open thread – March 15-16, 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.

{ 1,022 comments… read them below }

  1. Chip Chip*

    I need some reassurance that I didn’t handle something with a new job badly. TL;DR: question in last paragraph. Basically, did I give too much information?

    I’m starting a new job next week – yay! It’s a part-time job & we’re still working out the schedule. They sent me info for the first two days when I’ll be doing orientation. Then Wed – Fri were listed as TBD and I was asked to weigh in on what would work for me. I’d love to have open availability, but I actually have something on Friday – a medical appointment I need to take my mother to. It’s late morning, so I said working 1-5 would probably work best that day, but I could also split the day and gave details about what I meant by that (8-10 then some time between 1 & 5). And I mentioned my mother’s doctor appointment as the reason.

    The doctor appointment isn’t a regular occurrence, but there might be a couple of others over the summer that I need to take her to as well. Did I give too much information by saying why I needed an afternoon or split schedule on that day? Should I have given more that this won’t be a regular thing, to reassure them, but mention that there might be another time or two that this will come up, to prepare them? Or do I wait to get to know them a little more before bringing something like that up?

    1. T. Wanderer*

      I think you gave a very normal amount of information. This site is full of bad bosses, and it’s hard to know if you’ll have one, but for most people — it’s fine.

    2. municipal worker*

      Good employer’s won’t hire you for 20 hours per week, but expect your availability to be 80 hours a week. They presume that if you are looking for a pt job, it’s because you have something taking up the rest of your time. You don’t need to apologize or explain why you are not constantly available.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree. They asked your schedule. You told them and you added in a little bit about why. I wouldn’t go into your mom’s health info, but saying you need to be her ride is reasonable, or just that you have a schedule conflict. I’d only bring up the other times as/when needed. Be confident and act like OF COURSE it’s reasonable for you to have a schedule outside your working hours. Because it is.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      I think you’re fine, but I would emphasize that this is not a weekly thing but there will be a few other occurrences. People have family that they need to take care of; a reasonable work place will understand that you need to be away every once in a while to do just that.

      I’m taking a day off next month for just this sort of thing. I don’t know that you need to say it’s for a family member’s medical appointment; a reasonable employer should be fine with “family issue” or “family appointment”.

      1. Antilles*

        In a part-time role like this, I’m not sure if you even need to “emphasize that it’s not a weekly thing”. There’s no expectation that you’re 100% available during business hours, five days a week – nor are they paying for that level of on-demand access.

        1. amoeba*

          Exactly. Although I might mention it if you’d actually usually be fine with/like those hours to make sure they consider them for you!

        2. Peanut Hamper*

          That’s true if they have a flexible schedule, but some part-time jobs have a regular schedule. I couldn’t tell from the letter if that was the case or not.

    4. WellRed*

      Not your question but do yourself a favor and build in extra time around medical appointments. I’m stressed just thinking about that split schedule you offered; )

      1. Chip Chip*

        Thank you, but trust me, I did! I have the luxury of going to doctors who are never more than 10 minutes late.

    5. English Rose*

      Yes I think that’s fine. Especially when you’re brand new (congratulations) it’s worth being a bit more open about why you might not have open availability.

    6. Saturday*

      You’re fine! I think in response to a question like this, you could say something like, “This particular Friday, I’m available from [times], but typically, I’ll be available [times]” if that makes sense to do. I agree with others that you don’t need to get into info about the medical appointment, but I also wouldn’t worry about it. It all sounds fine.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      I think that’s just fine – you gave a good reason for why you were willing to work a split day. Taking your mother to a doctor’s appointment is not a big issue. If you’re concerned your manager may get the idea this is going to be a regular thing, just tell them that you have to take your mother to her doctor’s appointment every few months.

      The fact that the schedule can be varied means this shouldn’t really be a problem.

  2. Peanut Hamper*

    What is considered a good bonus? My current company gives around 3% and consider that to be generous, but my previous employer gave out bonuses that were closer to 8-10% (but working conditions were ridiculous).

    1. Skoobles*

      It depends greatly on the industry and your level of seniority (in general, bonuses or performance incentives increase %-wise as you go up the ladder).

      That said, if you’re talking a yearly bonus, 3% seems extremely low to me in almost any context. A bonus should generally feel significant, and getting the equivalent of a single year’s CoL raise is… not. 8-10% is what I got as an entry level employee in a technical job, and that was before the modifiers that (usually, not always) bumped that higher.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah in my mind, .5-3% raises are a COLA, but inflation is killing me where I am so that’s my bias. Also when I was coming up, the company would explain to us that we didn’t need a COLA because cost of living was flat, so no raise – however, when inflation was like 8% or more, I also did not get an adjustment, so I don’t really believe the higher-ups. They would definitely act like 3% was a generous one-time merit raise and you should be very grateful.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is this a performance bonus for something noteworthy you did? What fraction of the staff gets performance bonuses on average?

      Or is this an across-the-board bonus (ie some kind of profit sharing arrangement)? Do your competitors offer these? How does that 3% compare?

    3. E*

      It also depends on if the bonus is dependent on how well the company did that year. 3% for a bad year is nice, 3% on a record breaking year is not.

    4. KayDeeAye*

      My non-profit gives bonuses based on very specific and quantifiable goals. In theory, they vary from 0% (if we don’t make any of the goals) to 10% (if we reach them all). But in practice, we’ve never gone below 3%, and while we have sometimes qualified for 10%, it’s generally something like 8%. It’s somewhat unusual for a non-profit to offer bonuses, but this sounds fair enough to me. There was a lot of complaining the year we got only 3%, but I was grateful to have even that.

      Make of that what you will!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Wow I’d have to push back a lot harder on my goals (I’m a fundraiser) if this was our set up. We always set very … ambitious fundraising goals and rarely achieve them completely, vs when I managed programs and my goals were to basically keep the program running well.

        1. Clever Alias*

          Sloanicota been following your comments for awhile I’m now convinced we were co-workers at some point if your user name is any indication. With all respect and not at all trying to doxx you ha.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Ha! That’s funny :D My username is not relevant to my place of work so … hopefully not, as I’m generally paranoid about my coworkers finding me here.

        2. KayDeeAye*

          When this bonus program started years ago, it was pretty loosy-goosy, and it wasn’t always easy to say “Yes, we made that” or “No, we didn’t.” But it’s improved a lot over the years, and now, the goals are structured so there isn’t a whole lot of ambiguity. There’s a little, but not that much.
          Also, the management team that partially decides these things is eligible for these bonuses, too – so that helps. They want them as much as the rest of us do. They still sometimes have to convince our board, which isn’t eligible for the bonuses, but since the goals are generally pretty clear (and were approved ahead of time by the board), even those board members inclined to chintziness generally have to give in and admit that, yes, we did qualify for that bonus.
          So far, anyway!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep — our base bonus for managers is 5% of annual salary, and then we get anywhere from 0-200% of base depending on how the org does for all of its goals. The info I recently got has me at 97% and change of base this year, if I’m reading it correctly.

    5. Justin*

      Last year, my first year, at my well-paying non-profit, my bonus was 6%. This year it was 11%.

      I was told this year mine was (proportionally) one of the highest in the company because of my performance.

      (We otherwise get COLA raises.)

    6. Unfettered scientist*

      For another data point, in biotech pharma at my company our target is 15% for bonuses.

      1. I Have RBF*

        I’m IT in a company that does biotech pharma plus other odds and sods. My bonus this year was 4.5%. Considering that my expectations were zero, I’m happy.

    7. Seashell*

      I don’t know what the norm is now, but many years ago, I had a boss who kept talking up that we were going to get a holiday bonus. I asked my friends about what was reasonable to expect, and they said the equivalent of 2 weeks’ pay. It turned out to be one-half of 1 week’s pay. :-(

      1. Roland*

        Not enough info. I mean I’ve had jobs without a bonus at all, even in industries when they’re not uncommon. A bonus percent doesn’t tell the whole story, like maybe one company just pays more than another to begin with, or has better benefits or perks.

        It’s certainly a low bonus to put in percentage terms. At that point you’d think they’d just say “everyone gets a $500 bonus” or whatever.

        1. amoeba*

          Yup! I’m in a field where most companies don’t do bonuses (of around 10-15%) but we got rid of them a few years back and increased base salary accordingly. Honestly, I’d say it’s mostly better because it doesn’t go away in a bad year, unlike bonuses tend to!

          1. KayDeeAye*

            Oh, yes, a higher base salary is much better – more reliable – than a bonus. To those people who say, “Oh, but we always get our bonus. It’s a sure thing!” I say, “Well, if it’s such a sure thing, why is it called a ‘bonus’? Why isn’t it called ‘salary’?”

      1. KayDeeAye*

        I know – I never, ever had one (aside from once when I got a ham at Christmas) until my current company started offering them several years ago. It was brand-new territory for me.

    8. ThatGirl*

      My current company gives 5% bonuses for most positions, which is certainly not HIGH, but I work in marketing and have never gotten a bonus before so I don’t complain

    9. JanetM*

      The only bonus structure my university offers is a longevity bonus: once you complete your third year, you get an annual bonus of $100 x years of service, capped at 30 years (you continue to get the bonus, but it’s capped at $3,000).

    10. Cj*

      I used to work for a company that paid extremely well, and you still got 15 to 30% bonuses. if you were in your income generating position like me, you would get 15% if the company met its goals, and up to another 15% based on yours and your team’s performance.

      if you were a support person or otherwise not income generating, you would get 20% if the company met its goals.

      While not guaranteed, these bonuses had always been paid in full until 2009. that was because of the real estate crash, and I worked for one of the Farm Credit Services. there was an uproar, and I don’t know if they ended up paying at least partial bonuses because I left the company before they were due to be paid out.

    11. Generic Name*

      My last company (consulting) did profit sharing bonuses. A couple of times a year we’d get a check for like $150. My manager at my current company prefers to use the pool of money that could be used for bonuses to give people raises. We also get a bonus of an extra contribution to our 401k of a certain percentage. This year we got the maximum (4%) contribution because the company did well in 2023. My current company is a construction company.

    12. Keeley Jones, The Independent Wonan*

      Until my current job, I only had one job that gave a bonus and it was a max 3%, depending on how well the company did. Usually it was zero, at most I think we got 1.5% All my other jobs has no bonus program at all.

      Current job, bonuses are base on your salary grade, individual performance, and company performance. Entry level positions are at 3%. High level management can be 30%. My pay band, 10% is the target but I usually get 12-15% based on my and the company’s performance that year.

      1. Nerfmobile*

        My tech company has a similar bonus structure. It’s nice when you have a good performing year, the company does well, and you are up in the higher IC/mid-level manager roles and can get 25-30% bonus. Sucks if you have a challenging year – even at a mid-high grade you can end up with 0-5% bonus.

    13. DD26*

      ours are based on three categories, none of which most of us have control over like budget. we target 10% each year. Typically it’s around that. last year we only got around 8%, but this year it was 18%

    14. Momma Bear*


      Also, I’d look at it in context. Is this in addition to a raise? Instead of a raise? I’d rather a 3% raise which carries forward from here on than a 3% bonus, which is also heavily taxed. I once got a nice bonus, but no raise, and it was not as good a deal as first appeared.

      Also, you’ve noted that money isn’t everything. I’d rather less $$ and more sanity.

      Like others, I think of a bonus as a larger sum/reward, so 3% as a bonus isn’t much. That’s often the cost of living increase many companies give.

    15. londonedit*

      Many companies in my industry don’t have a formal bonus scheme, but ours is 6% and is tied to company performance. If the company hits a certain profit level then we get the 6%. Only the sales team have individual bonuses based on sales targets – everyone else just has the maximum 6% from the company bonus scheme. There are no other individual bonuses or pay rises based on performance, it’s just the company-wide bonus and annual cost of living pay rise.

    16. BlueWolf*

      We get performance bonuses in addition to our yearly raises. I think the bonuses come out to about 3-5% (assuming satisfactory or higher performance), I can’t recall the exact percentages because they are just presented to us as a dollar figure.

    17. Grey Coder*

      Bonuses aren’t universal in my area. I think maybe half of my jobs have had them. For the ones that had a bonus scheme, there was a “potential bonus” of 6-15 % of salary, with actual bonus depending on overall business profits and/or achievement of targets specific to you. One place I worked had a ridiculously precise points system (which everyone gamed), and then the overall pool was slashed at the end of the year so everyone ended up with a bonus that would maybe buy a couple of pizzas.

    18. WantonSeedStitch*

      At my employer (a large, private university), bonuses are basically nonexistent for staff. I have been working here for a very long time and have never received one or been told that it’s possible to receive one, in spite of excellent performance reviews and (relatively, it’s higher ed) decent merit increases and salary adjustments after market reviews.

    19. 653-CXK*

      At ExJob, non-management employees got bonuses at random, depending on how well we did. Often, it was a mix of one week’s pay plus a contribution to our 401k funds. I don’t know how mucb management got, but I think it was a standard 10%.

      At CurrentJob, we get COLA increases of 3%, but we get a flat Christmas bonus, anywhere from $250-$500. I know nothing about their bonus structure.

      Both jobs are non-profit, hence the low amounts.

    20. Cabbagepants*

      My company (Fortune 500) gives around 30% (half RSUs, half cash). It’s their compensation model. It allows them to adjust compensation every year depending on individual, company, and market performance.

    21. Purple Cat*

      This is too open-ended of a question for anybody to answer reasonably. The biggest factor is – how does the bonus relate to the base pay? Last company base pay was a smidge below market, but bonuses were regularly 22% so it more than made up for it. New company only offered 15% bonus, so I had to negotiate hard on the base pay, and we only paid out 7.5%.

      If base salaries are well-above market, then 3% IS generous. Especially because base is guaranteed and bonuses aren’t.

    22. TwoTypesOfBonuses*

      It depends on whether this is a bonus above and beyond a normal salary or a compensation split between salary and bonus. Let me explain what I mean.

      Type 1: salary set, bonus extra

      The company provides a set salary and says something like “we may provide bonuses at the discretion of the company”.

      These tend to be smaller bonuses, often in the 1.5-3% range. They are often designed to be cost of living adjustments or small “we had a good year” sharing the wealth but are treated as extras.

      2. Bonuses are part of compensation package.

      These are usually included in an offer letter and are a percentage of your overall compensation, often with a company performance multiplier and an individual performance multiplier. So you might be offered $100k compensation with $90k salary and $10k base bonus (10% is most common, but I’ve seen everything from 5-15%). When bonus time rolls around, that $10k is multiplied by two numbers: a company performance multiplier which is the same for everyone in the company and an individual multiplier based on the individual’s performance review that year. If the company had a bad year they may not give bonuses at all (0 multiplier) or give 0.25 or 0.5. The highest company multiplier I’ve ever seen is 1.25. It’s fairly common to have it be 1.

      The personal score will usually map to 1 for all meets expectations and can go a lot higher if someone has an outstanding performance review. A good performer will typically get 1.25-1.5. My best performance review ever where I got mostly outstanding ratings yielded a 2.4, but that was exceptionally unusual. So a good performer with that $10k base bonus and an average company year might get $12.5-15k, while the very top performers might get $20-25k (but those types of scores usually require approval from very high up and might be limited to 1-2 people in the entire company if they’re used to calculate bonuses).

    23. Maggie*

      Mine is based off my customers profit and placements of certain products I make but usually ends up being around 25%

    24. Engineering Cat*

      I am in Aerospace/Defense.
      We have merit increases ~3% annually.
      Only engineering / management levels 5-7 (above that are executive levels with their own pay/bonus structures) are eligible for an annual bonus. The targets are:
      Lvl5: 15%, Lvl6: 20%, Lvl7: 25% – how much is being paid out depends on the company’s performance (not the individual employee’s performance). So the actual payout may be less (or more) than the target percentage.
      Salary-wise, I would put the low end of a lvl5 around $150k annually. So the bonus target is $22,500.

    25. namey name name name*

      Ours is dependent on org level and results compared to company-wide KPIs. With all KPIs at target, I’ve gotten 5%, 7.5%, and 12.5%. Current 12.5% is at a level one step below management.

    26. MrsPookie*

      My bonus was 70% of what my 5% bonus was to be as BIG BANK company didn’t hit all the goals they thought they would. I got no COA raise this year because they realized I was underpaid for norms in the industry. (I should have gotten both) That being said, Im still underpaid for 20 years of knowledge by about $20K. sighhhh

    27. Happy Camper*

      Totally depends. I’m in a new field. My entry level position was 8%, now I can earn 12%, when I level up next time it will be up to 20%. That’s if I meet all or most goals, which is pretty doable. If I exceed the bump it up more. I other field I’ve been in has had bonuses.

    28. I Have RBF*

      I’ve worked in several different industries, including some where they promised bonuses in hiring, but never actually gave bonuses. Bonuses typically are arbitrary, and depend on profitability, perceived performance, and the whim of the C-Suite and/or Board of Directors. I’ve often see it where sales gets bonuses, but engineering and IT get layoffs. A few companies do quarterly bonuses based on profits; some do them annually, but only if the company exceeds profit targets; and some companies promise them “if X, Y, Z”, but X, Y and Z never happen.

      The way I look at bonuses is the way I look at stock options or RSUs – don’t count on them until they are in your account.

      Yes, I got a bonus that is in my account today. It wasn’t real to me until it showed up.

    29. MouseMouseMouse*

      I work on the corporate side at a Big Bank, and my bonuses have ranged from 5% (when my manager hated me) to 15%.

    30. Jobbyjob*

      So industry dependent (and level!). At director (middle management) level at large pharma my bonus is 60% of my base. Apparently that’s by design, the higher up the more of total comp is bonuses (base grows slower).

  3. Peanut Hamper*

    For former teachers, I’m curious how you managed to transition out of teaching, which is notoriously difficult to do. What field did you end up in, and how did you handle creating a resume and cover letters that worked?

    1. anytime anywhere*

      Not a former teacher, but former Higher Ed employee. There are actually Linkedin and facebook groups that help folks do this. Lots of advice on sectors where former Educators could make the transition (based on which parts of the teacher role translate, so you know if it’s a part of the role you liked/hated before you start looking at that sector). And lots of advice on translating language. Just be careful, because some of that is a bit out there (i.e. changing terminology from “teaching students” to “training clientele”) and unlikely to serve you well. I moved into a university Extension program working with the 4-H program. It’s the parts I love (working with kids and their families) but without most of the parts that I know have been a rub for teachers (politics, rigid curriculum). Pay is ok, schedule for my university is very flexible. I still do some nights and weekends, but I have almost total control of my schedule. I also get to teach things I love, and a lot of it is hands-on, so I’m getting kids outside in the dirt, or they’re all building their own bottle rockets, or whatever.

      1. hobbydragon*

        I’m not a former teacher, but I also work for 4-H and I have to say some of the best staff around our state are former teachers!

      2. Sharon*

        I got a placement at a large company as an admin asst through a temp agency, applied for a permanent admin job when one opened up, and then learned on the job until I knew enough to apply to non-admin roles.

    2. Justin*

      Classroom to nonprofit ed management for adult learners to curriculum development for professionals to nonprofit ed management AND curriculum development for professionals (my current job basically combines my last two experiences).

      I just had to really try and quantify my accomplishments, especially (given what I ended up doing) the syllabi/curricula I’d created, my organization/planning strengths, and my subject knowledge (I was an ESL teacher originally).

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        What is curriculum development for professionals? It sounds like something I might love/ be good at.

        1. Former teacher*

          (Not the original commenter) It might be instructional design- creating adult-centered learning for any number of workplaces (not necessarily k-12). For example, a relative of mine worked for a biotech company designing learning experiences for the staff who needed to be trained on their very specific equipment.

          Within k-12, there is also designing professional learning for teachers.

    3. Chip Chip*

      I didn’t teach in k-12 public schools in the US, but I went from there to teaching adults in the US through non-profits. Then I moved from being a teacher in one program to being a career/academic coach for the same program. From there, I’m hoping to get into project management.

      This article is specifically for language teaching to project management, but it probably applies to a lot of teaching to project management, if that’s something you’re interested in!

    4. PBJ*

      Former teacher here. I have always found that having been a teacher has helped me get the job. I did some McJobs to begin with (there were other factors at play) and then I moved into education publishing…customer education…L&D. Teaching gives you so many transferable skills! You can easily transition into being a people manager with your classroom management and behavioural management skills. If you love lesson planning, Instructional Design is the way to go. Loads of ex-teachers in that industry.

    5. Glazed Donut*

      To create the CL and resume, thinking about the skills rather than the setting is important.
      Most teachers are strong communicators, diligent planners, and highly organized. Those are skills to highlight in a cover letter (obvi if appropriate and in the job description). I’d also take note in the cover letter about “While I’ve enjoyed my time in the classroom, in my next role I am looking to ____” to really show a desire to grow into a position/new setting rather than just leaving teaching because it’s really hard right now.

      For resumes, I’d suggest having a non-teacher look over it and offer advice. Listing specific curricula won’t be helpful, but writing “created a new manual for in-house use for teaching new curriculum” will be.

      In my experience and with friends of mine, they’ve transitioned into government work (education adjacent), adult learning and trainings at big orgs, national non-profits that work with education groups (tutoring, PD, teacher training programs).

    6. Corporate Fledgling*

      I worked as a teacher for three years, then I got a masters in education, and then I started applying to education nonprofits and had to start in an entry level role but it was at an organization that offered a lot of opportunity to grow so I got promoted fairly quickly. My other teacher friend that also taught for three years and then got her ma education/teaching credential moved into ed tech. Her company was looking for teachers who were tech savvy to create curriculum.
      I’m now in the tech space too, doing a role that was very similar to my role at the nonprofit. There is a podcast “pivoting out of edu”, and there are job promoters on LinkedIn that specifically cater to teachers who want to get out of teaching.

      Good luck!!!

      1. Corporate Fledgling*

        Also, I used Google Bard to create my resume and cover letter that helped me land my current job.

    7. It can happen to you*

      I started out as a teacher and have successfully transition to working in account management and customer success for 12 yrs now. I currently work in the Tech industry but when I first made the switch I got an account management job in the education field so my previous teaching experience was some what relevant. I did eventually end up going back to school and getting a master in marketing which has also help in my long term transition.

    8. Juanita*

      I work at a research and policy nonprofit that includes a program on education policy. We always seek to hire former K-12 teachers for our ed policy analysis/outreach roles (an MA in higher ed or public policy/economics helps, but is not required). Just chiming in to share that education policy advocacy could be a good fit, if that’s of interest, and your teaching background would make you very competitive.

    9. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Former teacher here–it helped a lot that I had a job in higher ed (library) while I was getting my master’s of ed. So I already had a few years of experience in the field I changed into, and for me it was a matter of just finding an open job that fit my experience (got very, VERY lucky to actually find something where I lived, but then my experience was in the more technical side of the field, too, which tends to have fewer candidates).

      I didn’t really have any trouble with my resume/cover letters, because the teaching job is really considered a bonus in the library field, and in higher ed, so I just included it with the other jobs I’d had before. My cover letter focused on the job I was applying for, not the job I’d had before (except to say how my teaching experience might help with the new job). It’s actually not *that* hard to transition out of teaching, provided you’re looking in adjacent fields or can at least articulate your transferable skills (of which there are MANY). I know so many people who have left teaching for other jobs–usually, they move into something they have some kind of previous experience with, or a job that involves some kind of teaching/training others. People leave k-12 teaching all the time for jobs with much better work/life balance, jobs where you actually get treated like an adult.

      Now, I did take a bit of a pay cut when I changed fields, but given that I got rid of my 45 minute commute, no longer had to be up at 6am, no longer routinely got sick from catching all the new germs students brought in, get to go on actual lunch breaks, can take a day off without it being a massive headache, can use the bathroom whenever I need to, lowered my blood pressure thanks to lower stress, no longer deal with parents blaming me for the results of their poor parenting choices, and was able to once again enjoy the field I’d been teaching, etc., it was 1000% worth the pay cut.

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      Former teacher here. I basically just applied to all sorts of random jobs that, on paper, I wasn’t “qualified for,” and eventually I found a job that I actually wasn’t qualified for but that severely underpaid (I had to take a pay cut from teaching), and I did a trial by fire and ended up learning all the skills. That was some random office job. Eventually, I ended up in IT.

    11. happybat*

      I went into Higher Education, which I am really loving. Better pay, more control over my working hours , and work that I am really enjoying. Objectively I work many more hours – nearly double what I did in my teaching job – but the hours themselves are generally less emotionally intense, and more pleasurable. I feel that I got to keep a lot of the best bits of teaching (working with students, designing classes, getting people excited about ideas) but lost a lot of the admin. There is also a robust structure in my institution for offering students practical and emotional support, which frees me to focus on their learning. Also, the new parts of the job – research, writing articles, going to conferences – are really challenging and exciting. There was the little matter of quitting my job and picking up a PhD, but that was a great opportunity to build networks, take on part time roles, and build a reputation that made me a plausible candidate for a permanent role.

    12. Teacher's Spouse*

      My spouse transitioned by working for a private tutoring company teaching AP and college test prep. There, she realized her love of math/problem-solving and started her CPA pre-reqs. She’s now an accountant for the federal govt. She taught a foreign language previously, so I’m not confident she would have figured out her desire to become an accountant without the tutoring job.

    13. Kelly Kapoor*

      I’m in higher ed administration, and I love hiring former K-12 teachers for coordinator roles. From there, it can be easier to transition out of education entirely.

    14. Lurker*

      When I left teaching I was so thoroughly burnt out that I was borderline suicidal and on anti anxiety meds. I went back to school for an entirely different degree(environmental engineering) and started my job search like any new college grad when I got close to finishing my degree.

    15. Also-ADHD*

      My story might be weird because I worked in other fields both before and in between (during a move etc) teaching. I had been in my current district for 7 years though (HR and Operations for a few years before that, teaching in another state and overseas prior to that, and Advertising/Sales initially—with some technical writing and early SEO marketing experience). I had two Education Masters (Curriculum and Leadership) and some leadership experience (though never pure administrative because I wanted to stay union; I was also a union leader and take those skills with me but that doesn’t go on my resume).

      I’m in L&D. First, I went into Instructional Design when it was pretty easy a few years ago (I have web design and tech skills so that was a super easy transition for me—usually it’s turn software that teachers were struggling the most with there). Then, that felt limiting and the economy kind of sucks now so I ran out of ways to grow in my org as they went into a freeze so I am moving into a L&D Business Partner type role in an HR department (this would be a stretch for leaving teaching even when the market was good, and it isn’t great now).

      The best thing you can do is take stock of what you do best and plan for a role you actually want to do. The market sucks now so look for longer term strategy not just the quick fix. I moved when I did because my strategy fit the market. Business acumen helps with a job transition and the next job, especially for teachers. Understand the business you want to move into (and understand that edtech is so competitive that it probably won’t be that unless you want to do Sales and are really good at that and/or have a really clear in). I have connections, experience in many functions, and even I barely get interest from Edtech because they strongly prefer previous full time Edtech experience (and I do freelance contract work on the side for several Edtech places).

  4. Anonymous Reviews*

    What is the norm for performance reviews when ranking on a five-point scale?

    Last year was my first time participating in performance reviews at my organization.  I gave myself mostly threes and fours out of five.  I was more generous with my direct reports, since I thought if I couldn’t think of anything to improve, I should give them a five.  My manager said I was too hard on myself and gave me mostly fives with a couple fours.  This year, I calibrated to that scale and used five to mean “can’t think of anything to ask you to improve,” four to mean “I’m generally happy, but can think of something to work on,” three for “I’m not happy with the caliber of your performance so we have serious work to do,” two for “you are actively doing things you shouldn’t be” and one for “this rises to the level of potentially endangering your job.”  I used this for my self-evaluation, my manager evaluation and my direct reports.  Everyone had fives with a few fours.

    We have a new HR director this year, and after the reviews from managers were due, she announced she was pausing the process.  At a staff meeting, she told us the reviews would be returned to us to rewrite because we obviously weren’t given enough guidance on the rating scale.  Apparently, three is “meets expectations,” and that’s where she expected basically everyone to be rated, because “the organization would be a different much better place if we were all fives,” and “basically we are aiming for all threes.”  The reviews were kicked back to us with a note that the scale is 1=Unsatisfactory, 2=Needs improvement, 3=Meets expectations, 4=Above expectations, 5=Exceeds expectations.  (I don’t even want to get into the fact that the clarification doesn’t actually clarify that much because “unsatisfactory” and “needs improvement” and “above” and “exceeds” do not have a quantitative difference.)

    I’m concerned because only managers are being asked to rewrite reviews, meaning self-evaluations will be mismatched.  Also, for anyone who was here last year or earlier, it sounds like there’s reason to think everyone, not just my department, was scaled up compared to what they want us to do this year, meaning it will look like everyone’s work declined.

    So my question is, is this really out-of-step with norms and the HR director is right to be recalibrating us as an organization?  Or are my concerns valid?  Full disclosure:  I personally have a difficult time with thinking I should be okay with a three rating when a five is available, and I hate the idea of telling my team they have what looks like a lot of work to do when I really only have minor suggestions for improvement, so this might just be a question of needing to adjust my own expectations for the process.

    Side note:  Compensation is completely divorced from performance reviews.  We have compensation reviews at a different time and only receive cost-of-living and market-rate adjustments, unless we receive a promotion.  That’s another kettle of fish.

      1. Skoobles*

        This is a really weird thing to worry about a very normal attempt to corral the rating scale into something that means roughly the same thing to everyone.

    1. Rick Tq*

      Ah, the tyranny of the Bell Curve… Your new HR person seems to think evaluations should map directly to a Normal distribution. IMO they are very wrong, performance ratings should be mostly 4s, a few 3s for people being coached, and a few 5s for the true high flyers and subject matter experts/master trainers.

      If you have actively engaged management you should have no 1 ratings at all during annual reviews. Anyone performing at that level should have been on a PIP months ago and either brought up to a 3 or terminated.

      I like your version of the scale.

      1. ferrina*

        As someone that designs and administers my company’s review process…

        Either 3s or 4s as the norm are acceptable, as long as the norms are calibrated and defined at a company wide-scale. The biggest problem happens when every manager/team has their own personal definition of each number. It sounds like the scale was previously undefined and everyone’s understanding was from word-of-mouth, and that’s a problem. The scale should be well-defined and well publicized (which this HR is trying to do)

        Ideally, yes, 1s won’t be used, but HR should never assume ideal situations (they’re actually paid to ensure that they are prepared for non-ideal situations). I’ve seen not-great managers use 1s and that’s the first HR hears of a situation; I’ve seen great managers use 1s for an employee that was a known issue and was either on a PIP or on their way to a PIP. 2s exist as well, and while they aren’t frequent, often they are for an employee that is doing fine (not great) in other areas, but there’s an area where they need to get up to speed. It’s not yet a serious issue, but it has potential to become a serious issue.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          Wholly agree on the defined and publicized front. In fact, I would also publicize when that policy became mandated based on my experience below.

          When I was in the Navy, all junior officers received a 3/5 to keep reporting official’s average lower. My last boss was retiring and decided to “help me out” by giving me a 5/5 for my last evaluation, even though I was still a JO. The very existence of that 5/5 calls into question all of my previous evals. Luckily, my (fed govt) job did not ask for the evals (but now that I think about it, my post-grad applications did ask for them and I have no idea whether that caused issues–I didn’t bat 100% there). I’ve considered joining a different military branch in the reserves where I know all of my evals would be reviewed. It causes a concern.

          Hopefully OP’s HR will publicize their policy and it’s effective timing well, so years down the road if an employee is going for an internal promotion or transfer, the context of their rating can be fairly considered (especially if a new HR comes in and nixes the lower rating mandate).

      2. Momma Bear*

        I agree. If you or your team are not doing C level work (3s) then don’t rate them that way. I’d also clarify this with your own boss or grandboss. Is that only coming from her or from higher up? Is this to level-set or to prevent people from getting higher raises?

        1. Sunflower*

          C is supposed to mean average or meeting expectations. Its become skewed to mean bad or needs improvement when it doesn’t. The HR person scale makes a lot more sense than the OP scale in actuality.

        2. Dollars to Donuts*

          Performance reviews are not the same thing as academic grades, and I think that misperception is the source of a lot of issues.

      3. What the what*

        My company follows the 1-5 stacked ranking system. All of the managers in the various department get together to assign rankings to every employee in that department. The kicker is they are only allowed to give out a certain number for each ranking. For example, they have to assign a 1 or 2 ranking to 5% of employees, regardless. Someone could potentially be doing solid work as a 3, but will get thrown under the bus because they need to fill that 5% quota of 1s and 2s. This actually happened to my colleague, who is very well regarded but did make one error last year (she was directed to do the Thing by her grandboss but it went badly and sh$t rolls downhill). Her direct manager disagreed with the evaluation, but was told by the higher ups she had to get that rating. When you get a lower rating, they start deducting money from your bonus, not to mention it harms your professional reputation. This system has created a very cutthroat “serve yourself instead of the company mentality.” I’m very curious if other companies have a quota for the various ranking levels!

        1. I Have RBF*

          I have worked in stack ranked/forced curve companies, and it very quickly devolves into “everyone for themself” and doing your own, high visibility projects first before working on maintenance, keeping the lights on, or helping out your colleagues. Morale is usually in the pits after this type of thing starts being the norm.

          My advice? Find a better job. Stack ranking and forced fits with a mandatory 5% failure (1) rating get nasty very quickly.

      4. CJ*

        To be fair, the system you described is also a bell curve just shifted to have the mean be 4 instead of 3, allowing for less nuance

    2. ferrina*

      Actually your HR is doing the right thing (though sounds like they could be a bit more tactful with their wording). Source: I design annual review and evaluation processes.

      5-point scales are notoriously subjective if you don’t give guidance. As you mentioned, people all kind of have their own interpretation. It sounds like your HR is now providing the guidance. That’s good! And their scale is really close to the scales I prefer when I design the process. 3 is basically “good and we like them”; 4 is “this person is quite good! They are really doing well!’ and 5 is “THIS PERSON IS A FRICKIN UNICORN QUEEN! HOW DID WE HIRE BEYONCE?!?!”

      It’s annoying that HR is introducing the scale mid-process, so it’s applying to the manager’s downwards reviews but not the self-reviews, but since that’s happening company wide, it won’t blow back on you. Ideally the scale would have been set before the self-reviews, but I understand that HR would rather have half the reviews with a decent scale rather than none of them.

      Now the bigger question is implementation. If the organization says that most people will be 3s or 4s, then gets annoyed they don’t have more 5s, then that’s a problem. Or if they scold you for having self-reviews out of step with manager’s downwards reviews. But you don’t yet know if that’s going to happen, and if it does happen, it will happen to everyone and you’ll be united in your frustration.

      So for now….let the process go and don’t invest too heavily (emotionally or time-wise). Let it play out and see what’s going to happen. Your compensation won’t be impacted, and it’s doubtful it will have a long-term impact on your career (or even a short-term impact). The first transition year is often a resetting of norms and people are too busy trying to figure out the process to use the data in any meaningful way.

      1. Tio*

        That’s how the scale I was given was explained when we used it back at my old job. It seems really common with large HR companies.

        Another way I’ve had it explained to me was that 3 means they are doing their job well, and 5 means that person should be promoted. If you don’t think that person should be promoted imminently, then there should not be a 5. 5 means they are going way above their regular duties and doing things above their level, basically.

      2. JustaTech*

        This is how my company does it, except that they also say that everyone should be a 3, and it’s almost impossible to get a 4 or 5.
        Like, I saved the company half a million dollars almost single-handedly during COVID, and I got a 3.
        My coworker who’s work became somewhat erratic also got a 3.

        It’s very demotivating to know that pretty much no matter what you do, as long as you aren’t a complete disaster, you’ll get a 3, so why bust your tail?
        And then upper management wonders why people don’t want to go above and beyond.

        (My husband’s company uses a similar rating system, but is happy to rate people as 4s and 5s if they’ve done the work to warrant it. They also spend a *huge* amount of time calibrating the rankings every year.)

        1. ferrina*

          Unfortunately, that is always going to be a problem when it comes to managers. We actually use multiple data points then average the results- so you don’t get a 3, you get a 4 in Skill 1, a 3 in Skill 2, and a 3 in Skill 3, so your overall is a 3.3.

          We also have admin checks in place to look for discrepancies between the self-eval and the manager eval, and discrepancies between peer reviews (we do a 360 review) and manager reviews, and upwards reviews and downwards reviews (so if all direct reports dislike a manager but their manager loves them, it gets flagged). The check is triggered by outliers beyond 1 standard deviation. The check only flags reviews for HR, so they can take a closer look and provide guidance as needed.

