Uncle, she knows who her Dada is, and she’s got a special smile for him.
      All that to say, your baby will probably love the nanny, AND baby will always have the special mom attachment.

    13. Area Woman*

      NPR just had a piece about hunter-gatherers societies and how they cared for kids. Up to 8 people, not even all relatives, were involved with direct baby care. We have been genetically programmed to outsource childcare! Paying for it does not seem as natural, but my kids love me, and their caregivers. It is not natural to be your child’s only adult caregiver. Please go easy on yourself! It’s tough. <3 another working mom who wouldn't have it any other way.

    14. Hiring Mgr*

      My kids had an amazing nanny – this will only help you and them overall. Unless this is a “Hand that Rocks the Cradle” situation you will be fine!!

    15. Momtoo*

      I had a nanny for my son. He LOVED her. He’s in elementary school now and we haven’t seen her since pre pandemic. He still has her picture up. We talk about her fondly. I could work knowing he was safe and cared for but felt the same way as you. It taught him that there are others that will love him. After all that though, I’m still mom. And boys/kids (mine included) love their moms in a special, irreplaceable way.

    16. learnedthehardway*

      Don’t worry – you’re still going to be MOM.

      When my youngest was very small, I worked from home and had someone take care of him in her home. At three years old, one night, he snuggled up and solemnly told me, “You’re my best Mom!!” Clearly, he had been figuring out relationships, lol.

      You know what?!? I was HAPPY that he was happy and well-cared for at his caregiver’s home and that he thought of her in Mom terms. I was also very, very happy that I was still #1 in his wee heart, too.

      We had had some caregivers before that who were NOT great – in fact, my older son (then 4 years old) told one that she would not need to come back. When he told me why, I agreed and fired her.

      You’ll find – I expect – that knowing your kids are in good hands and well-cared for, by someone who cares about them – is the most important thing. Your baby may very well bond with the caregiver, but having the caregiver will mean that you will be able to focus on your work, while you’re at work, and on your child (and family) when you’re not. And THAT will mean you have a strong bond with your child.

    17. Bast*

      I’m not sure how old your nanny is, but we had an au pair and my children (who were fairly young at the time– both under 7) saw her more as an older sister than a parent figure. Your children will still attach to you as well! It’s no different than having a cool aunt, cousin, or much older sibling.

    18. Pear Blossom*

      I feel you! My baby (16 months now) spends more time at daycare than home as we both work full time. He loves his caretakers, loves dad, loves my parents and grandma…but will always push everyone aside for me. Mama is mama!

      Are you able to have lunch everyday together or would that be too disruptive for either of you? Do whatever you need to do to help relieve the angst, even if it’s just a little bit of relief. Your baby is loved and you are providing for your family and your future :) hugs

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’ll be OK. Love only grows stronger when there are more people who are worth loving.
      “Love is not a pie” — Carolyn Hax

    20. Cabbagepants*

      Having multiple caregivers is how humans have raised their babies for forever. The idea that one person should be the sole caregiver is a modern Western anomaly. I’d even argue that it’s better for the kid to have multiple adult attachments! When I put my daughter in daycare at 10 weeks, I made the conscious decision to consider the people at daycare co-parents and not just a me-substitute. It really helped me reframe their relationships with my kid and embrace the reality that she would love them like family. It also helped me trust their judgement and feel better about taking their advice.

    21. Another mother*

      It’s so great that so many people have given you comfort. All the comments are so heartwarming. I just wanted to say about the mother guilt, as mothers we always like to blame ourselves, try not to let it get to you. Every mother (I mean, obviously there are clear exceptions to this rule) does the best they can for their children with the resources and education they have. Your children will grow up to love and appreciate you. It is important for you to still have a ‘you’.

    22. JR 17*

      I have heard many moms of newborns express this fear. I’ve never seen a situs to on in which it actually happened.

    23. EA*

      Oh, I get this feeling so much! I definitely worried with my first. And I think nothing anyone said would have changed my mind at that point… but I am now a mom of two under 5 with a nanny, and my kids are very bonded to their nanny, and at this point I am SO happy and grateful for that. Having a great, loving nanny who’s consistently there is honestly the best, AND my kids are very clear on who’s mama. Seeing my kids run with joy to hug their nanny warms my heart, and I believe that the more trusted, loving adults in a child’s life, the better. All this to say – I get it, I’ve been there, and I think it will all be fine for you and your baby.

    24. CatMintCat*

      You’re his Mum and always will be. He may well love the nanny and bond with her, but that doesn’t replace you, it adds to his world. Human love is infinitely expandable, and children can never have too many people who really love them and who they love.

    25. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      Think of it like this: what if you first child felt the birth of the second took love away from them or they thought you loved them less because there was another baby?

      You’d say it’s not true because it isn’t. Your feelings are very common, but they aren’t realistic. It’s stemming from guilt that you can’t be the one fully there for your baby like you want, but you’re doing what you need to make sure they’re safe, happy, and well cared for. You’re the mom.

  5. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Anyone familiar with H5P? My library is looking into using it for some learning objects, but we’ve heard the hosting fee is too much money. We don’t have the resources to host it ourselves, but I’m curious if there are ways to use content without these limitations.

    1. NaoNao*

      I LOVE it. You can use it for free but your questions will be visible and usable (to a degree) to the “world”–anyone who pops onto the platform-and I think there’s a limit to how many questions you can make/use. So I’d advise just carefully thinking through how you want to use it. Also H5P needs to work in tandem with something else, it’s not a standalone item, it’s similar to Lectora where you need to create a “package” you install in another host body. Creating the question generates a line of shortcode that must be plugged into another piece, like WordPress or another LMS part to “work”. I don’t believe one can simply use a link to the H5P site itself and have it reliable work.

  6. LifeBeforeCorona*

    I’m working in a job that is the epicentre of passive/aggressive language, notes and actions. I’m trying not to get caught up in but it’s hard not to respond in kind. It’s a temporary job until next year but I don’t want to pick up bad habits and take them with me. Also, the managers are the leaders in this behaviour so it’s seen as normal.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Detach, detach, detach. You’re only there to do work and get paid–your real life is whatever you do before and after hours and on weekends.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Can you try the “curious bemused alien anthropologist” approach? I always try to channel my inner David Attenborough to identify the behaviors when they happen, and reframe as something like “ah! another example of the Minor Manageria’s dominance dance of passive aggressiveness, I’ll add it to the sightings log”.

      1. helper_monkey*

        This is excellent and works for me. I’m currently applying it to communal candy-dish and holiday breakroom treat behaviors, which I know has been discussed on AAM more than once! As one of two people who drive the reception desk, my colleague and I have had to start hiding the candy before we leave at night AGAIN. There was an incident with coworkers inspecting each other’s desk trash cans I like to refer to as Wrappergate.

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I play an online community heavy game where many of the players are teenagers so in certain circles there is NONSTOP drama. This is the approach I use. Along with a healthy dose of relief that I am no longer a teenager!

        1. GythaOgden*

          Same here. In online gaming, I just bask in my victory and know that those little crapwits calling me a cheater are just embarrassed they were beaten by a forty-four year old woman with fingers going numb from holding the controller for too long.

          Work is a bit different because in the NHS you’re there for a reason and it can be hard to detach. You’re there because patients need their test results, I saw my dad’s name on one letter I sent out while he was recovering from a bypass, and so the stakes are high even in a backwater admin office. I had too high an emotional attachment to what I was doing and I did have to back off at least once before I went over the emotional edge. But for what we were doing it wasn’t easy to just totally switch off the way you do with gaming. It may be a bureaucratic nightmare but goshdarnit it’s the bureaucratic nightmare that holds the country together.

          On the other hand, I am autistic and in the therapy session where I was debriefing from all that kind of stress and the expectations of the job I said it felt like I was either on or off emotionally and that there was no dimmer switch like other people had. It’s something I’m working on right now — to be able to moderate that attachment without just losing the genuine emotional pride in what I’m doing.

      3. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I can try that. One of the biggest p/a moves is note correcting. As soon as a sign or note is posted someone appears with a red pen and corrects the spelling and grammar and leaves it for everyone to see.
        “The older member cautiously approachs the bulletin board armed with the red pen. After studying the document in question, they check their surroundings. No other humans are visible so they immediately mark their target. Startled by the footsteps of a rival, they scurry to a safe place to observe the reactions of the interloper…

    3. Generic Name*

      I’ve found the best way to deal with passive-aggressiveness is to respond only to the words that are communicated. Ignore any subtext, don’t try to mind-read to figure out what they REALLY mean, and ignore any tones of voice that imply that they mean the opposite of what they’re saying.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Someone told me once to be the thermostat, not the thermometer.

      Can you detach from the pressure to respond in kind, and instead focus on making it your mission to be the paragon of normalcy?

      Accept blame for mistakes gracefully and cheerfully like you know your self worth isn’t dictated by performance or approval, and let others see that and learn from it.

      Talk good about others behind their backs.

      Call out passive aggressiveness calmly and confidently “you said x but y happened, what’s up?”

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Now I need to go and look up the difference – I think a thermostat SETS the temperature and a thermometer MEASURES it, but will research….

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Correct.
          A thermometer reacts to the environment.
          A thermostat controls its environment.

          This is a brilliant metaphor.

  7. Octavia*

    As background – I’m used to a job being something to tolerate to pay the bills and something to work around to have a life. Liking what I do is just not something I’ve ever seriously considered. I’m currently between jobs and I am lucky enough to be in a position to be very, very picky about what my next career move will be. The idea of having a job I don’t dread every day is very new and very… well, exciting.

    For those who have jobs they don’t hate – at least not all the time :) – how did you figure out what would be a good fit? How did you get there?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      My job sort of fell into my lap (a social friend already worked there in a different department and let me know that the person who had the job at the time was retiring) but it definitely SOUNDED like the right kind of thing: Not too many people, used my degree; also used areas of interest in which I didn’t have a formal background; obliquely used my previous work experience. And I was assured it was a nice place to work, which has turned out to be very true.

    2. Justin*

      I thought about what I was experienced enough in not to feel stressed about competence and then thought about what sort of colleagues/environment made me comfortable. And then I spent several months comparing. I still got very lucky as you never REALLY know about colleagues.

    3. MegPie*

      The answer for me was to just try everything! I didn’t know what I wanted to do early in my career, so in every role I had I put myself out there and said yes to pretty much every project that seemed interesting to me (I probably took on too much but there’s probably a way to do it that also keeps your work-life balance intact). It was a long process, so maybe not super helpful in your current search for a job, but as I did all of those things I really learned what I liked and didn’t like vs. what I thought I should like and not like. So I guess my advice would be to really think about the roles you haven’t enjoyed and see if you can narrow in on exactly what about them you didn’t like. The more confident you are in knowing what environment suits you, the more you can seek out employers that are on the same wavelength as you. Use your interview to ask questions about whether the job would be a good fit for you and not just vice versa!

    4. Isben Takes Tea*

      I’d start by asking yourself what kind of work/tasks you find most satisfying, and what kind of success metrics you’re motivated by:

      – Do you like the satisfaction of big sales numbers coming in, delivering a product, or being thanked for your work?
      – Do you like predictable task cycles, project-based roles, or balancing a constantly varying stream of things to do?
      – What kind of management structure do you work best under?
      – What services or products do you find interesting or satisfying to help produce/deliver?
      – What is your minimum needed income if you are really excited by your job, compared to if you’re not?

      From there you can take a more nuanced look at a lot of different roles in a variety of fields with a better chance of finding something that is satisfying to you.

      1. Get me outta here*

        This is sort of how I have gone about it too, in a roundabout way. For me it wasn’t so much of what tasks I enjoy but what is important to me. To be clear I hate my job right now. But I am in the same role/organisation I was in 12 years ago, when I did like the job and it was important to me, and I think both the organisation and I have evolved and now have different ideals.
        But I digress. I ended up in this role from taking on roles related to my science degree. Then after having my first child it was a real awakening for me, what work could I possibly do that was more important than the education of this child. So I had a think about what I valued and then was able to apply my skills and experience in that area.

        Now in this current toxic work environment where 50% of the organisation have left in the last 3 years, I am now looking at, ok, well what is it about my work tasks that I do enjoy and what don’t I enjoy, and I was able to narrow it down to a particular area and so I’ve been apply for roles in that area.

    5. SQLWitch*

      For me at least, self-awareness is everything. Being mindful of my own personality traits and innate abilitys, essentially taking a strength-based coaching approach with myself, i.e. defining “fit” as a role that primarily involves spending time using and developing my talents, not spending time doing things for which I’m untalented and don’t have any natural affinity for.

      Even more, self-awareness about my values, and making sure my time and energy and loyalty are going to an organization that’s aligned with them. I took a 50% pay cut moving from the corporate to the charitable sector and have never regretted it.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      When I was between jobs and contemplating a career change, I looked at a LOT of job postings that were at least somewhat related to my skill set. After a while I could mentally sort them into three categories: “Ugh, no,” “Eh, it’d pay the bills,” and “Yes, sounds interesting!”

      Interestingly, the “Ugh, no” ones were usually for jobs where they were looking for my exact skillset but to apply it to a problem I just couldn’t bring myself to care about. I’m not a good enough actor to convince anyone I want to work on That Problem if I really don’t.

      For the ones that actually sounded interesting, I’d keep looking at more postings of that nature to see what different companies described the jobs as, or what requirements they had for doing the work. Usually this was for jobs that used at least some of my skillset in a new and different (to me) way, and really the jobs were all over the map (industry, government, education, and so on). One of these jobs was what I ended up pivoting to. My experience and skills are what is needed but I’m doing new things with them.

      Good luck!

    7. Legally Brunette*

      So, so much trial and error! I’m finally in a career and office that fit very well, and one of the things that helped me get here was to take real stock of my skills – like literally make a bubble/web diagram of them. I also added some things I wanted in a career (flexible scheduling/WFH balance, benefits, whatever you really want). Then I tried to think outside the box for jobs that could meet that, not just different work in the same industry. Talk to people, read up on an industry you haven’t explored yet, and check job postings at big companies you have heard of – because even though the industry is really different, sometimes you find listings for cool *types* of jobs that provide you direction to an industry that better fits you.

      Over the years, the things I wanted in a job changed considerably, so don’t be afraid to embrace new wants and drop the old ones (I used to want a litigation job because I looked motions drafting and conducting depositions – but life seasons changed, I now want to have quality time with my kids on the weekends, and that’s not a problem in my new job, where I write and interview people without presenting cases in court!)

    8. Rainy*

      I fell into my work, but I really enjoy it. For me it’s a combination of a supportive and very functional office (not always the case in my broader field, but more often than not the case for what we do, I believe), being able to lean on my strengths in my actual job tasks, and having the work I do satisfy my values.

      There are some individual pieces for me around having a lot of autonomy, which I have basically always had since I entered the field, managing my own schedule, and having a lot of variety in my work, so I might be doing the same thing if you look at the big picture, but the particulars in each case are very different.

    9. llama librarian*

      Last summer I was juggling several offers, and I felt overwhelmed and scared that I might pick the wrong one. I dealt with it by literally made a pros/cons board of what I like/don’t like in a workplace. I included boss, culture, environment, mission, team size, structure, org size, industry, reporting structure, history of the role – if I thought I might care, I included it. I then card sorted the categories, deciding which 8 or so were the most important to me. And THEN I rated each and every job after the second interview on the board.

      It was so so clarifying! I was able to eliminate several jobs right away, I could stack rank the others for priority, it helped me to define where to apply next – AND it made it crystal clear that there was an obvious #1. Having that level of confidence allowed me to hyper-focus my energy and time on the one role, believing it was the right path for me. And when I started at the company, it made me feel much stronger about my choice.

    10. Miette*

      I kind of fell into my field (marketing and communications), which is thankfully quite horizontal, so now I am actively choosing what industry I want to be in. In my case, I started in high tech but transitioned to nonprofits and find I work very happily when I am passionate about the mission of the organization.

      SO! Is that something you can do? That is, apply the skills you already have to another place/industry/geo where you’ll be a bit happier to be working there? So if you’re in banking or finance, you could try looking for jobs at CDFIs. If you’re in sales, you could try doing fundraising. If you’re an engineer in a private company, perhaps your skills can be translatable into the public sector.

      Or not–but if you can try to put a bit of a twist onto where you’re coming from, you might find a nice place to be :)

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

      I think you have to find something that at least somewhat releates to what you like, but be open to things you would not have considered. For me I was looking at my local universities, schools and libraries. I don’t know how many times I had applied at the university when I found a job for an administrative assistant. It wasn’t what I was looking for exactly, but I thought it would be a good step into the university. That was over 4 years ago and I love my job. There are sucky things like the bureaucracy of the state. And I work in the counseling center so I help people who may be in mental health crisis, which can be hard somedays. But I truly love my job and don’t have days that I lay in bed dreading going to work like I did other times.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I was a kid, my mom was a medical coder and biller and (in the pre-HIPAA days) used to bring work home, “here’s this fifty page printout, highlight everywhere you see this number” kind of thing, and I could not even TELL you how incredibly boring I thought it was through my whole childhood.

      When I was 23, I was bouncing around through a random series of short-term temp gigs and got offered a six-month contract helping with “an Excel project.” Turns out I was going to be helping coordinate the updating and revision of all the billing documents for a local hospital. Two things happened at the end of my first week — I found that it was absolutely fascinating and I loved it, AND the guy that I was there to help quit. At the end of my six months, I was hired into his position and gradually started picking up more and more actual coding work to help the chronically-understaffed coding team. A year in, they went to our boss en masse and demanded that she pay for my certification exam because I was doing well and they didn’t want to have to keep rubber stamping everything I did, and she agreed.

      I have now been in medical coding and revenue cycle administration for 20 years (ten with my current system), and I LOVE my job. I’ve been an individual coder and subsequently progressed up the career ladder at my current hospital system, so currently I manage two full teams of outpatient coders as well as indirectly managing a team of vendor ED coders. (I don’t communicate with the individual vendor coders, all my back-and-forth is with their management, so sometimes it’s like a really annoying game of telephone.)

    13. Me...Just Me*

      Ok. First off, I’d figure out what the motivation is – feeling fulfilled, excited, accomplished, social, comfortable, etc? Then, decide how much money you need to make (if any). And, decide how much effort you want to put in to making those two things happen together. Also, consider talents, interests, affinity – things like that.

      So, for me, I wanted something that, at the end of my life, I could feel very happy about REALLY positively impacting people. I’m not terribly social (though I do well with interacting with people). I’m a smart person. I was prepared to put a lot of time and energy into whatever I was going to do. And, I wanted a career – not a job. I also wanted to make a decent salary (at least middle class). So, I went to nursing school. And then became a nurse practitioner. I’ve been in the medical field for 20 years and it definitely has been the best place for me, even with all the drawbacks.

      Careers that I had thought about but decided against – banking, real estate broker, front office person, accounting – none hit my “goal” of seriously helping people (which I discovered was the deciding factor for me).

    14. ecnaseener*

      I somewhat lucked into my field, but looking back, I could’ve predicted liking it because it involves the things I like that most people don’t like. I’ve said this before on this site: If you’re that weirdo who actually likes [insert thing that most people dread: presenting, bureaucracy, monotony, contracts, etc.] then follow that.

    15. Water Lily*

      It took a series of jobs to help me figure out things like this:
      I prefer a large company to a small one.
      I prefer to stay away from working in a team in which everyone has been there for a long time, and I’m the newbie by 10 years.
      I can handle a low salary as long as benefits and PTO are good.
      I need to have a boss I get along great with, someone who gets my sense of humor.
      I’d prefer not to be the first person in a new position.

      All of these are things I figured out about me in some reflection, and then I just asked about them in the interview process.

      One more thing that helps: friends that know you well can help you get a job they know you’d do well in.

    16. Kes*

      Others have already alluded to this but I would encourage you to do some real self analysis on the following, using your work experience thus far as a base:
      – what your strengths and weaknesses are
      – what you like and don’t like in a job
      – what’s most important to you in a job (is it the work? the pay? the work life balance? meaningfulness?)
      Really drill into these and consider for each of your jobs thus far how they fit into this – what worked and didn’t work about them for you
      And then use the results of that to shape the idea of what you want to look for

    17. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m one of those people who has assigned most of their skill points to one specific category. In my case, that skill is pattern detection. The only question was how to turn that into a paycheck.

      I started out with an interest in biology. It’s interesting, useful, and an inexhaustible source of these wonderful-but-terrifying interconnected hairballs of information that I’m freakishly good at dealing with. I loved reading about it, and I enjoyed taking classes in it. Then I started working in a real lab, but was quickly discouraged; there were no hairballs in sight, only funding issues, politics, and repetitive tasks that should’ve been done by a robot, except I was cheaper than said robot. No thanks.

      Then I thought I might be pre-med, so I started volunteering at the local hospital. I learned that, while I’d probably enjoy med school, and there would be the rare challenging diagnosis that I could go Dr. House on, the vast majority of the caseload involved treating routine ailments by following a well-developed set of procedures, with a hefty side order of customer service and/or social worker stuff. No thanks.

      Then I went back to research, taking care to select better-funded labs this time. There were robots; I learned how to make them do my bidding. There was data, large piles of it, much of it left practically untouched by other lab members who weren’t sure what to do with it. Yes please.

      It eventually dawned on me that I didn’t have to be a researcher. I’m totally content to live at the short-term level: what’s interesting about this data set, how do I best convey this complex idea, how do I streamline and/or automate this process, etc. And I’m REALLY good at it. No matter where I went, my lab-mates would catch on, and would show up at my desk with puppy-dog eyes and plates of cookies whenever they had a nice juicy problem for me. That was the “fun part” of those jobs. It was also well outside the job description, which was a problem. I needed a job where the “fun part” was the job, not the thing that I was doing instead of the actual job they’d hired me for. So…I found one.

      I work for a large biotech company that can afford to maintain a team of ad-hoc data analyzers and problem solvers to support their biologists. I do in fact enjoy what I do. Not saying I’d do it for free, but for a legit Silicon Valley living wage, I have zero complaints.

      I think the moral of all of the above is this: figure out what sorts of tasks you’ve tended to volunteer yourself for, and what tasks you’ve avoided by any means necessary. Then figure out a job where you have enough relevant experience to get the job, but it’s more focused on the things you want to do.

    18. allathian*

      After college I drifted from one job to another for years on fixed-term contracts that had a natural end point, so it didn’t look like job hopping even if it felt like it because I was basically looking for the next gig all the time. At one point I realized that there was a subset of tasks in all of those jobs that I particularly enjoyed, and basically found my “forever job” (16 years working for the same employer and I hope to stay until I retire in about another 15 years or so) that lets me focus on that subset of tasks.

      Work-life balance is one of our core values, and I love the flexibility. I’m still mostly remote, with about one day a week at the office on average, although sometimes I go in
      on three days and then I can be fully remote for three weeks.

  8. Mystic*

    Not a question really, just a kinda update? I had applied for supervisor twice, and got denied twice-both times getting all the way to the last step. My work is now doing an acting supervisor position, and my grandboss has put in a good word for me, and i should be hearing within the next couple of weeks about it.

    1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Good luck! You must be doing something right if your grandboss put in a good word for you. Hope it works out well.

  9. Hamster*

    At what point is it appropriate to apply to a company directly if you’ve connected with them through a recruiter? Months? years?

    A recruiter contacted me about a really great opportunity and everything seemed to go really well but I just got word that they aren’t moving forward. I’m OK with that, not upset or stressed but at some point I’d like to be able to re-apply there (say, a year or two).

    1. kalli*

      When they advertise a position you want that’s not through a recruiter.

      Otherwise, when they advertise a position you want that is through a recruiter.

    2. Rainy*

      I’d assume that that recruiter’s contract expired with that job search, and if you find another opportunity on your own, of course you can apply.

    3. BellyButton*

      There is no time frame. You are free to look directly at their career page and apply for anything you want.

      1. former recruiter*

        There is usually a time frame spelled out in the agreement/contract that the recruiting company has with the employer. It’s standard practice within recruiting.

        1. BellyButton*

          The recruiter contacted OP, not the other way around. So they are free to apply to any job they want.

          1. Hamster*

            I didn’t think of that but that’s good to know.

            I know if – I had a call with a recruiter about an opportunity wjo would be passing along my resume it would be poor form to circumvent them and go directly to the company a week or so later. But months or years I want sure about.

            1. amoeba*

              I’d say it’s only a problem if it’s for the same position. So, if the same position is still open a month later, you shouldn’t contact them directly. If a different one opens, it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, the recruiter has nothing to do with that one…

              1. kalli*

                And that falls under etiquette about reapplying for a position after being rejected for that exact position, whether it’s still open or readvertised – if it’s readvertised, you can apply again unless they specifically say ‘previous applicants need not apply’.

                It’s poor form to go to the company about the same job after the recruiter has passed your resume on because you’ve already been put forward for the job and been (or are being) considered, not because there’s a recruiter involved. ‘You just saw my resume but I’m going to give it to you again because I think you messed up not immediately hiring me the first time you read it,’ basically, as well as possibly being interpreted as knowing better than the recruiter or a lack of respect for them or their process. Recruiters may also not like it because it interferes with their process and communication with the employer – maybe they pass on resumes weekly, or do phone screens before passing them on, maybe they’re keeping resumes on file because they don’t always advertise and the employer has regular turnover. Some recruiters charge a package rate per position, but some get extra fees if someone they recommended gets the job/stays past probation/stays for a year/is hired within a certain amount of time after being put forward, and going around them may also be seen as cutting them out of money. Depending on how they are working, it can also be seen as demanding more time from the employer than other applicants get. It is definitely seen as disrespecting the decision not to hire or even arrogance – ‘you already said no but I know you’re wrong so look at me again!’

                But in this case the hypothetical is applying with the company directly in a year or a couple of years. That is fine. If the company explicitly advertises that they take applications for a pool for certain roles, or advertises a role directly, it is fine to apply for those. If they advertise through the same or a different recruiter, applying to those is fine. It is fine to apply for two jobs at the same time, even.

                The answer here is basically summarises as ‘not the same role you’ve been put forward for during that same process; the same role advertised again, or any other role (preferably a reasonable fit for one’s ability!) is fine’. There is no set amount of time where it switches from not ok to ok. There may be a provision where the recruiter still gets a payment in relation to you, but that is none of your business and doesn’t affect the question of whether it’s ok to apply for a later role.

    4. One Application to Rule them All*

      Just make sure it’s a completely different job or you really need to go through the agency again. If there’s any chance the recruiter can claim they submitted you for the position then you apply separately (or, worse, through another recruiter) you will get dropped and likely blacklisted.

      Most agencies have a policy regarding the timeframes. Some try to get you to sign agreements that they represent you at that company for X months, usually 3 or 6.

      So read anything you signed and be careful you don’t do anything either the company of the recruiter would consider double applying.

      Good luck!

  10. moonsnail*

    Looking for ideas or encouragement. 60-yr-old, female, mathematician. Laid off from a tech job doing scientific computing in August. Am finding nothing out there – applying to 2 to 3 jobs per week. Only had one serious interview, didn’t get the job. Any fields I can look into? I’ve been looking at : companies that do similar things to the one I used to work at (none in my country, and the ones I’ve contacted in other countries are unwilling to hire a contractor, fair enough). I’ve looked at data science/data analyst jobs, which I have skirted the edges of, but haven’t gotten an interview for any of those.

    Should I : not mention the PhD on my resume?

      1. Gyne*

        Check out the Drop Out Club? It’s more aimed at MD/PhDs who are considering leaving their careers but there are lots of remote & contract positions in advising and consulting that might be a good fit for you.

    1. NaoNao*

      Pharma and biotech might have a use for your math skills and in those fields for sure I’d leave that PhD on.

      If you have your PhD in mathematics, can you teach high school, prep school, or teach test prep (like in the US we have LSAT, MCAT, SAT, etc tests and tutors and teachers for these tests are very in demand).

      Also look into academic administration–there’s often VERY well paid jobs for the admin side of schools, especially colleges.

      1. OtterB*

        Education related but not directly teaching: Maybe something as a mentor to undergraduates interested in graduate school?

      2. amoeba*

        Oh yes. Europe so might be different, but at least a few years ago, some of the pharma and chemical industry companies were even hiring PhD/doctorate only for roles where one really isn’t required. Like, law or engineering or yes, computer science. They’re just that used to it from the chemists and biologist where actually one is required for a lot of roles.
        I think it’s luckily changing a bit, but it’s certainly still a plus to have one.

        Also, can you do more in the data science/ML/AI field on Coursera/Udemy/whatever? I feel like those skills are really in high demand at the moment.

    2. Generic Name*

      You could try leaving your PhD off and keep applying to the same type of jobs and see what happens. I know the construction industry is booming. Same with engineering for construction. I don’t mean go apply to drive a bulldozer, but see what type of job openings are there for people with math/data analysis/computing backgrounds at big construction companies. I work for a huge construction company, and there are tons of different types of jobs. We have estimators, a big technology group (we’re developing our own internal AI tool).

    3. MsSolo (UK)*

      Government jobs? The pay will be lower, which will put of a lot of similarly skilled people, but the benefits should be good (usually around pensions, too), and they’re more likely to consider you for adjacent jobs like data scientist/analyst.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        I agree with this. I only have experience with federal, state, and local government agencies in the US but your skills would be invaluable in any program I’ve ever worked for.

      2. Texan in exile on her phone*

        My friend just started in HR/recruiting for FEMA and she wants smart experienced people. Check for FEMA jobs and then attend one of their webinars where they walk people through the application process. I will try to post a link to the webinar

    4. Always Tired*

      Everyone else already has great ideas I can’t contribute to, but I feel your pain. When I was seriously job hunting, I did 10-50 applications per week, depending on how depressed I was. Job hunting right now is just hard. Don’t get discouraged just yet.

    5. Qwerty*

      I feel like your history with scientific computing would be applicable at any of the companies targeting AI right now. Lots of startups in that space who have the funding for market rate salaries. Especially if you know SQL or a scripting language like Python!

      Also check out tech consulting companies – the Big Tech corporations contract out a lot of their work to companies that are more flexible on background.

      Write your cover with both the recruiter and the hiring manager in mind. Make it easy for the recruiter to explain why you are good fit for a role. Like if your experience with X is basically the sames as the Y requirement, spell it out for them that they are the same, don’t expect them to make the obvious connection on their own. Resumes are often looked at by tired cranky people who appreciate when you make it easy on them.

    6. PhilG*

      Have a friend who fits your description. She found work doing statistics for a government insurance agency. Eventually she went on and got her actuarial certification.

    7. alannaofdoom*

      I can’t speak to the PhD question but if you have any machine learning skills/experience, highlight it for sure. I work in planning for a major retailer and we recently stood up several teams to work on integrating machine learning into our planning and forecasting processes. (And that’s just one example; honestly I think at this point pretty much any company in any industry is going to be looking for folks who can guide their use of ML.)

  11. NaoNao*

    Any tips on finding very specific job postings without using title, location, or industry per se? I found a job posting in luxury jewelry retail training last week, and about 9 months ago I found a job posting for a well-known footwear company retail store trainer and I’d like to find more to apply for like that but searching things like “trainer/corporate trainer/retail trainer” often results in “manager in training” type roles or roles that are in industries I’m *very* uninterested in (training the floor staff in a warehouse, fintech customer success, etc etc). The LinkedIn search feels kludgy–like searching “retail training manager” results in retail management roles and searching company name + specific role title often turns up 0/null.

    I’d be very open to figuring out how to use LinkedIn to find these very niche roles–if I can!

    1. Tio*

      When I was actively hunting, I found using synonyms and more details tended to bring things up. For example, I’m a customs broker, but if I put in jobs for customs broker I would also get stuff like for real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, and other random things. So I started leaving broker out and would use terms like licensed customs, or customs compliance, etc. That helped weed down the results (although not completely – compliance still brings in a lot of outside noise, but it gets closer.). So I suggest you go back to the listings you did find interesting, or write out your own job descriptions, and look through it for unusual words or specific titles you’re looking for and searching around that. Also, if the jobs are really niche, you might be having trouble because there just aren’t a lot of them, especially if your location is narrow.

    2. BellyButton*

      This is my field. Look for “people development” “talent development” Most companies no longer use “trainer”

      1. Rainy*

        Oh, interesting–what kinds of skills would you want to highlight on your résumé specifically for those roles?

        1. NaoNao*

          For “people developer” or “talent developer”, to me in the L&D field that is different than classroom corporate trainer or facilitator

          I’d highlight:

          Career pathing + any software you’ve used in that field like Ladders, Workday, etc

          Event planning, specifically educational seminars and conferences for staff/employees in the org

          Training strategy and development

          Organizational development + psychology

          Succession planning

          Hi potential talent spotting and development

          Professional development training–leadership, soft skills, conflict management, negotiation, DEI

          recruiting, new hire training/onboarding

      2. NaoNao*

        Mmmm interesting. To me in the learning and development field, “development” is soft skills or profession development or even organizational development/career pathing and is very different from corporate training–and talent development often involves succession planning/sourcing/recruiting/DEI, and other things that are outside the scope of typical corporate training. I can and have done both but “development” as a search term often pulls up software dev and other types of “development” roles. I haven’t seen “retail store people developer” but I could try that search term and see what happens.

    3. BellyButton*

      Oh- and if you are really interested in a specific industry- fashion, go directly to the companies’ website career page and then search for the jobs.

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Agree with Belly Button – try ‘learning and development’ and/or ‘facilitator’ as well (at least here in UK). And I now have LinkedIn suggesting driving instructor roles… it really does feel like the algorithm fixates on one word. I’ve had so many un training related options!

    4. (Health, Safety) Environmental Compliance*

      Learning & Development might work as a search term.

