open thread – April 12-13, 2024

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,021 comments… read them below }

  1. Tech resumes*

    Tech folks, need resume help. Do you lump certifications under your education section, under your skills section, or somewhere else? Mine don’t fit neatly in either direction, since most of them are issued by brands rather than by schools.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Skills is where I put it. Eg:
      Programming languages: Python, Ruby, NodeJS
      Databases: Oracle (Oracle DBA Certified Professional 2021), Postgres

    2. Cabbagepants*

      you mean like an online non advertised
      accredited certification a la Google data science cert? I agree, skills section. def not education alongside your accredited degrees.

    3. Yeep*

      I lump it in education, but I don’t have a skills section (the jobs I’ve had speak to my skills/I’m not applying for technical positions).

      1. Yeep*

        Wow, I just noticed you specifically said tech. Ignore me and my attention to detail, which clearly doesn’t belong in my skills section.

    4. KitKat*

      I have a section at the very bottom that combines everything, then bullets for different areas. This was the way I found to condense it the most but still include keywords. I might add or remove bullets depending on the job I’m actually applying for — generally for the roles I’m applying for, my experience is much more important than any individual cert or experience with a specific tool, so that definitely influences how I present it.

      – Salesforce Certs: Admin, Advanced Admin, Service Cloud Consultant, Platform App Builder
      – Code: SQL (Redshift, MySQL), basic API calls, basic HTML, basic CSS
      – Data Analysis & Visualization: Domo, Looker, Google Analytics, Excel, GSuite
      – Education: [Degree], [Institution]. [Degree 2], [Institution 2].

    5. EMP*

      I have “skill” “dev environment” and “libraries and protocols” as sections on my resume. I think “certifications” could be its own section if you don’t think any of those fit either!

    6. Parenthesis Guy*

      I do somewhere else, but I wouldn’t sweat it as long as it’s easy to find and understand.

    7. An Australian In London*

      I have separate sections for skills, certifications, and education.

      I’m also not limited by culture and tradition to only one page for my resume. Possibly my answer would be different if I were.

    8. JPalmer*

      With Skills.
      I put education at the very bottom of my resume. Most jobs don’t care about my degrees. They care more about what I can demonstrate I can do.

      I’ll tend to bold & move to the front of the list for ones relevant to the specific position.

    9. RLC*

      Civil engineer here: I had a separate section for licenses and certifications. Included PE, manufacturer/industry certifications for working with proprietary products, and safety certifications such as OSHA/HAZWOPER.

    10. LAM*

      I have a Professional Development and Achievements section for licenses, certifications, publications/presentations, and awards issued by an external entity. It’s at the end. I also put workshops I taught if there’s something that I want to highlight that doesn’t fit elsewhere (like leading a data literacy workshop at the local library).

  2. 1099 woes*

    Freelancers/contractors, have you set up a more formal structure for your work, like an LLC, or even just a website/e-mail domain? Has it made a difference in obtaining work?

    The recruiter/HR feedback I’ve been getting during the past 3-4 months of pitching jobs seems to indicate that this is becoming more preferred. (Everyone is so quick to scream “job hopper” yet at the same time, nobody wants to do permanent hires…) I’m trying to weigh the cost/benefit.

    1. gsa*

      When I contracted, I set up a single person LLC to house insurance and to separate LLC taxes from W2 taxes.

      This decision came from talking to an attorney and an accountant. I can see why someone would think that having an LLC and a website and an email address attached to your domain name would look more formal and professional.

    2. Cj*

      in my state of minnesota, you can form your own LLC on the Secretary of State website. it call something like $225, and I think there’s an annual registration fee of $165.

      I think it’s really easy to do yourself, but I’m a CPA so maybe it’s just that it is familiar to me.

      Most of the time a single member LLC is treated as a disregarded entity for tax purposes, so there won’t be any extra cost of preparation of a separate entity tax return.

      1. Hillary*

        Renewal’s actually free as long as you file on time. If you let it go inactive there are fees to renew.
        Signed, someone who has filing this on their calendar for every January. ;-)

        We have an LLC both because we have multiple owners and because it does what it says on the box. It means our spouses and personal assets like houses aren’t financially liable if the business fails. For a solo consultant it’s less important (if the business isn’t borrowing money) but that depends on the risk of being sued.

        IMO, if your customers are outside your trusted network you need a website and non-gmail email address. It signals that you’re a professional taking it seriously.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Years ago, I set up and owned (with a friend) a British (England&Wales) limited company (Ltd), even though not being in Britian. Cost was pretty negligible (some $200 at the time) and it was fast, a few days through a specialist service company.
        We had the advantage of my MBA father doing the taxes for free, though.
        It was a side hustle for both of is and we wanted a clear separation between our day jobs and finances and that single-product IT company. It was successful enough but after a few years the need for the product had run its course, so we shut it down – another benefit if the structure.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I’m in Canada – I got a business license for my company name, and I use that. It’s not a corporation of LLC, but looks like one. I really should get more formal, mostly because if I have an official company, I can do corporate taxes separate from personal taxes (and keep money in the corporation rather than paying myself). But that’s more complicated than I want to be, honestly.

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

      I’m not sure about it being because of job hopping on a resume if you are trying to be hired as a contractor/freelancer, but with all of the tax regulations and gig-worker laws about who counts as a contractor vs. employee, I imagine a business would much rather have a contract with a company rather than a person. Maybe it’s less of a perceived liability to pay an invoice to Acme Computer Wizard, LLC, instead of Jane Smith. I know my department has a bunch of freelancers for various things, and to my knowledge we don’t work with anyone who doesn’t have a formal company structure like an LLC or work through an agency.

    5. Garblesnark*

      Do you do your own bookkeeping and taxes? If no, ask the person who is currently or who you think will do your bookkeeping and taxes their opinion.

      A few notes:
      1. In my state in the US, you can’t legally do work under a business name that doesn’t contain your legal last name unless you file an LLC or other business. I don’t know where you live or whether you like your last name.
      2. Filing a (LLC) business in my state was like $200.
      3. Getting a website can be under $50 if you’re willing to do the legwork of setting up the website, and if you plan to work with anyone under 50, seriously legitimizes your business.

    6. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Yes, well worth doing. Separate entity, separate finances, everything.
      Another thing that is becoming more and more common is that freelancers need to have business liability insurance.
      Now this is for true freelance/contract work. Not for short term work that should be classified as employment and the company is incorrectly classifying the person as a contractor.
      Go look at the IRS rules for how contracting works, and refuse jobs that are misclassified.

    7. Ama*

      You can also set up as a sole proprietor and get a DBA (official business name) and an EIN in a lot of US states and it’s a little cheaper. If you aren’t sure you’re going to freelance for long this might be a better option (you can always upgrade to LLC later).

      I am transitioning to an industry that is almost entirely staffed by freelance and contract work and most of us have at least sole proprietor set up and everyone has a business email (even if it’s nameofbusiness@ gmail ). There are also really inexpensive website options that are basically to put your contact info and a description of your services (I don’t know them by name because I opted for a more developed website so I could have a blog attached).

    8. RagingADHD*

      In the last year or so that I freelanced, there was a ton of pressure from clients to use an EIN and/or business entity instead of SSN, to help them ensure they are not dinged for misclassifying workers. It’s another box on the checklist of “this is definitely a contract with a business vendor and not at all an employee relationship”.

    9. An Australian In London*

      I’ve found it essential, to the point where anyone freelancing in my field (IT) isn’t taken seriously unless their have their own LLC or equivalent in other countries.

      Many of my larger clients flat out refuse to engage through any other model.

      This is more complicated in the UK where tax law changed in 2021 and now most contractors are engaged within payroll and not through their own LLC (Limited Company in the UK). Other than filing accounts and company taxes there are no costs to maintaining an LLC.

      My USA and Australian clients still insist on LLCs or equivalent though.

    10. Sharon*

      A lot of people make the mistake of thinking an LLC will solve everything. Highly recommend doing a formal analysis to figure out what you want to achieve and getting professional advice from an attorney and accountant to make sure that whatever steps you take fix the problems you intend them to.

      I did freelance work without a separate legal entity for many years, but I did do things like get an EIN so I wouldn’t have to give clients my SSN, kept a mileage log for business driving, kept good records of business income and expenses, and created a separate “work” email for all my business communications.

    11. JR 17*

      I’m in California. When I started independent consulting around 2014, my accountant said it wasn’t necessary to set up an LLC, so I didn’t. I used my gmail, didn’t bother to create a website, etc. (I wasn’t trying to build a consulting firm, just looking to work part-time while mostly home with young kids, and maintain my resume and relationships for when I wanted to go back in a more formal role.) I mostly stopped consulting in 2019, which was around the same time California passed AB5, which is a law that makes it much harder to hire 1099 contractors (as opposed to W-2 employees). Now in my current role I hire both employees and vendors, and my attorney prefers to see some mix of an LLC, evidence of other clients, a website, etc. when we hire a vendor as a 1099 contractor.

    12. Momma Bear*

      I had an LLC for a while with a separate business banking account. I also used an online platform (Freshbooks, maybe?) to generate invoices and take payments. I think it’s also good to have a domain-based email address if you can, even if it just forwards to your regular address.

    13. Elastigirl*

      I have an S-corp. It makes all the difference in the world at tax time. It’s standard in my field, so not sure it makes a major difference in getting work.

    14. DreddPirate*

      Pro tip – eliminate confusion as to a biweekly event will be twice a week or once every two weeks. Let’s bring back the use of ‘fortnightly’.
      (Do people in the UK still use the term?)

    15. ItCanBeLiability*

      Here’s an alternate view from someone who’s done a fair bit of contracting of all sorts:

      If you are not going out an pitching your services but rather applying for opportunities from the company/agency, having an LLC may be a liability. Most (not all) of these opportunities come through a recruiter and most agencies will not deal with “companies” only individuals even for 1099 work. For direct from company opportunities, the mechanisms for paying an individual 1099 contractor/consultant are very different and companies looking to pay an individual may not want the hassle of switching or funds may be appropriated/approved to go through the “hire a short term contractor” mode and not “pay a company for consulting services” mode and it’s a hassle/onerous process to switch.

      If your model is to solicit consulting work and getting a specific company approval to hire you to do something you’ve helped them identify they need done, the LLC/business model generally works and may be very beneficial, but not if you’re an individual who sometimes fills open 1099 contract opportunities provided by/advertised by/openly being filled by a company.

      disclaimer: California has very different rules than the rest of the US and this may not apply there

    16. TryingToPostAgain*

      Here’s an alternate view from someone who’s done a fair bit of contracting of all sorts:

      If you are not going out an pitching your services but rather applying for opportunities from the company/agency, having an LLC may be a liability. Most (not all) of these opportunities come through a recruiter and most agencies will not deal with “companies” only individuals even for 1099 work. For direct from company opportunities, the mechanisms for paying an individual 1099 contractor/consultant are very different and companies looking to pay an individual may not want the hassle of switching or funds may be appropriated/approved to go through the “hire a short term contractor” mode and not “pay a company for consulting services” mode and it’s a hassle/onerous process to switch.

      If your model is to solicit consulting work and getting a specific company approval to hire you to do something you’ve helped them identify they need done, the LLC/business model generally works and may be very beneficial, but not if you’re an individual who sometimes fills open 1099 contract opportunities provided by/advertised by/openly being filled by a company.

      disclaimer: California has very different rules than the rest of the US and this may not apply there

  3. How We Laughed*

    Health insurance: How often does your employers switch plans? if your employer switches plans frequently, how do you deal with it?

    1. Tio*

      I’ve only been at one place that switched plans, from a more bare budget HSA plan to a more robust PPO plan. I’d be annoyed if my employer switched frequently, but maybe see if the healthcare exchange has something reasonable instead?

    2. Justme, The OG*

      I’ve been with my employer ten years. We have switched vision once and dental once, but health insurance zero times. We did add a HSA a few years ago.

    3. IndyDem*

      My company has switched insurance once in 10 years. However, part of my job is assisting people with insurance issues. When their insurance plan changes, I suggest (once they have their ID #) calling their primary care and any specialists that they see to make sure their new insurance is accepted. You should do this prior to an appointment – I suggest the middle of January (or right away if it changes mid-year). You’ll also need to make sure your scripts are transferred to your new in-network pharmacy, if you use mail order. And update your prescribers at the same time you call them to see if they take your new insurance.

      (FYI, most insurances also have websites that say whether a health care professional is in-network. Those are mostly accurate, but not 100%)

      1. RC*

        Heh, “fun” fact: I’ve been trying to find an in-network PT (my employer’s insurance changed since the last time I went to one) and the new insurance’s website for “in network” has a practitioner who according to Yelp hasn’t been operational since 2018 at least, and the phone number on their website is disconnected…

        I hate insurance companies with the fire of a billion suns.

    4. Magenta Sky*

      HR aggressively shops every year, but we haven’t changed the last three or four. When we do, it’s usually pretty smooth because our insurance agent (who is very much part of the aggressive shopping) handles a lot of the details, so the process is familiar.

      1. WellRed*

        I feel like this is where my company lands. However, I’m on my third FSA benefit company. It’s super irritating and inconvenient !

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      I just started my third year at current job and they’ve switched twice. They assure me this is abnormal but it doesn’t ease the frustration. I grit and grin the best I can because I’m privileged to have a very healthy body (and my other option would be to switch to being a +1 onmy partner’s insurance, which would cost me a TON.)

