open thread – December 15-16, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,035 comments… read them below }

  1. Nicosloanica*

    Ugh, I just found out how badly I need to start job searching in the new year, and I’m really bummed. My current organization is really circling the drain. I think I was in denial until some recent conversations. As development staff, I also have the guilt of feeling personally responsible for our problems. There’s a lot to like about this job – well, there was – but I don’t have much hope it would get any better as more people leave and aren’t replaced, leaving me now juggling three jobs – all development (individual, corporate, and foundation) as well as most of the comms – while the leadership makes erratic decisions and doesn’t offer any help. I’m going to start searching Jan 1 on the dot.I was very happy here and I don’t like my odds of finding something else as good. I need to get out of development, it’s too stressful. Is the nonprofit job market still awful?

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I sure hope it isn’t. My company now has a bad reputation due to allegations ( I don’t work in that part) and I need a smaller workload!

      1. Lauren*

        Knew a guy who was at Enron at that time! So many years later … it is a head whipping WHAT?!! WE NEED DETAILS?!! but no one bats an eye anymore.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      It would be pretty hard for one person’s failure to be able to affect an organization to this degree. Do you think part of your reaction might be related to the way you take ownership of your mission (which is a good thing, but can roll over into also taking ownership of things outside of your control)?

    3. Elle*

      Do you need to work at a non profit? Your skills are probably transferable to different types of jobs. I’m a non profit lifer so I understand not being able to think outside this area.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        It might be too late for me, haha … I just can’t imagine leaving a mission-driven field. And at least when things are crappy here, I know it’s because we’re underfunded and trying to do good, not because some rich shareholders are taking the profit or because people aren’t buying enough widgets.

        1. RVA Cat*

          True, but you could do development work for, say, a university so it’s large enough to be stable (plus state employment if it’s public).

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, I made that switch and it’s super relaxing not being responsible for the continuation of the organization (or even a given program!).

    4. NotYourHR*

      With your experience, pivoting into grant reviewing or corporate foundation work might be a way to find stability while still doing good.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      It sounds like you wear all the development hats where you are! Maybe working at a larger nonprofit like a hospital or university where you can focus on a back-office development job (prospect research, prospect management, communications) would be a nice change. Larger organizations are also less likely to “circle the drain” even in challenging times. They often have nice benefits as well!

      1. Nicosloanica*

        I so agree, I want to work at a bigger place after this. It’s sometimes fun to work at small places and get to be more involved, but my last several orgs have been waaay too small (seven people or less, down to three people). I’d love to find a job with at least thirty staff or more … but not at the level of a huge national nonprofit with thousands.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Smaller liberal arts colleges might be a way to go. They don’t have huge development departments, but usually big enough to allow a little more specialization.

    6. Yes And*

      I think it’s level dependent. My organization has had no trouble finding applicants for its lower level development jobs, but we’ve had a hard time filling the top job.

    7. Frustrated Fundraiser*

      I’m looking for a Dev Director position, after my frustration with not knowing what’s going on as our org’s Major Gift Officer (and I’m pretty sure a lot of ish is going on). It seems to be a tough market right now, but I’m hoping after year-end crunch there will be the normal fundraiser turnovers.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        I want to get out of fundraising. I used to be in program management and then I did foundation side work for a while. Both of those were more fun than being the person trying to get the money. It will be hard to go back to with my current resume and salary expectations, but even if I’m just doing less fundraising – but still some – that would be something.

    8. Cut and Run*

      Sorry that things look so dark. I like to hope that there are good and bad places whether it’s non-for-profit or private. I’m a little bit in similar situation where I’m already job searching, but it’s just so disheartening how bad things have gotten at a place that I cared about.

      If nothing else, this site has proven to me time and time again that good things do happen!

    9. RedinSC*

      I got out of development this last year, and it’s made a huge difference in my personal well-being. It was so so stressful.

      I was going to say, if you wanted to stay in development, you’d find a job instantly, probably. But now you’re looking for a change, it might be a bit harder. I moved from my non profit job to a job with our local government. The transition has been fine, and it’s a better work/life balance.

      Good luck!

      1. Fundraising to Government*

        I also made the jump from nonprofit development to government after getting laid off in summer 2020, and it’s been great. I took a step down in title/responsibilities (but a pay and benefit increase), but was able to get promoted two levels within 18 months.

        Now I’m an analyst doing programmatic work that’s not exactly my education/background, but related- think land use advocacy into local planning.

        I’d encourage you to check into local government if it sounds at all appealing. I emphasized my communications work and grants and donor management. I started out doing communications and compliance work for the division that does contracting.

        I was able to fairly easily move into more programmatic work because my organization has a culture of developing employees and I volunteered to support projects in the division I was interested in, so I’d definitely try to probe into internal development.

        Similar to OP, I went from nonprofit program work back to nonprofit development (trying to escape a dying org) and I was worried that I’d be stuck in development forever. There is definitely hope to get out, OP. Development skills are super valuable and transferable!

    10. Job Hunter*

      It’s not awful, just hard to find the role that’s right for you. I also want to do mission -driven work. I started looking while still working and got offered a job after about a month of being unemployed, but it together another month to get an offer I was happy to accept (from a different organization). It was hard to find a remote job and compared to last year, it felt like nonprofits were offering less money for higher level work.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Because if the OP is a mom, she’s also in the middle of producing Christmas or other holiday for the family. Sitting up till midnight wrapping presents doesn’t help (though last year I just rampaged through the local Dollar Tree, bought massive amounts of gift bags and stuck labels and bows on everything).

      2. Stripey dress*

        If OP celebrates Christmas, that’ll be why. It’s an especially busy time.
        Also…holidays (if you get them) are important, in my opinion.

      3. Tad Cooper*

        Also, year-end can be a brutal time for fundraising. Since this is the last chance for donors to make gifts they can deduct from their 2023 taxes, it’s the last chance to make up revenue shortfalls on the foundation side, and the Christmas Season is tailor-made for acts of charity and goodwill, nonprofits (especially foundations) crank their fundraising efforts up to 11 this time of year. At many of the fundraising jobs I’ve had over the years, they frown on taking much time off over Christmas—or if you do, it has to be very closely coordinated with your team to maintain coverage.

  2. "Must be a customer"*

    How do you go about applying for jobs where you don’t personally use their product?

    I’ve applied to roles where I don’t NEED their product (like a medtech company that treats diabetes–either you have it or you don’t). But when it comes to products that are optional and targeted at the general consumer, companies are now demanding personal passion for the concept. This used to be just a “nice to have” but it seems to be turning into a “must have” over the last year, based on my interview experiences.

    It’s frustrating. I can’t afford to buy a bunch of widgets or subscriptions, just to enthuse about them in interviews. Do I just concentrate on B2B companies, to completely sidestep the issue? Experiences from people who have navigated this would be appreciated.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is this for a sales role? Because I think that’s much more of a thing in sales than it is in most other professions. They are trying to hire people who are going to be genuinely enthusiastic about the product – because us cynical consumers can often see right through fake enthusiasm. So can you demonstrate genuine enthusiasm after just trying the thing once, or reading reviews of it in consumer guides, etc?

      The other approach, of course, is to apply to companies who want sober, rational salespeople, not cheerleaders. It’s been 25 years since it was published, but The Cluetrain Manifesto is still relevant, in my opinion.

      The enthusiasm thing is often the other way around in engineering & software development – they hope that after working on the product, you’ll realize how good it is and use it gladly.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Oh wow, well that’s a new one for me. You may just be in a string of bad luck, because I’ve never asked for that when interviewing candidates in those roles.

        2. Lauren*

          I mean if you are looking to be UX at Tiktok or Snapchat, but never use those apps then probably not a good fit. But do you need to customer for everything? Unlikely. If the use is more fundamental to their core of who everyone is, you probably need to use it regularly or not opposed to it. Runkeeper is a good example. Great company, love it as a local company known to be an excellent employer, my cousin works there, but I am not a runner and I would rather veg out than train for marathons. I probably shouldn’t work there ever because it seems they want enthusiasts to breathe their app and I just want to watch tv in my downtime.

        3. WantonSeedStitch*

          Is it something where the tech IS the product? If so, I can see how they’d want someone working on the tech at the back end who knows what it’s like as a user.

        4. sulky-anne*

          For a UX type position, I would try to make the case that it’s valuable to have an outside perspective. It can be harder to spot the problems with a platform or think about alternate ways of doing things if you’re really used to it. But I would also try to get a sense of how they see their products and what they’re trying to achieve so you can show that you are aligned with their priorities.

      1. Clisby*

        And, of course, it’s entirely possible to be enthusiastic about products you don’t/can’t use. Like the example given above of a medtech company that treats diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, but my younger sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 9. I remember what a frightening time that was for my family – by the time she was diagnosed, she was *really* ill and was sent from our small Mississippi town to Oschner’s Clinic in New Orleans for treatment. She and my mother spent about 6 weeks there, while my grandmother came to take care of the rest of us, and my father drove to New Orleans every weekend. I would have no problem waxing enthusiastic about treatment for diabetes.

    2. Ms. Murchison*

      Question: Have you also tried talking about what differentiates their product from others, i.e. what makes it special or unique?

      I’m sorry you’re facing this; it sounds like an impossible obstacle to finding a good job. I would not be surprised it hiring managers are using this as a strategy to sift through mountains of applications, but it’s certainly not a good strategy for finding the most skilled candidate or to bring innovative ideas to the team.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Can you translate it to passion for the effect of the product?

      Say you’re bald and applying to shampoo sales. “My sister always struggled with [issue your shampoo claims to fix] and I saw how frustrated she would get. She spent hundreds on products and thousands of salon appointments. When I saw how much she loved your product, and how relieved she was to both look better and save so much money, I knew I had to be part of this solution”.

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

      I think you need to do your research and be able to explain what differentiates Company A products from Company B and explain why you like A better. I think they are just looking for people who are energetic about the product itself. That said if someone point blank asks you if you have tried X, and its too far out of your price point, I think you would be fair to say “I haven’t had the privilege to purchase your product but I’m looking forward to being a consumer and I really like Z.

      All that being said, if someone is going to dismiss you just becuase you haven’t tried their very expensive product that shows more about them than it does you.

    5. Beth*

      When I was last interviewing, I ran into this off and on, and I just lied. I looked up some reviews of the product as part of my pre-interview prep, noted a couple things people commonly said they really liked, and if they started asking about my personal experience with the product, I used those to talk like I’d used it and really liked it. My faux enthusiasm never convinced someone to offer me a job on the spot, but I also didn’t get taken out of the running for lacking passion, so I’d say it worked.

    6. There You Are*

      The wife of a friend of mine is in HR for a fast-food chain whose central product is meat (think: burger chain, fried-chicken chain, etc.).

      The friend told me his wife asks every candidate, regardless of role, what their favorite flavor of [meat product] is, so she can gauge the candidate’s “passion” for their product and concept. He sounded pretty proud of her for coming up with that.

      I said, “So… they don’t hire vegetarians, vegans, people who are allergic to [meat product], or people who can’t eat [meat product] even for back-office roles like Accounting??”

      He was gobsmacked. He — and she, apparently — had never thought that the question could exclude / discriminate against candidates.

    7. Awkwardness*

      And could you sidestep this?
      If you know releant topics in this industry (as, let’s say, no male customers over age of 50 because reason A, B and C, or average spending of x per customer, when it is generally advised to have at least y), have genuine passion for your field and idea hours to solve the problems (as through metal music in ads)?
      To me this would be more desirable than pure user experience.

    8. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      I came across this earlier in the year — a role that was a great fit for my experience and trajectory for a wellness-related service. The nice-to-haves mentioned “knowledge of and experience with our content” so I applied, figuring I could do some extra research in the event that I got an interview request a few weeks later.

      Well, the CMO contacted me straight away to set up a phone screen and wanted me to answer some extra questions that weren’t covered by the bare-bones application process. One of them asked for the username I use to subscribe to their service. I responded and pointed out that the PD called that subscription out as a “nice-to-have” rather than a requirement, and if it was a hard requirement I’d have to withdraw. That was the end of that.

      Not surprisingly, the position is still being advertised. Maybe their expensive subscription service is a barrier for entry!

    9. Heather*

      I would just speak about the enthusiasm I or others have for that type of item and then connect to your interest in the role.

      I have been interested in cooking and indoor grills and appliances for quite some time and I enjoy learning more about them, especially an affordable model for nonprofessionals like yours. I read about the release of XYZ grill in the (blank) paper when it was just coming out in 2021 and was really intrigued by the product. While I don’t personally own XYZ Grill, I am happy to be here interviewing so I can have more access to the product to learn more about what makes your indoor grill so great as well as how I can help your advertising team in the role we are discussing.

      My friend Rocco has been a subscriber of your product for years and he is always talking about how much he loves it and has helped him to do X. When I saw there was a position open at Schmancy Subscriptions for an accounting role I just knew I should apply. I know that any company that Rocco won’t stop talking about is going to be a great place to work… From your corporate page and your website, I already think I am right. Can you tell me more about the accounting role?

    10. learnedthehardway*

      That is such a BAD way to select a candidate!! Just because someone loves your product, it doesn’t make them a great sales person, marketer, product developer, or manufacturing worker.

      Companies would do far better to ask people what they know about the product line(s), what are the product trends in their industry, how their products compare vs the competition, what opportunities they see for their products in underserved markets OR let candidates tell them how they would respond to those types of questions about their current industry. THAT would get a LOT more useful information about the candidate’s abilities and aptitudes.

      It’s quite legitimate in many situations for a company to want someone with product knowledge or industry experience. Expecting someone to have a passion for their particular product line is generally ridiculous, though.

  3. Activities to prep for the new year?*

    I have a couple of days next week to wrap up this year and get ready for next year. What do you do to set yourself up for success next year (other than setting specific work goals)? I clean out my email and set up new reoccurring meetings, but am interested in hearing what others do.

      1. Elves Have Left the Building*

        I spend the quiet time between Xmas and NY (I WFH) cleaning out my email, archiving old versions of documents so that only the most current ones are in my working folders, deleting out of date references, policies, etc.. and downloading the newer ones if neeed. It’s great, relaxing, no real mental or physical energy expended, and OH SO SATISFYING when it’s done!

    1. Revulk*

      In addition to cleaning my workspace, I skim through my notebook(s) from the year and look for any big ideas (or little observations) that I may have forgotten about or put on the back burner and consider whether I should carry those into the new year, or just let them go.

      1. ursula*

        This is a great idea that also feels like something I could do while chilling in front of the TV – thanks for sharing!

    2. ecnaseener*

      My office doesn’t close at the end of the year, but I am taking a week-plus off for the first time so I’m excited to see what y’all’s tips are.

      I’ll try to get all my work in the best shape possible for coverage, of course.

      I’m also going to save a copy of certain tracking spreadsheets at the start of the new year, after a few years worth of wishing I had done so when we’re asked for calendar year data in July.

      1. DannyG*

        Go somewhere, it doesn’t matter where, really. Have done formal 3 days new year celebrations at a fancy hotel and a couple of nights in a local motel w hot tub in the room. And plenty in between . Just not being in the usual surroundings really helps.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Hah, sorry, I meant I was looking forward to reading everyone’s tips for preparing – not for the vacation itself. I will be traveling, thank you though!

    3. Ashley*

      I go over my random lists of long term to-do items and update any tracking spreadsheets / to-do lists I have. I make sure I have printed a new wall calendar. I also try to close out any projects I can by the end of the year so they can be archived and at this point I am sending reminders on random open things to folks so we can all try to close things out.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I am frantically documenting everything about my job because I have been headhunted and the interviews look to be going really well. I might be giving notice by 12/31 and will have to train someone.

    5. holiday jazz*

      As a freelancer, I download and archive all my cloud back-ups to my SSD RAID. (I only use online storage at client request, so my drive limits are the free minimum.) This includes content, supporting research and interviews, etc. I start fresh with a blank drive every January 1.

      As a FTP employee, I organize and archive e-mails in a similar fashion. I’m in a field that has years-long deadlines and compliance look-backs, so keeping everything fanatically organized is imperative.

      Both of these occur at home, so this year I will be undertaking a huge declutter/renovation to get my home office in good shape for ergonomics. My current set-up was ad-hoc, and I never had enough time in one stretch to break down/replace it.

    6. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I have a guy who comes in once a week for heavy stuff around the house. I will have him pull as much crap out of the back room as possible, so I have to Deal With It before my daughter visits and we’ll see what the carpet looks like back there!

    7. Alternative Person*

      Prep my new diary. Copy over things I need for the new year, put in the first few weeks of schedules, review the old one, work out what worked/didn’t, pencil in my overall goals, set my Jan-Mar workout plan.

      Also, give my desk and files a good going-over. Replace or get replacements ready for stationary.

  4. Juanita*

    Writing with what might be a naive question: How does one connect with corporate recruiters? I’m in a senior marketing role and have a successful track record, but have never been contacted by a recruiter, perhaps (likely?) because I work in academia. Curious to hear how others have typically started relationships with recruiters—polish up my LinkedIn / mark it as open to work (does anyone actually do this)? Approach recruitment firms directly? Thanks!

    1. pally*

      You might reach out to professional organizations pertaining to marketing (or the relevant industry you are interested in working in) and ask them about recruiters they know who specialize in their industry. They will know some names.

      I have found these specialized recruiters have websites or utilize LinkedIn to list the positions they are working to fill. If you think you fit the bill, reach out!

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’m in marketing (individual contributor) and have gotten plenty of bites from recruiters via LinkedIn when I’m marked Open to Work. So, yes, make sure your profile is polished/up to date and try that.

      You can also submit your resume directly to recruiting firms and keep your eye out on LinkedIn for recruiters who tend to work with senior marketing types.

    3. Accounting Gal*

      Polishing up your LinkedIn and setting it to “open to offers” or whatever that terminology is, 100%.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Honestly, even without the overt flag on your account, I’m 90% sure just being low-key active on LinkedIn (opening the app every other day, looking at and following some companies, liking some posts and so on – nothing major) boosts you in search rankings over people who are more passive. Whenever I get professional wanderlust and start idly browsing job ads to appease my monkey brain, it’s like recruiters can smell it and start popping into my inbox!

        1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          Activity (posting, commenting, etc) definitely pushes you higher up on search results.

          Make sure that you’re active in the right way so that when someone looks at the activity section of the profile it isn’t just fluffy “congrats on the new jobs” comments for miles. Talk about things that are relevant to your professional role — adding value to the conversation.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          I also see a bump in views each time I update my profile, so every so often I add/change/edit that content even if it’s just adjusting a comma. (I set it not to broadcast profile updates so that doesn’t appear in the feed.)

    4. Haven’t picked a name*

      I have reached out and worked directly with recruiters my whole career (I am in finance). There is a specialty recruiter in my state and I have reached out to them when I am looking. You should not have to pay any recruiter as a candidate, the company pays.

      Looks and see if there are any firms that specialize in your area and reach out to them.

      Good luck!

    5. Lauren*

      Linkedin peeking at recruiter profiles is a great way if you are not keen to connect directly. Connect to recruiting agency people though. They don’t mind and you don’t need a conversation for every connection. This is what “I am looking for X with Y salary in Z location. Anything that is on your radar that might be a fit for me?” say it all in a message and skip the phone calls to intro yourself unless there is a real job available.

    6. cleo*

      A few years ago when I was changing careers, the career center that I worked with offered a workshop on using LinkIn, given by a recruiter and it was the most useful workshop I attended. I followed the advice and I started getting bites.

      The main things that I remember is to set yourself as open to work so that recruiters can see it and to list ALL of your experience and key words / buzz words.

      I don’t remember the exact settings but you used to be able to set it so that recruiters see that you’ve open to work separately from other settings.

      There’s a level of LinkedIn access that recruiters have that let them do really detailed searches, which is why this recruiter recommended listing all of your experience, making sure to use the key words you see in job listings (that you want).

      It worked for me in 2018. Things may have changed on LinkedIn since then, but the impact was pretty remarkable.

      Before that, I signed up with a lot of staffing agencies that worked within my specific field (digital communications). I got a lot of initial meetings with recruiters to go over my materials, which was interesting and useful, and I did go on a couple interviews, but no second interviews and no job offers.

    7. lemon*

      I noticed a slight up-tick in recruiters contacting me after setting my profile “open to work.” However, I saw a bigger difference after I updated my bio to include a lot relevant keywords (in a non-spammy way). Also after I joined some professional orgs and connected with other people in my field. I think doing that made it easier for the relevant recruiters to find my profile.

    8. Recruiters*

      Recruiters are generally transactional creatures. most if them will talk to you when you fit a role they’re trying to fill and won’t when you don’t. Full stop. Apply for some contract work and you’ll likely get to talk to the recruiters for some of them. You can then tell them what you’re looking for and they may or may not be able to help. Note that the use of recruiters for full time employment roles has been decreasing for decades in most industries so you likely only need to go through recruiters for contract roles (but there are still some full time options too).
      Good luck!

  5. Job Hunter*

    How can I handle the stress when important projects pop up that must be done right away in addition to my usual work? I know how to handle that if it happens once in a while, but what do you do when it happens often? And how do you prevent perfection from being the enemy of good? When I have reasonable deadlines, I take time and steps to ensure good quality work. But I know my work isn’t nearly as good if I have to write a press release in an hour on very short notice and I don’t like turning in work I am not proud of. I like to think twice and act once so I don’t have to put out fires all day.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I try to remind myself to pause and ask, “Is this urgent or is it a priority?”

      Oftentimes, I realize it’s the former, but not the latter. Then, I put the task where it belongs in my priority list and let the person who asked me know when I’ll be able to get to it. Clear this general approach with your manager first, framing it as, “I can do XYZ in any given period, so when ABC comes in, here’s where I see it fitting in, timeline-wise. Does that align with how you wang me to prioritize?”

    2. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      My department has started using ChatGPT to help with quick turnaround writing projects. Yeah, yeah…I know, it’s AI…..but it can get a first draft going that you can then modify to meet your needs. It’s cut down on our writing time immensely.

      Aside from that, it sounds like a cultural issue if you have a lot of last minute work popping up all the time. Is it last minute by nature, or is it lack of pre-planning? To my leadership’s credit, they recognized that all the rush jobs were a problem for our department. We implemented project management software that all jobs MUST be entered into, with all assigned tasks given an appropriate amount of time. It forces everyone to plan their jobs/requests way in advance. If it’s not in the software, we’re not supposed to work on it. I realize that may be an “easier said than done” solution, but if you can raise the flag and prompt a discussion, it might effect some positive change.

      1. Raia*

        I feel like first drafts when you’ve got writer’s block is actually the perfect time to use AI, it’s when it’s a final draft that it’s truly problematic.

      2. Beth*

        I’ve also heard of people using ChatGPT the other way around–they write their own first draft, with the information they need but without any attempt at style or niceness, and then ask ChatGPT to proofread or even to e.g. rewrite for a press release. If you’re ever trying to coax a written product out of people who have are technical experts but not very experienced writers, I’ve seen that strategy really speed things up.

    3. Ashley*

      When I am doing something rushed and I know it isn’t my normal quality, I try to have someone spot check me or I do a verbal run through with someone. The bigger the project the more I have someone check it. Sometimes you have to know when your brain isn’t at top speed and I lucky to have a manager that works with you on that stuff – they know if they want perfection to ask early in the day. Asking at 3pm after a day full of other stuff, it is a toss up to my brain functionality.
      Also my job has a lot of pop up, so I try to do the regular stuff early and leave time in my planning for my day for stuff that will pop up. I also have the option on some projects of going offline for an hour or two to get the regular stuff done without interruption. (I try to warn key folks unless it has been a day and then I just ignore everyone.)

  6. Orange_Erin*

    I remember there was a question earlier this week about visible bra lines at the office. I’m currently sitting in a lengthy corporate training and I noticed that almost all the stock images used of women in the workplace show women with visible bra lines under their shirts. It’s just reinforcing in me that it’s not a big deal and I know I’m less worried about how I look when I dress for the office now.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Agree. If I’m noticing someone else’s underclothing, I’m looking way, way too closely and focusing on the wrong thing.

    2. Rainy*

      I legitimately have never understood the horror over being able to tell that someone else is wearing underclothing. If you’re wearing a bra and someone can tell, they’re offended, but if you don’t wear a bra, they’re also offended? Make it make sense.

      1. Random Dice*


        It’s a reflection that female bodies are policed so hard that the mere existence of undergarments – even if covered!!! – is somehow offensive.

        1. Legally Brunette*

          This was always so strange to me – would they prefer we *not* wear underwear or something? Can’t have it both ways – design clothing that shows lines, and then expect no lines!

      2. RagingADHD*

        Way more people worry about this stuff needlessly, than have actually been policed over it or had anyone IRL be offended about it.

        This stuff gets ingrained in the back of our minds when we’re in middle school or high school – peak self consciousness and rapid body changes. Maybe a teacher, parent or grandparent made a big deal over something, because their generation had different standards of “respectable” attire.

        I had an elderly aunt once give me what-for because I wasn’t wearing a girdle. It was the 1980s, and you couldn’t even find a girdle in stores. I had no intentions of ever wearing one. But her comments about my “jiggle” definitely took up too much rent-free space in my head for a long time.

        1. Rainy*

          I have had people IRL harass me about my clothing, actually, including what kind of bras I’m wearing, so I’m maybe not the audience for “you’re worrying needlessly and haven’t actually been policed about this” type verbiage.

          1. RagingADHD*

            That’s not what I said at all.

            I said a lot of people worry about it even if it hasn’t happened to them.

    3. Medusa*

      I have never noticed a visible bra line or bra strap unless it was a bright colour that was kind of intended to be noticed. What an odd thing for some people to focus on.

    4. Paris Geller*

      I wear a . . . uh, very, very, very large bra size. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a bra/clothing combo where you couldn’t see bra lines under what I was wearing, including some pretty bulky sweaters. Some are less visible than others, but it’s pretty impossible for me to find either bras or shirts that don’t show lines at all.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I remember one time seeing a discussion about Mad Men and how the women often have visible lines under their clothes because they’re wearing structured midcentury undergarments. The show makes a point in a few occasions of having it be plot/character significant but also that’s just how clothing works sometimes! But I definitely worry less after realizing if Christina Hendricks can have visible girdle lines on an edited TV show with very intentional and detailed costume choices, I am probably okay to occasionally have a visible bra strap IRL.

    6. Banana Pyjamas*

      So historically, and I mean for over a century, it was normal to wear layers of underclothes. Some of those layers were specifically to hide and smooth other layers. This was purely for aesthetic and achieving the fashionable silhouette. It’s only about 2-3 generations ago (my grandma was born in 1943), that it became normal NOT to wear those layers. Somehow in those two generations it went from an aesthetics issue to a modesty issue. I suppose this had to to with underwear as outerwear being associated with subcultures, but that’s an educated guess on my part.

      1. Joron Twiner*

        Yes the key here is not what type of bra you’re wearing. It’s wearing an additional layer like an undershirt or petticoat or slip dress beneath your outer clothing. Nowadays we just wear a thin polyester shirt or cotton tshirt, of course that won’t cover what’s beneath it completely.

  7. Not trying to job hop*

    I’d really appreciate some advice/opinions about job hunting when you sense layoffs on the horizon, but have also only been in a position for a short time? I started this summer in a great position with a great team. It was supposed to be a long term position after a long period of instability as a trainee. But, it came out this fall that the (much larger) organization is in significant financial trouble that will definitely result in restructuring and quite possibly layoffs or the elimination of whole units. I have no seniority, and I feel pretty vulnerable to potential cuts.

    If I’d been in the job for longer, I would just quietly launch a new job search and hope I don’t need it. It was quite difficult to land this job (niche field/long timelines) and it honestly puts me in a cold panic to imagine being caught flat footed. But I feel awkward about even putting out feelers after such a short stint in this position. Any advice on how or if to address it in application materials, or if I need to hold back until I’m more certain?

    1. Watry*

      “I wouldn’t normally be job searching after such a short time, but I have concerns about the financial stability of the company. I was excited to see this role because”

      1. Watry*

        Bahhh, hit enter too soon. In most industries, people are going to understand this–and unless you already have recent short stays, it may not even matter that much.

    2. Nicosloanica*

      I would not plan to hold back searching. If your short tenure is going to work against you, it will be evident in the sluggish responses, but there’s not much you can do about that so you might as well be applying. In your cover letter, I might say something like “recent instability has made me realize my current role is not reliable” or something, and that’s the point you can hit in interviews. People will understand. You can say it’s “last hired, first fired” where you are and they’ll get it.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I wouldn’t hold back on job searching. I presume that the fact that the parent company is public knowledge, not just internally known, so hiring managers may well put that together for themselves when they see where you are at present, and if not, then in any interview you ca reference any publicly available information about the company and explain that in the circumstances you have concerns about the long term viability of your current role so are looking elsewhere

    4. Momma Bear*

      I agree. If you see the writing on the wall, then start looking. It may take time to find something new and by then you may have most of a year under you at this job. You also have the advantage if you start looking now vs when you are laid off (IF you are) to find the job you want vs a job you need. You wouldn’t be the first or last person to jump ship because you were concerned about a company’s stability and viability.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      Just came here to reinforce everything everyone above me has said, in case it helps the cause. Just start looking! You have nothing to lose
      Good luck!

    6. Not trying to job hop*

      Thank you all! Your responses are (oddly?) reassuring – I was feeling a little boxed in between my short tenure and the uncertainty around layoffs. It will take my org a little bit to figure out what it’s doing, and I feel much better spending that time doing what I can to arrange a (hopefully totally unnecessary, but….) next step!

  8. Big Ick*

    I had a Big Ick experience yesterday with a program participant. I am already a little uncomfortable with him because it is well documented he made an unwanted advance to a healthcare professional about a decade ago (she pressed charges). He was invited to my office to record an interview and arrived before anyone else, so it was just us in my suite (a big room with three cubes and a common area). He made his way back into my personal workspace area in the corner, behind my desk, looking at my family photos and my wall art/diplomas. Later he was walking behind me and touched my back to grab a piece of fuzz off my sweater.

    He is going to continue to be a program participant and I’ve mostly directed all his communication to be with one of my partners who works more closely with him, but he will still call my work cell directly. Am I justified in just…not answering his calls, ever? Because of the nature of our work/community, he knows where I live. It just makes me so uncomfortable.

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

      I would first say something to your manager, just to cover your back.
      Then I would have all his calls go to voicemail. Maybe call him back at some point, but not immediatly, and say something like “I’m sorry, I am swamped with other participants so I am not going to be be able to answer your calls. That is why you will be working with Jerry, who has more availability. If there is an issue, Like you cannot get in touch with Jerry please call the main office number, as there will be someone available to assist you.

      After that just stop taking his calls and tell whoever is assigned to him that he called you.

      As for that he knows where you live, if you think he could escalate I would maybe talk to your neighbors to let them know that if they see this person to let you know immediately. And make sure family members know not to answer the door or let him in. If you don’t have some type of security camera then you should get one.

      I hope this guy just stays as an icky guy at work and does not escalate.

      1. Big Ick*

        Yes, thank you, my manager does know. He thinks he’s a creep.

        I think I also need to touch base with Jerry, and let him know explicitly that I will not be answering Creeper Participant (CP)’s calls. I have said casually that I try not to take his calls, because the general vibe is that he’s the silly kind of creep, but yesterday was really the tipping point for me.

        I told my husband about the experience. I should clarify that I am concerned that CP knows where I live for the familiarity of it all. He is the kind that will use personal information about you to find ways to be inappropriately close to you and it all seems innocent and friendly.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          The guys like this that I’ve known go around ‘poking’ everyone. The people who go along to be nice? They poke them more.

          They seem to back way off when you push back or react like “WTF are you doing” and don’t give them a pass.

          They know exactly what they’re doing and if you refuse to play the game, they know that you’re on to them and will stop (with you).

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      I am wondering why someone with his background is still allowed in your program, and I’m guessing one of two reasons: it’s legally mandated service and you can’t refuse it, or your HR is incompetent and thinks because he’s not an employee that he can sexually harass the staff with impunity. If it’s the first, do document this and communicate with your HR for help. If it’s the second, do that anyway but loop in corporation counsel if you have one. You don’t have to put up with his shadiness until he actually attacks you.

      1. Big Ick*

        It’s political. We have a public facing program with financial support from various organizations and his family is well known in most of the organizations. My boss and I have marveled that the organizations know this about him and continue to put him forward as a model group member.

        1. Big Ick*

          Yes, this should be possible. I think I have standing to refuse to go to his worksite to take him materials he needs for the program (normally this is outside my role as program manager but the person who is assigned to him was sick last time so I did it).

    3. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document.

      Touch base with your manager, as ‘cats’ recommended. But you need a trail of what happened, and when. Many folk would think of picking lint off a sweater as innocuous but you need to have that audit trail to ensure your own peace of mind.


      1. Big Ick*

        Thank you, I somehow (a person who has been sexually harassed in the workplace more than once), did not think about the documentation piece.