      I feel your pain. I was primarily environmental compliance, environmental engineering, environmental regulation. Searching “environmental manager” or something like that would turn up many, many roles titled “environmental services” which are for the most part janitorial or facilities maintenance, and completely irrelevant to what I was actually looking for.

  12. Weaponized Pumpkin*

    This a question for people who work for consulting firms or agencies in creative / business / tech spaces — things like app / web development, digital campaigns, brand strategy, customer data platforms, etc.

    What does business development look like these days where you are? I’m seeing a lot more chaos at my (US based, medium-sized) agency. Specifically:
    – Long sales cycle, 6-12 months to land new projects and especially accounts
    – Pulling out all the stops on pitches with tons of creative work and sample approaches
    – Being asked to slash prices to the point where there’s a high risk of being unprofitable

    These things have always been present, but it’s turned up to 11 right now. And economy is wonky, so I get it. I’m just wondering if it’s happening other places too.

  13. Satan's Panties*

    I hope this counts as a work-related question: What is the ethical response when faced with one of those payment screens. “Would you like to add a tip? We calculated it for you and everything!”
    Not adding a tip feels like I’m giving the staff the finger. But adding one feels like donating to a corrupt charity.

    Last week, for example, I was at Crumbl, and I rounded up to the nearest dollar. And I don’t think that benefitted anyone except me, by not having to deal with coins. I saw four persons in the work area at that time, but I’m not kidding myself that any of it was going to show up in their paychecks. Also, I love how this comes up while I’m still placing the order. I haven’t received product or been given service, so what am I basing a tip on?

    This is an issue, because I’m seeing these pay screens more and more, including a local live theater’s concessions stand (they used to take cash; now it’s cards only) and a burger joint that recently reopened after quarantine/weather damage during quarantine. Formerly, Burger Barn had table service, now it’s order-here-pick-up-there, card-or-app-payment only. I’m sure the workers are getting screwed. The only question is, how badly?

    1. moonsnail*

      the coffee shop I was at last night had the screen option for tip as well as a tip jar. I opted not to tip by card, I usually don’t.

    2. The Meat Embezzler*

      I tip zero in any and all forced tip instances, these payment screens that they flip over at you really get my goat. I’m more than happy to tip generously in the usual methods (delivery, sit down restaurant, curbside, etc) but there is something about tipping at a place where I’m ordering from a counter and doing all the legwork that annoys me to no end. Plus the sick thing is, with those POS terminals, I’m not even sure if the staff actually gets the tip. I’ve read in a few instances where the tip goes to the POS company and not the staff.

    3. trust me I'm a PhD*

      FWIW, I once asked workers (at a chain sub sandwich place) whether electronic tips were in fact given to them, not the company; and they answered affirmatively yes. I still don’t tip tons for takeout but I do consistently tip, which I’ve also heard is more important anyway, to be consistent.

    4. Yes And*

      There’s a difference between an ethical obligation and an ethical good thing to do. I think tipping is an ethical obligation only when the staff is working at tipped minimum wage. (That’s a sub-minimum wage where the assumption is that tipping will make up the difference.) The people at the kinds of places you’re describing are likely working for regular minimum wage, so they’re not counting on tips as part of their base pay. That said, minimum wage itself is still pretty crappy, so if you can afford to tack something extra on, it’s a good thing to do.

      As for your question of whether the staff is actually seeing those tips, they should. It’s illegal for the employer to retain tips, or to include management in the distribution of tips. That’s not to say the employees aren’t getting screwed – wage theft is real and pervasive. But as a customer, you have no control over that.

      Where I get my hackles up a little is the logic of “I’m not going to participate in a corrupt system.” Yes, tipping culture is terrible, and like most bad things in the US, has its origins in racism. (It was a carveout from early minimum wage laws to get around paying Black employees fairly, and to make sure Black workers got the message that they were indebted to white people for their pay, not that they should feel entitled to it in exchange for their labor.) But refusing on those grounds to participate harms the workers, not management, and does nothing to change the system. Often when people say “I won’t tip because tipping is a terrible system,” they’re just rationalizing being cheap.

      1. Mill Miker*

        This always confuses me in Canada. We mimic the US tipping culture of “If you don’t tip at least 20% (formerly 15…) then you’re being a jerk. However, as far as I know, we don’t have a separate minimum wage for tipped rolls. It’s a weird combo.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Yeah, this is really frustrating here. We used to have (in Ontario at least) a server and bartender wage that was lower than minimum wage, but not significantly lower the way it is in the US. We got rid of that a few years ago, so now the server/bartender minimum is the same as the regular minimum, which means we do the large American-style tip thing while simultaneously paying people the same as in other sectors where tipping isn’t common (e.g. retail, fast food, etc.). It’s surprising to me we don’t talk about this more!

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m really not sure about how the workers are getting screwed. I’m certain they are. However my rule is that if I simply participated in a transaction (that is, they offered a product I pay for), I do not tip. If a service was provided, I will tip. At Crumbl, is there really a service being provided? I’d argue there is not but is rather a basic transaction. They need to pay people more.

    6. ranunculus*

      Tips do get paid out. Companies can’t legally withhold them. Usually how it works (not specifically at Crumbl but at places I’ve worked like that) is that the tips received during your shift are divided by everyone clocked on at the time the tip was received. Some places pay this out on your paycheck and some pay it out separately on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. I personally always tip 20% because I know people who work at establishments where gratuities are expected come to rely on them (it’s not about tipping for good service these days, companies adjust their pay down with the excuse that employees receive compensation in tips; the system is broken but don’t take it out on minimum wage cookie workers!) but any amount is better than no amount I suppose.

      1. Satan's Panties*

        “Tips do get paid out. Companies can’t legally withhold them. Usually how it works (not specifically at Crumbl but at places I’ve worked like that) is that the tips received during your shift are divided by everyone clocked on at the time the tip was received.”

        Well, I’ll be! That’s good news. But then this:

        “companies adjust their pay down with the excuse that employees receive compensation in tips”

        Is what I’m worried about: base pay erosion.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          One of the food delivery services got in trouble for this during the pandemic. (Can’t remember which one.)

          Wage theft is more likely to happen to service workers, so I don’t assume that all employers are going to be completely honest when distributing tips.

          I pay cash as much as possible, so it’s not as big an issue for me. (This actually is helpful for smaller businesses, as they don’t have to pay for a credit card transaction.)

    7. Tio*

      So, if it’s a donation, like what I think you did at crumbl, the money is supposed to go straight to the charity. usually this gets calculated automatically and sent through on a periodic basis, like monthly or whatever they set up. Larger corps, while evil, are probably adhering to this just because dealing with the IRS would be a huge thing. So if it’s one of those charity things, your money is probably going where it says it’s going.
      (Side note: A lot of people are like HOW DARE THE CORPORATIONS TAKE MY TAX CREDIT but they actually don’t. You could, conceivably, track these donations and enter them on your own taxes. But we never do.)

      For tips – this one is harder for me personally. I always tip on delivery and sit down but I don’t tend to tip on carryout. Maybe that makes me bad, but you don’t really get served the way that you do being sat down or making someone drive around for you, it’s more of a straight goods exchange. (But I also think tipping is a bad system). Now legally speaking, if you pay via credit card, there are records of this that the company has to account for. What should be happening is that tip portion gets added to the daily tip pool and distributed to the workers. How well and evenly tips are distributed are very much a YMMV thing depending on business, but if the restaurant tried to keep that money as just profit and not send it to the workers two things would happen:
      1. The worker would not have any tips to report on their taxes, and the business will have to pay them more hourly wage. Because businesses can reduce a worker’s hourly wage below minimum wage if they get tips. Which is… yeah. But if they aren’t getting (or reporting) any tips, the business must come up to meet the minimum wage for that worker.
      2. the business must report that profit as regular business profit and pay taxes on it, because they received this money. They must account for it somewhere.

      Now, whether a company is doing their tipping right is mostly a questions of how shady the owner is and how much they fear the IRS. Most large chains and franchises would not see the reward of taking this money worth the risk of being audited and punished by the IRS, let alone the bad publicity if people found out, and tend to have bigger checks and balances against this. Smaller businesses will be more of a case by case thing, depending on the owner.

      For ethical… I mentioned my reasons up above, but that’s kinda a personal thing.

        1. Tio*

          True. It still basically boils down to “How afraid are you of getting into trouble with the government” because we’ve all seen here that illegal doesn’t stop some people

    8. funkytown*

      I mean, I think the ethical part is on the company to pay their employees, but I do choose to tip because I can. When I was a barista the tips made a significant (30-50%) chunk of paycheck, and we absolutely received what came from those screens so I don’t think you need to think it’s not going to the workers. I also didn’t take it personal if someone doesn’t leave a tip on a regular small order, it’s not a big deal either way! (I might secretly be a bit annoyed if a tip was excluded on a large complicated order that’s way more work, but I would never share that with a customer and would move on immediately anyway).

    9. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      Yeah, this is a good question. I usually add like a dollar to coffee shops, take-out, etc. Mostly because I live in a state where the minimum wage is way too low compared to the cost of living, and the extra buck won’t hurt me. I have enough friends who have worked in service and retail that needed the tips (even if they were making actual minimum wage) that I figure even a little bit helps.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      There was discussion on Ask Amy maybe last week about tipping. The original letter was about a mother of the bride who was at a wedding salon with her daughter, trying on and picking out the dress. At the end, when ordering the dress, one of the lines was a tip to the stylist who helped.
      I do not remember Amy’s response, but there was a follow up letter from a bridal salon owner who claimed that you absolutely should tip the stylists because they provide you with a unique personalized service, even though yes, they are getting commissions at the same time, because you wouldn’t stiff your waiter, right?
      That really rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t tip the sales guy at a car dealership. Why should I tip a bridal salon stylist?

      1. WellRed*

        I read that letter. I think maybe most POS systems just come with this automatically? Dunno, but I have my limits on who to tip.

        1. Lia*

          I think many of them come with it. I recently bought a washer/dryer set from a used appliance store, and when I paid, the lady made a point to tell me, “Please don’t tip. We recently upgraded our system and all the new systems we looked at had tipping, but you should absolutely not tip on this transaction! Just tip the guys delivering it in cash if you want.”

          1. OrdinaryJoe*

            Yes! My company’s POS system came with “tips” as a default and none of us can figure out how to turn it off. We just laugh and roll our eyes about it … we’re selling tickets for events and accepting donations – no tip required or expected.

            It’s rare for anyone to say anything about it because I think people are starting to see tipping options everywhere and understand that for many places, it’s just the system and not actually expected.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        That bridal salon owner set up a false equivalency. Bridal salon stylists get commissions for the dress(es) you buy. Waitstaff don’t get commissions for the food you order.

      3. Old Hat*

        With these “unique” experiences, is there the ability to opt out of their service? For places like bridal salons, they might keep things in an employees only section, and thus making customers dependent on the stylist. I can’t think of a time where the experience was a drastic improvement because of a rep. Maybe slightly better, but that was often because of red tape or hoops.

    11. Goldfeesh*

      You’re not obligated to tip, but as someone who works part-time at a family-owned pizza place, I’m never offended if someone rounds up to the nearest dollar. I mean, you’re not obligated to tip anything. I’m more offended by the monthly meetings by the high-ups in town (chamber of commerce type people and a couple of bankers) who never ever tip a dime while owning the bank inherited from their father. To be honest, if you’re dropping $150 on pizza/sides/etc you might get a little side eye if you can’t even tip a couple of bucks.

      I’m not being screwed by the place I work because the owner is a wonderful woman who would never screw us over. We get a full wage then tips on top, none of the $2.75 BS. Other places, yeah, they might be getting screwed.

      1. BookMom*

        I’ve felt unsure tipping for a drop-off catering order of box lunches, the bill might be $300 but the person really isn’t doing much more work dropping off lunch for 20 people than 2. I’m inclined to tip $20 and call it good, but I recently horrified a coworker who said 20% minimum no matter what!

    12. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I used to not tip for counter service/takeout, but during the Covid shutdowns, I started tipping my takeout because the people working face-to-face jobs were taking a much higher risk than I was as a person working at home and I wanted the businesses to stay in business. I still do it.

    13. OtterB*

      During the pandemic I began tipping on counter service or upped my tip in a deli where I used to tip anyway as an acknowledgement that people in those jobs were at additional risk, not well paid, and making my life better by the work they did. The worst of the risk (though not all of it) is mitigated by vaccination, but the “poorly paid and doing work that makes my life better” still applies. So I generally tip.

    14. Old and Don’t Care*

      I hit the tip button without thinking while picking up takeout recently. 15%. On 3 lobster rolls. Yikes.

  14. soontobe*

    I’ve let my recently laid off co-workers know I would be glad to be a reference for them. I finally had a call from one place, and the experience was strange. they had a checklist of questions and just wanted me to give them a 0 to 10 rating. Is that normal? It has been ages since I had a call to be a reference, and the last time I was I had an actual conversation with the caller.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      it’s normal for them to have set questions to ask, yes. Things have moved away from “amorphous conversation” style. For the sake of equity you need to ask everyone’s references the same questions, not just let them ramble about the candidate.
      I’ve not heard of everything being a numerical rating, but it makes sense if your goal is to be able to compare one persons score with another persons score. (it also seems too rigid, open ended questions seem better IMO)

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      I don’t think this is. While it’s not totally out of left field, it feels very reactionary, or simply that someone had no idea how to conduct reference calls.

      There’s some weird ideas floating around about reference calls. I (as someone serving on a hiring committee) once talked to a reference who insisted it was illegal for me to ask questions probing into the applicant’s performance and skill set during their time at that previous position.

      1. soontobe*

        I asked my own manager about it (he’s aware I offered to be a reference), and he told me he never sees the results of a reference call when we are looking for temporary workers. or gets a person to call himself. This is all strange. I can get doing some kind of rating but not having a chance to talk about intangible things is short sighted.

    3. BigLawEx*

      I had one like this a few years ago. I asked, and the woman had a computer bubble fill type form that she had to complete. It was not a nuanced conversation. I also had to complete one online like that. I think there was some discussion about this kind of ‘reference’ check on AAM in the last couple of years.

      1. Park map*

        The idea that using numbers eliminates bias boggles my mind. Numbers can contain all kinds of noise (what if one applicant is from a work culture where any number other than 10 is a failure and another has references where an 8 or 9 is great?), they can be biased (what if my references rate me so highly because I make them think of themselves in their youth?), and they cut off context that could be needed for equity (“to give you a sense of this applicant I’d need to expand on/modify that question…”).

    4. Lily Rowan*

      It’s weird to me for that to be a call, but my job now only does references via a website where you rate on questions like that. (There are open text questions as well.)

    5. AnonAnon*

      Pretty normal in my field. Maybe it depends on the field, location, and job position? I would say out of the last 5 references that I gave, only 1 was an actual conversation. It was for a director level position. The others were for individual contributor level positions. The potential employers sent me a link to a questionnaire. I was asked to give ratings on a whole slew of things, and give 3 examples of the candidates’ areas of strengths and 3 examples of their areas of weaknesses. Yes they were long and painful.

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      IME this is how a lot of gov jobs do their referrals; it’s HR mandated and supposed to eliminate bias

  15. balanceofthemis*

    I could use some help/advice. I work in musuem and non-profit education/programming. I took a new job at the end of summer that gave me a sizeable pay bump and let me relocate to a city I love. The problem is the job is making me miserable. I know it’s a risk to take a newly created job, and the job may evolve differently than what was envisioned, but the job was described as a high level non-profit programs position, directly overseeing some aspects of programming, while also supervising other programming staff in their areas. But the reality is heavily skewed towards large scale event planning, and while the skill sets are similar, the jobs are not the same and I am stressed all the time. That’s just not my area.

    Added to this, every time my boss (the director) has a whim, he dumps it on my lap to make happen,, and I have to get it done, no matter how short notice it is. He is also, frankly, a jerk. He treats the staff badly. Everyone is job hunting, including me.

    I could leave and go pback to my prior city, I own a home there and it is empty at the moment. It would be expensive, but my family would help. The issue is I would be unemployed for who knows how long, with not much savings, and I hated that city.

    My other option is to stay and try to find a new job, but so far I haven’t found much in my skillset that wouldn’t mean a huge paycut I can’t afford. My fear is that is I stay, I’m either going to get fed up and quit, or, I’m going to fall on my face on something big, and get fired.

    1. NameRequired*

      This sounds hard. Is there any way that you could sell your house in the old city in order to subsidize a job switch?

    2. Generic Name*

      I feel like you have more options than just those two. What is your plan for the empty house? Can you rent it out or sell it to give you a bit of a financial cushion? Do you LIKE your new city and want to stay? Having a bit of a safety net would help if you have to leave your job suddenly. Are there other cities you could apply for jobs in? I personally wouldn’t move back to a city I hated and had no job in.

      I totally hear you on working for a jerk. I hated a past boss, and it took me 18 months to find a different job. It really sucked, but I made it through.

      1. Balanceofthemis*

        I have tried to seek the house to no avail, I am currently trying to rent it out. I would prefer to stay in my new city, moving anywhere but back to my old house is not a financial option. It would cost too much.

    3. Banana Pyjamas*

      I think my first step in your shoes would be deciding if I’m returning to old city. If I wasn’t I would sell the vacant home. Use the money from the home sale to leave current job and devote your time to job search.

    4. Nebula*

      Are you looking for jobs in both your new city and the old one? From what you’ve said there it sounds like you wouldn’t be looking for a job in your old city until you’ve moved back there, but why not?

      1. Balanceofthemis*

        I am looking in both, I’m just finding very little I qualify for that pays decently. I could go back down in salary in my old city, but a lot of jobs aren’t even paying as much as I was making before, and that was barely enough.

      2. Balanceofthemis*

        Also, I’m not going to find a job in either place in the next week, and I am in full BEC mode with this.

        1. WellRed*

          I think you are doing the only thing you can right now which is to apply for jobs (I know there’s not a lot) in both cities. Keep the possibility of a house sale in the back of your mind, but in my area (granted the market is insane) this is the time of year people pull their houses off the market and wait until spring. Sorry you are in this situation!

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            Yes this is a great point. Highest prices tend to be mid-May to mid-August, lowest Nov-Jan, in the northern US anyway. There will be significantly less fluctuations in places with less desirable school districts.

    5. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Two questions: first, jerk boss dumps a project in your lap, and you have to get it done. But, do you? What happens if you just don’t do it and never say anything? I know that sounds unprofessional; but for certain types of busywork, I have to wonder if jerk boss would even remember that he asked for it to get done.
      Second: is there any way you can go to the board with regard to his behavior? Are they aware that literally everyone is job-hunting?
      I understand if you can’t do either of these things safely — I’ve worked nonprofit too, and sometimes you just can’t — but I also remember being asked by a jerk boss in said nonprofit to do some last-minute BS project that I …… just didn’t, and it was fine. She forgot all about it. (Although, she was dumb as well as a jerk. Your boss might not be that dumb.)

  16. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Ugh, we have to go back to the office to do a cognitively demanding task. while I can do it on Sunday this week, I’m not sure what to do if I get sick on Sunday and have to try to think in an office that’s too bright, too peopley and I can’t wear my headphones in.

    I’d like to tell managers. Its not time management. It’s energy management, it’s the ability to think management. Like who is it that time is the only resource managed? Instead of coming from an everyone is lazy perspective, if managers knew this, they could probably keep staff.

    1. Justin*

      Does the task require some sort of equipment that’s in the office? It seems you are able not to be in the office most of the time, based on this post. If it does, I’m not sure what you’d tell them, but if it doesn’t you could probably ask for that accomodation.

      I would not tell them that, you know, they’re possibly going to lose staff.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        No. It’s that some of our newer staff have gotten overwhelmed with all the work the job requires. Instead of doing anything to help anyone, we have to sit in the office. I shouldered a lot of extra work lately but since my capacity is not large, overdoing it has reduced my capacity further

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Is there a reason you think you’re likely to be sick on Sunday? (Migraines?) Otherwise, that seems like a rather remote possibility.

    3. Exhausted*

      Why aren’t you allowed to wear headphones? Could you wear ear plugs instead? When I had to work in an office, I bought special pink tinted glasses for the lights and used earplugs that allowed some sound in, so people could get my attention, but greatly dampened other sounds.

      1. Ama*

        If you can get a small fan for your desk that would create some white noise that might also help.

        I have issues with most sound-canceling headphones (I have small ear canals and a lot of sinus issues — most headphones/earbuds that truly block sound put too much pressure on my sinuses after about an hour). But when I was working in a noisy office, I had a little desk fan that my mom got for me, it actually plugged in via USB, but it made a very pleasant white noise hum that helped me focus.

        But I am very sympathetic — I found my office environment extremely overwhelming any time I needed to do focused work (the pandemic shutdown really highlighted for me just how much of my work stress was caused by the office environment not the work itself). I’ve been lucky to be able to transition to full time remote thanks to an out of state move and a role that’s pretty crucial to my employer.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        They’ll make up some mess about collaboration and helping each other .Maybe I’ll buy some discreet earplugs so at least the noise won’t be so bad. I really liked the headphones so that I wouldn’t be so bored and it’d be easier to do tasks.

        I’ve been accommodating myself despite totally unhelpful supervisors but come on people. work with me

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Loops has some in reflective metallic that my eyes register as jewelry.

          (We got some for a concert and I learned exactly how effective they are when I took one out to readjust my mask.)

    4. pink wine*

      Why are you worried about getting sick on Sunday? Do you mean hungover (too bright and too peopley kind of sounds like what a person with a hangover would want to avoid)? If that’s the case just don’t drink on Saturday night. If you’re actually sick on Sunday, use a sick day? I don’t really understand your question.

    5. Karate Saw*

      This sounds like y’all have been called in to do a one-time assessement or task? Is it meant to be a corrective action? I can’t quite tell from your last paragraph if you’re saying that they called you in because they feel like time is not being managed well outside of the office.

      I do thinkthat’s a really interesting point about “why is time the only resource people want to manage.” I’m grateful that I get to manage my own workflow usually, so I can mix low-strees, low-particpation meetings in with more high-focus, meticulous work.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        They say we all have to go in for months because everyone has become overwhelmed. But that won’t help the core issue. I am low capacity and prone to illnesses so it’s easy to overwhelm me. The other new girls are swamped by the endless work and boundless roles. My work nemesis might thrive but that sort of personality is rare and we need a lot of people to carry the load.

        1. ABC*

          They say we all have to go in for months because everyone has become overwhelmed.

          Can you clarify what this means? Do you mean that the remote people have to go into the office because the in-office people doing most of the work?

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah. I’ve been in a number of situations where people were trying to dictate to in-office staff from remote workplaces and it was not good for morale (or retention, per Justin’s post) at all. It was absentee landlordism all over again, and there’s a large number of people getting better off as the in-person workforce is screwed over and ends up picking up the slack. It’s its own inequality in general and only going to get worse if people don’t acknowledge that and act in a more responsible manner themselves.

            Now I’m in a WFH job it does suit me more mentally and physically. But I’m not going to be that person who complains about being asked to be in-person from time to time — because it’s an immense privilege, not a right, to be WFH in the first place and if people who were remote built up a backlog of work or foisted it onto those people working in person, then the collective WFH situation isn’t actually working that well to get the actual job done.

    6. NaoNao*

      Can you work from a coworking space or a part of the office or building that’s not so populated? Unless you’re a 24/7 365 place in a white-collar typical office job Sundays are usually very, very quiet and you’ll likely be the only one there!

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I could hide downstairs on Fridays and then on Monday say ” it’s just magic that everything is done”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Do you have any sort of project management system that shows dependencies and relative priorities?

          Not just a ticketing system– the dependencies & priorities are key. If a low priority item is blocking a high priority item, this would make it visible.

          If they don’t have it, start asking about having them get one. If it comes from you and your coworkers, you might be able to pick a user friendly system.

        2. Annabelle*

          I know I’m coming off as a smart ass and I really don’t want to but: I do not understand any of what you’ve written. And it seems like that’s the consensus here. What the heck are you talking about.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      I’m confused about what you would prefer here…. If you can go in on Sunday and that’s easier, why not just do that. Why would you suddenly get sick on Sunday assuming you’re ok now?

      Also what do you mean in your second paragraph – you’d like to tell the managers what? It sounds like you are WFH except for this one task so what does the “everyone is lazy perspective” have to do with this?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Sunday is an additional day. I’m not paid for the weekend at all, and now will have to do extra work on Sunday. I am often sick or tired ( because Im run down obviously) My manager assumed we weren’t working instead of correctly guessing that all of our work is blocking us from other work.

    8. Warrior Princess Xena*

      From your description, it sounds like management want people to come in not only to get the task done, but specifically to get knowledge transfers happening between the experienced staff and the new staff because it’s not happening sufficiently in the virtual space.

      Is there any amount of people you’d be able to deal with? If so, can you talk to management and say “I can do Y hours of task or I can do X hours of working with people on this task (with X being a much smaller portion), and much less task will be done.” But ultimately if what management wants is knowledge transfer as well as task, then I’m not sure how much leverage you will have to get out of it in the long run.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That’s going to be a cluster. I’m going to just secretly do the tasks ahead of time, while my work nemesis says the way you do these tasks is to be awesome like me.

    9. Garlic Microwaver*

      Are you new to the working world? Post comes across as never having worked in an office setting before. Not following the exact concern or complaint here… Not to sound rude.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Notice the other people giving actionable advice. I’ve worked at this company for 4 years but now that they made things more difficult without addressing the actual reasons things are bad, I’m trying for a work around. Things that are easy for some are hard for others.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Huh? I decided to wear earplugs and hide out in the office to do the work early. I felt helped. I was out until 9 working last night so my true personality might show. I ignored the ones that were rude, mostly.

            1. GythaOgden*

              I haven’t seen anyone being rude here — just giving it to you straight that sometimes other people’s needs trump yours, and necessary work is obviously not getting done without people being together as a collective.

              It may not be what you want to hear — lots of advice isn’t — but nonetheless being direct and honest is not rude.

        1. Garlic Microwaver*

          Hang on, but with all due respect, I am having a hard time comprehending your post. What is the issue, and why will you be sick on Sunday? Are you saying you are entitled to NOT have to go into the office because you are feeling “run down” or do you have a legit accommodation that needs to be met. Please help us help you. Not trying to be rude, again. It was a genuine question when I asked if you were new to the working world- perhaps get across your post in a different way or clarify some points? Others seem to be confused.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            eh I give up . Some people are making a task that is hard harder. I don’t like it. I got some ideas to help and some people who will wonder why they can’t keep any employees

            1. ABC*

              I don’t think there’s an actual connection between people asking for clarification here and employee retention at those people’s real-life jobs, but whatever makes you feel better, I suppose.

    10. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Sorry, but it’s difficult to understand your posts.

      Why do you think you might be sick on Sundays?
      Are you having to work on Sunday because of a work emergency, or because the standard work you have to do is not being completed during the week?
      Are the newer coworkers coming in too then for training, when you are expected to support them?
      re your remarks on time management and managers: Are managers concerned about your work or your availability to coworkers and hence trying to monitor you more closely in the office?

      Sounds like your management found new coworkers are not being trained properly remotely – it can be challenging in some jobs – so is that why they want you to come in and collaborate more in person? People starting their first professional job can struggle in a remote environment.
      Having to work in the office is generally not outrageous or unusual in the working world, unless you were specifically hired as 100% remote.
      When you have to come in, it’s not a good idea to hide away – in fact you probably need to be seen to be present, to avoid your manager chasing you up and dinging you in your next review.

      It’s better to ask your manager if you would like different working conditions, or if you need disability accommodations, or if you have too much work / feel overwhlemed, rather than tell them what you think your coworkers want.
      Also it’s often not safe to warn managers that you or others may leave, unless you have a new job already lined up.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Sorry. I am a poor post writer due to the same burn out that plagues me at work. I might be sick because it’s flu season, covid season and etc. I was going to do extra work on Sunday so I didn’t have to work with people in the office which mentally fatigues me.

        To be honest, when I checked the missing items , mine were in. I think she had to punish everyone. But the reason they don’t have their items in is because they are doing 12 hour days transporting and going to meetings, so me being like ” I think you could be more concise in this sentence ” is useless.

        I do feel overwhelmed due to a mixture of conditions that are sometimes well controlled and sometimes not. But the only thing my boss can really do is look the other way if I go to the doctor

    11. Unkempt Flatware*

      This seems silly AF. It sounds like those who think cramming work at night is productive. No one is going to be productive on Sunday. Who came up with this? Awful. Wear headphones and a baseball hat. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. ABC*

        It sounds like the OP is actually the one who wanted to go in on Sunday in order to avoid coworkers, not that someone was telling her she had to go in on Sunday?

        I think. It’s hard to make sense of any of this.

    12. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “I was going to do extra work on Sunday so I didn’t have to work with people in the office”

      So this is your choice to work then, to avoid meeting coworkers?
      Doesn’t sound like your manager would want this, if I understood from your posts that the reason they want you in the office is for more collaboration and support for your newer coworkers.
      Can you work Mon-Fri, so you keep the whole weekend to relax?

    13. Coyote River*

      It is difficult to tell from your post whether your employer’s expectations are unreasonable. Asking you to come into the office, collaborate with others, and perform cognitively demanding tasks are all reasonable things as an employee.

  17. Ripley*

    Does anyone have any advice/experience on getting reclassified. I work in a highly unionized environment (healthcare). Let’s say I’m a Llama Greeter. For 2 years I was the only Llama Greeter in my workplace. Now, they have hired 4 more, so there are 5 of us total, and it has brought up for me that I do a lot more/different things in my job than the other Llama Greeters. My job seems more a combination of Llama Greeter, Llama Assistant, and Llama Secretary. The Assistants and Secretaries get $5 an hour more than me, so it’s significant.

    I am thinking about asking if something can be done. I know that my job used to be done by a Llama Secretary, and I’m not sure why that changed – I think they were having trouble hiring.

    1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Do you have access to the job descriptions for those positions? If you do, that’s a good place to start. If you are doing tasks that are on the higher-level positions, then you can speak to your supervisor and request a promotion so that your job title fits your tasks.

    2. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      Check your union contract for what it says about performing out-of-class work and talk to your union.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Depending on your union contract, this might not turn out the way you want.

        I was in a similar boat three years ago – boss left, I took over some of those duties (and got a temporary bump), but under new boss stopped getting the bump while still performing the duties.

        I asked for a reclass, but later found out that if the title was bumped up, I would have to re-bid on my own job.

        Due to individual circumstances, my scenario ended up working out (I took over as boss eight months after leaving the unit making ~60% more than what I was making when I left).

        1. Ripley*

          I have considered this, but I think I would be successful in getting the reclassified job – we don’t get a lot of applicants and I have seniority.

    3. Red flags everywhere*

      If you have access to the right documents, you might want to try your hand at writing your own. When I’ve wanted a reclass, especially if no one else is doing exactly what I’m doing, I’ve generally done the footwork myself. I write up a new job description (we have all the job titles and examples of the types of tasks appropriate for each title/level), then write a justification for the upgrade/raise. In my experience, the easier you make it for your boss (and their boss) to say “yes, ” the more likely that will be the answer.

      The one thing to really pay attention to is the actual title you’re requesting and the way the job duties are described. A lower level duty might say “assisted with” and the next level might say “coordinated” and the basic duty might be pretty much the same. The difference would be in the depth of understanding or autonomy, or there might be no practical difference at all. Good luck!

    4. Annie*

      Adding “Llama” to these job names adds nothing – you could have just said “greeter,” “secretary,” etc. and nothing would be lost.

  18. Banana Pyjamas*

    I recently was let go for a variety of reasons. As I mentioned in a previous post some were questionable. In spite of this, I don’t want to write everything off without due consideration.

    In the termination meeting with HR, Grand boss stated their main tipping point was me “deciding outside [my] chain of command to use [my] continuing Ed to get a designation above and beyond what is required for the job”.

    Due to recent changes,I am responsible for my own education. I pay for, schedule, and track it. In this situation should an employee still expect the company to have the same level of control as when the company is responsible for continuing education?

    I have only worked in places where the company coordinated and payed. I had heard of places where it’s on the employee, but those people always said every aspect is 100% on them. It follows that if it’s on me, it’s also my choice to get an extra certification.

    Did I miss a business/professional norm somewhere, or can I stop worrying about this?

    Also for context I work in government.

    1. Generic Name*

      Frankly, that sounds like a BS reason to fire someone. They don’t control your life. You can get whatever kind of degree you want with your own money on your own time.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        That was my gut reaction. It would be on company time, I just thought the question would be wether it counted as a work day or a vacation day.

        1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

          Based on this comment, it sounds like the reason is that you didn’t request time off to attend the training.

        2. MsSolo (UK)*

          If it’s on company time, they do get a say in whether you spend your work time on that, or on doing work. I have to agree training with my manager, and I’m only allowed to spend work time on training that’s considered relevant to my role, even if it’s training I’m organising myself, or it’s misuse of taxpayer money (that is, my salary is being misused because it’s not paying for work output in those hours).

          Something that’s relevant to a higher role within my team would generally be allowed, but if there’s a rule around paying people with that qualification more, that might have been an issue too. Here, even if I achieved a qualification that entitled me to higher pay, I’d have to apply for an opening that required it; I couldn’t just ask them to change the pay of my existing role because the role I’m doing doesn’t require it, and that is the role that’s been determined needful to the taxpayer. But if your organisation had a broader rule in place, they may have perceived your qualification as an attempt to gain a higher salary, that they hadn’t approved.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            I hadn’t requested time off because nothing was scheduled yet, and I still needed to verify if that was a step I needed to take, which I planned to do before signing up for anything. If I needed to use vacation I would have only done one course this year instead of two.

            There is no requirement for them to pay me more, and I am already in the highest pay band, so I wouldn’t expect that.

          2. Banana Pyjamas*

            Also it’s worth mentioning that in multiple meetings upper management mentioned and encouraged additional certifications.

