open thread – January 12-13, 2024

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.

{ 1,115 comments… read them below }

  1. Freelance titles*

    I need some guidance regarding phrasing on my resume.

    I have been freelancing off and on for 15+ years, usually ramping up when I get downsized from my full-time work. (It’s mostly informal; I just send an Excel invoice and receive funds via PayPal, then have my accountant sort it out at year-end.)

    The work has expanded and gotten complicated, so I’ve created an LLC. Previously I filled in the gaps in my work history with the phrase “freelance design” but now I have an actual named entity for that, even though technically nothing has really changed.

    Obviously I can’t list the named LLC before it was registered, but how do I convey that it’s the same thing all the way through the timeline? If this were a company being bought out, I’d put something like “Acme, formerly Coyote Inc.” but this would be more like “New LLC, formerly not named” and that’s just weird.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        nit: it’s not trading, so you wouldn’t want to say that. DBA would work, listing it all as “freelance” and leaving the LLC out entirely would also work, listing them separately I think would actually be fine–the description would communicate that it’s the same thing.

        1. CEMgr*

          “Trading” is a UK idiom for being in business or “doing business” as. In the UK, it would be appropriate here.

    1. HalJordan*

      Well, it’s just you in the LLC, right? The fact that it’s a named entity doesn’t really matter on the resume. So I’d list it as “Freelance Design (now d/b/a [LLC Name])”, or o/a, or operating under.

      But in general unless the LLC has gained a LOT of name recognition and quickly, I don’t think the readers of the resume will particularly care. They won’t be googling it to find your coworkers/managers or anything

    2. ThatGirl*

      Opinions may differ, but I would probably put something like “Acme, LLC” and add a note of when you were incorporated as a bullet (like: – incorporated 2023, previously freelance) maybe?

      1. Cj*

        since OP concerned about the wording, I just wanted to point out that an LLC is not Incorporated. they are two different things, although an LLC can elect to be taxed as a corporation.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Oh, that was my mistake – I’m not well versed in these things, but whatever word works in place of “incorporated”.

          1. Sharpie*

            The UK version is Ltd. (‘Limited’) which is shorthand for ‘company limited by guarantee’.

            The ‘trading as’ thing is because there are a lot of self-employed people, or sole traders. Doesn’t mean they’re exchanging goods for money, despite how it sounds.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        That’s what I would do as well.

        I’ve been self-employed for over 10 years, and I just put my company name, with dates from when I started until now. I didn’t have a company name for the first few years, but it really doesn’t matter. It would look kind of odd for my resume to say “freelance” and then subsequently “XYZ Co.”, I think – it kind of implies that XYZ Co. is an employer, not your own company.

    3. cleo*

      In my experience, using a company name for a freelance business confuses recruiters, so I’d stick to calling it all freelance.

      1. SG*

        This. And the above recommendation from JSPA. Just call it freelance with the DBA in parens. It is not really material information to a hiring manager that you created an LLC — it’s all freelance regardless.

    4. RagingADHD*

      In my transition from freelancing back to corporate, I tried several different combinations. The one that got the most interviews without putting people off when they asked followup questions was:

      Entity Name, date range
      Job Title (Owner)

      IME, “freelance” seems to put people off more than the idea that you were self-employed. It’s puts a different image in their head, I guess.

      Absolutely nobody cares when you formed the LLC. Honestly, they really don’t care at all. The only time it will come up is if you have a background / employment history check that requires tax returns or other documentation, in which case you just explain it to the checker and provide tax returns showing you were filing Schedule C with the same industry code before & after.

      Recruiters and hiring managers want it to be easy to understand more than they want every detail.

    5. RM*

      Speaking as an accountant – for tax and legal purposes it is correct to say that you “obviously can’t list the named LLC before it was registered.” However, for resume purposes you can absolutely list the whole 15+ year period under Coyote Designs, with a job description like “Owner, Lead Designer” or “Owner, Designer” which absolutely correctly conveys the facts of the matter – you ran a freelance design side business for this time period. The details of the legal business entity and tax filing status are of zero interest to anyone except lawyers dealing with some sort of contract dispute, or tax folks.

      If you had worked freelance and then had your book of business formally acquired by an LLC, corporation, etc, who subsequently hired you as a regular employee, that might be a bit different.

  2. Yourjobdoesnotloveyouback*

    I wrote in to the open thread last week. I had just quit my job due to a return to office mandate and was dealing with the flurry of all the things that come from a sudden and unexpected departure. Thanks to everyone who provided words of support. I’m happy to say that I stuck my ground and my direct manager was able to bend enough to keep me happy while keeping my grand boss clear of things. I, and my team, are thrilled that I’ve decided to stay and I’m now excited for the things the future is bringing.

  3. Remote work*

    Any advice on the legalities of remote work abroad? I’m American and recently moved to Europe with my partner. We moved here for Partner’s job–it was a unique opportunity for us both, though since it all happened rather fast I wasn’t able to line up work before the move. There are quite a few opportunities for remote work in my field, but I’m having trouble finding a company that will hire me due to living abroad, and I’m sensing it’s due to tax laws.

    Before we moved one company interviewed me and offered me a remote job but when I said I was moving overseas soon they said they could not hire me, but said to be in touch if my situation changes. Since we moved, one job set up an interview but once it started immediately realized where I lived (despite it being on my application–they had overlooked that fact before) and also said they couldn’t hire me because of where I live. Interestingly, they did ask a few more questions, such as how often I’d be back in the US and if that would be a regular occurrence. At the time I said I’d be living in Europe indefinitely and it was unclear how often I’d be back in the US, but since then Partner and I found out it’s very likely we might be back in the US every year for a few weeks to a month (consecutively). Partner is currently working for an American company and is still paying state taxes from the state where we used to live. We file taxes jointly. We also have a residence permit for the country where we are living and, at least for now, need to renew it yearly.

    I talked with a few friends, in addition to our accountant stateside, and they all wonder if my situation is a little different than others if we are paying state taxes and come back to the US for an extended stay once a year. They wondered if American companies might be willing to hire me for remote work if there was some way to explain these details to them. I’m not sure if that’s true? The trick is I don’t know the specifics of why they can’t hire me–from reading here I think it’s due to “tax issues” but without knowing the specifics I’m not sure if my situation would not be a problem for these companies after all?

    We enjoy living in Europe, but my Partner is also very supportive of my career, and if I don’t find a job in the next year or two we will likely move back to the US…but I’m really hoping I can find remote work to make this situation work. Any advice–has anyone dealt with a similar situation, or deal with hiring regulations (and could explain the legal barriers to hiring me), or know who I could ask for advice (such as an international tax lawyer)? Thanks so much!

    1. Hermione Danger*

      I’m very curious about this as well, since I’d love to move to Europe, but am trying to figure out where my income would come from.

    2. Jane Bingley*

      Unfortunately, it’s not just taxes – generally companies are required to follow employment laws of the place where an employee ordinarily resides. Filing American taxes or making an annual visit doesn’t make you an American resident.

      That means following your country’s tax laws, but also their rules around pay, overtime, vacation time, holidays, contractual requirements (the US is unusual in that most employees don’t have a contract), and local paycheque expenses (health care, pension, and local taxes).

      Your best bet is likely to find a larger international company that is already operating in your current resident country, or at least in Europe more generally, so that they don’t have to build systems entirely from scratch.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, I manage a part-time employee whose husband is in the US military and they just returned from a few years being deployed in Europe. We were very surprised to learn that despite living on base and being considered a resident of the US not the country she was in that our payroll vendor could not keep her in their systems because they didn’t have a contract to operate in that country. Because she’s part-time and wasn’t receiving benefits anyway this primarily only affected the way we paid her, but it did mean we had to process her timesheets as if she was a vendor rather than through payroll, which is a little more of a pain for everyone. But if she’d been a full-time employee we basically wouldn’t have been able to keep her on, because my employer didn’t have the budget to establish a presence in another country for one employee.

        1. Remote work*

          Very interesting, Ama! Is processing someone as a vendor the same as considering them an independent contractor? Just want to make sure I get the lingo right.

      2. Remote work*

        Thanks for the insight re: employment laws, Jane Bingley—that was a piece I was unaware of.

    3. Susan Calvin*

      I can’t answer your actual question, sorry, but have you looked at all into tackling the issue from the other side? By which I mean, working for a European company? Depending on the exact country and field it can vary wildly how difficult it is to get a work permit, but I understand that for mid-career professionals, it’s not categorically insurmountable.

      1. Remote work*

        I am allowed to work here per my residence permit, but am not yet fluent in the native language. And I’d have to take the comparable test so that my job credentials would be recognized in this country. So not impossible, but going the route of working for an American company would be, hypothetically, easier.

        1. BigLawEx*

          In the EU country, I live in half the year, many/most of the international companies conduct work in English. Especially in Germany (I know many expats working for international places in Berlin, Frankfurt, etc., speaking English).

          The other expats just don’t…tell the truth. Not advising that, but it may be the explanation if you run into some folks who are working remotely. They won’t say it, but it’s a huge thing right now, especially post Covid.

          1. amoeba*

            Yup, at least half of my colleagues don’t actually speak German, it’s very common, depending on the field! I’ve also interviewed for jobs in Denmark and Belgium, although I speak neither Danish nor Dutch, and my lack of local language skills wasn’t even remotely relevant to them.
            Typically, fluency in English is an actual requirement here, fluency in the local language is a nice benefit (and in some jobs, depending on who you work with, they pay for you to take courses to learn).
            (I know I’m late for this, but did want to add as I do think it’s a good idea to keep your eyes open for that as well…)

    4. CybersecurityCanadian*

      I work remotely in Canada for an American company that has a Canadian entity. I’m employed by the Canadian branch. I’d recommend looking for companies that already have a branch in the European country that you’re living.

      In terms of the legal stuff, I can work remotely anywhere in Canada and the USA. But, due to the type of work I do and the data I work with I can’t work remotely from any other country. There are very strict laws about the type of data I interact with and I legally cannot do my work in any other country.

      There can also be restrictions outside of laws. I’ve seen business agreements that restrict the locations that people can interact with data from due to stricter regulations in an industry.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      My (very limited) understanding is that it’s not just tax issues. Companies also need to follow the labor laws of the place where you are working from.

      Within the US, there are differences in state laws. For example, different states have different minimum wages, so companies can legally pay workers in State A one wage but legally have to pay workers in State B a different wage (if State B has a higher minimum wage than State A). There are lots of companies that have workers in many different states, and they have done all the work to ensure they are complying with varying state laws.

      Employing workers in different countries is even more difficult, especially for companies that don’t currently employ anyone outside of the US (or in the country you’re living in now). A company would have to make sure they are (1) paying the correct US payroll taxes for you, (2) paying the correct payroll taxes for your country of residence, and (3) follow all labor laws for your country of residence. (1) is simple enough, (2) and (3) can be quite tricky and expensive.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yeah, just the amount of effort it would take to figure the employment laws out would be probative for most businesses, much less the effort to actually follow them. Like, what is the local equivalent of the ADA, what are the requirements, and does the company have to file any documentation, for just one question.

    6. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I know there are “digital nomads” –maybe you could find a forum of those folks and ask what they did? My sense is that they are freelancers. Also, look into creating a company and then having that company contract with employers–that may work around the issues (not sure, just spitballing).

      1. Observer*

        I know there are “digital nomads” –maybe you could find a forum of those folks and ask what they did?

        Many of them lie. Some companies don’t care – they will follow the laws of the state you give them an address for and be happy. Others will fire you if they find out.

        Obviously that’s not universal – the OP’s spouse is working for a company that sent him there, so the clearly know how to deal with it. And they are not a unicorn. So there have to be alternatives. But it’s worth being aware of this apparently somewhat common practice when you start looking.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Digital nomads usually start from a perspective of finding out which countries are friendly to doing that, and then go there. Not already in a specific country.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yes – typically countries that have low cost of living, and have set up a visa specifically to draw in wealthy Westerns to live (and spend). Or they enter countries on tourist visas, stay for a short time and move on, which can allow them to fly under the radar, and doesn’t involve risking getting deported from their country of residence.

          Lying while living on a residency visa in another country makes it much easier to get found out, can have more serious consequences, and can involve a more complicated network of lies.

          I’d check out expat forums for the specific country for advice, as the rules can vary a lot depending on location.

      3. Remote work*

        Good idea—anyone know of some good sites for connecting with digital nomads or learning more about how to be one?

    7. Kiki Is The Most*

      I am not an expert by any means but as an American, living in Europe, you have a few options for remote work.

      * Work for an American company that has an office in your country. (Tax laws will already be in place for you then from the US company).
      * Work for a company in your country or elsewhere in Europe. This comes with the caveat that you ALREADY have a WORK VISA in which you are allowed to work in your country. If you have this, then you can file as a ‘freelancer’ in that country so that you can apply for work.

      I suggest a google search for “work laws governing American expats living in XX country”. Some Schengen countries have more lenient work visa requirements and restrictions than others but it is country-specific.

      1. Filosofickle*

        A friend of mine followed her partner to Spain (20 years ago) and the work visa was her barrier. She was told flatly that would never happen, and the penalties for fudging it and doing some freelance work on the side would be severe. So she didn’t work the years they lived there.

    8. Tio*

      Is your partner directly employed by the European company, or are they working for a US company as an expatriate? Those are very different, and if it’s the latter might go to why they’re paying US taxes.

      Like with US internal remote work, you have to follow he laws of both where you live and where you work, so it’s not surprising that any country would balk at hiring someone overseas. You would almost certainly have to pay taxes to the country you live in as well – I know that’s how it worked when my friends worked in Japan while teaching English. You may also need alterations to your visa depending on where you work and what country it’s located in. You didn’t give any country details o I don’t think anyone here is going to be able to give you a detailed explanation, regardless, but you’d be best off talking to an international tax lawyer regardless, especially since it’s your partner’s first year working abroad.

      I have to say, it’s probably going to be very hard for you to find work with an American company while living abroad, unless you have a very in demand skill set or are very high level. The international regulations are probably just not worth it to them. You can try with a local company, but again, you’d need to be on /get a work visa, and that’s going to make you less appealing.

      1. former academic*

        Based on my experience teaching English in Japan– I had to pay taxes in Japan (which was very easy, but I was working for a Japanese company), but also had to file taxes in my home state & federal taxes. The US and Japan have a tax treaty where the taxes I paid in Japan were credited to the taxes I owed in the US. (However, my US accountant noted that she’d never before had to deal with the issue of knowing the legalities of how to calculate the exchange rate– was it for every paycheck/payroll deduction? Just based on the total on my last pay stub and calculated based on that day’s rate?) I also went on sabbatical in the Netherlands and was paid by my US university, and did not owe Dutch income taxes (based on my visa & how long I was there); I also know that the Netherlands has a special tax rate that meant that “highly skilled migrants” could actually get 30% of their income tax free for a certain number of years as a recruitment scheme for foreign PhDs.

        All this is to say– the tax thing is complicated, and locally dependent, so definitely be sure to get some local legal/tax advice.

      2. Remote work*

        My partner is employed by a US company, and we get health insurance through their company as well.

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      It’s not just a U.S. tax issue. It’s an issue of taxes, immigration, and labor regulation in the country where you reside. You need to be authorized to work in the country where you reside, which means obtaining a work permit or visa from that country’s government.

      There may be a “digital nomad” visa available where you are. In any event, you should talk to an immigration lawyer in the country where you are. If you are found to be working without authorization, you may be ordered out of the country and may even be banned from re-entering for a number of years.

      1. JSPA*

        That’s somewhat variable, I think?? Some countries require an explicit Digital Nomad visa; some are happy to have anyone either start a business or continue remote employment that started in that remote location; some don’t want you working any job that could be taken by a national of your adopted location (etc).

        caveat: This is based on chatting with friends who are doing such things in western Europe, coming from the US or Canada, who believe they are being careful…but who may or may not be doing it right.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          The very, very, very general rule is that an American can live and work in Europe — which is many countries, not just one — for something like 90 days without having to obtain a work visa and a residence visa. Another rule is that a digital nomad visa is still a visa. It’s a permit that you have to apply for, and it can have a requirement that you prove a substantial monthly income. I suspect that some people are under the impression that you can travel to Europe on a visitor visa and call yourself a digital nomad without getting the actual visa.

          It is also true that enforcement can be lax against digital nomads who’ve opted not to get the actual visa, which is especially true in countries that like to receive their U.S. dollars.

          Starting a business is a whole other kettle of fish that engages considerations of permits, local codes and ordinances, regulations, and laws, not to mention paperwork proving that you have the funding available to you in cash to start the business. Lots of countries are “happy” to offer entrepreneurship visas, but they often require that you show you have resources in the six to seven figures to hand.

          1. Artemesia*

            They can LIVE in Schengen Europe for 90 days without a visa but not work — this is a tourist agreement.

      2. Remote work*

        For what it’s worth my residence permit does allow me to work in the country where we live.

    10. Haunted by Laundry*

      You should also check the specifics of your visa. I recently returned from a few years in Europe with my US-based Multinational BigCo, and my coworkers received two different types of visas (depending on the terms of the relocation assignment). Some allowed spouses to work and some actually prohibited it.

    11. Legally Brunette*

      I know your question was about remote work for an American company, so please disregard if this is too outside the box, but as an American, you would be well-placed for a job at an American Embassy or Consulate, of there is one near you. They offer a variety of jobs across skill sets, and some potential for remote work, although you would be likely to need to work in person, depending on the job requirements. The process can take a while to get cleared for the job and onboarded, but it would likely solve many of the U.S. tax issues (sorry, have to caveat as “not legal advice” for obvious reasons), and would give you a lot of flexibility if/when you move countries or back to the States in the future.

      1. Cocoa*

        Local jobs at US embassies and consulates require that the applicant be legally authorized to reside and work in the country – they will not sponsor visas and while they may employ some Americans and dual nationals who are already based locally, the jobs often require fluency in the local language, specific subject matter knowledge, etc.

        1. Legally Brunette*

          Not for US direct hire positions, typically, which would still be available to an American citizen; the things you mentioned would only apply to locally-employed staff positions. But mileage may vary for OP, as to what kind of position they would want, so it’s a fair point to make.

          1. Remote work*

            Good suggestion, thanks! What is considered a US direct hire position? I am searching for jobs on usajobs.gov (which is a whole other can of worms). Are these jobs designated in a certain way on that site? Do you know if it’s work trying to get *any* US government job here just to get in the system, with my second goal to eventually switch to a US government job in my field? There are a few positions in my field over here, which would be ideal, but I haven’t seen any job postings for any yet. I’d love any tips on getting into a usajobs.gov job. Just the application process is daunting!

            1. Remote work*

              Edit—is it *worth* trying to first get any government job…I already know trying to do so is work, ha.

              1. Legally Brunette*

                Best tip on this is be persistent, and if you know anyone who can assist you in formatting and brushing up your resume, that can really help. Where USA Jobs asks you to answer questions that relate to job requirements (and not all of them do), then you will need to answer the questions accordingly to even be able to apply. Many only require your resume and other supporting documents, whether transcripts, cover letters, etc.

                It often helps to tailor your experience in your resume with some of the language of the specific job posting, where it is experience you have. While humans get the information eventually, the computer vets it first to narrow down the applicants.

            2. Legally Brunette*

              US direct hire jobs will be Foreign or Civil Service jobs (with the Civil Service ones more likely to be stationary, as opposed to require postings similar to the military every few years), and you’ll find those on USA Jobs. building a good search will help – filter it by the location of the Embassy or Consulate and see what appears for US Department of State. It feels like a lot of details to follow, but the applications usually spell out exactly what the requirements are to apply, and what the job entails.

              Contractor positions for Americans usually are posted by the contracting companies (try Olgoonik), and cover tons of positions and locations. They are usually stationary, but you can move around to other positions if it is something you want.

              Finally, the local staff positions are typically listed right on the website for the Embassy or Consulate. This can vary by location, so it’s worth checking – with the caveat Cocoa made about local positions requiring appropriate work permissions.

              Hope that helps, Remote Work! I’m happy to try to answer more questions to the extent I can :)

              1. Remote work*

                Thank you so much, Legally Brunnette! :) Do you think it’s worth trying for an embassy job to get my foot in the door with a government job (even if it’s outside my field)? I’m wondering if just getting into the system would give me an advantage if a government job here within my field opens up? Just wondering because the government jobs here within my field often give first priority to certain statuses, like SOFA (which I don’t have). If you have any other strategies for applying for and getting a government job I’m all ears! My ultimate goal would be to get a government job in this country that’s within my field, but thought I should explore remote jobs as well in the meantime.

    12. JSPA*

      From limited firsthand experience (semi-recent): If the majority of your financial life is in the US, and you retain a US address, you generally remain a tax resident of the US, according to some or all EU countries, as far as taxation on income from US sources. You will still pay income on EU income in the country you’re in. And depending on the details of the healthcare system, you or the remote company or your spouse’s company may be on the hook for that (or not).

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        A person becomes a tax resident of an EU country once they’ve been there for 6 months.

        It should be noted that becoming a tax resident of another country will not eliminate the obligation for an American citizen to file U.S. tax returns every year forever, no matter what country they live in or for how long. American tax reporting obligation is based on citizenship, not residence.

        1. JSPA*

          That comes with an asterisk, as I found out. Again: if the significant majority of your financial wherewithall remains in the US (stocks, bank accounts, real estate, earned income, unearned income, etc) and you have no EU earned income and if you continue to have a designated primary tax residence in the USA, you do NOT automatically become tax resident at the 6 month mark. This may vary by EU state, but where I often am, it continues to be true. I pay property and residence taxes, but not income tax, even if I’m there 7, 9 or 11+ months of the year.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          The filing US returns forever is a specifically US thing as well – many countries have tax filing based on tax residency, not on citizenship.

    13. No creative name yet*

      Totally anecdotal, but I have a couple of friends in similar circumstances who transitioned from full-time employees to contractors with their employers so they could functionally keep their jobs when they moved to Europe, but without the complications of being an international hire. No idea if that’s a possibility for you, but thought I’d flag as something to consider!

      1. Remote work*

        Thanks so much for that suggestion, No creative name yet! Do you have any more details on how they did this or anything else I should know? I’d love more details about this!

    14. HR Exec Popping In*

      As others have said, this is actually very complicated if a company does not already have a legal entity in that country. Your best bet would be to look for multi-national companies.

    15. Amey*

      As an immigration adviser in the UK (albeit specialising in specific visa types), my concern would be the immigration side of things and this may be concerning your potential employers too. In the UK, any work restrictions on your visa also apply to remote work abroad while you are physically resident in the UK. So you cannot work at all while on a Visitor visa, you’re restricted to 20 hours per week during term time on Student visa and cannot be self employed (so generally can’t freelance), etc. Each country in the world has it’s own immigration rules and similar rules do apply in many countries. I’ve certainly seen employers who have some level of awareness of this not want to take the risk.

      1. Remote work*

        Do you think I should indicate in my cover letters when I apply for remote jobs that I do have a residence permit in the country where I am living in Europe and that it does allow me to work?

    16. An idea*

      If you have a visa that allows you to work in the country, and an American company that is really interested in hiring you, you could look into something like remote.com. I don’t know the technicalities, but the idea is Remote.com has an office in each country and hires you according to local labor and tax laws, and then they “sell” your work to the hiring company, all the work is between you and the hiring company, and Remote.com only deals with payroll&taxes. My husband did receive an offer like that once, and it seemed quite straightforward (he didn’t accept for other reasons). Depends whether the hiring company is interested enough in your profile to try such a solution.

      1. Remote work*

        Thanks for this tip, An idea! That’s why I love this community—you can learn about so many great ideas from kind people!

    17. Gina*

      I don’t know if this would work for you, but when my daughter moved overseas her company made her an independent contractor.

        1. JSPA*

          the person asking does have one.

          And from all I’ve read up on so far, forming / registering a SARL (france) or SL (Spain) or whatever else (some other EU countries, though perhaps not all) is

          a) not intrinsically significantly more complex than the US approx. equivalent (LLC)

          b) something foreigners are explicitly allowed to do

          c) comparable red tape and delay as the other country-specific and region-specific stuff you are already doing if you’re living there.

      1. Remote work*

        Did her company suggest this or did she? Would love advice on how to have this conversation, especially when applying for jobs.

    18. Hillary*

      It’s not so much taxes as it is work visa + overall compliance. I think folks have covered most of the points, essentially it comes down to two major things:

      1) you need a visa that authorizes you to permanently work in the country (these are country-specific, not EU-wide). Your spouse’s visa may or may not allow you to work.

      2) the employer needs a legal entity in the country. That means a location or if allowed a registered agent, tax filings, employment law compliance, and many more things that vary from country to country. As an example, if a non-US company has a US subsidiary the parent company becomes subject to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act even if the actions don’t involve a US party.

      On the legal entity thing, what we perceive as one company is often actually many companies. Let’s call my former employer Acme. The legal parent company was Acme Holding Company in Ireland, I worked for Acme Management Company in the US (which was where the stock was registered), I had colleagues who worked for Acme Manufacturing Inc, Acme NV de Lux, Acme BV, Acme GmbH, and many, many others. The entity chart was so big it could only be printed with a plotter. Every country where there were employees had a legal entity. Those often entities often employed people who in practice supported other parts of the businesses and they charged back those businesses for the labor cost.

      You’d probably know if you’re in an industry that’s truly work anywhere. IE there are some tech companies that hire the best talent in the world and will legally make it happen. So step one is review your visa and talk to an immigration lawyer. If you’re not authorized to work this may be something your partner can negotiate with their sponsor when their visa is up for renewal.

      Once you’re authorized to work look at local job postings for multinationals. It varies wildly by industry, but my experience working at multinationals was that they’re rarely willing to sponsor if a role isn’t listed as willing to sponsor. I had one colleague who was moving to Germany on a fiancée visa and they wouldn’t even let her transfer and work from there. However, those same multinationals love having employees who understand the international context and they’re more likely to speak English.

      1. Remote work*

        Silly question for you, Hillary, but what exactly is a multinational and what’s a good way to search for them?

        1. JR 17*

          A company with offices in multiple countries. Depending on your area of expertise, you could just start with the Fortune 500 list (or a list of the biggest companies in your industry) and Google which ones have offices in the country where you’re living.

          I think the basic issue is not only which companies are able to comply with the laws where you work, but which companies already know they’re able to do so. If it would the first time they hired someone in your country, they will run up a major legal bill trying to figure out whether they can hire you and what rules they need to follow (even if the answer is yes, they can). Assuming they have other qualified candidates, they’re unlikely to want to take on that expense. So if you focus on companies with experience hiring in your country, then you’ve overcome that initial hurdle.

    19. Adereterial*

      Taxes are probably the least of their concerns.

      European labour laws favour the employee in general. There’s limits on working hours, minimum requirements for annual leave that will be well in excess of American expectations, differences around sick leave (and pay), minimum wage requirements, contract terms, maternity and other benefits, pensions etc.

      There’s also non-labour laws that will come into play – data protection, for example. The basis on which personal data can flow out of the EU (and the UK) isn’t set in stone and could be revoked at any point if the EU decided that there were not equivalent protections for data subjects in the USA.

    20. Paul*

      I live in France and I work remote for a US startup. I told them during interviews that we would have to figure out the legal situation, I proposed part-time contracting through an umbrella corp, and they were open to it, and discussed options with an outsourcing firm, and settled on setting up a French subsidiary and employing me full-time that way. So it can be done. It wasn’t cheap or easy for the employer and I think they were a bit naive going in and that played in my favour, I heard someone say years later that if they’d known how much trouble and paperwork and expense was involved they never would have done it.

      I’m still working for the same company and I’ve casually looked for other jobs since then, always remote since we live rurally. I found that most US companies advertising remote work need it to be in the US, but there are some that have a presence in multiple countries and they will usually say in the job posting which countries they are authorized to hire in. There’s also plenty of remote jobs in France via French companies, that may be the case where you live as well. The big multi-nationals tend to have English-speaking jobs.

      One thing I had to wrap my head around is that the whole digital nomad idea is kind of a fiction. In most cases that I know, for every hour that you work with your feet touching the ground in a country, both you and your employer owe taxes and social security payments to that country (and they will collect them eventually), and both you and your employer need to be legally authorized to work/employ a worker in that country. I’ve known people who travel abroad and work remotely for a US employer and just keep paying US taxes as if they are living in the US, it’s the sort of thing you can probably get away with if it’s for a short time but it’s not technically legal.

      1. Remote work*

        Thanks for all this info, Paul! Any tips on your process of setting up part-time contracting through an umbrella corp? And any tips on how you negotiated/brought that up with your employer?

        1. Paul*

          I never did set myself up as a contractor so I don’t know what pitfalls await on that road. I would say do a ton of research so that you understand what you’re getting into. Watch out for the risk of misclassification. This article explains it for France: https://remote.com/blog/how-to-hire-pay-contractors-in-france

          I have no experience with the company that wrote that article, but they are the sort of firm that I encountered in my research who can help bridge the gap between employer and employee and I would suggest researching companies like that to understand what they offer and what the processes look like on both sides. It helped in my case to be prepared to kind of guide them through their part at first, since they had never done this before and didn’t really know what to do. This would not be an issue for a big global corp.

          In terms of the negotiation with my employer, I mentioned in my opening letter that I was located in France and would be working from there and open to any workable options. They asked what the options were, I said I had heard I could be employed through an umbrella corp and sent a link, they researched on their side and found an outsourcing provider they liked and said okay, this looks workable, let’s continue. I think the key was to just figure out if the location was a deal-breaker or if there was a way forward early on in the process, and once they believed there was a way forward, we could continue the interviews and focus on whether I was right for the job. Next time I would just include links to two or three providers in the cover letter and that way they would know from the beginning that the problem had standard solutions.

          Actually, working hours was a bigger concern, I ended up committing to working evenings so I could stay in sync with the US team, something I have been doing pretty happily for four years, but it was definitely a question and a risk going in.

        2. Paul*

          Sure, I mentioned up front in my cover letter that I was in France and open to any workable arrangement, they asked me what options there were, I sent links to some outsourcing providers (e.g. remote.com), and they took it from there. I think what helped was being up-front about the fact that yes my location was a significant barrier, and yes this can be overcome, many companies do it, it’s nothing to be scared of, just accounted for in the cost. They needed to be guided through their fear and uncertainty at the outset. If I had to do it again I would include links to providers directly in the cover letter to save time.

          Actually, working hours were a big question as well, I ended up committing to working evenings so I could sync up with the US team, and have been doing that pretty happily for four years. I’m a night owl, so it works for me. They were worried I wouldn’t be able to sustain those hours, it was a risk, what if after six months I said this wasn’t working and I needed to work 9-5? I tried to reassure them but in the end it was a bit of a gamble for them. Something to think about for you.

          1. Remote work*

            Thanks so much for all of that info, Paul, that’s so helpful! Makes sense to be upfront about this and offer solutions in a cover letter. Do you know of any other examples of outsourcing providers?

    21. Cheap ass rolling with it*

      I am an American citizen living overseas that has worked for several American companies (I’m a consultant). I have lived overseas for > 10 years.

      The way we’ve made it work is to be contracted through a local company here. You could form your own overseas company, but then the taxes and regulations are very complicated. You could also look around for local companies that will hire you as their “employee”, and then take a cut of your contracts. This is very easy for American companies to work with — they just get an invoice from the overseas company.

  4. Becca*

    For the past 2 years, I’ve been working in a job where I am severely underutilized. My bosses encourage me to take on new work and grow in the role, but thanks to a combination of my own efficiency, health problems from both my supervisors, and general organizational dysfunction, I probably spend less than half of my time actually working on my job tasks. There are two other employees at my level and though we don’t have the same titles or job functions I have tried to develop relationships with them, share salary information, and otherwise try to form solidarity.

    Recently, a senior member on our team retired and her job became a new position that is very closely aligned with my background and with the work I want to grow into. I applied for the job and got it! It was a true application/interview process, but I have reasons to believe that they created the role at least partially with me in mind (I’ve worked in this area before as well as taken professional development courses and so my skills and interests fortuitously coincided with a business need).

    One of the coworkers at my level, Margaret, is intensely upset that I’ve received this promotion. We were friendly and by most accounts still are. We recently had drinks at her invitation, but while we were at the restaurant she began talking about her frustrations with my promotion with a level of intensity that caused other people in the space to react. Margaret said “It’s unfortunate that the bosses are investing in some people and not others,” talked extensively about how overloaded she is (she also just started graduate school), and expressed that she told her manager (not someone I have or will report to) that she needs a raise or she will leave. The evening continued for about another hour and I turned the convo to discussing her life and other less pointed office intrigue.

    I am not sure how to handle this situation. I would likely feel the same way in her shoes, although my promotion has nothing to do with her. She wants a title bump and a pay raise; I applied for a completely different position and they will have to backfill my old role. I suspect part of her anger is that she knows I wasn’t working very hard before, and that our team has certainly encouraged me to develop these skills and apply for the position (though it’s not in an area that she has expertise in). We will likely work much more closely together as I move to this new role. I’m very excited to finally be doing interesting work that will actually fill my time, but how do I handle this coworker? We are having lunch again next week at her invitation.

    1. Oof and Ouch*

      I feel like all you can do in this situation is be sympathetic of her situation and have some awareness about how you talk about your own promotion. It sounds like she’s just frustrated with her own career and venting.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah there isn’t much you can do, but if she continues to invite you out to vent, I would start declining her invitations (use an excuse if you have to). She might get over it after a couple sessions, I hope, but you have no real obligation to sit through her complaining.

        1. Becca*

          That’s helpful! I am definitely sympathetic and have not talked about my own promotion with her really at all except when she brings it up, but I don’t think I’m the best sounding board for her frustrations. I’ll see if it keeps being a thing.

          1. JSPA*

            Maybe address the visuals?

            “it probably looks odd from the outside that I slid into the Orangutan job, when we all know each other as Llama groomers. But they originally hired me based on my Borneo experience with rewilding Orangs, as part of what’s been a very delayed long-term plan to move into primate support. I’m elated to be doing the work I’m most qualified for, and relieved that I’ll finally have a chance to fully justify my original hiring.”

            That’s context she’s missing, and it might snap the situation into better focus for her.

          2. Momma Bear*

            I think you can say that – that you aren’t the right sounding board for this particular frustration. She seems very upset and needs to talk to her boss about options. I would ask that the conversation be turned to non-work things, especially since your lunch break is supposed to be a break from thinking about work. If she’s unable to, then decline further lunches.

        2. Beth*

          Yes, I was also thinking that it might be a very good idea to have a conflict the next few times lunch is suggested.

          1. Becca*

            100%. This lunch was one I agreed to prior to the whole kerfuffle, and is with the other colleague at our level who is mostly remote, so I was reluctant to cancel outright. But definitely going forward I’ll give her some space if it’s still coming up!

    2. Two New Jobs*

      Wow, that sounds so uncomfortable and it so rude. I think this would be a great question to submit to Alison! It’s a tough spot that she put you in, especially since you don’t know if she’s leaving but my gut instinct is that you should just be very busy and politely decline these invitations for the time being.
      Years and years ago before I had a better backbone I had a coworker invite me out to dinner, we were work friends and she was kind of an alpha personality and I’m not. Well at the dinner which I was looking forward to as an opportunity to complain about work and unwind, she treated it as a “fashion intervention” for me and talked about how I dressed so terribly that she had to say something, and threw in backhanded compliments about how I was too pretty to dress so dumpy. And… I just took it. I was so caught off guard, and then didn’t know what to say since we were still going to be seeing each other five days a week for the foreseeable future.

      For you, you are not the appropriate audience for her to complain about her anger over you being selected instead of her. That’s not okay, and unfortunately she may not think she’s done anything wrong. You don’t need to sit through another one of those uncomfortable meals. Also, congrats on your promotion!

      1. Becca*

        Oh my gosh, a fashion interview!!!! How wild!! I also would have had no idea how to react.

        During this outing she also asked me if I thought was going to stay at our company. I haven’t even started the new job yet! Truthfully I wasn’t even offended or anything, just caught off guard by the whole situation. I didn’t even know if she knew about my promotion until she brought it up (her boss was on my panel interview so I guess that’s how she found out).

        Thanks for the congrats and the sympathy! I think it’s right that she finds another outlet to talk about this kind of thing, and it’s good to just have a gut check from others that it’s an… odd situation.

    3. Haven’t picked a name*

      Honestly – I wouldn’t get into how much you were working before or anything. And I would ask you what kind of relationship you want with her. I think it is totally appropriate to deflect discussions of your role promotion and comparing it directly to her situation, or offer support if you want to, or simply don’t agree to as many meetings if you don’t want to.

      There will always be people who feel slighted by not getting opportunities, even when it isn’t an opportunity they are qualified for or want.

      Congratulations, you clearly have potential and skills that are valuable to the company – and that almost never correlates to how “busy” you are.

      1. Becca*

        Thank you, I really appreciate that! I definitely think I have some feelings to work through about my old role well—that I’m adding value to the company despite my workload, but it’s hard to escape the nerves about “looking busy” etc etc although my team has never made that an issue. Excited to be challenged again!