        1. FromCanada*

          Don’t beat yourself up about that. When harassment happens, it sometimes takes a while for us to process things and to get to “Oh I need to document”. If this just happened, and it sounds like it did, it takes a while to work through even if you’ve experienced something like this before (and maybe even that because you have it takes longer). I hope you are able to be safe and supported in this. I’m sorry you’re dealing with it.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      He was definitely testing boundaries right from the get go! A practiced creeper; the worst kind, ugh.

      Know going in you aren’t imagining things, exaggerating, or crazy (all things he’s going to lob at you when he escalates.) Creepers start with plausible deniability for a reason–to make their target seem oversensitive or mistaken or whatever they come up with to undermine your credibility. Taking steps NOW, like not taking his calls and security measures at home and work, both protect you and give you the mental girding you need.

      Rope in your bosses. Keep a written record of anything he tries that is outside business normal behavior, no matter how seemingly “innocent.” He’s got a record for this kind of behavior! You are totally justified in protective action.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Here’s where a sturdy spine comes in handy.
      Another way to have played this scene is to direct him to a specific seat in the common area, and the moment he was coming into your workspace, keep redirecting him back. “Mr Ick, I can’t have you back in this area. Have a seat and I’ll join you in a moment.”

      “Mr Ick, I need you to not touch me or my clothing. Please step back.”

      Let his calls go to voice mail. Unless Icky’s call is urgent and your partner isn’t available, just forward the message to your partner. Or answer and say “Ah, that’s something that Fergus can handle. I’ll let him know.”

  9. Engineer*

    For those of you who have struggled with imposter syndrome, what helped you overcome it? Or at least, not let it be so loud?

    Last year I switched into a very different focus at my job which meant I had to learn a whole new skillset, and it unfortunately timed up with the departures the department head and my would-be supervisor. I’ve had to learn a lot of these new skills piecemeal, from reading through technical manuals and some guidance from senior leads in different offices, but it’s been a struggle for me all year since I was essentially thrown right into the deep end.

    My company has been thrilled with my work – I just got a 6% raise on top of my previous 5% midyear raise, and I just found out I’m also getting a bonus – so I know I’ve been doing all right. But every time I get praise, I feel like shouting “it’s all a lie! I have no idea what I’m doing!”

    How do I accept my own success?

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      I’m in the same boat. I know I’m one of the best-paid people on my team and I seem to get the best raises and bonuses, and I honestly don’t know why. It makes me uncomfortable! But then I think of all the annoying people I’ve come across in my career. The slackers, the mean people, the “all show and no substance” people, the ones who got caught doing something illegal. I’m convinced most of what makes someone a superstar in their job is that they show up, do a decent job, get along with their coworkers and don’t cause trouble. With all the drama out there, managers are usually relieved to have these reliable folks on staff and are happy to reward them.

      1. Engineer*

        I was told in my end of year review that my ability to stay outwardly calm in the face of some tight, stacked deadlines while learning the ropes was well noted and highly appreciated. Between that and somehow managing to get the job done, I’ve made an impression. I just really don’t feel like I deserve it.

        1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

          Consider that you’ve been you your entire life, so these things seem easy to you because it’s just who you are! But with all the personalities in the world, it’s not easy for everyone to be as calm and organized as you are. You just have to trust that your personality is special and you don’t have to work so hard to have these positive work qualities.

          1. Engineer*

            Oh, I wouldn’t say being calm is easy for me! I’ve just learned that showing my panic doesn’t typically help a situation. But it sounds like just being to maintain that outward facade is putting me ahead of others. I just don’t consider it a work skill. Maybe I need to work on reframing that.

            1. Clisby*

              It absolutely is a work skill. Just like keeping uncharitable thoughts about your co-workers to yourself is a work skill. (I don’t mean not reporting co-workers if their behavior is impacting your work; I mean characterizing them as lazy, or incompetent or incredibly annoying.)

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I realized that I also am ” overpaid” and my bosses go” Uh…you can get a…raise” but I thought that was just to be fair

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Two ways:
      1) get some (or more or larger) accomplishments under your belt. Have you done anything that would be “exceed expectations” in your role yet?
      2) Keep doing an honest assessment of yourself. For example I felt off and looked around and realized most people earnings more have two programming languages, not one. So now I have a concrete thing to work on and the nagging feeling that I wasn’t enough (as a worker) had some merit to it.

      I do disagree with the general vibe online that this is purely a mental issue or state of mind. IME “imposter syndrome” is our subconscious screaming at us that we could do something better, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Nah: imposter syndrome is a thing; being subconsciously aware that you need to do better is a different thing. Sometimes they are hard to tell apart, which makes it tricky! It sounds like Engineer is not at risk of hand-waving away her own flaws, though it’s always good to practice self-reflection, I agree

    3. Seahorse*

      My therapist suggests leaning heavily on evidence – why do I think I’m doing poorly? What actual, real world proof do I have to suggest my performance is inadequate? Can I offer anything concrete to support my claim that my coworkers must all think I’m incompetent?

      If there *is* evidence of doing a poor job, what can I do about that? Improve a specific skill? Sign up for training? Fix a bad habit? Address a miscommunication? Make my successes more visible? Job hunt? By that point, I either have an action plan or must admit I’m making up my own conspiracy theories.

      I’m still really bad at all this because it’s difficult to override my brain screaming about my failure and arrogance in a constant loop. It does help stop the spiral though.

      1. Engineer*

        Hm, that feels like something I can do – analyzing what I think I’m doing poorly. Now that things are beginning to calm down in terms of deadlines, I ought to be able to take some technical courses on company’s dime, and that will likely help with me feeling so out of depth.

    4. Anon for This*

      I think of it as sort of playing a role. I put on my costume (professional wardrobe) and play the part of (my title). I personally may not think I’m great at being [e.g., an engineer] but I can put on a great performance as (title) while using my very real [engineering skills]. I did this for a number of years until I realized I really AM good at my job. As you gain experience the imposter part will fade but, sadly, I don’t think it every completely goes away.

    5. Not Dean*

      There was a guy on my team at my last job. Let’s call him “Dean”. He had been on that team for 3-4 years before I was hired. It took me 2-3 months to realize he was all noise with no substance. And he was a bully, to boot.

      I asked my manager why Dean hadn’t been fired, and Manager sighed about how no one had the time to document All The Things so that HR would agree that he should be let go. Manager said, “Essentially, if Dean doesn’t break the law then he probably has a job for life, unless we have layoffs.”

      Dean eventually got tired of never being promoted and left for a role that was two levels above where he was at our company. So at least I know he interviews and sells himself really well, even if he can’t/won’t do the actual work.

      I think about Dean whenever Imposter Syndrome raises its ugly head in my life.

      I know that I live in fear of ever being a Dean. I don’t want to be that person who everyone wonders how in the hell they still have a job.

      So I work my way through a few comparisons between us (“When X thing happened, Dean responded Y-way while I have responded Z-way, and I have been praised for Z so I know I’m getting that part right.”) and by the time I’ve thought of a few ways in which I am a better employee than Dean, my Imposter Syndrome dies down a bit.

      Essentially, my tool is say to myself, “At least you’re not Dean!” :-D

      1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        Honestly, so much of what OP wrote in their post matched my situation. Moved to new thing I had little experience in, team lead quit about 2 weeks after hiring me on, totally thrown into the maelstrom. All I could really do was try my best.

        And then I looked around at some of the other team members. People who still hadn’t completed a required 16-hour training after having months to get it completed. People who were in positions of authority who had absolutely no clue what they were doing. People who were refusing to get certifications because Reasons. Having to step up and help troubleshoot when things go wrong because leadership is MIA. And, adding to all of that, the fact that no one on my team really understands anything that I’m working on.

        It’s not exactly the same as your “Dean” example, but it definitely convinces me that I must be doing something right. :-D

    6. A+ Imposter*

      There are two options: The boring option is that they’re right. Based on the work they’ve seen out of you that they can compare to their own expectations and others in the role (as opposed to comparing your work to a theoretical ideal that lives in your head and raises the bar as soon as you’re in danger of actually meeting it) you’re doing an amazing job and deserve a raise.

      The much more exciting option is that you’re an amazing con artist. Even though you’re new to this focus and these skills, you’ve figured out how to create a ruse of competency that is enough to fool seasoned veterans. Since (at least in my experience) companies don’t tend to give out midyear raises just cause, you were able to fake it so well that they believe their metrics are rising in such a way that they need to pay you more to keep you.

      The first is more likely, the second is honestly more impressive. Take whichever one your ego can stomach more easily.

    7. RaginMiner*

      fake it til you make it!!! I started waking up every day and telling myself that because of the praise and achievements I have, I must be super awesome. repeat until it works! I have had a weird amount of success with it and my confidence is so much better.

    8. Ripley*

      I keep a folder in my email and every time someone says something nice to me, or mentions that’s I’m good at my job, or something similar, I put it in there. My job has an electronic “kudos” board, and someone left a comment on there, and that went in my folder. If someone sends me a complimentary IM, that goes in my folder. If someone compliments me verbally, I make a note of it in my journal (I journal every evening, YMMV). When I am feeling bad, or I make a mistake at work that sends me into a shame spiral (everyone hates me! I’m terrible at my job and I’m going to get fired!) I go and look in my folder and remind myself that I have proof that I am good at my job.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I actually find that it helps a lot to just tap out of the mental debate over whether I’m good at things, or the best, or deserve praise, or not. Just stop arguing with the impostor syndrome, because nothing it says is relevant. The key phrase for me is:

      “Okay, but nevertheless…”

      Nevertheless, this needs to get done and I’m the one who needs to do it.
      Nevertheless, I enjoy doing this.
      Nevertheless, it is really satisfying that people appreciate the thing.
      Nevertheless, I’m going to do the best I can with it.
      Nevertheless, it seems to be working.

      1. Seahorse*

        Oh, I like that! That’s been my approach to things like job interviews for a while, but I somehow never shifted it to everyday work.

    10. Luva*

      I ran an impostor syndrome support group at a major tech company and here are the things that helped me and that others said helped them:
      1. Talk about it, to somebody. The impulse is to hide it, but that reinforces it because you start feeling shame about it, or that you have to keep hiding your fears.
      2. Remember that you’re not alone. These feelings are incredibly common (up to 70% of tech workers say they have feelings of impostor syndrome regularly) and one reason we excel. It’s a tool our brain uses to try to make us do even better, and it’s an effective tool (unfortunately).
      3. Fake it till you make it. Imagine what you would be like if you didn’t have impostor syndrome, and then pretend to be that person. “How would I feel about this if I had a realistic view of my abilities and accomplishments?” “How would I approach this if I were as confident in myself as I objectively should be?”
      4. Look around you and really try to assess whether your coworkers would do your job way better than you. The thing that helped me most was doing interviews: people with decades more experience than me, in more senior roles, at more prestigious companies, were so clearly worse than I was at the job I was trying to hire them for that it really brought home to me how skilled I actually was. There were maybe two other people in my thousands-strong organization of super smart and talented people who could have done my job effectively.
      5. When people praise you and give you compliments, practice feeling grateful and that’s it. My impulse is to argue (internally) and think of all the reasons why they don’t know enough about me or my job to be able to give me a credible compliment (while of course if they were giving me criticism I’d accept it immediately). So I head off that argument with “Thank you, I’m doing my best” and stop there.

      Good luck, impostor syndrome is a tough one but lots of us have figured out how to live with it!

    11. Anna Badger*

      so I think there’s a common shift when people go from jobs where the scope is such where you can feasibly know exactly what to do at any given moment to jobs where that is no longer a reasonable expectation. but you hold on to that expectation, even though nobody else is holding onto it for you.

      in my experience, both from myself and from watching other people, it wears off after a while, as you go through the process of understanding that your job is now to figure stuff out and then do it, rather than just the doing, and it’s the figuring out that people are praising you for.

      it also seems to wear off faster for folks who have sufficient exposure to more senior folks to understand just how much figuring out they’re doing.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think that’s a really good insight about a normal progression that we aren’t always prepared for – at some point, figuring out what to do *is* the job.

      2. Luva*

        Ah, true, that’s another thing that really helped with my impostor syndrome problem: sitting in on leadership meetings where the highest-paid people in the org were trying to actually get something done. It’s just goat rodeos all the way up.

        1. Tangochocolate42*

          Yes! I had this recently. I’m mid level management and have been sitting in a few c suite and board meetings recently for various reasons. Quite quickly realised that while everyone clearly had their own strengths, not only do they make mistakes, but sometimes those are mistakes I would not have made in the same situation! Made me realise I do have the ability to get that high, it’s just time, opportunity and whether I’d want to.

      3. Engineer*

        You know, that’s probably what’s been feeding into my feelings. My last role and focus area, I knew what I was doing – I knew the major clients, I knew the basic structure of deliverables and common changes, I knew when certain things would pose a problem and how to try and mitigate them.

        In this role now, I’m a junior in terms of skillset but a midlevel based on years experience, and I think that’s been giving me the most internal grief. I don’t know how these projects work or what our clients want, and I still don’t actually have a senior leader in this area so I don’t have someone who can really guide me.

        I think when I sit down with my supervisor (related focus area, but still not mine) in January to set expectations, I’ll have as honest a conversation as I can. The company’s been great to me so far, especially with all this mess, so maybe they can help me find some resources.

    12. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I just want to amplify that this kind of “in the deep end” situation would be hard for anyone! Don’t compare yourself with someone who got properly onboarded, and has an experienced boss on hand to confer with when something isn’t clear. Compare yourself with how the average person would be doing in your much more challenging situation, trying to get up to speed with only “piecemeal” support.

      The people who are impressed with you are appreciating your ability to function in, & navigate through, that suboptimal territory – not only your (still in progress) ability to know All The Things.

  10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Thanks to the folks who talked about ear plugs. It certainly helps with the noise. It doesn’t help if my coworkers practice their dancing but I am just really easily distracted

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have to think that except under unusual circumstances (say a holiday party or if you work at a dance school), most of us would find our coworkers dancing to be a distraction!

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        My coworkers are a fun and cheerful group, but they can do extra work to make up for any time lost socializing, ( or dancing) while my energy levels are way lower.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          also my boss takes meetings with the sound on! and why does she plop down right next to me? There’s a reason why RTO is unpopular.

  11. Think I made a bad choice*

    After taking approximately 8 months off (was paid a generous severance after being laid off) I accepted a job at a small company. I’ve always worked for large companies and stayed at those companies for many years. Already, it’s clear the compensation and benefits are not as described. It feels like a bait and switch or maybe just incompetence.

    Had I not taken the time off, I would just start job searching again and leave this off my resume, but the gap was already a problem when apply for jobs and now it would be a year. I’m tempted to stick it out for a year so my resume looks better, but I’m really frustrated only a few weeks in. Other than the gap in the last year, I have 20 plus years of experience and always stayed at a company for 7 plus years.

    How would you handle this?

    1. Dulcinea47*

      Look for a new job, put this one on your resume and if asked about it say it wasn’t what you expected.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Agree. If it takes you a long time to find something else, you may have a year or more’s tenure, or if you can get interest right away, you might be able to downplay this job. After 8 months of unemployment I think I wouldn’t leave it off your resume (if you had gone right from your last job to this short tenure, I might have suggested that).

    2. Decidedly Me*

      If I was really unhappy, I’d look now and leave it off. I don’t think there is much difference in how an 8 month vs 12 month gap will be looked at.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        this is true, but I think there is a pretty big difference in “current employed with short tenure” versus “has been unemployed for 12 months” – unfortunately.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      It’s hard to answer without knowing specifics. When I started at my current job I thought they bait and switched me with bad insurance but it turns out I just experienced the one time incidence of the insurance company rejecting something right at the beginning of the job

      At my last job I felt lied to about “growth and potential” until all of a sudden it happened. Then I had to sometimes nudge my manager or HR to do bonuses for other people that were newer and I’d realized that the people in HR changed again and no one had the bonus formula for my office. So I could see said newer coworkers feeling slighted when it was more about the lack of a system than lying or malice.

    4. Goddess47*

      Depending on how long it takes to find the next job, you can just blend this into your time off. “I was fortunate enough to be in a position to be off for a year and now am looking forward to being back in the work force.”

      And have you called them on the differences. “I was told X at hiring and now find it’s Y. Is there a reason for the difference?” Make is an honest question (I’m pretty non-confrontational) and see what happens.

      Good luckl

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      Have you addressed the compensation and benefits issues directly? Do you have an offer letter or anything else in writing that would help there?

      1. Think I made a bad choice*

        Thank you for the advice! I am pushing back on the issues, but without going into too much detail, it is being framed as policy changes that affect the whole company. I am not the only one who is impacted, but since I literally just started and negotiated some of these benefits in order to make up for lack of other benefits, I am super annoyed. I doubt that I will be able to get anything changed, but I am going to pursue it next week when I can meet with my manager.

    6. Lemon*

      Oooof, I recently was in a similar situation. Had a (well funded!) break from work, but struggled to re-enter. Took a job that was in a new sector for me, in my area of expertise…and almost quit after week 1. The mishaps varied from comedic to awful, and I was miserable and bored until I (thankfully!) was laid off 6 months later.
      Ultimately, the job was not a good fit, and being laid off gave me an acceptable ‘out’, but do think about – how short is short if you stay at this job, and decide at the 3 month? 7 month? mark it’s no longer tenable. Could you really last a year there? Or – if you leave early – it puts pressure on the next job being good enough to stay at least 2 years at risk of racking up a pattern of job switching…just some things to consider.

      1. Lemon*

        and maybe also helpful…my job also did a number of bait & switch things on me, including basic (and deal breaker!) things like what hours I’d work, and who I reported to. It really eroded trust, and made me sceptical that they had clarity over what my role was intended for.
        Sometimes you do join a company and something new is rolled out than that contrasts what was advertised, but red flags are red flags.

  12. Typing All The Time*

    This happened a month ago but I’m still saddened by it. I work in tourism and I had a pitch about an assignment accepted by a supervisor at a place I’ve done work before. After I handed in my work, the supervisor told me that they also approved a similar project by another person at the same thing I was at. They seemed open to giving us both credit, which was fine for both of us. It seemed decided but I followed up recently I was told that they couldn’t add me to the project and the others was more in aligned with what they were looking for. I argued that my project was still accepted but they said they’re wasn’t anything they could do. I don’t know where to go from here.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I’m not familiar with your field. It doesn’t seem like there is anything you need or should do next.

      Are pitches usually along the lines of an open call for ideas and then the one best one is selected? That sounds like what happened here.

    2. Pink Candyfloss*

      I don’t understand your question. It’s not uncommon for companies to choose one type of work over another. Is the issue that you did work for them and weren’t paid for the work because the pitch was passed over?

      1. Typing All The Time*

        The manager accepted both of our pitches at the same time but didn’t realize it until afterwards.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Are you an employee or freelancer?
      What does “accepted” mean? The go ahead to do the work? A go ahead to bid on the job? A guarantee that the work will be the final one chosen?
      If you are a freelancer, did you have a contract with the supervisor? What did the contract say about payment and credit?
      As an employee, you would talk with your manager about what the next steps are.
      As a freelancer, you move on and find other clients. If there’s a signed contract for them to pay you for the work, even if they don’t use it, you invoice them. If having a better contract in place would have helped, you talk with an attorney about improving your contract.

    4. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

      It sounds like you are a freelancer who pitched an idea. Someone at the organization liked the idea and told you to proceed. After you turned in your work, you found out that someone else was working on the same topic and the org liked that content better and decided not to use your work. Am I right in my interpretation? If so, I think your mistake was in not getting a contract. Without a contract, there is no real assignment. The contract would specify what would happen if the work wasn’t used. Many organizations will pay a kill fee if the work isn’t used. Others will pay only on publication – and it might never be published. Others will use your work, pay you, but not give you credit. A contract let’s everyone know what to expect. It can be as informal as an email with bullet points, but always get the details in writing.

    5. Not my coffee*

      I appreciate that your are trying not to provide identifying details.
      I think I understand your situation. I would only suggest to see if there is anything you can do to prevent this from happening again. Sometimes, just have a plan is part of the healing. I hope you feel better.

      Something similar happened to me, but Big Boss overrode my supervisor. I am still wondering if my supervisor will hold that against me, but one thing at a time.

    6. Velociraptor Attack*

      Did you post about this when it first happened? For the question of where do you go from here, are you still thinking about if you try to work with them again after this?

      I can’t tell how communication was handled, did they accept your pitch, pay you, and you thought everything was fine until you saw the other person’s work? That would be frustrating but it might also be a case where they fully intended to use yours, paid you, realized they had two pitches so decided to combine them, but then eventually decided the other one fit their goals better. I can imagine it’s very possible that they realized the combined product would be a lot more of the other project and they were trying to “fit yours in” so to speak and it didn’t make sense so they went with the other one entirely and let you know.

  13. GiftingQuestion*

    Gifting etiquette question. I now have 6 direct reports and I already have a small ‘thank you for a great year, happy new year’ item for each of them, all of equal value. The last five years I had a 3 person team and I also gave small gifts to their pets and kids as we’d gotten to know them through zoom. By small gifts I mean a cat or dog toy for the pets and a food gift for the kids (all parent approved). The original 3 are still with me, the new 3 do not have kids, pets, or significant others. My instinct is to not do the larger family items again this year, since it wouldn’t be equally applied. Is that right?

    1. Alice*

      Your approach sounds good to me.
      I can tell you that the best gift I’ve ever gotten from a manager is some amount of money to be donated to a charity that I choose. It’s through the company Tis Best I think? And that’s something that doesn’t involve knowing any details about the recipient’s personal life.
      You sound like a thoughtful manager!

  14. Cyndi*

    I’m transitioning from full time in-office to hybrid (remote Monday/Friday) at the new year! I haven’t done regular remote work before, so this is very exciting for me, but I’ve missed the wave of omnipresent advice on transitioning to remote by about three years.

    Besides the obvious need to get a workspace together in my living room, is there anything you wish you’d thought about when setting up to work remotely? I live alone in an apartment with a dog, if any of that matters.

    1. NameRequired*

      I am really big on keeping a space that is uniquely for work and nothing else, it helps me keep lines between the personal and the professional in a small apartment.

      Otherwise, the chair and table height are going to affect your body so get the best ones you can and check if your job will pay for any of it.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, one thing that really helped me when I was working from a tiny apartment was making a space in my closet where I could put away my work computer on weekends/during vacation. My work desk had to be my crafting desk for space reasons so being able to put work stuff where I couldn’t see it when I was off for an extended amount of time really helped me disconnect. (Technically I could have done it at the end of every work day but in practice that was a little annoying since I had to unplug and replug various cables.)

      2. DannyG*

        I have a riser on my desk so that I can alternate between sitting and standing. I found 30 minute cycles work best for me, but you can play around to find what works best for you. I also have a 1” foam pad that I stand on. Second the good chair recommend, I got a close out floor model at Office Depot for about 1/4 list and it’s great. If you have space a small divider or screen to separate desk from room. I got a lovely antique one at a flea market for about $50.

      3. Not Jane*

        Agree totally. Make sure you have a separate space to ‘go to work’ and ‘leave work’. And for me, I need to ensure I give myself half an hour at the end of the day to unwind otherwise you find yourself finishing work then 5 minutes later starting the dinner/other chores. Then you feel like you didnt get a break all day.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      How exciting! I second these recommendations – if you have a space where you can put your computer away (ex: in a drawer) when not in use so you don’t see “work space” on your time off, that will help. For what it’s worth, I worked from home from my large laundry room so it was out of sight for other home activities (no one could see my machines on calls).
      I’ll also second the chair comment – I spent too long working in a chair that, compared with my desk height, caused my shoulders to hunch up and then impacted my shoulders, arms, wrists, etc.
      Nice to haves: view out of a window while working/natural light, second monitor (non-negotiable for me now), phone chargers, desktop organization tools (pencil cup, dividers for notebooks, etc).

      1. Cyndi*

        This is really helpful, thank you! Except that I have the opposite problem with monitors: I already have a two monitor setup at work and my boss is an “as many screens as humanly possible” type who’s considering giving me THREE for WFH. I’m going to have to break it to him that my desk at home probably isn’t big enough for that.

        1. There You Are*

          My desk at home is 27″ wide and 20″ deep. I have my laptop on the surface and a monitor mounted via a screw-tight clamp to the back of the desk.

          I put a nightstand to the left of the desk and put another monitor on it, with a couple of inches of the base hanging off the edge of the nightstand over my (slightly shorter) desk.

          This setup gives me three screens: Two decent-sized monitors plus my laptop screen.

        2. Banana Pyjamas*

          They have u-shaped screen mounts that drill to the desk specifically for accommodating three monitors. You don’t need anymore desk space for three than you need for two if you have one. I definitely prefer three slightly smaller monitors to two larger ones, but also the type of work I have done usually requires you to be in multiple programs at once, and I’m a very visual person who likes everything to be right in front of them.

    3. cubone*

      I’m the opposite of a lot of these recommendations. The first few WFH pandemic years, I made sure I could “put away” my work stuff easily on the evenings and weekends to create a clearer boundary between work and did so diligently. At some point, work gave us a “home office equipment stipend” and I went all out with a desk, chair, etc.

      Now I leave my work stuff out 100% of the time (and my desk is in my living room too). I looooove it and am so much happier. It makes me feel a lot more “stable” and comfortable to have a permanent set up and not be in a constant state of transition. As other people have mentioned, I do use my desk for crafting, personal writing, etc. but it doesn’t bother me that my work laptop is right there (however I do tuck away my work notebook so I’m not staring at my to-do list). I also bought a dock so I can easily switch my monitors, keyboard, etc between my work and personal laptop. Personal preference, but I’m much happier this way!

      I also wish I had invested in my super nice motorized sit-stand desk much earlier. It sucks if your work won’t contribute $, but my home office is 10x better than my personal office now (and my body is happier too).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’m with you — I get the motivation, but at this point I’ve been WFH for ten years and I’m used to it. My personal and work computers are on the same desk and share the same keyboard and mouse, and I have the monitor on my personal computer set up so that in a pinch I can flip it over to be a third screen for my work computer if I’m working on a bunch of wide spreadsheets.

      2. WellRed*

        Same! I set harder boundaries in March 202o working at my dining table. I now have an official living room corner office. One thing I still do that I know others will disagree with: I get dressed every day. It might just be leggings and fuzzy socks and it might not be until an hour or so after I start, but I do not work in pajamas all day. Otherwise (for
        Me) where does it end?

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you’re ever likely to be on camera at home, double-check what’s behind you. I had a picture up, which was very nice, but nobody told me until I was on a meeting with my great-grandboss that apparently from my camera’s angle, the thing behaved practically like a mirror and showed off my whole (not very tidy) office in its reflection. She goes “Oh, I see you have three monitors, what’s that furry thing in front of the left one?” and I was like “…. right, so that’s coming down as soon as we’re done here.” (Because the answer was “it’s a plushy wampa and I did not want to have to explain my Star Wars nerdery to my great grandboss.)

      1. BigLawEx*

        Oh, yes this. Where I mostly work is not where I do Zoom/video calls. I do those exclusively from my dining room where the background is a gray banquette and a bland picture of a city.

        Where I actually work has personal family pictures, etc., and even though they’re 14 feet away, video cameras are really good.

        Also, I’m not sure how much your workplace is tied to appearances, but I see that some people have a bunch of work related non fiction behind them. It does set a scene…

    5. Honey Badger just don't care*

      I’m 100% WFH since March, 2020 and I have the space, so I set aside a small corner in my library that is strictly work. I used stipend for the largest desk I could fit in there and it’s the ergonomic sitting to standing sort. A good chair is a must have as well. Do not stint on these! My other must have was dual monitors and monitor arms, keyboard, mouse, and good headphones. My dogs are not always quiet! I also put in an extra light. The final thing was a comfortable bed for the dogs that would hold both of them AND fit next to my workspace. Because I’m 100% WFH, I leave my stuff set up all the time. Since you are doing it only 2 days per week, you could get away with putting stuff away. Just make it easy on yourself. Note on the extra monitors: if you use an external monitor at the office, try to mimic that setup at home. You will find that you are much more productive if your home setup is as close as possible to your work setup.

    6. Mazey's Mom*

      I don’t know about dogs, but I have cats, and I found that at least one of them has decided that I need his supervision while I work. All day long. It used to be that they would just constantly jump up on my desk, or plop down right behind my chair – just be a nuisance until I stopped everything to pay attention to them. Then I learned that if I have a dedicated spot on my desk just for them (which is a folded towel), they know that’s THEIR SPOT and that’s where they (mostly he) camp out when they feel the need to supervise me up close. And we have a routine too (treats as soon as I turn on my computer) which is their signal that it’s time for Mama to work and for them to take one of their morning naps. Of course, when both of them want to be on the desk at the same time, it’s not right if they both have to share the towel. So towel #2 is set up on the other side of my desk. It doesn’t completely stop them from walking across my keyboard or flipping their tail in front of the camera, but for the most part it has solved a lot of problems. Maybe having a specific spot for your dog near you – if your dog is needy like my cat – will keep them from bothering you constantly while still fulfilling their need to be joined to your hip.

    7. Ashley*

      For me I still have to ‘get ready’ everyday so I mentally am transitioning and preparing for work mode. I have hear the suggestion of walking around the block for your commute so maybe a quick dog walk in the morning to get you in work mode mentally. Also I tried to put myself in a place that would limit distractions – ie not near a place I could watch movies all day.

    8. holiday jazz*

      I would recommend not making any permanent decisions (large furniture purchases, etc.) right away. Give it some time and experimentation to see what works for you.

      For all the reading I did, my preferences ended up directly contradicting a lot of the standard WFH advice.

    9. E*

      I work from home 4 days a week. My office is also my reading/craft room. I put everything but my monitors and docking station away last every night. That’s my way of ‘leaving’ work. I also get dressed each morning before I start working, even if it’s comfy clothes and not something I’d wear to the office. Keeping a ‘get ready’ and ‘go home’s routine has helped separate work from regular life. Also find something to work on that’s desk height (like not a TV tray) and a nice chair. Your body will not like working on a couch after a few days. Since you mentioned living room, if you are in the market for a desk, look for either something that can be useful when you aren’t working or that can be easily moved/changed if needed. I have a desk that can be opened up to an L shape when I want more space to work and put back to a smaller desk when I want the room to not feel like work.

      1. WellRed*

        Adding: my desk in the living room is functional but it’s also pretty because it’s in my living room.

    10. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      There were several things that worked for me –

      1) Get out of your pjs before the workday starts. I didn’t have to dress in work clothes, but I did better when I was wearing something I would wear out in public.

      2) On the day before, I’d write down my to do list for the WFH day(s) at some level of detail. For example, instead of writing “work on article” I’d write “draft the methodology section of the paper.”

      3) If I using the WFH day to do some deep focus work, I would check my email at the start of the day and after lunch, but turn e-mail off entirely for the deep focus time.

      4) At lunchtime, I would take my dog for a walk to get some fresh air and exercise to refresh my brain.

    11. MKatty*

      I have a 50% in-office/50% wfh schedule and you should figure out how you’re going to managing your documents, note taking and schedule. I’m diligent about saving everything in the cloud but I also need to keep track of original documents with wet signatures due to the nature of my work. And are you okay with lugging a notebook everywhere to take notes or do you prefer an app? I also try to schedule meetings and phone calls when I’m in-office and save deep focus work when working at home.

      Even though wires seem to be a thing of the past, I use an ethernet chord for my computer that I use for work and a wired headset for calls and work meetings. I love wifi and bluetooth headsets in theory but I’ve experienced enough glitches to not rely on them for work purposes.

    12. Wordybird*

      The best thing that I think you can do to transition to remote work is to really know yourself & what you know your strengths and weaknesses will be so you can set up the best most successful environment for yourself.

      I am not a morning person so I schedule my day accordingly; menial things like email follow-ups happen the first 30-60 minutes of the day while all the big projects are saved for from about 10 am – 3 pm. I will forget to drink enough if I don’t have a big drink on my desk, and making sure the cup is extra-fun or cute makes me more likely to drink it. I don’t like breakfast foods or cooking in the middle of the day so I will have leftovers around brunch time and then a healthy(ish) snack around 3 pm. I take 30-45 minutes midday to get up & walk around and do something not work-related.

      I’m fortunate enough to have my own office and I’ve spent a lot of time decorating it exactly the way I want since I spend so much time there. It’s loud & colorful & full of all the things I like so I’m more inclined to not mind spending so much time in that room… while I also make sure to NOT spend time in that room the rest of the day and week. My brain needs a dedicated work space and a dedicated life space in order to be able to switch between the two at the beginning and end of the day.

      Good luck! WFH is the best work-related thing to ever happen to me.

  15. Amber Rose*

    We held our annual charity Chaos Potluck: the potluck in which people bring whatever food they want, we have no sign up, and we hope for the best. The only problem we faced was there was just way, way too much food. Like, people brought in massive dishes and had to take a lot of it back home with them. So next year I might set limits or be more specific on how much people need to make. But we feasted like royalty. I can’t believe how good my coworkers are at cooking, sheesh. We raised a pretty significant amount for charity also.