      1. Uranus Wars*

        This is really hard on people and is typically abnormal, that is true! Some companies chase a price tag (I was in HR for 10+ years) and don’t take into account their employee’s experience. While I have never work for a company who did it, I have colleagues in the space who shared stories with me about this while simultaneously wondering why people complained about their health benefit options.

    6. Double A*

      We’re undergoing a major transition so we’re changing, but my employer has always offered several options with different companies and they’re maintaining that during the switch, just different coverage levels. Otherwise, they added Kaiser several years ago but I think have maintained the PPO option for a long time.

    7. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      The large company I worked for changed health insurance between one and two years after there was a merger/sale of the company when they re-evaluated how to get everybody on the same plans (national and international) at a reasonable cost to the “new” company. I’d say it averaged every 5 years. (I was with this mega-company for almost 25 years.)

    8. Kez*

      When my old job switched insurers with very little notice before our benefits election deadline, I reached out to HR to explain that this would put a significant burden on me. I’d be looking up my providers and potentially having to change providers which would disrupt my care, the potential changes to prescription coverage and co-pays would take me a while to figure out, and since I had only just found covered providers with openings for new patients, I would potentially be stuck out of network or without care. They said they figured that the money saved on premiums would be worth it, but that they were sympathetic and could offer me a small stipend to help cover co-pays and coinsurance while I shopped for new providers. Maybe you could ask your company about some sort of transition funds like this, since a sudden switch in coverage could stick you with either no healthcare or high out of pocket costs.

    9. Delores Van Cartier*

      My non-profit used to switch companies pretty frequently. Right now, we’ve been with the same company but have had a few different plans, usually every 1-2 years. I have a complicated health condition, so it was a pain to switch companies as I’d have to get approval for my expensive treatments. I’d try to get treatment as close to the end of the plan term as possible to give me some wiggle room in the first few weeks with a new company until I can get approval. If you have medications you take, it’s never a bad idea to do this in case your deductible increases with a new plan.

      If they’re in the same company, it’s usually not as tough. The plan details will change, but often they’ll cover many of the same things, just at different costs. But if you were going from a PPO to HMO, that’s a bit more complicated. I would have a list of your providers ready so you can check to confirm they’re still covered when you get moved over.

    10. Who Knows*

      I was with one company for many years, and they changed insurance companies maybe once every ten years. A few years ago they went through a merger, and ended up keeping the plans from both companies, so no one needed to switch.

    11. Art3mis*

      My current company switched at the new year, I’ve been here less than a year and so far I’m happy with the switch for the most part. With companies I’ve been with multiple years, I would say maybe once or twice if they didn’t already offer multiple options. Having been on the other side of things, carriers usually like to get you in multi-year contracts and they really have to mess things up or get horribly expensive to make an employer want to switch because it’s kind of a hassle to do so.

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s essentially an administrative burden on you. You’ll have to evaluate plan options and determine what makes most sense for your family, then adapt as necessary. Yes, its a hassle, but no one ever said being an adult was always easy.

      1. Rosemary*

        Sometimes it can be a lot more than “an administrative burden” if someone has complicated and/or chronic medical conditions or prescription needs, and the switch is going to require they find new providers (which in this day and age can be very difficult to find a doctor taking new patients) or worse, no longer cover what they need. Even worse if it is being done at the last minute, meaning gaps in care if you can’t see your previous provider anymore but are not able to get in with someone new right away.

    13. Sparkle Llama*

      We have three year contracts with some complicated math that scores how expensive we are to insure each year which is used to determine the premiums each year along with a predetermined escalator. We have had the same company and general plan offerings for at least ten years, but could theoretically change every three years.

      One nice thing is that most chalk to mid size local governments in my area are part of a buying group and so when I switched from one to another I kept the same company. Each employer decides which specific plans to offer and how to subsidize them but at least the network is the same.

    14. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I deal with it by being on my spouse’s plan, which probably isn’t helpful. She works for the federal government so there’s a lot of stability there – before our marriage was legally recognized by the feds I had to switch a lot, but fortunately that was a medically simple time for me (just a primary care doc + a gyno) so it wasn’t a big deal.

    15. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      My husbands company used to switch plans every 1-2 years to get a cheaper rate. It wasn’t too much of an issue as they were both fairly similar and MOST of the doctors in my area were under both. I did switch primary provider once and only found out years later that my preferred primary had gotten in network a few months after the change. It was overall pretty poor coverage though.

      We are on my company now and it is mostly great coverage although we are facing that the only level 1 trauma hospital in the region is now out of network. They still have to pay out for urgent trauma care there but then the dance of when you are stable enough to be moved starts.

    16. DefinitiveAnn*

      During the time we were getting insurance for our tiny little company, the price went up once, then about doubled doubled for year three. We switched to a different provider group, and then it went up AGAIN for year four, and the boss threw in the towel – we got offset dollars to buy insurance either from the exchange or to piggy back on a spouse if applicable. We are part of a so-called employer group, where I am actually employed by them and they are supposed to handle benefits and payroll, but in reality they had us in our own little group of 3 people vs. averaging us in with the larger group of 500+.

      My husband’s employer used Humana, which left the commercial market, so we had to switch for that, which was a major hassle.

    17. Momma Bear*

      Most of the time we only switch annually. They crunch the numbers and come up with the options by the fall, which is our enrollment plan. I forget the exact circumstances, but we did once get switched mid-year for dental. I try to keep a PPO because most of the time even if my doctor isn’t “in network” some amount will be paid. If they go HMO to PPO, you can lose your whole provider network.

    18. fhqwhgads*

      My current employer has had the same plan for 5 years (probably longer but I wasn’t there then). My previous employer changed plans 3 times in 7 years. It was annoying. I felt lucky the doctors I cared most about keeping were still in network but all the switching was stressful.

    19. Love to WFH*

      I’ve never had a company change plans more often than once per year. It used to be that they stuck with the same insurance provider for a long time. In more recent years, I’ve seen them switch as often as annually — though that’s not common.

    20. Cheshire Cat*

      I worked for a county government back in the ‘90s that switched almost every year. It was maddening, especially because they kept going back and forth between the same two companies. One was great and the other was terrible. The new insurance started in July, and the company would always require us to start paying deductibles right away. Then they would start charging deductibles again in January. Eventually the employees rebelled and management required the companies to only charge us once in a 12 month period.

      There was a company that advised the county manager on benefits, and the year I left I told the benefits advisor that employees found it hard to plan our lives when we switched so often, and that most of us hated the terrible health insurer. I don’t know if anything changed but I hope it did!

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        Oh, and one year when the new health insurer was doing a presentation on its plan, another employee asked what would happen to a particular benefit when we switched insurance companies the next year. The presenter was confused and replies that “that’s not how insurance works, you’ll be with us for a long time” All the employees in the room laughed. I felt bad for the presenter, though.

    21. CL*

      My employer switched insurers once in seven years and has made changes to the plans every year of the last 3 or 4 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is another insurer switch next year. It drives me bonkers! In addition to updating insurance paperwork everywhere and figuring out which doctors have changed their network status, there are also changes each year that you only find out about after the bills roll in. Those are the issues that generate lots of emails/tickets to HR.

  4. Llama Llama*

    What would you do with your team of 4 if you had a $160 budget for engagement event(s).

    We are a team of 4 30-50 years old women. One person lives out of state but will be here soon for two days so we can do something together then.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Those craft places that let everyone paint their own pottery or the paint nite guided painting are fun and pretty inclusive for disabilities. If physically everyone is up for it, could also do bowling or similar active team building activity. Escape rooms if your group is into that.

      1. Bluebell Brenham*

        If no one is too scent sensitive, the make your own candle type place can be a fun activity. For cheap relaxation, there are salt spas with private rooms and you keep your clothes on. I second the painting idea, but some of them can be wine focused, which could be a negative for your group- or maybe a positive??

      1. Which Susan are you?*

        Send out a Google form with three options: 1) Food; 2) Activity (please no escape rooms!); 3) Make your own suggestion.

        1. Momma Bear*

          I like the option to make a suggestion. People may surprise you.

          Do you just want to have some downtime (dinner?) or do you want an activity (bowling, escape room, axe throwing, painting)? See what they say. Look around and see if there are events for the season. I did a cookie tasting once. Or some hotels serve high tea.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Be sure to include median prices for the “suggest your own activity,” though! I live in a very HCL area and 160.00 would buy about two drinks apiece in the more trendy places. And stuff like outdoor activities can rack up FAST when you start including things like transportation to the zip line place or whatever.

      2. Clisby*

        Yes! Ask. Because I’d say 95% of the things suggested in this thread would have me calling in sick for the scheduled activity.

        1. Roland*

          There is no sign that anyone will be forced into doing anything they don’t want to do… They are literally just asking for ideas. Many suggestions from internet randos are highly likely to include some fun options that the team of 4 would not have thought of by themselves. I know we are on a website with frequent letters about bad work experiences, but we really need to he more kind to people asking for advice and not always assume the worst.

        2. PP*

          Agree! And allow for nos as people may have physical limits that they don’t wish to disclose. What seems so easy and no physical stress to one, can be the opposite for another.

    2. CS*

      It will depend on the abilities and interests, but some ideas:
      Escape room for team building; planetarium; indoor gardens; zoo; dessert restaurant; paint night; cheap seats at a sports game (even if you don’t like sports sometimes it’s just fun to cheer for the local sports team); interactive museums/galleries; bowling (one of my faves!); buy one of those “one time use” mystery/escape room type board games.

    3. I edit everything*

      Mini golf and drinks. It’s fun, low pressure, allows time to talk, but has conversational breaks built in.

    4. Llama Llama*

      To note everyone, I am not the manager of the team. My manager has asked us for ideas. I am asking for ideas to suggest for a fun time

      1. Idea*

        I would go with something that you like, then your manager can see which ideas are to everyone’s liking

    5. Festively Dressed Earl*

      I’d go with something that’s unique to the area; if nothing comes to the top of your head, search “unique events[your area]”. Then pick 3 that would be inclusive/accessible and ask your team what sounds interesting. For example, searching in my area led me to a bluegrass concert/themed brunch event, a watercolor class at the local botanical gardens, and an interactive illusion museum.

    6. Al*

      We do free things for engagement (we did a crafting night once, and we regularly do games or online jigsaw puzzles as a team), and then spend our budget on food.

    7. JR 17*

      Similar team composition and we’ve enjoyed the occasional nice-ish leisurely team lunch.

    8. A Person*

      One cheap team activity that worked out surprisingly well was some social board games (we played Wavelength) and ordering dinner out from a doordash place that everyone was ok with. I had some food-related stuff going on for my team so them being able to order in app was actually quite nice. It also meant that no one had to travel from the office anywhere to eat.

      I ended up not having the budget, but another thing I looked into was create your own succulent – pricing was surprisingly reasonable.

      I definitely agree with polling the team themselves (preferably secretly so team members don’t know who is vetoing what). When I had a small team it turned out everyone was quite athletic so we did a hike but I have other teams where I definitely would not have done that.

  5. Future thinking director*

    Hello all! Has anyone developed a policy on using generative AI in their workplace, and if so, can you share what it says? I lead a department in a non-technical field and am developing guidelines for our department to use generative AI at work, that will eventually become a formal policy. I already have addressed data ownership, that anything that comes from it is a draft and not a final work product, double check things that are presented as facts, and some best practices for prompt engineering. Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      We fought against using any AI, but current place has a strict “you can only use it for non-company confidential data.” I signed the policy because I know I will never, ever use it.

    2. Dannie*

      To clarify, is your company developing an in-house AI system, or is this policy meant to address solely third-party products?

    3. Anna K*

      My company is in the same boat, trying to come up with guidelines for use of third-party products, so I’m really interested in the replies. Right now, we are in the weeds of balancing so many different viewpoints and potential scenarios, and it is overwhelming.

    4. Ama*

      We actually just had one announced at our staff meeting this week (small nonprofit), it basically boils down to:
      – If you use generative AI to produce written work, you still must fact check, verify and proofread the entire piece before it is shared as the final product.
      – You cannot use an AI app that records and generates meeting notes in any meeting unless it has been vetted and approved by our IT team (they want to check the privacy policy).
      (This was not part of the policy but they did talk in the meeting about not depending too much on AI in general because if someone uses a tool to scan our website and it identifies a lot of AI written content it will undercut our authority.)

    5. SereneScientist*

      I think someone else already alluded to this, but I would definitely include a clause in there about responsible use of AI and data privacy–that is, you need to define what is sensitive and non-sensitive data going into any apps or other genAI tools.

    6. Throwaway Account*

      Could you share more about your policies? They sound helpful!

      I’m at a university and we are looking for things to tell students about how AI is used at work. In other words, we are trying to make it clear that they will not be asking AI to just do all their writing for them and that they have to write better prompts!

      1. Future thinking director*

        Essentially, it boils down to a few things:
        1. There is only certain data they are allowed to use with AI, and it is specified in the guidelines, they are not to use any other data without prior written approval from leadership.
        2. Any reports/letters/summaries etc., that it generates are to be considered drafts to be edited, never give anything to colleagues (and ESPECIALLY not to external partners) that has not been edited by a human.
        3. Double check everything! Do not assume that because it cites a source that it is factual or that that source exists.

