open thread – January 5-6, 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.

{ 1,106 comments… read them below }

  1. Virginia Mountains*

    I was assisting my boss with going over resumes for a job opening on our team and we were shocked that someone admitted on their application that they were fired from their last job for being accused and found guilty of racist/misogynistic behavior and remarks against coworkers and clients. On the one hand, I guess they had to honestly answer the question of why they were fired or assumed a call to their references would reveal that fact. But on the other hand, we were just so shocked they blatantly admitted it in their application. There is no way we’re touching that applicant with a ten foot pole, especially since our customers are mostly from racial minority groups. I guess my question is why would someone just freely admit to it on a job application? Do they really think they have a shot at a job by admitting that, without even trying to say how they’ve changed since then?

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      That’s incredible. My cynical mind goes immediately to that being an intentional signal to certain (racist) companies who would love to hire that person.

      1. catcommander*

        Yeah, it’s the dark side of the principle that you’re interviewing your employer as much as they’re interviewing you…

          1. Observer*

            Totally. Because HR needs to be both bigoted *and* incompetent. Because competent HR knows that you cannot just say these things. You need to at least notch it down to dog-whistles so people can pretend to be oblivious.

            1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

              And they can then come out with gems such as “If anyone was offended by a misinterpretation of any remarks I may have said, I deeply apologize for the misunderstanding”

            2. Anon for this*

              I recently did a phone screen where the person on the other end said something about Haitian boat people. I was flabbergasted. Not only are you openly racist, your racism is like 40 years out of date. Plus he asked off the bat if I was married, then kept reminding me that they were located in a relatively small town, not a place to find a husband but I might consider living closer to the city and reverse-commuting.

              Later that week they invited me for a site visit. I gleefully declined.

        1. Heffalump*

          Maybe there are companies where HR has life size cutouts of Hitler, James Earl Ray, or David Duke, and we haven’t yet heard about them.

          1. Beveled Edge*

            Wasn’t there just a letter about a senior HR official with a life size cutout of DeSantis in their office?

      2. RedinSC*

        Or is the candidate young with very little job experience and thinks you need to say exactly what was on the letter? Not excusing the behavior that got him fired, but it could be that the person is particularly clueless.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I had that same thought. The only good thing about white Christian nationalists constantly showing their asses is that it’s easy to know who to avoid.

        She should go work for the company with the Ron DeSantis cut-out.

    2. Hypoglycemic rage*

      uh…… i’m shocked just reading this!

      like props for honesty, but that is waaaaay too honest, especially for an application! and especially if they didn’t say how they were working to change.

    3. Name*

      Maybe they think they’re getting ahead of the game in that the former employer will say what happened* and they can be quickly terminated for falsifying information on an application.
      *they may not know that employers are limited in what they can legally say

      1. Mouse*

        This is a pretty common myth. As long as employers are telling the truth, they can say whatever they want. They certainly can’t lie about you, and many employers have a *policy* of only giving certain information, but legally they can give any true information they choose to share.

      2. Frank Doyle*

        Employers are not limited in what they can legally say. They may be advised by their own legal team not to divulge details so as to avoid potential lawsuits, but that’s not the same thing.

        1. Bast*

          True. Looking back, all of the companies I have worked for refuse professional references (typically colleagues and your direct supervisor would give you one anyway, if you were decent and kept it under HR’s radar) and only provide the bare minimum information as a matter of course. They will confirm your dates of employ, title, and some will answer “Would you hire this employee again?” annnnd that’s about it. Granted, I have worked mostly in law firms, and while I’m sure some of them talk “off the record” with each other to get information if you’re applying in the same area, HR will not give out any other information. They COULD but they WON’T– it’s too much of a risk. And I have seen some truly horrid employees that could have received completely jusitifed and backed up by a five mile long paper trail negative reference, and the most that’s been said is, “Yes, he was here from X to Y and held the title of ABC.” This can still bite someone in the butt if they lied about any of that info, but isn’t nearly as damaging as being openly racist/sexist/homophobic, etc and being told that.

      3. Observer*

        *they may not know that employers are limited in what they can legally say

        Except that it’s a myth that companies cannot say what happened. Sure, you can get sued for anything, but if you sue a company for saying “We fired John Idiot because he was accused of saying racist things and our investigation found those accusations credible.” you will almost certainly lose.

        And then there is the reality that plenty of people will give a truthful reference regardless of what the company policy is.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      My guess is that they truly believe they are being oppressed by the “woke” brigade and that the accusations are clearly ridiculous and anybody who reads the application will agree with them.

      There is a certain type of person who truly believes that virtually everybody agrees with them but that everybody except them is afraid to speak up because they fear being “cancelled” (yes, I know this is inherently contradictory) but all secretly admire the person who is “brave enough to speak up.”

      In short, I reckon they believe they are in the right and they think employers will also believe they are in the right.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, they’re not going to be shy about it if they don’t think they did anything wrong. At least they’re self-selecting out of the applicant pool pretty quick.

        Maybe they can go work at the Ron Desantis cutout company.

      2. ampersand*

        Yep. This person believes they were in the right, and their former employer was in the wrong. No reasonable person would say “I was fired for being racist/misogynistic” if they weren’t actually behaving that way.

    5. Salsa Your Face*

      Yuck. Perhaps they’re looking for a work environment where that won’t be a problem, and trying to self-select out of jobs where that will be an issue? Looking for an, ahem, like-minded boss?

      1. Virginia Mountains*

        I didn’t expect it to be so blatant. Most people try to change the narrative to make themselves sound better. “I disagreed with the direction my new manager had taken with my job duties” rather that “I got into a screaming match with my boss because they made me do work I didn’t want to do”.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        We’ve seen numerous examples here of phrasing that is both true and much much more neutral than this. Alison even regularly suggests phrasings for how to explain firings with or without cause, or where the employer (or the employee themselves) was a horrible person, in a safe and non-gossippy way.

      3. Rex Libris*

        Most people would have phrased it as “terminated as a poor fit for the corporate culture” or something else with less immediate “ick” factor, unless they’re deliberately trying to be provocative.

        OTOH, I applaud the efficiency. It does save everyone time and trouble if you know not to hire them in the first place.

      4. Observer*

        You ask the question and are shocked by an honest answer,

        In addition to what the others said, there are people who get fired for reasons that are not relevant to the job being hired for. Like they got fired for not having a set of skills that are not relevant to the new position.

    6. people suck*

      One of the managers at my job told us that during the pandemic, he had a zoom interview with a neo Nazi that had a SS flag prominently displayed the in the background.

      Dude was immediately rejected but damn. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that the guy was open about it or if he hid it.

      1. LCH*

        So blatant it makes me wonder if he was running some sort of social experiment. But, yeah, if not, nice of him to make it an easy decision.

        1. people suck*

          His email had 88 in it, I think unfortunately he was legitimately a neo Nazi.

          (To those who aren’t aware, 88 is a Neo Nazi dogwhistle. H = the 8th letter of the alphabet, as in Heil Hitler /personsplain)

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            A lot of us resent the appropriation. Many of us have had to change long-held email addresses—graduated in 1988, were born in 1988, or chose a number auspicious in Chinese culture.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              … or sports fans, or…

              I resent it because I do things in multiples of 4 a lot; by chance I haven’t used it in anything public facing yet.

              I don’t assume the number has that meaning if it pops up in an email, without further evidence, but I do notice it (it rarely takes long for someone to confirm a dog whistle, even the ones who think they’re being “clever” about it), but would definitely warn someone if they were using it without that intent.

          2. Hailrobonia*

            Much to the chagrin of all those folks born in 1988 who didn’t get their first choice of email addresses…so they choose “firstnamelastname88” or some variation.

            1. Panneni*

              So theoretically it could have been a Norwegian flag and someone born in 1988… lol. That would be unfortunate for this candidate.

              1. Lenora Rose*

                You think that Norwegian flag vs SS would be an easy mistake to make? Even the cross only version is still pretty distinctly, ah, not Norway.

                1. Panneni*

                  I know, but I’ve seen videos of Norwegian expats in the US being accused of being Nazis for having the Norwegian flag on their clothing/in their home/etc. Don’t underestimate the stupid of stupid people (worldwide, the example happens to be from the US).

                  If you’ve never been educated in European geography including flags, the Norwegian flag resembles the nazi flag without the swastika. The the direction of the cross and the length of both axes (haha) is different and the Nazi one has stars I think. But there is also a version where the cross is identical to the Norwegian flag, but with a swastika interrupting the cross and a small iron cross in one corner.

                  If the interviewee was sitting in front of the flag, it could have been either. And I understand that it is not typical for a US citizen to be educated in European flag lore. As I am not educated in US state flags, or South American flags etc.

                  This answer has become way too long for what I intended to be a light hearted out-of-the-box comment, for which I apologize. Just thought to mention that it is indeed possible for people to misinterpret the Norwegian flag for a Nazi one, even if a short Google search gives us the differences.

            2. Aggretsuko*

              People should avoid using their birth years in email addresses, unfortunately. Use your birth day # if you must.

          3. Hrodvitnir*

            The fact it’s confused with non-nazi names is the point, people who are always outraged by this.

            We absolutely do need to be on the lookout for dog whistles, even if it sucks for some people! Alone it’s only a red flag – paired with an SS flag it’s pretty clear.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        Yes – on the one hand, being open about it gives warning to all those who want to avoid him.
        On the other hand, it will have an effect of shooing all the bad ones away, and they’ll end up getting together in the same place.

      3. ampersand*

        It’s all around terrible, but much better to be open about this sort of thing so that employers/other people know exactly what they’re getting into up front. I wish these types of people didn’t exist or would reform—short of that, it’s useful info to know who to avoid!

    7. Jackie*

      in order to collect unemployment after being laid off last year, my friend’s husband had to show he was actively seeking employment by filling out “X” number of applications per week.

      maybe this one, as despicable as it is, counted in the numbers.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I was thinking too that it could be, “I applied to 10 companies this week and nobody got back to me.”

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, that. I’m in Finland, and here you have to apply to a certain number of jobs every week/month if you’re unemployed. Most do want to find another job, but some will self-sabotage because they don’t actually want the job but have to apply to keep getting paid.

        They’ve tried to change the rules to require an honest effort, but that’s practically impossible to check. And it wastes less time if people take themselves out at the application stage.

    8. Ashley*

      My guess is they think they’re getting ahead of the issue by admitting it out front. There’s a lot of advice in this vein for things like folks who were laid off or took time off to put in their application/resume a basic note about it so people don’t draw their own conclusions (ie “indicate there was a period of ‘family leave’ to explain the gap, don’t just not address it” etc). My guess is he misapplied this logic to him being let go and figured he’d address it up front.

    9. kiki*

      I’m wondering if they’ve gone through a few rounds of applications where they make through the whole intensive hiring process only to be rejected at the end for this reason and they’d like to save everyone some time.

      That being said, I am really curious how they worded the statement and if they tried to make a case for having learned a lot, done the work, and made changes. Or if they were just like, “So… I’m racist and sexist. Take me or leave me.”

      1. Virginia Mountains*

        I can’t recall the exact phrasing but there was no trying to explain their way out of the accusations, no explanation about them learning from their mistakes, not even trying to lay the blame on bad managers/lying coworkers. It was just straight “I was investigated for these accusations and they were found to be true”.

    10. Baron*

      Most people who say racist things don’t think they’re being racist. I could easily see someone being like, “Oh, yeah, I called someone the n-word eight times and then I got fired because everyone is so sensitive nowadays!” I doubt they would admit it if they thought they’d done anything wrong. And, sadly, tons of people would agree with that read.

    11. ecnaseener*

      Did they phrase it like that, or in a more “I wasn’t politically correct enough for the woke mob” way that implied they thought they were in the right?

      1. Virginia Mountains*

        Nope, nothing about a woke environment taking over or laying the blame on coworkers/clients. Just “I was investigated and found guilty of these accusations”.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I can see this being what someone puts if they still maintain the allegations were unfounded, but feel that they’d be seen as protecting too much if they said so. There isn’t really a good way to answer that question honestly when the answer is this bad.

    12. OnyxChimney*

      did they explain anywhere else like in a summary or something?

      I can see a really literally based person just answering the question (why were you fired) and not defending themselves in that space since they don’t want to be seen as not owning their last mistakes or something.

    13. JSPA*

      they may be required by unemployment to put in a certain number of applications each week, whether it’s a job they’d want to take, or not.

    14. SopranoH*

      The sad thing is that they probably find this a badge of honor and are hoping to find an employer who thinks the same. Here’s to hoping that they’ll be looking for a looong time.

    15. JS*

      Cynically- applicant probably feels that in their mind they did nothing wrong and they were victimized by the situation. Could be someone who thinks DEI is stupid, I agree I’d stay far away.

    16. Practical Reasons*

      If this in the US, there’s a big anti DEI movement afoot, where all the racist white employers are trying to get rid of every ounce of DEI initiatives, in an effort to hire only White people, because according to them, every non-white hire is unqualified, and an affirmative action hire. So, this is a calculated attempt to appeal to those types of employers. It’s quite brazen, but I suppose, not shocking anymore.

      References would not reveal that fact – they’re unofficially obligated to say either positive, or neutral things about the person. And HR can only say whether you worked somewhere, not the reasons for leaving. So, this is a MAGA applicant, looking for a MAGA workplace. You just saved your company a harassment lawsuit, so good on you.

    17. BecauseHigherEd*

      My understanding is that if someone is flat-out asked why they were fired from their last job, the best response is to own-up to the mistake and explain how it won’t be repeated. (Ex. “The truth is that it was not an industry that was a good fit for me and I was not performing to the level expected in that job. My true talent and passion lies in this job I’m applying for, so after some soul-searching, I really realized I should get back into working for a start-up like this one where I can feel happy and motivated and put my talents to use.”) I guess I could MAYBE see that this person took that advice and missed the part where you say what you learned and what you will do differently?

      1. OnyxChimney*

        That’s moreso for a conversation though. It sounds like this was an ATS with a box like “where you fired?” If so comment as to why.

      1. BecauseHigherEd*

        ohhhh that is a good theory. I’ve been out of the workforce development space for a long time but I do recall that people receiving unemployment had to engage in certain “job-seeking activities” in order to continue receiving benefits.

    18. anon_s*

      Feels pretty blatant. If anything, the “honest” style of candidate would have learned their lesson from their racist and misogynistic comments getting them fired and at least spun them, “made unfortunate and insensitive comments toward minorities and women and was rightfully dismissed.”

      Because the only “charitable” reason for admitting it so bluntly should be “I learned by lesson and I’m trying to show that, all cards on the table.” So, for me, all that remains is the uncharitable view… :\

    19. RagingADHD*

      If I stand on one foot and stretch, I can only guess that maybe they believe the finding was wrong or that they were falsely accused? From your reconstruction of the wording below, it sounds like they didn’t say, “I did these things,” but that the company made a determination about it.

      Maybe they think they’ll get a chance to explain later.

      Other than that, I’ve got nothing.

    20. Madame Arcati*

      This would probably be negated if they could (a tick box yes/no computer form doesn’t always allow such things) have written something about how they’d had a long hard look at themselves and made demonstrable efforts to change, make amends, and turn things around, and they now know better and would never act in such a way again, but it does raise an interesting question; if you’ve done something wrong, how bad does it have to be before you never deserve to have another job ever again? The extreme end is easy – you’re paroled after a murder then sure you take whatever low level job an offender rehabilitation scheme can get you. At the other end, you get done for speeding (by a camera or speed trap not because you caused an rtc) then surely you should pay your fines, take your points, do your courses and be allowed to continue your career in widget design.
      But where’s the line? Not to minimise this or any offence but Virginia’s entirely reasonable reaction is, ugh no of course we won’t employ this person – is every employer going to be the same, is that person never going to work again? Is that ok? I’m not arguing either way it just occurred to me before thinking about references – in the uk we use a CV and you don’t leave jobs off it so what if things go badly and they hate you?

    21. learnedthehardway*

      Sounds to me that the candidate is looking for an employer where they will be a “cultural fit”. As in, they would prefer to work with like-minded people, who are also racist, misogynistic, etc.

      Any company willing to employ such a person deserves the problems this person will cause them.

  2. Frustrated Fed*

    My office is making me go through the full ADA accommodation request process in order to get noise cancelling headphones for virtual meetings in our noisy office.

    Does anyone have experience getting medical paperwork for a common human condition like not being able to hear someone talking over multiple other conversations, or hearing audio in-person+virtually with one feed on slight delay? Is getting a full workup from an audiologist the only option here?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Are you not allowed to get your own and just wear them? That would be easier than convincing the company to pay for them but pricey.

      1. Frustrated Fed*

        I refuse to spend 3 figures for basic equipment needed to do a core part of my job. It would be easier and cheaper to just get another position in my agency. Plus, because we’re in government, my office would $160 for headphones through GSA that retail for $350 on Amazon.

        1. Cj*

          I understand where you’re coming from, but would you have to pay out-of-pocket to see your primary care provider and or an audiologist?

          would you be willing to pay it $160 say it could get them for month and have them take it out of your paycheck? or isn’t that allowed?

          you absolutely sent half to pay for them yourself, and I don’t really understand why this isn’t just a normal t need instead of an ADA issue. since this is what it’s come down to, I’m just trying to see if there are any different options?

            1. Cj*

              this is starting to drive me crazy. I watched that last speech to text comment as it appeared on my screen, and it was fine. I posted it, and more errors.

            2. Frustrated Fed*

              Hah, no worries, I think I got it!
              So, this is kind of a 3rd-strike situation with my current position; I really like this job would prefer to stay in it, but this is the latest in a series of issues I’ve had and if I can’t get this one thing for the cost of a PCP copay, then my next step will be finding another job, not continuing to try to make this one work. (Getting another job will probably take a couple months, but my work experience is unique and in high demand in government, so I could very easily have a new job before this situation resolves itself.)
              Because we’re feds, there is very little flexibility on paying for this- either they pay, full stop, or I pay, full stop. And actually, I may not be able to buy my own headphones either, due to IT security. Unfortunately, the logic of federal employment does not have much similarity to the logic of the real world.

              1. Cj*

                after reading here what government employees go through, I figured that would be the answer. it’s frustrating that your agency would lose a talented, in demand employee over $160.

                as a cpa, I don’t work for the government, but frequently have to deal with government employees (IRS). your type of issue explains.. a lot.

                1. Quantum Possum*

                  Aww, no, I’d encourage people not to discount government careers. I think being a fed is pretty awesome!

                  Believe me, we have our special problems that don’t exist in the “real world.” (The stories I could tell…lol.) But I’m completely ruined for private sector work, because federal employment is a pretty sweet gig – and it’s easy to find a lot of meaning in civil service. It’s not for everyone, but it’s not the horror show that the “outside world” often makes it out to be.

                2. Cj*

                  I just wish all the government employees I have to deal with were as smart and capable as the government employees that post here. but that could probably be said of any private industry or nonprofit, too.

    2. Someone Else's Boss*

      Do you have a reasonable PCP? I needed a note to ask for a seat cushion and my PCP thought that my company was so unreasonable that she just wrote the note for me (despite not having any special issues that necessarily require a seat cushion). If you have a doctor you see regularly, I would start there. An audiologist could possibly diagnose you with an auditory processing disorder, but it sounds like your situation is more of a standard “it’s loud and I can’t hear” situation. If your PCP can’t help, another option is to just become annoying in virtual meetings (this really only works if these are internal only). If, for example, you meet mostly with your boss or an exec in another office or similar, I would suggest just having trouble hearing them. Ask them to repeat themselves often. Send notes after the meeting and ask them to confirm you got everything because “it’s hard to hear you while i’m in the office.” If the issue is them hearing the people around you, let them hear it. Eventually someone will complain and you can say, “I asked for noise cancelling headphones, but HR will only get me some if I have a doctor’s note.” If I were your boss, I would push people around until I got an exception.

      1. Frustrated Fed*

        Talking to the PCP is my next step, but I’m not sure what they will need from me in return. They have offered me other options (use a communal computer in a conference room, only schedule meetings for my telework days), but they’re significantly more inconvenient than being able to take calls from my desk where I have good lighting and 3 monitors to juggle multiple documents.

        1. HonorBox*

          I would think that if your PCP is someone you’ve seen regularly and is understanding, they’ll be able to write something that provides you what you need. They’ll know what to say and can dress it up with the right specific language.

          I have a bad back due to a surgery and dress shoes cause me a great deal of pain. I shared that with my doc and she wrote a quick letter stating that I have medical need. Is wearing tennis shoes a medical necessity? Probably not. But now I have a note in my file that says I am required to wear tennis shoes. FWIW, when I handed it to my boss (who I’ve worked with for 10 years now) he chuckled and told me he didn’t care what I wore on my feet as long as I wasn’t barefoot. But should there be a different person in his seat at some point, I have a note.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Hey! You do have a medical necessity because constant or chronic pain is actually bad for you.

        2. Ancient Llama*

          I want to joke (and therefore have) that I can’t believe tax dollars were spent to give you 3 monitors when I have 2, but that is not helping. (I’ve worked as a fed contractor, so seen what happens with fed, I understand your plight.) I saw your update below that it will be over $100 to get the PCP paperwork, but
          -I like Momma Bear’s suggestion: go to IT as if that is the first person you asked i.e. don’t mention the HR request.
          -Also getting your boss to go to bat “can we pay $160 so I don’t have to lose this 6-figure person resulting in our agency can’t do (or can do a lower volume or take longer to do) an essential task until I find, hire and train a new person with this niche skill.”
          -Someone Elses’s Boss had a good suggestion too if your boss initially says can’t do: then let them and others suffer the consequences so they get on the “new headphones” team. I know you said they said just use a community computer or only have meetings on work-from-home days, but I assume some meetings neither will be feasible (someone else set meeting day/time and that conference room was already booked) and you’ll be “stuck” at your desk and they “stuck” with your issues.

    3. LCH*

      Do they actually think it is a medical need or have they said a medical need is the only way they will pay for this? Because it sounds like a regular work need.

      1. Frustrated Fed*

        I originally phrased the request for headphones as a reasonable accommodation, and was told they could go ahead and purchase them for me without going through the medical documentation process, just normal IT review. It was just this week (a month after the initial request) that I was told they couldn’t spend that much money without a formal, approved ADA request.

        1. Cabbagepants*

          it might be worth asking how much they can pay for without official ada stuff and cover the difference. like if they only can contribute $150 and not $160 then your problem is still solved, yes?

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            In my experience in government, you can’t contribute to things, you can’t buy partial amounts, it’s just approved or not. It’s so different than normal life (but like the person we are talking about, I would not trade it either!)

        2. another gov type*

          I believe you, so this is not an expression of doubt, but rather commiseration. This seems absolutely asinine. In my agency, headphones and computer mice are an example of a standard accommodation that should typically be able to be offered without the formal process. And three figures – as in, a $200 or $300 pair of nice headphones? Good gracious. I’d see it if your request was four or five figures, but this is silly, even in a CR

        3. Milton's Swingline Stapler*

          I’ve worked in state and municipal gov’t, but never federal so things might be different, but I’d guess all the craziness is because you specifically used the phrase “reasonable accommodation” which, in the offices I’ve worked in, would automatically get the request flagged for ADA. Can you make a parallel request that says you need this equipment to effectively fulfil your assigned work duties vs. an ADA accommodation?

          Also, I just had to purchase a pair of noise cancelling headphones for the same reason and found a bunch of good options for less than $100. I’m back in private as a contractor so I had to order and expense, and found a really effective and comfortable pair of name brand bluethooth headphones on Amazon for $60.

    4. Rachel*

      What did your HR department say when you asked them the clarify what your medical provider needs to submit?

      1. Frustrated Fed*

        I haven’t asked them to clarify yet- it took almost 2 months just to get them to send me the form to request an accommodation. Our HR is ineffectual at best, actively harmful at worst, so I’ve been trying to find answers externally.

        1. king of the pond*

          Argh, one of the few things worst than useless/harmful IT is useless/harmful HR. I’m frustrated just thinking about it.

        2. Momma Bear*

          Is this something you could ask IT about instead? “I would like to put in a purchase request for x headphones for y reasons.” If IT will probably need to approve them anyway, can you skip the middleperson? Granted, everything probably needs a bar code if it’s GFE, but maybe they have a pair hanging around you can have. If I were really that desperate and thinking about leaving, I’d also ask my boss if there was anything they could do to get answers or grease wheels. Does your boss have any discretionary money they can use now that the FY has started?

        3. Rachel*

          Step 1: today, submit a request to HR in writing to clarify what they need to accommodate your request. Ask them to give you a list of qualifying documents.

          Step 2: today, make an appointment with your PCP. At this appointment, you will either know the exact documentation you need or you will not. If you don’t know the exact documentation you need, ask your doctor what they can write with the symptoms you are presenting. If you do know what documentation they need, as for that specifically. Get a referral to a specialist.

          Step 3: make a specialist appointment. This can have a long wait time so it’s better to have it and cancel it than need it and can’t get it.

    5. Potions Program Manager*

      Can you ask what kind of documentation you need? What was the conversation like when they said you needed to request formal ADA accommodation? Since it seems like it is more that you have trouble concentrating rather than you can’t physically hear, I am not sure that a full audiology workup would even provide the documentation you are looking for

      1. Annika Hansen*

        I have ADHD and this is one of my symptoms. An audiology workup would not find that out. However, it would be a lot faster than what I went through to get my ADHD diagnosis. It took several appointments.

        1. The teapots are on fire*

          If your PCP is aware of your ADJD diagnosis just tell them the story and ask for a letter. But first find out what documentation your HR needs so your doctor doesn’t have to do this twice.

      2. Frustrated Fed*

        It’s definitely a matter of not being able to hear, whether that’s a physical issue with the ear or a neurological problem. I’ve literally been on video in meetings with my hands clamped over my ears to block out sound and hear what people are saying.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          And that is completely normal! Hopefully your primary care dr can just write a note, because what you’re asking for is also completely normal.

        2. MB*

          Frustrated Fed – a diagnostic hearing test from an audiologist could be the easiest way to go, because without it, you cannot rule out the beginnings of a hearing loss. If you have a hearing loss, there is a very straightforward path to the headphones through ADA. Difficulty hearing in background noise is one of the hallmarks of high frequency loss (audiologist here). If the hearing test is normal, that additional speech discrimination tests in noise can easily be done at the eval to document that issue too. What you are describing is what my patients with hearing loss first report.

        3. Observer*

          You don’t even need noise canceling headphones for that, just over the ear ones. Decent ones in that category can be had for $20 or so. And unless both your USB and audio ports are blocked, you should be able to just plug them in with no help from IT.

          1. Roland*

            Yeah, I really suggest starting here! Much simpler and likely cheaper than the medical accomodations route. It doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest to block sound, and wired is a lot cheaper than wireless.

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

      You could probably just talk to your primary provider and they would be able to help you.

      You say that you don’t want to pay 3 grand for office equipment. I have had to purchase headsets for my office and they are nowhere near $3000 for a set. What are you looking for? I can see paying $300. The most I have seen is around 600 and that was a type that also worked with the telephone.

      Also, I don’t know if the headphones will solve all of your problems. You say you are not able to hear someone talking over multiple other conversations. Do you mean that there are conversations around you and so you can’t hear who is speaking on the computer? If so then yes noise canceling would help. Or do you mean that multiple people are talking on the call and you can’t understand them? If that is the problem a headset will not help. Also, if someone’s feed is delayed your headphones won’t fix that problem, it is most likely a connection issue with that person.

    7. Domanda*

      If I’m understanding correctly it seems like the issue is the ambient noise in your work space rather than your own ability to hear. I don’t know if this would be useful, but it may be worth using a decibel meter app on your phone at your desk and getting a quantifiable number for how loud it is. Then google a decibel level comparison chart see what that compares to. If it’s a really loud space there could be some OSHA issues, but even if it doesn’t reach workplace safety levels it may be useful to be able to tell your boss that it’s the same noise level as (for example) a hairdryer.

      1. MountainAir*

        This is a great idea. There’s a NIOSH app that you can use to measure decibel levels which is specifically made to document noise workers are exposed to, so worth downloading it and seeing what you get!

      2. Part time lab tech*

        Somewhere there will be a health and safety principle stating the range of background noise above which it becomes hard to hear on the phone.
        There was a dark bench in one hospital I worked at that staff complained about. Someone got the bright idea of calling Health and Safety to measure the lumens. It was below regulations so voila! More light.
        (Perhaps bat cave op could use this to set a level of lumens that their employee needs?)

    8. Quantum Possum*

      Wow, I’m surprised you’re getting so much pushback. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with that additional stress.

      I’m a federal employee, too, and stuff like this has never been an issue. In my organization, employees don’t have to “prove” anything to get something practical like a noise-cancelling headset to use at work. As a manager, I’d just bop down to IT and get them to issue one to my employee, with an official hand receipt for property accountability purposes.

    9. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I once had to get a doctor’s note stating I was fat so I could get a larger chair than those offered in the office. Still not sure they needed a doctor to tell them what was obvious, but we jumped through that hoop and got the chair.

      1. Empress Ki*

        When I was a student, I had to provide a doctor note to have access to the library lift (that was only for staff, I don’t remember why). My leg was in a cast, so it was quite obvious. So stupid !

    10. Rick Tq*

      Costco has Hearing Aid units at a lot of their stores and they will do a free hearing assessment which includes how well you can understand speech. That plus a note from your PCP may be all HR needs to approve getting you headphones.

        1. LCH*

          i’m sort of joking. i think the suggestion farther up to make a parallel request that doesn’t use the word “accommodation” is the better route. unless they fully won’t pay for this unless you need it for medical reasons.

      1. Jasmine*

        I keep thinking… what if her hearing is totally normal? Would she get a note saying she needs accommodation? The problem is not her hearing but the noise in the office.
        I had a friend who thought he had hearing loss caused by loud rock music he listened to when he was young. When he got his hearing checked, the technician told him he had “dog ears”. His hearing was unusually good. He had trouble hearing the person standing right in front of him, because he couldn’t block out all the other noises.
        It might be good to have a hearing check up but on the other hand, she could go through all this, and not get the recommendation for an accommodation!

    11. Observer*

      Is getting a full workup from an audiologist the only option here?

      Unless someone is trying to be obnoxious, a visit to your GP should be all you need. Have them write a letter that your hearing is such that you have trouble hearing under x conditions (describing your office set up using medicalese) and the recommended solution is noise cancelling headphones. That will check the boxes the bureaucrats need.

    12. Frustrated Fed*

      Quick update for everyone-

      Thank you all for your advice and feedback! I spoke to my PCP over lunch, and the cost to do a basic assessment + create the ADA paperwork would be $100-150, in order to get my office to purchase $160 headphones. As I said earlier, it would be faster and cheaper to just get a new job at this point, which I am seriously pursuing.

      1. Observer*

        In the meantime get yourself a pair of standard over the ear headphones. You don’t really need the nose cancellation – that’s more to keep the mike from picking up the ambient noise. But if no one on the other side of the call has an issue, you don’t need it.

      2. Project maniac-ger*

        Good luck on your job search. I’m afraid your current workplace has warped your sense of norms – this is not a medical accommodation, it’s a bona fide workplace need and if/when you have to ask for them you need to frame it as if you were asking for more sticky notes or a new office chair. You said this was the straw that broke the camel’s back so I just want to objectively flag for you that this whole thing was weird and at no point are good headphones this big a deal at “normal” organizations. I work in state higher ed and purchased headphones for my coworker two months ago and they don’t even need barcoded because they’re low-value so I just can’t see any reason why this was such A Thing besides this workplace is whack.

    13. BubbleTea*

      You could speak to your GP/PCP about getting documentation for “mild auditory processing difficulties when background noises are high” or something. Which indeed is within the parameters of totally common for the general population but could be adequate.

    14. zinzarin*

      Honestly, you can probably get this done without a PCP copay. My PCP uses “MyChart”–most use something similar. Just send them a message on whatever platform they use and I bet they’d be happy to write this particular note without a visit.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        Yeah my hospital uses MyChart and the bureaucracy wouldn’t let us do that, you would have to schedule an appointment to evaluate the problem. There has to be documentation in the patient’s chart.

  3. Hypoglycemic rage*

    Hi yall! Can those of you who were librarians but transferred out of the field tell me what positions/careers you ended up in? Specifically adult services/reference librarians, if possible, as that’s where I have a majority of my working experience.

    I’ve made a career switch before, my last job was not in libraries, so I know I can do it again. I am just struggling to find jobs to search for. I have looked into college registrar offices, but they either don’t pay enough or are not in the location I need. I am looking for something that is more 9-5 (because I do best mental health-wise with a set schedule/routine) and in-person or hybrid.

    Things about libraries that I liked: helping other people, the variety in my day, working with others (coworkers and patrons), anything that had a set process to it
    Things I did not like: getting yelled at by patrons for things not in my control, working nights and weekends, feeling more like a social worker some days, people expecting us as a profession to do more and more

    1. quetzal*

      This may not be what you’re looking for, but have you thought about changing type of library? I’ve spent my career in academic libraries and don’t have the minuses you listed. Medical libraries are also hurting for applicants right now.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        do i need a specific degree for medical libraries? i have an MLIS, but nothing specific to the medical field.

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          Most of the medical librarians I know started in that field with just an MLIS, although a background/undergraduate degree in science is a plus.

        2. Cymru*

          You do not need a specific degree for medical libraries beyond the MLIS.
          They may like it if you have some medical information knowledge but being able to show how your previous work overlaps with the job description is really all you need.