    3. Two cents*

      My work used to have a 5 point performance scale and we recently moved to 4 points because everyone took being a 3 (Meets expectations) as an insult when there were two more possible levels above it. Under our new system 3 is still expected to be the standard and 4s are for extraordinary results and/or work quality. It’s still a work in progress but all of that to say your HR director is trying to impose new expectations that haven’t yet been socialized and it’s extremely likely your employees will push back hard about 3s being the new standard when they’ve haven’t been before *and* they haven’t been told about that expectation.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Can you ask for illustrative examples for these?

      “Fergus is a level 2 llama groomer. His job description is yadda yadda yadda and he is expected to blah blah blah. This year, he groomed 200 llamas, designed 3 new grooming styles, up-sold 15 clients to our premium shampooing service. So he scores a 4 on productivity (200 llamas groomed versus expectation of 180), 3 on innovation (3 new styles is his expectation), and 2 on business development (15 upsells versus expectation of 20).”

    5. FricketyFrack*

      Pretty much everywhere I’ve worked has treated the scale the way your HR director is. Basically:

      5: Seriously exceptional performance – I only ever got these in years where there were major projects or unexpected difficulties with the work (not due to my actions) that I handled well.
      4: Above and beyond – usually for things like taking on additional tasks, volunteering for a committee, something like that.
      3: You’re doing the things you’re supposed to be doing and maybe there’s room for improvement and goals to work toward, but nothing that’s a big concern. 3s were always considered a totally normal, acceptable score. Most of my reviews have been 3s and 4s.
      2: There are some bigger problems and you need to fix them.
      1: You’re in very real danger of losing your job if things don’t improve asap.

      1. crittermike*

        Agreed and I’ll add that in this system, a 5 often means the person should be promoted or is up for promotion.

    6. Alex*

      I think both approaches are different but common, and it will be fine if you just explain that the scoring has been recalibrated this year and “3” is perfectly fine and doesn’t mean you are doing a bad job. I’ve received this exact message several times.

      I’ve been at places that expected reviews to fall on a bell curve, which meant managers were not allowed to just give their employees all 5s. In the end the whole thing is stupid–what difference does it make what number you get as long as your job isn’t in danger, your manager is satisfied, and your compensation isn’t affected?

    7. Sunflower*

      Most places I have worked align closer with your HR manager. I was shocked the first time I did a performance review and got a 3- my boss explained this is normal and it’s not like school where a C (average) wasn’t actually that good.

      The way we’ve kind of had it explained to us is most ppl should get 3’s for most years they are performing as expected. 4 are years you get promoted and you basically have to be doing multiple steps above your job to get rated a 5.

      I wouldn’t worry about changes from past years. Just explain you guys are using a different system going forward

      1. Sunflower*

        I just want to add that I understand why this new system feels like a shock- and maybe feels unfair but the HR system makes way more sense once folks get accustomed to a 3 being the norm. The employees you are rating as 5 now- while there may not be anything that needs improving to perform their role, I find it hard to believe there are not areas they CAN improve on. The model you’re using now doesn’t allow room for these sorts of things which are actually very important to employee development and growth. Esp if an employee wants to be promoted, your current system doesn’t leave any clear, direct steps for them to move up.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        I’d really like it if the school grade C was given a lot more often and the school grade A less often. We are setting kids up for failure when all they have to do is the expected to get the highest grade. A school grade B or a performance review 4 should be what we are all shooting for, not the A’s & 5’s which really should be extraordinary and uncommon. It saddens me that more and more people are seeing anything less than A’s & 5’s as failure.

        1. Tad Cooper*

          That’s how my college did it, particularly in the English department—a C was a perfectly respectable grade, a B meant you were doing excellent work, and As could be very, very rare (something you didn’t achieve until your second or third year, often) and required extra levels of insightfulness and eloquence.

          As someone who had never really had to work for an A before (despite never proofreading my papers throughout college), it was a massive shock of water to the face to get my first C, but I think made me a far better student and gave me a better experience in the long run.

        2. HA2*

          A big problem with that is that grades are used to compare across schools.

          I went to college at a place that prided themselves at “not having grade inflation” – lots of people got Cs and Bs, getting straight As really was exceptional. …and of course, students at this college came out at a disadvantage at the job market and grad school admissions compared to their peers at other schools, because “GPA” gets looked at and the explanation of “no, really, a B in this school means the student knows the material really well, comparable to an A at other schools!” doesn’t get read by anyone.

          1. JustaTech*

            Yeah, my school is like that too. Once you’ve developed a reputation for being really, really hard and turning out exceptional students, then it gets easier for companies in your fields (STEM) and graduate schools. But med school? Forget it. They’re never going to read that letter, they’ve got too many applicants with a 4.5GPA (out of 4).

        3. Parakeet*

          It’s not just a perception issue among the people getting the grades, though. Grades have material consequences for many people. Being able to get into a professional school or grad school, being able to keep or qualify for a scholarship. Or, if we’re talking pre-college here, being able to get into college. No amount of saying that in this classroom a B means you’re doing great, is going to help the kid who has to keep a B+ average for some material reason.

          (I went to a high school and college that prided themselves on relatively tough grading. At the time, I took pride in that. In retrospect, I think that as much as it might be the right call in a more ideal world, it’s misguided in this one.)

    8. Skoobles*

      The norm is going to vary greatly depending on the workplace. In my experience, what your HR suggesting is more common than how you were rating people, though. That said, the scores themselves are way harder to make work regardless compared to describing what you see and what you like and what needs improvement.

      On a 5-point scale with 5 being high, rating an employee a “2” is (IME) often a sign that they need to be on a PIP or are close to one, and rating an employee a “1” is almost impossible because it implies a level of failure to perform that should have been addressed outside of the formal review process. That leaves you with 3, 4, and 5 to differentiate your top performers, upper performers, and good-enough performers (and this matters more if compensation/bonuses are tied to those reviews in some way). That means that in most cases, a 5 is about going significantly above and beyond or having notably impressive performance in an area, not simply doing well enough that you can’t think of anything they need improvement on. Treating employee ratings like Uber, where everybody gets a 5 unless there’s an egregious reason not to, isn’t very effective, and there’s even less chance of the 3, 2, or especially 1 being used in that framework.

      As an aside, the scale you posted seems fine. Unsatisfactory reads far worse than needs improvement, and above and exceeds expectations also read qualitatively as “good” and “great” to me. It’s not perfect wording, and there should be detailed descriptions regardless, but the one-word summaries are Good Enough; they meet expectations.

      1. Skoobles*

        Also, another thing some companies do (including my current job) is explicitly target a number of people at certain scores as a way to force the normalization to work. While the individual skills assessed can go wherever, we have 10% 5s, 25% 4s, and the rest are 3s unless they have performance issues that are putting them on track for a PIP.

    9. Fake Cheese*

      At my org, we have a 4 point scale and HR expects most people to be given a 3 overall. I will say, though, that they actually have definitions available for the employee and manager to use when filling the assessments. Going in blind sounds terrible!

      For reference, our scale is basically
      1 – needs improvement (no merit increase, and you’re probably on a PIP already),
      2 – meets minimum expectations or is still learning the role,
      3 – good performer but not superstar,
      4 – top performer and should be considered for promotion

    10. Glazed Donut*

      At my last role (gov’t), we had a new HR person come in and change how we did ours (which were tied to $$).
      3 = you are doing exactly what you were hired to do
      4 = you are doing your job plus more
      5 = you are making moves to change the overall work of the agency

      We also had to write rubrics to show what numbers fell at each level. Even when I had data showing I or my team met a 4 or 5, HR pushed back on it and wouldn’t let me assign the numbers (when THEY had approved the rubrics!). The last year I was there, it got so ridiculous and obviously absurd that doing work of a 3 was a person doing 100% of their job because “we didn’t hire you to do less than 100%.” If my job’s basic requirements are to hear back from all 25 contacts at Company by Federal Deadline, how do I go above and beyond for hearing back? It was very very clear that HR/new HR decided everyone should be getting 3s, and it was incredibly demoralizing for my hardworking team.

      Personally, I think someone looked at the books from prior years and threw a fit that too many people got 4s. Unsurprisingly, anyone who got a 5 was a VERY high level and as such, their bonus/pay bump was muchhh more than what lower-level employees would have received.

    11. lost academic*

      We (at my last and current) firm now do calibrations across disciplines and levels to help with the natural variability that comes from self ranking and opinions. It really helps when the metrics are eventually tied to raises, promotions and bonuses – just because they aren’t now doesn’t mean they won’t be, even if it’s not quantitatively. This year in the time of change people will take into account that it’s not comparable to previous numerical evaluation. The more context and detail you can put with the number the better.

      Calibration IMO is a very good thing.

      1. lost academic*

        I also want to add (upon reviewing things in your comment that didn’t stick in my head for some reason)

        1) Your scale is pretty weird. It’s a good example for why calibration exists because it’s wildly out of sync with what I’d think anyone else would do
        2) HR is right to do what they are doing but not exactly right at all to say “we should be aiming for all 3s” – maybe it’s misstated, but I think it’s better stated and understood as “we need everyone to meet expectations as a baseline, and want you to understand that on our 1-5 scale, and also that 4s and 5s aren’t par for the course and should represent elevated and exceptional performance, and you should have a clear idea of what that looks like for the responsibility/individual you are evaluating”

        And it’s entirely normal for self evaluation and manager evaluations to not be identical. That’s why they are both done – it’s an excellent way to have a dialogue about where it’s similar and where it diverges. That’s a change for progress, increased understanding, and future goals.

    12. fhqwhgads*

      What your HR describes is aligned with how reviews should work, in my experience. Basically:
      1: you’re about to be fired or should’ve been already
      2: you’re about to be on a PIP
      3: you’re doing exactly what we expect out of someone in the role, good on ya. No complaints.
      4: you’re doing better than we expect for someone in your role, like a Thing Doer I working at the level of a Thing Doer II. Keep this up and you oughta be promoted. (or if they get all 4s on everything, then they definitely oughta be promoted)
      5: we never could’ve expected someone in this role to be this good. like, Wow. Like a Thing Doer I working at the level of a Thing Doer III or IV.

      It’s supposed to be really hard to get a 5. And someone who gets mostly 5s, by definition, needs to be promoted yesterday.

    13. LCH*

      Our scale is needs work, meeting expectations, exceeds expectations. The middle one would be someone who is doing the job well and has no notes for improvement. Exceeds is just that; someone who went beyond in some manner.

      The lower one doesn’t mean the person is bad at their job, but there might be an area that needs improvement.

      It’s new this year so we’ll see how it goes. We used to have the 1-5 scale and for a 5 you would basically have to invent something new or obtain a massive new line of funding for the org or something.

      1. Sunflower*

        My company has a 3 point system (my previous ones were all 5 point) and I think it makes a lot more sense/is better than the 5 point system. I never really saw much difference between 1-2 and 4-5. If you were a 1-2, you were getting spoken to about performance before your review (maybe on a PIP) and if you are a 4-5, you’re either getting promoted or very close. My experience with 5’s was that same in that they were almost never handed them out so I think the 3 point scale makes much more sense.

    14. Double A*

      I don’t think it’s wrong to recalibrate the scale to reflect reality; review inflation is a thing. Nowadays anything less than 5 is considering failure, and that’s ridiculous.

      In my organization, we’re on a 4 point scale and the expectation and understanding is that 3 (meets) is GOOD work that the organization is very happy with. You have to actually go beyond in a specific competency to get 4s. No one should be getting all 4s because there is not enough time in the week.

      However, I don’t think the way to do this is retroactively. It’s to set expectations for the next cycle. And also develop clear rubrics.

    15. Generic Name*

      This is why my company has a 3 level rating scale. The lowest is “needs improvement” and basically means you should be on a PIP, middle is “meets expectations” and what most people should get” and top is “exceeds expectations”.

      I totally get not being happy with a 3 and wanting a 5. With a 5 point rating scale, it is SO EASY to translate in your head, even without meaning to, into an A-F scale. Who would be happy with a C rating? I want an A! Or at least a B. But honestly, rating scales for jobs aren’t the same as rating scales for grades in school.

      I do think the difference between 4 and 5 are nebulous and highly subjective, and it is worth asking for clarification on that.

    16. Miette*

      Unless the HR person has been mandated by management to recalibrate things in this way, this seems like an overstep.

      I’ve worked places where the attitude of senior management was that anything above a 3 had to be fought tooth and nail by the manager, and I’ve been at other, you know, normal places, where the manager’s professionalism was respected.

      The reasoning I was given for this kind of approach to reviews was that for a person to be rated all 5s, then they should be at a point where they’re about to be promoted, so unless there was a plan/budget for that, upper management couldn’t let so many high ratings stand. I think it’s BS, but whatever.

      But I’ve never had an HR person be the one leading this kind of “reform” unless mandated by management to, so I would be inquiring into why this has changed. In fact, I’d ask this HR person for language so that you can message this kind of change for employees, because there are about to be some very upset people at your co.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > Unless the HR person has been mandated by management to recalibrate things in this way

        They’re the HR Director, so it sounds like they are setting strategy etc. I expect they’ve been brought in exactly to review things like the appraisal process.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, pretty wild to think an HR director shouldn’t have some sort of say on appraisal objectivity.

          This is a very pragmatic thread and trying to find some area to pull it apart defeats the objective of OP’s request for advice as to whether this recalibration is ok. In fact, it’s kind of a thread where we help her recalibrate her own expectations from the review process, so indignant posts are kind of against the spirit of the request.

    17. Winstonian*

      That scale that she gave is the one used everywhere I’ve worked. And weird enough, I just had a conversation this morning with a colleague about reviews and measurements, and it’s the same scale she’s always had at her past companies.

    18. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I think 3 as “meets” is fine. I think “everyone’s a 3” is not fine. I think of 3 as essentially quiet quitting –gets the job done but nothing else. If you have a high-performing team, then they’re going to average out more to a 4. If you’re stuck with this, don’t let your team be surprised. Maybe they know, but if they don’t, please tell them the scale is changing.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I find it absolutely chilling that “doing the job you are paid to do and not donating your time and energy to your employer for free” can be defined as “quiet quitting”.

    19. Susan Calvin*

      Honestly, the key is that there IS guidance. I came out of a corporate job used to a three-tier scale but with much of the same bell curve spirit, and into a start-up that was just rolling out formal reviews for the first time, with no apparent guidance and a 10-point scale. I gave myself mostly 6/7s, with a few 5s and 8s sprinkled in, and was blown away when my manager gave me mostly 10s and a few 8s.

      Three months later he was baffled that I was taken completely off guard by being let go, since in his mind, 10 was “can’t think of anything to improve”, 9 was “could improve”, and anything 8 or less essentially “MUST improve” – so I really should have addressed those problem areas with more urgency. I guess.

      I may be bitter, but I feel fairly strongly that that’s not really the best use of the scale, although even then, completely talking past each other was the worst part.

      1. Bast*

        Wow. On a 10 point scale of ANYTHING I’d liken a 5 to being average… like getting a C. Not terrible, not amazing. I’d think it would be a realistic way of saying, “I’m passable at this, but no expert.” It also gives you something to work on. Someone giving themself all 10s would come off the wrong way to me, as it would essentially mean, “I am quite literally perfect and have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to learn.” I’m pretty darn good at my job, but I sure as heck would not have rated myself all 10s either, as I know I don’t know everything and have some areas I can work on.

        Your boss’s scale is so wild if anything below 10 meant “bad.” Better off using a 3 point scale if that’s the case because getting a 1 on a scale of 1-3 is FAR less open to interpretation than getting a 7 on a 1-10 scale.

    20. Engineer*

      When my company was on a 5 point scale, we used the same reasoning as your HR director. A 3 meant we were meeting the expectations of our job description and level of experience, nothing exciting but nothing worrying. To get a 5, you had to go beyond “nothing to improve” – we’re talking something like secured 3 major project wins that weren’t expected, or rebuilt the indexing library, or managing to learn a whole new production line without guidance because the former department head quit in a tantrum (all real examples). A 5 meant something happened that year that wouldn’t normally have been your responsibility but for whatever reason it was, and you managed to make it successful (for a given value of success – sometimes it still failed).

      Coming to this job straight from college where I was a 4.27 gpa, this was difficult for me to grasp at first. My supervisor was the one who told me to stop thinking of it as a grade system and to think of it instead as a checkbox. If you can check the box, it’s a 3. If you can but you want to add more detail to it, it’s a 4 or 5. If you can’t, it’s a 1 or 2.

    21. Medium Sized Manager*

      We recently did a reform very similar to this – people were deeply upset when they didn’t receive a 5 (vastly exceeds expectations) despite their work being perfectly fine. They felt that, as long as they weren’t on a PIP, they should get a 5 because they did their job without complaints throughout the year. It has taken a lot of conversations to get to the point where people understand getting a 3 is great! This article was really helpful for wrapping my brain around it because I had the same concerns when I first became a manager.

      FWIW I have personally gotten a 5 twice: once when I was being promoted to a senior manager and once when I covered for the director while she was on maternity leave. Despite being a strong member of the team, I usually fall in the 3-4 range, and that’s perfectly fine. When you are talking to your team, think about examples of things that would make them really stand out. Your 4s and 5s would be on the brink of promotion or somebody that would be impossible to replace. It’s entirely possible that you have a team of those, but I find when you start to consider it that way vs. just “did they do their job well this year,” it helps.

      1. Bast*

        I think what makes it difficult for people is when they do see people on a PIP/PIP worthy individuals get a 3, and then they also get a 3, the thought process being, “this person is one step away from being fired, and I meet all of my goals — why are my contributions viewed the same as the company slacker?”

        1. Sunflower*

          If you are on a PIP, you should not be getting a 3- it should be a 1 or 2 and the performance review should not be the first time the person is hearing of performance problems. I think most companies follow this method so if this is how it happens at your company, they are majorly at fault and not doing this right. As far as PIP worthy- thats for a manager, not coworker to decide.

        2. GythaOgden*

          Your manager may not agree with that assessment and be privy to additional information about the slacker that you don’t have. Having a more objective scale means that they can assess based on criteria you don’t necessarily know about but by being management, they will see as part of their stewardship of the company.

    22. WantonSeedStitch*

      This rating structure is comparable to the one my organization uses, except we’ve done away with 1 and 5. The expectation is that nearly everyone will be a 3. It was a challenging adjustment when we calibrated things that way, but because people saw that they could get slightly nudged-up yearly increases for good work even if they were at a 3, they stopped minding as much. (We do annual increases that are really COLAs but are adjusted up or down slightly based on performance.) We also try to make sure we are really enthusiastic and appreciative about the contributions of everyone who’s performing at a 3, because 3 really does mean “you’re doing a good job in your role and we have no complaints.” That kind of drives home the fact that a 3 is NOT “mediocre.”

    23. Anonymous Koala*

      What your HR is proposing sounds very similar to the way my work does a 5 point scale. A 3 means you’re doing perfectly fine, a 1-2 is PIP territory (and generally a lot of documentation has already been done to inform someone that they’re not performing to standard before a 1-2 is given) and a 4 means you’re going above and beyond. 5s are rare and mean an unusual situation came up outside the scope of your usual duties and you handled it exceedingly well; for example: covering for someone above you for an extended period of time, getting handed a project that was behind and out of scope and delivering on-time and under budget, dealing with an unexpected audit, proposing and leading a new company wide initiative, etc.

    24. MeetsOrExceedsExpectations*

      The HR ratings you note are pretty common across a fairly wide variety of companies across multiple industries. and many companies prohibit the use of 5 or require upper management approval, especially when bonuses are tied to the scores.

    25. Another Librarian (and proud of it!)*

      I work at a university, and the management doesn’t like the evaluators to have too many 4s or 5s. So only a few superstars get the high ratings and the rest of us get 3s. Of course, many years ago they successfully disconnected the evaluation from any reward (in pay), so it’s just a process. We go through this fairly elaborate review and evaluation procedure, but it doesn’t really mean a thing. I go through the motions, but I honestly think it’s a waste of time.

    26. Qwerty*

      Your HR person’s scale matches what I see at most places. What you need to do is ensure that new guideline is communicated to your team in a neutral way.

      Think of the numbers as a reference ID for the rating “Meets Expectations” rather than someone scoring 3 points out of 5. Most employees are generally going to be meeting expectations. If they regularly are exceeding them, then its probably promotion time.

      The way we changed this at a previous job was to align it with grades and keep telling people that Meets Expectations (3) is an A

      To answer your question about the diff between 4/5 and 1/2, let’s expand that grading scale and how you as a manager react to it:

      5 = Is teaching the class, consider promoting or expanding their work if getting 4&5s regularly
      4 = A+
      3 = A = Doing fine within the normal bounds of the job. Doesn’t mean they are perfect
      2 = B or C = Outline the items that need to be improved and how to get back on track
      1 = Failing the class, next step is serious management and possibly a PIP

      To your point about being upset about getting a 3 when a 5 was available – if everyone gets the top rating for doing their job, how do you reward people who go above and beyond? Wouldn’t you be more upset if you knocked it out of the park and go the same rating as the person who just did an average job? If the default is the top rating, that means people only get to talk about how many points they “lost” and getting a means they didn’t do well.

    27. Taxes Schmaxes*

      I am guessing my old corp insurance job was out of the norms, because they gave criteria as 5= above and beyond AND what that could include like, meets all expectations of the job, participated in either an employee interest group or a process improvement group, assisted coworkers regularly, created and implemented a new process that the department then used, obtained professional certification in specialty area, and must have met X of Y conditions to be rated this way. They had these for all of the different number ratings so you had essentially a rubric and could rate yourself and your reports more easily.

    28. I Have RBF*

      Ugh. Your HR is “normal”, which is to say very entranced with the bell curve and force fitting everyone into a three.

      My company is that way too. My manager told me that to give people a four or a five in any area he would just about have to write a book, with footnotes, of praise for what the person did. So no matter how well you do, unless you literally just about save the world, you will still only get a three.

      What this means in practice is that the performance review system is not really tied to raises. It is mostly a farce, to be used as just a way to set goals for your own department needs.

      IME, most companies are like this, or worse, they do stack ranking and then rank and yank. I know for a fact that a couple FAANGs do rank and yank.

    29. nnn*

      This depends so much on the norms of the organization.

      My organization actually made the decision some time ago to change its norms, switching from a system where manager could give 5s to everyone who deserves it to manager being very limited in the number of 5s they could give and the vast, vast majority of employees getting 3s.

      (Picture a class full of A+ overachievers suddenly being graded on a curve)

    30. Wordybird*

      Yes, my company has the same scale. Everyone is supposed to get 3s/meets expectations, and they sent out an email reminder before reviews to remind everyone that 3s are the goal. I believe they said 3 or 4 people of the 80(ish) in my company received any 4s at all, and no one received all 4s, any 5s, or any 1s. My department received minimal COL raises a few weeks after our reviews.

    31. MuseumNerd*

      The way your HR person explained it is how we do it. 3 means I have no concerns, you haven’t drawn my attention either positively or negatively. If I want to move a rating either above or below a 3, HR will ask me to provide evidence of that. So my highest achievers are mostly 4s and 5s. I don’t typically give 2s unless we’ve already met on a topic. Most people at the 90 day mark will be predominantly 3s with maybe a smattering of 4s. My HR department pushes back hard if I try to put a 5 on a 90-day review.

      Having said that, I don’t think there’s a right/wrong here as long as the whole company is somewhat aligned on what things mean.

  5. Grant Writer in York*

    My boss suggested we apply for a professional development grant. I suggested a few options for various staff we could pursue (I’m the grant writer so this is my job). My boss said I should also identify something for myself – but to be honest, I’m completely behind (we have stupid ambitious goals for grants this year, like “write five grants and get three of them every week”) and I have zero interest in signing up for something like an online grants seminar that’s just going to be more work on my plate. I also have young kids so asking me to travel to some conference is more stress for me. If my boss wanted to reward me I’d love more days off or more pay, but career development isn’t exiting to me right now, especially because I have to apply for it and make it a compelling ask, meaning I wouldn’t include something “fun” or trivial like time management or, I don’t know, improv or pottery or anything I might actually enjoy. Plus, it has to be expensive enough to include in the grant, not like a $50 one time thing. There’s a ton of free or low-cost resources for grantwriting if I’m bored and have time on my hands. However, my boss seemed understandably unimpressed that I’m not excited to develop professionally. I’d like to go back to her with ideas to show I’m not totally checked out, but I’m still scratching my head. Any suggestions?

    1. ruthling*

      what about putting in the grant that you will get an intern, temp, or other part-time person where you can develop your management and delegation skills? Or getting a consultant so you can offload some stuff and also develop your project management skills?

    2. Yes And*

      Find something, anything, that’s valid for the grant and applicable to your position. If it’s, say, a $5K grant, include $10K of PD opportunities in the grant budget (including “your” opportunity). When only $5K is awarded, well gosh darn it, something has to be cut, and you’re willing to take the hit for the team.

    3. Fierce Jindo*

      What about a writing coach? You can frame it as individualized PD and what you’d do with a coach would be work on your actual grant writing work, so it wouldn’t fundamentally add anything to your plate (although it would be a waste of money if you don’t actually need this service).

      1. Former Grant Writer*

        As a former grant writer who is now an Executive Director, you could add something around program evaluation or program development. A lot of grant writers have to help program staff understand what program development means or show them how to evaluate their programs. If that is not something, you generally do as the grant writer you could probably find a few online seminars that teach it or talk about new techniques. The grant funding would cover the cost for the training but also cover your salary while you are in the trainings.

    4. Grant writer in PA*

      Are there resources that would make your life easier – your own Foundation Center subscription for example?
      In a similar situation, I’ve told my boss that I get lots of free prof development opportunities online and so we should spend the cash on other staff.

  6. Justin*

    1. Second book receiving raves from big name authors in the education and equity space (being an author is definitely part of my work, this counts!). Added to a panel about it next week (it comes out in August)
    2. Had to cross the country to do it so very jetlagged now, but led dozens of colleagues in staffing a massive work even that also received raves (from higher-ups and funders etc).

    Just some huge professional wins.

      1. Justin*

        Embracing the Exceptions: Meeting the Needs of Neurodivergent Students of Color
        (which I once was, obviously)

        Not available for pre-order yet but I’ll let folks know if they’re interested later this summer.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Your book sounds great – and special congratulations from an events organiser on pulling together a very complex-sounding event and getting A+ feedback!

  7. Peanut Hamper*

    I was interested in the question about what “energetic” meant in job descriptions so I did some research. I found the funniest list of “translations” of job descriptions. I know they are meant to be funny, but some are spot on, unfortunately. I’ll post the link in a follow-up comment.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        All 100% spot on!! It would have been funnier if they weren’t all so painfully true.

    1. Corporate Fledgling*

      Please do! I was on a partial job hunt for the past year so I definitely saw some descriptions that made me go huh or yikes. I remember a friend was told three separate times in a hiring process that the job required a “thick skin” but no details about what she needed to be thick skinned about. The job description and type of work, it wasn’t something like customer service where there is an expectation that there is some level of inevitable challenging interactions.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        OMG red flags flying. There are some inteactable glassbowls in that office, and they have enough power that HR won’t touch them. I hope she ran for the hills!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          “We will ignore/gaslight/belittle your reports of serious workplace harassment so don’t even bother.”

    2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      Oh man these are all so accurate! I once wrote a LiveJournal post (remember LiveJournal?) about all the red flags in job descriptions I was encountering (this was during the years right after 9/11 and just before the Great Crash, so stability was a joke and I was basically a professional temp for about five years). This article hits a lot of them!

  8. Grammar Policie*

    Any ideas for how to give a subordinate grammar feedback without sounding condescending?

    I have a later-20s staff member on my team who doesn’t know how to format and space emails and makes quite a bit of grammar mistakes that are undercutting her credibility with clients. I’ve been trying to model by giving her exemplars and revising her emails and memos, but it’s not sticking at all and I need to be more direct.

    1. Corporate Fledgling*

      Speaking from personal experience, the only thing that worked for me was a very direct approach. It hurt my feelings at the time but now I’m good at writing emails.

      I was a teacher, then I went to grad school, and then I had my first office job at 28/29 and I didn’t know how to write a professional email. I didn’t realize I didn’t know how to do it. My boss, who was not the nicest, required me to cc him on my emails and he told me directly to follow his templates. I wasn’t even signing off my emails because I didn’t realize I had to. He explained to me that without the sign off, it looked like I had hit send by mistake.

      He was definitely harsh, but I really did get better quickly so I didn’t make him mad. I think it’ll be awkward but talk to them as soon as possible, because it’ll feel weird for them if they’ve been emailing for months with no criticism and then are told that the emails are unprofessional. And honestly, when I receive grammatically incorrect and sloppy emails from people in the field it doesn’t reflect well on them. I think, well if we partner with them, maybe their other work is sloppy too, as I think mine was when I was first starting out.

    2. anytime anywhere*

      Condescension is about tone. So as long as you’re approaching this from the perspective of “this is a normal thing that is expected of professionals, and something you need to learn to do well in this role” you should be ok.

      I would advise you sit down with her, and talk through some of the documents. Look at the version she created, and the one you edited. Point out what is required (you can’t misspell words) and what is maybe stylistic (because some of your edits may be just that). Give her specific instructions on what she needs to do differently. “You must always open with a greeting, you cannot send anything without spell checking it first, you cannot leave off a signature” and so forth. Have her create a checklist or something that she goes through each time she writes something, so she can make sure she is following each step. Basically, more direction, rather than assuming that she is able to see and absorb the differences that you’re trying to model.

      1. DrSalty*

        This point about condescension is spot on. We do formal email training with all new hires at my work and we’re just super matter of fact about it.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This really covers it well. Sloppy spelling and grammar can really torch a person’s credibility without them knowing it.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I found an old letter on helping an employee be more concise in their emails, and I think the general approach in the answer can be applied to the format/spacing and grammar errors you are seeing with your staff member. The post is “how to help an employee become less long-winded” from May 9, 2013. I will link in a reply.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Long-winded employee letter:

        Letter #1 here has a short sample script and I think it can easily be repurposed for the formatting/spacing issues (ex. “please add spaces between paragraphs in your emails so they are easier to read”):

    4. ChaoticNeutral*

      I have been in this situation. Have you talked about it with her directly? I was doing the same: just revising emails and memos and asking her to review my edits, hoping she would pick up on the pattern of mistakes. But the message “your emails and memos need to be grammatically sound” was not sinking in. So I scheduled a casual check in with her, because like you I did not want to come across as condescending so I thought a more laid back conversation over coffee would be better than a formal email. I just named the problems I saw: lack of proofreading leading to spelling mistakes (solution: always use spell check before sending anything), passive voice (solution: coaching on how to use active voice), and professionalism (solution: coaching on polishing wording to go from casual to professional). I listed those in their respective order of difficulty and advised her that I would be coaching her on the last two, which are things I think are a little harder to grasp, moving forward. I just treated it like any other workplace item I needed to address and that I would be supporting her in achieving. My tone was very “I know you want to do a good job, I am pointing out an area you could improve, let’s work on it together” and she expressed gratitude that I was upfront with her, so I think the worry about being “condescending” is really addressed by being direct!

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Naming it and naming why it’s a problem can be so helpful.
        I’ll add, though, that once I had to explain to a subordinate why her use of the passive voice was detrimental for her team’s success – they were often confused about what they needed to do/what was changing/why, and they came to me to complain. I told the direct report that her meeting notes and directions were in passive voice and offered examples and rationale for using active voice. My tone was very much “I want you to have a better relationship with your team, as you also want, so this is one thing that will make a big difference!”
        She told me she had 2 degrees and didn’t need to be told how to write…
        …she didn’t last in that role. Her initial response should have been more telling for future issues I’d have with her and her flexibility to follow norms!

        1. Part time lab tech*

          She wrote in passive voice because she had two degrees! Scientific writing is a lot of passive voice and “the authors” instead of “I”.

          1. linger*

            Over-use of passives can make text harder to read. But passive voice has its uses. In science, passives are one way of promoting the most important new information (e.g. some key term needing definition, or some key finding of a study) to be the topic: [“RESULT was found by Source”]. Although there are other options.
            In journalism, grammatical subjects are almost always agents (principal actors or sources for story information), but if other information is more important, the subject moves to the end [“‘QUOTE’, said Source”].
            In science, the identity of the agent (researcher or other source) is usually considered less important than the informational content conveyed, and it is more efficient to identify the researcher or source later, through a citation, rather than as an overt agent [“RESULT (Source)”].

          2. Glazed Donut*

            Yeah, her online degree from a quasi-accredited college isn’t really the kind of degree that screams “I am writing this way because I am trained on scientific and professional writing!” Her role was customer-service based where we needed to know what issues customers had and what corrective action was taken when we had an internal issue leading to the problem.
            Like someone below said – I think she was trying to sound professional and formal (as a manager with just slightly more experience than the team she was managing).

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Passive voice can be really tough to explain, since many people tend to default to it as sounding more “formal” or “businesslike” when they don’t have a lot of experience writing professional communications.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Tell her that you need her to adhere to standard grammar and formatting as shown in the examples you gave her.

      Ask her whether the examples and revision exercises you have given her are sufficient to guide her, or whether she feels like she needs more training to be able to conform to house style.

      Explain that this is a requirement for how the company presents all client-facing communications, and it is not optional.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      She’s your report? Yes, just be direct and point out the pattern. “I’ve been seeing a lot of grammatical errors in your emails to clients, as well as issues with formatting and spacing. That sort of thing can make it hard to get your points across clearly and effectively, and can harm clients’ perception of you. Because I want our clients to respect and appreciate you, I want you to make a committed effort to improve your emails. I’ve provided you with guidelines in the past. I want you to spend time carefully going over the edits I made to your work so you see what changes I’ve made and get a better idea of what I’m expecting–and why. I also encourage you to spend some time finding and reading resources on grammar like [insert whatever your faves are here].”

    7. Betty*

      Framing it as “learning company style for emails” might help versus “you can’t write an email”– even within “professional” emails there can be a lot of variation in norms (e.g., I find it oddly formal if a teammate writes “Dear Betty” rather than “Hi Betty”) Explaining that you’ve noticed that her emails don’t fit the norms *for your org* is a lot more value neutral and less likely to seem condescending.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Agreed. “In house style” is much more palatable, and most people just want to know how things are “supposed” to be done anyway.

    8. Tradd*

      I’m going to be very blunt. I have found that many people currently, of all ages, are incapable of writing a coherent sentence. They also are incapable of spelling. I’ve seen emails which are written like the person was texting, complete with emojis. These are supposed to be professional emails. These are all native English speakers I see this with. I see a lot of people who can write decently, but then their emails are sprinkled with U for you. They think it’s cute. It’s not. It’s unprofessional and makes them look absolutely incompetent.

      I have a writing background and education. I volunteer as an editor/proofreader for a non-profit that puts out lots of documents with their research. One report was written so badly that I ended up recommending to my contact that the author do an online writing class. Most of the documents I handle for the non-profit just need proofreading for the occasional typo and such. This badly written document required major changes. When I was done with it, my contact at the organization spent a lot of time on it herself.

      1. SS*

        I totally relate to “they think it’s cute”! I recently subscribed to a business/career newsletter for women. I un-subbed within a week because there was so much of this, clearly trying to be cute. It’s not cute.

    9. lost academic*

      “Here’s what I need you to do, here are the style rules I need you to use, here are some examples, and I’ll be providing specific feedback to help you achieve that”

      Follow up with hard metrics on improvement rate required. Make it clear (assuming it’s true) that meeting these expectations is a requirement of the job and continued employment depends on it. Helps to figure out if the why behind it will help her improve or just consistent feedback (and forcing her to make the changes as opposed to just seeing how you do it) – but be direct and don’t worry about being condescending (because that might be too softening for your approach and inhibit progress by making it sound less important)

  9. Kirara*

    Can I still negotiate salary after a job offer if I told the company what my expectations were already?

    I just finished the final round of interviews for a company that seems like a great fit, I think there’s a good chance they will give me an offer, I’ll hear from them early next week Monday or Tuesday. The problem is, in my first phone screen they asked me my desired salary and I gave a number that is in line with market rate and more than what I’m currently making. My family told me I should always negotiate salary. Should I still negotiate if they offer the number I gave, or do I risk them pulling the offer because I already said I would accept $X, and now I’m asking for $Y?

    Y will be 5-10% more than the salary I originally gave, and the company didn’t have a range posted.

    1. oh geez*

      You don’t have to always negotiate just to do it, if you’re happy with what they offer and you’ve done your research to confirm it’s market rate. Be wary of any advice that includes “always,” there are very few absolutes in life.

      If you DO want to negotiate because you learned something new about the position in the interview process, you absolutely can. Alison has written about it in the past, although I don’t have the post handy I remember it talking about, you just explain that: “I know we discussed X, but after learning that the role also requires Y, I believe Z to be more in line with market standard” or whatever the justification may be

    2. ferrina*

      Depends. If they meet what you asked for, you really need to give a compelling reason to ask for more. Otherwise it looks like you were earlier negotiating in bad faith.