        Ii want to make sure I am not missing anything major. The data use part is the most comprehensive – we are specifying what data they are allowed to use with AI rather than telling them what not to use. Right now, anything that’s not listed in the document is not to be used with any generative AI at all.

      2. Future thinking director*

        It boils down to three main points:
        1. Only specific data can be used with AI and only in a specific way (this is the longest section – we specify what can be used and everything else is off-limits, at least for now).
        2. Any content it generates can only be used as a draft, not as a final work product. Everything must be edited by a human.
        3. Everything must be fact-checked.

      3. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I am in this thread for exactly this reason! I work at a uni and people are roughly split between “ban it and throw any cheating hound that uses it into the sea” and “it is 100% certain that every one of our students will be required to use it from the first day on the job so we must teach them how to do so”, but none of us know HOW it is being/ is going to be used at work so we are stumped.

    7. JHunz*

      You also need to consider that your prompt engineering should also forbid including any proprietary information or materials, since it could result in them leaking to other users. My company actually forbids using public generative AI instances for work product including anything proprietary, and requires us to use self-hosted instances that our IT department manages.

    8. JPalmer*

      Depends on the volume of how much folks are using it for.

      Small stuff: proofread it.
      Anything larger than a paragraph, don’t use it. It’s so prone to hallucinate as well as writing poorly by not picking a position and being so overly loquacious.

      I think encouraging folks to use it to workshop writing of sentences and flow can be helpful.

      I’ve found prompt engineering to not be reliable as the models change regularly, so any good solutions stop working after a while.

      You might want part of the policy to be that if you use it, you need to note you used it about the document. The most dangerous aspect of it is people passing of it’s work as their own. It’s like stealing poop and submitting it as your own work. It’s a big vulnerability and shouldn’t be tolerated in any capacity. Stating use of GenAI is critical for ensuring it gets the appropriate oversight and review.

    9. Hillary*

      This isn’t super helpful, but we (very small startup so informally) allow it for brainstorming or inspiration but not actual content generation. I’m not a lawyer but the copyright implications seem really unclear – who owns the output? Is it mine? Is it the AI company’s?

      What rights does the company have to stuff I put in prompts? Answer, really unfavorable to users in most cases. I’ve seen people talk on LinkedIn about using AI in a way that violates confidentiality clauses, that could be grounds for termination.

      The folks I’ve talked to doing this at big companies are only allowing in-house AI systems or things like ChatGPT enterprise with better terms of service.

    10. ProductMgr Replaced by AI*

      Make sure that only approved generative AI tools are used and maybe explicitly state that confidential information should never be put into generative AI tools that might use your data for training (this is one of the big reasons to stick with approved tools).

    11. RedinSC*

      I don’t think we’re able to post links, but if you search on Santa Cruz County AI Policy on google you’ll get to the one we created. I’ll link below.

    12. Just a Manager*

      My company is encouraging the use of AI. We have guidelines with these topics with more detail under each:
      *Verification of AI Outputs
      *Protecting Proprietary and Confidential Information
      *Minimizing Bias in AI
      *Preventing Plagiarism

      Hope this helps.

    13. Magenta Sky*

      Our marketing team has been known to use ChatGPT to generate rough drafts for social media posts. *Very* rough drafts. I don’t think they do any more, though, because the editing was as much work as writing from scratch.

    14. PP*

      Have you had your company’s Legal review the terms of the generative AI applications that you would like to use?

    15. Quinalla*

      I’d recommend if you can including some examples of how to use it and how NOT to use it as well as that can really help folks understand both of those and if you are trying to encourage good AI use what folks should be using it for.

  6. BRR*

    My employer wants to change the reporting structure for my ~15 person department because the head of our department (VP) has too many direct reports. It’s going to likely mean that I have to report to someone that I absolutely don’t want to report to. They’re a micromanager, a control freak, incredibly disorganized, and love to focus on small things that don’t really matter. I would also lose the small amount of autonomy and decision making that I have so it’s going to be a demotion in terms of responsibilities (pay would stay the same no matter what).

    I brought up to our VP that I would “strongly prefer” to not report to this person but the VP is pretty new so I don’t have a long track record with the VP yet. I get how this makes sense on paper but it would completely trash my motivation. I don’t really have a strong argument how this would negatively affect the business. Any advice?

    1. The teapots are on fire*

      Figure out whom you DO want to report to and come up with some reasons why that makes sense for the business. Make it easier for the VP to do what you want instead of having to figure out on their own how not to do what you don’t want.

      1. Friday Person*

        This, plus maybe see if that person is willing to make the ask to the VP so you’re not just going back to them a second time.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Well, you’ve made your point to the new VP, and I assume you gave some reasons for why you prefer to NOT report to the individual in question. I’m not sure that putting it in a more formal format is going to help. You said your piece, now you kind of need to let the VP make their decision – unless the VP has asked you to make a more formal business case for why you should remain reporting to them directly.

      That said, if you have the skills/experience in the functional area – why not ask to take on the team leadership role, yourself. THAT you could make a case for – point out your organizational skills, prioritization skills, experience you’ve had mentoring/training colleagues or leading small project teams. This might be a good opportunity for you.

    3. Yes And*

      Do other people who would also report to this person feel the same way? If so, can you approach the VP as a group and make a case that this person should not be managing people at all?

    4. Parenthesis Guy*

      Is there someone above you that you do have a good track record with? If so, reaching out to them makes sense. Maybe they can talk to the VP for you or get you transferred to a different team.

      Are you willing to die on this hill? If so, telling your VP that you’d quit rather than work under that person is something that will be taken seriously, but likely result in you getting fired. Be careful with this, but it is something you can try.

    5. Festively Dressed Earl*

      You’ve already made your argument about how it would negatively affect the business; it would be a personality clash. Your VP probably knows the saying “people quit bosses, not jobs” and won’t want to proactively put a solid employee under a manager they don’t click with. If enough people speak up about not wanting microdisorganized manager, maybe your employer will reconsider putting that person in a management position.

    6. Hendry*

      Do you actually know the new manager, or is this just his reputation?

      I ask because I was once in a similar scenario – the new manager I was. being transferred to was known as a jerk, micromanager, and so on In reality he was the exact opposite – he’s just kind of loud so that seemed to give him that reputation. But he turned out to be the best, most supportive boss I ever had

  7. Lurker*

    Question that came up at work this week that I thought the group here would appreciate, if you went to college did your upper division classes ever talk about how to dress professionally for different weather? I went to school in Colorado and got a business degree in my classes (I was an accounting & finance major) not only did we talk about how to dress professionally, and be expected to dress professionally for presentations we also had conversations about how to dress professionally for different weather and what is appropriate on the West Coast versus the East Coast. So we discussed the East Coast winter you would want to wear more of like a wool pea coat versus Seattle or Colorado a Patagonia jacket with a fleece and a collard shirt would be appropriate in a lot of situations.

    1. Charley*

      This never once came up in my education, but I imagine would vary by field. I went to school in the Midwest and studied Ecology, which tends to be pretty crunchy/informal.

      1. t-vex*

        Another ecology major here – I went to a crunchy school in Colorado so everyone at all levels wore Birks and tie-dye and Columbia jackets. Even if they wanted to give instructions on professional dress I don’t think anyone would have known how!

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I read this as tie-dyed Columbia jackets and immediately searched poshmark. Then was very disappointed.

      2. phototrope*

        I studied geology in undergrad and we talked about how to dress for different weather conditions… for doing field work! It did not help me with all the desk jobs I’ve had since then, but I’m always well-prepared when I go camping.

    2. LCH*

      :D no! which means i, from Florida, ended up in NE US 20 degree weather in a skirt suit and tights fretting over the fact that i wore knee high boots because it was so cold. i could have done something different, but didn’t want to look unprofessional.

      1. Throwaway Account*

        LOL, in South Florida (but grew up in the NE). The professional “vibe” down here is very different and there is NO weather related info beyond dress in layers bc AC can make some buildings freezing cold.

        I had a younger colleague who attended a NE conference – she was completely shocked at the difference!

        1. t-vex*

          When I worked in Clearwater (Tampa Bay) we were hiring a new Director and someone flew in from NYC to interview. I’ll never forget her fanning herself and asking if it was OK to remove her black suit jacket while the rest of us were sitting there in flip flops and shorts.

        2. BoratVoiceMyWife*

          Years ago I moved from Maine to South Florida in the fall during an uncharacteristic heatwave in the 90-degree range and was miserable but couldn’t for the life of me understand why everyone had a sweater over the back of their chair. After two weeks of working in an icebox of an office I figured it out.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh boy, no, nothing like that.

      I was in an extracurricular club that had a big week-long conference with 100+ other universities every year, and we were supposed to dress in business clothes, so the club advisor gave us a bunch of advice about what was acceptable there.

      But this was back in the day before there were all these different gradations of business formal/business casual crossed with regional variations. Like we all kind of knew that a bolo string tie and cowboy boots would be appropriate in Texas but not Boston, but that was the extent of it. Anything else I learned about that kind of thing was from my parents.

    4. londonedit*

      No, but I went to uni in the UK and did an English degree, so there was nothing about business in anything I studied. We generally specialise from the start at degree-level here, so if you’re doing English then it’s English-related courses for the whole three years. You wouldn’t learn anything about business unless you were doing a business-related degree. And with Britain having mainly the same sort of weather throughout the country, you wouldn’t really need to learn about dressing for different weathers beyond ‘wet’ and ‘wetter’ and ‘that freakishly hot week we sometimes get’.

      1. GythaOgden*

        UK here too…absolutely zero formal education on business norms. I got my professional advice from my mum when I started working. It was ok for a while but because she’d been a teacher, deputy head and then headmistress, her perspective was rather more formal than anything else. I ended up starting work in suits that made me look like a flight attendant while everyone else was more relaxed, even in chartered accountancy.

        Nowadays I only ever wear a suit jacket to funerals and interviews. My work is in property management, so people tend to wear stuff that they can walk around site and inspect demolition work in, and of course maintenance colleagues are all in very practical clothes, so I even bought a smart-ish hoodie to fit in with everyone else. NGL, I wouldn’t ever go back to anywhere that made me dress up further than a shirt and a cardigan. Even the uniform that’s issued to patient-facing staff is comfortable and durable — the cardigans are wool mix and the shirts are smart but not stiff. It was optional in my previous job on reception, but I chose to wear it a lot because of that comfort.

    5. Rex Libris*

      I was an English major in the sort of department where wearing socks with your Birkenstocks was considered professional dress, so it wasn’t a focus, to say the least.

      1. Sharpie*

        Oh boy! Whereas I did Classics (until I dropped out) and yes, we had the stereotypical professor in the tweed jacket with elbow patches. Hey, it’s a stereotype for a reason!

    6. Alex*

      I feel like that would be a thing that happens more in the business/finance courses than other classes. I majored in English so…no. Nothing of the sort. No one even mentioned the possibility that we would ever be getting jobs! Lol.

      1. IchKriegdieKrise*

        I did graduate work in English, history and secondary education. We talked about it in education. So, it wasn’t about business clothing, but still similar. We were told to dress up a bit more than the students, but not too much and given specific examples of what that meant. It was also recommended that we don’t wear shoes that click or make other distracting noises on floor… I never ended up in a school, but I teach at the college level, and I still use the advice.

        1. In the middle*

          Ohhhh the noisy shoes. I teach middle school. One year I accidently wore a pair of shoes that squeaked slightly on the floor of the room I was doing state testing in. The shoes did not squeak on my carpeted normal classroom floor.

          That was also the year we were told we needed to be moving the entire time we were “actively monitoring” our students. I had to take off my shoes and walk barefoot around that classroom for 2.5 hours. I got in a few miles worth of steps.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      if you went to college did your upper division classes ever talk about how to dress professionally for different weather?

      None of my college classes (upper level or not) talked about anything professional—not about how to get a job or interview or how to dress… nothing, let alone weather-appropriate attire.

    8. Seashell*

      No, no discussion about clothing at all. When I went to college, men wore suits to interviews and women wore suit equivalents.

    9. Ms. Elaneous*

      Sadly, I don’t think most universities teach any of those practicalities.

      In the same vein, most performing arts programs (even the conservatories) don’t teach any practical business skills either: auditioning, what 16 bars means, what to wear, how to find those auditions, union rules, contracts, nothing.

      If anyone knows of exceptions, I would be delighted to hear they exist.

    10. Bast*

      Very little except, “don’t wear anything to court that an 80 year old, cantankerous judge might find offensive.” ie: hedge on conservative for court, especially if you do not know the judge. The office is a different story. I’ve been to offices where people dressed more suited for clubs in the summertime, and ones where it is more formal for all seasons.

      A funny story that once early in my career, I attended an interview in February, which is pretty darn cold in the northeast. It was in the slightly below freezing range, and the office I was interviewing at did not have its own parking lot — it rented part of a lot roughly a quarter of a mile away. If the lot had had a parking lot, I would have just left my coat in the car, but that was a bit far for me to walk with no coat in this weather, however, I fretted about looking unprofessional in my big, bulky winter coat. Finally, I said whatever and walked in in my big, bulky winter coat. The receptionist was very friendly and we got to chatting while I waited, and she directed me to a closet. I let her know I was worried about walking in with a bulky coat and that it looked unprofessional, so I was glad for the chance to hang it up. She laughed and said, “Honey, it doesn’t look unprofessional, it looks like you have some sense!”