          1. Hibiscus*

            So speaking as a medical librarian–there’s going to be some differences in what particular places are looking for. Our team looks for a high degree of critical thinking, communication skills, and caring, because we aren’t doing reference so to speak but more in-depth research and pulling materials and being able to say “these are the salient points I saw…” is helpful. We’re also open to community and families, so flexibility is really important too, as well as trying to balance a lot of differing needs for the library space and the different needs of staff.

            I had worked as a library assistant in the health sciences library during college and in a medical publishing company as a project assistant, and that experience was helpful.

            1. Hypoglycemic rage*

              your team sounds lovely!!! and i know it’ll depend on the position, but that’s good to know that – it sounds like – most med librarians don’t need any specific degree.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          Archives assistant in a medical school library here: As far as I know, all of our librarians and archivists just have regular library degrees. I used to work for a veterinarian and seem to have far more “medical background” than anyone else here.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              I mean, it’s not like I’m an RN or anything, but since we’re mostly dealing with very-outdated human medicine, it sounds pretty familiar to an ex-veterinary assistant! The vet background has actually been extremely useful, but it’s clearly not necessary since everyone else does fine without it.

        4. quetzal*

          I only have an MLS (and my undergrad degree is in humanities). I’m a data librarian and had some experience in that work outside of the medical field before switching in. There are some differences (especially in searching style — I had never worked in a library where we just gave the results to patrons before). If you’re interested, you could see if you could shadow someone to see if you like it.

          NNLM has some really good free classes for stuff like using pubmed if you want to work on your medical librarian skills as well.

          1. Hypoglycemic rage*

            thank you so much! i’ll look into seeing if i can cold-email a medical library and see about shadowing someone!

        5. Bob-White of the Glen*

          I would recommend finding an online medical libraries course. Also, approach the closest one to you and see if that librarian will offer some advice/review your resume. Finally, check out the Medical Library Association (the other MLA) to see what advice they give.

          Business librarians also tend to be in demand, including applicants willing to be the business subject specialist in a college/university library. Celia Ross offers a great course in biz reference available through ALA. You might be able to contact her to see when and where she’ll next be offering it. I took it when I was trying to get back into libraries after 10 years out. (Did get an MSBA in the meantime, so that helped too, but was business specialist at a previous tenure-track job with no degree.) Amazed at the number of librarians who do not want to be the business subject specialist and are happy to hire someone into that post. Links to follow.

          1. Academic Librarian*

            You can also look for smaller business librarian organizations, since we are often the odd person out as far as our co-workers running from business questions. Here is one that just sent me an email asking if I wanted to go to their conference in March: Southern University and College Academic Business Librarian (SOUCABL). Also, BRASS (Business Reference and Services Section of ALA) offers to connect you to a mentor and you do not have to be a member.

    2. Teapot Librarian*

      Have you considered staying a librarian, but working in special libraries? Maybe corporate, or law firm libraries? (I assume you don’t have legal training, but depending on where you apply, a law firm might still want your skills.)

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        i do not have legal training (aside from watching legally blonde) but i will look into corporate/law libraries, just to see!

      2. Delightful Daisy*

        Another option is State Libraries. Each one is organized differently so there are many options for the pros you listed. While some SLs do serve the public not all do.

    3. Dulcinea47*

      Maybe just get out of public libraries. Other types of libraries, well, you might occasionally get a cranky patron, but you won’t feel like a social worker.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        a little bit for records management, but not privacy work! how would i go about searching for these roles?

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        I was going to say this as well. I have a library degree, but I’ve never worked in a library – I’ve been a records manager for my entire career.

        There’s lots of contact with people, usually internal clients, and lots of variation in the day-to-day job. Processes can be kind of hit or miss – sometimes they exist, sometimes you have the opportunity to create them, and sometimes you’re making things up as you go along.

        Many RM’s work in government or in the broader public sector (schools, universities, hospitals), so it tends to be pretty much 9-5, and hybrid is generally an option. In 20+ years, I’ve taken work home in the evenings no more than a couple of dozen times, and I’ve had exactly one urgent after-hours call from my boss.

        1. Hypoglycemic rage*

          this all sounds like stuff i would like/be interested in! thank you so much for explaining.

          what job boards would i use to search? i use linkedin and indeed primarily right now, but i know there’s a lot of other sites i just do not know about.

          1. Matilda Jefferies*

            It’s really hard to search on generalized job boards, because so many jobs have the word “records” in the title or description somewhere. Start with the two major professional associations – ARMA and AIIM. Your library school (or any library school) probably has a job board as well, and you can also look directly on the careers pages of specific organizations or governments that you might want to work for.

            1. Hypoglycemic rage*

              thank you so much! it *is* hard to search for this stuff on generalized job boards….

    4. a librarian*

      i switched library types about 6 years ago (from government library to academic)- if you have decided that you need to leave libraries, by all means do what you need to do! your well-being is most important.

      if you do decide to try and stay in library land but switch library type, may i add business information/reference to your consideration? this is an in-demand skill set, and business reference is just reference (says Celia Ross of “Making Sense of Business Reference” which is a book i recommend looking at if you’re interested in exploring this skills area!).

      however you decide, i wish you the best and all the good luck!

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        :’) thank you so much! what titles would i search for if i were looking for business info jobs?

        1. a librarian*

          probably “business librarian” :)
          i used the Chronicle of Higher Education job board for my search 6 years ago, and you can subscribe to BUSLIB-L (email listserv for business info folks and jobs are often circulated here; google to find the sign up page). and ALA job list too. check out libguides from BRASS (business reference section of ALA), and the business research competencies document for insight into what kinds of skills & language to use on your CV. do take a look at hiring librarians blog too for the difference b/w a resume & academic CV.

          if you have the capacity/resources to read Celia Ross’s book or take the Making Sense of BizRef course, or there’s one from library juice academy too, that can help with familiarity w/ business databases & stuff. also check out what your nearest university library subscribes to and if they have a person who covers business info if they’d be willing to talk with you about databases and stuff. some of those databases might be open to walk-in users and you could (again, if you’ve the time & resources) go practice using those databases and get a little familiar with them

          1. Hypoglycemic rage*

            ….you know, sometimes i over-think….. ;) thank you so much for your helpful responses, i will definitely look into these resources!

    5. SereneScientist*

      You might consider a role in knowledge management! It’s a sister discipline to library sciences but more specific to organizations and how to manage internal information of all sorts. I’m a social scientist by training, but found my way into knowledge management a bit by accident and have several colleagues who have MLIS degrees!

      1. SereneScientist*

        (This is also related to the suggestion above from a librarian, quite similar but with slightly different titling – knowledge manager, knowledge director, etc.)

    6. Tired*

      I have worked in three university academic libraries as a library information specialist (LIS 3 – 5 level) over the last 12 years. I worked in the campus central library, before moving on to their law library, and finally a position at their special collection and university archive library.

      The librarians I work with only work regular business hours (although the librarians I work with in my current position have around 4 evening or weekend events a year). Although some jobs like subject area liaison librarian require additional degrees, other librarian jobs only require a MLIS. I had two LIS co-workers obtain MLIS degrees online, then successfully get cataloging librarian positions at my university. There are also MLIS degree positions that involve metadata management. I may do this too one day since I am stuck professionally (I only have a bachelor’s).

      If you are more extroverted, the outreach librarian I work with has a MLIS only and collaborates with professors to lead events for their classes and the overall campus community that showcase neat rare books.

      No matter what path you choose (staying in libraries or exiting the field), I wish you the best!

    7. Pyanfar*

      Never been in libraries, but in construction we have a role called “Document Control” and/or “Document Management” and some of the best professionals I’ve worked with had a library background. Those keywords should find you some listings, as well as networking with people that work for large-ish engineering and/or construction companies.

    8. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m still in libraries, but other librarians I know have become:

      – High level administrative assistants
      – Information Managers/Project Management
      – Adult Education- specifically teaching ESL for a community college (but she had a second language that helped her on this switch.)

      As someone who has spent her entire career in academic libraries, I’ve never felt like a social worker; however, if you are tenure track or expected to publish- than you will be working on that likely outside normal work hours, so bare that in mind if that’s the route you go. I do know a lot of folks who have happily moved from public to academic.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        this is great to know. (this community is so helpful, i’ve gained so much hope from posting this. :’) )

        if i do go the academic route, is publishing something i’d eventually be expected to do? or does it depend on the position itself? i don’t think i’d be interested in publishing, so if it’s an automatic thing, that might change things a little.

        1. quetzal*

          It really depends on the job — if it’s tenure track or not, or faculty or staff status. All of the above exist. I’ve always worked for universities and never been tenure track which I prefer, I don’t want to put together a tenure packet. However, even for tenure track the amount you need to publish is not too bad, and people are usually happy to collaborate and work together.

        2. Bob-White of the Glen*

          Yes at a university, probably not at a community college. Exceptions to both of course.

      2. WestsideStory*

        I’m continually amazed that so many librarians are part of the community here. Librarians have always been my heroes, decades before I began what became a publishing career.
        Bless you all for what you do.

    9. Sassy SAAS*

      My sibling is a librarian, and is also running into the same cons that you’re experiencing! It’s pretty terrible how unkind people are to librarians these days… My sibling’s coworkers have been physically assaulted by library patrons (pushing, shoving, that kind of thing). Aside from the options you mentioned, they are also looking into data science and database jobs at corporate locations.

      Another option might be “Customer Success” jobs at tech companies. It has all the pros you listed (I work a CS job, so I speak from experience!) and is often remote or hybrid. It’s basically customer support, but it doesn’t have to be something like tech support or a call center. I do new client onboarding and training, which falls under the Customer Success umbrella.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        your job sounds so cool!!! i will add this to my list of job titles to search for. i love getting to show people how to do stuff – i used to teach intro/basic tech classes at one of my previous jobs and i loved it.

        sending good vibes to your sibling. i know i am def not the only former librarian looking outside of the field….

      2. LM*

        I needed health insurance fast after finishing my MLS (orthopedic, all better now) and my school’s joblist suggested a fulltime(!!) data analyst position in banking that I ended up accepting. I’ve since worked in biotech and software, and am recently back in banking, and got a grad certificate in data science along the way- but it all started with the transferable skills I learned in library school. The tech skills, especially programming and query languages, are in demand, management experience (or, in my case, classes), and even just the soft skills from working on cataloguing projects that will never actually end are sought after. And, when you get down to it, philosophically I’m still making information accessible and understandable to the people who need it. I worked in archives and museums before and through grad school and fully expected to retire in the field, but I’m actually really happy with where I am.

    10. phototrope*

      My mom is a former reference librarian who now works in college/university admissions. Most of her job involves interacting with students (both applicants and the student workers in her office) and it sounds like you might also enjoy that sort of thing. She got the job without any previous experience in admissions or academia, but she does work at the school where she went to college so I’m sure that helped her candidacy.

    11. roann*

      I haven’t left the field myself yet, but a few colleagues who’ve left in recent years got into:
      -records management for municipal government, telecom, etc.
      -curriculum design (these folks may have had undergrad degrees in education, not sure)
      -archival or similar work for local historical societies or organizations

    12. Jen*

      I work for a library consortium! My role is in consulting and training, but we also have people in group purchasing and in roles related to databases, shared catalogs, and ILL support. Check out consortium roles!

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        your job sounds cool too! i loved showing people how to do stuff, well, when they were wiling and eager to learn, not just expected me to do everything for them….

        where would i search for these positions?

    13. Rachel*

      I think you need to come to terms with the fact that any job that involves helping people will also involve disgruntled and/or rude people.

      You don’t get to only help pleasant people.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        i get that, but there’s “disgruntled/rude” and then there’s people yelling at us because we didn’t have all the computers open during the early days of covid. which we did for their safety and ours.

        1. Rachel*

          I would put that exchange under “par for the course” in dealing with the public, especially during the pandemic.

          I think a role that is not public facing is the move for you.

          1. I take tea*

            It’s definititely not par for the course. It depends very much on the type of library. I’ve worked in academic libraries for over twenty years, doing quite a lot of customer service and I’ve been treated rudely just a few times. Sometimes people are entitled, sure, but they very seldom raise their voices and I think I’ve heard of maybe two or three instances where it’s been anything physical towards anyone, and then there’s been mental health issues involved.

            Public libraries, being one of the few places in the society where you can be without money, tend to draw a very different clientel.

      2. Lemon Chiffon*

        As a fellow public librarian: there are disgruntled/rude patrons, and there are:

        – Patrons who scream at you for asking them to wear a mask during mask mandates, then complain to every public official they can find about their rights being infringed upon (not an exaggeration, also not “our” patrons, just political people coming in to cause problems). Having to have meetings with your manager and director because someone complained to the mayor is unsettling.

        – Stochastic terrorism, which includes:
        + First Amendment Audits
        + Book banning sprees
        + Repeated bomb threats called in to public libraries
        + Threat of armed protest at the library (and sometimes, actual armed protest at or outside the library)

        Sometimes people are in a hurry and are a little clipped, or they get annoyed when you can’t help them with something. The stuff we public librarians have dealt with in the last 3 years is far and away from what I would generally expect from a customer-facing role.

    14. always behind the scenes*

      I am not a librarian by career, but I did work in a library during undergrad and my academic background is in music/poly sci/humanities. I’m currently working in donor relations on a larger advancement services team in an advancement division at a university. There might be some positions in advancement services that would interest you! The records team specifically processes a lot of information and works with almost every team in my division and my team works on a lot of backend processes, despite being called donor relations haha! and we have set processes to things. There is also room for innovation within the processes as well. From what I know of library work, I think it could transfer well to an advancement services type of role. Types of roles to search for would be records, donor relations, or prospect research (this type of role might be an especially good fit because you are pulling information from public resources).

      I also second others who are saying try other types of libraries! I worked at an academic library and it was far more calm than what you are mentioning. Good luck :)

    15. Tammy 2*

      I’m a records manager at a public agency. My work is mostly consultation, compliance, research, and training, not really day-to-day organization of actual files.

      1. Hypoglycemic rage*

        1. love your username!
        2. thank you! i’ve looked a little into records management, but i’ll have to do more of a deep dive later. (i try to only job hunt during “business hours” for my mental health)

    16. Kayem*

      I went into archives because it more aligned to what I liked about reference work without being yelled at by patrons and working nights and weekends. I did get to help people finding information, but the volume of in person interactions decreased significantly. It also gave me more time to work on projects for uninterrupted stretches, which really helped improve my productivity overall, plus left time for working on initiatives I came up with myself. Though I also lean towards being a hermit, so this suited me (pandemic shut down where I worked and my position was cut, so I’m still an unemployed archivist working a day job doing something entirely different but if I can ever get back into it, that’s where I’m headed).

      Spouse is a former social worker and until a few years ago, made their long-term career as an academic reference librarian. Totally burned out (not helped by a library director openly stating in meetings that they didn’t know why the library even needed librarians in spouse’s specific position, among other even worse things). Spouse now works in local government doing IT support and database admin for the city and county and despite a pay cut, is happier than I’ve ever seen them the entire time we’ve been together. Spouse has stated the following things that they find rewarding:

      1. Actually helping people and being able to see the results of that help.
      2. Less dealing with the public at large, though there is a rotating cast of colorful city employees.
      3. Set schedule working 8-5, with maybe one overtime night in the entire three years.
      4. Much of the work can be done remotely, which is useful for days when spouse’s chronic condition flares up.
      5. Not having the pressure to move up on the ladder, or pressure to spend personal time on professional development for career advancements they neither wanted nor were available.
      6. Knowing that while their salary is lower than it should be, at least they aren’t getting guilted by the library higher ups into accepting low pay because they should consider being a librarian a virtuous calling where the reward is the job itself.

      1. Kayem*

        Oh, my academic advisor was an archivist/librarian in a geological core sample archive, which is absolutely delightful and I wish I’d thought of that when I switched away from geology my senior year.

      2. Hypoglycemic rage*

        i am SO glad your spouse found something that makes them so happy! :D and thank you for typing all that out. i have no IT experience so this is not an option for me, but i am glad it is AN option for some people. i also love that there is no pressure to move up, as i want a job where i can just do the work and go home, i don’t want to be anyone’s manager (but i love the idea of training others).

      3. Frustration nation*

        I am trained as an archivist and want to be a reference archivist so badly, but I can’t find a job. I don’t have an MLIS (I have a public history degree) so I can’t apply for librarian positions. I feel like such a failure – can’t find a job in my field and I truly can’t find anything else that I’m remotely qualified for that isn’t in the field. After doing 6 years of school, I really don’t want to go back and study something I’m not interested in, but I just feel like I have to leave this field because I can’t find anything in it or outside of it!

    17. Local Gov*

      I worked with a records technician at my local government job who came from libraries and she was a fantastic fit. She enjoyed the problem solving and organizational aspects. She needed to pull records request from the public, so there was some customer service elements but it was mostly by email and mostly positive.

      We were a small enough team in a small enough org that she got to branch out and have varying tasks, and do more than just pull and file records, but that might be an issue at a larger entity.

    18. Mrsbagnet*

      I have an acquaintance who is a former librarian and does career services for librarians who are interested in working in other fields. She did a resume for me that eventually helped me land my current job. She also posts some really good content on LinkedIn. Her website is https://www.kingcareerservices.com/.

      Another career possibility is working in intelligence. The US government Intelligence Community agencies (CIA, DIA, NGA, military, etc.) hire librarians to do open source information collection, in addition to managing their libraries. See this job announcement as an example: https://www.usajobs.gov/job/759382300

    19. In the same library boat*

      Finding this thread feels like a sign. I am in the exact same position as OP, with the exception of having never worked outside of libraries. I’ve been trying to leave for the past year, with no success, but I now feel rejuvenated. I’ve stored ALL the wonderful suggestions from commentors and can’t wait to renew the search. Wishing us both all the success in 2024.

  4. Decisions Decisions*

    When you leave a non-profit business that is mismanaged, does some things that are illegal, and forces you to keep an underperforming hire due to a personal relationship (adult child of a family friend), do you leave and move on or do you let people (like the board and general public) know? Some examples :
    – Asking for volunteers so that you don’t have to pay them. Their lawyer says it’s legal. However, it’s tasks that some do as a normal, if infrequent, part of their job so FLSA says it’s got to be paid. (Not sure if the lawyer knows that they do it as a normal part of their job.)
    – Requested race and gender information when having to close a building and reassign staff. Their reasoning was to increase diversity in other buildings. Great, but those are 2 of 5 protected classes under Title VII.
    – The Hire plagiarized their resume, was noticeable rude to people who don’t speak English (that covers over half of the people we serve), and has taken information from the public regarding staff multiple times even though they were told who specifically to call when this occurs. Three have complained to me; one of the three was hung up on by the hire with no warning.
    All this to say, I am not sure if it should be told, who to tell, and how. Nice little ethical decision making time for me. Any suggestions?
    I’ll be back periodically if any more info is needed.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Honestly, I’d probably just job search and try to raise some of these things in exit conversations or glass door reviews. These seem pretty institutional and even if you got specific action on the things that are bugging you, it’s still going to be a cruddy place to work. You may also find you have better standing as an employee who doesn’t “want” anything because you have secured your own new job – less opportunity to look like you’re just elbowing for a promotion or more power yourself or whatever.

      1. Decisions Decisions*

        I’d be doing this after I leave and I work in the same department that does the exit surveys. I know they don’t do anything with those.

    2. Honor Harrington*

      What happens if you tell the Board? Will you become known as a “troublemaker” in the field and have trouble finding another job, or will you become “the honest reliable person” and be more likely to get another job? Can you be prosecuted or lose a license if you don’t report?

      This is one of those times where you need to decide based on the possible impacts to you.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        In addition to considering how your relationship with the board will change, it’s also good to think about how likely it is the board will make changes based on the information you provide. Some questions to think about:

        – What is your relationship with the board like right now?
        – How hands-on/hands-off is the board? Have you ever seen them step in and correct a serious management issue? (Or do you know about that happening at all before you joined the organization? And if so, are the board members still the same ones who took action before?)
        – What is the board’s relationship with the Executive Director?
        – What is the board’s relationship with the family friend employee?

        1. HowdyDoo*

          Agrees with both of these responses. Have worked for lots of nonprofits over a decade with always terrible management and nepotism. The board doesn’t want to know because the CEO is their buddy or it just makes their unpaid job harder.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Would you feel comfortable going to the board? The illegal stuff would be cause for concern for the board if they were decent humans but if they are involved in the illegal stuff then I wouldn’t bother. And if the board would make your life hell even after you leave the org, then I wouldn’t do it. You could report them to your state or AG or something like that…not sure how that works but I think that’s where you are supposed to report illegal stuff like that.

      Glassdoor reviews are tricky too because if you work for a small org they’re going to know it was you writing the review. I guess do what you think is the right thing to do as long as you feel comfortable doing it.

      1. Ama*

        I honestly would only go to the Board if I knew the board had enough professional expertise to understand why everything OP listed is problematic or if I had concrete evidence that leadership of the nonprofit knew what they were doing was illegal and did it anyway. Unfortunately a lot of nonprofit boards have people who might own their own businesses but don’t themselves have HR/legal/labor law expertise and if they have a good relationship with the ED they may be more willing to think “well ED wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t okay” than take OP’s word that this is wrong.

        I think a Glassdoor review is probably the best bet but you’ll have to write it carefully so it doesn’t sound like a rant from an ex-employee with an ax to grind.

        1. Tio*

          I had an acquaintance that went to the board over their CEO being terrible – nothing outright illegal, but wasting time and money, being abusive to staff (but all staff equally, so not illegally abusive, which is wild to write), and other such things. The board basically just shrugged it off and they got fired. I think it’s highly unlikely that the board is unaware that things aren’t great, they just don’t care, particularly considering they have a lawyer opinion backing them up (even if he’s wrong)

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense happening at my org but I have had almost no contact with board members and even though I have a bunch of stuff I would love to tell the board it would be really weird for me to do so. They’d be like, Who the heck are you, weird employee, we’ve never seen or heard of you before so we have no idea if we should believe you or not over the c-level ppl we talk to all the time. So I would likely take the quiet exit rather than tell the board what’s really going on. (Nothing here is illegal, it’s just dumb or not great; if it were illegal I would probably report them to the state.) But I also wouldn’t write a Glassdoor review because we’re really small and they would definitely knew who wrote it.

            So that’s why I asked DD if they felt comfortable going to the board, because I sure don’t.

            1. Tio*

              This place literally has dozens of negative Glassdoor reviews about how bad the CEO is, and did before the acquaintance started, which the CEO responds to personally to refute. The board was never going to do anything about it.

        2. ferrina*

          Exactly this. If the Board has strong business experience and understanding of the implications, go to the board.

          Otherwise, Glassdoor. In all likelihood, this won’t change anything. It should, but in my experience, it will be shrugged off as “well the lawyer said it’s fine/we haven’t gotten sued yet”. Glassdoor is a great way to flag this for the Board (in case anyone does care) but also for anyone considering working there. They should know what they are getting into.

      2. HowdyDoo*

        If the board isn’t an option and neither is leaving, you can always hit ‘em where it hurts and send an anonymous tip to donors or grantors, pending their attitudes/culture and public image. This could be especially powerful if youve got solid documentation of the events and connection to an organization with such terrible HR practices would be particularly damaging to the donor.

    4. EA*

      These things are not at all OK but unfortunately some are pretty common in the nonprofit sector – like asking for volunteers to save money and having “insider” hires that suck. I doubt you going to the Board is going to make them fire that person or go against their lawyer’s recommendations, and I’d worry it could affect you in recommendation requests in the future (NGOs can be very insular!). I would encourage the three people who’ve complained to you to raise their concerns about the new hire with their supervisors or the Board themselves.

    5. Catwhisperer*

      I’ve been in similar situations and I think it depends on a) how much power you have in the overall org, b) what the risk is to your career, c) whether you’re willing to file complaints with relevant government agencies, and d) if it’s something newsworthy.

      In one situation I worked for a non-profit where I witnessed unethical and illegal practices, but it was a controversial service provider in a state that was very against this service and had shut all other providers of it down already. I knew going to the news or reporting what happened to government agencies would have a net detrimental impact on clients and I was relatively low on the hierarchy, so I chose to limit my actions to sharing my experiences with my network and warn those I knew who were interested working there. My individual actions didn’t make a direct difference, but thanks to me & others sharing their experiences the org’s reputation got around.

    6. RedinSC*

      Oh, this really really depends on the board itself. If they’re 100% behind the ED then bringing this to them won’t do anything and may affect your history with these folks. If the board is engaged and concerned about this type of thing, then going to them and talking about why you’re leaving might be helpful.

      I have, in the past, gone to the board with issues with the CEO and CFO which led to change. But as things change and board members change, doing that was not an option as things deteriorated a second time. New leadership and new board members. So I just got a new job and moved on/

      You’re the only one who knows how the board may react.

    7. Lenora Rose*

      Is there an institution like a labour board or Employment office to whom you can report the illegal volunteering? They often seem like they’re not moving at all (it took a year for a pretty straightforward complaint on my part about a former employer*) but when they do they can come down like a ton of bricks.

      * Paying time, not time and a half, for overtime.

    8. WoodswomanWrites*

      Going to the board–which should definitely be after your departure–depends on your relationship with them. I’ve worked at nonprofits for many years. Some were small enough that every board member knew me by name and I could talk with them about anything. I did in fact do this with an individual board member after leadership made a decision affecting employees that was very unpopular with staff. I was still working there at the time, but that wasn’t a legal issue.

      At a much larger organization, I barely met most of our board. It might seem strange for me to reach out to them even if I had resigned. However, if it was a legal issue, they would definitely want to know.

    9. Chicken Noodle Sue*

      Unfortunately, these situations are not at all uncommon in nonprofits. The board usually knows already, and they’re either allowing these problems to continue because they don’t see them as problems, or they don’t care. They’re not going to do anything about the personal relationship hire: they see the political cost of letting them go as more painful than keeping them on. And the volunteer thing saves money they would otherwise have to fund raise for. Board members don’t read or don’t care about Glassdoor reviews; if they do happen to see it, they’ll chalk it up to a disgruntled employee. Which is how they’ll talk about you to everyone, if they aren’t doing that already. Believe me: boards don’t care. The good members resign at any hint of trouble, leaving behind the bad ones who rejoice over the opportunity to stir up drama. And to do that, they have to not solve your problems, or make those problems worse. When you find yourself in a dysfunctional nonprofit like this, you gotta get out.

  5. Potions Program Manager*

    I work at a satellite facility of a larger organization. Let’s say it is a magical workshop that does both potion production and new spell development. I am the head of potion production for our workshop, but I report to the Director of Potions at our larger organization, a wizarding university, if you will. In fact, each department at the workshop reports to the director of our respective departments at the wizard university.

    It may also be important to note that I was hired less than 6 months ago and I was brought in specifically to revamp and grow the potions department.

    It was recently decided that the Director of Spells should start working out of our workshop full time. She does outrank me, but she is not my boss or in my chain of command. Our departments do overlap in some ways, like use of space. It can also be helpful to coordinate on what we are working on sometimes, but most of the time the audience buying potions and the audience wanting to learn new cutting-edge spells are different. I try to keep the spells department, as a whole, in the loop on what we are working on, specifically on logitistics. Things like what equipment or what parts of the building we are using or when my staff is working and who is responsible for opening or closing the building. I also work directly with spell developers if they need any potions to test their spells or have magical ingredients I have or that I can source more easily than they can.

    Since the Director of Spells has started working out of our location, she has started replying to nearly every email I send her with a question about how I run my department that is not relevant to her work at all. For example, every week, I send out an email to all relevant people letting them know what equipment we will be using for which potions and on what days. It is mostly as curtesy. Last week, I sent out the email as usual and got an email back from the Director of Spells asking why we were using pegasus hair and not unicorn hair in one of our potions, as pegasus hair is more expensive. What annoys me about this is that 1) that’s not the point of the email in the first place, I wasn’t looking for feedback on recipes, 2)I spent a good chunk of time with my supervisor making a plan for how to manufacture this potion and we had many reasons for why we ultimately decided to use pegasus hair, 3) the decision does not affect her in any way! My budget is completely separate from hers. She doesn’t use the potion. Her employees don’t use the potion. It feels like she is always assuming that I don’t have good reasons for things.

    Am I right to be annoyed by this or am I just at BEC stage with her?

    1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

      Have you spoken to your own manager about this? Also, I wonder if she was placed at your facility so there would be a Director level there to oversee things?

      1. Potions Program Manager*

        I have spoken to my manager about this, but I was second guessing myself about making a big deal about something that didn’t matter. My manager did say that I could forward the questions to her, but I am hesitant to do that. I guess it feels like undermining myself when it already feels like the Director of Spells doesn’t respect my decision making.

        Your second question is astute and the answer is kind of. There was some drama a couple years ago. The facility used to have one director that oversaw the whole place. During his nearly decade-long reign he was abusive to staff, blatantly favored people who were like him (older, white, male, straight, from a similar background) and spent too much time on his pet projects. When our larger organization got a new CEO, she promptly fired the old director and has been trying to get this workshop back into good shape ever since. The Director of Spells was moved on site to better get a handle on spell-development strategy and to bring the workshop more in-line with the Wizard University as a whole. There are not current plans to hire a facility director, but I think the Director of Spells wants the job and is starting to act like she has it before she actually does.

        1. Tio*

          I think forwarding the questions to your manager is the best strategy, especially if you think the other director is not respecting your decisions. Forwarding it to them, with their blessing, shows the bounds of those questions. She’s unlikely to play that game if she keeps getting redirected to a peer, and if she does it will end up being with said peer, who can deal with it themself.

        2. Sled Dog Mama*

          Definitely forward the questions to your manager.
          She has the standing to answer things like the Pegasus hair v Unicorn hair or to respond that it’s not the Director of Spells business (but in the corporate polite way).

        3. lunchtime caller*

          It does sound like you’re a bit BEC with her; if your boss has given their blessing to pass it off to them, instead of stewing on all the reasons why her question is annoying you should give her a quick “thanks for asking! I’ll direct you to boss for a more detailed explanation on that front,” slap a cc on it, and immediately forget it.

        4. RedinSC*

          I would also be annoyed, but I think that before I started sending these messages to my supervisor, I’d push back a bit and reply something along the lines of “Supervisor and I have discussed our potion ingredients. If you have specific questions about process please reach out to Supervisor who can fill you in on more details” and see if that stops her from questioning you about it?

        5. goddessoftransitory*

          So it’s kind of a balancing act between what the Director is supposed to be doing, and that she’s seemingly putting her enchanted mice-horses before the pumpkin cart. You mention that you are new to the company and were brought in for specific whipping-the-workshop into shape; do you know if she’s been there longer or is in a similar situation?

          I think it might be a good idea to ask for a clarification of duties meeting with your/her grandboss: something along the lines of “We both are focusing on doing XYZ in order to increase productivity, so we’d appreciate a demarcation of duties to avoid doubling up/wasting time and resources (and having this person noodge me about things that aren’t in her remit [internal monologue only, natch.])

        6. learnedthehardway*

          Another vote for forwarding the questions to your manager to deal with, since the Spells Director is more senior/at a higher level than you are.

          In fact, I would reply to the Spells Director and cc your manager on the emails, along these lines:

          “Thanks, Spells Director, for your email. Copying to Potions Director, as they can best weigh in on the overall strategy we are following.”

          At which point, your manager can tell her to butt out or whatever is appropriate.

    2. Dulcinea47*

      maybe just email her separately to let her know that those emails are informational, not time to make decisions or change things. You might also suggest an appropriate person to talk to if she has questions she’s dying to know the answers to…. or not. Either way I think it’s okay to politely reiterate the purpose of the emails.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You’re right to be annoyed.

      Have you talked to your remote boss, who is a peer of the Director of Spells, about this? You can go in to this quizzically – “I sent Griselda a routine note about the lab schedule for next week, and she started to question my recipes. What should I do when I get these messages? Forward them to you?”

      Also consider giving her less ammunition. If you’ve got to write a separate email to her instead of copying on the group email, do it. “Griselda, just a heads up that we’ll be using Labs C and D all next week, and Lab E on Friday.” Don’t tell her what you’re making, what the recipe is, etc. Even better, just reserve those labs using group calendar software, so she won’t even know you’ve reserved them unless she deliberately goes trawling through the calendar.

      1. Potions Program Manager*

        I have spoken to my boss. She said I could forward the questions to her if I want to. I am a little hesitant because I want the Director of Spells to just respect my decision making, but I will definitely keep my boss in the loop.

        Giving her less ammunition is good in theory, but she does complain frequently about the “communication issues” at our facility. I am pretty sure the CEO (my grandboss and the Director of Spells’ boss) knows that I am not the issue, but since I am still fairly new, I would rather be able to clearly demonstrate that I am openly communicating.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Hm, speculating here, but I wonder if Griselda was more-or-less promised that she’d be the site manager of your facility (as a way to test her out or make her a designated successor to somebody in the C suite). So from her perspective she’s doing her job.

          Or maybe she’s trying to strong-arm her way into it.

          Might be useful as a thought experiment to see if her other behavior fits into either of those theories.

        2. Saturday*

          Yeah, I don’t usually like bringing a boss in unless necessary, and I would also try to keep it friendly unless more problems arise. So, at this point, I would be a bit annoyed but would probably respond with a quick… “Boss and I discussed our options at length, and ultimately decided that pegasus hair is the best choice for a number of reasons, like X [most obvious reason].”

          1. Florp*

            This. “Oh yes, we carefully considered pegasus, unicorn and even centaur hair, and ultimately decided pegasus hair fit the bill.” You don’t have to justify or explain, and you’re letting her know that she’s not actually presenting you with new ideas or information, and you toss in the centaur hair to show that you thought about things that she didn’t.