        1. Some Words*

          The industry I’m in goes from feeling like one is shot out of a cannon on a daily basis with mandatory OT, to discrete thumb twiddling while we wait for the next wave. Management is well aware of this. As long as we’re discrete it’s a non-issue.

          We also serve who stand and wait. Let go of the guilty feelings.

          Congratulations on your new position!

        2. Artemesia*

          HOw about ‘I was so thrilled to get to move into a job that is really in my wheelhouse — I have been doing the cactus trimming now for years but my training was actually in succulents so I was really thrilled when this job opened up to applicants since it actually fits my resume better than the old job did — and its where I want to take my career.’

    4. learnedthehardway*

      I would tell her this is something she needs to take up with her manager. You’re not in a position to do anything about it, and it’s unfair and rude of her to dump her frustrations on you.

      Frankly, if I were her manager, and saw that she was overloaded and that she was struggling to do her job while doing a graduate degree, I would probably also NOT be looking at her for an immediate promotion – not unless she was knocking it out of the park performance-wise.

    5. Some Day I'll Think of Something Clever*

      About six years ago, I shared with a friend/colleague how excited I was for a position that had opened up in my department. I thought that I was the “It” candidate, it was a natural progression in my chosen profession, and it was something I had been working towards for years. I shared with her how my interviews went, some of the tricky questions I got, etc.

      This same friend applied for the job, got it, and became my supervisor. I was lived. For the first six months or longer, while never unprofessional, I limited all my conversations to the most perfunctory and certainly didn’t bend over backwards to help her. While she had been with the organization for a long time, she minimal exposure to this department and what we did. Not proud of this, but I enjoyed watching her flail.

      As time went on, though, and I got a better sense of what her actual work consisted of, I realized it would never have been a good fit for me. It was 90% dealing with C-Suite politics, all of which would have made me miserable. We eventually found ways to support one another. Through her advocacy of securing better funding and protecting my team from the weird politicking, I’ve grown in my position, our team has expanding, and morale is solid.

      I now recognize that I was probably never the shoe-in candidate, she didn’t “steal” anything from me, and not getting promoted was actually a career break. Sometimes management isn’t being capricious and arbitrary. They actually know what they are doing.

      I hope Margaret’s experience is similar. Give it some time.

      1. Artemesia*

        all true except the part where she scraped your brain for information about the interview that would benefit her application when you didn’t know she was applying. ALWAYS keep your mouth shut when you are in the interview process. I got the job that launched my adult work life because someone else didn’t but was bragging in a class about how they were a shoe in for a job in my field — one that I had been offered earlier but not taken because we were waiting to see where my fiance would be accepted to law school. Well he found out it wasn’t going to be Harvard and we were going to be at the state university in town. I was planning to contact the hiring manager the next day when I heard her talking about how she expected to hear about the job that afternoon. I got up, left class and called and had the job. The HM told me that I was ‘in the nick of time’ as they were planning on offering it to someone that day.

    6. In response*

      Another important piece of the puzzle that hasn’t received sufficient comment yet: She just started graduate school. That alone is a significant life change, and a stressful one. It’s more about her than about you.

  5. Princess Peach*

    I could use a reality check on whether this is normal. At my new workplace, we’re expected to add all personal appointments to our department’s shared calendar, which then gets sent out to the entire 15 person department in a weekly announcements email. I’m a private person by nature and I’m bristling at this.

    I don’t see a practical reason for it – we don’t do much in-person collaboration, nothing in our work necessitates immediate responses, and Outlook allows us to see everyone’s availability for scheduling purposes. We are all salaried and don’t track our hours. It seems like it shouldn’t be necessary for an office full of responsible adults who are capable of managing our time appropriately. Am I off base here?

    1. my cat is prettier than me*

      No, that is weird. I’ll put things on my personal calendar like “Private Appointment,” but I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting it on a company calendar.

    2. Time for Tea*

      You mean like doctors appointments, etc rather than meetings? If that’s right, not off base at all.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Our team does that, and that’s the gist of it. It’s not why you’re away, it’s when.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          The latter makes total sense; the former seems intrusive/tone deaf. I can see listing things like business trips or conferences that are work related, but nobody needs the reasons for every single time I’m unavailable.

    3. Nea*

      Is the calendar notation supposed to be “Out for appt. 1-3 next Tuesday” or “out for dental cleaning 1-3 next Tuesday”? Because I can see a need for knowing when people are expected to be out of office. It’s just when they want all the details that it gets questionable.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      It seems odd to me, too. I could see if you’d be gone a half day or more (for whatever reason), but all personal appointments seems too much.

      I wonder if it’s a holdover from back when online calendars weren’t available or as easy to use?

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, I bet it’s a holdover. When the outlook feature was new, someone or other said it was difficult to figure out, so they kept the manual process.

        1. The Riddlee*

          Not for mere appointments, but we have to enter time off in three separate places, because someone high up doesn’t know how or doesn’t like using outlook to see people’s availability.

        2. Llama Llama*

          Lol. This makes my eye twitch as I have been in the corporate world for almost 17 years now and Outlook calendar has been a thing since I started.

          Also to note, I rant every few months about how I need to do a training session in how to book meetings (ie look at the scheduling assistant! Booking a 12pm meeting is rude. Booking a 5pm meeting is rude!)

    5. blah*

      Are they requesting details on your schedule, or would you be able to get away with just “Appointment” whenever you have one? That’s obviously more information than you should be required to share with your department, but it’s a start. (Unless they need this for coverage? But I would hope they would explicitly say that when making this request.)

      1. Princess Peaches*

        Yes, we can just write “appointment” but even that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I’d like to get back to having weekly or biweekly appointments with my therapist once my health insurance coverage starts, but she doesn’t offer after hours appointments and I don’t want to broadcast that I have a standing appointment (or lie about it). Coverage is not an issue.

        1. WorkerDrone*

          I have a few people who mark every block “reserved” instead. It’s a small difference, but “reserved” means anything from “super important thing I need to focus on, don’t bother me” to “lunchtime yoga” to “doctor’s appointment”. For example, every Tuesday from 8am – 10am is reserved for me, but it’s because I use that time to focus on a weekly task. It is a great way to both obscure reoccurring appointments and ensure I have uninterrupted time.

        2. Nea*

          There’s nothing wrong with having a standing appointment, but if you’re really uncomfortable and they really don’t need the details, you could call it a “class.” That’s a reasonable thing to expect to happen weekly/biweekly and it doesn’t look as question-worthy as just “out” every week.

          But “appointment” is more vague than you seem to think it is. It could be an appointment at a manicurist or tanning salon or off track betting parlor; the details aren’t anyone’s business.

        3. Momma Bear*

          I would put the minimum required. Just say “out of office” or if it’s work-related “at ABC Conference” or “At Client Site”. I wouldn’t specify any personal details. I put appointments on my calendar but marked private so that when people are using the scheduler to find a meeting time, they know I’m not there.

          Insofar as having a regular block of time you are out, can you talk to your boss about how to handle ongoing appointments, like for physical therapy or such? I wouldn’t specify your appointment, just give a generic. It might also be a good time to clarify any other timekeeping you’ll need to do on those days. Is this just an hour of PTO on those days or does your boss want you to use sick leave, etc?

        4. Flames on the Side of My Face*

          I’ve used “Do Not Schedule,” “Phone call” or simply “Out of Office” on my Outlook calendar for my own recurring therapy or medical appointments. I’ve also sometimes fudged a one-off appointment with “Touchbase” (because it is one!)

        5. Llama Llama*

          My calendar is just booked as out of office when I am at appointments or other non work things. I like the distinction when I am looking to book meetings. People are incredibly busy and sometimes I have to book over other meetings. Out of office indicates to me an absolute no go in being able to block over that time. A regular meeting tells me that I can at least ask if can be booked over that time.

        6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          “Unavailable” covers nearly every situation. One of the department heads where I worked used “busy” for everything from appointments to non-departmental meetings to needing uninterrupted time for projects.

        7. Pine Tree*

          I put “Busy – standing meeting” on my calendar for something like that on my work calendar.

    6. Tio*

      It’s not the weirdest thing I’ve heard of, although it does sound like it’s not necessarily needed if they’re making junior employees doing it. Just make your appointments as vague and bland as possible – out of office, or personal appointment, or whatever.

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

      That’s pretty normal for my department, but no one is expected to elaborate on the shared calendar more than Out of Office, or Planned Sick Leave, or Vacation, depending on how you want to word it. I know that when I go to schedule an actual meeting or send them a message, I can see if someone is out, but it’s helpful if I can look at a shared calendar and see that in two weeks 3 coworkers will be out of the office, so make sure I get what I need from them before they’re out. For us it definitely isn’t about tracking hours or managing time appropriately.

    8. Antilles*

      Are you required to actually identify the appointment with details?
      I could see an argument for a shared calendar which just lists when everybody’s unavailable so that it’s easy to tell when people are in or out. Yes, people have their individual calendars, but there’s some simplicity in having everybody on the same single group calendar.
      But that doesn’t require any real information beyond a simple “Princess Peach, out of office 2pm-5pm Tuesday”. Doesn’t matter if it’s a doctor’s appointment, staying home for a repairman, or if you’re going to be in another castle; all work needs to know is that you’re unavailable Tuesday afternoon.

    9. Two New Jobs*

      Are they expecting you to disclose what the appointment is for? If yes, VERY weird and not appropriate. If they just want to know when you are not available, that’s not as weird. I’m assuming if you were out at an appointment, you’d mark yourself as “unavailable” during that space on your calendar. That’s what I do and just select “private” so others just see it as unavailable.

    10. Productivity Pigeon*

      No that’s weird.

      Do you have to put in what it is you’re doing or can you just put in that you’re busy and not specify why?

    11. Winstonian*

      As others have said, it depends on the details expected. Notifying via calendar that you will be out of the office at X time? very normal. Saying why? No.

    12. Cats and Bats Rule*

      At my company we are also supposed to add personal appointments to our calendars, but only to let othet folks know when we are not available for meetings. We can just say “Out -appointment” as long as the block of time shows we are out or busy.

    13. Maotseduck*

      We do this on a shared calendar in my department. 90% of us are salaried, but we’re expected to put when we’re out of the office. We don’t share our personal calendars though.

      That said, I meet with my therapist remotely in one of my coworkers offices after I’m off work (he works remote on Tuesdays, my office is an office cube hybrid with no privacy). No one has batted an eye beyond the why are you still here questions. (I don’t take lunch and normally leave at four).

    14. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I would feel weird. I just tell my boss I’m going to the doctor and that I’ll be back at X time

    15. Ama*

      The email and details are what really seems weird to me. At my work we have a “master calendar” where any out of office time (both PTO and work travel) is listed, but it just lists “Ama – sick time” or “Ama-personal day.”

      It’s practice in my department to send a calendar invite to your boss and direct reports when you are taking PTO but again you aren’t expected to add details just “Out of office.”

    16. Cordelia*

      Its weird if they expect you to say what the appointment is for, but you say you are using outlook calendars to see people’s availability for scheduling, so you do need to be putting something – aren’t you allowed to just put “unavailable”, or “out of office”?

    17. DisneyChannelThis*

      We have that as a calendar everyone can access but not emailed out. It’s helpful when youre trying to find someone for a quick meeting but can’t get ahold of them. We just put vague “disney – PTO day” or “disney – back at 2pm” on it though.

      I saw your other comment, I wouldn’t worry about reoccurring appointments, no one else is going to notice that. Or just add some additional stuff to disguise it so it’s not clearly a therapist appointment every week but a series of stuff. I’d also like to add that physical therapy is much less stigmatized and occurs regularly if you want a cover story, “Oh old injury, my doctor suggested weekly PT for awhile to see if it helps”, your brain can have an old injury…. I used to use my lunch break for therapy appointments, yay anxiety. Then for a reoccurring dietician appointment I used to just say I was doing lunch break walks and leave to go take the call lol.

    18. MegPie*

      Not sure how normal it is but we had to do something like this at my last job. They claimed it was for “safety” (=/), but mostly I think it was just a micromanage-y culture. Every other professional job I’ve had has assumed that I’m professional enough to inform the right people and/or adequately prep for when I’m away. So if it really bothers you I would say just ask yourself if it’s a dealbreaker and act accordingly.

    19. Nora*

      If its just a list of when you’ll be out unexpectedly I think thats fine. If its more detailed than that that’s weird.

    20. Qwerty*

      As long as you can be vague and just write “Appointment” it doesn’t seem too out of step. Keeping a shared calendar of people’s time off has been normal in most departments I’ve worked in. The email part sounds like an old practice or because one person struggled with viewing the shared calendar.

      The goal is just to know when people are around, especially if its an office where you have flexiblity in your hours. No one actually cares what you are doing with that time. You can also try putting “Princess Peach – Out of Office” or “Princess Peach – Texting only” to make it more vague – they really just want to know that you are not in the office / offline during that period, not whether it is personal vs doctor vs vacation.

    21. I Have RBF*

      If I’m going to be unavailable during work hours, I have to put it on the shared group calendar. It doesn’t have to be detailed, just “RBF OOO” and the date and times in outlook on the shared calendar. No one cares about what its for, although sometimes I’ll put “RBF OOO Medical” but that’s about it.

      It’s not an intrusion for your workplace to know if you will be unavailable during work hours. It lets your manager and coworkers know not to get their knickers in a twist if you don’t immediately reply to their messages. Even salaried, with unlimited sick and vacation, which I have, they still need to know when, and a shared calendar is the easiest way to do so.

      1. ExactScheduleNotPossible*

        anyone who relies on public transit will have no earthly clue when they’ll be home/back in office from going somewhere. it could take 3 hours or 6 hours to do the same thing.

        Plus, things change all the time. I was asked to email my boss a tentative schedule for the following week every Friday and I averaged 2-3 corrections a week.

        People should be asking when someone is available before scheduling stuff regardless. I have a mix of wotk related must dos, want to attend, attend if I can, blocked out to get stuff done, etc without any personal appointments. Some are easily changed, some are not. My calendar is for me; it us not a good way to determine when I can meet with you.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Not only transit users–drive time is wildly unpredictable in an urban core. My most reliable transportation for timing is my bike. Never caught in a traffic jam. When I schedule anything that requires travel I include a travel time block on either side.

          THIS: “People should be asking when someone is available before scheduling stuff regardless. I have a mix of wotk related must dos, want to attend, attend if I can, blocked out to get stuff done, etc without any personal appointments. Some are easily changed, some are not. My calendar is for me; it us not a good way to determine when I can meet with you.”

          Being able to view other people’s calendars isn’t great for their productivity. Am I interrupting the only free block they have all week for some deep thought work? How would I know? I put “work block” holds on my calendar to save that kind of time from being broken up into unusable tiny chunks. And my calendar changes nearly daily because of the type of work I do so there’s no way I’d be able to keep anyone informed in real time. Thank heavens my boss isn’t a micromanager.

    22. Morgan Proctor*

      I feel like this is normal? We use the google suite at work and you can look up anyone’s calendar. People typically just put “busy” blocks or “appointment” for stuff like this. It’s just to let people know that you’re not available during that time. There’s nothing you’ve said here indicates that you’ve been told to include granular detail. So just don’t? Just put “busy” or “out of office” or “appointment,” this isn’t weird.

      1. BecauseHigherEd*

        Yeah, I’m kind of in that boat. I think you don’t need to say, “Visit to the Proctologist,” but indicating when you’ll be out can be helpful. I work in Higher Ed and we have someone right now who does not update his calendar regularly and is always out, so it creates issues when, say, the Counseling Center calls and says “We need to have an urgent conversation with Fergus about a student who is being institutionalized…when will they be back in?” the front desk can easily check and say, “They’ll call back in an hour” or “They won’t be back at their desk until tomorrow.”

      2. Princes Peach*

        OP here. I have no problem with blocking appointments on my own calendar, where people will only see it if they need to schedule with me. It’s the departmental calendar and the weekly announcements that rub me the wrong way – I have more appointments than most people due to some health challenges, and I’m not comfortable with the entire department knowing or speculating about that. I have at least one colleague who loves to gossip and I’m sure that seeing “Peach afternoon appointment” listed on multiple days will pique her curiosity.

        1. Rainy*

          I totally agree with you and I think it’s a huge overstep for them to ask for this *if* they’re requiring a lot of details. It’s also just not helpful at all for anyone except the department busybodies!

        2. I Have RBF*

          But if you just write “Peach OOO”, they won’t know whether it’s medical, dental, automotive, business, kids stuff, spouse stuff, etc.

          We use a shared calendar where I work. No one asks why people are out. They just see it, and plan accordingly.

    23. Maleficent2026*

      My Inner Chaos Goblin says you should find the most outlandish descriptions to put for these appointments. Dragon slaying, attempting the Kessel run, brewing potions, learning how to pilot a star ship, etc. They only said you had to put A reason, no one said anything about it having to be the REAL reason.

    24. Rainy*

      I don’t see an issue with blocking time that you’re unavailable in your own Outlook. I would absolutely not add all my personal appointments to a group calendar, especially not with any label other than “Busy” or “Off site”, because it’s nobody’s business particularly work.

    25. TX_Trucker*

      We require the use of a group calendar and I find it helpful. We don’t email it out. Most folks list private appointments as just “appointment” or “out of office” with no details. Some folks, (including me) do give personal details, at least occasionally. For example, when I take my mom to the doctor, I share it. When my regular staff see this, they know: 1) I absolutely cannot reschedule. 2) I’m just sitting in the waiting room, so they can text me, and 3) no, I can not take a quick phone call.

    26. sulky-anne*

      I think how reasonable this is depends on how much detail they want. If you can just block off chunks of time with a vague header like “appointment” or “away”, that might be mildly annoying if it doesn’t seem essential for scheduling but it seems fair enough. If they actually want a detailed account of any time you spend away from your desk, and you’re not expected to keep track of hours or have consistent availability, that makes no sense to me. I would probably put in as little information as I could get away with.

    27. C.*

      No, this is extremely weird, and I would feel the exact same way you do. Before our team’s current director, that person requested we make *every* appointment visible in Outlook, as well. When I was hired, and my manager asked that I set my calendar up to accommodate that, I could tell she thought it was ridiculous, too. I was never given a reason “why” for it, either, other than “[X] likes to know where people are.” Thankfully, that attitude is starting to subside on my team.

  6. babylawyer*

    I’m about to graduate law school and am job hunting. Next week, I have an interview with a firm that specializes in the niche area of law that I am interested in and have worked in extensively thus far in law school. However, I have some concerns about the firm being a culture fit, especially as a young woman, because the firm is mostly older men (only two female lawyers in the whole firm, and one of them appears to be the founder’s daughter), and I get the sense that it might be pretty old school (this field of law is half super progressive, half super traditionalist, old school sausage fest). What questions can I ask in the interview that would help me get the sense of whether it would be a supportive place for a young, early-career, female attorney to begin her career?

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      IANAL, so excuse my ignorance of details, but could you ask how many cases of the more progressive type the firm handles each year? Or whether there is a push to increase that number, so they’d welcome someone who is interested in that area?

      Would you have an opportunity to talk with the non-nepotism female attorney? She would probably be the best at describing the culture, if she was willing.

    2. Rory*

      I think that depends on what your concerns are with an “old school” firm and that will help you frame your questions. What are your chief worries? Work/life balance, being properly mentored/supported in your career growth, professional development/training opportunities, innovation/being up to date with the latest practices, or are you worried about discrimination, bullying, or potential harassment as a woman, that you won’t be taken as seriously or valued as much because you are not one of the older men? Would it be possible to speak with the female lawyer who is NOT the founder’s daughter and get a sense of what her experience is at the firm?

      1. babylawyer*

        I’m mostly worried about having adequate mentorship and professional development opportunities, being devalued or disrespected as a woman, and the firm’s values not being aligned with my own. Less worried about work/life balance or the gendered issues around parenthood, as I don’t plan on having kids and I don’t mind devoting substantial hours to my work. Talking to the other female lawyer is a great idea, although she is a fairly recent law school graduate and has been at the firm for not that long, so I don’t know how much intel she’d have.

        1. Gyne*

          She would definitely be able to speak to the quality of the mentorship, and I think that’s a completely fair and normal question to also ask the senior partners! can they describe the onboarding and mentorship they give to new graduates. Also what is the path to partnership, how many of their hires ascend to partner and what is that average timeframe?

          I think you’ll get a pretty clear sense of the kind of people they are during this process- the good thing about old school white dudes is that they don’t have any reservations about showing you exactly who they are because they think they’re just fine!

    3. Just Here for the Cake*

      Some suggestions!
      – What is the firm doing to support DEI efforts?
      – What types of career development opportunities to you offer?
      – Is it possible to talk to one of the other lawyers about what it is like to work at this firm?
      – How would you describe the work culture at this firm?
      – Why is this role open?
      – What type of person thrives working at this firm?

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I would not ask, in a small law firm, about their DEI efforts. I think it risks coming across as negatively critical of the current make-up of the firm, and it’s not the place of a candidate to do that. If you can talk one-on-one with one of the women lawyers, that might be a better time and place to ask

        Instead of asking nebulously about career development, I’d ask the question in a way that shows you know what that means in the context of a law career. Specifically, does the firm participate in the ABA or local/regional bar association sections in the practice area that you’re focusing on. You can also ask if the firm pays for CLEs and bar association fees in addition to your annual license and registration fees as part of the compensation package offered.

        As for work culture, in a question that also goes towards professional development, you might ask if you’d be working under one supervising lawyer, or if you’ll be getting work assignments from multiple people. The former can be preferable for workflow and communication (unless, of course, you get a wack supervising lawyer). I wouldn’t ask an open-ended question about work culture — as a first-year lawyer, you will be working many long, hard hours as you learn the practice of law outside of law school. It’ll be rough but you kind of have to suck it up until you eventually get the hang of it. (This is absolutely *not* a “well, I had it hard so the young folks have to have it hard, too” situation. The first year is rough no matter where you are, BigLaw or small firm.)

        I’m afraid I don’t recommend asking the last two questions suggested. Small law firms bring in new lawyers because they want to hire someone cheap and/or they’re looking to ensure succession planning. Hopefully they’ve taken into account your learning curve.

        I think it would be awkward to ask the last question offered. The honest answer to the last question will be, “Someone who bills a million hours and therefore makes money for the firm.” It just doesn’t feel like an ideal law interview question to ask.

        1. kitryan*

          I’m lawyer adjacent and (though I bow to actual lawyers’ experience) to add to the (excellent) question of whether there’s generally one supervisor you’d work under or multiple, if the firm handles different (sub) types of work (as I think most with more than a couple partners would), you may also want to ask how much exposure you might get to different types of projects- for example, if a firm has a real estate focus, they might have partners who handle leasing matters and others who handle financing, construction contracts, or environmental issues with real estate projects, and so forth, and I imagine that you might want to see if you’ll get a variety of experiences or be assigned to a particular practice group pretty quickly, (depth versus breadth really), and what amount of input (phrased carefully so as not to seem like you’d be demanding or anything) you would have into what type of work you might do down the line. Some of that info might also help with finding out how progressive the firm/its work actually might be by coming at it sideways, sort of.

    4. MKatty*

      I’m a mid-level attorney who’s female, queer and person of color. The type of law firm you’re describing is a huge turn off but sadly common. I deliberately seek out jobs where I know the office staff is diverse and there’s a culture of progressive values. Are there other firms near you with a more diverse workforce? And you should ask follow up questions as suggested by Just Here for Cake.

      As a sidebar, I find lawyers to be very traditional even if they are politically liberal. I think it’s the nature of the job, it attracts a certain type of person.

      1. babylawyer*

        Yes, there are lots of firms doing this sort of law in my area, but they tend to be small and not hire often, particularly not people fresh out of law school. I’ve worked for two such firms as a clerk/summer associate in law school and have a great relationship with them, but they’ve made it clear that they think I’m awesome, but they’re either not hiring, or they want someone mid-level. This is the first firm I’ve seen doing this sort of work in my area that’s hiring a junior associate, which is why I’n eager to interview with them. I don’t want to dismiss the firm out of hand based on assumptions I’ve made based on their website, but I also want to do my due diligence.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          If it were me I would seriously consider jumping at this opportunity, if offered, and then, if the firm is no bueno, make a plan to lateral out into one of the other firms. Keep networking and keep your eye on the prize. The first couple-few years will go fast, even if the first firm you’re at isn’t ideal.

          1. Jaydee*

            Yeah, I would second this. I know lots of attorneys who had multiple 1-2 year long jobs early in their career before they found one that was the right fit to settle into longer term.

            Keep in touch with people at the firms you interned at – in a few years, you’ll be that mid-level person they’re looking to hire.

            Also, get involved with your local bar associations and any organizations specific to your practice area. You’ll get more mentoring and professional development opportunities that way, keep up on changes and new developments in your practice areas, and build and maintain a professional network that can help you find that next job if you need.

        2. another lawyer*

          If you don’t have many other real options (assuming you are focused on a practice area + a geographic location) I agree to jump on this opportunity, maintain connections with your summer firms, participate in your local bar association sections and try get people from those two other firms to present etc, and move over there when possible.

          I would talk to the new attorney at the hiring firm and ask about the type of work she’s doing, the types of meetings she has with the other attorneys, the way the other attorneys give feedback on her drafting, how much client contact vs writing vs doc review vs admin she’s been doing, and the way the firm assigns work. Ideally do this in person in a social setting so she can tell you “run” if that’s how she feels.

          For the firm, I’d not waste time asking about DEI if you would work there even if they don’t have DEI initiatives. I’d ask about the type of projects and/or cases they envision this position handling, how they staff their cases (is everyone on every case or does every attorney have their own cases with only coverage from the others or are they envisioning the junior attorneys in a more associate-ish, gruntwork role), and why they created a junior associate role. Ask the magic question (what would make someone in this position great vs good) as that will tell you how much independence/thrown-to-the-sharksness you’d get right off the bat.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        At this point, a decent sized law firm that has a commitment to DEI should have a fairly diverse workforce, I would think.

        I would ask them about their commitment to your career growth and to DEI in general. What is the firm doing to attract and retain women and minorities? What do they see as the biggest challenges to DEI at their firm (if they say it is that women want equal pay, well, there you go – not the place you want to work for).

        Remember that you’re interviewing them, just as much as they are interviewing you. In your shoes, I would be looking for law firms that have a real commitment to diversity, as a first choice. Many do.

    5. BigLawEx*

      I guess my question is what are you looking for? A friend who graduated from law school in my year worked for a small (10? 15) lawyer tax firm in Rochester, NY. The partners were all old white men. The associates, young white men. She is a queer white woman. Though she was not out there, the work was fine. They were not overtly sexist or misogynistic. Just nose to the grindstone. Make your hours. Do good work. Go home folks. She stayed 2 or 3 years then moved to the IRS.

      Anyway, if you’re looking to make partner, or get intense training, then you’ll need to have a different kind of assessment – what’s partnership track. Is there one? How are assignments made? (You don’t want to be limited to the a-hole partner no one else can work with). What comprises mentorship (shadowing, assignments, intro to other attys in town).

      Also get involved with the local bar. It can be tedious, but in the beginning it will give you a good lay of the local land.

    6. RedinSC*

      Does the local Bar have a regular mixer? Would it be possible to attend some of those to ask about Sausagefest Law firm?

      I live in a small community so all the lawyers know each other. That might not work in a larger metro area, though.

  7. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    Wondering how common this is — I joined my org in spring of last year. We just went through performance reviews, and the org has a policy that anyone who has been there for <1y can only get a "meets expectations" performance review (3 of 5). They also have a policy that your merit increase (based on your performance review) is prorated by the length of time you've been there — so I've been here 3/4 of a year, so my merit raise is lowered by 1/4. This feel like a double hit for new employees — not only can you not get a higher rating, you can't get the full raise promised based on your average rating? But if this is a common thing, then I guess I just need to shrug and move on.

    1. DixieChick*

      Yeah, this is weird. It pretty much says to new employees, “You only need to do the bare minimum your first year with us.” The first year is when new employees should be impressing their managers and reiterating that they made a good choice in hiring the new employee. Some companies do this though; they are very heavy on giving more incentives to tenured employees, which some people agree with, but to each his own.

    2. Two New Jobs*

      At my current company, I believe new employees can’t even get a raise if they were hired less than a year before the evaluations so that part isn’t as surprising. I think for the “meets expectations” part it might be more of a way to protect new employees who are ramping up.

      So let’s say your role was expected to produce four widget reports a week to get “meets expectations” and you’d need to report five or more to exceed. But you have only just started and it takes about four months for a brand new employee to hit the target of four, it would be sort of unfair to give them “does not meet expectations” because their average was below the target as they were still learning the job. That’s just my take.

    3. Nea*

      I can understand the idea of prorating for how long you’ve been at the company, but if I’m reading this right, someone can start a job, be a rock star, and still will automatically be dubbed “meets expectations”?

      Let me guess; next year they’re still “meets expectations” because they’re performing at the same high level instead of showing advancement?

      That’s a “yikes” from me!

      1. Antilles*

        It feels like the optimum play for a rock star is to do the bare minimum in year 1 for the 3/5 rating, so then in your second year, you can perform up to your normal level and get extra credit for “Greatly Exceeds Expectations”.

        1. BellyButton*

          The thinking and reason for the rule was put into place is that someone in their first year is still learning the job and in less than a year you will be functioning at level. It is so wrong and out dated, but that was the intention behind it. Best practice in performance/talent let go of these sorts of ratings and rules 10 yrs ago.

          1. Ama*

            Yeah, I’ll be honest I’d have to really really like a job before I worked long-term at a company where they still use a rating scale for performance reviews. I realize they are still really common but in practice it seems like a lot of companies mostly use them in a way that denies high performers the ratings they actually deserve (and thus promotions, raises, etc.).

            1. I Have RBF*

              All tech companies I’ve worked for over the last 25 years had a 1 to 5 rating scale, and most did (unannounced) stack ranking too. It’s really common, even if the HR verbiage tries to obfuscate it. Yes, the companies use it to shaft high performers, yes, it’s common, and no, you can’t escape it.

              IMO, the way most companies handle performance assessment and management sucks boulders through a cocktail straw. But I have never been able to even try to suggest a different way. All you can do is try to set reasonable KPIs to try to meet, and hope your boss and grandboss are aware of your work.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        It could make sense if it’s a fairly junior role that’s being done by a lot of people. For instance, if you’re a staff accountant who was hired a few months ago, you’re probably not doing the full scope of the tasks you’re eventually going to be doing as part of the role, so it doesn’t seem reasonable to compare you to the people who are.

        I was actually the beneficiary of this when I started — I was kind of seen as the “new shiny” by the head of the department I was hired into, and I got very generous merit raises and bonuses (even ones where some of the criteria were explicitly relative!), even when I was only doing the simplest work and my nominal peers were entrusted with much more. I was smart and learned fast, but not *that* fast.

        But if you were hired externally a couple of months ago to be the Senior VP of Marketing or something, then that would be a different situation altogether.

    4. BellyButton*

      The performance rating scale and rule around who can get above Meets Expectations is so old school. They likely have a forced distribution, meaning only 3-5% of the entire company can get 4 or 5s. This was how many companies functioned 10-15 yrs ago, but it has been shown that it really demotivates employees (duh!) and instead of inspiring managers to look at their talent and evaluate fairly, they just fall back on the rules. I once had a manager tell me “you got a 5 last time, so it is some else’s turn.” Great, thanks.

      The prorated merit is pretty standard.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        I think there’s a pretty crucial difference here! I agree that capping the number of people who can get a certain rating makes no sense, but this is capping how high a *rating* someone can get if they haven’t been around long enough for their manager to have sufficient data to give them a fair rating. I think the idea someone brought up in another comment of “developing toward expectations” makes a lot of sense.

      2. Momma Bear*

        Sometimes the capping is also to hide that they’re not promoting a rock star or to spread out a finite pot of money for bonuses or raises. I think that this is outdated but unfortunately common in big business or government.

    5. anecdata*

      My company has a special rating only available for folks in their role 3-12 months (if less than 3 months, you don’t do the regular performance rating at all): “Developed towards expectations”. It basically means “you’re doing well, given that you’re new”. I don’t know if it’s a strict policy, but in practice, everyone new gets it (unless their manager is trying to manage them out)

      1. Irish Girl*

        We have a class called “too new to rate” for people under a certain amount of time in the role that are new to the company. If you change departments its a weird mix of your current and former boss doing your review.

        1. Momma Bear*

          We have that – if you’re new to your role or were just hired you might get a pass until the next rating timeframe.

    6. Jane Bingley*

      This is absurd.

      If it were a one-time bonus, prorating would make sense – if great performers get $5000 and you’ve been there for half a year, you get $2500. But prorating a raise is strange. It should really be based on performance, not time – most new employees would likely be meeting expectations and not the same raise as their best performers, but that’s to be expected.

      This system seems to assume new people can’t perform well, which unnecessarily punishes truly great employees. Rather than letting the expectations play out for most people, and rewarding those who are stellar, there’s a systemic decision that new employees won’t be great.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s how our system worked at my last company. In your first partial year, you were likely to get a baseline 3/5 (unless you really bombed out) just because most people did regardless of tenure, due to the forced distribution. However, your raise was the same amount that any 3/5 rated employee was given – if everyone got 3% so did you. As it happened, getting a 4/5 did not garner a significant increase, you might get 3.3% so not huge motivation all the way around. The only compensation prorating was to the annual bonus and to annual PTO allotment.

      2. BonusDrivenRankings*

        Every company I’ve ever worked for prorated the raise the first year. They did allow organic ratings, though- the meets expectations requirement just for new people is weird. That said, I have worked at two companies that required dispensations from up high to give any rating above that to anyone because it usually meant that person would be eligible for a large bonus.

    7. Alex*

      When I started at my current workplace, performance review came up within just a couple of months, and they did tell me that due to my being new, that I shouldn’t expect anything more than a medium score, and that that was expected and normal. The descriptions for the different ratings were about how thoroughly you knew your job and were able to work independently, and you can’t do that if you are still learning.

      I don’t think it was a “policy” per se but it was just how they did things. I think you can look at it as everyone is in that boat their first year and it isn’t personal.

    8. Irish Girl*

      Its one thing to have meets expectations, you would need to be a super rock start to be exceeding expectations in your first year, but it is odd that your raise would be prorated. That is hugely impactful for future earnings missing out on that 1/4. When people at my company start or change roles, they are told if they are eligible for a merit increase at performance review time but i have never seen it prorated.

    9. House On The Rock*

      I wonder if the rating is a misplaced way of trying to protect people in their ramp up period. My organization’s has a rating of “approaches expectations” that is considered under-performing for most employees, but can be used for newer staff to indicate progress and learning.

      In terms of prorating raises, that’s not great in practice but it’s probably better than a hard cutoff date, which means that people who have been somewhere only slightly less time don’t get any raises for close to a full year.

    10. learnedthehardway*

      Well, that’s a great way of ensuring that new employees don’t put in their full effort in the first year. Yeesh. Do people not actually think through what they are ACTUALLY incenting?!??

      It would make entirely logical sense to get comfortable in the first year, and pull out the stops in your second year, when you would get rewarded for the efforts.

    11. Dollars to Donuts*

      This is exactly what my company does too. And in my case, I agree that it truly takes a year or more to fully learn the role (very unique/niche so no one comes in with all the relevant experience).

    12. Bloops*

      This is really similar to how my company does things… but they are pretty stingy about performance reviews and especially raises.

    13. dogmom*

      At my old company, the default for all performance reviews regardless of time served at the company was “meets expectations.” You could look at your manager cross-eyed and get bumped down, but you basically had to give birth to Jesus Himself to get bumped up. It was a total scam to keep raises low — you don’t have a whole company full of thousands of C students. My old roommate had a review once — this guy was the head of a team, routinely worked 16- to 20-hour days during his busy season, really busted his ass because he loved the subject area — and was given a glowing evaluation before being told he “met expectations.” Taken aback, he asked what he could do to go higher the following review cycle; after a minute or so, his department head (a clown generally), who had clearly been caught off-guard by the question, finally said, “Well, you could keep your desk tidier.” My roommate wanted to punch the guy but did not.

  8. Two New Jobs*

    Hi all. I have about a decade of knowledge in a topic related to college admissions. I work in the industry, but the particular topic is niche and very complicated so most people would not know it on such a granular level and its not a requirement to work in this field, just a big plus. I’ve been curious about consulting in addition to my FT work but the only time I was offered a great consulting gig was right before I was going on maternity leave so I couldn’t accept it and then the opportunity was not available when I returned.
    Well, we are now years later and I have been offered another unicorn consulting job but… I’m about to start a brand new full-time job.
    The work is not a competitor but my new FT role is still in the college admissions field, but I just feel weird asking my brand new employer if I can have a consulting job on the side. The offer letter was sort of unclear about moonlighting, it seemed to say it was not allowed for anything related to the work so I would definitely need to ask to confirm if this was against policy. Is there a way I can ask about this and not give off a bad impression when I’ve started?
    I’m definitely going to turn now the consulting job if there are any issues for my new FT role, but I guess I wonder if I’d be misstepping by even asking right after I start. And unfortunately the consulting job would need my answer by my second week of the new job. Timing is bad!