      1. Phlox*

        I love her phrasing and approach – communicating via your clothes that you have sense is such a great encapsulation of part of professional dress standards

    11. Michelle Smith*

      No, there was nothing like that at my university. I did not major in anything that required me to take business school classes though.

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

      Nope this never came up. I was a first gen student so I was part of the TRIO program which had extra tutoring and workshops that went over appropriate business wear. I went to school in Wisconsin and we did not have this conversation, except for my advisor telling someone from Arizona that they are going to need a real winter coat.

      This might be field and area dependent but are people really judging if your outer wear is professional? Like I’ve seen people wear everything from parkas to wool pea coats and I don’t think anyone would bat an eye.

      1. Lurker*

        When I was in school in 2018/2019 my school was really focused on trying to level the playing field in business school and the professional world and had a lot of programs for first gen students but were also trying to work more of that stuff into the day to day curriculum so that it reached more people. Specifically in accounting and finance majors they were getting better at recognizing that often those professional fields have invisible barriers to entry.

    13. Tio*

      I have a business degree and I don’t recall ever being taught professional dress standards from them. I learned more from my mother and TV.

    14. Ruby Soho*

      Nope, but I majored in bio, and the professors all wore shlumpy clothes that they wouldn’t mind ruining in the lab. When I got my first job, we had uniforms, but at every job after that, I’m always more dressed up than most of my colleagues, so I wouldn’t have listened to any advice anyway lol

    15. Ainsley*

      Lol I live in Maine and wear a Northface fleece in the winter – does that make me unprofessional?

    16. Corporate Fledgling*

      In college, none of my classes really prepared us for the working world. We never discussed what to wear/not wear or other things that would have been really helpful. I did read a lot of sociology books though!

      When I first started working I listened to the audiobook They Don’t Teach Corporate in College and I found it really helpful. I don’t know if it’s still relevant, but it was to me about ten years ago.

      Funny aside: in college I wore a miniskirt to a job interview because I genuinely thought it was my most professional looking skirt. I did not get the job.

      1. Zephy*

        My first post-college job was with City Year. It was a first so-called “real job” for a lot of my cohort – we were all 18-25, so if any of us had worked before, it was probably retail or food service, not so much office-type work. The year began with a few weeks of “Basic Training Academy” before we got our uniforms and started actually serving at our sites (middle and high schools), and dress code for BTA was “business casual.” I don’t know if they always include this session or if this was a last-minute emergency inclusion, but on day 2 or 3 they started the day with a presentation about what “business casual” actually means, and why throwing on a blazer that’s almost as long as the clubbin’ dress you’re wearing does not make your outfit “biz caz,” as the kids say.

    17. The Prettiest Curse*

      I did a drama degree in the UK- so unless you count learning a bit about different theatre costumes, the answer is definitely no!

    18. Policy Wonk*

      Never came up in classes, but the career center used to offer sessions on issues like that. Lunch and Learns, or speakers’ series.

    19. Data Slicentist*

      This would have been immensely helpful, but it didn’t come up. I sweated it out at an internship in Washington, DC in polyester businesswear and could have really used some re-direction.

    20. Zephy*

      Nope! I majored in Psychology and went to school in Florida. My university had a series of “how to adult” seminars that graduating seniors were ~strongly encouraged~ to attend in their final semesters, but it wasn’t mandatory. They covered a lot of topics that newly-minted BAs would need to know but might not have learned yet, from apartment-hunting to how credit works to business communication (like how to send a business email or, heaven forfend in the year of our Lord 2013, a letter). I want to say one of the sessions touched on business-appropriate dress, but I might be thinking about the “What Is Business Casual? (Tip: It’s Not A Blazer Over A Clubbing Dress)” information session that was part of the Basic Training Academy at the start of my City Year service term.

      My university had a College of Business and College of Music in addition to the liberal-arts curriculum, and those folks definitely got pointers on professional dress. We also had Greek life, and I think the sororities and fraternities had a daily dress code as well that varied from business-professional to org shirts and jeans. But those of us who were not business majors or in Greek orgs were slobbing about in pajama pants and hoodies most of the time (yours truly included).

    21. Tammy 2*

      My sorority brought in speakers to talk about resume-writing and prep for entering the workplace, including professional dress, but it was so long ago there wasn’t really any discussion of more casual regional/industry norms. The advice was very focused on “when in doubt, be more formal,” which I think is still generally good but only up to a point; you don’t want to be so dressed up you look like you don’t understand the environment.

    22. Hillary*

      It wasn’t in coursework, but it was part of the career center stuff. At my crunchy liberal undergrad it was discussed if you wandered in asking for help, although they’re much better about it now. I was actually there yesterday to support a friend giving a job talk.

      During MBA it was much more explicit. To be part of their job application cycle you had to complete five 1-hour classes that focused on job search but also covered professionalism, what kind of suits do MBAs wear today, and etiquette for networking events and business meals. We also had to get our resume approved and pass a mock interview. My groups didn’t talk a ton about different parts of the country’s expectations, but we were also a bit older and mostly midwestern. We already knew a lot about it.

      I also feel like it’s become a lot less important in the last five or ten years (it started pre-covid, this wasn’t a pandemic thing). The last time I wore a full suit was for an interview seven years ago, today I’d probably wear a blazer and slacks in the same situation, and I might feel overdressed. Unnatural hair colors came in and stayed six years ago, HR hired a recruiter with full sleeve tattoos five years ago. And that was the corporate office of a boring midwestern manufacturer. When I was helping out with new grad interviewing on a big group day we consciously dressed up so the students wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.

    23. InSearchOf9000*

      The business school folks had it, and it got touched on for one course we did which boiled down to ‘professional norms if presenting information or grant requests to corporate wonks’ but out stem field major courses thought appropriate clothing meant lab safety.

    24. Cj*

      we didn’t have anything like this at my university, where I majored in accounting. however, my sister studied accounting at what were then vocational schools instead of community colleges. they didn’t discuss dressing differently in different parts of the country, but they did discuss professional dress and other professional norms. my sister even had makeup from one of the classes, which probably won’t go over too well anymore.

    25. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Years ago, I set up and owned (with a friend) a British (England&Wales) limited company (Ltd), even though not being in Britian. Cost was pretty negligible (some $200 at the time) and it was fast, a few days through a specialist service company.
      We had the advantage of my MBA father doing the taxes for free, though.
      It was a side hustle for both of is and we wanted a clear separation between our day jobs and finances and that single-product IT company. It was successful enough but after a few years the need for the product had run its course, so we shut it down – another benefit if the structure.

    26. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      My college didn’t.
      Now my company is very relaxed in the office (Birkenstocks with socks are okay even though I personally cringe at the thought); out at clients it depends – business casual to formal is common for office environments, while on board ships it can be from boiler suit to tuxedo (and in one notable instance, both on the same day). The latter was on a cruise line whose idea of a casual dinner was a dark suit *without* a tie. Formal nights required a tux; my coworker decided to eat in the crew mess instead of dealing with a bow tie.

    27. RLC*

      Never in a class, only guidance was provided by a professional organization some of us belonged to (Society of Women Engineers). Memorable advice from 1982, “socks are NEVER appropriate at work, always wear nylon stockings”. I spent my career in work shirts, Wrangler jeans, steel toecap boots and Carhartt jacket, only time the nylons worn was court appearances. Guess it never occurred to some people that some engineers do, in fact, work outdoors on construction sites.

    28. Jolie M*

      No. But I went to an Ivy and I feel like most of us had it ingrained from birth. I grew up in NYC and went to private school with a uniform so dress codes for everything were unspoken but clear.

      So I always had formal clothes, school clothes, special occasion clothes etc.

      Honestly I didn’t even wear jeans until a few years ago…and I’ve never worn a t-shirt outside of the house.

      But when I met kids from CO and CA I was shocked they thought flip flops were okay…

      And maybe they are…just not in an east coast setting.

      1. Justin*

        lol maybe we know each other, I had a similar schooling, though my private school was “alternative” and didn’t have uniforms.

    29. Anonymous Koala*

      Literally never came up in any of my undergrad classes at a small STEM-focused private school, but my grad school which was a large, publicly funded, and had a high percentage of first-gen students offered an entire elective on professional norms for upperclassmen / first year grad students.

    30. Momma Bear*

      Somewhat, and not in class as much as the counseling and job support office did. They also had occasional fancy dinners to show you how to eat in public (french soup, very tricky) and told you about other norms of business. There may have been other events but I didn’t go to many. It may also be much more topical for finance people than IT.

    31. Cheshire Cat*

      I majored in Spanish lit and this wasn’t anything we talked about in classes. But I earned a certificate as a paralegal afterwards (hey, I wanted to be able to get a job!) and not only was business attire discussed, we were required to wear suits to class. Although the school was in the South and outdoor clothing was never addressed.

    32. Nancy*

      No, I was a science major and we talked about science. In the lab we had clothing rules for safety reasons.

      No one on the east coast cares what coat you wear in winter.

    33. Project Maniac-ger*

      We got advice on professional dress only when it was career fair time – none of my professors spent class time on it. TBH, I’m not sure I would have accepted fashion advice from most of them. I don’t feel likes that’s as important anymore – there’s so many blogs/pinterest boards/tiktoks about professional dress and not many industries are doing three-piece suits and pantyhose anymore. For example, my workplace became very “dress for your day” post-Covid.

    34. ElastiGirl*

      My daughter is getting an MFA in movie producing, and they spent a whole 3-hour class discussing what to wear in different situations. What to wear to different types of meetings, what to wear on set, what to wear to premieres (of your own movie vs other people’s), what to wear overseas, what to wear to parties/events, what to wear when courting investors. Not so much about dressing for weather, but I thought it was brilliant.

    35. Nightengale*

      No professor in my college experience ever mentioned clothing or dress to us in any context whatsoever. Oh except for what to wear/not wear in the lab itself for safety reasons. Molecular biology major.

    36. WhatNorms*

      this varies so greatly and most so-called norms that folks might raise have been out of date for decades. having these sorts of discussions would almost certainly do a student more harm than good

    37. Then there’s the shaving*

      Not college, bu I had a summer internship at a state lobbying firm. Very formal environment. On day 1, my (female) mentor spent some time explaining how to present myself professionally. At one point, she looked at my quite pointedly and said “If you wear a skirt, you MUST shave your legs.” I went to a pretty crunchy school, where unshaven legs on women weren’t an uncommon sight, but at that point in my life, I always shaved. 19-year-old me was very embarrassed by all this.

  8. private equity is a scourge*

    Does anyone have advice for convincing leadership that they must increase hiring? We’re owned by private equity, so there’s a lot of resistance to increasing our operating costs. Our company has always been quite lean, but in the last few years we’ve had quite a bit of attrition that was not backfilled. Nothing catastrophic has happened, so upper leadership assumes that means that staffing was not necessary. That’s not at all the truth of the matter on the ground, though. People are overworked and a lot of essential but not urgent work is not getting done. All the tech debt is slowing down our agility and some of the tech debt has real risks associated. We’ve been lucky nothing critically bad has happened. But leadership seems to think that the status quo must be fine. But it’s really not.

    Has anyone had luck convincing leadership to hire in a situation like this?

    1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      The only thing I know works is letting something fail. As long as the rank and file are making themselves miserable picking up the slack, management will not see being understaffed as their problem.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Sadly agreed. I had been begging my department for more FTE and they kept putting it off. A month after I left, they hired three people to replace me. It was gratifying, but I felt for what that rep had to deal with for the month until the new people came in.

      2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Exactly, we were stretched thin with no room for error. Then we lost a vital cog person. Then I became sick from doing the work of 3 people. When the only other person available could only work if they brought their kid to work, only then was our lack of staff taken seriously,

    2. Double A*

      I think the best you can do is really document what is being left undone and its impact and spell out what the eventual consequence will be. It doesn’t sound like they’ll take action until something actually fails, but I think you want it well documented that you warned them exactly what was going to happen.

      Keep confirming in writing your working priorities and what you’re not doing due to lack of resources. Get management to ok those priorities. Don’t work overtime to prevent things from falling apart. And probably start at least casually job hunting.

    3. Pink Candyfloss*

      The only time we were successful for this was when we were unable to deliver with the limited headcount we had. You may need to stop plastering over the holes in the staffing and let it play out to the inevitable conclusion now instead of later.

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      God, I hope someone has, because we could really use some help with that in my institution.

    5. Tio*

      Whenever I wanted to increase FTE, I sat down and made out a task list of all the things I needed done, and the amount of time those tasks take. Then the total amount of that time got broken down into workday hours based on when the task was being completed. So if your tasks are weekly, then how many multiples of 40 do you need. If there are monthly tasks, then 160 hours. That will give you an equivalent of the amount of desks you need to complete all tasks in time. Vacation and sick coverage should have a line as well; don’t forget this, it’s very important.

      Once you have your general timelines, you compare that to what work is getting done. Maybe your estimates show things should be getting done; if they aren’t, why not? If they are and you show you shouldn’t need another desk, you may have to reconfigure your expectations and review processes to make sure people are getting things done in the amount of time you estimate, and if they aren’t then what is the backlog? Are people slower than you accounted for? Are there tasks you underestimated? Ones you missed completely, like building in time for email handholding of clients or the system being unavailable?