            If she pushes: “Well, we’re so far down the road that making a change now would have a serious affect on cost, delivery time, and documentation. I’m not sure [your boss] and [any other stakeholders] would be happy about a change to our plans. They are doing their work based on an agreement to use pegasus hair.” In other words, I’m on a team, the team knows what I’m doing, and they approve.

            After that, if she still wants to stick her nose in it, absolutely send it to your boss and force her to go over your head, with someone who is closer to her rank and who can more comfortably tell her to butt out.

            I’m guessing you’re in academia. I have a number of relatives in academia, and good lord the politics can be brutal. You boss may actually appreciate knowing how much and how often she’s overstepping so they can do what they need to protect their own job.

            1. Mad Harry Crewe*

              My problem with this is it treats her question as reasonable/appropriate, which it’s not. She’s overstepping.

              Potions Program Mgr – I would definitely take your boss up on the forwarding. It’s not a good idea to just ignore the Director of Spells, but forwarding the questions will allow your manager to handle it.

              You can’t control how she thinks about you, and the way she’s responding makes it clear that she thinks of you as a subordinate, someone to be questioned and guided. What you can do is control how much you let her interfere with your work.

              Hopefully, once your boss bats her questions back a few times, she will lay off and you may be able to find a better balance where she actually respects the work you do. But step one is getting her to back off.

              1. Annony*

                It depends on the organization. This response would work well at my organization where directors are expected to ask questions about other departments and lend expertise even when not specifically asked. Acting offended at the question would reflect badly on the person being asked what would be seen as a reasonable question. A short reply that the suggestion had already been considered and rejected would come across much better. Any follow up after that would be out of line and could be shut down.

        3. AnotherOne*

          I lean towards if your boss said you could forward the questions you should. Just a sorta- if you have any questions along these lines- why you are doing this thing, my director is actually the best person for you to speak with. But if you any questions you have about whether potions is using a lab or some equipment, I’m always available.

          If you want to avoid starting with looping your boss in, you could always tell Griselda that those decisions are handled between you and your boss, and that you appreciate that she understands how complicated they are. And loop your boss in if Griselda keeps pushing the matter.

          Or respond to Griselda but cc: your boss so everyone is on the same page. (I sometimes feel at universities, just the act of “I’ve already looped in my boss” can get people to step down. It tells them- my boss has my back.)

        4. fhqwhgads*

          I think you’re thinking that forwarding to your boss in some way means only your boss has the authority on your decisions, so it undermines you to fwd. However, consider another angle: you’re forwarding to your boss so your boss has visibility into how frequently she’s being disruptive/counterproductive in this way, and could potentially tell her “you, PPM and I decided this for many reasons; it’s done; stop butting in to these emails; they’re FYIs”. In other words, if your boss responds, it’ll be having your back and basically telling her that you have this authority and to stop it.

        5. The dark months*

          You’ve let your boss know there is a problem, but she can not help solve the problem unless you start looping her in on the questions from the Director of Spells. You want the Director to respect your decisions but that is not happening. You need to take the assistance offered so the situation doesn’t become worse. If you don’t, you are just adding to the problem.

          This position likely comes with a lot of history that you aren’t privy to and people may be responding in a way that is no longer warranted. What feels like a personal attack to you may feel like reasonable oversight to them. This issue is above your pay grade so loop your boss in, continue to be an awesome communicator and run things as you see fit until told otherwise by your boss.

    4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      It’s definitely annoying, though I hope she’s just curious and/or still settling into the rearrangement, and can be gently redirected to stay in her lane.

      I would probably start with a breezy, “That’s what Director of Potions and I agreed was appropriate for this potion.” Something that indicates that you’re thinking about this, you’ve talked about it with your chain of command, and it’s not something she needs to worry about. If a few iterations of that don’t do it (or if you feel like that isn’t strong enough for the current state of affairs/you’ve done similar things already) I’d add a “Why do you ask?” to the end, to more clearly signal that it’s really none of her responsibility.

      If that doesn’t get anywhere, at some point I’d try to talk to her in person, and ask directly: “When you ask questions about details of potions work that are outside your area, what information are you trying to get?” And if she doesn’t take the strong hint that you feel like she’s impinging on your turf, either a direct, “It feels like you’re trying to manage how I run my department” or “If you want to have input to how the Potions Department is run, please bring that up with [Director of Potions],” depending on whether you get the sense that she’s just clueless to how she’s coming across, or trying to be in charge of everything she surveys.

      (I don’t work in anything academia-adjacent, though, so take several grains of salt.)

      1. Tio*

        “When you ask questions about details of potions work that are outside your area, what information are you trying to get?”
        It feels like you’re trying to manage how I run my department”

        These seem pretty adversarial to say to someone in a higher position than you, despite being true. I would not take these tactics straight out the door with someone of a higher level; I would get input from the actual boss first and deflect this person on to her if at all possible.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t do it FIRST thing — that’s one of the escalation options.

      2. Momma Bear*

        If it’s not really relevant for them/her to know the ingredients, I’d leave that off and just tell them when you need to coordinate the equipment use. If you don’t already cc the boss on emails to the Director of Spells, consider doing so and see if DoS replies all or just to you. If she tries to cut out her peer, I’d forward the email to your boss with maybe “re: the decision from our meeting last week about magical hair” or reply to her but include him. “This choice was discussed and approved at our Department of Potions planning meeting.” I would keep it very factual and boring.

        I’m guessing there’s a reason you don’t know yet that she’s working there vs elsewhere and suspect it will become clear over time.

    5. I edit everything*

      Annoyance sounds like a perfectly appropriate reaction. Can you reply with something like “I know you’re busy, so I won’t bother you with the minutiae of our decision-making process. If our use of pegasus hair has some impact on your team, please let me know!”

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        This is a great idea, but run it by your boss first before answering this way. Or even better, if you could just respond with, “It’s a long and boring story of how we decided but if you want the details feel free to ask Dir of Potions.” See if your boss will let you respond that way.

        1. Tio*

          Yeah, given that this is a high up person I would definitely run it by the boss before answering some of the ways above – they can come off kind of rude to someone higher up than you, so if you have other options available (i.e. get your boss to handle her) I would go that route first to CYA.

    6. Ms. Norbury*

      Yep, it’s annoying. I second other people’s advice to talk to your director, and frame it as a question to clarify exactly how much say Director of Spells has on what Potions does (even if you’re pretty sure the answer is “none”). Share what’s been happening, and ask how you should respond. I wouldn’t speak directly to the Director of Spells unless that’s what your boss tells you to do, since there might be political stuff going on that hasn’t reached you.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      I agree that it’s annoying, but why does she know that you are using pegasus hair? Maybe you are putting too much info in your message. While it may mean extra work for you, don’t use the same message for her that you use with your staff – the one to your team can provide more details. The message to her should just talk about the shared resources – e.g., indicate Potions is using the spectrometer on Tuesday and Wednesday, the large laboratory on Thursday. You don’t need to tell her why unless she comes back with an explanation that she really needs the spectrometer on Tuesday – then you can negotiate over priorities and whose need is more urgent.

      While I agree her kibitzing on your work is out of line, if you are giving her the recipes, I can see where she might think she is being helpful in giving you tips.

    8. Ashley*

      So in my experience this can def be a company culture thing. I’ve worked in some companies that have more of a start up, “everyone discuss your ideas, we’re a flat org” kind of vibe vs others where everyone was expected to stay in their lane. It’s possible that her experience (either in other companies or within this company but before she moved to your location) was more open to everyone giving input but it sounds like that’s not what you’re expecting or used to. I’d recommend approaching the situation with that in mind, thinking maybe she’s just expecting a different dynamic, and ask your manager/boss about how they’d like to handle the input. “I noticed she has been asking questions and providing input about a, b, and c. Are these decisions you’d like her to be involved in? Should I forward her thoughts to you?” That gives you the opportunity to see what your manager’s expectations of the dynamic are. And then from there, you or both of you can set expectations with her. Maybe your boss would love her input, but wants it earlier in the process. Maybe your boss would prefer that feedback go directly to them and not you. Maybe your boss has no interest in it and would like to politely tell her to stop butting in. But it makes sense to raise it to them rather than unilaterally telling her to bug off, since there’s a chance there’s dynamics at play you might be unaware of.

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

      Can you just, not include her on these emails? Like is there really a reason why you want her to know? I think that will help a lot. She cannot interfere or question you if you don’t give her info.
      If it’s something like you want everyone to be aware of, like you are using a noisy machine, or there might be something else that affects her and her working, then you could send her an email like “the potions team will be using the High intesity welder for a project for a few days. We will try to keep the noise to a minimum and use it in the early morning or later at night, but I wanted you to be aware incase you came in early.

      1. Potions Program Manager*

        I can’t not include her, unfortunately. Like every AAM letter, there are nuances that would make the post way too long if I were to include them in the original.

        There were some issue at this workshop a couple years ago. It was a toxic place. A new CEO of our larger organization was hired, saw what was happening here, and has been trying to fix it. Several people were fired or encouraged to leave, include the person who used to run the entire facility. The management structure was changed. I was brought in to fix the potions side of things. One thing that people still cite as a problem is communication. What exactly the communication issues are is not something people agree on. But, I am trying to be as open as possible to at least be able to demonstrate that I am communicating. (The Director of Spells does like to hoard information while complaining to the CEO that no one tells her anything, but that is a whole different can of worms.)

        1. M2RB*

          Information hoarders annoy me to no end. I would be in BEC mode from that alone. I can’t do my job if I don’t have sufficient/accurate information.

    10. Cj*

      I sometimes wish people would just say what industry they work in instead of trying to use the Llama or teapot analogies, but this one did amuse me. and was actually understandable.

    11. Lucia Pacciola*

      Maybe she’s just curious about the potion side of operations, and is excited about your emails as an opportunity to see under the hood and ask questions about how it all works. I like to explain stuff, so personally I’d kill her with kindness – just info dumps on how we operate and why.

      But your best bet is probably to tell her, “these are informational emails only; please reach out to my boss if you have concerns about potions operations. Thanks!” and then tell yourself “haha there’s that daily dose of goofy from the Spells Director!” and then shrug it off.

    12. thelettermegan*

      You are right to be annoyed – you’re sending her FYI information, and she’s using it to give you unsolicited feedback.

      Maybe you could send her something back that makes it clear that feedback is not appreciated, but if she’s genuinely just curious, you’re more than willing to turn into a mutually beneficial opportunity.

      Something like ‘Dir. of Potions and I made this decision for several reasons, and are not looking for feedback on this at this time. But if you want to grab a coffee/drink on a rainy friday and nerd out over pegusus hair, I’d be happy to meet up.’

    13. Awkwardness*

      I have no advice, but a lot of love for the magic industries example.
      That was adorable and throroughly thought through.

    14. OnyxChimney*

      Make it unsatisfying to even ask. When I’ve worked with people like this I’ve had good luck delaying my response. I’ll wait until after I’ve made the potions and several days later will send something like:

      Hey awesome coworker! Hope you and your dog Cerby are doing great!

      There are lots of reasons we went with X ingredient. Feel free to schedule a call if you need more details!

      They never schedule a call and after a while the initial emails stop.

      Also evaluate those initial emails. Are they too detail heavy and potentially opening you up to the criticism? Nothing invites criticism like explaining yourself unprompted in my experience.

    15. Cacofonix*

      Several people responded here with advice to reply to her email with some email of your own. Please do not do this. Really. Before going again to your manager, can you not just take her to coffee or arrange a meeting with her and ask her what is driving responses like this? Be transparent and open, genuinely if you can. Start with something like as (role) at Potions department, brought in to revamp and grow etc, my director and my team have thought through our entire manufacturing process for which we are responsible. I have to wonder based on your responses to informational emails, what is driving your queries here?” Then wait. Wait expectantly. Listen. And respond to that. Whether it is answering her curious questions, filling in a process gap you didn’t realize actually affects her team, or suggesting a meeting with your own director together if she’s adversarial, whatever. It may suffice for her to grow confidence in your or your director’s experience and leadership for whatever reason.

      This is not the kind of thing, if it continually happens, that solves itself by email replies or forwards. It will not work. I’ll bet much can be solved with a single face to face.

    16. Pocket*

      If your boss hasn’t said what, exactly, she’ll do with the forwarded emails then it might be helpful to talk it through to a) increase your comfort by reducing the unknown and b) get some insight into her strategic thinking.

  6. StruggleBus*

    I am in a new work space where I have client meetings and need to intensely concentrate on work for good chunks of the day.

    I’m in an open office and I’m really struggling. I mostly feel an immense sense of threat and I’m hyperaware of what the people next to me and behind me are doing. All the movement I can sense in my periphery is really tough. The noise is a struggle too.

    I’ve never worked in this type of environment before. Anyone else have recommendations for ways I can be more comfortable?

    I do have PTSD and it’s possible I can get some accommodations, but I’m not sure what will help given there’s no private space to move to.

    1. FricketyFrack*

      In terms of accommodations, maybe they can get you some moveable walls? They aren’t terribly expensive and it would allow you to build at least a semi-private space that can be easily moved if you ever change desks or move to a different area.

      I recently moved to a desk that’s kind of in the middle of the room in an office with a good amount of stuff going on, so I feel your pain. In my case, it’s temporary – we’re moving to a new building sometime this year, so I’m just kind of tolerating it and using headphones with white/brown noise when I really need to focus, but it definitely makes me a little jumpy even without PTSD. Hopefully your employer is willing to work with you quickly.

      1. StruggleBus*

        I could try that! I’m not sure where they would put them, anywhere they would be put (even on the sides of my desk) would obstruct the flow of traffic.

    2. Dulcinea47*

      Honestly, some of us should just never work in open offices. I am one… I hated it so much and it never really got any better. I was distracted every single time someone walked through the room. There’s not much you can do with zero walls anywhere. Headphones or earplugs help somewhat, but it depends what type of client meetings you’re doing whether that’s a possibility for some of the time. They don’t have to be noise cancelling, any level of noise-dampening should help. Can you move to a seat where no one is behind you? That should help too. You might want to go straight to accomodations b/c this is a really hard scenario to deal with.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree, I only solved my problem with open offices when I finally gained enough seniority to get a window seat (which was a really big deal in my office). Honestly, companies that use open office are acknowledging that they aren’t invested in the space, and should always have copious work from home options, in my opinion – since if you ask them, they’ll say there’s not enough room for everyone to have offices and renting more space will be too expensive. If they’re not invested, I’m not invested.

      1. StruggleBus*

        I don’t currently own any! I need some with a microphone. I’m not sure if my company would be willing to provide that, they don’t have any.

        1. Catwhisperer*

          I came here to say the same, as someone who also has PTSD and hypervigilant tendencies as a result. Noise cancelling headphones are something you can ask for as an accommodation, but if you don’t want to risk having a documented disability at work you can get them (with a microphone!) for around $70 from Amazon.

          Another useful product is a privacy protector for your screen. If you’ve never used one before, they’re a screen that attaches to your monitor or laptop screen that only lets you see things on the screen when looking at it directly. Amazon or any office supply store should have relatively inexpensive ones. That way you know that regardless of what’s going on around you, people can’t excessively monitor what you’re doing unless they’re standing so close to you that you know they’re there (idk about you but one of my symptoms is feeling like someone is trying to “catch” me doing something I’m not supposed to, even if I’m not doing anything wrong).

          The temporary desk dividers another commenter suggested would be useful too, but unless using those is common in your workplace culture they’ll stand out and you should prepare how to answer questions about them or that you might be told to take them down.

        2. Awkwardness*

          I can only recommend to look into this. I have quite thin walls and I can hear every call. Not clear, but enough to keep me aware and distracted.
          I put my headphones on and this noise is gone! It’s amazing.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      That sounds really hard. Is there a location that might be at least somewhat better? Like, with no one behind you, or to one side?

      For concentration, headphones could help.

    4. English Rose*

      Sorry you’re struggling with this. Is it possible to swap with someone who has a desk with their back to the wall? Then you wouldn’t have that hyper-awareness at least.

      1. StruggleBus*

        I could, but then I would displace members of the team that have been here for years. I don’t want anyone to resent me.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          It might still be worthwhile asking! If there’s anyone you have good rapport with that sits on the wall, you could ask them something along the lines of “Any chance you or Bob might be persuaded to switch desks? I’ve been doing a lot of client calls lately and having people move around in the background has been distracting”. Be open to them saying no, and don’t push if they do, but as long as you’re polite and not pushy about it people are often willing to move, especially if you offer to move their stuff for them.

    5. Ashley*

      I try to adjust my desk / monitors to minimize the periphery distractions but still not be able to have someone come up unexpectedly. I was the opposite on headphones because I couldn’t block noise (a boss who liked to yell to come into his office and phone calls), but I found music at a low setting helped me block some of the other noise.

      1. StruggleBus*

        I wish my desk adjusted! There’s not really a way to move the monitors, they barely fit on the desk.

        We aren’t technically allowed to listen to music, but that might be a good thing to try!

    6. Salsa Your Face*

      At a previous job, I ended up buying a convex clip-on mirror that I attached to my monitor that let me see what was going on behind me. It didn’t solve all my problems, but it did stop me from swiveling around in my chair 30,000 times a day to see what that noise was.

    7. LCH*

      Can you asked to move to a space next to the wall and get two partitions? That was you have 3 barriers and can put your back to the wall and face the open space. It might feel more secure.

    8. JellyBean*

      Back when I was in primary school, you could set up a three-sided cardboard “wall” on your desk to help you concentrate. Kind of like a heavy-duty science fair display, but blank. Could you do something like that? That would be portable, sits right on your desk, so it doesn’t block traffic, but would block at least some of the visual distractions. (Also, open offices are an utter travesty and just need to go away.)

      1. I Have RBF*

        I actually bought a couple of these, in cardboard, for one open plan pit I was in. The way I could block off stuff from the sides and opposite me. Otherwise, I could see the person facing me but one desk over, which was very distracting.

      2. Tumbleweed*

        If the office will get them for her to help with the issue you can also get sound absorbing ones of these – they work better than they look like the should (though obviously not magic)

    9. used to be a tester*

      You can have the same desk every day, correct? My open plan office set aside some desks in corners and behind pillars for people with ‘a requirement for privacy’ – the general assumption was that they were people doing confidential work, but I know at least one had sensory issues and another had a very strong startle response.

      I know some people like noise cancelling headphones, and a mirror so they can see what’s going on behind them, but personally I found they kind of made things worse – the headphones meant I could be ‘snuck up on’, and the mirror showed too much movement, which made me jumpy.

      Wishing you all the best!

    10. RedinSC*

      Would a few strategically placed mirrors help you so you know what’s going on behind or next to you? If you can see it, could it be less threatening?

    11. G&T*

      I put tall plants up around my desk that block my view of my neighbors. (Snake plants are my heroes since they’re so hardy and grow quickly, I do not have a green thumb.) I felt like the plants were subtle, so my neighbors wouldn’t be offended I didn’t want to see them (even though that’s exactly what I wanted, why do I need to see every other person in my office fidgeting and checking their phones and cleaning their ears? I was always worried they were trying to talk to me or catch my attention or something.) Seconding the people who said headphones and mirrors also. Hope you find something that works for you! Good luck!

    12. Self Employed Employee*

      Can you change your chair? Something with a high padded back so you can feel less hypervigilant about what is behind you? Some sort of Wing back or curved/egg style chair could be helpful (at least when I imagine it for myself.)

    13. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

      Ugggghhhhhhh… open offices are the *worst*.

      My first job out of college (this last time around) the corporate office was essentially a warehouse with rows of sit-stand desks lined up like tables in a high school cafeteria.

      When people complained about the noise, management installed VERY LOUD white noise machines in the rafters. Which just meant that everyone had to talk even louder to be heard by the person standing in front of them.

      Good luck getting any kind of accommodation. I feel for you.

  7. Hiring Anon*

    I need help figuring out what this job title should be. I want it to be accurate to what the job is and something people who would be a good match for the job would recognize.

    Our rice sculpture association puts out an industry newsletter, holds events, and offers workshops. In the last year, we decided to hire a dedicated person to handle writing content and doing our publicity. We have been doing this for a long time, and we have a good system of templates and deadlines for much of this work. We have now had two different people in the newly created Public Relations Manager position who did not work out, and we’ve realized part of the issue is that we need to rewrite the job description and rename the job before we hire someone else.

    We don’t need someone to start building a PR strategy from scratch. We need someone to (a) spend at least a couple of months learning what we do and why before making big idea suggestions and (b) do the actual work of updating things from last time with the current information and writing the content for new things. Our reworked job and job description will have much more oversight and be much more focused on task completion. I’m thinking we want to call it a Marketing and Communications [Something], but I don’t know what that something should be. Is this a coordinator? Assistant? Something else?

    1. Anon Midwest*

      Marketing Communications Specialist
      Marketing Copywriter (if it’s more than half writing)

      1. English Rose*

        How about Marketing Communications Lead? Or MC Team Lead if they’re managing anyone.
        Maybe have a trawl through LinkedIn to see what similar roles are called. That will help with what to put on the advert to attract the right skill set.

      2. Pyanfar*

        My vote is for Specialist as well…it makes it more clearly an individual contributor role at the direction of someone else, with a specialized workload…

        1. Sopherin*

          Another vote for Specialist. In the communications/PR/marcomm departments I’ve managed, the Specialist is a junior role tasked with execution, not strategy or planning.

    2. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      At my previous org (education) the job you’ve described was called “communications associate.” Actually, the person who had that role just took a job at a much larger org called “content and marketing specialist.” Both specialist and associate denote relatively entry level roles, so is that what you’re looking for?

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I would go with Communications Coordinator. The job description can get into detail about the marketing angle and PR tasks. “Coordinator” implies coming in with a year+ of experience, not entry level and not manager.

    4. HappyMarketer*

      Yes to Marketing and Communications. It depends how junior / senior you want the role to be and also the norms for your organisation. If I hire someone with zero experience I often call it a Marketing Coordinator or Assistant (I think assistant is becoming less common, and I tend to see it more in the UK vs US). There’s then room to promote to Marketing Executive as a step between Coordinator and Manager.

      1. Cj*

        to me, assistant implies that you will be reporting to someone else. if this person will be the ones in charge of the duties, I would go with coordinator. that doesn’t imply assisting someone above you, but also doesn’t imply that you will be managing other people.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        And if “Coordinator” feels too logistics focused and “Assistant” sounds too much like a executive support role, would “Associate” work?

        1. Cj*

          I know words mean different things in different industries, but whenever I hear associate, im reminded being in Walmart and hearing that one of our Associates can help you.

    5. Chaos Coordinator*

      Marketing and Communications Coordinator might also work here… if you are more interested in completing tasks and logistics.

    6. Katie*

      On our team, this role would be a Marketing and Communications Associate (0-3 years experience) or Senior Communications Associate (3-8 years experience). If the work is mostly digital, we would call them a Digital Communications Associate. If a bit (but not much) more technical knowledge/experience is expected, they might be a Digital Communications Specialist.

      We’ve made this hiring mistake before (recently), so I second your decision to hire someone more junior, it will cause less angst for everyone!

    7. CanadaGoose*

      In a few organizations I’m familiar with, the role of “Communications officer” fits what you’re looking for. It can be junior or senior level of experience, but commonly has wide-ranging duties including the grunt work.

  8. ThatGirl*

    I’m doing my annual resume update and I can’t figure out if there’s a better way to format this..

    This is a job I had from 2008-2017, so I want to leave it on there, but it’s under “additional experience”. I was a contractor and then hired on full-time so I held about 5 different roles while I was there.

    Here’s how it looks now — any suggestions?

    COMPANY NAME, TOWN, STATE
    MAY 2008 – MARCH 2017
    CONTENT DEVELOPMENT EDITOR, DIGITAL MARKETING (2013-2017)
    CONTENT ACQUISITION AND SUPPLIER EDUCATION, DIGITAL MARKETING (2013)
    CONTENT MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, DIGITAL MARKETING (2010-2013)
    CREATIVE SERVICES SPECIALIST, DIGITAL MARKETING (2009-2010)
    CONTENT MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, DIGITAL MARKETING (2008-2009)
    Variety of content management and copywriting roles at (big company).

    1. former recruiter*

      I’m not super familiar with the these roles myself, but did your duties and responsibilities differ greatly between those 5 roles? I would put highlights under each or something to the effect of “all duties/responsibilities of previous role.” For the last 3 roles, if they were similiar enough, I’d use just the Content Mgmt Specialist title for that time period of 2008-2013 (also consider this was 11 years ago!).

      If the editor role was a promotion, I would include “promoted to editor role” and list out the greater responsibilities you took on.

      1. 8yellowbellies*

        It looks good, but it is hard to read for content. I would leave off the months and only list years, if you want to include years. I had a similar situation (post secondary instructor in a past life) and labeled my heading as ‘prior relevant experience’. I listed the company and listed the time as > 10 years. I only included measurable highlights as a principal instructor. You could list Digital Marketing and indent highlights of your time without giving a title for each role. Just an opinion. Good luck!

      2. ThatGirl*

        There were some shifts in responsibilities, but no promotions. I was shuffled around between teams for 5 years, then hired on full time in the editor role.

        And yeah, I know the job ended almost 6 years ago, which is why it’s lower on my resume and just has a bunch of titles as opposed to any significant accomplishments :)

    2. JellyBean*

      I have a similar situation and that’s more or less how I handle it, although without the all caps.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, that’s just how the titles are formatted, although I can understand the all caps being a lot :)

        1. Cj*

          the all caps thing was the first thing I noticed too. and not because it’s considered going on the internet, it’s just a lot. if you actually do want to highlight something, I would go with bold, not caps.

          1. ThatGirl*

            It’s the headers on the resume template I used – there are different sizes/bolding/etc to make things look more visually separate. It does look weird and aggressive in all-caps Times New Roman with no formatting, I realize that. And the list of everything in a row in all-caps also looked weird, which is why I wanted to change it. But it does not look nearly so strange when it’s a header, a smaller header, and a lot more standard-format text under it.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I would leave off all of the fussy details about the years that the job titles that changed. Give the overall start/end dates. Use your final job title. Then your first bullet underneath could say something like “also served as [insert selection of job titles here]”
      Since they’re all so similar, and all in digital marketing, I might just use the first bit in the summary, dropping the repetitive “digital marketing” language.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I think I’m going to do something like this – they were all similar (in fact two were functionally identical, I got moved from one team to another and then back to the first under a different SME) and in the same department, so the details aren’t as important anymore.

        1. Tio*

          Yeah, I say the details on things like that are for interview time, if at all. If you’re doing two functionally similar jobs with slightly different titles, the titles don’t matter to me. I would focus on calling out specifically the times you switched to higher roles with more/different responsibilities when describing your history with that company in an interview.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I think this is good advice, especially because it’s in the “additional experience” section. If the job were part of “[relevant field] experience,” it might be more worthwhile to show the progression in titles/duties. But in this case:

        COMPANY NAME, TOWN, STATE
        CONTENT DEVELOPMENT EDITOR, DIGITAL MARKETING (May 2008–March 2017)
        * Also served as Content Acquisition and Supplier Education, Content Management Specialist, etc., in the Digital Marketing department
        * Accomplishment
        * Accomplishment

        as Aspiring Chicken Lady suggests will free up more space for highlighting your accomplishments on your resume.

      3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Side note, I would at least keep the titles and years in a super-resume of record, so you can refer to it if you need to fill put info for background checks. Former employer’s records probably will have the various title changes in their records and you want that to line up.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Thanks – I do have a master list, though I’m not sure what the company’s records would reflect beyond “brought on as contractor,” “hired full time” and “laid off in a RIF”.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      I would indent the list of titles, and indicate which ones were not as an employee, e.g. put “contractor” in parentheses where appropriate, so the dates of employment at the company match up if someone calls to confirm your employment. (And I assume you will not be using all-caps on the resume, that that was just to distinguish it from your question.)

      1. ThatGirl*

        They are currently in all caps on the resume, but it looks WAY less obnoxious when it’s just one title above a longer job description/accomplishments. I know it’s a lot for one block of text like that, which is another reason I’m trying to figure out how to reformat it.

        I’ve had three other roles since leaving that company, so it’s not super important to list all the details, I just want to portray my time there accurately. Thanks :)

        1. Policy Wonk*

          How it looks is everything, so defer to you on the all caps, but I don’t think it works for a long list like the one you have. Good luck!

    5. Distractinator*

      Was it contract 2008-2013 and fulltime after 2013? I’d want to make that distinction clearer, it’s more important than the distinction between job titles, unless there were noticeable changes in responsibilities when your title changed. As-is, there’s not an obvious promotion path in those job titles, and sounds like you’re not getting into any kind of detail on what the role responsibilities were, so the only reason to list all the titles is so that if they call HR to say “is this true” HR doesn’t say anything too different from your list.

      I’d consider clumping all contract years into “SPECIALIST (contract) – Content Management, Creative Services”. Even if the other two (fulltime?) roles don’t clump, that specialist to education to editor sounds more like a promotion path

      1. ThatGirl*

        Correct, I was hired on FTE in 2013, so that’s definitely something to consider.

        There were some changes in responsibilities, but no promotion to speak of; that whole job is no longer nearly as relevant except to say “I was at one company for 9 years”.

    6. TX_Trucker*

      I don’t know anything about your industry. In mine, it’s common to list older positions at the same company as: Various Teapot positions at XYZ company (years). Or 5 Teapot positions of increasing responsibility at XYZ company (years). Unless these job titles are specifically meaningful for your current job search, I would save the resume space to focus on your recent activities.

    7. Caramel & Cheddar*

      This is exactly how Alison told me to do it when I asked her about it about a decade ago, but I provided details on only the most recent role, I think.

    8. anon_s*

      Can you have it as “CONTENT MANAGER” or your most latest title and then have a note/point that says you’ve been promoted about five times or progressed to increasingly higher responsibilities?

  9. Hamster*

    Hello and happy new year!

    Question/discussion – What’s something you did at a job that went against company policy/rules/norms that you don’t regret? 

    For me, it was a situation where our client’s former employee was having issues collecting Unemployment. We had done everything correctly but the DOL was giving them a hard time and in turn that former employee was giving us a hard time. I spent a significant amount of time helping them. taking phone calls and emails back and forth and putting together documentation. This was all non-billable time, which was obv discouraged. It’s the one thing I have zero regrets about.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Oooh, this sounds like a fun thread! My story isn’t terribly wild but I’ll share it anyway because I’m proud of the fact that I actually stood up for myself. Forgive me, it’s kinda long. Anyway….

      My boss was out on maternity leave this summer so I was being supervised by her boss, who is a c-level exec and who we will call Jane. One day, an employee on another team, Meg, asked me if we could have a quick call to talk about a project she was working on and ask me questions about the system I work with to see how we can integrate the two systems. (This will be a big deal in the future but for now, she just needed to know a few little details.) Meg and I scheduled the call for the next afternoon. Meanwhile, I had a meeting with Jane and an outside consultant who helps us with our system, and during the meeting I mentioned to the consultant that we had this project on our radar for the future and that I was meeting with Meg the next day. Jane said, and I quote, “No you’re not.” Which totally took me aback. “Um, yes I am?” “No, they’re not at that stage yet, they’re not ready for you, you don’t have time to meet with Meg.” As if Jane, who is not at all involved with Meg’s team or their project, would have any idea what stage they were at nor if they were ready to meet with me (and honestly, why wouldn’t we be ready to have a meeting that is just *literally* them asking me a couple of questions???). I suppose it’s possible that Jane misunderstood and thought that Meg wanted to meet with me to start getting the two systems integrated, but if that’s what she thought then she obviously hadn’t been paying any attention to what I’d been saying nor Meg’s project updates in our monthly staff meetings. (Both are possible b/c Jane isn’t great at listening but it’s a wild misunderstanding b/c everyone knows that the project isn’t going to be finished for many more months and integration is pretty much the last step.)

      After our consultant meeting, Jane immediately proceeded to call Meg and tell her to cancel our meeting. ???????

      I then messaged Meg and said, hey, I’m a bit miffed that Jane canceled our meeting for us but I’m still available for the meeting and if you want we can just “have a call” and not an official meeting, what do you say?

      So Meg and I met for, and I’m not kidding, about 20 minutes. We each asked and answered a few questions and I also said that I was really confused about Jane’s behavior/attitude and wondered if maybe Meg’s boss, Fergus, would be able to help me out because while I was perfectly fine meeting covertly this time, I didn’t want to have to keep pretending that I wasn’t helping out the other team when I really was. And also it was STUPID for me to not help the team; I’m still completely mystified as to why Jane thought I shouldn’t help them.

      I then asked Fergus if he had a few minutes to talk and when we met I told him that I was confused about Project X and whether or not I was supposed to be helping Meg with it or not. (Note: I really wasn’t confused about it and I’m pretty sure Fergus also knew I wasn’t really confused, but I was trying to be diplomatic.) So he said, “Absolutely you should be involved with Project X and I’ll tell Jane at our next meeting that you should be, don’t worry.” So he did and then sent a very short confirmation email after the meeting reiterating what he’d told me and her. And yay!, now I can meet with Meg any time she needs me to and I don’t have to worry about Jane.

      Jane was due to retire at the end of 2023 but has stuck around b/c her replacement doesn’t start until next week, sigh. At least my boss is back from leave and I barely have to deal with Jane these days and I cannot wait until she’s gone for good. I hope her replacement is way better than she is, almost no one here can stand her.

      Oh, and I absolutely definitely have plenty of time to meet with Meg, my time is not at a premium and I generally complete my tasks much quicker than anyone here thinks I do, so I actually have a lot of down time. And bonus immediate update: I have now met with Meg a grand total of…….two whole times re: Project X. So, yeah, it is suuuuuch a huge time suck, lemme tell ya….