      Reasons to negotiate: Benefits aren’t as good as your last position; higher responsibilities than were originally indicated; other things that you learned in the interview that make the position/you more valuable.

      Pro tip for next time: Give a range instead of a single number for your desired compensation. Always say “I’m looking for $X-$Y, depending on the details of the job, of course.”

      1. Hlao-roo*

        you really need to give a compelling reason to ask for more

        Some examples of compelling reasons are:

        – “Now that we’ve discussed the role in-depth and I realize it would include X, Y, and Z, can you do $55,000 instead?”

        – “Comparing your benefits to my current benefits, I would need [$X in salary/Y days in vacation time]* to make this role work for me.”

        * You can negotiate on more than just salary! I have negotiated for vacation time before (and did not negotiate on salary because I was happy with the money but wanted to keep the same number of vacation days I had at my previous company).

    3. anytime anywhere*

      No. If you search through the archives, you will see that Alison did clarify that there is not ALWAYS a need to negotiate an offer. But, you want to make sure you’re thinking through that number thoroughly. It sounds like you did your market research ahead of time, and your number was based on what you think the market rate is for this type of position. But now you’ve been through the interviews. Has anything changed? Are the projects bigger than you thought? A bigger team, or more people to supervise? Have you seen the benefits and do they make sense within that market analysis? Make sure you consider all the factors that you might not have been aware of when you threw out that initial number. But, in the end, if the number does fit with all that info, and you’re happy with it, you can just accept it.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Negotiating = asking for what you want based on independent research and analysis of your needs.

      You did that already. There is no need to renegotiate if they meet your ask. Only if they underbid.

      Unless there is a real reason that you discovered your initial ask was too low (like maybe the health benefits cost 2-3 times as much as you expected, or the work is significantly different than the job description), then it would look like bad faith to try to renegotiate just to try to push them.

  10. the clash*

    I’m a librarian – I’ve wanted to be one since I was a kid, and it took a LOT of time, school, money, and effort to get myself here. I have a unionized, full time, good-paying (relatively), benefitted job – which I’m really lucky to have in a field where many positions, even those that require Masters degrees, are part time and don’t have benefits. I love the people I work directly with, and the students who use our space and services. I love that I get to help them.

    BUT. I’m finding myself unsure about whether I want to stay in the job! It’s draining as HELL. I have a newish boss who I’m finding increasingly frustrating to work with (they’re young and an inexperienced leader, and getting them to articulate clear expectations is like pulling teeth). The university where I work is in really dire financial straits. I had a baby last year, and I also spend an hour and a half each day commuting, which is feeling more and more like wasted time when I could spend it with her instead!

    I’m also questioning whether librarianship is where I want to be. There are so many great things about it, and so so many really tough things (especially working in a front-facing role). Part of me wants to also have more figurative gas in the tank at the end of the day to be present with my kid. 

    I live in a town with lots of potential opportunities (few in libraries, but lots of nonprofity type things I think I could make a case I’m qualified for), and whenever I see a job posting that would be walking distance from me, or even better hybrid, I feel lighter just thinking about the idea of not commuting. And thinking about more project-based roles where I don’t have to staff a desk, manage the public, etc. is also really appealing.

    Should I stay or should I go? (I’m putting feelers out right now, but nothing concrete so far.)

    If I left I’d feel tremendous guilt at leaving my remaining colleagues in the lurch (knowing it would be very challenging to replace me, given the university’s financial situation). I’d also feel like I was abandoning my students, and the profession I fought tooth and nail to get into. I can’t tell whether I’d regret giving it up – and whether I’d be able to get back in if I find I really miss it.

    I know no one can answer this question for me – but I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts!

    1. Rick Tq*

      Focus on your life, your daughter, and your career development. Do not worry about ‘leaving colleagues in the lurch’ when you get a new job that gives you more time at home and less stress.

      Good hunting on your job search.

    2. ferrina*

      Things to Not Factor In
      – Leaving coworkers/students. If you waited until the “perfect” time to leave, no one would ever leave any job. It’s okay to leave when you are ready to leave.
      -“Fought tooth and nail to get here”. That’s irrelevant, and it’s called Sunk Cost Fallacy. Don’t

      Things to Factor
      -Quality of life. The lack of commute is indeed a beautiful thing.
      -Career change. Libraries are really hard to get into; would you be okay if you never got back in?

      And remember, you get to be picky. If you only get a mediocre vibe from an interview, you can walk away and wait for an Amazing Vibe. You say you’ve got a lot of opportunities, so find what really works for you (even if you end up deciding that you want to stay put). But definitely keep putting out feelers and look around to see what’s out there!

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        This comment is everything.

        You don’t have to leave right away. Find something that you like better, and then leave. You might be leaving coworkers/students where you’ve been, but you will find new coworkers and people who you serve in whatever new place you end up.

        Take your time finding something new that works for you, and if you don’t find it this year, well, maybe next year. There’s no rule saying that if you don’t leave now, you never can.

      2. AnotherLibrarian*

        This 100% this.

        Also, I’d add this- Depending where you are, there maybe really great libraries out there where you could be working if you don’t want to leave the profession entirely. I’ll not argue that librarianship will ever been super well paid (anymore than English Lit Professors are likely to be super well paid), but there are places where the budget is stable (maybe not good, but not dire) and you can have a supportive boss. It’s so easy when you’re in a miserable job to convince yourself that nothing could possibly be better, but better jobs do exist.

    3. Cicely*

      I was a reference and instructional librarian for 10 years, and transitioned into the role of e-resources librarian elsewhere (and have been in the role at the same university for about the last four years.

      I can’t tell you how happy I have been behind the scenes. As such, just curious: are the scales tipping for you that you’re leaning toward leaving the field entirely, or are you also thinking you might be happier in a different librarianship role, like collection management, for example?

      I’m sorry you’re having this struggle.

      1. the clash*

        omg this is SO helpful, thank you so much for sharing those!! Love that they brought up the Ettarh Vocational Awe piece, that has definitely been a touchstone for me. This, from the post, is realllllly resonating for me right now too:

        “What I didn’t see until recently is that universities are capitalist machines every bit as much as for-profit companies, and every bit as willing to exploit their workers, they just do it by expecting their employees to work for the love of it, instead of for the money.”

        1. the clash*

          Oh, and this piece too – had me tearing up. That poster is such a gifted writer – I’d love to go grab coffee with them and talk about this stuff!

          “One of the hardest things about this transition was the necessity of shifting my identity away from “librarian.” It wasn’t just what I did, it’s who I was. Side note: that is not healthy. So re-organizing my sense of self was a pretty important step, and was much easier with professional help. But I feel like in relinquishing that piece of myself, I have rediscovered the person who went into that career in the first place — I hadn’t seen that person for quite a while, and it’s nice to have her back.”

    4. A Librarian*

      There will never be a perfect time to leave, and you don’t need to feel guilt over leaving. I left public libraries for a few years and found that I missed it, so now I’m back in a different and more engaging role. What I gained from my few years away in another field has benefited me and I appreciate learning that libraries are the right place for me.

      1. the clash*

        This is great to hear, and a nice way to think about it. Even if I discover that libraries are ultimately where I want to be, maybe the time I spend away will enrich and clarify what I want to do in them.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          And you can also research what other kinds of library jobs are out there; when you’re in a role you worked hard to get, it’s easy to slip into the mindset of “I must remain here forever or be seen as ungrateful that I was even considered.”

          That’s not true. It’s not ungrateful to grow, change, and find new ways and jobs that help you enjoy the skills you worked so hard to attain.

    5. Linda*

      I’m in librarianship, too, and I recommend taking a big mental step back. Remember that your colleagues and students managed to get through life just fine before you were hired, and they’ll figure it out once you leave. You don’t need to exhaust yourself teaching people to not take social media posts as fact and how to use the printer. If you want to leave, that’s fine. If the job isn’t what you expected, it’s okay to change no matter how much time and effort you put into getting there. You have information now that you didn’t have before, that’s all.

    6. Corporate Fledgling*

      I was at a job that I had really loved, but then it started to get more and more draining. I also had two kids, and it just became unsustainable for me to work there and be able to spend the time I wanted to spend with my kids. We had a busy season that increased each year, so by the time that I was eight months pregnant with #2 and my oldest was just two, I was still expected to work 60-65 hour weeks for the majority of the summer. I felt like I really missed out on those last precious months with my older child before their sibling arrived and I truly regret that. I also felt similar about not leaving my coworkers in the lurch but I was so relieved to have finally found another job before another summer there.
      From what you’ve said, it sounds like a long commute and that there are options closer by that might be less draining. You could always do something different for a short time and then go back when your circumstances are different. I felt sad for about two weeks after leaving the draining job that I loved, but I feel fine now. And, I’m staying in contact with the coworkers who I really liked from my old job.
      Good luck with whatever you decide, but please absolve yourself of any guilt if you do decide to leave. You really need to do what’s best for you first, just like the library would do.

    7. Sloanicota*

      Something I think a lot about is “I did it.” You wanted to be a librarian, and you achieved that goal, and successfully held the exact position you pictured for however many years. Does that mean you have to do it forever to have “achieved” it? If you climb a mountain and get to the top, do you have to live there forever now? I often ask myself why moving on to a new goal feels like a failure to me, and I haven’t exactly identified the answer yet but it’s something I’m contemplating lately.

      1. the clash*

        Oh – this is so so so lovely. I DID do it! And that’s such a real thing. I think there’s something in the time/effort spent that makes it feel like a waste if you decide you want to move on.

        It’s kind of like the relationship thing – a relationship can still be a success even if it doesn’t last until someone dies. I firmly believe that, but I had never thought to apply it to work – I guess I thought I would somehow be a letdown/failure/disappointment if I didn’t stay in this job/career forever.

        Thank you <3

    8. H.Regalis*

      I have a master’s degree in library studies but never ended up working as a librarian, although I did work in libraries (public and academic) for about fifteen years.

      Now I’m a software developer. Not even the cool/well-paying part of IT: I’m the public sector. Even so, I still make 1.5-2 times more money than my library school friends who are librarians, and I don’t have to deal with the public. I love libraries and I use my local public library all the time, but the pay is garbage. Vocational awe isn’t going to pay for my groceries or keep me from living in poverty when I’m too old to work anymore.

    9. Rara Avis*

      Not a librarian, but my quality of life improved immeasurably when I cut a 30-mile commute to a 10-mile one. (Although my kidlet and I spent many quality hours in the car together.) In my case, I moved closer to my job.

      1. LyraB*

        the academic research pretty consistently indicates that longer commutes negatively impact quality of life. It’s something I wish more people recognized, and incorporated into their decisions

    10. Academic Librarian Too*

      That the University is in a precarious position is a huge stressor. That would be a big part of informing any decision.
      Don’t worry about your colleagues or students.
      You can leave and then if that doesn’t work out go back.
      I have been a public youth services librarian, a school librarian, and an academic librarian. The least stressful but best paid is an academic specialist at a state college.
      I did leave an economically challenged private university for this position.

    11. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Agreed with Rick Tq, don’t worry about leaving coworkers “in the lurch.” People leave jobs all the time and those left behind just have to deal with it.

      My dad once told me when he felt nauseated as soon as he drove onto his employer’s property, he knew it was time to retire. I think you should listen to your feelings. If you’re feeling lighter at the thought of not having to commute, that’s a good indication. Libraries will still be there if you decide you want to go back later.

      I fled librarianship as soon as I could. As much as I loved the IDEA of being a librarian, the reality was very draining. I went into an adjacent field (archives & record management) though I’m currently working in a job where that’s not the primary focus, just part of the project management tasks. And I have to deal with the public exactly zero percent of the time. It’s not perfect but I’m much less stressed and I have more time and energy with my family than I did before.

      1. the clash*

        Thanks, this is so helpful. Librarianship is definitely one of those jobs where everyone has an idea of what it’s like (if I had a nickel for every time someone told me “If I wasn’t doing my current job, I’d be a librarian!” I’d have many nickels) – but the reality is really different. (So much pushing in chairs, helping with printing, wondering if we’ll have enough money to buy pens…)

    12. the clash*

      Y’all. This is so helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. Reading back I think I have an obvious path to start down – slowly, on my own time, I can afford to be picky and only take something that feels good. (It’s the advice I would give a friend if they came to me – it’s just so much harder to apply to myself!)

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        I’m glad you’re feeling reassured. Treating yourself like a friend is so often the perfect advice! On the picky note, beware of non-profits that expect you to similarly sacrifice your well-being. You’ll see plenty of stories throughout AMA about them. Look out for red flags in postings/interviews and be sure to reach out to your potential peers to get a more unfiltered view on the working conditions. Good luck!

    13. Stacy Fakename*

      I’m in the midst of a career change after, like you, putting a huge amount of time and energy into building Old Career for myself. A friend pointed out that all the years working towards/in Old Career shaped me, and changing fields doesn’t mean I’m starting from scratch. We’re bringing all the skills we’ve learned and knowledge we’ve acquired with us to New Thing. Rather than abandoning librarianship, and starting over, you’re taking all the things you’ve learned (especially about yourself, like the appeal of project-based work) and continuing forward.

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      I would take some time and ask myself: what is this career, to me? What would Ideal Librarian Job, in the magical land with no irritating bosses or commutes, be, and what do I think not achieving that (because obviously ideal jobs only exist in Platonic spaces) means?

      It’s hard to walk away from something that you worked to achieve, especially when it’s specialized and opportunities can be rare. But deciding that something no longer fits your life doesn’t mean you’ve failed or renders that work unworthy or irrelevant. You wanted to become a librarian and you ARE a librarian. But there’s no requirement that you never, ever want to do or be anything else! There’s no Committee of Disapproval tapping its collective feet over you deciding your circumstances have changed, writing up your Permanent Record.

      For me I was struck by you describing how much lighter you feel when thinking of not having to commute or work a public facing position. Think about those things. If you got a public facing position within walking distance, or you had a similar commute to a job that didn’t require it, would either of those be “enough” to start a new job, or would you need both the shorter commute and non-public facets for the change to be worthwhile?

    15. FormerLibrarian*

      Howdy! I was in a similar situation as you about a year and a half ago. I was an academic librarian and I was exhausted. There were so many layers of stress and I felt very constricted. Being a librarian was very much tied to my identity and it took a long time for me to come around to the idea that I was allowed to leave the field. (The process of recognizing that I was deeply unhappy and not okay to putting in my notice took me around 7 months).

      I was also really concerned for my colleagues, I didn’t want to burden them and I didn’t want them to be upset with me. In the end, everyone was very supportive, and others have since left the library and moved into other library and non-library roles. (And if people weren’t supportive, they certainly didn’t tell me about it, and I can’t manage their reactions!)

      I left the field without another job lined up, moved home, and within 6 months I transitioned into a related job (instructional design) at a college. I didn’t expect to move back into higher education, but I really missed working with students. :)

      Also, I recommend reading The Librarians are Not Okay: This article really opened my eyes and helped ease my guilt.

    16. KatherineJ*

      I also work in the GLAM sector and you aren’t alone feeling like that. Bad management is a real nightmare. You need to do what is best for you and your family. You can’t worry about all the work things (and if libraries are anything like museums there is a line of people waiting for a job opening). My usual advice to everyone (including myself) is you can’t get the job if you don’t apply. There is no point trying to decide if you should stay at your current job until you receive an offer worth considering. I may have been hyping myself up alot lately on this topic. I would say apply for the jobs your interested in and not worry about the rest until you get the right offer and remember that getting an offer doesn’t mean you need to accept the position.

    17. Libby*

      Academic librarian here. It’s my second career. Sometimes I do regret it. As an older job applicant who doesn’t interview well (but who does very well once hired), I had a hard time finding a job. I’m currently in a finally decent job which I like overall but have moved from low public interaction as a cataloger to high as an interim director. I can understand a lot of what you’re going through. I don’t like my commute and it’s only 30 minutes. I’ve also been sorely disappointed by some others in the profession along the way. And while my salary is decent, the college is facing continuing financial constraints. I do think you need to separate the negatives of this specific position compared to other jobs in the field. Are you able to move for a better job? Would some minimal continuing ed (short-term online courses or webinars) allow you to transition to a different aspect of librarianship? You also might want to see if any library jobs are available online. Check library database companies, academic publishers, and job boards for electronic reference librarians. Remember that your child won’t be young forever. That cuts both ways. You want to spend as much time with her now as you can, but in a few years, she will be in school. You might look at a career change differently then. None of this is to say that you should stay with librarianship. Best wishes to you with whatever choice you make!

    18. DC*

      Feel free to disregard if this isn’t applicable – my large law firm has an in-house research services department. While some of the staff are lawyers, I don’t think all are. It used to be an actual library taking up a floor of the office. Now there are fewer books and most of the service is virtual. So there may be librarian type jobs at large companies as well, and those jobs might be remote.

  11. Seashell*

    My son, who is in college and does not like to read for pleasure, applied for a minimum wage food service job for the summer. The job sent back 5 questions, which included, “What is your favorite book?” He liked “Lord of the Flies” in high school, but was concerned that the theme of the book might send a bad message to potential employers. I agreed and steered him to a non-fiction book.

    So, “Lord of the Flies”, yay or nay? And is this the silliest possible question for a job that requires no reading beyond a name on a credit card?

    1. CV*

      How likely is it that people at the job will know the book?

      Maybe there’s a hobby reference book he uses?

    2. Southern Girl*

      Nay. I hated that book, thought it was gross. I would lean toward something he read on his own for entertainment.

      1. Seashell*

        I think the last book he read on his own for entertainment was something in the range of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Everything else since then has been assigned for school.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Lord of the Flies is fine. It’s usually a mandatory read for school. So the message is he knows at least one book from school. Plenty of people read true crime, or dark thrillers, or other questionable content, so Lord of the Flies isn’t going to raise eyebrows.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yeah, the only interpretation I would come away with was “You were in high school once.”

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I would come away with “you haven’t read anything since high school”. Which in this particular context doesn’t matter much but may be worth keeping in mind.

          1. Observer*

            I would come away with “you haven’t read anything since high school”

            Very much so. Even someone who doesn’t read purely for pleasure might have something else that they enjoyed even if they read it for a specific purpose.

            Which in this particular context doesn’t matter much but may be worth keeping in mind.

            Yeah, in this context, it means nothing. I think that you you are both right that for a job like this it’s a truly ridiculous question. But in a lot of contexts that conclusion would be a bit of a problem.

      2. HE Admin*

        Sure, but reading something for pleasure and telling someone in a job-related context that it’s your favorite book are different things. I enjoy reading copious amounts of smut but I would NEVER tell an interviewer that. There’s almost always the “true” answer to questions like this and the “interview appropriate answer.”

        That said, this is a bad interview question in general and particularly ridiculous for something as simple as a college student applying for a food service job.

      3. ferrina*

        Exactly. It’s considered literature, so it will be more like “okay, this kid didn’t hate English class”.

        Also, I can’t imagine that anyone is thinking that closely about this question on a job ap. Usually the criteria for working food service is: breathing and usually shows up on time.

        1. Observer*

          I can’t imagine that anyone is thinking that closely about this question on a job ap. Usually the criteria for working food service is: breathing and usually shows up on time.

          Yeah. Which makes me wonder who is even looking at these applications? And who on earth dreamed this up.

    4. Cicely*

      Joining the chorus to say “Lord of the Flies” should be fine; it’s standard and therefore shouldn’t be unknown or a surprise. I’m actually impressed they’re asking.

    5. MsM*

      I think Lord of the Flies shows excellent preparation for the food service industry. At least when a whole school bus of kids pulls up and needs to be done with lunch in half an hour.

    6. UK arts manager*

      Absolutely a silly, pointless question; and while I actually think Lord of the Flies was a brilliant commentary on the British class system in the context of its literary contemporaries, I also think you did the right thing in steering him away. Given the job’s poor judgment re: asking that question in the first place, I don’t have high confidence in their grasp of nuance. Some books have high-profile cultural baggage through no fault of their own—people who skimmed them as teenagers vaguely recall just enough to make unfounded implications/connections, and it’s simply not worth getting into it for minimum wage.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This. If someone at the job thought it was worth asking, they probably also care about the “kind” of answer, and that’s a book about brutish competition with some gross scenes (it’s a fine book and many people read it in school and I’m not criticizing it, but *for the purpose here* I wouldn’t feel pained to pick something else. FWIW if in reality he likes graphic novels or comics I think that’s fine to say, I worry he just picked something he thought sounded literary to make him seem well educated, but presumably they know they’re hiring for an entry level minimum wage job.

      2. Kay*

        “high-profile cultural baggage”


        You don’t want anyone reading that application to wonder why it might have been your favorite book.

    7. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      It’s his job, and his job application. He should listen to his instincts on that, and it sounds like he did.

      I don’t think it’s a bad question, just not a super helpful question. Definitely not one I’d go with if I was only sending candidates 5 questions for a job completely unrelated to reading.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think it’s a bad question, just not a super helpful question.

        In this context, I think “not helpful” is pretty bad. But beyond that, in this context it is also just a bad question. It provides absolutely no useful information while causing stress – and I’d be willing to bet that it was either put in by someone who has no idea what they are doing (bad) or someone who was hoping to use the answers as a proxy for something else (even worse.)

    8. footiepjs*

      Nobody’s giving the answer to that question too much weight, most likely. It’s probably just a getting to know you type question. I think it’s meant to be “fun”. Depending on the non-fiction book, I’d actually like that less than Lord of the Flies – your favorite book is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? sure buddy.

    9. Csethiro Ceredin*

      It’s a silly question in almost any field, because unless they say Mein Kampf or something, what does it tell you? And I don’t think most people even have an honest answer. I read voraciously and I’d have a really hard time choosing a favourite, or even THREE favourites!

      That said, I think anything on the usual high school curriculum is fine. They choose them to be largely inoffensive as well as largely considered ‘good.’

    10. Sitting Pretty*

      There is certain big, popular fast food chain that may well move the application to the bottom of the pile if the answer isn’t The Bible

    11. Peanut Hamper*

      It’s fine. I doubt that they weight this very much. It’s considered a classic, and high-quality enough to be taught in just about every high school out there.

    12. Maggie*

      It’s a silly question but I don’t think Lord of the Flies is unacceptable. Just because you read a book and liked it doesn’t mean it’s content guides all your life decisions

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Very true. I think only a fundamentalist interpretation of literature would lead to that view of literature.

    13. Sassafras*

      We have a fast food chain in Australia called Lord of the Fries so it would be a perfect answer here!

  12. CV*

    I still puzzle over one of the reasons my programmer husband was let go, more than 10 years ago: he wasn’t social enough. It’s like they had never MET a programmer.

    His coding was fine, apparently, but they wanted somebody very outgoing… or something.
    I’ve known dozens of programmers and out of all of them, I’ve only met two that were decidedly people-persons.

    (It’s unlikely that he did not tell me the straight story, so both of us remain mystified about this one. He’s had many-year tenures in jobs before and after.)

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Was he responsible for communication with customers/users/stakeholders? Gathering requirements, analysis, customer support, bug investigations? All those are programmer-adjacent tasks that need to be done, and programmers are often best situated to do them because of the deep knowledge they have of the product.

      1. In My Underdark Era*

        this. coding itself doesn’t require that much socialization (but still some), but software development does. the field is understandably notorious for being full of asocial cave-dwellers (a self-fulfilling prophecy as it attracts those types because of the reputation…hi) but ultimately (most…) software is written by people and for people, so of course there’s a social aspect.

        that said. I have never heard of a software developer being let go for being asocial. unless that was the “nice” term they used to dress up a more serious attitude problem or it was at the point of ignoring/rejecting feedback, which I doubt was the case here.

        (I had a former coworker who was described as “socially awkward” which I quickly learned was a nice way to say “a lazy misogynist who needs someone to hold his hand and do his job for him”. I think you’d know if your husband was such an offender!)

        it’s cynical, but there’s definitely a streak in some offices that really elevates the “brogrammer” mentality, which emphasizes a very social atmosphere. it can, at it’s worst, be a bad fit for pretty much anyone who doesn’t match a very specific “type”. I’m kinda tempted to say he might’ve run into one of those.

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        On the one had, I hate how every job screens first for if you’re agreeable, friendly, smile a lot, make small talk. Those are important in some jobs but I don’t know if people truly grasp jobs like my last one, where I was dealing with gruff old men who told it like it is and hung up the phone without saying goodbye and complained about things you could not fix. They literally needed another slightly pushy (but knowledgeable) person to push back and fact check them and to set expectations.

        That being said, I transitioned to more coding work a few years ago and you’re right about gather requirements. One thing that sticks out to me is that I realize that a lot of the good coders are generally smarter than a lot of other people or understand their jobs better than the people doing them, and it’s way too easy to slip into resentment and a feeling on intellectual superiority about it, and it can taint your interactions. So there is a certain personality that does really well, who can tune out the BS and just do the literal work at hand.

        I 100% admit I fell into that feeling of intellectual superiority multiple times, it’s sort of a shock when you start asking questions to get requirements from people who supposedly are so knowledgeable, and realize they have very little idea how it all works. Then you figure it all out for them and you end up giving THEM requirements. Then you wonder what they do all day. It can definitely bleed over into interactions with people

      3. CV*

        Good question, but no customer interaction was involved.

        To address some other ideas, he’s quite presentable in standard social situations , interacts normally in groups, etc.

        It may have been that he didn’t go out with the office after work or something like that— we had two toddlers at the time and he also had an hour long commute each way.

        I’m not particularly focused on the incident, but I happened to remember it recently and thought people might have interesting ideas.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      You’ll likely never know for sure, and sometimes you just have to let that go. The reason given is almost certainly a cover for whatever the real reason was – manager wanted to hire their nephew, or some other trivial reason that had nothing to do with your husband.
      Just let it go. It’s not causing career problems or anything. Just a weird thing that happened once.

      1. Skoobles*

        I think you can accept you don’t know the reason without having to invent a nefarious one, tbh.

    3. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      I’m a programmer who once got fired for not being a culture fit, and it was clear that what they meant was “you’re not extroverted enough”. It happens — this place was very personality/relationships-driven (and in retrospect, kind of a cult), and I was miserable, but yeah, some places really really want that at all costs!

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Some workplaces, regardless of what your actual job function is, want you to be extroverted, unfortunately.

      That said, the idea that programmers just sit in a room with headphones and type code all day is a bit simplistic. Lots of programmers have to coordinate projects with other programmers, go over pull requests and code changes, communicate with product, legal, and marketing departments. They often have to draft up proposals and design docs and present work. It isn’t just typing variables and for loops.

    5. sara*

      Maybe they weren’t able to really articulate why “social” was important to that team/company? I’m a developer who’s definitely not an extrovert but I had very public-facing jobs (in non-tech fields) before becoming a developer. So I realized I was able to be faster at picking up requirements, more clear when communicating with product managers/designers/QA, etc. than most devs at my level.

      Both sets of skills can be super necessary for all developers or just some developers depending on how teams are structured.

      But I’m definitely not hanging out with coworkers at lunch, I’m one of the first to leave a company event/team social, etc. It takes me years to chat to coworkers about more than work and the weather. But I probably come across as “social” because I communicate clearly about work-related tasks, basically.

    6. Qwerty*

      It’s possible that he told you his interpretation of what they said. Personally I get offended when people pull the “have you met a programmer” card regarding interpersonal skills.

      Software engineering requires social skills. You have to work with others, communicate effectively, understand the needs of others. Being approachable can be really important to the job and being standoff-ish can negatively impact the growth of other team members. There are jobs where someone can go off in a corner and work alone, but if it is a collaborative team that won’t work.

      I’ve worked with hundreds of programmers. The ones who were very much not people-persons were generally hard to work with – we usually worked around them and their moods. I’m not saying everyone is close friends, but usually people are friendly in the office and then go home to their own lives. Even at the tight-knit locations where we all were legit friends (off to party with a dozen programmers tonight from a former job), as long as people were pleasant during the 9-5 no one cared that they didn’t hang out after hours.

      Circling back to your husband – its possible he just didn’t get what they were trying to communicate in the coaching leading up to the firing. They were probably trying to address interpersonal skills but he translated “social skills” to “social”. I’ve seen that many times before.

      1. AndyP*

        Yeah, I specifically remember waiting for and watching my little brother transition from the junior “my best coworkers are those that work long hours; they’re the most dedicated” perspective to the senior “my best coworkers are those that can listen and explain; they help elevate the team’s work” perspective.

        It’s possible that there’s something else going on here, but it’s equally possible he wasn’t understanding that his job involved more than writing lines of effective code.

  13. Friends at work*

    I know the commentariat will skew a particular way with this so I’m prepared to take advice with a grain of salt.

    How close friends can you be with work friends? I am a young professional in a metro area in a field that requires a lot of training so I’m 30 but just started my first real job. I have made friends with two people at my workplace. With one we don’t ever work together and with the other we do collaboration on a project but have different managers and different reporting structures/groups. I really like these friends but I’ve read advice that you should limit closeness with people from work. I feel mostly insulated since we’re not on the same teams but any advice? I wouldn’t stop being friends with them but is there something I should watch out for?

    1. fhqwhgads*

      It’s hard. I’ve certainly made plenty of real, genuine friends through work. The thing to watch out for is that you’re on the same page. If you think you’re real friends and they think you’re work friends, well that kinda sucks. Reporting-structure issues can also be problematic. But basically, if you hang out outside of work and discuss not work things – and anticipate that would continue even when you no longer worked the same place, congratulations, you have a real friend you made via work. If you always end up discussing work-adjacent things even when hanging out socially, or if you stopped working together the relationship would disappear, then it’s a work friend.
      It’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t become close, real friends with people from work. It’s that depending on roles, it may be a bad idea OR depending on just the nature of how it evolves, it can be easy to not be on the same page about what it is.

      1. Friends at work*

        Thanks! I’m pretty sure we’re real friends. We talk about non-work stuff (sometimes also work stuff but mostly non work) and we’ve both said to each other that we consider ourselves to be real friends. We also hang out outside of work and discuss sensitive topics that I definitely would not talk about with someone I considered to only be a work friend. Of course proximity is a factor in any friendship, but I think we’d still hang out (one of them has said as much directly to me).

      2. Corporate Fledgling*

        This is good advice. When I was 29 I felt like I was real, genuine friends with two other women at my office. We had lunch together every single day for about 18 months, never talked about work, laughed, shared stories. I knew so much about their lives and they knew so much about mine. Then we had a re-org and one of them was switched to another team at a nearby location and then other decided to resign. The one that resigned was what I considered my work best friend, and real friend and I literally never saw her again. We continued to text for another year or so but that petered out. The other woman and I saw each other maybe monthly until she resigned, and then we went out for one beer once and I never saw her again either.
        There was no bad feelings about it, but it did remind me that once that common thread was gone, the friendships would change.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had a coworker who didn’t ever make the distinction between “work friend” and “friend” and I’m glad it came up in the context of another coworker so I could see what she was expecting of me.
          (There was a coworker who I’d been friendly with while we worked together mostly because he was also on the social committee and just one of those social people, but I didn’t have a deep connection with him and really disagreed on a few serious topics. After he left my coworker Betty kept asking if I was texting with him and I was like, no, we’re not friend-friends, and she was *aghast* that this was a thing.
          To no one’s surprise we had some on-and-off boundary issues, but since she’s left we’ve come to a workable place of occasionally hanging out that’s about 25% networking.)

    2. Jenna Webster*

      I actually think you can have good friends at work, and it makes life better. When that changes primarily is when one of you becomes the other one’s supervisor – you may think it will be fine, but I have a lot of experience that says otherwise, as do many others.

      The only other caveat would be that it’s fine to vent about work, but you need limits there as well. Don’t say anything to work friends that can get you in trouble with HR or your boss. And, to be fair, I’ve broken this rule many times without consequences, but I have seen it come back to bite other people.

      1. Awkwardness*

        The only other caveat would be that it’s fine to vent about work, but you need limits there as well.

        If the relationship turns sour, you might not escape your former friends. So I would try not to overshare or at least be really careful how soon you trust them with deep dark secrets.

    3. ChaoticNeutral*

      Funny, I was just thinking about this this morning! Two of my very best friends are current colleagues, although we are on different teams and different offices. I don’t think I would be close friends with someone on my team just because I think the possibility for conflict is just too high. While me and my two friends do talk about work, I would say about 75% of our conversation is not work related. That balance has been key for establishing them as friend-friends and not work-friends.

    4. Cicely*

      If it helps, my own standard is that if the person in question doesn’t have the formal responsibility of evaluating me, doesn’t sign my paycheck, and has shown themselves to be a true confidant, then they’re a good candidate for friendship.

      On that last part, about confidentiality: pay very close attention to how they discuss other people, to you directly or even if you’re in the same room. If it’s a compliment or a benign comment, great. If it’s a legitimate complaint and they just need to sort things out privately to someone else and they have chosen you, fine. But if it’s gossipy, and prevalent, keep in mind the phrase “If they’re doing it with you, they’re doing it to you,” and proceed cautiously.

      Also, congrats on your new job! You’ll get more experienced on this stuff in time. We’ve ALL been there. :)

    5. Double A*

      I think it’s fine to be actual friends with your coworkers! I have become genuine friends with several coworkers (like, still keep in touch after leaving the job or see each other outside of work) and it’s great. I have one work friend where our kids have become friends with us, we’ve gone on trips together, and it’s all good.

      It hasn’t come up yet, but I would not supervise or want my friends supervising me. Fortunately my current organization is thoughtful and flexible about this, and it wouldn’t be an issue to bring it up and make sure we weren’t in that position. So I think the supervisory stuff is the main thing to watch out for.

      And also make sure that the friendship seems reciprocated! If someone is reaching out to you, and you’re glad to spend time with them, that’s great. If someone never initiates, then maybe consider if you should be trying to pursue a friendship (I know a lot of people in friendships never initiate and still want to be friends, but I think in a work context it’s too easy to potentially be overstepping).

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I met my best friends at work, and one of them was my manager at the time, but I’ll concede we were all a lot younger and in retrospect are aware that we were probably inappropriately close.

      All that said, I actually think it’s fine to be close to people at work if there isn’t a reporting structure involved, but the thing I’d watch out for is not letting work-closeness be mistaken for life-closeness. If you left tomorrow, how well would the relationship hold up? Are you hanging out after work / on weekends? Would that continue? Etc.

      1. Awkwardness*

        (…) not letting work-closeness be mistaken for life-closeness

        And this is easier said than done. If you see each other regularly, are in a similar situation and share similar opinions, it might still not be life-closeness – but you sharing a similar situation.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      Despite some potential pitfalls, having friends at work is extremely common, esp if you’re younger. I had work friends at my wedding and vice versa.

    8. Sloanicota*

      I think you *can* form meaningful, permanent friendships that start as workplace friendships – I mean, I know plenty of people who met a spouse at work! I just think it’s more common that work friends are situational in reality, meaning if you move away / get fired / get transferred you may be surprised how quickly they dry up (I actually have lots of friends I truly love who I also admit are situational; it’s not necessarily a bad thing!). And yes, you might want to keep that one half-step of reserve in mind since there’s a slight chance the work friend could become a coworker or even boss some day, but that really shouldn’t be a huge barrier to friendship (I mean, all friendships could end or change context but still we try).

    9. Rosie*

      One of my closest friends is someone I met at work, and we become close while working together. She was a tad senior to me, but did not manage me at all. The reality is, you spend a lot of time at work. Likely with people who have at least some similar interests and/or in the same life stage. So I think the advice to “limit closeness” should be taken with a grain of salt, and be considered in the context of the specific co-workers/friends.

    10. It can happen to you*

      I’ve always made friends with coworkers even when I tell myself I won’t, it just seems to happen. I left my first job almost 10 years ago and I still keep in touch with a couple of friends. Then there’s my previous job where I made a tight-knit group of friends (at one point there were 10 of us) who would spend time together at night and on weekends. All of us at one point left that job and things started to fizzle out with the big group during the pandemic but to this day I’m still very close to a couple of them. I’ve been at my current job for a couple of years and there’s one person who I immediately clicked with even though our job is remote, we have met up outside of work and talked about our personal lives and work related topics. This is the only person at my current job I have this dynamic with, everyone else I’m friendly and cool with, can hang out at work related events but keep it at that. All this to say, do what works best for you, and don’t be afraid to make friendships just based on some advice.

    11. Sparkles McFadden*

      We all spend far too much time at work, so of course you are going to end up making friends there!

      What worked for me was the setting of the boundary of no work talk when we’re socializing, and no social talk during work. I’ve found that the second part of that boundary setting is more important. When you are at work with other people, and you are talking about things you’ve done together outside of work, it makes the other people uncomfortable. Some people may feel left out, or that think you’re benefiting from some sort of favoritism, or plotting together about something. (Yes, even if the friend is in another department.)