    1. Two New Jobs*

      To be clear, my FT roles are in “general college admissions role” and I want to consult in “very specialized college admissions topic” so it’s not like my consulting work would be exactly what I do for my FT role.

      1. BecauseHigherEd*

        To be honest, I think this really depends. If you are, say, in enrollment management at a university, and you are also an expert on helping universities increase their enrollment of minoritized students, that to me isn’t a red flag (unless it violates university policies).

        If you’re a college admissions officer at an Ivy League school and you’re also consulting international students on admission to Ivy League schools, then that could be a definite conflict of interest on several levels (in part because it creates the impression that students can pay you for admission).

        If you’re working full time for a third party company that does general college admissions advising…I think it depends on whether you’re other consulting position is directed at students, parents, schools, universities, agents, etc. If there is overlap between those two things, then it could be an issue. I think you’d only be 100% in the clear if the two things are unrelated (ex. you work with students and parents on admission to prestigious Ivy League schools and consult local community colleges on enrollment management.)

    2. Becca*

      Do you anticipate any problems with ramping up the FT job and the consulting job at the same time? I often feel like it takes me a few months to get really used to a new job and would find juggling both stressful, and I’d worry that the FT job might think any normal newbie onboarding quirks might be as a result of taking on this extra work. It might also be different if you were already consulting and only onboarding to one of them.

      If I were you, I would probably err on the side of caution and not ask so early in the new FT job, both to make sure I wasn’t biting off too much and to avoid giving the wrong impression. FWIW it sounds like you have a really useful skillset and opportunities like this could come up again!

    3. Pumpkinhead*

      Does your new employer have an employee handbook of any kind? I also work in higher ed and our HR website (publicly available website) has information about what kind of side work constitutes a conflict of interest or needs to be reported/documented/approved by your supervisor. If your employer doesn’t outline this info and you do have to ask about it, I would probably not phrase it as though asking for permission. For example, maybe you could ask, “What is Company’s policy on any work I do outside of my role, in my personal time?” or some similar phrasing. If you can start with asking for an employee handbook before you ask about this policy, even better!

      In my opinion, if your plan is to decline the consulting job if it violates your company policy, I would probably not mention that you currently have an offer to consult on the table until you have to (e.g. if you’re allowed to have outside work but only if you disclose it/if it doesn’t have a conflict of interest).

    4. M2*

      A close family member of mine is the head of admissions at an Ivy. This is not allowed. It is their policy. Ivy admissions people could make bank doing this, but it’s unethical and a conflict of interest. They actually send out forms where you must say if you have another job/ what kind / when and HR has to okay it. One person wanted to work over the summer on weekend at let’s say Williams Sonoma because they bought a house and wanted the discount on pots and pans. But it wouldn’t have been okayd during season or when traveling.

      Read the policy again and ask generally about the rules about consulting but usually it’s not allowed in admissions and a big conflict of interest.

      Someone I knew used to consult on the side but wouldn’t consult for their particular school or field. You weren’t supposed to get her if you were applying to her university. Say she was an AD for graduate admissions for engineering, she consulted for other grad and undergrad admissions but said she wouldn’t do engineering or CS. (This wasn’t her field but she Is niche). Unfortunately, people lie and the company sent people to her anyway. They clearly didn’t care about the conflict of interest. She had been at the university for decades and basically didn’t fill out the form or told anyone. When HR found out (someone
      emailed someone because their kid didn’t get into some program she helped with the application) they didn’t fire her but she was told she needed to go. She works elsewhere now and she asked about consulting right away and they told her NO. Some places may let you say consult in admissions for private high schools but none that I know of would allow consulting on the side for college or graduate school.

      Also, how do you have time? I know a few people on admissions and during the season they work crazy hours and before the season they travel all over. I also have a problem with this since it’s basically helping wealthier people get into school. It’s not some volunteer thing you’re doing to help URM or first generation students (and yes I know about the Supreme Court decision).

    5. CheckIPPolicy*

      This is almost always covered in employee handbooks and sometimes employment agreements and/or other onboarding documents. Look for clauses about intellectual property as well as outside work; companies often have draconian IP policies that either need to be negotiated or would make it impossible to do many types of outside work. As a separate note, I recommend everyone look at these clauses as some of them even jeopardize past output before you started the relevant job or might impede what you can do for a period of time after you leave.

  9. Jadzia Snax*

    After two years at my horrible job I finally have an interview somewhere promising and they’re moving!! Very quickly!! So I’m here seeking advice/guidance on a couple things –

    1) They want FIVE references, two from current/past supervisors, and I am wondering if it’s ill-advised to list my current supervisor? Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t even consider it, but I only have two past supervisors and one is from a job I left almost nine years ago. I have a really good relationship with my current supervisor and I think she will be disappointed-but-understanding if I get this job, but I also don’t want them to like, contact her and then have it turn out I don’t get offered the job and it sours things with her.

    2) If I already have a second interview scheduled before I had a chance to send out a thank-you note for the first interview, would it be overkill to send that thank-you note anyway? (an admin assistant contacted me about the second interview rather than the interviewer).

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

    1. Hlao-roo*

      (1) If I were you, I would try to get in touch with both of your past supervisors. I say this because you wrote “I also don’t want them to like, contact her and then have it turn out I don’t get offered the job and it sours things with her,” which is a definite possibility if you list her as a reference.

    2. Bacu1a*

      Do you have a peer or a manager in another department that you work closely with that you trust? If you were contractual or in a temporary/student position, I think I would feel differently.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Have you worked on a project with a designated project manager orscrum-master? They’re not your org-chart supervisor but have supervised your work output. I’d accept it!

    3. Tio*

      You probably don’t have to send the thank you for the first interview if you’re already scheduled, but if you’re set on it, you could add “looking forward to talking to you on Tuesday” or whatever. If the hiring manager was the type to be swayed by the thank you note, you probably wouldn’t have been moved on already. But you can also type up a draft thank you note, and then input the contacts and send it after the second interview if you think that might be a factor.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      If your second interview is with a different person/people, go ahead and send the thank you. If it’s the same people (or you don’t know), I’d wait on it.

    5. Artemis*

      Sometimes the “moving quickly” part of the interview process can cloud a person’s judgment. I would tread carefully in terms of asking for a reference from your current job. If you list your current supervisor as a reference and don’t get this job, it will most likely change your relationship with her. She may view you as a short-timer or she might speculate about why you didn’t get the job you were applying for. IMO it’s too risky.

    6. Workerbee*

      They should not be asking you to provide a reference from a current boss! Push back on that one. They should know better than to require it.

      1. OrdinaryJoe*

        Yes – second this comment. They should know reference from current boss/job is too risky of an ask. If they require that, I would consider it a red flag. I wonder if you could get around it by explaining the situation and offering performance reviews from the current job? If you don’t have copies, you can request them from HR.

        1. Jadzia Snax*

          They said current or previous, so the judgment red flag is really on me here, lol. I’ll just list the older supervisor and hope that it works out.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      Don’t provide current supervisor references until/unless you have a written offer in hand. It’s unfair of the company to expect that.

      Also, unless you’re in a really senior role, 5 references is a big ask. 3 is standard.

      I would get ahold of your prior references and use them – if they want 5 references, you’re going to need to do that anyway. Withhold the current supervisor until the prospective employer has put something in writing to you.

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Just provide 3 references and see what happens. IME references frequently are not even contacted these days.

  10. Middle Aged SME*

    I have a Zoom meeting next week with someone based in Israel. I have never met this person, so have no information about what their experience with the war is. My gut instinct is not to comment or ask how they are doing, etc (beyond the usual business pleasantries, of “nice to meet you”). Would this be seen as uncaring? Is there a better way to address this as opposed to my approach of essentially ignoring it and sticking to the business at hand?

    1. L&D Gal*

      I would briefly address it! “I know things are really hard for you all right now, and I’m thinking of you.” or “I’m sure things are incredibly difficult right now, but I’m sending you a lot of support…”
      Something like that

      1. TechWorker*

        If this is someone you’re meeting for the first time.. really? You don’t really know anything about them at all.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      My gut feeling is the same as yours. I think that it would come across as trying to suck up and a bit clueless or insensitive. The country might be at war but the people are trying to go about their normal lives as much as they can. The person you’re meeting with might see work as a respite from all the craziness.

      Politely passing the time of day is part of doing business. Presumably, the situation isn’t relavant to your industry so I’d leave it out.

    3. Kiki Is The Most*

      If this is for a professional meeting, then I would keep it ‘business as usual’. “How are you?” won’t be given much thought beyond professional pleasantries. However, if the person you are meeting does elaborate on their own, then maybe a “This is such a difficult situation” type of response (or anything simple yet kind, that would return the conversation to your meeting, would be okay).

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I find, “how are you?” said in a friendly tone, useful in these situations. The other person can choose to interpret it merely as a greeting – “fine, thanks. And you?” – if they don’t want to discuss things or as sympathy – “it’s stressful, but we’re getting through it,” – if they are comfortable with that.

    5. thelettermegan*

      a good old fashioned, neutral ‘How’s it going?’ ought to tell you how open they want to be to discussing it. In challenging times, a lot of people rely on the workplace as an ‘escape’, so they may appreciate not having to bring it up. But if they do respond with an acknowledgement of the ongoing war, you can express your sympathies.

    6. Cee S*

      After 2020, I’d ask people where do they join the virtual meeting so that I could be mindful about time zones. Such a question sounds neutral and practical. Note that some cultures are not custom to small talks so don’t feel guilty about jumping into business right away.
      In 2022, I had a Zoom meeting with someone who escaped from Russia after the invasion. They were very upfront that they moved because of the war.

      1. retired3*

        I’m mentoring a woman in the west of Ukraine in English. She has canceled our calls because she was in the bomb shelter. I let her take the lead in what she wants to talk about. Mostly we talk about mundane things.

    7. Distracted Procrastinator*

      I think a small comment to show you do understand that things are difficult right now would be fine, but be prepared with scripts to steer things back if it opens a political can of worms.

    8. Pamela Adams*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t say anything. If they choose to start a conversation, that’s one thing, but if I’m required to work with someone, I don’t want to discuss controversial topics.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      For me, “I hope you are safe and well” is sensitive and yet generic enough to cover both the war and the pandemic.

    10. EA*

      I vote for don’t mention it unless they bring it up. I was once living in a country that was in conflict, and frankly it was exhausting to constantly have to answer questions from people who did not know much about the situation asking how I was doing, how was the situation, etc. So I say let this person take the lead on addressing or not addressing it.

      1. Little light*

        Yes, when you’re going through something gigantic, people-who-dont-really-know-much-about-it KEEP asking about it (in a well meaning way) and in my experience too it is exhausting. You have to manage THEIR emotions with your answer, so have to choose your words carefully, and when you’re already spent, it’s another, weary job on top of all the others.

    11. Delphine*

      Keep it business. There is no circumstance where you want to open a can of worms that you can’t close again.

    12. Awkwardness*

      I would not mention anything.
      You know nothing about them or their situation or how much they are being affected. Ask how they are doing and let them take the lead.

    13. Busy Middle Manager*

      Vote for not saying anything! They know there is a war, and probably talk about it all of the time already. There is nothing you can say that is new or groundbreaking on these sort of topics. Focus on being the best SME you can be for the meeting, if you want to lighten their load!

    14. RagingADHD*

      Id give them a geberic opening and follow their lead.

      “How are you, how are things?”

      If they want to talk about it, that’s opportunity enough that they will. If they don’t, it’s generic enough that they can pass it off.

    15. WhatWeDidWithUkraine*

      My boss and I had a work call with folks based in Ukraine soon after that war broke out. It was a little awkward, but we started by asking after their safety and sending wishes for continued good health. We had a 5-10 min discussion of what it was like living in a war zone then moved on. We have started each follow up call with a quick “hope you’re continuing to weather it all as well as possible” type comment and moved on.

      I know the situations are not the same, but I’d suggest something similar. Not saying something is obviously weird and unnatural. I think the key is to do something like what we did – hope everyone is doing as well as possible comments, let them talk or not talk about it as they see fit, then move on. Be sympathetic/empathetic but not political in any way.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        Yes this
        I think not acknowledging it is weirder. Even a “well your region is in the news a lot these days, hope it’s ok for you there.” Is appreciated
        Imagine if they’d just got hit by a hurricane! Would you ignore the usual weather small talk? Just mention it, get it out of the way, move on
        To me that is more polite than not mentioning it

  11. Luna*

    My unemployment benefits are running out at the end of February, and I am applying to places that are in my field of interest (office jobs) or things I have experience in and know I can do (retail, hotels, though I prefer to not work there due to the shift-work constantly shifting). I have even sent out applications to start up a new training in March, on the suggestion of the unemployment office to A) get the official training in a field that makes it easier to get office jobs and B) the government will continue to pay unemployment during the training.

    My problem is that I know I am suffering from severe depression and my last job was so bad, it physically affected my health, and made my depression worse. I’m pretty sure I’m still suffering the effects from burn out from last year.
    On the one hand, I want to find a job and work again because that was one of the things that helped with my depression in the long run.

    On the other hand, I kind of want to talk to my doctor and see if I can be put on temporary job disability because of the burn out. But aside from the stigma that this can always come with, I’m not sure if that’s the right path to take because of the previous point re: depression improvement.

    1. BellyButton*

      I can’t say what is the right path for you, but I’ll share my experience. I was so burned out, my depression was bad, I was going through a divorce, all when I got laid off. I didn’t job hunt for a month, I just wanted to hike and be outside and reset. Not working for longer than that isn’t good for me. While job hunting I volunteered at a couple of places to make sure I got out of the house regularly and was around people. I like to work and really love what I do, so it is definitely a good thing for my mental health to have a full time job.

      I do know that going on disability for anything, but especially mental health, isn’t an easy process. Depending on what state you are in it could take up to 6 months of regular appointments to get approval.

      Good luck!

      1. Cordelia*

        yes I was going to suggest volunteering too. Can you work out which bits of “going to work” helped with your depression before? Maybe it was getting out of the house, talking to people, having to get up at a certain time, completing a concrete task, necessity of showering and self-care – then perhaps you can find a volunteering role that contains the specific ingredients that helped you. And perhaps start doing it part-time and then building up.

        1. Luna*

          ‘Getting paid’ helped, quite frankly. I got my first job at 19, and up to now I have spent more time of my working life unemployed than employed. Being able to do things that earn me money is important for me.

          Also having a schedule always helped. A reason why I was trying to shy away from shift-work because the constant moving of early shift, late shift, jump in here and can you come in suddenly was not something I enjoyed. But if that’s the soonest job I can get, I will bite the lemon, so to speak.

    2. thelettermegan*

      I also got laid off while going through depression years ago, and I sat on the couch and stared into space for about three weeks. Then I called a few temp agencies and told them I’d do whatever.

      It took me about a year to find a new full-time job, but what I finally found was much more of a ‘dream job’ than the job I had lost. No more sunday scaries! And I haven’t been laid off since.

    3. Brain Flogged*

      Go to the doctor. And if they tell you that a temporary disability sort of thing will be good for you, accept it. Else, maybe try part time for a while?

      1. Luna*

        I’m also applying to part-time jobs, and even something that gives me 15 hrs a week, the minimum that can be given to count as not unemployed anymore. Just even those are taking a long time to reply, if they do at all. I’m basically throwing my CV at anything like spaghetti at a wall and see where it sticks.

        1. Brain Flogged*

          Seriously, looking for a job is a job in itself, doing that its already a step up. Keep doing it: it takes time. Also, as BellyButton sugested, volunteeering can both help you get a new job, and assess what kind of job you would like, whitout the pressure of depending of it to live.

    4. M2*

      Talk with your doctor. My sister went on short term FMLa for burn out from her job. She was suffering bad depression and anxiety. In all honestly it didn’t help her (not that it won’t help you). She didn’t really do anything in her time off and ended up drinking and having more issues.

      Are you in therapy? On medication? Exercising and meditating? Ask your doctor about all of these.

      My sister wanted to look for a job when she was off and didn’t and went back to her bad job which just got worse. What made it better for her? Finding a better job and having a schedule. Having things to look forward to, she joined an art class, stared at a beginner pickelball team, etc. all the stuff in her life seemed not great at the same time so I told her you need to change things one at a time. She needed a routine. Are things perfect? No, but she told me she doesn’t feel hollow anymore and she can finally sleep!

      Talk to your doctor and if you need to change doctors or therapists do it.

    5. Joielle*

      I don’t mean to be discouraging but in my experience, “temporary job disability” is not really a thing. It could be different depending on where you’re located, but where I am, getting any sort of state or county-based funding for being out of work due to disability is a long and complicated process (almost always involving multiple denials and appeals, strict asset limits, and a showing of very serious disability that makes you unable to do any type of paid work). And even after all that, the amount of money available is not really enough to live on. For some people, they have no other option and they have to go through it, but just a caution that it might not be as simple as it seems.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, I asked several doctors about this and they all said no, that’s not something you can really do, it takes years if you try, and it should be last resort.

        1. kalli*

          This really depends on whether you have a diagnosis, how impactful it is, and how much documentation you have to prove it, as well as the actual jurisdiction. I had to wait a year from application but I got it with one supportive report from a specialist and a personal letter to the head of the relevant department. Some people have to appeal and get independently examined, others can’t get the right doctor because they can’t pay them because they can’t work. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach (which is part of the problem), and it depends on the person and their specific circumstances.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am a big proponent of temp work. By design a temp can take short assignments, take ask to be replaced on bad fit assignments, and take days in between. (Admittedly unpaid.) For me it made everything new, and it was a boost to my morale to get praised for “rescuing” a team when someone irreplaceable had to go out for 2 weeks. or helping on a deadline, etc.

      At least where I used to live, unemployment payments were reduced the weeks I worked a temp job—and that extended the total into future months. I made contacts and filled resume gaps, and one assignment hired me away from the agency. nope it wasn’t a great future, but again it was a morale booster that they chose to keep me. And it set me up for the NEXT job which I’ve been in a very long time.

    7. Scandinavian Vacationer*

      May I suggest USPost Office? A family member basically worked himself off long term depression as a mail carrier. LOTS of walking (up to 10 miles/day), independence while driving the little van, and a clear success every day when the mountain of mail is delivered. No paralyzing decision making + clear expectations/metrics. Predictable schedule (except in December peak period), Sundays off, day hours. My family member is now off all medication and fully functioning after only 4 months. YMMV.

    8. ShortTermDisabilityIsForTheEmployed*

      temporary or short term disability is only a thing when you’re currently employed, related to the ability to continue getting all or some of your pay while dealing with an illness or other medical condition (many employers use thus for paid maternity leave). It’s typically tied to an optional insurance employers elect to supply as a benefit and it’s up to that company to decide whether you qualify and for how long (they will require lots of medical info).

      The permanent disability process that makes you eligible for financial or other government benefits in the US is onerous and difficult as other commenters have mentioned. It us a completely different process than being considered disabled for other purposes (ADA, etc).

  12. JENNZEE*

    Just wondering how to handle cliques at work?

    My previous job I worked with a bunch of very extroverted people. My meek, shy personality just didn’t blend in with them I guess. When the Barbie movie came out, on a Friday all the women (except me) showed up wearing pink. Okay so I guess I missed out on some sort of conversation.

    But then, all the women got up and left around 3:00 – apparently to go to see Barbie. It had all been pre-planned to dress up and go. Not one person told me, asked me, tried to include me, nothing.

    Someone must have noticed my stunned face when they all got up to excitedly leave – leaving me alone with the men in the office.

    I left that day in tears.

    Anyway I left that job and now I fear I am sensing the same kind of dynamic in my new job. Do I just work with mean people or where can I work with other introverts who just want to do their job and go home but would never hurt their coworkers feelings.

    1. DixieChick*

      Cliques at work suck, but they come with the territory unfortunately. That said, you shouldn’t have to change your personality to fit in with others. You are absolutely not the only woman in the world that is an introvert (I definitely am), so I’m sure you will encounter at least one in your professional life. If you would rather the drama be avoided altogether, maybe remote work might be a better fit for you, if it’s possible.

    2. Tradd*

      I don’t socialize with coworkers. Work and personal lives are very separate. I don’t play office politics. I do my work and I’m civil to everyone. That’s it.

      1. Rainy*

        My office is very social and I’m just not interested in spending additional time outside of work with my coworkers on a regular basis. Like, many of them are amazing people and I really enjoy working with them, but I need a lot of down time to recharge so I can do my job. My hobbies are pretty solitary as a general rule (I do fiber arts, paint, and write) so I’m not out playing sports, hiking, skiing, or whatever in groups. It’s never been a problem–when I do feel like doing some group activity people are happy to see me, but they pretty much accept that I’m not going to show up for everything.

    3. Katie A*

      That sounds really upsetting! I’m sorry that happened.

      Are you making an effort to connect with your coworkers? Are they friendly when you do talk? If you’re not making much effort to connect besides work-related things and they are friendly during those conversations, it’s probably more of a you thing than a “mean cliquey people” thing.

      I’m in a similar situation, and it does kind of suck. I know my coworkers talk to each other outside of work stuff and I know a bunch of them went to someone’s party that I didn’t even hear about until months later as an aside in a conversation.

      It hurts a bit, but they’re also very friendly when we do talk and we get along well and have a good time when I go to organized things like happy hours. So I know it’s because of me and my social anxiety and the fact that I always feel stressed and busy so I’m not as chatty as some people.

      That doesn’t solve your problem, but maybe it can help reframe it for you. Plus, it does make it possible for you to change things by being more social and putting in an effort to connect with them outside of work, if that’s something that you value over just doing your job and going home. You just can’t usually have it both ways, where you’re friends with your coworkers and get invited to non-work hangouts AND you just do your job and go home without actually trying to become friends with them.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I am so sorry this happened to you. I had a manager who pulled this kind of in-group/out-group crap, and it was terrible.

      Sometimes it can be hard to find the group you vibe with. Weirdly, my government job has a lot more of a personality mix, and I am overall more comfortable and fit in better. (Policy wonks and data people are great fun and don’t generally play those games.)

      In fact, a newer employee thinks I’m an extrovert! When, really, I am just very comfortable with my coworkers and know a lot of people in the organization due to my role.

    5. Oof and Ouch*

      Hi! I have a lot of experience with this! It sucks!

      I once had a coworker I thought I was really close with plan a birthday party, invite half the office, talk about it around the office, and then, unprompted, tell me about why I shouldn’t be offended I wasn’t invited. It was because I didn’t live in the same area as most of my coworkers so I generally wasn’t willing to drive an hour round trip on a weeknight to get dinner after work.

      You have a few options with a cliquey office as an introvert. You can either create your own small clique from some of the chiller extroverts/ambiverts, try to force your wait into the extrovert clique and deal with the drain on your social battery, or you can decide to be ok with the trade off of not having to be in a big social group, but know that it means you won’t get invited to big things.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      Honestly, I don’t think this has anything to do with introverts or extroverts. Introverts can have cliques too and being an introvert doesn’t mean not wanting friendships with colleagues or not wanting to hurt colleagues’ feelings. Introverts can be mean and extroverts can be kind.

      The problem with your coworkers isn’t that they are extroverts; it’s that they excluded you. In my workplace, things like that are always either announced in an e-mail or on a sign-up sheet. Yeah, there are groups of friends who arrange things between themselves, but not “all female staff except one.”

      I think most workplaces are ones in which you could avoid that. That is not a normal scenario for most workplaces. That said, I doubt there is any workplaces where nobody would ever hurt a colleague’s feelings. We all probably unintentionally hurt others’ feelings on occasion and in any workplace, it’s possible to have a bully who would do it deliberately, but a large group banding together to hurt somebody’s feelings isn’t that common past middle school. It happens but the places where it does are a minority and the odds are in favour of you finding places it doesn’t happen if you choose to move on from your current workplace.

      1. Straight Laced Sue*

        I agree with every point Irish Teacher makes here. I have known both cliquey introverts and inclusive extroverts.

        A question: Is it possible that they excluded you without realising it? Ie, that you just never happened to be in the group when the planning for this happened, and no one noticed that it didn’t include you? That would be thoughtless, but not mean.

        In any case, whether they’re mean or not, no I don’t think this is the norm in most workplaces. I hope you soon find a workplace where the vibe feels right for you.

    7. BellyButton*

      That is upsetting! I don’t want to be friends with my coworkers, but something like that would make me cry too.

      1. Cj*

        I agree. I wouldn’t really want to dress and leave work to go to the Barbie movie, but being the only one not even asked would have hurt.

    8. Two New Jobs*

      Wow, that sounds so hurtful. I’m sorry that you experienced that. I would have been hurt by that as well. I think when you are new at a job and feeling a bit awkward and unsure of where you stand the cliques can feel cliqueier. The last time that I was new at an office, I remember the first two months I felt a bit lonely and it seemed like everyone was great friends and didn’t want me to be part of their group. I also remember all the people around my age going out for lunch one day and not inviting me and it had (at the time) felt like an intentional slight.

      Then over time I started chatting with people more and more, and some people left and new people joined and by the end of my first year I did have office friends. Some people just take a little time to warm up. And what had not crossed my mind about the “exclusive lunch” was that all the other people my age were on the same team, so they had looked at it as a team lunch not an “everybody except Two New Jobs” lunch.

      But the Barbie thing was rude, and hopefully the new office is not like that and it’ll be easier the longer you are there.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      It’s definitely upsetting when you get left out of a group invitation, especially if you’re the only one. I’m sorry that happened to you! Beyond that, though I think I’m confused: You “want to do (your) job and go home”. If you want to be included in invitations, you have to signal that you’re at least open to considering invitations, and to do some light socializing at work were you give that impression. If the Barbie clique were here, they would probably say they could tell that you wouldn’t have wanted to go; they should still have offered you an invitation out of basic politeness, but some people really don’t like predictable rejections. Also, this isn’t really an introvert/extrovert thing. Introverts can be highly sociable on occasion, but they aren’t able to be social *as often* as extroverts because they get drained by a lot of social interaction. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to be social ever though! In fact that Barbie movie day would have been ideal for this introvert, because dressing up is low energy and so is watching a movie; you don’t have to be socially “on” at all. As for looking for a workplace of introverts; I don’t think that’s a sign of a healthy workplace. A workplace should have been more diverse than that; different types of people were it’s live and let live. A workplace full of extroverts is often bad, unless the industry kind of requires it, and it’s probably good you’re out of there, but I think the opposite extreme isn’t a great idea either.

    10. Lady_Lessa*

      As another introverted woman, I share your pain. I, too, would have been in non-pink. Because of me working as a chemist, I tend to be around mostly men and many introverts. If there are cliques, they are on the other side of the building.

      My tale: Previous job. An announcement went to all women about a bus trip to see Christmas lights. I was the only lab person to sign up. Guess what no one told me about everyone bringing munchies to share. (I chose to go foodless, since it was only a few hours).And the cliques were there quite prominently, led by the customer service manager.

      If possible, I’d try to find work that is heavy with introverts and/or have a decent amount of men.

    11. Some Peoples Children!*

      I had one of the clique known as the “blonde cheerleaders” behind their backs tell me once that she admired me for not being a part of the clique. Personally, I’d try not to let them bother me, express some interest in the things you might be interested in, and try not to let it bother you.

      1. Sandals*

        I always wonder in these situations how many in the clique actually don’t want to be there, but are afraid to speak up, let alone disengage.

        OP, perhaps you can get to know people one-on-one, one-at-a-time, and see where that gets you. Manners-wise, it is your co-workers who should be doing that with you as the presumed newest to the group; however, there is that old saying that “To have friends [in this case, co-workers who invite you to things, etc.], you have to be a friend [that co-worker].” Awkward as it might be, it holds true for practically anyone, including introverts.

        Also, ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen if you approach someone first. I’ll bet, upon closer inspection, it isn’t nearly as bad as it might seem.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Yes, this. I had one coworker who would just “forget” to include me when he made the plans, and he was almost always the person who made the plans. I asked him about it and he said: “Nobody cares if you’re not there, so I don’t bother inviting you.” That was hurtful but I sort of appreciated his weird honesty. I decided I’d try to make spontaneous plans with one or two people at a time. Guess what I found out? No one really liked the usual event planner. They just went along if it was something they wanted to do, and they didn’t realize anyone was being excluded. Once that came to light, the larger outings stopped for awhile. When they resumed, the handling of the planning rotated among four people who didn’t exclude anyone.

          Group dynamics are weird. Things change depending on who’s around. I often tried to avoid work friendships because my primary goal was staying peacefully employed, and still, I made some very good friends.

          I’m sorry that happened to you, LW. That sounds especially hurtful. Start small and approach people you find interesting. Think of them as individuals and not a just a group. I hope it all works out.

        2. Armchair Analyst*

          That’s actually a good idea
          See if you can schedule 15-30 minute coffee breaks with 1 co-worker at a time to get to know them
          Have some questions ready like how did you get your job, what do you, how do our jobs overlap, any work challenges, then also discuss any hobbies or passions you both have. During such a conversation it might feel very natural to ask for any guidance about navigating the office politics or social aspects as a new person.

          Just a suggestion because it sucks and I’ve been there

      2. AMY*

        HaHa this makes me laugh. At my old work there was a group that we jokingly called “the Blonde Bombshells” lol

    12. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      First of all, that sucks and was not ok.

      But also, when you integrate into a new group, you have to do your share of the work. It’s not fair to say, ‘nobody is trying to make friends with me’ when you never make any move to try to be friends with them either.

      So, if you want friends at work, take steps to make friends at work! Make small talk, ask people if they want to grab lunch, learn about people’s hobbies and families and show an interest in them. Find a couple of cool people and talk to them regularly if they show reciprocal interest in you. Introverts are just as capable of this as extroverts are.

      1. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I have to do this at my work. Because of life circumstances, all my age peers are at least a level up from me. It makes it harder to make friends with people at my level at work. (I have very good relationships with directors, but it’s different from having work friends for obvious reasons.) I have had to push myself outside my comfort zone to go talk to people and make an effort on my part to create the connection with them. My natural tendency is to let people come to me, but it doesn’t work at my office. I start the conversations and make sure I’m saying hi when I pass their desks, stopping for a visit if it looks like they are available. I still don’t socialize outside of work with colleagues, but I do feel like I have a much better relationship with my coworkers than I would if I just waited for them to notice me.

      2. Joielle*

        This reminds me of a bit by the comedian Jackie Kashian where she’s talking about how she was a real outcast in middle school and at one point she was talking to the guidance counselor about it. And the guidance counselor said to her “You have no friends, huh? Well… are you friendly?” And she realized that no, she was not. And it was a lightbulb moment for her. Not saying you’re not friendly, OP! And what the women did with the movie was thoughtless. But in some workplaces you do have to get outside your comfort zone in order to make friends.

      3. What the what*

        I really feel for the OP. Hang in there! One suggestion if I may? Consider being an observer of their behavior and not engaging in it, thereby minimizing the emotional impact on you.

        Almost the same thing happened to me last week at work where my office mates planned a cake bake off and didn’t include me. It hurt my feelings, but I resolved to not be hurt by it. I am an introvert, however, I do make an effort with them by I asking about their families, show interest in their hobbies, etc. However, they do not extend the same courtesy to me and routinely talk over me in conversations. They are super social, drama and high maintenance (something I’m not interested in and find it difficult to be around). It does still hurt to not be included, however, I’d rather have no friends than people who are surface-y and fake. I value genuine and true friendships.

        Best of luck and I’m sorry you experienced that.

    13. thelettermegan*

      Oh my God missing the memo on big events is the worst!

      I’ve found that extroverted people tend to misinterpret shyness as unfriendliness, and it’s frustrating! But picking up the office script and then listening intently as they talk tends to smooth things over.

      what I found works really well is

      1) figure out a quick script you can use to introduce yourself if necessary – something like “I don’t know if we’ve met, I’m Jenzee and I work in the Bob department,” then learn everyone’s name. Extroverted people always expect everyone to know who they are as if we all wear name tags.

      2) if, like me, you have Mary-Louise Parker face AKA resting sad face, a wee little hint of smile when you’re up from your desk goes a long way. Of course, when you are at your desk working, use whatever expression works best for you.

      3) If you ever have a few minutes with someone on Monday or Tuesday, ask them if they had a nice weekend. Wednesday-Friday, ask them if they have any big weekend plans. If they ask you what your weekends are like and you’re worried they’ll judge you for not doing anything exciting, tell them you just relaxed all weekend. Or that your plans are too relax all weekend. We’ve all gone through the pandemic so there’s no shame in telling people what shows you watched or books you read or brownies you baked or blankets you knitted or how cute your goldfish is.

      4) other stupidly easy conversation starters: ‘How about this snow?’ ‘how about this heat?’ “So it looks like the leaves are coming back on the trees/falling off the trees”. Weather can be a great conversation starter.

      5) remember that your goal is not to make best friends, just to indicate that you’re open to pleasantries in the office.

      1. Beth*

        Wishing people a good evening or a good weekend on your way out at the end of the day is a very low-stakes way to start breaking the ice. It’s been my starting point more times than I can remember.

      2. Generic Name*

        This is great advice. I get not wanting to share too much personal stuff at work, and frankly, I think that’s a great instinct. But it’s very possible to have warm and friendly relationships with coworkers via not super personal discussions.

      3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Oh, a good smile is a great tool! As is open and welcoming and pleasant body language in general. Not all the time, but when you’re interacting with people.

        If you were to walk into a meeting and one of your coworkers looked up and flashed you a quick smile, you’d likely go sit next to them, but if they ignored you or nodded dourly, you’d probably sit awkwardly by yourself. Be the person who smiles.

      4. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I think people often assume extrovert = confident, but extroverts can be insecure, lack confidence, feel left out, etc just like anybody else and because some extroverts (especially extreme extroverts) often dislike being alone, it can be hard for them to imagine anybody choosing it, so sometimes they feel that if somebody is choosing to be alone, it must be because that person really hates them, so much that even being alone (which some extroverts assume must mean being bored and lonely) is better than being with them.

        Of course, plenty of extroverts understand that introverts exist and that people have different preferences but there are people who can’t imagine anybody thinking in any way differently from them, so they assume that if the only reason they would choose alone time was if they hated the people around them, it must be the same for everybody. I do think these people are a minority – not the extroverted part, but the inability to understand that their experiences aren’t universal part – but they do exist.

    14. Generic Name*

      Oof, yeah that sucks. At my last workplace, there was a clique of women, all about my age, and one was my boss. They did include me in some things, but there was lots (mainly parties) that I wasn’t in on. Honestly, I was neutral on some of the women and didn’t really like another woman in the group, so I was more than happy to not join a party with those people. What really hurt was when one of the women, who I thought I was close with, invited everyone else to her wedding but not me.

      Focusing on your last paragraph, it sounds like you don’t want to socialize with coworkers (totally legit), but you also want none of your coworkers to socialize with anyone they work with ever, which isn’t a realistic or fair expectation. That’s kind of like saying that you don’t want to be friends with anybody, and you don’t think anyone should ever form friendships. If you don’t want to be friendly with anyone at work, that’s fine, but you are setting yourself up for disappointment if you get upset that other people form friendships, because that’s what most people naturally do.

      I suggest either making peace with not having work friends, but other people do, or see if you can find one person you might like to get to know better and maybe engage in some light conversation during work hours. You might find that you resent other people’s friendships less if you can have a friendly relationship with a coworker.

      1. JENZEE*

        Hi Generic! Thank you to you and everyone. I feel a lot better hearing from you all.

        But I do just want to say I never expected my coworkers not socialize with each other! As far as I knew, they did all the time, as I would hear about parties and such. This just felt different as it was on work-time and it was literally every woman – we had an office of 20 total and 14 were women, so when they all left it was just me and the 6 guys so it was SO noticeable. It just hurt.

        For the record, I am friendly at work, in my quiet way. I chat, I joke, I am always available. The reason I mention extroverts is that they really all were extreme extroverts and I just did not fit “the culture” I guess. But I had 2 people there especially that I thought I was actually particularly close with but – guess not.

        I am not looking for outside of work friends, but just, show me some human kindness you know?

        I am making friends at my new workplace but I just don’t like the similar vibe. We’ll see!

        1. Straight Laced Sue*

          It does sound as if you are being friendly.
          I’m sorry this all happened to you, and may be happening at your new place. I hope it actually works out – it would be interesting to hear an update in 6 months time!

        2. Artemesia*

          That would have devastated most people. To be pointedly left out of an all women outing in the workplace.

    15. Msd*

      One way is to start your own clique. At one job a couple of us realized we weren’t on the A-list or the B-list or even the C-list. We formed the F-troop (a very old TV show). We’d go out to drink once a month or so. Took some of the sting out of it. Surprisingly some more people wanted to join but we made sure they met our very low standards before including them.

      1. Philosophia*

        “One way is to start your own clique.” That’s exactly right, although my formulation—which I hasten to say I have not needed at my current workplace; this is from personal experience over certain years of my life—is to find and join forces with the other outsiders. Occasionally there’s a good reason someone is being widely shunned, but almost always it’s merely that the outsider is “different.” And differences are interesting.

        1. What the what*

          I like the different people! They are way more interesting and generally have cool and interesting hobbies.

  13. Caramel & Cheddar*

    As a new year’s thing, I’m taking some time to assess my next career move and would love some advice on what kinds of jobs are out there for a person with my combination of experience and skills. I’m in Canada, for context.