      If you do all these and show a need for a new person, do an estimate on 1. How much overtime would be needed to cover for this instead, as it shows actual costs and 2. At what point you think overtime or deprioritizing things will cause a system failure (the system being the job overall). Take all these to your manager and lay them out calmly and with numbers. If they still refuse, it’s probably a lost cause unless you can go over their head.

    6. Kathenus*

      My approach has been similar to Tio. I have recently successfully advocated for additional staffing. I start with my current staffing level, how many work days per year that is (I deduct vacations/holidays to make it as accurate as I can), and then what our preferred/desired/needed staffing level per day is and see how those two numbers match up or not – available work days versus needed workdays.

      At a past institution I used a different strategy, I created a spreadsheet that showed what could be accomplished in a two, three, and four person day, to lay out what a daily schedule looked like for each person in the three scenarios to show leadership what was (and wasn’t) realistic within each staffing situation.

      For me the goal has always been two-fold, trying to advocate for increased staffing, and regardless of the outcome for that trying to document realistic workload expectations for whatever staffing level we do have.

    7. JPalmer*

      The way to fix this is to encourage folks to stop “making do with what you’ve got”

      Folks will stress and flex to get work done because it “has to be done”. This is a exploitive tradition of ‘lean’ companies.

      If folks aren’t taking care of themselves, encouraging them to do so, taking vacation they’ve earned, not working extra time to get things done or outside of their responsibilities.

      One of the ways you can broach the conversation before the failures happen is focus on the cost of context switching, and calculating how much productivity is lost due to everyone covering for the unfilled gaps. That makes it seem like it’s the most financially smart decision is to fill those gaps to regain that lost productivity.

    8. Deepa*

      Part of that is just the straight up private equity playbook — they loooove to load purchased companies up with debt and it often seems to end very badly. My company took a 20% PE buyout last year and response internally has been below:

      The thing that’s been helpful for us is very very aggressive middle management about how we have X hours of work available, and making it clear that we’ve shopped it around to other branches for temporary relief and they can’t take it on, and being blunt about having to turn down clients because we don’t have the staff to cover their projects.That’s bad in the short term.

      We also have to maintain good relationships with clients because we tend to earn by far the most from long term clients, so turning someone away for one project can snowball fast, which is bad in the long term. Our competitors also court the same clients and so if they can get a toe in by doing one project we turn down, we could lose a whole stream of work.

      This combination of impeccable numbers and relentless agression only works if people are comfortable being very pushy but I work in New Jersey so it’s a cultural fit. I’m pretty sure my boss was a drill sergeant in another universe.

    9. Hillary*

      Agile planning and resource allocation are your friends here.

      We need to do these five projects this year to to keep being competitive. (note in an ideal world these are projects that will create revenue or at least prevent losing revenue – top line always stands out. security gaps are hugely important but they’re not costly until something goes wrong.)

      Estimated effort on these projects is 10,000 hours

      This one person is the only person who can do them. This means that person is 555% allocated for 2024 at 1800 hours (1800 is a little low at 45 weeks, but this person is probably fairly senior and they also have to allocate some time to non-project work).

      TLDR, focus on the financial consequences of not doing it. Even so it may take a couple years and some expensive failures to get their attention.

    10. RedinSC*

      The way we did that was to track our uncompensated over time hours. Meaning that we did have to log all our worked hours. So you can see that people were working enough hours to make up for 3 more people.

      The hours were concrete information that the stories of burnout and overwork backed up.

    11. Momma Bear*

      They need data. What is going undone because of lack of resources? What level of hiring would plug the gap? If there are positions available, could changing the level of role help in multiple ways? For example, do you need an intern to get over a summer rush or do you really need an entry level person for the next 2-3 years who you may be able to train up to meet a future goal? Leadership needs to see how pushing off hiring is affecting them personally as well as the company’s bottom line.

      That said, I still need an FTE. I was given some temporary support from another department but I really need my own minion. Not likely to happen soon.

    12. Starbuck*

      “We’re owned by private equity, so there’s a lot of resistance to increasing our operating costs……Nothing catastrophic has happened”

      Yeah, that’s PE for you. Until something damaging does happen to justify the cost, I don’t see them doing it. The advice to let things fail might be your only option. Other option would be pitching them how much more money they could be making for each extra staff person, if there’s a way to calculate that minus salary costs.

      But what is your position? If you’re not in leadership, what would make them respect your input? Or have you already spelled out these issues to them?

      1. private equity is a scourge*

        I’m a team lead, so I’m not sure if they would respect my input personally, but I’ve communicated with my managers and some directors who all seem to agree with me, but there’s been no change for my year of tenure.

        I think part of the struggle we’ve had is that the increased labor costs would be put towards preventing something catastrophic, which definitely saves us money, but only compared to if something really bad were to happen. It’s like the cost of maintaining bridges in the US– most reasonable people recognize that we need to maintain bridges so that they don’t collapse. The costs of collapse would be wildly expensive AND a bridge collapse is just a really bad thing. But then the finance people are looking at the cost of regular bridge maintenance and asking, “How likely is it really that the bridge will collapse if we skip just one year of maintenance? What if we just do the absolutely bare bones maintenance but nothing above that for a couple years? What if…”

        And the answer is that the bridge will probably be fine if we skip just one year or do just the bare bones of maintenance. But over time, the bridge will fall into disrepair. And after you start skipping costs, it’s harder to convince the folks in charge of the budget that we need to start paying them again. Our company basically has been skipping out on bridge maintenance. We’ve been really lucky that the bridge is still standing and in decent shape, but it won’t be if we continue this path.

  9. Jen*

    I’m in-house counsel and am trying to navigate a recurring issue with my grandboss Alex, who periodically and completely sporadically asks my boss for updates on my cases, or will ask me directly. This results in me spending literal hours summarizing, explaining, and verifying via email, hoping Alex doesn’t send 4-5 more emails with follow-up questions, and the massive interruption is usually extremely inconvenient and frustrating, occasionally derailing me for up to half a day. Alex only sends random questions like this for cases on their radar-there are some cases that I haven’t gotten a single question about; Alex also doesn’t do meetings or come to my office despite sitting literally 20 feet away. My boss has been very understanding but it doesn’t solve the issue, and I’m just not sure how to plan around it anymore.

    1. Workerbee*

      Would it at all help to head Alex off at the pass?

      Either by dropping by their office for a verbal update, or compiling an if-possible briefer brief to send them with each case, or…I don’t know, making documents available in a shared but secure cloud service?

      I realize this still means work on your part, but it doesn’t sound like Alex is interested in changing, so perhaps other methods will at least mitigate some of it.

      Or just keep re-deferring all questions back to your own boss to handle. :)

      1. Jen*

        Unfortunately Alex asks very specific and very random questions, so there’s no way I could anticipate any of them, and they only want to ask and be updated via email. My boss is also not handling my matters, I am, so she wouldn’t be able to answer any of Alex’s questions.

        1. Throwaway Account*

          I think Workerbee was suggesting that if you give more frequent verbal updates, Alex won’t send as many specific and random questions in emails.

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            That’s a good point – if he has relevant information and a general sense of ‘I know the status of this thing’ then maybe the random questions won’t be popping off like that.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Do you have any kind of case management/docket software? Perhaps an optional module to your document management system, or even just a master calendar? Your boss could start there when Alex drops his random questions and only come to you if there’s a follow-up. Things like: brief X was filed on 3/15, the deposition with the insurers for case Z is scheduled for 4/25, etc.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          OK. But when Alex comes to your boss, can your boss use that information to reply to Alex without having to bother you? Is Alex just asking for status on all these things, or does he want analysis and opinion?

          The difference between
          “Where are we on getting the Gunderson case to trial?”
          “What do you think we need to do to convince Gunderson to settle? What if we structured the payout as an annuity? Do we have any leverage with the opposing counsel?”

    3. CTT*

      Are you tracking litigation in a way that you could flip him a document you’re already maintaining or could you start something like that? I’m not in litigation, but I’ve had to look at litigation trackers that colleagues have prepared for clients that we do transactional and case work for. It’s a big chart with the filing jurisdiction, brief summary of claims, opposing counsel information, and then a reverse-chronological updates on status. Something like that might not totally cut off questions but would be a start.

      1. Jen*

        The questions aren’t about things like deadlines or concrete documents. It’ll be something like “Are we still going with X approach or are there any updates about going with Y approach?” But if I proactively sent Alex an email with that type of update, it would be seen as inappropriate.

    4. Managing Up*

      I’d recommend coordinating with your boss to get on your Grandboss’s schedule on a more regular basis so that you can provide updates. Something like maybe the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 11 am so its re-occurring and predictable so it is less of a scramble for you. Id then work out which products would typically answer the mail for updates, that way its known products and known time.

      1. Jen*

        Alex doesn’t want updates on the type of things I can predict (such as deadlines or when something is due) and won’t schedule meetings with us.

        1. Doc McCracken*

          It sounds like Alex is looking more for your opinion and analysis as a subject matter expert when he is thinking about a situation and trying to understand it from all angles to make decisions. Unless his requests are wildly out of line for your industry, I think this is honestly an expected duty, not keeping you from your actual job. I do think that getting guidance from your direct boss on how to prioritize Alex’s requests when you have tight deadlines would be helpful. Can you ask your direct boss to try and suss out how urgent to Alex these requests are when he makes them? Having a better sense of priority level might make the requests less annoying.

          1. Another Use of the Identify Spell*

            It sounds like Alex is looking more for a way to look busy, like they’re on top of supervisory duties, and making sure junior people are in line and keeping up with what they are supposed to be doing. OP could keep up better without the interruptions. If Alex was interested in routinely keeping track of important cases, they would be more predictable about which ones get asked about, the frequency, and the type of (potentially higher level) concerns.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Forgive me if I’m not understanding the issue in my suggested answer here. I keep an ongoing document of my caseload that I update almost daily as I do work on my matters. So if my supervising lawyer wants an update on something from me, the only delay involved is how long it takes to open up (or alt-tab into) that document and scroll down to the matter in question. It’s just an Excel spreadsheet with one line per matter, with fields for the name of the matter, data on opposing parties and opposing counsel, and a summary of the nature of the matter, its current status, the last activity or event, and next step(s). The document also includes a list of upcoming court appearances and filing deadlines.

      In your shoes, I might do the same thing, only keep a running Word document for each matter in a single folder on my desktop. Then I could access it really quickly and an e-mail update might be essentially pre-written since it was updated last time there was activity or an event on the matter.

      Since so much of your time is derailed with the e-mails, maybe you could “manage up” and try to do the conversations in a single phone call.

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

      Im not a lawyer, but would there be a way tohave an ongoing summery for your cases. Like when updates happen, weekly or what ever, you just add that info. Then you can make it available to alex

          1. Tio*

            I suspect that would go over like a lead balloon with someone like Alex, and you don’t want to piss off your grandboss.

            If the questions they’re asking are that unpredictable and really not in the document, there is probably a reason, and you should probably just start structuring in “Alex disruption” time in your schedule, and viewing it as one of the unwritten bullet point of your job description, and work that Alex is paying you for.

            That said, if Alex is asking enough that it’s disrupting other business, you might want to go to your boss – not Alex – and lay out what kind of time it’s taking up on average and what you can shift so that you can have enough time to answer Alex and things don’t get missed. That’s probably not very satisfying, since Alex is irritating, but they most likely view answering Alex as important enough to move things around.

          2. Glomarization, Esq.*

            If I’m in-house counsel I don’t think I’d respond to my skip-level boss that way, since they might be C-suite.

            What I might do is ask if I could use their time more efficiently by scheduling a phone call rather than fill up their inbox (yes, recognizing that they’re starting this all by e-mail).

    7. Rain in Spain*

      Can you talk to Alex about what information they need/what they’re looking for when they ask these questions? In my case, when this happens, it’s usually that the department connected to a request is trying to ‘expedite’ by asking grandboss for a status update. So once we established that it became much easier to just give a brief update (and copy in the department stakeholder).

      1. Rain in Spain*

        Okay, now that I see additional feedback above, perhaps a better option is to talk to Alex to establish if they want you to drop everything to respond to them, or if there are specific issues you’re working on they’ll want to be updated about.

    8. Athenae*

      When I had one of these types as a boss the only thing that worked was setting a standing meeting, say 30 minutes every day, which was My Time to Update You. Then the rest of the day, requests were deferred until the next day’s meeting, in the interest of time management/not stabbing the micromanaging interruption machine with a rusty rake.

    9. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      What would be the consequences of de-prioritizing answering Alex’s questions? Like, still answer but make them wait a day or 2 while you prioritize doing your actual work?

    10. A Significant Tree*

      Since there’s no good way to predict what Alex will ask, or about what case, or even when will the question come up, it might be best to emphasize the work involved in drafting the response. Maybe, “If you just want a quick high-level answer, I can brief you in 15 minutes (or whatever makes sense, and make it straight off the summary he doesn’t read), but a more in-depth response will take me X hours. Should I prioritize this over Y and Z work?”

    11. Procrastinator*

      It sounds like you cannot control when the questions will come or the content of those questions.

      Can you influence the time that you have to respond? For example, when you get a question, can you respond that you will get back to him with the answer with your desired time to respond (i.e., by the end of the week)?

      Can you set aside time each week to respond to his questions? While you may not know when/if they will come, if you have time set aside to respond, then it may be less disruptive to your other work. If they don’t come, you can use that time for something else.

  10. Deep Anon*

    What’s Business-ese for “No thank you, I don’t want to advance in the company hierarchy and take on more responsibility. I just want to keep being an individual contributor and grow laterally instead of upward?”