    And with that, my social committee work has come to an end for another year. Like, I’m proud of what we accomplished but wow am I physically and mentally toast.

    I want to kick everyone off the committee next year and open it up so new people can join but I suspect I will get pushback from some of the members. In a company of roughly 60 people, how many people is too many for the social committee? I want kind of like, one person per department, more or less, is that reasonable? It got out of hand this year.

    1. NameRequired*

      I doubt that you can get away with a complete social committee coup, but you might be able to get the current group to sit down and agree on some participation limits for the future

      1. Alice*

        And it’s probably good to have some continuity too. So — keep some people who want to stay on, with an understanding that they are out next year. And from now on, two year terms so there will be some churn and some continuity every year.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      In my previous job, we held a giant Chaos Potluck each year. It wasn’t for charity, but for the biggest department in the company so it was huge. There was no sign-up either. The only rule was that if you wanted to eat you needed to bring something. The company provided the plates, utensils, and drinks and everything else was on us. It was amazing. Some people cooked stuff, other people (like me) brought grocery store stuff, some people even ordered food from restaurants (like pizza) and went to pick it up just before lunch. It was amazing. I loved the absolute bonkers randomness of what was on offer.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Yep, that’s what we did. All the utensils and plates and drinks were company funds and all the food was the responsibility of the people. We charged $20 a plate and made a killing for the food bank.

    3. Pink Candyfloss*

      Is there a reasonable percentage of the total employees that would make for a reasonable social committee? i.e. 10% would be 6 people, 20% 12 and so on.

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

      could you send out a survey to all staff to gauge their intrest. Then those who have been on the committee the longest should step away to allow others on.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you make membership term limits? Like 3 years max? Then stagger your people so always some new and some old members rotating in and out

      1. JustaTech*

        Please have term limits. Otherwise some people get stuck on the social committee because no one else in their department will take on the job.
        Says the person who doesn’t particularly like doing party planning but has been on the social committee for more than 5 years (god, is it 7?) because no one else will do it.
        Have a forcing function to mix it up, let people get a break and get in some new ideas.

    6. princessbuttercup*

      a former workplace did this and one colleague’s contribution was tupperware containers! All the food got taken home, which was so nice, and I think that colleague got the most “loved what you brought” comments, haha. You could also suggest people bring in a tupperware container in case there are leftovers.

      For social committee, most workplaces I’ve been at of that size or bigger have specified one person per department. It keeps it reasonably in size and prevents one department/group from dictating their preference. You can kind of treat it like a formal “Marketing Rep”, “IT Rep”, etc. Then occasionally give the reps the responsibility of asking their teams for ideas, feedback, etc., when needed!

        1. princessbuttercup*

          It was awesome, from both an environmental/waste standpoint, but I also think it made people feel more excited about the potluck (since I would guess everyone basically had a full dinner or lunch the next day too!). I can see in some workplaces you might have to be cautious that everyone gets a fair share, but I think people were really good about it (eg. giving the vegetarians a first pass at veg dishes)

    7. holiday jazz*

      IIRC you are stressed as hell and hate this job. Why on earth are you worrying about an EOY event for 2024? Polish up that resume and get out of there, babe.

      1. Amber Rose*

        You are correct. I just don’t have much hope for being able to leave. The job market is awful. In order to prevent myself from being crushed by false hope, I am acting as though 2024 will be the same as 2023.

    8. Llama Llama*

      1. Instead of limiting the amount of food made (I would feel grumpy if I was told I couldn’t make the amount of food I wanted to make) can you give general idea of how much is a good idea to make or someone else mentioned Tupperware. Can you have part two of ‘leftovers’ for like $10 and then people can fill the provided (and reasonably sized!) containers.
      2. I would be wary of kicking people off and then not getting volunteers. Getting volunteers is often very hard to do. aif you are doing it for the current committee members fine but if you are doing it so others have the opportunity be very wary.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I don’t want people to volunteer. We did better when the entire committee was just me and one other person. -_-

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          Since you’re so stressed with work in general, why don’t you leave the social committee instead of trying to take it over and kick everyone else off?

          If there’s not a hard and fast rule (not just “that’s how it’s always been) that part of your job is to do the social committee that seems like the easy solution.

  16. Hamster*

    Hi all. So last week I asked a few questions about how to be at my new job. Thank you to all especially the advice about focusing less on myself – that was really helpful!

    I have another relatively low stakes question. I was invited to their holiday party next week even though I technically haven’t started yet. It’s going to be a lunchtime at a restaurant. I will not be drinking alcohol so that’s a non starter and I have a modest outfit planned. Location is following so I can look up the menu but that’s not an issue I anticipate. Is there Anything else I should be aware of?

    1. Tio*

      Show up, be pleasant, good hygiene, and you should be fine. Most lunchtime events are just lunch; possible a secret santa exchange will split off at some point, depends on the company, but you wouldn’t be in that anyway.

    2. Honey Badger just don't care*

      You do not have to be the life of the party! Avoid the urge to entertain and/or overshare. Introduce yourself to the people sitting around you, ask them a few questions about themselves, avoid super personal stuff like married/single, kids/child free, that sort of thing. Hobbies are always a good one. Get them talking about themselves then you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the conversation.

    3. Distracted Procrastinator*

      Remember this is more of a social event than anything else. Keep your conversation focused on learning about your new coworkers. Ask light questions and listen. use the time to get to know names and develop those early relationships.

      You probably won’t be like this, but we have all been at a lunch where the new person wants to be sure everyone knows they Know Their Stuff. That’s not necessary. If the talk turns to work, listen way more than you comment. It’s a great time to learn how this particular company operates. You can ask clarifying questions if you like, but don’t make the conversation about you learning the ropes. You’ll be trained later.

      Have fun!

    4. Melissa*

      Your coworkers-to-be will probably make a good effort to include you and get to know you, as they know it’ll be a bit awkward for you. Try not to stress, most work lunches range from boring to pleasant.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Parking. Not every place has a lot, or has limited spaces, especially in urban areas. If you’re driving, check that out if you can on their website, and maybe plan to leave early.

    6. Log Fire*

      Is this your first job, or maybe first office job? Or first lunch with co-workers? If so, no worries! I remember my first party with colleagues at my new corporate job years ago. I was so nervous, but it was fine! School, friends, supportive adults, just living your best life in general prepares you so much more than you realize. People are people, no different, better or worse, than you’ve always known, and are usually welcoming. Don’t worry too much about what you’re eating/drinking/wearing. They just want to see you as a warm, competent, capable person whom they can count on and get along with. They mostly have common personal, career, and company goals, and they hope you’ll feel the same. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say. You’re lucky to get invited to lunch before you’ve even started. What a great opportunity for everyone to get to know you and become part of the team early on! Particularly during this time of year when people tend to be in a more festive mood. Eat good food, shake hands, smile, talk to others, and truly listen when they talk. You could learn a lot just from one lunch. Good luck!

  17. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I’m concerned about our new development director. This person started three months ago and just this week we had a meeting about how we acknowledge our donors’ donations, which sure seems like a meeting we should have had a lot earlier in this person’s tenure but I digress. During the meeting the new dir asked a bunch of questions that seemed like they *really* should already know and are also *really* obvious.

    Q: Do we track the date we receive the donation in our database? A: This is, like, SO basic of a thing for orgs to keep track of, of COURSE we record that!

    Q: Do we put all of our donations into our database? A: Again, of COURSE we do! How have you been our dev dir for three months and not know this? How have you been working in development for over a decade and not know this????

    Others at our org have said that this person has been at places where they didn’t have a very robust system of tracking these things and was probably expecting the same from us, but we actually are quite sophisticated in this respect and that this person is probably surprised about that. Ok, but that doesn’t give them a pass to not learn about our systems, right? They have had a tendency already to explain extremely basic concepts to us with an air of thinking these concepts are entirely new to us, which might again come from their background of building systems in orgs that don’t have very good ones, but comes across to me like this person is really just in over their head and trying to act like they’re doing more than just treading water. Do I say something to someone about it? I’ve already mentioned it to my boss, but my boss doesn’t have any control over this person either, and I feel like the higher ups wouldn’t do anything about it. I don’t think this person was a good hire and I am worried that we’re going to spend a lot of time and money on them without very many results.

    1. Nicosloanica*

      It does sound like they came from a background with poor systems. I guess I can sympathize as my current org is probably about the floor, and we don’t have functionality I would expect / consider basic – so I would probably always ask rather than assume in future jobs. The question of what they’ve been doing for the past three months if not learning these things about your org is more interesting to me.

    2. Haven’t picked a name*

      As someone who works in risk and control these seem like pretty basic questions to understand how a process works for a team or org. I am not sure I understand ho should have set up this meeting sooner, but the questions themselves seem normal. You shouldn’t assume.

      I also can’t tell is there are other things that are annoying you directly, but the questions seem pretty straightforward. When starting at a new org it takes time to have a clear view of everything.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Good question, there are definitely other things about this person (let’s call them DD for development director) that I find alarming and, yes, admittedly, annoying. For instance, they came in close to when we had to send out our end of year fundraising letters and they decided immediately that we should switch from the print house we’ve been using for years to a printer they’ve worked with at their previous jobs. Not the most alarming thing but a strange thing to focus on right out of the gate, IMO. But then after a couple of mailings going out with this new-to-us printer, there have been so many errors from them that our mailing person practically demanded that we go back to our old printer, which we now have.

        My main concern is, as Nicosloanica put it, that it doesn’t seem like they have been trying to learn our systems at all. Knowing how we keep track of donations seems like something so basic that they should have learned it reallllllly early in their job rather than only now thinking to maybe ask about it.

    3. Ama*

      As someone whose org has been through a few bad development hires — I think you’ve done what you can in mentioning it to your boss, it’s kind of up to them to decide if they want to flag it to someone else.

      If you become aware that they are doing something really questionable you can flag it again (like being careless with donor info or messing up your database by putting things in incorrectly), but if it’s just that they aren’t spending your time well learning your systems that’s the kind of thing that your senior staff is going to have to both notice and decide if it bothers them. (It sucks, because I do think senior staff should get better about listening to junior staff — we often see the little warning signs a hire isn’t great before they do — but I’ve learned that you can’t make senior staff see a hire is bad if it isn’t a clear cut misconduct reason, they have to figure it out on their own.)

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Thanks, this is helpful! Our org has historically been bad at getting rid of people with terrible conduct too (we have a c-level person retiring next week who has yelled at nearly every employee here) so I don’t think this particular concern that I have would actually concern the higher ups anyway.

        On the plus side, my countdown to the days that terrible c-level person leaves is now in the single digits!!!! On the minus side, I feel like this new DD is a very similar personality and that alarms me. No yelling yet but if I hear of any you’d better believe I’m going to make a big deal about it. Another c-level person told me that they threatened to go to the board about the yelling c-level person if something was not done about her and I guess enough changed that the other c-level did not go to the board after all, but I sure wish they had.

    4. Pink Candyfloss*

      Before answering the questions I’m curious about why it took 3 months for them to meet with your group; that could answer some of the why/what have they been doing all this time.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        We don’t know! I am the person who they would meet with to answer these questions and while several other people have told the DD that they should set up a meeting with me so I can give them an overview of how all these things work, they never did until this week. (To be fair, they wanted to do it a couple of weeks ago but scheduling stuff interfered.) I offered to my boss early on in DD’s tenure for me to reach out to DD and offer a training session, but was told a couple of times that DD could and would reach out to me but they didn’t until now.

    5. WellRed*

      Who is responsible for onboarding this person and getting them up to speed in your organization? Or was the organization just hoping they would figure it out themselves?

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        That’s a great question! My boss, who is not DD’s report nor is she on the same level as DD (we both report to a different person who is at DD’s level), had a lot of meetings getting DD up to speed and definitely told DD multiple times that they should meet with me so I can show them the stuff I do that is relevant to their job. But DD never reached out to me about it at all. We had a one-on-one when they first started; I always have a one-on-one with new employees and in the past it’s been part “getting to know you” and part “here’s what I do and what you need to know about it in order to do your job.” Our meeting lasted a full hour and consisted almost entirely of DD telling me how they were so great at their last jobs and how our org sought them out specifically; no time for me to show them anything and of course I offered to meet again so I could give them my usual overview and DD never took me up on the offer.

    6. MMB*

      Is it at all possible that this person has discovered some discrepancies or things that seem a bit off and wants to make sure that they have all of their background information correct before digging deeper?

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I would guess it’s nothing of the kind, but those questions about “how closely do you track donations?” reminded me of an old Retail comic strip where the manager, Marla, is interviewing a potential seasonal employee, and the first thing the interviewee asks is “If I’m hired and right afterwards the store burns to the ground, can I still get unemployment?”

  18. Olive*

    I want to wear a long designer dress (it’s not formal or black tie) to our office holiday party, but it’s a family friendly event at a casual venue. I’m gradually realizing I should pick something a lot more toned down, but I’m awfully disappointed because I don’t get to wear this dress very often and it would have been appropriate for holiday parties at almost every other place I’ve worked.

    1. ErinB*

      Can you book yourself a fancy dinner reservation after the party to ‘justify’ the dress? No need to tell your coworkers explicitly but, especially in December, I feel like it’s often understood that people are bouncing from one event to another and may be dressed accordingly.

      I say go for the dress! It’s a great feeling to love what you’re wearing.

      1. Olive*

        Unfortunately, dinner will be served there and I’m bringing my child (the company specified it was a whole family welcome event). If the dinner isn’t sufficient, I’ll wear my dress through the Cookout drive through!

        1. ErinB*

          I have made many post-fancy-event trips through the Cookout drive through and firmly believe that the milkshakes are even more amazing in formal wear! Enjoy!

    2. king of the pond*

      I’m not a fashion expert, so I apologize if this is useless advice, but can you maybe dress it down with casual accessories?

      1. CTT*

        I’ve done this before with a very formal bridesmaid’s dress – I added a colorful bomber jacket and that toned it down appropriately.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yes you definitely can! A casual jacket like CTT said will do wonders. Casual shoes, contrasting tights or pants underneath, silly jewelry, etc.

    3. vox experentia*

      wear the dress, but tell everyone you’ve got a more formal event to attend afterwards. and if you stay late at the event, just tell everyone “i’m having so much fun with yall i’m just going to blow off the other party!”. win win.

    4. Tio*

      I kinda feel like looking nice in it would outweigh overdressing at a business lunch. But I think the suggestion to book yourself a fancy dinner and wear the dress sounds like a good one! Or perhaps a theater show, if you can swing it.

        1. just here for the scripts*

          Then maybe just book a reservation at a nice place for another night—take you and your dress out! You both deserve it!

          Or, You could treat you and your kiddo to a loverly fancy dinner—you both get dressed up and have a REAL tea party (there’s a young Sheldon episode where his dad and sister go out for a dad’s date at red lobster type place. It’s a great model to put in your mind as you do it)

    5. Intermittent Introvert*

      I say, just own it. “I love dressing festively this time of year!” Or if someone comments on it being too fancy, just acknowledge it. “I know! I just love it.” Wear the dress and enjoy it.

      1. Kiki Is The Most*

        I’m of this thought, too! It’s a lovely event so you should still wear the the dress.
        No apologies. Wear the heck out of it as I’m sure you will.

    6. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      You obviously know your office culture the best to know if folks would be weird about it, but I support just wearing the dress. It might be different if you showed up to a client meeting dressed in a way that was very out of step with the rest of your colleagues (they might infer some kind of chaos or lack of communication or poor judgment that damages your business) but this is a holiday party. Wear the dress!

      I get overdressed for stuff all the time because dressing up is one of my hobbies. Go full glam to grocery shop; it’s fine! It’s a great topic for small talk and I have never had any negative consequences from doing it. You know your office best, but it wouldn’t be a problem in most!

      1. Olive*

        I had the opposite problem at one of my first jobs. I was assigned to travel to a client. No one told me a dress code so I wore a suit with heels. I was in my early 20s and the suit wasn’t in style in any way, but I’d thought it looked “adult”. Which it was, in the sense that it would have been more appropriate for an 80 year old. I showed up and everyone else was in jeans. And then I had to walk to breakfast wobbling in the heels.

    7. Wy-leen*

      In my book, clothes are mainly about how they make YOU, the wearer, FEEL. So the question is, would wearing this dress make you feel great? Or would that feeling be counteracted by feeling self-conscious at being overdressed (or worried that the dress could be ruined at the event)?
      I’m a person who enjoys dressing well but is very conscious of dressing for the occasion so would personally probably not wear it. But if it doesn’t bother you what other people think, go for it! It’s not a career-ruining faux pas

    8. BellyButton*

      I recently wore a designer sequined skirt to a more casual event. I was able to dress it down by wearing a cropped tshirt, leather jacket, and casual knee high boots. I got tons of compliments and I liked the look a lot.

      Can you add a less formal shoe and a jacket to make it more casual?

  19. Chirpy*

    I mentioned to my manager that a coworker is constantly making little jabs at me or comments that undermine me to other coworkers and customers. He told me to tell him when this guy does it, but how do I do that without coming across as petty? It’s the exact same “death of 1000 paper cuts” as my childhood bully, and absolutely no one believed me until that bully started doing it to someone else (and then everyone asked why I hadn’t told them, but I had, and they’d all said I was “too sensitive” and shrugged me off at the time).

    This guy says things like calling me “girl” and not understanding why that’s an issue, or gets other younger/ newer coworkers who don’t know better to join in.

    1. Olive*

      When you say that he doesn’t understand why that’s an issue, have you been asking him to stop but then trying to explain your reasoning to him when he protests?

      1. Chirpy*

        I did ask him to stop, and told him that it’s infantilizing, but he just went:”but you are a [department] girl.” He calls every woman “girl”.

        We work in adjacent, semi-overlapping departments but have different managers. My manager is sympathetic but just doesn’t get how serious this is for me, his manager is pretty hands-off. All of the managers are men, and I don’t think any of them grok how much little stuff adds up. Because it just sounds nitpicky to say “coworker won’t stop complaining about how I do X” (when he doesn’t do a thing) or “coworker makes comments about “girls always chitchat” when I’m talking about work to a female coworker” (when he’s spending literally hours each week talking to the young guys and keeping them from doing work). Or he’ll come up to a customer after I’m done with them and just say something completely wrong about the product, which they believe because he’s older and a guy. (I’ve worked here years longer than him.)

        Like, the manager has been relatively good if customers actually touch me (he still doesn’t do anything to the customer, because there’s no way to alert him until they’re long gone) but more subtle verbal misogyny is just…not understood. Every female coworker agrees this guy is a lazy misogynistic ass, and management kind of knows, but nothing ever seems to be said. I do think maybe management has said “Chirpy doesn’t like when you say that”, but not “this is unacceptable”.

        I just don’t know how to report things in a manner that doesn’t make me sound like a “complainer” and will get taken seriously. This guy just laughs me off if I try to say something directly to him, and I’ve overheard him complaining about me behind my back.

        (also, I have no work email and no real way to document anything in writing, it’s all verbal. HR is in another city and I basically have to go through a manager to contact them).

        1. Olive*

          So, I don’t think he “doesn’t understand”. He understands perfectly well. He knows that if he can get you to sound like you’re complaining about him, it makes you look weak.

          IMO, the best strategy is to be politely blunt but too smooth and unemotional to argue with.

          “Please stop calling me ‘girl'”
          “Oh come on girl, what’s wrong with that? Don’t be oversensitive”
          “I don’t like it. Please stop.”
          And don’t engage more than repeating “please stop” when appropriate.

          It does sound like it’s going to be hard to get management or HR to take action. Engaging with him as little as possible might be your best bet.

          1. Chirpy*

            It’s absolutely about making everyone around him look weak, particularly if they’re female. He’ll throw anyone under a bus to look good for a customer (or to look important to teen boys. He’s at least 60 years old.)

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              That is so gross and pathetic: and honestly, the teen boys aren’t impressed with him, I would bet. But they WILL take advantage of his tacit permission to treat every female presenting person badly, you can bet on it.

              I would suggest going as a group (the other women he’s harassed [and yes, this IS harassment]) with documentation of these incidents, both by this guy and any from the boys he’s Pied Piper-ing, and show that his behavior is creating a toxic workplace that’s making it unsafe for both female employees AND the customers. I would assume he’s been creeping long enough to not do anything actionable to a customer, but those teen boys? This is bad publicity waiting to happen.

              Your managers have demonstrated that they don’t really care unless the bottom line is being affected. So that might be the way to get some actual eyes on this.

        2. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oh, ARGH, that sounds like a systemic problem to me, but the part about him saying the wrong thing to customers at least is actionable. Are you able to then say back to him, in front of the customer, “Well, actually….” To “well, actually….” a “well, actuallyer….” would be satisfying.

          But anyway, what to do about it more generally…since he seems to be treating all the “girls” this way, can you get all the other women you work with to tell their supervisors about their experiences with him too? Can you also more directly spell out for your supervisor that what he’s doing is blatantly sexist and illegal? Can you even more directly say to your supervisor that if he were to do this kind of thing to or in front of a customer it could lose you business?

          Blech, though. Flames on the side of my face for all that you’ve described.

          1. Chirpy*

            Our customers trend older and/or more conservative than average for this city, so way too many of them will take literally any guy’s advice over mine (Literally. I once had a customer ask what my boyfriend thought about a product, so even a fictional guy who doesn’t work here?!). The other women who deal with this guy have all decided not to do anything about it because either they don’t work as closely with him, or they don’t see the problem. Or have already left.

          2. Awkwardness*

            “Are you able to then say back to him, in front of the customer, “Well, actually….” To “well, actually….” a “well, actuallyer….” would be satisfying.”

            Would that be so good?
            Management could also have the stance to not make colleagues look bad in front of the customer and would side with evil co-worker that this was unwarranted.

        3. I Have RBF*

          Okay, so, I would just have a tally sheet that I would tick off every time the SoB called me “girl”. Every week I would turn that in to my manager with “Mr Misogyny called me ‘girl’ X times this week. I am Y years old, which is T years past the age where I would be considered a ‘girl’. This is infantilizing, insulting and misogynistic.”

          In my darker fantasies, I would start calling him ‘boy’, as in “Well, in that case you’re just a [department] boy.” and then refer to him in that way until he stops with the ‘girl’ shit. But that is probably too much tit-for-tat in the modern ‘professional’ workplace.

          1. Chirpy*

            I actually do call him “[department] boy” when talking to my friends, but never at work. (I try to be professional!) He’d probably think it was funny or a sign that calling me “girl” is acceptable if I actually called him that to his face, though.

          2. Girasol*

            I used to fantasize calling the manager who addressed me as “Missy” (even though I was older than he was) as “little man.” I still wonder how it would have worked out. Could I have called him that, and then tried “sonny” the next time he said it, and “young man” the next, and acted as if we were both just joking with each other? Unfortunately, I knew I lacked the acting chops to pull it off without a hint of anger, which would indeed have made me look weak and touchy.

        4. Notmyjobreally*

          Caveat, I am old and snarky and have worked in male dominated industry for 30 years. And yes, 20 years ago my co-workers would tell new employees I was a 5 letter word. If he says, ‘girl’ I would say very politely ‘boy’? pause. My name is xxxx. If he gave wrong information in front of me, “I think you forgot about —x thing that will cause it to fail—-” And a polite comment to your manager that he is giving wrong information every single time. Yes he should stop, and management should stop him, however most likely the incompetence will be the final straw.

        5. Random Dice*

          Have you tried telling your manager that he is creating “a hostile workplace based on gender”?

          Because what he’s doing isn’t just gross, it’s wildly illegal.

          “It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
          Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
          Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
          Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
          The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”

          You can also report your workplace to the labor board. I assure you that the male managers will pay attention to that. There are legal protections against retaliation.

          This is the Federal US labor board:

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Does this manager also manage the coworker? If they do, they should be managing and watching this person much more closely! It’s not fair they’re pushing this all back on you.
      Nonetheless, unless you have a reason to think this person is being insincere, let them know every time in writing. Start building that paper trail!
      And start job searching, this should have been shut down already.

      1. Chirpy*

        I mean, yes, there are many reasons I need a new job. This just is one thing I’ve encountered over and over again, and have never found a solution to other than leaving, because it seems like I just can’t get people in authority to take me seriously until things escalate and directly affect someone else (who is then immediately heard when they speak up!)

    3. ferrina*

      How much do you trust your manager?
      If your manager is sincere, then just tell them on a regular cadence. If you have regular 1:1s, that’s the place to do it. You can then say “is this the right way you want me to communicate this?” I’d also document each instance. It’s helpful for you to have a record, and if this moves forward, it will be helpful for your manager/HR to have a record. These notes should be factual- date, time, location, witnesses, and what the action was. If it’s relevant, you can also include your response. Especially if you say “Don’t call me girl, thank you.” Or “Yesterday I told you not to call me girl. Why are you continuing to call me something that I have expressly told you not to call me?” This way you can document that you directly communicated with him (he will 100% say that “this is a joke”).

      If you want, you can even compose an email to him asking him to stop the most prevalent behavior. “Do not call me girl. I have told you in person that I do not like being called girl, but you have continued to call me this. Now I am telling you again- I do not like being called girl, and I will not respond to this. You are more than welcome to call me Chirpy, just as other coworkers do.”
      I would have the manager review this email, and BCC them on this.

      Note- if this is only happening to you and it invokes your gender, it could be a gender discrimination issue. If you say something like “I feel like my gender might be part of the reason I’m being treated this way,” that should trigger code red. Any competent manager and/or HR would be very concerned.

      That said….I’m sure you know that bullying can escalate and/or get sneakier as you get authorities involved. I would proceed slowly and calmly if I wasn’t sure I could trust my manager. Sometimes managers can be hamfisted with this and make the situation worse.
      Good luck!

      1. Chirpy*

        I trust the manager to listen…just not to actually get it. I’m more afraid that coming to him constantly with “little stuff” (for example, this guy will immediately blame me for little unimportant things I had nothing to do with, like someone left an object in a common but wrong spot) will make me look like I’m digging for trouble.

        1. ferrina*

          Ah! In that case, prep a document with a list of everything. Highlight the biggest things. That way the manager has everything, but doesn’t need to read everything. When you share it, be casual “Hey, this is a full list of everything. I wasn’t sure how you wanted this information- thankfully this isn’t a position I’ve had to be in before. X and Y are currently the most concerning things. If you want something different, let me know.” Same way that you’d prepare a full-length status report on any normal work project.

          The form of a list will also underscore how bad it is, and how easy it will be to take to HR. HR would love to have a full documentation for every complaint- it makes their job a lot easier.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I think you name the pattern. Talk to your manager and explain that while each of the incidents may individually appear small, you are concerned about the pattern.

      State specifically that he repeatedly calls you ‘girl’ despite having explained to him that it is inappropriate and sexists, and that he has continued, rather than using your name or treating you with the basic courtesy you’d expect between colleagues.

      State that he has a habit of making comments which undermine you, to and in front of customers, and that you feel that that is unprofessional and doesn’t present well to customers, so you need his manager to address it to make clear that if he has any specific, genuine concerns about you he needs to speak to you directly.

      (If he is white, I would be very tempted to start calling him ‘boy’, but sadly that would not be very professional either. . .)

    5. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Ugh, that sounds terrible. If the comments he is making are undermining you in front of customers, that might be where you can really get some traction and support from your manager. If he is making you look bad to customers, that also makes the company look bad. As frustrating as it is that that might be the only thing that your manager responds to, it might be a way to get him to take action.

      And I second what ferrina said (Hi ferrina!) about gender discrimination. If your manager has any brains, he will know that gender discrimination is a NO GO and also could get your company in trouble and will put a stop to it immediately.

      I can’t tell from your question what your relationship with your manager is like, but if it’s a good one then he really does want to hear what is going on and telling it to him is not tattling. It’s also not tattling if you can take a bit of the emotion out of it or give very concrete examples. “He calls me ‘girl’ when I’ve asked him not to.” “In the meeting with Client X he made it seem like he was the only person here who knows how to do our jobs.”

      Good luck!!!!

      1. Chirpy*

        He sounds like he’s giving helpful advice when he’s undermining me with customers (it’s just often wrong).

        Or he’ll tell customers they can do a thing self-serve, so when I come along and stop them (there are a few things that must be done by employees for safety concerns), or correct his mistakes, I’m now the “stick in the mud”. These are all items in my department, not his. One of the things management hates doing themselves, so they’re extremely hands-off (I’m actually the expert on that, as the only one who’s done it before working here, and I’ve never gotten any of them to take it seriously.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I can’t wait for them to start taking it seriously once you bail on them and your coworker destroys it doing it wrong.

          1. Chirpy*

            Everything is already on fire, I think they’ll have no clue how much firefighting I’m currently doing until I leave.

      2. ferrina*

        Hello, Slow Gin Lizz!

        Chirpy….so he’s giving advice outside his department and giving customers wrong information, and opening the company up to liability issues by allowing customers to do things they shouldn’t? And your manager’s advice was….tell me about specific instances before I can do something? I’m hoping I’m misunderstanding, because that’s not good. These are things that your manager can step in without further info. Or at least provide guidance on how they want you to handle it in the moment. I’m a little concerned about how passive your manager is on this. Definitely start documenting- sometimes a passive manager can be spurred to act by documentation or a collection of “this is how bad it is”

        1. Chirpy*

          He’s supposed to be sort of cover for my department (only in the sense of helping customers if nobody in my department is around, not actually doing my work otherwise) but he won’t follow specific procedures and will tell all the new people how to do it wrong (if at all) when I’m not here. When confronted, he either thinks it’s no big deal, or overreacts in the “well I just won’t do anything then” manner.

          I’ve brought it up with multiple managers, but since we didn’t start doing this until after I got here, they don’t understand how bad it is and just think it’s a normal level of loss when things go wrong. It’s a task none of them like, and have mostly tried not to handle themselves. So when I leave, there will only be one person who knows what to do.

    6. Pink Candyfloss*

      Framing may be an issue here. It isn’t that he calls you “girl”, it’s that he speaks to you in a manner that is infantilizing and disrespectful. How you communicate what his transgressions are will go a long way toward helping you create a message that what he is doing is wrong for professional reasons, not personal ones.

      1. Awkwardness*

        “create a message that what he is doing is wrong for professional reasons, not personal ones.”

        That’s the point.
        And it is important to only focus on those incidents that are problematic on a professional level.
        Unfortunately, there is a certain amount of jerk behaviour that you p
        might need to learn to tolerate. It is not nice, it is not fair, but your manager cannot make him like you. But your manager can make sure that you are treated in a respectful, adequate manner!

        1. Chirpy*

          That’s the thing, I don’t care if he likes me. I only care if he respects me as a coworker, which he clearly doesn’t.

          1. Awkwardness*

            But unfortunately not all misogyny is actionable and I try to focus on these where he is a “liability”:
            – wrong information to the customer
            – disregard of safety procedures
            – belitteling you in front of the customer (because it makes the customer question the competence of staff and is a bad look for the company)
            This can be explained to management quite easily, and the more incidents you can list the better. Management normally should be receptive.
            If it is “only” about talking to the customer about products that are in your department, that might be more difficult. Management could be biased there that he is only reacting to the customer and not necessarily overstepping. But you know your management best!

            All to say – choose your battles wisely.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        It’s not even that it’s disrespectful (which it is … insert rant here).

        It’s that you’ve made a professional request and he is refusing to comply. Whether he “knows” what he’s doing or “understands” how you feel is irrelevant.

        Steely eyes and a “I have asked you not to refer to me as a girl. You may refer to me by name” over and over and over again with no engagement in the pointless debate is the only way through. And documentation.

    7. Awkwardness*

      If it does undermine you or is hurting your work relationships, then it is not petty.
      But I would document first, just for myself, to understand the dynamic, clearly name the patterns and effects. Weakening you in front of co-workers/bosses/clients? Withholding information? Etc.
      Specific examples are helpful. Then you can talk to your boss about the pattern. A list with several incidents also will be more convincing than only one or two examples that could oherwise be brushed off too easily as you being too sensitive.

  20. The Other Sage*

    After being for almost one year on sick leave due to Long Covid, my employer informed today that they want to part ways with me.

    I planed to go back to work on January, and to start slowly with 2 hours/day and increase my work time up to 35 h/week.

    I’m devastated because while I wanted to change industries, first I wanted to make sure about how much I can work with my condition, and what I can and can’t do anymore. Plus it terrifies me to be unemployed, even as a software developer in central Europe.

    I’m not sure what to do with myself. I know I screwed up badly back then, partially because I was too stupid to take care of myself when I had Covid and I screwed up my chances to fully recover. But before that I already had a burnout and my performance was not good. I was for far too long on a project alone and had not much contact to my coworkers. I felt more and more isolated, and that didn’t exactly help to my situation.

    Now I’m not sure about how I can find work again. I have a trail of bad stuff behind me, including needing a long time for my studies, my first workplace was toxic a.f., and now this. I don’t feel like anyone would want to have me.