    2. Elsewise*

      When I was a first-time manager, I had an employee make a mistake and a client complained about it. Most of the complaint was about her attitude. My boss told me about the complaint and told me to talk to her, so I did. I phrased it as a verbal warning, which was the first step in progressive discipline according to the company’s internal rules. For some context, my predecessor had been famously arbitrary in his management style and different team members were treated very differently based on how well he liked them, so there was a lot of anxiety on the team. One of the things I did when I took over was be very clear about the progressive discipline steps (verbal, written, second written, termination) and let them know that they should never be surprised about a disciplinary step, because they would always know what came before that. The company had specific parameters for when you could skip a step, so I shared those too.

      Anyway, a few weeks later, my boss came back and said that it would need to be a written warning. I pointed out that 1) this didn’t meet company rules for skipping a step and 2) I’d already given a verbal warning. She said it didn’t matter, just write the written warning as if the verbal had been for a separate incident, submit it to HR (required by policy) and explain to the employee that on reflection, what she did was so severe that she got two warnings for it instead of one.

      That didn’t sit right with me, in part because what she did wasn’t actually that severe, in my opinion. It was bad, but I’d seen people do worse and not get any warnings at all. So I wrote the warning, included that she’d been previously warned for this same incident, and sent it to HR. They refused to approve it on the grounds that she’d already received a warning. My boss was furious but couldn’t do anything, and not long after the employee got a different job. Not long after, my position was eliminated to create a separate role for a management favorite, and I was laid off. No regrets.

    3. Engineer*

      I worked at Sbux in college in the early 2010s. Back then, only a few stores in a few states would send leftover packaged food to shelters and whatnot, and baked or refrigerated food never – so some days, we might end up with a lot of extra, technically past sell-by food. It was closing shift’s (my shift) job to toss the food. Whenever I worked, I made sure everyone else (usually a couple other college kids) on closing got a chance to take home food, and then I gathered whatever was left and would take it to the homeless camp near my apartment. I absolutely could have been fired for doing that, but the store manager never worked closing and no one else was gonna tell.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        This is so wonderful of you. I worked at Au Bon Pain in college and it pained me (yeah, pun intended) how much food we dumped every day at closing. I was not as nice as you though, because I didn’t try to give it away to people who really needed it (I was a wimpy little teenager who didn’t like to rock the boat). I hope attitudes at most of these places have changed since then; throwing away food is so awful when someone nearby is going hungry.

      2. epizeugma*

        I was a closer at the Siren and was always grateful to shift leads like you who didn’t just toss perfectly good food!

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I was working for a print/mail shop at the time.

      I went over three levels of Management’s heads straight to the CEO/President when I was assigned an order for a client who was operating a Ponzi scheme. We jokingly referred to it as the “Madoff Account” on previous orders, but that was the reorder where it went from a hunch/suspicion to being literally spelled out in monochrome.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I had to fill spots in his text with variable data. In order to do so, I actually had to read his copy; it wasn’t just slap an address on it and fire up the printers. In doing so, I kept reading references to ideas like “new blood renews the old” and “developing your followers who will support you.” In the final order, though, it was outright “Send me $10 and these other two people $10, then send out this letter telling others to send me $10, you $10, and someone else $10” and there could be no denying it after that.

          It was the last order we accepted from that client.

    5. Super Arcade Kitten*

      Not sure if this counts but: I worked at Sears in college and during one Christmas I remember this sweet old lady came in on Black Friday to buy a NFL team puffy jacket for her grandson. She said she had been saving up because it was the ONLY thing he wanted and was so excited to see that we had them 50% off so she could afford it. Well unfortunately we did not have the right size and being in a small town there was no other store I could check. So I gave her my flier and told her to go down the mall to a competitors store and see if they had it. If they did, I told her to ask for price matching (which back in the 90s was a thing I dont know about today). I also gave her my store phone number and told her she could have that store call me to confirm the price. Luckily the other store did have one in the right size but they were very reluctant to price match even with the ad as proof. So I asked to speak to the lady and told her to ask for a manager who did in fact after two more calls match the price and thanked me for her business. My manager heard all of this and was pissed I hadn’t tried to get the lady to buy a different jacket in our store (more expensive and not what she wanted and wrong team) and wrote me up. I have zero regrets as I hoped this kid had a great Christmas with his grandma buying him his wish.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        Please tell me it was a Dallas Cowboys Starter jacket. (Spoiler: I had one in the ’90s too!)

        That is so sweet. Thank you for being a good human! :)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Man, it’s like your manager never even heard of Miracle on 34th Street! That was awesome of you.

      3. But what to call me?*

        All else aside, your manager thought you could convince her to buy a jacket that was for the wrong team? Did this manager think people just pick their sports clothes at random?

    6. Quantum Possum*

      A lot of my job involves enforcing policy and legal compliance, so basically every day someone is yelling at me about how “it’s always been done this way” and “but the General said so” and “go ahead and sign off that this completely unsafe thing is actually safe because otherwise we will miss our unrealistically optimistic schedule.”

      Now, I’ve regretted a few instances of how I handled myself in these situations! But I’ve never regretted digging in and pushing back.

      Organizations often suffer from “normalized deviance” – by which I mean they’ve accepted things that are out of tolerance just because so far there haven’t been big consequences. This happened to NASA leading up to the Challenger disaster. It’s hard to readjust norms in these situations.

      1. TX lizard*

        Yep. And the culture of normalized deviance doesn’t start with the critical stuff. It starts with the “pointless bureaucracy, really not that big of a deal” stuff. On the flip side I feel like that’s also why it’s important to make things simple and easy to comply with wherever possible.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          Great points!

          You are 100% right that it starts small.

          I try to focus on the intent of the policy/law. There’s always some grey space in there. Once all parties are clear on the intent, it opens up constructive negotiation on the “letter of the law.”

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        There was a story in today’s paper about how Boeing is trying to get the FAA to just okay a system that pilots were vehemently protesting as unsafe. It’s an endemic problem in so many big companies.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          I can’t think for too long about Boeing without feeling white-hot rage, so I’ll just quickly recommend the Netflix documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing and then go look at cat videos.

    7. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I am very much a rule follower, even when I don’t like a rule but technically this was against company norms…
      Years ago, where paper was very much used in the office, we had a color-coded office file folder system to designate importance (Red=ASAP, Yellow=Important but not urgent, Manilla=Standard job, no urgency, etc.). I worked in a department that received office files from the Customer Service Reps, did my part, returned the file to the CS Reps. The same file could be returned for tweaks or revisions; average revision per file was around 2. Revisions were typically customer directed, but occasionally it was because the CS Rep was unclear in their initial request.

      There were about 7 CS Reps to my 1 person department. There was nothing critical or life-threatening with the work. Average turn around for a file was less than one day; and it was common for a CS Rep to leave a returned file in their inbox until the next morning even if returned in the morning the day before. Anyway, there was one CS Rep who put 80% of their work in Red folders, and on top of that their average revision count per file was 8-9 because they constantly “forgot” to tell me about X or that Y was changed to Z.

      My minor rebellion was to completely disregard the color coding file system for this one CS Rep. It did not go unnoticed by the CS Rep who complained to my manager that I was “ignoring their files” and causing delays.

      But the kicker was, my turn around time of 1 day was 3 days faster than the person previously in my position and the CS Rep couldn’t justify why they needed to use so many red folders nor why they had so many more revisions than the other CS Reps. So after the complaint, they had more scrutiny from the higher ups and I was basically told “you’re fine, continue doing what you’re doing.”

    8. Justin*

      I used to have to give entrace exams that were really biased when I was running an English program, but it was still up to me what class the students were placed in so I placed them more accurately than the kind of racist tests would have suggested.

      1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

        Good for you, Justin. <3
        We had to take written exams to get raises at one job, and our dishwashers mostly couldn't read very well and had worked years without a raise, so I snuck into the office and read the questions out to them while they took the test.

          1. Generic Username*

            I’ll defend training manuals and written tests for new dishwashers. My first job as a high schooler was a dishwasher at a national steakhouse chain. Had pre-training and post-training exams related to safely using a Hobart commercial dishwasher along with things like the double cleaning procedure for silverware, kitchen sanitizing, etc. That being said, exams to get raises? That’s not about safety or cleanliness – that’s about keeping wages down.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I agree. I’ve got no problem with training or tests in and of themselves, especially with equipment that may be dangerous if mishandled or costly to repair–but this sounds like it was deliberately being used to exclude people from raises or promotions, based on reading ability in a certain language, which is NOT the same thing in the least.

    9. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      I refused to upsell more expensive versions of things to customers at one of my early jobs. It might seem silly but I couldn’t sleep at night if I did things like that to get money out of people.

      I think the best one, though, was when an openly racist manager told me not to speak Spanish to a customer who was clearly struggling in English, because “she’ll be embarrassed that everyone will know she can’t speak English.” I just kept doing it so that our customer could tell us what she needed.

    10. OrdinaryJoe*

      Under the guise of complying with labor laws, for salary non-exempt workers who worked/travelled on weekends … they paid half the salary hourly wage and gave the other half in comp time. So, if you worked all day Saturday, you might get paid $50 (5x$10) and earned 5 hrs of comp time. I thought that was wrong because as an exempt worker, I received a full day comp. I approved all my employees who had to travel and work a weekend to put down whatever they worked and then off the books gave them the extra 3 hrs of comp to make a full day. It was only 4-5 times a year so it was easy to swing.

      In my opinion, you give up a whole weekend day, you deserve a whole day as payment. The extra money just made up for the hours OVER the 8 hrs they were forced to work.

    11. Cedrus Libani*

      Mostly IT shenanigans. I once had an over-zealous IT department that was trying to push the then-brand-new Windows 10. I get it, but updating is a dangerous game when you’re dealing with old, temperamental research equipment. Nobody wanted to let them touch our precious microscope. So, we found another computer, put it next to the microscope, and let IT update that one. (The real computer was hidden in a cabinet.)

      Shortly thereafter, we got a panicked email from our service engineer. There was a second microscope of the same vintage, and its caretakers hadn’t thought to protect it. When IT upgraded that computer…magic smoke was released, and they had a $500K paperweight.

      Never mess with a working piece of research equipment. Seriously. It offends the science gremlins, and they will have their revenge.

      1. Skippy*

        I worked in a couple of places that wouldn’t let you take any PTO in the first six months of employment and I have both taken and granted PTO off the books.

    12. Fierce Jindo*

      Someone tried to retaliate against me for standing up to sexual harassment. But he misjudged the power dynamics and I gauged (accurately) that he couldn’t really harm me. But I also gauged (I believe also accurately) that trying to lodge a formal complaint or otherwise bring in help actually would harm me; I was on my own.

      From that point forward, I never said a friendly word to him. I chatted warmly with everyone else in a group, but never him. I did it skillfully and I don’t think others really noticed, but he sure as hell did and became incredibly uncomfortable around me. And I just got — and acted — more and more confident and happy in his presence as he became more miserable.

      I kept this up until he retired a few years later. No regrets; plenty of pride.

    13. Pocket Mouse*

      I hired someone who I happened to know had a very specific and uncommon gender identity. HR gave me (why me??) a form to fill out about the selected candidate’s demographics.

      The question for gender was open text.

      I wasn’t about to out this person (they’re super out in some settings, but just in case they felt this purpose was different) OR fill in something incorrect, so you bet I sat down with them, explained that for some reason the HR asks the hiring manager to fill this form out, for some reason the gender field was open text, and I didn’t know how HR uses gender data but I’d back them up 100% on whatever they chose to put on that form. (I had them fill out all the demographic questions, just highlighted that one in particular.) Zero regrets.

    14. Coyote River*

      Fraternization, back when I was in the military. Yes, I got into terrible trouble, but it was also how I met my wife.

    15. learnedthehardway*

      I was hired once upon a time to specifically circumvent company policies. Finance was rabid about having client projects signed for before anyone was hired for them, and managed to make it a company policy that nobody could be hired unless confirmed project headcount required it. Meanwhile sales couldn’t sell projects to clients unless they could prove that the people existed to deliver them – which meant they had to have people available before projects were confirmed.

      I was hired to do the balancing act of recruiting the pipeline so that we could hire people far enough ahead of time to demonstrate that the company could deliver on its sales commitments, but not so far ahead that Finance would get wind of it before the sales were confirmed. A certain amount of creativity was required.

      Can’t say I regretted any of it – both sides were being slightly ridiculous. Finance was hamstringing the company and Sales was going to bankrupt it, if not reigned in.

  10. Nicosloanica*

    I’m job searching and while I didn’t think there’d be a lot of good new job posts that would go up in November – I’ve certainly worked in offices where they prefer to hire in the new year because of all the vacation scheduling in the Thanksgiving-Jan 1 period – I was surprised not to see more new jobs posted this week in my field. I thought there might be a backlog. Do you think it will still happen, just further into January, or should I start to assume there’s not much hiring going on right now? Obviously I didn’t think they’d go up Jan 1, but I thought by the end of this week …

    1. Ranon*

      So many people still out this week, it’s been crickets in my office. Lots of schools still on break too. I’d give it a bit longer

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t see the new year jobs posted until late Feb or March. If the company was waiting for the budgets to be approved, or the departments were waiting for positions to be approved, then that whole process doesn’t get started until HR gets back from the holidays and catches up on outstanding work. By the end of January the HR team may start building the job descriptions, then they go back and forth for approval, and then the pay range approvals…and then finally the jobs get posted a month or so later.

    3. MsSolo (UK)*

      In my field, we had a big hiring push in Autumn to clear the decks ahead of the holiday season, with new starters split between November and January. We do anticipate more roles going up in the New Year, but it would be mid-January before most actually make it to advert, due to the admin involved (and the fact that no one wanted to start any of it in December!) and the fact that a lot of staff aren’t fully immersed in BAU until next week at the earlier.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      As of today, I’m still getting out of office messages from external partners.

      And my colleagues who are at work this work are generally catching up, recovering from travel-and-family-transferred illnesses, and generally getting back into the swing of things (myself definitely included).

      So, anecdotal support of your hypothesis that job postings will ramp up later in the month.

    5. jane's nemesis*

      Yeah I think it’s just too soon. Many HR departments move slow, people took the week off, etc. I expect to see more listings in my industry between next week and the end of January.

    6. Lenora Rose*

      75% of our office is still out this week. And HR is better staffed but nothing is going out yet. Even the exception, a rather important and HIRE ASAP job that was posted Dec 21, doesn’t close until next Tuesday. While many fields will be much more “back in business” this week than mine, I think it’s probably safe to say that as far as new postings specifically, things won’t really be up and running for another week or two at minimum.

    7. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Echoing all the sentiments about OOO, plus different companies have different fiscal year starts, and so annual budgets for hiring and such may not be on the calendar year, as expected. My company has a fiscal year starting 1st March, while a friend’s company does theirs 1st October. We are in a hiring freeze at the moment, which is typical for us ahead of a new fiscal year, but expect to have roles open up after 1st March. Good luck!

    8. amari*

      Also just to add, I don’t work in hiring but I was supposed to be back at work last week and instead was out sick all week with a post-holidays illness. A LOT of people are probably out sick right now with covid, flu, rsv, or just a nasty cold (me). I finally feel better today though so I’ll be back at it next week!

  11. DJ Abbott*

    Any advice on how to act friendly with a manager who wants to be liked and acts like she’s at a party?

    This manager started around 6 months ago. She’s extremely sociable and often entertains herself and others, making jokes and doing bits. She can easily spend an hour chatting with one of us, and about 20% of it is work related. She’s new, but she tries to figure things out herself instead of bringing them to the person who normally handles them.

    I liked her in spite of this until she started criticizing me. Three or four times in a few weeks, she brought up small things that no one else would notice, and criticized. The third time I pointed out what she was doing, and after that she stopped. I did try to do the things she asked me to do and they’re going pretty well.

    I used to try to help her understand what I was seeing on the front lines, but this week she said I’m always pushing back on her and if I don’t start cooperating, we will have a problem. This makes it clear she’s more interested in being liked and social than hearing when I’m telling her something important.

    To get along with her I’ll have to let her think we’re all friends, etc. I’m not good at faking, and not used to this. My previous manager and my boss at my old job respected what I had to say even if they didn’t agree. After growing up with abusive people who were in denial, I’ve spent my life learning to be real and straightforward.

    I’d appreciate any advice on how I can smile and act friendly when I’m not feeling it. Or any other advice on dealing with this type of manager.

    Thank you!

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh dear, it does sound like there’s a bit of a personality mis-match, at the very least. Unfortunately, since we can’t change our bosses, I think the best thing to do is try to change your attitude (and ideally be looking for a transfer to a new team or a new job?). Don’t analyze her sociability and determine her problem is trying too hard to be liked; just focus on delivering the results and changes she’s asked for and making sure your work is up to the standard she’s looking for. Focus everything on that right now, and not the psychology, would be my suggestion. Sorry, it stinks when you don’t gel with a new boss :(

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Back away from her. I’ve worked for people like this and I’ve found it pretty bad. She doesn’t want your input, and while that’s disheartening, keep things to yourself unless she asks. Let her be sociable but do not confide in her about anything.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same! I think she will only get worse. She’s already playing favorites and trying to be seen as the expert of all. Just a matter of time before she starts taking credit for all your work and blaming you for her own mistakes. Get out yesterday.

    3. English Rose*

      Is she new to managing people as well as to the role? It’s quite common for new managers to be too ingratiating and social.
      But I’m seeing some contradictions in what you write. When you say she’s given you feedback about pushing back and that means she’s more interested in being liked, that doesn’t quite seem to quite go together. If she is truly more interested in being liked, she wouldn’t give you any negative feedback.
      It’s interesting too that you say “I liked her in spite of this until she started criticizing me.”
      You say that your previous managers respected what you had to say. Is this perhaps about not feeling respected? If you could feel heard while still listening to what she has to say (“small things no one else would notice”) would that help?

      1. DJ Abbott*

        My understanding is she was a manager at her previous position. But as you say, she doesn’t seem like it.
        This is definitely about me feeling disrespected. For 12 years I’ve been respected by my bosses, and this is a change I have to navigate. I only just discerned this because she was working so hard at being social and friendly and I didn’t see what was underneath until now.
        I have PTSD from emotional and verbal abuse, and one of the things that happened was constant criticism. My father always found a reason to punish and make me feel bad about myself. When this manager started criticizing things I wouldn’t even notice in another person, on a regular basis, I was afraid she was starting a similar pattern.
        I don’t want to change jobs because this is a good job and I like the work and most of the people. I want to hang in as long as possible. If her boss notices how much time she spends socializing, maybe I can outlast her.

        1. English Rose*

          It’s horrible how family patterns have such a long-lasting effect, I’m sorry this has happened to you. As you say, perhaps you can outlast her. Rooting for you.

        2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I recently started TCTSY – Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga. It has you focus on how you feel in your body, uses really invitational and optional language (rather than saying what to do and how to do it and correcting your shapes) and says “choosing is more important than doing” – in other words, it’s more important to have the agency to make a choice about how you want to exist in your body than it is to do any particular thing.

          I did a literature review of this and other body-based interventions for my doctorate and found startlingly dramatic advantages over talk therapy for PTSD, even though TCTSY is not therapy.

          People who do TCTSY say they find they apply the principles of presence, choice, and effective action to the rest of their lives. I wonder if something like that would help you stay connected to who you are and the strength you do have?

          I came from an exceptionally toxic job and it really exacerbated my PTSD, and I so wish I had access to this back then. So, I’m sharing with you in case this is something you’d like to explore.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Thank you! :) I had not heard of this before. I had five years of EMDR therapy for my PTSD and it helped a lot. I’ll look into this!

        3. epizeugma*

          I wonder how little the “little things” are—if truly very little, maybe you could reframe them to yourself.

          Instead of “Ugh, manager is criticizing me for using staples instead of paper clips, she doesn’t respect my work” you might try reframing as “Manager just has a particular Thing About Paper Clip Usage; this is a quirk that I am easily able to accommodate, and her Thing about it is not reflective of the quality of my work otherwise.”

    4. Juicebox Hero*

      My own manager is somewhat… mercurial. She acts like my best girlfriend one day and reads me the riot act the next day for turning in a report that wasn’t photocopied double-sided so I’m wasting paper. Because I guess I should have thrown away the single-sided report and recopied it, using up more paper?

      I try to view her as a character in a sitcom. I might be amused or dismayed by her behavior, but I don’t put any more emotional effort into dealing with her than I would a character on TV. I also try to keep interactions with her brief and stricly business.

      I’ve also imagined David Attenborough narrating the scene. “Here we see the dreaded Managerica moodswingia attacking her natual pray, the hapless Administrativus assistica, for not mailing the checks that no one told her to mail.”

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Thanks, that’s a good way to look at it. She is a character on a sitcom. :D She would be entertaining!

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Once again, Juicebox delivers with excellent comment writing! Are you sure, Juicebox, that you’re not on a TV show? I need to commit to memory “Managerica moodswingia” for my ridic grandboss….

          1. Juicebox Hero*

            Thanks, SGL!

            I do hear the Twilight Zone theme in my head sometimes while at work. Local government is weird.

    5. My Boss Is Weird Too*

      I agree with the seeing her as a character advice. If you can figure out how to connect with her as a character, that could help too, even if it’s just some little thing you have in common to be part of a social conversation. My boss and I really didn’t get along for the first probably 8 months and he was super critical. He’s insecure and I think deep down knows most of us don’t respect him as much as we should. But I can talk to him about music from the 80s/90s. and once in awhile he’ll ask what I think about something work-related.
      Also, I think some bosses see themselves as *part of the team* to some degree and that’s why they want to be liked/ included. They don’t want that separation.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Thanks, I’ll look for something I can talk with her about. I do take opportunities when there’s an opening. I get the impression that feeling like this is a social environment with all friends is very important to her.
        She takes the social thing to an extreme I haven’t seen before. In my other workplaces it was staff who did things like this, and they were usually corrected by management. This manager can easily spend an hour chatting about non-work things, and she does this more than once a day. A staff person who spent that much time socializing would definitely be hearing about it.
        It’s also annoying when I have a question or something for her. I have to wait while she chats an hour with one person, and an hour with another, then she’s on the phone or in a meeting… and it could be a day or more before I get to bring her a quick, simple question. Which she will take 10 to 15 minutes to answer.

        1. But what to call me?*

          Is there something about the way she’s chatting or who she’s chatting with that means you can’t break in and ask your question? Often people who do a lot of social chatting at work assume that if someone needs them for something they’ll just go ahead and say so. Not that I’m very confident in doing that myself unless I know both people well, but it is a pretty normal thing to do.

          How that might look:
          Manager+fellow socializer: chatting chatting chatting chatting chatting
          You: approach with mildly warm demeanor, not excessively warm but definitely not looking annoyed about the chatting
          Manager+fellow socializer: still chatting chatting chatting chatting
          You:
          wait for very small stopping point, don’t interrupt in the middle of a sentence but any slight gap between sentences or whenever they glance over to acknowledge you’ve approached is fine
          You: “hey [Manager], can I ask you a quick question about…”

          That might be all it takes. If she’s extremely determined to chat rather than do her job then you might have to be more insistent or ask for a specific time to talk to her, but most people just need a little nudge to realize someone needs something from them.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Thanks for that! :) I feel like she would be annoyed at an interruption and probably wouldn’t admit she was annoyed. There have been times when I did walk into her office and look for an opening to interrupt and didn’t get one. Generally, I feel a little intimidated about interrupting unless it’s truly urgent, even if it’s all non-work chatting. I’d rather not do anything else to annoy her right now.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      Am I understanding you correctly in that you’re both raising issues with each other, but the issues she’s picking up on are non-issues which she’s using for the sake of nit picking and criticising you? Whereas the issues you’ve raised with her are more substantive and it would be helpful to her, as well as you? If so I’d probably go with the following: 1) If it’s advice that would help her look better, but you don’t need her do it for your workflow then I would let it go. Some people don’t want help! 2) If it’s something you need her to do for your workflow I would just say it really matter of factly, request and own that it’s for your benefit “It would really help out my end if you could do Y, instead of X thanks”. If she declined and continues to hold up your workflow, well, let your supervisor know you tried to address it with her. 3) When she’s criticising you, model the way you would like her to respond to your complaints: “Thanks for bringing it up, I’ll see what I can do”, if it’s really eye rolly you could try “Just so i can be sure to change the impact the workflow, can you tell me what the impact actually is?” Her being social is a total red herring. If she were high performing enough to have time to socialise you wouldn’t care. If she was productive enough to be getting stuff done, you wouldn’t care that she has social needs at work, so focus your efforts on the effect upon the work.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Thanks! The issues she brings to me do seem really nitpicky. For example, she once walked up behind and startled me, and then I got a 20 minute lecture on how I was snippy with her. If I had walked up behind and startled someone, I would not expect them to be warm and friendly. I don’t want to give other examples because they would be identifying.
        The issue that came up this week was about how a new process would affect the clients. I’ve been working with that process my entire time there, and I was trying to explain how it would affect the clients. It will also affect my work of course, but I’m mainly concerned about the clients and how it will be the opposite of helpful and supportive. So the way she handles this will affect how she’s perceived, but that’s not my main concern. I want to help the clients, and I don’t want our office to be perceived as unhelpful and unsupportive.
        Going forward I plan to simply say yes to her directions and do them to the best of my ability, and let management worry about consequences. I’ll document as much as possible just in case the other commenter is right that she might start trying to take credit for my work.

        1. But what to call me?*

          As far as being snippy, a 20 minute lecture is a lot, unless you were arguing with her and she decided she needed to convince you, but if you did actually respond in a way that could reasonably be described as snippy then she’s not wrong to tell you not to do that.

          Of course, I have no idea how ‘snippy’ your response actually was, but being snippy to coworkers because they walked up behind you is a reasonable thing for a manager to be concerned about. That’s not to say that your manager handled it well, but it might be worth considering if some of the things that feel like nitpicking might be legitimate problems that she’s just not doing a good job of addressing.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a person has been startled to be as warm and friendly as a person who’s not startled. I don’t think I was snippy, either. I asked what she needed and provided whatever it was, and she didn’t lecture me until the next morning. I think this manager gets uncomfortable if we’re not all acting like we’re friends at a party.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I think if you get another oddball situation like the snippiness lecture, I would probably go with warmly confused bemusement. As another commentator said, she’s making herself seem like a ridiculous character, and I would try to see it as too ridiculous to be seriously threatening: “Oh, I was started.” “Oh, really, did it seem snippy? Possibly being startled does seem that way”, “I had no idea it would affect you this much!”, “I will think about (whatever you said) of course (it’s too odd not to)”. Basically don’t work too hard to convince her out of her own headwork. That’s a full time job! And yeah, I agree with your decision to take a step back on helping her do better work; you can’t overhaul a hostile colleague without a management level of power and she’s got plenty of bad ideas to take herself down with, so just don’t prevent her from doing so.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Ah I forgot she was a manager. I’d still go with warm bemusement, but it’s be more internal for my own levity, than if it was a colleague.

    7. JSPA*

      unless your job description is to provide critique and feedback, that’s something you’re doing on your own time, while in the workplace.

      Many bosses will happen to find value in it. Others will grit their teeth and thank you, before ignoring the input. Some will straight out remind you that work is a hierarchy, and that THEY define YOUR job (not the other way around).

      If you want to work collaboratively, in a cooperative, those jobs do exist… but you can’t make every job work that way. Not even if your insights and information and understanding are stellar.

      1. But what to call me?*

        There are times when you have to push back because what the boss wants you to do is absolutely not going to work and has a good chance of being actively harmful (hi previous boss who only changed her mind at the insistence of multiple people outside our team that something had to be done before the interns’ stress-induced breakdowns turned into true mental health crises that might have lost them their provisional licenses, just as the people inside our team had warned her would happen), but it needs to be done judiciously if you want your concerns to be taken seriously (and accept that sometimes they won’t be even then, see previous boss).

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Yes, I was trying to make clear how the clients would respond to a process change that will make life more difficult for everyone, including them. I didn’t think of it as pushback until she said it, I was just trying to give input based on my experience working with clients.
          Now that she’s made it clear she doesn’t want my input it won’t happen again, and she can handle consequences on her own.

  12. The Other Sage*

    Does someone here have “return-to-work with a new employer” experience after being on long term sick leave because of a post acute viral sindrom?

    I got the fatigue variant but I’m doing so much better than I used to! My original plan was to start slowly and in the course of a feew weeks to increase my working time so my body can get used to work again.

    Hovewer my employer has let me know that they want to let me go, so I won’t be able to do that. Instead I’m working on a personal project + searching for a job to test my new limits.

    I’m sometimes terrified this won’t work, and that I end having more to do than I can manage. Has someone else gone through this who wants to share their experience?

    1. Quantum Possum*

      I’m so sorry, that’s tough to deal with. :( I’m glad you’re feeling better now!

      I don’t have personal experience, but I’ve worked with (and managed) people who came in new to the office after short- or long-term disability leave. Personally it doesn’t make a difference to me – I wouldn’t be able to tell if they hadn’t informed me. I check in quite a bit at first to make sure the employee is adjusting ok – I do this for any new employee, but for someone recovering from a long-term illness (or dealing with a chronic illness or disability), I especially want to make sure I’m not overwhelming them.

      I know it’s scary, and it’s true that sometimes things don’t work out. It sounds like you might want to work on establishing and enforcing boundaries, as well as studying organization and time-management skills, so that you don’t take on too much and burn yourself out.

      You’re resilient, and you’ll find your way. :) Best of luck!

      1. The Other Sage*

        Thank you very much. It is good to know from someone from the employer side that people who where long term ill still have a good chance to return to work.

        I definitely need to get better at enforcing boundaries, and to learn where they are at all! My organization and time-management skills could also be better, so thank you for the suggestion!

    2. Cj*

      I’m not sure you handled it when you accepted this position, but I think you need to make a plan with a new employer for starting slowly and increasing your working hours. it’s not something you can just spring on them after the starting job.

      if you did arrange this with them and it’s still not working out, well I guess this job is not the right fit for you at this time. I know that can be discouraging, but you need to continue to take care of your health. I hope you are in a financial situation that we allow you to do what you want to be able to.

    3. Seconds*

      Be really, really careful. With post-viral syndromes the body may not get used to working again as you ramp up, just as people with diabetes can’t ramp up their sugar intake and expect their bodies to adapt. And exerting ourselves too much causes decline.

      I’m speaking from unfortunate experience. You don’t want to decline to the point I did, I assure you.

      1. The Other Sage*

        That is exactly why I want to start slowly, and to begin only with part time. I’m doing slowly better with time and I have learned what helps and what doesn’t, so I am optimistic I will be able to work in a sustainable way.

    4. Inkhorn*

      Different post-viral issue – fatigue caused by drastic weight loss – but, yep, been there, done that.

      I dipped my toes in the water by volunteering before going after paid work. It was a low-stakes way to test out what my body could handle, it gave me something fresh to put on my CV, and it provided a measure of proof that I was indeed recovered enough to work.

      I used that experience to get casual paid work and went from there – now successfully working full-time.

      Not sure if time out of paid work is feasible for you, but if it is then in-person volunteering could be a way forwards.

      1. The Other Sage*

        Thank you for your idea. I could work part time, which gives me more flexibility on what I am able to do.

  13. my cat is prettier than me*

    When scheduling for a phone screen, would you rather get a call or an email? I called a few people but have now been sending emails, and I want to make sure I’m taking the right route.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Email to schedule, then the first screen is via phone (or I guess web platform, but honestly I miss the phone only screen).

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Email. I’ll answer my phone at work when I am job hunting but it is often overheard by my coworkers, emails a bit more discreet and easier to handle.

    3. Meg*

      Email, 100% of the time. That way, everything is in writing and I wont forget/misunderstand anything!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Also, unfortunately, with sooo many spam calls, phone is not as useful as it used to be (grrrr… first they ruined the mail, then email and phone, and now they’re coming for text!). Most people in my acquaintance let phone go to VM and then read the email version of the message anyway, so you’re probably not saving much time.

    4. Salsa Your Face*

      Email for scheduling. Always email. I don’t ever want to get a phone call that I’m not expecting. I probably won’t answer it anyway, and then we’ll be stuck playing phone tag. Email is better.

    5. UncleFrank*

      I prefer an email because then I can easily look at my calendar while responding. That’s what my office did for our most recent round of screening interviews, and it worked fine. But I think phone is still fine too if that’s working for you/your candidates.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Email, please! I like to have things in writing so I can refer to them later, and it’s also easier for me to provide availability if I’m not on the phone (which means a lot of pausing so I can look things up, it’s really awkward).

    7. Hlao-roo*

      Personally, I prefer an email. Email is asynchronous, so you can send an email that says “I’d like to schedule a phone screen. Please [send me your availability/select one of the following slots].” I respond when it’s a good time for me, you can confirm when you get my response, and then we can have the phone call at the scheduled time.

      A phone call can eliminate a bit of that back-and-forth if you happen to call at a good time for me (a “good time” is one in which I can both answer the phone and easily access my schedule). But it can also kick off a game of phone tag, which will be a lot more frustrating to both parties than an email exchange.

    8. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I always email up front.
      And then I give the number I’ll be calling from (or at least the area code) so they don’t instinctively see it as a spam call.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      email. It allows me to respond when my schedule permits. Phone calls may not come at convenient times, and almost no one I work with checks voice mails anymore.

      1. LCH*

        Also gives someone a chance to look at their calendar. Before I knew to quit answering unknown calls, I’d answer in the least opportune places and have to call back later anyway.