    1. Hlao-roo*

      You could say something along the lines of:

      “I’m not interested in moving into a management role. I want to continue to grow as a [individual contributor job title].”

      You can also add on details that make sense for you/your job, like “improve the TPS report process” or “learn XYZ technical skills/software programs/etc. so I can be a more efficient [job title].” It might help the message sink in (or help redirect others away from the idea of “Deep Anon must move up the corporate hierarchy”) if you tell them some specifics of what you actually want.

    2. Rex Libris*

      “I’m very engaged in my current role, and think it better suits my interests and skill set.”

      1. JPalmer*

        This is great.
        I think leaving the door open slightly to a “But maybe later” so they don’t mark you as a “never ever promote or give a raise, they aren’t ambitious”

        Depending on how soulless and corporate something like:
        “At this moment, I’m very engaged in my current role and think I can deliver the best value to the company here.”

    3. Angstrom*

      “I’m not interested in a management track. I’d like to keep expanding my technical skills and knowledge and become a subject matter expert in _________.”

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Does it have to be in Business-ese? I’ve said almost those exact words to my manager, and she was fine with it.

    5. FricketyFrack*

      Is there a reason you have to find a different way to phrase it? I feel like what you’re saying here is pretty reasonable and you’re definitely not the only person who feels like that. I mean, I might not say the part about taking on more responsibility (even though I’m 100% with you on that) because some people would interpret that as laziness, but the rest sounds fine to me.

      I’ve straight out told my boss I never want to be in management and I recognize that that puts a limit on how high I can go in the org, but I’m ok with that trade off. She was like, “yeah, fair enough,” and that was the end of it.

      1. Angstrom*

        Be clear on what not wanting more responsibility means. It’s not unusual to want the responsibility of more challenging work and more complex projects while not wanting the responsibility of managing people.

        1. FricketyFrack*

          True – I’m always excited to learn new things about my job, but there are certain tasks that I have zero interest in doing, people management among them.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        I think that helps too – the acknowledgement that, depending on corporate structure, there is likely to be a ceiling on advancement (promotion and raises).

    6. Garblesnark*

      Is there a specific lateral role you’re interested in? If yes, I strongly recommend asking to develop into that role. You could say, “I’m very interested in the work [x role] does in the [y department] and would like to work towards learning more about that work. How can the business support me in shadowing there and otherwise developing towards that goal?”

    7. Cordelia*

      I’d leave out the “take on more responsibility”, and the “just”. No thankyou, I’m not currently interested in advancing in the company hierarchy, my career goals are to continue as an individual contributor, and grow laterally by developing my skills in XYZ part of the business”. Then you’re saying what you are moving towards, what you do want rather than what you don’t.

    8. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      You don’t need to pitch it as laterally instead of upward, depending on your company. What you say is that growing as an IC is more suited to your skillset and interests, and that it is in both your interest and the company’s for you to be where your skills are best put to use. And then list some areas where you do want to grow as an IC. New tools/skills? Interacting directly with stakeholders vs having everything go through your manager? Leading more junior ICs? But emphasizing that putting your skills to best use helps your company as well as you is important.

    9. Hillary*

      So when they ask a question about this, they’re usually really asking if you’re happy in your current role. People who are happy in IC roles are invaluable and they also want to support you in that, but they also want you to understand that it may mean less money. A good manager wants to know if you’re bored, frustrated, whatever so they can find a way to solve that and keep you at the company.

      or everyone has to do a development goal. but the same answer applies.

      The easy way to say it: I like the work I’m doing right now and I want to focus on …

      1. Hillary*

        Note that isn’t a negative, it focuses on the positive and gives them a direction to take the conversation.

    10. Deep Anon*

      Thank you all. I’m new to being in a very large company and there have been some communication issues, which is why I was looking for help with the words. I’ve been feeling pushed to take on roles that don’t suit me and just received some poor feedback. Despite a general lack of ambition, that’s demoralizing after being a very high performer indeed in the same role at Old Job.

    11. Raltz*

      “I was wondering if you’d consider creating a separate promotion track for people like me that want to develop our skills and become Subject Matter Experts. That way, we have the option to continue helping to develop our product better instead of only being able to advance by shifting our efforts away from areas we are most skilled at.”

      A few (tech) companies that I’ve been working with have increasingly realized they need two parallel tracks, one for “I develop the product” and another for “I develop the people.”

      1. Agnes Grey*

        Yes, thank you for this! it seems too rare for companies or organizations to have ways to recognize and compensate the value that comes with employee longevity, institutional knowledge and deep expertise.

  11. Non profit volunteer*

    I am planning to leave a nonprofit that I have volunteered at for a significant amount of time after finally realizing that the leadership is toxic and there are unreconcilable issues preventing achievement of a shared vision of growth. I still care deeply about the mission and the structure of the organization is such that volunteers showing up for their shifts is critical. I know that news of my departure will be very poorly received by leadership and it will probably be very challenging for me to attend any shifts after giving notice due to that (I think there is a decent chance leadership will come to berate me for leaving).

    Should I just cut things off with only a few days before a scheduled shift? Offer notice with conditions for behavior from others? I would largely be giving notice as a kindness to the other volunteers who would be asked to cover my shifts on short notice.

    Also interested in hearing stories of how people move on from these situations. I am very emotionally invested in the mission of the org and the clients served and feel like I am grieving the loss of a big part of my identity.

    1. Workerbee*

      Actually…what comes to mind first, if leadership has the gall to berate you? Is to say, “Your behavior, right now, is EXACTLY one of the reasons I am leaving. You have no right to berate me for moving on – from a volunteer position, no less! – yet you think you do. This attitude has bled through the entire organization.”

      —but your mileage may vary. At the very least, you do not owe anyone the opportunity to try to get closure on you this way. And you have full rights to get up and leave any such conversation.

      1. Non profit volunteer*

        Yeah – I feel like I finally had the realization that as things got worse and worse incrementally I hadn’t really acknowledged how bad things got. Just typing it out affirmed for me that of course leaving is the right course of action.

        One of the issues is that leadership has shown a profound lack of ability to recognize that their actions can have any impact on the organization’s ability to recruit volunteers and fundraise. I and another have raised this kindly multiple times but have been shut down quite quickly. So I am torn on leaving for no reason or saying why I am leaving and explaining it is so bad that I am not willing to provide a notice. I feel like there is maybe a 10% chance it could change things and I honestly don’t know which will be worse for maintaining my reputation with other volunteers who will no doubt be told something bad about me.

        Probably should have listened to the therapist that told me to get out of this years ago, but live and learn I guess?

        1. Michelle Smith*

          You’re allowed to quit at any time. If someone comes to berate you, leave midsentence and do not come back.

        2. A Significant Tree*

          Honestly I don’t think it would come as a surprise to any other volunteers if they badmouth you for leaving, it sounds like it’s typical of the leadership’s attitude and reflects on their ability to keep volunteers, not on yours for leaving. Keep Workerbee’s script in your head at all times as a reminder. You’re never saying that the cause isn’t important, or important to you. You’re just at the point where you aren’t able to help the cause like you want in this volunteer capacity, and you’ll find another way.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          If the other volunteers are working in this snake pit, they either KNOW how toxic the leadership is or they’ve bought in to such an extent that nothing you do will make a difference.

          You can leave anytime you want, and crucially, SO CAN THEY. You aren’t causing the strife and “bad reputation,” the leadership is, and nobody has to listen to them if they don’t want to.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I second this. One thousand times.

        And unfortunately you can’t care more about your fellow volunteers than they do about themselves, or the leadership does. You walking away from this treatment might be the notes from the Pied Piper’s flute that gets other people to push back against this as well; but if it doesn’t? Staying won’t make anything better.

    2. EMP*

      You can’t really offer notice with conditions, but you can leave before your final planned day if people misbehave. I would give as short as notice as you think is reasonable to reschedule (a week? a few days?) and know that you’re leaving and can walk away from anyone wanting to berate you.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      It’s a volunteer position, you don’t have to give them ANY notice. If you feel the need to give some notice I would give them two weeks and if they act up let them know how inappropriate it is that they feel they can demand more free labor out of someone than they have already recieved.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      If it is critical for an individual to show up for a shift, it should be a paid role rather than a volunteer one.

      But as it is, you are free to do what Alison advises employees whose employers take resignations poorly: give whatever advance notice that you think makes sense for operations on the assumption you will work shifts during that period, and if their response is to make you miserable while you’re there, say: “I am dedicated to this organization’s cause and would like to work my remaining shifts to ensure a smooth transition. However, I am not willing to be talked to the way you’re talking to me. If this is how I can expect my next shift to go, let’s make this my last shift.”

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, this is where I would land. You get to make the attempt to do the shifts and leave them in abetter place, and if they fight it you can explain and leave immediately.

    5. Ama*

      I am not in your exact position as I am a paid employee and my nonprofit is not fully toxic, just isn’t interested in addressing what I think are some serious flaws in our structure that are holding us back from doing more than maintaining the status quo. But I’ve been here 11 years and I although I do still have emotional attachment for the mission, I can’t keep doing the same thing year in and year out waiting for them to finally listen to me. It’s been harder than I thought even though I’m ready to be done with the work — I worked an annual event last month and realizing I would no longer be involved in that event’s future really hit me hard.

      Let yourself grieve — it’s normal when you have any kind of big life change. Maybe look to see if there’s some new activity (does not have to be volunteering) that you can pursue with your freed up time that you can be excited for. That way when you feel overwhelmed by everything you are losing by leaving you can remind yourself “oh but I’m going to do this now and that will be great.”

    6. Mighty K*

      How would you handle it if you were going away on holiday? Can you act as if you are, maybe even say you are and then the schedule will be set accordingly.

      Then you can hand in your notice on the last day before your “holiday” and they won’t need to scramble last minute and you won’t need to be there?

    7. RagingADHD*

      For the sake of the clients and to avoid the appearance of flouncing, give a reasonable amount of notice with no conditions. If they jump ugly, don’t listen. You’re a volunteer. There is no penalty to you for just walking out the door at any time. That’s not on you, it’s on them.

      I used to be very involved with a local nonprofit, both as a volunteer and as a freelancer. I gradually had to step back from both types of work due to needing to devote more time to higher-paying, and eventually full-time, work. I was dismayed to watch after I left that the leadership seemed to be undermining the entire mission of the organization and becoming both vociferously political (which could cost them their nonprofit status) and publishing client-facing messaging that reflected incredibly toxic and harmful attitudes.

      It made me really, really sad because I was proud of their mission previously and the work I had done for them. Now I wouldn’t claim them publicly at all because I don’t want to be associated with the public persona they are cultivating.

      Just before the final turning point, I did respond to a mass email by the ED (who I had considered a friend) and pointed out in strong but polite terms why the stance she was taking was problematic, of questionable ethics, and frankly dangerous for the organization. She politely responded, but to the effect that she disagreed and didn’t really care about my opinion. That was another blow, because she used to consult me and show every sign of respect for my opinion. I used to write those emails for her and she often said how well I captured her intent and made it better.

      Over the next several weeks and months, it because clear that this was not an aberration but a new tack they decided to take. I gradually wound up unfollowing all their social media and unsubscribed from their newsletters, took them off my resume and Linkedin, and just…feel sad that something good has been spoiled. Grief is grief. There’s not really a “how to” for it. You just feel your way through it.

    8. Delores Van Cartier*

      I would say do what’s best for you and your wellbeing. If you’re worried about the response from leadership, could you frame it as follows: You’ll need some time off after X to focus on work/family/another obligation. That way, it’s not an official goodbye, and you can fade off in a way that feels good to you?

      As a former volunteer manager, I had people leave for a variety of issues, some right away and some with “notice”. I understand why people did both, and if someone was uncomfortable or unhappy, I’d hope they leave for their own peace of mind, as that is most important.

      I’ve struggled to leave jobs at non-profits because I’ve felt really invested in the mission, so I think that’s very normal. Nonprofits do a great job of getting you invested and making it feel a part of your identity, which is not always great as it keeps people in toxic situations.I think there are ways to stay involved, and maybe you can find a cause-adjacent organization that may be a better fit. It’s also ok to take a break to just let it all process.

    9. Annie Edison*

      I don’t know that I have any advice, but I did want to offer empathy about the grief that comes with leaving something you were deeply involved with for years. I went through something similar about 10 years ago with a religious community I was deeply invested in and honestly, there are days where I still feel sad about loosing that part of myself and the sense of community that came with serving there.

      Give yourself some time and space to feel sad about it, (maybe more time than you think you’ll need) and to process the experience. For me, I wasn’t really able to acknowledge the full scope of how weird and toxic it was until I had some time away, and as with any loss, the feelings about it came in waves at unexpected times.

      Sending hope that leadership will accept your departure with grace, and if they don’t, sending you strength and courage to do what you need to do.

    10. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Volunteers showing up for their shifts is critical for the organization to function is not good. Volunteers are freely giving their time and expertise. If every volunteer decided to quit, then the structure of the organization needs to be overhauled. I’ve volunteered but my roles were never critical enough to cause a domino affect if I didn’t come in.

    11. Flower*

      When you refer to “leadership,” do you mean staff (like an executive director), or board members? If it’s staff that is toxic and will berate you, I would definitely notify the board of why you are leaving. I’m guessing you have already tried to alert the board to the toxicity, but if not they need to know why they are losing a volunteer of longstanding.