    Overview: I’m mid-career, individual contributor. Currently work in arts and culture where I’m in charge of managing our event management database, which entails training users, writing and maintaining documentation, general troubleshooting, and a ton of writing reports using SQL queries in the system’s prorprietary report writing software. I’ve been in this role for nearly a decade and I do genuinely love the work that I do.

    Previously, I worked primarily in administration at a few arts and culture orgs in the admin assistant/coordinator/manager pipeline (meeting admin, office supplies, calendar management, financial processing, time sheets, staff onboarding, etc.). I was a “super user” of the software I currently manage when I was in those roles so I was considered a good fit for taking over this role when my predecesor left.

    Education: I have a BFA in a specific artistic discipline and a post-grad certificate in arts administration (1 year post-grad program from a college rather than a university, which are different types of institutions in Canada). I also have a certificate in project management from a local university’s continuing adult ed program, which is not the same as having done the whole PMP rigmarole nor am I a certified PMP.

    I do not have any formal education in, say, computer science or engineering or anything like that. I’m self taught on the SQL I use day-to-day; I know HTML and CSS but am outdated on the newer developments in that area; I’ve been learning PHP to see if I can use it in tandem with the API from my database to do cool projects at work. I’m extremely hesitant to go back to school because of both cost and time; I am in a single income household.

    Things that are important to me: autonomy, being able to set my own priorities for my work in tandem with what I’m doing for others, not being in a client/customer-facing role, working from home.

    The thing I love most about my current job: problem solving through better software usage. I like the novelty of the problems people bring to me. Sometimes that means solving the mystery of why X isn’t working as expected; other times it’s more about being given an open ended problem that a team might be experiencing and finding a way to solve that with a clever report I can write or a change in a process. I consider myself to be curious and a “let’s give it a try and see what happens!” person because worst case scenario is that we can’t do X, and since we’re already not doing X, we’re no worse off.

    I’m also pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADHD, which manifests in a lot of the ways it usually does (easily distracted but can also hyperfocus, etc.).

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Mynona*

      I work in US art museums, and your current job description sounds similar to collection database (TMS) and donor database (Raisers Edge) managers and administrators. But those are both totally different software programs developed for very specialized purposes, so I don’t know how transferrable your skills would be.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yeah, I think my job is basically a counterpart to those, just a different software? I’m pretty good at picking up new techs, so I think my biggest barrier here would be lack of experience in a specific software if that’s a requirement (and it may not be for all similar jobs). Thanks!

      2. Rainy*

        I have a question for you as someone who works in the museum field–what kinds of skills and experience are art museums looking for on a resume, in your experience?

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Do you want to focus on the data part of the museum part? I do the data part and was looking passively at ads, and everyone wants R and Python and one data visualization program (either Tableau or Power BI). So I started learning python recently.

      And how advanced is your SQL? Are you “just” making report that are glorified select statements? Or have you had to tackle some of the more “advanced” functions. Like updating tables, all of the date formatting issues you will encounter, or some of the more advanced functions like rank / partition or creating a recursive table?

      If you get more advanced I think you can parlay that into a more data-focused job.

      TBH the market for Business and Data Analysts right now is horrible, the companies hiring want someone who is better than their current staff. That’s my experience in a large metro area and market. So I’d focus on self-learning and revisit the job hopping in a year or two. Just my opinion.

      Also steer clear of ever mentioning those “nice to haves” in an interview:-). Yeah, no one wants to deal with difficult customers, everyone wants to set their own priorities, but those are privileges you get after getting a reputation at the new job! And I’d be prepared for some in-office days, especially during training! I’m also confused why you bring up potential ADHD….because you think like the majority of people. If it doesn’t hurt your current job, why does it matter if you’re job hunting? Put another way, focus on what’s important and what will get you a job and don’t complicate it with tangential issues like these.

    3. peter b*

      A lot of the skills you describe would be really applicable to my industry, which is American healthcare – so I’m not sure that’s applicable to Canadian employment. I’ve just moved from PM work (without certification) to content management for bidding on contracts and have been recommended the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, which might be a jumping off point for titles/industries/domains that might be interesting to you. SQL knowledge, PM experience, database management and all the other skills apply to my job in proposals/health insurance and give me the benefits of not being customer-facing and fully remote work. I’ve been personally lucky to have a lot of ability to direct my own work, but I don’t know if it’s common outside my specific company. Best of luck!

  14. Parlez Vous Francais*

    I started a job a few months ago at a new company. My boss started at the company about 6 months before I did. There’s some new blood in the company, but the majority of the people who work here have been here for easily 5+ years, most longer.

    My department has historically been responsible for a pretty huge T&E spend on meetings that involve a lot of participation from other internal departments. I was genuinely shocked at the number of “working lunches” and appreciation gifts. As it turns out so was my boss and he’s asked me to reduce the spend/the need for the spend. To be honest it’s been pretty easy to just shift meetings so they don’t go over a meal period and I’m working on backing off on the appreciation type stuff.

    Unfortunately people have come to associate meetings from my department with a free meal, so now whenever I schedule any kind of longer meeting or series of meetings I get asked “what’s for lunch” and then I get hit with a lot of disappointment when I explain that lunch is not going to be provided.

    Is there a good way for me to set this expectation? It really was an insane amount of free food

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Is your boss the department manager/head/whatever? If so, can he just not send a kindly worded email to the team that says “We’re revisiting our budgets and will no longer be providing lunch at Meetings X, Y, and Z”?

      I’d still provide smaller snacks and maybe a quarterly lunch or something just so that you don’t go from All The Food to None of the Food, but if people are used to getting food all the time, I suspect many of them are going to be grumpy about it regardless of how perfectly you might deliver this info to them.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Include a line in the meeting invitation that attendees are free to bring their lunch/snacks but lunch/refreshments will not be provided. That’s all. They can be as disappointed as they want, and yes it’s a change, but it’s not crazy unreasonable.

      1. Parlez Vous Francais*

        The thing that’s crazy about it to me is that I’ll specifically schedule it when it would be weird to have lunch. Like a 2 hour meeting that starts at 9:30 or 2:00. I’ve never gone into a 2:00 meeting expecting lunch.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Include in the meeting invitation something about people being welcome to bring lunch if it covers a lunch break (or call it a “brown bag”).

      I strongly support scheduling when the meeting would absolutely not conflict with a mealtime. It’s annoying enough to lose time to meetings, so people might see lunch as their payoff for the inconvenience.

      If the meeting is over several hours, schedule a clear break for “lunch on your own.”

      1. Parlez Vous Francais*

        I 100% agree, so I’m pretty careful to block this out. If I need like 6 hours I usually do 9-12, 1:30-4:30, or I’ll break it up over a couple of days if possible. A lot of the time it’s a super long event but I don’t need everyone the whole time so I do an open, a close, and then smaller short sessions to break it up and get people I don’t need out of the room. So what used to be a three day 8hr/day blitz is now 4 hours of meetings spread over 3 days for everyone but me.

        1. Hillary*

          So maybe this will be an unpopular opinion, but if you’re doing a six hour thing and you have a budget you should provide lunch. It’s not just about their expectations, it’s demonstrating appreciation and respect for their time, and it’s the opportunity for participants to informally connect with each other and you (and then leave an extra half hour for email catch up). You don’t want to signal that you don’t value them enough to feed them.

        2. Cheap ass rolling with it*

          I’m with Hillary — if it’s a meeting 2 hours or longer, it’d be nice to have something to snack on. As a manager, whenever I organized long meetings, I bought in snacks for my team out of my own pocket, to show people my appreciation.

          Snacks are a message to attendees — we’re going to be here for a while and we want you to make yourself comfortable.

          If you need 6 hours, that’s pretty much a whole-day affair, and it’d be good to serve bagels and lunch as a small appreciation that staff have carved out almost a day for you. For a morning meeting 9-12 , croissants or bagels work (and aren’t too expensive). For afternoon meetings, desserts/coffee/tea.

          If these are mandatory meetings — it’s the difference of people grudgingly attend or thinking, well, at least the food is good(!) It’s changing perception and willingness to attend to the meetings. Whether you want your departmental meetings to be looked forward to or resented. My two cents.

    4. Anon for This*

      I wonder if your prior Department management had trouble getting people to come to meetings? We I work that’s how you get people to show up – either the positive – there is food! or, in cases of things like compliance training, punitive – if you don’t show up you lose access to computers. I’d be interested to see if attendance drops.

      1. Parlez Vous Francais*

        Not sure, I think it kind of evolved over time into the culture, but I think this probably goes back decades.

        Fortunately I’m high enough up that when I do these meetings (probably once a quarter) they’re not really considered optional, so if anything only the superfluous people who I didn’t need in attendance don’t show up so it’s a win win lol.

  15. LadyHouseofLove*

    I have my own office at work and I have been wondering what sort of cleaning supplies everyone else keeps at their office. And, also, how do you store them? We do have a maintenance department but they mainly take out the trash. I also dislike bothering other departments for their cleaning supplies.

    1. Tradd*

      Disinfectant wipes and some sort of hard surface cleaner. Paper towels pulled from the bathroom. That’s it.

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

      I keep a screen cleaner and some sort of all-purpose wet wipe, like Clorox disinfecting wipes, in one of my desk drawers. My office has a supply closet that has about a pallet of Clorox wipes left over from the pandemic, so that is pretty much covered until the end of time, but if we were to run low, I would just put it on the office supply order that the operations manager does quarterly — same as ordering PostIt notes or pens. That should cover just about any office cleaning I would need — I don’t bother to clean the windows or anything.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      Canister of Clorox wipes and a fluffy Swiffer duster that I just keep in the closet.

      Our janitor does the floor and garbage, but isn’t allowed to touch the desks so I just need the Swiffer to dust things down periodically. And I deal with the public so the sanitizing wipes are a must-have.

    4. Rory*

      Generally I use compressed air cans to clean dust out of my keyboard and other equipment, clorox or lysol wipes to clean my desk, office phone, and other surfaces. Screen cleaner is also handy to clean monitors.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      Kleenex, napkins, and a spray bottle of 90% alcohol diluted with some water and added lavender, grapefruit and peppermint oils. Smells amazing and I don’t have to buy disposable wipes. I also have a mini fridge and a lunch box that heats up so I never have to use the break room for any reason.

    6. Honey Badger just don't care*

      When I was in the office, I kept a container of Clorox wipes, a bottle of white board cleaner and a cloth rag which works better than paper on white board, and a spray bottle of something like 409 all-purpose surface cleaner. The company supplied screen cleaner, so I used that. Paper towels came from the bathroom.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have a little decorative basket where I store some hard surface cleaner, a bottle of compressed air for my keyboard, and a container of Clorox wipes, window cleaner, as well as back up soap and poopourrii for the bathroom. (I replace our awful school provided soap with decent handsoap as a community service.)

    8. Rainy*

      My department provides cleaning solution and there’s a big tub of microfiber cleaning cloths where the cleaning solution is kept. You can take paper towels off the roll for cleaning as well but I keep a roll of (higher quality) paper towels in my office (brought from home) for my own general office use. The bin liners are kept in a central location so you have to go get them one at a time. I’m also considering getting some better bin liners which I would also keep in my office.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      I mostly keep some cloth rags for wiping down my desk and shelves when they get dusty. One small dishcloth for a wet wipe down, one larger dish towel for drying. I hang them on a hook to dry, after which they can go in a drawer of shelf. I also have some screen cleaner and a microfibre cloth, for cleaning screens and keyboards.

      Our cleaning sweeps and mops weekly, and takes out the trash daily, but doesn’t touch the desks or computers.

  16. Changing Hats*

    Fellow AAMers who work with writers and designers, I’d love your help! For creative people who were doers/executors but moved on to be more of an orchestrator/director, what did you do to transition to your new role?

    I’m in charge of orchestrating the production of blog posts, ad creatives, website images, etc. Though I don’t have any formal training in these areas, I’m passably good at creating those things myself, and have done so most of my career.

    Now I’m at a stage where I need to firm out the actual production/creation/execution and spend more of my time making sure that we are progressing according to our strategic roadmap, using those pieces. However, I’m struggling to get out of the “I figure out what it should look like by actually writing/designing” mindset/process that served me well until now.

    For people who’ve been through a similar struggle, what do you do to get clear on what the end product should look like without actually doing the work of creating it? How did you get better at knowing what you need/want, and communicating it to the writers and designers, without giving them the overly detailed outlines or too-close-to-end-result design mocks (which takes too much of my time and stifles the professional writers’ and designers’ creativity!)?

    1. Marlowe*

      My team designs products and then farms them out to a vendor to actually develop. So though I’m not leadership, I can answer some of your questions.
      When creating a product for development, I describe the feeling I want from the entire piece, and then for each individual section I briefly provide both a feeling/vibe and also what needs to happen. If something is complicated, I include a clearly-labeled sketch.
      When we get the product back from the vendor, I make sure the language and grammar are error-free and that the graphics make sense and are clear. I also make sure the layouts get the message across. And if something is ugly, I provide a brief explanation of what needs to change and how.
      I also let go of any attachment to the vision in my head. It’s a collaborative effort, and my job is to make sure that the product looks good, is error-free, and does what it’s supposed to do at the end of the day.

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

      At the director level you should be developing the overarching campaign strategy and giving the writers and designers a creative brief, not mock-ups.

      I can give you an idea of what I expect as the designer:
      1. a calendar/schedule of the campaign deliverables and any pieces that have already been produced for the campaign.
      2. a creative brief about the target audience/market and goals of the campaign (e.g. target is athletic men age 30-45 income bracket $75k+, voice of campaign is “status conscious”, goal is to get them to purchase a high-price fitness tracker)
      3. Any of your brand guidelines (colors, logos, taglines, company “voice” or vision, library of pre-approved images etc.)
      4. Distribution channels (social media, TV ad, print ad, etc.)

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Just lurking, as I’ve got the opposite problem. I’m an software engineer, who now needs to corral the copywriting, graphics, & collateral production, then get the soft stuff into our system and make sure the hard stuff gets handed off to the printers.

    4. girlie_pop*

      I’m a writer who has done a lot of work with other writers to develop pieces for specific purposes, so I think I can offer some perspective from both sides!

      I think the thing that has given me the best results is providing as much information up-front as I can. Who is the audience for this piece and what do you want them to come away with? What is the goal (specific KPIs if possible) of the piece? Where does it fit in the strategic roadmap? What platform will it be seen on? What is the page/ad layout like? Is there a specific call to action? Does it fall within a specific theme or campaign? Is there a word count they need to meet/stay under?

      When I hand off a piece to a writer, I usually include a table at the top of it with all of this information or include it in the task of whatever project management system we’re using.

      All of that information gives them good info to work with and also provides an objective way to evaluate their work. You can get really specific on why it doesn’t work for the audience or campaign or whatever instead of relying on your subjective thoughts about it. It also gives the writer the opportunity to explain their decisions to you in the context of the goals/framework of the piece. Ultimately, you’re showing them what you want to accomplish and then leaving them to find the way there.

      Similarly, we have a list of questions for writers to ask themselves before they turn in a piece. The questions basically guide them through evaluating their work against our standards and strategy, which kind of takes a level of review off your shoulders, and if you find they’re not actually able to answer those questions correctly, you have something to guide your feedback and coaching.

      If you have sample pieces that really nail the voice, tone, flow, level of detail, etc., providing those as a reference can also be really helpful, especially if writers are new to your team or if you’re changing up the way things are done.

  17. PIP Prep*

    I lead a team of five. They’re close knit and have a group chat I’m not a part of. They each work at a different location but get together and communicate frequently. They all have been on the team for at least 2.5 years. I’m proud of the culture I’ve built. One member has been underperforming for a long time. I realized covering her vacations are less work for than managing her. I’m putting her on a PIP as clients have been providing brutal reviews and changes tend to take too long or don’t last. I don’t trust her to manage her work independently and most clients don’t like working with her.

    I’m scared of a couple of things. The culture of the team will shift. I’m not sure how to handle that. Also, she tends to get defensive and upset by criticism and inflates her strengths while dismissing or explaining away her poor outcomes. I’ve worked hard to build a relationship, but I know she’s going to be shocked even though I’ve made it clear her performance isn’t acceptable.

    I’m highly anxious and losing sleep. Anyone been through something similar?

    1. middlingmanager*

      I think the best thing regarding her feelings is to remember that as long as you’ve done everything right, they’re not your problem. It sounds like you’ve done your part in communicating the issues to her, so if she’s still shocked by it, that’s on her.

      As for the team, is it possible they’ve noticed her underperforming? If so, they might be relieved! It’s pretty frustrating to see someone stay employed while not doing their fair share of the work, or doing it very badly.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I agree with this, and want to say something about the second point. Coworkers often have a very clear sense of how good (or bad) their peers are at their jobs. Often clearer than management does. They might like her personally but be relieved that problems are being addressed. (The worst member of my team is my manager’s favorite, and I know I can’t say anything against her. Luckily, her incompetence has come to our grand boss’s attention on some pet projects, so the next few months should be interesting.)

        1. Ama*

          Yup, many years ago when I was hired at my current job the long-time admin in the department was really struggling. She was hired when everything was still on paper, and our meetings meant making massive binders of all the materials being reviewed, and as things shifted to digital (the massive binders were now all in a website everyone logged into during the meeting, etc.) she really couldn’t get the hang of the things we needed her to do on the computer, and there wasn’t enough non-computer work for a full time position. I’d say my employer spent at least two years trying to get her to a level of competency on the computer but anything she did in the computer system had to be double checked by someone else so it was making a huge amount of extra work for others.

          She was a really lovely person but eventually senior management realized she wasn’t ever going to get the hang of the new way her job tasks needed to be done, so they laid her off. It was not a fun day for anyone, and people were upset, but … no one was really surprised, and the longer we went on without her the more it became clear just how much extra work we were doing just to make sure she didn’t mess anything up. (I inherited a process she had been doing and almost instantly condensed three different levels of double-checks down to one, because my work didn’t need to be checked at every single stage of the process, just given a final review.)

          It’s totally normal to feel bad that it’s come to this, but I suspect your team won’t be as surprised or demoralized as you think.

          1. Artemesia*

            I’ve seen this exact scenario play out too — in our case with a person who was protected and didn’t think she had to learn new technologies and was useless without them. Didn’t get handled till a new senior person was hired and within a week was saying WTF is THIS? She was gone a month later.

      2. PIP Prep*

        I appreciate this. I need to focus my energy on the PIP itself and path forward instead of the emotions.

        In terms of the team, their work is client-focused so it doesn’t overlap. Two other members of the team came to me, concerned about her stress level. They shared that they think her clients are particularly difficult and unfair. This isn’t the case at all, but they’re only getting one perspective. I think they’ll be shocked and angry on her behalf.

        1. middlingmanager*

          Oh, that’s tough. I’m sorry. Hopefully they know enough about you to know that you wouldn’t put someone on a PIP or fire them with no reason.

        2. Dollars to Donuts*

          I’ve been there! Underperforming employee, popular and well-liked, in a client-facing role without any objective measures to quantify the complexity of each assignment (a huge structural problem that we’re working on addressing).

          First of all, letting someone go sucks. It will always suck. It’s terrible for them, but it can also be really tough on you, so I hope that your manager is giving you all the support and emotional venting space that you need.

          I was surprised at how well the team took the departure. I think it’s true that people know who is underperforming, even when they also really like them and care about them — both can be true. I did use this person’s standing as a highly influential employee when I was negotiating with HR for more generous terms (max time for the PIP, taking them off their #1 most stressful client, kindness in timing of the year, etc.).

          Getting put on a PIP is shocking, they have every right to feel their feelings about it. But if you end up firing them, you’ll be glad that you sent this very clear and direct signal (the PIP) when you did.

        3. linger*

          That could become a problem if/when the colleagues inherit those same clients: they won’t be inclined to give those clients any benefit of the doubt. Have you previously tried moving a so-called “stressful” client to anyone else, and if so, what was the outcome? Or conversely, can you ask some colleagues to move some “unstressful” clients (in their own experience) to this employee, and see what happens? Because that seems to be the only way to bring the colleagues towards a different perspective.

    2. Oof and Ouch*

      Yes! I once had to put someone severely underperforming on my team of 4 on a PIP. The main thing I did was do my best to make sure that it was not obvious from me that Jake was on a PIP. We used our one on ones for training/PIP feedback, so it wasn’t obvious that I was suddenly meeting a lot more with Jake.

      Jake was also really defensive about it, which is a pretty normal reaction. All I could do was point out the specific areas where I needed to see improvement and ask what he would need from me to get him up to par. A few times he tried to throw his teammates under the bus “Oh, we’ll Kelly isn’t doing as much for X and she’s not in trouble” but my response was “you need to not worry about Kelly and worry about Jake, just like I would never talk to Kelly about your performance, I’m not going to discuss hers with you.”

      The team did figure out that something was going on, but you just don’t discuss another employee’s situation with your team, and you’ve got to stay firm on that.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I haven’t personally, but these past questions may be helpful from the manager perspective:

      “why are employees blindsided when I fire them after warning them that I might?” from March 7, 2023

      “I had to fire someone and I feel like a failure” from March 8, 2021

      And these posts from the employee perspective:

      “my coworkers were fired … am I next?” from May 17, 2022

      “the way a coworker was fired has me worried for my own job” from November 26, 2019

    4. Sherm*

      I have an awesome boss, and other people sing her praises as well — but she too has an employee who gets defensive/upset, inflates strengths, and explains away poor outcomes. So it can really happen to anyone. He’s always been a nice, easy-going guy, but to be honest I won’t be sorry to see him go.

      The conversation with your employee probably won’t be pleasant, but it will be over with, and your team will be fine. If you part ways with her and her absence means more work for the rest of the team, I would work diligently to find the replacement.

    5. Lasuna*

      My situation is different in that each team member’s work is highly visible to other members of the team, but I hope my perspective on the potential culture shift will still be helpful. Although the culture may shift, if the culture shift is hugely negative or impacts work outputs, the culture was never healthy. A healthy team culture can handle an employee being put on a PIP or fired for performance issues, even if those issues are not directly impacting the rest of the team. If your team does not believe you should be allowed to manage an underperforming employee, that’s actually a pretty serious issue. Of course your team is allowed and encouraged to form warm relationships, but if those relationships mean the team members can’t be managed then the culture needs to change.

    6. Llama Llama*

      I once managed a close knit team and had to put a person on a PIP. He didn’t take it well and quit. The team took it well and afterward made complaints about his work. So they got it and didn’t hold it against me.

  18. Tradd*

    I’m in international transportation (licensed customs broker) so work is super urgent all the time. I am set up to work from home for urgent weekend stuff. There is ONE other person in my department. I got sick late last week. Tested Friday and it was covid (never had it before). Took Friday and Monday as sick days. Manager approved me to WFH. Yesterday I was told HR was really pushing back about me WFH. I felt much better (Paxlovid knocked it down), but I was still testing positive. In my office if you don’t get approved for WFH, your pay will be cut by 50% for the days you WFH unapproved. Has to be super illegal, but it is what it is. We’re all salaried! I’m exempt, so I don’t get anything extra for the weekend work. Anyway, I tested negative last night, but due to a horrid storm, the office is closed today and we’re all WFH. HR would prefer me to take sick days and not work to help my coworker out so he’s not overloaded and so I don’t come back to a mess when I return to the office Monday. Manager preferred me to be working as it made it easier on her, too. I’d be bored at home anyway. I’ve been there a few years and have barely taken any sick time as I haven’t been getting sick. Something weird about post covid times.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      So, they’re punishing you for… trying to be a good employee.

      I would be petty and take all my sick time. Because then I get 100% of my pay. And spend the time binge-watching my favorite shows. Then calculate how much more money I made doing that than doing work at 50% pay. (Might also spend some time filling a complaint with the DoL, too.)

    2. ruthling*

      they are telling you they want you to take the sick leave. time for some malicious compliance. plus if you took paxlovid, you might get rebound and test positive again.

      1. Tradd*

        I’m past the sick day issue as I’m fine now and testing negative. I’ll be back in the office Monday.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          ruthling’s point was that paxlovid often helps for a while, but people may get sicker again after they stop taking it.

    3. Anon for This*

      HR may be struggling with a broader company issue of people wanting to WFH and refusing to come to the office. As long as YOUR manager approves the WFH, let her deal with HR – just be sure to get her approval in writing.

    4. Tio*

      It’s less weird about post covid times and more your company, tbh. Even when I was in 3PL and not direct importer hire, no one would ever have told me to take a sick day rather than wfh. I think they really just want to blow out your sick days so you have to come in more often. Or, or possibly also, so that they don’t have anything showing y can wfh sick fine so they can pretend like wfh is not a viable solution. If you’re still jo hunting, best of luck from another broker!

      1. Tradd*

        Jobs out there right now are crappy. I’m just sucking it up where I am now and socking away cash as I make nice money. This whole situation was just so freaking weird, I had to share.

    5. Irish Girl*

      i would not work. If HR wants to screw over your company with these likely illegal pay cuts, that is their problem. While i feel for your manager and co-workers, its on your manager to petition HR about their policies and how it hurts the company in situations like this and how its also possibly illegal. if they do cut your pay, i would consider a consultation with an wage and hour lawyer too look into it.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      Just take the sick days and stop overthinking it! You are sick. You barely take sick days, which means you’re banking alot of time and your company wants you to start using it. If HR is involved, it’s highly likely they had bad experiences with people “WFH” while sick who more or less did the “I’m available for emergencies” thing, so now they’d rather the person just call in sick.

      Been through that on the manager side, even with otherwise perfect employees, and had the “if you’re only going to do 2 hours of work or take a long nap all afternoon, you really should call in sick because people were looking for you and you weren’t there, and we ended up looking bad” conversation.

      big picture, missing a few days isn’t a big deal

  19. Interviewee*

    Hi all! I’m in the final interview stage for a job that would require me to move across country to a more expensive area (Rhode Island to Seattle), and I’m having a hard time finding info on what a cross-country move actually costs. There is a HUGE variation in the numbers I’ve seen online, and I can’t find a moving company that will narrow the range without having a specific date and address. Has anyone done one (of any size) in the past 2 years or so, and if so would you mind sharing what it cost? I am trying to figure out what is reasonable to expect in an offer (or what to negotiate for). Thanks!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I moved East coast to Midwest in 2021. New job offered up to 6k reimbursement. I spent about 3k. Movers charged by distance/time and mine was about a 750 mile move. That included my flights as well.

      1. New Mom (1 5/9)*

        That seems insanely cheap. I’ve had intra-city moves (a good-sized metro but not in LA, SF, Boston, or NYC) that were about that price.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Depends how much stuff you’ve got. I had one room plus a kitchens worth, and they were able to get space in a long haul going that direction anyway to add my stuff in. I boxed 100% of my stuff myself as well, that saves a ton of money.

    2. X-Country Move*

      I have moved around a few times (generally ~1/2 way across the US each time). My company paid for some of the moves, and those included movers packing up my stuff. From what I remember, those moves cost ~$6,000 for 1-bedroom apartment’s worth of stuff.

      I also moved 1/2 way across the US in early 2022, still with a 1-bedroom apartment’s worth of stuff. The quotes I got ranged from $4,000 to $8,000, for packing and moving my stuff. I went with the $4,000 quote and … they weren’t great. Broke a few things (luckily nothing I cared about or that was expensive to replace) and stored my stuff in a warehouse for several weeks before delivering it. If I had to do it over again, I would go with a company that had a mid-range quote instead of the lowest.

    3. A non-mouse*

      It’ll really depend on how much stuff you have and how much work you’re okay with doing yourself. I moved from Seattle to MA in the middle of 2021 and used Estes SureMove to move the bulk of my household goods (2BR apartment) while my husband and I drove our car across the country. Estes charges per linear foot of space used, so your costs will be lower with less stuff. I think our budget was 5k for the stuff-move, including local movers on both end, and we came in under budget (I forget what the actual amount was). We also did a lot of the work ourselves – full service movers were quoting us something like 12k including moving the car. Good luck with the move!

    4. BellyButton*

      I would guess in the $6000- 8000 range. In my last big move I decided to get rid of most of my big furniture and moved a lot less stuff. I knew my new place would be smaller and I wanted to redecorate. I sold as much as I could and used that money to buy new things when I got to my new city. Because I did that I was able to get a smaller Uhaul pod, and it took my cost from $4000 down to $1500.

      Good luck!

    5. Your Social Work Friend*

      About three years ago we moved from the East Coast to the upper, upper midwest (about 1,200 miles). A three bedroom apartment worth of things came with us, for a whopping $10k-ish. I did all the packing, but we paid to have everything loaded, transported, and unloaded. Granted, this was in the height of moving season so it was more expensive, and we were moving somewhere rather unusual to go to from the East Coast.

      1. Cj*

        wow! I suppose it depends on what kind of furniture you already own, especially if you have expensive stuff like a Sleep Number bed, but I think I could refurnish my house for $10,000!

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          Well then you’re right better off selling what you have and saving on moving costs
          It’s all relative

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      I realize this isn’t exactly on point, but having survived a cross country move (to Seattle!) I’ll share this: a while back someone did the math and figured out that unless you are moving antiques, it is cheaper to sell what you can, move light, and but new once you know the space you’re moving in to.

      (Also, good luck on the move. Housing in the Sno-King-Pierce county region is off the hook right now.)

      1. Alisaurus*

        Yeah, I second this. I “only” moved about 600 miles a couple of years ago, and it was still pricey even though my dad and I did a lot of the work. Packed everything up in a small U-Haul truck and drove it and my car to the new state, where we unloaded it ourselves, and it was still a couple thousand $ total. If I did it again, I’d sell everything except for the necessities (although I’m resigned to the fact that moves will always cost me extra because I’m a bookworm with lots of older, out-of-print titles on my shelves) and then buy literally everything again once I got to the new place.

      2. Linda*

        That’s what I did in my last move, Spring 2023. I got rid of everything that I couldn’t squeeze into my compact car and moved into a furnished studio with the intention of taking my time looking for a nice house to buy. I was motivated less by cost and more by moving from one middle-of-nowhere location to another middle-of-nowhere location that was so remote both Uhaul and full service movers were basically like “where? Are you sure? I don’t think that’s a real place. We can drop your stuff off in another state three hours away, will that work?” In my case, I think the cost between moving everything and replacing everything will end up being the same in the long run.

        If I could somehow go back and do it again (and find a company willing to move a one bedroom to the backend of nowhere) I’d just pay to move my stuff, since getting rid of it all and buying it again took more time and effort than it was worth.

      3. Filosofickle*

        I hear that all the time and understand how it works for a lot of folks…but paying movers has always been way cheaper than starting over for me. Replacing a house full of goods is very expensive, even if you are talented and patient at finding great used pieces. It’s not just furniture, it’s clothes and art and kitchen appliances.

        Last year it cost me $3500 to move 3 bedrooms + full dining room across town. (And the same to move across the country 20 years ago with about half the stuff.) Replacing any one room — especially dining or primary bedroom — could cost that much, without even going high end! Have you seen the price of furniture recently?! My Ikea dining set was actually bought cheap secondhand many years ago but replacing all 10 pieces would be hard today.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        THIS. Whatever time you have set aside to look for housing, LW, double it. The rents and real estate prices here are nuts.

        1. CostOfLiving*

          Rhode Island isn’t cheap, just cheap compared to Boston (which is even more expensive than Seattle; it rotates with NYC and SF for highest cost of living in the US). Depending on exactly where in RI they’re coming from it’s probably cheaper than Seattle but likely not by that much.

      5. Armchair Analyst*

        Pushing back on this
        I did this as a few times as a young adult making my own choices
        But it comes with challenges too
        How to know where to buy things when you do land
        As a working person now you want a comfortable place to be to work and relax and your partner does too
        And kids need familiarity in a new place
        And families need continuity

        If money is the only factor then ok
        But money is rarely the only factor

        I strongly disagree

    7. AdequateAdmin*

      I moved ~1500 miles cross country last year and managed to do it fairly cheaply. We used ABF freight (load your stuff into a semi truck, they seal it off, then other “normal” cargo is loaded ). They let you estimate footage and such with rough dates and locations. You pay by the linear foot. Then I hired local movers on each end to load/unload the truck. We did all the packing ourselves, which was where you really save money. But moving is stressful and if you can afford to offload any of the burden, do it!

      All in all I think we were around $3200 for moving our stuff. Moving people (2 cars, staggered trips so we couldn’t share lodging) was probably another $1k after gas, hotels, food, etc. So total like $4,000 should be a good low end.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      If you do have to coordinate the move yourself, the best advice I can give is get the estimate in writing. Long story short, the movers I contracted with came and gave a written estimate based on a visual review of the contents of my one-bedroom apartment. However, the day they came and packed my stuff, they did things like pack some hangers in a large otherwise empty box and then insisted on charging me based on the volume/weight of stuff.

      I paid by credit card and immediately challenged the charge. Since I had the written estimate, I agreed to pay that amount and not the surprise $2k higher charge, which the credit card company accepted.

      1. New Mom (1 5/9)*

        This seems kind of unfair on your part, tbh. It’s not atypical to charge by the volume of stuff, especially if you were using their boxes.

        1. Tio*

          It’s not unfair to charge by volume, but it is unfair to milk it by packing small things in oversize boxes to pad the volume.

    9. hack in training*

      I moved a small one-bedroom apartment’s worth of stuff from the Midwest to the East Coast this summer. My company’s reimbursement was $5,000, and I think I spent just under $6,000 — I sprang for the movers to pack for me (not every single thing, but the vast majority) at the front end of the move but I did all the unpacking myself after arrival.

      1. Mojo021*

        I moved from Rhode Island to Florida a little less than 2 years ago. I used a moving company that quoted me around $3500 at the end it was closer to $6000 because they refused to load anything else until I paid more, when the truck arrived at the storage facility they refused to drive up to the locker and unload so I had to scramble to get a U-Haul which they unloaded my stuff into in the parking lot and then I had to move into the 2nd floor storage unit. They also stole an air conditioner from me as well. I suggest using a POD.

    10. Emily*

      In 2021 I moved with Two Men and a Truck from LA to Portland and paid $3,759.93. It was a one bedroom’s worth of stuff and I got rid of the majority of my furniture before moving. The heuristic I used for everything was that if I’d be replacing it in 2 years, I would not bring it.

    11. Rainy*

      This is out of your time range, but nine years ago I moved from Canada to the US, about 1500 miles, and hired a moving company due to the int’l border issue. I was quoted about 5kUSD and I think in the end it wound up costing me about $3500 in total.

      I had a couple of local moving companies come out and give me quotes, and picked the one that gave me good vibes. It was not the lowest quote, but it seemed reasonable and the business was an established small family mover who contracted with one of the big cartage companies, and that’s generally how this works. You aren’t going to work with the same people end-to-end, so you want to feel confident in the local pickup people. I didn’t have them pack for me–packing jacks up the price by at least half again. One thing worth remembering is that a bad company will quote you something that sounds amazing, but they’re not bound to that quote, because at the end of the day you’re going to be charged by the weight of your goods and how many sections of the semi trailer your stuff occupies. A company that tells you how much your move will cost based on how many rooms you have is underquoting you and you are going to be absolutely screwed on the receiving side, because once they have your stuff, if you don’t pay, they don’t give it to you AND they charge storage fees every day they have it past their initial delivery attempt.

      Nobody is going to give you a quote without a destination address, because delivery on the far end is part of the quote, and they need to know if they can just bring the semi into the neighbourhood or if they have to offload at a depot to a smaller truck and deliver that way. They will also supply the loading/unloading personnel, bag your mattresses, wrap your sofas/upholstered furniture, and break down furniture like bedframes etc and then assemble it again on delivery.

    12. Devious Planner*

      I moved about 450-500 miles between two major cities in 2021. I had a one bedroom apartment. In total it cost a bit over $7,000. That was consistent with friends who have hired movers for similar moves, and seems to be similar to what people are saying here. I would expect that inflation would bring that same move closer to $7,500 or even $8,000 now, but maybe not!

    13. Gosh we were tired*

      CA to NC, summer 2021, moving about half the furniture and a lot of books from a very small two bedroom, $7521 for: movers on both ends, packing material (we packed), truck space, and all gas and hotels and food as we drove a car across the country.

    14. Moving*

      they need an exact address because you pay for the distance between unload and apartment, extra for any stairs, etc. – plus your main charge is based on mileage to the tenth of a mile (usually).

      you will generally have an approved delivery window and ge charged for any storage needed beyond that.

      you will pay by the hour for loading/unloading in most cases (some movers waive thus for long distance moves). If you can, do all the packing yourself. Packing charges are insane.

      it will almost always cost more than you expect. I’ve never had a move without something being damaged and I’ve never successfully gotten claims for that damage approved. so expect something to happen and take extra care for anything fragile or that has particular sentimental value.

      hope this helps

    15. Armchair Analyst*

      I would focus on trusted movers that definitely already operate well in both places.
      The difference is not great enough for your company to worry about it

    16. Armchair Analyst*

      Idea
      So I actually called my home and property insurance provider
      They have discounts with reputable moving companies
      Highly recommend them as a starting place
      Also consider your credit card companies and also your college alumni associations might have connections or discounts on moving

    17. TX_Trucker*

      I have no idea how much moving actually costs. Our company tends to offer a relocation package of about $3,000 – $6,000, but I don’t believe we have hired anyone moving cross-country before. Other “moving” expenses that we have negotiated: airfare to/from for house hunting, automobile moving (more expensive than you might think), and an extended stay hotel while searching for an apartment.