      If you end up in a situation where one friend becomes the manager of another friend, you have to put the friendship on hiatus. It’s just too problematic otherwise. Even if you think you can be objective enough so the friendship won’t interfere with work, it won’t look that way to other people.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        That’s a great boundary and worked for me when I was friends with colleagues.

        My other rule was never telling them anything I’d be mortified about if others in the office learned about it.

    12. Roland*

      I think you can be real friends with coworkers. My real friends that I made at work were not usually people that were directly on my team, or we became even closer once we weren’t on the team together, but it just kind of happened that way I think. I don’t think it’s inherently a problem. Of course it’s an issue if anyone wants to move into management, and being stuck in “work mode” while talking with your friends can be annoying, but if there’s a mutual desire for real friendship then I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    13. NothingWrongWithIt*

      Nearly all of my close friends were made at work or were friends of people I became friends with at work. It’s been 24 years since my best friend and I worked together, but we met at work and were close coworkers for 3.5 years.

      What’s problematic is trying to be friends with a boss.

    14. Maggie*

      I’ve made tons of friends through work and I think many adults make many of their friends through work. Obviously I’d avoid things like getting super drunk or sharing majorly intimate details but if you want to hang out with them, get meals, get happy hour, go to a concert or a movie or invite them to a get together at your apartment it’s all fine. And frankly I HAVE gotten super drunk or shared details of my life with co workers (and they have too) and it ended up fine, but it’s not a best practice.

    15. Former Retail Manager*

      This is a tough one and depends on many factors. I will give you my personal considerations.

      1. Are we or could we ever be in competition for the same position based on what I know I want from my career path and what I think they may want from theirs. Note that some people, especially women in my experience, will outright lie to you about this for all sorts of reasons. I’m female and have had several female coworkers act as though they have no interest in moving up or into a certain role when, behind the scenes, they are doing everything they can to make that happen. It’s as though they don’t want to appear too competitive or ambitious….I really don’t know, but I don’t necessarily trust what someone says to me, and I consider that they may have other plans they aren’t telling me.

      2. If we ever did end up in a scenario in which we were competing for the same position, how do I believe they would handle it? Have they shown me that they are a person of integrity who can handle career disappointment or are they a “sore loser?” You also have to examine your own personality and consider how you’d respond if they got a promotion that you both applied for.

      3. In general, what do you know about their work ethic, quality of work, and reputation at work? In an ideal world, this shouldn’t matter, but the reality is that you are judged by the company you keep. Even if your roles don’t overlap currently and never will, being friends with someone who is widely regarded as a “slacker” or “pot stirrer” creates a high risk that you’ll be seen in the same light. I have a couple of coworkers who I personally really like, but they don’t have great reputations, so I’ve been very careful to distance myself from them professionally. The longer you’ve been around, and the better your reputation already, the easier this is to do.

      4. I would also be cautious with any work friendship of sharing too much inside information that isn’t widely known or too much negative feedback. Even if someone doesn’t deliberately betray your trust, we’re all human. Something could slip in a convo with someone else and before you know it, you’re in the midst of drama that could have been avoided.

      For what it’s worth, I have made a few really good friends at the office, and these are people that I will keep in touch with for life. They are genuinely good people. Some still work with me, some have quit and others have retired. Just take your time getting to know people and pay close attention to how they conduct themselves both in and out of work.

    16. Darlingpants*

      I have real friends I’ve made at work, but it’s not 100% smooth. One of them got fired, which was very awkward because I liked her boss and would also have liked to be his friend, but now can’t. The other one might start working on a project that I will supervise (so I’m not her boss but… it’s inching close to a line I don’t like). But I agree with the other posters that I enjoy my work a lot more when I have a friend there.

    17. sara*

      My group of very good friends all met through work but in a similar scenario. I was friendly with one of them in our part-time job (in uni/end of uni), and then we became very good friends after we left that job. After a few years, we ended up working full-time jobs at the same place but with basically no overlap. She’d been there first and had made friends with two people that worked in roles that overlapped a bit with hers and basically not at all with me. And we were all at approx the same levels (no one was a manager of any kind etc).

      She left that job after about a year and I stayed there for many more years and the 5 of us (and our partners/kids), in the 12 years since then, are basically family now. And only one person works at the original place, and the rest of us are all in very different jobs and industries (left between 8 and 4 years ago).

      So ya, it’s possible to make friends with work, but easier when you don’t work that closely together and there’s commonality outside of work. We also (with other friends etc) started a book club where the only rule has been “no work talk” – that was very key!

      Also the whole time we were overlapping at work, we also had “work friends” – like colleagues we’d have lunch with or maybe do happy hour with. As a group, we almost never hung out at work – I think that can also lead to cliques and an assumption that your friends’ coworkers can (or can’t) talk to you about things on their projects etc…

      1. sara*

        To add on – I think a huge part of why we stayed friends is that we have a lot in common outside of work. But also the place we worked at was unique in a lot of ways, and we all went through a lot of things that people who didn’t work at this place would struggle to understand. So as much as we mostly didn’t talk about work, having close friends who could understand when we were going through things was such a saving grace.

        It sounds like I’m talking about a war or something, but just a toxic workplace with external sources of drama/controversy/toxicity…

    18. Alex*

      There’s always risk to relationships with other humans, work or not.

      Personally, my BFF is someone I met at work. We DID actually work very closely together, and helped each other excel. It was great, because I had set of skills A, and she had set of skills B, and there were a lot of projects that required both sets of skills, but no one had both sets, and so we would naturally team up and teach each other. We were better employees because of it.

      We’ve both since moved on from that company but are still good friends. I actually totally miss working with her!

      Of course, could it have gone poorly? Sure. But it can also be really great. FWIW, before we were friends (I started at the company quite a bit before she did), I had a hard time getting ahead at work–sometimes, having close connections is good for your professional success. People ask for you on projects, remember you for award nominations, etc.

    19. Qwerty*

      You spend the majority of your waking hours at work. Having real friends at work is awesome.

      I think people also shift back and forth between “real friends” and “work friends” and “real friendships that faded shortly after we stopped being coworkers” My current best friend is from my last job, but that friendship is slowly fading now that we aren’t trapped in that horrible job and have started to build independent lives.

      I think it is easier to be real friends when you aren’t on the same team. My advice is just not to push it – take it slow and see how it evolves. Maybe they become work friends who have the occasional happy hour with. Maybe you start hanging out a bit more than that. Maybe you all make more outside-of-work friends and get too busy to hang out.

      Personally I like working at places where my coworkers turn into real friends – work is more fun, plus it counts as my social life so I can recharge in the evenings.

    20. BigLawEx*

      One of my closest friends, with whom I speak daily, I met at work in 2006. We went to lunch occasionally while there. We both left around the same time and I’m so glad I met her.

      I have other friends from work, but those that still practice big firm law, I see far less often. They’re still working 60+ hours a week. And all have kids. (We were all about 29-30 when we met).

      I was a lawyer though, so hierarchy was hardly a problem. If you do professional work (lawyers, doctors at the same office, writers on the same show, etc.), I see very few problems with it.

  14. Why Must Everything Be Confusing*

    Why does the government have forms that contradict themselves?

    Background: we had a part time nanny for our kiddo during the pandemic. Did everything properly taxwise. Kiddo is now old enough for preschool, and a spot was open. We told nanny 3 months in advance this was the plan and when the job would be ending. We paid nanny a month severance. The nanny was great. We thought she’d get snapped up in a second, given how hard it is to find childcare. We gave her glowing references for multiple jobs. Yet nothing has come through. So she filed for unemployment.

    EDD sends me a form with big bold warning that failure to respond may result in fines and penalties, right at the top on the first page. Gives the deadline for responding.
    I read the form and start filling out the first part…and then beneath that first part it says “Do not submit this form if the claimant was laid off due to lack of work and no other eligibility issues exist.” The info they already have from the claimant says lack of work. The info I just filled in in the section above this says lack of work. Why don’t they put the “Don’t submit if” at the beginning? It’s very confusing. Plus there’s another section about payment after the date of claim. But the dates are confusing too. They ask about last day physically worked, and last day of separation. Then they ask about payments after date of claim. But the nanny put in the date of claim as 3 weeks after the last date we paid her, and the last day of work as the last day she works. This is fine. But the way the form is worded seems like what they want is payments after the last day worked, even though that’s not what it says. So do I fill in what I think they want? Or what it actually says? Or does none of it matter because I’m not contesting it? But there also doesn’t seem to be any way to tell them last day of physical work was different than the paid through date. Or do they not actually care about that?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Urg, sorry you and the nanny are dealing with this. I did once read that many forms of government support wants to exist more as a theoretical safety net that makes certain people feel better, but do not actually want to be used, so they make it pretty hard to access; that helped me a lot as I navigated my state’s insurance program with greater patience.

    2. LizW*

      I’ve found government many forms and processes are more about keeping government employees busy than error proofing a process and good customer service.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      The last day physically worked is the last day that she cared for your child.

      The date of separation is the last day for which she was paid. In other words, the “paid through date”.

      The reason for this is because many people do get paid for PTO etc. after the last day they physically work.

      I think the issue is that the nanny has the date of claim wrong. The date of claim should be right after the date of separation. In other words, the date of claim is technically the day that she no longer has an income. Basically, the unemployment office wants to make sure that what she says as a former employee matches what you say as a former employer.

      You are probably in a different state than I am, but I am 90% positive this is the cause of the confusion.

      1. Why Must Everything Be Confusing*

        So I do need to submit it to clarify the dates? Or I still don’t need to submit it because the reason for separation is still “lack of work”?

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          I think that “Do not submit this form if the claimant was laid off due to lack of work and no other eligibility issues exist.” means you don’t have to submit but without seeing the form in question, I can’t say for sure.

          Is there a phone number somewhere on there that you can call with questions? Or perhaps a website where you can chat with someone?

        2. The Other Evil HR Lady*

          You should submit it, with all the dates correct for your end of this (the fact that she put in the date of claim wrong can be corrected by HER later), then – wherever they let you put additional comments, you can enter that you do not wish to contest because this was a lay off. That will be the end of that. I fill these out all the time, even if it’s for lack of work, just to be on the safe side and to have proof (in case my company ever needs it), that I filled it out and submitted it timely… even if it’s a “nothingburger,” like a lay off. CYA and all that ;-)

          1. Why Must Everything Be Confusing*

            Thanks, that helps. (and makes me fell less flaily) There isn’t really a spot for other comments which was also stressing me out, but I’m going to fill it in truthfully and send it back anyway.

    4. Tio*

      No help on the particular form, but I am federally licensed and have worked directly with the government for a decade and here’s the answer: Things are decided by committees, who don’t talk to each other, and regulations are changed and updated by other committees years down the line who don’t take a good look at what the actual existing rules are before they do so half the time, and also most of them are done on an incredibly rushed timeline because they’re reactions to something. (Which is part of the reason they don’t read the existing rules, because they’re in a rush.)

      yaaaaaaay government

  15. The Prettiest Curse*

    For anyone who has been following this week’s UK politics fallout from Frank Hester’s incredibly racist and misogynist remarks, the Guardian article on the work culture at his company is an interesting read. (I’ll link to the article in a comment.) The policy eventually changed, but staff used to have to send an email to the entire staff every time they made a mistake.

    Quoting the article:
    “[A] former staff member recalled that a “mistakes made” email contained a spelling error, prompting an hour-long discussion about whether a team member should send a mistakes made email about a mistakes made email.”

    No wonder they had to change the policy!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        My God. No wonder they paid bar tabs as a perk: I don’t think I could walk into the building without some liquid courage.

    1. FricketyFrack*

      That’s the guy who was like, “I’m not racist, it’s just a cute little joke we make about all the Chinese girls sitting in the Asian corner”? He sounds like a whole entire nightmare in pretty much every way. Not to go all Office Space, but if there was ever a time for Milton to burn down the building, that would be it.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yup, that’s the guy. Given the fact that he didn’t deny making any of those racist remarks, he must have said them publicly and all the time. I hope his company loses all their many government contracts, though they probably won’t.

        1. londonedit*

          Lose government contracts? With the current shower of bastards I’d fully expect him to be awarded more.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I love the phrase “shower of bastards” – but yes, knowing this lot, they’ll probably put him in charge of DEI training or something.

  16. Hunger Games Team Member*

    Is anyone else following the workplace drama at Outdoor Voices? I am a past customer of OV and it is heartbreaking hearing employees’ experiences both in the retail and corporate settings. :(

    1. cal*

      As someone who has been in and around outdoor/bike-specific workplaces for a long time, I wish more people would poke behind “virtuous” companies. I’ll still be a member of REI (mostly because I HATE backcountry) but boy I was side-eyeing their bullshit about layoffs. I worked for the biggest bike distributor in the world and let me tell you something, hiding behind “Good Vibes” so that the people at the top can just take home more and more money while treating employees heinously is so, so, common. It sucks. :(

      1. Stuff*

        Observe Trader Joe’s and the American Civil Liberties Union being two of the orgs teaming up with Amazon to rule the National Labor Relations Board unconstitutional and strip what few worker’s rights exist at all at the federal level in the US.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I was so gobsmacked when all that hit the news, since Trader Joe’s is almost universally hailed as a great place to work – and in my mind “great places to work” shouldn’t be anti-worker protections. It’s been a lot of cognitive dissonance for me, and I do know people who work there and they do love it. But I guess the corp wants to be a great place to work because they feel like it, not because they’re required to…ugh.

      2. Hunger Games Team Member*

        I am so glad you said this. We should always carefully examine the companies we are spending our hard-earned dollars with.

  17. One Way Video Interviews?*

    What’s the deal with one way video interviews/having to upload an introductory video before being considered for a job? I’m fairly happy with my 2 part time jobs but still keeping my eyes out. It seems like half the employers when they respond want you to upload a video or do a 1-way video interview. I’m not too thrilled with this due to data privacy concerns, appearance-based discrimination as well as not being able to talk to a human and ask my own questions/get a rapport and check the vibe. Is this the new normal and what do people think of this? What’s the point from the employers’ side if they have to watch the videos anyway, why not just do a regular interview?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Personally I hate that trend.

      But the thing I have heard in favor of video interviews was that they make sure every candidate gets the same exact questions and the same amount of time. So no interviewer bias in terms of questions asked. In theory they’re supposed to allow asynchronous interviewing too, so different time zones, or different meeting days or just if Susan’s opinion is vital but she’s out that day she can watch the recording instead of having to bring the candidate back in a second time just for her. No bias against a candidate who can’t take off a whole day of work/childcare to come in for an interview, they can record their answers at night etc.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, scheduling is the only positive I can think of from this. Like others have mentioned, I think overall it’s not good because the candidate doesn’t get to learn anything about the job they’re applying to (except that they’re applying to a company that does one-way video interviews instead of a two-way phone screen).

      2. One Way Video Interviews?*

        I guess I see those scheduling pros but I’m turned off by a company having my image and voice who I haven’t talked to. Who knows what their data security is like.

    2. Has a job now*

      I’ve never heard of a one-way video interview. I’m curious what industry you’re in. I had to do a video cover letter once (it was for a marketing role at a large cinema chain) and it was so awkward. I was qualified for the job and had some relevant experience, there could have been other reasons I didn’t get called for an interview but I always imagined it to be because of the video.

      1. One Way Video Interviews?*

        These are mainly basic admin and retail jobs. The 2 big culprits in my area are a theme park group and a public college which are both big employers here.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I hate them so much and refuse to do them. I suspect employers are NOT watching most of them, or at least not watching all the way through. Which means they’re a colossal waste of time for the applicants, which employers don’t care about. But it does cost them applicants!
      If a company is hiring and they want an hour of my time, they can also invest an hour of their time for an actual interview. Interviews are *supposed* to be a two way street!

      1. Miette*

        Same – I won’t do them because of the two-way street thing too. I mean, if they can’t be invested enough to sit down to speak with someone face to face, then why would i take the considerable time on my end to record (and re-record x10) some stupid video no one is going to watch past the :30 mark?

      2. It can happen to you*

        This! When ever I get a request for one way videos (or applications that require submitting a “short” video) I pass on them.

    4. pally*

      Employers are not necessarily watching the videos.

      There are algorithms available that ‘quantify’ the candidate based on things like facial expressions, micro-emotions and the like, measured as they deliver their responses. These data are compared to data compiled on those who have held the job. If the candidate ranks high compared to those who have held the job, they are advanced in the hiring process.

      Google one-way job interviews and micro emotions. There’s a 2018 Wall Street Journal article about this (and other articles as well). This article is behind a pay wall.

    5. Double A*

      I had to do one as an initial screen for me job but communicating one-way information via video is actually really relevant to my job. I know that’s not usually the case.

    6. I Have RBF*

      I think it sucks. They have my resume. I am not going to do a video for them where I answer arbitrary questions unless they will do the same for me. The reason for a live, two way interview is to let both sides evaluate the other. A solo video puts all the power in the employer’s hands, and that smells bad to me.

  18. Dry Erase Aficionado*

    Are cover letters becoming obsolete? I do not receive them when I am hiring, and I have recently been applying for jobs and most application systems do not ask for a cover letter, and a few do not even have a place to attach one. Am I doing myself a disservice by not finding a way to attach one?

    1. Nesta*

      My partner has been applying to jobs sometimes with a cover letter and sometimes without, and his most successful applications have been the ones without the cover letter. I know for a fact his cover letter is well-written, so it’s baffling to me.

    2. ursula*

      I like and use them, when I am doing hiring, and personally I would still provide one as an applicant even if it wasn’t requested in the job posting. I wouldn’t penalize a candidate for not including a cover letter if I didn’t ask for one in the job posting, so I don’t really think there’s a wrong way to go here. But if you are a strong writer (and applying for jobs where writing skills are relevant), it’s a free opportunity to demonstrate that.

      I may be increasingly in the minority, but I find cover letters more useful for screening than like 3/4 of the content on a standard resume. (I am also not a fan of the new Canva-style resume formats that include, like, self-ratings on how good your communications and project management skills are. Self-ratings are worth nothing!!)

    3. Pubs*

      I now only apply to jobs that state the salary range and don’t require a cover letter. I’m not spending my time writing a letter if I’m not going to even receive a “no thank you”.

    4. Friday Person*

      It’s my impression that this is wildly industry-dependent. In my field, demonstrated writing ability is important and thus so are cover letters; in others, they seem to have pretty much disappeared.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      I haven’t been noticing a trend but I’ve been noticing way more social media type posts and articles about how horrible they are, but the impetus for most of it seems to be that people hate writing them, not that they are useless. I think people need to think about what their end goal is. If you have complete writers block applying for a job, are you sure you’re a good fit, or are you just trying to churn out a high number of applications, hoping something sticks? It shouldn’t be that hard to write a paragraph about yourself. I also don’t know if 80% of people realize how generic their resumes are. They need something human-sounding to tie it all together. So do younger people who tend to have had a few unrelated and random jobs, they need to try to tie them together and include a blurb about what they want to do with their lives. I’ve written this before and gotten lots of “that’s what the interview is for” or “that’s what the resume is for” responses, but if a few hundred candidates look similar, then I will just be picking random people to interview, if all I have is a resume.

      To your question:
      “Am I doing myself a disservice by not finding a way to attach one?”

      Maybe. If you get “generic” candidates who want to try to make themselves stand out but don’t have the experience yet.

      Also, is it impacting you? I guess it’s job dependent but in business ops, I need to see how the person writes and thinks since a huge part of the role is problem solving and I need to know how they form thoughts

    6. EMP*

      I’m doing my first serious job search in many years and I’ve seen maybe 50/50 jobs giving you a spot for a cover letter and not. When it’s available, I add one.

      My theory is employers have realized most people are really bad at writing cover letters so they don’t influence hiring enough to make reading them all worth it. But that’s just a guess.

    7. Rex Libris*

      I can only speak for myself, but when I’m hiring if several resumes are roughly equivalent, the cover letters can decide who gets an interview if I have to cut somebody.

    8. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

      I think a lot of people have a phone and not a computer, and it’s a lot harder to do a cover letter on a phone.

    9. JustaTech*

      I used to always write a cover letter for every job I applied to, but I have since discovered that one major employer in my field doesn’t have a spot for you to attach a cover letter, and talking to people who’ve been hired there recently they didn’t submit one, so for that specific employer I’ve stopped bothering.
      But for everyone else, especially if there’s a spot to upload a cover letter, even if it isn’t specifically mentioned in the listing, I include one.

    10. Zee*

      I’m in a writing-based industry so the idea of ditching cover letters is wild to me. But I could see how in many industries they wouldn’t really be that useful… especially since most people just regurgitate what’s already on their résumé. The exceptions would be a job where formal writing is an important skill, or for people who are changing industries/have experience in a lot of different areas that need to provide more context about how their skills would transfer. I guess they’re also useful for seeing if people will follow directions or not.

      As far as how to attach one – you can combine it with your résumé in a single pdf, if you want.

    11. Procedure Publisher*

      I have spent some time to write a cover letter, only to find that there is no place to put a cover letter. I feel like Workday is the system I consistently find no spots for a cover letter.

      However, since my recent position was a publisher focus role, a cover letter could help connect the dots for the hiring manager about why I’m applying.

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      I am hiring for multiple positions right now and the resumes with good covers letters certainly get my attention more than the resumes without cover letters.
      Tell me why you’re applying for the job and why your background makes you the right candidate. Please!

    13. Annie*

      Kind of. I saw another thread a while back where someone said they got a better picture of the applicants’ qualifications by asking a few short questions instead of a cover letter, e.g. instead of having applicants submit a cover letter for an open llama groomer position, you ask how long each applicant has been grooming llamas, how many llamas have they groomed, how do they calm down a llama that really doesn’t want to be groomed, etc.

  19. gingersnap*

    I need help and advice friends.

    I was asked by my grandboss to take a job that I had very little experience in, I jumped in at the director level and then after several unrelated crises right when I started, said grandboss (who became my boss) was put on leave pending investigation and after 4 months has now resigned.

    My interim boss hates me – he has angrily told me he never would have hired me, I’m doing a terrible job, if he didn’t know my family (sadly true) he would have fired me ages ago, etc. I’ve gone to HR but I work for a religious employer so it’s all very murky and there’s not much to be done.

    I’ve been franticly job searching in the legal field (my graduate degree is legal adjacent but it’s somewhat niche and needs explaining so my resume often doesn’t make it past AI screenings). I’ve made it close for several positions but my mental health is taking a serious hit. I’ve increased my SSRI, started therapy, but I’m coming to work or leaving work in tears multiple times a week. Everyone else here says they know I’m new to this and I’m doing fine but my boss is just awful. I need out but financially I can’t leave until I have something else lined up. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      How are your savings? I ask because job hunting while under this type of hostile attack at work is going to be really hard. If you an give yourself a month to job hunt while unemployed that may be well worth it. If no savings, are there any temporary jobs you could jump to instead? Not a great fit or right field, but enough to pay the bills while you find the right job?

      1. gingersnap*

        I had just bought a condo about a year before so unfortunately my savings isn’t in a wonderful place right now. I’m looking into temporary jobs and if this drags on much longer I think that might be the way to go.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Bad bosses can have such a large impact on health and well-being.
      Is there another position you could take at your current company (even if the work isn’t aligned or you take a slight pay cut) to tide you over until you land a job?
      And, this job market is terrible. So few openings and a lot of qualified people looking. Would you be open to meeting with people from your network to learn about other companies, potential roles, advice for job searching in this climate, etc? It may be good to hear about what’s out there before making decisions.

      1. gingersnap*

        Unfortunately the staff where I am now is bare bones so no openings that I can take. My old job filled my position quickly so I can’t go back.

        I have started to leverage some connections, I’m fortunate to have a few attorneys in the family who have gotten my resume viewed at by humans so I’m getting interviews and one firm has said they really liked me and want to keep me in mind for future roles so I feel like I’m always getting really really close, but just not quite there. I’m just so exhausted in every sense of the word.

        1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

          Will the “interim” boss be your permanent boss? Is there a posting to fill this role, or is it certain that the interim person will get this role?

        2. Brogues*

          I feel like I’ve been in a similar situation, including a toxic job, multiple near-misses elsewhere, and being exhausted in every sense of the word. If I could go back in time and speak to my then-self: First of all I’d give myself a hearty, loving hug. And then I’d try to urge myself to take a deep look at my wellbeing, and take real measures to take more care of that. (How? I don’t know. Maybe therapy. Maybe research on psychology and starting to get to know myself better and what I needed.) It was an extremely challenging time and it did take its toll on me later, so – even though when you’re right in the thick of it it can feel more intuitive to dissociate from your feelings and/or ride a wave of anxiety – I would have benefitted in the long run if I’d looked inside and started some serious work on the stress I was feeling.

          Not that my stress was my fault – it was not. I was being treated badly at work, and that was that. But I was the only person who could have helped with the stress, and in hindsight I would urge myself to start that earlier.

          I hope your next fingers-crossed job application is not a near-miss but a score!

    3. Tio*

      In terms of mental health, what are the most refreshing activities for you? Can you drop whatever things outside of work you don’t REALLY need to do and prioritize these to refresh? You sound like you’re in a bad situation and a little stuck. Can you also look into temping and maybe quitting if that will work?

    4. Rosie*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! One thing that stands out to me in what you said is that for whatever reason your boss won’t or can’t fire you. Can you use that to give yourself some mental breathing room? In the sense that his assessment of you seemingly can’t get any worse, and almost certainly nothing you can do will change that, so you have no obligation to try. Meanwhile bills still get paid and food is on the table! I’m a contractor and one client seems to hate my guts and has ended the contract so I’m working out the notice period now. It got a lot less stressful when I stopped trying to make them happy, because it wasn’t possible, and focused on getting what I needed to do done and getting out. I understand it’s a lot more intense to deal with when it’s your full time boss, but I hope this might be a tiny bit helpful. Good luck

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This: apparently without some egregious break or error on your part, your boss is more evil, demoralizing smoke than fire. If he was going to fire you, he’d probably have done so if you were as terrible as he says.

        Quit trying to find the button that will make him human; it doesn’t exist. He regards your role as an abuse sponge, but you don’t have to one. If he’s going to be a miserable sod no matter what focus on what you can actually do (your actual work) and how it might burnish your resume.

    5. HugeTractsofLand*

      Since everyone besides your boss says that you’re doing fine, can you pick someone from that pool of “everyone else” for mentorship or gut checks regarding your work? Your interim boss sounds like he’s not giving you any professional feedback, just being an angry ahole, which is a huge problem. The mentions of your family are especially not cool in a professional setting, and if you have the bandwidth to do so I would try redirecting him whenever he brings them up or starts venting at you. Maybe something like “Can we please bring this/the topic back to this work problem. I would love to learn what I can specifically improve.” And if he takes that as a cue to start ranting again you can rightfully point out “I need to complete X as part of my job. I’m not hearing helpful feedback on X right now, but please let me know if any comes up.” and then walk away. Even as I type this out, though, I’m wondering if this is salvageable. A hostile workplace is really hard to deal with and you may still need to work with this jerk even when he’s no longer your immediate boss. I’d set a deadline for yourself to quit this job and stick to it.

  20. Panicked*

    Any suggestions to get through to a boss who struggles with humility and constructive feedback?

    Backstory: The company used to be in a very niche field and got a majority of business because we were the only ones doing this. That has changed and we’re no longer special in any way. The owner (CEO) has been resistant to any change at all and expects that the business will still bring in the same amount of money it used to. It won’t; we’re up against a large amount of competition (who will do the job cheaper and quicker than us).

    The team is completely burnt out and worn down by the constant morale beatings they’ve been taking and the additional work mandates they’ve received. I, as HR, took an anonymous morale survey and it’s not pretty. I need to present it to the boss, who is notoriously defensive when anyone challenges his way of doing things. I, along with 70% of my colleagues, are looking for work, but we all believe that this can be turned around. Everyone honestly, truly wants the business to succeed.

    I’m looking for any tips/tricks you’ve found to help “manage up” and provide feedback for someone who can’t take it?

    1. Purple Cat*

      You need to use the same tools you’d give a manager that needs to give a bad performance review to a struggling employee. You can’t CONVINCE your CEO that the information is correct, all you can do is know that you’ve presented the information clearly and accurately.

    2. Cookie Monster*

      I agree with Purple Cat’s answer, but one thing I do that makes me feel more comfortable is think through all the possible arguments/criticisms/reactions he’ll have to the info. That way you can think about how to respond and won’t be caught off guard. I’m not saying that’ll help his reaction, but if you can confidently (and respectfully) counteract everything he throws at you, he might start to give an inch.

    3. Kelly*

      This is textbook product lifecycle, and I wonder if a discussion about where your product(s) is/are in the product lifecycle might change the tone from critical to analytical? It’s a shame your boss won’t see reason, but every single product goes through this lifecycle, because if you have something good, competitors enter the market and do it better/faster/cheaper.

      There are lots of things you can do at the decline phase–for instance, Apple stopped making all iPods but one once smart phones replaced mp3 players–innovate, try to make it cheaper, try to do it faster, but…. Yep. That’s what happens to every business. It’s part of life.

  21. Nesta*

    I have been wondering- is there anything like a recruiter whose client is the job-seeker and not the employer?

    My partner works in manufacturing and is planning to move several states away to be with me. He is just at the beginning of the job search process, but we are concerned that even though we are making it clear that he can move quickly, that his location is working against him. He has been turned down without an interview for a couple of jobs, even ones that recruiters identified him as a good match for.

    I know this likely isn’t abnormal and it is still early days, but I figured we should explore all our options. We wouldn’t mind laying out some money to have someone who can support him as a candidate, if it was successful, but neither of us are sure anything like that exists or is legitimate if it does.

    Do you know any kind of services like this or have any ideas for a long-distance job search (particularly in a blue-collar field)?

    1. Panicked*

      Is he noting on his resume/cover letter when he will be relocating? When are you all relocating? In my experience, many manufacturing jobs hire fairly rapidly, they might not want to/be able to wait. He may have more luck closer to the relocating date.

    2. WellRed*

      I know they exist but blanking on what they are called. I also fear they may be more white collar but maybe not. I’d google something like “live and work in state” and see if anything like that pops up.

    3. londonedit*

      Where I live and in my industry (publishing), most recruitment agencies work both ways. They advertise jobs on behalf of companies, and handle the applications before passing the best ones on to the company for interview, and then they handle all the back and forth with rejecting candidates/notifying successful candidates. But as a job seeker you can also contact them and they’ll hold your CV and information on file, and then when they’re briefed to handle a vacancy that you might be a suitable candidate for, they’ll contact you and ask whether you want to be considered. Not sure if that’s how it works where you are, but I might try searching for recruitment agencies and seeing whether it’s a thing they do.

    4. SortOf*

      You want a job coach or employment counselor. The can provide advice and help candidates navigate the system. Recruiters/placement firms/etc de facto work for the company despite having outreach with the employees.

      Look for companies that advertise post-layoff services as that’s how most people use them, but most will accept private paying customers too. You may need to try a couple before you find one you like.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Connect with the local Dept of Labor career center in the new location. You can find them all over the US at careeronestop . org. Services are free. You can have a conversation with a local advisor about the job market, how to apply, and whether there are specific placement agencies that would be best to work with based on his target job/industry.

      And if you are already in the new location, have him use your address as the one on the application. Then sort out the start date and the move date as needed.

  22. Cat Admin*

    I read a lot about background checks on this site. Is doing background checks the norm in the US? What does it fully entail? I’ve had drug tests required for jobs where I’d be handling machinery and have had to submit driver’s abstracts from my insurance for jobs where I’d be driving a company vehicle, but never a police background check or any background check for an office job aside from checking references.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It varies. Sometimes it’s just “this person has no criminal record or no outstanding arrest warrants”. Sometimes it’s much deeper: finance/banking/insurance/etc want to make sure they can trust employees to handle vast sums of money with discretion; companies that do a lot of business with the military want to hire employees that can get security clearances.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        An old roommate got a military job I guess, she sent me a random email telling me I’d be hearing from the security clearance folks and sure enough they called to ask about her! She apparently had to list every address she’d ever had and a person at each of them. I have no idea how I’d even come up with half of those. They seemed mainly to be focused on is there anything that could be used as blackmail against her, making her vulnerable to outside influence.

        1. nopetopus*

          A friend applied for a job that required that level of background check/security clearance, except he didn’t tell anyone he had put us down. This was back in my college days and I was hanging out with a mutual friend at their place. We had just finished smoking a J when we got a very loud knock at the door. It was an FBI agent (!!!) wanting to ask us about job applying friend’s character. He politely pretended we weren’t blazed out of our minds and left after a 5 min conversation on the front porch, but we were sweating bullets. Friend got the job.

        2. Other Duties as Assigned*

          I once had a colleague who was applying for a job with the U.S. State Department. They sent a fellow to my office to interview me about her and they asked questions about if I knew if she would drink to excess, use illegal drugs, abuse prescription drugs, etc. The question I didn’t expect was when he asked if she had a gambling problem. I guess that was to find if there were any possible blackmail worries.

          1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

            Susceptibility to blackmail, pattern of impulsive behavior (including substance dependency), and financial difficulties are the best predictors of security violations.

          2. Brain the Brian*

            Yeah, that’s standard for a government security clearance (and most State Department people have to get those). Not necessarily for standard background checks.

    2. TX_TRUCKER*

      In my experience, background checks are the norm for office positions that deal with money or security clearances. Also, schools for young children typically do a background check for all staff, not just teachers.

      There are many different types of background checks. Depending on what you are screening for, it could be a quick online check that takes minutes, or it could be a security clearances that takes months.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Background checks are also standard in the UK for jobs, even office-based, where you will be working with children or vulnerable adults — the DBS checks are quite thorough because of incidents in the past.

        It only takes one Ian Huntley (a school caretaker who abducted and murdered two girls who were students of his partner) to emerge and things get tightened up. Huntley was arrested a few times for domestic violence and grooming underage girls but never convicted, so the checks now take arrests for those sort of crimes into account. He flew just under the radar and two families paid the price, so while it might seem excessive to us armchair lawyers/social justice activists, it is probably not going to affect many people directly and protect against those who might be suspected of abuse. Once bitten, twice shy is pretty much the reality.

        I work in public healthcare myself and so it’s an environment where things are pretty tightly controlled. It’s sad that it has to happen but we do a lot of training on safeguarding within our jobs — we’re all mandatory reporters — and so it is necessary to ensure safety of our service users at work even if it screens out some people who have been wrongly accused. In this kind of setting unfortunately there’s very very little room for error.

    3. Filosofickle*

      They seem to be getting pretty common in my world — I would assume that any large company I work for will do it, and smaller ones often do not. My current role did a week-long background check, but no drug test. When I started contract work for a health care company, I had to go through the whole check plus an 11-point drug screen. That took 3 weeks.

      Companies like Equifax (they have a product called Work Number) make a ton of money off of this. A check can include criminal and credit. A big thing today is verifying your employment history, identifying jobs you left off your resume or stretched the dates of. This is based on data that employers voluntarily hand over so it’s not necessarily complete, and it’s mostly have bigger / public companies and government, not smaller orgs. Data includes what you’ve earned at past jobs, but they don’t send that in the report to the employer. They don’t have everything but they know a LOT about you.

    4. footiepjs*

      I had to get checked for jobs working with minors – paid tutor at a high school and working at a public library.

    5. E*

      Depends on the industry and position. As someone who’s worked for multiple construction companies, background checks for office staff & management look for violent crimes, felony drug charges, theft, and financial crimes. Field staff checks were for violent crimes and felony drugs. Anyone who would be driving had motor vehicle check too. All the places I worked were willing to work around anything that popped up with the field staff, especially if it was more than 2 years ago.

    6. KPC*

      Office worker who handles $1000.00’s in cash daily. I was drug tested and my background check took two weeks before I could start current job. I had a company credit card from old company with my name on it, my old boss had houses in three states, I was checked in all of those states and had never left the town I was born. We are required to sign on two ethics reports each year one for company and one for investor’s company

    7. Rara Avis*

      In education (and volunteering with children, e.g. Girl Scouts) they’re taking fingerprints to see that we’re safe around the kiddos. So it’s mainly criminal record in that context.

    8. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I’ve always had them. Sometimes it’s just “does this person have a criminal record or outstanding warrants (like today’s letter about the unpaid traffic tickets). Sometimes they’ll do things like education / employment verification or run a credit check (although some states have banned the practice, it used to be common for employers to refuse to hire people with poor credit history).