    10. amoeba*

      Email – I actually don’t have a problem with answering the phone, but I mean, during the hours where hiring managers typically work, I’m also at work and I don’t work from home. Now I have a private office and can close my door, so I can manage somehow, but it’s definitely stressful and I’m still scared people will overhear. No idea how I’d do it in an open office!

    11. Bast*

      I’d rather get an email initially. Particularly if you are calling during standard business hours, many of the people you are calling may already be at work and unable to answer an unexpected call.

    12. saskia*

      My boyfriend gets like 3+ spam calls a day. Imagine you’re the fourth unknown number calling someone that day. They are not going to answer, and now you’re in a game of phone tag. Email.

      1. Bast*

        Usually true, but if I am actively job hunting I am more likely to answer an unknown number. It is true that you don’t know as an interviewer if someone is actively applying or whether you just found them on LinkedIn or something and it’s more “not actively looking, but casually putting out feelers/will move for right opportunity” situation.

        1. But what to call me?*

          I would certainly intend to answer unknown numbers if I was job searching, but given that 95%+ of the calls I get from unknown numbers are spam, it’s become such a habit to ignore them that I could easily forget to answer anyway.

    13. Ashley*

      Email is easier to respond to and reference when my anxiety has me convinced I have written the details down incorrectly. If it will be a phone screen, including the phone number you’ll call from with the time conformation is super helpful (especially now with phone spam filters etc).

    14. Kay*

      My iphone send most unknown calls to voicemail since it seems like Apple deems everything spam these days. Being as I get more spam calls than real calls from numbers I don’t already know – it doesn’t make sense for me to go in and change these settings. I imagine you will at least have some candidates in this position as well.

      Aside from that – wouldn’t you rather talk to someone when they have the time to freely talk to you, with their calendar in front of them, and in a position to be able to take down the meeting time? Email is the way to go.

    15. CG*

      Email! Call to follow up a few days later only if you don’t get an email response.

      Especially if you’re contacting people during business hours, email lets them respond to you when they have a moment potential during their current-job workday, see a name in writing for their org contact, and have a record of what was scheduled.

    16. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Email, but with a caveat:

      If you don’t hear back after 72 hours, follow-up with a single phone call (leaving a voicemail), because of emails getting trapped in spam folders or mysteriously not reaching the candidate. That’s happened to me more than once.

      Also, send both an email with the date/time and a calendar invite. The latter also gets caught in spam absurdly often.

      1. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

        ^^ This. Email with a follow-up voicemail. You can even leave the voicemail right after you send the email, so they know to look for it.

    17. Random Bystander*

      Email for schedule (that way I can directly pin that to my calendar, instead of a whole separate step from a call).

    18. But what to call me?*

      Email! That way we don’t end up playing phone tag or just leaving each other voicemails that could more easily have been emails. It also leaves a written record so there’s no chance of accidentally writing down the wrong time. And it reduces the chance of having suspiciously job search-related conversations at work.

    19. learnedthehardway*

      I am finding overall that I use my phone less and less lately – people seem to want email or text to set up interviews, rather than a phone call.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Also, people are less likely to pick up these days – I’m putting that down to the sheer volume of telemarketing calls. Some people’s phones go directly to voicemail unless they have programmed to accept calls from specific phone numbers.

  14. Failure to Promote?*

    Hiring managers: how many promotions do you expect to see on a resume? I’m mid-career, but I’ve only been promoted twice, with all the rest of my career jumps happening because I left old jobs for new ones. One of those promotions was actually more like regaining a past level of success because I took a step back for a job that paid more (so I was coordinator, promoted to manager – then took a new job as senior coordinator that paid more than my old job, and was promoted from there to manager … again). Now I’m paranoid – everyone on this blog seems like such a rock start they must be getting promoted every year or something, and obviously for senior people to become senior (and hire people) they’ve probably had like 5-10 promotions in their career. Am I sending out a red flag?

    1. Dulcinea47*

      You’re showing progress in your career, it doesn’t matter if it’s via promotion or by finding a new job. Like, at all. You just need to show that you’ve been learning and advancing and it sounds like you’ve done that.

      1. I edit everything*

        Plus, terms like “senior coordinator” and “manager” are so vague, that moving from one to the other between organizations could mean anything!

    2. WellRed*

      I feel like a majority of readers work at large companies where there are more paths to promotion or team switches etc. I can’t move up unless my boss leaves and there really isn’t another department that I could move to without it being way out of my career track and a step down.

      1. Rainy*

        Yeah; I’ve pretty much topped out at my job unless someone above me leaves. I was promoted really quickly in the beginning but I’m now at a more senior level and there’s not many places for me to go unless I leave (which I will, eventually–I’m looking now but I have a pretty long list of must-haves).

    3. ThatGirl*

      Speaking for myself, I’ve never been “promoted” – only moved on to new roles, either in the same company or elsewhere. And yet, I still show growth in my career, because I’m learning new things, taking on new responsibilities, that kind of thing.

    4. Lunchtime Doubly So*

      When I review resumes, I don’t think about number of promotions at all. I look at the current job title and responsibilities to see how it relates to the job description. Then I look at other work history. I’m more interested in the bullets than how they’re grouped.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, that’s generally where I fall. Maybe I’m hiring for a role and one person got 6 promotions to get to that level because of the way their company works, and one person only got promoted 3 times – but they have the same job description and duties. In that case it doesn’t matter to me what your number of promotions was.

      2. Dulcinea47*

        I have been promoted, but thinking about it, you can’t even tell from my resume, I only list the last position I had. I do usually mention in interviews that I started at entry level.

    5. amoeba*

      Eh. I’m still a bit earlier career, but I don’t even put the one promotion I got so far on my resume or LinkedIn – it’s basically from “Specialist 1” to “Specialist 4” and just happens after a few years if you’ve done more or less well. My resume just has “Specialist” for the whole time because honestly, those numbers mean absolutely nothing outside the company. (Not sure yet what I’ll do if and when I get promoted to “Senior Specialist” – it’s still the same job, just with slightly more pay!)

      So, well, in my field, it’s just very normal to basically stay in the same role forever, with slightly increasing titles and salary, especially if you’re on the “Specialist/Expert/Individual Contributor” track. So I really wouldn’t worry about (lack of) promotions, especially as it appears that you have, indeed progressed throughout your career?

    6. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Unless it’s maybe common in certain careers, I’ve never paid attention to a person’s promotions. My previous job that I was at for almost 9 years, my manager was known for not promoting people. In the 9 years I worked on her team, she only promoted 1 person and that was because she was promoted to an executive role and given additional responsibilities and her manager told her she needed to promote someone on the team to manage the rest of the team, so she promoted the person with the most seniority (but not management skills) to the role. Meanwhile, other equivalent managers at that company would promote 2 or 3 people on their team every year. Some people would be 6 months to a year out of college and would be promoted to a senior role, which was frustrating for those of us on my team not getting those same titles, despite having many more years experience while doing similar work. This went on for 4 or 5 years after I started (I don’t know how many years prior, but apparently a long time) before HR put a stop to “fast promotions” and required for people to be a role for a certain time period and then meet certain other requirements of the position before getting promoted.

      I’ve worked for small companies that rarely promote, usually only when one of the owners likes someone and decides to give them a nice raise and a new title. Other places are large corporations that have career paths laid out and more opportunities for growth. To me, I look at peoples’ skills and how well they will fit the role, not how many times they’ve been promoted.

      Also, FYI, not everyone on this blog are rock stars getting promotions every year. You’re not seeing those of us not getting promotions because we’re not posting about it. People like to share and mention they’re promotion, which is a great thing and well deserved. But the rest of us aren’t writing posts “I’m so excited to share that thanks to Alison’s great advice, I’m in the same position, doing the same thing!!!”.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I have no number of promotions I expect to see on a resume. What I DO want to see is that a person has worked their way up to a level of responsibility that implies they have the experience necessary for the role. If you left Kangaroo University as a junior koala researcher to join Wombat University as a senior koala researcher, that’s no different to me than if you were promoted to senior koala researcher at Kangaroo. And if you were an assistant director of koala research at Kangaroo and then took a job with the same title at Wombat, but Wombat is bigger and more complex and you were managing a larger team with more responsibility…I’d consider that progress in your career even without a title change.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Look at it this way: some of your steps up have been with the same company. Some of them have been with a different company.

    9. I AM a Lawyer*

      I don’t really pay attention to the fact of a promotion. I just look at the job titles and duties.

    10. I should really pick a name*

      I’m approaching 20 years in the work force and I’ve only had one promotion.
      In most of the roles I’ve had, you just get better at it, there’s no change in title.
      And to be clear, I’m a high performer. I’ve gotten nice raises, just not promotions.

    11. Sled dog mama*

      I’m in a career with basically no promotions ever. You might go from being one of many to the leader or you might (as I have) work in a location where it’s just you. I have shown growth in other ways in my career (getting new certifications, giving presentations about my experience, etc.) but when you boil it down I do the same things day to day that I did 10 years ago when I was first out of school.

    12. Busy Middle Manager*

      Don’t care, I just need to see some sort of progress or learning. If I see someone was using SQL for six years at a job, for example, then I know they’re probably getting put in different situations often enough and learning, and that counts as the “progress”

      In contrast, some people have many “promotions” which are just new made up titles and not much different, maybe just sitting in more meetings. Not as impressive as actual skills as described above.

      just my opinion

  15. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    I need a blazer for an upcoming event- any suggestions for where to find a natural fabric, probably knit/sweatshirt blazer?

    1. Annika Hansen*

      J Crew Factory has a sweater blazer. If you have a bigger budget, MM LaFleur has one that is supposed to be fabulous.

      1. CG*

        +1 to the JCrew Factory Schoolboy Sweater Blazer! Flattering cut (with long-enough arms/torso for tall folks), washes well, and is so comfy.

    2. Betty*

      Quince has a 100% organic cotton one. I have a couple other items from them that are good quality.

      1. Hillary*

        thank you for sharing! they have exactly what I was looking for and couldn’t find yesterday.

    3. Ama*

      I pretty much only wear knit jersey blazers these days, I’ve found them in a wide range of price points. My current collection has one from H&M, one from Banana Republic, and a really nice one from Boden (it was definitely a touch more expensive but no one can even tell it’s knit jersey unless they actually touch it).

    4. Hillary*

      Nordstrom Rack is my go to for knit blazers, usually their essential Ponte blazer. I have two in different colors. I was just looking for these to wear to a conference – unfortunately I couldn’t find any that were both knit and natural fabrics at a reasonable price.

  16. DisneyChannelThis*

    I know you shouldn’t gift bosses presents, but what are acceptable ways to show appreciation for them?

    1. Sloanicota*

      A nice email or card with a heartfelt message about why you enjoy working for them. You an also bring in cookies or whatever for everyone but make sure the boss gets one.

      1. Policy Wonk*

        This. I have a file folder of messages like this that I have received over the years. On bad days I take them out and read them – it makes me feel like I am making a difference to someone. (Cookies never hurt, but depends on the boss, who may have dietary restrictions.)

    2. Ashley*

      I try to praise them to others especially their superior when appropriate.
      Also taking the time just to say thank you for X when they did something that really helped.

    3. 1-800-BrownCow*

      I wrote a thank you note to my boss one time and he was so extremely appreciative for it. He said that he was struggling with some personal things regarding his management role and my note couldn’t have come at a better time and it really helped lift his spirits. It was the most sincere thank you I had ever received and I think it probably was much better than any gift one could receive.

    4. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Words you really mean.

      I recently received a handmade card from a junior employee who had worked on some projects I was overseeing. They didn’t report directly to me but had been kind of part of my team for a few months. It was the perfect mix of specific gratitude and inside jokes to be really moving. It will stay with me!

      (Also I don’t recommend a handmade card for most people. It can very easily suggest a less professional, more parent or teacher and child dynamic.)

    5. Quantum Possum*

      Cards are great! I’ve never met anyone who didn’t appreciate a thoughtful card. I keep all of my cards from coworkers and employees. :)

    6. spcepickle*

      What everyone else says – a card or email. I too have saved all the cards I have gotten from my team. Does not have to be long or mushy – just be upfront about what they did you appreciate.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Use your words! Seriously, nothing warms my directorial heart than thoughtful words of appreciation from the people I manage. I absolutely adore my own manager: I feel like I’ve learned more from her than just about anyone else in my career. Recently, I banded together with her other direct and a few indirect reports to nominate her for a workplace award given at our annual winter celebration. She was chosen by the award committee to receive it, and she told us that when she read what had been said about her in the nomination as she was on her way home, she full on ugly-cried. I think she appreciated it. :)

  17. Help!*

    A few ago I left a job I loved when they moved and my commute tripled. My new job was in the same field but different industry. I was miserable. I stayed for 18 months and decided to leave for my mental health. I started a on at a family owned company. There was a bait and switch with the positon and a lot of nepotism. When I spoke to manager they agreed to fire me so I could. Get unemployment. I did not put job 3 on my resume but companies are asking about the gap in employment history (3-4 months). I have an interview with an amazing company on Monday. How do I explain that I’m not job hopper and have legitimate reasons for leaving. All other jobs I ever at for 3-10 years; I’m in my late 40s. Any suggestions?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Just say you had a health issue to deal with that was resolved. Or even that you were job searching and it’s taken awhile to find the right fit – a 4 month gap is nothing in job searching terms! You can leave the bad job part out :)

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Job hunting in my field would be several <1 year jobs. I think one 4month job isn't a problem, I'd keep it on and be prepared to explain it. Just be polite and professional (don't diss the bad company) – "the job duties described in the hiring process ended up not matching the role (be more specific here if you can) and it ended up not being a good fit for me. (then segway back to interviewing role), I'm really hoping to be working on XYZ type projects and think my skills in ABC would be an assest to this role"

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

      I think it’s odd that employers are asking about that for such a short time. Especially if it was since 2020. There are lots of people who have gaps of a few months on their resumes.

      You could say that you took a break from working or something generic. You shouldn’t have to give the details unless you are applying for a job where that is required (like some government jobs.)

    4. Someone*

      Isn’t that some form of fraud, claiming a termination to get government unemployment funds, but you actually initiated job switch?

      1. JSPA*

        Asking if someone prefers to resign or be fired isn’t that odd. This was an acknowledged mismatch; seems irrelevant who initiated the specific conversation.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Job 1: my commute tripled and it wasn’t sustainable for me, unfortunately.
      Job 2: I realized the industry wasn’t a good fit for me because X and Y, which is why I’m now looking at this industry instead.
      Job 2: the position was changed after I was hired, and the changes made the role a poor fit for me.

      I wouldn’t address it unless asked about it. Employers can see your whole history and see that you’ve had long tenures at other times. If they ask you about why the recent changes to that pattern, you can give the reasons above.

  18. Mallory*

    On December 29th, I had a loved one die of a specific, brutal illness. Before they died, they were incapacities and sometimes I needed to miss work to help them. I’m dealing with it as best I can, but for communication purposes, I did have to inform my manager to explain some absences.

    My manager is a person who often gets more emotional than is ideal, and uses her feelings to shut down feedback. She is a bad listener; everyone who she manages knows this. She has told be before that leadership means “hearing people out, then telling them why you, the leader, are right.” She also has boundary issues at times.

    The kicker is, my manager had the same family member (a parent) die of the same exact illness, on a similar timeline from diagnosis to death, about two years ago. And when I told her what had happened in my family, she started to cry. She has since welled up while talking to me a few more times.

    Now, I’ve been a mess if I’m honest with you, but at work, I really can’t think about it. I appreciate my manager’s supportive comments and her sincere emotional response, but I don’t want them. And I also don’t want every 1:1 to become about this. I don’t want her to assume I’m as impacted by this as she was (she told me candidly that she was pretty haunted by what was going on, all the time; I don’t begrudge her that, but I don’t want her to think that every work decision I make or every time I say something it’s “really” about my grief). And, selfishly, I really, really don’t want to manage her emotions about this. I’m barely managing my own, and my family’s.

    But this is delicate, and her emotions are sincere. For all my issues with her, I don’t doubt that her grief and empathy is genuine. And she is easily hurt, and will let that color what she does and how she manages.

    How, how, how do I make clear that I appreciate her kindness, but that I never would have told her about this if I could help it? How do I navigate her tears?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Can you send your manager an email? I think the email can both explain the absences and also request that your 1:1s are work focused. Adapt for your situation/writing style, but it could be something along the lines of:

      Hi Boss,

      Unfortunately, my [family member] passed away on Dec 29th. I’ve been out on [dates] [for bereavement/to deal with funeral arrangements/etc.]. I also plan to be off work on [any future dates].

      During this difficult time in my personal life, it will help me a lot if we keep our work meetings focused on work. I will of course keep you updated if/when I need to take any leave, and aside from that I would prefer if we stick to discussing [projects/tasks/roadblocks/development goals/etc.] in our 1:1s.

      Thank you,
      Mallory

      1. a manager, but not your manager*

        Honestly as a manager, this would be useful to me. When a report is dealing with something, I try to step carefully and feel it out, but it can be hard to tell if it’d be more helpful to talk about it or leave it at home, so being able to know exactly what someone wanted would make it much easier.

        1. That's Not How You Spell That*

          I second the email idea and think that in addition to that if she brings it up or gets upset, you can remind her in the same way every time “I am not comfortable talking or hearing about this at work” or “I need to keep work and my feelings and grief separate.”
          If she pushes those things, go to your boss’s boss or HR with this.

    2. sulky-anne*

      I would frame it as a request for her to help you out by making work a place where you can have a reprieve from thinking about your loss. This will help make it less about her and will give her somewhere to channel her helpful feelings.

    3. GythaOgden*

      I’m sorry for your loss. Independent of whatever else I say, know that every life lost is a tragedy to us all and I am so sorry that it was so recent.

      I’m in the position where my bereavement is four and a half years ago and really random things set me off, particularly because I work in healthcare and so the paraphernalia attached to my husband’s illness and death are still around. I recently heard that another older-but-not-elderly guy who I hadn’t seen since I was a child died of cancer, leaving yet another widow behind him (not for nothing is ‘widow’ female-default) and that set me off. Kind of in a frustrated ‘no more bombshells, please’ way, the way the string of celebrity deaths in 2016 was just the icing on the turd cake when my husband lost his dad that same year.

      I think it’s important for her to feel like she can step out for a moment and compose herself. Having that assurance from my superiors was useful as the underling of everyone else’s underlings, but I’m not sure what to say about your boss doing it. Grief is something that you live with a lot longer than people understand, and so I think — since you can’t change /her/ response — is maybe to handle it diplomatically, like you’d be sensitive to anyone else struggling in that way. It’s not emotional labour to be kind and understanding; it’s just that you can’t control her or tell her to stop doing something when something has triggered her. She definitely needs therapy, but that’s not your job.

      I think all you can do is try and coexist as much as possible. Sometimes I want recognition for my grief that others just aren’t equipped to provide; that’s life. I do have ongoing therapy sessions — they’re costly, but worth every penny. And sometimes my therapist gently pulls me up and reminds me that I’m the centre of my universe, but not the centre of other people’s, and I may have to carry some of the load at some point if I expect others to do the same for me. About six or seven months after my husband died, one of my colleagues, with whom I’d had a great relationship as a fellow crafter and we’d shown off our handiwork to each other, committed suicide. Her funeral was not only at the same place as my husband’s cremation, but also on the day things started to slide down into lockdown in early 2020. Tensions were running high; her family was angry at the way she had gone out and with themselves for not finding her sooner (because she was taken to hospital still clinging on but too far gone to be saved), I was scared and confused about being in-person during the pandemic and how I was going to get to and from work with less public transport available, as well as being in denial about the severity of it, we were in the place where I’d just spent the worst time of my life and I just sat there and cried and cried and cried and it wasn’t about my friend, devastated as I was to lose her — it was about my hubby and the pandemic and all the other little anxieties and frustrations that had built up. I’ve been to several funerals since then and the pain has healed, but people are allowed to be triggered long after the event and you don’t get a say in that grieving process.

      Since your loss is so fresh it probably needs to sink in for you as well. I’m sending all the love I can over the internet but know that I’ve been in both your place AND in your boss’s. There are grief support organisations all over the place and at least here in the UK with our hospice system people talk about it much more often, including making every effort to ensure the patient dies with dignity in as much comfort as can be provided and the loved ones have support after someone dies. It sucks to be in pain and have someone else triggered by that pain and thus feel like you have to carry them as well as yourself — but remember that ultimately your boss, warts and all, is a human being and give her a little bit of kindness in your own way, even if it’s just to acknowledge this is hard for her and she may need some space herself which she isn’t getting.

      Kindness and compassion go both ways. They can create a virtuous circle — for the old imperfectly healed grief, other funerals can be both angst-filled and a chance to share the love they received from others with them at their time of loss. For the fresh griever, it can seem like everyone else is happy and fulfilled and you’re lost and anyone expressing sadness or distress because they’ve been triggered is just leeching off your own, but the way that other widows, some who lost their husbands around the same age as me but had had another relationship or just a strong independent life for years afterwards rallied round and helped informally counsel me that life goes on for the bereaved even if the person that was quite literally their other half is now gone. I’m now the same age as hubby was when he died and my birthday back in October was a painful one. I normally want to celebrate it but it took my parents insisting we go out to lift my mood just to get through the evening.

      But your boss is not doing this at you, nor may she even expect you to soothe her. Just allow her to be who she is inside and take healing steps of your own in a different direction. I’m saying this with all the love I can muster but it is VERY hard not to think behaviour like this is deliberate or at least unconsciously targeted…but others have vulnerabilities and working together to acknowledge those issues is better in the long run than not facing the fact that grief is a universal part of human life. There’s just no way that resenting or being angry at your boss for this sort of thing is going to end well, so I’d encourage you to look for support elsewhere so that her own attitude to it can be solved in her own time and you don’t project things onto her which probably aren’t there at all in her reality.

      1. allathian*

        I’m sorry for your losses. That said, grief should flow out, not in, and I think it’s utterly out of line for the LW’s boss to make the LW’s grief about them, no matter what the reason for bringing it up at work is. The LW has the right to request, even demand, that they stick to strictly business in their 1:1s until further notice.

  19. DataScientist123*

    In academia and adjacent research centers is it normal to not have project managers? Coming from industry and it feels weird that there is no PM or similar level of management. Everyone’s kinda just doing their own thing. Is that normal? Or is this place just not well organized?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve been working in tech for 15 years and only recently started working with PMs. My current projects stretch across multiple departments and require a lot of scheduling. Before the projects were in smaller circles so there wasn’t a need to manage everyone.
      I think it also depends on the experience of the staff. If you have mostly senior level staff, then they all collectively have ownership in the projects. But more Junior staff need the direction from the PM to prioritize their workload.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      A PI (principal investigator) is, in theory, doing most of the things that a PM would do. Decide priorities, acquire resources, etc. A lot of PIs, however, are so focused on the science that they forget they need to do at least a modicum of managing the other people. Is there someone you work with who isn’t a PI, but has some seniority, that you can have a 1-1 on to ask “so how do we do X around here?” as the need arises.

      1. Nesprin*

        Lol yes. Theoretically PI’s are supposed to be project managers but lots of them are terrible at it. Frequently in more established labs there’s a lab manager or staff scientist who handles IRB paperwork, grant budget stuff etc- they do lots of PM style things, but in a junior prof’s lab, the PI does everything.

    3. Sherm*

      I would find it odd if a large center had zero project managers — some granting agencies require PMs, and some projects are so large and unwieldy that people realize that a PM is not optional — but yeah, budgets get stretched thin and people are wearing multiple hats, and they make do without a PM involved.

    4. ferrina*

      It’s normal not to have a Project Manager title, but there’s usually someone in the role. My experience with PIs is that they tend to be the figurehead/scientist, but most weren’t trying to run the day-to-day (a few were- it also depended on the PI’s other job responsibilities). Sometimes there were site managers or research assistants who would step into the PM role. Often it was a spoken thing (“This is Alison, my assistant- she’ll provide the template for the data you collect, and she’ll organize the data from all the sites”). Occasionally it was unspoken, and that was always annoying.

      Ask around from someone that has been there a bit longer. “Hey, do we had a standard practice for XYZ?” or “Who’s the best person to ask about recruitment?”

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        My friend works in a non-academic staff role in a university center. Her title is “research coordinator” and I think she’s basically a Project Manager.

        1. E*

          +1. But yeah academic research has way less accountability for meeting deadlines etc than other places I’ve worked incl messy nonprofits.

    5. Lost academic*

      I’ve found that most research groups treat postdocs as PMs but…. do not actually train them for that. it’s a feudal arrangement usually for a better comparison.

      1. But what to call me?*

        Untrained postdocs being put in charge of managing things that they aren’t prepared to manage (especially managing people) would explain a lot about my grad school experience in my previous field, including several of the reasons why it’s my previous field.

        It’s amazing how much better grad school works when your research is supervised by someone who actually knows how to supervise.

    6. amoeba*

      In my part of academia (science), very much, yes. The PI or a senior scientist would do some of it, other parts are just… not a thing. (Also in part not because it’s so horrible, but because our projects tend to be very individual and rarely involve more than two or three people – and there’s almost always one person (PhD student/postdoc) who’s the main researcher on it and will lead the day to day work.

      1. Manders*

        I second this. My boss is the head of a Center at an academic institution, and there is nobody under him that is a PM. I’m not even close as his lab manager. It really depends on the PI and the work.

    7. Janne*

      I’m working in an academic hospital and yes, we don’t have project managers. We don’t have anyone with actual management knowledge at all – the department is led by a professor and our team is led by a research technician who was promoted up into incompetence ;)

      For the last 2 years we’ve been working on quite a big project with stakeholders over the whole country, a lot of money needed (but also earned/saved later on, hopefully) and a lot of people collaborating. A junior colleague (only 2 months at the job when the project started) is supposed to manage the project, because he has a PhD so he’s able to. I understand that having a PhD proves that you can complete a project, but a PhD is a lot of work on your own while our project has so many people involved! So indeed he has been offending and confusing people all around and it’s been a mess. We’re nearing a lot of deadlines but everything I do gets returned because within a day he can change his mind about what he needs me to do and how. I can’t blame him for all of it, because the stakeholders are pulling on him, but it’s a mess!

    8. AG*

      Never heard of a PM in academia. The PI does the PMing. So, academia in general is not well organized. :D

    9. PurpleSlime*

      The academic lab I work in doesn’t have a project manager and is extremely disorganized. Before I took control of managing the projects for my own sanity, the PI would agree to projects but fail to document the requests/share the info with the team. The lab staff would be completely unaware of the project and we’d all get angry emails from clients a few months to even a year down the line after nothing being done.

  20. Tentatively Hope(less?)*

    I’ve had 5 fed govt referrals, two interviews, one interview coming up. One interview, I was seemingly ghosted after. I always prepare, and have a delicate balance of that plus being open and approachable and not robotic, I’ve always done mock practice interviews, I’ve always been told I interview well. Is it just a numbers thing? I always get to 2nd-best and somehow I just can’t seem to be anyone’s top pick. I wonder–who is this elusive top pick they keep choosing, and why am I not it? And I’ve been told people look for someone who ‘fits’ their culture, but what if I have a different ethnicity/background, and the people who’ve typically been chosen have been overwhelmingly Caucasian?

    1. Dulcinea47*

      Maybe it’s the dreaded Internal Candidate. I kind of went through the same thing where I’d get interviews for jobs I wanted, have a great interview IMO, but not get the job. In two of three cases I found that an internal candidate got the job. It’s just really difficult to convince people that you will be better at the job than the person they’re already familiar with. There’s not always an internal candidate tho.

      If their culture is something other than racism, culture fit shouldn’t have a ton to do with ethnicity, but it’s hard to tell peoples motivations in this area.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        If their culture is something other than racism, culture fit shouldn’t have a ton to do with ethnicity

        It would be insanely illegal for a federal employer to judge candidates based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

        I’ve served on many, many hiring panels. This is just not a thing that happens during the hiring process.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Government jobs are pretty brutal to get your foot in the door, more so than other fields – I wouldn’t think your interview persona is the issue. Hopefully others with more Fed experience will weigh in but that’s been the experience of most of my extremely well-qualified friends.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      Are you sure you’ve been ghosted? IME fed takes forever to get back to you, but they almost never actually ghost you. There should be HR phone numbers associated with the jobs you’ve applied for; unlike private companies, fed HR doesn’t mind if you call and ask them about the status of your application. They sometimes will even tell you why your application was rejected if you ask.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Fed here. First, on the ghosting, as the hiring manager I make a selection and send it to HR. They are supposed to notify candidates of disposition. Some of them don’t do so until the new hire actually starts, which can take literally months particularly if there is a security clearance involved. (I think there may be some that forget to do the notifications, but that is a different issue.)

      RE: getting in the door, as noted there is sometimes an internal candidate (or preferred candidate -e.g., a contractor who has direct experience and is more or less being converted to fed) who will end up being the top pick. Often it boils down to direct experience in the subject matter at hand rather than adjacent experience. But yes, it can be a numbers game. We get a ton of applicants for most positions.

      You are right that culture fit can be coded language for ethnic differences, but in my experience it is more a matter of style – some hiring managers are big on rules and regs and prefer former military with the yes ma’am, no sir attitude. Others are seeking to shake things up and look for more free-wheeling collaboration.

      Not knowing where you are in your career it is hard to give advice, but if you are a recent grad look to programs to bring new grads into government. If you served in the military or Peace Corps, look for programs that help to hire them.

      And keep at it – government work is very rewarding. Good luck to you.

    5. Quantum Possum*

      How long has it been since your interviews? It can take months to hear back regarding a federal job. And, if you applied via USAJobs or another official hiring application, then you will hear back even if you weren’t selected.

      Our hiring process has some flexibility but in general is required to follow strict rules. A hiring panel (consisting of a diverse group of subject matter experts, including at least one woman and one minority) evaluates all resumes that make it through the initial checkpoint. These resumes are scored according to detailed criteria provided by the hiring manager. We go through a long adjudication process to ensure we select the best candidates per the criteria. The top candidates receive interviews. The same hiring panel conducts and scores the interviews – again per defined criteria. There’s more adjudication, and the candidates are ranked.

      Often, the hiring panel doesn’t even know the names (much less the race, gender, etc.) of the applicants. HR usually strips that information from all documents. We also must invite the union to interviews, although in my experience they rarely attend. There are a lot of safeguards in place to ensure that icky hiring practices don’t happen.

      That being said…it’s extremely hard for private sector individuals to write a resume that will score high against savvy federal applicants. I could write a novella on it, but here are some basics.

      -Government resumes tend to be longer than normal-human resumes. The average is about 5 pages, which I think is a good maximum. Please do not be the person who sends in a 30-page resume (yes, I have had more than one of those).
      -They’re long because the hiring people want you to show results. We call this the “so what?” question – sure, you did the Thing, but what impact did it have? Don’t forget, we love metrics and numbers!
      -Make sure to mention all of your education and certifications. Be specific about what type of degree(s) you have. We assign points for education levels, and some positions assign extra points for specific degrees.
      -Definitely note if you have experience with public speaking, creating/giving briefings, liaising with other functional areas, etc. There are big points to be had in the “communication skills” arena.

      Good luck! :)

      1. Ruby Sunday*

        Wow, I work in government in the UK and we do not assign points for education level. I’m a bit shocked that you do.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          Not every federal job position does that, of course. Post-high school education isn’t an across-the-board requirement, by any means.

          But if you’re applying for a white-collar position above journeyman level, then your education is most likely going to get scored.

          For example, a subject matter expert job might assign the following weights to education: 1 point to bachelor’s in unrelated field, 2 points to bachelor’s in related field, 3 points to master’s in unrelated field, 4 points to master’s in related field.

            1. Quantum Possum*

              We also score that. It’s the bulk of our score. To do so, we evaluate both paid work and volunteer work.

            2. GythaOgden*

              I mean, if the job will need some kind of expertise that has qualifications/certifications attached to it, I don’t see the issue with that. A lot of the more senior people in my team are taking surveyor courses in order to move up and demonstrate qualifications in that area which the top management in a public healthcare estates and facilities organisation like to see. (I’m in the UK as well.) IIRC (I learned this 15 years ago now) you need a whole raft of electrical certificates simply in order to change a lightbulb in a property not your own.

              Also most UK employers want GCSEs in Maths and English to a C grade, which is the equivalent of a high school diploma in the US.

              It just seems common sense to look at that kind of thing — it may not be a deal-breaker, but it’s also not a huge gatekeeper for jobs that require direct evidence that you can do something skilfully and safely.

    6. spcepickle*

      I work (and hire) for state government.
      a) we are crazy slow – I will know who I am going to select at least a week and usually weeks before anyone else. Between HR and levels of permission I need to officially hire it takes a while.
      b) I interview everyone qualified – but I do normally go with the internal candidate – government work has it’s own needed knowledge set that you can’t learn unless you work in that branch of government. That said – I have hired first level managers from the outside maybe 20% of the time. The percentage drops the higher the level of position.
      c) Government jobs are a numbers games, unlike other places that you might start to look questionable if you apply too many times – most of the government applications are filtering down to many different groups (you can apply for the same job title through the on-line application process but unless you know how to read the secret code you do not know which of the 6 hiring managers in my geographic region are going to see your application). So keep applying!
      d) Consider applying to a lower level position. I am not sure about other branches right now – but if you are dedicated and qualified entry level to manager is less than a 3 year process right now. You just need to get your foot in the door to quickly move up.

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      Fed here! Without knowing what agency or role(s) you’ve been applying for, it’s hard to know if you have been ghosted, but I will share some general govt guidelines as well as specific info for my agency.