        3. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, when you’re studying for stuff beyond your job designation, you either have to have a boss who has oversight over specific professional development or take your own time to do it. I had so much time on reception until November that I could have done my entire PhD sat there, but because it wasn’t to do with my actual job, it wouldn’t have flown.

          It is a ‘to them that hath shall be given’ — I tried several times to take professional computer courses and just couldn’t keep up because of the epic commute I had daily. Now I’m WFH at a job and have freed up that time and energy I could probably manage it but don’t have the burning need to do it (yet) because I got a better job without it.

          But yeah, this sounds like the study itself isn’t why you got sacked. The actual catalyst was using your employer’s time to do it, which is pretty much a no-no unless you’re just literally a butt in a chair and probably not even then.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            Just to clarify, I did not complete any CE on company time. Another department head encouraged everyone in our sister departments to seek additional designation. I told boss I was planning to do so and would run everything through them first.

      2. anon24*

        I agree. Unless there is an industry specific norm I’m missing, my employer never had a say in my con-ed besides their duty to verify that I had anything needed to do my job. I needed so many hours and certain types of con ed to keep my job and certifications, and my employer would offer free classes that I could take to cover some of those requirements, but other than that, scheduling, paying for, and tracking my con ed was my own responsibility as a working adult who held a professional certification. Now as an adult who doesn’t do paid work in that field but who volunteers and keeps my certifications active, even the ones I technically don’t need, it’s all on me. If I want to go get a certification or take a con ed class that I don’t need, it doesn’t matter, as long as I am qualified for the class and the organizers allow me to sign up, it’s no one’s business.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          That’s how I thought it worked when the employee was responsible for things. Thanks for verifying.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        This is total BS. What you do on your own time with your own money is your own business.
        YOUR OWN!!
        Sheesh.

    2. Frickityfrack*

      Yeaaah, if they’re not paying for it, I’m pretty sure they don’t get to have a say over what professional certifications you get. And why would they be bothered that you got one that’s MORE than you’re required to have? Most employers would be thrilled if an employee was improving their skillsets without it costing the agency/company anything. That really sounds like they were looking for reasons to get rid of you, or they’re incredibly micromanage-y and can’t stand that you didn’t clear it with them.

    3. Ama*

      The only reason I could think of is if it is a government policy that they have to raise your pay or change your title because you have that certification — it would still be petty of them to fire you for that reason but it would make it more understandable why they were annoyed.

      But if that’s not the case it sounds like you worked for people who didn’t like that you had professional goals that went beyond your current job.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        There is a law for different pay levels, but I was already at the highest pay level. Our office has a relatively flat pay scale, so I wasn’t expecting anything. It was just for me. A simple conversation and grand boss could have found out I didn’t intend to go anywhere soon, but intended to stay through the end of their term.

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

      So if I understand you, the company does not really have anything to do with the continuing ed that you have to take. But yet they are mad that you took CE without their permission? I’m assuming that you might have some type of licensure where CE is required. If so that means that you are ultimately responsible for your licensure and so you have the right to take whatever CE you want. Even if you don’t have a license and the CE was just something you wanted to do, your company has no say in it. The only thing I can think of that could possibly be a problem is if you did CE during work hours and were not allowed to do that. But it’s a stupid reason to be fired and I hope you find a better place soon.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        I hadn’t even taken CE yet. I let management know I was planning to get cert x, and that I would run everything through them first (schedule wise, and to coordinate time/pay classification).

        1. Anecdata*

          This sounds like maybe the heart of where there was a miscommunication — when you said you would coordinate time/pay, that sounds like you were expecting them to let you do it on work time, which does make it your employer’s prerogative to decide what’s relevant

          Any reasonable boss in that situation wouldn’t have jumped straight to firing you though! A normal reaction would be something like “XYZ is the approval process and we need ABC from you before determining if this qualifies” or “I can’t approve work time for this, because it’s not relevant enough for your current role, can you look for something more like X”

          Is it possible this was one in a series of events where you might not have correctly understood approvals, or maybe didn’t pick up on messages like this above from your manager?

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            This is the first time I was responsible for making my own arrangements. I think next time I’ll just go in with only open ended questions about the process. Maybe the most I would ask is wether I could use CE for classes from org x. 3-5 days out of town is normal for con Ed in our field, so two four day classes is pretty much par for the course.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Actually you probably need to keep being specific. If you have learned anything from this, it’s that you need concrete, direct permission rather than forgiveness to do anything that diverges from your actual role on actual company time.

              Otherwise you’re again on the road towards another unceremonious dismissal.

              1. Banana Pyjamas*

                I answered with detail to your other comment. I think you may be right here though. I think I should have asked how the changes this year would affect the process. Thanks for your thoughtful input.

    5. NaoNao*

      Wow, that sounds…wonky to me and like a BS reason.

      However…this edges up against the “gumption!” story where the entry-level employee added their name to the VP conference behind the boss’ back and paid for their own ticket and was stunned to be let go over that. If you asked Boss “what do you think about me becoming a notary public” and the boss was like “mm that feels very out of step with the role and will cause you to be unsatisfied with your salary band and we can’t promote you or give you a raise, don’t do it” and then you went and paid for your own notary public cert…well, yeah, they’re going to be ticked, and rightly so.

      I think it depends on the certification and designation and the job title. If, for example, you are a paralegal and went and got a law degree and started correcting lawyers on the job that could feel weird. If you got a designation that runs counter to the job–for example, getting some sort of, I dunno, oil rigging cert and you work for the EPA or something maybe that could be considered firable?

      But it sounds like they were looking for reasons, frankly.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        I can see how, without additional context, the twoSituations would seem similar. However, let me assure you they are quite different. We were explicitly encouraged to pursue designations from the specified organization because the highest level of certification in our state means we only have two classes left to earn a designation. This encouragement did come from our higher level of local government than the level I am at, and it seems my boss disagreed.

        Also, I’d like to sidenote that I’m not even close to entry-level. I have more experience than everyone in that office, including the grand boss. That experience includes higher level management (one step below the grand boss) and data compliance. And I’m the only person in the office who’s entire career has been in the field.

    6. Green Goose*

      This sounds so strange to me. Were you scheduling classes during working hours? Or needing to take me that your allotted amount of VAC time for school related stuff? Outside of that, why would they care what you do in your free time?

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        CE is always during business hours. It’s usually 3-5 days out of town. The classes would have be four days.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, this is where the problem starts. If you’re taking training that takes you out of work but that isn’t actually directly relevant to your job, it should have been on your own time. You might have got things mixed up — CE probably does occur on company time, but the company therefore also has a say in what you do and whether they will cover it. If you’re arranging things separately for yourself independent of your role (and it sounds like it would be), then it will usually be the case that you had to take it on your own PTO.

          Like, I’m getting set up in a compliance based job and attending lots of different training sessions. My boss even allows me to skip meetings on the basis that it’s more important RN to be in those sessions rather than at the higher level compliance huddles.

          However, were I to say that I was going to skip the meeting to finish off the Udemy class I was doing outside of work in Excel, then she’d be right to have words with me about the work she’s paying me for and where she expects me to be. I could negotiate perhaps if it were the case that an external exam fell on a Thursday at 3 and I needed to take off to do it, but in that case I’d probably be expected to take a day or a half day of AL depending where it was.

          What happened was you decided to ask forgiveness rather than permission but your employer disagreed. You’re framing it as if they were trying to control what you studied outside work, but that’s not the whole story. You’re basically saying you were using their time to further your own independent goals and not asking permission to do so or accepting a ‘no’ when you did.

          That’s what you’ve found out the hard way here and unfortunately, the way you’re spinning it has got you validation, which naturally you’re taking on board more easily than the reasonable response to the lede you buried. I think you need to learn from this that you took a big risk and blew it and now you’re trying to justify it in your head in order to go and do it again somewhere else.

          Good luck with that, but I think you’re playing with fire if you assume it’s ok to keep on doing this on company time.

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      That sounds a really strange tipping point, even if there were several other reasons to fire you. Maybe a misunderstanding?

      Could they have thought:
      you were going to use paid work time to study /
      or that you had used a work credit card to pay /
      or that you had gained access to this training via your job without permission, e.g. like that OP with “gumption” who used a company access portal to sign up for a conference with industry bigwigs?

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        I think my answers to Nao Nao and Green Goose answer your points.

        TLDR is we were specifically encouraged to use continuing Ed for designations, but by the department head, not our division head who is my grand boss. Con Ed is always during business hours. The classes are four days each.

    8. Banana Pyjamas*

      Thanks everyone. Some of you have given good perspective for my blind spots. It’s nice to know I wasn’t very far out of line if at all.

    9. Velociraptor Attack*

      I think the question is why that was the tipping point.

      Are their other issues they highlighted along the same lines of going around chain of command? You mention in a comment in this thread that you have more experience than everyone, including your grand boss. Did that attitude come through in other ways where they felt it seemed like you could do what you wanted because you knew the most?

      The CE issue definitely seems like a weird thing to fire someone for but if they feel you have a habit of going around your manager, it makes more sense. You didn’t explain what the other issues are seem really focused on this one, so I’d really give that some thought.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        No not at all. That’s just after the fact bitterness. It was actually lovely to have less responsibility. My experience only came up twice in a way that was meaningful, once during restructuring and once when grand boss came to me with concerns about my immediate supervisor. I was warned early on the grand boss was easily threatened and made a habit of harassing people that made them feel threatened, so if they ever mentioned my experience I would glaze over that portion of conversation and direct back to action items.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I think you buried a very crucial piece of info in the reply comments – that these were multiple day courses you did on work time. If you were doing multi day courses unrelated to your job / unapproved by your manager during work hours, it clearly should have been PTO.

      It doesn’t matter that the course was unapproved, but that the time off was unapproved *because* the training wasn’t for your job. It’s no different than if you had taken a bunch of days off for kayaking lessons or to go to acting school.

      You were supposed to either be working, or using your PTO.

      Honestly, if you are confused about that, it kind of makes me wonder about the other reasons and how “questionable” they may actually be.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Copy and paste of my response to GythaOgden

        Just to clarify, I did not complete any CE on company time. Another department head encouraged everyone in our sister departments to seek additional designation. I told boss I was planning to do so and would run everything through them first.

        Also a reminder to take posters at their word.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I did take you at your word as far as they appeared at the time I commented — which certainly made it appear that you had actually attended the trainings on work time. I’m not sure how interpreting your words literally is anything other than “taking you at your word.”

  19. DixieChick*

    Looking for advice here – I volunteer as a Crisis Counselor, you don’t have scheduled shifts or anything (although you can schedule shifts if you want to) but I usually just hop on in my free time. This season (Winter) is particularly slow in my job field, so I’m wondering if it would be a bad idea to volunteer when I have down time at work?
    For reference, I just log onto the portal on a desktop, so it would be on my work computer.
    My first thought that this is not a good idea, but I’m open to thoughts on this.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I wouldn’t do that since I feel that the person might tell you confidential stuff and having it on your work computer where IT could assess it might not be great. Also your boss would yell at you for goofing off or something.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        … and perhaps the volunteer org’s policy on privacy requirements (on the device and the environment you’re in) for the “call taker”.

        What does your company think you should be doing when it’s slow? What do other people do? Are there really no background projects, learning opportunities, continual improvement that you could do during that time?

    2. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      I wouldn’t, because you may be on a call that needs your full attention at the same time that some important work comes up, or someone needs you for your paid job. I did that type of volunteer work and it’s not something that you can multi-task.

    3. Kez*

      I think you can answer this pretty clearly by just running through what would happen in the following scenario:

      You’re on a crisis call that’s pretty intense with a person who’s struggling a lot, when your boss reaches out and says they need you to do something that takes concentration in a short time-frame.

      If you would need to cut service short or might provide worse service because you’re distracted by work, it is unethical to enter into that situation. The IT concerns brought up above are also a major red flag. This is one where maybe you could write some policy ideas or do a bit of volunteer admin work, but you should absolutely not do any direct client work on company time.

      1. Cordelia*

        Yes, I agree with everything that Kez says – and also, even if you don’t get interrupted while you are on the intense and lengthy crisis call with someone very distressed, what happens afterwards? These calls can be very emotionally draining for the volunteer – will you be able to go straight back to work? What if you need a break, or advice or support from someone else on the crisis line? it’s really difficult to shift headspace quickly from a crisis call to a regular work task. If there’s anything admin-y you can do for the crisis line, you could do that, but I don’t think taking calls is a good idea.

  20. Lady Ann*

    I have two weeks left at my job that has sucked for a lot of reasons, but specifically this week my boss claims she “didn’t see” how badly I was struggling even though I 1) told her using my words 2) literally cried in her office and 3) was quite obviously ill for months (a highly visible rash, coughing). Anyone have any words of encouragement to get me through the last two weeks?

    1. Sudsy Malone*

      Are there little treats you can schedule into the next two weeks? Nothing wild, just fun moments. Like a notice period advent calendar!

      Or, the reverse—can you map out the last times you’ll have to do any particularly annoying responsibilities? e.g. “next Tuesday is the last time I have to file this kind of report” or “next week is the last time I have to attend that exhausting meeting.” So you can celebrate the little victories along the way before the big one?

      Either way: sorry for everything you’ve had to deal with and congrats on getting out!

    2. Ama*

      Honestly there are lots of bosses who just see what they want to see with a struggling employee until the person completely implodes or quits. Yours is particularly obtuse.

      Just remember that this job and her are almost out of your life. Also any time for the next two weeks that you do a particular task for the last time, remind yourself “this is the last time I ever have to do this.”

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m not sure if you’re anything like me but just in case you are: the next year for me would be the hardest to fight letting myself get angry or resentful and sit in my negative thoughts about this experience. I’ve had horrendous bosses who even seemed to sabotage me. I give them far more space in my head still to this day.

      So my advice is to spend the next two weeks really letting yourself feel the feels so that when you walk away, you really walk away. How awful to be overlooked like that and then almost gaslit.

    4. ferrina*

      Buy one of those “twelve days of….” calendars that stores sell this time of year, and get yourself a nice treat for each of those days. This is the final countdown- you’ve got this!

    5. Past Lurker*

      Commiseration. My bosses have what I’ve decided to call “selective memory loss.” They only remember what they feel like and never remember anything they don’t want to. If you have written proof (email, etc.) they still don’t remember it and insinuate you forged it somehow.

      Haven’t found another job yet – hopefully next year I’ll escape!

    6. E*

      Do a day countdown and remember that any problems/drama will not affect you anymore in 2 weeks. The worst that can happen is they tell you to leave early. As a side note, bad bosses never see things until it’s too late. One boss was absolutely shocked that I left after repeatedly telling them that I could not take on any more projects – I was already doing 3 people’s work after some layoffs – and they had given me more work while cutting my pay (everyone got a 3% cut supposedly due to the pandemic but actually because the company was losing money from bidding too low)

    7. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Building on E’s message above: eyes on that light at the end of the tunnel. By X date you will be done, so keep giving yourself reminders of that, as needed: “By Christmas, I won’t be here!” “Project Stupid has a deadline of x, and I won’t be here by then, yay!” “On {day after last at work} I won’t have to speak to Ms. Bonehead ever again, hurray!” etc.

  21. flora_poste*

    Hi! This is part seeking advice, and part ranting :) I am in a team of three, who all work on parallel parts of the same wider project. One of my teammates has an absolute COMPUNCTION to be right and to share his thoughts and advice. Most of the time, this is fine. But sometimes he will say something about my part of the work and I will think – hang on, that’s not right. But he has a very serious voice and often is right, so it takes me a while to catch up and realise. This is extremely low-stakes – we’re friends, and I like him and value his advice (he’s a grade senior to me, albeit in practice it’s the same role, and has been in this role for longer) – but it would be good to hear coping strategies which aren’t complaining about it to my partners hours later! Our third colleague is currently acting up as our manager, so I don’t feel as comfortable laughing about it with him as I might have had he not been the manager.

    (I only really started noticing this the other day when he said something about a non-work subject that I know a lot about, and he knows nothing about. Then I started to think if he can sound this authoritative while speaking absolute nonsense on this subject… could this be the case for other subjects as well!? And it turns out yes, yes it can. This also happened as I start to become more confident in my role, so I can identify the nonsense better there…).

    1. Goddess47*

      When something start to hit your ‘not right’ meter, you can slow him down by asking “that is interesting, where did you hear/learn that?” Asking for references, so to speak, will give you the minute to come up with your own information.

      At the very least, you can then say “But I’ve read/learned that X says Y” or something similar. If you don’t want to outright challenge him, go looking for his resources and then you can have the “but it says Z here…”

      Good luck!

    2. ferrina*

      Mentally reposition his statements as opinion, not fact.
      I have a relative like this- my little sister described her as “She doesn’t have opinions. She has FACTS”

      Since this is low-stakes, it sounds like you don’t need to correct him. If you want, you can say “That’s interesting. I’ve always found that X is true, not Y. Funny how different people have different experiences.” If it is something that is higher stakes, feel free to question where he got that info, and definitely verify yourself.

    3. There You Are*

      Since he often is right, just change your first thought into a question: “Hang on; is that right? *Does* Tab A go into Slot B? Because I thought it was the other way around.”

  22. Jojo*

    I’m recently unemployed and applying for jobs. Several jobs use an online portal for applicants, with a prompt to upload your resume but nothing for a cover letter. Should I be assuming these companies don’t want a cover letter? Should I be including it as page 1 of my resume?

    1. Frickityfrack*

      If they don’t specifically ask, they don’t require it (and probably don’t want one). The only time I’d add it to a resume is if you feel like you have a really strong letter and need to give your application an extra boost, like if you’re changing industries or something. Otherwise, skip it. We received a few unsolicited ones in our last couple of rounds of hiring, and tbh, all but one either didn’t sway our decision, or DID sway it, but in a negative way.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Ugh this sucks because I feel like I’ve been dinged or at least overlooked because I didn’t submit a cover letter even when one wasn’t asked for or there didn’t seem to be space for it. I now submit a custom cover letter no matter what and I have been called specifically because the HR lady liked my cover letter. In the case you just described, I now combine it with my resume and make it the first page just as you said.

    3. SereneScientist*

      I think it varies quite a bit by industry but in my last job hunt (circa 2022 in professional services firms), over half the jobs I applied to didn’t ask for a cover letter in the application portal. I think if you’re really unsure, you can always ask the hiring manager at the start of the interview process if you get there.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      If they don’t ask for one, I don’t include one. Even sometimes if it’s optional, I may not include one. How likely will they be to look at it if they don’t request it?
      Adding it as a first page of a resume doesn’t seem like a good fit, if you want to include one – I’d see if you could upload a second document instead. Some of these online applications have text boxes for the cover letter.

    5. RagingADHD*

      When I use those portals, they normally scan the uploaded file to prepopulate your work history and other information. Adding a letter is just going to screw everything up.

    6. Hawk*

      Since some are still expecting it but it’s not written into the portal (which is sucky and they’re probably contracting out for the portal and have few choices for what words are used), I usually have included it as the first page of my resume. If they ask for supplementary documentation, that’s the other location to put it.

    7. amoeba*

      What are the norms in your field? For us, a cover letter is pretty standard, so I always include one as part of my CV document in case there’s no space for it. I’ve actually been contacted after I left it off for one job where there was no field for it – telling me my profile looked interesting but could I please send them a cover letter!
      In the few cases where it’s actually not required, it’s normally written in the job posting (recently came across “we do not require a cover letter, but please add a few lines about your interest in the job to your CV”).

    8. A Minion*

      I use it as page one of my resume when I’m applying for something which is a stretch or pivot and I need the explanation of a cover letter to help make my case. I have no idea if it makes a difference

  23. mr egg*

    This is so dumb but I wfh and one of my cats is constantly begging me to play with her during the work day. I wouldn’t mind swinging a string toy under my desk, but she’s very insistent on this complicated game where I have to throw balls up and down the staircase. Any thoughts on how I can keep her occupied? I thought having two cats would solve this problem but her brother is more interested in fighting me for my breakfast than playing with her…

    1. mr egg*

      Also, realizing this may not be work related enough so feel free to delete if so! I just need a way to deal with the loud meows in the background of my calls.

    2. Cyndi*

      Half serious suggestion: buy her a Pop A Pitch, which is a cheap low-speed pitching machine designed for small children.

      1. Cyndi*

        NB: you would have to teach her brother to reload balls into it for her, but at least then they would both be out of your hair!

    3. Legally Brunette*

      Automation! When our 3-year old cat was a kitten, we got him a battery-operated butterfly toy that kind of rotated so it fluttered, and a randomized laser pointer that spins around the room they can chase. It helped him work off the extra energy when we had to work (and he’s calmed down significantly at this age). Good luck!

    4. Lady Ann*

      Would she watch some Cat TV? I have a cheap tablet I sometimes use to put videos on for my cats. There’s hours and hours of cat entertainment on YouTube. Another idea, if she is food motivated, some treats in a food puzzle might keep her occupied for a bit. My late cat loved food puzzles and I have a few I would rotate through.

    5. Ama*

      Do you have a ball track toy? (It’s a plastic track that a ball fits inside for cats to poke at — the idea is as they bat it it keeps going around the track in a loop so it keeps them entertained without a human having to throw the ball.) It sounds like that might be up her alley.

    6. Lily Rowan*

      It will be annoying for a while, but you can re-train her out of yelling until you play that one game with her, if you 100% stop doing it.

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

      Have you tried Cat TV like one of those you tube videos. I know several people who do this for their cats and it does help. Or use those cat fishing games where they can chase the mice on the tablet screen. This would mean you need to use a tablet /ipad (preferably with a tempered glass screen protector). Or any cat toys that she would use that doesn’t require human interaction.

      My only other suggestion is to really play hard with her in the morning before you start work. Like make her run and jump until she is breathing heavily. Basically, tire her out so she doesn’t bother you.

    8. House On The Rock*

      Bird feeders outside windows with lots of nice places to sit and watch as birds come and go? One of my cats who requires a lot of play and attention can be distracted by outdoor critters.

    9. Clare*

      Try adding a real feather to the string. My cats are hit and miss with regular toys, but I brought home some feathers I picked up at a park and they nearly broke the door down while I was sanitising them. String is meh. String + stinky bird feather is pure joy. Their favourite toy is a little bundle of feathers on a string on a stick.

  24. Phrog*

    Anyone have any good experience with your company being bought by another? I’ve been through it before, on the bad side. But I’m curious to know if others have had good experiences. Thanks!

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been part of the company that did the buying, part of a company that was bought, and part of a company that “merged” (it was really an acquisition) with another.

      – In the first one, it was fine – not much changed for us.

      – In the second case, it was a best-case scenario for the company, which had been owned by private equity and it was either sell or be liquidated, but the new owners did not seem to understand what made us good and ended up gutting the company in an attempt to rebuild it according to their vision (and I got laid off along with a few hundred other people).

      – My current job is the third one. It’s been messy. We went from family owned to public. The company culture has shifted. But it was ultimately not a bad thing, just different. It helped that my department didn’t really exist in the other company, and they needed us. I’m not gonna claim everything is wonderful, but it could have been a lot worse.

    2. Ama*

      With the caveat that my husband is in tech and so this year has been not as good, my husband worked for a startup that was bought by a larger company a few years ago, and until this year things were really good — when they were all onboarded they gave him and his colleagues raises to bring them up to the same level as people with equivalent job titles/level of experience at the company, they have better benefits because they are larger, and he’s gotten some opportunities to learn other parts of the larger business. Also the money he got both from the raise and from the buyout causing his stock options to be paid out allowed us to get to a down payment for a house much faster than we thought we would.

      Now this year, like all tech companies, it’s been rough. There have been several rounds of layoffs and his workload has increased because it is just him and one other employee who do his exact job (before the first layoff they were training a fourth person, that person was laid off in the first round and their third colleague was laid off in a subsequent round). That said, the layoffs happened all across the company so it was more about tech just having a rough year and not the merger necessitating layoffs.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      Yes and no. In the 2000s I was working for a company that was acquired. Within a few weeks many of us were laid off (bad), however they kept some of us on, myself included for an additional six months plus a 30K bonus if we stayed that whole time (good)

      So basically we had six months to job search while still being paid AND with a good bonus at the end.. So despite the layoff worked out pretty well

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      Nope for 2 where my current company was the one bought, and nope for 1 where we bought one of our competitors. (It was either we buy them or run the risk of a much larger/more resources buying them.)

      Main problems-communication styles, and larger ones tend to be more siloed.

    5. Anthem for a Lost Cause*

      Yes! My division was acquired last spring and the new parent company, which is much larger than the old one, has better benefits and is slowly bringing me closer to market salary.

    6. I Have RBF*

      Yes, but I have found it to be the exception rather than the rule.

      One company I worked for was bought, and the merger turned out very good for the office, we didn’t get reorged, laid off, or otherwise screwed over.

      I’ve worked for several companies where if I was in the company that got bought, I was laid off, so I always get nervous when my job gets sold.

    7. amoeba*

      Not bought, but also part of a merger. I’m happy about it so far! The other company has much more and more interesting things in my scientific field than my legacy side, so that’s great and I’m excited about it. We also got a new site in a part of the country that I really like. Our industry is also not doing well at the moment, so that’s generally making it a bit harder (not really allowed to travel and meet new colleagues, etc), but not really related to the merger. Also, it helps that new projects are coming in from the other half because my area is actually doing particularly badly and a lot of our stuff is getting cancelled.

      For company culture etc, it’s not that different – both big companies, similar sectors, same European country, salaries were already similar, so were titles and structure… we get along well.

  25. Cyndi*

    Legal folks, do any of you have firm management software you really like? My boss is frustrated with Clio over some billing changes and making noise about switching away. We mainly use Clio for calendar events, contact info, time tracking and invoicing, if that matters; intake, file management and tasking are all handled outside it.

    1. kalli*

      LEAP may work for you; it’s a disaster for file management once files are like, over 500 docs and the calendar is missing an individual feature – everyone on a file gets notified of events – but time and recovery tracking is super easy and customisable, you can generate WIP at any time, and the card system for contacts lets you have both firm and person levels on the one card and you can move people between cards as they move firms.

      1. Cyndi*

        Thanks for the suggestion, I’m looking at it now!

        That said, and this doesn’t mean I’m writing off the recommendation at all–I understand from the business end why some services don’t give any price information up front on their websites! We don’t! But my God from the customer end it’s so obnoxious.

        In unrelated news, the answer to “How much does LEAP cost?” on their FAQ page is

        The LEAP pricing model is structured for an all-in-one solution that eliminates the need for extra system expenses and overhead costs. LEAP is the world-class legal practice productivity solution providing the latest innovations for practice management, document assembly and management, legal publishing, and legal accounting. LEAP provides all these features plus many more, in one system for one monthly price. We see a proven 30% return on investment for firms within their first year of using LEAP.

        1. kalli*

          Oh, yeah, I’m so used to their obtuseness as the dedicated ‘you sit on the live chat queue for me and just tell me what they said’ person that I forgot the way they talk isn’t normal. It’s not just hiding the price because they want to get you to talk to sales and get dazzled and pay for training courses and whatnot, but if you need help they’ll sometimes try to sell you a training course instead of answering the question, or it’s a simple fix (like manually syncing with the server) but only available to their support staff because when they remote in they can access extra context menus.

          An example: we wanted to know if there was a way we could have cards marked so people would know if we’d noted someone had a particular communication preference or other things that we’d want on the client card instead of each individual file of theirs (prefers email, is d/Deaf, needs everything explained in person, cc their support person, call in the afternoon, preferred translator etc.) and I waited in the live chat queue for an hour, explained the situation, gave an example, and specifically summarised with ‘is there a way we can see from the matter page or card list that there is a note on that card?’. They didn’t know so they kicked it up to level 2 support who were meant to email back. Turns out there is not a way for them to visually flag that there’s a note on the card, which they explained in three paragraphs of ‘we appreciate this is a useful feature that would be helpful! we do not have it but we have a dynamic and innovative system that lets you add notes like this to their card! you can add lots of things to the card! there’s even another notes section just for mailing preferences!’ and was capped off with ‘You can enter these kinds of notes in the Notes/Other section of the card!’. (That was unusual for email support; they might be slow but they’re usually very clear or give a code for remote assistance so that when you click it, support get the ticket alongside the authorisation.)

          We now make a comment on each file and pin it to the top of the main correspondence tab. The side bonus of that is that it is actually visible to all the solicitors as well, some of whom are rather prone to software malfunctions (always the software). Most people with enough computer literacy to be able to look up ‘how to copy and paste’ and successfully follow a tutorial wouldn’t need to talk to them for anything but subscription management unless something’s actually broken.

    2. WhatIsSleepEven*

      Not Filevine. I don’t think it has all the features you’re looking for anyway (invoicing). But the company way over-promised and didn’t have the support needed for a transition. And a lot of basic features were “vote for this and we might develop it!” Which might be fun if you have time for troubleshooting and developing someone else’s product?

  26. T anon*

    Is anyone here job searching for marketing roles and having a hard time getting interviews? I have about 8 years or experience and (I think) a great resume, but somehow all of my 10+ recent applications to relevant roles have ended up with rejections and not even a phone screen.

    Is the job market oversaturated with qualified folks right now? Would love to hear if anyone is having success.

    I’m specifically looking at brand marketing, advertising management, advertising media/paid media, and market research roles, as those align best with my experience to date.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Given the stream of layoffs cascading through my LinkedIn feed week over week — many highly experienced in the kinds of roles you mentioned — it looks like there are a lot of folks looking.

      1. T anon*

        Thank you, that’s helpful! I’m one of the only folks at my company that currently does this (hence wearing a lot of hats), so I don’t have as much visibility into other people’s current jobs in the same field. I hope 2024 is better for us all.

  27. Not my real name*

    Not really helpful, but I once had a cat who would drop balls down the stairs, chase them and bring them back up to the top.

    1. Always Tired*

      My current cat likes to flop down on the floor, grab a toy in his front paws, roll onto his back, then use his back paws to YEET the toy into the air across the room, so he can chase it. In the first few weeks I kept being very confused finding toys on the coffee table, on the kitchen shelf, and even on top of the toilet until I saw it in person.

      1. 1LFTW*

        That’s a wonderful visual.

        My cat taught me to fetch. I throw a toy, she runs over to where it lands, chases it until it stops moving, and sits down. Then I fetch the toy and throw it again. I’m definitely using my large primate brain to its fullest advantage.

  28. Frankly, Mr. Shankly*

    I, like so many others, are job searching right now, to absolutely no avail (unless you count the scam jobs that flood my inbox and text messages). Despite almost 20 years experience in finance, I know my resume is going in the bin as soon as I answer “no” to the question of whether I have a degree. I thought I’d gotten lucky with my current position, but the opposite is true. My boss is a terrible micromanager who shoots my anxiety through the roof, and plummets my self esteem into the depths. We have daily 1:1s where she reminds me that she’s too busy for them, but she just must do them because of my ineptness. Nothing is ever right, I’m often accused of mistakes that didn’t happen (and if I politely point out that I did not make an error, I’m accused of defensiveness) and when human error does occur (I’m not perfect, nor is anyone), she treats them like she feels it’s intentional somehow; like I’m bringing down our little nonprofit from within. I should mention that she’s an incredibly paranoid person, even thinking that our mail is purposely not delivered. I have no backup person, so being out of the office more than a day at a time is a massive issue. It’s always a bad time to take even one day off. I’m ashamed to say it, but I’m cracking under the pressure.
    My question is, how do I keep my mental health (and by extension physical) at least kind of stable during this time? My job occupies my mind what feels like 24/7 with worry and sadness, I cry almost every day when here, I can’t find joy in my life because the thought of this place looms over everything I do, and most days I wish I hadn’t woken up in the morning. I’m scared for myself, and my family doesn’t deserve this. As with lots of renters in high CoL areas, my savings is non existent so I cannot quit with nothing lined up.

    1. ferrina*

      First, therapy. You need support and a professional to remind you that your boss is not normal and what she is doing is not okay. I used one of the online services, and while it was a bit pricey, it was worth it to get myself through a tough time.

      Next, talk to your regular doctor. I’m worried that you are showing symptoms of depression (which honestly, who wouldn’t be depressed in your situation). Your doctor can talk to you about whether you want to use medication. I found that meds were able to give me the energy to function- it didn’t make everything magically better, but it gave me the energy and focus to make the improvements myself. It can take a few attempts to find the right meds and dose (my doc got it on the first try) and a couple weeks to feel the affects. But sometimes it’s the right support until you can get to a better situation.

      Finally, find a way to detach. There’s lots of tips on doing this, but the important thing is that you need to teach your brain to not think about work. I’m someone that loves to know the why, and there’s a lot of great info about that why extreme stress can cause rumination (technical term for constantly thinking about something). Try to limit how much you talk about work. Talk about other things. Engage in escapism when necessary- books, movies, video games, whatever gives you a sense of momentary relaxation. Make time for physical activity. This is really important. Beyond the list of health benefits, it also forces your mind to be in the present while you do the physical task. This can really help you retrain your mind to not think about work all the time. It really is a process, and can take a long time. That’s why a trained processional can be so helpful.

      Weirdly, I also found it helpful to buy a lotto ticket for every job application. I figured one way or another, I’d eventually get lucky.
      Good luck, and I hope you’re able to find a new situation soon.

    2. E*

      Are you interested in working towards a degree? When I was looking for a new job a few years ago and everything seemed like it wanted a degree, I went back to school. Some public community college type schools offer 4 year degrees for much less than a university and many have online classes geared towards working adults. Just the act of taking classes made me feel like I was working towards something better and gave a confidence boost. It also helps you see some of your skills in a different way and get familiar with any new terminology that makes your resume stand out. I actually found a job shortly after starting back but long before I finished. I believe a part of that was feeling better about what I had to offer an employer. Bad jobs really can bring you down and make you feel like you don’t deserve better.