    What would you do with this mess?

    1. Nicosloanica*

      Aw, I’m sorry, this sounds stressful. I guess depending on how badly you need money, I’d maybe look for a remote or maybe hourly job in tech, maybe something that you are really confident you can do well so maybe it’s a bit below your stretch skills, where you would be an independent contributor, so you can build up a good reputation as someone who is reliable and does good work, and then branch out from there in your next move.

    2. ferrina*

      Is temping an option? That will give you the space to work short term and not take jobs when possible. Just know that if you are out of contact for a while, a temping agency will stop calling you and you’ll need to put in the work to call them to get jobs (at least in the U.S.).

      You may also be able to get freelance gigs to test out how your current endurance is. Good luck!

    3. Olive*

      This sounds tough. One way to avoid self-sabotaging yourself as you start looking for a new job is to not over-explain and not spend a long time justifying yourself. Prepare an interview narrative to answer questions that might come up that’s honest but forward looking. I have the gut feeling that if you don’t do this, you’ll be tempted to start talking to the interviewer about how you know you “screwed up”.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      When I hire, I’m not evaluating how good their past performance was, I’m looking specifically for do they have the skill sets we need, can they be polite/friendly and work well in a team (not toss a table across the room when upset or slam type when angry), can they be trusted to show up on time and get work done without me standing over them. Don’t think of yourself as a trail of bad job experiences, think of yourself as a friendly person with a skillset looking to find a job that needs those skills. Confidence carries a lot of weight in interviews, don’t let yourself get stuck in a bad mindset about your skills. Practice that interview version of cheerful you. We often will still hire people that need training (no experience on our specific thing) if we feel they can be trusted to really show up and learn.

      Volunteering, Temping etc are all a good way to get some short term experiences on the resume if you need them. But I think a gap due to covid is pretty understandable right now. I’d encourage you to still apply for full time positions and see how it goes.

      1. The Other Sage*

        I can do the thinks you listed. To be fair, I didn’t screw up everywhere I went but 2022 was especially bad, and 2023 I didn’t work because I noticed I needed more than just a bit of holidays.

    5. Girasol*

      Don’t beat yourself up over long covid. People who take perfectly good care of themselves end up with it.

      What options would be available to you if you had some other disability, say, you’d hurt your back and were out of work from a labor job? Does your government offer any help for someone who has been disabled and needs assistance finding work after a long recovery?

    6. Once too Often*

      I’d start by finding out if my doctor would support a disability case. If yes, start the paperwork. Best if this happens while you’re still employed. Better yet if you have long term disability (LTD) insurance in place. Find out, too, what your doc’s office knows about how the process works & can help you with it. If LTD isn’t an option, what do they know about options? Your State/local dept of health should have info.

      LTD will pay out at a percentage of your full time income from your current employer. Once started, in my state at least you can continue on LTD even after separation.

      Good luck.

    7. The Other Sage*

      Thank you all for your kind responses. You came with some nice ideas worth looking into.

      About testing how much I can do, I thought I can among others continue with a private project which uses technologies I’m interested in, which would also allow me to build a portfolio so I can show what I can do.

    8. Glitter Ball*

      I’m so sorry this is happening for you. Long Covid here too. (Recovering now.)

      Perhaps you don’t need to blame yourself for developing LC. We just didn’t know at the time what we know now. Our culture is all about pushing, working hard, playing hard, getting back in the game straight after illness. Were you just following cultural norms? Also, there’s a theory that what causes LC and similar conditions is related to what fear and trauma does on a neurological level. In other words, it might not have ‘doing too much’ that made us ill but being unconsciously very scared. A period of burn out pre-Covid fits with that.

      There is a helpful book by Jan Rothney (UK) about LC and ME/CFS. She has a large, helpful section towards the end about returning to work.

      Very best of luck, from one returner to another.

      1. The Other Sage*

        Thank you for your kind words. I was indeed following cultural norms. When I was a child I would sometimes be ill during school time, like every other child, not more, not less. On such times my father used to tell me how it was bad I was ill because of the missing school days, and painted it as it would affect me academically. Luckily I felt that was bs, plus I almost always would end up learning the “missing subjects” anyway which confirmed that was bs.

        But for some reason I was still successfully brainwashed into believing that productivity is the most important thing and what determines your value. I have been in therapy in the past which helped me to gain a healthier perspective, but with the burnout I somehow fell again into the productivity trap.

  21. Cautious Cherry*

    Does anyone have advice for when you are already at a company and are getting a new company (from outside the company)? With every job I’ve had, the only times it’s been a good thing is when the boss is already at the company and understands the processes and product. Every other time it’s been awful.

    I’ve been at my job for 6 months. When I joined the company I reported to Randy, who left a few months ago. Soon after I started I realized Randy was under-qualified and had no idea what he was doing. He would refuse to make decisions and had a wishy washy and unclear communication style. He also tried to throw me under the bus. It was extremely stressful.

    When he left (or was pushed out), I got moved under Ponyboy. Ponyboy was in a different but similar department but it made sense in the big picture to get rolled under him. The past few months have been so much better as Ponyboy understands what my role is and he actually knows how to be a people manager. He’s been with the company several years so he understands the products very well, which is helpful for me when I come to him with questions. He communicates so clearly and holds other people accountable so I don’t feel like I’m being held responsible for others. Honestly I was hoping that I could still report to him and we wouldn’t replace Randy.

    Well we found a new person who is starting in a few weeks. Dally is coming from outside the company so he would have to be trained on everything to do his job. I met Dally during his interview, and while I liked him and thought he was fine, I wasn’t awed. Ponyboy was really pushing for him, so I trust his judgement. Once Dally comes on, I’ll be reporting to him, and he will be reporting to Ponyboy. Ponyboy will still be involved in my team, just at a higher level.

    Another fact is that at my previous job, my last boss (Bob) joined the company from the outside and it was a nightmare. After a year he didn’t understand our business and couldn’t connect the dots. He cut my team and I off from everyone and made sure communication went through him. I got laid off and I think he had something to do with it.

    I know the situation is completely different, but I’m nervous and am feeling cautious towards the situation. But I also don’t want to bring extra attention to myself. I want to make sure Dally actually understands the products and isn’t scared of being the decision maker. It’s been such a stressful year and a half (since working with Bob and Randy), and the past few months of reporting to Ponyboy have felt like a weight was lifted off. 

    1. Hillary*

      Focus on the fact that Ponyboy is a good people manager – generally speaking good people managers hire good managers under them and help them succeed. Plus he’ll still be around and he already knows you, you have a skip-level channel if you need it.

      1. Random Dice*

        Exactly. Ponyboy sounds like he cares, and gets it, and will still be involved. That’s a very good reassurance.

    2. Cj*

      I can’t be any help, but plus one for The Outsiders references. I read it in Junior high, and it’s still one of my favorite books at 62 years old. I might have to pull it off the bookshelf again.

    3. Honey Badger just don't care*

      I got nothing for you but I am going to go grab The Outsiders off my shelf for a quick reread!

  22. Curiouser*

    My boss, ED of HR, is leaving for another position. In the interim, we are being overseen by the CEO, who is a micromanager and does not understand much about HR. (We had to shut down a satellite department due to building structure issues. When deciding how to reassign, CEO wanted to know race and gender so that we could maintain and/or increase diversity at other locations. Lots of exploding head emojis here.)
    Anyway, somewhat new to management roles. Any advice on managing up, especially when it’s a micromanager?

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      I would give CEO as little information as possible and just keep repeating that you feel really positive about everything. Hopefully they’ll hire a new supervisor for you soon!

    2. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document.

      A micromanager will want to know everything and is unlikely to be happy with “we’re managing fine and will let you know when we need you” so you need to be prepared with ‘reasons why we cannot do that’ as well as ‘reasons why we do this’…

      And use the legalities of HR to stave things off if you need to. “Federal law says we need to/cannot do…”

      Hopefully, you get a new person soon. Good luck!

  23. Krobus*

    I’m really struggling with ambient noise in my new job that requires a lot of thinking work and concentration. I’ve never had this type of job: I don’t have my own cubicle or office, I can’t move to take meetings in other rooms, and there’s a lot of online meetings taking place around me.

    Should I get some noise-cancelling headphones and bring them in? What’s a good solution here? I’m irritable and worn out at the end of the day. I have a mental health issue that makes this type of environment especially challenging for me.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, noise-cancelling headphones would be a totally normal thing.

      Can you ask to get moved to a desk that’s on the edge of the space, so you only have noise and distraction in one direction, instead of 360 degrees?

      1. Krobus*

        I’m already against a wall on one side, there’s nowhere to move to that would have my back against a wall (greatly preferable for me)

        Good idea though, thanks!

    2. Cyndi*

      I have ADHD and noise sensitivity and until recently (thank God) I worked in a lot of open plan offices full of chatty people. Here’s the best budget-friendly strategy I’ve got:

      1) over-ear headphones, not necessarily noise cancelling because ones that will actually work are bonkers expensive, but with enough padding to get a good seal over your ear. These plug into your computer.
      2) Go to the mynoise dot net and use the White Noise Generator–there’s a speech blocker preset. If your coworkers are really noisy you may need to open a few tabs at once, but the difference stops being noticeable at about three or four tabs. You can also layer in all kinds of environmental noise, procedurally generated music etc. if you like–it’s a great website and super customizable.
      3) Blast that through the over-ear headphones, as loud as you can stand it.
      4) Earbuds. These plug into your phone (or a separate mp3 player if you’re discouraged or not allowed to have your phone out at work).
      5) If you wear earbuds UNDER your over ear headphones you can listen to whatever music/podcasts/actual work-related audio you want, and the white noise will muffle people around you but not what you actually need to hear. (Also, if the white noise isn’t totally smothering the office noise, having something else to listen to will help your brain filter out what’s left.)

      People around you will find this hilarious, but it’s kept me alive since about 2017.

      1. JustaTech*

        Another bonus of big over-the-ear headphones is that they’re a great visual cue that no, I can’t hear you, and often will ward off the casual chit-chat-ers.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Is WFH not an option? Even if it’s not common at your company, if you have medical reasons you could definitely ask for an accommodation that you WFH. Maybe you could do what Alison often suggests and ask your supervisor if you can do it on a trial basis for a month to see if it works?

      But if not, yeah, noise canceling headphones are pretty good at blocking out sound, but they don’t make visual distractions go away so you might still have overload if that’s a problem for you too. Also worth noting that wearing them long term can cause physical discomfort; mine are pretty comfy for the first couple of hours but then my ears start to hurt and I need to take them off.

      I feel you, though. I can’t work in a noisy environment either and even though I WFH in a quiet neighborhood I get cranky when the leafblowers show up briefly a couple of times a week. Working in a constantly noisy environment would be impossible for me, so I totally get it.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Argh, that’s really too bad. My org went fully remote during the pandemic and I started working here in 2021 so I never worked in person, but we had some meetings at the office before our lease ran out and I know for a *fact* that I could never have worked there. I am so easily distracted I would never have been able to think in the cubicle farm.

          Can you talk to your boss about trying to get accommodations in the office? Your boss might have some options for you that you don’t know of. I realize this can be a difficult conversation because it can be tricky to basically say to your boss “I can’t get anything done!”, so don’t do it if you aren’t sure how it’ll come across or if you think your boss won’t be supportive. But if you can frame it as, “I would feel a lot more comfortable if I could be in a quieter environment,” and especially if you’ve already built up a good track record, a conversation could help you.

          Otherwise, again, yeah, headphones. And I see white noise was suggested too, which I hope will help you. I myself find white noise even more distracting but I hope you don’t! Good luck!

  24. Aurion*

    I am expecting to take a length of medical leave next year and I’m not sure how to pitch the length to my boss. (I’m in BC, Canada.)

    My vacation/sick leave doesn’t get rolled over, so I will get paid out for unused vacation time at the end of 2023, and I expect to use that to make up for shortfalls if/when I go on unpaid leave in 2024. Previously my boss has asked other people who took extended medical leave to max out all their vacation/sick leave first, and then dip into unpaid leave, which isn’t unreasonable.

    However, throughout the year I have to have regular dentist appointments (once every 6 weeks or so), not to mention the odd cold or whatever floating around, post-surgery follow-ups, etc. I was thinking of pitching “take off 4 weeks for surgery, have a few days of that be unpaid, and leave a few days of paid leave for later on in the year when I inevitably have to take off for whatever other reason” (sick, dentist, just feel terrible, etc).

    Writing that out that sounds convoluted and I think most people probably just use my boss’s system; again, on its face I don’t think it’s unreasonable. I’m considering this convolution mostly because I don’t really want to have to justify myself to “are you suuuuuuuuure you’re sick” / “can’t you schedule your dentist for the weekend” later on in the year (butt in seat culture).

    How do other workplaces navigate this?

    1. Local Garbage Committee*

      Our leave request forms (US based) allow us to select “use all accrued x leave type” or “save 5 days X accrued leave type” – I think the second one sounds like what you are a looking for, maybe just a more formal way to say it? (appreciating that it’s our policy – I also have a long leave coming up in 2024 and it’s nice to know I can still have some sick leave when I come back)

      1. Slartibartfast*

        Ours is similar but it’s set up to “save 40 hours PTO”, it’s the same amount of time just worded differently.

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

      Is using your PTO first a company wide way of doing things or is this just how your boss wants it done? if its not in the employee handbook and is not the standard procedure, I think you could go back to your boss and say that you will have reoccurring medical appointments (no need to say that it is dentist) that you will need to have throughout the year. And ask that you no use up all of your PTO in the beginning.

      1. Aurion*

        Ah, small family business, so what my boss wants is standard procedure (and this has only come up once in the last 9-10 years as far as I know). But it sounds like holding a bit of leave in reserve can be a thing in other places, which is good to know!

    3. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Good luck with the surgery and recovery!

      I’m a bit puzzled at conflating vacation time with sick leave and requiring you take the vac time first. We treat them as separate here – someone not working due to being on leave would not accrue more vacation while away, but we wouldn’t expect them to use existing vacation time as part of a medical leave. Do you just have x days for the year for sick and vacation combined?

      A formal medical leave would be totally separate and not treated the same as sick days.

      Maybe because our sick time partially accrues (after the first 5 days which are banked immediately in the year per labour code) it’s never really come up that someone uses all theirs early in the year because when they returned to work they would start accruing more sick time again. We also have another bucket of personal time for other appointments and so on. If yours is all a flat rate for the whole year I suppose it might be treated differently?

      I’m in BC too.

      1. Aurion*

        Whoops, I should’ve worded that better.

        I have 18 days vacation and 5 days sick, neither roll over. They’re separate buckets, but I’d have to use both (sick first, then vacation) if I don’t go into requesting a formal medical leave of absence. (Small family business with the accompanied……hmm, wishy washy policies. Nothing illegal as far as I can tell, just…not great.) Our leave policy is not something I can change.

        I’ve briefly looked into requesting a Formal Medical Leave, but as far as I can tell BC leaves that up to the employers and if you request one (separate from your accrued vacation/sick time) its main function is job security, i.e. you’ll have a job to come back to. I’m not worried about job security (our jobs here are very secure), so taking unpaid leave in x amount, however its called, would be a distinction without a difference for me. Previously another coworker who had to take medical leave for similar reasons, and did it my boss’s route: spent all his leave, and then took unpaid days as needed. I’m just hoping to have a little bit of paid leave (whether vacation or sick) held in reserve so I don’t have to be judged on whether my reason to take time off would be “good enough”. It sounds like this can be a thing in bigger/more structured workplaces, so I’m not totally out to lunch on this one! (Whether my boss will say yes, though, is another thing entirely. But at least I know it’s not outrageous for me to consider it.)

        Thank you for the well wishes!

    4. blooper*

      If you’re going out on medical leave that a doctor signs off on, first you use up all your accrued vacation/sick leave, then you apply to EI with a letter from your doctor. (I think there’s a two weeks of uncompensated time). If you’ve met the minimum requirements for EI (700 hrs working in the last 12 months or something like that), you’ll go on EI. Which is a percentage of your salary up to about $30k. Doctors in Canada (and BC) are used to writing this letter. They’ll have a standard time they’ll grant off depending on your surgery. You’ll have to fill in forms every week or two on the site to say that you can’t work for medical reasons, but EI can help make up the shortfall.

      1. blooper*

        note: I’m also in BC, and using all *accrued* leave is the gov’t of Canada/EI way of doing things. I had surgery a couple of years ago, with a 12-week recovery period, and EI does not require you to use all the leave “potentially” available to you, only what you’ve earned so far. Which makes perfect sense, because if you earn (say) 1 day/month, and you take off in January, no one is promising you’ll be there in July.

  25. Feeling low today*

    I am feeling low today. I found out yesterday that a coworker of mine got promoted. While their success doesnt make me less successful, it still stings. The reason they got promoted is because they have a manager advocates for them.

    This is tied to a deeper issue. Ive been in my role for a couple of years and because of reorgs/firings, I am now on my fifth manager. All of my past managers (with the exception who hired me) have never advocated for me. Part of the reason is because my role is highly specialized and unrelated to my manager’s area of expertise. My most recent manager was horrible to me – refused to speak/interact with me and when he was forced to, he screamed and belittled me. My former coworker reported him to HR for harassment and essentially received a slap on the wrist.

    I am looking for a new role of course but its so hard to maintain a positive attitude. I am so burnt out from this toxic environment, and am incredibly fearful of jumping into a new role at a new company. I definitely have PTSD/trauma from this job.

    1. Passive boss survivor*

      I am very sorry you are going through this. I don’t have anything amazing to say, but wanted to say I can somewhat relate (although it sounds like you had to deal with much more emotional abuse and instability than I did which really sucks). I am rooting for you and wishing you the best.

      In my previous job, I had a supervisor who did not advocate for me (or my department) either, and also saw a co-worker get promoted. He was overall passive. I never got a raise above the 2% yearly organizational raise no matter how hard I worked or what I sacrificed. No one cared. The larger organization was overall a tiptoeing organization where people were worried about leadership’s wrath.

      I was there for around eight years (applying for jobs off and on), before I finally got a new job this year with a better supervisor. I relieved to be out of there, but trying to figure out how to work well with a healthier team (when I feet tense sometimes from my past experience).

      I applied for jobs off and on for five years. Sometimes I applied to a lot at once, and other times, I had to take a break for my mental health. It took longer than I desired to get a new job, but all the effort was worth it when I was finally out of there.

    2. Cookie Monster*

      What’s your sense of your new manager? Can you arrange a 1:1 and explain that you’re very much interested in advancing your career and asking them what you need to do or work on to make that happen? If they give you some vague answers, can you ask them to think about it some more and you’ll meet later to go over specifics?

    3. JustaTech*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you!
      My husband went through a similar thing where he had 4 managers in 3 years (always changing right before review season) and while none of them were terrible like yours, it still held him back on reviews and promotions.

      The way he dealt with it was to leave. (I know, not what anyone wants to hear.)

      The important thing is that it’s not you! Constant re-orgs will mess up anyone, even with OK managers; with terrible managers even the most awesome rock star would be stuck.

      Positive thoughts on finding something new!

  26. cardigarden*

    Is anyone who’s been hiring lately noticing that the number of candidates applying without reading the job description has increased? Is it just me? We’re hiring for a specific skillset (clearly described) and years of experience (also prominently noted), and we’ve had a larger than usual number of candidates, even those who submitted cover letters, who don’t seem to have read the PD. Think chocolate teapot design job, but only have experience in llama grooming.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I’m seeing this a ton! Not just mismatched experience, but cover letters mentioning they’re excited to apply at X Company (we’re Y Company) or for our design role when it’s a support role and we don’t even have a design role open.

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      I’ve seen this for a while as someone who works at a university and hires current students – a lot of resume bombing, even for positions that require some specific skill sets. Resume bombing works well enough for entry level positions – and in absence of getting solid job search advice while in college, I’m assuming these people have continued to job search with the only technique they know.

      1. I Have RBF*

        When I job hunt I put out a lot of resumes, like 20 a week lots. But for every application I read the job description and have half or more of the items listed, including all of the “must have” and several of the “nice to have”, if they break it down that way. I can’t understand wasting my time applying to a job I am not remotely qualified for.

    3. king of the pond*

      (Job-seeker, not hiring) I think people are so desperate for jobs right now that we’ve gone from “it’s okay if you don’t tick every single bullet point, apply anyway” to “the job description is a suggestion.” And ChatGPT basically writes the cover letter for you, so that barrier to just throwing your resume at every job posting is mostly gone.
      (For the record, I try to only apply to relevant jobs, but it’s so hard to find anything I qualify for due to “entry level” constantly equating to “5+ years experience” that I completely understand why people are just ignoring those (frankly, often bullshit) requirements.)

      1. Rosemary*

        I think “it’s ok if you don’t tick every single box” is one thing – applying for jobs that are completely out of the realm of possibility is quite another. I see two things happen: 1) people who do not have anywhere NEAR the level of experience required – as in, someone who is just out of college applying for a role that requires 7-10+ years experience and a skill set that is explicitly described; that is FAR beyond applying for a job asking for a few years experience, and 2) people who clearly do not read the job description beyond the title. The industry I am in has job titles that are very similar to titles in a completely unrelated industry; however even a quick glance at the job description makes it clear that it is NOT the same as the other industry where we get many applicants from.

        1. cardigarden*

          Yeah this is what I’m dealing with, both in terms of job requires a significant amount of specific experience that is spelled out, AND a descriptive non-jargony title that people also don’t seem to be reading. It’s baffling.

      2. Random Dice*

        Why are people so desperate for jobs now, in your view?

        I still see so many hiring signs all over, for entry level kind of jobs.

        But I also know a lot of folks who got used to remote work and are forced back to the office. Is that part of it?

      3. holiday jazz*

        Agreed. Job description wish lists have gotten insanely unreasonable, partly because companies are not willing to train anymore. I think people have given up on diligently matching their skill set to the listing.

        It started with the “must have 5 years of experience in software that was invented last year” style of jokes, but it’s expanded to things like “must know this obscure photo editing software, and being a Photoshop expert doesn’t count.”

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      It’s been steadily increasing for years, I haven’t hired anyone in a few years but it had been a bigger problem even before covid. Spamming resumes is going steadily up, and my pet theory is that Indeed and other sites send “applications” when the person didn’t actually apply. Because I’m just gotten too many random “applications” from far away places that do not make sense.

      I was already seeing less cover letters at that time and am assuming it’s gotten worse since I’ve seen so many anti-cover letter comments all over the internet. I don’t know what they think they look like on the other side of the application. Do they realize I have 400 or 500 resumes with no cover letters from people who randomly job hopped every 2-3 years without tying it together at all? It just looks like someone through random data on a wall and some stuff stuck. That’s why last time I hired I ended up picking the person who wrote a cover letter that answered the “whys” and even mentioned a few things they’d like to try doing. They were unique, the 200 or so resumes of people who job hop low level operations roles all look exactly the same.

      1. princessbuttercup*

        there is a huuuuge anti-cover letter sentiment online that I find is really tripping people up. The thing is, I totally get it! Job hunting is hard, we ask so much of candidates, it’s time consuming etc. but cover letters can be SO helpful for showing your interest and explaining transferable skills, etc. I have so many (career coaching) clients who tell me cover letters are a waste of time and nobody reads them so they don’t do them.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          Especially on Reddit! When I used to comment there I used to get such vitriol and downvotes for saying I used cover letters and that job hopping can damage your career in many many industries. They respond as if I’m asking for a CL to be mean or complicate the process and not to literally get bare-bones information on a candidate. I truly don’t think people know how generic their resumes are, and no one says it bluntly because it sounds mean. And then when you do get stellar resume, that can also raise red flags when there is no explanation for why they want a lateral move.

          My guess is the root of the problem is that people overcomplicate what a cover letter is and think it needs to be the most intense prose one has ever written. In reality it’s just a blurb about you in general terms and what you want.

          1. Rosemary*

            I am torn on the cover letter thing, and whether or not to require them. On the one hand, aside from the actual information they provide, they indicate whether or not someone can follow instructions. On the other, not writing cover letters has become so prevalent that I worry that I could be losing out on a desirable candidates who have their pick of jobs and don’t need to bother with a company that asks for a cover letter. OR – they apply anyway without a cover letter, and I am impressed by their resume…but super annoyed that they disregarded the request for a cover letter :)

            1. new old friend*

              Working in software, where there’s still more jobs than qualified workers, I definitely self-select out of applying for anything that requires “too much” from me. If I have to make an account on a separate website, or enter in all my details, or anything like that, I just won’t bother applying at all. I usually only bother with jobs that require cover letters if it’s a job that seems *really* cool, or otherwise appeals to me beyond the normal sense of “I want to be employed”

            2. Ama*

              I will say that after learning how difficult it is to include a customized cover letter via Indeed (where my employer regularly posts jobs), when I’m hiring if I have people who don’t include a cover letter but have interesting resumes I will email and explain that we require a cover letter but I know Indeed sometimes makes that difficult, however if they can submit one to me directly I’m happy to consider their application. That pretty effectively weeds out the people who are truly interested in our role vs the people who just clicked everything in a general category.

              The roles I hire for require a lot of formal letter writing, so the cover letter is actually a good test of whether they know what that kind of communication looks like. (And yes, they could have had help with it, but if they are at least aware of the proper format and style of writing, I can work with that.)

          2. Cyndi*

            This might vary widely between industries, so maybe I’m just venting my own spleen here, but I want to put in a word for people who “job hop” between “low level operations roles” just based on my own personal experience.

            I had four jobs in financial data entry over ten years, lasting 1-3 years each. In every case I was highly skilled at my job, as were many of my coworkers, some of whom had been doing the same work for decades–but there was no direction for advancement except into management, which I have no interest in. There never seemed to be much point writing cover letters, either, because in those jobs you were one of a big interchangeable team all doing the same thing and there was no room for Taking Initiative or Spearheading Projects or anything more bragworthy than “I typed 120% as many words as required this week!”

            Those 1-3 year tenures at jobs aren’t necessarily representative of someone’s work ethic or dedication or any personal qualities whatsoever. Sometimes it’s just representative of how long you’re willing to spin your wheels in the mud before you decide to go spin your wheels in different mud somewhere else.

            1. Busy Middle Manager*

              Exactly! But this is exactly where a cover letter comes in. If I see you did the same job at five places in a decade, is it because you’re bad? Is it because there were layoffs? Was there pay bumps? Were you actually getting “promoted” in a way, even if the titles were the same on paper? Was it to learn new tech skills? If someone can’t provide any sort of narrative I am left thinking that the person just isn’t good, because surely they would be able to give some sort of “why” if there was one. Amplify this X 200 other resumes that look the same and no one has time or ability to fill in gaps in an applicant’s narrative

              1. GythaOgden*

                Yup. I know I have issues with unemployment and underemployment and before I made it off reception I was struggling to show the potential I had to get things done. (And I just had a week in which I proved to /myself/ I could manage ongoing projects as well as just being an über-gofer.)

                Cover letters got easier when I realised they were a way to relate what I wanted to be doing to the job at hand. Most UK public sector roles, the sort I was applying for, wanted personal statements even from junior staff, but then made it easier to write something logical by breaking the statement up into mini-essays that highlighted where you fulfilled each of the job requirements. But even then, the way I just got used to selling myself was to talk a lot here about what I have done and what I could do if given the chance, and that helped find the right sort of pitch to people. It also didn’t hurt that the jobs I found which were the right fit were the ones where it was easiest to write the cover letter from scratch.

                If I have time to post a lot of stuff here then I also have time to put the same effort into applying to jobs. The sort of work I’m doing even now in a fairly junior admin and compliance role requires me to come up with plans and deliverables in a relatively short period, and I’m autistic with a chequered work history so I find it useful to highlight other stuff I’ve done privately as well as work. I am sure good candidates also want to show an employer what they can do, and I know from experience that I’ve found writing projects have helped me get more interviews and job offers because I can show sceptical people what I’m made of.

                So I’m very much in favour of both cover letters and (short) application projects precisely because they showcase my abilities and distill my actual experience down into a few paragraphs.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, it seems like all the advice out there takes either an “always” or “never” stance on cover letters. I never see anyone saying “if your experience speaks for itself, then you probably don’t need a cover letter.”

          1. princessbuttercup*

            this is just it. I see a lot of discussion that cover letters should be done away with in the process, and they’re too arduous/unfair…there’s so much wrong with the process, but I feel like cover letters are SO vital for anyone with less “straightforward” experience. If your resume isn’t as linear or has some unique aspects, the cover letter can completely be a game changer.

            1. cardigarden*

              Right! I recently had a resume that had a lot of jobs for one year or less. Now, I work in a field where project-based positions are pretty common, so I’m automatically less worried about job-hopping, especially if there’s a notation next to the title OR IN THE COVER LETTER letting me know that the jobs had clearly set start and end dates. But the candidate provided none of that, and I would have loved if they had explained it so I’m not worrying if I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board 8 months from now.

        3. Charlotte Lucas*

          As someone who recently read cover letters and resumes for a government position, I assure you that they often are read. In our case, by multiple people, who know about the role. (Not the actual hiring manager.)

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            The hiring manager does eventually read the letters and resumes, but only the ones that make it past the initial reviewers.

      2. Roland*

        Fwiw, at lunch once I asked the managers present about their take – both of them said that they get so many resumes to look at that they don’t read cover letters because there’s already too much to read with the volume. So it does vary.

    5. princessbuttercup*

      Not hiring, but I am an employment advisor in a community center and I am guessing what’s happening is people are more and more desperate for work in this difficult job market, and thus tending towards “quantity over quality” application strategies?

      We occasionally have jobs to share with our clients and I do feel I have more people who have absolutely zero of the (very complex) technical skills required ask me to submit their application. I mean like a Senior Developer role with 5+ years of CSS, HTML experience and I will get someone with a marketing background send me a resume, not even attempting to show any transferable skills, personal projects/learning, etc. I noted this to one person and they said “but I can learn those skills on the job?”. From the conversations I have, I find the more desperate and panicked people feel, the more they try to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. It’s sad and it’s hard.

      (Also, do you think maybe it’s coming from people poorly using AI tools to write their application materials? I’m seeing some of that too)

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        There is definitely something structural going on and I hope colleges start addressing it. They’ve pumped out millions of generically skilled business grads as most companies are going towards more SME/technical roles and not backfilling those “generic” roles when people quit or retire. There is a huge skills mismatch. Add on top of it the # of “fake” job postings/ghost jobs, and the same job being posted multiple times, and you have people pursuing roles that look way more numerous than they actually are.

        1. princessbuttercup*

          I could write a whole book on this, but it’s such a huge issue and I think it permeates all levels of the process – colleges, companies, individuals, government etc.

          It’s funny because I don’t disagree with your point, but in contrast: lately I am OVERWHELMED with job hunting clients who want to be a data analyst, UX designer, or software developer. It is always one of those 3. I find it difficult to frame this without sounding like a “pull yerself up by the bootstraps” jerk, but a LOT of my clients seeking technical roles chose them because it’s a “guaranteed job” and are genuinely shocked that the roles aren’t just waiting for them when they graduate.

          This is exacerbated by our current economic/job market challenges, layoffs in the tech sector, etc. but I think our intense focus on STEM has made people feel that those roles are a guaranteed path to immediate, stable employment, and that’s not always the case.

          1. Busy Middle Manager*

            I could write a book too and you seem very much like a kindred spirit so I’m taking a mental note of your user name so we can “meet” here again:-).

            I’ve been a Data Analyst since before it was cool (well, it was always cool, but) and manage some now. I do think it’s a problem how the media/youtubers treat it as “good high paying job” rather than “good fit for the mentality of someone who very well may be a rare personality type like INTJ.”

            I feel like the field is getting glamorized too much online. Loads of “why I quit corporate America jobs” are even done in a way that sort of glamorizes the role because all a 22 year old is going to hear is “wow they got paid alot and then had the luxury to take a sabbatical.”

            All of the people I know who’ve truly succeeded have an undying never-ending curiosity and value things like truth and fact-finding over things like social acceptance or work-life balance. Every applicant will say they have unwavering curiosity because it sounds like a positive trait to have but few actually portray it. And that’s not a bad thing, they have other positive attributes. But they’d be better off long-term if they got pushed into roles fit to them.

        2. Procedure Publisher*

          I’ve seen a same job being posted multiple times and it is not the same company re-posting it. I am seeing it posted by several companies that are all staffing agencies. It makes me kind of annoyed seeing all of these similar job descriptions especially when the salary listed is all different.

    6. Qwerty*

      Yes! I recently filled a couple senior level roles and the majority of candidates fell into this category. People with zero experience trying for senior level positions. People who have never used our tech stack applying for the Architect role. Out of state folks getting mad the role is on site when it’s listed in big bold letters and the application clearly asks if they are willing to relocate

    7. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Yes! I wonder if they are trying to demonstrate they are job searching to EI or something.

      We had a tugboat operator apply last time. We are… not in that industry. I also just had an optometrist student who has worked exclusively in sales apply to be a masters-level counselor.