  20. middlingmanager*

    Okay, is it normal for managers meetings to be full of griping about the staff? I’ve been a manager at a small org for about a year now, and once a month our administration pulls all the managers together for a meeting that I have come to dread, because it’s so full of complaints about the perceived deficiencies of our non-managerial employees.

    It certainly doesn’t help that I don’t agree with them on many things (Alison would not approve, either), but mostly I hate having to go to a workplace where the administration has such an antagonistic relationship with the staff. I’m starting to plan my exit, but I guess I’m wondering if this is just a universal fact of the managerial experience?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I mean . . . they’re the managers. It’s kind of their job to address this rather than just sit around and b*tch about it.

      1. middlingmanager*

        I’ve definitely bit my tongue on “if we were to cut these meetings short by the amount of time y’all spend complaining about the staff not remembering things without checklists, and instead used that time to update the checklists, the staff would get what they want and get their work done, and we’d all be happier.”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It boggles my mind that they are complaining about checklists.

          Checklists are a standard tool! We are developing a whole new set with our project managers to be sure cross-functional roles are fully covered.

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Not normal! Managers’ meetings are to discuss things that affect a team of managers, or for senior/executive management to explain directives and so forth. Sometimes a smaller group might meet, even informally, to discuss specific problems with specific employees but that is not what you are describing.

    3. Ama*

      Nope not normal. In managerial meetings I’ve been in, people raise problems their reports are having to 1) find out if other departments are having the same issue or 2) get advice on how to fix the problem, and in most cases they don’t even mention names. (Granted we’re pretty small so it’s not that difficult to know who they are talking about, but by not naming employees you put the emphasis on the problem rather than the employee.)

    4. Tio*

      Sometimes you may have to address a specific issue with staff, if it is causing cross stream issues, but no, that should not be what managerial meetings are about. Those are supposed to be about cross stream alignment, operational strategies, problem solving and future initiatives. I have had mostly-weekly managerial meetings with my team for over a year and we do not complain about employees.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      This is NOT normal, IMHO. If managers are having issues with staff, this needs to be discussed with their manager and/or HR to figure out how to address it constructively. This sounds horrid!

    6. Good grief Charlie Brown*

      Absolutely not normal. I’m a manager and our meetings spend 0% of the time on that. I’ve got no idea which employees are giving the other managers grief – if any – and they’ve got no idea about mine either.

  21. DisneyChannelThis*

    What are good activities/workplace initiatives that promote the quality “Inclusion” ? My workplace is trying really hard to make “inclusion” better by starting all these things, but I feel like they’re going about it all wrong (removes lunch break etc). I’d like to have a better alternative idea to push back with.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I suppose you also wondered this, but how does removing a lunch break make things more inclusive? (Is that even legal?) What other kinds of wacky things are they doing in the name of inclusion?

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Encouraging special seminars to happen during lunch break where one person will teach something to the group (hobbies mostly so far).
        Encouraging us to bring in educational books to the new breakroom library and then to “spend our lunch break learning something new!” instead of idk eating and chatting with eachother

        Whereas to me, inclusion should be more like making sure everyone gets a voice in meetings, stopping Dan from talking for 30min in a monologue and letting some of the other people get an opinion in, valuing people from different backgrounds equally, treating people with respect, etc. But I’m not sure how to suggest an activity to support that. I do know that just shouting down the other activities without a construction suggestion won’t go well.

        1. BellyButton*

          This is what it looks like when companies don’t think they need an expert in DEI to do DEI things.

        2. Rory*

          Yeah that’s tough. I agree with you that inclusion should be more about altering how the workplace functions to actually be more inclusive, rather than inserting extra activities focused on the topic, but then getting going to back to business-as-usual when the activity is over. Have you expressed your thought on making sure everyone gets a voice in the meetings, or other ways the daily operations could be modified to be more inclusive? It might not be a separate activity, but perhaps introducing these new goals and training people on how to make sure they happen. For instance, with the meeting thing, training people to be advocates for others. If they notice someone has been quiet when everyone else has been sharing their opinions, encourage them to speak up for that quiet person. “I would like to hear what Jane has to think.” Or if they see someone get interrupted, say “I don’t think Jane was finished. I would like to hear what she had to say.”

          1. DisneyChannelThis*

            I’ve tried that somewhat. We have very long meetings and usually around the 90min threshold the mood is just let Dan ramble until he’s satisfied so we can leave. Anyone else commenting just drags it on longer. So we really do need some of the more talkative ones to leave space for others. Same group is also really resistant to agendas. I’m pretty low on the org chart.

        3. Caramel & Cheddar*

          That makes more sense. I’m a firm believer that if it’s important enough for the workplace to suggest it / mandate it, it’s important enough for it to happen on work time, not lunch time.

          I think the main problem is that DEI isn’t some fun activity for everyone to do, it’s a set of workplace practices. I don’t know that you can offer an alternative, so much as talking to someone who might have some sway about how this is not the direction your company should be going in if they’re serious about this. And you may not have the capital for that, of course!

          1. DisneyChannelThis*

            “main problem is that DEI isn’t some fun activity for everyone to do, it’s a set of workplace practices.”

            You just put into works something Ive been having trouble articulating, so thank you a lot!!!!!

        4. Your Social Work Friend*

          That sounds more like a lunch and learn than a DEI activity. My sister’s company does them, but it’s often for people to share trainings or skills related to their jobs and folks from other department will come to listen in, even if it’s not something that applies to their job. Some examples are like specifics regarding changes in contract law for the area, or someone really good at grant writing gave a seminar about it, but it was always volunteer based. (One time they did a demo on making balloon animals, which was a big hit.) Not a bad thing to do, but also not even remotely DEI related.

        5. Tio*

          That’s…. not inclusion. Inclusion has nothing to do with hobbies and only vaguely to do with reading (because based on the hobbies thing, I’m betting they’re not bringing in books like How To Be An Anti Racist or anything). And they DEFINITELY shouldn’t be trying to remove lunch breaks for it!

        6. goddessoftransitory*

          I want to spend my lunch break eating lunch, thanks.

          Even if the impulse behind this is good, this approach is going to build resentment in a lot of ways–minorities feeling forced into “teaching” positions, what activities are actually inclusive, people feeling cornered into giving up their time without compensation, etc.

    2. OtterB*

      I ran across a post on social media recently that said that diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is getting to dance.

      I agree with Caramel & Cheddar that it’s not an activity (this has me picturing a coloring book), it’s a set of practices.

      1. Llellayena*

        Ugh, my company recently started to include coloring books in their holiday events (let’s color a turkey during the Thanksgiving potluck!). I think this is the brain child of one person in the event committee, but still. But DEI wise I think they’re actually pretty good, though that’s coming from the perspective of someone who doesn’t normally need to think about it. I do wish more of the “training seminars” they’d like us to do happened on company time and not ours, but I understand the tricky balance they’ve got.

    3. Tradd*

      I’m going to be blunt – I’d be pretty peeved if my lunch hour was stolen from me for this kind of stuff. Work is stressful enough that to not get a break in the middle of the day? This breeds a lot of ill will.

    4. Dollars to Donuts*

      I think inclusion in the workplace has less to do with social activities and more to do with equitable practices and policies around performance reviews, assignments, promotions, PTO, work-life balance, training and mentorship, etc. You want people to feel that they are considered and valued, and that when they disagree about something they are heard. If Dan is rambling at the expense of letting more Junior staff participate, then an inclusive thing to do would be schedule a meeting for just junior staff to talk to exec leaders, and they can prepare the one or two topics in advance.

    5. Zee*

      Well, for me, inclusion would be getting my religious holidays off, since other people get theirs off.

      That’s not a fun lunchtime activity, but that’s kind of the point.

      Inclusion is about not having a “default” group (white people, men, straight people, Christians, parents or non-parents, etc.) that the systems are built around, where everything outside of that default is seen as something “other” that you have to make special exceptions for or do extra work to accommodate.

      To go back to my example, getting permission to take Yom Kippur off without having to use a vacation day would be a nice start, but true inclusivity would be to not give everyone Christmas off automatically and make people from other religions request their days off, because that still sets Christianity as the default. It’d be giving everyone floating holidays instead.

      Another example would be getting desks & chairs that are adjustable or have a range of heights, instead of picking the ones that work best for the average 5’10” man and then making the 5’0″ new hire go through hoops to get a set-up that doesn’t cause them physical pain.

      Or when catering a meeting, making sure there’s vegetarian, halal, gluten-free, etc. options every time, without forcing people to make a special request and disclose their religious or medical information.

      It’s including people from the start, instead of accommodating them after the fact.

      These are all high-level things that you probably don’t have the standing to change, but since you do say you are in a place to push back, I do encourage you to bring them up.

    6. BikeWalkBarb*

      My agency has both a DEI and anti-racism work plan and a newer Culture of Belonging initiative. These efforts are staffed, supported, and considered part of the workday, not something to give up free time for. They’re providing trainings, starting with a train-the-trainer approach so it’s supported beyond the immediate staff leading the effort, along with having a message from the CEO, presentations at senior manager meetings, other signals that staff should take this seriously.

      Is this grounded in a values statement? Part of your mission? A strategic plan goal? Exemplified in the way they approach writing position descriptions, recruiting a diverse pool of candidates, making this part of performance evaluations so people are held accountable for specific actions? If it’s a “bolt-on” without being connected to the core structures of the organization it’s lipstick on a pig. They need a plan with how they intend to measure the effectiveness of what they’re doing, even if they can mostly measure inputs rather than outputs or outcomes at the beginning. There are plenty of models out there and professionals who know a lot more than I do. This sounds like people with good intentions who haven’t put in the time to research what works.

      If you can ask questions about how they’re building this into the guiding principles for the organization, then extend from that to ask how they’ll support the workplace learning needed to make that real for everyone, you might get them moving away from lunch and learn. People taking real lunch breaks is important for their health, which is also supportive of a culture of belonging and inclusion.

  22. A Simple Narwhal*

    What do you think about applying for a job at a company that sells a product you don’t care for/about, while pretending you did?

    I saw a feature for a company with insanely awesome benefits, and it turns out they’re an astrology company. I am not into astrology, but for what they offered I was tempted to at least pretend to be into it, or just gain a passing knowledge of it. There wasn’t a job that fit what I’m looking for so it’s all hypothetical, but I figured I’ve pretended to be into worse things for less when trying to get a job, would it really have been that bad?

    I’m curious what others think – if a job was good enough would you apply, even if you didn’t care about the company’s product? (Assuming it wasn’t actively harmful or hateful.)

    —-

    I’ll see if I can find a link to the benefits feature but it was something like no one in the company makes less than $80k, 4 day work week, company is closed for 7 weeks a year with pay, unlimited vacation + vacation stipend, fully funded health insurance, flexible and remote, annual separate stipends for equipment/self-improvement/retirement, and more. It was seriously insane.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Was it Chani? I get her emails (for fun) and it honestly does sound like a great place to work, even if you’re not into the woo-y aspect of it.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        It was! I also heard it was a great place to work which was surprising if only because something that good seems almost too good to be true!

      2. Straight Laced Sue*

        I’ve just looked the careers page for that company. Wow, those benefits! If I was eligible, I’d definitely be tempted.

        I reckon, though, it’s a very competitive process and they’ll be able to SMELL out real enthusiasm. They probably employ only real astrology nerds. You’d want to be a fantastic actor to convince them.

        And now I really, really want to read “Secret Diary of a Chani Non-Believer” (or watch the Netflix adaptation).

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I would. Who knows maybe you’d find a new hobby.
      But I would be cautious about “too good to be true” postings that turn out to be scams or terrible jobs etc.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Oh totally! This ended up being from an established company with a reputation for being good to work for, but I initially also thought it had to be a scam or too good to be true.

    3. Luna*

      Personally, I wouldn’t mind faking a little bit of interest.
      Not raving about it, but keep an open eye and ear for some things, or having a general knowledge of various fields that could go along with astrology. For example, keeping a mental list on what birthstones go with what zodiac sign.
      But I also think that I always have to fake a bit of interest in my jobs because a job for me is where I go to work and make money, not necessarily something that I love or am obsessed with. (I burn very fast in interest, and I also know from experience that if I do something I like ‘as a job’, I start disliking it. So I know to keep personal joys separate from work)

    4. AMY*

      Of course I would! I don’t see a big deal at all. I am sure LOTS of people pump out products they couldn’t care less about in their personal life lol. Its a job. Doin’ for the paycheck baby.

    5. Jeremy Jamm*

      To be honest, for that package, I’d consider working for an oil or tobacco company. Somebody’s going to do it, might as well be me. I wouldn’t work for an organization I considered hateful, though.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        When my cousin got a job at RJR Reynolds (in the food division, not tobacco) my mother asked her what it was like working for Satan. Answer: “The benefits are great;”

    6. Hlao-roo*

      What is the job? Is it something like sales or marketing, where liking the product (or at least pretending to like the product) is related to the job duties? Or is it something more like accounting or HR, where the product doesn’t matter that much to performing the job?

      I think in a lot of jobs, liking the product can be a nice bonus but is rarely the make-or-break requirement of being able to do the job well. Even in a marketing job, I can see someone who is passionate about marketing itself being driven to do a good job even if they don’t care about the particular product they are marketing.

    7. Yes And*

      I think it depends on what the role is. If it’s something like sales or design, where engagement with the product is part of the gig, I would have to think long and hard about whether I could pull that off long-term. But if it’s something like accounting or facilities management, where the job is more or less the same no matter what the product is, go ahead and apply. (If they demand that someone whose job is not product-related express enthusiasm for the product in order to work there, that’s a warning sign of a weird cult-y culture that you want to steer clear of anyway.)

    8. Jane Bingley*

      I think this is true for a lot of people – for example, I’d guess that a lot of people who sell cigarettes or oil aren’t, like, huge fans of the products they sell. What matters is the ability to do your job professionally.

      That being said, I’d also flag that you’re likely to be surrounded by enthusiasts, so be sure to think through what that means. How would you feel if someone attributed your opinions in a meeting to the fact that you’re a Pisces? Or doing a half-day retreat where you and your team deep dive into the influence of rising signs on your work style? Would you be open to moving into management down the road (if that interests you!) if it meant you had to lead others in astrological activities that you would never have sought out for yourself? You may be totally fine with this for the right job, but it may also mean you’re going to find the culture painful.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        The problem is that ethics can be subjective
        Some people consider astrology objective
        I would consider it unethical
        But I wouldn’t fault a person for taking a functional job

    9. Cee S*

      It depends on the level of disagreeing with the products. There are always “bad” aspects of the businesses that are legal. If you severely disagree with the product, you will not get the job. Even if you get the job, you will not last long even with great pay and benefits.
      Some folks pointed out oil and cigarettes in other comments. Someone I know opposed to working in the banks because they “make rich people richer”. Another person pick on the bad aspects of employment (like citing AAM!) and never work after college. A friend interviewed for a porn company and the hiring team was upfront about the company’s business audience during the initial conversation. She ended up opting for a more “boring” job instead. I’ve also worked briefly for someone with questionable source of money. (Oops, I found out after I started the job.)
      If you have too many disagreements with the world, you will never find a job that satisfies your needs. The person who opposes “rich people” never work again after what she saw during her job: In addition, she finds aspects of “bad rich people” in every business. If you can afford to uphold your beliefs, that’s fine: She has a well-to-do partner. If you can’t afford so, think about what is available in your field and possibly seek a new career or move.

    10. ecnaseener*

      Sure, I think most people probably work for companies whose products they’re fairly indifferent to. I get how astrology feels like a thing where you’d be more expected to show enthusiasm and potentially belief in the system, but you can show enthusiasm for putting out quality content, how great it is that so many people find it helpful, etc. without pretending to be an avid fan yourself. Basically in your own head lean into the entertainment side of it rather than the belief-system side.

    11. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If I didn’t care, and they didn’t care that I didn’t care, sure.

      But I don’t think I could feign enthusiasm, 40 hours a week, week after week after week.

    12. Irish Teacher.*

      For me it depends on two things – how much I needed the job and the specific job itself. Like if I was long-term unemployed, I’d be more likely to chance something that I wouldn’t if it was just a case of my not being entirely happy at my current job but it’s not actually seriously dysfunctional.

      In the case above, I don’t think I’d apply for it unless I was unemployed and lacking experience and needed something to get some experience or unemployed and needed a job pretty urgently because unemployment benefit wasn’t covering my expenses, not because I consider it really problematic, but because it seems like the type of place where most people are going to be believers and I would find it hard to play along. I could imagine there being a lot of “well, of course you’d think that. You’re a Libra” or “how can you be so decisive? Libras are never decisive” and I would find that kind of annoying as somebody who really doesn’t believe in it. I imagine it would be a bit like working for a church where you really don’t share the beliefs, but don’t find them actively harmful or anything; they just sound a bit silly to you because your beliefs are so different. (And by “working for a church,” I mean working for an organisation directly involved in preaching, not just working for a school or hospital or charity founded or funded by a religion.) I don’t see it as the same as working say for a breakfast cereal company when you don’t eat cereal. Not for ideological reasons, just that I suspect astrology would be discussed more than cereal at companies related to them.

      On the other hand, I did teach a revision course in a “grind school” (fee paying schools that usually only take 5th and 6th years – equivalent to 11th and 12th graders – though they sometimes have short revision courses for younger students; the one I was teaching was for 14 and 15 year olds and during the Christmas holidays). I do have some problems with these schools. For one thing, being able to pay for revision courses in the Christmas and Easter holidays gets these students an advantage over students who cannot afford such things. And also, they are very exam focussed and often try to “predict” the exam (to the point that the exams have sometimes included unexpected questions or deliberately avoided putting in the expected one in order to prevent them from giving their students an advantage) which misses the point of education a little.

      But I didn’t feel like it was a huge deal. It was only for the junior cert and there are so many inequalities in education anyway that I didn’t think giving students a week’s tuition in one subject was really unethical or contributing hugely to educational inequality.

      So yeah, it depends on how much I need the job, whether I believe the thing is really, seriously harmful (I’d be very reluctant to take a job with a cigarette company, for example, unless I was really desperate) and how much I feel that the product is likely to be part of the organisation’s culture.

    13. Donkey Hotey*

      My line is: so long as it is not actively hurting people.

      Real life example: I’m a writer. I am also a card carrying atheist. My first paid writing gig was writing an astrology column for a website during the dot com boom. I won’t call it science, but it’s a closed, consistent metaphor set. Once you know the rules, it was easy enough to write a convincing column.

    14. Kes*

      I do think there’s a bit of a tradeoff both in terms of having to fake enthusiasm for something you aren’t into (and deal with the disconnect of how you feel about it vs how you have to show up. but to fair that’s true of lots of jobs), and a risk of how it will be perceived on your resume in the future (as well as when you talk about your job in general). That said those benefits sound pretty incredible so it might well be worth it for that. I’d also be careful it’s not amazing benefits to balance out a toxic work environment or anything like that.

    15. Winstonian*

      If they expected me to be a believer in that faith system (which if you are having to “pretend” I’m guessing they do) then no I wouldn’t do it.

    16. sulky-anne*

      I think it’s fine to do as long as you feel neutral about the product. I wouldn’t do it for something that I found unethical or harmful.

      Astrology would be a particularly tough one to fake though! I think it would be really obvious if you don’t know much about it. I had a similar thing come up with video game companies–since so many people love video games, it’s hard to make a case for yourself as someone who doesn’t know much about them, and it’s hard to fake that level of familiarity. At a certain point, it may be more strategic to position yourself as having a valuable outside perspective (particularly if it is a very desirable product/industry).

    17. Zee*

      I work in the non-profit sector, and I’ve worked at plenty of organizations with missions that I didn’t feel particularly strongly about. I wouldn’t ever work at one I actively disagree with, but it’s often like “yeah, that’s nice I guess, it’s nice that this org exists for the people who care about this cause.”

    18. Banana Pyjamas*

      Every so often I consider becoming a Mormon for half price tuition to BYU. Honestly these types of considerations come with the territory in a capitalist society.

  23. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I am currently very unhappy in my job; I have always struggled in the role, plus since I’ve been here management has gotten progressively worse. It’s just not a great fit for me. I’ve been talking to a different company for about two years now, and this past week I had some meetings with their executive team and it seems that they really want me on board and will likely design a role for me. This company has a hybrid schedule (which I need, I’m tired of full-time remote work), it serves the industry about which I’m passionate and where my experience lies, it’s part of a larger company so there are opportunities and support, all those good things. If things work out, I would be a senior-level employee, probably with direct reports.

    But their baseline vacation time is horrendous. They do offer separate sick leave, which is great, but the amount of vacation time is just way too low (they offer 12 days). I already have two international vacations planned this year that would take me several days over their maximum. To add to that, I’m Jewish and I do not work on the High Holidays (depending on the year and when they fall, that can be an additional 3.5 days)– I usually have to take PTO and I expect that. This company has two floating holidays. Even with those, I’d still be over. At my level and years of experience, this is… not good.

    I currently have unlimited PTO with a guideline of 20 vacation days– this is my second role in a row with that policy. I have never taken more than 20 days of PTO, even with the holidays. I mentioned briefly to the head of HR that the 12 days is an issue for me, and she kind of brushed me off saying no one cared about pre-planned trips, it was fine, don’t sweat it… but I need something more concrete. Especially this year because I do have those pre-planned (and pre-paid!) trips and I don’t want to commit to being available at any point during those trips.

    I realize this is a novel, but anyone who has negotiated for more vacation days– how did you go about it? Was it a tough process? Did anything go awry? Did you have to give up anything to get more days?

    1. BellyButton*

      Ugg 12 days isn’t enough for anyone! I would make sure to let them know it isn’t the planned holidays you are concerned about, it is in a year 12 days still won’t be enough. I didn’t have to give anything up to get an additional week. What I learned was they weren’t sticklers for tracking, so it didn’t matter for anyone who wasn’t hourly.

      Good luck!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        “We don’t track it” would be the best scenario for me, but of course I doubt they would admit that going in! Ack.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      Are they able to negotiate to match your current PTO?

      What about moving salary to compensate for the reduction in paid time off? (That way if you need to take unpaid days, you’re “covered”, KWIM?)

      I’d recommend going back to her and being explicit about how the reduction in PTO affects your comp considerations.

      Where I work I have been lobbying for some kind of adjustments to be able to be made on the PTO front (which is based on years with the organization) when we are trying to hire senior talent. And while there are *reasons* that doesn’t seem like it’s changing, what I have gotten is the ability to wiggle in salary and starting bonuses. (Managers here also have the ability to directly approve you getting up to 5 days “in the hole” before anyone has to approve anything else and so I can get creative with a salary wiggle and managing a few days in the hole here and there until they hit that next tier of PTO.)

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Ask for more vacation time! Usually companies are way happier to give you more vacation time than $$. IF they’re reasonable. If they refuse to budge on that, it tells you something about them and their expectations.

    4. Overeducated*

      I asked for additional vacation instead of negotiating on salary once, and they offered me more time off AND more money – I guess they were really expecting me to ask for more given the super low salary, but I was early in my career and didn’t know how much I could push. I think this may be more achievable at very small organizations than ones with really strict and standardized policies, but it’s worth asking, with the consideration there may be tradeoffs. I think the fact that 3.5 of the days are religious holidays and not time you’re taking off for fun should be considered too.

      I’m also going on vacation next week…it’s my third week in a new job right now…so I guess when you are wanted for a senior role, there is more flexibility for pre-planned and paid trips.

    5. Ellie Chumsfanleigh*

      I started a new job a couple of months ago and, with the two companies who were my finalists, I negotiated more than their baseline vacation. “I’m a seasoned professional, not someone new to the workforce and, of course, I expect PTO to be in line with someone at my level.”

      I mean, they could try and tell you that all new hires start at $45,000/year and you’d push back because you’re far beyond that, right? So, just like the salary — where they won’t be paying you entry-level wages — you shouldn’t be getting entry-level PTO.

      This shouldn’t be a stressful or emotional conversation at all. And I guarantee you that they’re expecting it. At least the hiring manager and the execs would expect it from you. HR will do what they tell her to do.

    6. Quinalla*

      Yes I have negotiated for more vacation, I basically asked for slightly more than what I currently had as I hadn’t gotten a vacation bump in a while. You should ask for at least as much as you currently have guidelines to take.

      And does everyone have crap vacation or is that just for starting employees? Especially if you get more vacation as you are there for more years, it’s not usually a big deal to negotiate more vacation if you are coming in a more senior role especially.

      It’s usually a much easier ask than more salary!

    7. fhqwhgads*

      I negotiated for more vacation days. After I got their offer, which included all the PTO and benefits info, I said something like “thank you, do you have any flexibility on the vacation time? I currently have 20 days per year and have had for quite some time. I’m wondering if you can match that.”

      Hiring manager said “I’ll check”. 24 hours later, new offer from HR with the 20 days. That was it. Nothing went awry. Wasn’t tough. Didn’t give anything up.

      If they really want you as you suggest, then A) they know you have as much experience as you do and shouldn’t be surprised you’re not willing to go backwards on PTO B) they want to give you what you want.

    8. Serenity by Jan*

      I asked for more PTO when negotiating for my current job as I was losing a week compared to my job at the time. Unfortunately I was told ‘no’ and that the PTO offering was firm. That’s really the worst that can happen. There’s no harm in asking and being clear with your request, particularly if you have more PTO at your current role. I doubt my request for more PTO was held against me in any way.

      I still took the job as the PTO package was good enough – can’t remember the exact amount, but better than what OP is being offered. Also I was excited about the role and it was a solid pay bump. However, at the time the company would add a day of PTO every year instead of increasing PTO every 5 or 10 years which was a nice policy. The company was acquired and the acquiring company has a very generous PTO policy, including the ability to buy up to 5 additional days which is incrementally deducted from every pay check.

  24. elisabeth*

    Can anyone help me with practical tips for daily organisation?

    I started a new job five months months ago while in the grip brain fog relating to being a woman of a certain age. This has not abated, and suddenly I’m in a fast-paced team and need to fill in spreadsheets and report on progress.

    People message me all day asking for updates, and in the majority of instances I honestly have no recollection of what they’re talking about.

    Despite this I thought I was doing quite well, but recently a colleague complained about something I’d forgotten, and later I realised I’d sent the wrong file to someone.

    My current organisation methods:
    * setting aside 30 mins at the start of the day to make a to do list
    * using an A3 notepad next to my laptop to make this list and related sublists (I have aphantasia so I need to be able to see the lists as I can’t visualise them)
    * setting aside an hour at the end of the day in which I don’t start anything new and just focus on wrapping things up
    * bunching meetings together and blocking out time in my calendar so I get long chunks of time to focus
    * putting messaging apps on do not disturb
    * all email notifications turned off
    * using an app that creates 25-minute blocks of time and rewards you if you get through one without being distracted
    * using a language learning app to reassure myself from time to time that I can still accomplish things despite evidence to the contrary.

    1. Tradd*

      I’m a woman of a certain age as well. I can’t turn off email notifications, but I despise the pop-ups! I kept the notification where an envelope shows up in your task bar. No noise or pop up.

      1. Mimmy*

        I mute my sound so that I don’t hear the incoming message notification to reduce the distraction. I’d rather just look for the visual indicator when I’m ready (I use the online version of Outlook, so for me, it’s a red dot in the browser tab).

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      25 work/5 min break is called the Pomodoro technique if that works for you there’s some more stuff out there for it
      Gantt charts for long term goals/projects
      Kanban for tracking multiple projects at once
      management matrix aka eisenhower Box aka urgent-important matrix for when I don’t know where to start or am having trouble starting
      Deliberately saving some small easy to achieve tasks for the next day to build momentum in the morning

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I use my Outlook Calendar and Task list for a lot of organizing. I schedule some things in the calendar that need to be done by a certain time. Other tasks are in the list, which I keep on view. You can schedule things to repeat, which is handy.

      I also end my week by reviewing what I need to keep up with the next week.

      I am not naturally organized, but my coworkers think I am.

    4. Anon for this*

      This sounds pretty organized! Mistakes happen. I’m constantly changing up how I manage my tasks, and I’ve started doing two things that have helped in the last few years:

      1) Break them up into sections with priorities for that week, other stuff I can work on if I finish my priorities, and stuff I’m waiting on other people for in order to move forward. I keep my lists in OneNote so it makes it easier to move things around as priorities change or projects move forward.

      2) Get really explicit with “tasks” that seem obvious but aren’t. I have annual, monthly, and weekly task lists, so one of my weekly tasks is “Check annual/monthly task list to see if there’s anything you need to do” because I won’t remember otherwise. I’ll write down that I need to email someone and what I need to email them. If I’m working on a file that needs to be uploaded/saved somewhere, I’ll have tasks related to what I’m changing about the file but also one that says “uploaded file” so I know if I’ve actually done it or not.

      Some of this might seem like overkill, but since I manage my tasks in OneNote I can do a lot of copying/pasting of pre-formatted/pre-created task lists, etc.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Along with your to-do list, do you have a list of things you’re waiting on? (Aka you do the first step, but you have to request info from someone before you can do the second step — the task moves from “to-do” to “pending response” with a note about the status.)

      You might also look into bullet journals for a system of transferring today’s to-do list into tomorrow’s without missing anything.

    6. Nalgene*

      I’m in Project Management, and my best suggestion, depending on your role and what tasks require updating, is to create a weekly update form and schedule your email to send it out at the same time on the same day, every week to the people who need to know. People will start to notice the cadence and that you can be trusted to get it published and it will slow down the update requests.

      To get the best effect, you can point questions back to your latest update or let them know the next one is coming on X day. If someone wants information that’s not on your update, you can decide whether it’s relevant to update weekly and add it, or if it is a one-time request, etc. Good luck.

    7. Still*

      For me, writing a to-do list in the morning is not very effective – I’ve just started work and I might forget important things from the day before. What works for me is writing a to-do list for myself before I finish for the day, when I’m still in the work mode and remember all the important details. Then I might review it in the morning and prioritise certain things. This also works great before the weekend or a longer break – makes it much easier to get back into the flow of things.

    8. Dollars to Donuts*

      I work in a fast-paced role and have to keep track of 30 spinning plates at a time. I find that when I use a pen-and-paper to-do list it is just not good enough (which is sad, because I’m a paper lover). I need a real-time online tool that captures the context and mini-steps as I go. My company uses Microsoft Planner, which is ok but just ok. It does let me do a kanban-style board (my fav! may or may not fit the work you do). I need it to have lots of space for taking notes while I’m talking to someone so I don’t forget. It needs to have colors for high priority items. And it doubles as my agenda when I’m checking in with my boss — here are all 30 things, here’s a visual of where the important things are, here’s what’s stuck.

    9. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      Some things I found helpful:

      OneNote as a repository for notes about clients, resolution for various problems, tech stuff;

      Using Outlook in box to hold email till resolved, so it was a backup to my

      to-do list done before logging off every night

      and also:
      If you are on LinkedIn, I highly recommend following Emily Logan Steadman. She’s an attorney, so not everything she talks about will apply (like billable hours, lol), but she talks about general productivity and organization in very concrete ways. You might find her helpful going forward. (full disclosure: she is an IRL work friend; I’m retired so we’re not in frequent contact but she is a great person)

  25. Platypus*

    I’ve been interviewing for a new job in the past few months, and I had a question on how to respond when there’s no way to wriggle out of telling your current salary to employers. Can I just include my yearly bonus in the total sum figure I give them? Or would I be better off saying “my salary is XXX, but I get a yearly XX% bonus, so I would need my salary to reflect that”

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I think your ““my salary is XXX, but I get a yearly XX% bonus, so I would need my salary to reflect that” wording is pretty good. It might also be worth saying something along the lines of “I expect the salary for [job title] to reflect the responsibilities of [job title],” or however you want to word the idea of “pay me for the job I will be doing for you, not based on my salary at a different company.”

    2. Jane Bingley*

      I don’t recommend including your bonus as part of your salary, because if they contact your company to verify your employment and they give a different number, it could look like you lied.

      I’d instead say something like “my salary is $XX per year, but bonuses are a key part of the compensation structure at Current Company, so my take-home pay is $YY annually.”

    3. Antilles*

      In conversations, your proposed wording is just fine.
      If you’re asked on an application form where you have to input a single number no explanation, I would use your total combined compensation for both salary + bonuses, because that is indeed the amount of money you were paid last year.

    4. Kes*

      Honestly, YMMV if you’re more comfortable just answering but I have straight up refused to answer this question in the past, just said I’m not comfortable sharing that information but what I’m looking for is $X-$Y

  26. Aggretsuko*

    Hi, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I requested this last week too but you may not have seen it: When you post here, can you please give enough context about the work situation that people who haven’t read the earlier posts will be able to follow the situation, and ideally include what the work question is? Otherwise it gets into the “ongoing updates” issue that I’ve been trying to ward off so the site doesn’t feel cliquey to newcomers. Thank you! – Alison

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I apologize, and never mind. I’m frankly afraid to ask any questions on the topic, so I’ll just stay quiet.

      1. annonie*

        Jeez it was a simple request. Just ask a question and don’t assume people have read past posts.

  27. Hamster*

    Taking insulin shots at work – I never had an issue with this as I would just take my supplies into the restroom and use the handicap stall to do my injections. There was always a surface to put things on or hang from. 

    However at my new job, the bathroom stalls are very tiny – like I can bend my elbows and i’ll hit both walls. There’s no trash can or hook inside the stall.

    The bathroom itself is located inside the office suite as opposed to being outside the office. I have to get partially undressed to do my injections so I need the privacy of a stall. There’s other struggles but are only monthly so not a huge deal (sorry trying not to be TMI). I can deal with that last thing and the location (I mean I can hear the flushes – thankfully nothing else) but i’m mostly concerned about the shots. 

    I share an office so I can’t really do them at my desk and we’re right across the kitchen so a lot of foot traffic (which is great, I love it!).

    Otherwise, everything is wonderful so far (knock on wood)! I just feel a little silly – complaining? not sure if that’s the right word – about what seems to be a very basic thing. I’m brand new so I don’t really want to bring this up yet so just asking here in the hopes of a workaround until I’m at the point I could mention it.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Is there another bathroom nearby? Like outside your office suite? Maybe you can just take a walk and use a better one. Also what’s the pumping situation like for nursing mothers? There’s hopefully got to be additional non bathroom private spaces in the building somewhere. Are there conference or exam rooms that have privacy? I’d loop in your boss or HR honestly. Better to be in front of it than risk rumors (I saw Sally walking into the bathroom with a needle) and then they might have ideas for better places to give yourself the shot.

      1. Hamster*

        It’s a small building/small office. Outside the office suite is another office suite right across the hallway, there’s no bathroom in between. For pumping mothers – I don’t know. Everyone here is older, so there’s no need for it although if it ever did become necessary for someone (not I!) I’m sure accommodations would be made. One thing that’s interesting to me is that there are more offices than open space/cubicles. I’m the only one sharing an office with someone (not complaining, just stating a fact).

    2. BellyButton*

      Do they have a pumping room for nursing mothers? That may be an option. I think needing a space would fall under a”reasonable accommodations”

    3. ecnaseener*

      Is there no handicap-accessible bathroom anywhere in the building? The tiny stalls you describe wouldn’t fit a wheelchair, so they must have a bigger one somewhere unless the building is grandfathered in?

    4. Distracted Procrastinator*

      This is something you should feel comfortable asking HR to help you with. They should help you find accommodation that works for you. Present the problem in a matter of fact manner and in an “of course they will help you” way (as Alison often recommends so often.)

      Good luck getting what you need!

    5. A Girl Named Fred*

      I think you’d be fine to mention it and ask what other options there are, but I also get how that can feel fraught until you’re more settled. So in the interest of workarounds…

      Is the main issue that you don’t have a surface to set stuff on or that you don’t have a hook? People make magnetic hooks now so that folks can hang a purse/bag in a bathroom stall and not have to set it on the floor; maybe something like that could hold your bag of supplies? Or – wow this takes me back – do they still make magnetic shelves that kids use in school lockers?

    6. anxiousGrad*

      It sounds like your office doesn’t have an ADA compliant bathroom based on what you describe. It definitely would not be silly for you to bring this up – it’s a serious issue for you and others who need an accessible bathroom!

    7. WellRed*

      I’ve never done my shots in the bathroom. Are you uncomfortable doing them at your desk? I just try to be discreet. If that isn’t an option for you? Then please talk to HR.