      1. Non profit volunteer*

        It is a subset of the board including the President that acts as executive director. The org only has one part time staff person who is just manual labor, not any sort of leadership position. I and a few others (including a board member) have pushed back against the problem board people but at this point there is no one with power to change that isn’t part of the problem.

        1. Thank you sheep*

          It’s very good that you’re leaving, then. At least you can know that you’re making 100% the right choice.

  12. Amber Rose*

    Small update from last week: my meeting with HR went OK. I’m worried about this a little more now though.

    My specific complaint is that I’m being harassed, and in such a way that my reputation is taking a hit as though I was the bad guy.

    HR and I had that meeting, and she sent back a report based on that and others input. But the report she sent back had events laid out differently than I explained, which makes me think that maybe I actually have no idea what’s going on here after all. I keep hearing about these things through the managerial grapevine after all, and maybe it’s being misrepresented to me. Maybe nothing that I thought happened, happened the way I was told. Also she had questions for me about certain things that I couldn’t answer, because they didn’t seem weird until it was brought up that it was weird.

    I’m so stressed out that actually I don’t know anything and can’t trust anyone. Not my boss, not my coworkers, nobody. I have this overwhelming dread every morning now. I’m having panic attacks in my office.

    One month left until my vacation… Which I’m also scared about because what’ll happen when i’m not around to defend myself for three weeks.

    1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I hope you can put it out of your mind for the weekend and try to chill. I’m sorry I can’t provide any helpful advice, hopefully some can. But sending you lots of good vibes.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Secondary update: my complaint does not meet the standards of harassment, and we need to talk next steps because “Elphaba is very hurt.”

      I’m so. Tired.

      Like I knew this would happen. Remind me when this is all over to talk about what happened to my previous manager, who probably should have skipped the lawyer and called the cops. But I was hoping for a longer grace period.

      1. Annie Nominous*

        I’m not qualified or informed enough to give any advice, I just want to say I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

      2. Sharpie*

        I’m sorry you’re in such an awful situation. Start job searching, if you haven’t already, and in the meantime, document everything. E. V. E. R. Y. T. H. I. N. G.

        *Jedi hugs* from an internet stranger.

      3. Tio*

        1. Email them back, say “I see you said (incorrect timeline/event) and what I reported was (correct version – write this out very specifically and carefully.) I wanted to ensure we both had the same understanding of events as this email does not appear to show that.

        2. “I understand that Elphaba is very hurt, but I am also very hurt and very stressed out with this situation, and I view Elphaba as the direct cause. I can speak to the HR rep further after my above clarifications are reviewed, but I do not wish to discuss this directly with the person who I believe to be harassing me until we have clarified the above points.”

        And talk to the attorney before they set up the second meeting.

        The “elphaba is hurt” thing is an emotional manipulation Elphaba is throwing out. It’s similar to the theory of the squeaky wheel gets the grease – sometimes it helps to match the energy, because then they can’t paper over you. But this is a delicate situation, so you still have to tread carefully.

    3. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      I’m sorry you’re in this difficult situation. I hope you are documenting the harassment and the steps you are taking.

    4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t let this situation ruin your hard earned vacation. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen whether you’re there to defend yourself or not – and, frankly, it doesn’t sound like defending yourself is doing much good here. You’ve done what you could do to remedy this, and now you have to let go and allow all the other players to do their parts. You can’t control what others do or say, so sometimes you just have to comfort yourself with the knowledge that you have done all you could, and your hands are clean. Best of luck. I really hope you are able to fully enjoy your time off.

  13. Someone Online*

    I am going to be supervising a new team next week. After sitting in one weekly meeting this week I realized their meetings are a complete mess. It went an hour and a half over, had no agenda and the attendees spent most of that time talking over each other. Obviously implementing an agenda is relatively simple and I can be quite abrupt about ending the meeting if I need to, but how do work on talking over each other? At some point I will have a one-on-one with the main culprit where I can bring it up, but it may take a bit before that can happen.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Just set expectations publicly. Pull the bandaid off right at the beginning.

      Hi everybody.
      I wanted to let you all know my expectations for meetings going forward. I will be publishing an agenda for our recurring meetings 24 hours in advance, and I’m going to be a stickler about keeping to the agenda and the schedule. We’re all busy people with time constraints. If something comes up tangentially in a meeting that’s not pertinent to the agenda, it’s your responsibility to put it down in the parking lot section of the document, and then to schedule a follow-up. If this is a detail that just needs to be hashed out by two or three of you, we shouldn’t waste everyone else’s time doing that during the standing meetings. If it’s particularly involved or deep, I expect you to work up a document with details and get it on the agenda for the following meeting.

    2. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      Is it in person or virtual? Can you just mute everyone if virtual and say you’ll be coming to people one at a time? I’m guessing it’s in person though.

    3. Miss Patty*

      It may be worth doing this as a team exercise where you set up agreed upon ground rules for the meetings as a group; doing it together may help people have buy-in and remember to actually abide by the ground rules.

      You could start by stating what you’ve noticed the issues are (too long, no agenda, chaotic, unproductive, interrupting etc), and then re-establishing what the purpose and goals of the meetings are (get team input on the goals as well). Based on the goals, have the team come up with ground rules that will help achieve those goals and will also directly address the problems you previously stated.

      1. WellRed*

        I think feedback is ok but if Someone Online is in charge of these meetings I think they are better off taking the lead rather than another (probably unproductive) meeting about how meetings should go.

    4. Kez*

      Something that could be useful here is setting boundaries in the moment and seeing how folks adapt. So if Grace is providing her feedback on something and Allison starts to jump in over Grace or discuss it separately with Sue, you can speak up and say, “Hold on folks, I can’t hear Grace finish her sentence. Allison, could you save that thought for a moment? Okay, Grace, why don’t you run that back for us all and then we’ll check in with Allison and Sue.”

      With this sort of thing, I think that it’s far too easy for folks to hear “We need to stay more on-topic in meetings” and immediately think that message is for someone else, not them. Addressing things in the moment demonstrates to the talked-over employee that you’ve noticed this is a thing and will intervene, as well as bringing the over-talking employee’s attention to their behavior causing issues.

      It might feel a little silly at first, especially if the over-talkers then try to whisper rather than listen to the primary speaker, but I think the awkwardness is worth it just to have a direct approach from the get-go rather than waiting til you can have one-on-ones or draw up policies.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      Here me out – are you sure this is a problem? Because my team meetings come across like this. People will come in at the beginning and see no agenda. OK, we’ve all been here a while and know what people are generally doing. We don’t need yet another forum to go down the list. This is precisely the venue to vent or chat since WFH isolates some people.
      Also you sat in ONE meeting. ONE. Some people have probably been through 200 or so weekly meetings at this point, it would come across as odd for someone to come in after ONE meeting to tell me we’ve been doing it all wrong! They’ve literally not even been to 99% of them

      If the issue is that you need to learn what people are doing, do one on ones or a ticketing system. Don’t make everyone sit through listening to their coworkers to do list. I’m senior and it hurts when I have to listen to the people a few years out of school going over stuff I did in the 2000s. Don’t make us do that.

      Only actionable item may be some moderation. Don’t let people interrupt so much. But even then, sometimes I find myself being the cutter-offer as the moderator, because someone will word the same thing ten different ways, or they’ll revisit the same problem every week and you need to move on

      1. WellRed*

        The meeting went over by an hour-and-a-half. That right there speaks to the need for an agenda, if of course they actually need these meetings. And if people are talking over each other, than nothing is getting heard.

      2. Someone Online*

        In this particular instance the team is behind on a major project that was due a week ago and spent a good 1.5 hrs talking about projects that aren’t due for two months. And the reason I didn’t do anything yesterday is that it was my first meeting and you need to figure out what’s going on. But “behind on a major project that literally determines if we have jobs” is not a good time for idle chit chat.

        1. linger*

          Vociferously discussing everything except being “behind on a major project that literally determines if we have jobs” is a symptom of past (and probably continuing) management failings that go far beyond inability to control meetings. You may not have had time to observe how coherent the group’s work is outside meetings, but the level of disorganization and lack of focus seen in that meeting is worrying.

    6. Sneaky Squirrel*

      You can create a set of “meeting guidelines” where you highlight etiquette rules that you’d like everyone to follow. If you use presentation software or powerpoint, it would be easy to reserve the first slide for these guidelines at the start of every meeting.

    7. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Let your team know that they’ll get an opportunity to speak, but that they need to hold their questions and comments until after the person finishes or after certain things have been covered, your choice. Encourage them to jot down their questions and comments instead of blurting them out. If you have a training budget, an active listening course would be a great idea.

    8. RedinSC*

      At the beginning of your very first meeting set your new meeting standards, ask everyone for their ideas, but start with yours

      Our meetings will:
      1. have an agenda
      2. everyone has a voice
      3. step up and step back (meaning if you haven’t spoken, speak up if you have, let others have their voice
      4. put cell phones away
      5. be respectful

      And on. Ask the team members for their thoughts and then hold everyone accountable to the standards you ALL created together.

  14. N C Kiddle*

    I’m just starting the induction for a volunteer gig at a charity shop, and the introduction video went quite heavy on what a great thing we’re doing by supporting the charity. Feels a bit awkward because I’m not volunteering to support the charity, but to hopefully pick up skills, and I went for them because they’re the only charity locally with a furniture store. Do people tend to volunteer at charity shops to support a specific charity, or is this just something they say to try to encourage us?

    1. Anna Held*

      There’s actually a lot of acknowledgement now that most volunteers do have a mix of reasons, or are even volunteering simply for “selfish” reasons. Smart places know that that’s not only OK, it’s good — it’ll keep people coming, and we need volunteers! You’re helping the community regardless! They’re helping you! I wouldn’t think too much about it unless you’re getting the vibe that it’s a bit cult-like in its expectations of Dedication to the Cause.

      1. Sharon*

        It’s really common for organizations to make you watch a video about their organization and mission before volunteering. You’ll probably also get added to their mailing list for fundraising.

    2. Cordelia*

      everyone volunteers to get something out of it – for you it’s about picking up skills, for others it might be feeling good about supporting a cause they believe in, or about getting out of the house, or all sorts of other reasons. Doesn’t matter, the shop is still getting your work!

    3. Delores Van Cartier*

      I’ve had volunteers come in for a variety of reasons. Often we “sell” the mission as it’s a way to get people engaged and feel involved in the cause. My org as a well-known area of our work and a thrift store, and sometimes people don’t know why volunteering there is valuable. We want to make sure they feel connected to the bigger mission, even if they’re not volunteering on the main aspect of our work. As long as you’re committed and ready to volunteer, I’m sure they’re happy to have you!

    4. Claire*

      I’m the chair of the board of a mission-based organization (it’s a Tool Library, we’re really cool!). We definitely have volunteers that come for different reasons and that is A-OKAY and encouraged. Some people come because they buy into the benefits of reducing waste and supporting the circular economy. Others come because it’s a social thing. Some come because they really like fixing old electronics and some come to get customer service experience for their resume. All are EXCELLENT reasons to volunteer and we’re genuinely happy to have em all. I wouldn’t sweat it.

    5. GythaOgden*

      Are you really only doing this because you need experience? I did that while looking for work about ten years ago, and there were a variety of places that needed help in their charity shops. None of them were causes I would’ve baulked at helping out, and one in particular was an organisation that helped disabled people like me to hold down jobs. So I wasn’t only doing it purely for the skills but to help out others.

      The charity is basically reminding you why they exist and what your work will go towards even if you’re personally only there for the upskilling. It’s their perspectives on the matter that go into their marketing materials and their messaging while you’re on the job.

  15. JP*

    The fragrance issue continues. I had a review with my boss, he asked if my keeping my door shut (again, my door is not shut, I leave it several inches ajar) has helped with my focus. I told him that it’s not for focus, it’s to try to keep the air fresheners and fragrance from wafting into my office. He told me to check with facilities and ask them for an air purifier. They got me one right away. I ran it for a couple of hours. It’s giving off a plastic smell that I tried to ignore, but I ended up with tightness in my chest and my sinuses throbbing. Maybe I need to run it outside for a few hours or something before I run it in my office? This is all very dumb and frustrating. Funnily enough, the facilities person immediately knew why I wanted the air purifier and was very sympathetic.

    1. Goddess47*

      Seems like your facilities person is sympathetic… ask them to check that the purifier is working properly since it’s adding to the odors and not eliminating them. Can’t hurt…

      Good luck!

    2. pally*

      Might also find how the heating/AC vents are situated into your office. Can those be closed or blocked off? Or redirected to some place other than your office? Ditto for vents close to your office entry. Everything should be blowing away from your office.

      The air purifier may need a ‘break-in’ period to get rid of the plastic smell. Is it new? If it is not new, maybe the filters inside it need to be inspected and replaced (that’s not a job you should do yourself). Or just replaced with something that won’t give off that plastic smell.

    3. Southern Girl*

      If the air purifier was used elsewhere previously it might have picked up a weird scent. Make sure the filters have been changed.

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

      How long did you run the air purifier? If its new it could have that plasticey smell that will go away after a bit. Maybe talk to facilities about it. Otherwise could you put it right outside your door?

    5. Ama*

      Does the air purifier have an ionizer setting, and is it turned on? Those can cause headaches for a lot of people (I am one of them).