    9. anon24*

      I’ve almost always been background checked. Some of it is reasonable, some of it is ridiculous. My low-paid retail job, general automotive laborer, and factory jobs all did drug tests, criminal background checks, and freaking credit checks (my credit is fine, but I highly object to a credit check for those types of positions who are by definition going to attract entry level employees or people trying to get back on their feet). I’ve worked and volunteered in EMS or other healthcare positions involving driving and the background checks for those has only ever been driver’s license checks, drug tests, and criminal/child abuse checks, which is perfectly reasonable IMO. At this point I’ve been fingerprinted so many times for my FBI criminal background/child abuse checks that if I ever commit a crime they’ll be on my door in minutes lol, but the good news is that it used to take a few days – a few weeks for my clearances to return and I actually just had to do one today for a job I’m applying to and I had it back in an hour because someone at the background check company probably just had to pull out my file from last time :)

    10. M2RB*

      I’m an accountant, so every job I’ve had has involved some sort of background check and some jobs have required a drug screening. The background check is necessary because of the financial data I have access to; it’s to check my credit history to determine if I’m a risk for committing fraud (do I have a lot of debt that might motivate me to embezzle). At my current job (for just another hour or two, today is my last day!), I have full administrator-level access to all of our bank accounts as well as full access to all of our employees’ data in our payroll & HR systems. So – do I have a criminal history that would indicate a likelihood of committing identity theft or fraud?

      As an office worker, I get annoyed by the drug tests. I’m not operating heavy machinery or equipment. Fine, screen me at hiring, but having routine or random drug screenings after hire is unnecessary unless I am showing signs of impairment at work or am in an accident at work. For workers who do drive or operating heavy machinery or equipment or are in other similar jobs, sure, test them at random, as long as the policy is disclosed prior to hiring.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      It depends. All government jobs require background checks (from what I understand). All the private companies I’ve worked for recently have required them. For finance folks we do a credit check as well as criminal and driving records.
      If someone will be driving for work and/or driving a company vehicle, we always run criminal and driving records.

    12. I Have RBF*

      In certain industries (eg finance) or certain positions (eg IT, accounting) it can be very standard. Usually for any position that handles money, PII or IP they will want a background check for financial and criminal issues. If it involves driving they will want a drug test and a drivers license record check, and if there are passengers probably a criminal background check and fingerprinting.

      The criminal and financial background check basically looks for any warrants or convictions on your record, and your status with your credit (credit score, payment history, are there any judgements outstanding, etc.)

      My field is IT. I am a systems administrator, which means I have access to a lot of production servers to do my job. I actually get concerned if an employer doesn’t do a criminal/financial background check on me. The reason is that someone in my position could do a lot of damage if they were blackmailed for gambling debts or otherwise had a lifestyle that exceeded their means and tried to sell company data.

      This is different from a security clearance, BTW. I can pass a financial and criminal background check, but not a security clearance, because I am a medical marijuana user in a state where it is legal. I actually lost a job over this. – They told me it was a background check, but I ended up filling out all the crap for a public trust clearance.

    13. Hermione Danger*

      I once had to go through a background check because I was the file clerk for an engineering firm that was doing telecomm work for a new FBI building. They needed to be sure I was a trustworthy sort of person because I had access to the files and drawings. I’ve also had background checks when I worked in finance which involved checking my credit history for bankruptcies and the like to make sure I wasn’t a risk. Even though my job had nothing to do with money.

  23. Funderemployed for almost a year*

    I’m in the process with two affiliates of the time organization. I just got a contingent offer (pending background check) that would require moving across the country within an unknown timeline. I’m waiting to get more information about that.

    However, I am also theoretically in the later stages of an affiliate location in my state. They’ve been much slower and more chaotic with the process, which isn’t ideal, but it’s a known issue. I’m thinking I need to update them on the offer to see if that lights a fire. I don’t want to move if I don’t have to for a variety of reasons.

    Would appreciate any advice in tackling this!

    1. Kate*

      Yes, tell them about the other offer! Don’t frame it as an ultimatum (and don’t frame it as a location-based preference—they don’t care about your personal preferences), but you could write an email that reads something like, “I wanted to let you know that I’ve received an offer from X office for a role in X state. However, my preference would be the Y role in Y office [their office]; I enjoyed meeting you and the team and think we would be a strong fit. Y office has requested a response to their offer by Z date. Is there any way we could expedite the hiring process, so that a decision could be made on your end before that date?”

      (or something like that—others may have better wording suggestions!)

  24. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

    For the freelancers out there: I started taking some freelance work out of the blue and it’s time to get paid. I have an LLC set up for a side business that was going to be a different kind of work that didn’t end up going anywhere, but if you squint the work is close enough. Should I have this gig pay me as my LLC or as me the human directly?
    I have another gig potentially coming up of again, similar work, but not necessarily exactly what the LLC was going to do, and the first gig has asked me if I’m interested in additional work down the road, so it may be ongoing work/payments.

    1. shellshock*

      I would highly recommend talking to a financial professional if you work with one for freelancing, but with that said, how much freelancing are you thinking of actually doing? I would not mess with getting mushy about LLC work, and have been told often that having an LLC is not really worth it in most scenarios. Depending on how much this work is or how long you think it’s going, I would just have them pay you, directly, but again, this is only based on me talking to accounting people/my own experience. “Squinting” feels …. well, the word choice is yours!

      1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

        The LLC was set up to do essentially freelance project management. The work I ended up getting hired for was some tech writing that looks like it might be ongoing past this one project. I am also in talks with another person to do some freelance setup for a project management tool they’re using. It’s all more or less freelance business services within my scope of expertise.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      If the LLC is already set up, I’d lean toward using that. Otherwise, have them pay you directly only if you already have an EIN (never use your SS# for this).

      1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

        My EIN is associated with my LLC. So it sounds like I should have them pay the LLC.

    3. Miette*

      Freelancer here. I don’t have an LLC because my accounting adviser (my brother is a CPA) didn’t think it necessary in the line of work I do. I am a marketing consultant, I don’t hire anyone whose salary I’d need to pay, I don’t need to invest in product or equipment to perform my work, so there wasn’t any tax benefit to do it.

      That means people pay me, not a company name, and I don’t have to worry about whether the LLC is paying me a salary or what all that looks like, I don’t have to worry about profit/loss calculations, taxes are relatively easy to do, etc.

      Make sure you’re paid on a 1099 basis, and consider the rate you charge carefully, because you will need to hold back about a third of it to pay taxes on it, so you’ll want to make it worth your while. (When I went full-time freelance, I was advised to have my rate be about double my hourly salary, to accommodate other expenses like business and health insurance, etc., so you might consider charging that rate now lol) . As a freelancer, you also have to be comfortable with sharing your SSN with folks so they can issue the 1099 come tax time.

      THAT SAID, it doesn’t mean it won’t make sense for you to do this eventually, but not necessarily until you’re making an entire living off the work. If you know a tax accountant or have a financial advisor, see if they’ll provide some additional advice.

      1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

        I did my rate calculations pretty carefully and I think I have a fair wage on that front, including holding out taxes. As for payment, they want me to issue an invoice. How does that play into the 1099 aspect?
        I wasn’t intending to do much freelance work, so I don’t have a tax person or financial advisor to ask. :/

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          Issuing an invoice is one of the things that cements 1099 status.
          Nolo Press has some great books on freelancing finances.

  25. CheesePlease*

    Looking for some insight from anyone who works in quality for manufacturing.

    We struggle to get an accurate supplier DPPM because we don’t inspect upon receipt (sometimes 1-2wks later), don’t have PO tracking on our non-conformances (I know, I know – I’m in a partner role to QC and can’t change that currently) and the type of units we receive varies wildly, so one month we could receive 5,000 gal. of teapot paint and the next month we receive 2 teapot kilns. This means our monthly dppm for all received items isn’t accurate.

    Any tips? I’m spinning my wheels and with the data we have I’m being told nothing is accurate so it’s not worth tracking

      1. CheesePlease*

        Resources. We don’t have inspection at our docks. So items get received at a shipping warehouse, then they get brought over to the main facility when we need them and get inspected here. A lot of items are also really intricately packaged (for part integrity) , so to inspect at the warehouse we would also need resources to unpack, inspect, repack.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      If it is materials, can you ask the supplier to provide Certificates of either Conformance (just says meets requirements) or Analysis (actual data).

      How is your relationship with purchasing, I’ve found that our buyer is decent about working with me (and I with her) on quality, alternate materials etc. (It helps that her office is off the hall to the lab.

  26. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

    Question for job seekers of a Certain Age: Are you getting any bites?

    I (F,50+) have been looking for a job for about 4 months now and have been getting nowhere. I’ve taken all of the advice on this site I thought applied to me and my career, I have numerous versions of my resume and cover letter that I use depending on the job req, my resume is 2 pages, focuses on the last 15 years worth of experience, etc. Yet I am getting no interviews.

    Could it be I have been working as a freelancer in my field for the last 6 years? Could it be my last “real” job title was waaaay more senior than the jobs I am applying for (i.e. SVP title before, applying for director-level jobs in the US)? Could it be they just don’t want too much experience because they’ll think I will require more $$? Could my age automatically equate to “isn’t hip with the latest tech” in their eyes? LinkedIn fatigue? Simply too many applicants? All of the above?

    What can I change to make my resume ping for hiring managers? I have had it evaluated and rewritten for key words and reformatted so it’s an easy scan, and have eliminated anything that might age me, but I am at my wit’s end. Any suggestions?

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Nope, it really sucks to be looking for a job in your 50s. Hearing things like “We are a company with a very different vibe than you.” (All the employees I met with or saw in the office were in their 20s, maaaaybe 30s.) Or once “Our company culture is based on training for an running marathons together, and we don’t see you as a good match for that.” – which is a little shocking how openly they admitted their ableism and ageism!
      I’m also at my wits end.

      1. WellRed*

        They are too young to know better; ) I’m also 50s and the thought of job searching terrifies me.

      2. Stuff*

        Did you talk to a lawyer about that company training for marathons? That sounds like they’ve opened themselves up to some legal trouble.

        1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

          Not me, but I agree with you! What a thing to say to a job seeker in any case, especially that one

    2. RagingADHD*

      I am 50 plus and was freelancing for 8 years, and my job hunt took 9 months. I did a ton of rewriting, a bunch of certification classes, and had to really hone my story about why I was freelancing, why I was looking for work now, and why I was pivoting the type of work I wanted to do.

      I also had to downgrade my salary expectations somewhat. But after being in that first job, I got headhunted into a far more lucrative position, at a company I had applied to 3 times and interviewed with twice for other positions.

      So it’s a combo of filling the pipeline, honing your story, and considering a steppingstone job, because you’re automatically more attractive if you’re employed.

      Also, do not use Linkedin or Indeed Quick Apply. Go find the listing on the company website. For a lot of jobs, particularly if they are listed as remote or hybrid, quickapply gets swamped with literal thousands of applications within minutes of going live.

      1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

        Follow up: As part of your story-honing, did you ever change the title on the resume to appear more desirable? I suspect my most recent in-house job being at a SVP level is causing folks to wonder WTF, when honestly the title was just an idiosyncrasy of the employer and my actual work was basically the kind of job I’m looking for.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Absolutely. I listed titles that showed what I actually did in contemporary terms, not what my employer called it on their org chart.

          1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

            Thanks, that really helps. May I ask how you handled the “years of experience” questions? I want to get across that I’m senior enough to qualify, but not that I’m old enough to have worked at a time before the internet

            1. RagingADHD*

              I put 20 or 20+, depending on the format. For some specific things it was actually 10 or 15.

              Anything over 20 doesn’t get extra brownie points anyway.

              1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

                Thanks, because I have been putting 15, but 20 is closer to actual and doesn’t feel like under-playing.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      Being way more strict screening older candidates is definitely a thing, but what is your field? The market for white collar work is way worse than those money job numbers show (well, not even, since these aren’t even the jobs being created). I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who is not having trouble trying to change jobs, and every company I know of or relatives’ or friends’ jobs seem to have a hiring freeze, official or not. So it may not be you. Only places hiring that seem to be nursing related

      1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

        I am in marketing, and while that’s a wide field, there are literally dozens of postings per day within my little corner of the field–not all relevant, of course, due to wrong industry or other factors–but there’s at least 1-3 daily that I am qualified for.

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      Ugh I’m so sorry. I’m also 50 and may soon go on long term disability, which means terminating a job I’ve been in for a dozen years. My disability income will be temporary though, so assuming I recover, I’ll have to be back on the job market at like 53 or 54. It’s just terrifying.

      From my limited experience, I believe my field (higher ed, particularly public universities or community colleges) is a little better about hiring people who are at a later stage of life. Mainly into admin, development, finance, and HR roles of various kinds. So there are at least some industries that are better than others.

      I do believe that you’ll find your way to an organization that will value your experience and wide ranging skills. Job searching is brutal in the best of circumstances, and you have a few more obstacles in your way. But your job is out there!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Solidarity! Internet hugs or fist bumps if you want either or both.
        TL;DR: There are programs out there that can help. Details in the wall of text below. (Sorry! I had a lot to say.) And some moral support in my last paragraph.

        On the other hand there are some employers that value older workers as more experienced, more likely to focus on work, and less likely to be distracted by non-workplace activities or burning ambition to Climb. The. Ladder. RIGHT. NOW.

        Check if your locality has any nonprofit or government organizations that support older job seekers*. This might include a Commission on Aging, something related to the state’s job-seeking services, and/or a social service agency such as Catholic Charities, Jewish Family & Childrens’ Services, or Lutheran Social Services. (Almost all Jewish-affiliated agencies serve people regardless of their religion. I think this is true of other religiously-affiliated organiziations.) Public libraries also offer workshops for job seekers. I don’t know if these target people of any specific age or other demographic.

        My own such workshop experience was very encouraging. (I can’t speak for the job search experience/results yet because other life responsibilities forced me to delay job hunting. (Thankfully, I can manage financially.) I am apprehensive, but hope that it will be a better experience because I seek a just “good-fit” job, not an “impressive” white-collar professional job. Hopefully my mental adjustment will make my job search less stressful.

        *Example: the JCA (Jewish Council on Aging) in the Washington, DC metro area has a training program called “Career Gateway” which includes sessions on related topics (networking, LinkedIn, resumes, interviewing, and various Microsoft Office software); one in-person networking event; frequent and free job fairs with employers who know and value the older workers that come to JCA. There’s also the moral support from other participants.

        More moral support: It’s a horrible feeling when someone decades younger cannot see you as a worthy hire. I still recall one telephone interview when the message “gosh, you’re not what we expected” came through loud and clear. Keep on taking good care of yourself. Also:
        – Learn ways to end the conversation if someone starts spouting outdated, patronizing, or otherwise unhelpful advice.
        – Learn who not to update on your job search.

      2. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        Cosigining — higher ed and civil service admin, development, finance, HR, and regulatory roles can be very welcoming to older folks with some career experience behind them.

        My department’s currently hiring into a few roles of those sorts, and our finalist candidates are all over . We’re hoping to hire folks who will be happy to stay in the position until they retire.

    5. Lady_Lessa*

      Several ideas.

      Are you working with recruiters that try to sell you to their clients? I’m not talking about the kind that you pay, but are independent?

      I’d consider also working with multiple temp agencies as well.

      BTDT. Got my last and current job in my 60’s.

      1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

        Thanks for the temp agency tip–I’ve applied with a few as a result and will continue on that later this week. I’ve been looking at recruiters all along, but without a relevant search/fit they don’t want to hear from you.

    6. Anecdata*

      Honestly cold-applying on linked in is terrible in the best of times, and definitely now – can you double down on networking/get referrals?

      1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

        I’ve done this too, and it’s resulted in a few extra consulting gigs, which I am very grateful to have. I think I just need to be patient for that angle to ever pay off, but I am definitely using it.

    7. I Have RBF*

      I am 62, enby but AFAB, and disabled. That’s four strikes in my field (tech). If I dye my hair purple, I can knock 15 years off of my appearance. If I interview remotely, my disability doesn’t show. It still took me six months the last time I was job hunting to get a temp to perm gig.

      When I was in my 20s, if I managed to get an interview, I usually got the job. After I became disabled, that no longer applied.

      I only keep 15 – 20 years on my resume since I apply for pretty senior IC positions. I look for companies that have grey-hairs in their C-suite. If I go for an interview and everyone is under 40, I don’t even expect a call back any more.

      All I can say is to keep hunting, and definitely go to the company’s own site for job postings, even if you spot the job on LinkedIn or Indeed. Look over the pictures of the senior people. If none of them have crows feet, your odds are pretty low on getting a job there.

      1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

        Great advice–thank you for adding it. I will definitely be applying direct rather than LI going forward–it’s kind of disappointing to hear it’s basically useless.

    8. Cj*

      I’m 62 and had no trouble getting a job last year. but I’m a CPA who specializes in tax preparation, and apparently there is a shortage in the field, especially a shortage of experienced people

      1. Hey Nonny-Nonny*

        Yeah, my sister, who’s 10 years older, never has an issue finding jobs as a corporate accountant. I’m just in the wrong field I guess lol

  27. Elle*

    I’m a few months into a new job and am having issues with a boss who contradicts themselves. I’m in the process of hiring new staff and am moving forward with an internal candidate my boss suggested I interview. This week my boss let me know this person wouldn’t be a good fit because they don’t meet the minimum qualifications due to education. First, I wouldn’t have interviewed this person if my boss hadn’t pushed it. Second I think we should make an exception because with some training they’d be a great fit.
    This is not the first time I’ve been blindsided by their change of heart and it’s increasingly difficult to trust what they say. How do I address this? My confidence is taking a nose dive because I don’t know what to expect during our weekly check ins.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Have you tried naming the issue to your boss? As in “You suggested I interview this person, which is the main reason I considered them. What changed your mind?”

      1. Elle*

        I did remind them but this was ignored and I wasn’t forceful about it. Maybe I should have been more insistent that she thought it was a good candidate. I’m not good at challenging authority like that. I wish I was!

    2. Cookie Monster*

      Can you respectfully turn it around on her? “I hear what you’re saying but I’m glad you originally suggested I interview them. I know they technically don’t meet the qualifications but I think we should make an exception because with some training they’d be a great fit.”

      So: politely remind her it was her idea in the first place and then offer your two cents. Who knows? If this happens often enough she might realize she’s sending you mixed messages on a regular basis.

    3. Alianora*

      My boss does this all the time. I have tried addressing it with him directly, but he gets defensive, so I kind of just have to roll with it :/

      For example, we’ve known we were going to move offices for a while now and he’s “decided” on three different locations, flip-flopped between them, and only finalized the lease with three weeks before we need to be out. Now he’s asking me why things weren’t put into motion earlier. The answer is that I did get started on everything I could, but we hit a point where we needed an address to actually book things.

      I’m an adaptive person, but it’s frustrating when what I’m adapting to is his feelings at the time of the decision instead of any new information. I always keep receipts now in case he comes to me later with “why did you do this” so I can say, “because you told me to.”

      I’ve been working with him longer than a year and it’s clear it’s not going to change. Personally, it’s not a dealbreaker, but I’m considering leaving for other reasons, and I’m not going to miss this dynamic at all.

  28. Should I stay or should I go now*

    I am a consultant, counting down the days until the end of my current contract (one month to go!). The contract has had a variety of issues, but the worst were triggered by a single person, my only counterpart on the project, who just wasn’t able to learn the systems we work with no matter how much time I spent training her, so I was essentially doing her job, my job, and a 3rd job with trying to re-re-re-train her on basics she should’ve solidly known by this point (she’d been on the project for months).  I brought up her struggles to keep up/execute the work to management multiple times and while they expressed understanding, nothing really changed.

    Yesterday, the customer asked if I’d be able to stay beyond the end of my current contract, and I said no.  However, later in the day I learned they’d let the person who’s been making me miserable go. 

    Now I’m debating – do I agree to extend and train a new person? Or do I leave as originally planned? Affecting my decision is a lack of other contracts currently open in my niche industry, so I may wind up going some time between jobs if I don’t extend.  If I do extend, how do I broach the topic with leadership, especially coming the day after I said no?

    1. MsM*

      I think the fact they hired this person in the first place and their lack of responsiveness when you raised concerns should give you pause that it’s going to go any better with someone else. Especially when the fact they apparently only decided they couldn’t work around the problem employee after losing you (or didn’t seem to think that was enough of a factor in you leaving to consider it worth mentioning sooner) suggests if there are issues, they’ll just foist the work off on you again.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I wouldn’t do it. They’re not going to have a replacement in that quickly. You’ll just be doing the triple workload.

      1. WestsideStory*

        This. It may be the realized you were doing three jobs all along, so they fired the other person.

    3. HA2*

      If you do want to extend, broaching the topic with leadership should be fine – there’s no risk, what are they going to do, fire you? You can reach out I say something “previously I’d indicated that I wasn’t willing to stay on past the end of my current contract, but due to a change in circumstances I’m now interested in extending my contract if that is still on the table.” Maybe they’ll say no if they’ve already changed plans, but quite possible that they’ll be happy to hear they have less hiring to do and will just extend.

      Whether that’s a good idea – well, it depends… if this person that was making you miserable is uniquely bad and you think anyone else (or even nobody else!) is an improvement, then now that the person is gone, things will be better! But if it’s the case that you need an excellent employee to help you and the job is miserable unless you’ve got high-quality help… well, training someone new takes time, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be excellent, if you’re staying on the HOPE that they hire someone else soon, and you train this somebody quickly, and they turn out excellent… well, that’s a lot of ifs. Maybe hiring gets delayed and they don’t hire anybody for months, maybe they hire someone but don’t take into account that you have to train them when assigning your time, maybe they hire someone quick and you train them and find out that they’re just… average, not excellent.

  29. summer bank position*

    I’d like to get a part-time summer job at a bank (I’m a higher ed employee whose insurance didn’t cover enough of some major dental experiences this year). Maybe a teller?

    Does anyone know if it’s better to just walk into local branches and ask for an application or try to apply online? I live in a small city (50K) in the US

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Do banks hire part time tellers, or are all the teller jobs full time? Do they train people in being tellers for such a short period of employment? (My nephew is a bank teller, his training was full time and at least a month long, some classroom, some online, and a few weeks of shadowing/being shadowed.) You might think it sounds like a good idea for you, but it has to *also* be something that works for the bank.

      1. summer bank position*

        I have a family member who works as a part time teller, so I know it’s a thing and that banks are in need of tellers. Maybe not at all banks, hence your nephew, but it does exist.

        I’m just on this site trying to gauge if that would be advertised branch-by-branch or on the main bank website.

        1. WellRed*

          I’d go to the main website! And I think they’d love to have you as a part time teller, especially if regular staff are taking time off over the summer.

    2. EDM Nacho*

      Former teller here website is fine! Try credit unions and banks :) Dont mention its just for the summer maybe just that part time is best for you.

    3. Happy Camper*

      Apply online. In the industry myself. I know that walked in resumes don’t get looked at.

  30. Update - Got told to smile more*

    I think my department’s director has a gender bias and I’ve observed him making potentially inappropriate comments towards his female subordinate. I’m not really sure what to do here.

    I posted here a few weeks ago (I just had my performance review, and basically got told to smile more! The rest of my review was extremely positive and I got a merit increase and my full bonus, but the only negative feedback my boss gave me was that sometimes I came off abrasive in certain situations where I was under a lot of stress and I asked for specific examples. He said he didn’t have specific examples but that in some meetings I looked annoyed (?????). I replied “no, that’s just my face”.). I ended up messaging him and we hopped on a call to chat about it. He said that after our conversation during the performance review where he said I looked annoyed during meetings, he probably wouldn’t have used the word “annoyed” again, more like stoic, and he acknowledged that it might be my personality, and that he should have done a better job of getting to know me and my personality. I asked what actionable feedback I needed to do, and he said that chatting through this settled some of his perceptions. Then he sent another apology on Slack reiterating all of this. At the time I was grateful, but also thought how he backed down real quick.

    A few days later during a department wide meeting, the group was talking about Oreo cookies. A teammate mentioned as a kid she would lick the filling out of the cookies and put them back in the box. Our other coworker, who reports directly to the director piped up with something like, “yeah!” or “same” and he goes: “oh, Princess Consuela Bananahammock, you lick the filling out too?” Just the way he said it skeeved me out. And his boss was on the call too! Thinking back, I can think of a few instances where he’s made subtle innuendos to her. After my performance feedback, I’m probably in BEC mode, but since it happened right after him commenting on my face and personality, I gave it such a hard side-eye. For reference, she’s late 20s, director is 40 and I’m a few years younger than him.

    I’m not close with her so I can’t make assumptions on what she feels, but I will actually see her in person in a few weeks (he won’t be there). This whole situation sucks.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I wouldn’t wait. Ask if you can call her and on the call tell her you were very surprised by his comment. Ask how she felt about it.

    2. anon_sighing*

      I think after reading your update and their response, it feels “settled” – gender bias might be very real, but he did back down quickly (can I ask why you think this is a bad thing? – that seems to be the implication here; it seems like a good thing that someone sees how their statement could be taken, explains what they meant, accepts responsibility, and apologizes) and evaluate his “perceptions.”

      However, I would just check in with that coworker to see how she took it. You might be BEC and I can see a way that statement could just come out sounding skeevy regardless of intention, but also it’s just…a weird thing to say if the context of the conversation (why single her out? Why wouldn’t he follow the flow of the conversation and say “haha, me too!” or “oh, did everyone?” or “how about you, Princess Consuela Bananahammock?”)

      All in all, I think you’re right he might feel a little too comfy being overly casual with his woman-presenting colleagues in a way he wouldn’t with man-presenting ones.

      1. Update - Got told to smile more*

        can I ask why you think this is a bad thing? >> I can’t really articulate why I guess. He used such a strong word (abrasive) and how I looked annoyed and and it seemed like he backed down so quickly. I guess I’m now wary of him when I trusted him before.

        You might be BEC and I can see a way that statement could just come out sounding skeevy regardless of intention >> Fair. He does tend to single her out when we’re in a group, and I’ve noticed he’ll bring her up in conversation when she’s not there, and it’s not about her job. With her position, she does have to work closely with him, but it’s almost like he’s so excited and turned on.

        All in all, I think you’re right he might feel a little too comfy being overly casual with his woman-presenting colleagues in a way he wouldn’t with man-presenting ones. >> My first thought is “lecherous” lol. It’s disappointing no one has said anything about his behavior to him and how it could come across.

  31. BackInAcademia*

    I recently moved back into academia after a stint in the private sector — I wanted better work-life balance and cushy vacation time, plus 35-hour workweek instead of 40+. I’m having a hard time with grass is greener attitude — like I’m looking for reasons to think this pivot back was a mistake, even though intellectually I know it’s probably not! I’m mostly worried about how inefficient and lackadaisical some things seem to be in my dept….anyone have advice for learning to take a chill pill and leaning into a job where the pace is slow and bureaucratic and not particularly driven? lol! It’s oddly stressful to NOT have deadlines for deliverables…

    1. SoftFundedAcademic*

      So, are there places within your position where you could set up some more deliverables/deadlines that would be useful? For example, if you’re in a research related position, are there some special projects, etc., that you could undertake on your own that would still advance the work of the team? (I’m in soft-funded academia, so not having as many deadlines sounds nice, but I also know I would struggle with going from a million deadlines and projects with fast turnaround to a slower, far less deadline driven pace. B/c when I hear about my tenured colleagues working on the same project or manuscript for two years, it makes me anxious.)

    2. Goddess47*

      Find something that at least ‘feels’ productive to do when you’re not sure what to do next or to ensure that you can feel busy/busy-er. That way you always have a ‘deliverable’ that you are working on — to appease the deadline nag that is sitting in the back of your head.

      I worked in academia my entire life and there’s always a need for more documentation about everything! Or updated documentation, at the very least.

      But since it’s a (mostly) self-imposed task, you can also put it down at the end of the work day and not feel bad about leaving it. Or pushing off the ‘deadline’ that it needs to be done by.

      Maybe having one project that does have deadlines (even artificial ones) will scratch that itch (until it goes away).

      Enjoy that new job!

    3. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      No useful advice, I’m just over here envying your academic job where the pace is slow and bureaucratic and not particularly driven, and you have 35 hour workweek instead of 40+.

      Because I’m commenting here on my lunch break instead of working through, I’m probably going to be working past 5pm tonight to get my deliverables in by deadline. I’ve had to learn to chill out about some intractable process inefficiencies, otherwise I’d have stress about stuff outside my control, on top of my own actual workload.

    4. CzechMate*

      So, you DO have deliverables, just in a different way. Work has to get done, classes need to be taught, students need to be supervised, forms need to be signed, etc.

      When I transitioned into higher ed it was scary at first how *little* it seemed that there was to do, but as you become more involved, you can start to reform certain processes (if it makes sense), create new programs/processes/classes, join campus committees, take workshops to enhance your skills in your field, etc. Higher ed tolerates low-performers, but there’s a lot you actually can do if you have the desire. Ex. I now regularly hold student workshops and do trainings for other faculty/staff–it’s not in my job description, but I have the time and it ensures people have important information they need for further down the road.

  32. Cpb*

    I started a new job about a month ago. It’s going really well! Only problem is personal…. I’m having trouble getting back into a routine for personal things – family needs, errands, working out, side projects. Previously I had been laid off for a few months. I worked hard during that time taking classes, job searching, working out, years long overdue projects, even worked on a few dream goals. I kept to a strict schedule. Now that I’ve “thrown” a job into the mix, I just can’t get with it. Despite this job being less stress, I’m more tired than I thought and let’s face it there are only 24 hours a day to get everything done. Has anyone else experienced this? What did you do?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Starting a new job is stressful! Even if the job itself is low(er) stress, it is a lot to meet a bunch of new people, learn new systems and routines (new commute, new type of office coffee maker, etc.), and learn the technical parts of your new job. I usually take things easy in my personal life for the first two months after I’ve started a new job.

      Are you still trying to keep up with all of your personal things (family, errands, exercise, and side projects) or have you let some slide? If you’re still trying to do everything, I think it’s time to pause some of the side projects and/or other expendable things in your personal life. If you’re already in triage mode in your personal life, cut yourself some slack. Plan to let those things sit for another month or so, and don’t try to add them back all at once when you start to feel less tired.

    2. strawberry lemonade*

      A month isn’t long, so it’s no wonder you’re not settled yet; and full-time jobs take an absurdly large chunk of time out of the week, so you’re not alone in simply finding it tiring.

    3. EMP*

      Adjust your expectations and gradually scale back up. Like start with just what you need for a week (work, food, critical errands). That’s it. No side projects, classes, helping family, DIY, whatever. Then add next tier of not-critical-but-makes-life-better whatever that is for you (meal planning, working out, knitting). Do that for a few weeks. If you’re in your groove and can add something else, do it, if not, try to understand if/how you can adjust your routine to add what you want to add. You have less time now so you probably can’t do everything you were doing while unemployed! Take it one thing at a time and you’ll figure it out.

  33. Amber*

    Hello, I’ve commented before about an interview and once again got an interview earlier this week! Their ETA was the end of next week, so I’ve mentally added a week to that before I follow up. I also sent a thank you note (don’t remember what Alison wanted them to be called instead), the day after! Thanks to this site, I’ve also written a cover letter for the first time that I can remember! Haven’t gotten an interview from that yet, but I’ve barely started adding it. 3 applications pending, 2 of which I used a cover letter and 1 is the one I’ve interviewed for! Wish me luck!

  34. riverofmolecules*

    A few months ago, I commented on an open thread about a non-compete agreement my work was asking us to sign. I talked about how my plan was to refuse to sign, take my already planned vacation, then quit once I got back.

    I chickened out thinking about my health insurance, but I just handed in my resignation to my manager. It’s a really inopportune time for my own programs/work (I really love the actual programs I run, I just hate the org now), and my manager had just asked me to take over for him day of a big event because he’s on vacation (Happy Ides of March!), but it’s done.

    I start a new job in April with a former colleague who recruited me and basically created a new role for me. It’s a big pivot in work and scope (national whereas I’ve focused on my city), but I’m nervously excited.

  35. Ann*

    I’m in the final stages of a big public-facing project at work. The comms team at my org has done an exceptional job getting the content ready to go public, and someone else from a different team stepped up at the last minute to help out as well. I thank them all profusely every time we talk about the project, but I want to do more. If we were in an office I’d bring in handwritten thank you notes and pastries or something, but we’re fully remote. Any ideas for virtual thank-yous? I know that helping with stuff like this is part of their job, but I still want to express my appreciation.

    1. CzechMate*

      I’ve sent edible arrangements (for BIG thank you’s) but you can also send smaller cookie gift baskets/cards to people through online ordering. Honestly, though, people do tend to enjoy getting a shout out in a staff meeting or a big thank you in the slack channel/chat. I recently thanked some partners by writing them all a heartfelt thank you email and they seemed appreciative.

    2. Sudsy Malone*

      This will depend on your workplace culture and relationships, but sometimes if someone really went above and beyond, I don’t just thank them — I write up a note about how important they were and send it to their manager by email. I don’t just want them getting credit from me; I want them getting good evaluations and raises! May or may not (B)CC the person or privately forward it to them depending on what I think their preference would be.

      1. Stoppin' by to chat*

        +1 to what Sudsy Malone said above. I do this as well. Typically I’ll email the manager and CC the employee that went above and beyond.

  36. Job Hunting Woes*

    I was laid off recently. Let’s say my old job was as a llama grooming operations manager, where I managed a team of llama groomers. I could occasionally pitch in and help with the llama grooming if we were in a pinch, but most of my duties were more operational and strategic rather than hands-on. Now that I’m job searching, there are very, very few jobs out there for llama grooming operations managers, but more jobs for llama groomers. I’m wondering if I should be thinking about applying for the llama groomer roles. On the one hand, it would be a significant pay cut and a step back, seniority-wise. (And honestly, I might not even be considered – my llama grooming skills aren’t what they used to be, now that I don’t do it every day, so I might not even be competitive against other llama groomers.) On the other hand, some money is better than no money, and if I could get the job, I’d at least be employed. I’m wondering if it would make sense to try to work as a llama groomer while keeping an eye out for llama management roles in the future; I’d think (hope) that a future hiring manager would understand that people have to pay the bills and still consider me competitive for those higher-level roles. But with my luck, second I accepted a llama grooming role, a fantastic llama management role would open up and it would be too soon for me to consider leaving the llama grooming job without looking like a flake. I’m torn between thinking that I just need to wait for the right role for me to open up and thinking I should just give up, accept a lower-paying role, and deal with whatever career setback happens as a result. How do you guys think about this kind of thing?

    1. Anecdata*

      A lot of this is your personal financial situation and risk tolerance – when do you need $ coming in by, and how comfortable are you waiting until then?

      I think you are right that if you were recently a manager, applying for manager jobs is easier — if you work as a llama groomer for a year, it’ll be harder (especially at the resume review screen stage). But there will be ways to mitigate that, like if when you restart your search for manager jobs you focus on ones where you have a strong internal referral, not cold applying.

      If you get a fantastic manager job right after accepting a different one, you can quit the first job. You may sour your relationship with first job, but it happens. (and then just leave FirstJob off your resume going forward.

      Another option — what if you just apply to a handful of llama groomer jobs and see what happens. You don’t have to decide now whether you’ll accept if an offer is made, and it will get you more info about how competitive you are for those jobs.

    2. Tio*

      I mean, if you take the lower job and a better one opens up right after, there wouldn’t be anything wild about moving to that higher job even if it’s been a short time. You can leave the short job off future resumes and just explain you were laid off and looking for work. If you’re already in a job, it probably won’t even matter to them, since people like to hire already employed people.

  37. shellshock*

    Anyone have any advice for untangling or what to do when interviewing/job seeking seems really damaging? TL;DR I’ve recently gotten a couple interviews and they seem to tank me entirely for the day/week.

    I’ve been out of FT work for over a year now – I took what I thought would be a chill industry job, but they weren’t paying actual minimum wage and then forced us to quit – I got unemployment, thank God, but that was in August. It’s been a rough year and a rough exit from my last job: I was basically the diversity hire, white feminism is really poisonous, and they wanted to force me to fundraise instead of run the program because they cooked their books wrong. So I left. I would kill to never, ever work in a non-profit again, but lately I’ve been a little more desperate.

    I’ve probably talked virtually to 100 people over numerous interviews since last summer and gotten nowhere – one told a recruiter they found me “off-putting” (I guess asking questions about grant administering is not what people want from a potential grant administrator?). The last one involved six interviews for effectively a role they questioned why I wanted, as I was overqualified. It was…. a lot.

    Now when I’ve gotten interviews, I just dread them. I dread getting the news it’s not going anywhere, I dread trying to figure out how to be or how to make my video look okay (can we really not just do a phone interview for a screening? Or if it’s local, can I not come into the office?). And I dread when I get excited, and then either hear nothing or get rejected. I honestly don’t know what to do: I feel increasingly desperate, but as someone who got out of undergrad in 2009, I just wonder if it’s always going to be like this. I’d just like something stable that I can make enough money to live on and maybe enjoy a little bit of life – I don’t have dependents, thank GOD, but I’ve had some shitty luck (abusive boss threatened me in a one on one meeting, COVID layoffs, white feminists who can’t do accounting, a traumatic brain injury this year, a sexual assault last year.) I try very hard to keep it together (therapy, exercise, community work) but this really troubles me and I don’t know how I’m gonna find a role if I’m this…. affected by it.