    8. TypeFun*

      Also diabetic (T1) and I just do shots out in public. You can just adjust your clothes to inject your arm or stomach. Not saying you have to! But just know it’s normal to do injections wherever you want to. You can definitely also ask for a private space and that’s ok too

    9. kalli*

      It’s a medical accommodation. You do not have to wait to bring it up, you do not need to accumulate capital or brownie points or favours, you don’t have to wait until your probation is complete. In fact, you should not wait because allowing the company to remain in a position where you are not provided a medical accommodation (a private place to inject since obvious solutions like using your office while your officemate is at lunch apparently don’t work, for which you may have to have an explanation like ‘i need to inject at 2pm and coworker’s lunch is 11:30am-12:30pm’ because not everyone knows everyone’s insulin requirements) and thus placing them at risk of potential liability would well be seen as really bad judgement. Given your history, you don’t want to give them any more reason to think you have bad judgement than may come from your work as that could make things escalate extremely quickly when you start having other issues here like you have had at your previous jobs. If you need access to a bathroom stall specifically, I would STRONGLY recommend getting that sorted before your ‘monthly’ issue, especially if it’s menstrual – you don’t want to be in the position of risking an infection because you can’t change.

      But letting it wait until some mythical point where you can bring it up when it’s a matter of a medical thing you need to live and do the job is a really bad idea and you should not do that. Go to HR on Monday, or ask your manager who to raise medical accommodations with. Say ‘I have to inject myself daily and it can’t wait until I’m at home, but I need privacy and there isn’t room to do it safely in the bathroom in our office, and my coworker is always around so I can’t just close the door for a few minutes.’ If they don’t have a solution available like a wellness room, a different bathroom or directions to a bathroom in the building, you might need to be prepared to negotiate a solution, but you won’t know that until you speak up and start having the conversation. Chances are you are not the only one and a solution exists nobody thought you needed to know.

      Also there’s the small chance that if you get sick because you couldn’t inject safely in time and you didn’t say anything, workers comp may not cover you and you’d have to pay out of pocket for any hospital expenses your insurance couldn’t cover. Don’t risk it.

      Speak up.

      1. Hamster*

        I’m not sure if it was clear from my post but I don’t skip anything. I take my injections on time and do everything I need to do. So, no danger of my getting sick or infections at any point due to this. It’s just a little uncomfortable/cumbersome to do it in this space, that’s all. Respectfully, I don’t think this is the kind of question or situation where my past needs to be dragged in here.

  28. Taylor swift*

    I want to get a walking pad for my office. Anything I should think about before approaching my boss? I’m happy to pay for it myself, I have an office with a door that closes, and we’re a small organization. I want to make sure I have his ok before getting it – is there any risk with liability? Or anything else that would make someone say no?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Make sure you also get some kind of pad underneath it. Those things can be loud! (A friend lived under someone who had a walking pad– shaking walls and whirring for hours on end.) So factor that into any cost estimates.

    2. Someone Else's Boss*

      If I were your boss, I would be concerned about two things: Noise and Attention. Will it be so loud/disruptive that it will be noticed even with the door closed? What if someone needs to speak with you while you’re walking? Will you be able to pivot? Are you planning to walk during video calls? I would want to make sure that both you, and your colleagues, will still be able to focus. Since it sounds like you’re bringing this into a space your company manages, there could be some liability. Technically, if you get hurt in the office you would be eligible for worker’s comp. Depending on your company size, and how comfortable they are with risk, they may or may not be concerned about that. I know my company wouldn’t be, but I once had to pay someone because they stepped wrong off a curb after insisting they could wear heels to an outdoor event. After that, I made everyone wear sneakers so if they showed up in heels I wouldn’t be liable.

    3. HSE Compliance*

      Hi, your friendly residential safety person here!

      Make sure you’ve considered set up regarding trip hazards. Where will the cord go (if it’s plugged into the wall)? Does your company have any safety policies that would prohibit that kind of device due to perceived risk of injury? Where will it be stored? Does it have a safety key or other device that if you were to go backwards, the pad would stop? Is the pad speed-limited (iirc to <2.5mph)? Is it safe to use with "office shoes" (probably not optimal) or will you be wearing different, more appropriate shoes? Do I need to worry about someone with an underlying health condition that could be aggravated by the walking pad? If someone brought me a walking pad/treadmill, I would also be asking about ergonomics.

      From a safety side, yes, the company would have liability if you injured yourself on it at work, as the incident took place at work.

      You might want to ask if your company pays for any ergonomic assessments and/or has a company on hand that they tend to use for specialized office furniture that would be able to assess this for them and summarize the risks they see for this situation.

  29. Productivity Pigeon*

    Extreme impostor syndrome – Terrified to look for jobs and so ashamed

    This ended up long and rambling. I apologize.

    —-

    I realize this is a mental issue more than anything but I would still appreciate any feedback you can give me. It’s making me so miserable.
    I’m in my mid-thirties and previously worked as a management consultant.

    —-

    In 2019, I got burned out and was on medical leave for over six months. (I’m not American, as you might be able to guess.)

    I was starting to go back and working my way up from 25% work hours to 50% but then Covid hit.

    ADHD, still burned out and now confined to a small apartment all alone…

    You can probably guess what happened next.

    The firm bought me out.

    I had a dream even before all that to go back to college to switch industries and 3ish years later, I’m ready to go back to the labor market.

    The problem is that I’m having an INCREDIBLY difficult time even thinking about job ads and applications.

    I feel like a complete fraud.
    I wanted to post an announcement on LinkedIn just stating I’m looking for a job.
    I haven’t been able to do it. Like, I can’t make myself.

    The problem is two-fold.

    I did genuinely struggle with important things like deadlines before I got sick and when I tried to go back to work.

    In my final conversation with my employer, they stated that it would be very difficult to find another role for me because there was no way to avoid deadlines. I was a very unreliable employee throughout my tenure due to many factors beyond my control and some within it. I did do good work too but…

    The deadline thing has stuck with me.

    I ended up going back to school to change industries and studying from home as been as difficult as working from home.

    My doubt in my own abilities to work is partly founded and realistic.

    But the biggest hurdle is mental.

    I feel like every word I write on a resume or type in a cover letter is a lie.
    Not only that,
    I’m scared, yes, really scared, that I’m some sort of delusional fool and people will see I’m looking for a job and laugh at me for even thinking have a chance.

    It’s like…

    I feel a little bit like Stephen King’s Carrie (minus the magical powers, dreadful mother and a bucket of pig’s blood). Invited to prom and too naive to realize it’s a prank.

    I guess it’s an extreme form of impostor syndrome only I’m NOT making it all up, I truly wasn’t an amazing employee ( I wasn’t a dreadful one either, in all fairness.)

    I’m somehow afraid that people will read my post and laugh and think I’m delusional for even thinking about being hired, about “being someone”.
    I feel like someone will read it and think I’m a liar or just mock me.

    To be clear, I don’t really think someone will actually sit and mock me and laugh at me, but I could see someone texting a friend “have you seen what Productivity Pigeon posted on LinkedIn? How can she possibly believe she could have a chance at that job?”

    I feel the same way when I read job ads. I end up gravitating to “very-entry-level jobs” because I’m terrified I’m not able to do more than that and because I don’t want recruiters to read my resume and laughing and thinking I’m making a fool of myself for even applying.

    I guess I feel like I’m making promises I can’t keep.

    How do I stop feeling like I’m lying when I look for jobs?

    I KNOW I’m just overreacting and that this is all in my head. But I don’t know how to make it stop.

    1. Ms. Norbury*

      First of all, I’m really sorry you’re dealing with all this. It sounds extremely stressful and disheartening. I honestly identify quite a bit with the whole “being afraid people will finally realize I have no idea what I’m doing” thing, and having all the history and health issues on top of it must make it extra, extra hard.

      You already know this is in part a mental health issue. How are you factoring that in? Do you have a formal diagnosis for your ADHD, and if yes, do you have and use any resources for managing it (e.g. therapy, medication, coping strategies, etc)?

      About applying for jobs, do you think getting the opinion of a knowledgeable outsider about whether you are qualified enough to apply for a job would help you at least gather enough confidence to apply?

      1. Productivity Pigeon*

        Thank you for that very kind and sympathetic answer, it means a lot.

        I do have a formal diagnosis for ADHD and am on meds for that as well as for depression. I’ve had lots of therapy in the past but not recently and not for this particular issue.

        I’m not sure an outsider’s view would help. I think my brain will just jump to “but they don’t know ALL the details so they can’t know.”

        Which I guess is at the heart of the matter.
        *I* don’t know myself whether I’ll be a good employee or not.

        1. Ms. Norbury*

          Ok, it’s really good that you are taking care of yourself! If it´s an option right now, I’d consider returning to therapy for a while.

          About your answer to ecnaseener (who is offering some great advice) below, please try to be a little kinder to yourself. IME most people who are “snobs” about their own achievements seldom judge others as harshly – they just hold themselves to very high (sometimes unreasonable) standards.

          I wish you the best luck in your job search!

    2. the cat ears*

      I had some pretty bad impostor syndrome after I got fired during terrible health problems, took some time away, and was ready to return to work. I’m a programmer and it helped me a lot to do programming exercises – nothing at all related to looking for a job or building a portfolio site, I just looked up exercises like one might see in an intro computer science class and did them until I was confident I still knew how to code.

      Is there anything similar you can do at home or as a volunteer to reassure yourself of your abilities in your field? Or if it’s deadlines stressing you out – can you practice setting some deadlines for personal goals, breaking them down into pieces and getting the pieces done in a timely manner? Even something like “I need to renew my car’s registration” could be broken down into steps like gathering paperwork, looking up addresses and hours for government offices, etc. Or pick something like completing a short course on Khan Academy and make a “syllabus” with “due dates” for each unit, and make a concrete plan to meet each one.

      1. Productivity Pigeon*

        I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with feelings like these and that you got fired.

        That’s not a bad idea, actually.
        I guess I’m a bit scared by it because what happens if I just…can’t make myself do it?

        Part of that is that I do perform better in an actual office with physical colleagues and a team to work with, and that’s hard to “practice” beforehand.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Here’s the honest truth of it: Many, many people are not very good at their jobs. You’ve no doubt encountered them throughout your life when interacting with different businesses and organizations. Hundreds of them. They all got hired, you can too even if you’re not a rock star.

      As for your specific troubles with deadlines – just because all of the work at your previous employer was deadline-heavy doesn’t mean all the jobs in the world are! You can find a job with few or no deadlines where you just deal with the work as it comes.

      Good luck!

      1. Productivity Pigeon*

        That is true.

        I’ve never thought about it like that. And yes, I’ve encountered plenty of people who were bad at their jobs .

        I suppose it’s more me feeling that with my fine education etc etc and all my Potential (please imagine a very sarcastic tone), I should be as successful as those around me.

        I’m a snob like that.

        1. OtterB*

          I can identify with the sarcasm about Potential. I have a standing joke with my husband that my tombstone will read “She had such potential.”

          It may be helpful to think about whose voice you hear making the sarcastic remark about your potential. Is it your own? A family member? A teacher at some point? Because, from what I’ve read, that’s a common term used to bludgeon people with ADHD because clearly things would be fine if they would Just Try Harder. /s

          Also, is there anyone from the college program you just finished who might be helpful identifying the kinds of jobs that would be a good fit for your training? A teacher whose class you did well in, a staff member who helps students find internships or jobs, an alumni group? It’s hard to approach people, I know. Good luck with it.

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          Be careful too that you aren’t “comparing your insides to everybody else’s outside,” to use a phrase I read somewhere, possibly in a Marian Keyes book. It’s very easy to think everybody else is more successful than you because other people’s successes are more noticeable than their failures. You hear about the promotion somebody got; you don’t hear about the five previous promotions they were turned down for, because nothing happened, so there is no news.

          You generally just hear the highlights of everybody else’s life (except maybe people like your spouse, kids, etc) so it’s easy to feel everybody is more successful than you.

          But most people have periods in their life or areas of their life where they don’t succeed. I spent 13 years subbing before I got a full-time “permanent and pensionable” job, despite having good qualifications. Two or three of my cousins dropped out of college. Some went back, one got a job with the ESB (our electricity company, which probably pays better than a lot of graduate jobs), one of my uncles spent years quitting and changing jobs, one of my best friends also spent years subbing before finding the right job, another friend has worked pretty much full-time since graduation but isn’t sure if the job is still the one she wants. I could give similar information about maybe 90% of the people I know well. Those who went straight to college from school, getting their first choice of course, went straight through without ever needing to repeat an exam, then got a permanent and pensionable job, in their field, straight out of college and continued to advance in their career with no setbacks are a small minority. In fact, I’m struggling to think of anybody…maybe a friend who has a PhD and is lecturing…maybe.

          And I don’t think any of us are unsuccessful. That’s just life. It’s not a film where everything is leading towards the happy ending. In reality, people have setbacks, things don’t work as planned, careers get derailed and then sorted and so on.

    4. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      First, I hear that you are freaking out and stressed and scared. It is all in your head, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. But second, your brain weasels are giant liars, whispering nasty things in your ear and you are making the mistake of listening to them instead of telling them to shut up. The best way to deal with the little liars is to respond to their emotional jabs with facts.

      So facts: You set a goal to go to school. You met that goal. To be able to graduate, you have met deadlines, completed assignments, attended classes, kept to a schedule, all sorts of work that I know is even harder with ADHD. But you did it! For 3 long years. That’s an awesome achievement that you are not celebrating. Really sit with how much work you have already done and appreciate it. You can’t minimize it or not acknowledge it, because it already happened.

      More facts: Anxiety is kind of ironic in that it imagines you are the center of everyone’s universe while also telling you how unworthy you are. But actually, nobody else cares about you as much as you do. You’re obsessing over your imaginary LinkedIn posts and other people’s imaginary responses. Reality is, nobody else will give it much thought. Your post will be one of many seen on LI that day by all your connections. If they know of a potential match, they’ll share it and move on, because *they* are worried about their own life, not yours.

      Another fact: even if someone laughed at you, nothing would happen. Literally nothing. I mean, think it through: you apply for a job, a recruiter laughs at your resume and deletes it – and then what? They call you to tell you? They come to your house? They point at you and go haha! and then what? What’s the awful thing you’re imagining, being exiled to St. Helena?

      I also note that every time you or a commenter says something reasonable to counter your brain weasels, you immediately try to undermine it. Try to stop doing that. Start talking back to the brain weasels. You already are someone! Getting a job won’t change who you are. Not getting a job won’t change who you are.

      Finally, put all these fears to the test. Apply to some jobs. You are right now predicting the future: “I know they won’t want me so I won’t even apply”. But that’s not a fact. You’d have to apply to find out if they want you or not. It sounds like you might be afraid of rejection so you are rejecting them before they can reject you. But you can’t get a job without applying, so you have to break that cycle. (Also, frankly, who cares if you “feel like” you’re lying when looking? Look anyway.)

      If you are unwilling to go to therapy, you could try some self-therapy. I think it’s harder to do alone, but try out some cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s really helped my husband, who is ADHD, and me, who is not. There is a great book called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy that explains the concepts. (Dumb name, great book.)

      Good luck!

    5. sulky-anne*

      This sounds a lot like how depression manifests for me. Particularly that bit where you’re aware that these feelings are coming from inside the house but also very much want people to know that you know that you are objectively bad at some things.

      I’m sure you have weaknesses like everyone does, but the fixation on them feels like a symptom to me. You’re kind of pre-screening yourself out before you can get rejected. And applying for jobs involves a huge amount of rejection at the best of times.

      One thing that I find helpful in general is recognizing that no one else will ever be as mean to me as I am to myself. Maybe that doesn’t feel reassuring, but it reframes it in a helpful way for me. Instead of thinking that I am too weak to handle rejection, I realize that I already handle tons of rejection and cruelty on a daily basis. Nothing another person can do can come close to that.

      In work specifically, I find it helpful to remind myself that I am able to choose not to do things that I know I will majorly struggle at. It sounds like you were able to make good choices for yourself and get out of a situation where you were struggling to keep up. Knowing that you will continue to be realistic about what your abilities are and find a solution when things aren’t working is a great asset.

      1. Productivity Pigeon*

        Thank you so so much!

        I’m just about to sleep but I’ll be back with a longer answer tomorrow. You came me a lot to think about.

        The thing is: I’m not actually done with my studies. I’ve done 2/3 or so.
        But u have no money left and so finding at job is priority one at the moment.

        I’m tired of lying all the time.

    6. Cj*

      I can’t really add to what other posters have said, I just wanted you to know that there’s another person who agrees with the things that they said, and has sympathy for what you are going through.

    7. Kes*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I would encourage you to get some therapy if possible both to deal with the imposter syndrome issues and also for help developing strategies to deal with deadlines. Beyond that I agree with the advice to maybe do some practice work to build up your skills and get in the habit of doing some things, maybe even set some small deadlines here and there that you’re confident you can make to build your confidence there as well. Also this one’s a bit weird but maybe pick a job you don’t care about and apply to that just to get you applying to something, but where you can tell yourself if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t matter, no pressure on yourself, but at least to get yourself in motion in starting to apply to jobs (to be clear, don’t just stop there or you’ll risk ending up in a shitty job you may not like as much – the goal is to get started and and then keep going with ones you actually want. but not caring too much about specific jobs and applications can help reduce the pressure).
      Also, and I mean this in the kindest way possible and this is something I have to remind myself of as well at times: people probably don’t care or think about you and what you do as much as you think they do. It’s very unlikely people will laugh at the fact that you’re applying to jobs – of course you are, most people need a job. Honestly even if I saw someone I had worked with and didn’t think they did a good job applying to jobs, I wouldn’t think that was silly of them to apply to jobs, I’d just hope they found something better suited to them.

    8. NaoNao*

      It seems like some of the fear is around the LinkedIn announcement, so if it helps: simply toggle on “looking for work” in the settings and don’t make a post! Those type of posts aren’t super-helpful in being seen by the people you need to see them, and as you pointed out, they typically go to your network, which may or may not be helpful.
      Another item:
      When writing your resume, stick to numbers and hard facts. It’s verifiable and quantifiable that I wrote training that got 5/5 stars on reviews. I have that data to back it up. Now kudos from a coworker that says I’m a “valuable team player” is more subjective so I’ll leave that off.
      If you have hard data and numbers, start there. A great formula is results > tools or method > context.

      So just focus on the results you got, what industry specific tools you used, and what context makes it meaningful.

      It might also help to find meaning and personhood outside of work. You have value besides being a “perfect” worker. Also management consulting is a notoriously hard, high pressure and very unforgiving field. Give yourself a break here.

    9. Hillary*

      First and foremost, management consulting is very difficult and NOT a normal job. It’s a pressure cooker that absolutely sucks for most people. They (often, not always) set unrealistic expectations in stressful cultures & environments. The overwhelming majority of jobs do not have that level of pressure. Have you noticed just hot many people are *former* management consultants?

      I agree with the others about therapy. You’re being very hard on yourself and therapy can help you with that. Volunteering might also help build up your confidence by providing evidence that you’re good at stuff, although that doesn’t always help anxiety brain. Do you have a friend or family member you really trust? Imagine how they would describe you in a cover letter. I bet they would say you’re awesome. I can tell from this post you’re smart, you work hard, and you want to learn. Those are all amazing qualities in any employee.

      Finally, what’s the worst that can happen if you apply? You don’t get an interview? Ok, that was practice writing an application. Or it was a practice interview. Ultimately if you think you can do something it’s the hiring manager’s responsibility to judge if they agree. The situations you read about here are the outliers because people don’t write to Allison about their perfectly normal, good workday.

    10. Busy Middle Manager*

      I think you’re mixing up mental health, your personal life, and the job hunt too much.

      First off, get rid of the notion that you need to be perfectly self-aware and happy and self-realized in order to work. You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to be able to function at a pretty low baseline, find a job that suits your personality and way of thinking, and then the job can actually serve as a distraction and help your mental health.

      Also I would stop framing things with these definitive and negative terms like “imposter syndrome.” It doesn’t help most of the people using them, and in your case, it isn’t imposter syndrome. You are indeed unemployed and don’t know which path to take, there is no “syndrome,” you’re legitimately confused. In your case, I don’t think the problem is how you feel. The problem is that you lack a path.

      One place to start is a personality test and then using all of this new information online to find jobs that suit it. Look up ads for said jobs and see what you think, maybe apply to a few. I’m assuming you do not want to go back to consulting…

      Also start binge watching youtube videos on the issues you identified. “Not being able to meet deadlines” is not just a professional issue, you need to deal with it. Fortunately there are a bazillion videos on it. There is self-help book for everything nowadays, buy one.

      Lastly, applying to lower level jobs after a gap in employment seems pretty reasonable? I’m not sure why you’re beating yourself up for that. Careers don’t just go straight up, they’re like the stock market for many people, they go up then crash then go up higher….

    11. Zennish*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with all this. My best advice is try some mindfulness exercises or meditation. Focus on the present moment. The past is a story you’re telling yourself that didn’t happen exactly like you remember it. The future is a story you’re telling yourself that won’t happen like you envision it.

      Break things down to small, manageable actions in the moment. Right now I am just updating my resume. I don’t need to spin stories about what comes next. Right now I am just putting in one application for one job. It isn’t helpful to tell myself stories about what might happen next.

      I hope everything works out for you.

    12. Straight Laced Sue*

      Might a bit of volunteering (in your area of interest / expertise) help with easing back into the world of work?
      Sending very best wishes as you take these brave steps you’re taking.

  30. Rue*

    I was a contractor and now am a full-time employee at my employer, working in a different group. I still have access to my previous group’s inbox and reports, because I’ve been assisting my replacement with some complicated and finicky tasks. But I’m struggling with (mentally) letting go of the things that I would do differently or better, and I’m torn about what to raise to my previous boss (who I still work with and see every day).

    For example, my replacement sent what I would consider an extremely abrupt email to someone *much* higher up in our organization (think SVP level), informing her of an administrative mistake that she’d made and essentially ordering her to correct it. Based on her curt reply in turn (whereas she’s always been warm/cordial when I emailed her), I could tell that she was at least a little miffed. My former group prides themselves on being “customer service oriented” and I know they’d be embarrassed if they saw this, but so far I’ve resisted the temptation to step in ad help or offer opinions unless I’m asked a direct question.

    Is this the correct way to go about things? I still work with this group sometimes in a different capacity and we’re a bit enmeshed, but at the same time I don’t want to be the person who can’t step back and let someone else do their job.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yes, resist — unless you’re supposed to be training your replacement, which doesn’t sound like the case.

    2. MaryLoo*

      Absolutely resist. This is between your replacement and the higher-up your replacement sent the message to. The higher-up will talk to the replacement’s boss if necessary to bring up the replacement’s attitude or methods of communication. This situation is entirely in the “not your business” category, even though you feel bad about it. And this does not reflect on you at all, and should not affect your relationship with the higher-up.

    3. Zee*

      You’re having trouble letting go because you’re still involved. Is there any way you can say “okay, I’ve transitioned to the new department, I’ve caught up my replacement on some of the more complicated things, and now I need to focus on my new role” and have your access to the old team’s inbox revoked? And don’t read their reports or review their work unless it’s part of a project you’re working on together.

  31. Anxious Flyer*

    Hi all,

    Looking for some advice about international jobs and maybe temporarily switching fields when moving countries. My partner and I are finally closing the distance (yay!!!!) and I’m moving to his country through martial sponsorship. Our countries have agreements to honor my degree for my line of work, but my field is notoriously over saturated and difficult to get a job in. There’s really no chance I could get a work visa due to the nature of the work (local government type stuff). So, we’re thinking I could look for an office job with some admin work while I find something in my field.

    I’m just looking for general advice really, from anyone who has also made the move to another country without a work visa. How did you find the process? Did you feel like it was harder due to your immigrant status? Did you have to switch fields?

    1. allathian*

      A lot depends on how fluently you speak the local language. Even if you could work for an employer with English as a working language, you’re likely to find it a lot easier to integrate if you speak the local language.

      You also need to check the visa regulations of your new country, some allow you to work on a spousal visa but others don’t.

      1. Anxious Flyer*

        I’m moving from an English speaking country to an English speaking country that allows working on a spousal visa! Thank you :)

    2. Scotty*

      Yes I have done this a couple times, once on a spouse visa, and a couple of things helped when I was looking for work:
      1. I volunteered at local places while job searching. It had many positives including connecting with people in the community, getting into a routine, etc but also demonstrated to interviewers that I had a good work ethic, could provide local references, and already starting to understand the cultural environment.
      2. Joining hobby groups or sports or whatever you’re interested in. Don’t wait for a job or your partner to start being involved in these. Again connects you with a wider group of people who can potentially help with job leads, and demonstrates a desire to be part of local community life, etc.
      These will also help answer the questions I got a lot when first starting to interview “are you settled, are you going to be moving countries soon haha, when do you think you’ll be heading ‘home?”
      And don’t be afraid to to utilise your partner or their family if they can be of help! There are still a lot of cultural norms to get up to speed on quickly even within English speaking countries (i.e. sending a thank you note following an interview would never be done here). Just listening to people’s stories about their work can help with understanding these nuances.
      In the end yes, I took whatever office jobs I could get and they ended up being great springboards into sometimes random and mostly satisfying work.

  32. Bluebonnet*

    I am a staff member at a university special collection library, and feel so weary working with faculty sometimes. The faculty I work with are cordial, but sometimes come across as acting like they are better than me and their work is more important than mine.

    From my understanding, this is the culture throughout academia. Any tips on not letting it get to me? Also, am I correct in assuming that workplaces outside of higher ed. also tend to be like this as well? I have only ever worked in higher ed.

    The university I work at supports this culture through having a special dining hall just for faculty with free coffee and pastries every morning and higher quality lunches (I have been there twice as a faculty guest). Sigh.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I am also staff in academia though I have a phd (same as most faculty) and unfortunately its pretty common. It helps me to remember I like my job a lot more than I liked theirs (or would like), they do a lot of paperwork I hated, they have to sit through so many meetings, they have to deal with upset students and sometimes parents, they have to try and teach hungover freshman basic concepts, they have to handle so many interpersonal issues (yes math 101 students we have to tell you to wear deodorant because some of you clearly missed that lesson). If you’ve seen the video meme “we don’t have tornados we dont have earthquakes we dont have fires” I go that vibe when they annoy me in my head.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        PS: The big one too, is their employment depends on chasing tenure, and publish or perish, and getting grants to secure funding (or risk having to take on more teaching instead of more research). Sure they get some nice perks. But as a staffer, I get to leave a 6 and go home and relax. My salary is guaranteed.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      Your university may be rubbing it in a bit harder than most, sounds like (faculty club with special pastries? Sheesh). At least you know where you stand?? There’s not a false egalitarian veneer?

      I think every workplace does have a pecking order, and it’s the rare, rare organization where most folks really get it that every role has value.

      The best tip on not letting it get to you is two-step: Help the snooty ones as efficiently as possible so they get the hell out of your office, and meanwhile, amusedly observe them as if you’re an anthropologist learning about a kind of animal with striking plumage camouflaging a tiny little body with short arms.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        Yeah, the faculty-staff divide is a real thing in many universities (not all, but probably most, and it varies depending on the particular staff position), but having the separate faculty dining hall that requires a guest pass for non-faculty is a level I haven’t heard of until now. Esh. That’s definitely not going to help build a collaborative culture.

        I try to just be happy that I have set hours/can leave work at work, don’t have to publish anything, and I know that most faculty and students *do* appreciate what I bring to the table. And know that the snooty ones are doing that to everyone, and they’re not helping themselves being that way. I’ll go out of my way to help a student, or to help faculty that are nice to me. The ones that are jerks? They get the professional bare minimum.

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          Oh, and I have this mantra posted at my desk: “We’re all smart here. Distinguish yourself by being kind.” It helps a lot.

      2. AFac*

        Honestly, those faculty who are snooty towards staff are also generally snooty towards other faculty, especially if the other faculty are younger, untenured, a POC, or do work in an area that snooty faculty considers less difficult/practical/’pure’/whatever.

        I don’t know if that makes Bluebonnet feel better or not, but sometimes it makes me feel better to know that some people are just jerks.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        And frankly I’m suspicious of shiny perks like special lunchrooms and such that are clearly oriented around making a group feel “superior;” it feels like shiny toys instead of pay raises or other more solid things that might cost a lot more than some pastries.

    3. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Super common in academia. It doesn’t bother me because I was a faculty brat and have therefore seen these people all my life, and most of the faculty, no matter what the institution, are kind of dumbasses. Most people are dumbasses. Faculty just managed to survive grad school (which is incredibly exploitative and abusive, even if you get really lucky) and landed a tenure-track job, it doesn’t mean they’re kind people (a relative of mine just retired as a full professor and none of his kids speak to him) or can learn stuff outside their field (the number of faculty members who have mentioned to me that they don’t know how to cook is hilarious). They do something really specialized and I would not do that job for all the money in the world (teaching undergrads? hard no. grading? absolutely not. committees? UGH. writing a millionty grants? worse than hell. peer review? my actual nightmare.) I work 37 hours a week and my self-worth isn’t tied up in being the smartest person in the room, and I will take that deal.

      There’s a little bit of the “us and them” outside academia, in terms of “the C-suite and the actual workers”, but it’s less pronounced. I do not of course speak of the rockstar CEOs who have cults of personality around them.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Wow, I mean the faculty-staff divide is a real thing in most universities (depending on department) and I’ve never heard of a faculty clubs before (we had one at a school I worked at years ago), but trust me- the food was not worth the cost of the meal. There were no free pastries. I have been both faculty and staff (librarians get classified differently at different places), so I’ve been on both sides of this one. I think it really depends on the school and the department how much that divide is felt. The non-higher ed places I have worked also have a staff pecking order, but there is a certain brand of faculty that can be really, really, rude and awful to staff. I’m sorry if you’re experiencing that.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Oops, typo- meant to say I have heard of faculty clubs.

        Also, just noticed you work in Special Collections, as a fellow special collections person, there’s a tendency of certain faculty to treat library staff and Special Collections staff especially like we exist solely to support their project (which we kinda do, because like our job is to facilitate research within our collections) however, if you have a good boss, that boss should have clear guidelines about what sort of requests are reasonable and what sorts are not. (No, we are not going to go do your research for you. Hire a grad student.)

    5. iEscaped*

      I was formerly in academia and now work for a corporation. My experience has been that while hierarchy exists in any organization, in academia the categories are more rigidly defined. The faculty/staff and tenured/non-tenured/non-tenure-track divisions are pretty extreme, and it’s easy to meet someone and make assumptions about their roles and responsibilities and the level of power they hold based on which category they fall into, for better or worse. In my current company, there are different levels of employees and a vast hierarchy of reporting structure, but there are so many different types of roles and interactions between roles. It’s much harder to meet a new person and immediately make an assumption about their experience and background and whether they have authority. I’m sure that isn’t the case in every industry, but at least in my current one leveling, titles, and seniority aren’t really standardized enough for that to be the case. There’s also more fluidity between job categories than in academia–you’d never see someone bounce back and forth between faculty and staff positions, but I’ve seen people in my company flit between individual technical roles and people management and project management without necessarily closing the door on what they did in the past. (Again, industry dependent).

      In a lot of ways it feels nice to have a less rigid hierarchy, but I’ve also found that it means informal relationships mean more and unconscious biases can slip in. As a youngish woman in a male dominated field, people often assume I’m more entry level and I have to fight to be listened to in some contexts. Putting “PhD” in my email signature and mentioning it in my introduction when I give presentations to higher-ups (crusty old men) helps, as much as it makes me cringe.

    6. Pamela Adams*

      Sometimes my mantra is “People with Ph.D’s learn more and more about less and less, and eventually know everything about nothing.”

  33. Doing well until I screw it up?*

    This is a good problem to have, but does anyone have suggestions on managing success?

    At work, I have solid numbers in our measured objectives, I get positive feedback from management, peers, and clients, and I’m happy in my job. In short, I’m kicking ass.

    I’ve never kicked ass before. In past jobs, I was there to pay to bills or to build experience, and I was never a rock star by any stretch. This is the first time I’ve been in role where I’m actually doing well, and where I have both industry knowledge and workplace clout.

    That’s kinda terrifying! I’m afraid I’ll get a huge head and become the office jerk, or screw everything up and prove to the world I actually suck at everything. Or both. How do I avoid that?

    I see the combination of low grade imposter syndrome and a warped view of confidence in there, but therapy is a nonstarter right now, so I’m asking the internet. What are your tips for unexpectedly being competent for the first time?

    1. middlingmanager*

      So this happened to me at my current job. I don’t have any actual answer to your question, but it seems like objectively you know you don’t suck!

      As far as other staff, I think the way to avoid becoming a jerk is:
      1. Don’t demand special perks because you’re the rockstar or act like you’re better than everyone else
      2. Be willing to share your knowhow with other staff if asked
      3. If things are bothering staff who don’t have much sway, use your social capital to promote their concerns

      Some people at my job still seem to have a grudge against me, though, so maybe I’m doing it wrong, or maybe it’s just that my organization is toxic.

      1. Doing well until I screw it up?*

        Thank you! It’s helpful to know someone else has experienced this too. It feels a bit silly, but I don’t want to mess it up when I’ve finally figured out at least this current little slice of adulting.

      2. Never Knew I Was a Dancer*

        +1 to all of this.

        One other thought: Take a moment to feel grateful for the situation—for being good at something, for being able to help other people with your skills, for knowing the answer to someone’s question. I find that gratitude can help build confidence without losing a helpful level of humbleness.

    2. Awkwardness*

      Maybe try to find out what made the difference?
      Is it the work, is it the people, working hours, degree of freedom for certain decsions?
      I think as soon as you realise that there are factors that help you feel and perform better, it becomes less of a “magic thing” that can blow up at any point and might help you to trust yourself better.

  34. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    I virtually attended our company’s 2.5 hour Town Hall this week. It began with the CEO walking out to Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, and my first thought was “This is doing to be a looooooong afternoon.” I was not wrong.

    1. Hermione Danger*

      Ugh. Why do they insist on doing this? Why do CEOs think we are so pumped to work for them that they must be rockstars and have rockstar entrances?

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I’m glad I’m remote, because the scream-laugh I let out would not have been appropriate in person.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s so embarrassing! Like, I would be afraid to make eye contact with coworkers because my face would betray me to all and sundry.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yikes, use of that song in any context other than one involving actual radioactivity practically qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment!

        1. Llama face!*

          I don’t want to reveal your identity but any chance your org has a name like “Evil Corp” or something? Because I think you may be working for a wannabe supervillain.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      I can empathize. And this is why I have a non-work chat with like-minded people so we can “did that just happen?” in safety.

    4. Thunder Kitten*

      Could be worse.

      Could have been “Bones” by the same group. “My patience is waning, is this entertaining ?”

      But most c-suite isn’t THAT self aware.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh gawd. That’s so painful. Had a CEO that would come out to whatever his favorite song was at every.single.company.meeting and everyone was supposed to clap and go wild while he waved his arms running down the aisle.
      I still cringe when I think about it

    6. Too Many Tabs Open*

      At least you could visualize the CEO in a cage fight with angry stuffed animals?

      (One of the stuffed animals they used in the music video was the exact same kind as my youngest’s best-beloved stuffie. I did not show the video to my child until they were old enough to find it funny rather than creepy.)

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      The eye-roll energy in that room could have powered a rocket to the moon, I’m guessing.

      The only people who should ever make a rock star entrance are actual rock stars.

  35. Roxie Diva*

    What online courses have weight when you are adding new skills to your resume? Such as Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, etc.

    I work in digital media, and I’m wanting to gain more skills towards the FP&A (Financial planning and analysis) side of things. With the type of digital media I do, I already spend most of my time doing data analysis and forecasting, and I work closely with the Finance team at my company.

    I’m trying to figure out where I want my career to go (I’m in my late 30s) and I want to go more to the planning/forecasting side, but I don’t want an MBA. I don’t have the time and money, but I’d be open to getting a certificate. For now I think getting those courses now could possibly help, but I only want to do the ones that are known as being worth something. For instance, and this is based solely on my opinion, LinkedIn Learning probably isn’t one of the stronger courses.

    1. Forever Learning*

      Following for this advice too but a thought might be to look at any schools offering MBAs and see if they offer a certificate program as well? I’ve seen both degrees and certificates in emergency management related fields (though not every school offers a certificate) but don’t have any experience with MBAs.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Can you ask someone who’s a hiring manager in the finance team you work with? Unfortunately, all these certificate granting companies have an incentive to make their stuff seem great and useful, but it may not be. My husband wasted time and money on a Coursera Data Science certificate that did literally nothing for his career pivot.

    3. Hillary*

      I’d start by talking with your manager and the finance team you work with. It will benefit your team to be able to understand your customer (finance) better. Tell the finance team you really like the work – ask if you can get more involved. Shadowing, talking more about the why behind their asks, talking about how things fit into the bigger picture. Especially helping with budgeting.

      Honestly, most of fp&a is pretty straightforward math that you already have if you’re doing forecasting. Accounting and tax usually need specific training. If you feel like you need to learn the basics community colleges often have courses/certificates at reasonable prices.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Neither Udemy, Coursea nor LinkedIn Learning have weight on a resume alone. If you’ve got accomplishments related to the thing you learned from those courses that show you actually have the skills, that will have weight in showing you have the skills. But the course on its own, unfortunately, is meaningless. At least everywhere I’ve worked.

    5. Consultant with experience in planning/forecasting*

      I have worked on planning/forecasting for a long time.