    3. Double A*

      RADICAL detachment. Even though you say you can’t take time off….take time off. Take a week off. Really truly. This is an emergency. During that time, go to the doctor. Tell the doctor what you are feeling. They may put you out on medical leave. Take it.

      I got to this point in a job where it felt equally impossible to take time off and I cracked. I had a day I simply couldn’t go back. Guess what? People above me covered it. I went out on medical leave and never came back. It helped some that I was planning to leave at the end of the year anyway (teaching). But you may need time to reset so you can shrink your work time back to the 8 hours where you can put in 75% effort and then leave it. Then you will have energy for job searching.

      There’s a way out but this cannot continue as it is.

    4. ARW*

      Check USAJobs. The Federal Gov’t is almost always hiring, lots of us do not have degrees, and some agencies are now remote (WFH) only (my division is).

    5. Llama face!*

      First thing I just want to say is: Please don’t accept those shame feelings as accurate. You have nothing to be ashamed of for experiencing the negative effects of an abusive situation! It is 100% a reasonable response to a really bad environment and terrible boss.

      Second thing: When I was stuck in a really stressful and dysfunctional workplace I had this silly-seeming mental trick that actually did help me. I always crossed a waterway when going to and from work. On my way home, I would think of myself stuffing all the work stresses and to-dos into a really solid metal box and then I would visualize myself tossing the box over the bridge into the water. I told my brain it would stay there until the morning on the way to work, when I could pick it up again, but it wasn’t allowed to come home with me.

    6. Banana Pyjamas*

      Many jobs is assessment, as in your local tax assessor, don’t require degrees, instead they will consider years of experience in a related field. The main related fields are accounting/finance and real estate. You could start at iaao.org, as well as searching for your state assessors association.

  29. Kay Tee*

    Any tips for applying to an internal role in a different department? For example, how much do I talk to my current supervisor about it? Do I need to secure references from previous jobs, if my company talked to them less than a year ago when I was first hired here?

    1. ferrina*

      Are you moving to a different department after less than a year in your current department? That’s generally discouraged. Yeah, unless your supervisor is a supervillian, definitely talk to them. They aren’t going to be happy about replacing you after less than a year (attrition is a real business cost, even internal attrition).
      You don’t need to secure references from previous jobs unless they ask you to. They’ll likely talk to your current supervisor, who can speak to your current work. If you get the role, they will also need to work out an arrangement to transition you over.

      1. Kay Tee*

        The <1 year timeframe is permitted by our policy. I'm sure frustration/hard feelings about replacing so quickly are still possible. But several people have made similarly timed moves recently. I'm realizing that includes the person who preceded me in this role… he was here less than a year and then moved to a different department! I'm sure that pattern is going to be noticed, but it's really not that the work or the manager are chasing people off! It's an admin assistant role that I'm not finding engaging, and I don't think I'm cultivating useful skills.

        1. Kay Tee*

          (Might also be worth clarifying that when I say “less than a year” I really mean eleven months! I started right after the new year.)

        2. ferrina*

          Oh, that makes a lot more sense!

          It might be semi-expected for your role. There are some admin roles that are just accepted to be stepping stones. If your supervisor is decent, start by talking to them. They might have some insights on the process as well. (as always, tailor based on what you know of your supervisor- some supervisors might react badly)

    2. Antilles*

      Absolutely talk to your current supervisor first because the hiring manager is going to call/Teams your current supervisor and get their thoughts, possibly even before talking to you directly. In fact, plenty of organizations basically give the current supervisor the ability to straight up block internal transfers at their discretion, so it’s extra important to not blindside them.

      1. SomeWords*

        Most of my employers have had a policy of requiring a person to inform their supervisor before submitting any internal applications. I’d speak to the supervisor, if for no other reason than to avoid awkward surprises.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > block internal transfers at their discretion,

        We are going through this now. An internal person was meant to be joining my broader team (I wouldn’t be their manager, but we would both be part of the same “group” comprising a few teams) but their current manager has been waffling about the transfer and blocking it for 5 months and counting. The internal person has resigned this week (for a role outside the company that is very similar to the one they were meant to be moving to) and the part that surprised me was that their manager was surprised! (I should have expected that though – their manager is a dud).

    3. Anne of Green Gables*

      Is there a manager or other trusted person you can ask about this? At my institution, anyone on the official hiring committee cannot be a reference, but other employees can. I am sure to spell this out to anyone of my direct reports who might be applying to open internal roles so there are no questions.

    4. Red flags everywhere*

      Very situational. My daughter can’t submit an internal application without her supervisor actually signing off on it. In my company, we absolutely don’t talk to anyone’s supervisor until we’re ready to offer the person a job, and sometimes not even then. If we don’t have any personal knowledge of their work, we ask their references that they provide just like any external applicant. Too many people would be at risk of being fired or managed out if their supervisor knew they were looking to jump ship.

  30. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Any long covid folks have advice? I have officially reached the point where I can’t work an 8 hour day in the office. I am able to flex my time and work hybrid, but there are some days where it’s really not feasible for me to be offsite all day. I am most comfortable/least dizzy and nauseous slightly reclined (couch or bed and propped up by pillows mainly) which is not office friendly. My job takes a lot of mental and emotional energy which definitely makes the situation worse. By the time I got home yesterday my whole body was shaking.

    I can’t afford to go on FMLA. We need my income. My job has been so understanding so far, but I don’t even know what to ask for at this point. It feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Why is it not feasible for you to be offsite all day? Is the reasoning something that your company could find a temporary solution to? It sounds like you need to ask for accommodations – don’t feel like you need to know how to solve these issues before asking.

    2. kalli*

      You can get officey chairs that let you recline, all the way to zero gravity workstation intense. But do you know your optimal break schedule for where you’re at? Is it possible to make that a 10 hour day with an extra 15 mins break for every hour, or build in another long break so you can find a private space to nap?

      If your job is understanding and you trust they’ll stay that way, is there someone in your reporting structure you can talk to to work out what balls you can let drop or anything you can delegate or adjust how/when you do it, and what other things you might be able to ask for? It’s a bit hard to give specific advice without knowing your PD and what your job looks like and what resources are available vs what you might be able to ask for whether environmental/physical (a filter so your computer screen doesn’t exacerbate the dizziness, a better chair with more motion) or functional (extra breaks, 4 mornings a week instead of 2 full days) etc.

  31. Our Mr Wilson*

    Weird question, but should I avoid eating peanut butter at a shared desk? I split time between offices but only have my own desk at one, so I have to use one of a few unassigned desks at the other. Other people also use these desks but I don’t know all of them. I was eating peanut butter crackers yesterday and wondered if I should avoid doing that in case someone was allergic, but I also eat (regular gluten-containing) bread there too. I guess elementary school has my focus on peanuts as the biggest issue. What, if anything, should I be worried about/avoiding?

    1. ferrina*

      All things being equal, it would be good to do. But I wouldn’t beat yourself up if you bring in a Reeses or something. Just wash your hands and don’t cross-contaminate.

    2. BellyButton*

      When I had to go into an office and use a hotel desk, I always wiped it down with Lysol wipes. I would think if someone had a serious enough allergy to something they would do that

    3. RagingADHD*

      Grownups with special needs like severe allergy are expected to self-advocate. If one of your desk partners had a life-threatening contact allergy to a common foodstuff, they would make a point of telling people they share space and equipment with.

      The vast majority of food allergies only matter if the person consumes it. The reason it is more of an issue for preschool / elementary schoolers is that they can’t be trusted not to put things in their mouths. Severe contact allergies are quite rare.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Agree with all of this.

        As someone who is allergic to a few things (but not peanuts), I do appreciate it when a coworker cleans their part of a shared workspace when done. It helps prevent the accidental spread of allergens on top of just being the correct thing to do.

        The only full on accommodations I’ve had to request as I’ve gotten older are:
        1. You cannot spring a surprise mandatory working lunch on me because 99% of the time I cannot eat the catering (milk is in everything it seems).
        2. I will not do business lunches in a seafood restaurant. There’s nothing that I can safely ingest most of the time due to cross contact with shellfish, for me at least its a known anaphylaxis trigger, and quite frankly, I’m just not willing to risk my life.

      2. Colette*

        The thing with peanut butter (as opposed to peanuts) is that it is easy to get a little on your hand and spread it to commonly-touched surfaces. Someone else touches the almost invisitble peanut residue, eats their sandwich, and you have a reaction.

        But I agree that an adult with a severe allergy should wipe down the desk surface.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          And thus the reason for Peanut-Free (and PB) free elementary classrooms. Because elementary school teachers have enough on their plates without worrying about wiping down their classroom after snacktime beyond the obvious gross-ness. (The younger Scruffs’ elementary school had the take of “teachers can declare that kids can snack if they’re hungry in their own rooms”. Peanuts were a no-go though because there’s obvious grossness, and then there’s peanut butter.)

        2. RagingADHD*

          Or, you know, tell people. Or request that the office go peanut-free. All completely reasonable when you’re dealing with a serious health concern.

          The OP is worrying about having to *guess* what they might accidentally kill their coworkers with, and I just don’t think they need to. If someone needed that kind of protection from their coworkers, they would speak up. They can’t risk waiting for people to guess.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            I was literally told by HR I wasn’t allowed to share that. Not that it stopped me from sharing as needed, but I didn’t have company support.

    4. Alex*

      When I shared a desk I would just wipe it down at the end of the day to leave it nice for the next person. I would think that would be enough to prevent any peanut butter or other allergens from affecting the next person.

      1. amoeba*

        Do the desks get cleaned? We’re moving towards a shared desk environment next year and they’ve been telling us that the cleaning personnel will wipe them down unless there’s stuff left on them.

    5. Ashley*

      I think it depends on how shared the desk is and how well you know those who might use it. You could also ask if anyone has any severe peanut butter allergies, but that is easier if it tends to be the same people who use the desk.

    6. Yorkshire Tea Lady*

      I have a peanut allergy. It is not a severe one, but I still flush bright red if people are eating peanuts near me (I have to ask friends not to order a meal with satay sauce, for example).

      I can manage if the packaging is placed in a lidded bin, and if the products don’t leave a mess – so M&Ms are fine, peanut butter scrapings on a knife left in a communal sink aren’t.

      Which is a long winded way of saying, I wouldn’t have a problem with what you describe, exactly, but I’d avoid sitting near you if I knew you regularly ate peanuts.

      1. kalli*

        I am like this with milk and people often have coffee/tea at their desk and I’m expected to make coffee for clients and actually handle milk where it may splash (and contact makes me itchy with a nice red raised rash). I don’t have a problem with the coffee/tea at desk because they make it at the coffee station or break room and generally drink it rather than spilling it. My current office requests people bring and label their own milk and leave everyone else’s alone, has a separate area for keeping nondairy milks, and if I was in and seeing to a client I would be allowed to ask the reception staff to bring a beverage for the client when they had a minute, and so is everyone else because reception is overstaffed precisely so there’s usually an admin available for urgent rounds or ‘can you do this while I do that’ and it’s cheaper than having enough assistants instead.

        But my allergy extends to my being responsible for keeping my area safe for me while it’s mine, and the company’s responsibility extends to making sure that area isn’t unsafe for me for any periods it isn’t mine. That extends to the company being responsible for cleaning – I’d expect a coworker to clean up after themselves generally, and I’d think that having food directly on surfaces would be less preferable than using a plate, lunchbox, wrap or even a paper bag to eat off and catch any crumbs or transfer instead of then having to clean the actual table or risk damage to files/computers/tools from stray food. I wouldn’t expect a coworker to bleach and wash with hot water and detergent because I might duck over to their desk to pick up a task or help with their computer – that level should be covered by site cleaning protocols.

    7. Rara Avis*

      My work site is peanut-free. If your site doesn’t have that policy, I would think eating peanuts is okay, but washing your hands and wiping the desk would be a courteous act.

    8. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If you haven’t been informed about an allergy, I’d just do the normal cleaning up that one should always do in a shared space.

      There are so many possible allergies that you need specifics to take the correct action. Any coworker who has a significant allergy to peanuts, or anything else, should be proactive to safeguard their health: I’d expect them to have informed management what precautions they need. Even if management are unresponsive idiots, then send an EM or f2f informing all colleagues.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        A conversation I’ve had included the back and forth about “well I shouldn’t share your protected health information…” “dude, my life depends on others cooperation, and I’m giving you permission to do so, I’ll freaking put it in an email or handwritten with a notary seal on it”.

        This was about a sticker designating where I stash my Epi-Pens, for the record.

        Its annoying that I must share my “protected health information” but here we are, so I do so willingly.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          I had a very similar experience. I got told I couldn’t share not only my allergy information, but epi pen information and precautions. The company felt sharing the information made them liable.

    9. Clare*

      Peanuts are a bit special because of the rapid and life threatening nature of the anaphylaxis they cause in some people. Many people draw the line at “Well I’m ok with a risk of my bread causing intense gastrointestinal upset, rashes, swellings etc because it’s a small one but I’m not ok with even a small risk of death”. Others figure that the risk is so small it’s dwarfed by the risk they create when they drive, so they don’t bother, while still others don’t even want to risk giving someone diarrhoea and don’t bring gluten in to shared spaces.

      My personal compromise is usually to ask HR if there’s any life threatening allergies at work (they don’t have to tell me who) and avoid those things, plus any specific request from people. As a person with allergies myself, I know everyone else who doesn’t ask is probably self managing with anthistamines and is fine with that.

  32. funkytown*

    Does anyone work in GIS/adjacent fields and would be willing to share about your career trajectory? I’m considering going back to school for either a grad certificate or masters in GIS for a career change, and wondering if anyone has opinions/advice on literally any aspect of that.

    Some additional context- I did study geo several ago but went in another direction, and now think I’d like to return/get started in my original field of interest. I think my skills are too outdated at this point for entry level which is why I am thinking about grad school.

    1. SGPB*

      I went back to school to get an MA in Applied Geography after working professionally in GIS for 5 years. I learned almost nothing new about GIS. My school was 5-7 years behind the profession. So vet your school carefully. Academia tends to stagnate. Make sure there are professors on staff who actually follow the evolution of the technology. The degree did help me to get a better job but it didn’t actually develop me personally.

      1. funkytown*

        That is great advice thank you!! I will definitely try to look for that although I’m not sure how I would know if the professors are staying current. I’m hoping that it would at least help me get my foot in the door. Do you feel like an MA would be ‘too much’ for entry-level roles?

      2. TX_TRUCKER*

        I don’t know if this is true across the country, but several of my local government agencies are years behind in GIS software. They have a hard time filling vacancies. They would welcome someone whose GIS knowledge is several years out of date.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          Government funding is a scourge. Most departments I’ve worked in use legacy systems. We actually had an up-to-date version of ArcGIS at my last job, but the county only pays for two licenses that have the traverse feature. I did not have one. I had to use math to do the non-tangent curves.

          CMS is an IAAO designation for cadastral mapping in assessment.

          Sidwell historically published tax maps. They are an ESRI partner that still works with local government.

          My career trajectory was I ended up here because I was able to figure it out, so that’s not helpful. I CAN tell you how we use GIS in my field.

          Frequently counties and townships need staff in the assessment office who can use GIS to do land records management. In assessment that’s creating new parcels when plats are approved or deeds transfer a part of a lot or tract, combining two parcels usually upon request of the taxpayer. There are also portions of land records management that don’t always apply to mapping specifically, like annexations and abandoned railroad. The mapping on those is usually already done but columns need to be updated such as key numbers, taxing districts, etc.

          The other main use of GIS in assessing is for agricultural land. This often consists of measuring your parcel layer against USDA soil data, and properly classifying different portions of the farm.

          There is growing use of geospatial analysis in assessment. Computer assisted mass appraisal vendors are building functionality into their applications, but uptake is slow on the user end because of added cost and lack of skills. I believe Xsoft and Aumentum have some degree built in.

          Departments that maintain GIS vary wildly from place to place. They could be the county assessor, county auditor, a designated GIS department, planning and zoning, or even township offices.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’m in the environmental field, and frequently deal with GIS. I’ve done the mapping in the field, and I work with GIS specialists to come up with a finished map product. Are you wanting to make GIS maps? I don’t think going to graduate school is at all necessary to learn the skills to do that. I agree with Mary Benbow that you can get a certificate through ESRI.

    3. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      My last job was training people on GIS software.
      Prior to that I had no GIS or geography specific experience, but having worked at that for a few months I wound up contracted out for an entry level GIS position at a big company.
      There didn’t seem to be any concern with my lack of background, although I admit that could have been more to do with the circumstances of the contract – the manager at the big company was a former coworker of my boss at the training company and I was essentially on loan to help his team with a crunch project.

      However, in the couple of years I spent as a trainer I taught people with experience ranging from none to years who were sent by their companies to get training- so I don’t think a full masters program is necessarily a requirement to get into the field.

      I’ve talked to a few people who had done GIS masters programs in the last few years and not all of them were enthusiastic about their programs so definitely vet any program your looking at- especially talk to recent grads if you can to get a feel for how helpful it actually was.
      You can also look into other training options that might be cheaper in terms of time and money to get a taste for things before jumping into a grad program.

      (As for currently- I’m not in GIS anymore, my old job got a bit toxic and I left to avoid that mess and be closer to family)

  33. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

    I noticed on LinkedIn this week there was a post promoting how amazing and fabulous it was to get AI to write your cover letter. I immediately thought of this site and assumed everyone here would think it’s a terrible idea (?) but all the comments were about how you’d really stand out if you used this, what a great idea it is.

    Now, I’m a bit scared of ChatGTP / AI writing things – mostly because I don’t understand it at all! But I’m wondering, good idea or bad?

    (Also, thanks to those who posted ideas for my team meeting last week. We did a bit of Trainer Show and Tell but it was late in the day – we decided we’re going to make it a regular thing though).

    1. Ali + Nino*

      Just using straight-up ChatGPT – not a good idea. But I think it can help you break through writer’s block when you’re staring at a blank document. Just use it to get something on the page and take it as a starting point.

    2. ferrina*

      I use AI in quite a bit of my writing. But I start with AI, I don’t end with it. I use it to generate a first draft of whatever I’m writing, then I go back and edit it. A couple times I’ve only needed a few edits, but I’ve also used the AI draft as a starting point then completely re-written it. Re-writing is more common that using as written.

      It can definitely make the task less scary when you are editing work rather than writing from scratch.

      Oh, and never put sensitive or proprietary data into chat engines. Assume everything you type will be going into the matrix that the corporation will use to train their AI.

    3. Tom*

      It’s a bad idea. If you want to get a GPT to write a generic letter for you to customize that’s fine if you really want to, but you will need to edit it very closely and it’ll probably be less work to just write it on your own.

      I have a friend who writes ad copy for events who played around with using AI generation for a while, and she found that it was a fun novelty but not actually that useful. Plus, people will be able to tell and they won’t think well of it.

    4. Kay Tee*

      I just used it for a cover letter! It was far from a finished product, more like a personalized template. It was easier to read through it and think “oh, that’s not accurate, what I should say is this!” or “actually, I want to highlight this skill/experience”.

    5. BellyButton*

      I use ChatGPT/ AI writing every single day. They aren’t full proof, and you 100% have to edit and add your own voice. But, it has cut down my time writing posts, emails, announcements, etc. down by half. If I were to use it for a cover letter; I would upload my resume, put in the job description, and ask it for a cover letter.

      If you think of what it gives you as a template, and not the finished product, it may help you feel more comfortable using it as a starting point.

    6. Green Goose*

      So I’m job seeking and a friend who is also job seeking said he was using Google Bard to help adjust resumes per job. Here is what I did:
      I have a loooong resume with all of the work I do (not one I would send out to people) and I paste that into Bard and then I also paste the job advertisement I’m looking at in and I ask Bard to tell me why I’d be a good fit for the role and Bard helps me figure out the best parts of my work to highlight and tells me how it compares when it isn’t a perfect match. It was pretty cool, and I’ll let you know if it helps me land a job. It did save me some time on resume adjusting!

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

      Like the other replies, generating a starting point is how I use most of the various AI’s out there, and then fix it from there because AI is still humorously bad at a lot of human things. I’m not a professional writer, so writing from scratch is more of a challenge than editing a generic template.

      One thing I am getting better at by using AI, is generating a descriptive prompt for the AI to use. “Fix this” or “Write a cover letter” nets bad results. The skill of being able to use AI as a tool to improve speed for mundane tasks will be an asset in a lot of industries.

    8. RagingADHD*

      It’s good for creating a rough draft to get you started, or for brainstorming ways to incorporate particular points you want to hit. Definitely not good for final product, because it is a word spinner. It doesn’t actually “understand” the concepts you’re trying to convey.

      I recently got approved to try out an AI notetaker for work meetings. My coworker who recommended it was very enthusiastic, because apparently this is the best one on the market and she was very excited that we got a security agreement in place to use it.

      I found it rather disappointing. It might be useful for capturing information in case I miss something (I often get interrupted), or to review to make sure I didn’t leave anything out. But the point of good note taking is to capture the sense of what was discussed and the conclusions drawn. All I got was a raw transcript, plus a list of general topics. It can’t tell you the substance of what was said about the topics.

      Meh.

    9. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t see a problem with it, but be aware that you’re still going to need to feed it enough information to make a useful letter.
      Basically, it only knows what you tell it, and a good cover letter is specific to you. So it might be useful if you have trouble stringing sentences together the way you like, but just typing “Write me a cover letter for a Senior Llama specialist” isn’t going to be enough.

    10. Procedure Publisher*

      AI is that tool to help you if you are stuck on something and can’t figure it out how to move forward. If you have trouble with writing something from scratch, use it to get you going.

      Personally, I think the people who will be successful in the future are the ones who know how to harness AI for their own benefit. In my field of technical communication, there is a lot of chatter about what AI can and cannot do. Creative thinking and new information are things that AI probably will not be able to do well.

  34. Anon E Moose*

    Y’all, I am sad. I really do like my current job, but I don’t love where I live. A very, very similar job opened up in my hometown and I applied and did the HR screen two weeks ago. But since then, crickets. They said they were trying to bring someone in after the first of the year so were moving quickly, so I’m pretty sure I’m out. It just sucks.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m so sorry. I also don’t love where I live. I know what feeling stuck feels like. It does indeed suck. They’re dumb-dumbs if they don’t hire you, Anon E Moose.

    2. Spcepickle*

      That does suck – I hope the right thing falls in your lap. That said – I work in government and trying to get an interview panel together is hard any time of year, but with the holidays right now I would not lose hope yet.

      1. Anon E Moose*

        It’s not the end of the world, until this opening, I thought I would just stay with this job until retirement. Which I probably will now. Most of the other companies in my industry are in areas that I would not like any better than my current location. I just let myself dream about living closer to my mom and sibs a little too much.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I don’t know how long you have until retirement, but you can always keep an eye on Hometown Company’s job board to see if anything similar open up in the future.

          Likewise, remember that right now the benefits of working your current job/in your current industry outweigh the costs of living so far away from your mother and siblings. If you feel that change in the future, you can look into different jobs/industries that are in/near your hometown.

  35. Elle Woods*

    I’m on a board that is in the process of interviewing a new director for the organization. We had a really good group of applicants and have narrowed down our final pool to five people. I’m on the interview panel and have been diligent in making sure I’m familiar with each candidate by carefully reviewing their cover letters, resumes, and portfolios.

    I also decided to do a quick online search for each candidate. For four of the candidates, the results were pretty standard things (press releases, interviews with local media, newsletters, etc.). My search on one of the candidates through raised red flags. The first four pages of search for her name alone reveal that she’s been let go of her past three jobs–all municipal roles–after coming to a “mutual agreement” with each employer. In one case, she was let go after just six months; her most recent employer parted ways with her after just 16 months.

    I’m stumped as to how to handle this. Do I let other members of the interview committee know? Do I ask her about it at next week’s interview? Any and all advice from the AAM commentariat is appreciated.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding. Tell them. You definitely want them to have this context.

        You can ask her about it at the interview, but she likely signed an NDA. Don’t expect the full story. If you know anyone that works at the companies or any backchannels where you can get more info, definitely leverage that.
        This has red flags all over it.

      2. Green Goose*

        Please tell them! Is there a reason you wouldn’t tell them? It seems like a concerning pattern.

    1. Kay Tee*

      Tell the other committee members, it’s perfectly relevant and public information! They’ll certainly want to ask her about it and hear her perspective/explanation. As Alison often says, it’s not an automatic disqualification, but one piece of information about her.

    2. BellyButton*

      I would let the others know and I would ask her very directly about 3 jobs. That is a HUGE red flag. If it were one I would be curious, with 3, I would want a true answer about each one, and not a BS interview type answer.

    3. pally*

      Having been under the employe of a CEO who has gone from company to company in quick succession, I support everyone else’s comment to let the committee members know about this.

      You might also give the candidate a chance to talk about their prior jobs. See how they frame them (without prompting that you know about the red flags). Maybe they have good explanations for each exit. And maybe you’ll get tall tales the likes of which only an idiot would believe.

      If things sound plausible, you can then bring up the red flags. See if the stories change.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One caveat is to please confirm that it is the same Wilhelmina Warblesworth. Or at least mention that you haven’t confirmed its the same person yet.

      I say this because I have seen strange coincidences.

      (Just one: A friend was admitted to the hospital on the same day as someone else with the same uncommon name–first, middle, last.)

      If those 3 roles are on her resume, go to town!

  36. OlympiasEpiriot*

    We are swamped and the CEO sent an e-mail offering cash bonuses for hitting minimum billable hour targets during the week of Dec 25th.

    [insert eye rolling emoji here]

    I want to ask “then if I give YOU $500 can I take the whole week off?”

    I mean, the bonus isn’t even that high considering the number we’d have to hit and that Monday is a holiday. Remember, billable hours are not the same as hours worked.

    Obviously, we’re going to be working to hit our deadlines. This seems simultaneously unnecessary AND too little for the energy required?

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      (and, yes, $500 is not chicken feed…that’s not the point…it’s is a question of the demands on our energy and how much it costs to “offset” that risk: illness, exhaustion, possibility of making errors?)

      1. Cyndi*

        No, I get you! When my last job made a huge and unpopular change they offered a bonus of two weeks’ pay for people who stuck it out, which for me and my team would have been about $1100. Definitely not chicken feed–but we were all in agreement that a ONE TIME chunk of money wasn’t anywhere near enough to make up for all the ways our quality of life would be made worse INDEFINITELY.

  37. Embarrassed*

    A few weeks ago my boss had a “come to Jesus” conversation with me about my output over the past few months not being up to par (quantity, not quality). He made it clear that if I didn’t improve in the next four-six weeks my job would be in jeopardy.
    I don’t even really have an excuse except (I guess) trying to juggle a busy family life and working 80% FT. I guess I’m just lazy. Could it be burnout? I work from home and definitely struggle with distraction and procrastination.
    I’m doing better and feel hopeful that I will keep my job, but I can’t get over my embarrassment and shame. Any advice?

    1. ferrina*

      There are a lot of reasons why your output may not be up to par.
      Personally, I balk when someone says they are lazy. I’m ADHD, and like a lot of ADHD folks, have a long history of being called “lazy” when I was putting a lot of energy into what I was doing. Just because you aren’t making a goal doesn’t mean that you are lazy- there’s a lot of reasons why people don’t hit goals.

      Great people and great workers can go on PIPs. I’ve been on one (perfect storm of family emergency and absentee boss), I’ve supervised others on PIPs, and I’ve supported people on PIPs. Most of these people weren’t lazy. More often, they were undertrained, had competing priorities, didn’t have the right skills and/or had a role that didn’t actually play to their strengths.

      First things first- beat this PIP. Find ways to limit distractions and nip that procrastination. If you want strategies for that, the AAM crowd has great strategies they’ve shared for other folks.

    2. BellyButton*

      I recently had a conversation with an employee about their output and quality of work. I am not their manager, I am in People Development, and we talked about the reasons. He was really embarrassed and wanted to know how to address it with their manager. My advice is be honest “Boss, I have been reflecting on our conversation about my output, and I see that you so right. I think between work and home I have been feeling stressed and a bit burned out, but I really am committed to getting back to the standards I have previously set. These are some things I am doing to make sure it happens—-”

      Have this conversation as soon as you can, do not wait for 4-6 weeks. Tell them now you are doing this.

      Good luck!

    3. kiwiii*

      My advice is to try and think about the conversation as a kindness. They flagged for you that they noticed something wasn’t as expected and communicated that to you. If you’re now reaching that target and able to sustain the work at that level, it shouldn’t have to be anything embarrassing.

    4. Spcepickle*

      If your boss took the time to have this conversation with you, they want to keep you. When I am trying to get rid of someone I just document the work slip and then fire them, but when I like them I work with them and really push them to improve enough that they can stay. So keep in mind that your boss is rooting for you.

      I went through a crazy high anxiety time last year, something I had never really experienced. Like had to take many days off work because I could not stop crying and had absolutely no focus. A friend finally got me to go to the dr and I got prescription meds, they are a fast acting short term, so I don’t have to taken them everyday, but they really help. Before this episode I did not know that zero focus / drive was a side effect of anxiety.

      Money says you are not lazy, but that you have a ton going on and need some support, maybe meds, maybe talk therapy to work on focus strategies, maybe you are burned out and a different job will help. But give yourself some grace – the world is hard right now, and you cane figure this out.

      Last actual time management tip, I got an app on my phone that grows a silly little tree as long as I don’t use it for a set amount of time. Game changer for me, I set it for 20 or 30 min knock out a chunk of work. Set a sound timer for 5 min, do what ever, then back to work for 20. Is also use YouTube to listen to lofi hip hop radio – it is has no word, but is more upbeat then classical, I find it helps me concentrate.

      Good luck.

    5. Green Goose*

      Are you being held to the expectation of a 100% FTE but only working 80%? That would be hard!

      1. ruthling*

        yeah, came here to ask that. is the amount you’re expected to do proportional to the amount of time, and pay?

        1. Tio*

          I read it as they are at work 100% of the time but only doing work at like an 80% level due to distractions and other issues, as that’s a place I have been in myself.

      2. Velociraptor Attack*

        I read it that they’re WFH but are working 80% of their scheduled hours.

        OP, if you’re struggling with distraction and procrastination working from home, is there an office you can go into or could you do a co-working space for a little bit just to kind of reset?

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a manager who has been on your boss’s end of a few of those conversations lately and in fact did have to terminate people over them — I don’t need you to be embarrassed or ashamed, that’s not what I’m going for and that doesn’t help either of us. I want to know what the barriers are to you meeting the expectations of your position, and if those barriers are something I can address in some way, then we will talk about that, and if they’re not something I can have any impact on – because I can’t fix your personal life, obviously – then unfortunately all I can do is be as clear as possible about the situation and the possible outcomes. I’m not telling you you’re facing potential corrective action about your productivity because I want to scare you or because I’m a big old meanypants, right? I just need you to know what the situation is so you can decide how to address it, and so that you’re not surprised or blindsided if you continue on your current course and there are negative consequences. I promised my team as much transparency as I can give them, and I stand by that.

      Your boss probably doesn’t want to fire you. It sucks from this end too. So maybe try to think of it that way – they’re trying to help get you back to where you’re meeting the expectations?

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Is the required quantity of work 80% of that required for an FT person? If you think it may be unreasonable, do discuss with your manager asap with facts & figures to support your case.

      You mentioned being distracted at home. Try to analyse whether that’s too much time spent on household chores / social media / watching TV etc and decide how to cut down.
      If you are just bored by your job, you can hunt for another, but in the meantime you need to up your wotk to keep this one.

      You also mentioned juggling family life. Do you have a partner who could share more of this work, or can you outsource chores like cleaning?

    8. Umbrella that does*

      Fight shame with data and a plan. what are his output expectations? Are they feasible for 80% full time? If so, what milestones can you set to ramp up to that? Then go back to him and tell him your plan.

  38. TicTac*

    I am finally applying for jobs after hitting the final straw with my current one – no interviews yet but I don’t know what to say if/when I am asked about why I’m job searching. “I don’t have any job security” is true, “They changed my responsibilities and hours so I’m essentially doing an entirely different job as I was a year ago” is true, “It’s attached to a religion I don’t follow and I want to work somewhere more secular” is true, “The place is run on a shoestring and I’m afraid it will collapse at any moment” is true, etc etc etc but I don’t think any of those are something people want to hear in an interview.

    I’ve been told that it’s best to say something like “I want more responsibility” because you don’t want to come off as a complainer. Is this right? Or is “I want to work in a non-religious organization” inoffensive enough? I’ve only had this kind of search before when going part-time to full-time or because I was moving cities, which are both pretty easy answers.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      “The essential job functions changed so much that I no longer do the job I was hired for” is perfectly fine to say and a great reason to leave.

      “I’m looking for a more challenging role in a secular industry that has opportunities for growth and advancement.”

      There is also no reason you cannot ask about their solvency or continued presence in the community/industry.

      1. TicTac*

        Thank you! I’ll probably use the second one as it’s less that my original responsibilities disappeared, but more that they just kept adding more and more extra functions so that I’m now spending ~20% of my time on the thing that used to take up 100% of my time.

    2. ferrina*

      “The role has changed significantly since I was hired, and I’m really interested in a role where I can do X.”

      X should be something that the current role offers.
      You don’t need to overthink this- when interviewers ask this question, they are just looking for obvious red flags and mismatches. For example, I once interviewed someone who said she had had two bosses in three years and wanted more stability. The role I was hiring for had had three bosses in three years and was chaotic af. I’m sure she was disappointed not to get the job, but she would have been really miserable there. On the flip side, I had someone say “my role has changed to do sales, and I don’t want to do sales.” That was great- the role I was hiring for had absolutely no sales. That box was checked, and we moved the next question. Simple as that.