    Any advice is welcome from people who may have experienced this!

      1. shellshock*

        idk being forced to song and dance as a POC/queer person for everyone and being asked really offensive question in All Staff meetings was pretty hard for me! Or running defense when white women kept asking Black people to teach them how to not be racist in 2023? IDK. Or on-cue crying at me because they didn’t have “enough money” to support BIPOC work they used to make themselves look good and wouldn’t I just stay and help them, unpaid even? It was a lot.

        Anyway, “White Feminism” by Koa Beck really gave me a lot to think about, highly recommend it, but thanks anyway.

      2. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

        I’m going to respond in good faith that I think you may be underestimating how demanding it can be to navigate around white women whose whiteness is weighing down her feminism and her approach to justice more broadly.

        Full disclosure I’m a white woman myself so I can’t entirely grasp it either, but I imagine it’s like how I feel dealing with toxic masculinity. A good scenario is you get a white woman who means well and is open to learning but isn’t just going to “get it” when stuff happens. She isn’t going to automatically shut bad stuff down or support you when it happens because she doesn’t usually notice it without being shown. But you also never know where she is in her growth and you have to constantly be evaluating how much of your authentic self you can safely show, or where you might cross the line that her whiteness takes priority over her feminism.

        It’s really really common and doesn’t have to be malicious to be harmful. I encourage you to be genuinely curious about how a lifetime of these experiences might exacerbate the already taxing and demoralizing process of job hunting.

        1. GythaOgden*

          As a white woman with autism, I agree. People who make assumptions about how I feel about things to the point where they’re actively infantilising me, calling me ‘internally ableist’ or speaking over me, assuming my disability is purely the result of social attitudes and not something I struggle with as an objective neurophysiological thing etc are quite often more exhausting to deal with than people who are actively hateful. It’s not just mansplaining; you can definitely queersplain, wellsplain, whites
          plain and so on. There was that awful time when the forumgoers whitesplained to a black guy seeking to defend a colleague, and that really was an example of people projecting their own assumptions onto a member of a particular community seeking practical advice to deal with a specific situation.

          I can for the most part avoid the out and out bigots and tbh in the disability space for me I don’t actually encounter very many. But the former people — the allies who make assumptions about what I feel as a neurologically challenged person or even as a woman — are stepping on my toes more often and actually make me more reluctant to join in some programmes because of the rather saccharine messaging that tends to side-step my reality and reduce me to the status of eternal victim that needs someone to step in and fight on my behalf (able saviourism is rampant in some online spaces). Then they try to co-opt me and my struggles into a bigger picture effort against some nebulous enemy rather than actually sitting down, thinking about their own privileges relative to mine, and helping out in practical and pragmatic terms that recognise that most individual people have struggles, some of which map to general social justice orthodoxies and some of which don’t.

          They also make the perfect the enemy of the good when there are practical social movements and programmes — such as mental health first aid — which have actively improved my day to day life at work but don’t fit into their conception of how to actively engage with others and reduce stigma. Some people seem to actively want to perpetuate antagonisms within the workplace rather than work to resolve them properly, which to me is ridiculous because few of us really have the energy to sustain daily life AND constant antagonistic activism and it only produces the equal and opposite reactions rather than doing anything to build the social bridges that we need to thrive as a whole society.

          So while I’m relatively privileged and do acknowledge where I can do my bit, the sort of feminism (and other social justice paradigms) OP is talking about has exactly this issue — that when people try to speak up about the problems within the social justice movement and what could make it easier on the people who really need assistance to achieve their full potential in the workplace as it is, they get sideswiped by so-called allies who don’t like the idea that they’re not perfect or can approach things in problematic ways themselves, and thus need to reassess how they are actually going about achieving DEIJ goals in the society we actually have.

          That’s the problem with the defensive attitude here, and why yeah, white feminism can get annoying even when its proponents have the best of intentions. As we say…intent isn’t magic, so always keep your own views and values under scrutiny to make sure you’re not actually treading on other people’s toes.

      3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        White feminism can indeed be a source of problems to people of colour, especially to black men and especially when it comes with a big dollop of white fragility.

      4. I Have RBF*

        I’m white, but LGBTQIA+. Yes, White Feminism is toxic as fuck, especially for Queer PoC. A lot of straight cis white “feminists” are TERFs, homophobic, and even shit on enbies.

        IME, shellshock is not wrong in their assessment of the problem.

        I am disabled, and even the casual ableism of a lot of places is demoralizing and exhausting. I substitute PoC and racism for that, I can sort of relate to what they are enduring. It sucks, and I don’t know any way around it.

        Shellshock, I don’t have any advice for you, except maybe to keep your head up and be kind to yourself. I wish I could just point you to a list of companies that aren’t that way, but I don’t know of any.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Thank you. At its core, a lot of movements try to reduce people down to their physical/neurological/GSM basis without really acknowledging that we’re all also individuals with unique lives and perspectives. It also creates or perpetuates antagonisms rather than helping relieve them and open the minds of people who need their minds to be opened. It’s a homogenising process rather than one of diversification, and it’s really not healthy for the future of social justice as a way of actually building the society we all deserve.

    1. Interview suggestions*

      I have a hard time w/ interviews too, less b/c of trauma and more b/c of the way my brain is wired, but it results in what you’re talking about –– being anxious and discouraged going into interviews, and feeling like that affects how you come off.

      A couple of things that have helped me:
      * I’ve done a lot of practice interviews, w/ folks I trust.
      * I got a stress ball that I use in interviews.
      * I practice my responses out loud to the wall in advance.
      * I schedule interviews at times/on days when I know I’m going to have the easiest time (never easy) being upbeat. Never schedule interviews after something that I know is going to drain me. If possible, I schedule them after something that makes me feel good.

      1. shellshock*

        thank you! I’ve been lucky with being able to be flexible with scheduling them and then just taking the rest of the day to empty out the old nervous system. I’m lucky my showerhead is also a great interview listener, because I’m tired of listening to myself. :)

        1. WellRed*

          Can you plan something nice for yourself on the day of the interview? As a reward to look forward to? I also like the stress ball idea.

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            +1 to this – I get cake any time I do a scary medical thing. It honestly helps to have a reward at the end of the tunnel.

            1. shellshock*

              oh this is a good idea too, I also like doing it for medical stuff :) maybe just trying to remember interviews aren’t always exciting and I need a little restoration?

        2. Peter*

          A small thing or two that might support you…

          Doing “Power Poses” in a private place (bathroom stall) before in-person interviews; before a scheduled call/video/etc. You can look “Power Poses” up on the internet.

          The other thing is to see if you can learn to do some simple meditations to at least lower your stress levels some.
          I’ve done a shortened version of this when I’ve been really stressed.
          For me the key, is actually smiling when it says smile….just fake smile. Doing it for 10 minutes and it really helps.

          “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
          ― Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

          Also, as BPOC, if your target job does not itself involve DRE responsibilities, maybe you can work with your therapist and/or a trusted friends on possible ways to keep from getting pulled into that crap you mentioned, and ways to take care of yourself if it happens. Having a plan, and know you have it, could help in the job hunt and later in jobs.

          Wishing you all the best.

          1. shellshock*

            thank you so much for this, I have been looking more into Thich Nhat Hanh’s work, so this was very helpful – I will look into the poses, I sort of gave up wearing my “power” earrings because it was feeling a little sad, but every little bit helps!

            1. GythaOgden*

              Power things are very useful. (Just look at the importance of ‘lucky underpants’ to football fans!) As autistic, when I put on my interview jacket (a black Gerry Weber number my mum passed on to me which is now a little bit tight when done up but perfectly serviceable when not) I’m a different person. I also bought a smart new top which was originally for my husband’s funeral; wearing that is also a reminder that although he’s been gone five years as of this coming August, he’s still the person who gave me a reason to go out and fight for stuff and get to a position where I really can support myself as an individual. And he’s still there rooting for me as if I were the captain of the English cricket team. I wore both on the day I got my current job, in which I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere in my career 23 years after leaving uni.

              Nil illegitimi carborundum. Whatever works for you.

    2. Em from CT*

      This is really challenging! It’s exhausting, overwhelming, and discouraging. I’ve been there.

      A couple of thoughts–and take or leave them as you will; they’re worth what you’re paying for them ;).

      1) I just got through an intensive outpatient program for mental health (relevant, I swear). One of the tools they taught, which I’ve found really works for me, is having “worry time.” If there’s something I’m really anxious about and getting worked up in my head, it’s important for me to set aside a (short) time of day when I can worry about it and spiral if needed–but then during the rest of the day, if I catch myself worrying about these things, I have to ask myself: “Can you do anything about this now?” If I can, then I do the thing. If I can’t, I am supposed to wait ’til my designated worry time to worry. Easier said than done–but I do find it helps! Maybe it’d be helpful to try doing something similar with thinking about interviews all the time?

      2) The other thing is– I definitely don’t want to invalidate your experiences with white feminists and the sort of feminism that’s acceptable in big orgs–as a white woman myself, I do agree, white feminism can be shitty. If you’re someone who’s had to engage with systemic thinking around issues like racism and intersectionality, it can be super difficult to engage with folks who haven’t. But, you mentioned it twice in a pretty short comment, which made me wonder if maybe this issue was taking on outsize significance for you? I mean, I get it, it does have significance, it does matter! But in what you wrote I saw a reflection of the way I had been thinking about a particular issue with my managers. For me it was that in the depths of my struggles with mental health I let myself become convinced that my bosses didn’t like me, that they thought I did bad work, that I was going to be fired. It led to a lot of anxiety, for obvious reasons. *g* Once I was in a better place mentally, I started to see that this had really become almost a cognitive distortion for me and it was coloring the way I was seeing my job in a really unfortunate way. Maybe I’m seeing this through the lens of my own recent experience, and this isn’t at all what’s going on for you, but I thought I’d mention it, because for me it was really helpful to be able to reframe my thinking and realize that in a way I was contributing to my own unhappiness at work.
      This a already long comment, but I’ll just add one more thing, which is–you mentioned doing therapy, exercise, etc. And I’d say–keep doing it! I was really fascinated to learn (again, in this IOP program) the scientific basis for why things like this help reduce stress and increase resilience. I mean, part of me hated it, because I’m busy! it’s hard to make time to do yoga or whatever! I don’t want it to work because then I’ll have to commit to making time to do it, hah. But it really does, it turns out. If nothing else, you can support yourself through this shitty time, I guess?

      ANYWAY. Lots of empathy from a random internet commenter and big hugs if you want ’em.

      1. Generic Name*

        I know that you mean well in your comment, taking the time to write out a lengthy and thoughtful one. I want to point out that telling a WOC that maybe she thinks about white feminism too much is problematic. It would be like a white cis dude telling you that your problem is that you focus on the patriarchy too much, and it’s like, well yes, you think about it all the time because it affects every facet of your life on a daily basis.

        To the OP, I’m afraid I don’t really have anything more than good vibes and support from an internet stranger to give you. I hope you can find ways to take care of yourself. I’ve experienced trauma myself, and it really, really messes up your thinking. You can get through this!

        1. Em from CT*

          @GenericName, I appreciate you commenting! I’m grateful for you taking the time to call me to account a little bit.

          I really didn’t intend to say “don’t think about white feminism so much!”, and if that’s how my comment reads, dear OP and others, I do apologize! I do want to clarify myself a little bit, in that what I was trying to articulate is that I’ve found that changing the way I think about things (rather than the frequency I think about things) has helped me immensely with dealing with some intense stressors at work, and so I was trying to offer that to OP in hopes it might help. I do recognize, though, that the example I gave was of me changing the way I think about something that’s essentially self-imposed (i.e. my own beliefs about my bosses), and that’s not comparable to something external and systemic like racism.

          So—@GenericName, you said it well; I intended to be helpful. but maybe I wasn’t. Intentions ≠ impact. Dear @OP, I’m so sorry to have made such a ham-handed comparison. Here’s hoping you can get some better advice from other commenters (am off to read now.)

        2. Cicely*

          “I definitely don’t want to invalidate your experiences with white feminists … you mentioned it twice in a pretty short comment, which made me wonder if maybe this issue was taking on outsize significance for you? …Maybe I’m seeing this through the lens of my own recent experience, and this isn’t at all what’s going on for you, but I thought I’d mention it…”

          …to me does not at all stand out as “…telling a WOC that maybe she thinks about white feminism too much is problematic.” Not at all.

          Em, for what it’s worth, I think what you write is very gentle and kind. OP, I really hope things improve for you ASAP. Stay strong; it’ll be your turn to be the successful hire in no time.

          1. shellshock*

            Thank you both for this! I really appreciate the tenor of your comments, support, and thoughts. I have indeed tiptoed around outpatient, so we’ll see. And yes, it is hard – I’m working in therapy about letting some things go, I think probably I also have my own boundaries with certain types of work people / friends / relationships I need to shore up.

            This type of commenting makes me believe things can be better, and just want to tell you both that. Thank you.

  38. juggling is hard*

    How should I handle it if my ADHD doesn’t normally impact my performance, but does now that I’m going through a major life stressor? I have intermittent FMLA for a physical disability that’s also been impacted, but some days I’m physically able to function but mentally unable to prioritize, keep track of my workload, or grasp larger project goals, making it almost impossible to work effectively without outside direction. My manager is flexible, but has always been hands-off and my current state could last months. Should I ask for accommodations to help manage my workload? I don’t feel like FMLA is the right way to handle this particular issue.

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I don’t think you need to bring ADHD into it. Plenty of people would be having an off period because of a major stressor. Talk to your boss, say something like “I just wanted to give you a heads up that there’s some big personal stuff that’s taking up a lot of my attention right now. I’m doing my best to keep my head in the game at work, but I’m probably not going to be up to my normal standards for a little bit. There’s nothing I need you to change right now,* but I wanted you to know so you’d have context if you see [whatever you’re concerned about – errors, less work, etc]”

      *if there is something that would make your life easier – maybe more frequent check-ins to make sure you haven’t lost track of something important? Reduced workload? – now’s the time to ask!

    2. Taxes Schmaxes*

      Does coworking help at all?

      Before deciding if you want to use FMLA, what about checking what the Job Accommodation Network has listed as reasonable possible accommodations and see if you think any of those would help. Maybe a conversation with your boss before filing to see if she has anything she can/will do to help with some of those tasks.

  39. issalinde*

    If you’ve switched fields, what advice would you have for someone looking to do the same? I have a BFA but I’ve been working in finance/investing the last several years; I’m looking to make a change and go back to my roots in digital media.

  40. Calico Cat*

    Does anyone here work as an ADA Coordinator, or in a similar role? I’m looking to make a career page and came across a few listings for ADA Coordinators in my state government and I’m intrigued.

    1. Seven times*

      Which side of ADA is your experience/interest in? Physical or digital? I’m in a related role and work with the physical side of the ADA. We’re getting ready to hire an ADA coordinator and it will require a lot of construction/design knowledge. It’s a technical role and requires attention to detail, experience with and understanding of the codes/guidelines.

      1. Mimmy*

        If the OP is interested in the physical side, the two programs I linked (which will be visible once it’s released from moderation) has quite a bit of content related to the codes.

    2. Seven times*

      There are two major sides to the ADA, physical and digital. I’m familiar with and work with the physical side. For that work, a design, construction, or building code background is pretty necessary. The work requires a lot of attention to detail and ability to interpret things well. The ADA also intersects with a number of other codes.

      I can’t speak to the digital side.

    3. Mimmy*

      I’ve thought about becoming an ADA Coordinator myself and even completed an ADA Coordinator training (I’ll post the website in a reply). My specific interests are in accommodations and digital accessibility, particularly in the context of postsecondary education.

      Is there anything specific you’d like to know? I’ve pivoted away from seeking an ADA Coordinator role for now, but I can answer any questions about the field in general or about any trainings. I attended a few conferences and online webinars a few years ago and still attend occasional webinars. I love learning about the ADA and accessibility best practices and hope to use my knowledge to educate others.

  41. Pocket Mouse*

    My workplace has a policy that intermittent FMLA can be taken no more than three days in a workweek. Is this limitation legal? The DOL FMLA FAQ doesn’t appear to address employer limitations on FMLA leave plans outside of the total entitlement.

    I’m in local government, and most positions at my agency are represented by a union, if it matters – but I’m curious about the answer to this in general as well.

    1. Gyne*

      Seems weird in absence of any other context, but reasonable if the follow up is something like “… and after two weeks of absences of more than 3 days a week, employee should take a LOA or go on short term/long term disability.” Like, if you’re missing more than 50% of your work, it’s not really *intermittent* leave anymore.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        FMLA can be used for bonding with a new child; it’s not all about medical issues. Either way, though – can an employer place limitations like that, where the law itself does not? For example, it would be an obvious problem if an employer had a policy that, as an intermittent FMLA leave plan, an employee could only take a two-week chunk and then a maximum of one day per week after that; the principle is the same.

    2. Moths*

      IANAL, but I would say that it seems like an employer could place that limitation with the exception that an employee’s health care provider could say that it won’t work for their specific medical needs and the employee could probably push back.

      29 CFR 825.302 (Employee notice requirements for foreseeable FMLA leave) says under part (e): “When planning medical treatment, the employee must consult with the employer and make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to disrupt unduly the employer’s operations… For example, if an employee who provides notice of the need to take FMLA leave on an intermittent basis for planned medical treatment neglects to consult with the employer to make a reasonable effort to arrange the schedule of treatments so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations, the employer may initiate discussions with the employee and require the employee to attempt to make such arrangements, subject to the approval of the health care provider” and similarly, part in (f): “The employee and employer shall attempt to work out a schedule for [intermittent] leave that meets the employee’s needs without unduly disrupting the employer’s operations…”

      Also, the DOL Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #28 (The Family and Medical Leave Act) notes: “However, employees may use FMLA leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule for bonding with a newborn or newly placed child only if they and their employer agree.”

      All of that says to me that an employer has a right to place boundaries around what type of intermittent FMLA schedule will work for them; however, if it’s for medically necessary leave (which the DOL doesn’t consider bonding with a child to be medically necessary), a health care provider can probably override that if the employee is willing to push.

  42. IntrovertedPartyAvoider*

    A few weeks ago, I was tasked with planning a major public event at my workplace. I had already made it plainly known that I loathe large events and do not wish to plan them, but we can’t keep anyone hired to plan these events for any length of time. I’m also swamped with the actual work from my actual job description.

    Can anyone give me fun ideas for how to sabotage this event that I can fantasize about while I plan it? I’m biting the bullet and trying to do well for the sake of my reputation, but I’m bitter.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Only sympathy, I also get stuck with events a lot and since I don’t enjoy the kinds of gala/cocktail hours we host, and wouldn’t want to go as a guest, I never find them fun or intuitive to plan (and I get irritated that even with sponsorship, the return isn’t what it should be considering my time spent, yet we’re unwilling to cancel or radically alter the event to make the budget work better).

    2. Anon for This*

      In your head, plan it like a Comicon. Tell people to come in costume, invite C-list stars to make presentations, etc.

      1. Elsewise*

        Better yet- Dashcon. (Do a quick google and look at the wikipedia page if you haven’t seen it- it’s extremely funny. Sort of like Fyre Festival for nerds.) Or that Glasgow Willy Wonka thing that made the news a few weeks ago!

    3. JustMyImagination*

      Order half the food needed. Snack on a secret granola bar as you watch chaos ensue while C-suite well-dressed people horde and guard scarce resources.

      1. Generic Name*

        Better yet, order yourself one serving of a lovely banquet meal and eat in full view of everyone else, and watch as people try to locate the secret source of nice food.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      Having spent most of my career trying to plan good events, I love this question!
      – Have name badges, but don’t organise them by surname or in any logical order.
      – Hire a venue which has really weird requirements. (There’s one local to me where attendees have to be badged through multiple doors by a member of venue staff to get to the bathrooms. Yes, they expect people to rent this venue for meetings and events.) Windowless basements always add atmosphere too!
      – Hand the microphone to a visibly intoxicated person and tell them that they are now the emcee.
      – Change the event venue at the last minute but only tell half the attendees.
      – Hold the event on a boat, which shall cruise around in notoriously choppy waters for the entire duration of the event, meaning that nobody can leave.
      – Have an open bar, but only for non-alcoholic drinks.
      – Alternatively, have an open bar, but only for drinks with a really high percentage of alcohol.
      – Tell the caterer that the only drinks to be served will be coconut water, kombucha and Bailey’s.
      – Also, tell the caterer that your attendees specifically requested that the only food served would be lukewarm pizza with pineapple and anchovies.
      – Promise attendees that there will be giveaway bags, don’t bring any, then tell them that you’ve run out.
      – Generate all your event publicity photos using AI. Then make the event decorations look wildly disappointing in comparison.
      – Have all the event materials delivered to the wrong address.
      The possibilities are endless!

    5. Rara Avis*

      A colleague of mine, someone who had a lot of great qualities but organizing and delegating were not among them, got her arm twisted to run a big event. Something went wrong with the catering order and we had no food for 1500 attendees. (I was on maternity leave until right before the event itself and had my nursing infant with me at the event itself.) Not purposeful sabotage, but a good reason that she was never asked again.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      Make attendance mandatory.
      Require everyone to choose one of the following: give a 5 minute speech, participate in an improv session, or perform a song and/or interpretive dance.
      Provide company branded kazoos!

    7. Generic Name*

      Tell the antimaskers masks are mandatory.
      Tell folks who mask that masks are prohibited.
      Same for antivaxxers/vaxx’d folks.
      Order messy food but provide no napkins or utensils. Just pudding and soup and plates. No spoons or bowls (I’m laughing thinking about his one).
      Bonus points if there are no serving utensils, and record people’s attempts to engineer ladles out of paper plates.
      Keep the temperature too hot in some rooms, too cold in others.
      Have a coat check, but lose all the coat check tickets.
      Make the sound system feedback constantly.

      1. JustaTech*

        Ooh, even better, serve only soup and pudding with no tables!
        (Callback to a story about a terrible work party where everyone ended up hovering over trash cans as the only place to eat.)

        1. Jessica*

          YES I was just thinking about that one! No tables, fancy affair, there were lines forming for the opportunity to balance your plate on the rim of a trash can.

          Basically, think about all the event horror stories you’ve ever read on AAM and imagine trying to combine as many of them as possible. Maybe you could find Angry Passive-Aggressive Magical Piano Guy and invite him?

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            Food that has to be cut, and appropriate utensils, but no tables. It’s really hard to cut a steak when you can use a knife *or* a fork, but not both.

            Put the main attraction way late in the evening, so everyone is trying to decide between cutting out early and missing the important part.

            One-sided buffet table, for minimum throughput. Put some of the food out and open the buffet, and then slowly trickle more food out so people have to go back through if they missed something good. Open the buffet to the guests in stages (the buffet is now open for attendees at tables 1-5! The buffet is now open for attendees at tables 6-10!). Ideally, do this before everyone has found their seats, so nobody knows which table they’re at. Don’t put table numbers on the tables.

            This won’t work everywhere (you’d be fine in the PNW), but serve exclusively vegan food and make a big deal out of it.

            Have the music up loud so nobody can hear anything.

            Have no sound system or microphone, so nobody can make speeches or whatever they’re there for.

    8. Joielle*

      I am in a similar position right now, planning a huge event that was foisted on me despite having almost no event planning experience – at the same time as an incredibly busy time in my regular job. I have no advice but am sending you my deep, deep commiseration! May we both do a good enough job to protect our reputations, but a crappy enough job to not be asked to do it again.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Hire the most obnoxious “entertainment” you can find: dancing poodles, whistling parrots that bite, a magician that couldn’t do a card trick with borrowed hands. Make sure the sound system is extra loud and muddy.

      Order three deli trays from the local Safeway. Set them out. Say the rest of the food is coming “later.” (No food is coming later.)

      Get everyone absolutely crocked and play Pin The Tail On The C Suite.

  43. YRH*

    I am planning an in person meeting for my office. My office is located in Stars Hollow, a small city 65 miles from Metropolis, a large city. We largely been exclusively remote for the past four years, but Stars Hollow is still considered our duty station. 40% of the team lives near Stars Hollow and 20% live near Metropolis. There is a medium sized city, Emerald City, halfway between Stars Hollow and Metropolis. 30% of the team lives near Emerald City. 10% of the team lives on the other side of the state in Braavos and would fly to the airport near Metropolis. Am I completely off base in thinking the event should be in Emerald City? It seems most convenient for everyone. I’m getting a lot of pushback from the Stars Hollow contingent because that’s our duty station. However, it’s been 4 years since we really had to work from there and people have joined the team or made other where to live decisions based on the fact that these are remote positions.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I think the event should be in Stars Hollow since that’s the office location and most defensible choice from a budget and logistics standpoint of the employer (and from a practical standpoint, the biggest share of employees live there).

      1. Cha-ching*

        Because long-distance travelers end up first in Metropolis, you effectively have the split of 40% Stars Hollow, 30% Emerald City, and 30% Metropolis. With a split this close to even, 2/3 of the staff will have to travel no matter where the meeting is. Therefore, the question really should be about meeting facilities (cost, availability, amenities), overnight accommodations (if needed; both cost and availability), and transportation options (cost, convenience). You need to weigh those factors and choose the location that is the best option overall. And if people grumble, you have a logical defensible argument for the specific choice.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Is this a one-day thing, or is it overnight? If overnight, pick the place based on hotel availability.

    3. RagingADHD*

      So 60 percent of the team live outside Stars Hollow, but 90 percent of the team live within 30 miles of Emerald City, in 1 direction or the other?

      Yes, it makes sense to meet in EC.

    4. ItDepends*

      do you have transportation in all three? folks in Metropolis may not drive, folks flying into Metropolis may not have ready transportation. So if you don’t hold the event in Metropolis you may need to arrange transportation for the Metropolis/out of town folks to participate in the more rural locations.

      If it’s multiday I would also consider if the smaller towns have a sufficient range of food/entertainment options for folks with special diets or other limitations.

    5. YRH*

      Additional information: 1 day event (probably not eveb a full day), company will only pay for travel for the Braavos folks, we can get a space to use in all of those areas within budget, everyone drives/has a car/will be allowed to rent a car.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        company will only pay for travel for the Braavos folks

        With this extra information, especially what I copied above, I think Emerald City makes the most sense. It would be different if there were overnights and/or the company was paying for travel for more than just the Braavos folks.

      2. Cha-ching*

        Agree w/Hlao-roo. Here is some Friday evening math: assume for simplicity we’re dealing with 100 people and x is the distance between M/EC and SH/EC since EC is half-way between M and SH.
        Meeting in M: 30x (for EC folks) + 40*2x (for SH folks) = 110x one-way person-miles
        Meeting in EC: 30x (for M folks) + 40x (for SH folks) = 70x one-way person-miles
        Meeting in SH: 30*2x (for M folks) + 30x (for EC folks) = 90x one-way person-miles
        EC seems to be the clear winner although you’re inconveniencing more people (70 vs 60 if meeting in SH). The difference is not too large though, so your eventual choice may depend on the internal politics.

      3. ItDepends*

        I’m not disputing your statement, but have you confirmed this? It would be very unusual for most, let alone all, employees in a big urban area to drive, and even less likely for them to have ready access to a car if they don’t drive to work every day.

  44. Artmama*

    I have an interview next week for a communications role at a community college. This role has been open since August 2023 and I applied for and went through to the final interview in December 2023, and was then rejected. The final interview consisted of very few questions and the panel telling me how difficult the job would be and how dysfunctional the institution was . The role was reposted in January with no changes to salary or job description, so I re-submitted my application out of curiosity about their process and was again selected for a panel interview. I talked to someone working at the same institution (different department) who mentioned they always hire internal candidates over external and that they always need a minimum number of viable candidates to move forward to hiring. I also noted that the previous person in this role, and recently hired people in similar roles, had very few qualifications and very little experience (but were all 20 years younger than me). I suspect I am a filler candidate, just being used to meet their hiring process requirements, and they have no intention of hiring me. I am considering withdrawing so I don’t have to go through the same panel interview and exam again. It seems like they want a very specific candidate and will keep reposting the job until that person applies. Should I continue this process or withdraw?

    1. MsM*

      I’m honestly not sure why you decided to reapply in the first place after being so directly warned about the dysfunction.

      1. Artmama*

        I have a long career in nonprofits, so dysfunction has been a given (not kidding and I don’t mind a little chaos if the mission is sound and I feel like I’m making a difference). It’s also walking distance to my home and has good benefits. I think my problem is with an unfair hiring practice or being judged on qualities I have no control over, like my age.

        1. Part time lab tech*

          Stay in the running and address the hiring and other dysfunction directly in the interview. It’s your time to waste and you can use it to network. You’re probably not going to get it so you can really ask about the dysfunction (in a very friendly way). Are you just a filler candidate, Ask the oldest panel member how older employees are treated.
          Secondly, when managerial staff change, so can policies. If the discrimination is coming from the top, not so much.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I’m not sure why you applied again after that interview process and what they told you. I would withdraw and not waste my time. Is this a place you’d actually want to work, given all of what you have learned and experienced?

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I’d withdraw. Even putting all the other things aside, I wouldn’t have applied again for a job that had just rejected me. Nothing about my strength as a candidate can materially change in a few months.

    4. M2*

      They rejected you. Unless someone personally reached out to say they made a mistake or the first choice candidate didn’t work out and they nudged you to reapply or someone from Hr made the comment on a phone screen I would withdraw.

      It sounds like a waste of your time. If they wanted to hire you they would have done it the first time around or explained why this process is happening again.

  45. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

    How much do you expect your employer / teams to acknowledge current events? I am a midlevel designer at a small creative firm; I’m having a hard time lately keeping abreast of the news and focusing on my work. I genuinely dont know the answer, just want to hear other’s opinions. As a firm, my boss has not said anything about anything in recent years (women’s rights re: Roe v. Wade, Ukraine, Palestine), and i dont know how i feel about it. I dont want to discuss politics with my colleagues necessarily, but it feels tone deaf not to acknowledge what’s going on and that it might be affecting people’s attention or mental health. Weigh in!

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh I like it when my work stays out of current events, personally. We’re all very liberal-leaning but our actual job doesn’t involve world events (but does focus on certain federal policies / Supreme court decisions) so I would find it tone-deaf for them to be weighing in on Ukraine or Israel or anything like that, TBH. But they do pay for an office subscription to the WashPo so at least they’re encouraging people to stay abreast of current events, I guess …?

    2. Be Gneiss*

      The last place I want to be forced to think about current events is at work. The work we do doesn’t have anything to do with politics, and I can’t think of a way that it would be appropriate for my employer to weigh in on any of these topics. And when current events start to weigh on me to the point where it impacts my focus on work, then I really really don’t want my employer to be making statements that *force* me to think about it at work.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      It depends on the culture of the workplace. Some places will be really willing to engage in those conversations. For me, though, I like to leave current events out of work if I can. That doesn’t mean I don’t care or don’t keep up with what’s happening in the world, but I don’t want to bring those conversations into the workplace. I don’t want to know about my coworkers’ political leanings (which is why I’m not friends with them on social media) – what you learn about someone can’t be unlearned, and I don’t want to know.
      I think when Queen Elizabeth died, I mentioned that, as we’re all WFH and I keep the TV on in the background for noise. But anything really consequential, nope.

    4. Alex*

      I personally really don’t like it when my workplace decides to comment on current events that don’t affect the work directly (some events DO affect my work and so sometimes it comes up). There isn’t a universal way that people feel about X or Y issue, so making some kind of vague statement about how we’re all stressed because of it always feels weirdly like I’m being told how to feel. Workplaces should support the mental well being of their employees (by offering good health care and flexible time off for appointments, etc.) regardless of what is happening in the news, because stressful events are more often very individualized.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Not unless it directly affects the work. For example, at the corporate office of the healthcare company we had to talk about vaccines and masking, and that some people were resistant to that, because we were trying to keep our Medicare patients out of the hospital. When I did social media for a community service / peer support nonprofit whose clients were majority Black, I strongly encouraged them during the summer of 2020 to post something supportive. The ED and Board wouldn’t touch the topic directly, but I posted some stuff about “how are you, we’re here for you, call us if you want to talk.”

      But if it’s a hot button issue that doesn’t pertain to the work, I don’t want management making commentary. No matter what management says on any given topic, it’s either going to be tone deaf, offensive, or else it will encourage people to start telling me what they think about it.

      And it’s never the kindest, most thoughtful people who want to air their opinions.

      We all have to get along and work together as a team. Sometimes that requires people keeping their opinions to themselves. So it’s better not to broach the topic.

    6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      At this point it’s safe to assume there is ALWAYS something going on that could negatively affect at least some portion of the staff’s mental wellbeing. I’d rather my employer work to be supportive and understanding of us as humans all the time, rather than trying to address big national or global events as they arise.

    7. Anecdata*

      I would rather not get current events acknowledgements – they just come off as insincere, hr-babble, they set off an arms race of “is this event ‘worth’ an email or not” and, if I’m affected, I already know! And another email just a) is distracting and b) requires me to lose a few minutes getting out of distress-mind and back into work-mind

      If it’s something that particularly affects our work or our team, sure — like, we have a large office in Ukraine and after the invasion, they did send a while company email — both an immediate “obviously we told the Ukraine team to prioritize their safety, send good vibes” one; and a follow up one a few months in, once things had more stabilized and the team was working again.

    8. Maggie*

      I prefer they don’t say anything at such issues. Do you really want your workplace giving its opinions on Palestine? And then what are you going to do with that info?

    9. Bast*

      At New Job, we just don’t really discuss things like that, and it makes it simpler, in a way. It’s a purely professional, do your job and go home type of place. At Old Job, politics did come up sometimes. There were some very, very different viewpoints, and loud, hours long, not entirely friendly debates could easily tank a day when certain discussions were had. I don’t miss it.

    10. ABC123*

      My personal take is trite – ignorance can be bliss. Other people on staff might have a wide variety of opinions and they might not align with yours. Putting it all out in the open can get uncomfortable. I remember team members being divided by the Bernie Hillary of it all and they never fully recovered.

      Additionally, keeping up to-date on the correct facts for major political events is hard for reporters. It would be an immense drain on resources for a company to do the research, formulate the correct response, then figure out how to do more than virtue signaling. Most people at work aren’t expected to wrangle llamas and be able to articulate a viable solution to a political crisis in another continent.

      I suppose I am curious about what you want from this. Are you looking for validation from peers? Sympathy? Are you looking for a job that aligns more with your beliefs and this particular one isn’t scratching that itch? There might be something here that warrants a closer look.

    11. Generic Name*

      I super do not want to think about/discuss current events at work. I want to focus on my work and not get pissed when I learn that a boss or a colleague has an opposite view on something I think is very important (and shouldn’t be up for debate). I don’t think a company in an industry that has zero to do with any of those events you noted has any business chiming in with whatever their white male CEO thinks.

    12. Girasol*

      One of my employers wanted us completely focused on work, no chat about anything else, unless it’s a sports event, because bonding. Another occasionally acknowledged current events, but mostly to tell us how they expected us to vote. (I loved my employer but rarely agreed on their voting demands.) I like to chat about politics but not at work. Some issues are just too contentious and could damage working relationships.

    13. Some Words*

      Discussing current events with co-workers is a great way to find out that some people you used to think were lovely have some very ugly values.

      For the sake of good working relationships I’d rather not know.

    14. JustaTech*

      Given that the one time that my company acknowledged current events (Black Lives Matter in 2020) was excruciatingly ham-fisted and lowered my opinion not only of our CEO (a terrible person) but also of several colleagues (how could anyone be that ignorant of race in America?), I’m perfectly happy for them to say nothing.

      Within my team of 5, we generally don’t talk about current events, unless it’s local, funny, or relevant to our industry.

    15. Non-profit drone*

      OMG, no, no current events/politics at work, please! It’s awful enough to be blasted with the horrors of the world even at the gas pump; I do not need it at work too. If any of my colleagues tried to discuss current events with me, I’d suddenly have an urgent Zoom meeting with my llama groomer that required headphones and a closed door. Do not bring politics into the office, unless you’re in Washington DC.

    16. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh no. I fully expect my company to not talk about current events or politics or anything unless it is directly affecting the business. And if I hear those types of topics, I tend to shut it down fairly quickly. We have a very diverse team from all over the US and it needs to be a politically neutral zone.

    17. Tx_Trucker*

      Given the dumpster fire of Texas politics, the less acknowledgement of any public events the better. I suspect I would be horrified by the viewpoint of many of my colleagues and I really don’t want to know.

    18. I Have RBF*

      My current employer has some work in the cancer drug area. The only political/world events that affect us are around that. IMO, I’m glad they don’t get into politics, because we have people all over the country and in other countries as well, and that could get messy.

    19. OtterB*

      Only when it’s relevant to the work. We’re a nonprofit with a Government Affairs group that tracks legislation relevant to our members, so that shows up in blog posts and sometimes (though rarely) in office conversation. We try to keep it nonpartisan as much as possible.