      At the end of the day, it’s highly unlikely that any certification will help you get this kind of a job. (Even an MBA, on itself, wouldn’t, although the networking opportunities in the course might give you the boost you’d need to get your foot in the door.)

      If you can get the experience on the job, then online training may be very useful by giving you some foundational knowledge / knowledge about the terminology that will help you do well in job interviews.

      That experience may come through your employer someone on your network giving you an opportunity to do this work (even if as a part-time gig), or even through volunteering if need be. But I would not invest on any training unless you have a plan to get some experience in parallel, because getting hired on the basis of a certificate is almost impossible, even if you took the most prestigious one on the market.

      (And I tend to agree with you; I haven’t checked the courses in LinkedIn Learning in this domain, but in other domains I browsed, I wasn’t impressed with the depth of their content.)

  36. Pink Shoe Laces*

    Does anyone have to attend meetings that are a complete mess, meaning they are with 10+ people, some of whom don’t need to be there, where there is no meeting structure or set agenda so you don’t know if you’ll be called on to speak? This is kind of related to that “young vibe” post from a few weeks ago (oh how I wish I had commented!). How do you cope with the disorganization or the anxiety of being put on the spot?

    The meeting is run by someone who is pretty early in her career, and the rest of the people (ranging from specialist position to director level) are also earlier in their career. I’m about 5-10 years older than everyone else but I’m not at the manager or director level so I’m trying to go with the flow. It doesn’t help that she tends to be obnoxious and a little unprofessional, actually about half of the people in that meeting are unprofessional (think laughing while others are speaking, demanding answers that might require more preparation on the spot).

    I also feel like it’s not beneficial to attend these meetings because I’m a llama grooming sr. specialist, and the meeting is around total farming operational systems. But I still get called on for answers sometimes that I don’t know, because those questions are more for a manager or director level person.

    Yes, there is some BEC vibes here, but I feel like I need to attend because we’re a small group within the organization and it feels like part of the culture. We all report to sr. director levels and above, but none of those higher level people attend the meeting, and I think they’re assuming they are run well. The end of the meetings don’t result in clear action items or next steps, it more high level chatting on updates. I could ask the person who runs the meetings to send out an agenda beforehand, but she would probably respond back with something like “we need to make sure everyone can bring updates to the table so there is no set agenda”. 

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Do the meetings have agendas? If not, the first thing you should do is start asking for them.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        And then when called on to answer a question, tell them the answer requires some research and that they should send the questions they need answers to ahead of time or they shouldn’t expect and answer right then. But yes, ask for an agenda every single time. Mention that since there wasn’t an agenda, you were unable to prepare.

        1. SoloKid*

          This is a more antagonistic approach than I’d use. OP didn’t say anything about being admonished when they didn’t have the answer.

          1. Pink Shoe Laces*

            The meeting owner and another person (a young director) tend to be admonishing towards me if I don’t give an full answer right away. Not necessarily mean, but I don’t like the feeling.

            1. Awkwardness*

              But interestingly, i had a similar thought as Unkempt Flatware.

              I was not even half way through your post when I found the anxiety of being put on the spot
              and I was wondering where that came from.

              I always tell my colleagues that I need to prepare for certain topics and to please give me a kind of agenda, because otherwise the information will not be available.
              If they do not accept this and continue doing so, I cannot help that we have inefficient meetings and a delay for topics. But that is on them.

              So from a neutral standpoint the feeling to be on the spot is not warranted.
              So just to be sure: are you sure they admonishing or that you feel uncomfortable because you, as a more senior person, cannot answer some questions?

              1. Pink Shoe Laces*

                Yep, anxiety towards being on the spot.

                I’m not the more senior person. I’m a senior person in terms of llamas, but they are manager and director levels of the farming operations, so technically they are higher than me even though I’m older. However, there is a certain lack of professionalism in their attitudes but much of that comes from general work experience.

                1. Awkwardness*

                  Sorry for articulating this badly. When I wrote “senior” I meant it in sense of “more experience”.

                  But still, for me the way could only be in making clear, again and again, that some answers take preparation or the need to get back to your manager/specialists. AAM had one letter on this topic, I will try to find it over the weekend so you might have better wording to phrase that.
                  I also thought yesterday, maybe as a compromise, you could routinely prepare certain data/facts/updates to calm your mind. And as soon as there are more detailed questions: see above.

                  You cannot know everything or might not be allowed to speak on every fact even though you know. This is a normal thing and generally understood by professional people. If they treat you condescendingly even though you offer to search for the facts and follow up in a precise and timely manner, they are jerks.

          2. Unkempt Flatware*

            No need to tell commenters you disagree with their advice. Just let the OP take the advice that works for them.

    2. SoloKid*

      “I don’t have that data available but I can check the X logs and get back to you” is how I get out of being put on the spot.

      Can you ask your boss if it’s critical to go? I would say something in a 1-1 like “I don’t get much out of the weekly annoying meeting, and the updates do not impact my work. Can I go less frequently, and or assume that if any updates are needed I can give them to you?”

      1. SoloKid*

        Also, re: agenda – maybe you can add your own agenda to the email invite with something like “I don’t have any updates for this meeting, so I will bow out this week.” Maybe others will follow suit even if the meeting organizer doesn’t.

        1. Pink Shoe Laces*

          In the past I’ve bowed out with a “I’m heads down on some priority projects, let me know if anyone needs anything”. A lot of it is cultural too, since I’m part of the “farming” department, I’m invited. It’s a small-ish company with lots of younger people and people from start-ups so they might not be well versed in how to run meetings.

    3. BellStell*

      Yes. By a director who has 15 years of work experience but cannot plan or organise or strategise. 4 years ago we had to all (10 of us) be in a room for a full day to build slides for a meeting he had to attend. As in we all had to help him create the slides for a leadership strategy meeting he was supposed to be leading… He never sends agendas, many people on the team have to make content for him on strategic stuff that he has no clue about, for him to never use it on his many trips around the world, he never comes up with outcomes related to any trips or meetings and is always excited about new fun cool stuff….but does not deliver on much really, even in weeklong staff meetings (retreats for planning). Staff never get anything out of these meetings. We ask for agendas but we never stick to them and our time management is overrun by hm talking all the time….and if we try to make changes it does not go well. Yes I am looking.

  37. Confused Library Worker*

    I need a gut check/advice, especially from government workers in the US (not federal).

    I work for a municipal government in a public library. For the context for today’s question: we have two budgets for staffing. Our regular staffing budget, and the one for part time people who work at their own or other branches as substitutes. The latter runs out fast, as we are 1/4 understaffed systemwide and much more in many places (my own branch is down by 1/2 librarian/librarian paraprofessional staff with no end in sight). I work part time. We recently had a mandatory staff meeting. Usually our schedules are changed so we can attend, but this time they weren’t. Our manager and his manager said that we should just use substitute budget money to pay for the time we were in the staff meeting.

    My question: this isn’t supposed to happen, right? I wasn’t there as a sub, I was there as a normal function of my job. It was just outside normal hours. If I was there as a sub, it would be still in the normal function of my job, but outside my normal hours, which is why I can see it being interpreted as OK. But I also wasn’t there doing what a substitute does no matter the hours or location, which is solely desk coverage. If this isn’t an ethical use of resources, who would I contact, as my manager’s manager was the one who told me to do this? Payroll office? HR? The hotline for misuse of funds (government wide)?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I am a fed, so my experience is obviously not directly applicable here, but governments have different pots of money for different purposes. Some pots of funding are restricted – they can only be used for the stated purpose. Others are fungible – they can be used for a variety of purposes. It is possible the substitute money falls into the latter category and could be tapped to pay you in this circumstance. Unless you have more information than you have included here about the allowable uses of these funds, I don’t think there is a need to report.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Policy Wonk is correct. Budget money can be weirdly fluid or totally restricted and unable to move. (I worked in a rare books collection that had an endowed fund for purchasing rare books related to livestock, specifically cows and sheep. Needless to say, that money was highly restricted.) It’s possible substitute money can be used to cover “unexpected expenses related to coverage for specific events” ie: that meeting. If you have a budget person, you can always ask.

    3. TheLibraLibrarian*

      Because this was out of your normal hours, that’s probably why they pulled from the substitute pool. Most likely these “budget pools” come from the same place, the library just needs to know how much “flex” money they have for substitutes.

      It’s a good thing that the library is paying you to attend a meeting or training! That’s how it should be. My guess is salary money all comes from the same source (most likely taxes and/or government aid), so it’s all the same pool essentially.

    4. Banana Pyjamas*

      In my experience with local government, paying out of a different part of the budget always required a line item transfer.

      In your example this would be a line item transfer from substitutes to staffing. You and any others would be paid from staffing as normal. However if you’re normally paid from substitutes, this wouldn’t be necessary. You would be paid from substitutes as normal.

  38. AssistantInNeed*

    Hi all! I’m posting in this comment section because I have been keeping documentation on my manager and am now supposed to meet with my grand bosses next week to discuss it. They’ve seen my notes and told me they want to discuss things in person. Any tips on how to keep things professional while conveying the severity of the mistakes I’ve seen? Or just keeping calm in general? Thanks!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Practice saying a few of the things you want to talk about (or think that others are going to bring up) out loud in private. Preferably at home.

      I have found that I can imagine saying things in my head and I always picture the words coming out calm and collected. Then, when I actually say them out loud there’s a lot of emotion. I have learned that before a (potentially) stressful situation, it’s good for me to practice saying a few key sentences/phrases out loud several times so all the emotion can happen in private and when I am talking to other people I sound as calm and collected as I want to.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Re-iterating this: practice out loud. Everyone thinks they’ll know what to say, but unless you actually practice it, it won’t come out right.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This. Practice makes calm and oriented. The first few times vent, use lots of colorful language, get it out of your system. Then start filtering out the exact facts, laying them out, like you’re making a laundry list.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      You can use a modified version of the “STAR” interview technique as a framework for this: Situation (background to the mistake you are talking about), Task (what was expected to happen), Action (what the manager actually did) and Result (impact / effect of the mistake). Don’t speculate much about root causes unless you are confident and have “evidence” for the root cause. Focus on the key things rather than a long list of mixed severity, because if you include less severe things the whole list will leave the impression of just being a roster of misc complaints.

      1. BellStell*

        Agree with Captain here. And with practicing. Also keep it focused on facts. Also ask the grand bosses what their plan is at the end of the meeting after hearing all of this and since they read the notes, what do they think is the best way forward? And confirm this is in confidence perhaps.

    3. Hillary*

      plan the conversation and write an outline focused on the major themes – it’s much easier to stay dispassionate if you’re referring to a list of facts. if any of the consequences include the word “my” consider if someone outside would find it equally worrisome.

      concern 1
      – overview (what, when, etc)
      – consequences

      concern 2
      – overview
      – consequences

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Seconding everything everyone above has said and would like to emphasize to keep all emotion and opinions out of it. Just what is happening and perhaps the (very emotionlessly phrased) impact of it. Ah yes, Ms X did not do Y and therefore the department missed the deadline to Client A by one week. Etc.

  39. Anonymous Newbie*

    I’m a new grad in my first job, and I’ve noticed my boss rarely apologises to anyone at work. She’s perfectly willing to admit when she’s wrong or made a mistake, but her wording will be along the lines of “thanks for catching that” rather than “sorry about that.” This seems to be the case whether she’s talking to a peer or a junior person – I haven’t had the opportunity to observe any interactions like this with senior people. My boss is great and people seem to really respect her at work. I apologise to everyone for all my mistakes, no matter how big or small they are. Am I undermining myself by saying “I’m sorry” too often? Should I try and modify some of my language? Or am I overthinking this?

    1. Seahorse*

      This is just anecdotal, but one of my coworkers apologizes all the time for very minor things. (e.g. she was 30 seconds late for a meeting, took two days to respond to a non-urgent email, made an inconsequential typo, etc.) It absolutely undermines her.

      She does really good work overall, and I like her as a person, but the apologies drive me nuts. We can’t start a meeting or conversation without a round of sorries, and I have to make a conscious effort not to develop a negative view of her work because she always draws focus to the imperfections.

      I like your boss’s approach. Say you’re sorry if you’ve actually caused harm, and admit / fix errors, but don’t constantly abase yourself by over-apologizing.

    2. Jane Bingley*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong for apologizing for a genuine error on your part!

      I’d make sure not to make too big a deal of it, especially for small mistakes. “Oh, I’m sorry, I was supposed to circulate File Final and I just realized I accidentally sent you File Last Draft. Please see attached File Final; let me know if you have any questions when you’ve reviewed it.”

      If you make too big a deal about apologizing, my experience is that people assume you’ve done them a more serious wrong. Your tone and approach play a key role in how people feel about how they’ve been treated. Your boss is likely aiming to normalize the fact that occasional workplace mistakes are completely normal and common and not something you need to beat yourself up over. But I don’t think the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” are inherently bad to use.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Yes! There’s a big movement to switch from Sorry to Thank you. It’s pretty heavily gendered too, women tend to say sorry a lot more than men. ‘Sorry to just be sending this’ makes you sound wishy washy, ‘Thank you for patience’ is a stronger vibe. Own your stuff. Take up space. Don’t over apologize for existing.

    4. nopetopus*

      I also say sorry too much, and have also started replacing sorry with “thank you”! Saying sorry too much can definitely undermine you. I realized that apologizing for being human was unnecessary and/or making a bigger deal out of something than it needed to be. And really, saying “thank you for waiting for me” or “thank you for catching that” captured my true sentiment more than saying sorry.

    5. Beth*

      It’s one of the things that’s helped your boss become a boss.

      If she apologized, it might undermine her, definitely. And it would not provide support and encouragement to the people around her who just prevented her mistake from becoming a bigger problem. By thanking them, she makes the event into something that’s a positive for them, encourages them to continue to watch for her mistakes and catch them, reassures them that they won’t be penalized for catching her making mistakes, and confirms that their actions are a recognized contribution instead of a future pitfall.

      An apology might make her feel better — that’s often the real purpose of an apology — but it won’t make her colleagues into better members of a stronger team.

    6. EA*

      I don’t think you are wrong exactly and really have to modify your language, but I do think you could reflect on when you say sorry and when you could substitute with other phrases. And I think it’s useful to be thinking about this!

      I’d think about it this way: if you really dropped the ball, you should absolutely apologize. I also personally feel people should apologize if they are really late (impunctuality is rude!). But if it’s just part of the normal work process – like someone reviews a document and adds something that is missing – saying “thanks for catching that” is appropriate, because that’s why processes like having multiple people review work products are put in place. As a new employee, I think “thanks for the feedback” could be a useful phrase for you. Also, I try to consciously avoid apologizing when I’m asking for someone’s attention (i.e. “sorry to bother you”) and say things like “Do you have a few minutes” or “Is this a good time?”

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      I am tying to learn to stop saying sorry so much. It’s a hard habit to break, but I am getting better. I do apologize if my mistake caused extra work for another person, but in those cases, it’s because I caused them extra work- not because I made the mistake. Anyway, yes, I think learning to not say sorry so much is a helpful thing for a lot of us.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Are the mistakes hurting or inconveniencing anyone (beyond their normal job duties)? If not, there’s nothing to apologize for.

      You step on someone’s toe, you apologize.

      You make a typo and someone catches it, you thank them. That’s not an offense against anyone — it’s collaboration.

      Now, if the boss walks around (metaphorically) stomping on people’s feet and not apologizing, then she’s a jerk.

      But if you are constantly apologizing for normal, harmless errors, you are definitely undermining yourself because it makes you sound servile and insecure.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I think tone and body language play a large part in the last. I don’t think most reasonable people would consider a cheerful, “oh, right, sorry, I’ll fix that right away” response to “you’ve a typo there” to be servile or insecure. On the other hand, if the person’s reaction is more “oh sorry, I’m really sorry. I thought I’d checked it. I’ll fix it now. Sorry again,” in an embarrassed tone, with their head hanging, that is more likely to be read in that way.

        1. RagingADHD*

          True, but the word “sorry” in that context isn’t so much an apology as an “excuse me”. From the OP’s description that they apologize for every mistake big or small, and the way they noticed that the boss admits mistakes without apologizing, it comes across to me as more of a habitual cringey over-apology.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      I think it depends, both on how often you are saying “sorry” – if you are doing it 10 times a day, then it’s more likely to be an issue than if you are are saying it once every couple of days – and on the overall culture of your workplace. Just using a different phrase from your boss doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong. If everybody in your organisation other than you uses the “thank you” phraseology, then there might be more of a risk of your being out of step.

      But generally, I’d say unless you are apologising constantly and for tiny things – “sorry, I stood too close to you,” “sorry for not guessing you’d want that” – or unless everybody else in your organisation does as your boss does, I think it’s likely you are overthinking it. Your boss is probably really respected because she is great, not because she uses one particular phrase. I doubt she’d be any less respected if she said “sorry.” Most people attend to the meaning rather than the word anyway. The important thing is that she’s acknowledged the error.

      Oh! How you say “sorry” is going to make a difference too. Most people say it casually and that is unlikely to undermine you. If you sound really worried and timid like you think you’ve done something apalling, that is more likely to undermine you. But a friendly, “ooops, sorry. I’ll fix that right away” is unlikely to in a healthy environment.

  40. Chirpy*

    I have a coworker who is a jerk and likes to pasdive-aggressively announce that he’s not going to help people (this largely means me), or that he’s going to just dump other people’s stuff elsewhere if it’s mildly in his way for five minutes, etc. He’s currently started doing this thing where he asks me how I’m doing, just so he can one-up me on how “bad” his life is? Like, today he asked how my commute was (I was 20 minutes late due to poor roads and getting stuck behind an accident), then proceeded to rant about how he was “run off the road” and other things that, based on his description, are likely a combination of him being impatient and other drivers being mildly annoying in completely expected ways because the roads are really bad today. It’s becoming a pattern. How do I deal with this? I generally try to be pleasant but I don’t speak to him any more than I need to because he’s a misogynistic jerk who poisons everything around him.

    1. Gus TT Showbiz*

      If it were me, I’d probably either be aggressively neutral in every response, to the point of single word answers, or ridiculously effusive with sympathy over his perceived troubles to the point where it was awkward. But I’m also a large cishet dude, so there’s very little risk of my sympathy being mistaken for any kind of interest.

    2. ferrina*

      Have excuses to disengage. When he asks how you are, “I’m late to a meeting! So sorry, hope your morning is going better!” Say this while you are actively walking away. Also: “In dire need of caffeine. Have a good one!”
      This may feel rude. It’s not. You’re allowed to politely shut down the conversation.

      Make yourself less enjoyable for him to engage with. Be a little rude. Let your eyes wander back to your computer. Type some things while he’s talking and make vague “hmm” noises. If he calls you on it, say “so sorry, I’m on deadline so I can’t really stop working. I’m listening as best I can.” (the fun part of this is that your “best” listening is actually pretty terrible. That’s okay, your consideration when listening gets to be on par with how considerate he is when talking). Good luck!

      1. ferrina*

        Oh, I forgot about the Pollyanna Defense! This can work on highly negative people.

        Basically become a delightful ray of sunshine. Be over-the-top bubbly. Find the good in everything. When he complains about how he was stuck in traffic, say “and what a beautiful morning it was! The radio played all my favorite songs in a row! It was the best!” or “Isn’t it kind of nice to have some time to just hear yourself think on the morning commute? I find it very centering.” Always say this in the peppiest tone possible. You know how “for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction”? Be the opposite to his reaction, then turn that up to 11. Always keep your face and voice upbeat. It’s weaponized toxic positivity.

        I’ve found that people that just want an excuse to complain absolutely hate the Pollyanna Defense and will go out of their way just to avoid you. (only do this if it amuses you and you can do this without annoying yourself. Don’t do this to people you actually like.)

        1. Chirpy*

          I think he’s doing it for the attention, though. Maybe to prove himself superior in some strange way?

          1. Seashell*

            He’s trying to show that he won the Aggravation Olympics.

            I’d opt for excusing myself to use the restroom as needed.

      2. Chirpy*

        He does tend to block me in an aisle so I can’t get past him. I do try to keep working so he hopefully loses interest and walks off, but he’s the type to talk for literal hours if he gets a willing listener.

        I also can’t really be any ruder, because I do need him to help me with coverage on certain tasks and he absolutely looks for reasons not to. I think he’s the one convincing his department to not help me because I “don’t help them”. (There’s 6 of them and two people in my department, when they get tapped to help it’s because they’re just standing around doing nothing and my department is understaffed.)

        1. Loreli*

          Blocks you in the aisle!!!!! What a jerk. Just push past him with “pardon me, I need to get past you” and force the issue. Physically blocking you adds another dimension to his obnoxiousness.

        2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          I think with these situations, saying in a loudish voice that can be heard by the rest of the team, “Hey, Negative Ned, I’m on a deadline, tell me the rest of that story while we’re on break.”

          It signals “interest” without you actually having to follow through because he’ll probably have forgotten his story by then.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          Yeah, this has just turned into a manager problem.

          Being a complainer is one thing; physically blocking you? Announcing he’s not going to do part of his job because you aren’t following the mental playground rules he’s apparently using?

          This is affecting your productivity and he’s holding that hostage. And he knows he’s doing it.

          1. Chirpy*

            Management agrees with me that he’s pretty useless, but this guy just whines worse when management does call him out on not helping me.

            When he blocks me in, he’s usually at least 5 feet away and would move if I had to get past, so it’s not “obvious creeper style”, he’s more just making it awkward if I did want to get past him (because it would make me look like the jerk who didn’t want to talk to coworkers or something? )

    3. sulky-anne*

      Is he perhaps an energy vampire? Being an aggressive downer seems to be a strong part of his brand. For me this would be a case where I would try to be amused by him because seriously, who behaves like this?

      1. Chirpy*

        It would be amusing if he wasn’t corrupting all the high school boys to be like him. It feels like he’s trying to make up for…something, some lack of respect or power or friends? He’s just exhausting to deal with.

  41. Anon for this*

    Hi everyone,

    I manage a small, close-knit team of honestly very good employees. They’re amazing. And one of them is getting laid off due to budgetary reasons next week, and I hate it a lot (not as much as the person getting laid off will, but there are several things going into it that will make it less worse than it could have been).

    This is my first time in this situation and I want to make sure that, in this situation that sucks a lot, I’ve done all I can for everyone involved. I’ve done as much as possible to help the person who is being laid off (severance, outplacement, benefits being continued). I’m also worried about the rest of the team, who, as I said, are brilliant and very close-knit. If you’ve been a remaining team member in that situation, what are some things your leadership has done that you’ve appreciated? Nothing’s going to make it good, I know, but how can I make it suck the least possible amount?

    1. ferrina*

      Focus on the logistics, be transparent but don’t over-share, be empathetic but don’t manage emotions.

      It sounds like you’ve done a good job looking at the logistics- you’re getting your employee as many services as you can. Have you also thought about workload? Who is going to absorb this employee’s work? Are any projects getting paused/shelved/adjusted because of this? During your first conversation you’ll only do broad brush-strokes (“we’ll be adjusting the workload; I’ll share more information on Monday about what that will look like”) but have the information in case someone needs it.

      Transparency without oversharing is essential. When you describe the Why, focus on the company and not the individual. Why did the company need to do layoffs? If this is a budget issue, be transparent in a way that lets people know that this layoff is a one-time thing and part of necessary changes to make the company financially stable. This won’t change the pain of losing a coworker, but will help reassure them that they don’t need to worry about their job.

      Finally, be empathetic but don’t manage emotions. You are the boss. You are going to have a unique role. You are also the face of the company- some people might get mad at you even though you did the best you could. Mentally let them take some distance if they need some distance. You can be there to listen, but you can’t make them talk.

      Honestly, sounds like your approach to this is really good and you’re doing all you can. Good luck with everything, and I’m so sorry you and your team are going through this!

    2. Policy Wonk*

      When someone is laid off for budgetary reasons, everyone is afraid that they are next. Can you provide any clarity on the situation? If you can, offer reassurance. But if you can’t, don’t try to hide it. Tell them what you can.

    3. BeenThereHaveTheTshirt*

      be clear if additional layoffs are expected. be clear about what will happen to the outgoing person’s work. if offering a ramp down period, ask what others want from the departing employee before they leave. if not, develop and present a plan for overcoming any loss of institutional knowledge. Address whether bonuses/raises are likely still forthcoming if they normally happen around this time of year. don’t lie and be clear about what you know, what you think is likely, and what’s unknown.

  42. Deeply Frustrated*

    There’s a lot more context than this but I’m going to try to keep things brief.

    For three months last year, I was pulled to temporarily fill a position in another department I fell in love with. This position would’ve been a big upgrade for me, I got great feedback, and the team was encouraging me to go for the job permanently. I was very disappointed when I found out a new employee Jessica was hired into the position, but figured it was one of those two good candidates/one position things, Jessica must’ve had some qualification I didn’t have, etc. The manager who broke the news to me, Ellen, seemed deeply apologetic and made a bunch of promises about helping me out career wise in the future.

    This week, I found out that Jessica, in her own words, was a completely unqualified nepotism hire that only got the job because a higher up relative in another department pulled a lot of strings for her. I never had a fair chance at the position. This was extremely hurtful for me to learn, and puts Ellen’s apologetic actions towards me in a new light.

    My instinct is no good will come from letting Ellen or anyone else know that I know about Jessica being a nepotism hire, and that I feel how things went down were hurtful and unfair. Am I thinking correctly on this? I am trying not to let my negative emotions get ahead of me and do something rash.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Don’t do anything rash, but you have learned valuable information about your employer from this. They’ve demonstrated they make business decisions based on nepotism that are unfair both to you as the qualified applicant and to Jessica because she is out of her depth.

      You should definitely look into positions like this at other companies. When you can discuss it calmly and rationally, I would say it’s worth talking with Ellen outside the office to see if she’s willing to be a reference.

    2. ferrina*

      Yep, had this happen to me. It’s absolutely unfair, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. It’s like my dad constantly said to me when I was a kid: “Life’s not fair.”

      You’re absolutely right in how you are thinking about this. No good will come from letting them know anything. Take it with grace and dignity- that will speak volumes for you.

      Ellen may or may not have had any power in this situation. Sometimes a nepo hire is a decree from on high and the hiring manager has no control over it. Sometimes the hiring manager needs to either make the nepo hire or make a dangerous enemy out of someone in power. Sometimes the hiring manager is making a bad decision to try to play political games.
      You don’t know, and you probably won’t know. Either way, let Ellen help you out if she wants to help you. If her guilt helps pave the way for your career, let it! Get what you can out of this.

      Finally, this just gave you valuable information about your company. Is a nepotism hire normal for your company? Is this a place that loves to play politics? Is this a place where you truly can grow? Keep an eye on your company and how you can realistically grow there. The best time to start planning an exit strategy is before you need one. If your hurt leads you to update that resume, excellent- it’s always good to have an updated resume, even if you decide not to send out any applications right now.

      1. ferrina*

        A bonus happy story for you:

        At OldJob I worked under a Toxic Boss that hired in her Golden Child shortly after she started. Goldie was not her bio child, but had started her career with Toxic and was deeply loyal to Toxic. Toxic went out of her way to help Goldie, giving her the best projects and helping her with any hurdles. Meanwhile I got absolutely no help, no support and the worst projects. Any project that started to go wrong got transferred to me. Any employee that was problematic got sent to me. I got no support from Toxic and was expected to do parts of Toxic’s job on my projects.

        After a couple years, Toxic left and tapped Goldie to take her job. I was better qualified by a long shot, but Toxic had sabotaged my chances. She had talked up Goldie’s skills to the senior leadership while talking smack about me (she literally did not tell them about my accomplishments- my grandboss was stunned when he learned what work I’d been doing). She put me on a secret “unofficial” PIP that had no HR involvement and was just a list of what she didn’t like about me. It included things like “sent an email a day late” (when I’d worked 65 hours that week). I was doomed from the start, and Goldie got the job.

        Goldie thought she’d have to strong arm me, but I knew the game way better than she did. I immediately became the Best Employee Ever ™. I not only accepted her authority immediately, but proactively and cheerfully prepared documents to help her understand what projects my team was working on. I made sure she had the information she needed and ample time to ask questions. I was super easy to work with. Within a few months she trusted me completely.

        Goldie quickly proved that she had no idea what she was doing. In self defense I started coaching her on what I wanted her to do. I prepared “preliminary mock-ups” for her review that she would copy/paste with her name on them. I knew she was taking the credit, but now she was doing the things I wanted her to do. I quietly did more and more of her job, always treating her with deference. I was a shadow government, running the entire department under her nose.

        Until I left. I had done well at doing her job and earned enough accomplishments that my resume packed a serious punch. I got hired at a better company, with the same job title as Goldie, making $15k more. When Goldie tried to counter offer with a raise (I hadn’t gotten a compensation adjustment in 3 years), I laughed and told her I wasn’t going to waste her time, my new company offered me $X. The look on her face when she realized I would make more than her!

        After I was gone things fell apart. Several members of the staff left within a few months. It became apparent that Goldie wasn’t doing her job and she went MIA, eventually taking FMLA before she could be fired. There was 80% turnover within the year that I left. The entire department had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Meanwhile I love my new company and my new boss, and I am thriving here. The karmic justice was complete.

        Anyways, just want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hope you enjoyed my novel :)

    3. anotherfan*

      I still carry (an unspoken) grudge over something similar that happened to my daughter, so I get the anger and frustration. But things do change. Jessica may turn out to be terrible and either leave for something more to her abilities/liking or be moved to another position; she may actually grow into the position — albeit over time — and turn out OK. You have no control over either of those, it’s just a case of waiting to see what happens. I’ve also found that all sorts of things change in a year or two: management changes, the company changes, the world changes, and what may have been the perfect position isn’t what it was. So keep that in mind to take the sting out.

    4. Scarlet Ribbons in Her Hair*

      You can’t take this personally, because nepotism is a fact of life practically everywhere. At most of the companies where I worked, the son of the owner would walk around saying, “You had better be nice to me, because one of these days, YOU’LL be working for ME!” At one company, the son of the owner kept telling me to do things that I had been specifically told not to do, and when I refused, he would say “Well, I’ll have to discuss this with my FATHER!” or “I wonder what my father would say if he knew that you said that” or “My father wouldn’t like this, and I’ve known him longer than YOU have!” At another company, when a branch manager quit, he was replaced by a son of the owner. The son was fresh out of college and had never held a full-time job. The son proceeded to fire everyone at that branch and he replaced them with his friends. When I expressed horror to my supervisor, who had just told me this, the supervisor replied, “Either you trust your branch manager or you don’t.” FWIW my supervisor was not related to the owner.

  43. A Simple Narwhal*

    TLDR: Is it always bad to work at the same company as your spouse?

    —–

    My husband recently started a new job, and the company seems amazing. A former coworker of his works there and had been trying to get him to work with him for years, so the company’s awesomeness is well-documented.

    I’m currently dipping my toe into the job pool (while employed, it’s not a desperate situation) and we’re toying with the idea of me applying to this company if I found a listing I liked. In theory we wouldn’t ever interact since we’d have completely separate jobs in unrelated departments, plus it’s a 1600-person company so extra separation there.

    I’ve always believed the good advice to not put all of your eggs in one basket in case things go bad with a company, plus I know certain benefits get combined when a married couple work at the same company (like 12 weeks of FMLA for both of them together, not each so you miss out, but we know this company offers separate paid parental leave, so that situation at least wouldn’t be an issue if we wanted another kid), but are there other things we’re not considering?

    In the past we’ve said absolutely not to working for the same company, but that was at a small start-up where all 20 people work in the same room, and my husband was actually the one who suggested I look at the job openings, I’m not trying to force my way into his company.

    I guess one other angle to consider is stability – would it be bad/risky to have both spouses be new at their jobs if you didn’t have to? I’m ready to move on but not miserable, is it wiser to wait a certain amount of time until my husband is a known entity at his job before I try becoming a new employee (anywhere, not just at his company)?

    1. Cee S*

      This is a great question! Some are ok or indifferent. Others insist that the spouses don’t work for the same company.

      A former colleague made an agreement with her spouse that they would not work in the same company no matter how great the compensation is. They work in the same field. The field is dominant in the geographic area’s employers. Years ago, they have seen how a major player in the area came crashing down and some couples were laid off together. They have budgeted that they could scrap by only one of their salaries.

      Another former colleague recommended his spouse to work for HR. The company ensured that they didn’t have a problem with it first. He was ok since the job functions were vastly different.

      1. Can't think of a username*

        Not in the US, but have worked in the same large company as my spouse for a long time. We don’t work together at all, it’s fine. But I think the size of a company makes a big difference.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      We’ve had couples work at my workplace but they were in different departments, so a) they weren’t working together or able to influence each others’ work lives, and b) it was unlikely that things would go south in two separate departments at once. They’ve all moved on now, but nobody quit or lost both jobs at the same time.

      I would honestly be less inclined to work with a spouse at a small start-up. That seems even more precarious than usual.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Oh 100%, we said never ever precisely because it was a small start up, but a well-established large company seems like it might offer a good amount of separation and a small amount of risk (of the whole company failing, at least).

    3. Girasol*

      You are at some risk of both being laid off at once in a downsizing. I was part of a huge corporation that downsized and a number of couples were both laid off on the same day. The risk is small but it’s there, the more so if your company is big on laying off. You’d also want to be sure that you don’t over-invest in company stock so that when there’s a price drop, it hits both of your assets.

    4. Hillary*

      Is it wiser to wait? Yes, he’s in the honeymoon period right now. See if it’s still amazing in six months.

      I used to work somewhere where so many employees were married to each other that open enrollment included instructions on how to fill out forms if your spouse was also an employee. It was a huge company where a lot of people started young, stayed a long time, and met their spouses at work or through coworkers. It absolutely created a little more risk during layoffs but the company has been very stable for 100+ years.

      Only you two can judge how important the risk is to you, for me 1600 employees and different job functions would be acceptable. It would also mean we needed to have a 6-month cushion that covered both incomes. In some ways it’s no different than the risk of a single person getting laid off.

    5. YourDecisionButThinkItThrough*

      I’ve rarely seen this work out well but unless the company prohibits it (many do) then it’s ultimately your choice.

      Aside from logistical issues and risks already noted, the social dynamics at workplaces are weird and tend to get disrupted by external relationships even when folks are in different departments. Also, on the personal side, it would ge potentially both unfair and actively problematic to discuss work at home as your spouse may know/interact with anyone you want to vent about, so if letting off steam about work issues at home is part of either spouse’s normal coping mechanisms I would think long and hard about it before working at the same place.

  44. WorkerDrone*

    Just looking for a quick reality check.

    I have been sick with whatever nasty chest bug is going going – not COVID (I tested five days in a row), not flu or RSV according to the walk-in.

    By this point, I feel fine, but sound and look like death and have an ugly cough that won’t go away. I’ve been working from home all week, but had to go in to the office yesterday to do time-sensitive work that I couldn’t get done at home. I am back to WFH today.

    I got to the building 15 minutes earlier than normal to avoid sharing an elevator. I masked with a KN-95 anytime I was not in my office (I don’t share an office, so I’m alone in there) with the door shut, and I actively limited the times I was leaving my office – sanitize hands, put mask on, head to the restroom for a bio break and to wash my hands again, pop into the office kitchen for hot tea or to warm up my lunch, then right back to my office with the door closed. I left my office three times – one morning break, one lunch, one afternoon. I also timed them for when the restroom and kitchen were empty. I did not interact with or see literally anyone there except my boss who willingly and knowingly popped into my office for less than five minutes to update me on something. I also left 15 minutes earlier than normal, again to avoid trapping anyone in an elevator with me.

    That having been said, I am sure everyone head me coughing and blowing my nose. The walls are not thick or even close to soundproof and I *sound* sick, even if I don’t feel sick.

    Yesterday, there was a note in the Slack channel reminding everyone not to come to work when sick. We have a generous sick leave and WFH policy, so this is actually do-able for most people at my company. The phrasing of the note was harsh, in my opinion, and really emphasized the selfishness of potentially exposing others.

    Now I’m feeling kind of like an as*hole for going in. I thought that I was taking extensive enough precautions, and I do feel strongly about being responsible and not exposing others. I really don’t see how I could have been safer (other than not coming in at all) and I really felt stuck in a hard spot because this task HAD to be done, it HAD to be done in the office, and I’d already put it off all week because I was working from home.

    Anyways, I’d love an objective judgement: am I the jerk?

    1. OneTwoThree*

      I don’t think you are a jerk. I wonder if the person who posted that didn’t have all of the details. They didn’t know that one task HAD to be done, all of the lengths you went to be responsible, you got tested, etc.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I think sometimes you’re not the jerk, but people still perceive that you are. If they knew more, they’d come to the same conclusion you did, but they don’t know more.

      We’ve had covid in our household, and I’ve been masking at home so I don’t get it, and then masking at work when I’m out of my cube so if I failed at home, I’m not spreading it here. But there’s no-one around me, and I think I’m not going to get it. When I do see people, I explain, and no-one seems to have an issue. I figure I’m safer here than spending a lot of time in that house right now.

    3. BellyButton*

      You did everything you could and you are likely not contagious anymore. BUT, people don’t know all the details.

      (BTW, everyone in my house has had the same thing and still coughing after 3-4 weeks!)