      Generally…..
      1) Govt hiring is extremely slow & rigid. Most federal agencies are severely understaffed which slows the ability of HR to review and process docs, complete preliminary background checks, verify transcripts (if required for the position), etc.
      2) Most federal apps (if not all) originate via USAjobs.com. Sometimes there are timelines (cutoffs) that are not listed in the posting, so a posting may be open for the next 6 months, but the first cutoff was last week. There is no way for you to know that, so you might apply thinking you’re a great fit and hear nothing.
      3) Govt systems are generally antiquated, multiple systems are in use, and they don’t always talk to each other. This just adds general confusion to the process and things fall through the cracks.
      4) You are going to have a harder time if you are applying for positions in which there are only 1 or 2 vacancies nationwide. In many of those cases, there is already an internal candidate in mind, but the posting is required to be open for a certain amount of time. Postings that are open for 10 days or less generally indicate a strong internal candidate.

      My agency:
      1) We have been attempting to hire for a position in which there are MANY vacancies nationwide and from interview date to start date is taking between 5 and 7 MONTHS! Yes, you read that correctly, MONTHS. Is that ridiculous? Yes! Has management elevated concerns & demanded answers? Absolutely! Is anything changing? You guess it, no!
      2) Within the agency, you have different divisions competing for the same applicants with little transparency. For example, you interviewed for a Llama Groomer, we loved you and submitted you as a selection in the applicant system, but didn’t make you an offer because we don’t do that. HR makes offers. However, now the Llama Bathing department swoops in, sees your resume and the interview notes & decides you could be a good fit. They reach out, interview you, and can offer you a start date sooner than the Grooming Dept (but still taking months) so now you have left for the Bathing Dept, the Grooming Dept has no clue for at least a month. How is this possible? The Grooming Dept does not know…it’s been elevated…but again, no real response. Will the Grooming Dept ever speak to you again? Probably not.
      3) As for the potential discrimination, I can only speak for my agency and the managers that I know, but I have never even heard a vague mention of any sort of discriminatory statements from management and it’s never been a factor in any selections that I’m aware of. To the contrary, the Govt is the most diverse place that I have ever worked at. I agree with Policy Wonk that “culture fit” likely has a lot to do with how management would like the selectee to operate (collaboration vs. more individual work, the personality type that may be better suited to interact with mgmt or collaboraters, etc.)
      4) I personally interviewed for my current position twice. The first time I was interviewed, I was ghosted, which left a sour taste in my mouth. I found out after I was hired that after selections had been made, funding for the postion had been cut so it just evaporated. No one ever called to tell me this. The manager who shared this information told me that mgmt had been informed that candidates would be notified via e-mail. Guess what…..never happened.

      If you really are interested in govt, I would encourage you to hang in there and don’t be discouraged by the lengthy process, assuming you are able to wait that long. Best of luck!

      1. Quantum Possum*

        I can only speak for my agency and the managers that I know, but I have never even heard a vague mention of any sort of discriminatory statements from management and it’s never been a factor in any selections that I’m aware of. To the contrary, the Govt is the most diverse place that I have ever worked at.

        This is my experience, too, 100%. One of the reasons why I love it so much. You want to see a bunch of women and minorities in leadership positions who are absolutely killing it? Come to work with me for a day, lol.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Same here in the NHS. We’re probably the country’s largest employer (and second globally at one point…to the Red Army) and our DEI stuff — both theoretical and practical — is second to none. Healthcare does appeal to many women in general (most of my science class at A-level in an all-girls school wanted to go into medicine or an adjacent profession; these are now women in mid-career and potential upper management in areas like commissioning that are generally staffed by senior local clinicians themselves), but additionally the large wave of Eastern European immigration beginning in 2004, which to start off with meant a lot of low-level Polish and Lithuanian cleaners and porters, and then a wave of Romanian and Bulgarian candidates in 2007, is now producing middle management candidates and higher level positions filled by minority candidates who have worked their way up. Nonwhite people are also well-established, particularly in clinical management, again because many have benefitted from educational expectations within their community and a diverse workforce as far back as the 1980s at the very least.

          It’s why I stuck around — the understanding of diversity in race and ethnicity has carried over to LGBTQ understanding and then to neurological diversity which affects my wellbeing as an employee. I also applied to the health inspectorate for an admin position as I was in the queue for my current job and the main personal statement, common on UK public sector hiring, was all about how my professional experience — admin skills etc — intersected with my understanding of diversity in the workplace. I was able to point to my own use of a minority language — Polish — in assisting people on reception and, having grown up in a diverse society in general, how healthcare needed to serve a wide range of different communities and the inspectorate was best placed to analyse what was already being done and how to do better. I was also able to point to times where, as a neurological minority, I had collaborated well with others in order to point out issues with messaging I found subpar and help formulate an improved approach.

          I got the interview invitation a few days after the email saying that my promotion had gone through and my existing contract had been altered to show my new hours and title, but I’m confident that this is being baked into new hiring within the bodies that oversee the way the health service runs. It doesn’t help OP with the US system, but it’s useful to help show UK applicants in OP’s situation that their identity is probably not an issue with their candidacy that it might be with less formal safeguarding in hiring.

  21. To invest in LinkedIn Premium?*

    I am finding it really taxing spending so much time on personalizing cover letters and resumes and submitting to application tracking systems where it feels.like it’s lost in an ocean of other resumes.

    Does anyone have LinkedIn Premium, how is it to aid in job searching….form those in HR, when you get messages from job searchers via LinkedIn form roles at your company….is that a turn off?

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      I had LinkedIn premium the last time I was job searching in 2020. It was nice to be able to see how many people had applied for roles I was interested in and how my application stacked up against others, but I think that mostly just served to relieve some of my anxiety; I don’t think it made me a more competitive applicant. My favorite way to apply for things without personalising every application is LinkedIn EasyApply – I got a lot of interviews from this without even including a cover letter, just a well-formatted resume. But I was in an industry that benefitted from the pandemic, and the market has changed the last three years, so YMMV

    2. ferrina*

      No advice on LinkedIn (never tried Premium), but I did find a good way to spend less time and still get great cover letters/resumes.

      1. Create a master resume and cover letter. This will be at least twice as long as an actual resume/CL. Your resume should list all your jobs and all your accomplishments. I also have the first bullet under each job highlight the general expectations of the job (a job description written as an accomplishment). Your CL should have an opening paragraph, closing paragraph, and 6-8 body paragraphs highlighting different skills you have. This can take several hours to write all this

      2. When you find a job posting you want to apply to, isolate the top 2-4 skills they want. For example: Customer Service, Project Management, Building New Platforms

      3. Edit your resume and take out any accomplishments that don’t directly support the top skills from the posting. Only leave the strongest accomplishments that support the skills they want- this will help them easily see why you’d be a great asset for them.

      4. Pick 2-3 body paragraphs from the master cover letter that speak to the top skills from the job posting. Paste in the opening paragraph, the body paragraphs and the closing paragraph. Edit just to improve the flow- no need to write new content.

      This took me 2 hours the first time I used it, but over time I was able to streamline it to under an hour per application. You’ll also be able to reuse old material as you see trends in what top skills different jobs want (for example, I had a Customer Service/Project Management-specific template). It also meant that when I was tired and only vaguely functional I was still sending out stronger material than I would have otherwise.

      Good luck in your search!

    3. Salsa Your Face*

      I got my current job through LinkedIn easy apply and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I did use premium and found it helpful in setting up job alerts and reaching out to hiring managers through inMail, but in the end I don’t know that it made a huge difference. I still submitted some resumes directly, with customized cover letters, but that didn’t seem to make a big difference in when I got interviews and when I didn’t.

    4. Green Goose*

      Have you ever used Google Bard/Chat GPT to write a cover letter or help with resume edits? I was also getting fatigued with constantly re-writing my resume/cover letters and I felt like I would always come across open jobs right before the deadline or during a particularly busy time at work.
      I was complaining to a friend about this and he had just commenced his own job hunt and he told me he used Google Bard. I thought it seemed kind of surprising, but tried it out on a job and I got an interview and ended up getting an offer after some previous crickets. It’s not perfect but a cover letter usually takes me a couple of hours and that time it took me like 30 minutes with the tweaking.
      I put in the job description and then put in my resume (with identifiers removed) and asked GB to tell me why I would be a good applicant for the job and then told it to write me a one page cover letter.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      The best way to find them, that I found, was to look up the staff directories for academic libraries where librarians are faculty. A lot of folks have some kind of bio and/or CV, like this: https://lib.ku.edu/people/andi-back. Or sometimes a link to a PDF instead. (I’m a new academic librarian and am working on CV’ing my resume.)

    2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Dulcinea has good advice. Is it for a tenure position? You might also look to see if the library has their Promotion & Tenure (P&T) guidelines publicly available as they may include a CV template.

  22. Exhausted*

    Does anyone have any advice for dealing with temporary brain fog/executive dysfunction at work? I’m dealing with illness and lately I’ve become absentminded and my executive functioning is suffering. I have a job that requires me to be highly organised and manage multiple complex projects. Normally those are my strengths, but now I’m struggling to plan out projects appropriately and having trouble concentrating. I don’t think anyone at work has noticed yet – we were slow over the holidays and I’ve been putting in extra effort to make up for my brain fog. I’ve been trying to create checklists and build in other fail safes, but the part of my brain that is good at doing those things seems to have checked out along with my other planning skills. My team is extremely understaffed right now, so I really don’t want to ask any of my colleagues to pick up my slack. Does anyone have any advice?

    1. Ashley*

      Try and figure out when you are functioning at your best (first thing in the morning, an hour into you day, after lunch, etc) and review your lists then and do the most important things then. Otherwise the lists and notes to self with extra built-in checks are what I find most helpful at those times. Also I try to take a few extra breaks to give something fresh eyes before finalizing anything.

      1. Exhausted*

        Thanks! Lists and checklists have been helpful, but creating them right now is tough. That’s a good suggestion to try and work when I have the most capacity – my energy is all over the place these days but maybe I can try spreading my work out in shifts.

        1. jen*

          Don’t feel like you need to create an entire system now. It could just be on a piece of paper you take a picture of an print each day.

      2. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

        Seconding this. I’m lucky that I can organize my day however it suits me, and this is what I do. It’s the only way I get things done. (I’m also lucky that my colleagues know and think it’s funny so they joke and apologize if they interrupt dead brain time.) Also look at breaking any task list into much smaller steps and putting the WHOLE step on the list. If you have to call someone, include their phone number and notes on the topic so you don’t have to look those up. Basically put everything you need within “arm’s reach” mentally.
        Since you’re used to managing lots of complex projects, I assume you already have and use various trackers, but see if there’s room to build them out a bit or maybe you need additional ones for now.

        1. Exhausted*

          I love this – “putting everything within arms’ reach mentally” – it’s a variation on a system I used to use and I’m going to try reorganizing my todo list with this in mind.
          Adding additional/more detailed trackers was the first thing I tried, but I find that it’s taking me a lot of effort right now to break things down into easily executable steps. But I’ll keep looking, and thank you again for the suggestion to reorganize things so all the information for a task is up front and center.

          1. But what to call me?*

            As an alternative to breaking the whole task into easily executable steps, sometimes I’ll just break off some stupidly simple parts of the start of the task and explicitly put those parts at the start of the list, followed by the rest of the task.

            For example, say I have to write a report. If my brain is rebelling against writing down everything I need to do to complete the report, or if doing that just feels unhelpful at the moment, I might write the task list like this:
            1) Open report template, save with right name
            2) Get out relevant documents
            3) Write report

            Now, obviously, step 3 of that list is a much more involved task than steps 1 and 2. However, steps 1 and 2 are much easier to achieve, so there’s a much lower barrier to getting started on them, and by doing them I’ve lowered the barrier to starting task 3. The report is open, I have what I need to write it, so I might as well start writing it. The goal isn’t so much to break every part of the task into smaller components as it is to find the silly little barriers that look like nothing on their own but that tend to combine to make executive dysfunction brain go ‘nope, too hard, not doing that’.

      3. DefinitiveAnn*

        +1 to this. It took me months to recover from my bout with COVID in late 2022. I am at my best in the afternoon for focused work, so I tried to schedule more routine tasks and phone calls in the morning. It made a big difference in my productivity.

      1. Exhausted*

        Normally I’d be up for this, but we are seriously understaffed (two people covering the work of five) and there’s no good way to have someone pick up my slack without handing over entire projects with months worth of work to do. But if it gets untenable this is my nuclear option.

      1. Friendly Office Bisexual*

        Commiseration gang….not necessarily brain fog, but issues with executive function and concentration. The advice in this thread is so helpful!

    2. Catwhisperer*

      I use the Pomodoro method (25 min work/5min break) when I’m having executive dysfunction issues and it helps a lot. There are Pomodoro apps you can install on your computer that will remind you when to work and when to take a break, which I find much easier than trying to time myself.

      Another useful organizational tool is categorizing my to-do list tasks on a grid based on urgency and importance (so the four categories are urgent & important, not urgent & important, urgent & not important, and not urgent & not important). That helps me prioritize what actually needs to be done and keeps all my tasks in a single, clearly defined visual.

      1. Exhausted*

        Thanks! The categorisation is super helpful but tough for me right now. I’ve tried pomodoro in the past but it didn’t work for me – somehow anticipating the timer made me jittery. But maybe I should give it another try now.

        1. Catwhisperer*

          If you can find a timer that displays over your other windows that might help with the anticipatory jitteriness! I’ve found that being able to glance at it periodically makes me feel less anxious than having it in the background or on my phone.

          The one I’m currently using is called Tomito, it’s free on a Mac.

        2. A Manager for Now*

          FWIW, pomodoro also makes me jittery. I found that if I use a modified approach with some different tools, I do a little better. I set up a 15min hourglass (no audio alarm), and say, “for the next 15 min I will work on X task” (but if I go over, that’s ok).

          For me, the visual check in is nice because if I really struggle to get going, I can look up and remind myself, “No break yet, still work time” but if I find myself in a flow and miss the “limit” nothing takes me out of the work.

          1. Exhausted*

            I like this idea, thanks! I think I also found pomodoro interrupted flow state (not that I have much flow state right now lol) which is why it wasn’t working. But a gentle reminder might work better.

          2. But what to call me?*

            I like the hourglass idea! I’ve always been afraid to try anything with a timer because I was afraid I’d be too focused on expecting the timer to go off.

    3. Caledonian Crow*

      As someone who is like that most of the time, I’ll be avidly reading comments. I also have a few things that work for me:

      1. Reminders and lists. Lists help me from being so overwhelmed that I can’t do anything. Calendar reminders, even for small things, help me actually do things that need to be done at a time that is not right now.

      2. At the end of the day, I prep a few easy, quick tasks for the next morning. That essentially primes my mental pump and gives me some small wins when I’m still too tired to tackle something more complex.

      3. (this one only occasionally because $$$) For a really onerous, challenging, frustrating things that I desperately don’t want to do, I sometimes bribe myself with some fancy yarn (or you could substitute for your own favorite indulgence)

      1. Exhausted*

        Calendar reminders are a godsend, lol. I also like the idea of prepping tasks for the next morning, thanks! I used to do that when I had extra time at the end of the day but maybe I should prioritize it more now.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I recommend reading the Captain Awkward post #450: How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed (from February 16, 2013).

      The answer is fairly long and not all of the advice will apply, but I think it’s a post worth reading.

      1. Exhausted*

        I have read this post and I love it! It has some really good advice and suggestions for maintaining goodwill.

    5. Been There, You're Doing Great*

      I’ve gone through periods of fatigue and brain fog while managing chronic illness, and one thing that helped was swapping tasks with other people. Instead of asking other people to just “pick up your slack,” is there maybe something you can take off their plates in exchange that feels more doable? That might not be possible if your overall capacity is diminished, which is okay. It sounds like you’ve been reliable before and probably given other folks a hand when they needed it, so it might be your turn now. Even if the team is under water, someone might be willing to help you write up those checklists and documentation, if it saves time and improves outcomes in the long-run. Depending on the nature of the brain fog, you might also think about setting up quiet work hours with an accountability buddy or doing 10-minute check-ins once or twice a day where you can talk things through and help each other prioritize. I had a lot of shame and anxiety about asking for help when I was struggling, and I didn’t really believe that it would work, anyway. It was key for me to (eventually) understand that “asking for help” can look like lots of different things, and not all of them are inherently burdensome for people to provide. There was also a big element of just throwing a bunch of strategies at the wall and hoping that something stuck until the brain fog eased up. I hope things get better for you.

      1. Exhausted*

        Thanks for the suggestions and empathy – I really have to figure out if there’s some way my team can help without creating too much extra work. Normally this is exactly the kind of problem I’d be good at finding solutions for but right now the brain is not braining. I like your suggestion of switching tasks instead of handing them off – I’m going to look into that on Monday.

    6. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      This is a chronic issue for me and one thing I’ve found extremely valuable is to make peace with good enough. I know that having a list is supportive for me. But if the list is very long or it all feels very urgent, that list doesn’t help me get things done so much as block me from starting anything on it. If you have limited executive function, sometimes you have to choose to do the thing you can rather than the thing that most needs to be done because prioritizing tasks is actually very demanding. I will use all my energy deciding what to do and how to do it and have nothing left for the actual task, which feels awful.

      So if my problem is overwhelm or task initiation/motivation, I will put on a short, high-energy song and I will go through my inbox/notes and add things to my list only for as long as the song is on. Then I will deliberately choose not to sort them by urgency or priority. I will pick three things from that list, either at random or just the 3 things at the top, and use that as my working to do list. The master list I will put out of sight until the smaller list is done and I can rinse/repeat.

      It’s not feasible to approach every day like this, but it can help if you’re really in a rut. Good luck! I also recommend checking out Dani Donovan’s Anti-Planner for other strategies like this.

      1. Exhausted*

        Oh thanks for the suggestion about the working vs master list! I’ve been using one massive master list and perhaps breaking it down would give me less mental fatigue. And I’ve never heard of the anti-planner – definitely looking at that this weekend.

    7. Rage*

      Oh, I feel you. I had that after my bout with COVID (July ’22) – the brain fog and executive dysfunction lasted for months, but did eventually resolve around January ’23.

      And then I had another bout of major dysfunction from August-November of this year, due to a non-COVID related condition.

      It’s a wonder I didn’t completely implode.

      I’m going to echo the checklist idea, but…it’s not just a “to-do” list. Make checklists for every single “more-than-2/3-step processes” and use those. And get darned specific about things too – which, yeah, I know, it’s tough right now, but use the tip of figuring out when you are at your most functional and knock out those processes then.

      For example, you can put “review contract for Company X” on your to-do list, but your Contract Review Checklist may look something like this:
      1. Run OIG check
      2. Review contract and check for the following:
      a. Start & end dates
      b. Termination language
      c. Indemnity language
      d. Fee schedule
      3. Get approval from finance.
      4. Generate purchase order.
      5. Route for signatures.
      6. Save fully executed copy to file.
      7. Notify stakeholders that contract is complete.

      The more detailed you get, the easier it will be to keep on top of complex projects or tasks.

      Plus, you get lots of little dopamine hits for checking off all of the little minutae, rather than waiting for the entire thing to be complete. (Bonus: this will totally help people cover for you if you are going to be out on vacation or medical leave.)

      1. Exhausted*

        Detailed lists are normally my jam! I’ve found them hard to put together lately but you’re right that they’re super helpful and maybe I just need to put in the extra time for them. I’m glad you’re feeling better – this is the first time I’ve experienced brain fog and everyone’s supportive comments are making me realise it’s more common than I thought.

        1. Rage*

          Yes, just keep doing the best you can. It’s especially frustrating when you’re used to always being “on top” of things, and suddenly you are behind the 8 ball All. The. Time.

          When I was diagnosed with rebound-COVID (from whence the brain fog came), my doctor told me to take a supplement called Quercetin. I got mine off Amazon. She said it was pretty much THE supplement to take for COVID-related cognitive difficulties. It’s generally has an anti-inflammatory effect, so maybe that is why it helped? While it still took about 6 months for me to really get over mine (as in, I considered myself at 90% of my previous capability), I did see improvement start in the first month.

  23. Teacher*

    I teach at a small public high school in a suburb. I’m a white female. We have 25 teachers on staff, and only one is a person of color (4%.) Our student body is about 25-30% students of color, year to year. It’s crucial that students have teachers who they feel represent their own identities, so this is obviously an issue.

    My first question is about ideas people have for how I can work with administration and the district to diversify our teaching staff. We have a great principal and overall supportive admin, and our school is very teacher-friendly, great at work-life balance, somewhere I feel good about recruiting people towards. I’ve been working on this with our principal over the past two years, and we’ve re-written job posts, and increased the places where we send out our job postings (including new teacher prep programs that have higher percentages of teacher candidates of color, Black teacher networking groups, etc.) However, in the last two years, while we hired for two full-time positions, we didn’t receive any applications from teachers of color.

    The second part is where I start wondering about the possibility/likelihood and even the ethics of trying to recruit teachers of color. In our state, less than 6% of current teachers are people of color, and just 11% of those who completed their teacher licensure program in 2023 are people of color. Our suburban school is ~25% students of color, but there are high schools in our state that are 50-80% students of color. Obviously some of the biggest needs are to increase numbers of teachers of color overall statewide – and, crucially, to make teaching a more stable, comfortably paid, respected and desired career generally. But given the current realistic state of things – should I even be trying to get more teachers of color to our predominantly white school, or is it more important that they’re at the schools with much higher numbers of students of color? OR, the reverse – since students of color here are more isolated since they’re in the minority of the student body, is it even more important for us to have teachers of color here? At the end of the day, it’s up to each individual teacher of course to decide what workplace is best for them, it’s certainly not up to me, and as a white teacher, I’m sure there are many considerations on other teacher’s minds that I don’t have to consider myself when I think about jobs. These are just some of the questions I’m pondering as we think about hiring another person potentially next year.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think one problem you have is that you have only one teacher of color at your school. How are you currently supporting that one teacher? It’s hard being the only one. And that also makes it difficult to recruit other teachers of color, who will be one of only two.

      You did hit the nail on the head with this being a larger societal issue, and not something that your one school can fix. That said, I think your focus should be on how you (not just you as an individual but you as a school) can support that one teacher of color, in addition to supporting your students of color.

      Does having at least some teachers of similar backgrounds help students? Immensely. Sure. But I (and other previous students of color) have had many amazing teachers who were white. Not saying you should shrug your shoulders on this. Just saying that representation matters, but it isn’t everything.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      Two considerations for you, since this is a visible topic in education spaces:
      1- many districts, states, and even the federal dept of ed (if you’re in the US) have been working on increasing teacher diversity. Some states (even red ones!) require districts to submit specific diversity goals – with or without punishments for not meeting them. Larger orgs have been attempting to tackle this issue as well. Regardless of your % of students who come from minority backgrounds, it’s important to remember ALL students benefit from a variety of teachers at school. Reaching out to EPPs is a good start. Many schools and districts are also looking into non-traditional licensure paths (see Grown Your Own models) to increase workforce participation in schools.
      2 – Consider what your school has that may be an incentive for a teacher of color. Do you have any DEI clubs/working groups to indicate the space is comfortable one for someone who is in the minority? How do you handle topics like Black History Month and diversity in literature? How supportive are parents of these efforts? The culture of respect for diversity is something that potential candidates will wonder about – and can help them gravitate toward your campus or away from it. Word of mouth/networking can be a benefit or a detriment here, too. If you’re doing a good job in this area, networking through minority teacher groups should be a good route to take.

    3. Your Social Work Friend*

      The only thought I can throw out there is to also try to diversify your hiring of other positions in the school(s). How diverse is your staff of paraprofessionals/classroom assistants? What about social workers/counselors/admin assistants/cooks? Do your staff take on student teachers and, if so, where are you recruiting those folks from, and is it a diverse pool of people? Those positions come open less often in my experience, but could be another avenue to go down.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      Teachers aren’t the only source of representation for students. Visiting authors, guest speakers, parent involvement (career day speakers, specific Breakfast with a Dad type programs or just recruiting parent volunteers for Lego club or as chaperones) are all ways to get more diversity in who your students look to as leaders.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        That’s a good point. Makes me think also—what does your curriculum look like? I’m guessing your students of color have had to force themselves to identify with white protagonists. Have your white students had to identify with nonwhite protagonists? Does your science curriculum send the implicit message that only white men have made significant contributions to science? Does your English curriculum send the implicit message that “real” literature is mainly by dead white men, and then have a couple of token diversity texts thrown in?

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Are there any Minority Serving Institutions, HBCUs and the like, in your state? Make sure job announcements get sent to their career services offices/teams. If they have education programs, see if you can connect with any of the professors, maybe invite their student teachers to your school.

      And I agree with other commenters that you should seek to bring in expert speakers on relevant topics – don’t limit yourself to minorities, but seek out minorities to come to your classes.

    6. Justin*

      So I research/write about racism and education. Other suggestions are good (seek out HBCUs, support the existing teacher and ask them what might make them feel more welcome).

      Research aspects of your suburb that might feel unfriendly and see if you can, over time, improve life in the town for people of color. Are they truly welcome throughout the town? If there’s a racist history (there usually is!) is the town open about it?

      And bring in experts of color to support this (so long as they’re well compensated). (You could ask me too, haha.)

    7. Hillary*

      Regarding the ethics – it’s micro responsibility versus macro responsibility. On the macro level so many early-career teachers drop out, and IIRC folks of color leave the profession at a higher rate. If your school can create an environment that helps new teachers (whether of color or not) thrive and stay in the profession you’re doing good at the micro level.

      On top of sending job postings you can take a more active approach. Go to career fairs, supervise student teachers if possible, etc. Especially target “lower” tier schools. Where I live everyone recruits at the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas but few go to Metro State. Those students have less impressive resumes but they’re just as smart, and they have amazing grit and determination.

    8. Double A*

      1. Have you thought about trying to recruit more men? They are seriously underrepresented in education and it’s powerful for boys to see men in teaching roles. I’d imagine you’re student body is 50/50 m/f and would bet your teachers are about 1:4 m/f.

      2. Do you have a future teachers of America club or anything like that? Fostering interest in the profession can start with your students. Obviously this won’t give you diverse applicants right now but on the other hand you have access to a diverse population that you can encourage into the profession.

    9. Teacher*

      I unfortunately wasn’t able to get back to this yesterday, but thanks so much for the many thoughtful and wise replies! I think the suggestion I’m most able to lean into that we aren’t already doing is to be more intentional about having a great program for student teachers, focusing on bringing more student teachers overall and a more diverse body of them, and continuing to look for new places and ways to recruit when we have an open position to post.

      I do actually feel pretty good about our school’s curriculum, reading lists, guest speakers, and so forth. For example, I teach a year-long science elective called Environmental Justice, about environmental racism and racist housing policies, how environment affects our health, and the amazing community work that has been and is being done to work towards environmental justice. We bring in tons of guest speakers in that class, the majority of whom are activists/scientists of color. Our senior science curriculum includes an emphasis on indigenous knowledge, including different local native scientists as guest speakers, and our senior English reading list is majority authors of color. We have an active and well-supported African Student Union and Latin Student Union, and an active staff equity team. Our one teacher of color is a good friend, and I think he genuinely loves his job. (We have two people of color on staff who aren’t teachers.) Also, weirdly, our teaching staff is 11 males, 14 females, so it’s much less weighted towards females than most schools (our student body is about 60% female, 40% male, also with many nonbinary students.) But I would love to have a future where we don’t have only one BIPOC teacher! Thanks again for all of these replies.

  24. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

    Question for freelancers and tax experts. I am 18 months in to my second incarnation as a consultant. Of course there was a learning curve around self employment taxes, but I think we (filing jointly) have got those ironed out now. I am considering joining a consultant pool for a government syndicate in another state (not my home state of CA). If selected for a project, I would be liable for those state taxes, I believe (as the work would be done mostly remotely from my home office with one or two site visits in the second state), and I am concerned this would really complicate my tax situation to the point where it would exceed Turbo Tax’s abilities and I would need to hire a CPA in the second state to manage it. That is more administrative burden and expense than I would want to take on. If TT could do it accurately, and if CA would give me credit for taxes paid to the second state, I would do the work. Has anyone experienced this? The value of the contract in the second state would be approx $50,000. Thx!

    1. Long-time freelancer*

      I can’t speak to the state taxes or TT. But if you’re filing jointly, I highly recommend setting up an LLC and taking advantage of the pass-through entity tax savings. I had to hire a tax person but it’s only $500 or so. I save way more than that. Google pass-through entity.

      1. Cj*

        I don’t know California’s rules, but in minnesota, a single member LLC is a disregarded entity, and they’re not eligible for the pass through entity tax. if you and your partner that you are filing jointly with are both members of the llc, you are required to file a partnership return. so make sure you meet with an attorney regarding any of this, and discuss what you are trying to accomplish and if it is feasible in your state.

        I’m also not so sure that you would be texting those states. since you would be working remotely, it would be income in the state you are working in. you would need to look into the states where you would be having those few on-site visits to see if you would be taxed on the work you did while there. if it’s really that minor, you would probably be under their filing requirements.

        1. Cj*

          another caution on forming an llc. I’m assuming this would be a California entity. you would be required to register as a foreign entity in the second state. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this, just saying it would cost you some time and money. there may be tax savings that were offset this, but maybe not. it depends on the entirety of your tax situation.

    2. Bob-White of the Glen*

      Your tax situation is getting complicated and it’s time to bring in a professional. You don’t know what you may be missing, including deductions, credits, and tax shelters, and one bad audit is going to be more painful then a CPA/EA bill.

      You can also discuss forming an LLC with them, which is not always the great saver people make it out to be.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      I know nothing about self employment taxation, so pardon me if this is a dumb question, but is there any chance the state you’d be working in has a reciprocal tax agreement with CA? I work in one state and live in another, but thanks to reciprocal tax agreements I just pay taxes in my home state.
      It’s not exactly the same situation, but at one time I was working for half the year in one state and half the year in another state while living in a third state without the reciprocal tax agreement. TurboTax seemed to handle that situation just fine – but I think it was easier because my work periods didn’t overlap in each state, and I wasn’t self employed.

    4. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

      It won’t exceed Turbo Tax’s capabilities.

      There’s a question in the Income section that says something like, “Did you earn income in another state besides [home state]?” If you answer Yes, it asks for the state; and then it walks you through preparing a Non-Resident State Income Tax Return, using the particular rules of whatever state it is. (Some states require you to file only once you’ve earned income in that state for 60 days and, for other states, it’s only one day).

  25. Darlingpants*

    We had 30% layoffs right after Thanksgiving and then two days after everyone’s last day announced a lab move (huge amounts of work and hugely disruptive to projects). So I started keeping an eye out for jobs and have a phone screen Monday.

    My actual reasons for looking are complicated and contradictory (I’m not sure I want to leave because my coworkers are amazing, I like my boss, I just hate the decisions senior management makes, plus I think I’m a little underpaid/under level for my skill at the company but the company pays slightly above average for the market) and I could talk about it for a long ramble time.

    My actual question: when asked I should just say I’m worried about the layoffs and exploring the market right? If I do leave I’d like it to be to somewhere where senior management can think about consequences more than 6 weeks at a time and they don’t jerk us around as much, but I’m also likely to be interviewing at startups and I don’t want to sound like I can’t deal with pivots.

    1. StruggleBus*

      I would keep your reason for leaving simple, just mention the layoffs.

      In the interview you can ask more probing questions about management styles and the overall direction of the company, how they deal with changes, etc.

    2. HappyMarketer*

      AAM always says to keep it simple and then roll into why you’re interested in the role. So you could say ‘I’m concerned about layoffs at Company and I saw this role and was really excited by XYZ’ or if you’re not even sure if you’d leave if you got an offer just say ‘I’m not actively looking but I saw this role and was really interested in ABC’.

      Also my experience at start ups is they love people who show ‘passion’ for the work so making it all about them is probably going to help you.

    3. Generic Name*

      Hiring managers don’t really want an exact enumeration of why the company you’re leaving sucks. I think this question is often meant as a softball “getting to know you” type of question, or at least is best answered in that spirit. So if you’ve been at your company for a few years, you can say you’re looking for “new opportunities”. You can also latch onto any difference between your current company and the company you’re interviewing with as a reason of what you’re looking for. So if you’re leaving a small company and interviewing at a large one, say you’re wanting the opportunities a large company offers. Or if the industries are different, say that the industry that the company you’re interviewing with has always intrigued you and you are excited by the possibility of working there. But also, literally no one would fault you for saying that you’re looking in the wake of having a third of the staff cut.

  26. PivotTime*

    Hi all! I know I’ve answered and asked questions a few times on here, I just want to show my appreciation for you all. I am/was exhausted and miserable at my current job for years and feeling like I had to just go through it because I was scared to change. Over a year of reading the site and seeing people’s situations and responses on these Friday chats, I did a lot of reflecting over the holidays. The stories of those who transitioned out of academia really helped me to realize I wasn’t stuck and that I *could* do things differently. I decided to put in my 2 weeks from my current job and go to school full-time. My last day is Jan.16th!
    I’m already halfway through my Master’s program anyway and by being a full-time student I can get my degree in the summer, rather than sometime in 2025. I’ve got enough saved to cover expenses during this time, and while things will be tight, I’m really hopeful for the first time in a very long while.
    No more covering for one constantly sick colleague and the other lazy colleague. My boss was visibly sad when I told him and basically said I was his best worker and I would be missed.
    I’m betting on myself in 2024. I really appreciate this site and all of you.

      1. Ned Schneebly*

        It’s so sad that the best workers are not supported and therefore leave. This is a great move for you, so congrats!