    8. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      This hasn’t been my experience! I just filled a role that had about 100 applicants and of those only about 5 were outside our stated requirements. One applicant did clearly just copy and paste the job descriptions of their previous roles from the company’s job posting (it was in second person future tense), but most of them were fair applications even if not all of them were particularly strong.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        “it was in second person future tense”

        Bonus points if those c/p job postings read something like:
        “You will be a rockstar at our company! You, the numbers ninja, will thrill the customers with your insightful discourse, etc, etc”

    9. Bast*

      Is this for an entry level role? This reminds me of the catch I used to find applying as an entry level employee; everywhere wanted you to have experience but no one wanted to give said experience. At that point, it was best to resume bomb and hope for the best since even “entry level” roles wanted years of experience and skills no entry level employee would have. I’m not sure if that’s what is going on here but worth considering that no one has experience until someone gives them experience. I realize that not all places are ones that are conducive to getting that experience, but one doesn’t know until they try. Sometimes you luck out because for one reason or another because you either check just enough boxes, orrrr they realize they can pay you less than an experienced person and bank on that.

      If it isn’t for an entry level position, this is strange. While I can imagine trying to apply for an entry level role with little to no experience, it’s one thing to expect to be hired at a more senior level role with absolutely no relevant experience. I can see where certain things may not be exactly the same but may have many transferrable skills (ie: office manager at X type of company moving to an office manager role in Y company, as while the industry and terms may change, there would be a lot of relevant skills that could be utilized) but not say, switching from being an office manager to being a llama groomer.

      1. cardigarden*

        No, this is an SME role that specializes in a very industry-specific software that isn’t used outside of our industry. Because of the particular needs we have and the time it takes to be familiar with the software at the level we need, we’re asking for people with at least 5 years of experience with it. And we’re getting resumes from people who don’t know what it is.

        1. WellRed*

          People are gonna read what they want but I wonder if the job description needs to state that explicitly as in “we will not consider candidates without X.” But maybe you do that already.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I think one contributing factor is the acceleration / proliferation of industry specific jargon that doesn’t sound like jargon. There are a lot of job descriptions out there where someone with no experience won’t even recognize certain phrases as a specific skill that they don’t have.

      The only one I can think of off the top of my head isn’t a great example, but it will give the general idea. In my most recent job hunt, I saw a lot of LinkedIn and Indeed listings pop up with a required skill “concur” (not capitalized). I had no idea what that meant! Did they mean the soft skill of consensus-building? Sure, I have that.

      No, they meant the software Concur for travel and expense reporting. But that was entirely opaque to someone who had never heard of it, and it took a long time to figure out.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        This is a specific and good one. To tag onto this, this made me think of how people think “gather requirements” in software jobs is just asking people what they want, sort of downplaying the skill level needed. I mean, it is sort of that. But it also involves 1) knowing the software in and out so you can say yes/no/too complicated during the requirements gathering call 2) know how to deal with people who give vague or bad requirements, 3) know the software well enough to give a rough timeframe of how long any fix will take. 4) know how to deal with weird situations that come up, such as finding out, while compiling requirements, that someone has been doing something completely ridiculous this whole time. So someone may see “requirements gathering” and think more “take notes in a meeting” rather than “have a commandeering presence and be an SME on our products so you can lead calls”

  27. KeepyUppy*

    Any great tips/ideas for engaging with my in-office colleagues? I’m the only remote employee in a group of about 30. I’ve been doing this for years, but my role has recently changed from a very specific role to something more broad. I used to work very closely with a handful of people, but that’s changing somewhat. There’s a much larger group of people that I don’t necessarily engage with often, but may need to reach out to from time to time. I’d also like to maintain the warm relationships I tend to have when I’m working in person and be able to get a sense of what’s going on in people’s areas and how my role can support them.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      Do those people have team or group meetings, and is it reasonable for you to be an ad-hoc participant in some of them?

    2. Goddess47*

      Try visiting with folk to chat. “Do you have 15 minutes so we can have coffee and you can tell me more about what you do so I can see if I can help you better?” And keep it to the 15 minutes… reschedule if you find you want/need to talk to someone more.

      Good luck!

    3. JustaTech*

      Do people in your company usually have their cameras on for video meetings? My company has always been multi-site, but I’ve found that I have a better connection with the people who have their cameras on, compared to before COVID when we were all on speakerphone.

      Like, I have a coworker at another site who I often find my self in tension with (conflict is too strong a word, it’s more technical differences of opinion), but now that I see him in calls a few times a week I find I have a little more patience with him (and him with me!). Also, if I ever get super frustrated I can imagine him chewing on the wrong end of a pen, because he is always chewing on something in our calls.

  28. northern attitude*

    Hi! I posted a few weeks ago about the sexism I was facing now that I have a male boss, primarily from my grandboss. Thanks to everyone for their kind comments. Writing it all out did prompt me to think, “Hmmm maybe it *is* time to go to grad school.” So I’ve been plotting next steps and I’m very excited.

    But I will still probably be here for another year and, in the meantime, have noticed some concerning things about my new supervisor. He relies on me A LOT—from asking how to insert an electronic signature to where I found information for various projects to explaining all our processes. I’m trying to be kind because I know how hard it is to immerse yourself into a new culture and organization but—like, a lot of what he’s asking is just….Google-able? This is interspersed with wanting feedback on how to hang picture frames in his office, the best place to store his lunch dishes, and other just general life skills??

    Additionally, he’s unprepared for meetings. Multiple times in the past week, he either hasn’t read the documents required or read the wrong ones or clearly skimmed them and gotten the wrong impression of their content. There was an embarrassing meeting where we met with stakeholders and he didn’t know the due date for a project even though this information was available online (he was surprised I found it at all even though all I did was….look it up)…meaning in a meeting of six people, I was the only one who understood the timeline of a massive project. Again, I know it’s been information overload for the onboarding but like…to me, this type of preparation is sort of basic to being good at this kind of job (regardless of what organization you’re at) and it puts the onus on me to be extra prepared and make decisions in the moment because he doesn’t have the context to do so.

    So my question is—is there a way I can broach this with him without telling him how to do his job? Should I bring it up to my grandboss? Nothing egregious has happened yet and he’s not disrespectful or boorish but even other people have commented how much handholding I’ve had to do in the last month and I don’t want to make this a trend?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      I’m not living this day-to-day so it’s easier said than done for me, but I feel like this type of person eventually “outs” themself. Eventually everyone notices that they are always unprepared and don’t understand basic things. Since it’s your supervisor I would continue to help him when he asks, but don’t cover for him. Don’t go to grandboss. If your boss is smart, he’ll realize how lucky he is to have someone as reliable as you on his staff and reward you accordingly. Some of my best raises came from scatterbrained bosses who realized they’d be lost without me. Working for them could be frustrating, but I didn’t mind the job security. ;)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I agree not to cover for him, but he doesn’t sound scatterbrained. He sounds wildly incompetent.

    2. Anon for This*

      RE: the weaponized incompetence pieces – how to hang pictures? if there isn’t already a list of who to call for that kind of stuff might be easiest to create one (though I agree you shouldn’t have to…)

      RE: not being prepared for meetings, this is all too common. Smart people think they can handle it all on the fly. If you don’t already have a format for the briefing papers you provide him for meetings, create one. Give him a few bullets up front with the key information, and a quick line about what the meeting is intended to accomplish.

      If he is treating you like you are his secretary because you are female either call him out on it or go talk to HR. And document, document, document because if he gets called on this he will deny it. They all do. Ask me how I know…

      1. northern attitude*

        I think part of the problem is that I have never previously been expected to prep materials for meetings unless specifically directed. The expectation has always been that everyone preps on their own. So part of what’s putting me on the back foot is the idea that someone may not be doing that?

        I will try to figure out how to make sure we’re more on the same page before we go into a meeting like that. I really like the idea of a summary.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Any chance the other people will mention it to grandboss? Could you meet with grandboss and get them to better spell out exactly what is expected of you WRT the new boss? Yes, onboarding is a tough time with a lot of information flying around, but if your new boss’ job is to read the correct documents and know the timelines of his projects and he’s not able to do that, I would think your grandboss would want to know that.

    4. Nesprin*

      Nope! He’s your boss not your subordinate, it’s on him if he’s incompetent+ lazy, and he won’t be your problem that much longer.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Some of it may be deliberate incompetence (If I say I don’t know how to mail the this then someone else will go mail it for me). I’d not raise it with him since you’re leaving anyway. Just mentally disengage a little from it. You can kinda sneakily raise it with grandboss but I’d be careful not to leave a paper trail or raise it separately (cause then boss will likely be embarrassed and looking for a target). Like if grandboss asks how was the shareholder meeting verbally (not in email) you could say oh it was good we did XYZ, super pumped for ABC, but there was a little confusion with Boss not realizing it was the EFG project at first.

  29. Rara Avis*

    I would like to participate in a work gift exchange that is themed “your most useful thing — what would you replace immediately.” $20-30. I’m kind of stuck — I can’t think of anything. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a work thing. Any ideas? I feel like everyone already has a nice water bottle and coffee travel mug, which are my always make sure I have things.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There are lots of kitchen/home things that fall into this category.

      EG, a really nice paring knife, because people don’t realize how dull their cheap everyday ones get.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        Yeah, or an instant read thermometer. You can get perfectly good ones for under $30. I find them to be indispensable.

        1. mreasy*

          YES great idea! The Kuhn Rikon vegetable peeler is inexpensive and imo the best around (my culinary school even used them) – lots of people don’t know how much difference a good one makes.

      2. Hatchet*

        Going along with the kitchen ideas: smaller glass pyrex bowls with lids – like 1 – 3 cup size (Once I realized that I could have lids to go with these bowls I already bought, I was elated. Warm leftovers go in them and then into the fridge…and then straight out and into the microwave. Simple but so perfect!)

    2. Olive*

      Given that there’s probably no gift that everyone will love, I’d go with ceramic ramekins. Even if someone isn’t interesting in cooking with them, they make good small snack bowls. And they can be donated pretty much anywhere.

      Or you could go with the worst Christmas gifts thread from a few days ago and give underwear – you’d replace your underwear immediately right?

      1. Rosemary*

        I definitely use my ramekins for snacks more than anything else! They are also great when prepping to cook – I put measure out spices and whatnot into them.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Speaking of, sets of measuring cups and spoons. So many people who start out cooking only have one set, which means constant washing/and drying to use them. Ditto Pyrex measuring cups.

    3. Aurion*

      A nice executive-style pen (brass body, well finished, etc). I think you can get a decent gel or rollerball at that price point.

      Alternatively, a good wireless mouse. This one might be harder to pick though, since it depends so much on the recipient – my preferred wireless mouse is actually a fairly entry level Logitech (I spent about $18 CAD on it), but I prefer it over nicer/more expensive models due to my requirements for size/symmetry/DPI/etc! If it dies I will get a new one before the end of the day no questions asked.

      1. I Have RBF*

        I would advise against a mouse. I, for one, only use a trackball, plus some of them are very hand size and dominance specific.

        IMO, a decent pen and notebook are nice, and don’t have quite the problem of handedness that pointing devices can have.

    4. Elly*

      I mistakenly replied in a new thread below (*facepalm*), but here is is again:

      They run a little below your price point (usually $15-$20 range), but I would say a mini desktop vacuum cleaner – the ones with a USB charger. I use that all the time to clean up small messes.

      1. Sally Rhubarb*

        I had to borrow my coworker’s little desktop vacuum cleaner and it’s amazing. I want to get one for myself now.

    5. t-vex*

      Kitchen gadgets might be a good option. I have a little strainer that fits over a regular-sized can that I use all the time.

    6. just here for the scripts*

      If folks commute by car, how about stuff for a car emergency kit—or one with a focus of stuck-in-the-snow/bad weather emergency kit? Or a series of car wash cards?

      If folks commute mostly by mass transit, how about a gift card for audio books, or e-books?

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I have a little air compressor that airs up your tires from your cigarette lighter — love that thing! Seems like I’m always having issues with tires.

    7. Butt in Seat*

      Lectrofan Evo White Noise Machine. (When my ex moved out with ours, I went 2 nights without it and then immediately ordered another one). It’s more expensive than $30 normally, but I’m seeing sales that bring it down to $30 at the moment.

        1. holiday jazz*

          Related to flashlights, I like the “personal emergency” genre of products for this type of gift exchange. Stuff like a Wallet Ninja/Credit Card Multitool, Resqme/Car Safety Hammer/Seatbelt Cutting Tool, or a roadside safety kit.

        2. JustaTech*

          Note to self – get a new flashlight.

          My FIL gave us these great little flashlights years ago that are just like 6 LEDs and a switch on a 9 volt battery. Great for keeping next to the bed for a power outage.

        3. intothesarchasm*

          One of the rechargeable flashlights that stayed plugged in awaiting a power emergency. Also, one year, I bought those portable spotlights for everyone, and they were well-received. We live rural and they are fun for seeing what critters are out in the fields or exactly how many coyotes are howling.

    8. Fluffy Fish*

      Food can count.

      Chili Crunch would be on my list. It’s chili pepper seeds onion and garlic in oil that goes on so many different foods – eggs, vegetables, noodles, dumplings etc etc.

      My favorite is from Trader Joes but it’s made by lots of other brands.

        1. Cyndi*

          I love chilli crisp! And just a tiny dab of it mixed into a full bowl of food can go really far, at least for my middling spice tolerance, so a jar lasts for ages.

          1. Rainy*

            We eat it so much faster than that haha :) It’s really good paired with honey as a topper for a whipped feta dip or ricotta dips!

    9. Olive*

      There are things on this list that I’d never use, which isn’t a criticism – nothing is perfect for everyone, but I would lean toward things that could easily be regifted or donated.

    10. Llellayena*

      The deep sided frying pan (with lid) that we use about every other day. A good chef’s knife. The folding stepstool (not a good office gift, but I would replace it quickly). My electric kettle (I’m a tea drinker). My electric drill/screwdriver. Everything else would be out of the price range.

    11. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      A nice blanket? I always like having one to keep on the couch with me, either for when I get cold or for the cat to sleep on next to me. You can get a really good cozy one for $20-25.

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

      Nice, but not extravagant, headphones, webcam or microphone
      Insulated lunch bag
      Gender neutral scarf or beanie (if you are in a cold climate)
      Desktop fan/heater

    13. Qwerty*

      Wireless phone charger? I think mine was $15

      Small kitchen items are where my mind goes next since I live alone – I have silicone tongs that are only 8in long (rather than 12in full size) which I use multiple times a week. Small colander that is good for draining single serving of pasta or for washing a small number of veggies. I love my mini cutting board that is only 6in long for cutting up a snack like an apple.

    14. Ginger Baker*

      Heated desk pad. I got several folks hooked on these at work. If you have any lefties in the group, left-handed can opener or left-handed kitchen shears.

    15. Csethiro Ceredin*

      A good power bank is useful and affordable (Anker makes decent ones but there are plenty of brands) and most of us could use more than one. And/or a long charging cord, 10″ or so.

      I can’t say enough good things about those knife-proof gloves you can wear when zesting/grating/slicing in the kitchen – they look like chain mail but feel like cloth, and the one I have has saved my left hand’s knuckles so many times.

      If you microwave food at your office you can get silicone pads you put under the bowl you’re heating so it can be lifted out without risking a burn – I use that a lot here too.

      1. t-vex*

        Ooh yes! I wear those gloves anytime I cook now, after my inattentive ass nearly sliced off a finger a few months ago. I always feel a little silly when I put them on so it’s nice to hear other people use them too

        1. Csethiro Ceredin*

          What with any zesting and grating by hand that I think I would have no skin left without wearing at least one! Good for you wearing them. The only drawback is they can be slippery when gripping something smooth.

    16. Honey Badger just don't care*

      A small tool kit. I did a small Husky brand socket and screwdriver set one year and it was a big hit. Ended up buying myself one. Came in a small case roughly the size of a paperback book.

    17. Cyndarella*

      A small grooming kit (i.e. Tweezers, Nail Clippers,etc.) I found one in the men’s section at TJ Maxx last year and it had the best tweezers!

    18. Slartibartfast*

      My large insulated shopping bag from Sam’s Club. Keeps the popsicles from melting on the way home in summer, and it’s big enough to hold takeout for a family of 4 or two large pizzas and an order of wings if I’m running errands and don’t have time to cook.

    19. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Oh I thought of another! I use my set of assorted sizes of stretchy silicone lids to do everything from covering the mixing bowl in which bread is rising to saving half a lemon in the crisper. I’ve given them to many people and they’ve all loved them.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me! My MiL gave us a set of round, meshy silicon jar lid openers–they basically let you get a good, firm grip on the lid, using another to hold the jar itself. Fabulous.

    20. Double A*

      This is kind of weird, but you can never have too many pairs of scissors. So like 3-4 pairs of scissors is an incredibly practical gift.

      One year my husband bought literally 12 pairs of scissors for Christmas and it’s the most useful gift I’ve ever gotten. I still sometimes have to track down a pair because none are left in my usual stashes, but I’m much more likely to be able to find them.

      1. WellRed*

        I was actually shocked to have to buy myself scissors recently! Cause they are something that’s is always just there. Until they aren’t.

    21. I Have RBF*

      Some of these may also be on other entries.

      * Charging power banks, a cable squid with multiple type ends
      * A really useful thing is a a zippered cable organizer, like What to get the person who has everything? A place to put it!

      * A set of churchkeys ( – because they are always getting misplaced
      * A decent paring knife – because you never have enough
      * A set of silicone spatula/scrapers – because they wear out, and more is better
      * A 2 cup/1 liter glass measuring cup – IME, this is the most common size, and they keep getting dropped and broken, plus we have four in my kitchen and it’s almost enough

      * Mini vacuum
      * Microfiber towels for lense or screen cleaning
      * A USB fan
      * A set of washable cotton coasters to keep coffee/water stains off of papers
      * An “un-stick-kit” of WD-40, silicon lube from hinges, and graphite powder for locks, etc.
      * A refillable first aid kit with more than just a couple bandaids, or a set of smaller ones for multiple places like kitchen, car, office and garage.
      * An LED clip-on lamp that is run off of USB power, useful with a computer or even a car USB outlet. Example:

      Hope this helps

    22. Kiki Is The Most*

      **Silicon ice cube trays of different shapes/sizes. I have a bunch and just love them!

      **If not a car kit, then a desk/office kit? I was gifted a small, leather ‘make up’ bag years ago and it is filled with Tide pen, cold/headache medicine, tiny nail file, 5€, band aids, hand sanitizer, lip balm, toothbrush/paste, etc. Anything I need in a pinch…

      **Travel games: Scrabble, chess, yahtzee, deck of cards, checkers (I travel a lot so I always have some type of game on me and I’ve never been turned down for a game of checkers on the plane!)

      **Even though not everyone drinks, a small/travel drink kit.

      **Neutral or lightly scented candles.

    23. mreasy*

      If a lot of folks are coffee/tea drinkers, a mug warmer that plugs into your computer is a nice gift. I have one and it is nice for a forgetful beverage drinker such as myself!

    24. Closing Time*

      My gravity peppermill would be replaced in a hot minute! I live that thing. Decent ones plus batteries can easily be under $30.

    25. Handy gift idea*

      Furniture sliders. I started giving them as gifts anytime anyone is moving into a new house or apartment because I find myself using them often. (Single woman here — I don’t have a husband to help me lift things, but furniture sliders are almost as good!)

  30. Bluebird*

    When is the right time to ask for/negotiate days in office for a hybrid job posting?

    I live about 2+ hours away from my state’s capital. I previously worked for a state agency as full time WFH but decided to take a break (quit) this fall. I’ve been networking, and I heard from a pal that they’re posting a job in January for a different state agency- he sent me the job description to give me a heads up, and it was PERFECT – with the exception of “this job is hybrid and the candidate will be expected to live in Capital or relocate to [region]”. This region could encompass quite a bit of travel time – I know someone who drives 1+ hour to the capital from [region].
    Because of some personal circumstances, I’d be willing to drive to the capital from my home for 2-3 days of work per week (and bunk with friends/family in Capital), but I’m not ready to sell my house and relocate to a higher cost of living area, new mortgage %, etc. I think this is something I could potentially negotiate in the same way I’d negotiate salary, etc. Given my past work for a different state agency, I know this isn’t a blanket “all state agencies must have some days in office” policy but I’m not sure how this very small agency approaches the definition of hybrid.

    When should I bring up my questions (and suggestions/offers to travel without reimbursement)? Early interview or later on in the process? I’m so, so interested in this position and don’t want to blow my chances.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      If it’s a dealbreaker, then as early as possible. you say you don’t want to blow your chances but you also say you aren’t open to physically relocating so if that’s a dealbreaker for them, it’s better if you all get that out on the table and don’t waste each other’s time. Are you SURE relocation isn’t viable if you are really so interested in the role? If you have something that requires you to draw a hard line in the sand (ie 2-3 days a week in office max) then there’s no sense in not being transparent from the beginning.

    2. Qwerty*

      Ask what Hybrid means for them in the first conversation when learning about the job. Put their answer in context of the rest of the job (to understand their perspective) and ask about modifications in that early conversation. To use your salary example, if someone’s range is 50-70k and you want 80k, you’d want to find out if that’s a possibility so no one wastes their time. It also affects the interview – my threshold for a candidate that wants a major change to the job is going to be higher for each interview than one who meets the parameters. I’m not saying it isn’t possible – I have a fully in office team and came very close to offering someone a hybrid schedule because (1) Amazing skillset (2) Reasonable accomodation for their needs (3) Willingness to be flexible and talk out some options with me on how to make hybrid work [didn’t work out for other reasons]

      I’m unclear – do you live in the Region specified in the requirement? Because if you are trying to avoid that part of the requirement then that’s unlikely to work and will just look like you didn’t read the job description.

    3. WellRed*

      Honestly, I’d reframe your thinking that this job is perfect for you. It’s not unless they are willing to bend the rules and state agency doesn’t scream flexibility to me.

  31. Weeks old job apply or not apply?*

    I’ve noticed that some job boards on websites, like some powered by “Workday”, never take down old postings (like ones 3 weeks old and longer). I know sometimes that applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the vacancy is filled.

    But if there isn’t a note about rolling applications and no deadline posted on a job….how old of a posting would you not apply to? Like if it was a month old? 3 weeks old? Could I contact the generic HR address to confirm if a role is still open?

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Depends on your field and the job, but in my field, leaving a job posting open for a month is pretty typical.

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

      It really depends on a lot of factors. In academia a month is not unheard of for a nonfaculty position. Sometimes businesses will want to keep the pool open, especially if it is a difficult to fill position or they are looking for unique qualifications. I think it’s better to have the application process open for longer to get the right person, than to have it open for a shorter time and not get good candidates.

    3. Hillary*

      If there isn’t a deadline I consider it rolling applications – just about everywhere I’ve worked would keep adding people to the process until an offer was accepted. Plus in my field a month is new and at best they’re doing first-round interviews. 3+ months old I may not bother, most places I’ve worked would repost to keep the date fresh if they were actively filling the position.

    4. ecnaseener*

      If there’s no deadline, I would assume it’s rolling. I don’t usually see an explicit statement that it is rolling.

      In my experience, my team’s openings are sometimes open for months. Idk how often HR reposts them, but it could easily be longer than a month between reposts.

    5. Qwerty*

      I’d assume its open if it is still posted unless the posting gives an application deadline. If something is really old (like a couple months) I might check out the company’s job page to see if it is still listed there.

      I think LinkedIn takes down postings automatically after a month or two if they aren’t renewed (we didn’t realize ours expired recently, which explained my lack of candidates)

    6. Rosemary*

      3 weeks is nothing when I am hiring. We are usually only hiring for a single role at a time, which we will fill when we find the right candidate – which can take awhile, definitely more than 3 weeks. Since it is a small company and I am the only person screening resumes, sometimes I won’t even look at applications for a week+ if I am busy with other things.

    7. Book Addict*

      Can you check the org’s website to see if they have their own job postings in addition to 3rd party job boards? That might tell you if it’s still open. For example, my boss will post on industry boards, but all jobs are also posted on our own site for as long as they are open.

    8. Shandra*

      Or the employer has multiple openings for the same position. A lawyer friend of mine is a Product Counsel for Teapots Inc. There are multiple Product Counsels, and each one is responsible for all legal matters pertaining to an assigned segment of the company’s product line.

      This position was newly created — possibly to streamline their legal operations — when my friend applied. So Teapots Inc. had several slots to fill. The job title and duties are the same, but each person works on a different part of the product line.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh no. Please apply. I have postings open for 60 days that aren’t filled yet, for real. And then I have to re-post them. These are all types of positions. You have nothing to lose by applying!

  32. University Administrator*

    University folks, I have a question. I am currently interviewing for a high level administrative director-type role at a well-funded university in a different part of the country. At my current institution, this level of role would come with a relocation stipend, however the last time I spoke with the HR assistant who is arranging my travel for my final-round interview, she casually mentioned they don’t pay for relocation for staff at all. It really caught me off guard, as I would not have expected they would interview me at all (let alone multiple times) without telling me this up front.

    So now I’m wondering – how much weight should I give the comment from the HR assistant? I would not consider moving without some sort of stipend, any ideas how to approach this? I figured I would wait for the offer stage, but I was actually hoping to negotiate university housing for the first few months while I get to know the area (assuming the salary is fine), and now I’m worried I’ll have to negotiate multiple things. Does anyone have experience with negotiating for one at a university?

    1. Alex*

      I think it might have to do with the relative desirability of the areas/universities. It’s quite possible that the university doesn’t need to offer relocation assistance because they tend to attract high quality candidates for other reasons–if it is a place where a lot of people would love to move to, or a well known university that attracts a lot of candidates due to its name, they might not feel that having that in their budget is worth it. Even if universities are “well funded” (I work at one that anyone would call well-funded) there are still often department-level strict budgets. That’s not saying you can’t try, but if you are coming from a university that maybe “has less money” but overall needs to do more to attract candidates (being in an out-of-the way location, etc.) it might be a different set of circumstances.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Just ask. I moved to a highly desirable university about 5 years ago in a staff role, and they brought it up in the offer stage, “here’s what we offer for moving reimbursement is that enough?” .

      Also make sure you’re not just asking about financials, ask about what a average day looks like or something specific to the position as well. Hiring also seems off put that people do mainly care about their salary and costs LOL.

      Re living in housing, if you don’t want to negotiate multiple things, it may be possible to get a short term 3-6month lease on an apartment before buying somewhere or committing to a full year lease. University areas usually have these available as they have visiting faculty etc.

    3. deesse877*

      If it’s a public institution it may be literally impossible. If the hiring unit is an academic unit, it may be difficult or impossible, but you could try asking them to make it up to you in some other way (computer equipment, office space, etc).

      If the distinction is “we DO offer relocation expenses to faculty, but we DON’T for staff” that might be a cultural weirdness of that one institution, that you could try to talk them out of (but don’t hold your breath).

      But I would bring it up with the interviewers if/when they extend an offer. In other words, I don’t think it’s overall a problem to attempt to negotiate for what you need, but I know the academic sector is full of strange practices, so I can’t generalize further, only offer contingency plans.

    4. Abogado Avocado*

      In my experience with universities, if they want you — especially for a high-level administrative position — everything is negotiable and if you need relocation assistance, they’ll make it happen. I would NOT depend on the HR assistant for being the last word on this.

      Public universities often have access to special funds — that is, endowments — that allow them to bypass state law limits on the use of public funds for certain expenses. The same is true for private universities. Often, use of these funds is limited to upper-level hires, so it’s possible the HR assistant doesn’t know about the funds or knows it’s not within her jurisdiction to mention it to you. Which means you’ll have to raise it with whoever makes the job offer.

      Your strategy of waiting until the offer is made seems reasonable to me. And I wouldn’t worry about having too many things to negotiate. The job itself is not the plum; the job with the right salary and benefits (including relocation assistance and interim housing) is the plum.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. University Administrator*

        Thank you! This is very helpful. I would basically be moving from one posh private university to another, and I’m in a specific niche field that can be hard to hire for, so I will keep my fingers crossed you are right. There’s not really any room for advancement in my current institution (unless our executive director retires, which will be like 10-15 years from now…) so I’m really excited about this opportunity!

    5. Industry Behemoth*

      If this is a university town, maybe some local landlords offer rental agreements instead of leases? The difference being that rental agreements don’t have fixed terms.

      I wasn’t a student, but I lived for a while in a university town where my apartment building for one had rental agreements. Students are generally short-term tenants, so landlords didn’t expect people to commit to leases.

    6. BRR*

      I would give the HR assistant’s comment a lot of weight because I assume they know their employer’s policy. Have you searched the university’s website at all? If it’s a deal breaker for you I would bring it up sooner than the offer stage.

  33. ILoveCoffee*

    A few weeks ago a commenter in the Friday Thread posted about a colleague who didn’t “believe” in the time change. Was there ever an update?

  34. Juicebox Hero*

    Very low-stakes question.

    This morning, I saw that a male coworker’s pants were falling down in back so I quietly told him to pull his pants up. He said “whoops!” and pulled them up. His office mate said something along the lines of “you know you’ve worked with someone a long time when you can say that and not have it be a big deal.” I have worked with him for at least 6 years and the office mate was hired this past summer. She and I are women but she comes from a different professional background and is a little more polished than the rest of us :D

    Is it strange to say something like that to a coworker? Growing up I was taught that it’s a kindness to mention minor wardrobe malfunctions that the person can fix easily so that, for example, he’s not meeting with clients or the boss with his behind sticking out.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      I wouldn’t find it strange to alert someone to a wardrobe malfunction, but HOW did you do it? A discreet whisper of “Just want to let you know your pants are falling down in the back” is not the same as bellowing “JOE, PULL YOUR PANTS UP” across a room. Maybe it’s the how and not the what that led to your co-worker’s comment.

      1. JustaTech*

        I once tried to discretely alert my coworker that his pants weren’t zipped (his shirt was sticking out his fly) so I said “Henry, XYZ”.

        Sadly, I had forgotten that this is not a universal phrase so had to have a painfully long conversation about “what does XYZ mean?” “It means ‘examine your zipper’.” “What does that mean? What zipper?” “It means your pants are not zipped up.”
        (He wasn’t being a creep, he was terrible at English idioms and genuinely didn’t know his pants weren’t zipped.)

    2. Rainy*

      I was raised the same way you were: that it’s the right thing to do to let people know quickly and quietly. I don’t think it’s strange at all, and people typically want to hear from a friend or coworker that they have a giant piece of food in their teeth before they go into a meeting or something.

    3. Bast*

      Please, please, please, discreetly say something! Nothing odd about it at all.
      — Someone who once sat on a banana sticker and walked around with it on my butt all day and NO ONE said a thing.

    4. RagingADHD*

      It’s not strange at all, but some people find it awkward or embarrassing if they don’t know the person well. I think her comment was a light acknowledgement of feeling awkward.

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

    So I need a gut check on something. I’m on the committee for hiring a position in our department. We had someone who is a current employee in another, non related department, apply. They do have some relevant expericence, even though they don’t have a current job (think manufacturing moving to sales position).
    there was a bit of a snaffu with their first interview date. When we called to schedule (the week before their interview time) they said they were getting over covid and per our company policy was not at work. So out of caution, we decided to do a zoom meeting. Come the other day and this person does not show up on zoom so we call them to see if they are having technical problems. Turns out the person was expecting an email to his work email not his personal one. we rescheduled.
    We were very clear in the phone conversations we had with him that there would be an email sent with the information and when and what time we were scheduling it. Because of this, I feel like they should have reached out the day before if they hadn’t received any information.

    I don’t want to have this bias me against this candidate. It was a mistake on the head of the committee to send the email to the secondary email and not the work email. Any thoughts on how I can work with this. We have not interviewed them yet and have a few more people to look at.

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Reschedule the interview, that will give you more input on them, and you can see if there are any other issues – I’d call this a yellow flag not a red one.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      “We were very clear in the phone conversations we had with him that there would be an email sent with the information and when and what time we were scheduling it. Because of this, I feel like they should have reached out the day before if they hadn’t received any information.”

      Yes but also think about alllllllll the people who are left hanging by companies who simply don’t send the information and how fraught following up is. Applying for jobs and interviews is a weird little microcosm with weird rules that are highly variable. I wouldn’t assume they wouldn’t follow up on a meting in a regular work environment.

      People also don’t know what they don’t know. We’re all learning all the time. What’s obvious to you (follow up) isn’t obvious to the next person.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Also everyone has skills that can be developed. On the scale of things, needing to work on knowing when to followup on a meeting isn’t a big deal imo.

    3. just here for the scripts*

      Also COVID affects the brain—brain fog is a real thing (as it also is with fevers etc). And in all honesty, I would have only been looking in my employee email for it, if I were in their shoes.

      I wouldn’t really consider it much—in isolation. As Put the Blame on… says, wait until the interview happens and see if there’s a pattern in their responses to warrant concern.