      1. TicTac*

        Thank you! I probably am overthinking this to some degree, but the information about looking for mismatches is very interesting. I never thought about it before, but it makes a lot of sense.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > “I don’t have any job security”

      This is a valid reason but needs wording carefully.

      > “They changed my responsibilities and hours so I’m essentially doing an entirely different job as I was a year ago”

      That is also a valid reason and the one I would lead with. But it should be about how “the role” and “the expectations” have changed, rather than “they did this to me”.

      > “It’s attached to a religion I don’t follow and I want to work somewhere more secular”

      This is a valid reason to you (and in general) but I would not state that in an interview.

      > “The place is run on a shoestring and I’m afraid it will collapse at any moment”

      This is the same as “no job security” although it hints at a possible thing you can talk about, e.g. projects are under-resourced so although you see many opportunities for change it’s been difficult to bring them to fruition, which is why you were excited to see this job with company x, whose y program is well known…. etc.

  39. Seeking advice*

    Seeking your advice: How to make the case for unpaid leave for fertility treatments? My husband and I are professors, finally in the same metro area for a couple years after years at institutions on opposite coasts. My specialty was in demand for a while but cratered in 2008 and didn’t rebound. Between being long-distance and running labs through summers, it did not make sense to try for kids until I had our son as soon as we were in the same area. Now it’s been tough to try for #2 and even after resorting to IVF, we’ve had repeated failures. It’s also exacerbated other health problems to the extent I was in the emergency room for my most recent try. I just turned 41 and am considering whether I can take unpaid leave for a semester to focus on the IVF process. Any advice for making the case to my department? Or anyone with experience of this? Thanks.

    1. Rara Avis*

      It seems like academia would be open to a semester off? Late in my Dad’s career, he had a sabbatical that was mostly caring for my aging grandmother.

    2. Momdoc*

      Would you qualify for FMLA? Worth considering.

      Are you on a tenure track clock? Also challenging but not insurmountable. I think you could talk to your department about making the space for all in your chosen field. It is truly a diversity and inclusion issue.

      I’m in medicine and many of my colleagues (about half that I work closely with) had fertility issues. There is a wide understanding in our field about the stress of academic and career roles delaying childbearing. There may be some literature out there specifically targeting discussions in female MDs bc it is such a hot button issue.

      Would you leave if they said no? It changes the calculus then as well.

      I 100% support you and wish you the best.

    3. E*

      Ugh I’m so sorry. Fertility treatment really is at least a halftime job. I think I would be wary of specifying it’s for IVF for a variety of reasons, not least of which potential discrimination (if they think “we’re giving LW time off so that, if successsful, LW will need MORE time off to raise a baby”).

      Can you say you’re dealing with a medical issue for which you need a semester off?

      Wishing you best of luck in the convo and treatment

  40. don't call me Santa*

    I know Alison has written about this in the past, but I’m having trouble thinking of specifics to search for. Does anyone have any links or personal advice about pushing back on the whole “secular Christmas” thing at work? My boss’s boss just showed me a picture of the entire team from last year (before I joined) in Santa hats and referred to them as “holiday hats,” and that’s not the first time I’ve seen/heard something like that on this team. I work with wonderful people and I’m sure they have no idea how profoundly uncomfortable I feel with this. Help?

      1. don't call me Santa*

        Actually — it looks like that’s more directed towards the “secular Christmas” folks themselves. I swear you’ve written things for people who DON’T do secular Christmas. Am I wrong?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm, meaning geared toward the person in your position who’s trying to explain it to someone else? I think over the years yes, but in a lot less explanatory detail than is here. But someone might think of something I’m forgetting!

          Or do you mean geared toward non-secular Christmas celebrators? I don’t think I have for that audience, since by definition they tend to realize it’s a religious celebration. But if you say more about what you need, I can try to help!

        2. fhqwhgads*

          What you might be thinking of is there are often letters about Christmas things at work and the people who don’t celebrate Christmas at all ending up explaining to “Christmas is secular” folks in the comments why, no, it isn’t. Or it can be for one person’s practice, but that doesn’t mean it is inherently so. There are many many many comment trains on the subject.

        3. Hlao-roo*

          The closest I could find in my brief search of the archives was “can I refuse to put up Christmas decorations at work?” from December 9, 2014, though that was someone who did not want to decorate for personal reasons, not religious ones.

          I also found “how can I stop my employees from giving me holiday gifts?” from November 27, 2017, but again that was someone objecting on the grounds of “gifts flow down, not up” instead of someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas.

          The last letter I found that may be helpful to you is not about Christmas, but is about religion in the workplace: “my work is getting more and more religious and I’m an atheist” from March 3, 2020.

          I’ll put links to these letters in a reply to this comment in case any of the answers are helpful.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      On the really bottom level, it can help to have an alternative up your sleeve so you’re not seen as the fun-killer.

      Something like a photo wearing New Year’s sashes under a “ball drop” is one idea.

      1. Karate Saw*

        Doing office holiday schtick around a New Year theme is a GREAT idea; I wish I had thought of this.

  41. Sarah B.*

    I’d love your advice on how to explain leaving a job due to burnout in interviews.

    Here’s my situation – I was with my last company for a little over 10 years. The last 6 of those years were with the same team, in 3 different, yet similar positions (i.e. program coordinator > program associate > program manager). Over those 6 years, I had 5 different managers due to multiple team re-orgs, and 3 different department heads. Basically, the team has been a hot mess for a long time, but I am a creature of habit, loyal to a fault, care too much, and wanted to believe things would eventually get better, so I stuck around year after year. I liked the work and by the end, I’d finally maneuvered myself into the position I’d been wanting (I took over my useless manager’s role, who’s job I had basically been doing for her at that point). However, due to another major department leadership change that occurred as I moved into that role, I was not able to influence change for the better in the way I’d hoped, and ended up spinning my wheels to the point of exhaustion, trying to get my new department head (who had no previous experience with the type of work I did) to understand why her decisions were not in our best interests and/or that I needed additional support to be able to execute what was being asked of me. By the end, I was working 90 hours a week just to get my deliverables completed, cried every day, and was totally broken as a human.

    I never expected I would be someone who would leave a job before finding another one, but it just got to be too much to handle, and I couldn’t justify the toll it was taking on my physical and mental health. I was genuinely worried I might actually have a breakdown from the constant stress. I did not expect it to take 6 months to recover from that, but here we are. (And honestly, if it were an option financially, I would take a few more months for recovery, but I need to start collecting a paycheck again, sooner than not.)

    I’m trying to move into an adjacent career path to what I was doing before (i.e. from “program” manager to “events” manager) and have been framing my departure as being due to both not having the specific type of role I am now pursuing available in my office location (which is true, the roles I’m now pursuing were located in other cities), as well as also wanting to take some time for myself and be intentional about my next career move. I don’t want to speak ill of my last company, but the reality is that if it had not been such a dysfunctional, toxic environment, I would have tried to stick it out until I had my next job lined up. My direct manager is very supportive of me and I know will give me a positive reference when the time comes.

    So, back to my question – does this sound like the right way to frame my response when asked why I left my last role? Or is there a way to tactfully articulate that I left due to burnout (caused by poor leadership, lack of resources/support, team dysfunction, etc. – not because of the type of work, which I actually enjoyed)?

    1. ferrina*

      “Unfortunately I had unexpected health issues that I needed to take care of, and I was lucky enough to take some time off work so I could focus on my health. That health issue is happily resolved, I’m back to 100% and I am excited to be jumping back into the workforce.”

      That’s it. I wouldn’t say “burnout”- I’ve found that there’s a stigma attached.

    2. Spcepickle*

      I also left a job with nothing else lined up because of burn out (live in a camper trailer in a friends yard for 3 months – it was amazing). I think it helped that I also moved states, so in my cover letter I said I was excited about new job because of x and was looking for a new challenge. Nobody even brought up the gap in interviews. But I agree that I would not say burnout it has stigma, I would say family obligation that has been resolved (you are your family). I also would not talk about toxic a workplace, I find even when it is true it comes across as drama. I did spend time thinking about what I wanted in a workplace (flexibility and agency) and then asked questions in the interview to see if the job fit my goals.

    3. NaoNao*

      It depends on the question you’re answering.

      If you’re explaining a gap “I wanted to make sure I found roles I was really well suited to and enthused about, and yours is one of them!”

      If you’re explaining why you left, **always** focus on the future/the new job. “I’m seeking something that will allow me to X” “I am being very intentional in my job search and seeking a company with X values/that does X/a role that focuses on X”

      There’s basically never a benefit to being negative, no matter what the “reason”. Most people will understand that if you leave a job as a llama groomer specializing in tie dye wool, and are apply for a tie dye wool specialist, you like tie dying wool and didn’t leave because you hate tie dye wool. You can also explain that very easily in their “tell me about yourself” part “I am a huge tie dye wool-head! I love this, that, and the third aspect of it. I’m specifically seeking a role that will allow me to move into wax-batik style tie dye, and your org caught my eye because of that.”

  42. Rainy*

    This is just sort of funny to me and I wanted to share and see if this has happened to anyone else!

    I did a virtual, instructor-led training for a work certification this week and ended up with a Training Nemesis. There were 24 of us in the training class and another student spent basically the whole first day riding my ass: any time I responded to the facilitator whether voice or in the chat, she had a smart answer for me. The one time we were put in a breakout room together in a group of four to do a light-hearted brainstorming exercise, she went on a rant about how my responses specifically were pointless and stupid, to the point that my group didn’t actually complete the activity we were supposed to be doing because Training Nemesis was lecturing me about being a terrible person. Initially I thought maybe I was just being oversensitive but three times is enemy action (and the breakout room tantrum was pretty targeted lol).

    I was pretty anxious going into the second day because I’m a normal human who doesn’t like being targeted by a random stranger, but Nemesis responded to one of the facilitator’s first content-related questions of the day in a way that was confidently wrong, and when the facilitator tried to direct her subtly to the right answer, she tripled down and the facilitator ultimately corrected her and after that she was too embarrassed to say anything. I also wasn’t put in a breakout room with her again, whew.

    Are training nemeses a thing that happens to other people or am I just lucky? :)

      1. Rainy*

        Oof, I’d forgotten about that letter! I’m really glad mine wasn’t more than two days, I don’t know if I could have kept my sense of humour through three extra days!

        Nemesis also bragged about her upcoming podcast and how it had been “accepted by eighteen podcast platforms” and a bunch of people were like “oooh!” but, uh, congratulations, I guess you can successfully…create an account on an online platform and upload a .wav file. Good job. *eyeroll*

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

      Training Nemesis would just be another name for a Basic bully. A bully always finds a target in any space they happen to be in, not just training.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Had one in a Six Sigma project team who would not even consider the idea that I might be right about a statistical calculation. 20 years later and I’m still annoyed.

  43. Sally Rhubarb*

    Is it bad not to have references from your current job on your resume?

    I don’t trust anyone here to not let it slip that I’m job hunting & my manager is…mercurial at best and a raging jerk at worst, so asking her is out.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think that’s fairly standard, actually. I think it’s rare to have someone from your current job be a reference.

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      It’s pretty common. Most people are not letting their current job know they’re looking.

    3. Green Goose*

      I would double check some questions on AAM about this but I was under the impression that it’s no longer appropriate to list people on your actual resume. I don’t have references on my current resumes but it’s assumed I will have some if needed later in the interview process. Also, not all companies are good with data, or even integrity and could try to use those references to sell too/cold call/bother for other business reasons.
      I had a former intern list me as a reference and then the company turned our call into a sales pitch, so smarmy.
      But as for not being able to list anyone at your current company, if it’s small then I don’t think it’s that uncommon. You could offer a former coworker, or someone else you used to work with and explain that having someone at your current job would put your employment in jeopardy. I think Alison has good wording for this in a previous question too.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I was under the impression that it’s no longer appropriate to list people on your actual resume.

        I have never had my references listed on my resume. At one point, I think I had the line “references available upon request,” but I took that off after someone pointed out it was a waste of space (or maybe I read that on AAM). Anyone who wants to check your references will ask for contact information when/if they want it.

      2. There You Are*

        Agreed. No references on the resume. Wait until they ask for references.

        And, yes, it’s perfectly normal to not have anyone from your current company.

        I got really lucky with my most recent job search in that my manager moved to a different department shortly before I got to the references stage with my two top contenders. I trusted him to not tell anyone if the companies contacted him.

        [My slip-up was that I didn’t give him a heads-up. He got a call from a reference-checker and didn’t even tell *me* that they had contacted him. I only found out because I’d boo-booed my start date in the online application system and the reference-checker called to tell me that my paperwork said 2021 but my old manager said the correct year: 2020.]

      3. kalli*

        Yep. I only put referees in the application if the ad specifically requests references (and usually they’re specific about what they want – e.g. 3 professional referees with daytime contact numbers), otherwise I only give them if they ask. Leaves more room for actual things on my resume when there’s a page limit, means I’m not giving out people’s numbers to maybe hundreds of people, and I don’t find out my references are being checked from my referees.

  44. ReceiptsPlz*

    I’m starting to get into “boy, I really oughta job hunt” territory with my current place, and wanted to ask– how important/useful is LinkedIn? I don’t currently have one, and after hearing a coworker talk about it I’m wondering if I’m missing out. I’ve heard that it varies between fields, so for context: my background is in accounts payable, and most of my experience has been at financial institutions but I’m open to trying other places. Someone did ask Alison about the usefulness of LinkedIn back in 2015 or so, but I figured enough time has passed that it wouldn’t hurt to get a fresh opinion from other folks in the comments. Thanks!

    1. Spcepickle*

      I have never had linkin and do not know anyone who has used it for actual job leads. It just seems to cause drama to me.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I found it very helpful for searching job listings and applying, and I have had some recruiters contact me. I do not really use the social-media type post functions, other than to scroll through from time to time and like something from someone I know, or occasionally share a good announcement from a boss or mentor.

      I use Linkedin side by side with Indeed and Glassdoor. They each have different strengths.

      It also has Linkedin Learning, which can be a good way to brush up skills or get badges that you are qualified in certain skills. If you take the free trial of Linkedin Premium, you do get good insights into how well your profile matches different roles, how many people have already applied, etc. And a free trial of Learning comes with it.

    3. ThatGirl*

      LinkedIn has been useful for me – I’ve gotten interviews, contact from recruiters and helped others find jobs that way. I sort of indirectly got my last job via LinkedIn – someone I used to work with saw that I had been laid off and recommended a position to me.

      I do think it depends somewhat on your field, and it also depends on whether you have good connections – it’s a form of networking. I tend to add people I have actually worked with who I know would look out for me and vice versa.

    4. BellyButton*

      I have found my last 3 jobs (over 10 yrs) all on LinkedIn. I don’t always apply using LinkedIn, I often search there and then go directly to the company website to apply.

    5. Sweet Clementine*

      My SO and I are in tech, and we have gotten all our interviews/ jobs in the last 3+ years via LinkedIn (by directly approaching hiring managers). I have had no luck with applying to roles directly on company website, and some luck with referrals from our network, but not much. But we are in a niche field, so YMMV.

    6. Colette*

      I’m very low effort on Linked In, but I like that it lets me keep in touch with people I used to work with -no need to find that email from 5 years ago, you can message on Linked In if you want a reference/want to know that their company is like/etc.

    7. Stuart Foote*

      If I saw a resume I liked I’d want to look them up on LinkedIn just to get a better feel for them. And the LinkedIn job postings are probably the best I’ve seen.

    8. There You Are*

      I got my new job (started at the end of October) because a recruiter found me on LinkedIn. In fact, all of the companies I interviewed with – except one – were because a recruiter found me on LinkedIn.

      It’s probably industry / job role-dependent, though.

  45. Mimmy*

    Thanks to those who replied to my question last week about the 2.5 hours Zoom job interview I have coming up. I got the email with the information a few days later and it didn’t give as much of a structured agenda as I would’ve liked. It just said that the first two hours will involve interviewing with the hiring committee. The last part will involve a mock intake meeting (this is a student-facing position at a university). I just hope that there will be at least one short break at some point!

  46. Green Goose*

    Hi all, would love insight:

    I know that it is not polite to interrupt people at work, I avoid interrupting as I personally find it rude (as do most people) and don’t like when I’m interrupted when speaking in a work situation. I work in a department that has no power but is tasked with enforcing rules around staff members paying money to clients, so we get lots of push back and the job can be a bit of a nightmare with emotions and tensions running high when we have to ensure the organization is being compliant. We support vulnerable populations and my coworkers can be passionate.

    Anyway, I tend to take a gentle empathetic approach with colleagues to get through these challenging conversations but it’s draining. My direct report, while never rude, is not willing to put as much emotional labor into the job and I support them in this. So they can be a bit more to the point when people are not being compliant with things (that are federal regulations not us being sticklers). And I think because of this some of the others are building up feelings about it.

    We’ve been in two meetings where a staff member has started giving a long excuse about why they were non-compliant but they started their vent with something factually inaccurate like “I was never told to do this” when in fact we had provided materials and two in-person trainings that were 1:1 with them and offered office hours. My direct report stopped them to clarify this inaccuracy and the person angrily said “let me finish speaking!” This has happened twice, and I feel like they think my direct report is being rude by interrupting them. But in my opinion if they are about to go into a spiel about something but it’s wrong, it’s okay to clarify something before moving forward. Both times I froze because that is unfortunately my natural instinct when someone is angry, but both times I spoke with my direct report after to see if they were okay.

    Since we are only a team of two there isn’t really anyone else I can ask if it seems like my direct report was out of line. The staff think my direct report is out of line for interrupting but I am not sure in this circumstance.

    1. K8T*

      Is there room for you to start these meetings with “we may chime in to confirm details while you’re going over this just so you’re aware”? Or is it really vital for that to be corrected in the moment? Once they’re done speaking your employee could’ve gone back to that point and affirmed that they actually were told this information.

      I also HIGHLY recommend you have records/signatures of who’s attended these trainings/calls/etc with the date and subject matter. It’s much easier to enforce when you have specific documentation that these topics and procedures have been covered and that the employee is responsible for remembering/enforcing them.

    2. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Yeah, K8T’s advice is great and I would add that if you’re seeing a lot of the same mistakes/getting a lot of the same questions, your documentation and training materials may benefit from some more plain language updates. I’ve also found that a lot of this kind of anger can stem from leadership not making it clear what staff’s role and responsibility is when it comes to these things. Which is not what you asked, just some experience I’ve had that may or may not be useful to you and does not in any way invalidate how inappropriate and unproductive these tirades are.

      Though there’s a lot of history and emotion behind this topic, the same methods of keeping any meeting on the rails should apply. The organizer sends the agenda, notifies everyone at the top of how it’s going to go and interrupts when necessary to keep it on the rails. If your colleagues don’t understand your team’s role in facilitating these meetings, just make that clear at the top of the meeting as K8T said. They might still be upset but they won’t be right.

      And it may seem silly, but if there’s a lot of emotion/history it may help to have a session specifically designed to release that energy where it’s okay to keep talking past the point of productivity. It sounds so childish to suggest but I’ve seen circles with talking sticks actually be really productive?

      Anyway good luck and stay strong!

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think it sounds like you are letting the other staff members manipulate you, and it’s a good thing your direct report is not having it. I’m very surprised at the way you perceive this situation. Your staff members are ignoring their training, violating federal regulations (!!!), making transparently false excuses about it, and openly expressing anger at you, at work. And you think your direct report might be the one out of line for interrupting?

      It’s only to be expected that if someone starts their self-justification spiel with an outright lie (even if they believe it themselves), they are going to be mad that they didn’t get their whole lie out. The purpose of throwing tantrums is to intimidate the person correcting you. And if you freeze up when they do it, it’s working.

      The purpose of a long self-justifying spiel is to throw so much nonsense in the air that you’re bound to get away with some of it, because by the time you’re done it’s impossible to parse.
      Forcing you or your direct report to wait for the whole thing, make notes, and then say, “Well first of all, you were in fact told all these things multiple times” is not going to make the interaction any more pleasant or make the noncompliant person feel any better. It just puts you in a position where you sound even more like a petty, overbearing nitpicker, which I expect is the chief complaint of the people who want to get away with ignoring the law.

      If your direct report was talking over the coworker, or making snarky remarks, that’s out of line. But if they said, something like, “Oh, let me stop you there,” or “Excuse me, that’s not correct,” then I think that is entirely appropriate in a work environment where the purpose of the conversation is to correct someone’s misconceptions and behavior — especially when their behavior puts the entire organization at risk.

      1. Green Goose*

        Thank you! I really needed to hear this. I’m going to copy and paste this comment so I can look at it during the next temper tantrum. It’s a very manipulative environment and I think I just needed to hear from an outside source that this is off. It’s hard when I’m in it because me and my direct report see things one way, but then the staff are a team of like 30 so more voices all saying the same thing (even though I know deep down is not correct) makes me question my reality a bit.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Totally. I’m the compliance sheepdog in my new role (just call me Lassie) and I’ve just had training from the guy who’s top dog — haha — at getting people to focus on stuff. He’s not rude, but he is no-nonsense, and he’s anxious to ensure I’m looking at the right figures in the right way. But your direct report — and you — need to be able to hold these people accountable; your vulnerable population is not served by lax procedures or unenforced rules.

          Compliance roles wouldn’t exist if everyone did things perfectly the first time. The reason we’re paid to do this stuff is because there are enough parts of the process which get overlooked. People may take it more personally than necessary, so maybe doing what the NHS has had to do and develop a culture where people aren’t blamed either for making or pointing out mistakes so that our jobs get easier and people less defensive about things.

          But ultimately, we’re there to be the good stewards of the money and other resources directed at the people who are in the most need. We owe it to them — in my case, for instance, I owe it to the patients on the hospital wards that they can rest easy in their beds without worrying about a fire on the ward or the heating giving out in the middle of the winter. I just picture my husband at the hospice and remember that he ended up in a well-funded, well-run, comfortable hospice because someone with a screwdriver tightened the screws on his bed and the plasterer finished the job on the walls and the electrician wired up his monitors and the bedside TV he used to watch England win the cricket world cup so he could actually die happy. And he did.

          When sending out test results at my previous position my dad’s name was literally on one of the envelopes that got sent out. If I didn’t already see all those other names on all the envelopes I sent out in ten years in the job as unique individuals with people who loved and cared for them, I did then. I tore up — he was in cardiac rehab; he avoided a heart attack by a matter of days right after I lost my husband, and that just hit me when I was already down — and had to have a break but I got it done.

          There might be no harm in spelling out why these things matter and to whom and that everything involved in their job and your need to police them is because the people on the receiving end of the service deserve better treatment. I don’t go into a clinic every day and wash bed-bound patients. I don’t even take names and check in patients with their doctors. But I make sure the environment around them is secure, clean and fit for purpose, and it’s important for me to have that emotional reason I’m so pernickety about the line entry on the purchase order matching what’s actually being done and that the bloke from Odd-job Ltd gets paid to screw in the lightbulb that means a surgeon can save someone else’s dad with a well-placed stent.

          Make it personal. Make it clear that this is in aid of something more important that what it sometimes seems like.

    4. Colette*

      I think it’s OK to interrupt people sometimes – but in this case, I wouldn’t argue with the person saying they were never told (you will not convince them); I’d focus on where you go from here. And I’d call out that I was interrupting – “I’m going to stop you there so we don’t get off track, what we need to focus on is …”.

  47. Not A Girl Boss*

    I am a manager – is it non inclusive for me to decorate my office a bit for Christmas now that I have direct reports, particularly ones who belong to religions that do not celebrate? Usually I bring in a little glass desktop Christmas tree.

    A long time ago at my very first job, I decorated my desk a bit for Christmas with this same tree and a faux garland. A coworker raised a big stink about it being non-inclusive and demanded I take it down. At the time, I rolled my eyes and said “my desk my decor – everyone can decorate their desks how they want.” To be fair, this coworker is the kind to have a problem with everything which probably affected my willingness to hear her opinion.
    But I’m wondering if it’s time to rethink the “my desk” thing now that my office is also a meeting space for my team.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Nah, that’s fine. When we’re talking about trying not to make people uncomfortable, I think it’s important to always consider degree as well as the what.

      So extreme example a bible verse on your personal bulletin board would be fine but plastering them all over your office would not be

      If you put a tree on all your employees desks or (imo) went way crazy overboard decorating your office that would be another story.

    2. Grinch*

      Unless you work at a religious (and specifically Christian) organization I would leave any Christmas decorations at home. I feel very strongly that religious decorations never belong in the workplace, period. Separation of church and state (work)!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s your desk, do what you want. As long as you’re not asking me to put up decorations and you’re not asking questions like, “Where’s your tree?” then it’s really not an issue.

    4. Former Retail Manager*

      I think it’s fine as long as your employees of other religions have the option to decorate their desks/cubes for whatever holidays they may celebrate. These people are obviously encountering Christmas decor probably everywhere they go anyway….I doubt that a couple items in your office would be bothersome to them.

      1. Grinch*

        These people are obviously encountering Christmas decor probably everywhere they go anyway….I doubt that a couple items in your office would be bothersome to them.

        Or perhaps because they are bombarded with Christmas decor everywhere, maybe they would appreciate not having to also see it at their secular place of work. It’s not just her desk, she says her office is now a meeting space for her team.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Its a glass tree on her desk. It’s not a giant Crucifix. She’s not dressing up like Santa and hosting meetings. She’s not bedecking the entire office. She’s not blasting Christmas songs through the speakers. Consideration for others does work in both directions.

          People are allowed to have personal items they enjoy including management.

          1. Grinch*

            Of course people can have personal items they enjoy (unless their company prohibits it), but the workplace shouldn’t be a place to display religious decorations of any kind. Honestly, seeing a Christmas tree on my manager’s desk would annoy me and make me slightly uncomfortable. (It also comes from a place of privilege, right? Because she has positional authority so people may be afraid to speak up; and Christianity is the default religion in the US. People who are members of religions that are less “popular” may not feel they can disclose theirs at the workplace.) I think it’s inappropriate, especially for a manager, and particularly if her office is being used as a meeting space. If she wants to be considerate then she should leave the religious decorations at home.

            1. Spcepickle*

              How would you feel if your manager was wearing a cross necklace? Or said they went to church on Sunday (or temple or Friday prayers?).
              People get to bring their full self to work and for some that means decoration. Saying people should not display small religious items in their space is like me saying that because I don’t like dogs (a minority option) nobody should put up pictures of their dogs.

              Now forcing your holiday on someone is crappy and judging someone for their faith practise in the workplace is illegal.

              And I would go so far as to say I don’t think government employees (of which I am one) should get Christmas as a paid holiday (because of the separation of church and state) but I am not going to tell my employees (who are mangers) that they can’t display person items of their faith.

              1. Grinch*

                If my manager was wearing a cross necklace I would make a mental note of it and feel like they are probably super religious; and that would make me wary. If they just say, Oh I went to temple this weekend as a “what did you do?” sort of thing that’s fine. But if they are constantly talking about church this or prayers that, then I’m going to be side eyeing them.

                It’s not at all the same as putting up photos of dogs or children or fishing etc. Those are not religion. People don’t get to bring their full selves to work. If you are rabid fascist – don’t bring that to work. If you cook meth in your spare time, don’t bring that to work.

                I think that Christmas should not even be a Federal holiday. (And I’ll go one further that they should remove “In God We Trust” from the money. It was only added because of Communism/the Cold War anyway.)

                1. Delphine*

                  This kind of thinking inevitably blows back on members of minority religions who are visibly religious.

    5. Spcepickle*

      I am also a manager having the exact same thoughts. I decided, I can wear my Christmas sweater. But we will not decorate the common areas of the office for “winter holidays” (in quotes because it is just Christmas). People can decorate their area anytime they like (I had someone bring in Diwali treats) with non-intrusive item (nothing that makes noice, will trip a breaker, or is a hazard to other). Also we do not have a “holiday” party. We do a potluck in February.

      I agree a small amount of Christmas in your space is just you being you, but no pushing it on others. And as a manager you sound aware that people celebrate other holidays and encourage them to do so as openly as they feel comfortable – I think this part is key

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Thanks. I do exchange eye rolls with these direct reports about how our office has a “holiday party” “holiday ginger bread decorating contest” and “holiday shutdown”, and I know it’s really annoying for them that people think you can relabel a Christmas tree as a holiday tree and that makes it somehow inclusive.
        But at the same time, it’s not like I’m wanting to display baby Jesus in a manger. The fact is that Christmas is celebrated by many people who aren’t particularly religious in a way that I think sets it a bit apart from other religious holidays (like, you won’t see me decorating the office for Easter), and I enjoy being a bit festive this time of year.
        I always try to encourage my employees to celebrate their holidays – I give them unofficial paid holidays for their Holy Days and one of them did decorate for Hanukkah (although honestly I think that’s partially to have something to look at that isn’t red and green).

        1. Grinch*

          The fact is that Christmas is celebrated by many people who aren’t particularly religious in a way that I think sets it a bit apart from other religious holidays…

          But as you admit yourself, it’s still a religious holiday. It’s coming across that you’ve already made up your mind and just want other people to agree with you that it’s okay. But not everyone is ever going to feel the same way, regardless of how you try to rationalize it.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      If it’s on your desk, it’s fine. It’s yours. It’s for you. When it gets not-inclusive is when people are pushed to put it on their desks, or if it’s like, the whole dang office, which you’re not doing.

    7. Colette*

      I think details matter on this one. Would you put it somewhere primarily intended for you to see, or somewhere intended for guests to see? For example, if you have a desk and a side table you use when you meet with people, it would be better beside your monitor than in the middle of the table.

      But honestly, I’m too lazy to decorate at work.

    8. I say no go*

      if it were just your office it would be okay but it would make me think you were a little clueless if I happened to see it. However, you mentioned team meetings in that space. If it’s a mandatory meeting space I’d say it’s a hard no. It would bother me and probably be a distraction to have to attend meetings in a space with that tree.

  48. Elle*

    In person meeting update/potential trend: donuts and muffins were offered and there was no cutting in half or eighths. People took an entire donut or muffin for themselves. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Not sure it’s a trend. For the past 20 years for me, it’s been much rarer to see cutting in halves (unless they were already precut by the person who put them out) than people taking wholes. I think this is just a different workplaces are different thing.

    2. Sally Rhubarb*

      Why wouldn’t someone take a whole item? Far less gross than touching it and then leaving the other half for someond else.

      1. There You Are*

        Yup. I don’t want to take the half of the muffin that my coworker was touching while slicing the muffin in half.

        (Who cuts muffins in half?? Aren’t they in those little paper cups? Doesn’t that make it harder to cut? I mean, you’re probably not going to find a razor-sharp knife that cuts through the paper with minimal pressure in the average office, so I assume we’re talking some sawing motion with a plastic or steel butter knife).

        1. Lizard the Second*

          Where I’m from, the muffins are huge, the size of a doubled fist. It’s cupcakes that are the little ones in the paper cases.

      2. Gyne*

        I missed the original thread but cutting things in half is pretty common at the last few places I’ve worked. And it drives me BANANAS to open a box of donuts and see four half-donuts!! I think it’s a performative diet culture thing where someone doesn’t want to eat the ENTIRE donut so they take half and leave the other half “for someone else!” rather than wasting food by throwing away the part they don’t eat. But no one wants a half donut left in the box by some mystery coworker so the half donuts just pile up and are ultimately thrown away anyway.

      3. Old and Don’t Care*

        I’m a big eater, but a whole bagel can be a lot of bagel. I’m happy to eat half of one and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about people touching things. (People have probably touched them anyway!). For those down the thread, it is possible to just want half a bagel without having an eating disorder or something about performative diet culture.

    3. Annabelle*

      “People took an entire donut or muffin for themselves. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that”
      This has always been a thing unless you work at like, Jenny Craig or someplace ultra cheap that can’t pay its bills.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        I provided food for an internal training once and I had 15 people signed up. I ordered 2 dozen bagels because I wasn’t going to be the person that went the cheap route and showed up with the bagels cut in half.

    4. Expectations*

      I am baffled by your implication that cutting stuff up and taking part is the bbn norm. Taking the whole thing is totally normal everywhere I’ve ever worked (for decades). Some folks take more than one (say, a muffin and a bagel). Splitting items is weird. In those rare cases when someone took half of something everyone would get annoyed because the other half would be considered not consumable because someone touched it in order to cut it. Now if two people jointly agreed to go halvsies that would be different and okay, but most people wanted actual food.

    5. Brad Pitt eating with Penguins*

      Interesting! I see a lot of people commenting that halving or quartering muffins is weird. And it (A) IS weird and (B) happened all the time when we were in the office. People trying to limit calories, people who wanted to try all the flavors, people doing all they could to not take the last piece….

  49. Aggretsuko*

    I’m back at work again. So far no disasters have occurred yet *knocks wood*. I am starting the process of A Second Opinion with an actual psychiatrist next week, (I will spare you the rants on getting this done, I’m going through alternate insurance since my HMO has not come through), along with another “do you have a disability to blame your performance on” one too.

    My work is asking me to get a doctor to sign off on “accommodations” even before I get any major diagnosis, except I don’t have one (neither doctor nor diagnosis beyond depression/anxiety) to sign off on that yet, and frankly, I don’t know what I could ask for that would actually do anything to improve “my performance.” I realize the whole “accommodations” and “disability” thing are stalling tactics before I am eventually fired anyway, but truly, what would make my life easier is all stuff that my job would refuse with great anger and prejudice (such as limiting my time on phones since they FRY ME), and otherwise I don’t know what to ask for. “Private office” and crap like that is already done, and they’re not going to cut me any slack if I say stuff like, “I have working memory issues, could you please not write me up like I’m deliberately disobeying you?”