  27. EngGirl*

    Missing my old team this week. The workplace was well and truly toxic but the people I worked with on the day to day were great. I’m sure this also wasn’t healthy, but I definitely got a lot of my social needs met at my previous job as well (not with anyone I had any kind of oversight over, with other managers at my level in different departments). People at my current job are lovely, but there’s a lack of people in my general age group in general, and definitely a lack at the level of the company that I’m at.

    How do adults without children who don’t really like to go to bars/out make friends lol?

    1. absurdly alone*

      Following. People have told me to join groups or hobby meet ups but there aren’t any in my area or the meet up times are in the middle of the work day. But maybe you’ll have better luck, OP.

      1. EngGirl*

        Right? Like I would love to join that group, sounds amazing… but why does it meet on Tuesdays at 10:30?

        1. Bast*

          Right?? I used to work non-standard hours and it seemed like everything was tailored to people who worked a standard Mon-Fri, 9 to 5 job, and now, as someone who works a standard 9 to 5 type job, everything is 10:30 am Tuesday… which would have been great when I worked non standard hours as Tuesday was typically one of my off days.

      2. HSE Compliance*

        Same!! How is a group meant (in their own group description) to be for general working age adults with busy lives going to have luck getting attendees when they meet every other Thursday at 9:30A??

        Even most of the local volunteer opportunities meet during normal business hours, and not even at the very start or end of the day because at least then I could go in late or leave early.

        1. WestsideStory*

          See my notes below but I’ve got an answer for this one: one of my interests is gardening, and when I lived in a major west coast city was keen to join some gardening groups. They all met weekday afternoons – a holdover from when the doyens had all been stay at home “ladies who lunch.”
          So I started my own group, and we affiliated with the statewide garden club organization largely because we could get liability insurance at a good rate that way.
          A year later we were honored as the garden club with the largest growth of any in our district. We were asked at the awards luncheon what our secret was – most other clubs were seeing decline in membership. We said flatly “ we hold our meetings in the evenings and on Saturdays.” They were aghast. “We’ve ALWAYS met on such a such weekday afternoon, we can’t change.”
          Not sure how those groups are faring but the garden club I started over is still thriving even though I went back to the east coast years ago.
          Be the change you want to see. If not you, who?

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Ugh, this. I really miss choral singing, and there’s tons of groups where I live, but I work afternoons and weekends, which makes rehearsals and performance a no go.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      For one thing, I don’t discount making friends based on age. My friend group at work spans the decades. Also, be willing to go out a few times if asked.

      When I’m in the office, it’s in a very walkable area. When I need to go for a walk, I might invite a coworker or two to come along.

      I am still friends with the former coworkers of an old, toxic job (most of us have escaped). There’s a kind of connection in a shared traumatic experience, so expect your new friendships to take a little more time to gel.

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Regular volunteer commitment that fits into your schedule – Sat mornings, Sun afternoons, whatever.
      Asking your existing circle of friends if they know anyone in your area/neighborhood/field that you can meet.
      Get a dog – go to the same dog park at the same time every week and you will meet the regulars!

    4. HugeTractsofLand*

      Check the local paper (or local paper’s website) for classes or events in your area to give yourself a little social boost. Volunteering can help you meet people too…it doesn’t have to be at a soup kitchen or food pantry (though those are great options); my mom volunteers at a venue as an usher or handing out tickets so that she can see free movies/concerts. Owning a pet is also almost as good as having a kid, since people are always chatting at the dog park. I can’t speak from experience, but my sister also uses an app (maybe Bumble?) specifically to match with and meet potential friends. It may feel less natural, but way better than nothing!

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Seconding classes and events. Check out adult recreation stuff in your area. I have a number of good friends that I’ve met through volleyball.

    5. Alex*

      Did you move to a new location? If not, reach out to your old team to meet up socially! Most of my friends made after adulthood are either people I worked with in the past, friends of those people, or people I briefly dated but decided we’d be better off friends.

      1. EngGirl*

        I did! I’m about 2 hours away, and much much closer to family, so it’s not like I’m a shut in, I just kind of miss some of the banter/social activities with my old coworkers.

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      Currently experimenting with this, as a majority of my close friends have moved away. I went to the local game shop and found a “looking for players” flyer. This Sunday is game session #3. So far, so good.

    7. Goddess47*

      Try poking at Meetup.com — there are a huge variety of groups on almost any subject and you can see when they get together. I’ve been lucky that the groups I’ve poked at have had good people and are welcoming to newbies.

      Do you have any professional organizations you can join? As a manager, maybe check to see if there’s a local Project Management group. Or even Toastmasters. Learning how to speak better is beneficial to anyone at any age.

      It is hard. so it’s not you. Good luck!

    8. Hlao-roo*

      I had a similar experience in the opposite direction (thankfully without the toxicity) where I went from a workplace with lovely coworkers who were at different life stages then me and we didn’t share a lot of outside-of-work interests to a place with coworkers who are generally closer in life stage/outside-of-work interests. Those things matter! I liked my old group of coworkers and we worked well together, but I like my new group of coworkers so much more (and I also, personally, enjoy occasionally hanging out with my coworkers in purely social, outside-of-work settings).

      To answer your specific question on how to make friends:

      * The old “join a group” standard. Meetup.com, a group at your local library (or at another nearby library, doesn’t specifically have to be in the town/city you live in), volunteer group, etc. I have joined a few groups that meet monthly, and I find that it takes me about 2 meetings before I look forward to going to the meeting and a bit longer than that before I feel friendly with the other members of the group. I also have not made the jump to “friends who hang out outside of [group]” with anyone, but I still enjoy being part of the group.

      * Apps. I haven’t used Bumble for Friends or any similar apps, but they exist. A plus of this route is you can specify “looking for friends to [get coffee with/work on puzzles/whatever your non-bar activities are].”

      * Don’t discount “strengthening/reviving old friendships/acquaintances” in favor of making new friends. Alex suggested reaching out to your old coworkers, which I think is great advice! Also consider reaching out to people in the area you’ve lost touch with (old friends, old coworkers from other jobs, any extended family that lives locally, old classmates, etc.).

      * Long-distance friendships: if any of your friends have moved away (or if you moved away), try to set up some regular text/phone call/video call communication to maintain those relationships. Not the same as in-person friendships, but can still fulfill social needs (bonus: you don’t need to leave the house!).

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I had good luck with Bumble BFF when I moved to NewCity two years ago – if you’re in a large area I would definitely give it a try! It’s a bit like online dating in that you won’t click with everyone and some people are flaky, and it requires a fair amount of effort at first (I personally found all the texting exhausting) but after six months I made a bunch of good friends that I’m still in regular touch with.

    9. WestsideStory*

      Try something you’ve never done before. In my case it was always something physical – joining a hiking group, a ski club, taking ice skating lessons and yes even horseback riding lessons and finally (as an adult) learning
      to swim. This opened so many doors and led to decades-long friendships.
      Please don’t make the mistake that your “work self” is too big a part of your whole self. There are untapped streams within you. I am sure.

    10. Slartibartfast*

      Video games, specifically multiplayer online ones is my solution. And you don’t have to be competitive or particularly good at them. Currently I’m playing Final Fantasy XIV and it’s a particularly welcoming environment that takes care of newbies.

    11. colorguard*

      For me, it’s been fitness. In one town I lived, I joined a gym and took group fitness classes and got to know the people who were in them. When I moved to an area where that wasn’t an option, I switched to running and joined an online running community with people all over the place. I met a few folks locally, but then my next two moves (all work-related) were to places with a lot of folks from the online running group, so as soon as I moved, I had local friends. Beyond that, going out and running in the local park at the same time of day meant I was crossing paths with other runners/walkers who had similar schedules.

      The other way I’ve met people is by being a regular at a local coffee shop. Same deal: There are regulars who are often in at the same time and over time we get to know each other.

  28. Public Accounting Dropout*

    I work at a government organization and the salary and benefits are fantastic. We had a toxic coworker and weak management.

    She was awful and bullied others and managers did nothing (she was union). Once she said “go ahead” and pushed me hard and I stumbled. She told another coworker she was going to “beat the crap” out of 3 of us when it was reported Tracy refused training to learn our new software. She was friends with the boss so nothing was done. She retired recently but I’m still upset over how management tolerated this to the point of considering another job.

    Any advice on moving past this is appreciated. After this I worry we will get another bully and management not act.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Just to confirm your understanding that was insane, and it would be natural for you to need a new job/change of scene to get past it.

      1. Public Accounting Dropout*

        I’m not union unfortunately and supervise 2 employees. The 2 I supervise are excellent- do their jobs, helpful and kind to everyone. Tracy’s supervisor is a total doormat and we are certain she got complaints but brushed them off.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I’d still involve your supervisor– threats and physically assaulting someone isn’t covered by any union!
          (Obviously this is advice for if you run into another one like Tracy, who should have been disciplined if not fired, union or no.)

    2. jane's nemesis*

      It seems unlikely you’ll get another person as toxic and awful as that – she pushed you?? And nothing was done? Awful. That is way beyond normal!

      Time may heal your stress and upset feelings over how it was handled, but I would also urge you to consider looking for another job! It can’t hurt, and even if you don’t find anything that matches your salary and benefits at the government job, it may help you to feel empowered if you’re actively looking at what else is out there.

    3. Rick Tq*

      Having Tracy assault (push) you with others as witnesses makes that an issue for a police report and the courts, not a complaint to HR.

    4. Former Retail Manager*

      I would have encouraged you to go to Tracy’s boss’ boss. If her manager won’t do anything when there is documentation or witness accounts of her behavior, including threats of physical violence, that’s something the grandboss should be aware of.

      Also, you said that Tracy retired. It is possible that the issue was being addressed by management and she was given a choice to retire or begin facing disciplinary action. I am a Federal employee with a union. Many a union member have been given this choice over the years. It is always very hush hush and management always makes it appear as though it was the employee’s choice to retire.

  29. start-up fashion question*

    I’m a woman, considering an offer from a start-up in France. What do women in France wear in start-ups/engineering? For more context, I’m in software/engineering, and where I’m from the dress code is relaxed: women would typically wear yoga pants in winter/long-ish shorts in summer, with t-shirts. (often graphic tee, with a funny computer/math slogan). Men typically wear cargo pants/shorts. This is also true for C-suite/VP’s (who keep a suit in the office for when investors come). And again, start-up culture, so no customers. Does anyone know what that environment is like in the south of France? I presume women don’t wear yoga pants or shorts, even in the 40’C+ summer. What do they wear?

    1. France*

      not French, but my (tech) company has an office in France. my observation is that it’s a little more fashionable and formal than here (I am in California). winter: lots of sweaters, mostly non-jeans casual pants (I think jeans would be fine though, being American). men also wear sweaters a lot, often with a button-down underneath. I think dresses is the summer, but I visited in the winter so I’m not as sure on this. most of the team that I work with is male and mostly WFH, so honestly not that different to our US staff. no graphic tshirts really, though

      it also probably makes some difference for fashion whether you would be in Paris or somewhere else.

  30. job hunting*

    Question: my profile is listed on my company’s website but my job title is out of date. Could this affect my job hunt? Should I list both titles? (If so, how?)

    1. ThatGirl*

      Not likely to affect your job hunt. You can list both titles on your resume if they were different roles (like, a promotion or shift in responsibilities) but you don’t necessarily need to – I don’t think recruiters or hiring managers are regularly looking at company websites for info unless you’re like, the CEO.

      1. Antilles*

        Even if they *did* happen to check the website and notice the discrepancy, they’ll just assume the website hasn’t been updated yet.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      As someone who is responsible for web information, find out who can update it! That person wants it to be correct.

      Otherwise, just include your actual title on your materials.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Mention to the person who updates the website that it’s out of date. That’s an easy fix. You just happened to notice it.

      Then in your resume you can mention that you’ve had another title or two in the description of your time there.

  31. Green Goose*

    WWYD:
    Right before the holidays I interviewed for a position with a new boss/job. The boss seems like a bit of a demanding personality based on our two interviews but not in a deal breaking way. I was sent the offer through their internal recruiter the afternoon before they closed for a week and a half.
    Demanding Boss had said that they wanted someone to start on X Date but due to the holidays and being away from home I can’t start until Y Date (Two weeks later) I told the recruiter I couldn’t move forward if X Date was a requirement and the recruiter said it was not a problem.
    I signed the offer and was excited for about thirty minutes until I got an email from my new boss pressing me to start on X Date. I used AAM advice to craft a very polite but firm response saying I could not start until Y Date like I had confirmed with the recruiter, and I reiterated how excited I was to work with them.
    They have not responded to this. I have the offer letter and have completed some new hire tasks sent by the company.
    I’m torn if I should say anything or just leave it alone. It’s been about two weeks but they were closed until a few days ago.
    The advice from family has been mixed about it being a good/bad sign. I’m a bit of an over thinker/worrier so outside insight is welcome.

    1. HugeTractsofLand*

      I think what you’ve done so far is perfect- kind but firm response reiterating your start date and expressing enthusiasm. I’d actually take it as a good sign that no one’s responded to you; it means they’re leaving you alone until your actual start date. Would it be even better if Boss had acknowledged your email? Yes, but it’s not worrying. I wouldn’t reach out again unless you need more information about Day 1. And I wouldn’t take this whole interaction as a bad sign since it’s very possible that the recruiter just didn’t pass along your start date to Boss (i.e. only sent it to HR). Good luck with the new job!

    2. Nea*

      In your shoes, I’d leave it alone. They asked for Date X, you said no, so there’s nothing else for them to say unless they go nuclear and rescind the offer – something I wouldn’t expect them to do with it in writing and with you already starting to onboard.

    3. Yes And*

      I think if your start date is not confirmed you need to follow up – especially if you are separating from a current job, withdrawing from other hiring processes, and/or making other changes based on this job. It doesn’t have to be a big deal – polite and breezy is fine. “I hope you had a restful holiday break! I’m just checking in to confirm my start date. I look forward to seeing you on Date Y!”

      1. Green Goose*

        My signed offer letter states Y Date. And the onboarding materials refer to that date too

  32. Lizabeth*

    Well, I gave work a minor heart attack this week – I put my resignation in, I’m retiring on February 2. No big reactions yet but I believe that it hasn’t sunk in yet. And one of the heads of our parent company was present when it was announced – so they know as well. If they hadn’t been there I don’t think they would have been told at all. That’s how these guys roll…

    No, I am not consulting for them PERIOD. They get the month of February for any questions and that’s it. They will have all my files etc for the next person to work from.

    Have a couple of questions for the AAM hive:
    1. How honest should I be in the exit interview? The two presidents of our division need to go for various reasons (IMO). Plus we are a bare, bare minimum team working with a part-time marketing manager (we need them full time) in order to “save $” per the presidents. My boss (the VP of Sales) is trying to manage up but they are being dumped on by the presidents to the point they are close to being totally burned out. The team definitely needs a few more people with the workload.
    2. I’m taking the rest of the year off to figure out what I want to do next. Any advice? Health insurance, will/estate set up, go through my lifetime of “stuff” to see what can go are on the list. I don’t know if I want to work another job down the road. I want to work on my own art projects for a bit.
    Thanks!

    1. Friendly Office Bisexual*

      I know the general advice is to not be honest in your exit interviews, but since you are retiring and may not need them as a reference….I don’t think there is harm in offering your perspective. I would just try to sound as constructive as possible so they are less likely to write you off as disgruntled.

      For what to do next, art projects sounds great! Is there anywhere you’d like to travel to? A class you’d like to take? I’m 30 years away from retirement, but if it were me I would focus on creative pursuits.

      Congratulations on your retirement!

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > I know the general advice is to not be honest in your exit interviews, but since you are retiring and may not need them as a reference….I don’t think there is harm in offering your perspective.

        I disagree – OP should treat the exit interview the same way as if they were going to a new job (of course they may choose to be direct then too, but not really with speaking their mind with no inhibitions). You never really know what will happen in the future and when someone ‘retired’ might need to go back into the workplace for various reasons.

    2. Ashley*

      I’m not a fan of burning bridges so I usually recommend tactful honesty in exit interviews. Stick with your observations over opinions or assumptions. “They’re incompetent and piling work on folk just to save money” is a lot of assumptions and opinions (which might be totally true!). If you saw projects not be able to be completed because of the team size, or the team is not the industry norm, saying that is totally fair. The most opinion I’d recommend offering is following up the observation with something like “I think correcting that would help address some issues.”

      It might feel good to think about putting folks on blast in the moment but it rarely works out well.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If they even ask for an exit interview … I’d probably say, “gee, I think running so thin on sales and marketing could really affect future growth, so my suggestion would be to at least make it the Marketing Mgr FT position going forward (especially if the current person WANTS to be FT), and probably bring in a junior staffer to take up some of the workload. If Jane or Fergus were to leave too, things would be really tough.”

      I have no understanding why a division needs two presidents, so I’d leave that whole question alone. Clearly there’s not a lot of common sense on that level.

      As for what to do next … I’d recommend having the checklist of insurance etc done in the first couple of weeks to get them out of the way, and then have a calendar for finding your creative peeps and connecting with people regularly for ideas and community.

    4. Rick Tq*

      Say nothing on your exit interview unless it is with Corporate HR and will get to the ears of someone high up that can deal with your division heads.

      If you are leaving in a month they have THIS month to get any questions answered, you don’t have any obligation to respond after you leave IMO.

      Congratulations!

    5. Tio*

      I would only say something about the presidents if you really, truly believe that what you say will change things significantly – and that sounds like it means get them fired, and I bet that’s unlikely. There’s not much point giving feedback that won’t be actioned but can poison professional realtionships.

    6. Ama*

      High five! I’m not retiring but my work is unaware yet that I only intend to work through June and then go freelance (in a different industry) and they are going to absolutely panic. But I lost all my guilt over that when I found some notes to myself that demonstrated I’ve been trying to fix the same issues with this job since 2018.

      I would say in the exit interview I doubt you’ll get very far with criticisms about specific people (even if they deserve it), but I think you can talk more generally about how understaffed your team is and that attempts by your manager to advocate for more resources are going unheard. Someone who really wants to will be able to connect the dots as to whose fault that probably is, but you didn’t technically badmouth anyone.

    7. Girasol*

      Take some time to get away after you leave work. Road trips, camping trips, whatever you like. Air your brain out and decompress before deciding what you want to do. There’s tons of advice out there about things you should do in retirement, but before you choose, give yourself a little time to convert your work mind to a retirement mind.

  33. Friendly Office Bisexual*

    Hi, looking for that age old advice: what language do you use when negotiating salary with an offering company? I’ve never negotiated up a salary before but want to be prepared with this round of interviews.

    1. Alex*

      I’ve just asked. Like literally, I just say, “Would you be able to do $X?” And then leave it at that for them to answer yes or no.

      Remember that they expect you to ask for more, because it’s a normal thing to do.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I’ve also said, “I was hoping for closer to $Y” and waited for them to say something back.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Best advice I ever received: Ask for as much as you can say without laughing. Now granted, I’m a middle aged, middle class, cis, het, white dude, but it was a revelation.

      1. Friendly Office Bisexual*

        Thank you, genuinely. Sometimes I need that “what would a middle class cishet white man do” perspective, for real!

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          It’s right up there with the “grant me the self confidence of a mediocre white dude.” May you have that and more! Good luck in your negotiation!

    3. L&D Gal*

      Do your research, too. What is the average salary for comparable roles in your geographic area? How far off base is the offer?
      I say something like this “According to current market research, the average salary for a Teapot Designer with my degree and years of experience and skills in ABC is $X. Are you able to do $X for this position?”

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Too many words. Just say “I was hoping for X” and stop talking. You don’t need to justify it unless they respond in some way that implies they don’t already know the market rate.

      1. a manager, but not your manager*

        I listened to this episode before I took my current job and got 5k more than the initial offer. I honestly regret not asking for a little more.

    4. Betty*

      I negotiated salary for an academic position with “The [professional org for my field] annual survey has an average salary of $XXk for an assistant professor in [our region], it would be great if we could move closer to that” in a factual tone (like the tone you might use tell your spouse/roommate “The forecast calls for a heavy rainstorm this afternoon, you might want to grab an umbrella” if you were walking out the door together) and when the chair said “I’d have to talk to the dean” I said “Thank you, I really appreciate that” very warmly.

    5. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

      And, if they can’t come up much (or at all), ask for something else like an extra week of PTO, or a change in the bonus structure so you get a few percentage points more.

  34. Lachesis*

    How have managers hiring for fully remote jobs, narrowed down which applicants to initially interview?

    I’m not looking myself. I’m just curious how managers are dealing with literally thousands of applications for one position, in the new remote work age. And that’s after they weed out all the clearly unqualified applicants.

    1. Ashley*

      More specific industry familiarity has been a big thing for my company. We get tons of applications for folks that have done the same basics tasks but for totally unrelated industries, so if we need to narrow things down we usually start by giving priority to more specific industry familiarity.

      For example: my current role is in a company with a focus on a field that has a lot of legal considerations. These legal considerations can affect everything from how we phrase copy to how we discuss things with prospects to how we handle data. If we were hiring someone, we’d prob give priority to someone with five years experience in this industry over someone with five years experience in a diff industry that also had legal considerations, and both of them would get consideration over someone with ten years experience in an industry with significantly less legal considerations. It’s just less of a lift for us if folks already understand how to navigate that sort of thing.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I have to mostly focus on the most qualified people, unless there is a really compelling reason to include others (a strong cover letter goes a long way here!). This isn’t my favorite thing, as someone who personally has an atypical work history and knows that you can be more qualified than you look on paper, but there is only so much time available and many, many more applicants.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      We cut off the posting after 400 applicants, or a week, whichever comes first (lately it’s the former that comes first, although prepandemic we’d usually get 200 within the week). There are never literally thousands of applications, and definitely not after weeding out clearly unqualified. The clearly unqualified or way underqualified are usually 75-80% of applications. After that we phone screen the 12-20 (depending on what the hiring manager wants) seemingly best qualified candidates. After the phone screen we interview the top 6. Could be fewer depending on how interested we are in the current candidates. After that it’s usually narrowed down to 2, 3 at most who do a panel interview. But usually 2. Sometimes only one.

    4. TX_Trucker*

      When deciding who to interview, here is our process. HR screens out those who don’t meet the minimum criteria. Remaining applications are sorted into groups: internal applications, referrals from existing employees, “nice to have qualifications”, and everyone else. Generally the hiring manager will look at the all the applications in the first two groups closely. Depending on how many applicants we have and their quality, the manager may or may not look at the other groups. “Nice” qualifications will vary based on the position and generally include a specific certification, language skill, etc. We are a transportation company and most of our positions are in-person. But we have a few 100% remote positions that existed even before COVID and we have never received 1000s of qualified applicants for those positions. We don’t even receive hundreds. And we are company that pay higher than average wages with a fabulous reputation.

  35. anonprofit*

    So my boss kind of wants me to lie on my time sheet. We’re salaried and use time sheets for other stuff, so maybe it’s not a big deal?
    I took most of the time for a floating holiday but had to work for an hour, so I saved that hour to use the next week so I could leave early. (This is normal for our company.) Now he wants me to make my time sheet say that I took all the time on the actual holiday, because this will make it easier for him to track. I left notes in my time sheet saying that was what I did, but it feels fundamentally wrong to me to mess with a time sheet like that.
    It’s not too bad this time around, but if he wants me to do this in the future, it might make it look like I’m working less than I’m supposed to. We do track this, and we get annoying emails if our hours for a week are too low. (Most of time it’s because we forgot to fill our hours out, which is why someone checks and emails us.)
    Could it actually cause problems or is this fine? I don’t get why he thinks this messes up his tracking. We used to just have a note where we tracked company holidays saying why things didn’t match up perfectly.

    1. Alex*

      My boss has asked me to do this. I think it is fine–you are getting paid for the work you did, right? And getting credit for the right amount of floating time?

      My boss just doesn’t like to break it down too granularly because it makes it complicated for him to approve the time in the system.

      1. anonprofit*

        Yes, payment is normal and total number of holiday hours are normal, the placement of the holiday hours on my timesheet just doesn’t match reality.

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          Are the hours explicitly “holiday pay”? If so, my guess is that tracking stuff like that is more finicky for Payroll so it’s easier to keep all the holiday hours on the actual holiday versus chasing them down/recording and documenting why they’re on a different day.

          My prior bosses have asked folks to do things like this on timesheets because of some of the archaic systems our payroll team uses, or because the tracking is easier, or whatever else. If it all boils down to the right hours for everyone, I don’t really see the problem. But maybe that’s why I’m payroll-adjacent, not actual payroll lol (Tbh I thought this kind of thing was extremely normal until I started reading AAM and saw peoples’ strong reactions to it…)

    2. HugeTractsofLand*

      Any situation that involves the phrase “lie on my timesheets” sounds fishy to me. I would push back a little and say something like “The way I’ve done it is how I normally do it, is there a reason why it’s more complicated this time around? I’d really prefer not to fudge my timesheet.”

      1. anonprofit*

        To be fair, it might not actually be lying–I’m probably being dramatic here. There are notes on my timesheet saying that I made the change he asked for.

    3. Jessica Clubber Lang*

      I don’t think the hours on the time sheet itself is a huge issue, but will this come back to bite you when you try and use that hour to leave early and the system says you don’t have it available?

    4. Rick Tq*

      I’d step very carefully here, in some industries timecard fraud is an instant termination offense for the employee and banning for the company. I spent 9 years in aerospace on a federal contract and they were extremely strict about timesheets.

      Does your company have contracts with customers who require time tracking? If they do I’d check with HR or payroll to see what they say compared to what is an Easy button for your boss.

      1. anonprofit*

        Yes, that’s why even the salaried employees have to do time sheets. But this is just for holiday time (not PTO, actual holidays), and it’s not related to any of our contracts.
        My boss is currently our entire HR department and payroll, while we look for someone to take it over. So in a way, I’ve asked HR and payroll already.

    5. TX_Trucker*

      Your boss is asking you to lie on your time sheet. Not “kind of.” He is telling you to falsify a document. Is it a big deal? That depends on what the company uses the the time sheets for. Are you billing clients? Do you need to track hours for grants? For both of those, time card manipulation is a huge deal. Especially if you are a non-profit receiving grant money.

      If your time sheet is only used to track PTO, then it’s probably not a big deal. If you have a cumbersome system, I get why your boss doesn’t want to make an adjustment for a single hour.

      1. anonprofit*

        “Especially if you are a non-profit receiving grant money.” Yeah, that’s what we are. But to be fair, this was about holiday time. It didn’t affect the time I tracked for my work.
        I’m pissed off and uncomfortable, I just want to make sure I’m correctly calibrating how pissed off and uncomfortable I should be. That’s why I’m clarifying that it didn’t affect the most important part of my time sheet, the time that actually matters for our grants.
        Our system isn’t very cumbersome, he could make a note (like we’ve done before) saying that I used that one hour of holiday time elsewhere.

    6. Two Dog Night*

      As long as your total hours worked/not worked is correct, I wouldn’t worry about it. If you were in an industry that was strict about timesheets that would be different, but if your timesheets are being used for general tracking, it shouldn’t matter whether your reported 8 hours off was on one day or two.

    7. Tev*

      I did this a lot with my last job and the job before it. It was called comp time in both cases and was used for things like you describe. Other examples are if I had to stay an hour late to clean up after something, I would maybe leave an hour early the next day. Or if I had to come in on a Saturday for something, I would leave early Friday. Situations like that. The difference I guess is that in one job my boss was the director (highest up person) and she told me to do it this way and just tell her when it was happening. The other, higher ups knew this was happening too, and I just told my boss when my schedule had to accommodate this. Both jobs were salary and the time sheets were just prefilled out with our 8 hours. They didn’t like it if we had a lot (like I couldn’t do it for a full day, mostly an hour here and there when I had to schedule myself differently) and it couldn’t be saved and should be used in the same time period.

      In your case, it might be because you’re not allowed to split up a Floating Holiday (it has to be the full 8 hour day). I know I haven’t been able to take less than the full day when I’ve had them in the past. So he let you take the time elsewhere.

  36. BKet*

    So I have a coworker who I’ve never been real keen on, but whatever, treated him professionally and though we share a supervisor, we’re on totally different projects so I never really had to work with him either. Recently, he’s gone to our manager and complained that he doesn’t feel like I’m nice enough to him and it doesn’t make him feel great (note: I’m male too, so it’s not a sexism thing). Well, okay…. Manager acknowledges that this is a weird ask and that from his point of view he thinks our interactions are totally fine and is mainly talking to me to “give me a heads-up” and because this coworker asked him to talk to me.

    I try and bump up the warmth meter a bit, but seems like not enough for this coworker because he’s gone back to our supervisor with the same complaint, but when he’s pushed for specifics, this coworker can’t actually give any. My manager still says that he’ll talk to me though. Then in our conversation, he once again emphasizes that he doesn’t think I’m doing anything wrong and doesn’t really see a need for me to change my behavior and more to be aware of this coworker’s, I guess, perception of me.

    I feel like my situation is similar to this letter: https://www.askamanager.org/2023/10/my-coworkers-complain-im-violating-the-dress-code-but-im-not.html (though acknowledging that dress codes and coworkers’ emotions are quite different). I want to talk to my supervisor again using similar language, but I guess want to do a gut check here? Or if anyone thinks there is a better way to approach this

    (Also, I realize that assessing emotions is a lot harder than assessing a dress code second-hand, over the internet, with only one side. All I can give is that I really have been giving a good-faith effort to keep the workplace pleasant)

    1. Goddess47*

      Since co-worker can’t/wont give examples but persists in the complaint, ask your boss to arrange a meeting for the three of you to ‘openly discuss what might be going on’…

      That puts the co-worked on the spot to, well, essentially put-up or shut-up and protects you (and the boss) if the co-worker either has a real grievance or goes off the rails.

      And there should be ‘ground rules’ which should at least be ‘this is about work and getting work done.’

      Good luck.

    2. Delphine*

      You say you dislike him and he’s noticed it, so his reaction has merit, even if he doesn’t have actionable feedback. If you’ve always treated him professionally do you have any idea what behaviors tipped him off?

      1. BKet*

        So I guess I’ve buried the lede a bit in trying to make sure there’s enough information, but not too much for identification, as well as keeping control of the length. But this coworker was kinda pushy and seemed to expect a close friendship just because we both started at the same time. I… was not interested. So if there were behaviors that tipped him off, it was probably that he expected personal familiarity and I just gave him polite professionalism. The pushy behavior lasted longer than I would have liked but seemed to have tapered off, so I had thought that the message was received and that we had come to an equilibrium before the first conversation with our manager.

        To be fair, there was never any direct “Your behavior is off-putting, please stop pushing for a closer relationship” conversation. I just gave blank-wall answers like “oh, that’s nice”, “hm-mh”, “how interesting” and then would move the conversation back to just work.

        That being said, maybe my poker-face isn’t as good. Despite trying to be warmer, my feelings did tick over from “eh” to “kinda annoyed” after the first meeting, so maybe my poker-face does need a bit of work.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Well frankly…this is a him problem. You may have not been able to project “warmth” perfectly, but it sounds like you were polite, professional, and civil.

          Basically, going from what you’ve said, he wants you to be friendlier than you have been, and you don’t want to do that. (I have worked/work with people like this, and have learned the hard way that while some people are simply a bit overeager, others are the definition of “give an inch, take a mile” and keep trying to escalate relationships.)

          If he keeps up these complaints, a three-way meeting may be necessary.

    3. kbeers0su*

      I agree with your assessment. If your supervisor has heard the complaint, but cannot get any specifics from your coworker, then it’s probably just a personal feeling the coworker has. If there is no actionable thing that you can do to “fix” the situation, then the situation does not warrant a fix. Also, as a reminder of what has been discussed here numerous times, your coworkers are not your friends or family. You do not need to be friendly or warm towards them, beyond doing what your job requires of you and showing normal respect as you would to any other human being you come across in life (at the grocery store). If your coworker wants a different type of relationship with you, he cannot demand it. And if you are respectful towards him and do what needs to be done to assist him in his job (i.e. you meet deadlines to ensure he can get his work done, you collaborate on projects as needed to complete said projects, etc). then this is NOT a work issue. Your manager should tell your coworker that unless they can bring forward an actionable and legitimate issue, this situation is not up for discussion again. And your manager should stop talking to you about it, because it’s taking your time and energy for…nothing.

    4. Awkwardness*

      I have a coworker who I’ve never been real keen on
      Just ask yourself if there is nothing in your behaviour that might show this sentiment.

      I am not saying you are in the right or your coworker is in the right, but that there seems to be something subtle that transports more of a negative attitude than a neutral one.

      1. Awkwardness*

        I’ve seen your answer above. With that, I think others are right suggesting your team lead should stop validating him.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Your manager should stop telling him he’s going to speak to you and tell him instead that he sees you as being professional and courteous, that coworkers should be friendLY but don’t have to be friends, and that he is fine with your behavior.

      The manager should stop coming to you with this unless he wants you to change something. What the heck are you supposed to do with this information? Tell him to stop wimping out on the discussion (if you have that kind of relationship with him).

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        This!!

        I totally agree, your boss needs to tell coworker that as long as you’re professional and courteous, coworker needs to accept this is relationship.

        The suggestions to examine how your coworker knows you don’t like him are fine, *if* you want to put in that time to self-reflect, but it’s also totally fine for you not to put in that effort.

        It might be worth asking your boss to stop validating coworker’s (frankly weird) complaints that you’re not friends by saying they’ll talk to you. Instead, your boss should be saying, “BKet is professional and courteous with you, so you need to stop complaining he isn’t your friend.”

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This.

        If there’s nothing your manager can say beyond “well, I don’t see the problem” and there’s nothing specific to the complaint, he needs to quit this. It wastes time, and give your coworker a false sense of him being “right” since your manager keeps agreeing to bring it up with you, which means he’ll keep pushing.