  46. Choggy*

    So I am retiring this year and transferring some of my responsibilities to someone else to handle. I have been adding more of more them to their plate, one of which was an important responsibility that requires a modicum of urgency. The person who will be handling these responsibilities has no sense of urgency unless it’s something they are interested in doing, which will reward them with accolades. They can’t be bothered with the no recognition-type tasks. Because they did not turn something around (like I have done), the director of my department came to me to ask why it wasn’t done, I said that coworker was handling it. He did not like my response so said pointedly that I do it. I did it, and that’s fine.

    I have always been the “path of least resistance” the 20 years I’ve been with this company. I don’t have 1 boss, I have 350 each of whom expect me to handle their request immediately. This is regardless of anything else I have going on, or if it’s actually someone else’s responsibility to handle. When I say I can’t WAIT to get out of here (6 more months) I fully mean it with every fiber of my being. The only people I’ll keep in touch with are the HR staff to ensure I get my last payments and my pension is set up.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This sucks. At least it sounds like the new coworker isn’t going to end up getting taken advantage of the way you have been :( Honestly, I started out as a more conscientious employee but I rarely found management worthy of my urgency an best efforts, so I probably ended up a little closer to your coworker than I’d like these days.

      1. Choggy*

        What kills me is the first time I tried pushing back, it was met with a how dare you type of attitude without a question as to why the other person was failing on their responsibility. This from the director of my department who is an asshat, and as clueless as when he first started. Good riddance.

    2. Goddess47*

      Sounds like you should just retire as soon as you can. If you have a reason to stay for a length of time (i.e. a bonus or something), so be it. But unless there are serious financial reasons to stay, don’t.

      Retire and enjoy!

      1. Choggy*

        Oh, yes, this was all planned very carefully, only staying long enough get to 20 years. Then it’s sayonara suckers! :)

        1. I Have RBF*

          After you retire, it’s all on them to manage without you. If you have done your best to prepare them, but it hasn’t “taken”, that’s their problem, not yours. You can lead a coworker to knowledge, but you can’t make them think.

  47. Em from CT*

    Would love some guidance from the commentariat about how to reframe my own thinking around (lack of ) feedback from a skip-level boss.

    This person used to be my direct manager; during that time she gave me lots of developmental feedback, but the number of times she gave me positive feedback was vanishingly rare.

    (Sure: it could be because I wasn’t doing good work! But in my career up til now I’ve received very consistently positive feedback, promotions, and difficult projects, so–it feels unlikely.)

    So I know I’m unlikely to really ever get positive input from her, just as a function of her managerial style. Still, it’s really demoralizing to produce work that I am really proud of and think is really well-done and receive nothing but curt comments about what to cut to make it shorter.

    Anyone have any advice about how to adjust my own thinking to be more comfortable with this? Normally I’d make an effort to remind myself of all the positive feedback I’ve received from others, as a sort of mental rebalancing, but because she’s very well-respected within our org, it’s hard not to worry that her lack of positive feedback will color her perception of me, and through that, others’ perception as well.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I find it useful to have some expectations when I go into a tough conversation, preferably low expectations so I can be pleasantly surprised when things are not as bad as I thought they would be. For example, when you send work for review can you tell yourself “I hope [direct manager] says something positive about this, and I expect [skip-level boss] to tell me to cut 1000 words.” Then when [direct manager] has a positive comment on your work, that meets your expectations (and is positive in and of itself), and when [skip-level boss] tells you to cut 500 words, that’s high praise! You thought she would want you to cut 1000! Fewer changes for you to make, hooray!

      For this part of your question: it’s hard not to worry that her lack of positive feedback will color her perception of me, and through that, others’ perception as well, have you seen/heard feedback she gives to other employees? Is she curt and critical with everyone, or does she have positive feedback for some? If she’s curt with everyone, she’s probably just a “no compliments ever” sort of person and I would try to remind yourself that only hearing what you can/need to improve is not a sign that she thinks poorly of you.

    2. ferrina*

      Does she give anyone positive feedback?

      There are some people that just suck at giving positive feedback. Often they don’t even realize that they aren’t giving positive feedback, or they don’t realize how important it is! This is a failing on their part, not yours, and other people are probably aware that this is a weak spot for your boss. There are also people who deliberately withhold positive feedback to tear down others; these people are called @$$*les. Their opinion does not and never will count, because it is purely self-serving and has no value beyond them getting what they want.

      If there are other people whose opinion you trust (people with more experience in the industry or with your boss, who have their ear to the ground and their head on their shoulders), check in with them. I suspect that they’ll tell you that they think you are doing good work, and your grandboss is just that way.

    3. The Big Orange*

      I’d question the (natural) impulse to want to please her, to want to get validation from her. Because it sounds like she will never give enough. If her approval or neutrality comes to occupy a large enough space in your head, that could chip away at self-esteem.

      Makes me think of a quote from John LeCarre: “He is thinking, like every artist before or since, of the only person in the audience who did not applaud.”

      If it’s sticking in your head as an issue, I’d have a think about messages your brain learned in childhood: Was there a family member in your life who you felt you had to impress in order to receive attention or validation from? Children need those things, so they can learn adaptive strategies to get them. “Dad is distant except when I’m reporting good grades to him, so I want all the good grades” ; “Mom lavishes me with attention when I make her laugh, so I have to be funny”. These helpful adaptive strategies can then sometimes become unhelpful in adults life. Does this boss remind your brain of a ‘type’ you learnt you had to impress?

  48. Fuzzfrogs*

    Question for people in academia, especially academic libraries: I had a Zoom interview two weeks ago for a faculty position. Haven’t heard about the second round yet. I know academia is slooooow, but can y’all confirm this is the normal amount of slow?

    I want to pivot out of public libraries so bad, and it’s giving me conniptions just waiting.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      It’s normal academia slow, unfortunately. Especially this time of the year the higher-ups that might need to sign off on stuff are probably busy with midterms reporting. I’d give it another week and a half, then reach out.

      Good luck!

    2. trust me I'm a PhD*

      Normal amount of slow. That said, the best advice is the usual AAM advice –– assume you didn’t get it and keep applying.

      1. trust me I'm a PhD*

        Also, I disagree w/ the advice to reach out. If they want to interview you, you’ll know. If you haven’t heard by four weeks, they probably do not want to interview you.

    3. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Totally normal. (I’m in an academic library, albeit not as a librarian.) It will take freaking forever, I’m sorry. Don’t panic.

    4. Spacewoman Spiff*

      The first time I got hired for a staff job at a university, it took four months from my first interview to getting a written offer. Second time, a full month passed after my application before I even heard back, and it was about 3.5 months after the first interview (and 1.5 months after my final interview) that I got an offer. So….yeah, extremely slowness is the norm!

    5. N7 Librarian*

      Completely normal. Hearing back in two weeks would be really fast! In my experience, I’d say it would be closer to 4-6 weeks to hear back about being invited to the next round (if you are invited). Most academic hiring is done by committee, so you’re trying to get all of those people available for multiple zoom interviews, then to find time for them to have a meeting (hopefully one, maybe more) to agree on who to invite to the next round, and then someone has to have the time to do the outreach to the candidates. Throw in vacations and that they’re doing this on top of their other responsibilities and it just takes a while.

    6. Bunny Watson*

      It’s also Spring Break in a lot of places, so a lot of people may be out for a week, and then need to get caught up, etc. Hiring is slow on top of that, but definitely give it more time!

    7. Sleepiest Girl Out Here*

      Unfortunately, that’s typical academia slow. This time of year might be especially show due to spring break!

    8. AnotherLibrarian*

      This is normal. Best advice I can give is- apply elsewhere in the meantime and move on. The more feelers you have out and the more interviews you’re doing, the less stress you’ll feel about each one as you wait for them. Academic hiring is done by committees of people who are over extended and that means none of it happens quickly.

    9. hypoglycemic rage*

      I have no advice, but as someone who worked hard to pivot herself out of public libraires, I am sending all the good vibes your way!

  49. Never Happy*

    I was talking to a colleague this week and we both realized we have never really liked a job past the honeymoon period (6-12 months.) I think for me, I’ve historically been sold from older people in my life that career is VERY important, thus follow your passion, find your dream job, find a job you love. In my career (which isn’t super long at 31), I’d interview for a job and do as much vetting as I could and then find out…wait, this isn’t my dream job? Now I know I don’t have a dream job! There might not be such a thing (for me.) I am trying to work on my distress tolerance, because I notice when I find something bad about my job (pay disparity, off work culture, etc.) I find it hard to stay satisfied. I know I have to tolerate it unless I find another job, and even then I’m afraid the same thing will happen.

    So I’m curious, are there any folks here who never really like or love their job? Or feel like a grump when thinking about work in general? How do you tolerate the continual MEH?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh that’s interesting, I unusually find the first 0-6 months soooo stressful, because I’m unsure of expectations/procedures/everything takes me forever to get done/I don’t feel competent, then I settle into a period of contentedness (not bliss, more like “I’m able to adequately discharge my duties and keep my bosses satisfied in a normal 9-5 workday) from around 1-3 years, then 3 years in I start getting antsy/dissatisfied/frustrated bored and start looking again.

      1. Never Happy*

        Oh that’s interesting! That makes sense. I think I’d say my first few months definitely are stressful, but usually I like the part of learning something new and my rose-colored glasses seem to be more strongly tinted in the first year or two. But that makes sense that it’s not the honeymoon period for folks! It just has been for me and my friend.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I’m a teacher, so the first few months in a job tend to be difficult, even the first year in some ways, because you’re still the “new teacher who isn’t really part of the staff, ’cause she’s only just arrived, so we don’t really have to do what she says and she might not know all the rules yet, so we might be able to get one over on her.”

        Teaching gets a lot easier when you’ve been a couple of years in the school and the students accept you as a fixture rather than wondering how strict you are and what your limits are.

    2. londonedit*

      I think the ‘dream job’ notion can be problematic for exactly the reasons you describe. I’m 10 years further on in my career, and realistically I’ve seen enough to appreciate a job and a company that is just *decent*. It doesn’t have to be all-singing-all-dancing loving every minute of it (in fact these days I’d probably prefer it wasn’t!) But for me it does need to have: good work/life balance, reasonable pay that allows me to, in the main, live the life I want to, a decent level of autonomy but also a decent level of support, nice colleagues and a general feeling that the company cares about its employees. I’ve never had particular ambitions to climb the ladder or be a superstar employee – I just want to do my job, know that I’m good at it, be appreciated for it and have enough time outside of work to live my life.

      Realistically, there will be things about every job and every company that aren’t ideal. Even things that seem like a ‘dream job’ will have some little niggle or other, whether it’s pay or having to be in the office four days a week or having to deal with a terrible database system or the fact that your closest colleague chews gum loudly all day long. But I think it’s about looking at the bigger picture and about how your job fits into the rest of your life. For me, if I won the lottery I’d be off – and I enjoy my job! But I’m very much a ‘work to live’ person, and I’d become a lady of leisure at the drop of a hat if I could.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      It’s always the opposite for me. I hate being new, not having enough work to fill the day yet, not having access to a lot of stuff, not being invited to meetings, not having credibility with colleagues and customers yet. No clue how that is the honeymoon phase! The real enjoyable part is when you’ve been somewhere for five years and have clout but also enough history that you can do thinks like take long vacations or push back against executives because they know you know what you’re talking about.

    4. Frankie Bergstein*

      Such a good question! I recommend reading _The Trouble With Passion_ or checking out articles and interviews by the author. It is basically a research-based book length answer to your question with a lot of context

    5. Alex*

      Liking your job doesn’t necessarily mean never finding it frustrating or not having any difficulties. It especially doesn’t mean that you’d prefer to be at work more than you would prefer other places, or that you find the tasks in your job really fun and engaging.

      It can mean a lot of things–finding that the work is meaningful to you (like you feel accomplished/challenged/like you made a difference/learned something/helped someone), enjoying working on your team, feeling appreciated, etc. Expecting your job to be The Thing that fulfills your life needs isn’t very realistic, so maybe think about what you expect “loving” your job to look like and how much you allow certain aspects that you don’t like to get in the way of appreciating what you do like.

      At my current job, which I’ve been at a year and would consider it to be almost my dream job, there are still problems! There is one task I really hate doing that I think is pointless, one coworker who is definitely a “missing stair” and who really frustrates me, etc. But I absolutely love my overall team, I feel appreciated, I feel like I can learn new things and take on new challenges (which is super important for me).

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Even with stereotypical “dream” careers, like Famous Actor, there’s plenty of crap to go along with the passion: endless rehearsals, constant travel, trying to emote with a camera practically up your nose.

        I’ve found that rather than insisting my job be my passion, that it’s much easier and more enjoyable to have passions in the rest of my life and my job be a nice, tolerable place that pays me to do tasks.

        I’m frankly too old and tired to invest all my HEART! and FEELINGS! into my job no matter what it is. And I think it can be asking too much of a job/career that it fulfill you in All The Deep Ways–no matter how important or groundbreaking it is, it’s a job.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I used to have a creative career with a day job to support it, so that has always been my mindset. The day job is what I do to get money that supports the stuff I love.

      I just want it to be steady, well paid, drama-free, something useful / needed, and with mostly pleasant people.

      The “meh” is a feature, not a bug. I want to spend my emotional energy elsewhere.

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      OK, I’ll say it: I do not have a dream job because I do not dream of labor.

      My goal is to tolerate the job as best as I can, to enjoy the bits and people as I can, and to not absolutely loathe it more than 30% of the time.

    8. Medium Sized Manager*

      My husband is like that, and a few things he has been trying:

      – Figure out what is “I don’t like this part of the job” and “I don’t like working.” Do you hate answering emails or do you hate working? Is your boss mean/overbearing/rude or is she the person who assigns you work?
      – Figure out what could change at another job. Ex: better flexibility, pay, hours, etc.
      – Figure out what DOES make you happy outside of work and build in dedicated time for it.

      I genuinely love my job, but at the end of the day, we are all exchanging time and expertise for money. No shame in that.

    9. Girasol*

      The advice from my father’s generation was “find a good job and stay in it until you retire.” Good advice from the days when employers offered traditional pensions and felt responsible for building their community. But that model was changing in my (boomer generation) years as pensions turned into 401Ks, and it’s changed a whole lot since, as many employers have become less respectful to employees and less responsible to society than they used to be. You still need to be careful not to look like a job hopper who hasn’t the patience stick it out for at least a year and learn the ropes, but multiple jobs and career path changes in one’s working lifetime aren’t the bad idea that they used to be. Older people like to pass on those hard-won life lessons, but a lot of us did our learning in a working world that was really different from yours.

    10. Hermione Danger*

      I’m in my mid-50s now, and I have only ever had one “dream job,” which turned out to be the biggest, most toxic dumpster fire you could ever imagine.

      As I look back, though, my “best” jobs went down two different tracks. One was a lot of work, for minimal pay (which is one of the reasons it is no longer my job), but with generous PTO, doing work that really really really mattered. The other was for a cause I sort-of believed in, with incredible work-life balance and not quite enough money but good benefits.

      If I look at the common ground there, I didn’t need passion to have a good job, but I did need to feel like I was spending my time and energy supporting something worthwhile, and lots of time to live my life. It was also really nice to be able to leave work at work and not even think about it when I walked out the door; I was able to have a rich and fulfilling personal life, which I miss very much in my exciting, on-all-the time job now.

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’ve never positively enjoyed any job for even the first few months, beacause I was 100% only motivated to work to pay the bills and future pensions. It work was enjoyable then they wouldn’t have to pay us.
      I never said this at the time of course, even to my social circle.

      I found a job with good DEI, decent conditions & coworkers where I could do good work and stayed 30 years.
      Now I’m retired, enjoying said pensions and these are by far the best years of my life, doing what I want every day.

    12. Satisfaction*

      Gratitude practice. If you have a job that gives you a fair paycheck, decent work/life balance, decent management and colleagues, benefits that will allow you to retire, and good healthcare, you have a lot to be grateful for. There are many people in this world that do not have any of those things. If you have the time and space and energy to stress about a job not being a dream job, then I would imagine you have a level of privilege that not everyone gets to have, thus you have a fair amount to be grateful for, and taking the time to feel the appreciation for what you do have will help bring you out of grump mode. I would expect that most people do not love their job. They do it for the paycheck. I think it’s actually pretty rare that someone loves their job, and a lot of times those people come from privilege. They had a lot of help in structuring their life the way they do. Can you identify where what you enjoy overlaps with what you are good at and what people want? This might not lead you to what you imagine would be a dream job, but I do think it’s a proven way to find meaning and purpose. When you make the shift from focusing on a lack of what you have to being of service to others, you can find meaning and purpose in anything. It doesn’t matter so much what you are doing as why you are doing it and how you are doing it. Satisfaction comes from letting go of wanting (releasing attachment to things, ideas, external drivers of happiness). Happiness can come from within. Who are you and what do you really want? You have to separate out who others think you are and what they want from you.

    13. Tx_Trucker*

      I grew up in extreme poverty outside the USA. The concept of a “dream job” is still a bizarre concept to. My dream job is the one that reliably pays the bills. When I go to career days, I tell kids. Don’t pursue your passion, instead bring your passion with you no matter what job you end up getting. For example, I have a young driver who is certainly not passionate about driving. But he is also in charge of our newsletter and social media accounts and he absolutely loves that aspect of his job and I expect he will have a long career with our company. I work for a good company, make a great salary, and there are many aspects of my job that I enjoy. There are also some aspects that I detest. But I focus on the parts I enjoy and figure that all jobs have terrible aspects.

      Are you by any chance an NFL fan? Fans don’t tend to think of them this way, but they are “employees” of the NFL. There was a survey of the players working conditions and some of the things they revealed, could be on this blog as toxic working conditions … like rats in the locker room.

  50. korangeen*

    I had a first-round interview yesterday where the two interviewers introduced themselves with names and titles then jumped right into questions. They asked me various questions about what strategy ideas I have for the job—how I’d go about relaunching their podcast and video coverage, what I think is missing from their news coverage, how I’d handle making content for their specific audience, how I’d go about assembling a team for projects… My several hours of interview preparation of course included looking through some of their past content and carefully analyzing the job description, but I had no idea they’d expect me to know how to do the job without telling me anything about the job! As I fumbled through some sort of vague answers, I told them a couple times “well I’d really like to know what the current and past strategies have been, and why the video coverage stopped in the first place, and what resources are at our disposal…” But they wouldn’t give any context or answer any questions until the end of the interview.

    After the interview, I’ve been doing a bunch of research and reading based on a few things they mentioned while answering my questions. I’ve now learned a lot more context about their specific audience and difficulties they’ve been having the past couple years with leadership/organizational changes. It sure would have been nice to know this going into the interview, just so I could have some idea of what’s going on before figuring out how to answer questions about what perspectives and strategies I can bring to the table!

    I’m curious, how might you have handled a situation like this—being in an interview where they’re asking you a bunch of questions about how you’d do the job without giving you any information about the job beyond the job posting?

    1. ferrina*

      “There’s a lot of different way to handle that, but it’s really dependent on what specific issues you are trying to address. Is there a specific example you’d like me to speak to?”
      If they don’t answer, say “It depends. For example, in one project I worked on, we were focused on solving X and we did Y; on a different project, we were dealing with J and we did K.”

      Turn it into a conversation, or almost a consultation. Don’t worry if you don’t answer the question fully- tell a compelling story and highlight your expertise.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I had a couple of interviews like that (same position, different people in successive interviews), and handled it exactly like you did. They wanted me to come up with a research project to study a very specific aspect of some technology. Naturally I started off like you did, saying I would look into the background, read up on the relevant concepts and what’s been done before, then determining what the research question needs to be. You know, do research. They seemed to think I should already know the exact research question they had in mind, but that’s not information that I had. The best case scenario is that they were just bad interviewers who weren’t sure how to get the information they wanted; the worst case, they wanted me to draft up an experimental protocol they could use for free.

      I did not get the offer, which is just as well. The concept they were exploring ended up going nowhere, which I suspect was a function of them focusing on the fun bits and not doing their homework on who the tech would actually appeal to.

  51. MagicEyes*

    What do you do when you have a boss who doesn’t want you to use appropriate (and necessary) tools for the job? I do graphics works, and my supervisor of a few months wants me to use Canva instead of Adobe Suite. Canva only does a small fraction of what I need to do with Adobe Suite, and it’s a lot slower. I spent most of a day doing labels that I could have done in an hour with InDesign. With a rational person, I could explain why I need to use professional-grade software, but she’s 100% not interested in any of that. My feeling is that she wants to be more micromanage-y, but that’s not possible right now because she doesn’t know what I do. At the moment I’m using Adobe Suite, but I feel like at some point it’s going to end up in a showdown. It’s ridiculous and absurd.

    Her usual MO is to act first and get information later, if at all. I’m stressed and annoyed with her for other situations coming out of this. I’m trying to keep this part separate from everything else so I can deal with it in a way that is hopefully not going to end up with me losing my job. :-( I welcome any insights or advice! Thanks!

    1. Rick Tq*

      Can you compare your time costs using the wrong tools to the licensing cost of professional-grade ones? Your boss may not have been given budget for software subscriptions and doesn’t want to ask management for what looks like a big number.

      1. MagicEyes*

        We already have the software, so budget isn’t an issue. We need it for other things, like video editing. I’m a little worried that she’s going to try to take away the software, so I’m thinking I should talk to our HRD rep about what to do if that happens.

        A little more background–she has big ideas about how we’ll be a better team if we all collaborate and use the same software, so she thinks we’ll be doing things that are “new” and “fresh” because Canva is magic. Strangely the free software that any staff member can use does not have the same features and functions of software that you pay for. There is a reason for that.

    2. ferrina*

      Normally I’d recommend that you do a pros/cons breakdown, or take her through the softwares to show the difference, or even have someone else take her through why this is a normal tool for your role. But it sounds like you’ve done that, and she doesn’t really care about logic.

      Are there other ways you can stoke her ego? We’ve already established that this isn’t about logic, so what is it about? Her looking good or being the authority? (Usually that’s what it boils down to). Is there a lower stakes, totally different thing where you “need” her advice and input? Maybe a strategic thing where you are “not sure what to do”? Or a frustration with a team and you “need her help” to manage the situation?
      Give her something to do that you (theoretically) aren’t able to handle yourself. Let her feel superior in her own way, ie. a way that you can praise and doesn’t interfere with your ability to get your job done.
      If applicable, you could try giving her some “vision” credit on the design. “Oh, you suggested using midnight tones- I followed your guidance, and it looks great!” (don’t mention that Adobe is the reason that it looks great, let her think that it was “her” vision. If it comes up, Adobe is just a tool that best lets you “executer her vision”.

      I’ve found that most incompetent bosses I’ve had looooooove being praised and will go out of their way to chase that high.
      Good luck!

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        I totally agree. Managing up and some strategic choices about how open your use of Adobe is will be a better use of your time vs. trying to convince your boss who is being irrational here…

      2. MagicEyes*

        Thanks! I’ll look for these opportunities. I know that she wants to be seen as the Cool Boss and she is very ego-driven and emotionally motivated.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I feel like she wants to “democratise” (and demystify) the graphic design work, and potentially get other people (with other roles) joining you in doing graphic design work using Canva.

      1. MagicEyes*

        I would be okay with that! I like that Canva has made it possible for more people to do graphic design. But her motivations aren’t that noble. She sees Canva as a cool new tool that will make our work “fresh” and “new” but those things come from the people that are doing the work, not the software.

        1. WellRed*

          Ah yes there are definitely people types that like the cool new thing just for that sake.

        2. Hermione Danger*

          Ugh. A boss-adjacent person in my office does this ALL the time. They want to be one of the cool kids and keep coming up with ideas for what my team should be doing with new tools that are the opposite of the best use of our time. Bonus because these ideas tend to be based on knowing a little bit about the latest trending thing, but not understanding the thing enough to be able to actually envision how we would use it or why it will be less useful than the tool we use now.

          I get it, new toys are fun. But maybe focus on how that new toy will help us work better, and not so much on how cool it would be to let people know that OUR team uses the Cool New Thing.

  52. Cat*

    Does anyone have advice for how to navigate a job search when you’re burned out and/or demoralized at work?

    I’m in a writing/editing role (some general comms work, too) and I’ve hit my limit due to constantly shifting needs and timelines, culture of back-to-back meetings leaving no time for work, and overall lack of trust (from the top down) in staff to do their work.

    It’s draining, so I’m looking for something new, but I’m not sure what to shoot for because I don’t feel much enthusiasm for anything. I honestly feel at a place where I don’t even know what I’m good at! Maybe it just means it’s not the right time to job search. But I’d be interested in any thoughts about how to navigate feeling stuck and a bit lost.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Can you take a week off and just not think about work for a while? Spend a week camping or just stay with someone and just rest and recharge? That might help reset some thinking gears for you.

      There are also lots of resources online about burn-out.

    2. ferrina*

      Some tips to make job searching easier when you don’t have the energy/time:

      1. Spend one week just rewriting your resume. Have a master resume where you list EVERY. SINGLE. ACCOMPLISHMENT. This resume will be too long- mine is 5 pages.
      Then when you apply to a job, it’s easier to customize your resume. The job posting wants customer service skills? Leave the bullets that emphasize customer service and cut some of the more technical ones.

      2. Spent the next week re-writing your cover letter. Get yourself hyped and into a mood where you are ready to brag (I found a glass of wine helped). Write 4-6 paragraphs that each highlight different soft skills or major successes that you had. Again, this will be too long for the actual cover letter. When you write an actual cover letter, you will pick 2-3 of these paragraphs to include, based on what skills the job posting is most interested in. This makes it way easier to get a custom cover letter for a job posting- it’s almost always easier to edit content than to write it from scratch. And if you feel like writing it from scratch, you can always ignore what you’ve pre-written.

      3. Set a doable goal. This is usually a very achievable minimum job applications that you want to send each week. On my last search, my goal was 2. The purpose for this goal is to keep your job search moving, but to also not accidentally demoralize yourself. I am so hard on myself when I don’t hit my goals, so it wasn’t helpful to set a stretch goal. When I set a very doable goal, I could always feel proud that I hit my goal. Some weeks I was feeling good enough to do more applications- great! Some weeks I just didn’t have it in me- also great! Those weeks I could still hit my goal of 2, and then invest time in self-care without feeling guilty.

      4. Repeat after me: Self-care is an investment in my job search. Confident, high functioning people make a better impression in their writing and interviews. The best way to be confident and high-functioning is to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Eat food. Invest in hygiene and haircuts and things that make you feel pretty. Spend time doing things that make you happy. Yes, that’s right- blocking time each week to just do something you love is something that impacts your job search in a positive way!

      5. Trust other people when they say you are good at something. Right now you are in the doldrums where everything is blah. When other people say “you are good at X” or “you make the best slides” or “I can always count on you to know all the details”, follow that train of thought. Is that true? How many times in the last week/month did you do that thing? When did you save someone with that skill? And is that something that you have in your cover letter/resume? Add it!

      5 1/2. If you aren’t even sure what you’re good at anymore, consider an Accomplishment Journal. I started doing this when I had severe imposter syndrome and felt like a total therapy. I bought a beautiful journal, then every night wrote a full page about what I had accomplished that day. It had to be something positive I did- no things I did wrong, or lists of things I didn’t do. The thing could be little or big. Doing the dishes was on there. Remembering to schedule the dentist appointment. Turning in the report. Slide 7 on the presentation looked great.
      This is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Basically it’s helping your brain practice a train of thought where you think positively about yourself. Our brains like to follow familiar patterns, and when thinking poorly or blah things about ourself is our habit, our brain will do that automatically. Practicing thinking about and writing good things that we do teaches our brains to start recognizing and celebrating the good things.
      *caveat- not a catch-all solution for every issue, of course. Use if it makes sense for your brain. I found I needed about a month before I started noticing results.

      1. Cat*

        Thank you, this is really helpful advice! I especially like the idea of a master resume. I also have done CBT for sleep, but never thought of it’s potential applications in other areas–that’s definitely something to explore.

        1. Isabel Archer*

          Hi Cat,

          I could have written your letter. Same complaints about constantly shifting priorities and a very meeting-driven culture. I rarely feel that I’ve accomplished anything at all in a given day, nor can I point to any real contribution I was making (unless asking “Can everyone see my screen?” is considered a contribution). Eventually I became so mentally exhausted and professionally demoralized that I couldn’t apply for any other jobs. So I quit on Monday (my post is in today’s Open Thread), no new job lined up. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if it’s possible for you, put in your notice and GTFO. It’s almost impossible to climb out of this level of burnout while you’re still there.

          For the first full month, I plan to be in Self Care mode, as Ferrina suggests. No job searching. Just getting my nutrition, exercise and sleep back on track will take this long, since I’ve been using food and sleep to self-soothe against how worthless the job leaves me feeling. I probably won’t miss those predictable Saturday migraines, either.

          Good luck to you, sincerely.

      2. cat in cardboard box*

        Thank you so much for this advice!! My partner was just laid off and is the type of person to take things hard… will share this with him.

  53. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

    I don’t entirely know if I’m asking for advice or just want to vent my annoyance.

    I moved into a new role that I love love love last year. However, we’ve done a bit of restructuring and that manager was moved to a different team. Due to the niche nature of my role, I am now reporting to different folks for different aspects of my job. We are at the highest executive level in my org so this kind of structure is not entirely abnormal.

    The manager that signs my paychecks oversees the lowest priority areas of my work; they don’t supervise anyone else and never have at our org. From appearances, it looks like they were given supervision of my grunt work and assigned all the grunt work of supervising me (paperwork) because the other managers had too much other high priority work to take it on.

    This manager had a whole meeting with me about how they weren’t interested in oversight and really were just there to support me as needed or to bounce ideas around. But they immediately turned around and got extremely in my business.

    Not even a week after the re-org, they claimed a task that had been assigned to me because they felt their experience doing similar work at a different org over a decade ago made them more qualified to take it on. This is a task I had been doing for 2 years in a different department of the same org up until 6 months ago. I didn’t want to do the task anyway and was happy to let them have it, but I’m feeling some kind of way about how it happened.

    There was another task which I felt they were hinting about wanting to take as well because “X in Y department had already forwarded them an email about that task so it seems like folks think I’m taking that over too”. This is another thing I don’t want to do. It’s the lowest priority and impact of all my work and I’d be happy to let it go if they asked. But I got annoyed that they wouldn’t just come out and say what they wanted so I was a little childish about it and pretended not to pick up on the hints and just said I’d make sure to clarify that I’m the resource for this task so there’s no confusion.

    The manager went on to coordinate a call to introduce me to the contractor supporting this task. Of course, I have been working with this contractor for 6 months and already know them and the outgoing manager already notified them of the change. But New Manager, who has never met this contractor or been at all involved in this work, took it upon themselves to get involved without asking any questions.

    Then, when we got a very minor question about the task, I immediately resolved it even though it was not urgent or high priority because I anticipated this new manager being weird about it. I notified them of the resolution and even sent a follow up when I discovered new, related info. Only to find out later that this manager had been going around checking in with everyone involved in this task and re-doing all the work I had just done. They got the same result but I got a lot of long emails explaining what they did and why — explanations I did not need because I did the same thing before they did it!!

    I’m going to let them know it seems like they’re very invested in this work and they should adopt it entirely if it’s going to take up this much of their bandwidth. There’s no sense in both of us dedicating this much time to something that is low impact and low complexity. We’re talking ordering printer paper compared to designing policies and procedures at the request of our governing body that are likely to be tested in court. The paper needs to be ordered but also we should endeavor to spend as little time on it as we can.

    This person is just driving me insane. I have never felt protective of my work or like my ego was in any way fragile, but I’m starting to get offended by the 20 minute explanations of processes that they don’t seem to realize I created. I understand that I am probably taking this too personally or playing some role in it, but also I just want to be irritated that they never ask a single question and assume I need things explained to me. I love learning new things but I get extremely irritated having my time wasted on things I already know.

    Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      OK your letter started off “this is normal, had that “you report to this person but they can’t really manage you because they have no clue what you do”” dynamic…but then the 2nd half is bad. You need a sitdown with new boss and to straight up ask if they’re going to do it, or you. All of this drama and back and forth and having to rush to respond in case boss decides to waste a day on a basic task, is all too much

    2. I Have RBF*

      So, you are now working for someone who doesn’t know what you do, but feels they have to ‘splain your job to you, and micromanage doing the dullest of tasks? That is infuriating.

      My temptation would be to sit down and write a detailed job description of what you actually do, including how long you’ve been doing it, and present it to him (because that type always seem to be male) “for his information”. Write it assuming that he got thrown in with no knowledge and he apparently figures everyone else is in the same boat, so you are just helping him get up to speed on what you do. (We both know it’s not that, but approach it that way to try and give him a fig leaf for his cluelessness.)

      Now you also have a thorough list of what you do to build your resume from, because if he doesn’t pull his head out you will need it.

    3. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      Does he actually know what you do?
      Would it help to create a bullet list of all the tasks that you take care of and have a one-on-one with him so that he understands exactly what you’re working on? (include a second list of significant tasks you’ve done for the company in the past that have been assigned to someone else)
      Or is he just into mansplaining your job to you?

  54. WafflesFluff*

    How do I mentally deal with my new manager having the same personality type as my abusive ex?

    It took me a few months to pick up on this but it’s making my spidey senses tingle.

    It’s not absolutely horrible, but it does bother me some throughout the week. I tell myself it’s only work and I don’t have to *live* with this person.

    1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      You use what you’ve learned to defend yourself as needed in the short term and angle for transfer, promotion, or new job to get out from under them in the long term.

    2. Random Dice*

      Same personality type is a you thing to solve. Same abusive techniques is quite another – that’s a sign that you need to get out

      I have found it helpful to realize why I overreact to someone who reminds me of my abusive ex, and talk about it in therapy. I don’t want to punish someone for something they didn’t do. Usually that helps, and to tell myself “They are not Ex, this is different”.

      But sometimes the thing that reminds us of them is the abuse itself. We recognize abuse tactics – those things that we didn’t recognize before we went through the whole cycle, but it makes our shoulders go up to our ears now. Listen very hard to those instincts – recognizing red flags is the one treasure we fish out of the mangled mess in the garbage disposal of abuse.

  55. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

    Today is Match Day, when all the 4th year medical students in the United States find out where they’ll do their Residency, all at the same time. We just watched our students open their envelopes. The energy is so high, and so many people are experiencing their dream-come-true moment. First Generation students, students who had to push extra hard because of academics, plus the special challenge of medical school during COVID.
    Supporting these people is my job, and after a decade of watching people graduate and move on over and over, it feels funny that I’m still here in the same seat. Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow, but right now I want to go do something else, to move on like everyone else is.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh man, good luck graduates! My only experience with Match Day is a wonderful friend of mine, who was a great student and will be a great doctor, who for some reason just … didn’t match. So I would feel a lot of stress on this holiday!!

      1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

        It happens! And it can be due to lots of factors. Someone might really have their heart set on a competitive specialty or a competitive location, but their academics aren’t competitive enough- for some fields even having great grades and participating in research won’t be enough.

    2. Gyne*

      Yay Match Day! I still look back on that day as one of the happiest days of my life (I matched, but had a close friend who had to scramble.) I get feeling outside it all if you’re not matching, though. I never went to Match Day before or after my own.

  56. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

    There are several new people who have been promoted to the same position I am. Those of us who are more experienced each got paired with one of the newbies to mentor. I think my willingness to help others with tech issues has backfired on me. I got paired with someone who has no idea how to use some of the most basic computer functions and basic software that we use to do our job (like MS Office, not even getting into the employer proprietary systems). Yesterday, I taught them how to copy and paste. I have no idea how they were promoted into this position because their previous position also required these same basic computer skills and software knowledge.

    I have sent them to the training dept for some courses but there’s still so many little things about using computers that aren’t covered. I’m spending so much extra time training them on things they should already know, I’m running behind in my own work. What’s a more delicate way of telling my boss that tutoring this employee is killing my productivity so badly that I might miss deadlines? I do think they have the potential to be good in this role but there’s far too many KSA steps that have been missed for me to make it all up. Not just steps, entire staircases.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I think you can start off with something along the lines of:
      “Hey, [boss], I wanted to talk to you about how mentoring [name] is going. I’m finding they don’t know some really basic computer functionality, like copy and paste, so mentoring them is eating into my time to do XYZ.”

      How do you want this situation to be resolved, ideally? Newbie is re-assigned to someone else and you can go back to focusing on your core job duties? Newbie has to spend some time in remedial computer classes, and you resume mentorship after they finish classes/you meet your deadlines? Bring that up in the conversation with your boss, too:

      “I’ve sent [name] to the training dept, but I don’t think I can continue being a mentor and meet my deadlines. Can I [stop mentoring/pause mentoring/insert other possible solution]?”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Good scripts! You can also ask the boss to clarify what “mentoring” should look like. What you describe sounds like in-depth remedial training, whereas I would have expected that mentoring is more like answering the occasional question about the higher-level version of the job.