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > another “do you have a disability to blame your performance on” one

      I recall seeing a few of your posts where this was mentioned. I feel like they are saying (but not quite explicitly) that the way through this is to declare a disability (do you consider yourself to have a disability? even if you do not have a written diagnosis yet?) and then they can work with you on it. I don’t think they are necessarily stalling tactics and theatre before firing you, because if they truly wanted you gone they probably could have by now (either due to employment laws allowing it, or going through the whole process already).

      > “I have working memory issues, could you please not write me up like I’m deliberately disobeying you?”

      Have you talked with them about these issues? It is a legitimate thing to bring to a manager, with potential adjustments like allowing time for note taking, providing information in a couple of different ways, or whatever will help with that.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Well, I made a typo this morning, so I’ve already screwed up and that’s now added to my firing record :( I really don’t like how they rewrote the procedures, but that isn’t something I can complain about openly since they specifically did not want my input on that.

        They are going through the entire process. It just takes a year to fire you for cause here, as it turns out, and that is exactly what they are doing correctly. The only thing that will pause it is disability diagnosis. That was pretty explicitly said by management and the union. The union said because it looks bad if they fire someone right after a diagnosis.

        I honestly don’t know on “disability.” I think I probably have ADHD and am trying to get evaluated for it, which isn’t going too well because I can’t really prove having it in my childhood (no paperwork left, only my mother left and she doesn’t remember much). I don’t know if I would even consider that a “disability” since that’s not like, being in a wheelchair. I had a handicapped father so that’s what I think of disability as, like you physically cannot work. The more official people I have been talking to say it’s anything that’s impeding your ability to work, such as depression/sleeplessness, which are issues too. So I guess if your definition is that loose, then yes?

        I asked Disability Services about if I could talk to them about that and the answer was “heck no, you can’t.” They can continue to critique you however you want and not cut you any slack. I could disclose to disability services but not work, anyway, so I can’t SAY “I’m having working memory issues and that is a thing with what I have,” I don’t think? I’m not sure what else I could ask them for that I don’t already have or they don’t do or they would not strenuously object to.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          Tell them you suspect you have ADHD and are pursuing an official evaluation. My hunch is that they suspect this anyway (perhaps a manager or someone in the process knows someone with ADHD and recognises it, or has it themselves!) It wouldn’t be appropriate for manager to say “do you have ADHD” but it really seems like they are trying to steer you that way. Also what do you have to lose by mentioning it, as it seems that the firing is inevitable otherwise.

          A disability can absolutely be ADHD or other mental health / “not physical” conditions that significantly impact your day to day life. Have a think about whether that definition seems to fit.

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          NB: I can’t remember if it was here or on Reddit (I know it was one of the two) but I read a thread a couple of weeks ago asking about input on your “early years” to the ADHD evaluation process and what happens if there’s no history (parents are deceased or no contact etc). The consensus was that this background information provides additional context to the evaluation process but is not a “pre-requisite” for a diagnosis. So I think being unable to ‘prove’ what you were like as a child won’t necessarily be a problem. You will also be asked about your own experience/ recollection of these incidents when you were a child.

        3. Nightengale*

          ADHD, anxiety and or depression can all be considered disabilities in the US under the Americans With Disabilities Act for workplace accommodations. To be considered a disability, the condition would need to impair one or more major activities. This is not the case for every person with depression, anxiety or ADHD but is true for many of them. So that is how “loose” the definition is in this case.

          https://askjan.org/disabilities/Mental-Health-Conditions.cfm

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      Why are you still at this job? It sounds miserable – plus if you think they’re going to fire you anyway, why not start applying for something new? Unless the pay or benefits are astronomical I’d try to get out asap

    3. Part time lab tech*

      That’s hard. I have been reading your post, trying to figure out if I have anything to contribute. I agree with several commentators that this particular job is a poor fit with both tasks and people and wish you good luck with a better fit.
      My working/list/label memory and verbal processing skills are below average. I sometimes think of my memory as an extreme “doorway effect”. The first key is to accept that this is something I am always going to have to work at and activity work at. Mostly because this is genuinely annoying for other people if I forget something they tell me after I’ve agreed or regularly forget a housekeeping task. The fact that it is not malicious doesn’t change the fact it’s frustrating and honestly, it’s part of being reliable in the job.
      So I have a notebook and make notes and then I look up those notes the first few times I do something even if I think I know it. I add to them if I find I’ve missed something or as things change.
      I accept I need to incorporate checks into my workflow. I pay attention to feedback and mistakes and problem solve the misses. I accept my speed will plateau in the beginning while I make mistakes and try out different things. I need to work on conveying remorse.
      I developed a mental end of day checklist so I would actually remember to empty the bin. I always put food rubbish in the kitchen bin, no exceptions so there’s no smells.
      The other part is the fit part. I actively avoid jobs that involve phone calls and interruptions. I accept I work better in chunks of time and with varied but repetitive tasks so I can make use of routine and still maintain interest.
      So for me that means doing data entry for a group of sub departments (not applying for admin positions that include phone and reception) and being cross trained as a lab tech in different areas formerly. I suspect bullet journalling (the simple version) would help if I used it more formally as well.
      Maybe talk to friends or a counsellor about what your strengths are and what structure might suit you.
      It feels like you are focusing on how to keep this job at the expense of accepting this is a bad fit in people and tasks, and finding something better. For this job, could you be relief for a position that suits you better or somehow chunk your phone calls with someone else? That’s all I can think of.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking about you and hoping that things get better for you soon.

      Also, you should know that the definition of disability does include both ADHD and depression (and mental health conditions in general.) Do not just rely on your union for information about the legal aspects of how this interacts with your situation at work. Please try to look up a disability rights organisation in your area (search for “disability rights” plus your area) and see what information and support is available to you. You may need to contact several organisations before you find one that can help you (just because organisations sometimes have specific criteria for their clients due to their funding), but even if you don’t fall under their criteria, they may be able to refer you to another organisation. You may need to do some digging on their websites to find it, but a lot of organisations have good resorce databases too.

    5. kalli*

      You don’t need a diagnosis to get a medical professional to write a letter saying you need accommodations based on your current work capacity – it’s basically a letter saying ‘Aggretsuko needs 15 mins of break time each hour’ or ‘Aggretsuko can sit for max three hours at a time’ or ‘Aggretsuko needs materials in written form’. You’d go to a doctor or occupational therapist or licensed psychologist and talk to them about how your brain functions at work, what you already have and what would still make things easier and they’d write it based on that. A diagnosis and treatment can come later! ‘Aggretsuko should limit phone calls’ can be an accommodation that is requested and provided, but that isn’t something that generally angers people, it’s something that’s often a core part of a job such that the calls can’t be delegated or diverted and therefore would be difficult or unreasonable for an employer to provide. If you can qualify how much phone time you can handle, or types of calls you have to do vs types of calls you can handle by email or someone else can do without increasing their workload outside of their role description (like if you have to tell them what to say/ask for, they have to report back to you and then you end up basically in a protracted relay call vs it’s part of their job anyway and they get an extra couple of calls in their queue a day, the call goes on file, and you only find out when you’re on that file doing something else).

      Another one might be “Aggretsuko needs instructions in writing,” which instead of telling your employer your brain doesn’t work the same as theirs so they shouldn’t write you up for disobedience (in whatever situation that comes about – it’s generally normal for ‘don’t discipline someone for something everyone else would also be disciplined for’ to not get much traction, but also normal for ‘if you help me not get in a situation where you’d be writing someone up, here’s how’ to get the slack required. If getting instructions in writing would help you not accidentally disobey because it didn’t stick in your memory, then ask for that! And you’d likely get it, because emailing stuff is generally good for everyone even when they also say it over the phone or in person or over chat and wouldn’t require anyone to actually go out of their way – ‘Retsuko, can you finish your invoices on the IT department’s material costs and give the summary to Haida by the end of the day?’ ‘Yes, Ton-buchou, I can do that’ followed by an email saying ‘just confirming our discussion – I asked you to finish your work on the IT materials invoices and send a summary to Haida by 6pm today’. (Hell, if that would actually help, you can email basically the same thing, if converting oral to written helps your working memory put stuff in functional memory.)

      I would recommend looking at a psychologist first, unless you need a doctor or other primary care professional to refer you to one (whether at all or because it brings it under insurance) because generally jobs don’t go straight to “great anger and prejudice” over requests for reasonable accommodations, and asking you how they can accommodate you in order for you to stay in that job isn’t generally a stalling tactic – it means they want to keep you but you need to give them some information to help them do that. I recall you have a union – they often know doctors and occupational therapists and psychologists who are reasonable and respected and a letter from them would be respected, because helping people get accommodations is part of what they do and they would be familiar with helping people get documentations, so you might consider asking them if they can recommend someone. The advantage of seeing a psychologist is that they’re more likely to be able to identify the mechanisms behind some of how your brain is doing stuff right now and help you meet your employer part-way with coping strategies or things you can do that you can request as accommodations as well as things your employer can do – jumping to worst-case scenarios and constantly describing your employer’s potential reactions in extreme terms might be an indicator on your end even if you genuinely have a terrible employer.

      Bear in mind also that the documentation and exchange is the starting point of a negotiation – you might try something and find it doesn’t work and something else would be better, or your employer might not go for something initially but may be able to plan to give it to you in a few months, or they might see something not working and come around to something bigger, or they may have another idea based on your documentation but it wasn’t something on your radar because you have a different perspective on your organisation. You don’t just ask for something and get a yes/no and that’s it if your employer is even halfway understanding, and honestly, from what you’re saying, they are trying really hard to keep you!

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Good point on providing things in writing and that is a standard thing to he asked to do (and good practice anyway). In my role I manage people directly and also have to give answers or “direction” to various others in the company. If they come to me verbally I give the answer verbally and ask “do you want me to put that in Teams/Email as well?” or if it’s complex and the person has a history of forgetting things I’ll often just say “I’ll send this to you on Teams as well so you have it”. (And avoids the “can I get that in writing” as they want to as a CYA move but also don’t want it to seem like they don’t trust me saying it verbally…)

        It is a totally normal thing in office environments but can easily be done in other enviroments as well.

  50. Quiet Quitting Failure?*

    I wrote in to the Friday thread many months ago about my move to a new job that turned out to be highly dysfunctional. Generally, the commentariat’s response was along the lines of quiet quitting – don’t stress about what I can’t change, focus on what I’m tasked with and let other tasks or issues go, generally just caring less, etc. I’ve been trying very, very hard to take that advice but it seems like I just… can’t.

    The absolutely lousy team leadership just drives me nuts, it slows down my work, and actually results in me having more to do because the team lead tasks me with parts of his job he just doesn’t want to do. It’s made me totally stressed and I’m angry so much of the time, it’s just not healthy. The good news is that I got an offer for a job in a much more organized, well-run, friendly environment, so things will definitely be turning around.

    But it’s made me wonder – does anyone else have a hard time with the whole quiet quitting thing? Honestly, my inability to let this stuff go and just cruise has me puzzled, and I wonder why I can’t. If you’ve had success limiting your stress about what you can’t change, what techniques have you used?

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Morbid, but I just think about how I’ll be dead someday and I should enjoy every single moment I have alive right now and not sweat the small stuff. It gets easier the older you get. :)

    2. Water Lily*

      Yes! Yes! I totally hear you.

      I’m not in exactly your situation, but the remedy to my situation, as friends have said, is quiet quitting or caring less.

      The only thing that has helped a little bit is to find a friend in the office. A bestie at work makes anything better. Also, find something cool to do at lunch. I walk and listen to podcasts. I also make sure I drink very good coffee during the day. Not that free swill they make. Like I bring my own pods.

      But it’s so hard. It’s a little hard because I’m not in the cool kids club. I’ll never be in the cool kids club. It’s fine, but it’s also very isolating. No matter how much I try, I’ll never get a gold star for anything because the gold stars are for the cool kids club.

      Whatever. At least I have good dental insurance. ha!

    3. Colette*

      I think you need to focus on the reason you’re still staying. So when the chaos happens, you think “this is awful, but it pays better than any other job” or “putting up with this is the price I pay not not have to pay back my relocation costs” or “even though this is ridiculous, I’m sticking it out because I’ve had two short-term jobs in a row”.

      And, depending on your role, it can help to remind yourself that other people are paid the big bucks to make decisions, and worrying about them is above your pay grade.

  51. AnotherSarah*

    I’m wondering if anyone here has successfully gotten out of a clawback agreement. I’m a professor on sabbatical from a public university, which might be relevant. FWIW my sabbatical is earned (so maybe it might count as compensation?) but I signed the agreement. I am planning/hoping to move during the time I’d be working off my clawback. Not moving is probably not an option (small kids, spouse needs to move), and working remotely (for either of us) is also likely not an option for Reasons, so as I see it, my best bet is getting out of the agreement. Success stories, esp. from higher ed? I’m hoping, perhaps naively, that signing one of these is like signing an NDA–rarely enforceable….

    1. Dr. Doll*

      Ooooh, dear. No, those clawback agreements are pretty enforceable. The only one I ever heard of a person getting out of was because her new job paid the clawback.

    2. Gyne*

      Agree with Dr. Doll – I’m in medicine but the clawbacks are Enforceable in a way non-competes rarely are. ESPECIALLY if you signed a separate agreement about the sabbatical. I think your best bet would be to find an employment lawyer who can review your contracts and give you a better idea of what your options are, then you can make an informed decision about whether it’s better to live apart in two cities (miserable) or pay the clawback (also miserable). Depending on your salary and cost of living (and job options elsewhere), there’s going to be a dollar amount you can calculate for the cost/benefit of each and weigh that against the psychological strain of living in a different place or spouse and kids staying with you while spouse doesn’t work until your clawback period ends and so on.

    3. linger*

      Once upon a time, my former org had a rule that you had to stay 5 years after a paid sabbatical. But this was deemed unenforceable, and cut to 1 year. Part of the argument for that was that the org wanted to lower mandatory retirement ages, which would have suddenly made some recently-hired staff ineligible for any sabbaticals.
      In theory we were allowed one year off in 10. However, within this, older staff were racing to take their remaining sabbaticals before retirement, but there was also a limit on how many could be off simultaneously, which meant others couldn’t even apply, while also absorbing the workload of those who were away.
      So I finally got to take mine 20 years after joining. I was already thoroughly burned out, and the break did not help enough; I only lasted another 3. “Luckily” this happened after the policy change.
      So, some parts of the equation for “accrual” vs “clawback” models are:
      (i) How long do you have to wait before becoming eligible? (Shorter supports “clawback”, longer suggests “accrual”.)
      (ii) Do you ever stop being eligible? (If there is no endpoint, it should be “accrual” rather than “clawback.)

  52. Jane Elliott*

    I work for a large university system and the faculty are going on strike, including me. Everyone is SO PISSY. ALL THE TIME. I hate this atmosphere.

    Experienced union people, what leads to the absolute us v them, “they are evil and we are good, they lie and we tell the entire unshaded truth at all times, they hate you and don’t care about your students, administrators are our enemies” rhetoric? I mean, faculty are smart critical thinkers? So does this really work to get them all riled up? It seriously turns me off.

    It’s also very interesting that the super vocal union members are the social science and humanities faculty; the science, engineering, and business are fairly absent as far as I can tell.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      Faculty are smart critical thinkers about their subject matter, and only sometimes about other stuff. I’m a unionized faculty member. It’s embarrassing. These should be transferrable skills.

      1. linger*

        It follows from the adage that reasonable arguments are for reasonable people. Higher admin must consider many competing priorities. The upshot is they’re not swayed so much by reason but by noise that could impact an org balance sheet they’ve drawn up on the basis of what costs they think can be reduced without complaints. The union POV, not entirely unreasonably, is that worker complaints need to be amplified in order to shift those decisions.

    2. 1LFTW*

      Well… in my case (public sector union worker) the “absolutist rhetoric” is based in fact. Our department management is very adversarial, to the point of putting us and our community in harms way. I can’t describe their arbitrage in detail for legal reasons, but if I could, it would be very reasonable to conclude that management feels nothing but contempt for workers and our community.

      But maybe your management truly means well. Thing is, everybody in the world is dealing with post-pandemic PTSD, rising inflation, climate dread, and economic uncertainty. Under those conditions, tempers are gonna fray. Critical thinking will go out the window. People will look for someone to blame. They will get, in your words, SO PISSY. ALL THE TIME.

      It’s the Union’s job to channel peoples’ anger into concrete demands, and use that anger to organize. It’s gotten bad enough that you’re striking: by definition, that’s adversarial. And yeah, if you’re looking for a rallying cry, “management doesn’t care about workers or the students they serve” is probably more effective than “we are reasonable people who want what’s best for our beloved institution of higher learning, we merely differ about what that means”. But if it really bothers you, please talk to your leadership! They’re there to serve everyone, not just the most vocal members.

      (And FWIW, the absence of science, engineering, and business faculty strikes me as a reflection of material differences. Those are specialties that are valued outside of academia, so those folks can find work in other sectors if they want to. Faculty in the social sciences and humanities have more to lose.)

      I wish you the best of luck with your strike.

  53. Heffalump*

    Interesting letter in Carolyn Hax’s advice column. The LW and her husband, who own a business, feel betrayed because an employee has quit:

    https://wapo.st/3T3hu0O

    In this day and age, I’d say that barring unusual circumstances, it was naive for an employee to feel betrayed (as opposed to just disappointed) because they were let go. It seems even more naive coming from an employer–a man-bites-dog story.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Wow, that story is a lot. The guy bought her a car, paid for her college and helped paid for her wedding and HELPED HER ADOPT A CHILD. Talk about boundary issues.

    2. BellyButton*

      That is an interesting letter! Her response was perfect as well. Hopefully the LW and the husband can have a reframing of their opinion.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      That one produced some very interesting comments. Including sending the LW over here for Friday’s open thread.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oh, wait, I think I misunderstood and you meant that the comments on that site recommended that LW read up on AAM. Gotcha.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Ooof, sounds like he was trying to make her feel obligated with all that other stuff. To be honest, as a woman if an older man was giving me lavish gifts like that, it would make me uncomfortable. Feels manipulative. And very much NOT my “dream boss” for sure!!

  54. Dog Child*

    While still waiting to hear on my scholarship for my law degree (part-time, weekend), I received an email telling me that that particular study mode has been cancelled!

    Leaving my options as… part-time online. Because ‘part-time evenings’ doesn’t run in my location. I’m not thrilled, cos I really do better in in-person settings.

    I’ve requested the transfer anyway, and hopefully it doesn’t affect my scholarship application!

    I’ve decided I’m not really invested in the work I’m doing. Or rather, in the career path it offers. There’s so much pastoral care now (after my promotion) and it’s just very much out of my skillset, plus there’s no management training (under-funded non-profit) so I am feeling a little out of my depth and that I’m not giving my team the support they need.

    I can stay in it for awhile, so I’m hoping if the Law thing clicks with me then I can eventually move away into that.

    Fingers crossed for my transfer and my scholarship!

  55. Alex*

    ARGH. This is mostly a vent but if anyone has any magical ways to deal with this kind of difficult coworker I’m all ears.

    My coworker frequently drops the ball on stuff. Fine, OK. None of us are perfect. But when she drops the ball, it sometimes lands on me and I need to follow up with her to ask what is going on with it. I try to be as diplomatic as possible, saying things like, “Hey, this teapot is marked as painted, but it doesn’t look like it has actually been painted. Can you check on that for me?” when she is the one in charge of making sure that the status of teapots is correct.

    She gets so defensive to the point that she adds confusion. For example, to the above request, she will say, “So are you asking me to get it painted?” And like…well yeah if it isn’t painted and should be, yes…please do your job? But she acts like I am requesting extra work from her or asking for a big favor from her. Or sometimes she will ask me if I can paint it myself since it is so close to the deadline (We use external painters, usually), with a side of sarcasm, as though *I’m* the one who is late or asking for a rush job. But like…at no point does she say, Oh, I accidentally marked that as done when it wasn’t! Or, give any explanation or status update at all. If she would just be clear about what happened it would make everything so much easier–I could tell her whether or not it is urgent and we could work out a plan from there. It drive me bonkers, especially the snark I get when asking for updates or asking questions about her incorrect or missing information.

    As usual I’m sure there’s no magical way to point out someone’s errors to them when they are extremely defensive about everything–but. ARGH. It really grinds my gears!

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Are your manager and her manager the same person? If so, bring it to your manager. Or actually, bring it to your manager either way, but the angle if it’s the same manager is more letting them know this thing is happening because it sounds like something they’d want to know, and then they can tell you either how they want you to handle it or that they’ll handle it. If your manager is not their manager, the angle is more “can you help me to make this less burdensome?” The issue being less that it’s annoying are more that: the way they’re responding is confusing given what you said, you’re not sure the root cause of the discrepancy, blah blah blah. Focus on how/why it’s disruptive to the work in either case. But this seems like manager territory.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was also thinking it’s time to bring in your manager on this, because what she’s doing is interfering with your work and also demonstrates that she has problems doing what seems to me like a rather basic part of her job.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Is it abundantly clear that she’s the only one who would’ve marked it as painted? Maybe when she acts affronted like you’re asking for extra work, you could — I don’t want to say *act* confused, more like take your cues from her confusion — say something like “Oh was it not you who marked this as painted? That’s so weird…anyway I’ll mark it as unpainted again so you don’t miss it” or whatever makes sense.

      1. Alex*

        It’s not exactly clear to me why it would be marked as painted when it isn’t–that is why I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt when checking in on it. I’ll say something like, “hey, I just opened this teapot but it doesn’t look like it has been painted, but it is marked as painted in the list, can you check on that?” because she is the one who manages the list–sending teapots out to be painted, marking them as done when they come back. There could be a bunch of reasons this would occur–she marked it as done without sending it out, she sent it out but marked it done before it came back, it could be that the wrong teapot was in the box, or it could be some other explanation as to why the teapot was unpainted. Instead of giving an explanation, which would require her to admit SOME mistake, typically, she turns it around on me and snarkily asks if she should do something about it. It drives me CRAZY. This happens all the time, too.

        Yeah, I could bring it to my manager, but ultimately, this is more of an annoyance rather than something that really impacts our work and I’m afraid of being seen as complaining about her as a person. In a few cases where it HAS impacted our schedules, I did mention it in a neutral-sounding way to my boss (yeah, that teapot is behind schedule because it didn’t come back from painting on time, or, Coworker asked me to do that one myself since it didn’t actually get sent out). I’m not sure if my manager did anything about it.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          It seems like it’s a pattern, though, and that would be a helpful thing for a manager to see. Not just, “Hey, I’m waiting again for Jane to fix the teapot status,” but more, “Hey, Manager, I’ve noticed that Jane tends to mark teapot statuses incorrectly a non-trivial amount of time. How do you want me to deal with this?” And if you really feel comfortable addressing it with the employee herself, you could name the pattern to her directly and ask her if she has a suggestion for how she can be more diligent and stop mismarking teapots as painted when they’re not. Her reaction to that will be a good indication of whether she is likely to improve or not, and if the answer is not, that’s also good data for your manager to have.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Can you be blunt with her about this issue?

      “Hey Pat, as you know, when one of your projects isn’t going according to plan, I get pulled into it. When I try to get status updates or verify information with you, I’ve noticed that you get often defensive and it’s making it harder for me to do my job. I’m not looking to assign blame; I just need to figure out where we’re at and make a plan to move forward. What’s the best way we can work together when this happens in the future?”

      Or if you want to prevent the defensiveness when you need a status update:

      “Hey Pat, I’m getting pulled into this teapot project of yours. Can you verify the status of X? Not looking to assign blame or figure out what went wrong; I just need a clear answer on where we’re at so we can work out a plan.”

    4. RagingADHD*

      I think your indirectness is not helping you here. You don’t actually have any questions for her and don’t need to use any question marks.

      “This teapot was not painted, so I am taking out of the “painted” group and returning it to you to complete. Thanks!”

      1. Ginger Baker*

        ^Came here to say this. 100%, stop being “gentle” (which is being taken maybe as passive-aggressive anyway so it isn’t helping the way you intended) and instead get more direct. “I just reviewed the Teapot Status chart and Teapots 7, 9 and 12 were not marked correctly. Can you please update the chart and send me the revised version once you are done? Thanks.” (And then, if she updates the charts to correctly note them as unpainted when you need them painted “Great, thanks. Looking at the updated chart, I see Teapots 7 and 9 are unpainted. What’s the ETA on the painted teapots?”).

        1. Alex*

          Maybe this is it–everyone tiptoes around her all the time because she can get really snarky and difficult if she feels threatened, and so that is also what I have been doing, but maybe you’re right and I would have better success with a more direct approach!

          1. RagingADHD*

            Remember, directness is not the same as being rude or mean. You can state facts plainly, in a neutral and non-aggressive way.

            She may still react badly, but it will be more out in the open and therefore less infuriating.

    5. BigLawEx*

      Can you let her…fail? I feel like she’s trying to get out of work or do less work. Either that or it sounds like MAJOR incompetence – unless it’s 1000 teapots per day.

  56. Confounded*

    I’m looking for some advice and, largely, encouragement.
    I work in a very niche field in which it’s one of those “who you know” situations to move between jobs. Less than a year ago, I left a position (on good terms) to take a new opportunity.

    I need to be vague to prevent someone from making a connection to this post, but the structure in my new position is basically Small Board of Directors –> Admin A –> Me –> Others.
    I have had problems with Admin A since the beginning, but I’ve been holding out because of his long-planned retirement at the end of the year. I felt like the atmosphere may improve.

    Well, Admin A has put me on notice that I’m on my way out in the coming months. I was floored. I’ve never been in this situation in my life.

    I’m obviously now actively trying to find a new position as soon as possible. I’ve submitted formal applications, mostly out of the region. The problems are 1) I feel a sense of embarrassment telling professional contacts because, again, they all know each other quite well. 2) Something in my gut tells me the Small Board doesn’t know the extent of what Admin A said to me.

    I told two bosses from my previous job and a peer from another entity, and all three had very strong reactions of surprise, cursing, etc. One of the previous bosses already wrote me a beautiful letter to submit with an application that required one. He also invited me to return, which is kind and I may do temporarily (although it’s not really my long-term fit).

    Overall I’m feeling despondent, frustrated and panicky about paying my mortgage if I am axed. Part of me wants to have a conversation with the Small Board, but this experience has me ready to move on. I also may be deluding myself into thinking they weren’t the instigators for this. I’m certainly going to miss Others; they have been phenomenal.

    Thank you for letting me vent to the world wide web. It has been a difficult time.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Oooh, boy. Is Admin A your direct boss/supervisor? Does Admin A not have an actual boss, just the Board above them?

      1. Confounded*

        The org chart doesn’t actually have my position on it, which I used to find amusing and now find annoying in light of all this. Yes, it’s only the Board above Admin A.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Hmm, ok. So, is Admin A *really* retiring at the end of the month? Because if I were you I wouldn’t do anything rash just yet. A few things to think about: are they hiring someone to replace Admin A who will be your new supervisor? Are you going to be without a supervisor for awhile? Since you’ve already been having issues with Admin A, anything he says is, IMO, *highly* suspect. Will you have more contact with the Board after Admin retires? I agree with your suspicion that the Board might not be thinking what Admin says they’re thinking. How would Admin have any control over your position “in the coming months” if he’s leaving *this* month?

          All this to say that I think the smart move would be to wait and see if anything changes after Admin retires. And if you still have concerns a few weeks after that, then yes, talking to the Board might not be a bad idea but I personally am always hesitant to bring things up with the Board if I haven’t had any contact with them before. (There are a few things at my nonprofit that I’d love to tell the Board but I won’t…at least, not yet.)

          1. Water Lily*

            Totally agree with this 100%.
            Also, fwiw, unless it’s an extreme situation, most boards tend to back executive directors (Or Admin A roles, in this example). I’ve seen employees go around a top-ranking staff to a board and it just ends badly.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              That’s a good point too. The Board is likely to side with the person they’ve had the most contact with, which doesn’t sound like it’s you (and def isn’t me in my case, which is another reason I’m staying quiet).

    2. Always Tired*

      Do you already have a line of communication with anyone on the board? I would be tempted to do some light fishing “about my performance,” and see if I could get a feel if it was from the board or from Admin A.

      Could be Admin has beef for whatever dumb reason and is trying to sabotage you taking their role when they leave. If nothing else, make sure you get some severance out of it.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Were you told the reason why you are “on the way out?” Firing for cause, layoff, restructuring?

      It’s not that weird that the departure of a senior leader that reports directly to the board will have ripple effects to other staffing positions. Leaders often like to bring in their own people. Also, this kind of upheaval is generally a good time to do restructuring, as there’s going to be disruption anyway.

      Even if the firing is for cause, your boss may be willing to give a better narrative, especially if you agree to work for a certain period during the transition and/or complete certain tasks, train a replacement, etc.

      Regarding talking to the board, it probably won’t go well. Boards generally won’t get in the weeds on staffing decisions, and you could do more harm than good. One possible route is if you have a great relationship with a particular board member; in which case you can ask them for a reference and/or career guidance on your next move, while letting them know you appreciate the opportunity of working there and are sorry to be let go. If there’s something stinky going on, this is an indirect way to flag it. But I’d only go down this route if you actually have a good relationship with a board member.

  57. Peer Interview*

    So, I’ve been asked to take part in a peer interview of a candidate early next week. (There’ll be 4 of us doing one group interview.) We’re being given the resume and some standard questions, but I think it’ll be okay to also ask our own?

    This is the first time I’ve ever done this. My personal goal is to make one reasonably-meaningful contribution, and otherwise not make a fool of myself or make it awkward for anyone. Management’s stated goal is to see if the candidate is a good fit for the team. (Management already likes them, but they are sincere in the desire for a good fit.)

    Help?

    1. Justin*

      This is how we do things. Yes, do your scripted thing but it’s okay to come up with your own. I would, however, see if you can come up with it based on some of what they say.

    2. Spcepickle*

      I would double check on the questions. In my world we have to get all questions approved by hr and we have to ask all candidates the exact same questions. We can ask follow up or clarifying questions, but you would not be able to just ask your own.

      That said it sounds like you are only doing one interview, so what do you think the most important quality in a new team member would be? In all my interviews I ask people to tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a coworker, what was it about and how did you resolve it? It gives me good insight in what people see as conflict (I have been told some really petty stories) and what a good outcomes looks like to them. Anyone who says they never have conflict is a yellow flag for me (sometimes they are just inexperienced, but sometimes they are a push over, and sometimes they are so bullheaded they don’t see the disagreement)

      Good luck – interviewing is a really good skill to develop

    3. fhqwhgads*

      You should confirm the process before you go. I’ve done this in companies whose policy was “everyone gets the same questions” and the panel just decides among them who asks which one. I’ve been at other companies where it’s as you say, y’all ask the standard questions but can also/ are expected to ask your own as well. Toward your personal goal of not making it awkward, you need to be 100% sure which situation you’re in beforehand.
      Otherwise, stress less about it. These are generally more about making sure someone has no massive red flags for fit. It’s not like it’s the only evaluation of the person at all. In my experience, the goal is primarily just to avoid “the bosses biases made them love the candidate but the second the peers talked to them, the flags were waving everywhere” situations.

  58. ecnaseener*

    Hi all, any ideas for more professional wording for this question, interviewing for an admin position at an Ivy League?

    “Probably my least favorite part of this work is dealing with faculty who think I should bend over backwards to give them whatever they want because their work is so very important. I can only imagine that with how many world-class faculty members you have at your institution, this is much more common than at my current institution. Do you and the people above you back your staff up when that happens? Does this team strike a decent balance between doing our job and not making people hate us?”

    1. BellyButton*

      Your quote made LOL, it is so honest and exactly how people in that role feel. LOL

      You have two different things; 1 is finding out how they support the person in that role and 2. your least favorite part.

      If asked the least favorite part I would say “Learning how each faculty member expects their requests to be prioritized and how they prefer communication regarding their request. Once that is established between me and them and with my leader, it is manageable, but can be a bit of learning curve to get it right with everyone.”

      then I would follow up with “how is that typically handled here? How do you as a manager help and support your admins with this?”

      Good luck!

    2. Yes And*

      “How much autonomy does this role have to prioritize competing faculty requests?”
      “How does your team balance between enforcing policy and handling exceptions?”

      Not for nothing, but I wouldn’t necessarily assume that world-class faculty = more demanding faculty. In my (creative, allegedly glamorous) field, the truly top-class people are often the classiest, kind and generous. It’s the people just below that level who feel they have to assert their status. (Not to mention that being pleasant to work with may have helped them get the sequence of jobs that led them to top-level in the first place.)

      1. ecnaseener*

        Thank you, that’s an interesting point! Idk if in practice it’s better or worse that way – most of the Ivy folks are probably on that just-below-top rung lol.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      I would go with something like, “Can you tell me about how you prioritize tasks when you have competing requests from faculty? How are those priority determinations made and what sort of support do staff have in sticking to them?”

    4. SAA*

      I work at an Ivy as an admin – definitely do NOT phrase it that way. Something along the lines of faculty having competing priorities that often conflict with other priorities would be better. You can then ask how the team is supported in juggling the immediate needs of faculty versus the long term work of the role.

      Depending on where you are as admin, though, helping faculty with immediate needs is going to be a priority over everything else.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Ha, yes, I will not phrase it this way – that’s why I’m asking for suggestions.

        To clarify, my issue isn’t with speed or urgency. It’s with pressure to approve things that should not be approved.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Oh, oops, I’ve just realized I should’ve specified beyond “admin position.” I don’t mean an administrative assistant or anything along those lines, I just meant staff in an administrative department. Now I see why y’all assumed I was mainly talking about juggling time-sensitive assignments! What I’m actually talking about is faculty pushing back on decisions I’ve made based on regulatory requirements and/or my professional judgment.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Hmm, in my Ivy experience this is exactly what happened. When famous faculty member was told no they went straight to my dean (and much more politely, imagine that). Maybe you could frame your question that way? What kind of decisions get faculty pushback and how do the higher-level people handle it? I think you’ll have to ask the people at your prospective level but I worry you might not get a true answer in any case. At my old place the underlings were shoved under the bus all the time.