    4. Pink Candyfloss*

      If the person has been ill, extend a bit of grace. This sounds like simple miscommunication but could have been exacerbated by being worn out from recovering from what is still a serious illness for many who come down with it. And the committee head made a mistake. My company has some folks who are notoriously busy and let deadlines slip by more than once – is this also perhaps a subtle signal about how much this person may be used to work related things not happening as planned without much notice? Could be a chance to do a deep dive into wherever they are coming from, especially if dysfunction is what is driving them out.

    5. Kettle Belle*

      I would chalk this up to a miscommunication. And going further, ask the person what is a good email to reach them. This way, everyone is clear.

    6. Oof and Ouch*

      I wouldn’t read too much into it honestly, especially because the error was on the committee’s side not the candidate.

      You say you were clear about the date and time, but were you clear about when you were sending the email? I’ve had people send me zoom links just before the meeting.

      Also are you 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt sure that the candidate didn’t try to reach out to ANYONE at your org? It can be tricky with internal candidates because they know people, so maybe the official contact is Cecil, but they have a relationship with Mandy who’s also on the committee. And Mandy said she’d look into it, but then she got caught up in something and it never got through the grapevine.

      I guess what I’m saying is I’d give the interview one more go, and try to remind myself that crazy situations and miscommunications happen all the time. If the person isn’t the right fit you’ll know pretty quick. You can also ask around to see if this is normal behavior for this person, or if it really was a comedy of errors.

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

      Thank you everyone for all of your wisdom! I’m still relatively new with hiring and I wanted to make sure I was not giving the person a fair chance.

  36. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Our Narkypants colleague is finally leaving after 3 months since his resignation (we’re in the UK) and he didn’t go out with any major sabotage- as far as I know so far *knocks on wood*. He did end a client call with a long, baffling speech about how honoured he was to work with us, but I can live with that!

    My biggest fear was that he would send an all-office email delineating all his perceived slights. This would only have made him look bad but still would have been cringe inducing. I wish him all the best but also hope he gets therapy because he’s been bullying coworkers and told me about his intense anger towards those he feels were promoted “unjustly”.

    1. Abogado Avocado*

      I am sure this sounds paranoid, but OTOH, I live in the US where firearms are everywhere: you might want to advise your boss or building security or both about Narkypants’ intense anger towards those he feels were promoted unjustly. Given his anger and your concerns about sabotage, he seems like just the kind of person you don’t want back in the office following his departure.

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        This is, sadly, a good point. Our managers are aware and office security is pretty decent, plus he is off to a workplace that my boss has contacts at to keep an eye on him.

  37. Elly*

    They run a little below your price point (usually $15-$20 range), but I would say a mini desktop vacuum cleaner – the ones with a USB charger. I use that all the time to clean up small messes.

  38. Quitters anonymous*

    I’m looking for a mantra to remind myself to quietly quit.
    For context, I have a counterpart with an undeserved higher title and pay structure who cannot seem to do her job. I, and many other people have tried to teach her to no avail. Our team lead seems to favor her for some reason I can’t put my finger on. I’m highly skilled and competent, yet I get little to no recognition. What can I say to myself to remind myself to give a bit less of my emotional capacity?

    1. just here for the scripts*

      Not my circus, not my monkeys
      Care less, live more
      I like a paycheck, that’s all I’m working for
      Care less, apply more

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Not responsible for advice not taken” (Niven’s Law)

      It’s the flip side of “I told you so.” You shouldn’t have any emotional investment in somebody else’s decisions if they have rejected your advice.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Mine is “I get paid the same either way”

      Whether I’m stressing and upset or burning myself out, or whether I’m just doing my job – I’m paid the same.

      It helps me let go of the stupid stuff and in government theres A LOT of stupid stuff.

    4. PivotTime*

      I’ve been dealing for several years with a lazy, incompetent coworker that people think is great but who thinks productivity is giving their work to someone else (usually me). I just came up with this mantra this week “I am only responsible for MY work”. It is not your job to continue to teach or hand hold your company idiot. You are merely responsible for tasks assigned to you. Let her fail on her fail on her own, you’ve got enough to do. Good luck!

    5. Hillary*

      I’m a musical fan, so I think “I am the one thing in life I can control” in Leslie Odom Jr’s voice. I also have a print of it on my desk (wfh entrepreneur, I wouldn’t have it at a shared office).

    6. Rainy*

      I hate the term “quiet quitting” because it’s not quitting at all, it’s just doing your job and not giving your employer uncompensated labour or brainpower.

      I work in a field where the expectation has often been that people do a lot of extra work unpaid. I have watched so many colleagues burn out and leave the field entirely or feel trapped and just suffer through the burnout every day, and I don’t want to live like that. I do my job to the very best of my ability for the 40 hours I am paid for and then I stop. Other people getting recognition for work they didn’t do? Sounds like somebody else’s problem. When it gets really exhausting, I just think about how much trouble my department will have when I inevitably leave for better-paid pastures and they realize in trying to replace me A) how much I do and B) the level of specific expertise I have that they take for granted.

      Also I just successfully managed to shuffle off something extra I’ve been doing for some years now. I enjoyed it but I’m too busy now and it doesn’t really make sense for me to liaise with that particular program.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      This is one aspect of the burnout I wrote about elsewhere, I so feel your annoyance. One question I will ask if if you can drill down on the “for some reason I can’t put my finger on” part. In my case it was because the person knew the cliff-notes version of everything but couldn’t actually do much work in any of them. I had to sort of wait and watch and get involved in meetings where there was a high probability of some of these topics getting discussed. Then I’d chime in and answer things off the fly while other person either gave vague “I will get back to you” answers or just speak in general management speak.

      I felt like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl during the elevator scene with Sigorney Weaver a few times and it felt good and it helped my case (iif you do not know or remember this scene, Melanie (M) is Sigorney’s (S) assistant. S stole M’s brilliant idea, Melanie only found out because she was filling in for her when S when S fell skying and got stuck in Europe. M pretends to be S and it eventually blows up until the other side asks S and M off the fly where the big idea came from. M, the underdog in the situation responds with a plausible story. S stutters and in the process her proverbial masks cracks. One of the most gratifying work-related movie scenes ever).

    8. Mockingjay*

      “Let her fail.”

      You are not responsible for her career, only your own. (I had to learn this one myself.)

  39. Seahorse*

    I have an interview for a minor internal promotion this afternoon. I’ve never done one before, so this will be a new experience. It’s more of a team lead position than an actual jump to management, but it comes with a minor raise and several duties that are tedious but necessary.

    Two of my other coworkers are also interviewing for the same spot today, and they’re both very capable. I suspect one of them will get it, which is fine. I applied in part because I was nervous about a different potential coworker taking the role, but they didn’t make it to the interview stage.

    If it goes well for me, I’ll get more money! If it doesn’t, I’ll stay in a role I like, and a qualified person will get the job. It’s a win either way for me, so that definitely helps with the nerves.

    Regardless of the outcome, any suggestions for diplomacy / internal politics afterwards? I like the other two coworkers who are interviewing and don’t want to make things weird.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      No harm in saying to them “Want you to know in advance, I have complete confidence that either Fergus of you would do a great job in this role, and I’m going to be happy regardless of the outcome and won’t be looking to leave.”

      1. Roland*

        Idk, to me that’s a weird thing to say. If one of them gets it and there’s any weirdness, sure clear the air. But before a decision has been made, I would find it strangely obsequious.

    2. Pink Candyfloss*

      “Congratulations on the new role, I’m happy for you! You’re going to do great.” Nothing more is really needed.

  40. Actually Good*

    Did anyone else get an actually decent gift for Secret Santa/related work gift exchange? I ended up taking over the admin of ours as the person who started it couldn’t organize themselves out of a wet paper bag so I did all the gathering of gifts,.communications, handing out etc. I would have been more salty but it was fun giving them to people, and no one seemed to get a lousy gift (lots of coffee mugs,.beer, chocolate). I got a book I wanted and my favourite pens in bulk, so I was cheered up in the end.

    1. Rainy*

      We do a White Elephant and I’m pretty happy with my gift this year! It’s a nice change especially after last year (I had to leave the gift I ended up with at the party location because I couldn’t even put it in my car due to allergy issues–I finally got someone to take it off my hands when they realized I was serious). Most of my colleagues bring stuff that’s meant to be nice or fun, but we have a few frequent flyers who do things like bring gross gag gifts or actual trash, so it does tend to be a bit of a risk.

      1. JustaTech*

        I managed to off-load the white elephant gift I originally picked, which was just the most not-me gift ever (a food I can not eat), and if the thing I ended up with is odd, it’s not terrible and I can re-gift it later if I don’t end up using it.

  41. NonnieMouse*

    I have a second “interview” with a hiring manager (person who would be my boss) today in about three hours. The first “interview” was coffee at a coffee shop. We couldn’t call it an interview because the paperwork wasn’t in and the job wasn’t officially posted, but it was an interview. Then I followed up to see where the paperwork was and she said if I had questions or wanted to meet for coffee again, we could (and if I was interested in the job, to tell her so she could tell corporate that I was serious – and I emailed back that I was interested).

    So I took her up on the offer because everybody told me I should, but now I’m looking for more questions to ask her during this second coffee “interview!” I have a few but would welcome suggestions. How do I make myself stand out as a candidate?

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      Highly recommend downloading the FREE Ask a Manager guide to preparing for job interviews, easily searchable on this site :) has good questions in there to ask.

      1. NonnieMouse*

        Yep! I used that one in my first interview! So now I’m revisiting it but need some new material, too.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Honestly, I’d be a bit concerned about the “interviews” at a coffee shop. If you didn’t ask at the first one, ask some questions about the hiring process, what the steps are, what you should expect in that process going forward. (The hiring process as opposed to the job. Easy to hide behind what the successful candidate will do, vice what you personally should expect.)

      1. NonnieMouse*

        I’m amused by the irony of your username. It’s for a somewhat political job (I said “company” because it’s easier to anonymize but I want to nip this suspicion in the bud from other commenters) – I’m not surprised or alarmed by a coffee interview in these circles.

        I’ll be sure to ask about the paperwork process and how long this is going to take.

  42. where’s the gin*

    AAM readers, how would you handle this? I’m an HR professional by trade, and I was laid off in the spring so I took a role at a smaller firm that was “50/50” HR and office management. It’s maybe more like 95% office management, and most of that is cleaning… I feel like I’ve been doing about 20 mins of actual work a day. I’ve had a lot of conversations about wanting more development or opportunities to use my skills, but my boss keeps saying we don’t need them (although I am “the best office manager ever”). I sat down with my boss for a come-to-Jesus talk this week where I said if things don’t improve I will be looking to leave, and she responded “yeah, you seemed so overqualified we’re still surprised you took this job.” I’ve basically just been catatonic ever since. I’m working on a handover document in the hope that I pick up an FTC in the new year and have to leave quickly, but they are planning an office move and part of me feels obligated to stay for that just so they aren’t totally left in the lurch… but they 100% mis-sold this job to me. And this after I planned the Christmas party (an overseas offsite with unlimited booze) entirely by myself…

      1. Awkwardness*

        I have much more to offer than planning an office move.
        I am not obligated to stay for an office move (!).

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      You feel obligated to stay at a place that literally just told you they knew you’re overqualified for the job and hired you anyway, and were surprised that you accepted? This isn’t the right fit for you. Put yourself first, because it’s clear already that they won’t, and go as soon as you find a better fit.

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      As someone who had to take over being the main point of contact for an office move two months before it happened in the middle of COVID – do what’s best for yourself, up to and including leaving in the middle of an office move. Do the work while you’re there, keep good notes on progress if you can, and then leave the rest to the org. They’ll figure it out if they have to, and if they don’t, it’s not your fault.

      (For the record, I didn’t hold anything against my predecessor at all because they needed to move on for their and their family’s best interest. I also wouldn’t hold it against you in this situation.)

    3. Starbuck*

      >but they are planning an office move and part of me feels obligated to stay for that just so they aren’t totally left in the lurch…

      I see no reason for you to care about this, since they’re the ones leaving you in a bad position. It sounds like they already expect you to leave anyway.

    4. where’s the gin*

      Thanks for the sense check all. I’ve only been here since May so I was worried about looking like a job hopper – and my last role I was laid off from was under a year as well (although it was at a large company in the financial services space, so layoffs are semi-frequent). I think what really broke me was they decided to give my boss a “Head of HR” title when she has ZERO training, comes into the office maybe once a month, and is extremely friendly (read: goes clubbing with) the most gossipy members of staff. She recently shook all the staff down to fill out a Great Places to Work survey that staff later told me they lied on because they knew management would throw a fit if we didn’t get the award. She won’t let me see the results or tell me any actions they’re going to take from it. She told me we didn’t need to do Right to Work checks (a legal requirement in the UK) for a new starter because she’s British—but then got really snippy with a recruiter when we got sent a candidate my boss was worried “needed a visa”. Ofc the “British” new starter was a white girl with a white-sounding name, and the candidate my boss was worried about visa needs had a CV with entirely UK-based experience and education, and zero indication she would need sponsorship, but she had a typical South Asian name. She was made Head of HR because she pretty much can’t be trusted on client work, but they needed to give her something to do. I am working on a CIPD Level 5 on the side (I currently have a L3), so even if I do have to stick around a bit longer than planned I can hopefully move into an advisory role – at a company that actually understands the strategic importance of HR!

  43. Invisible fish*

    Recommendations for superlative lunch carriers (Bags? Boxes? Kits?) for adults who are determined to carry their lunches without them becoming jumbled messes with smooshed fruit?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Well, this wont help with organization, although potentially could help with smoosh, but I looooooooooooooove my Packit! The entire bag is the ice pack. It folds up nice and neat and you throw it in the freezer. Mine also has a clip strap on the back so I can clip it on bags if I can’t fit it in bag.

      1. Cyndi*

        I have one of these too! It hasn’t helped me become a person who actually packs lunch regularly, but when I do it’s a great bag. I think it might have been recommended to me by someone here, actually.

      2. Alice*

        If it’s going to take up a ton of space in a shared fridge, that might not be ideal. If you are going to remove containers from the bag, that’s fine.

        1. Cyndi*

          They’re the same size as a normal insulated lunch bag–just lined with a layer of the refreezable gel that comes in ice packs. Heavier than other bags, but not bigger.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          It doesnt take up any more room than a normal lunch bag. It’s not a cooler. There’s a layer of freezie gel between the fabric outside and plastic liner inside. Thats why it folds up to place in the freezer.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Bento boxes have separate compartments but can get pretty pricey. There’s some lines of more tuperware type containers done bento style that would be cheaper.

      I’ve always had the best luck with lunch boxes from Rite Aid for some weird reason, they wash well and last a long time. They’re only available seasonally though, look in the spring and late summer.

    3. NaoNao*

      Modern Picnic if you’re willing to splurge or wait for a sale–it’s an elegant almost Hermes- Kelly-Bag-looking bag that comes in two sizes and it’s very sturdy. It looks great and it’s firm rather than squishy so the items stay un-squished inside.

    4. NonnieMouse*

      Bento Boxes! I have a glass one because the metal ones kept sliding liquids from one compartment to another. It is heavier, though. I’m not into plastic but there are plenty of cute, plastic bento boxes out there. Different tupperware containers are also a good one. I cut up fruit the night before and put it in my bento box. Easier to eat, too, since you can spear the pieces with a fork instead of having to wash your hands afterwards, and cuts out the core of an apple or pear. For bananas, I put the fruit in my bag, loose, but always the last thing on top.

  44. JTP*

    This question is probably more suited for my psychiatrist, but …

    TLDR: How do you get over anger at being ordered back to the office? I knew it could change if business needs required it, but their reasons don’t sound like business needs.

    Details: We got an email/link to his work “podcast” that praised us for so being so agile and adjusting so seamlessly to working from home and how the business didn’t miss a step and customers are still satisfied with our service.

    But a remote workforce “could” cause “suboptimal” service in the future, and he misses walking through a “bustling” office, so everyone within an arbitrary radius of a hub office is required to go in one to two times a week.

    Later had a conference call with more details:
    – whether it’s one or two days a week will be assigned by the business (based on your location, not your department or business needs)
    – the day of the week will be assigned by the business (based on department)
    – NO EXCEPTIONS (except for documented medical accommodations)
    – if something like an appointment comes up on your in-office day, you get one “switch” day (possibly one a quarter, but more likely one a year) or you can take PTO
    – applies to people who were hired to be remote

    And they call all that ^ “being flexible” because they’re not making us go back to the office 5 days a week.

    They want the “natural, spontaneous collaboration” without having to schedule a Teams call that used to happen when we were in-office full-time. Except, that never used to happen. Our managers are so busy, we always have had to schedule something on their calendar, which they will probably cancel or postpone anway.

    I’m the only person on my immediate team in my state. There are others in my department in the area, but we don’t collaborate (I’m a graphic designer in marketing, I don’t collaborate with the Events team, or the UI/UX team). The other marketing people I *do* collaborate with are also not in this state.

    We stretched to buy a home during the pandemic, and childcare and pet-care was not factored into our budget. Our son is theoretically old enough to stay home alone, but has ADHD with severe impulsiveness and I don’t think he’s mature enough to stay home alone. We also have a senior dog who needs to go out about every two hours.

    My husband works from home on a 3-week rotating schedule (Weeks 1 and 2, he’s home Tuesday and Friday Week 3, it’s Wednesday). I won’t be allowed to change up my days to work opposite him.

    My son’s after-care is full with a waitlist, as they are struggling to hire caregivers to maintain state ratios. My parents are retired, but live 30 minutes away, and are both still in PT for recent surgeries (knee replacements and shoulder repair).

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Speaking of therapists – I have anxiety that sometimes manifests as anger. I had an epiphany one day that (my) anger is kind of a choice. NOT the initial feeling of anger – but whether I was going to choose to keep feeding it. You know how you get mad and then your brain starts it’s thought spiral into all the reasons you should be made and how stupid everything and everyone is, etc, etc. I worked to train myself to feel the initial anger without acting and then acknowledge that I am angry and that it’s ok that I’m angry, but ruminating on it isn’t going to change anything except make me feel bad for longer. It’s really made a huge difference for me.

      Of course it’s not going to change anything about your situation per se. But if thinking about it makes you angry and it eats at you or makes you feel bad, it might help.

    2. Abogado Avocado*

      If you have negotiated all you can with your workplace, then this seems to require an “all hands on deck” meeting, first with your spouse, and then with your parents, about how to adjust to these new scheduling demands with your workplace and your son and dog’s needs.

      And, please, don’t be hesitant to ask your husband and your parents for help. You can’t do it all yourself and you can’t figure out a solution all by yourself. You just can’t. And that’s quite all right.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      embrace the mantra “accept the things you cannot change”. You cannot change your budget, you cannot change your bosses minds, you cannot change you kid/dogs needs. So try not to dwell on the anger but instead focus on what can you do.

      In your case maybe that’s focusing on the job hunt for a better position, maybe that’s accepting that if the in office day overlaps with your husband the dog will need to be crated and pee pad, maybe that’s working with kiddo to teach them skills to be okay alone, maybe that’s brainstorming some crazy ideas (trade kiddo watch days with a family in a similar boat?, RFID dog collar that locks and unlocks dog door so dog can go out solo?, heated dog house so dog can stay outside that day?, elaborate system of smoke and mirrors and a life sized cutout taped to a roomba so you can fake being in person?).

      1. JTP*

        “elaborate system of smoke and mirrors and a life sized cutout taped to a roomba so you can fake being in person?”

        I need that laugh, thank you!

    4. Pink Candyfloss*

      Do you really need to get over your anger? Just wondering. Anger is a protective mechanism, after all. It’s there to alert us when things are happening that are not in our personal best interest. Curious why you feel it’s necessary to quash that signal?

    5. NaoNao*

      Outside of practical suggestions, is there *any* small silver lining here?
      I would suggest looking for the upside–maybe it’s a chance to wear pretty clothes (or cool “corp goth” outfits or dress up or overhaul the wardrobe/makeup/hair. Maybe it’s a chance to get facetime with bigwigs and a promotion or practice in-person skills that may have withered. Maybe the situation *will* be different and collaboration will happen–perhaps you could lead the charge and start cancelling or declining meetings with big Bambi eyes “I thought spontaneous collaboration was the goal…?” oops wait, don’t do that, heh.
      I will say that people on your immediate team aren’t the only people one collabs and connects with. I’m in a different field, but making connections all through the business has been unexpectedly helpful for me in my career. Cozying up to the CFO (who I genuinely liked) allowed me to go on a pretty pricey work conference paid-for by the org, which was a great experience.
      Perhaps there’s a cute lunch place, coffee place, or nail salon you can use for a once a week treat? When I worked 5 days downtown I did wind up getting my nails done and my dry cleaning and alterations were constantly on-point.

      1. JTP*

        Well, as I said, we stretched ourselves to buy a home. Our budget doesn’t have room for childcare and a dogwalker. I’m going to be spending more to commute to work once or twice a week (I have yet to hear which it will be). As much as I would love to get my nails done or frequent a cute coffee place, it’s not in the budget.

    6. Alice*

      I have no advice. In fact I should probably talk to a counselor myself about how frustrated I get re the hypocrisy of colleagues and leaders who talk talk talk about DEI but cannot understand that not mitigating COVID transmission risks = excluding immunocompromised employees.
      Good luck with this problem.

    7. Magpie*

      I know you say your budget is stretched, but then you also mention after care would be a possibility were there not a waitlist. In my neighborhood, there are a lot of high schoolers looking to earn extra money by providing after school care. Sounds like your situation would be ideal for a high schooler. It seems like your son is old enough that he doesn’t need constant oversight so a high schooler could come hang out with your son at your house and make sure the dog goes outside regularly.

    8. Cut and Run*

      Be angry. Separately, see how things fall. It’s possible things could change a little bit if they get enough pushback because I doubt you’re the only person who’s angry and who has scenarios that this will make difficult. It’s so aggravating that people have managed their lives around the expectations of the past few years and then companies expect people to go with their desires to bring people back into the office.

      And I second the commenter who said to make sure you ask people for help. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, you never know.

    9. Melissa*

      The situation sucks, I’m sorry. Is it better than what you had pre-pandemic, because then I can see how this version is flexible. Could you potentially pay your son to walk the dog every 2 hours (with whatever proof you might need at the start, like a quick video call)? I know you said he has ADHD but regular breaks/exercise can help, and giving him a responsibility would be good for his self esteem too.

        1. Peachtree*

          ….. Melissa doesn’t know that. I don’t know if you realise but starting a sentence with ellipses feels like someone rolling their eyes at you. These people are only trying to help.

            1. Melissa*

              Sorry for making a suggestion you didn’t like. Sometimes after school care means 3pm – 7pm, which could have been 2 or 3 walks for the dog before you got home.

    10. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      From your post, sounds like the job was not offered to you as remote for ever – it would be totally shitty of an employee to go back on that and you’d be justified then in becoming incandescent with rage.
      In this case, you always knew you might have to return partly or fully to work in office, whether for business reasons you agreed with or not.

      It may help your anger to consider that (without a contract) anything other than the basics of pay, vacation or health insurance counts as a perk, which your employer can take away at any time, whether that is remote working, free food, dog-friendly offices or wearing jeans & sneakers.

      If the loss of a perk means that the job basics no longer work for you, then channel that anger into updating your resumee and job-hunting hard to find a better fit. Focus on how good you’ll feel once you can dump this employer.

      1. JTP*

        “it would be totally shitty of an employee to go back on that”
        This employer IS going back on that with some employees (just not me in particular).

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          If they are calling back even employees hired as remote, then sounds like you have no chance of avoiding the return.
          So, try to move from anger to acceptance that this job no longer fits and see if you can find another job that does.

        2. Velociraptor Attack*

          It is shitty for those employees but let’s be honest, you’re not mad purely on behalf of those employees. You’re mad because of how it impacts you and your situation.

          The fact is that your family made a choice based on something that could change and logically you know their reasoning to make a change didn’t need your approval. I think reminding yourself of that is how you stop being angry at the company.

          I also think if you wanna take a few days to still be frustrated and annoyed by it, that’s more than reasonable, if you want to be annoyed with yourselves, that’s reasonable, but you also need to figure out a solution since it doesn’t seem like you’re going to be able to avoid it.

    11. nanie*

      “We stretched to buy a home during the pandemic, and childcare and pet-care was not factored into our budget.”

      This sucks but it also sounds like you took a calculated risk in committing to a budget that didn’t leave room for your company changing a policy that you acknowledge you knew could change (even though you don’t agree with their reasons for it). I don’t blame you for that but you’re asking how to let go of your anger and part of it might be seeing that made choices that played into the situation too. That doesn’t make it suck less + I’m sorry it’s happening.

      1. WellRed*

        I’m sorry too, but I also wondered at this. If you have kids and pets that additional care should always be factored in to the budget. The question now is, how do you move forward? New job? Maybe husband can get more flexibility? Teenage helper for child care and dog walking to fill the gap?

        1. WellRed*

          Oh and I agree that spontaneous collaboration sounds like a BS reason. It really boils down to: head big cheese wants to walk among the peons on his way to his closed door office.

    12. kalli*

      I assume you do not live anywhere that has family reasons as a valid reason to request flexible working arrangements.

  45. Jazz and Manhattans*

    What is the job market like in the US? I heard a few months ago that it was going to break open but reading through comments here people are saying it’s rough. I know that things slow down in Dec so I’m not talking about that. I had friends looking in Aug that said they were declined for every job almost immediately upon entering an application using the same process they had done 5 years ago which netted them numerous interviews. This fall – nothing. I may be looking and am curious if it’s across the board rough.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t think it’s across the board rough – it’s going depend on region, job type, and industry. People are still opening new restaurants, and there’s a lot of manufacturing and manufacturing-adjacent stuff that are booming. But higher ed is looking dicey (demographics playing a part here). And tech/startups are suffering because the supply of zero-interest-rate-driven VC money has dried up.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      November and April generally tend to be hiring months. Aim for those times of year if you have flexibility. It’s going to vary hugely by field.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      It’s terrible in my sector(s) — marketing / communications / technology / creative / consulting type roles. Layoffs keep happening.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      Another data point is that people who were applying for jobs 5 years ago…are 5 years older and are quite likely to be 30 or older (it’s only illegal to discriminate based on age after 40 in the US).

      Age discrimination is a definitely a thing, and can be as simple as screening out everyone who graduated before 2013. For reasons. Business related reasons. Obviously. /s

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Yeah, I can see that happening. I think I need to clean up my resume to ensure it doesn’t go past 10 years (I think right now it’s around 13-ish). I also keep my college dates off my resume.

    5. Jazz and Manhattans*

      Thank you all for the reply. Luckily my skills are not dependent on a specific industry so my friends are looking across the board. I know one friend had to start applying for every single job she saw in her type of job (think something like a PM who was not an engineer in a specific field) and then she finally started getting some hits.

  46. 23&Meh*

    College senior in a big city with a “”useless”” (no obvious career path) liberal arts degree here. I recently realized that I actually would really like to work at a bank after I graduate. What should I be doing now to increase my odds of working as, say, a teller in six months? Are they looking for retail experience? Some sort of accounting skills? Just general professionalism? Or is this one of those jobs where they’re just looking for a bachelor’s and a pulse?

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      In my area, bank tellers need only a high school diploma and basic skills and pass a thorough background check. You may be overqualified with a bachelor’s to be honest. Why is teller your goal? Is it because you don’t really understand the needs of a bank?

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Anybody in your personal network who works in a bank? Neighbors, friends of your parents, parents of your fellow students? Talk to them.

      Also, a lot of credit unions are very big on community outreach. Hit up their websites and see what they have to offer.

    3. Pink Candyfloss*

      OP, there was a recent article out about a severe shortage of qualified accountants and auditors in multiple areas of the economy. If your math & finance skills are good enough to think about banking, is accounting or financial auditing a viable swerve path for you? You might need to take a few specified courses to hit the basic requirements, but this seems to be one place where there is still a need for new graduates.

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      You don’t even have to have a bachelor’s as far as I know; my brother was a teller when he was in college. Mostly, you need to be really detail-oriented and good with customer service–you’re going to interact with a lot of people, and you’re going to have to count out your drawer to the penny at the end of every shift.
      My brother had two bad drawers and they moved him off from being a teller and into a customer service position (which he was great at). If the mistakes he’d made on his drawers hadn’t been just obviously stupid mistakes, he’d likely have been fired. So just keep that in mind–there is a very low tolerance for any kind of mistakes with counting money. Which makes sense, given that it’s 95% of the job.

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Many banks have switched to part-time tellers, probably so they don’t have to pay for benefits.

  47. AlmondButter*

    What’s the best way to explain a very large gap in my resume?

    I’ve been a stay at home mom for a decade. My marriage has fallen apart and my parents offered to pay for college and support me while I finish as degree(2 years). That’ll be an almost 12 year gap

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      The truth. “I was a stay at home parent, and now I’m reentering the work force with a brand new degree.”

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you’ve volunteered anyway in those years, include it. That can show skills and reliability too.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Be straightforward – I think WellRed has it just right. But please don’t try to spin your SAHP time as CEO of the household or something similar. I’ve seen enough of this to know to just move on to the next candidate. If you did relevant volunteer work, include it, but not non-relevant – e.g., list that you were the Treasurer of the PTA managing a budget of X. Do not list that you were the room parent. Good luck!

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Yes, please, for the love, don’t put that you were CEO of the home or anything like that. It’s so cringey. Also leave off irrelevant volunteer work. If you’re applying for a job that aligns with something you did as a volunteer, include it on your resume for that job.
        But resist the urge to put EVERYTHING on there just to make it seem like your time as a parent wasn’t wasted. It wasn’t a waste. It just isn’t relevant to most job searches. No one really cares that you coordinated carpools for your daughter’s dance team 10 years ago when you’re applying to be a graphic designer. Your time as a cub scout den mom doesn’t matter for a position as a labor & delivery nurse.

  48. korangeen*

    I’ve been in a bartering agreement where I edit someone’s short film and she produces my film (that I’m writing and directing.) So far I’ve followed through on all my editing commitments on-schedule and she’s been pretty happy with it, but her producing contributions on my film have been very low-effort and largely unhelpful. (I have two producers, and while both are pretty busy and not consistently available, Producer2 is very useful when she has the time.)

    Producer1 was supposed to be in charge of location scouting, and I’ve had to take on most of the location scouting myself. When Producer1 declined to have a short meeting this week to discuss locations because she was too busy, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to revisit our agreement based on her lack of availability (rather than me having to directly address the fact that her work is just bad.)

    I asked if it made sense to negotiate a pay rate for the rest of the editing process on her film, since she doesn’t have the availability to put a similar level of work into my film. Producer1 sent a very curt email saying we’d end our bartering agreement after we finished our current tasks–she would no longer be producer and I would no longer be editor. I said: okay, if you’d like, but I’d love to see your project through, and I’m willing to negotiate a reduced rate, and/or discuss if there are any other ways you’d be able to contribute to my film that you’d be more available for.

    Producer1 responded saying we could have a discussion, but she doesn’t have any budget to pay for editing (she went through a couple editors before me that she didn’t like, and I guess that used up all her post-production budget) and she still feels like being a producer is the best way to contribute to my project.

    So I guess now I have to actually have a conversation with her about how to be a useful producer. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I just can’t imagine her doing any of the producing tasks well, and I’ve pretty much lost all trust in her. I’ve spent a huge amount of time trying to figure out what her strengths are (they obviously aren’t what she says they are) and trying to figure out how I might be able to make her a useful member of the team.

    Any suggestions on how to approach this conversation?

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      You are not responsible to carry the baggage of trying to fix this person’s professional life. Why do you feel like you have to have a conversation with her about how to do her job? You don’t work together outside of this arrangement, and don’t you have plenty else to do with your time? Her problems are her problems. You wrote a lengthy comment about how bad she is at her job and yet you feel like it’s on you to invest your most valuable capital (your time) into what will inevitably be a poorly received confrontation with someone who has expressed zero interest being on the receiving end of your professional services (unless they are free and she doesn’t have to reciprocate)? As that cute little girl on the internet tells us: “Worry ’bout yourself”.

    2. Box of Kittens*

      To be honest, it sounds like it might just be time for you two to part ways. That seems like what she tried to do when you initially asked if it would make sense to negotiate – my assumption is that by saying you should end your bartering agreement, what she meant was “no, it doesn’t make sense for me to negotiate.” You say you’ve already lost trust in her, so I’m a bit confused why you seem willing to put the time in to work with her. It sounds like you want to see her project through, and that’s admirable (and I get it!), but ultimately it’s her project to handle, not yours. Since you already have a conversation scheduled, maybe you could ask her how many hours of work per week she’s willing to contribute to your project, or what other tasks it might be more feasible for her to do if she still wants to trade for editing. But ultimately, her project is not your responsibility, and because of the issues you see with her, it sounds like you’d honestly be better off making a bartering agreement with someone else, or paying a producer.