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yeah, there’s a really nasty cold that isn’t Covid or RSV going around currently. One of my roomies has it, and we’ve been strategically masking to keep from giving it to the others or getting it ourselves. We’ve all had our Covid and Flu shots.

        1. BellyButton*

          It was brutal. BF had covid while I was away on business, step-daughter and her mom had the flu. Everyone, except me, got sick again (not flu, not Covid) on Christmas day. I was taking care of all of them. Then on NYE I got sick, and last week I was too sick to have the energy to die. It has been awful. And everyone is still coughing.

    4. ferrina*

      NTA.

      You took all the precautions you possibly could. You worked from home as much as you could. The only reason you came in at all is because the work you needed to do could only be done on location.

      Ignore the message. If someone wants to call you out, make them do it to your face. If I were you, I’d very publicly take a couple sick days in a couple months, just to show this person that I do take sick days. But I also am on the cautious side of optics management.

    5. BellStell*

      You are fine and I would be happy to work with you! I had this cough chest cold since 20 Dec. and finally got antibiotics and a serious cough syrup as it was a bacterial thing that was also not covid, rsv, etc. and honestly 5 of my coworkers have it too. I have not had antibiotics since 2008 so this is new but wow, after 6 days they are helping a lot.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Yes I also had something for ages. Tested negative for all the viruses and strep. They gave me antibiotics while the strep sample was being cultured, and they kicked whatever it was. Honestly it’s not on OP at all but I think the medical system needs better, broader testing for bacterial infections.

    6. Alice*

      No one knows what’s going on in other people’s lives.
      For example, they don’t know that you took the precautions that you did.
      Conversely, you don’t know if, for example, they have someone in their household who’s getting treated for cancer, for whom even a non-COVID infection would be dangerous and would delay urgent cancer treatment. That’s my situation and, yes, I am super pissed off when colleagues show up sick.
      So, extend to them the grace that you wish they had extended to you. And, to avoid such a problem next time, why not tell people: I am going to work on site tomorrow. I have a symptomatic cold, so – while I’m going to take precautions – others may decide to WFH or take PTO that day.
      Do you have to? No. But if you want to maintain good relationships with colleagues, it might be a good idea.

    7. In response*

      I don’t think you’re a jerk, but you should have stayed home or at least avoided the shared spaces of the bathroom and kitchen. If you’re blowing your nose and touching things, you still are spreading germs. Surfaces including the bathroom door handle and faucet are where germs can spread. Thanks for being considerate, taking the other measures, and thinking about this question.

      1. RagingADHD*

        If you’re touching your face in a public bathroom before washing your hands, or grabbing the door handle on the way out without a paper towel, then a chest cold is the least of your worries, my friend.

    8. Qwerty*

      If you had covid, the flu, or RSV, how would this task have gotten done?

      You said your boss was aware – did you reach out to her prior to coming in to let her know that task X could only be done in the office but you were sick? Did she require you to come in anyway?

      You may feel fine but you sound like you could still be contagious, so you did expose your coworkers by using shared spaces. Your coworkers don’t know about how you timed the elevator (and what would you have done if someone had gotten in the elevator with you before you reached your floor? They wouldn’t know if the mask meant you were sick or just cautious) or your other precautions, they just saw someone who you say looked like death and had an awful cough. It really isn’t productive to focus on whether someone is a jerk or not, but to look at how you could have handled the situation better.

    9. RagingADHD*

      You’re not the jerk. The person who is passive aggressively scolding when they don’t know what they’re talking about is the jerk

  45. Justin*

    Yay: The “spot” (employee recognition) award I got in December was announced yesterday to the organization.

    Nay: Incredibly frustrating process trying to manage a program/project with two external partner orgs that are in a power struggle with each other. Meeting with one soon to try and put my foot down.

  46. Mojo jojo*

    Quick question: what’s a reasonable amount of time to ask for to think over an offer for a pretty entry-level job (2nd professional job, a couple of years out of college). I’m not currently employed (laid off a couple months ago) and they know that, and I also know that they’re eager to fill the job.

    Context that might or might not matter: I’m in the interview process for two jobs and am much further along in Process A than in Process B, but I like Job B a little better. If I get an offer from A I’ll reach out to B and ask about speeding up the process, so I’ll want to ask for at least a little bit of time from A to think over their offer, but I really have no idea what’s typical or reasonable. A day? A week?

    1. ferrina*

      A few days is super normal to think over a job offer.
      A week can be a little long, but not terribly long. Some companies won’t like that, but some will be just fine with it.

      You also have the option to take Job A and later change your mind. It shouldn’t be your first choice because it will likely burn the bridge with Job A, but it sometimes is the right choice for an individual. Casual bridge-burning is bad; occasional bridge-burning may be necessary. Of course, fall out depends on how many companies are in your industry and how tightly knit the industry is, so just be strategic.

      1. TechWorker*

        I think the reason a week can end up quite long in this context is if you say no, they probably want to go offer the job to the second choice. And they don’t want to keep the second choice hanging for ages – especially if they also take a while to decide & turn it down.. etc…

    2. Random Academic Cog*

      For entry level, they are likely to pass if you take more than a day to respond. The bar is lower, it’s more about butts in seats than dream candidate at that point and they probably don’t have a lot invested in the search process.

    3. YoullNeverGetPerfectTiming*

      I would ask for a couple of days and see what they say. They may agree or they may give you a day or may say we need a decision now (which is a red flag IMO). Asking for more than a couple of days or a few days (letting them fill in the exact number) is unreasonable. Also ge clear whether the weekend counts if it’s in the window – I once got a call on a Sunday saying they’d expected me to respond by Saturday when I thought I had until Monday.

      In my experience the offers never line up. I even once had the horrible experience of discovering my first choice job planned to send me an offer two hours after I finally accepted another job (I had told them I needed an answer by X date which was two days earlier and the job in hand gave me two extensions but said I needed to accept or decline so I accepted – and it was early enough in my career that I still thought it would be career suicide to back out). Most of the time, though, the timing is too far off and companies will not wait very long (and the earlier you are in your career the less likely they are to wait). They want to be sure to get their second choice if you decline, and the longer they wait the more likely it is they’ll find something else.

      Note there are also employers who think you should be thrilled to get their offer and accept immediately. I push back and insist on at least a day (or evening) to review the paperwork. I also insist on a written offer, although I have on very limited occasions waived this when the choice was no offer or no job (but rarely, and only if I’d been out if work for a long time or really wanted that job)

      Good luck.

  47. BottleBlonde*

    The round-up of PTO posts earlier this week had me thinking. Alison suggested that you should avoid “crunch times” when requesting time off. What do you think constitutes a crunch time exactly?

    Specifically, my small company is kicking off a seven-month project in February. It’s going to be a big undertaking and a bit of a whirlwind. That being said, I was hoping to take two weeks off this summer to travel overseas – to see family I haven’t seen since before the pandemic.

    Would the whole seven months be considered a crunch time, and would taking two weeks off be poor etiquette? For context, we get almost six weeks of PTO a year and a two-week vacation would not raise eyebrows in normal circumstances. I am a relatively new manager, so I just don’t want to rock the boat (but I really want to see my family finally!).

    1. Jane Bingley*

      This is super field-dependent. There is no seven-month crunch time in my field, but in, say, video game production, 6-12 months of crunch is not uncommon. (Whether it’s inherently unreasonable is a different conversation!)

      That being said, as a manager, I think your focus should be on modeling the importance of vacation and setting your team up for success in your absence. That may mean moving up deadlines so aspects of the project are wrapped before you leave, or being clear about delegating approval authority to trusted team members, or being accessible for a specific hour twice a week to answer urgent questions and give necessary approvals, or appointing someone to send you a daily summary email that you can reply to when truly needed.

      Also consider whether collective or well-spaced vacation makes more sense for your team and project – does it make sense to collectively plan ahead for a period of 1-2 weeks where the office is lightly staffed? Or do you need to get vacation commitments ASAP so no more than one or two people are out of office? By having the right vacation conversations for your team, you’ll make it clear that extended crunch requires rest as well as work commitment.

      1. BottleBlonde*

        Thank you! Since it’s a company-wide project, I’m hoping that the impact of my vacation on my team won’t be too significant, at least not more than it is in a typical year – there are four teams in my department that provide similar functions for different areas, so we have a pretty good system set up for cross-team coverage among the managers, and my phone managers will be able to provide the same guidance and oversight.

        And thankfully, I don’t anticipate time off being an issue for the individual contributors, they’ll be working pretty independently for the duration of the project so the main thing will be making sure they have a point person for questions.

      2. Anonamouse*

        Honestly, if you are a new manager during an all-hands project, I would avoid taking time off as much as possible. Losing some vacation time is a small price to pay to prove your reliability long term. I certainly wouldn’t be planning a week or more.

    2. Jeyne*

      IMO, it’s unrealistic for them to expect you to treat all seven months as crunch time – that’s more than half the year!

    3. Policy Wonk*

      To me crunch time from the vacation perspective means Thanksgiving, Christmas. And if you work with a lot of people with school aged kids, it means when the schools are out.

      From the work perspective, CPAs crunch time is the month before April 15. Payroll people it’s beginning of January when W2s, 1099s and any annual raises need to be processed. Essentially when the office needs all hands on deck.

      So work around those issues with your project, give plenty of warning (further from the deadline the better) and get approval in writing.

      1. Cj*

        this is related to this comment, not the original post, but for any of you potential CPA is thinking about working for a small to mid-size public accounting firm.

        you know without be doing tax, carol, and accounting. this means you will be the one doing payoll reports, w-2s, and 1099s in January. if you live in farm country, Farmers need to file by March 1st if they don’t pay estimates, so February will be filled with those. then you get to the regular tax returns to April 15th. the second half of April will be filled with doing first quarter payroll reports. so it’s 4 months of crunch time, not one month.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      Back of the napkin and speaking only in general terms: February plus seven months is a September launch? If that is the case, I would avoid September or probably August.

    5. Llellayena*

      For a long term project, avoid taking off in the last 3 weeks if possible. Any lost time before then can be made up by additional crunch following the break. Interim deadlines should get 3-days to a week of grace but there should be more flexibility on those. This should obviously be flexed as needed for the type of project/company, but you can’t avoid time off for 7 months! As I tell one of my work-a-holic coworkers “The project will not fall apart if you leave for a couple days. Everyone else will adjust.” (He panics over taking one friday off…)

    6. EA*

      This is a “know your field” question – certain professions, like teaching, accounting, etc. have a good idea of what are “high” seasons before entering the profession. Others you have to feel it out a little more, which it sounds like is your case. I don’t think just having a big project qualifies as crunch time, but probably right near the beginning and end would (depending on the type of project).

      Are you willing to be available at all or work remotely for a day or two during the two weeks? When I visit my family (in a different country), I often go for three weeks but work remotely for part of that time. That’s what’s worked for me, but I know some people are very opposed to breaking up vacation time like that.

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Keep in mind the possibility of this 7 month project overrunning. In which case if it starts in Feb and its expected end date is September, potentially it could drag on into October at least, so vacations for immediately after the deadline aren’t advisable either as they are likely to be rescinded! The whole 7 months (or whatever duration) probably won’t be “crunch” but I expect there will be certain phases of the project where you’d be more involved / harder to fill in for, especially if there are any absolute dates such as deadlines for things to be filed with a regulator or that you are contractually on the hook for. The best thing is get it planned as far in advance as you can and then it becomes another constraint for the PM to work with.

    8. Honey Badger just don't care*

      From the perspective of someone who is currently doing resource management/planning for a large, high priority project that will last almost a year, I say take the vacation and please put it on the calendar now even if you are guesstimating when you will take it. The whole project window is NOT considered ‘crunch time’. Crunch time would be right at launch. Be present for launch and for the first couple of weeks after. Let your staff know to please request time off as early as possible so you can keep an eye on resource availability through that project. Work with your manage to identify times in the project timeline that might be especially taxing on your team and try to avoid those.

    9. Cazaril*

      Avoid project launch and projected project completion; plan well for coverage of your responsibilities during your absence and expect to come back to more of a full plate than usual. But take the vacation! Years from now you may not remember exactly why you were so busy, but you’ll remember the trip, or why you couldn’t take it.

  48. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m having a hard time deciding what career I should go for. ( should I be a Llama driver ( I do this already but it’s hard) or do something else?) I haven’t been able to decide for years. Anyway what career books are everyone reading?

    1. Mojo jojo*

      Not a book recommendation unfortunately, just something I came across recently that might be interesting for you in your situation: In 2016, Steven Levitt (one of the co-authors of Freakonomics) did a study that (and I am majorly condensing here) provided evidence that when people who were dithering about switching careers did in fact switch careers, they turned out happier on average later on than fellow ditherers who had chosen to stay in their careers. Look up “Steven Levitt heads or tails” for information on the actual study. And good luck with whatever direction you end up going in!

    2. ferrina*

      My approach has been “go for what’s in front of me and sounds more-or-less fun, and see what happens next”

      My career path has been all kinds of loopy. I started in Industry 1, got stalled out by the Great Recession and got stuck in a low-paying job there, then temped and accidentally got into Industry 2. Basically I went in for a 3-week temp gig and it turned into a career. I followed Industry 2 for about a decade and through a few different jobs. In each and every one, I gravitated toward projects that highlighted my skills and interests. That paid off a lot- my current role is a custom position that leverages a lot of random skills I have. Basically my company had several unmet needs, and I was able to fill them with my unusual skillset.
      This has also been true for several of my family members- we start in one career, then randomly build skills in career 2 until we end up in an entirely different place.

  49. Long time reader*

    I could use some perspective on if it’s time to start job hunting. My main dissatisfaction comes from the fact that my city has recently become one of the most expensive places to live in the US, but we haven’t gotten raises of any kind since Spring 2022 (due to company performance). Cost of living has increased over 5% in this timeframe and my rent increases 10% annually. When asked what the company can do to help us out since they can’t increase pay, such as increased WFH days, the CEO replied that we’re all going to work even harder. In addition, the company has said there will be no cost of living increases. (fwiw We are supposed to be getting raises sometime this year, , less than 5%.)

    I find this demoralizing! I’ve always been proud to work here because they’ve taken some controversial but admirable stances and I love the industry but it’s feeling like they really don’t care if they retain their employees. We frequently have people leave for other companies in the industry and layoffs occur at least once a year. I’m not looking to get rich but I’d like to no longer be classified as low-income. My role consists of both programming & training clients. I KNOW it’s hard to find people who are good at both and I absolutely don’t think I’m being compensated fairly. I’ve seen fairly similar roles at other local companies with a starting salary of $40k more.

    I’ve been asking myself if compensation is truly the only negative at this job and I’m no longer sure. I’m very thankful for the fact that even my worst days at work aren’t awful by any means but I’m not sure that benchmarking against an extremely toxic previous job is a great idea. Everyone I work with internally is pleasant (some of my outside contacts are another story when I can’t give them what they want & I find those interactions very stressful). My team is supportive and works well together but there’s so little in person conversation on the days we’re in office together. I don’t like coming in and working on my computer silently all day. In a previous job pre-pandemic, my team was far more social and I really enjoyed that. My boss is becoming increasingly frustrated with other people’s inaction significantly impacting our ability to do our job. I appreciate that she’s honest with us but it’s not helping my morale and I honestly won’t blame her if she ends up leaving. I really enjoy some of the work I do but there can also be weeks-months long stretches where I’m not getting much done because there’s not much to do and no urgency to my tasks (or I psych myself up to do something boring I’ve been putting off, hit some ridiculous roadblock due to limitations of the stupid software we use, and get discouraged).

    Really it feels like biggest thing keeping me in this role is the fear that I’ll land someplace where I have mean coworkers, an awful boss, and am expected to work obscene hours though f it weren’t for the pay, I would be in zero rush to look elsewhere.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      It is absolutely reasonable to start looking. You don’t have to take a new job just because you’re looking, but what if you find a great one?

      1. Long time reader*

        That’s a good point! And I haven’t applied to jobs in several years so I’m really not sure what the local landscape looks like (I was living in a different state before), how my past several years of experience will be viewed by other companies, etc. It might be a good idea to start looking now when I can afford to be really picky.

    2. RVA Cat*

      There’s nothing wrong with working for money. The fact they’re not giving raises makes me worry that A) the company’s in financial trouble and/or B) they’re taking advantage of you and all of your nice co-workers.

      1. Long time reader*

        We went public a few years back and Wall Street hasn’t been happy with the past few earnings calls-that’s really what’s behind this. The company insists we’re actually doing fine and that all retailers have been hit hard.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Naw, start looking. If they can’t afford COL increases it’s time to start thinking about moving on.

      1. Long time reader*

        Someone asked about the drastic cost of living increases in our area and the response wasn’t that they can’t afford them, but rather that they don’t consider cost of living in a given geography when determining compensation (we have employees throughout the country, including another main office in a MUCH cheaper area). It seems ludicrous to me that the median house price has increased to nearly a million dollars (the price of housing here is rising nearly exponentially) but they’re not considering that when determining wages. It seems extremely out of touch. Grrrrr. Because of the out of the way location they chose for the office, it’s very difficult for most people to commute other than by car, and to not even allow extra WFH days to save people money on gas when it’s about $5/gallon….

        Oh I’m ranting now. Employees who live locally are required to work in office Tuesday-Thursday because leadership believes remote work hurts companies and yet we have employees who work fully remote from other states, including recent hires, especially people higher up in rank. It seems extremely unfair!! If those people can work from other states, people who had to buy houses an hour away to afford one should be able to WFH 3 days a week rather than 2. ARGH.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Not adjusting for COL in an area is frankly stupid. My employer has separate “major metro” pay bands for high COL areas. Note that they don’t have much of a west coast presence though.

        2. WellRed*

          If it weren’t for the public company I’d think you were talking about my employer. HQ in middle of nowhere Midwest with much lower cost of living then my East coast desirable city.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If you’re $40k below market, it was time to start looking yesterday.

      You will meet the boss during the interview process. You will be able to tell if they’re mean, because you have more experience and awareness than when you took that prior toxic job.

      You can be choosy. Money doesn’t have to be the only deciding factor, but I don’t believe all the jobs that pay better are full of mean people.

    5. NoAutomaticRaises*

      It’s reasonable to look for work if you want to make a change for any reason.

      That said, cost of living increases are not automatic and in many fields are rare. It is more common to get either a standard 1.5-3% annual raise untethered to the cost of living, sometimes dependent on company outlook (so less likely to happen in tougher economic times). Some companies only give raises with promotions. Some companies only give bonuses or raises and decide which based on their financials. Some companies give only larger raises less frequently. I personally got my first pay increase since Jan 2021 (which was a promotion not a raise) in October but it was a fairly large raise. Yes, it was somewhat problematic. We were all pushing for raises because of the large increase in expenses. One of my coworkers was actively looking for a new job for a while because she couldn’t afford to live on her pre-raise for much longer. For me, the other elements of the job + not having to look for work during a pandemic still trumped the lack of raise, but I’m not sure how much longer that would have been true. These are tough decisions.

      In general if you’re looking for a significant raise, changing companies is the most likely way to get it. But be aware that once you’re at the new company you may be in the same situation.

      If compensation is the only issue and you can still afford your existing salary for a while you may want to consider if you’re willing to risk a less pleasant working environment for more money (that is a decision only you can make). It sounds like you are otherwise happy and it may be difficult to replicate that elsewhere, but that’s entirely your call.

      Good luck!

  50. Dog Child*

    So my law course got cancelled before the new year, so I did an independent skills audit and now I’m all paid up to do a pre-University Maths qualification!

    This may have been a mistake! It’s been 15 years but we’ll find out when the study materials get here.

  51. goingtocode*

    question about software engineering/other computer science-ish careers: is it still the case that you can get a job in those fields with a degree but no work experience?

    For financial purposes, I’m very tempted to complete a degree in the field while working full-time at my current job, but I’m hesitant because I’ve known a lot of people who tried to get into my current field (librarianship) that way and pretty much none were successful.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      My company hires interns, so by the time they get their degree, they also have a bit of experience. That sounds a bit overwhelming for you, already with a full-time job.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yes, they are paid. And they are fully part of our team, doing the same work as everyone else (well, giving them the easier tasks, and helping them), so by the end, we try to hire the good workers, and the ones we can’t hire, they at least have something to put on their resume.

    2. SnowyRose*

      It depends a bit, but between the layoffs of experienced workers and the sheer amount of people who are already trying to break in, a lot of software engineering/other computer science fields are super saturated at the moment. (Spouse is in this space.)

    3. Qwerty*

      Schools usually have career fairs where companies hire new grads. For my traditional 4-yr university, the career fair and interviewing happens in the fall of Senior year with a start date of the following spring/summer when they graduate.

      Consulting companies are more likely to take on entry level developers. They can be hit-or-miss on quality of experience, but seem to be a good place for people who have coding as their second career because you bring other skills and backgrounds to the table. Maybe they have a library as a client who needs software so you’d be a junior dev / SME or maybe they’d have you split your time between coding and client facing work because of your people skills from when you were a librarian.

    4. TechWorker*

      So I don’t know what your goals are but given a tonne of developers do not have a degree in it, I wonder whether that’s actually the most efficient route in (vs getting practical experience, tho perhaps my view is skewed by the fact the computer science course at my university barely involved writing any code). My company does hire some people without experience but looks heavily at academic achievement and we still want some evidence that they’ve done enough to know they don’t hate it and/or are bad at it (via personal projects, if not internships).

    5. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I was hired for my first dev job with a recent degree (I was a career pivot) but no work experience. Since that time, my company has hired two junior devs, one with no degree or work experience but with some online coursework (this person was giving some coding exercises to complete as part of the interview process) and the other with a degree (also a career pivot) but no work experience. So it can definitely happen.

      I think any market saturation may depend on your geographic location and also on industry type. There definitely are junior dev jobs available in my area. And I’m a federal government contractor – that industry always has openings (particularly for cleared hires).

  52. Picard*

    LIBRARIAN JOBS!

    I know we have a lot of librarians that tend to read this site and I came across this job posting that may be of interest (link in comments)

    Its for a reference librarian at the Library of Congress

  53. Not my name*

    I’m 9 months into a job and interviewing for another job that is closer to my house (my commute is extremely long) and pays better. I feel guilty about leaving this job – it is a mid-level leadership position and if I were to leave it will be disruptive. But the commute is killing me and I had not anticipated the drop in my quality of life adding two more hours to my day would bring.

    My question is: if I get this new job and leave current job after, say, 11 months, can I not use them as a reference or put them on my resume moving forward?

    1. WestsideStory*

      Leave it off. Otherwise you risk getting tagged as a “job hopper.” Many people have had work gaps because of Covid, and that’s a better look on a resume.

    2. ferrina*

      If a 1-year stint is unusual for you, leave it on. It’s fine to have a job that wasn’t a great fit and you only stayed at for a short time. It’s pretty unlikely that an interviewer will ask, but if they do: “It was a mixture of factors, but part of it was just the commute. I was over-optimistic when I took the job, and the long commute seriously cut into my quality of life. I learned a valuable lesson from that, and now I always drive the commute during rush hour before I take a new job” (or something that shows you learned from it)

      For the reference, that’s totally up to you. If your manager can speak to your work and strengthen your candidacy, sure, why not? You should have at least 3 references, and as long as they worked with you long enough to be detailed and knowledgeable with your work, there’s no set time limit for references.

    3. Maleficent2026*

      It’s been said many times here that short stints by themselves aren’t bad, it typically only becomes concerning when it’s a pattern. And the verbiage ferrina wrote is pretty good to use if you were asked about it.

    4. Straight Laced Sue*

      I would suggest leaving it on your resume. A stint of 3 or 4 months I could understand leaving off, or even longer if there was something toxic about the situation and you prefer not to refer to it at all. (I have a year long, part time contractor job in my history that I never refer to! Because that situation was a toxic vat of evil.) But 11 months in a reasonable context – that could be a valuable part of your career history.

  54. Non Profit Happy Hour*

    Do people here post on the Non Profit Happy Hour Facebook group (I believe there’s a separate one just for EDs also)? I try to throw in AAM links whenever the topics are relevant (which they often are). It’s a bit more stressful than here, I find, in part because of FB’s real name policy which means you have to think a lot more about going anon – you may have no idea who you know that’s seeing your posts.

  55. Office Skeptic*

    Does anyone else find the amount of vacation time they have unrealistic?

    I have 17 days vacation, which is decent for the USA (sadly). I have a funeral, 6 (!!) weddings, and a family reunion to go to. I polled my friends and a lot of them get invited to far more than 6 weddings a year, so it’s not actually as wild as it sounds. I’m sure other things will come up, because life. My job is fairly intense, so even taking the full 17 days can full like a burden on my team. I was just thinking about how if I had kids, I simply wouldn’t be able to handle it.

    Does any one else have a “normal” amount of vacation days but still struggle?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Six weddings seems like an enormous number of weddings to me? I think I’ve maybe been to six weddings in the past 30 years.

      Our non-medical PTO tops out at 280 hours and I cannot possibly use that many. I just got an email from HR telling me to go use some so they don’t stop accruing.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was gonna say, I think I’ve been to one wedding in the last ten years and it was mine.

      2. Office Skeptic*

        I thought it was a lot too, but a lot of my friends went to more! One went to 16!!! But yeah, it’s not a normal year for me.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        I think this depends on a whole load of stuff – your age (while it wasn’t true for me, I know some of my friends got invited to loads of weddings when we were in our early 30s as that is pretty much the average age to marry – at least in Ireland – and most of their friends, siblings and cousins were a similar age to them. My cousins are all significantly older on my dad’s side and younger on my mum’s so I didn’t have the same ‘friends, siblings and cousins all reaching marrying age at the same time’), whether you’re in a culture that tends towards big weddings, how big a family you have (I know some people with 7-9 siblings, so naturally, they have a lot of events like family weddings), etc.

    2. ferrina*

      As a parent, I have to carefully balance my PTO with when school is out. If I couldn’t get childcare and schools were closed, it could quickly eat my PTO. I got pretty creative on taking PTO- working a half day by working 2 hours before the kids got up and 2 hours after they went to bed, or working from home when the kids were home sick.
      My company moved to unlimited PTO, and it is SO much better. I no longer nickel and dime my PTO.

      When you have an intense job, I found it really helpful to cross-train, set up designated coverage, and give a few responsible coworkers my personal cell number in case of emergency. The cross-training and designated coverage is something that is ongoing and done before the PTO happens, and helps work flow with less interruption. Giving people my cell makes me feel better that they will contact me if things start to burn down.

      Also- you can decline a wedding if it’s too much of a time commitment. Send a nice gift and buy the couple a nice dinner next time you see them.

      1. UnlimitedPTO*

        Lucky! In my experience unlimited PTO means never taking PTO because you don’t have a use it or lose it lever to force your boss to approve it.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I’m curious if you also polled your friends on whether they planned to attend all of the weddings they are invited to. Of course, vacation time could be the limiting factor that determines how many weddings they attend in a given year.

      I think that weddings in particular tend to cluster together in people’s lives. People’s social circles in their 20s and 30s tend to be made up of people of similar ages, and people tend to get married in their 20s and 30s. Once most of your friends/family are married, the 6 weddings a year will likely slow way down.

      More generally, I have 15 vacation days and most years I feel like I can balance family vacations, trips with friends, and the occasional funeral/wedding/family reunion. (Granted, I have never had as many as 6 wedding invites in a single year and I also do not have kids.)

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Are these weddings, or are these 5-day weddinstravaganzas? I’m shaking my fist at the Bridal-Industrial Complex.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong in saying you can come for the ceremony and the reception, but not the night-before barbeque, the night-before-the-night-before pub crawl, the day-before-that golf outing, and the Sunday brunch that turns into another reception and runs until 10pm.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      Six weddings? Unless they are immediate family or they gave you a kidney, maybe consider sending a gift instead.

    6. Irish Girl*

      Is the funeral not covered under bereavement leave? Are the wedding far away and require travel the Friday and Monday? Also don’t worry about your team you need the days away. I would pick the reunion, 2 maybe 3 of the more important weddings for long weekends and then save some time to just decompress. You can send a gift and spend less than traveling and buying an outfit. Or you could turn the weddings into a vacation either before or after.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Is the funeral not covered under bereavement leave?

        In my experience (in the US), bereavement leave usually covers parents/spouse/children, possibly parents-in-law/siblings and maybe aunts/uncles/first cousins. Some very generous policies may allow people to bereavement leave for close friends.

        Someone who wants to attend the funeral of a great-aunt, second cousin, friend, or anyone else not covered under the policy will have to take vacation time.

      2. Office Skeptic*

        The funeral is not. It’s a best friend’s mother.

        Yes, trying to turn weddings into vacations!

    7. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve never been invited to more than three weddings in one year, and that only happened once, and they all turned out to be the same weekend so I couldn’t have gone to them all anyway.
      Still, I do think the “six weddings” scenario is an outlier, even if you do have other friends experiencing the same. (I’m guessing some of these friends have overlap invitations to the weddings you do too?) Anyway I wouldn’t expect that many weddings to be a factor year after year, even if you do have a lot this year.

      I do sometimes forget to portion out my vacation well, but it’s usually because I’m trying to pick “good times” for a gap from work. I don’t have a ton of unmovable commitments and those I do, I book the vacation waaaaaaay in advance so even if it turns out to be a bad time, everyone knew it was coming and it isn’t generally a burden. It helps that my team would NEVER begrudge someone taking time off, for any reason, even if it turned out to be a busy time. That’s just not the culture. I ended up using an extra week at the very end of the year just to use it up – but management does make a point of starting to remind people at the beginning of Q4 to remember to take their vacations.
      I think a lot of this is really a mindset shift. If it’s a burden on your team to be off, that’s a management problem and not yours to solve. Book your stuff.

  56. Alice*

    Sick time — what increments can you take it in? Half day? Single hour? My colleagues and I want to ask for more or at least more flexible sick leave; right now we have to burn it a whole half-day at a time even if the appointment doesn’t require that much time away from work.

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      I’ve never heard of a company requiring half day increments – in all of my positions, sick time has either been at the discretion of the supervisor (which IME has meant people can take as much as they want as long as they get their work done) or it’s been recorded in 15- or 30-min increments and deducted from leave balances. Requiring 4-hour blocks seems odd.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        My spouse’s job required 4-hr blocks minimum. I don’t do less than 1 hour, but I don’t know anyone cares.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Depends on the work place. Current job I can do it in hour increments but most people just do half or full day (easier to track).

    3. middlingmanager*

      Are you salaried or hourly?

      From what I recall at a previous employer that has this policy for salaried workers, if you’re salaried, the rule is there because technically salaried work is supposed to be a balance, in which some weeks you’re expected to work more than 40 hours, but other weeks you can work less. So they’re supposed to let you take an hour or two for an appointment without taking leave at all. Unfortunately, my grandboss there would become apoplectic at the thought of any staff member daring to work less than 40 hours in a week, ever, so I never got to see that in action.

      My current employer lets me take leave in half-hour increments, but they pretty much never expect me to work over 40 hours/week. So even though I’m salaried, it works out.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      We’re asked to take time off (medical or non-medical) in half-day/four-hour increments. I needed a half-day yesterday to get the battery in my car replace so I put in for the morning but actually was clocked in from 10 to 2, then left early to go pick up my cat’s meds at the vet, which I could have done on Saturday but now I don’t have to. My workplace doesn’t care when as long as the total hours are the same. And even that’s not a huge deal because they can adjust it if you end up taking the whole day.

    5. ferrina*

      Depends on how flexible your work time is.

      My work has flexible hours, so most people don’t take sick time for an appointment that just takes a couple hours. They work those hours at a different point in the week. They only put in for sick time if they’ll be out 4+ hours. So in that case, 4 hour increments would be reasonable.

      But if you can’t make up the hours, the 1 hour increments are what seems to be most common. Also depends on how your time tracking works, but 1 hour increments are usually pretty easy for almost every time tracking system to handle.

      1. JR 17*

        This is my experience. When I worked for a boss who told us to only take sick time in full or half-day increments, she didn’t mean for us to take a half day when we had a short appointment. She meant, if we were going to take an hour or two, don’t burn any sick time at all, just assume you’ll probably work more another day and it will all balance out. We only needed to use sick time if we were going to be out at least half a day. Important caveat that we were exempt.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Salaried folks have to do 4 or 8 hour increments for PTO requests, but have the flexibility to not worry about shorting an hour here or there for an appointment as long as it all balances out.

      Hourly folks can use any increment even down to a single minute, and in fact I have one team member who ROUTINELY puts in PTO requests for weird numbers like 3.26 hours off. She always does the math to make her clocks work out in the end, so I don’t have to fix them, but I don’t know why she does it that way :)

    7. TechWorker*

      We’re on half day minimum too, but if you just needed to be out for an hour or shift your start/end time by an hour you can generally make up the time by working late or starting early the same week. If that’s practical in your job it’s way better than having to use sick leave.. :)

    8. TrackingTime*

      this is very normal, but some bosses will let you average it out of you use a lot of sick time (i.e, track it across a pay period rather than daily so you put in one 4 hour block to cover 4 hours or less across multiple appointments) – but that’s done informally. Also, the preferred method at most comoan iui es is to make up the time so that would only happen if you didn’t make it yo 40 hours one or noth of those weeks.

      My current company technically allows tracking anything in 15 min increments but now that I think about it I think our official policy for sick time is 2 hour increments.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      We can take it in one hour increments, but my employer generally says “if you have an appointment, just go to the appointment, it comes out in the wash”. So most don’t bother using sick leave in less than half day increments, because unless you’re hourly, you don’t have to “make up the time”. If it’s a long appointment or far away, or if people just want some extra time off around the appointment they might take a half day or a whole day, but they don’t have to. There’s tons of “going to the dentist, back in an hour” on slack, and nobody is expected to be using sick leave for that.

      If I were in a job that had requirements like yours, I’d do my best to stack my appointments on the same day to avoid burning sick time I didn’t want to use up.

  57. Anonymous Koala*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for putting out better work under tight timelines? I do technical analysis, and lately I’ve been getting assignments with tight (same-day turn around) deadlines. It’s nothing my boss can control, so I can’t ask for more time for things, but my work quality definitely suffers when I don’t have time to go through a few rounds of self editing and double checking before submitting things. Does anyone have any advice for writing under a short deadline?

    1. Hermione Danger*

      I find a detailed outline helps cut my writing time significantly.
      The only other thing that helps is accepting that to the requestor, speed is more important than quality, and that my focus needs to be on making sure the information is correct and clear and nothing else.

    2. ferrina*

      Editing checklist. That way you can quickly run down the checklist for each page (less time on a detailed edit, guaranteed attention on what is most likely to need edits). Tailor the list for you and what mistakes you tend to make.

  58. Shall Remain Nameless*

    I recently left a company and find myself with a need to reference the separation materials I signed when I left. I signed them on the work email of my past company and did not, in fact, send a copy to myself. Is it weird to reach out to the old company’s HR department for them? I want to reference a noncompete and it feels weird. Also – be ye not so stupid and send yourself your own legally binding documents.

    1. BellyButton*

      You can contact HR. I recently had a former employee reach out to me to ask about the non-compete, I sent them a copy.

      1. ferrina*

        +1
        Unless the HR is malicious or wildly incompetent, this should be a non-issue for them to send you a copy of what you signed on separation.

    2. McSweetie*

      Not weird at all. I mean, don’t come right out and tell them you’re wondering about the non-compete. But it’s fine to say “I realized I didn’t get a copy of the separation materials, and I’d like to have them for my records.”

  59. Jeyne*

    hi! so I’m finishing up a master’s in public health (epidemiology and disaster preparedness), but my school isn’t really giving me great resources for job searching and I’m having trouble thinking about what I’m qualified for (and also getting discouraged by rejections for things I knew were super competitive but decided to apply for anyway just in case I was having imposter syndrome). I worked part-time in covid response for about two years doing a variety of things, including some data analysis, and while I’d really love to work in infectious disease (ideally not stds), my biggest priorities are 1) moving back to my hometown of nyc and 2) qualifying for public service loan forgiveness.

    If it matters, I also have another master’s in library science and a somewhat decent following on tiktok – I’m not sure whether I should list the latter, because it’s mostly unrelated (but not work inappropriate stuff – think something along the lines of booktok), but almost 20k followers is possibly something? I don’t know.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    1. middlingmanager*

      I’m guessing you were trying to get out of librarianship, but if not – there are a fair number of people who would love to hire you as an academic librarian for pretty much any health field. There are also research groups that focus on systematic reviews or guidelines that would love someone who could handle both the literature search portion and the data analysis (I once interviewed for a job like that at a university on the West Coast, but I do not have the skills for the data analysis).

    2. ferrina*

      MPH, MLS and tiktok? That is an interesting overlap. Are you looking at information management and dissemination around public health?

      That said, if public service loan forgiveness is your primary concern, first look at what qualifies and then do a Venn diagram between those roles and your qualifications. I wouldn’t include tiktok on your resume unless it’s directly relevent to the job you are applying for. Good luck.

        1. Jeyne*

          posted too soon!

          that said, i’m definitely not necessarily opposed to using the mls, too, esp since rn my goal