        It’s not clear what made this person qualified for the promotion, but if they can’t do the job because of lack of basic computer skills, that shouldn’t be your job to fix. Especially at the expense of getting your own work done! Good luck, I hope your boss can fix the situation.

  57. Anon Today*

    Have you ever had a possible job opportunity come up at the worst time? Like a multi year project, 75% finished and multiple team members out on leave? You know you need to take it and go. But how do you let go of the guilt about your team specifically? Nothing is set in stone yet of course, but part of me is saying that now is just now the time. But I know that I’ve been unhappy for awhile. Any tips prioritizing self over team and quieting the internal debate is greatly appreciated!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      But how do you let go of the guilt about your team specifically?

      Imagine one of your coworkers was in your shoes. Would you be sad they were leaving? Probably. Would you understand it was the right personal/professional choice for them? Hopefully you would. Would you resent them for leaving, think they were making a huge mistake, never forgive them for abandoning you, etc.? I really hope not. Remember that your coworkers will (very likely) give you the same grace and understanding you would give them if the situation was reversed.

      It sounds like the best thing for you right now is to take the offer and leave. Once you decide to leave, the best thing you can do for your team is wrap up the tasks you can, and create good hand-over notes for the tasks you can’t complete in your last two weeks. If you feel guilty, try to harness the guilt into something productive (closing out another task, organizing your files, adding another note to the hand-off document, etc.).

      As often as you need to, remember that there is (almost) never a good time to leave a job. There will be other projects after this multi-year one is finished, there will be coworkers on leave, on vacation, pregnant, coworkers accepting other job offers or retiring, etc. This offer is here now, so now is the time to take the offer.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding all of this- this is exactly it!

        Also, if you are an actual or de facto team leader, think about what kind of role model you want to be. What do you want your team members to strive for? Do that.

        Of course, do what you can to set your team up for success in your absence. Take that 2-weeks notice and really make the most of it by documenting, doing pre-work, and maybe doing some of those crappy tasks that everyone else hates. You don’t have to and it’s not expected, but your team will absolutely recognize and appreciate the gesture.

      2. pally*

        This is a really good answer!

        I’ve learned that nothing in life ever arrives on my timetable. Get what’s coming your way while the gettin’s good!

    2. Random Dice*

      If the company needed to lay you off for any reason it would.

      Reasonable coworkers understand about leaving. Nobody really expects coworkers to stay that long these days anyways.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      I’ve made the mistake (at least twice now) of taking a job that I was meh on but I loved the boss. Both times, the boss left. The replacements were not great. One was meh and one was absolutely horrific. Then I was left with a meh job.
      People can leave at any time – it’s a normal part of the world and the working world! Maybe the best/favorite people on your team leave and are replaced with meh people.
      1 vote here to take the job! Timing is never perfect!

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      I put off leaving a job because we were at the tail end of a huge project that would look amazing on my resume. We completed it, hurray! And then, 6 months later, it failed very publicly in a way that was spectacularly embarrassing for the company. Fortunately, I had already found a new job by then, because the entire team was eliminated.

      OTOH, it made a great case study for a corporate failure paper in grad school. I got an A both for my analysis and because it wasn’t yet another paper about New Coke. Silver linings and all that.

    5. Sharon*

      Remember that YOU aren’t letting your team down by leaving – management is letting them down by failing to plan adequately for normal attrition. Also, remember that when layoffs are happening, the company very rarely takes into account whether it’s a good time for you to get laid off.

  58. JP*

    Found an imperfect solution in avoiding all the new fragrances and air fresheners at the office by leaving my office door an inch or two ajar. It alleviates like, 85% of the problem, though I think someone went hog wild in the copier area a couple days ago with a spray can of Febreeze or something. After I finished making my copies, I came back to my desk and took a hit from my inhaler, which is not good, but I just can’t bring myself to be the person who makes a fuss over it.

    The big problem now is that my coworker appears to be very upset over my office door no longer being left wide open, and letting me know that in passive aggressive ways. Again, my door is ajar, not shut. So, the work environment is a little tense now, which is annoying. She’s been reprimanded in the past for her bad attitude, so this behavior is nothing new. I’m not doing anything wrong, and I don’t really value her opinion, so I don’t really care too much, I just worry that it might escalate. Odds are, though, it will die down within a couple of weeks.

    1. Sloanicota*

      That’s so strange, if you told her “this way I don’t have to use my inhaler so often at work” or “something in the main office makes me need my inhaler so I have to keep my door cracked” would she really keep being a jerk about it? Don’t make it about her fragrances (people are *very* sensitive about their products), but this seems cut and dried to me. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. JP*

        I’m fairly sure if I confronted her, she would flounder for a valid reason to be angry and back off. It’s kind of a long back story and history, but we used to have a toxic boss who was very like “you can’t shut your door because it means you’re hiding something” or “who do you think you are that you can shut your door,” and while that boss is gone, my coworker still retains some of those attitudes. She’s not the one using the fragrances, though. I suspect a newer employee because I’ve worked here a long time, and it’s only recently become an issue.

    2. ferrina*

      This is a case where it might be good to make your medical issues known at work. Do people actually know that this is an issue for you?

      If your workplace is generally understanding of health issues, it might be worth it to try making clear that this is a health issue for you, but you aren’t trying to inconvenience anyone and this solution is working for you.

      But you could also just let this be and see if it dies down. Especially since this person has a history of a bad attitude, it’s likely this is only her own opinion and not going to impact anything else.

      1. JP*

        I haven’t brought up that the fragrance thing is an issue for me yet because, with the door solution, it’s manageable, and while I know it’s dumb, I feel like people are going to roll their eyes at me like I’m being too sensitive if I complain about it. Also, I don’t entirely know who all is responsible for it. I have some theories based on hiring dates and when it all started, but I can’t really address it on an individual level right now because I don’t know who to address it with.

        1. JustaTech*

          I don’t know about your coworkers (and you do), but if my new lotion/ hair product/laundry detergent/perfume was causing my coworker to have to use their inhaler I would be 1) mortified, 2) immediately apologetic and 3) I would stop using it immediately.

          Like, we used to play music in the lab all the time. Then we got a new coworker who simply could not process numbers if there was music playing. So we turned it off, even though we liked having music, because it was more important that our coworker could work comfortably.

    3. Random Dice*

      I have found it helps to post notes in the break room about fragrances, and if you do know who it is, to have one awkward and very polite conversation asking them to stop.

      This is an ADA accommodation that you could take to HR.

    4. Another professor*

      I have started being proactive (and pro-friendly) when I have my door slightly ajar: I put a note on the outside that says, “I’m here, just knock!” I think it lets people know I’m still accessible.

    5. Isabel Archer*

      I had a similar issue once, but in a cubicle, so no door to shut or leave ajar. I placed a very small fan on a shelf behind me, above my head level when seated, and directed it toward the odor. The fan completely pushed the odor out of my personal space all day long. And even though it clearly wasn’t blowing on me or at me, I could claim I was warm and needed air circulation without ever naming the real problem.

  59. Rebecca*

    I’m curious about this line from yesterday’s “five answers” post:

    “in some cases employers are permitted to give preference to veterans”

    Which cases? And which employers?

    It’s a funny coincidence for me that this came up now. I recently took a job as a contractor on a military base, meaning, I am employed by Contractors R Us, and I work in an office alongside a combination of other contractors, civilian government, and active military. It’s a lot like other offices I have worked in, in many ways, just that there are a bunch of people in fatigues and you hear sir/ma’am all the time. Now and then, however, there will be a huge cultural difference that shows up. The contractors in all roles, from admin to finance to project management, are mostly former military. Most of them have never worked outside a military environment, and they have some odd beliefs about what employment on the outside is like (I have only worked in private industry previously, and I’ve been around a bit).
    All that aside, however, I find myself frequently thinking that the culture mismatch is so strong that the contracting companies should really only hire veterans. I wasn’t sure whether that was legal, however. I know companies collect data on veteran status, but I wasn’t sure whether veteran status had any EEOC implications.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Veteran preference is allowed, I am 100% sure (but can’t cite the relevant statute). Obviously there may not be suitable veterans for every available opening though.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      The Federal Government has strong veterans preference, particularly for those with service connected disabilities – it is in federal law. There are nuances as to how this applies, but if you are talking about working for the government, document your service – there should be information on this in USAJobs.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My first job out of college was a government contracting company.

      We hired retired military, and we hired engineers and analysts right out of college. So yes, the cultural clashes can be interesting. I grew up in an Air Force town, so it wasn’t as big a deal for me.

      There are two problems with only hiring veterans:
      * not enough ability to think outside the box
      * not able to tap into people with recent technical skills; even if you’re working with cutting-edge military technology, by the time it’s been deployed to the field, it’s generally several years out of date.

      1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

        I’d add a third, though it’s only a problem past a certain tipping point: having a civil service strongly skewed to military methods and values might be incompatible with a non-authoritarian government and society.

        By all means, we need to take better care of veterans, and that’s part of what these preferences are there for. But entire companies and industries skewing toward the kind of unquestioning obedience the military trains into personnel would be dangerous.

      2. Rebecca*

        “* not able to tap into people with recent technical skills”

        Definitely not a problem we have. Everybody in a technical role, whether current military or veteran, has at least a relevant BS and sometimes an MS or PhD. Many of those graduate degrees were acquired while still in the military.

        Thinking outside the box, depends what you mean. From a technical perspective, “out of the box” is what we do.
        Where they don’t think outside the box, and where I am having cultural problems fitting in, is more process and organizational psychology related. It’s very top-down, C2 here. Industry is learning to speed up design cycles and improve manufacturing by adopting better tools and methods, while this place thinks the key to delivering sooner is to work 70 hour weeks and never take time off.
        And the funny part is the majority of design and all of manufacturing is subcontracted to industry, meaning all the velocity is being accomplished by them rather than us.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I’m in the US. The US Federal government is allowed, and does, have a veterans preference in hiring. I think state and local governments often do too. I have heard of police and fire departments with veterans hiring preferences.

    5. Random Dice*

      My big corporation is about as opposite of military/hierarchy culture as it’s possible to be. We did a veteran-training program for technical roles that fit well, and as a good deed. I don’t see how that could be problematic.

    6. Rebecca*

      I’m picking up from these answers that the federal government is allowed to give preference to vets.

      Are private employers allowed to give preference to vets?

      Are any employers legally allowed to make vet status a requirement?

      1. WellRed*

        Yes I believe they are allowed. There are companies that have programs around hiring veterans. I don’t know that they have to make it a requirement but I don’t see why they couldn’t if they wanted?

  60. Cookies for Breakfast*

    Another for the “you need to smile more” files. I started typing this a few weeks ago, then told myself “let go, you’re overreacting”. But it keeps happening, so here I am to vent.

    My new manager keeps commenting on how hard to read I am, because I’m quiet in video calls and have a concentrated expression while I’m listening. My guess is we are about the same age. He’s an extroverted man with lots of industry experience, I’m a shy woman who entered the industry as a complete outsider and got thrown into the deep end of a job with a lot of spinning plates. A past manager at an old workplace had the exact same personality and also made this sort of comment, but guess what? I never got it from the woman who hired me for my current job, who was always very appreciative of my input and understanding of different communication styles (oh, how I miss her).

    The first time New Manager made the comment, I explained I’m naturally quiet, and give better input when I’ve had time to take in information and reflect, rather than on the spot. I hoped that would be enough to convey “yep, different personality, everything’s good.” Recently, he said it again in a meeting in front of others, and I had to bite my tongue to avoid saying “yes, I have a RBF, it’s my perfectly normal human face, so what?”.

    For all intents and purposes, I’m engaged in meetings: I listen, nod, smile now and then, wait for my turn to speak, make relevant comments, and take notes when needed (that accounts for a lot of my being quiet – I’m typing). I think this is something I’ll just have to keep laughing off, but every time it happens, it reminds me of how out of my depth and slow at following I feel, and how much I’m not the person this manager would have hired for the role. It’s truly doing wonders for my confidence! /sarcasm

    1. M2RB*

      No advice, just sympathy! WHY do people think it’s okay to comment on others’ facial expressions??!!

      1. Tradd*

        I always have a serious expression. Tends towards being angry. Resting b*tch face. Sometimes people will comment on it. I just give them “the look.” I’m a woman, btw.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Seriously, me too. In an open plan hell pit I would often have people I don’t regularly work with come up to me, interrupt me, then ask “what’s wrong?” My answer would always be “Nothing. What can I do for you?” Then they’d make some crack about me looking mad about something. No, I was just concentrating.

          There is a reason for my user name.

          Now that I’m remote I don’t have people policing my expression any more. *grin*

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Unless you’re coming right at me with a machete or screaming at the top of your lungs, your facial expression isn’t really my business!

    2. Shiny Shoes*

      Oof. What an annoying situation.
      Your description reminds me of a manager here, who is extroverted and a little intolerant when others are less so. I’m extroverted at times so he doesn’t give me much trouble, but I’ve been here a long time and seen him consistently fail his quieter employees in small ways. If I were you I’d try:

      – Build your relationships with anyone else there you can, so you have stronger allies and support, which will help bolster your situation against his slight negging

      – See where you can insert some “I Am Enthusiastic” evidence into your interactions with him. Eg, saying complimentary things about a project/idea, mentioning your interest/fascination for something the team is investigating, etc. It’s fine if it’s a bit fake – it’s like oiling a temperamental machine, you need to drop in a few elements to oil the relationship. (The problems in the relationship are his fault, not yours, but unfortunately he’s not going to change.)

      – Take extra care of your emotions and self-esteem, and take breaks (cinema, swimming, crochet, whatever!) where your brain can rest.

      – Foster your industry network / relationships and begin a gentle job hunt, looking out for a new situation where your new bosses will appreciate you again for the bad-ass that you are.

  61. Roland*

    Should reach out to your references every time a job says they’re going to call, or is it enough to give them a heads up at the start and end of your search?

    I’m in a field where reference checks aren’t very common, but one company I spoke to mentioned they do check them later in the process so I reached out to some appropriate folks ahead of time to get their ok and their contact info. I’m wondering if I should have emailed them again when I actually progressed to the reference check part of the process or not. Too late for this one but wondering in case I actually provide references again in the future.

    1. ferrina*

      Give them a head’s up at the beginning of the job search and get a blanket okay to share their contact info in your job apps. If your search is taking more than 4 months, grab coffee with them to give them an update and just let them know that you’re still searching (also to keep that relationship warm and keep them emotionally invested in your success if you don’t’ see them often))

      If an interviewer says “we’re going to be calling references”, its nice to give them a head’s up. Especially if you are applying to a lot of different industries/roles, it can be helpful to tell your references what the industry/role is so they know which of your skills to hype up. But it’s not a big deal if you aren’t able to give a head’s up.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Personally, being told at the start and end of the search works for me. One person I’ve served as a reference for a few times gives me a heads up when they know someone is reaching out imminently, which helps me to keep a closer eye out at that time.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      While not required, it doesn’t hurt to send a quick e-mail or text to say you think company x might be contacting them. It would makes me less likely to think spam if I get a call or message from an unknown number, particularly if this is several months after you asked me to serve as a reference. Good luck!

  62. Contemplating a switch*

    So I’ve got an entry-level job in higher education administration that I enjoy about 80% of. I don’t like interacting with some parents and it involves a lot of travel that can be exhausting…but I find being busy helps with my mental health and I like nearly every one of my co-workers. We also get paid pretty well for the type of position and our area, with great benefits. I’ve been here almost three years.

    Problem is, our director is a nightmare. Disorganized, judgmental, and has no boundaries between her work and personal life (ie. venting and crying about her children’s mental health in a staff meeting). It’s been true that the majority of people in the office have disliked her for a while, but recently she blew up at a a co-worker of mine who she seemed to always have some sort of bias against, and then told her after the weekend that her contract wouldn’t be renewed. It was one of those situations where it isn’t as if said co-worker didn’t have room to improve, but she, at least in the perception of the rest of the office, mostly did good work and seemed to always have the director’s ire for some reason.

    This appears to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for the office. I know at least three people that the co-worker and myself work closely with are making plans to leave, two of which have been here less than a year. My options are limited as working at this school gets me PSLF eligibility, but I’ve been applying internally to the few positions available, none of which are a step up.

    The problem is…I’m not sure I want to go! I like most of the job and most of the office. I’ve had problems with the director before, but these days I’ve kept my distance and I’ve heard through my supervisor that I am one of the employees she worries the least about. I’m worried I’ll be making a lateral move for a more boring job just because there’s the slim chance I could become a target.

    Has anyone encountered a similar situation of potentially leaving an engaging and interesting job because of toxicity? How did you handle it? Would a switch be worth it?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      From your letter, it’s not clear to me that the director’s behavior rises to the level of toxic (maybe there’s more details), other than what does “blew up” mean? Yelled or sent a nasty email or was dismissive in a meeting or ?? There is always the possibility that there’s more to the story regarding coworker’s performance. And crying in a meeting about your children’s mental health… I mean, it’s not professional but sometimes people are human??
      In any case, if you overall like your job, why not tell your supervisor you want to avoid as much interaction with director as possible (and why), and keep on doing what you’re doing? You can tell yourself you’ll revisit this in 3 months, 6 months, etc.

      1. Contemplating a switch*

        Fair points all- I cut out a lot of detail from what was already a long comment. From what I know, “blew up” meant “called my co-worker at 7 PM the night before an event the co-worker was running (and had run successfully a week before) and berated her for something so much that she went to cry on our supervisor’s couch about wanting to quit ASAP.” I don’t think you’re wrong that there could be more to the story of my co-worker’s performance- I’ve told the story to a few relatives and we’ve tried to bounce different perspectives. But either way it seemed to have been handled badly.

        The toxicity is also part of a larger pattern, with that just being one example. She used to publicly scold me in front of students and guests for minor things when I was new, and my newer co-workers have told me she’s rude and dismissive when they need to go ask her things. Probably her most notorious unprofessional habit is getting drunk at work events and talking too much about her personal life- the worst incident of which involved her jokingly accusing the same co-worker and my supervisor of having an affair and then being hungover the next morning when she was required to drive. The general dislike of her has to do with a big combination of these factors, plus her disorganization making our jobs messier.

        My supervisor is well aware I keep my distance and says he respects it and wishes he could do it too. But this has been the breaking point for him and he’s one of the people planning on leaving. He’s been great in the role (he used to be in my position and got promoted this year), so him potentially leaving is one of the smaller reasons I may want to go. In practice, though, I like your idea of revisiting things every few months. Right now I’m just so unsure because, despite all this, I really like what I do.

    2. lalaland247*

      It might be, might not be. I’m dealing with an emotionally reactive boss, too, so you have my sympathy. You can always wait and see how things unfold. If things get worse, then it’s probably time to bail for another internal position.

    3. Random Dice*

      It’s tempting to join a herd when “everyone” agrees to a dramatic course of action. But it sounds like you don’t actually need to storm off collectively, and have good reasons to stay.

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Assuming the staff who leave are replaced, your boss may be fully occupied in being petty and nasty to them and you may have a quiet time. But if she seems to be there for the long haul… I think it is worth checking out other options in a low-key way.

  63. In My Underdark Era*

    low-stakes question for software peeps: where do you draw lines around “code ownership”?

    I have a couple junior devs on my team who I’ve noticed tend to push back more on anything that affects code they’ve written. (To the point of looking for ways to keep around obsolete code!) This is kind of natural, we have more input on things we have more experience with. But at some point you have to “let go” of your code to some extent, right?

    I thought I might be too sensitive myself and just imagining that they were being especially critical of changes to code they’d written, but the other day one of them told me plainly that he was “sensitive” about a change I was making because he had added the thing I was wrapping a null check around.

    It’s not like he was excoriating me for daring to touch his code, more like I’m realizing how much care I need to take to avoid sincerely hurting his feelings over code changes. I don’t want my teammates to be apologetic over their code or excessively attached to it!

    I’ve tried to foster a culture of “sharing code” on the team and keeping everyone involved, but are there any subtle ways I could… encourage them to take code changes less personally? Or should I be glad that they’re invested in their work and let it go? (I am not a manager, just a developer.)

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      So we’re SQL based FWIW but alot of the stuff is very complicated and way beyond basic queries.

      The older I get, the less I care. I was laughing when I found a very basic SQL procedure from seven years ago when my coworker was new and he had put his name all over the comments. Knowing what he does know, he’d cringe at the idea that’s he’d need to stake a claim to such basic tasks and it actually makes him look bad that we wanted credit for a basic task like that (that was complicated to him at the time).

      I think outsiders and reddit malicious compliance type threads give people the wrong idea. The idea that if your boss slights you you purposefully mess it all up, and since you make it hard to find or understand, no one can troubleshoot. I really hate this logic. My father even advised me to “take code with me” if I leave this job (since it’s been going through a rough patch). That sort of logic doesn’t really make sense in our roles. I view it like art; now I know how to do X so I don’t necessarily need to screw anyone over to take the same logic/knowledge of how to cobble functions together, to my question job.

      1. In My Underdark Era*

        haha, I’ve gotten the same “take your code with you” advice from relatives. for a portfolio? but none of the code I wrote for a specific project is gonna mean anything to someone who’s not also on that project! at a certain point it’s easier to just rewrite something than recycle it.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          To paraphrase the Godfather, “Take (a copy) of the reference. Leave the code.” As technically you don’t own said code or its logic; that’s Intellectual Property of your employer.

    2. Roland*

      Wherever the line is, this guy is way past it. Getting defensive that someone is adding a null-check is not acceptable. If you have more than one example and are reasonably more senior than this guy, I think this warrants a conversation with your manager because this is really concerning behavior.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      When a programmer “gives up their code,” do they give up their liability on it, either?

      I’ve got some code I’m territorial over, but can point you to numerous tickets where I had to go in, roll back bad updates and try refactor something incoherent without the original instructions. Usually, over the weekend or overnight because I’ve figured out how to answer my phone.

      Giving up liability on code was my gateway to letting the code go.

    4. strawberry lemonade*

      Ugh, this is really unhealthy for a codebase. How to take code review and how to stop being precious about your code are really important things a junior dev has to learn.

      How’s the vibe on the team generally—public codechecks? Metrics that emphasize changes to code or lack of tolerance for mistakes? Talk with your manager/lead/whoever about this because it either points to a culture problem or a serious area of improvement.

      Always good to model this by actively soliciting code check comments and changes to your code, and modeling how to not be precious about it. “Good catch, that’s a solid refactor. Thanks!” or, “Good call, changing this should improve performance. Thanks!”

      If someone is being sensitive about it, I think it’s okay to be direct about it. For example: “Haha, I get it. But it’s pretty important to not be precious about code. That makes it harder to maintain and improve our codebase. You’re a good developer but even a good developer can sometimes forget a null check.” IMO that’s within bounds of non-supervising senior dev to junior dev.

    5. inky*

      There’s actually two separate problems here, one is that they think they own the code and two is that they’re having trouble taking feedback, and you should address both of them. And note that these are actually problems for them wrt career advancement, in addition to being problems for the team.

      For the first thing, ownership resides at the team level for all code, not the individual level. This is important for business continuity if somebody leaves or is on vacation when a change has to be made, and it’s important so the codebase as a whole can go in a coherent direction instead of everyone taking it the way they feel like. But it’s also important for them – if they never give up any code, what do they think will happen after a few years if they want to switch to a different area? They have to hand off code to the team to make room for them to pick up other code, and they have to be allowed to start working on new code that was previously worked on by someone else.

      1. inky*

        For the second thing, they need to understand that feedback is not a statement that the person is bad or dumb, and is not even a statement that they’ve made a mistake. “I see you’ve used snake_case for variables, but on this project our standard is to use camelCase” is valuable feedback about something that is not a mistake in general, it’s just not appropriate on this particular project. But even if the feedback is pointing out a mistake, everyone makes mistakes! I’m sure you can give them a story about a dumb thing you did and that it turned out ok. And again, understanding this is a requirement for becoming more senior – if they can’t take feedback gracefully they won’t improve their skills, but furthermore part of the expectation for senior roles is to give feedback to other people. If they think feedback is a big heavy thing, they will also be bad at *giving* feedback to other people, and hence they won’t be able to be promoted to positions that require them to do it.

  64. Meh*

    I’m just choosing to let a whole bunch of my boss’s projects languish. I used to track projects that I was involved in, followup, push forward, get it done.

    But then I got reprimanded for going out of my lane and pushing too hard to get information (that I needed to make informed decisions about what / how to push forward as well as which direction forward was).

    So now, I’m watching a whole lot of nothing getting done. People thrashing around getting a whole lot of nothing done (sure, spend hours deciding what to call a specific database field, no problem for me !) Everything I request has a copious email trail, but if you want to ignore the email, well, what can I do ?

    I hate it. Goes against every fibre of my being but… (shrug)

    1. ferrina*

      You are doing the right thing. You are doing what your boss told you to do. When I had a boss that had me do this, one thing that helped me was to reframe my job not as “paid to make sure this succeeds” but “paid to make sure that my side of the street is clean”. Things in my responsibility- yes, meticulous. Things outside of my responsibility- I do not touch unless told. And honestly, I did enjoy watching the powers that be FAFO without me safety netting. I would warn them about potential pitfalls, then let them make their own decisions. It’s the only way they learn (or don’t learn. and that’s why I left that company for a more functional one).

  65. Busy Middle Manager*

    I feel for the anti-RTO folk for once even though I like getting out of the house. I’ve been WFH more because there is always something going on at the actual office and I am disappointed to find the same distractions at the newer location of ours. I think a lot of places scheduled renovations and extra work during covid, and I think they shifted hours around for staff (namely, cleaning) so it overlaps with regular business hours. And while I want to resist the urge to make a judgment call on it, having people come into the office multiple times starting at 4:59 (new office does full clean every night apparently) is too much distraction. Then they are playing music in the common areas most of the day. It feels like people forgot how to “office” and have boundaries during covid. I went into the bathroom and someone ran behind me and I didn’t register they were running after me and they were banging on the door and told me I couldn’t use that bathroom, since it was being cleaned? Felt very urgent and melodramatic for wanting to go in the bathroom at 5:30 in an office? Also a few lunch places closed and never reopened. New places are super expensive and close early too. Also the whole “turning heat off early to save energy” thing sounds good on paper, freezing after 3:00 is not. Not to also go into the whole “people forgot how to behave on public transport during covid” thing since it’s not directly related, but I’m sick of listening to blasting tiktoks just to take the bus to work. And yesterday someone was smoking a cigar and it stunk and people were getting on and then getting off. Stuff like that.

    It’s like the office is turning into a place for meetings only, not getting actual work done in a quiet location, no more quiet sanctuary. Which defeats the purpose of going.

    1. saskia*

      One thing I’ve only seen post-pandemic is people playing speaker audio from their phones at sit-down restaurants. Not fast-casual places — eateries where a server comes to your table multiple times. Granted, none of these places have been fancy, per se, but at least one had entries in the $25-29 range. So rude and just completely oblivious and uncaring.

      1. GythaOgden*

        As an in-person worker I got annoyed by the people who’d take up seats in a cafe I used to go to on my way to work. Granted, some were probably on the move as well, but there’d be people who had set themselves up at the tables and eyed you if you dared to come close to them.

        It didn’t happen very frequently that all the tables were taken up by people nesting, but it happened enough that I got a bit frustrated that people who didn’t have the luxury of working anywhere were now spreading out into space that was also being used by those of us whose work couldn’t be conducted anywhere other than a fixed office. I’m sure they were paying for stuff all the time they were there, but it got a bit wearing nonetheless.

        There’s a lot to love about WFH (I do it now and I feel like I got my life back) but if you’re going to do it, do it responsibly. Acknowledge your privilege, respect those who do still work in-person jobs and don’t claim too much public space.

  66. Tradd*

    I’m a customs broker. I’ve posted before. My coworker and I are lobbying executives (small company) for a customer to be fired. To put it bluntly, she is an idiot. One of the owners of her company. Imports food items from Canada via truck into the US. She’s been doing this for years, more than once a month. She sends us partial documents, totally ignores all the stuff required for FDA. The manger typed up a list of requirements and sent it to customer, telling her to keep it for reference. No good. Takes so much time to deal with this customer that we hope she gets kicked to the curb. It’s like it’s her first ever shipment every time. There’s no reason to have to continually deal with this. We are swamped.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Perhaps lobby your boss to raise rates just for this customer instead of dropping her?

      1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

        And, while you’re asking, might as well request that the raise in rates include bonuses for everyone who has to deal with the client.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          You can’t just raise rates. She’ll figure it’s the CODB.

          You need to add on extra fees for everything. And they have to be big enough to hurt. She’s doing this now because she doesn’t care, and your company ends up doing the work that she should be doing. You have to make it painful for her. She’ll either get the hint and get her act together or she’ll go elsewhere.

  67. I've had it up to here*

    Is there anyone in the AAM community who used to be a tech product manager and switched to a different type of role (that is not senior management of any kind)? What did you move to, and how did you get there?

    I’ve been a PM for a few years and have started to believe it’s just not for me. There’s no career progression at my workplace, and, apparently, no opportunities to get more exposure to the areas of product development I’m interested in (user research and analytics). I’m not interested in becoming a people manager, and no longer enjoy working with developers on the details of day to day delivery. I plan one more attempt to tell my manager “I see myself growing in this role by doing more of X and less of Y”, but if that leads to nothing, that’s probably it – I don’t want to go out there applying for roles that sound like an exact replica of what I do now.

    I’m wondering if there is a type of role I could start applying to without months of doing courses and training in my spare time (I completely switch off work stuff in my spare time, and I learn best by doing, so a course I can’t apply to my day to day projects would be no use). Has anyone else had a similar experience?

    1. Roland*

      A relative of mine started out as a software engineer, switched to PM where he stayed for most of his career, then switched again to tech writing for the last few years before he retired – as he put it, specs were always his favorite part of PMing so he figured he’s just lean into that. He did do some kind of certificate course, but not like full-time school or anything. And it would be reasonably applicable to your day-to-day in the meantime.

      1. I've had it up to here*

        Oh, I’d like to get into tech writing. Do you happen to know what the certificate course was?

        I don’t get to do much that would build a portfolio in my current role, but have had related experience in a previous one. I got the advice of getting involved with open-source project documentation in my spare time, which was helpful but I haven’t yet acted on, as I’m making an effort to keep non-work time focused on family and creative projects.

    2. Rebecca*

      Were you ever an individual contributor?
      In engineering, we see a lot of resumes from PMs who started as ICs, moved into the PM role, and want to go back to being an IC.

      1. I've had it up to here*

        That’s pretty much me right now. I don’t have any coding experience, so I’m not looking to move into engineering. I used to be an IC in a role that had elements of client services/project management and can see now, with 20/20 hindsight, that it suited me better. I’m not sure I want to go back to that exact type of role, but it’s on my mind, because it’s the one thing I can think of that would likely not involve a huge pay cut.

        I’m guessing the people you mentioned get asked in interviews why they want to switch back. Do you happen to know what they tend to say to that?

        1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

          Instructional Design? If you’re with a big company, you might even be able to make the move internally. Your understanding of business practices is a valuable resource the company could use to develop training for those who are still excited about PdM-ing.

  68. Stuff*

    Is the word A*tism a banned word, now? It seems your comment automatically gets removed if you use it at all. I know Allison hates when people diagnose others in the commons, but on the flip side, I myself have this condition, and I was using the word to describe how a hiring practice described upthread would be wildly discriminatory towards me, to the extent of violating US disability laws. I do find it somewhat disconcerting and upsetting to not be allowed to reference my own condition when it’s directly relevant anymore, and to have the condition treated as a no-no word.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The word “autism” is in comments all over this site :)

      It’s not banned.

      It does send a comment through moderation first because otherwise there would be dozens, if not more, comments per week suggesting autism everyone time someone does something even slightly out of mainstream social norms, and this was the only way I could get that under control.

      That said, I don’t see your comment in here or in the moderation filter, so I think it may have simply not gone through.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, as autistic myself, Alison, this makes real sense. It does get really frustrating, so thank you.

    2. Emily*

      The same thing happened to me two weeks ago. My comment never went through either so maybe the moderation system is not working as designed. I wanted to give an update in this open thread but I can’t accurately describe what happened without using that word so I decided not to. I might try next week if I can think of another way to say it.

      1. anon24*

        I’ve had a few comments disappear too, and all of them (I thought) were about completely inoffensive topics and within commenting rules so I’m always left wondering if I inadvertently said or did something disrespectful (which I don’t want to do!) or if my comment went to the great tech graveyard in the cloud.

        1. JustaTech*

          I always assume a non-filter tech glitch when my comments don’t go through because it’s always completely random. Sometimes the comment shows up a couple of hours later, and sometimes never.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            If it comes through hours later, that means it when through moderation. It can take some time for Alison to get to it.

  69. Coder*

    Hi all, I have a sort of sensitive and delicate question here. An elderly relative of mine has been in and out of the hospital, but signs herself out AMA each time. Neither of us have any other relatives in state. Unfortunately, based on her age and medical history, I don’t feel good about the next few months or even weeks. I try and be there for her, but she refuses most help.

    How do I communicate this with my manager and colleagues? This is something that’s on my mind, but at the same time, since she doesn’t want help, I am limited in what I can do and focusing on work does help me a little bit.

    Thanks for your advice.

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Honestly, I would just tell them exactly what you told us. Context can be everything, and more information on something like this, which means you may get called out on a moment’s notice, helps me to understand and plan better. I don’t think you gave away any personal medical info in the vague description above, and most of us have (or had) elderly relatives and related situations. (If your boss/co-workers aren’t understanding, that will also give you important info.)

      1. Coder*

        I know they will be understanding, TBH. My father passed on a little while before I interviewed for this job (only been here for a few months) and I told my boss in a 1:1, something like “I’m still dealing with the aftermath of losing a parent, it shouldn’t impact my work schedule, but I think honesty is the best policy here,” and he was very understanding. He’s also gone above and beyond for other people who’ve had to take time off for family crises even if they’ve only been here for a month or two.

        Basically, the relative in question is my grandmother, she’s fallen a couple of times recently and signed herself out of the hospital AMA. She is not very accepting of help, so while I feel rotten for saying it, I don’t think there’s much longer or much else I can do.

  70. lalaland247*

    Can my boss force me to take PTO? I called out one day this week. I originally was scheduled to have Friday off, so I said I would take my sick day and then work on Friday. Response was “we don’t need you on Friday, you can take PTO”. I said I would prefer not to and work to make up the (weekly) hours I was originally scheduled for.

    Boss said I had plenty of leave. It is March and I just took a week long vacation that has not been subtracted from my PTO yet. I have a medical procedure soon in which I need to take a few days off (which has been approved) and am saving my PTO for another procedure later in the year. I explained that I wanted to save my PTO for these medical appts/procedures. Since I was being contacted outside work about a work matter (which is a no no at my workplace – county govt), I muted the replies. They said we would talk about it today but it hasn’t been brought up (yet).

    This is not the first time they instituted additional parameters around PTO. I have coworkers who have been here so long, they have the max accrual amount, and even with them, they give them a hard time about requests (has basically told someone she can’t take a week off to attend a training for a hobby and told said coworker to take a different week off for no valid reasoning), has had another coworker make sure she has completed certain tasks before taking random Thursdays off.

    I’m really frustrated by the situation but I know PTO is weird in the sense that since most states don’t have to offer it, it’s considered a benefit and employers aren’t required to allow you to use it.

    I’m not sure who I would speak to about it. I don’t trust the supervising manager and I feel HR would protect management and not the employees. Does anyone have any tips on how to handle this?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      The details of your workplace really matter a lot here, including union rules if applicable, employee handbook, etc. But on its face, it doesn’t seem like the employer is out of line by saying you can’t come in on a day you weren’t scheduled to work – that is, they control your work schedule, not you. They may have other folks scheduled then, truly don’t need you, etc., since you weren’t scheduled to be there.

      1. lalaland247*

        I read the HR handbook yesterday which is why I’m here asking. It just outlines the way we accrue PTO, nothing about time off requests. We are not unionized (oh how I wish).

        The funny thing about them saying I didn’t need to come in is we are in the middle of two projects and there are two employees here today, not to mention someone called out in an adjacent dpt, so yeah, not busy at all!

        I feel like there’s not a consistent policy as I had a previous manager (who still works here) that had no issue with me switching my day off if I had to call out another day that week. But I understand that’s probably a fantasy to have consistency in policy.

        1. Anecdata*

          From what I understand, I don’t think you really have standing to push back on this — you were scheduled for a day you couldn’t work, so you’re taking PTO to cover that day. It sounds like you don’t agree with your boss’ assessment that they didn&