    3. korangeen*

      Ha, okay harsh y’all, but point taken, it probably doesn’t make much sense to continue the collaboration. But I’m neurodivergent and not great with conversations, so I’m trying to process the situation and figure out how to approach this and what exactly to say. (And if there’s any way to make it work, I’d like to still get editor credit on her film; I kinda doubt I’ll get the credit if I stop before picture-lock, but maybe that should be part of our conversation.)

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      You say you’d like to finish this project, but it sounds like that’s not a good plan. She wants to end the agreement, and go separate ways. You’re unhappy with how it was going, so why are you trying to hang on to it?
      IME, barters like this rarely work. When they do, there’s a detailed and well written agreement that outlines what happens if either fails to do their part. And you have to be willing to enforce that.

  49. Tradd*

    I’m in a very international industry. My company is half owned by a family from a non-western culture, but their home country has Christmas as an official national holiday. We have a new hire from that same country. He’s been in the US a little while. My office is very generic holiday. A few people have trees up at their desks, some tinsel or lights. The front desk has a few small trees. There was a holiday party. There is no explicit Christmas Christian stuff around (such as a manger scene). There IS some religious art around from the religion of the owners. New hire is VERY anti-American/western culture and is constantly making comments about holiday decorations, etc. He is very vulgar in his remarks. If he even hears mention of someone talking about church activities (nothing about beliefs or proselytizing), he goes off. He’s in the US on a work visa, which is tied to this job. How would you handle this situation? I just stay out of his way and don’t engage. He’s upsetting a lot of people and is just a pain to be around.

    1. WellRed*

      His manager needs to sit him down and the him to cool it and why and if he doesn’t like it, he can find other work. If he says something vulgar to you(assuming you are not his manager) you could make a complaint to his manager or HR whichever seems more appropriate.

    2. NaoNao*

      You could go with a “So and so! I’m really surprised to hear you talk like that! That’s not like you” with the implication that of *course* their higher self would never!

      You could try a sit-down “Hey, can we talk? Listen, I think [part 1 of poo sandwich: the compliment] but I gotta say, the swear words about holiday decor when you’re a visitor to this country and culture isn’t a great look. I think you’re better than this. I know you do great.. [compliment part 2 of poo sandwich]. Just a request to dial it back with the anger at Christmas/Christianity.”

      You could also ask him where it’s coming from “Wow. That’s a pretty…extreme stance. What’s going on?”

      My guess is that he could be from a minority group that’s been historically persecuted by “the church” (of which there are many, sadly) but I’m sorta with you here–it’s crude and boorish when Westerners go to a Shinto shrine and pop off, and the reverse is true as well.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This would be obnoxious if it was about any other subject, too – which I think you intended to say with the “anti-American culture” thing but didn’t give an example.

      “Hey, I got tickets to see the 49ers play next weekend!”
      “Bah, American football is so classless and boring. How can you watch such a stupid sport, when you could follow Quidditch instead?”

      This is something for his manager to address. Where are they? Are they aware of this behavior?

      The script for the manager is: “You are living in a foreign country; the polite thing to do is not to criticize everything about your hosts. If the situation was reversed, your coworkers wouldn’t behave this way. By insulting everyone around you, you are damaging your ability to work as part of a team, which is a firm requirement of having a job here.”

      1. Tradd*

        This guy was just spouting off some very racist remarks about people of color. That’s my line in the sand. I told him that’s not cool and totally inappropriate in an American workplace. I told him I don’t care what happens in his home country, those attitudes are not acceptable in the US. His manager is traveling so I contacted HR. Open plan office so there were tons of witnesses. He then started on “mouthy and bossy American women.” His country is known for not treating women very well. I told him that we don’t around trashing his country and how they treat women. HR came and took him into an office for a meeting. I hope he ends up fired and back to his home country since he can’t behave himself in an office setting.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Oh – well done! It can sometimes be hard to do in the moment if you haven’t readied yourself for it, but you seem to have managed that superbly!

          Also, I hope you can give us nosy folks an update!

        2. BellyButton*

          OMG, I replied before seeing this. My original reply went to moderation. WOWSERS. Do you think he doesn’t know? I would tell him “Not only is this unacceptable, in the US all of these (race, religion, gender, sexuality) are all protected classes. If people even perceive what you are saying as discrimination or harassment, you will be fired and the company can be sued. I would knock it off if I were you. “

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          WOW, okay, that changes everything! It’s one thing to sneer at tinsel–tacky and a bad look, but basically a taste issue–and QUITE another to be a misogynistic racist asshat. I hope he gets his walking papers posthaste. If it’s so wretched here with the pants wearing wimmins and POCs, dude, it should be a win-win!

    4. BellyButton*

      I would say “I am not sure if you are aware, but religion is a protected class in the United States. This means that if someone perceives your comments as discriminatory or harassment you can be fired and the company can be sued.”

      He may not truly know. You can tell him or let his manager know. For myself, I would take him aside and tell him.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I mean, my first impulse? Would be to say flatly “Nobody effin’ asked you.”

      I don’t recommend this, naturally–it wouldn’t help anything–but he definitely sounds like he’s trying to pick a fight, so staying out of his way and not engaging is your best strategy.

  50. Etcetera*

    I know that you’re not supposed to give your boss gifts, but is it different if it’s handmade? I have a slightly unusual crafting hobby, and the Christmas ornaments I make sell for $30-50 so they kind of break gifting limit rules (especially because I’m in a super-entry-level-role), but they’re really fast and cheap for me to make. If it helps, I also give them out to other friends/family/two close coworkers.

    1. NaoNao*

      I think it’s not so much that you’re not “supposed to” it’s that mandatory hat-passing and bag-jiggling for a collection for the boss who presumably makes more is in exceptionally poor taste and ill advised.
      But it’s not against etiquette for someone to “gift up” if they *want to*!

      1. Etcetera*


        (Is that true even if everyone knows it’s a hobby for me, and it doesn’t have the face value? And I literally just hold out a bag with 20+ ornaments in it and say ‘Would you like a Christmas ornament?’ So that it’s clear that it’s not a super personal/valued gift, if that makes sense?)

        1. just here for the scripts*

          So I’m gonna say that M – as someone who celebrates Christmas — I wouldn’t know what to do with a Christmas ornament. My other half is deathly allergic to pine (ironically, so was my mom), so we don’t have a tree.

          When I was a kid, we had a fake tree, but all of our Christmas decorations were decided — as a family — along a specific color and design: blue and white; red green; silver and gold; multicolor; etc. this was done to give equal voice to all family members.

          Many of my bosses have not been people who celebrate Christmas — and I think we’ve talked about the fact here, in this blog, how making those assumptions that everybody does can be a bit… Offputting… For the people, gifted and presented with such objects.

          Just sayin….

          1. Etcetera*

            While that’s definitely something to think about in general cases, in this case I know that they do celebrate Christmas, and from their office they’re definitely not at all averse to tchotchkes.

            And I’ve got a bunch of different colors, so color scheming also shouldn’t really be an issue. My officemate took a blue one and asked if I had any in jewel-tone green or red, so I’m bringing him another.

            None of that addresses the ‘allergic to pine trees’ possibility, but I do know these people well enough to know the answers to a lot of these questions (well, apart from the admin staff who saw me carrying some down the hallway in a bag, commented that they were lovely, and effectively opted in.)

            1. Victor WembanLlama*

              What you are describing sounds 100% fine. If you know your boss well enough to know they’d like it, go ahead. The “rules” are really just general guidelines

            2. Nancy*

              It’s fine, truly.

              You already know they celebrate, so if they don’t have a tree they can do what I do and hang it in the window or place it on a shelf. It’s not complicated to figure out.

          2. Peachtree*

            So you’re saying that, just in case the boss has a very strict colour scheme for their decorations at home, this is a terrible gift?

        2. mreasy*

          If you’re giving them to everyone in the office in this style, it seems fine to me! It’s basically a (BIG) step up from baked goods in the communal space, in that everyone is offered one and they’re all of equal value. Your boss could decline if they don’t want you to be gifting up.

    2. Lasuna*

      I follow a strict no gifting up rule because I am concerned about the optics. If you and a coworker are both eligible for a promotion, and the promotion is given to you, will people whisper that it’s no wonder it went to you – you’ve gained favor by giving the boss gifts? Will those rumors impact how people treat you when you move up? That is not something you would have to worry about everywhere, but it is one of the reasons the rule exists.

      1. Etcetera*

        I suppose so. It just seems like a bummer. They’ve been really supportive and helpful this year, and I hoped it would be nice to give them something that’s nice, low-effort, and homemade.

        1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          If I get to run the circus today, I’d say go ahead — give your boss a similar token gift that you’re giving everyone in the team. It’s a nice time of year to say “I’ve really enjoyed everything you’ve done for me this year and here’s one of these things I’m always making in my spare time. I hope you enjoy it.”

          I’ve often given homemade treats up and down the chain of command and I’d count this as a similar interaction. It’s a different sort of “transaction” than one that involved you spending time and money to obtain a Special Gift(TM).

          It’s nice to be nice.

          1. Etcetera*

            Thanks. I think I’m going to go for it, and just be as low-key about the whole thing as I can manage. It is nice to be nice, my office is not at all cutthroat, and I think that they will take it in the ‘small homemade treat’ spirit that it is intended.

            1. WellRed*

              You’re fine! Gift away in this instance. Not understanding some of the rigidity here today. We had a low on the hierarchy employee give everyone homemade vanilla one year. It was a total hit and certainly didn’t seem like gifting up or currying favor. It was thoughtful and I assume brought her pleasure in giving.

        2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          So give them something that’s professionally appropriate and useful, i.e.:

          An email explaining what they did that you appreciated about their support as your manager this year; they can use this in their performance review.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think that’s very nice and appropriate. I often give my bosses Christmas (if I know they celebrate) or New Year gifts of homemade treats like jam or baked goods.

      1. I Have RBF*

        When I worked in an office, pre-Covid, I would make two or three flavors of jam every fall, can them in half-pint jars, and give them out to coworkers for Yule/Winter Holidays, as a thank you for being my wonderful coworkers for that year. I included my managers, because they were still part of the team. If you bought homemade jam at a farmer’s market, it would cost $5 to $10. For me the biggest actual cost was the jars, and a few people were good and returned their empties.

    4. Annabelle*

      I know everyone here is really into like, the cult of Alison (see below, the kind of snotty comment about “the rules about not gifting up apply EQUALLY NO MATTER THE PROVENANCE”) but like, I think this gift idea is honestly really sweet :-)
      It also seems like they’re items that could be displayed beyond “hanging on a tree” maybe? If that helps with any concerns about “what if someone has a Particular Aesthetic with their Christmas decorations or Christmas trees?”

      Anyway I think this is a really great idea and it’s one I’d love to receive, personally speaking :-)

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I also think this is fine, considering that you know your boss celebrates, you have a range of colour choices and you’ve already given them to others in your office. If your boss doesn’t want to accept it due to concerns around optics or potential favouritism or whatever other factor. that’s also fine. But it’s perfectly okay to offer, since it’s not as if you’ve spent months expensively crafting something especially tailored for your boss.

  51. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    I’m interested to hear about how people set boundaries with their own time at a global company. I’m lucky enough to live in a semi-decent time zone for the people I work with. I am 3 hours ahead of my (very new) boss and one of my coworkers, 1 hour ahead of the rest of my team, 6 hours behind my boss’s boss, and 7 hours behind a bunch of people I work closely with. I’m visiting family in my hometown starting tomorrow. My hometown is in the same timezone as my boss, and I’ll be behind everyone else by 2/9/10 hours. My boss’s boss works a bunch of extra hours (often until midnight or 1 am his time) just to be able to meet with his direct reports (or really anyone that needs him) at times that are convenient for them, and that works for him, but I often have to meet with people in the +7/10 hour timezone, and when I’m working from my hometown, I often have to log on around 6 am.

    Part of what I do is work a 6-3 schedule while I’m there, but I’m not sure it would be feasible to do that long-term if I move back to my hometown (something I’d like to do within the next 10 years if nothing major changes, potentially sooner.) Plus, we may be hiring another IC on the team closer to my boss’s boss, and I’m not sure they’d be willing to do what my boss’s boss does to be able to meet with everyone.

    1. BellyButton*

      In my last job I routinely had meetings with people outside of North America. Most were regular standing meetings, so I don’t know if this is relevant to your situation. 4rd Tuesdays of the month was dedicated to meetings with people in Asia so I would work the hours of the day that there was some overlap. So say 4 am- noon. It wasn’t ideal, but it was just the easiest for me to manage. Everyone in Asia knew if they wanted to meet that was the time of the month to get on my calendar. The people in NA, knew that day I wouldn’t be around after noon.

    2. Anonymous Ibex*

      I work on a global team and only share a time zone with one person, who is not my boss. The rest of our team is spread all over the world. My boss is in a time zone that is a full 8 hrs ahead of me. I usually start at like 7-7:30, and if we need to schedule longer meetings my boss will stay on late. As a rule I do not work overtime, but will just adjust my hours if I have to start early.

      We all acknowledge that being global means we need to occasionally be flexible, but in general we try to respect peoples’ time zones. This does mean a lot of asynchronous communications, and logging on to a bunch of Teams messages/emails in the morning, but as long as people don’t expect a 3am response it honestly works fine. My best advice is to talk about it…it may be that you don’t need to join every meeting if it’s not in your “normal” hours, or can send your questions/notes ahead of time, etc.

    3. There You Are*

      I work from home, so I just switch my day around as needed.

      So instead of “wake up slow, make caffeine, feed cats, shower, get dressed, start 8 hour day,” I do “wake up fast, throw on makeup and fix hair such that I don’t look like a zombie on camera; finish meetings, make caffeine, feed cats, shower, start 6 hour day.”

      I’m also learning to embrace naps. That makes it easier to wake up painfully early to catch Europe in their mid-afternoon, but then log back in late in my evening for India’s start of their work day.

  52. Busy Middle Manager*

    Has anyone ever recovered from burnout at the same job that caused it? I feel like my job has just taken on too many conflicting things that should be other peoples’ jobs and I’m at a stalemate with upper management about it. I keep getting generic advice like “make a priority list” or “let it fail.” But they don’t get that when I let the thing that should be someone else’s job fail, then it annoys a customer and inevitably comes back two-fold to me anyway. And larger picture, if it’s clear the thing is going to fail, why do I need to let it actually happen in order for upper management to care? I feel like this is just us having different values or views of things.
    Sometimes when I bring up issues, I feel like they think it’s all personal. It’s not. I’m realizing it’s structural. I have way more computer skills than other people so stuff that other people can’t figure out becomes my job. Now I am indeed losing patience with people because they are just filling a role without doing it to the full potential and it consistently becomes my problem. I don’t get why I am the only one who can update my skills and learn more about industry best practices. My boss thinks that’s “personal” but I truly disagree. I do not dislike the people, I dislike that their professional shortcomings keep becoming my emergencies.

    There is also a different communication style. I prefer direct communication and get the problem out in the open and fixed. I now see that loads of things that have snowballed could have been nipped in the bud years ago, had I been allowed to do this. But my boss prefers giving people multiple chances and indirect communication and values relationships almost too much (if you’re in an information/tech-adjacent driven role). This may sound harsh to people who haven’t lived it, but it’s quite the contrary. If someone is mentally stuck in their ways and it doesn’t change with how the position has changed, just giving them two years hoping they wake up one day and become a new person isn’t going to happen. But it does mean everyone around them needs to pick up the slack.

    I’m also frustrated from the communication flow. I feel like most of my communication is one-sided and there really should be more people talking in my meetings or asking questions about my presentations, or responding to my emails. It’s actually weird. I don’t even know if other WFH people are working half the time because I will find a big issue in their department and they ignore me or take a week and give me a generic response.

    I’ve also been in too many situations where people “come from a place of no” as Bethenny Frankel put it in her epic feud with Kelly Bensimone. That’s very frustrating for me. I need people to “come from a place of yes” first and think about why something won’t work before they automatically say “no.”

    This is very stressful for me because it makes me feel very alone, like I have no one to lean on. My boss will keep asking “what can YOU do differently” which used to work but at this point it feels like every problem is a team issue. One person can only do so much.
    Hopefully some of this vibes with someone’s experience and they’ve either changed it or found a better position?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m sorry, but this sounds like a “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” situation.

      This isn’t just burnout because the company took on too much work without enough people. You listed half a dozen different reasons why you’re going to continue to be frustrated in this job.

    2. just here for the scripts*

      I’ve had the same job but it was moved under a different boss—MUCH better working situation. That’s the only way it worked for me

        1. just here for the scripts*

          Everything—respect for my knowledge and skill set, no more gas lighting, waaaay better communication on tasks, projects, etc., knowing what she wanted as opposed to not knowing, but only able to say “no not that” or “nor that” when presented with options, co-problem solving, working to re assess priorities when giving additional projects.
          And most importantly not thinking she’s a shrink and seeing everything as a personality issue.

    3. Bast*

      Frankly, by the time you hit burnout mode, it’s usually too late IMO, especially if management refuses to address the real issues. I stuck it out at one job for nearly five years with the hope that it would “get better.” It did, for a little bit. I’d go in saying I’m going to just have a positive attitude, see the bright side, appreciate the little things, etc., and it would work for a month or two and then I’d be worn out from trying to be optimistic about such a bad situation and I’d be right back where I started. I yo-yoed through this pattern multiple times and it took years of telling myself this was it! to finally realize since upper management didn’t want things to change, they wouldn’t. The only thing that worked for me was quitting.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’m not sure how anyone can recover from something while the something is still happening. Is there something happening that makes you think that could be possible or that it’s expected in your case? A sense of pressure to do so, instead of leaving?

  53. Bluebonnet*

    I am an experienced library assistant who works with “Beth,” a librarian 10 years younger than me who is in her first librarian role after graduating with her Library Science degree. She ahs been in this role less than a year. Before she pursued the library field, she was a teacher.

    Beth is overall a good person, but when she explains things to me, I feel like she is using a patient, “let’s reason together” teacher voice. When she does this, I feel like she is talking down to me, but do not think that is her intention.

    Would anyone have any tips on how to navigate co-workers who were former teachers and sometimes use their “teacher voice” to explain things? Should I eventually talk to her about it or let it go? I’m not sure how much of it is growth needed on her end and how much of it is my insecurity.

    1. WellRed*

      There was a letter a few years back about a former teacher of young children who was driving her office nuts. But it’s totally on her, not you.

    2. mkb*

      Haha, I work with a few ex-teachers and I just realised they all do this too! Pretty sure it’s entirely unconscious on their part.

      I would try and let it go for now. I think unless she bothers you in other ways, you’ll probably just get used to it and stop noticing and/or she’ll sound less teacher-y in time.

    3. just here for the scripts*

      I’ve have—upon occasion— been on the receiving end of this from my husband ever since he’s heard me working from home “I don’t need to be talked to in your ‘customer service’ voice” is a how he puts it.

      I’ve found it an…un-useful…comment at best. So I shouldn’t be nice? I shouldn’t talk things through? You want me to rant and rave at you, instead?

      I’d borrow a line from Alison and focus on her work-related outcomes. Is she telling you stuff you already know—like mansplaining? Let her know that. Is what she’s covering outside her swim lane? Let her know that. Is there a goal she’s burying in the long diatribe/lesson? Let her know that. And of course, focus on what you’d like her to be doing/what would help you that she isn’t doing/offering.

      But her “teacher voice” isn’t really something that’s helpful to mention in and of itself.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        There’s a lot that isn’t “customer service voice” and ranting and raving. You can be kind and polite without the detachment and patronization that’s often inherent in customer service voice. That’s all people are saying.
        It can be helpful feedback from your husband if you’d be open to it.

      2. runs on dunkin*

        I think it’s totally fair, if you want, to go back to your husband and be like, hey, can you tell me more specifically what’s bothering you here?

        But if any of this helps in the meantime: I once had a friend who talked to me in “therapist voice” which I think of as adjacent to “customer service” voice. (She did end up studying to be a therapist, but she was like this for years before that.) I didn’t personally enjoy it when someone I was genuinely interpersonally connected to, rather than a paid mental health carer, responded to things by nodding sagely and going “Ah yes hmmm I can see why that would be upsetting for you,” and eventually I stopped talking to her about anything with any emotional weight.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’ve seen friends do this totally unaware and then be embarrassed. If you work with kids (nanny, teacher, childcare, etc) it’s really common to accidentally slip or acquire phrases that stick. I’d just let it go, and be amused by it. In time it will fade some.

      Nanny stories blog had a funny one about someone who asked their new date if he made sure he washed his hands in a talking to kids voice after he used the bathroom at dinner. Luckily they were able to laugh it off.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I once was in a fitness class where the instructor (who also sometimes taught preschool fitness classes) did this. She apologized, but it actually made our lunchtime strength training fun, so we were OK with it and told her so.

    5. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Teacher voice is definitely a thing we former teachers can end up using without realizing it. I think just a casual “hey, you don’t need to use your teacher voice with me” the next time it happens will help make her more aware of what she’s been doing.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      Can you try telling her this in the moment? Beth, you are using your teacher voice on me. Can we just talk? Rinse, repeat. I got someone out of a lecturing pattern this way. (Not completely, but it cut way down.)

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      Beth is likely insecure a bit herself- it’s tough being fresh out of school and not being sure how to interact with folks. So, yeah, I think just telling her at the moment when she does it will help. I think Policy Wonk has it right where you have to both mention it at the moment and be matter of fact and friendly about it. She might not even realize she’s doing it.

    8. Hatchet*

      Given Beth’s newness in the Library field, I’m going to toss out something that may or may not apply, but it’s worth considering. I am a quiet introvert by nature. In reflecting on times when I had to use my teacher voice outside of school settings, it was usually when I needed to project more confidence in myself and what I was saying, almost like when I needed to be an authority on a subject in the sense that I knew what I was talking about (not that she’s trying to speak authoritatively to you). She might be intimidated by your knowledge and experience, and/or unsure if what she’s sharing with you will be well received by you or not. Maybe this patient teacher voice is her self-safety zone. (And yes, she may not even know she’s using it.) Or maybe this voice is just Beth’s comfortable default tone when she’s trying to work together with someone on something. Could you ask her about her change of tone in her voice without specifically calling her out on her “teacher voice”? “I noticed when you explain things to me, the tone of your voice changes. Do you realize you do this?”

      (My teacher voice also comes out when kids in the public spaces are running around and being a unsafe and I can’t keep quiet any longer, but that’s neither here nor there..)

  54. Internal Hire Maybe*

    Has anyone applied for a federal position, going from contractor to fed? What was the timeline, and were you interviewed by your own colleagues? What was your experience?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I have been the hiring manager in this situation. There is usually a panel for interviews. At my Department there is supposed to be a minimum of three people, diversity requirements. Those interviewing have to be of the grade of the job you are seeking or higher, so yes the panel could include your peers. HR likes to sit in, but they keep quiet and observe and that can sometimes be unnerving.

      Processes vary from agency to agency but at mine things seem to be taking longer and longer. Assume six months from application to hire, provided there is not a requirement for you to get a security clearance. (if you already have one it can add some time to the process as it has to be transferred from contract to agency, but not as long as if you need one.) YMMV, Good luck!

  55. Tiredofit all*

    As a boss, how do you balance, it takes a village to raise a child with being fair with staff. I have two direct reports who do the same work, both have kids but Jane’s mother helps her out frequently so she rarely has unplanned PTO and can work late if needed. Sarah does not have family in the area so does have these issues. They are both salaried, we do not clock hours.

    Jane is complaining that she works far harder for the same money.

    Any thoughts, TIA

    1. Annony*

      You are not Sarah’s village. You need to focus on being fair. Are you extending Sarah more leniency than you would to other people for unexpected absences and not working after hours? If not, then it isn’t a problem. If you are relying on Jane to pick up the slack, you need to either stop or pay her more.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This. Villages are all well and good, but the entire point is spreading out the tasks, not having one person constantly “just do this one thing” until it turns into Jane’s Job (that she’s not getting extra pay for.)

    2. BellyButton*

      You look strictly on workload and outcomes. Are they both assigned an equal amount of work? If it takes Jane overtime to complete her work, why is that? Just because she is putting in more hours doesn’t mean she is completing more work. I would start there. If she IS doing more work than that should be recognized.

      1. Tiredofit all*

        She is doing more work, and far more time sensitive work. The problem is the salary banks are very limited. I can talk to my boss, but I doubt much objective can be done. I may tell my boss we are likely going to face Jane quitting.

        1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

          If you can’t get Jane more money, then take work off her plate – say no, push back deadlines, and be clear that in X amount of time, you can’t complete A, B, and C, so someone needs to pick two. Be clear that this excess workload is no longer sustainable. Be a broken record if you need to.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Perhaps explain to Jane that that the flexibility applies to everyone. Sarah may need more flexibility now, but perhaps Jane will need flexibility later for something such as caring for a sick family member.

      Also, can you encourage Jane to occasionally flex her time?

      1. Leandra*

        If the issue is that Jane isn’t being treated fairly, I wouldn’t say this.

        A manager of mine tried this one on me, when a colleague I’d been covering for didn’t come back when anticipated. A one-week absence became six weeks, but all indications were that Colleague would return after week 6. Not only did they not, but I happened to learn it wasn’t at all certain when they might.

        I eventually knew privately the reason Colleague was out, which wasn’t life-threatening but was work-incapacitating. The real issue was management continuing to say another month, another month after they knew that was no longer the case. They stopped doing that after I spoke up.

    4. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      How often does Jane work late? Does she NEED to? Is Jane picking up the slack for Sarah? Do these employees deal with time-sensitive duties/projects?
      My initial thought is that there needs to be a review of workload/priorities, and an end to relying on Jane to pick up the slack for Sarah while still doing all her own work on the same timeframe – if that is indeed what is going on here.

        1. Rainy*

          That’s a recipe for disaster–you’ve got to balance the workload better. When “flexibility” always flows one way, it tends to create problems.

    5. Time for Tea*

      If there is more work a lot of the time than 2 staff can complete in normal hours, then you are understaffed. Don’t make Sarah the scapegoat for not doing extra, Jane shouldn’t be doing *that* much extra either. Work out what can give, what can be pushed back, what needs to go out to another team, whether you can get another staff member, etc.

    6. Head sheep counter*

      If objectively – Jane is working harder for the same money – then you are going to lose her. Focus instead on how you’d manage this going forward. Is there too much work for two people? If not, then are they truly comparable positions? If one is more challenging than the other, the compensation should match. If they are comparable, then more work needs to happen to keep them comparable. Sarah needs to step up a bit and Jane needs to step back. The situation as it is today is not right.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      The situation outside of work should have no bearing on the situation at work. I am very sympathetic to kid issues – but Sarah has to do her job. People who work from me who have to leave at a certain time (pick up from day care, catch a rush hour-only bus, etc.) often finish the day WFH, for one parent after she puts her kid to bed. The question is whether the person is getting her work done. If not, that is where you need to focus. Ditto with Jane. We always seem to penalize our high performers by giving them more work than is fair. If you are giving Jane Sarah’s unfinished work, because Jane’s mom helps out, you need to stop now. The same goes if you were dumping Sarah’s work on a childless person. The fact that she has kids may argue for some flexibility as to schedule, but it doesn’t mean that she gets a pass on doing her job.

    8. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If Sarah doesn’t do sufficient work, then talk to her and make it clear what other tasks she must do – allow both her and Jane to finish some tasks at home if need be.

      However, if Sarah is doing enough and you can’t pay Jane for doing extra, even a merit bonus, then I’d recommend you take away some of her tasks so she has no more work than Sarah – but discuss with her first which work she’d like to drop.
      Explain to your boss that this is to stop Jane quitting, which would lose a lot more work. It might in fact motivate the boss or higher management to find some extra money, if the alternative is some tasks going undone.

    9. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Also, I regard “it takes a village” to mean an employer /govt provides paid maternity leave, job protection and maybe subsidised childcare, but otherwise the “village” is support & consideration from wider society.

    10. Childless people deserve love, too*

      It’s so hard to balance being empathetic for someone’s hardship and keeping things fair at the same time.

      For me, after a lifetime of trying to be a team player in these circumstances (I’m in my 50s and have no kids), I find myself wishing that I hadn’t been so flexible as to give up so much of my own time over the years working late and picking up slack for my co-workers with kids, all in the name helping the village. I’ve hit the point that I’ve become resentful about the expectation.

      In my current line of work, holidays are the busiest times of the year, so not only is there more work, we have to do it with fewer people because the people with kids “have to” take the time off, so holidays mean unpaid overtime.

      My current workplace also has two higher-ranking people who get paid significantly more than me who very frequently delegate their duties to me and a couple of others because their kid needs something or they want to take a day off for their kid’s birthday or sports game. And then guess who ends up working late or on the weekend because we already have a full plate of our own?

      I’m sorry to sound insensitive to their needs, but it’s terribly unfair to us, and it’s unappreciated. There’s this sense that our needs are less important than theirs. All it does is make me want to find a different place of employment. Which is sad because, otherwise, it’s been a decent job.

  56. AnonymousToday*

    Thoughts on part time work as a manager? I (ironically) work reduced hours (75%-85%) and have for years 7-20 of my career (after having kids). I’m now a manager and have had at least 3 employees ask to work reduced hours, and the impression though not outright reason is so that they do not have to have childcare (ie using school as care or a parent who is only willing to watch the kids 2 days a week). I have generally had close to full time care while working part time, so something like 35-40 hours of childcare coverage while working 30-35 hours. I also only have had brief periods where we relied solely on school for covereage, because it… just didn’t work, it wasn’t enough coverage generally and made it hard to keep up at work even with reduced hours. It also got complicated with deadlines and availability to clients. But, I don’t think people necessarily know that I have full time coverage. How do I explain to a younger person or a young parent the difficulty in keeping up in our industry and meeting deadlines? I basically have had 2 that ended up changing their minds or leaving, and the 3rd was a recent request that has not been fully discussed. I feel like a bad member of my gender… but just realistic. Talking with just a couple of other people in my industry (consulting) and they have similar experience to me. Does anyone have thoughts or ideas on communicating this without me sounding terrible?

    1. WellRed*

      Either you need them to work full time or you don’t. The reasons on either side don’t matter and neither does your background. They may have to find other work or another industry. It’s unfortunate but you’re not being unreasonable for needing FT work from them.

    2. Nicosloanica*

      I feel like if I’m understanding this correctly, you’re too in your head about this. The question to me is, do the deliverables of the job make sense for a part time role and what is the reasonable rate to pay for that? Hold them to a high standard and fire people who can’t meet it, but don’t focus on how they’re planning to handle childcare (?!) which really isn’t within your purview. Or if your org has rules, communicate them, and move on.

    3. Whomst*

      I think it depends on your managerial relationship with them. If you’re strictly business and don’t talk about your lives outside of work, then I would leave it at outlining what the business requirements are and don’t bring in any advice on their personal matters.

      If you’ve got a little more casual/friendly relationship where you do mention your family, I would ask the people who are asking for reduced hours if you can share some of your experience, and if they seem open/interested, that’s when you explain the impacts that the demands of this job tend to have on caregiving and vice versa. And even then, I’d try and keep it brief; something along the lines of “When I reduced my work hours, I still needed full-time childcare because . I have seen this pattern with other people I have worked with/managed. You know your own life, but I just wanted to give you a heads up.”

      1. Whomst*

        oops, apparently putting things in triangle brackets means they don’t get included in the comment. I meant to have “I still needed full-time childcare because…” and you fill in the rest with things that are requirements to that person’s job, be it client availability or meeting deadlines or whatnot. If you can’t think of anything that applies to that person’s position, that’s an indication that you’re probably overgeneralizing.

        1. AnonymousToday*

          I think that’s it. I don’t think the jobs we do/ my company is suited to hours below a certain point. there are a few people that do work reduced hours but I don’t think people understand some of the behind the scenes/personal stuff and we are all friendly enough that I think I can share. I mean I wish I could not work at ALL on one or more days and week and be successful but it’s just not realistic. I could approve it and then handle from the performance side but yah seems like setting people up for failure (I 100% think we have done this to people in the past ☹️). It’s definitely something that impacts women’s numbers in my industry unfortunately due to women generally being the primary parent. I have also seen men struggle in the role when they have wives with big careers unless they’re able to throw money at childcare or have a lot of family support.

  57. can't remember my username*

    Any advice for someone trying to get a job as a project manager? After talking to some people, it sounds like my job is in that area, but my job title doesn’t really reflect that. I just kinda stumbled on my current job so I don’t even know where to start looking or researching.

    thank you all in advance!

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Do you have a PMP? If not, start with the Project Management Institute. That will give you information/credentials to apply to your job search.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Not so fast. The PMP certification requires experience in project management, it’s not an entry requirement.

          In general, certifications in project management are for project management staff going from mid to mid-senior roles.

          @Policy Wonk was suggesting the PM Institute because it’s one of the professional associations for project managers, so would have resources worth reading for a entry level project managers exploring the field.