    6. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

      “Manager acknowledges that this is a weird ask and that from his point of view he thinks our interactions are totally fine…”

      Any chance you can push back if/when your manager gets another complaint from Needy Coworker?

      “Manager, you’ve acknowledged that this is weird and you, yourself, haven’t seen anything odd in my interactions with him. There isn’t anything actionable here for me to do. Can you tell him that he needs to be able to say, ‘This is what BKet could do differently,’ the next time he wants to complain?”

    7. Hrodvitnir*

      As someone who is allergic to forced intimacy, I cannot EUGH your co-workers enough.

      I don’t think more than “pleasant” is required, and the fact he’s gone to your manager to complain you’re not nice enough multiple times catapulted me into “this is 100% a him problem”.

      I support the comments recommending asking your manager to shut this down unless there is actionable feedback, since he’s not letting it go.

  37. Sister George Michael*

    UGH, I just realized that I had a stress dream last night about going back to work for a toxic boss I left more than TEN YEARS ago. We are in the same field, so her name does come up often at my current (awesome) job, but I just feel like she got inside my head and I cannot get her out. In the dream, I agreed to go back to work for her and accept a very low salary!! Apparently the soothing book I listened to before sleep did not alter my high anxiety thoughts. UGH!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Ugh, I had that exact same thing happen to me in November. Totally out of the blue, but in retrospect I was a little worried at the time about my current job. My sympathies.

    2. Cj*

      at least once a year I dream about two toxic jobs I had come on both over a decade ago. the weird thing is, which boss worked for which company is switched in my dreams

    3. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

      It has been almost 14 years since I last saw my Toxic Manager and I have traumatizing stress dreams about her on the regular. She was so bad that she’s an easy thing for my subconscious to grab onto when my anxiety is already ratcheting up. (Brain: “We’re stressed? Gotcha. Here’s a dream where Teri still has control over a major part of your life. Enjoy!”)

      It’s tough to wrestle my emotions when I first wake up, but as I go about my morning routine I actively remind myself of all the things in my life that have changed for the better in the years since I knew her (so, filling my brain with enough positive to outweigh that awful feeling that comes from waking up from one of these kinds of dreams).

      My Toxic Manager and I no longer work in the same field — thank all the gods — so I don’t have to hear or see her name. That must truly suck. But… she’s in your rearview mirror! HURRAH!

  38. Formerly Ella Vader*

    This is a question about Ask-A-Manager archives – I can never figure out if it should be a Friday question or a weekend one.

    I can’t find one of the old questions/posts that I would like to go back and reread. The poster spent an afternoon sending updates on an unfolding situation with a co-worker who ended up leaving the job before the end of the day. The story might have started with some issues of people spotting each other in a grocery store or pharmacy during working hours, but then escalated weirdly. In my memory, the problematic worker was something like a lab equipment operator in a university department, and by the end of the day all their duties had been reassigned. Part of my problem figuring out suitable search terms for this post was that I can’t remember what was actually in the post and what I had imagined from knowing many similar workplaces and situations.

    1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      I remember this one! I’m going to try to see if I can find it. If I remember correctly, the coworker was blackmailing the LW into giving her their vacation time that they had taken for their honeymoon.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        Thank you! Truly an incredible read! I wish the OP would update AAM again – I am curious how they fared through covid and whether they’re still with that company!

    2. Long-time freelancer*

      Sometimes a Google search is better than a site’s own search. Add “site:ask a manager.org” after your search terms to limit the results to that site.

    3. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      I think it’s this one: My coworker is blackmailing me not to take time off for my honeymoon. (2 March 2020).

      (Link to follow in separate comment because of moderation.)

  39. Despereaux*

    My spouse was a sheet metal worker/welder for many years. He wanted to change to a job that required less extended travel (he would frequently have to go to other states for weeks or months at a time for work) and wasn’t so physically hard on him. He has back and dexterity issues and a lot of old injuries.

    He happened to get a job as a beer and wine sales rep which he’s now been doing for 2 years. It does not pay enough and he says he hates it. He says he’s tried applying for other types of sales positions but never gets any interest.

    Is there another field that he could possibly go to with this kind of background? I want to encourage him to get a different job but he doesn’t seem to be having luck with sales and I don’t know what else to suggest to him. Thanks for any ideas you can give me!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Has he built up a network in the beer/wine sales area? Importers, large retailers, auxiliary business like people who generate signage? He might even find a better opportunity or better territory by jumping to a different distributor, or switching to inside sales that doesn’t require driving around all day.

      I used to work wine retail, and had very good relationships with the distributor reps. It was very normal for them to switch territories & employers, or to jump over to large retailers.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Welding instructor at a community college? I am thinking maybe he worked oil rigs in the past, but in my region of California, there are lots of industrial companies where you work on site every day and I have to think it’s less physically demanding, but also a great need to train the next generation to work there.
      The other thought I have if he is construction-minded, is building inspector or code enforcement inspector (jobs with a local government). Also a real talent crunch in this industry as the boomers retire, and some “building” experience will be helpful. Some states have a pretty basic certification process, and some don’t – it’s all on the job training.

    3. Union*

      If he wants to stick with sales, maybe he could look into employers like foundries, lighting distributors, or HVAC suppliers? I work with a lot of those folks and you can always tell who’s actually worked in the field and who hasn’t.

      1. Somewhere in Texas*

        I was thinking this too. Sales related to field work (like he used to do) would be a better fit. He knows the environment and he can speak to the needs better.

  40. Knot Another Darn Rejection*

    I am entirely, wholly disheartened by my job search progress. I have been applying to 100s of jobs and have had two interviews with the remainder a rejection or a non-response (a response in its own right).

    I have been unemployed since 2020 (furloughed, illness, mental health tanked, the attack on my city by city & state employees) [I did do some work for a friend for about six months and I worked at a mail processing company for four months] and It Is Causing A Problem for my partner (fully employed, able to work from home all pandemic until the last 18 months or so having to go into the office) because it seems like I’m just not doing anything.

    My resume is up to snuff, but my last FT job ended in (with the end of my furlough) August 2020 (five days before my birthday). At this point, I feel I am struggling most with a cover letter. I know there have been posts in the past, but any further tips you’d have would be most welcome.

    They/Them pronouns, please.

    1. WellRed*

      Can you provide a little bit more info? Are you searching in a field or market or position level that’s bound to have thousands of applicants for every job? Do you have a specialized niche or skill set? Are you applying to the right jobs for you or applying for anything and everything reasonable? For the cover letter, are you struggling to explain the gap?

    2. K8T*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through that, the ghosting is worse than rejection. In the meantime, could you get a part-time job in retail, hotels, F&B, etc? This way you still have time to focus on your job search but you’re getting out of the house – and might find a new career avenue. I honestly always liked those kind of jobs since they’re usually low-stakes and I don’t take any work baggage home with me. Good luck!!

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Would it be helpful and/or doable for you to pick up a job or a volunteering opportunity that is non-ideal but can get some things back onto your resume? Retail, food service, volunteering with a local shelter, anything like that (mental and physical health allowing of course).

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Commenter ferrina left this advice in reply to another question on this page, but I think it may be helpful for you as well so I’ll paste it here:

      1. Create a master resume and cover letter. This will be at least twice as long as an actual resume/CL. Your resume should list all your jobs and all your accomplishments. I also have the first bullet under each job highlight the general expectations of the job (a job description written as an accomplishment). Your CL should have an opening paragraph, closing paragraph, and 6-8 body paragraphs highlighting different skills you have. This can take several hours to write all this

      2. When you find a job posting you want to apply to, isolate the top 2-4 skills they want. For example: Customer Service, Project Management, Building New Platforms

      3. Edit your resume and take out any accomplishments that don’t directly support the top skills from the posting. Only leave the strongest accomplishments that support the skills they want- this will help them easily see why you’d be a great asset for them.

      4. Pick 2-3 body paragraphs from the master cover letter that speak to the top skills from the job posting. Paste in the opening paragraph, the body paragraphs and the closing paragraph. Edit just to improve the flow- no need to write new content.

      This took me 2 hours the first time I used it, but over time I was able to streamline it to under an hour per application. You’ll also be able to reuse old material as you see trends in what top skills different jobs want (for example, I had a Customer Service/Project Management-specific template). It also meant that when I was tired and only vaguely functional I was still sending out stronger material than I would have otherwise.

      Good luck in your search!

      Your resume is up to snuff and you’ve sent out hundreds of applications, so you can sort of back-calculate your master cover letter. Dig up as many of the old cover letters you’ve sent out and copy/paste them into one giant document. Then spend some time organizing it into a more useable master cover letter (combine paragraphs that talk about the same skills/accomplishments, maybe add some headers so you can easily find the sections you want). Once you have your master cover letter up to snuff, you should be able to follow ferrina’s step #4 when applying for jobs, and that will be a whole lot easier than trying to come up with a cover letter from scratch for each application.

      1. ferrina*

        I’ll add- when I wrote my first draft of my cover letter, I had a glass of wine with me. I felt awkward bragging about myself. I pretended that I was a hoity-toity bigwig with a glass of wine laughing that The Club with my friends about what a grand person I was and wrote it in that voice.

        Well, tried to. My natural “gah! Can’t brag” came through and balanced out the arrogant persona I was trying to put on. It was a bit of mental gymnastics, but it got there. Do whatever helps you get into the headspace of “Let me tell you how frickin awesome I am”.

        It was also nice to just set aside a couple hours to get into the headspace and get the right voice, then not need to worry about it again. When I was having a particularly confident day (I had worked out, my hair looked great, the barista made the perfect coffee) I’d occasionally go back an improve on it. But that was only if I felt like it.

  41. can't remember my username*

    So I don’t expect anyone to remember this but a few months ago I posted about how the lead of another department was having medical issues so the higher ups dumped an entire portion of that entire department’s jo on my plate. In the past when my job was expanded, I was given a small raise. Not this time. A few weeks later they laid off 1/3 of the company.

    We’re slow at the moment so it’s not too much of an inconvenience but I’m still doing the job of 4 people on top of my own work.

    So my question is this: should I try and negotiate a raise or let it go since things are kinda looking bleak over here?

    Additional info: I was given a small annual raise in September and it was around late October that they added this workload.

    1. kbeers0su*

      I think you can take the approach of asking for relief, but that might not look like a raise. If you’re doing a volume of work that used to be handled by four people in the past, my assumption is you’re not working 120 hours a week. You’re doing the most important of all that combined load of work. If the issue is that the expectations exceed common sense- i.e. you are being pushed to work a beyond-reasonable workload- or no one has told you what to prioritize, set a meeting with your manager to have an overall discussion about what to do now. Something like, “Since I’ve taken on these extra responsibilities from X department in October, I wanted to talk with you about my overall workload. Ideally, if this is not a short-term change to my responsibilities, I hope the company would be open to a raise commensurate with this change. However, in light of the recent layoffs, I understand that might not be possible. So I want to speak with you about what I currently have on my plate, and how I should prioritize these items as I cannot reasonably do all the work of X people.” I would come ready with a full list of the tasks/responsibilities you currently hold, and an idea of how you think you should prioritize them in case they look to you for your assessment. But, one way or the other, having this conversation can give you 1) clarity on your priorities, 2) an answer about whether you can get a raise, and 3) a sense of whether you should be job searching.

    2. Zephy*

      If by “let it go” you mean “leave,” yeah, do that. Your company is getting 5 jobs for the price of one right now, which is a screaming deal for them but absolutely not your problem to solve.

  42. L&D Gal*

    What do you do about a “dolphining” CEO? (My friend used this term when I was telling her about the CEO – he dives deep on some things and then jumps up to the big picture again…and you never know when it’ll happen.)

    I love love love my job and my supervisor. In my work (learning and organizational development), I hear recurring themes from leaders, and one of the biggest ones is about our CEO. He gets himself overly involved in the details that aren’t really necessary. For example, I’m more than 4 levels below him, and he wants to approve all my training topics AND see the outlines before I deliver training sessions. The marketing team is terrified to do their jobs because he’ll change his mind frequently, and he wants to approve EVERYTHING they do. It’s like he either doesn’t trust his VPs or he just wants to have his hands in every single aspect of the work…and this is an org of over 6,000 employees!
    At the end of the day, it’s not a huge headache for me, but I know it is for my boss…and I see how it impacts all the people I coach and train.
    Is there honestly anything that can be done here? Are all CEO’s like this?

    1. WellRed*

      Would it help to substitute dolphin for micromanaging? Cause that’s what he’s doing, no matter how you dress it.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Love the term “dolphining!”

      There’s an VP in my organization like this that I used to work under. I never knew if I was getting “Fergus the VP,” “Fergus the program director,” “Fergus the project manager,” or “Fergus the business development analyst.” I even (after much reflection and workshopping this with several trusted senior colleagues) asked for a meeting with the SVP and told her that Fergus was having a difficult time being a leader of leaders. Fergus has since been promoted to SVP. Oh well. I tried.

      Unless someone with enough credibility delivers this message to the CEO AND he’s amenable to change (I find that kind of behavior usually comes from a place of insecurity or a lack of awareness of what their actual priorities ought to be), I wouldn’t hold out much hope of this improving.

    3. linger*

      Are all CEO’s like this?

      No; only those with a lack of porpoise.
      (N.B. porpoising is an existing verb for this erratic dive-and-surface behaviour.)

  43. Tired*

    I am an American fed up with the protestant work ethic culture here. I am sick of vacations longer than 2 weeks at a time being frowned on (and I know I am in a great situation compared to many of my fellow Americans). I wish I could take a month of vacation off like my Australian family members so I could enjoy world travel while having a steady job and income.

    Have any Americans succeeded in getting jobs with benefits in Europe, Australia, or similar places with better cultures of work-life balance? How did they succeed? I know many STEM jobs can open these doors. However, sadly for me, I am not a STEM person. I am getting my (likely useless) masters in Higher Education and Student Affairs part-time while working in an academic library as a library information specialist at a front desk. I am a warm, people-loving person opened to jobs in either field or outside these fields.

    Language-wise, English is my native language, and I have studied Spanish, Russian and French but am not on a professional level with any of these languages at this time (although I do want to dedicate more time to language learning since I enjoy this).

    I may just be typing into the void, but really wish America would catch up with the rest of the developed world…..

    1. Catwhisperer*

      I’m an American living in the EU who transferred here via my tech job. My general recommendation is to get a job at a global company in the US first, because it’s easier to apply for internal transfers to roles in other countries than it is to apply directly to the company’s open jobs in that country. If you’re an internal transfer, you’re a known entity and also have a chance to build relationships with management for teams you’re interested in. That means staying in the US role for at least a year, though, which might not be a bad thing. Employment laws in most EU countries prohibit re-hiring for laid-off positions for at least a year post-layoff, so hiring is much slower here than in the US offices of my company and other big tech that did layoffs recently.

    2. Introvert girl*

      It depends on how long a pay cut you’re willing to take. They’re looking for native English teachers all over Europe. You will earn very little but will have around 3 months worth of vacation. Is that something you’re willing to do?

    3. Manders*

      I’m at a public university in the US that doesn’t pay as well as other places, but has absolutely incredible benefits. The time off is great – we get about 9-ish paid holidays plus 2 weeks off at winter break, 10-15 days vacation depending on years of service plus some roll-over each year if unused, 12 days sick leave (unlimited accrual). Our retirement plan is also good – 7.5% of your salary, plus up to 2.5% match on what you put in. Decent medical and dental. Is it the best place to work? No, probably not. But the benefits make it a pretty good lifestyle.

    4. anxiousGrad*

      I highly recommend looking into Fulbright. It will give you a chance to live and work abroad, and if you like it, hopefully you’ll have built a network that will help you get a job in whatever country you go to.

    5. Defective Jedi*

      International schools might be a great option for you! I know several people who have gone this route and loved the local lifestyle. They do staffing through agencies that seem to make it easy to see opportunities for many schools at once, so you don’t need to find each school’s careers page. Good luck!

  44. Thunder Kitten*

    How can I explain to my boss that I’m intellectually understimulated and miserable without using those exact words. I know their first reaction will be to try to bog me down with tedious busy work. If I point that I want something more meaningful or larger scope, he will try to convince me that it is (trust me, it’s not…). I don’t mind doing the grunt work, but if there is NOTHING to engage my brain, it literally impacts my mental health.

    Yes I need a new job, but that will take a while.

    1. Local Garbage Committee*

      Have you had any success coming to your boss with something specific within the scope of your job classification (but maybe outside your normal tasks) that you would like to take on?

      E.g. I have some clerical staff members with very routine daily tasks, but if one of them came to me and said “I feel like its going well with my daily task x, I would [like to work on updating the documentation about it, learn a process to backup one of our professional staff members, take this specific training/work on this skill] ” I could work with that. If they just said “I want to do something more meaningful” I wouldn’t know how to respond since their work is meaningful to the org.

    2. Catwhisperer*

      Can you come to him with suggestions about projects you’d like to work on or specific skills you want to improve? That way you can frame it as wanting to grow in a specific direction that would (hopefully) prevent him from just giving you unrelated busywork. Framing it as wanting growth opportunities will also make you look invested and leave him with a better impression than acknowledging you’re unhappy, which will be better for you in the long run.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      I don’t know if this is possible at your job, but my last position was like this. What I did to make it a bit more bearable was talk to people above me and in different departments about what they were working on so I could get a feel for the kinds of projects the company was prioritising. Then I came up with a project I thought they would go for and pitched it to my boss and department heads. When they approved it I was put in charge of the project. It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot and it was something intellectually stimulating after months of tedium. My boss wasn’t capable of finding or creating intellectually stimulating work for me, so I had to do it myself while making him feel like he was part of the process so as not to step on toes.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      Been there! I was hired into an entry-level position when I switched orgs, and I was not entry-level (I had just graduated with a PhD). My boss knew this and was really helpful in keeping an eye out for little side projects I could take on that would 1) expose me to other areas of the org and 2) use skills outside of my direct team (ie Plateau data viz when my position and team did 0% data viz).
      I’d suggest asking about upcoming projects/sprints, or even mentioning past projects (“You know, if there’s another X project that comes up, I’d love to be able to help out with it”).

    5. Thunder Kitten*

      My boss is the reason that I need a new job and the reason I’m understimulated.

      New ideas are shot down for what can only be considered stupid reasons. “No that approach won’t be valid because you might go on maternity leave” (not pregnant fwiw).

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Honestly if you’re getting comments like that I would keep track of them and go to HR. Because not giving you projects because you might get pregnant is straight up discrimination.

        1. linger*

          Certainly the set of potential projects that might cause an employee to get pregnant is small enough that it is extremely odd for your boss to be concerned your project might belong to that set.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        WAIT WHAT

        He said that out loud????

        Yeah, no. That’s not just stupid, that is illegal.

        1. Thunder Kitten*

          Yes. Yes it is. AND he was stupid enough – when I called it out via email (not the illegal aspect, but the problematic bias), to put in writing that he thought I would find the prospect of cuddling a baby less upsetting than taking care of a sick family member (FMLA protections) or having cancer (FMLA, ADA).

          At that point I kept the email (duh) but was new enough I didn’t want to make waves (who knows how HR would handle it), so I never ever said anything to anyone NOR did I ever trust him with anything about my personal life.

          Yes I need to get out of there. But my role has pigeon-holed me in a horrible way and I don’t know how to move on.

  45. kitryan*

    Is it generally best, if you can set an end date when leaving a job, for it to be early in the month, for health insurance? I did some googling and didn’t find anything definitive- just some general statements that some employers end company coverage on the last day of employment and some end it on the last day of the month in which the employee leaves.
    If someone has the option to pick their notice term, is it generally best, assuming they don’t know and can’t easily find out their company’s specific policy, to have the last day be in the first week of the month, and would that potentially have the employer part of the coverage paid for that month rather than immediately having to pay the full amount for COBRA right away after leaving the job?
    Or, is there any way (like something to look for on a pay stub) to figure out your employer’s specific policy/set up?
    Sorry if the question’s not super clear, I’ve been having trouble writing it out clearly/succinctly, which has also impeded my googling :)

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I understand that you don’t want to ask that question of HR, as it might tip your hand that you’re looking to leave. And I doubt you’re going to see that on your paystub.

      I think you’ve got a couple options. 1) your insurance carrier, or a benefits management company if you have one, probably has an FAQ or a helpline where you can ask about this without it getting back to your employer. 2) you need to dig the full insurance packet out and read through the fine print.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s a clear question! Start with your employee handbook, it might give you some guidance– though based on your question I imagine it’s not in there. You can also try to call your insurance company.

      This is really tough to answer. I once left a job and was told that coverage ended on my last day, only to learn from insurance that nope, I was covered through the end of the month. Another time I left a job with my last day on the 3rd of the month and I was definitely covered through that month.

      One thing to note: COBRA is retroactive, so you don’t need to pay for it right away. I think you have 30 days to elect it? Not sure– there are others here more knowledgeable than I.

      1. kitryan*

        Yep – it’s not in the handbook, I checked that one already. As I’m super burnt out, I’d be taking a month to 3 month break before diving back into something, so it’d definitely be COBRA for me, for a few months at least. I do know the bit about it being retroactive, but thanks for the tips.
        I’m generally not sure if this would be an internal employer policy or not, so I’m not sure if the insurance company would even know but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Especially since you’ve had an experience where they did know better than the employer!
        We do have an EAP set up that is a possible other option to check with but I’m really not sure if there’s any expectation of privacy there for this type of query, so that’s my last option. It’s about a $600 question, so if I get it wrong it’s survivable, for sure, but it’s also enough to make it worth doing a bit of checking out before making a decision. It’s also potentially worth doing it so that I work through the first week of the next month (would be March) just in case, if I can’t come up with solid info, but I haven’t decided that yet.
        Thanks to you and Alton Brown’s Evil Twin for your advice!

        1. Maybeanonfornow*

          The other option is I believe you have 90 days to elect cobra coverage. If you’re willing to take the risk, but nothing medically will happen, you could not sign up for cobra unless you needed it and then they will backdate it to the first day that you were eligible.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      At both jobs I left, coverage went through the end of the month. We always paid out for health insurance on the first paycheck of the month (second paycheck, thus, was always for a bit more $). When I resigned, I had my last day as the 2nd of the month so I’d be covered through the rest of the month.
      I’ll also add that COBRA for me was wildly expensive – like $750/month. Due to change in healthcare coverage, I was in a special enrollment window and was able to get health insurance from the marketplace for at least half of that. Before resigning, I also talked with someone who recently left to be able to understand paid out vacation leave, etc. There should be a way to find out how insurance runs–when you pay into it and how long that payment covers.

      1. Tio*

        This is definitely YMMV – At both previous jobs I left, coverage terminated as soon as I left.

        Agreed that COBRA coverage is wildly overpriced though

      2. kitryan*

        Thank you. There isn’t a different in the amount in the paychecks – but I wasn’t sure if ‘end of month’ people would see a difference or not, or if that would be a definitive sign. So good to know that as an ‘end of the month’ person, your paychecks indicated the month was being paid up front.
        Since we’re every two weeks, that seems like a further indication that it is probably not a situation where it’s paid thru the end of the month.

      3. Hillary*

        Also, remember leaving a job is a qualifying event. That means you can be added to a spouse’s policy or buy insurance on the marketplace even though it isn’t open enrollment.

        1. kitryan*

          Thanks! I appreciate the reminder.
          I’m pretty confident about my options re: cobra, the marketplace, etc. as researching those is easier to do and less dependent on a person’s specific situation and the answers are a bit clearer. I just don’t want to walk myself into a $600 payment I don’t have to make right out of the gate :)

    4. Bruce*

      The insurance company should know if you call them. You can also try asking around to coworkers who have left recently if you have any that you’re friendly with and trust; HR will most likely have gone over it with them as part of their off-boarding.

      For what it’s worth, of the 4 jobs I’ve quit, only one terminated health insurance on the last day of employment (rather than the last day of the month), and frankly I’m not sure they were allowed to do that but didn’t push it since I was starting at another job. As another job I had two coworkers set their last day to be the first of the month (a Monday) and they were able to get a full month of coverage by doing so. While they did allow it, the HR team was not happy with them doing that, so if your HR is hostile be aware that they might try to force you to have your last day in the previous month if it’s obvious what you’re trying to do. If you feel you need to you could try to disguise it a bit by having your last day be the first Friday of the month (e.g. Friday the 5th rather than Monday the 1st in my former coworkers’ scenario).

    5. just here for the scripts*

      When I worked for a non-profit, coverage went to the end of the month.

      I now work in city government and coverage ends THE DAY you leave. Not the end of the pay period. Not the end of the month. THE DAY. YOU LEAVE.

      Also fun fact, the only employers exempt from the city/state law about needing to supply short-term disability coverage to their employees are…(wait for it)…city and state employers.

      So yes, check the employee handbook, talk to folks who left, ask hr a lot of questions—of which this one…but define get the facts before you make any decisions.

    6. Ellis Chumsfanleigh*

      It’s been probably 50/50 with jobs I’ve left. It’s definitely an internal policy because all of these jobs have been in the same state.

      For some, I was covered through the end of the month, with the reasoning that premiums are paid a month in advance.

      For others, like my most recent ex-job, coverage ended on my last day and they refunded my premiums in a post-employment direct deposit. (I had been under the impression that I would be covered for the full month and my last day was on the 4th of the month. Oop. I was on the hook for COBRA from the 5th of that month until insurance kicked in at my new job).

      Unfortunately, I think you’ll have to ask HR if you want to know the answer. Or have someone you trust, who isn’t looking to leave, to ask HR.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Are you friendlyish with anyone who left recently? Before I last quit a job, I confirmed with a work-friend who’d also recently quit. So I was sure before I did it that they were of the “it goes through the end of the month whether your last day is the 2nd or the 27th” variety. And my last day was the 2nd. :)

  46. Donkey Hotey*

    For November and December, I did an experiment. I did everything I knew could make my brain happy, with the goal of figuring out: Am I depressed or does my job suck? (Currently at 20 months at my current place. It’s more than I’ve ever made, but it sucks the marrow out of my bones.)
    Answer: it’s the job. It’s January 5 and I just started updating my resume.
    Good luck to all the other seekers out there. And if anyone knows the secret for finding actual in-office jobs for those willing to do so, please let me know.

    1. Bob-White of the Glen*

      What kind of things did you do as part of this experiment? I’m in a similar place, but think I’m just bored of life and too old to move/start over again.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        I’d already spent a while figuring out the things that make my brain happy. I totted up a list of all those things and pushed myself to accomplish at least five a day.

        Speaking for me and me only, my list included:
        Think: Journaling, puzzles, reading, trip planning
        Move: Clean, garden, walk, yoga, gym
        Do: Time with pets, sit outside, spa day
        Create: D&D, cross stitch, write, cook
        Connect: Reach out to friends, send a card/letter
        Tap out: Watch a movie, go to bed early.
        Avoid: alcohol and intoxicants.

        Good luck!

  47. Alex*

    I need to vent for a minute.

    I started a new job about a year ago, and even took a (fairly substantial) pay cut to get it because I had maxed out at my previous job, although they paid really well. During the interview process I was promised that they prefer to promote from within and that there was room for growth.

    Cut to my annual review a couple weeks ago and my boss tells me that there’s no chance I’d ever be promoted there because in our department, only managers can have a title higher than what I currently have. We also all got really crappy raises (not even COL) because “the company had a bad year.”

    I’m feeling quite betrayed by this, and also like a chump for going above and beyond to establish a track record that I hoped would lead to a promotion. Sigh.

    1. Bob-White of the Glen*

      I’m so sorry. Definitely time to job hunt. Hopefully you’ll end up in a better place.

  48. Llama Coach Extraordinaire*

    I need help approaching a client about payment— and understanding whether/how to pursue it or whether to let it go.

    I have a sometimes-lucrative side hustle, shall we say, coaching llama trainers. These trainers prepare their llamas for elite, public performances at an Olympic level. I have 20+ years of experience as a llama trainer myself, and I teach llama training at a prestigious facility.

    In January 2022, a client hired me for 2 llama training projects simultaneously. I had already completed one training contract with them successfully. My contract typically states that I am paid equal chunks of my fee upfront, when specified milestones are reached, and upon conclusion of the project.

    The goal was that we would complete Project 1 by summer 2022 and Project 2 by end of 2022. I thought that timeline was overly ambitious, so I added a clause to each contract stating that final payment would be due upon completion of the project or Dec 15, 2022, whichever came first.

    At the end of 2022, we appeared to be near completion of Project 1. We had not even held a meeting on Project 2. I billed for the remainder of Project 1, and the client paid immediately. I told them (perhaps in error) that I would hold off on billing for Project 2 till we got started on it- which I thought was imminent.

    Ha! Project 1 wasn’t completed till August 2023. I obviously worked way more hours on it than expected. It turned out well. The client said, Let’s start to talk about Project 2. Finally! I planned to bill him for 100% of Project 2 upon having that initial conversation.

    But we have not had that conversation. I have reached out to set a meeting and gotten no response. Meanwhile, the client has been in touch (by email/text) to ask for guidance about the llama performance industry. He invited me to a llama performance out of town that I was not able to attend. And I have passed along information I’ve learned about some competition that might affect his plans.

    But not a word about starting Project 2, which was supposed to be done in 2022. And it’s 2024.

    My question: How do I follow up? Do I say it’s been over a year and bill him? Do I try yet again to schedule a first conversation on Project 2? I fear either of those reach outs could just drop into the void again.

    How do I phrase any follow up at this point?

    Or do I just let it go? We have a signed contract, yes, but it’s been 2 years. I could use the money, tbh, which could amount to 10% of my income this year if I have a slow year. But I don’t want to come across as needy/desperate.

    All advice is welcome! Thank you!!

    1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

      It sounds like you haven’t done any work yet on Project 2, so I don’t see what you would be billing for.

      I’d assume that project 2 isn’t happening at this point, but I’d definitely stay in touch with him to confirm that one way or the other. It sounds like a big job so it wouldn’t be needy or desperate, just you doing the proper planning for your business.

      1. Melissa*

        Or agree on a new contract if it looks like the project will go ahead, as the pay date in your existing contract came and went.

        1. Tio*

          Agree with both. This is likely not happening anytime soon, I would move on and look for a other opportunities. I don’t think you can bill them for project 2 since you haven’t done anything for it, even had a conversation. I know that the upfront cost is generally to cover essentially blocking off your calendar for them, but at this point you should consider your schedule empty (of their projects).

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think it’s safe to say project 2 is DOA. Proceed as if Project 1 was the entire piece of work for that client and handle it however you normally would with a non paying customer.

  49. Witness in harassment investigation*

    My job is with a nonprofit organization whose work is integrated with a federal government agency. We collaborate at every level. I love my job, my colleagues, my nonprofit’s mission, and the terrific staff at the government agency. I plan to retire here.

    A while back, the respected executive who ran my department suddenly initiated going on leave. We had no explanation from anyone, and leadership asked us to respect that he was away and not to contact him. Many were concerned about his well-being, but HR was unable to share anything. After two months, we were told he had resigned. Our CEO communicated what many of us felt, that our director’s departure a big loss for our organization.

    Soon afterward, our HR chief confidentially informed me that our former director had filed a legal complaint for harassment against the regional leader of the federal agency, and named me as a witness. Everyone has attorneys now—the complainant, my nonprofit, and the agency. The government is taking the complaint seriously. They sent a high-level individual from their national headquarters to investigate in person for potential disciplinary action. This investigator conducted a recorded interview with me under oath.

    I didn’t initially know what this was about. While I’m leaving out details for anonymity, I ask that you believe me when I say the process clarified that the former director’s allegation of sexual harassment against the federal official is true. Given how intertwined the nonprofit and the agency are, the director couldn’t continue. He was committed to our mission, his integrity is spotless, and what happened to him is horrible. (If it matters, both individuals are gay men.)

    Keeping this all under wraps is tough. I can’t let on that there even IS an investigation. Our HR chief is the only person who knows the content of my interview. Thankfully she understands the awkward position I’m in and is very supportive, including protecting me from the government official knowing about my involvement.

    My challenge is that I still must interact with this awful official (appointed not elected) with whom I have previously had a friendly relationship. His role is public-facing and prominent and it’s important to be supportive of his leadership due to the nature of our organizational partnership. My work doesn’t connect directly, but we are by necessity at gatherings. He caused substantial harm to both a person and organization that I care about, and I’m disgusted to be in his presence.

    I caught a glimpse of him today and headed the other way, but I can’t do that forever. How can I go forward in a collaborative organizational framework with this fiction that all is fine?

    1. HonorBox*

      Wow. I’m incredibly sorry this has happened and you’ve been put in the position you’re in! Sending you good vibes as you navigate this.

      Just wondering this… do you have the type of relationship with the HR rep where you could go to them, close the door for a few minutes and just vent when you have to deal with this jerk? That might make it slightly easier for you to maintain a cool, professional demeanor in front of the jerk when you’re forced to see him, but allow you the opportunity to get any thoughts out into the open following.

      I had a situation (not at all this extreme) several years ago where a person who I would work with some, but not a lot, was a jerk to me in front of someone I also worked with from time to time. I honestly still hold a grudge for how poorly I was treated. I looped in my boss at the time and a couple of close associates and was able to vent to them when I had to work with or even encounter the jerk. It didn’t solve the problem of me not liking the person, but it did give me an opportunity to play it cool around them, to the point that if we ran into one another today, both having moved to different cities, the interaction would be cordial and almost friendly. Having that outlet for venting was incredibly helpful to me, and maybe having the HR person as your outlet is an avenue to explore.