  59. Some Dude*

    Random question: what are some legitimate reasons why someone might need to use the restroom for extended periods multiple times a day? I have a colleague who is always in the restroom. I mean, always. I have to pee at least once an hour, and 2 out of 3 times I go in there, he is in the stall. This doesn’t impact my work at all, but I’m genuinely curious what could make someone have to poop 3-5 times in a work day.

    1. Justin*

      Many different GI conditions.

      There are people who may not be doing it for that reason (I used to hide in the bathroom when I was overwhelmed as a student) but, yeah.

    2. Enough*

      Agreed with Justin. Also all bodies are different. I have been a 3 a day pooper for years. Some people are 1 poop every three days. Just as you pee every hour others will go once at work.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Many – both GI and Urinary.

      I have IBS and it’s unpredictable but I can have to go multiple times in a very short window.

    4. Vio*

      Not everyone likes urinals and some people have medical needs they prefer privacy for so it’s not a guarantee that’s even the reason he’s in a stall. It’s usually safest not to speculate on other peoples medical issues though.

    5. Generic Name*

      Well, people’s bodies are different. Not everyone “goes” once a day or less. There’s also untreated lactose intolerance, IBS, Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, to name a few conditions that mean multiple trips to the bathroom.

    6. Meow*

      In addition to what the other commenters said, bathroom stalls are basically the only place people have privacy in an office building if they don’t have access to their own office. So this person may not just be going to the bathroom stalls for digestive reasons, but any other reason that requires privacy.

    7. lampo*

      I mean. Sounds like you’re there at least as often as them? Maybe for the same reasons you’re there?

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        That flagged for me, if they are there 2 out of every 3 times you are, maybe you’re there every time they are and they’re having the same thought about you?

  60. Alice*

    Just heard that my workplace will be having a renovation in calendar year 2024. I’m guessing that I’ll end up with a cubicle in the sub-basement as the end state. During the construction, well, the department head has been talking about hot desking….
    Maybe I’m catastrophizing about the sub-basement part? But all the main floor and basement space just got renovated last year (except for the spaces, including my current workspace, that are going to be renovated in the new phase, which are going to be repurposed), and I can’t see them wanting to redo spaces that have just been redone.
    When I think about being required to come into work to sit in a subbasement and do Zoom calls with internal customers next to my colleagues, I want to cry.
    I’ve got data about the modality of all meetings I had with internal customers for 18 months — more than five hundred meetings. 4% of them were in-person — and I have ALWAYS offered people who prefer to meet in person that option. So I’m not coming to the office for the benefit of the internal customers — I’m coming to the office “because it builds trust and collaboration.”
    Time to job search I guess, but I’m likely to need FMLA for caregiving soon, which makes me afraid to start the eligibility clock soon elsewhere.

  61. BecauseHigherEd*

    So, I work as an admin in higher ed, and one of my students just came to my office an hour ago to give me…a single red rose. Fortunately, our administrative assistant intervened and so I didn’t talk to him directly, but he did leave the rose specifically to be given to me.

    Um, does anyone have any advice on what I do with this? On a friend’s advice, I put it in a vase at the front desk so that it signals “This was a nice thing to do but I *personally* am not accepting this gift.” But like…do I say anything to the student? Do I pretend this didn’t happen? If I do say something, how do I approach it?
    1) “Hey, I heard you brought a small gift for our front desk–that’s very nice of you! Have a good Friday.”
    2) “Hey, I heard you brought a gift to our office. That’s very nice, but please know that it may create an ethical issue if students give gifts to their administrators. [Note: this isn’t an institutional ethics violation from what I can see.] Please don’t feel compelled to do this going forward.”
    3) …something else??

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t have advice on what to say, but I wouldn’t mention the ethical thing if that’s not really a violation, because he might then think you really want more of a relationship if not for those darn rules.

      BTW this is assuming he meant it as a romantic gesture and not a ‘thank you’ gift for helping him out, etc..

    2. ecnaseener*

      Omg that’s so funny. I’m a fan of #1, just don’t go near any ~implications~ with a ten-foot pole.

    3. Critical Rolls*

      If it’s true, you can tell him, “I don’t accept gifts from students.” Plus or minus “I appreciate the thought,” “I’m sure you understand,” or “It’s a matter of professionalism to me.”

    4. Fluffy Fish*

      Would you be comfortable having a conversation with him about it? Like actively asking why he dropped it off for you?

      Either way 2 vibes is the way to go and you can couch it as a mentoring opportunity- I would take out the may, and just state that whenever there is a power imbalance – student/teacher/administrator, employee/boss, patient/doctor etc, that gifts should never flow up for ethics reasons – a small thank you is fine (like a note or some homemade cookies).

    5. Always Tired*

      Critical Rolls is on the right track, I think. I would default to something like “It was so thoughtful of you, but I don’t accept gifts from students. You are *all* so important to me that I wouldn’t want anyone to feel obliged to bring me anything or think I have favorites. I’m sure you understand.”

      The firm “this is the line” and a gentler implied “you aren’t that special.” Then again, I probably would have sent the rose home with the admin assistant at the end of the day or thrown it out, because I am ice cold about such things.

    6. BecauseHigherEd*

      Just wanted to follow up with you all–thanks for your advice on this. I ended up sending the student an email more or less saying, “The front desk told me you brought a gift for our office. That’s very kind of you, but please know this is not expected and we do not want other students to feel pressured to give us gifts in order to receive service. You can always give your administrators/professors thank you notes, but you do not need to give us things.”

      His response was: “Thank you so much for your kind message. I appreciate your understanding and guidance. I genuinely wanted to express my gratitude, and I’ll definitely keep in mind your thoughtful advice. I won’t bring gifts moving forward, but I want to assure you that my appreciation for the support I receive from [my department] is heartfelt. I’m grateful for the warm welcome and support I’ve experienced so far. Wishing you a wonderful weekend!”

  62. Why is it so hard to think of a name*

    I’m pretty sure I’ve developed plantar fasciitis because of wearing cheap flats with no arch support and a super thin sole. The problem is that I have ridiculously wide feet – I generally need a 10 WW. Does anyone have suggestions for a good place to find basic black flats in extra widths that are nice for an office?

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Alternative option: stick with the cheap shoes if they’re easier to find and swap the insoles for good ones, like SuperFeet green.

      1. DoubleWide*

        I’m a WW too, so I sympathize. Barefoot shoes are typically much wider. They are expensive, but are typically high quality. I’d recommending searching for posts on wide feet on the website Anya’s reviews. She’s got lots of resources that have helped me find shoes that fit!

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      a lot of podiatrist offices also carry shoes! they’re not going to be cheap but depending on circumstances you can often use FSA money.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I think I’ve bought Trotters that fit this basic description. I developed PF the exact same way and honestly had to give up flats, and by that I mean the pump/ballet kind. Loafers are fine, because they can hold an insert. (Weirdly, my PF doesn’t mind a low like 1″ heel. It’s just flat-flat that it can’t do.

    4. Llellayena*

      If you’re near central/south NJ, there’s a shoe store called Carl’s Shoes in Moorestown that my mom gets her 6WW shoes at.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Aw I love that she has lil teeny yet wide feet! For some reason this really makes me smile!

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      Maryland Square, Shoe Mall, and Zappos. I do better with a 1-1.5” heel. FLAT-flat shoes actually make my tender little heels feel worse.

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      I also wear a WW width. I have had good luck with shoes from the Maryland Square catalog, and also from Hitchcock. Both carry dress, casual, and athletic shoes.

  63. pally*

    Maryland Square offers shoes in hard to find sizes.
    They are online and have a catalog you can request.

      1. Why is it so hard to think of a name*

        No worries, it’s right below my question! I will check that site out!

        1. pally*

          Hope they will meet your needs.

          My friend has the exact opposite issue: she needs extra narrow shoes. She like the site.

  64. Pear Blossom*

    1:1 Meeting Question

    I meet with my supervisor twice a month and I’m probably overthinking, but is there a better way to start our meeting than me asking “what do you have for me?” I asked just that a few meeting ago and I felt so *cringe*

    Since then I’ve been waiting for him to kick the meeting off, but sometimes we just talk about our personal lives and I don’t know how to transition to business. I guess I just want to be respectful and have him cover what he needs to with me first before I ask my questions and/or give my updates. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Sometimes I start off 1:1 meetings with my manager with some small talk, sometimes we jump straight into work. If I’m the one to transition it from small talk to work, I usually say something like:

      * “is there anything work-related you wanted to cover during this meeting?” (if I don’t have anything I want to ask/share)

      * “I have a few questions (about project XYZ). Do you want to discuss those or is there anything you want to talk about first?”

      * “I have ABC for you to review. Do you want to jump straight into that or is there anything you want to go over first?”

      I’m still deferring to my manager about which things get talked about in which order, while also letting them know I have questions/updates I want to cover.

    2. JelloStapler*

      What would you like to discuss today?
      What would you like to cover?
      What concerns or questions do you have today? What do you need from me?

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      It’s been easier for me to move into good discussion about work by getting some of the basics out of the way such as what trainings may be coming up, what days off are on your calendar that month, any outstanding questions I may have about any of my projects, etc. Then I can simply provide some progress updates and allow boss to get any info he may need from me. I write a few bullet points down before each 1:1 and I also keep all the notes from every 1:1 in the same folder I bring to each meeting. Makes me look super invested. I’m not even a little invested.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Do you know why it felt cringe to you? TBH, my last three bosses started all their 1:1s with me by saying “what do you have for me?” or “what’s on your list?” I know your question is about you using the phrase, not your boss, but it seems pretty normal to me as a way to kick off a 1:1. Sometimes if my boss doesn’t say that, I’ll say something like “do you want to start or do you want me to?” but it’s basically understood we both keep a list, and any given week one or the other of us might not have anything.

    5. Kay Tee*

      Maybe more of a structural change to the meeting than you’d like, but I’ve been using shared agendas for standing/1:1 meetings lately. Attached a shared document to the series calendar invite so it’s there every week, make sure you both have permission to edit, and add the latest date to the top. If you add to it throughout the week as things come to mind, there’s a clearer set of items to be achieved, and you can recall more easily what you talked about last time.

    6. Awkwardness*

      Do you have an agenda?

      In my 1:1 it is about my needs as well as bout my manger’s needs. If some things came up and I wasn’t sure if that was handled right, to address a repetitive pattern of conflict as the person from the other department never providing paperwork on time, to clarify tasks I have been working on or to learn about details of a certain working procedure.
      I take notes throughout the week and start most of the time with a remark if there is much to cover (or not) and sometimes show the list. We only have small talk in the end after all questions are answered.

  65. ThePear8*

    So I know there’s been questions answered here about the etiquette of reapplying to multiple jobs at the same company, but what’s the etiquette around re-referring someone for a job?
    I have a friend who is job hunting and I offered to refer him to any openings that interested him at my company. He found one that sounded like a perfect fit for his interests and experience level so I submitted a referral for him, and his application was rejected. If he were to find another position that sounded like a good match and wanted to apply, would it look bad if I submitted another referral for him?

    1. pally*

      If the second position is in your friend’s wheelhouse, then that should be fine. And this is the second time you will be making a referral. There’s no guarantee he’d get the first position.

      It becomes an issue if, after several of these referrals, it looks like you are trying to find any job for your friend.

      1. ThePear8*

        Makes sense! That’s really what it is, is I just don’t know at what point it might look too much like trying to get him job. To clarify, he already received a rejection for the first job, but my question is purely hypothetical since he hasn’t actually decided to apply for a second opening, but I wanted to know how it would look to refer him again IF he does since we are in a bit of a growth period and lots of new positions are opening up.

        1. kalli*

          Depending on how your applicant tracking system works you may not need to refer him again – if his file/account is kept, it will still list you as the referral source.

          It generally looks fine if you refer someone again for another position they are likely to be a match for; if they’re randomly applying for everything and you get a bonus if you refer someone who’s hired that may look a bit scammy, but it genuinely doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re doing.

    2. Tio*

      Can you talk to the hiring manager who rejected him the first time and see if there were any red flags? If he was rejected because there was a stronger candidate but he wasn’t bad, then absolutely refer him again. But if he bombed the interview, maybe hesitate on referring him again. I recently rejected a referral who had no experience in the position he was applying for, and it became very apparent in that interview as he couldn’t answer a lot of the technical questions, but he wouldn’t necessarily be a bad candidate for a different position; however, the referral said he DID have the relevant experience. This was not reflected in his resume either, so I think he may have been overstating and hoping he could bluff his way into the position, and that is what I would tell the person who referred them if they asked (though probably in gentler terms).

      1. ThePear8*

        Yeah, this is sensible! To add some context that would clarify some of those questions – I don’t actually know the hiring manager for the position, this is a very large company and the referrals and I submitted the referral via an internal system, otherwise I certainly would ask if I felt like I could! My friend didn’t actually get to the interview stage, he simply received a rejection for his application. I absolutely wouldn’t recommend him if I didn’t feel he was a good fit or there were red flags, this is a close personal friend of mine and I happen to be pretty familiar with his skillset and even gave him feedback on his resume when he started his job search so I referred him thinking he’d be a good match for the position. My guess is just that there were stronger candidates chosen to interview instead.

    3. Red flags everywhere*

      Agree with asking the hiring manager for any feedback. I will probably never refer anyone directly again after I did that for a temp who I lightly interacted with but really liked. I called the hiring manager and she promptly pulled up the application. It started with an objective (hate those and think they’re a waste of time and space anyway), but the objective was not even remotely related to the posted job. I was so embarrassed and know I lost some credibility with that manager.

  66. I’m That Emoji with the spiral eyes*

    Hello, I am looking for insight on how you monitor your workload and prioritize. I have ADHD, and I am on a fast paced team with a lot of requests coming at me from multiple directions, and dozens of active projects at once. When I try to look at the big picture of everything I have on my plate, I get overwhelmed and stuck.

    I have a hard time figuring out how long tasks will take me to do, and the adhd means I have a hard time managing my focus. So I never really know if my brain will cooperate in doing the thing on my list.

    I’m currently using Microsoft planner and have cards set up for each project with associated tasks, attempting inbox zero to keep only emails with action needed visible, and lots of tags in email and planner to help me remember things (like a tag for “follow up with x” I can search for when in a meeting with someone). Time blocking tasks on my calendar doesn’t typically work for me.

    I’m having a problem where I’m not able to give people a heads up before I reach the point of overwhelm and burn out. Curious if anyone has any good advice or strategies that have worked for you.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Inbox Zero/inbox as to-do list tip: If you’re using Outlook, the web access has a “Snooze” feature (it isn’t in my desktop version, at least, but I specifically keep the web version pinned to my taskbar because I love the snooze) where you can right-click and “snooze” and pick a date and time, and the email will shuffle itself off into a “snoozed” folder (which you can still access if you do need to, even in the desktop version). Then at the assigned date and time, the snoozed email will pop back into your inbox, marked as unread, so you can follow up on it without it having become visual noise that stopped meaning anything in the interim.

    2. Rainy*

      I keep a paper planner in addition to my online calendars, and keep a to-do list in my paper planner. I tried the to-do list functions in my online calendars (two of them have that) and it just didn’t work for me. I also block out periods of time in my schedule around my various meetings and appointments to work on my other projects, and while I’ll pencil in ideas about what to work on during those blocks, I switch it up depending on what kind of work I feel capable of at the time. If I feel like I’m going to slip into hyperfocus really easily, I’ll work on something that will be rewarded with that kind of focus. If instead I feel like there’s no way I can focus on something for more than 20-30 minutes, I’ll pivot to knocking out a bunch of little tasks instead. By blocking out those work times whenever I can manage it during my week, I make more space for all the little stuff that comes up.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Recently diagnosed ADHD myself. I have been experimenting a tiny bit with the pomodoro technique, where you time yourself for 20 min or so and say that for that 20 min you will ONLY focus on that one task and then you will take a break after that. Give yourself permission to ignore new emails, Teams chats, etc., during that time. Sometimes that gets me into the right mode and then I can actually get stuff done. I haven’t used it for work yet but it has been working wonders for me and cleaning/tidying my apt.

      And can you ask your supervisor/co-workers to help you prioritize tasks and give you deadlines? Perhaps part of the problem is that everything seems equally important so it’s hard to know what to focus on at this very moment. Or are the projects similar enough that you could, perhaps, spend half a day doing the same kinds of tasks for multiple projects? Like, today you’ll focus on putting handles on three teapots, tomorrow you’ll get them painted, etc?

      I dunno, just spitballing here. Best of luck!

  67. Emma*

    I resigned today and gave 3 weeks notice. We have large projects that need closing out and the best would be if I could transition my part to my team mates as soon as possible. my boss however wants my resignation to be a secret till end of next week.

    I want to tell people earlier. Can I or will I burn bridges?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I would hold off, especially because your boss isn’t saying “keep it secret forever” but instead “tell people on December 8 (which will still give your coworkers two weeks notice).”

      There may be things your boss needs to work through “behind the scenes” with their manager or other managers on their level. Did your boss give you any sort of explanation for why they asked you to not tell people? Even a vague explanation and what you know of your boss can help you assess how likely telling your coworkers is to burn bridges.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Assumptions can be dangerous, but it sounds to me like your boss wants to announce (or wants you to announce) your departure at the meeting, so everyone finds out all at once. Without knowing more specifics about the relationships among you, your boss, and your coworkers, it seems like a reasonable enough ask to me but you’re obviously in a much better place to assess that.

          Also, have you asked your boss if you can tell your coworkers sooner, and explained that you want to so the project hand-off is more successful? It might be worth having that conversation, if you haven’t, so your boss can decide between telling people now/Monday or later.

    2. Awkwardness*

      Maybe go back to your boss and stress that there are time-sensitive topics you would prefer to handle rather earlier than later because of persons going on christmas holidays/timeline of the customer/other reasons A, B and C.
      If they again insist to keep it a secret until next week, I would keep it a secret.

  68. Le Anon*

    I finally ran into something in the wild that I’ve only read about here and it’s cracking me up! My boss is new to her position and we don’t work in the same place, so there’s not much of a relationship. I called her to let her know I’m pregnant, and I guess I was a little to businesslike, because she said, “And this is… happy news?” Yes, gracious! I’m in my mid thirties and mid career, if it wasn’t I’d be talking about that to a doctor or the EAP, not my barely-acquainted boss! But thanks to this site I felt like a birdwatcher spotting a rare species in my own yard.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Hahaha, that’s great! Glad your boss is well-meaning, and congratulations on your (happy news) pregnancy!

    2. Melissa*

      Haha your boss sounds a bit awkward. but for next time…”I’m excited to announce I’m pregnant!”

    3. anon24*

      I’m in my early 30s, awkward AF, and panic internally every time someone tells me they’re pregnant (do I get excited, carefully check their body language, remain neutral, agh!?!). My husband told me his co-worker just told him that his girlfriend was pregnant and my husband’s definitely-not-awkward response was “is it congratulations or I’m sorry?”

      But hey, congratulations!!!

  69. Estreen*

    I wrongly applied the advice to leave jobs off your resume recently and could use some advice.

    I started a new job two months ago that I mostly like but it just doesn’t pay enough. I thought I could make it work but the realities of the hours and the expenses in this new area I moved to weren’t immediately apparent when I interviewed, plus it was a similar salary to other job postings in this field.

    Last week I saw a posting for a job at an organization I’d love to work at that pays so much better, and I jumped on it. I spent time writing what I think was the best cover letter I’ve ever written, but I neglected to update my resume with the new job because I’d kept hearing about how you shouldn’t include a short stay on the resume. It was only after I submitted my application that I went “wait, that probably doesn’t apply when it’s your current job”. So I’m wondering how to address this in an interview if I’m lucky enough to get one. I also feel like it will be weird to try to work around my job when scheduling an interview when there’s no mention of a current job on my resume, but I don’t know how much of that is overthinking.

    1. Colette*

      I think you did the right thing. Adding your current job would immediately raise the question of why you’re hunting again (and make them think you’ll do the same thing to them.)

      1. pally*

        Good point! If they ask at the interview if you are currently employed, you can say you took a job recently just to pay the bills (out of necessity).

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I think you’re fine! AAM has remarked in the past that a resume is marketing material for you and does not have to be a line-by-line recap of your entire working life. And also that any job that you stay at for less than a year certainly doesn’t need to be on a resume, which I think holds true even if it’s a current job.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I neglected to update my resume with the new job because I’d kept hearing about how you shouldn’t include a short stay on the resume. It was only after I submitted my application that I went “wait, that probably doesn’t apply when it’s your current job”.

      I think it often does apply even when the short stay is your current job. Do you have any significant accomplishments from the past two months that would have strengthened your resume if you included them? For most people two months into a new job, the answer is no.

      For scheduling an interview, you can just tell interviewer/scheduler when you’re available. If you think it makes sense to mention, you can tell them you have to work around your current job, and odds are good that they won’t think anything of it. A resume is a marketing document, not a record of the exact and complete truth.

      If it comes up in an interview, I think it makes sense to briefly explain why your current job isn’t a good fit. For example, you could say something like “I started a new job two months ago but quickly realized that second shift hours are not good for me. That’s why I applied for this position: it looks like the type of work I excel at, and I would be moving back to standard 9-5 hours, which work well for me.” (Adjust for whatever is true in your situation.)

  70. JoJo*

    I drew my manager in the office Secret Santa. I was provided a list of his favorites, and one thing he listed was leadership/development books. Any recommendations? The limit is $25. I was also thinking of getting him a 2024 daily desk calendar with quotes by famous leaders.

    1. Curious Reading Cat*

      “Turn the Ship Around” by L. David Marquet
      “Being the Boss” by Linda A. Hill

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      You could always get him Alison’s book! But I just finished a course on Leadership in my org and we studied “It’s the Manager: Moving from Boss to Coach” and it was really great.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Disclaimer that it may cause him to start reading this blog which you may or may not want to encourage.

        Just keep it in mind so if you do go that route you may want to super anonomize comments.

  71. Lily Rowan*

    Good news! I’ve been tossing around the idea of trying to get a new job for a year or more, while actually liking my current job more than I did at the start of that time. Anyway, I got an idea in my head of the right way to shift my career in a slightly different direction, and finally saw that job posted! I know the hiring manager a little, so I reached out to her directly. I was a little afraid my resume would get tossed by HR because my experience isn’t 100% the same as what I think they are looking for. Anyway, the recruiter reached out for a phone screen!

    So we’ll see — I’m not even totally sure I want the job, but I’m excited to be on the market.

  72. WhaleToDo*

    I’m definitely overthinking this one, but wanted a sanity check:

    I am 8 months pregnant and have a desk job. Staying in one position for any extended period of time is very uncomfortable for me. I’ve got a sit/stand desk, and I’ve been utilizing it to its fullest as I go from sitting to half-leaning on the desk to standing in various odd positions and back and forth. I have a semi-private office (tall cubicle walls with a locking door), so I don’t think the movement would distract anyone, but the desk does make some mechanical noises as it goes up and down.

    I’ve gotten some bemused comments from coworkers about my constant motion. I’m doing anything too far outside of professional norms, am I?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      You’re fine, so totally fine. The comments are just people making convo/commiserating and acknowledging you must be uncomfortable! Home stretch!

      1. ferrina*

        +1
        You’re fine. Folks may make comments, but it’s likely just small talk. They’re probably amused more than anything. Unless the noise is really loud and distracting, don’t worry about it.

    2. WhaleToDo*

      And just to clarify, my “constant motion” is adjusting my position every 15-30 minutes, or that I’m swaying in whatever position I’m in. (This child is VERY active and the more I move the less likely I am to get karate chopped in the lungs/bladder/sciatic nerve/what have you)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m not expecting and I sway all the time. One of my team members the other day on a video call was like “Are you on a boat or something?” No, just fidgety. “Can you stop? You’re kinda making me seasick.”

        1. Minimal Pear*

          haha I’ve actually taken a few meetings from a boat and I wasn’t really swaying much, if at all!

        2. allathian*

          Oops!

          One of my coworkers has a mini treadmill under her sit/stand desk at home. She’s been asked to either stop walking for the duration or to turn off her camera in meetings because the majority of attendees felt queasy watching her. If it had been just me, I would’ve simply turned off incoming video for that meeting.

          But if you’re still able to work that late in your pregnancy, I think you’re entitled to do pretty much whatever it takes to keep working reasonably comfortably.

    3. JoJo*

      Nope! During several of my pregnancies, I used an exercise ball instead of a desk chair so I could bounce all the time.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I sat on an exercise ball at home, sadly we didn’t have them at the office at the time.

  73. ugh (anonymously)*

    Just had to let someone go for administrative reasons that were out of my hands and blindsided both of us. Sucks, man!!

    1. Always Tired*

      I am incredibly jealous. I announced to my part of the office “whelp, I’m ready to go back to bed” this morning, 10 minutes before the all hands call that I lead.

  74. Qwerty*

    I received an unsolicited email at my work account supposedly from a private university asking me to be on their advisory board for a women in leadership program. Academics – do you cold email people in the private sector for this? I’m generally suspicious of unsolicited emails to my work email as they are normally external recruiters or salespeople. I can’t think of a way that they’d get my work email, but I have been doing the women in tech circuit and if someone had my fullname they can figure out my work email. The contact info on the university site matches what is in the email.

    Could this be legit? What are things I should check on or ask about? It only meets 4 times a year and I’m happy to help if its real. How do I learn more about a private university’s reputation to know if its worth having my name linked there?

    1. YNWA*

      Yes, they do often reach out for industry/private sector people for the advisory boards. I know our UX and Tech Comm advisory boards are made up primarily of people from industry/private sector. Ours meet about four times a year and lunch is provided. It’s a lot of reviewing changes/additions to the curriculum and targeting initiatives that will help future graduates.

    2. pally*

      I received a similar email via work. Same type of program: women in leadership.
      They resent it a few times as I’d ignored it.

      I did reach out to the person who wrote it (not via the address on the email but via their work contact info I found on the school’s website they email indicated they were associated with). I asked if it was legit.

      It was. She invited me to book an appointment on her calendar to discuss if I was a good fit.

      I then explained that I wasn’t leadership material. At all.

      That was it.

    3. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Yes, this is normal and absolutely could be legit! It’s a value-add for the university to be able to draw on industry expertise, and in return it can be a great way for advisors to do some networking, maybe build relationships with faculty whose expertise is relevant to their area and open some doors in recruiting, etc. People who do this kind of work are good at figuring out work emails or at least making educated guesses.

      If you want to play it extra-safe, see if you can find a number on the advisory council website and call to let them know you received the email and you’re interested in more information. If anyone asks for your SSN, any passwords, credit card PINs or checking/routing numbers, they’re not legit. (But you knew that already.)

      To learn more about the university’s reputation, most private universities have Wiki pages where you can skim info about rankings, program strengths, notable faculty, etc., as well as read up on any controversies that may or may not be of concern to you. US News and World Report also profiles and ranks schools, which is a little controversial, but can give you a sense of what other people are seeing and hearing about the school in question.

      Good luck!

  75. Jessen*

    People with ADHD and executive functioning difficulties – what sort of accommodations did you have or would you have liked when going through college? I’m going back for some classes and admittedly struggling with figuring out exactly what I need. A lot of what I’ve been offered has been focused around tests, which is one area that I don’t really need help with. And frankly the way I got through college the first time is not something I want to repeat.

    So any advice from people here? Usually my biggest issues have to do with staying on track for longer assignments.

    1. Qwerty*

      ADD person here – I basically kept an Agile style tracker that helped me a lot in college. Big assignments = Epic. Make the steps items that have a level of measurability or some form of implied acceptance criteria to avoid it becoming a super long task list. With longer assignments, 25% of the timeline was just buffer room at the end for all the last minute stuff I want to cram in or was behind on.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I would’ve liked to have permission to take notes on a laptop for a class that didn’t allow them – didn’t get my diagnosis in time for that class. That’s far from universally helpful, but for me I just can’t focus on taking legible notes and listening to the lecture at the same time.

      I feel like the other common accommodation is some grace with late assignments, but I never asked for that one… seemed like the deadline pressure would have just kicked in later. There’s not really a lot of formal accommodations that are helpful in college unfortunately! What you really need is someone to hold you accountable throughout a long-term project, and I’ve never heard of a college offering that service.

    3. Meow*

      The option to record lectures! I was undiagnosed in college, but I accidentally discovered how helpful recorded lectures were when the business school started offering blended courses. This was long before COVID and remote/distance learning was still rare and pretty stigmatized.

    4. 1LFTW*

      Staggered deadlines for papers. It made a *huge* difference for me to not to be scrambling to write three or four papers at once.

      I didn’t figure that one out until my last semester, which was frustrating, because my GPA for that term went up by an entire point.

  76. Regular poster who's got a promotion!*

    Any advice on minimizing impact for employees when you leave your position, especially new employees?

    I got an offer it would be really stupid to turn down at a somewhat inconvenient time – work is super busy, but it’s cyclic and will ALWAYS be super busy, the bigger issue is that I supervise an entry-level employee who’s only been in her job for a few months, and am trying to onboard someone whose start date can’t even be until after I leave. My already overwhelmed boss will become both of their supervisors for as long as it takes to get someone in my position, which could be a long time.

    I’ve really been enjoying training and working closely with the entry level employee and I feel a bit bad leaving, since I know my boss won’t have the bandwidth to be as involved, and he wasn’t even part of the interview panel for the new employee. Is this just something where I have to accept that I’m making a choice that will inconvenience and frustrate others and live with it, or are there things I can do during my month-long transition period or even after (since I’m taking a promotion within another office in our organization) to help make it smoother? My boss will be joining all of my upcoming weekly meetings with the entry level employee, and I’ve already given her my general advice on his communication style and how to work with him. Next week I am going to set up a call with the person coming on board to introduce them. What else?

    1. Rick Tq*

      You are doing a graceful handoff to the person who will complete their onboarding. That’s really all you need to do. There is always some disruption when you leave a job but that shouldn’t stop you from doing what is in *your* best interest.

      Your (soon to be ex)boss will deal with the future.

    2. Kay Tee*

      Document as much as you can, making sure it’s written rather than just discussed. I just kept my transition notes open as I worked out my notice and wrote down as many tips, file locations, etc. as I could. If it makes sense for your role, listing out tasks in categories of weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, occasionally, etc. can be a big help.

      Also, you’re giving them a month long transition! I don’t know the norm in your industry, but that’s above and beyond what most employees offer. If they can’t deal with the normal business experience of someone taking a new role (and an internal promotion at that) within that reasonable timeframe… not your circus, not your monkeys.

  77. Contribution question*

    Greetings, everyone! Professor here; my department chair just sent out a call for contributions to our staff holiday gift. We have three staff with 30 FT faculty. How much is a good amount to give? Thinking 40 or 45 dollars? I’m in US.

    1. Dr. Doll*

      Ask your department chair for a suggested amount. You don’t need to do the work of figuring that out!

      But – $45 sounds fine, even generous. $15 each staff person x 30 faculty is a very nice gift. Just…don’t resent it if you find out that Senior Professor Moneybags gave $5. That’s why the chair should have suggested a figure, with a note that everyone should give as they can, not as they can’t.

    2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I think $36 – $45 would be good (I would do a multiple of 3 so it is easier to split it evenly)

  78. Elsewise*

    With the update about the LW who was saying no because of medical issues, a lot of people shared their own medical or disability struggles at work. I’m newly (and hopefully temporarily) disabled. I had a meeting with the director of my department a few months ago about disability justice in the workplace (I asked for advice here and got some great recommendations), along with two other employees. One of those two has just been promoted to my manager, which is great news! I have a boss who I know understands where I’m coming from.

    Because we work remotely, no one sees me at my worst. No one knows my diagnosis or the extent of how bad my pain is, and only people in that meeting are even aware that there are some health issues impacting my ability to work in person. I never discussed it with my old boss.

    In our first meeting yesterday, new manager made a point to say that I didn’t have to tell them any of my personal issues, without bringing up the health stuff. I mostly just take extra breaks throughout the day as-needed, which works fine with my work schedule, and take off extra for medical appointments. Should I name the pattern so they know that I’m aware and that I’m working on it, or just wait and bring up time off as I need it?

    1. kalli*

      Bring it up as needed – they already know what they need to know and specifically told you that you don’t have to tell them your issues.

      What even does ‘working on it’ mean? Either your disability is temporary, it goes away, and so do the appointments (maybe), or it’s not and you take breaks and time for appointments as needed. As long as your work gets done and nobody else is negatively impacted by a 15 minute delay while you lie down or whatever, what is there to work on? Do not risk giving an implication that may come back at you; if you have to work on anything, it’s not taking fewer breaks, it’s making sure those breaks aren’t impacting your work – and if your boss has already been talking with you and said you don’t need to share with them, they’re likely to have already told you if they’re seeing something that worries them, which they have not.

      So just put in time off as you need it, take the breaks you need, and get the work done. That’s it.

  79. With A Pearl Earring*

    I’m currently job-hunting after my last job imploded, but my industry doesn’t usually start hiring until the start of the year. Any tips for keeping myself sane while being unemployed during December/Jan?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I’ve always started new projects at home, such as going through my books and CD’s. I now have them in excel spreadsheets that are easy to keep current.

    2. Colette*

      When I was unemployed, I came up with a routine for my days. (Check job postings and apply for jobs in the morning, go to the gym, spend 15 minutes doing something I had been procrastinating on). It still left lots of time for personal projects or relaxing, and it gave me some structure.

    3. The teapots are on fire*

      Think of all the low or no cost things you won’t have time to do when you are working: go to the library, the park, clean out drawers, write out hopes and dreams. Try to think of this as a personal growth retreat. Who knows when you will have this kind of time again?