    2. peter b*

      I moved from admin to PM without a certification, as an internal promotion. The PM position was also related to the specialty area of my business, which helped – I brought area based knowledge that was a big plus. However, when first exploring PM stuff I used our internal learning platform to find video trainings with quizzes based on the PMBOK, and took a couple classes. I work for a huge company so ymmv but this helped a lot even just in becoming familiar with terminology and understanding what the role could entail. My company also includes reimbursement for professional certifications in their tuition program, which helped.

      I don’t know if I could have gotten a PM role at a different organization, but at least being able to explain what responsibilities of my admin role closely aligned with PM work (I was also doing stakeholder engagement, database tracking work and other misc stuff beyond the usual) was helpful.

      I also think the 7th Ed of the PMBOK is a lot less soul draining to study, although I never sat the exam and have moved to a new role just this week that isn’t PM based. A friend of mine took a Coursera PM course using the free trial when she was trying to decide if she wanted to pursue certification and found it helpful.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      As an older post on AAM (or maybe it was on open thread?) showed, “project manager” means very different things to different industries and can be quite different between companies within an industry.

      I point that out because the Project Management Institute and their PMP certification is often cited, but that isn’t the only system nor is it universally useful. My field, for example, has a lot of project managers (including me) and if any of them tried to apply PMP approaches…well, good luck to them…

      Anyways, typing in “project manager” or “project coordinator” will give you lots of hits on a job board, so could you clarify what support you’re looking for from this forum?

  58. the cat ears*

    question for software people:

    I’m not there yet, but at some point I will want to find a different job, probably after I’ve been at my current one for 2 years.

    A lot of the stress at my job comes from a lack of standardization and lack of process. The higher up the hierarchy someone is, the less likely they feel a need to conform to procedures about documenting one’s work in tickets and indicating whether it’s been completed or not, and they do not respond well to being asked to communicate. There’s also a ton of inconsistencies in the REST APIs, like returning a response with HTTP code 200 and the response data “code: 404, message: not found”. This isn’t consistent though, different API endpoints all do it slightly differently.

    Each individual thing might be tolerable but it all sort of adds up to an environment where you can’t rely on any information you see to be accurate, whether it’s data from the API or process information about where we are in a project, and of course those of us tasked with implementing things that depend on that data get blamed for them being late or having bugs, etc.

    How can I select for someplace that handles this better when interviewing? When I talk about “best practices” most people have something much more esoteric in mind than what I’m describing. I also think the problem is less the individual items that deviate from those practices, and more the overall disdain for tools and procedures that are meant to help your fellow developers understand what’s going on and work together smoothly.

    1. the cat ears*

      note that I really, really am not looking for advice on how to get people in my own organization to change their behavior, or on how to fix parts of the system I don’t currently work on. I have given up on this for my own mental health.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I don’t think ‘best practices’ necessarily has to be more esoteric.

      You could also use terms like ‘standards adherence, ‘software development process maturity’, ‘capability maturity’, ‘robust documentation’, etc.

    3. Hillary*

      Ask about their code base management, their dev approval processes, and how the teams are structured & collaborate. Do they have product/function gatekeepers who enforce consistency? What do their test processes look like? How do they identify products/teams that may be impacted by a change?

      1. Hillary*

        also, as far as I can tell the 2 year guideline doesn’t apply in software. many, many people move every year or so.

    4. Whomst*

      I’ve always been able to suss it out pretty well in discussions of their agile processes. Everyone wants to claim that they’re doing “agile” software development, but what that looks like in practice is a little different everywhere. It’s almost always listed in their job requirements (“experience with agile software development”), so I frame it as a question of making sure that my understanding/experience lines up with what they’re expecting, but I’m actually figuring out where they fall on the spectrum of “no documentation, die like men” to “you’ll spend more time writing documentation than you do writing code”.

      Honestly, I’ve always gotten good feedback from interviewers when I tell my “I had such a hard time in my first internship because the intern before me didn’t leave any documentation on the project, and I’ve been a documentation evangelist ever since” story. Smart managers like having a dev that wants to write good documentation.

    5. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Maybe ask about their QA processes. What is their SOP for when bugs or other issues are identified in their code or data? Who is responsible for documenting any issues? Who is responsible for seeing that any problems get fixed? If they have no processes in place or give vague or wishy washy answers, that might be a red flag.

    6. Qwerty*

      Sounds like a more corporate environment would be a good idea – those place will most likely have standards for code style, api contracts, etc.

    7. AskQuestions*

      I always ask prospective employers to talk me through their whole process from requirements setting all the way through release.

      It doesn’t help with the consistency issue, though, especially around things like commenting. Everywhere I’ve ever worked some folks left great comments and some left fairly useless. Sometimes they left fairly useless comments that conformed to a required format meant to ensure everyone left useful comments.

      So ask about the SDLC. Ask about the use of source control or ticketing systems or other tooling. And then know that reality still may not live up to the billing

    8. business analyst*

      Echoing all the other advice, I would try to come up with very specific questions to ask. I might preface it too by explaining that you know it’s going to be a little intense, but you really want to make sure this is the right job for you, because best practices are really important to you. Then you can see if management answers those questions disdainfully or vaguely.

      I would also ask some questions about management style too like:

      “If you had to balance keeping up with best practices with a high workload, how would you prioritize?”
      “How are you implementing best practices here?”
      “What improvements have you made since taking on the team?”
      “How do you evaluate the quality of developers’ work?”
      “When there bugs are found, do you do RCA? How?”
      “What kind of training are developers given on best practices?”

      Try to work the questions so there’s no yes/no questions – and ask follow up questions if they give vague answers!

  59. Anon for this*

    UGH! Just before Thanksgiving, I asked my toxic boss for an in-person meeting in early December with the intention of telling her I am resigning. She could only offer me a time this morning, and then last week changed it to virtual and invited a third party to the meeting. Frustrating, but I planned to ask her to stay on the call for 5 min at the end so I could tell her. I even spent a lot of time practicing so I won’t get flustered or talked out of it. (I’ve been trying to do this since July and keep getting the runaround.)

    Today, 45 min before call, she canceled saying she is stressed. She offered Jan 5 as a reschedule date. My contract has a 180 day notice period, so now this pushes me past July 1 which is going to screw up my tax plan for 2024. I just want to get out of here!

    Any tips for getting through the next 3 weeks? I am tempted to buy a job lot of cod ….

    1. can't remember my username*

      Sounds like you’re remote so you can’t just walk into her office, but can you send an email? Not ideal but you can explain that you’ve been trying to speak to her since July and unfortunately you can’t wait any longer to speak to her about this.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Just do it in writing, and explain that you have been trying to have a personal conversation for over a month, but you cannot wait any longer to give notice.
      She probably won’t like it, but you don’t have to mess up your 2024 plans because she won’t meet with you. It’s possible she knows what’s coming and is trying to delay it, too.
      You are under no obligation to stay longer because of her canceling or not scheduling meetings.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s the personification of “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”

        Just because your boss can’t get it together to have one meeting doesn’t mean you have to blow your plans for your life and career.

    3. WellRed*

      DONOT put off your resignation for three weeks ( and who’s to say she won’t keep canceling?). Resign via email.

    4. NonnieMouse*

      Can you put this in writing and email it to her? Look, you tried. It’s not your fault she keeps canceling. Put the fact that you’ve multiple times. Mention that you wanted to do this in person or verbally on those dates but need to tell her now. She’s not going to get better.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Do not wait. Go ahead and email. Tell her you were planning to resign on the call but unfortunately cannot wait for the rescheduled one as you need to give notice today. Offer to still meet Jan 5 to begin discussing the transition period.

      My uncharitable take is your boss knows you want to resign and is deliberately doing her best to avoid letting you.

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

      Is there a reason (in the contract) why you can’t email your resignation and it HAS to be an in-person meeting? I would not allow myself to be held back by someone else cancelling a meeting — just give notice in whatever way possible and loop in HR or a grandboss so that it is on record with someone besides this flaky manager. Maybe she knows you are trying to resign and is intentionally pushing it off.

    7. A Simple Narwhal*

      You tried to do this in person, time to send her an email. In the future I would recommend not letting her dictate your timeline at all and sending the email right after she couldn’t meet with you for several weeks. But definitely don’t put off putting in your notice any further!

      Congrats on the new job!

      1. Anon for this*

        I don’t have a new job yet! But I’ve been here 5.5 years without a raise or promotion (despite increasing responsibility and asking for both, repeatedly). The last 6 months have been particularly awful from an interpersonal/toxicity/mental health POV. Luckily I hit my FI/RE target over a year ago, so I’m ready to cut bait and go live in a van down by the river.

        1. Also anon*

          OMG, what? You can FIRE and you’re trying to resign face to face? You could literally just stop showing up, right? She’s lucky she’s getting an email.

    8. Unkempt Flatware*

      Oh just call her until she answers and tell her to expect an emailed resignation. How annoying. If she doesn’t answer your calls by end of day today, email it and move on.

    9. BellyButton*

      Just resign by email.

      “boss, I was hoping to do this in person but because you had to reschedule…”

      1. BellStell*

        Email it and copythe HR people
        and list dates and times you tried to meet in past months and reasons each was delayed

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Quit. Via Email or slack or whatever. You’ve tried doing it her way and she’s been ducking and weaving to keep you around. As long as you don’t pull a Milton in Office Space and burn the place down, you are fine.

    11. Lucia Pacciola*

      Check your contract to make sure you can resign by email, then email HR and your boss’s boss, and cc your boss. Easy peasy.

    12. intothesarchasm*

      You will have to email her, her boss and HR. I had a situation with two absent bosses that were toxic, so I left a resignation letter on both of their desks and took one to HR and had them time stamp it. This was in-office before email, I am old. Was not going to let them mess up my freedom.

    13. DJ*

      I’d send her an email with your resignation. Explain you wanted to tell her face to face and had set up meetings to do so that had to be rescheduled. You’re aware that you have to give a certain notice period you didn’t want to blow out!

  60. Anonymous for Now*

    I’m seeking advice and examples from your experience of how you handled various iterations of the “what are your weaknesses / greatest challenges” type questions in job interviews. I’ve read AAM’s past columns on this topic, but am still struggling to come up with a productive response. I’m a high performer with consistently excellent reviews and with strengths and skills that are well-suited to my job. I feel that my greatest weakness is a tendency to procrastinate, but don’t necessarily want to flag that for potential employers! Thanks!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I make sure I follow up the description of my weakness with what I do to overcome it.

      “I tend to overnormalize database designs by trying to account for rare edge cases. So I’ve learned to always put the design away for a day and come back to it with a clear head, and also to get coworkers to check my assumptions and estimates.”

    2. Name*

      I do the same as Alton. Mine is that I get so many things put on my plate that I found I struggle to remember or keep track. As a result, I have a notebook that goes with my everywhere hit the restroom. When we started doing intermittent remote work during COVID, I kept a running appointment on my calendar titled “To Do” so that I could keep track of work that needed to be done regardless of being at work or WFH.

    3. Oof and Ouch*

      As a fellow procrastinator…

      “I find that I do some of my best work close to deadlines, which in the past has been a disconnect between some of my managers when they like to see consistent progress on a project over time. I’ve worked with them in the past to set multiple smaller deadlines over the course of the project that relate to specific progress they’re expecting to see.”

      Or whatever coping mechanisms you use. Personally I like breaking it down into steps because it lets me use my procrastination to my advantage.

    4. I Have RBF*

      My greatest weakness used to be perfectionism, and I meant it – perfect was the enemy of good enough.

      Since my stroke, though, it’s been my memory – it’s Swiss cheese, hit or miss, and stress makes my mental index go kablooey. My way of handling that is to write things down, and then work them up as usable documentation for other people. So, essentially, I have take a very real weakness of a faulty memory and turned it into an engine for producing documentation.

    5. Old and Don't Care*

      I say I have difficulty delegating, especially regarding things I am passionate about, but I do it because I know it’s important, for staff development etc., etc.

  61. NaoNao*

    I’d say email her. Forget the in-person notice. She blew her chances at that. CC HR or whoever is in charge (payroll, finance, etc) and go from there.

  62. Manager To Be*

    In the new year, I’m going to start searching for more managerial jobs (as a logical procession from where I am now). I had a colleague suggest I start thinking about how I would address an interview question about my management style. Could you recommend any resources on this topic, or advice from how you’ve handled this question? In my own managerial experience, I’ve thought more about the practical aspects of managing than on how to “define” my style.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I actually think that’s not a great question, but it IS one you’re likely to get from bad interviewers. I would say, think about practical things you think are really important for a good manager to do, and talk about those. “I think it’s really important for a manager to act as an advocate for their team/provide clear feedback, both positive and critical, in a timely fashion/etc.”

  63. Cade Carrion*

    It’s not weird for me to skip the holiday lunch for my small remote workplace (everyone is meeting up in a central location) because I’m still coughing after a bad flu right? I’m probably not contagious after all this time but who wants to be around a coworker with a *productive cough*. Right?

    I come from hospitality/retail where working sick was the norm so I think my perspective is messed up. But I feel bad because we don’t meet up in person often and I don’t want to seem standoffish.

    I did tell my boss yesterday afternoon and also texted the coworker I work with most closely to let her know I would miss seeing her. Ugh I’m just anxious.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Take your retail habits, crumple them in a ball, and throw them over your shoulder.

      You are doing a kindness for your coworkers. Even if you aren’t contagious, some of them would still be anxious worrying about it, right?

    2. Awkwardness*

      No, it is not weird. It is thoughtfull and considerate and while they probably will be sad that you are not there, they will certainly appreciate you trying to look out for them.

    3. Hillary*

      it’s not weird – it’s thoughtful. Especially no one wants to be around someone sick right before the holidays.

      if you’re still feeling anxious you could schedule a 1:1 lunch with the coworker for January.

    4. Time for Tea*

      Very thoughtful, my brother in law has skipped his office party today as he and sister in law have a long haul holiday booked over Christmas and don’t want to pick anything up before flying.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      Definitely not weird! I actually just skipped my holiday party yesterday because I sound and feel like death. Everyone I spoke to (remotely) was completely understanding.

      Keep in mind that if you went and got people sick now there’s a good chance it might ruin their Christmas plans, so staying away is much kinder. If you want maybe send an email to the team saying something about how you’re sick and bummed to miss the holiday lunch, but hope they have fun and you’d love to see everyone in the new year. You might feel better openly expressing that you’re staying away for their benefit, not purposely avoiding them.

      Feel better!

      1. Awkwardness*

        “You might feel better openly expressing that you’re staying away for their benefit, not purposely avoiding them.”

        That’s a good idea. You can also do this afterwards, saying you hope they had fun and how you missed meeting them.

    6. DisneyChannelThis*

      Its super thoughtful to not get everyone else sick right before holiday breaks. If you really desperately wanted to go you could wear a mask the whole time but that’s hard with a cough.

    7. Alice*

      Thank you Cade! Everyone who knows about it will appreciate it. And I don’t think people will assume you are standoffish, even in the absence of an explanation, but you can just tell them your reasoning.

    8. Ama*

      I skipped mine yesterday because I didn’t feel well and I would have been attending remotely. But I had a headache and the audio chaos that comes with being a remote attendee didn’t seem like a good idea.

  64. PivotTime*

    How do you keep your self-esteem up while job hunting? And also, how do you remain professional when you want to rage quit at any moment?
    Context: After several years, I’ve really hit the wall of ” I truly don’t care anymore” at my job. There’s too much long-term stupidity and issues going on to get into here. I have been looking for another job for two months now, every week, and while I know it takes time I’m already getting discouraged. I’ve applied a few places but while I have good references and a good resume, I’m not getting any interviews. I have a background of 20+ years in being a librarian and have a year left on a master’s degree to make a move into the law field. I moved from a big city to a state where there’s far less opportunities (but also way less stress) and I’m realistic that it could take a year or more to find something. I’m working on trying to get something, anything that’s even a stop gap job just to get away from this place. I would love a fully remote job, but I’m not even sure where to look for one. I’m also not sure my sanity will hold out until I’ve got something else lined up. Anybody have any tips so I can avoid becoming an office horror story?

    1. anywhere but here*

      I don’t know if this is necessarily the best idea, but for me what helped was just setting a date and saying that I will quit by then regardless of other job prospects. Depends on what you’re okay with as a filler job, though. For me, I would take many things over unemployment, once I’ve enjoyed a few weeks of sweet sweet relief from working, but it’s harder to job search when, well, most of the jobs seem like they suck and are not necessarily better than my current job. (Weird rock paper scissors of unemployment > current job, current job > many other jobs, many other jobs > unemployment, at least long term.) But I’m also in a position where I will be okay for a bit and I have supports. I am hoping (although have yet to verify) that applying to jobs and being enthusiastic and motivated to find a new one will be easier once I’ve taken a break for a bit.

      1. PivotTime*

        Setting a date of “hey, get out by now” is not the worst idea. I have seen many, many colleagues over the years take leaps when they’ve had enough of this place. Some have taken breaks (usually they got paid more than me or had a spouse to support them so that was an option for them), some have gone back to grad school, or founded businesses or just decided to follow a dream. All of them have told me that though it was very hard, and they may not be making the money they did before, they are actually happy. So if you can take a break- do it!

    2. Nicosloanica*

      I so feel ya. Even though I love this blog, I do feel kind of betrayed – I was a beloved figure at a previous role, had been there for six years and was promoted twice, was fairly high profile, etc. Precisely none of that seemed to mean anything once I started looking for a new job. It took me an entire year to find something that was even acceptable, and it didn’t have much to do with my old role. So what was the point? I took a real attitude hit then and have never recovered. I just feel like everyone else here is a “rock star” and that just wouldn’t happen to rock stars. Now I’m about to go back on the job market and I feel like crap about my whole career and my chances. A few months really isn’t that much time searching, unfortunately, at least not in my field. I bet it will be at least six months minimum. But what can you do, except keep putting one foot in front of the other, and taking things as they come. I just try to focus on getting applications out every week and rewarding myself when I hit those goals, and not focus on how many interviews/offers I get.

      1. PivotTime*

        Hey there, thanks for your input. It sounds like you were really invested in your work at your old job and people noticed and you got rewarded for that. And that’s great! I’m sorry that your current job doesn’t see the rock star that you are. You’re totally right in that job hunting is a slog until you find something. I like the advice to just apply and not measure value by how many interviews I get. I want things to change *now*, but I’m not a magician and I don’t control what employers respond. I’m there with you, and I hope that we both find jobs that see us as the rock stars we are.

    3. ABC123*

      If your sanity is at risk, it might be better to take unemployment, if you can negotiate for it. Can’t really put a price on your mind, right?

      If you are worried about becoming an office horror story, it sounds like things are really bad. I am sorry, that sucks. Good luck with your search.

      1. Girasol*

        If you do that, or can get time off, you might volunteer somewhere that interests you. Have people who appreciate you being there and treat you with respect can change your outlook.

      2. PivotTime*

        Thanks! I’m very hopeful that the time I have off from next week to the new year will help me decompress enough to be ok when we get back to our busy period in January. Unemployment is not something that I’d thought of, but not off the table if it gets worse.

    4. Invisible fish*

      What masters degree will take you into a legal field from where you are now? That sounds interesting!

  65. Skye*

    New college grad applying for my first professional, non-internship job. I did a second-stage application form recently that included the following question: “What are your expectations around compensation? Any expectations outside of compensation you would like to share?”

    Compensation in general is fairly straightforward (I said I wanted something on the upper end of their salary range, since I have a particular qualification listed as “preferred, not required”), but what is “expectations outside compensation”? I’d assumed health insurance, retirement, etc. are either included or they’re not; what am I meant to negotiate?

    1. WellRed*

      I would think outside of compensation was non financial (which to be includes insurance and retirement). It’s kind of a weird question.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      It might be in case you have any important things you know you want covered–like if you’re diabetic and know you need insurance that will cover your insulin, or are looking for some level of matching on your retirement, etc.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Vacation/sick leave allocations. Any planned travel coming up that they need to accommodate (e.g., parents booked a family cruise in June that you can’t miss.) Some may be industry specific – do they pay for protective gear or do you buy your own?

    4. just here for the scripts*

      Based on the comments in this group to other questions, I think others might be asking for: hybrid/work-from-home arrangements, commuting allowance/or pre-tax commuting cost deductions, specific schedule requirements (standing dr appointments, etc), along with PTO, health insurance, life insurance, or 401K/pension (frequently called deferred compensation).

    5. Hermione Danger*

      A training budget? To help you keep your skills and industry knowledge fresh, you’ll need to keep learning and growing, and good courses can cost money. Or maybe there’s a big industry conference you’d like to be able to attend. It’s nice to have an employer pay for that stuff.

  66. Ground down*

    Any tips on getting over a toxic boss? I quit my job in the spring and have been focusing on other things since then; an international move, etc. I need to get back in the workforce soon but I’m finding myself balking because my confidence took a massive hit due to a terrible boss who played favourites and took out her anxieties on her team, with me as one of her preferred targets. I was also assigned a project that was far outside of my job description and expertise and had my other responsibilities (the ones I enjoyed and was good at) taken away, and then was treated as incompetent and incapable to the extent I had a breakdown and quit my job early. Even though I’d worked at the company for years and had friends and very good relationships with almost all of the other staff, I did not have a leaving party (common in my industry and country) mostly because I couldn’t handle seeing that boss after I’d left.

    How can I go back into the workforce? Anyone have any personal anecdotes to share?

    1. NonnieMouse*

      Oh man. My last supervisor completely shot my confidence slowly over four years by not keeping me looped on anything, being surprised if I stepped my foot in it on that particular topic, and would stare at me when I tried to manage up (“I was thinking the problem to X is to do Y and Z, what do you think?” “……………………Yup, sure.”). I bent over backwards to make myself feel small.

      My new supervisor is constantly asking for my opinion and wants to collaborate. He had to call old supervisor about something (it’s a small field and this is comment when people have moved on) and got the same treatment.

      All I can say is most people aren’t like your old boss! You will have new ones that aren’t crazy! Try not to dwell on it as you apply to jobs.

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      I had a toxic boss AND toxic great-boss a few years back, and I’ve been working through it in therapy. I have a great therapist, and it’s helped a LOT.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      I am ashamed to say I dwell on the way a few past bosses treated me far too much. I even wrote to one of them years later to tell them how their abuse affected me and how horrible they were to me and to remind them that the only thing anyone remembers about us is the way we make people feel. I don’t regret doing that one bit. Actually, sending it helped me stop dwelling on her in particular. But I probably wouldn’t do that again except in an extreme case (one I won’t likely find myself in again due to having experienced such terrible bosses in the past).

      In my case, I meditate with an image in my mind of the people I want to let go of on a small raft or boat. I imagine the boat or raft floats off into the horizon as I thank them for the lessons they taught me (even the negative). I watch as they fade and work to let my thoughts of them fade as well. Do this as often as you need to. Set them free.

    4. BellyButton*

      Interviewing actually helped me! It reminded me that I *am* good at my job, I am an expert in my field, and my knowledge/skills are sought after. The first couple of interviews weren’t my best, but as I answered more and more questions and saw the interviewers responding it helped me remember it wasn’t me that was the problem.

      Good luck!

    5. cubone*

      I wish I could remember the account, but I saw something on Instagram the other day that just said: “I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with your pain without justice.”

      It floored me and made me realize how literal years later, I still sometimes ruminate imagining justice finally coming for my toxic boss. I’ve mostly been able to deal with the confidence hit and build back up my belief in myself, but… I think I’m still mad about the outrage of it all, that someone can be SO transparently cruel and bad, and not only get away with it, but get MORE. And I (and other amazing, talented colleagues) gave up the work we loved instead.

      It’s helped me to realize and reframe that I am mad about the lack of justice, and I’m not going to get any. So I either stay mad and wait, or acknowledge it was painful, it was unjust, and a satisfying karmic resolution isn’t just around the corner to save me from thinking about it.

      1. Well now I'm not so sure*

        I’ve seen bad behavior like this rot people from the inside. Doing the wrong thing is a self-betrayal that perpetrators have to live with. There may not be external justice, but there is justice. Do people like this ever seem truly happy? No, maybe because when you numb the negative emotions – and when you do things like this the negative emotions are probably severe and you probably don’t have the courage to face the truth of who you are – you can’t access the positive ones. They are missing out on the best parts of life regardless of their material trappings.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ages ago, I left a very toxic job, getting out just in time to avoid a nervous breakdown. I temped for a while because I didn’t have a job lined up. Having a chance to remind myself in lower-stakes situations that I was actually a competent person was super helpful.

    7. Slartibartfast*

      Had a toxic misogynistic practice owner go after my professional license and try to sabotage me when I switched fields. New boss saw right through that.

      Honestly, it was fake it till you make it for the first two years, feeling better like yeah I can do this new job for the next two, and just this last year feeling like the old me and wanting more responsibility again. So time, patience, and lots of reading this blog to know I’m not alone and I’m not the problem. And acknowledging it’s hard to stop letting toxic ex’s live rent free in your head. But it does get better.

      1. I Have RBF*


        I had to add things to my “red flag list” so that I could see when to get out from certain toxic types of manager. Add to that learning how to spot when companies are circling the drain and when to get out early, and I have a lot of experience spotting warning signs.

        I was bullied all through regular school, and apparently I was/am a type that draws bullies like a magnet. I’ve had three really, really toxic bosses in my 45 years of working, which seems high to me, but not when I take into account the childhood bullying that can set a person up as a target for life. I’m still working on my grey rock, IDGAF demeanor, pleasant but without emotional handles for people to try and manipulate.

        I still probably have some light PTSD from that first mess. I couldn’t afford therapy, so I had to fix myself. But there are still certain phrases/actions that will raise my hackles. Fortunately, good managers don’t use them.

        1. Never Knew I Was a Dancer*

          I Have RBF, I’d be really interested to hear the signs you’ve learned to spot of whether a company is “circling the drain” or not—if you had time to be around for next week’s Open Thread or a different week?

    8. I Have RBF*

      I had a horrible boss and grandboss who gaslit me for months, then canned me blaming me, the lowest paid employee in the group, for “bad morale”. I cashed out my 401k, and didn’t even look for work for six months while I put my self esteem back together. I was a mess, and had to re-define what was me and what was garbage from the manipulative bullies that I worked for. I recovered from what was essentially depression and burnout so bad I couldn’t get out of bed except to go to the bathroom.

      I started back with temp jobs, and also changed fields slightly. Success with fairly low stakes helped finish pulling me out of the slump. After a couple years of that, I landed at a place that brought me on permanent and I was there for seven years, until a different disability made me have to change careers again.

      TL; DR: I got bullied out of a job, didn’t even look for six months, and came roaring back with temp jobs and a field change.

    9. Hmmmmmm*

      It’s very normal to have your confidence take a hit in situations like this. I don’t really have any tips or strategy for how to grow out of this. But I wanted to say, you’re not alone in feeling this way and in having such an experience with a toxic boss and toxic work culture. I think it’s important to find a way to rebuild your confidence, even if it’s taking really small steps, preferably before you start interviewing. Would it help to have a gathering with friends and supportive coworkers outside that office?

  67. Elle*

    Pro tip: when you have a company wide zoom party don’t make fun of how Hanukkah is pronounced. Especially when you spend so much time bragging about your DEI efforts.

    1. Anon for This*

      Those who brag about their DEI efforts are often the worst for those kinds of things. They seem to think that being on the DEIA council, or organizing the outside speaker, gives them a pass to be a jerk!

  68. Camelid coordinator*

    Does anyone have memories of office work in the late 80s? There was a funny article in the New York Times in which Gen Zers react to “LA Law,” and part of what amazed them was the way they office worked. This exchange cracked me up :
    “JW It’s hard to imagine what people did in their offices when there’s no computer on the desk.

    LL People running around with manila envelopes and little slips of paper that say who called? Literally unimaginable. Too cute for words! Did people realize how adorable they were being?”

    1. WellRed*

      I saw that article and I actually just started watching the show on his week. I’m so busy gawking at fashions and bad air and sexism that I didn’t even notice the lack of computers! I started in 1988 and temper using ledger cards to track payables in and out. With a bottle of white out handy, of course!

      1. BellyButton*

        I happened onto an episode of Ally McBeal and I was instantly mortified that I worse skirts that short at the beginning of my career.

      2. I Have RBF*

        In the 1980s I worked in laboratories, and they were already putting data processing on computers. After the PC came out, things changed a lot in under 10 years. People who could do clerical work with computer software (word processing and spreadsheets) were a hot commodity, because a lot of “established” clerical workers were unable/unwilling to retrain on computers.

        By the early 90s everyone had a computer on their desk to do reports and stuff, and the “typing pool” was phased out.

        For reference, the IBM PC came out in August 1981, and the IBM PC XT came out in March 1983. By 1990 they were pretty ubiquitous, although there were still a lot of older engineers and managers who like to hand scrawl documents and have someone else type them up in a word processing document.

        My first job was in 1980, and it was all hand written. Now I work remotely in a paperless environment, and absolutely love the change.

    2. Cyndi*

      When I was a baby in the late 80s my mom used to bring me to work and hide me under her desk, and her boss politely pretended not to know I was there, but of course I don’t actually remember that!

      I feel like that wouldn’t go over well in the present day, but it was a pretty small close-knit office, so maybe she lucked out by 1980s standards too.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        HA! I’ve been that kid happily coloring on the back side of the green and white accordion fold ledger paper that got messed up when it fed into the dot matrix printer incorrectly.

        1. JustaTech*

          And I was the kid who was told “hey, you’ve got little hands, can you un-jam the printer?”

          But I’m too young to really remember offices without computers, even as a child.

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

      Watching the movie 9-to-5 with Dolly Parton does that for me, mid Gen-Xer. Typing pool? Why is the copy machine the size of a car? Stenography??!!

      I vaguely remember LA Law, but it would seem positively modern by comparison I think.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I showed that to my daughter when she was about 12 or 13 (ten years ago) and she was ENTRANCED by the “so cute!” tech. IBM Selectric typewriters! Desk phones! That copy machine! It was not exactly the message I’d expected her to get from the movie. We had fun anyway.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          That sequence with Jane Fonda in the Copy Room with all those giant copiers/collating machines is so great! I totally felt that bewildered “Mickey Mouse as awakened the broom army” dismay.

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        I remember being a kid at my parent’s job in the late 80s with those computers with the green letters and no mouse, it was more for printing reports. Not everyone had one.

        But this still felt miles ahead of that 1980 movie! Yes, it looks so archaic. So much busy work paperwork!

    4. Generic Name*

      I was a kid in the late 80s. I remember going to my mom’s office very occasionally. She did not have a computer. She wrote stuff out longhand, and called people on the phone. One of the parts of her job was to plan an outdoor market. She brought home a giant piece of butcher paper and drew a plan of where the booths were, and each vendor went on a sticky note, and my mom moved them around so that similar vendors weren’t next to each other, vendors that required electricity were next to an outlet, etc.

      I remember interoffice mail. You put a memo, or a note or whatever in a big manila envelope with a string closure. There was a grid where you wrote the “to” and “from” information in.

      I’m laughing at how unimaginable it is for young people. Also, when you left the house, like to run errands or whatever, there was no way to contact you, unless you called the grocery store and paged a person, or something, but that normally didn’t happen. Oh, and in airports, there were often announcements over the loudspeaker announcing passengers by name and asking them to go to the courtesy phone where someone would pass along a message.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        My job still uses those big manilla folders for sending stuff to different stores, and I’m in charge of packing-taping them up as they wear out. Those things are EXPENSIVE.

      2. JustaTech*

        We only got rid of those “interoffice mail” envelopes when we closed our second building in this city a few years ago. All I can say is thank goodness for electronic signatures!

    5. There You Are*

      Not 1980’s but verrry early 1990’s:

      I was exasperated by mice. “Why do I need to take my hands off the keyboard? That just slows everything down!”

      However, in the early 1980s, I went to my mom’s office with her often. I remember being there on a Saturday and playing with the “sewing machine” pedal under her secretary’s desk.

      Um, yeah, that pedal was attached to a Dictaphone and I had just messed up the secretary’s place in her dictation (bosses would speak into the Dictaphone and/or a tape recorder, and then the secretary would play back the words to type it all out. The pedal sped up / slowed down the speed of the tape. And me messing with the pedal meant it was going to take the secretary forever to find her place in the tape again.)

      1. RagingADHD*

        I still used those pedal dictation things well into the 2010s. It was just a digital recording instead of a tape.

        I didn’t start seeing widely available AI transcription that was accurate enough to be useful without “training” on individual voice profiles until maybe 2019.

  69. ReceiptsPlz*

    Happy Friday! Wanted to get some advice on how to do you own research on a workplace, when said workplace is highly confidential. I’ve got an interview next week for a position that looks great on paper, but the company itself is a black box. The job description was transparent about the sensitive nature of the work, so that’s not too surprising, but the place barely exists online outside a few news articles. I’m even having trouble pulling up anything useful on Indeed/Glassdoor/LinkedIn.

    I’m planning to keep my eyes extra-open during the interview to glean as mu