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Volunteering helped me a lot. At any time of year, but especially now, soup kitchens and food pantries could use help.

      Or Catchafire.org, if you want shorter term projects.

  80. C.*

    It’s way too early to tell what will happen here, but gaming it out so that the best possible outcome happens, what would you do in this scenario:

    Interviewing at a place I’ve wanted to be for a while doing more interesting work. Several former coworkers are there now and love it, so I know what to expect. Salary would very likely be somewhat of a paycut, though—either a true lateral move, or (more likely) somewhere around $5-7K less than what I make now.

    Have been at my current job for 6+ years, and while I’ve had great growth, I’m feeling bored and ready to do something different. This week, however, my manager said they plan to promote me within the next 6 months (end of FY). It’s not a guarantee, but my gut tells me that they’re for real. The promotion would be a more senior position and come with around a $10-15K raise—maybe more if I can play it right. I’m not unhappy in my current job/environment, just bored.

    Assuming both opportunities come to fruition, what would you do? I’m at a stage where I really don’t want to take a pay cut at all—even a small one like this. And while my husband and I are financially stable (he received a $10K raise this month), we are planning to do a lot of work on the house we recently bought. But I’ve also wanted to be at this new spot for a while, doing what I think would ultimately be more exciting work in the long run.

    I’m torn!

    1. Sindirella*

      Your comment that you’re not unhappy, just bored, leads to to say you should stick it out for the promotion. That promotion to a more senior position may alleviate that boredom, at least for a period of time. That pay increase can help you do the work on the house you need and you can look at moving on to more exciting work once the house stuff has settled.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t know how long interviews in your field take, so I’m assuming here that a potential offer from the other company will come through before the (potential) promotion from your current company. If that’s not accurate, adapt or disregard advice as needed.

      Do you know what the raise situation is at the other company (both merit and cost-of-living)? Is it comparable to your current company, better, worse? If you don’t know, can you find out from your former coworkers who now work there? Also ask yourself if you’re OK with lower raises while doing more interesting work, as long as you start at the same salary you’re making now.

      Have you been upfront with your salary expectations during the interview process at the other company? If so, and the company sounds willing to match your current salary, I would investigate the raise situation there (see above), so you know if the same salary today will still be a similar salary in 2-5 years. If salary hasn’t come up yet in the interview process, you can decide whether to raise it yourself or to wait until they give you an offer and then negotiate from there. If you feel like your/their time has been wasted if an offer is $5-7k under your current salary, that’s a good reason to raise your salary expectations now.

      Based on what you wrote (“I’m at a stage where I really don’t want to take a pay cut at all“), it sounds to me like more interesting work is not worth any sort of pay cut to you. It’s great that you know that about yourself, because that makes your decision easier. You need the offer to be the same as your current salary, and if it isn’t you’ll decline it.

      Assuming you can get an offer that matches your current salary, you’ll have to weigh up “same money, more interesting work if you leave” vs “maybe more money and more interesting work if you stay.” Still difficult, but if you get to that point I think it will be easier to make the decision than it feel right now, when everything is very hypothetical.

  81. Ann Onymous*

    My employer is considering giving us the option of a 9/80 work schedule. For those who are unfamiliar with the term: instead of working 8 hours/day, 5 days a week to work 80 hours in a 2 week period, you instead work slightly longer days so that you only work 9 days in a 2 week period, but still work a total of 80 hours over those 2 weeks.

    On the surface, having every other Friday off sounds great, but I worry that I may ultimately end up with less flexibility. Due to a couple chronic conditions, I have a lot more medical appointments than most people. Right now I’m easily able to work 7 hours on a day with an appointment and work 9 hours a different day that week to avoid burning PTO on routine appointments, but on a 9/80 schedule doing that same sort of flexibility starts to look like some very long days. In a perfect world, all of my appointments would be scheduled on my off Fridays, but realistically, that’s not going to be possible a lot of the time.

    I’d love to hear from others who have worked 9/80s about what the pros and cons were.

    1. Colette*

      I work that schedule (well, 9/75) and love it – my Fridays off are for errands, and projects. Having said that, I still use sick time on other days for appointments. And it is less flexible, in part because when your day is already longer, it’s a bigger deal to stay later.

      Because it’s not the “standard” schedule where I work, any time there is a statuatory holiday, I have to work extra to make up the 50 minutes of my extended day, so there are times of the year where I go back to the regular schedule (see December, when we have Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Years day off within 8 days).

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      I also have this schedule and I love it and I cannot believe I was ever wary of it. I am never pressured to take my appointments on my off Friday. Everyone still does things as they did before–taking an hour off here and there when needed.

      The only thing I do now is pack two meals because I love eating and this helps me not spend money downtown when I’m working.

    3. Rainy*

      I work a 9/80 (in fact I’m off today for it) and I love it, but I don’t need to work around a medical appointment schedule like that. I think you’re correct that it would mean some long days if you also need to flex around your appointments and don’t think you’d be able to schedule them for your off days. One thing you could do is map out what some of your prior weeks with mx appointments would have looked like if you were on a 9/80 *then*, and if it looks horrifying, that probably gives you your answer.

  82. RedRose22*

    I work for a consultancy that’s recently doubled in size (from 20 people to 40 or so). In my time here, I’ve morphed from doing client-facing project work to internal work, and have become the de facto Head of HR – which I actually really like a lot. But I’ve got no formal training in it – and it feels like there should be more I should know when it comes to this job. I’d considered getting an MBA, but the financial investment in that won’t likely pay off for me and I don’t care about the letters after my name. What’s the best way to get a crash course in what HR does / what you should know if you do HR / how best to run HR for a small company like mine?

    1. Yes And*

      I got into HR via a similar path. I studied for, took and passed the SHRM exam, and that was really helpful in terms of learning strategic HR – change management, negotiating among stakeholders, setting policies and strategies. It’s not as useful for the nitty gritty, like, here is a list of all the forms you have to file with the IRS and when they’re due and how to file them. Those I’ve had to figure out on my own, and if any other commenters can point to a reliable resource on that, I’d appreciate it as well.

      1. WellRed*

        My coworker who used to do this stuff was able to attend specific trainings for like tax changes in the new year through a large local law firm. Maybe others do as well.

  83. Butters*

    Help – what would you like to receive as an employee Christmas gift? The budget is $50 per person. Last year we let them order company logo clothing and that seemed to go over well but didn’t want to repeat that this year. Trying to avoid alcohol and other similar drinking adjacent things.

    1. Butters*

      Adding in that we are already doing a Christmas party with significant others invited at an upscale restaurant (all food and drinks will be covered).

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      A local gift basket with locally made products, perhaps. A gift card. I’d avoid company logos. These seem lazy and company-serving–and I mean no disrespect to you on that. These are common gifts I happen to not appreciate.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Yeah, company merch isn’t a gift, it’s my employer’s attempt to turn me into a walking billboard for them. If it “seemed to go over well” that’s only because it’s considered rude to complain about a gift.
        A real gift for your employees won’t be self-serving.

      2. Clisby*

        Before I retired, I was at a company that gave gift cards; they sent a list of options and we’d let them know which card we preferred. (So no chance someone would give me a Starbucks or Chilis card.)

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I feel like you can’t go wrong with a plain old gift card. I’ve also enjoyed Sugarwish gifts: the recipient gets to choose what category they want to pick their gift from (candy, savory snacks, tea, coffee, dog treats, scented candles, spa goodies, etc.), and choose from among options in that category to fill out a box. It’s nice to be able to pick your own little treats.

    4. Quandong*

      Honestly I would always prefer a gift card (Visa etc) over clothing, food & drink, candles or stationery.

      In my experience, as someone with a lot of dietary restrictions due to medical stuff, I can’t use food gifts and end up giving them away. And scented products give me headaches, and so on.

      Having the freedom to choose my own gift would be far preferable!

    5. Cordelia*

      I’d like a gift card, for somewhere where there are lots of options (not a specific restaurant, for example). I really wouldn’t want or use logo’d clothing or other products, when I’m not at work I don’t want to be reminded of it!

    6. Kay Tee*

      Seconding the gift card, but that feels a little more “special”, see if your chamber of commerce offers them! I’m in a college town of around 100,000 and our downtown business association has gift cards good at any of their 100+ members. That gives people the option of various restaurants, stores, etc.

    7. Parakett*

      We do SnackMagic and it’s great. Each employee can customize their gift basket with the budget they have. Last year I used most of my SnackMagic budget on lobster sliders, since when else am I going to get them, and they were very good.

    8. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Chiming in to support gift cards. Love the Chamber of Commerce/consortium of local businesses gift card idea if it exists in your area. I’ve never gotten a food gift I’ve hung onto, and I hate being put in the position of needing to politely accept a “gift” that is actually an imposition to get rid of in a way that it doesn’t just go to waste. You can’t go wrong with a cash equivalent as long as it’s not hard to spend in a variety of ways.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      Gift cards are probably fine – even better if you can give people a few gift card options and let them select which one they want. Just make sure the gift cards 1. Don’t have any associated fees (Visa cards used to, not sure if they still do) and 2. Don’t expire (preferably at all – but if they have an expiration date, make sure it’s at least a few years away.)

    10. Tio*

      If you can’t do gift cards for whatever reason (because that would be best) I’ve gotten branded phone charges, and that was the best company gift I’ve gotten

  84. Dark helmet*

    Any advice on dealing with post covid issues like brain fog and extreme tiredness? It’s been a struggle. Not sure if it is something I should bring up.

    1. Dark helmet*

      Just to add, Im worried that if my manager didn’t notice, they might now, but if they did notice, it would at least give a reason. I feel like I am not quite as on the ball, taking longer on some tasks but no one has said anything

    2. 1LFTW*

      Various accommodations for ADHD or executive function disorders might help with brain fog. I found some interesting stuff on the Job Accommodation Network website (links to follow in a separate comment). It’s worth investigating if your HR is reasonable and you feel like your performance is being impacted. Your doctor can help you with a request for reasonable accommodations, and can do so without naming your disability.

      Best of luck with this!

      1. 1LFTW*

        The menu on the left side of this page lists various issues that might impact attentiveness and concentration, from lighting to noise reduction to schedule flexing:

        https://askjan.org/limitations/Attentiveness-Concentration.cfm?cssearch=4734535_1

        Strategies and tips for dealing with ADHD:

        https://askjan.org/disabilities/Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder-AD-HD.cfm?cssearch=4734535_1

        Strategies for coping with executive function difficulties:

        https://askjan.org/articles/Executive-Functioning-Deficits.cfm

  85. SP*

    Hey, I’m the person who wrote a few weeks ago about their fiancée’s problems with her senior engineering project, and I have both a quick update on her status and a question of my own.

    The update: it turns out her team was communicating only on a very specific platform that she didn’t know about. She eventually found out about it and got back in touch with them, and the project is going smoothly. Her distorted views of professional norms remain, but I’m hoping that her upcoming internship will teach her that she totally can reach out to management for help with interpersonal problems. At the very least I appreciate knowing that I wasn’t way off base in thinking that something wasn’t right.

    The question: I’m hoping to break into a very niche field at the intersection of fine arts and skilled trades—so niche that there aren’t really any training programs for it. There are programs for a larger, related field, but such programs are prohibitively expensive and would cover a lot of material I wouldn’t need to know. I’ve tried to cobble together my own training but have had very little luck so far. It’s looking like my best bet is an apprenticeship, but I don’t know the first thing about how to seek one. I’ve reached out to a couple of people in the field to inquire and got to the interview stage, but then one said he couldn’t emotionally handle an apprentice and the other seems to have lied about moving his business across the country to avoid having to turn me down outright. Was it me? Where do I go from here?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Not telling a team member you are using a non-standard or unusual communication channel is still a Red Flag. They should have told her what application they were planning on using at the very beginning of the project, and followed up as soon as they didn’t see her participate.

  86. Coffee Protein Drink*

    I got hit with a surprise this morning. I asked HR to make an offer to someone we interviewed for to polish teapots. They have a very good resume, they understood different strategies of polishing for different types of teapots. Things looked good.

    Until they didn’t. The candidate has pretty much negotiated themselves out of consideration. We pay about the midpoint for the position in our area and the budget is strict for the position. The salary was clearly on the ad, and in the interview we clarified exactly what was meant by hybrid.

    I have been trying to fill this position since the spring. Many of the resumes I’ve viewed are just awful. I had one interviewee typing in questions and reading their answers off the screen!

    When we made an offer to another candidate over the summer, it was declined due to a personal emergency. I’ve rewritten the job description twice and we definitely got better candidates. So I have interview more people again.

  87. Anon for this*

    I recently got promoted and now report to the CEO of a larger (1000s of employees) company. There’s a holiday party at his house, with 30ish people attending.
    Do I bring a bottle of wine? flowers for his wife? nothing? if something, how much do I spend? My boss makes several million dollars a year. I make significantly less than that, but am very comfortable and it would not be a hardship for me to buy something nice. I just don’t want to go too far either way!

    1. Always Tired*

      I would go with the classic hostess gift of a box of chocolates. Many other parties I would suggest flowers. They are thoughtful but ephemeral so even if they aren’t the hosts style, they can chuck them the next day with no qualms. But holiday parties usually are already very theme decorated and there is likely not room for another vase. Wine, if you are willing to be spendy, could also do, as that can be shared at the party, again not putting anything long term on the host. But if he’s a wine snob, you are unlikely to be able to afford what he would expect, and he probably gets wine as a gift frequently from other execs. Chocolates are ephemeral, can be shared or kept for later, and are generally inoffensive. Get a pound of see’s and call it a day.

  88. Perihelion*

    Why do client organizations sometimes stop taking my calls and responding to my emails? My work keeps them open and funded so even if they don’t like me you’d think they’d work with me. I’m not being annoying for the fun of it, this is serious stuff.

    This is mostly rhetorical, I’ve worked with people before who thought compliance was stupid and they don’t need to bother. Went badly for them.

  89. Trans Employee*

    I have a question about volunteering to teach a sex ed class while working in local government.
    I’m a city planner in a fairly small city. Part of my job will include presenting at local schools to introduce the idea of city planning and how stufents can get involved in shaping our city. I’m excited to include youth and their families in the planning proces. Working through the schools is an important way to reach families that can’t attend our usual events and city meetings.
    Outside of work, I’m friends with some lovely folks through a transgender support group. One of them is an educator who teaches sex education at the local schools. He teaches with a panel of people who have different genders and sexual orientations. He invited me to be part of an upcoming panel and lesson. This panel would be aligned with my values (helping youth have accurate, accessible information about their bodies and safety).
    Other planners and government employees: would being on this panel create a bad impression on my upcoming work with students and their families? I do not want to alienate any kids or families or make them question
    my office’s professionalism. I know my presentation would be appropriate. Unfortunately, people get nervous about sex and explaining it to kids.
    Our town does have some very far right people who send death threats to public employees who visibly support LGBTQ+ rights. It’s not great, but I’d be in good company with many coworkers, including my grand boss and great grand boss. I wouldn’t be worried about real violence, just the time commitment of defusing public controversy when I could be doing my job.
    Thanks for your time!

    1. NZReb*

      I wouldn’t do it. Gross as the idea is, I’d be worried that some of them/their parents could feel like you had a sexual motive in doing the city planning class. And they’re teenagers, they could get all giggly about seeing you in a different class after seeing you in a sex ed class.

  90. WorkerBee*

    I could really use advice on health insurance. (So this will be a US-specific question…) I work at a job that I enjoy in a pleasant environment, but I am paid at the very low end for what I do. If I stay two more years, I qualify for retiree health insurance, where I can stay on the excellent company insurance plan until I’m 65, with the company paying half the premiums if I leave the company (they pay 75% of the premiums as long as I’m working). They also pay for supplemental health insurance after age 65. I’ve been offered another job at almost double my salary, but I’d have to walk away from the retiree health insurance. The new company has health insurance, but not great — basically a HSA and catastrophic insurance. And after I retire, I’d have to buy government health insurance for myself on the market. Another variable is that my kids are on my health insurance plan and will be for up to 10 years. (I’m not married, if that’s a factor in the calculations.) Would really appreciate thoughts on how much weight I should give the insurance situation, vs a huge salary increase. (There is no room for negotiation on the insurance, I tried.) Thanks!

    1. WellRed*

      How far are you from qualifying for retiree insurance? I’m a little confused about what that means and the timeline. What age do you expect to retire? And are you and the kids currently in good health?

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      Are you planning on retiring before 65? If not, and you’ll go on Medicare when you retire, it’s a dollars and cents issue. You’ll have access to the same plans and how much you’ll pay for them is the issue.

      If you’ll retire before 65, decent health insurance may be something you can’t buy at any price. In my state, I have expensive health insurance with a $9,000 deductible and a somewhat limited network. I could pay more in premiums to lower the deductible, but I can’t have a plan that’s not an HMO. And there only two legitimate carriers in my state (not a small state). Sometimes I daydream about United Healthcare or Humana trying to sell me a Medicare plan when the time comes; I would tell them that if they didn’t want to insure me when I was 64 they don’t get to have my business when I’m 65.

      I’d also be concerned about the network in the new employers plan.

      Some things you can buy with money and some things you can’t. Very good health insurance is something you may not be able to buy as an individual.

  91. Not Jane*

    Every week I come on here and tell you I hope I hear about the job next week and alas I still have no outcome from the job I interviewed for that went really well and is a job I want and is more money and I’m desperate to get out of my current role (although I have financial commitments that I need a certain salary so not that desperate that I can just quit with no job). They told me ‘end of next week’ and now it’s been about 4 weeks and I know it’s government and I work in government so I know how long it takes and also they are a small team of 3 so I imagine they are busy, but of course I am thinking if they wanted me they would know straight away they did..
    Anyway so yesterday I saw another job that is with a new organisation that I have a lot of skills and experience for and in fact I have applied to them earlier in the year but didn’t get shortlisted and I think it was when my resume was a mess and I also mucked up my letter and also I think that was a higher level role, so yesterday I decided to apply for that one.
    Now I’m wondering which will happen first, this one is not exactly government but is associated with government so could be just as slow, and I’m worrying about the timing of it, if I get this new one and start working there and THEN I hear from the first one and have to say I’m sorry I’m staying here or I say yes I’ll come and then have to tell the new job I am leaving after a month.. I mean i might get neither so I shouldn’t be worrying but I just don’t want to let either of them down.
    Still and all, this would be a good problem to have after years of rejection!

  92. E*

    I would love advice on whether an issue I have with a new employee is something worth raising.

    Her first review is coming up and overall she is a great hire — smart and hardworking with a go-getter attitude and overall good interpersonal skills.

    However, I find she can be condescending at times. Some of this I have/will address in terms of comments she’s made with partners in conversation that can kind of shut dialogue down inadvertently.

    But she also does this thing that really annoys me and I can’t tell if it’s just a personality clash between us I need to accept or something to give feedback on.

    She will often say things like “get some rest” to a more senior overstretched colleague (who is not in my reporting line and has a ton of demanding responsibilities on top of the duties we all work on together).

    Or if I let her know how I’m approaching something as an fyi bc it affects her work, she’ll say things like “brilliant idea” as if I were seeking her approval.

    I know these are “nice” things to say, and I am not a particularly hierarchical supervisor but condescension does rub me the wrong way, and the way she positions herself as the arbiter or sage with these comments really irks me!

    Is this something to raise or just practice being zen about?

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I have really different reactions to your examples, though I probably wouldn’t bring them up. (Shutting down convos, that’s worth addressing.)

      Get some rest…it’s not offensive but it’s also telling someone what to do / feel and it’s something they may not even be able to do. So I don’t love that.

      Brilliant idea, otoh, I don’t see what the problem is there! Is it how she says it? Because on paper she’s simply giving positive feedback. In my workplace we’re directly told to say something is brilliant (that exact word) when we like an idea, regardless who it’s from.

    2. Meow*

      The literal meaning of both of those phrases sound like she is trying to sound sympathetic, but maybe going about it awkwardly. I think it’s likely that “get some rest” is supposed to mean “you deserve some rest since you’re working so hard”, but I can see how it might sound patronizing depending on the context and tone used. Do you know if other people find her condescending as well?

      The shutting down conversations with clients is definitely worth addressing.

    3. Perihelion*

      Condescension is pretty subjective, and I’ve seen smart women just trying to explain something get accused of this before. So I’d go with practicing zen.

  93. anywhere but here*

    When is it worth it to nudge an potential employer towards a quicker yes or no, and how would one do it if the reason for speed doesn’t have anything to do with a competing job offer? I am looking to move to the state A/B area with or without a job, and I would be (I think) glad to receive an offer for a specific role that I have interviewed for. However, if I receive an offer, it would not be soon enough to make an impact on my desired move timeline. Additionally, I would have to live & work in state A. However, it looks like rentals for state B are cheaper and more conducive to a quicker move. How do I say, “If you’d like to remove me from consideration, I would appreciate knowing sooner rather than later, and if you’re going to hire me, I would rather that happen in time for a move date of X?” I know that there are more steps to the process and what the employer’s timeline for getting an offer out is, and they have encouraged me to reach out if I need an answer due to a competing offer, but I don’t know how to say, “I want an answer faster, but if you don’t get it to me quickly, you won’t lose me.”

    1. SG*

      Some of this depends on how long it’s been since the interview and how that compares to the timeline they gave you. Unless their stated timeline has come and gone already, I would leave it alone. If their stated timeline has passed, then you could send one email checking in (there are plenty of scripts for that on this blog), but I would not recommend conveying any type of urgency unless you want to risk increasing your chances of a “no.”

      1. Not Jane*

        Glad to see I followed this without even reading up on the site – I interviewed with a very small team and they said they’d get back to me within a week, when 2 weeks had passed I emailed their HR person and not them directly, and asked if there was any update on the outcome of the interview yet. The HR replied that the panel (which consisted of 2 of the 3 in the team) had been away for work and busy and would get back to me in a few weeks.

  94. Typing All The Time*

    Sad day today. I’m a freelance writer and I have had weird luck with assignments and contract gigs lately. I’ve been struggling with anxiety over projects, not thinking I’m good enough, and have dealt with emotions from ex-colleague friends who got angry that I landed projects that they didn’t.

    I got an email today from a contact gig saying “While we’ve appreciated all your contributions to XXXX, we have reached the decision to bring your time writing for this site to an end. This is due to the closure of our XXX as we have not been able to fully leverage your [work] potential to make them profitable.”

    My confidence has been shaken badly. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Not Jane*

      One door closes and another one opens! The most limiting thing is that old self confidence! Hold your head high, something better is coming your way.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’m sorry, that’s tough. Hang in there.

      Keep in mind your weird luck likely says more about this weird market than you. This cancellation sounds on target for that — the agency I work for is experiencing strange behavior from clients, including contracts being unexpectedly cancelled and long radio silences. Things are just wonky right now, client priorities are shifting like sand and those of us navigating it (including your friends) are on edge. Which makes it even harder to tune in and figure out what they really need so we can deliver great work. We’re in a rough time and we just have to ride it out.

    3. kalli*

      That’s nothing to do with the quality of your work – they’re saying that they couldn’t market XXXX enough for it to make money from however it was monetised.

      They failed you.

  95. Meow*

    Is it okay to apply for two jobs in the same company? A couple of months ago I applied for a job and didn’t hear back…but I saw today that a job that’s an even better fit has been posted. Would it look weird to apply for it?

  96. Jessi*

    How long does it take to get a business off the ground? Like how long should you give a business before declaring it a failure and giving up?

  97. Anon.mgr*

    I have a report in my wider team who is a new grad and struggling with the transition to work. I am not qualified to diagnose but from what I see she is likely on the spectrum. She particularly struggles with scenarios where there isn’t one right answer or where she feels like she gets contradictory information. (There is nuance! Not every wiki is up to date or targeted at your precise usecase). We can work with her on this stuff.

    One particular challenge is that she overreacts to difficult or challenging situations A LOT. She cries easily, situations including ‘I dropped a glass and it broke’, ‘I think I might be coming down with a cold’, ‘I accidentally knocked my toe and it hurts’, ‘I asked a question and didn’t fully understand the answer’. It is difficult to know what is best here – already other employees are having to work around her (if Cecilia is sobbing, maybe ignore it because it may not be a big deal). At the same time it feels quite harsh to have her work success tied to ‘not overreacting’ which in all honesty I do not know if she has much conscious control over it.

    How have other managers dealt with this? How can we support her to succeed?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Someone who is frequently and uncontrollably sobbing at work, is struggling very badly and may not be well enough to be at work right now. It is not harsh to expect adults to cope with minor inconveniences in a professional manner without disrupting the office or forcing their coworkers to absorb their outbursts.

      You can tell people to ignore it, but they really can’t. It’s very draining, no matter what you do.

      Do you have an EAP? This doesn’t sound like the kind of support you get from a manager. She needs more personal support to de-escalate her stress levels, or deal with anxiety, or whatever may be driving this.

    2. Gemstones*

      Supporting someone who’s crying because she broke a glass, hurt her toe, or is coming down with a cold is far beyond the scope of what any manager should ever be expected to do.

    3. kalli*

      Firstly; whether you think she is on the spectrum is irrelevant and would be even if you were qualified to diagnose because you are not her treating practitioner, you are her manager and you must manage her work and behaviour at work, regardless of what you think of her physical or mental ability or neurodivergence status.

      You need to signal to her that these are not big deals so she learns that they are not, the same way you are able to and should be working on, you know, training her, as ‘what to do when an answer is ambiguous’ in your first paragraph is in fact training. That includes everyone ignoring her if she cries because a glass broke because it is not a big deal. If this is not working or does not work, you can refer her to your EAP (if you have one) for more support from someone who is not her manager, or address the behaviour – starting softly and then adjusting if it does not work.

      Being new is something people do not have to be neurodivergent to find overwhelming and requiring of adjustment. Your first reaction and disclaiming the situation with ‘she is probably on the spectrum’ is something *you* need to work on – you shouldn’t need to contextualise a workers behaviour with neurodivergence unless you’re evaluating accommodations (whether they can be provided, whether you can propose something else, whether they are working). If she does not have accommodations (which being new and you guessing at how her brain works would imply not) then you might consider whether there are changes you can make that would incidentally reduce the need for accommodations across your team generally, but that’s in terms of being inclusive and doing things that might generally benefit people (again) regardless of whether they are neurodiverse or have an ABI or live with a disability or didn’t sleep the night before.

      If you take action with regard to whether you think this person is on the spectrum instead of solely keeping it to behaviour and managing that behaviour, you are also putting your organisation at risk of legal liability for managing them based on a perceived disability, being discrimination. You avoid that simply by not speculating or going ‘I can understand if you’re autistic’ for this person but not for someone who doesn’t ping to you as having a brain different to yours.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is an excellent point. How would you address this with someone you were 100 percent sure had no disability?

        If you are managing her differently and holding her to different standards of work behavior because you think she’s disabled, that is ableism.

    4. design ghost*

      Setting aside whether or not your report is actually neurodivergent, which you don’t know and shouldn’t assume for the very good reasons outlined by other replies, I’m honestly getting kind of tired of the way some people on this site talk about neurodivergency. It’s condescending as all hell.

      Yes, absolutely, emotional dysregulation is common to a lot of people with various mental health issues or neurodivergencies. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn coping mechanisms or other ways to improve it! Saying you think your employee is literally incapable of regulating her emotional responses is so condescending. Is she a toddler? Is a toddler capable of doing her job?

      Maybe actually talk to her about the issue, and let her decide for herself what she’s “consciously capable” of, instead of assuming that you know the limits of someone else’s brain, thanks.

  98. Junebug*

    Has anyone ever had a diversity trainer come in to their workplace who led a productive discussion? A race-based incident happened at my office recently that was dealt with amongst the parties involved but a broader follow up is needed. My boss is open to the idea but I have no idea if this is a real and feasible thing.

  99. Decembering*

    Does anyone subscribe to the advice of taking at least one interview a year even if you’re not looking to switch jobs?

    1. allathian*

      I don’t really see the point myself. That said, I do keep an eye out for jobs in my field and I’ll apply if it looks interesting enough that I might consider switching if I got an offer.

    2. Rick Tq*

      No. That might apply if your industry has a lot of job turnover but that isn’t the case in mine at least.

      Getting 1 interview a year means applying for a LOT more jobs than that, which means research, customizing resumes and cover letters, and all the things that Alison recommends for a job search.

      That sounds like someone’s hobby.

  100. Anon 4 this*

    I’ve got a weird situation. I’ve been playing around with AI image generation the past year. It started when I needed to generate images for an RPG adventure for my gaming group. I couldn’t find what I needed from the Adobe stock freebies, so I started generating images with DALL-E and Midjourney. At one point, I noticed an image would make a good sticker and I started trying to get the bots to make good images for stickers. Eventually, I landed on some really great ones, so I had some stickers made of those images to plaster on things at home. Which led to making more images for stickers and so on. Sometimes friends and family members give me a few bucks for a sticker they like, but that’s the extent of it.

    One of my coworkers, Jane, saw one of the stickers on my water bottle and asked where I got it. I told her how it was made and she got angry with me, accusing me of “stealing from real artists.” Then she told another coworker, Fergus, who then told the whole office that I’m taking work away from real artists and now I get death glares and no one will talk to me unless it’s business critical.

    I do understand the ethical issues with some AI image generation bots, especially those that were trained by scraping works from the internet. But that’s not what the office is mad about. They’re mad that I didn’t either 1) hire an artist to make the image for me or 2) draw everything myself by hand. We’re nowhere near a creative field, we’re K-12 education support, our department mostly works with statistical reporting. And this is all done on my own time at home, not at work.

    And I get it, I didn’t draw the image by hand or hire an artist. But it’s not like I typed in a few words and left it at that. It takes hours of tweaking the input to get maybe two or three images that are acceptable. Then I spend more hours on my ancient iPad editing the one image that is the best of the lot. Corrections are everything from replacing garbled text to redrawing half the image. Last night, I spent two hours just removing unnecessary white lines, correcting some janky borders, and replacing the tail on a cat because when Midjourney does cat tails, it’s very hit-or-miss (he cat’s tail was coming out of its nose this time). Most AIs output PNGs, so sometimes I convert those to vector images if the style and palette are suitable so I can get cleaner results that look more professional, but mostly it’s just me with my tablet and a stylus.

    Fergus says he’s a digital artist and what I did offends him. He has been especially harsh towards me and keeps making loud comments in earshot that he could make better sticker art and apparently all I had to do was ask him and he’d be happy to do it at a discount because we’re coworkers but because I “cheated artists out of their due” it’s too late and he’d never work with me. Even if I had the money to hire an artist to make me sticker images, I would not hire Fergus. His art is mostly semi-nude young anime girls he traces from screenshots and collages into different backgrounds and my stickers are 1950s and 1960s style scifi advertising art, cosmic cats, dinosaurs in suits, and beer labels (those go on the homebrew I make every fall, not the water bottle I use at work). So definitely not my taste.

    I know I’m not a real artist, I just fix robot drawings for fun, but I feel like the only way the comments and icy treatment is going to end is if I apologize to them for it and quit using AI image bots entirely. My boss says as long as they answer emails when I request info then there’s nothing he can do and that I should really consider apologizing to Fergus. Jane found out I talked to our boss and now she’s extra mad because she thinks I’m trying to get Fergus in trouble. I’m worried if I go to HR, things will just get worse, so should I just take my boss’s advice and apologize?

    1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Your boss is wrong. Don’t apologize! All of these people are taking this weirdly personally and behaving strangely. Your colleagues need to be civil to you in addition to answering your emails. That said, this doesn’t sound like something to bring to HR (unless it escalates further).

      It seems like they’re past the point of rational discussion. But if they make more comments and it feels natural to respond, maybe something like: “I spent over X hours of my personal time generating this image and cleaning it up to make it look coherent. I’m certainly not replacing any artists’ work because I didn’t need this image to exist other than as something to do during my time off. This isn’t work related and I need you to stop commenting on it.”

    2. SofiaDeo*

      Your coworkers are wrong, especially Fergus. So if he played piano at weddings and other events, and you chose to get one of those flat electric keyboards and played around with it in your off hours creating little tines, you would somehow be “stealing from real musicians”? If you choose to sew your own clothing, are you stealing from people who sew for a living? One can purchase a dress pattern (the equivalent of generating the first rough image) and customize the garment (edit the AI image). Because that’s the analogy I am seeing here. “You didn’t draw it by hand” is ridiculous. So if you got a knitting machine instead of knitting by hand, that would be unethical/stealing from others who knit for a living? The AI generator does not churn out a finished product, it’s a template that saves you hours by generating a rough image. It seems a few people are using this as an excuse to cause problems for you IMO.
      If Fergus or others keep making snotty comments perhaps you can get that addressed. Your boss can most certainly insist they do more than answer emails if Fergus and others can’t be civil to you in the workplace. I think you could make a case that Fergus choosing to make comments out loud is harassment. They aren’t work related, and uncalled for. If he is suddenly spouting these comments as soon as you are within earshot, yeah, he’s harassing you. It seems to me that Fergus is jealous and offended someone else in the office besides him is “doing something” with art images, and is harassing you because of it. The woman who accused you of “stealing from real artists” is dismissing the hours of work you put into it. You should be able to get your boss to insist they drop it.
      Plus everything They Don’t Make Sunday said.

    3. GythaOgden*

      I think as an artist Fergus is kinda right to be upset even if he’s behaving badly about it rn. The core of his work is image creation, and despite you doing all the work to perfect the sticker, you’re still bypassing the actual work of creation.

      I use images online to create cross-stitch patterns, but I wouldn’t go much further for a lot of them for more than personal use. I did one image from a game screenshot, which is obviously fan art, but then there is my personal favourite genre of design — Eastern European poster art and even photography of people in EE ethnic costume.

      Yup, a cross-stitch pattern from an old postcard or photo is time-consuming to create and stitch out. I also put effort