      1. Ama*

        Should clarify — you want to turn the ionizer OFF. If you can’t turn it off you need a different air purifier.

        1. Girasol*

          Yes, this. I brought an ionizer into a stuffy office thinking that it would help. It had no scent or plastic smell but I coughed my head off. As soon as I unplugged it the coughing stopped. They must work for some people but ionizers are definitely not right for me!

    6. Choggy*

      Could you also request a fan which faces the door to prevent the smells from coming in your office? That way you have more control over it, instead of needing to get facilities involved.

    7. Claire*

      Weird thing that I saw recently on the internet that may be at play: Some air purifiers have a plastic bag over the filter inside the unit that you need to remove before running. A lot of people did not realize this and were just running it with it still on. Maybe lift the hood and see if it’s that simple?

      I really hope so, for your sinuses sake!

  16. Ruby Soho*

    My fiancée started his current job ~1 year ago. He had basically a handshake job offer, and was doing some work for them a month before he got an official offer letter. He told them at the time he was taking another job offer, and they finally got him an offer, which he accepted. They pay monthly, on the 10th. So let’s say he started working with them in March, accepted the offer on April 1, and was paid on April 10th (monthly pay cycle, always on the 10th). That was his first pay from them.
    Now they’re saying they don’t pay “ahead”, so the 4/10 pay was for the month of March, and he owes them one month’s salary. They’re arguing he didn’t start until April 1, so they’ve overpaid him. First, this is a really crappy way of doing things; it’s been over a year. Second, he was working for them, unpaid, for almost all of March, which is illegal (and I told him not to do it!!).
    He’s understandably livid (as am I) and has argued that this is what they agreed to when he was offered the job. And a month’s salary is a big chunk of change, like $15k.
    This is insanity, right?? Can they make him pay that back? FWIW, he has emails and other documentation that he was, in fact, working for them in March (meeting with lawyers, real estate agents, contractors, etc).

    1. Not A Manager*

      This is a case for a lawyer letter. It doesn’t need to be adversarial. It can take the tone of “Client didn’t understand the intricacies of the compensation and asked me to advise him. FYI this is the situation; hope that clears up any misunderstandings.” It shouldn’t cost that much if you hire someone who is already familiar with employment law in your location.

      1. Ruby Soho*

        I think this is the way to go if they insist on docking his pay until that money is paid back!

    2. pally*

      I assume you are in the USA. IF so, find an employment attorney to outline your options.
      They aren’t going to heed your fiancee’s word (“hey what you are doing is illegal!”) without something more forceful behind it.
      Not saying it’s time to sue. But it is time to be able to know the laws in your state to apprise the company that what they are doing is illegal. And surely they don’t want to be doing anything illegal-right?

      1. Ruby Soho*

        Yup, in the US. This is their first time doing business in the US, and there has been a learning curve for them, but this is just bananas to me.

    3. KitKat*

      What a mess!

      First, it is normal for paychecks to cover closed pay periods. Does he have a pay stub from that first check? Does it indicate the pay period? Do they have an employee portal or handbook where he can check pay policies?

      Second, they are right that if they accidentally overpaid him (if the check on April 10 is indeed for the period Mar 1 – 30, and he did not do paid work during that period), they can claw it back. This would be reasonable — they are allowed to correct genuine errors. However… a year later! This is pretty crappy, as it now impacts your taxes and is money that of course you have already spent.

      “He’s understandably livid (as am I) and has argued that this is what they agreed to when he was offered the job.”

      Meaning, they agreed to pay him retroactively for the work that he had initially agreed to do for free? Does he have this in writing? Really this comes down to how much he wants to push things, and how willing he is to scuttle the relationship. Working in your favor: the long gap between payment and demanding it back, any evidence you have that they agreed to pay him for work prior to employment. Working against you: the possibility that this is a genuine error, his initial agreement to work for free (illegally).

      In any case, you’re 100% right that he should not have agreed to work for free!

      1. Ruby Soho*

        I’m not sure if he has pay stubs; they cut him a check for the first pay rather than go through payroll because it was too late to process it and still pay him on the 10th. So, who knows!
        I don’t know if it was agreed upon that they were paying retroactively for March, but they wanted to get him started asap, so I think they just started pay him right away in order to get him on board. It’s like they wanted to get as much out of him until he made it clear that no offer meant no more work.
        He thinks if he pushes back enough, they might drop it, and that could very well happen. Otherwise, he suggested they settle up upon termination, whenever that might be – could be years from now.

        1. WellRed*

          I think your fiancée needs to take some more proactive steps, now and in the future. If he wants to terminate, do it, don’t wait passively for “whenever.” If he wants to work, agree upon pay first. I agree with suggestions to talk to an employment attorney. I’d also make sure this company has him classified and or is paying his taxes appropriately. They sound like a risky bet.

      1. A Free Elf*

        I’m assuming this isn’t a union-represented job, but if it is, he’d go to his union rep. I also recommend filing a wage theft complaint with your state labor agency outlining the facts. By the time the state can investigate and follow up with the employer, this might be moot, but it will send the employer a message that their action was suspect enough to be investigated and that labor laws will be enforced here. One hopes they’ll err on the side of paying their employees for all the time worked next time…and hire a lawyer or two themselves to advise them on how to stay well within the local labor laws going forward. By the way—if you’re concerned about retaliation for filing a complaint, and/or you end up deciding not to fight this battle now in the interest of keeping the job, check how long you have to file. In my state you have 3 years from the date of the alleged wage theft to file the complaint.

    4. Zephy*

      +1 bring in an employment lawyer and this is BS, but also for a job that pays $15k a MONTH…they still hirin’? o_o

  17. Jaid*

    1. I got an e-mail congratulating me on my 29 years of service to The Fed. Yay.

    2. The copier/printer is right behind me, so I get to answer the questions about scanning and fixing it when the print job fails. This week, the copier got a lovely error message that meant Jim from Xerox had to come in a fix it.

    I love Jim, he’s competent and fast and will look at other machines if asked.

    I hate my management, because they were trying to tell me I couldn’t sign the dude in and escort him to the printer. It got hashed out and my department manager got off her butt to take care of it.

    Of course, when I came in this morning, night shift left a job undone, so it was flashing again. *rolls eyes*

    1. Just a name*

      Congratulations on 29 years! Next year you get the 30 year pin. I had a boss who would wear her 30 y pin to meetings and when someone made her cranky (very easy to do that), she’d rub the pin – meaning she could retire at any minute if she wanted to. They never assigned her special projects after that unless she wanted it.

    2. Jess R.*

      Man, I love a good printer tech. A couple jobs ago, we had 3 big printers and one of my roles basically involved printing stuff all day long (maybe 10,000 pages a day). Our contracted printer person was named Bill, and in my head, I always called him Bill Nye the Printer Guy. He was so competent.

      The rest of it — yuck. But I’m glad you have Jim.

  18. H.Regalis*

    Today is my boss’s last day, and I’m trepidatious about that. My team now doesn’t have a manager or an assistant manager, and won’t for the foreseeable future. I’ve been here a couple of years, but this is my first job in this field and my training has been minimal. Right before my boss put in his notice, he assigned me a project that he was going to help me with because it’s something I have no idea how to do, and now I’m on my own with it.

    My team has historically been mostly contractors, and the culture feels very much like it’s shameful to ask other people for help or admit that you don’t know something; but I haven’t been doing this work for 15-25 years, so I don’t know everything and I do need to ask for help sometimes. Just not sure how all of this is going to go.

    1. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document.

      Organize whatever material you have on that project, any emails or notes you have. Write an outline of what you understand the project to be, what you can do and what you cannot do. This is good for your head as well as being prepared if (!) anyone asks about the project.

      And document what you do and do not know, what training/assistance you’ve been given and what you need. So that, when someone hopefully asks, ‘what do you need?’ you have a concrete answer – “I need training in X, here are some options.” or “I have not been trained on process Y and do not know who is available/willing to train me” … etc.

      Sorry you’re in this position. Good luck.

    2. Festively Dressed Earl*

      That company sounds… not great. I’d make sure to get your departing boss’s personal email NOT to pester him with questions but in case you need him as a reference later on.

      That being said, have you asked your boss who he thinks you should turn to for help on this project? It would smooth things over if you knew in advance who to turn to, and if those people know you’re likely to have questions about X project.

  19. Bee*

    My job is an absolute mess right now and I was having a terrible time. So I spoke to the Director about it, as they are the acting head of my department right now (my head on department is on long term sick leave due to disputes with staff, some of which are also on long term sick leave).

    I had to write the Director an email describing my issues. One of their assistants, who had access to the Director’s inbox, is friends with a few people I’m having issues with. So now this assistant is giving me the cold shoulder, whereas she used to be friendly with me.

    I guess I should learn to be more situationally aware, but is this normal? Should I be worried about a breach of confidentiality?

    1. WellRed*

      There’s no breach of confidentiality that I see. And Did you tell the director you were concerned about keeping things confidential and ask if there was a better way for you to express the issues?

      1. Bee*

        I didn’t, though in retrospect I should have asked for a different channel. It’s possible a cold shoulder is all that’s going to happen, but I’m just worried about her discussing it with her friends.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’d worry that she’d share with her friends for sure. I’d follow up with the Director in a different channel going forward if possible, though having things captured in writing could be important. If that’s the case, potentially you need to ask the best way to make sure the emails stay between the 2 of you without the assistants being able to access it.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      We don’t know what you wrote, it’s possible you could have written too much subjective items, and should’ve only included facts. However, it’s possible the person would be annoyed anyways. Over time I learned that it’s OK if someone who’s in the wrong is mad at you for pointing it out. Maybe you just need that mental shift. You did right by calling out messes, if people are annoyed with it, that’s on them. If they’re actively fixing said problems, then the Director will soon find out.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      I assume that anything I put in writing can be shared (from accidental screen share to forwarded, printed and left on the printer, etc) and behave accordingly.

    5. Jenna Webster*

      It is incredibly inappropriate for a Director’s EA to allow any opinions to show about emails sent to that Director. They know a lot of things, but a huge part of their job is to remain Switzerland about them and just handle the logistics. It is very unprofessional for that assistant to treat you differently due to work problems that need to go to her boss.

      1. Bee*

        Oh, I very much agree! But that’s just the thing about my workplace, you can never be sure. It’s related to why I’m experiencing issues to begin with.

  20. Tradd*

    I’m a licensed customs broker. We have a lot of customers who bring in food items. These have to go through FDA and require lots of very specific information for the shipment to be cleared by both US Customs and FDA. I need to rant. Customers are becoming incapable of following directions. If I tell them A, B, C is required, they provide X, Y, Z instead. Requirements are very specific. They argue with me constantly. These are customers experienced in importing food to the US. It’s as if everyone decided to lose their minds and forget their importing experience all at once. If you don’t provide what’s needed, shipments will be held, and you’ll have lots of storage fees at port. After 15 calendar days, if something isn’t cleared, then US Customs seizes the cargo. And the FDA info has to be correct for the customs clearance to go through, too! They’re very connected. I feel better now. Importing is very complicated and just don’t argue. If you don’t want to follow the requirements, don’t import. As simple as that! Or source it from within the US!

    1. Elsewise*

      A friend of mine does pharmaceutical compliance and has so many of the same complaints about doctors, clinics, veterinarians, etc. who are all fully convinced that for whatever reason, they are the one person who should be exempt from all the rules.

      1. Tradd*

        OMG, yes! They all think they’re exempt from the regulations. One customer brought in a container full of rice, which is required to be inspected. Says so in the CFR. They argued with me even after I sent them the regulations.

        Or the customers who want to get by without paying the additional China duty that went into effect in 2018. The only legal way is to source from another country that isn’t China. I had one customer who went to another broker when I refused to commit fraud on their behalf. They ended up with a $1 MILLION fine for getting around paying the additional China duty. They had the other broker use a totally wrong classification that didn’t fit, when they’d been using a different one for more than a decade. Took CBP 6 months to catch them. How they thought they’d get away with it, I don’t know.

        1. Tio*

          I think a lot of importers don’t realize how easy ACE made it to set up algorithms to catch things like sudden tariff changes and new business activity.

    2. Piscera*

      Since the pandemic forced relaxing/suspending so many rules for so long, many people probably got used to it.

      1. Tradd*

        The pandemic didn’t change or relax any of the FDA regulations for food imports. You still have to provide the same info.

          1. Tradd*

            I was at a different company then, but yes, customers do seem to have cases of the stupid at times. But this is just crazy.

    3. Hillary*

      Ugh, that stinks. Someone told me we can blame the eclipse all month, plus Mercury is in retrograde. ;-) But seriously, spring zoomies are usually a thing. Everyone in the northern half of the countries forgets everything they know when the sun comes out and it starts warming up. And the people who actually know how to do stuff go on vacation for spring break.

    4. Polaris*

      Having grown up in a border city (with Canada), I have NEVER understood supposed adults who play FAFO at the border. About ANYTHING. Why? Just why would anyone with two brain cells that weren’t actively fighting each other do this?

      1. Tradd*

        FAFO? F*ck f*ck games?
        I’m referring to commercial imports, not people going across the border.

        1. Polaris*

          Yup, F around and find out.

          I know there’s definitely a difference between commercial imports/exports and people, but it seems there are a lot of people who will behave in a similar manner around the border. “The rules don’t apply to me, I’m special, I’m an exception, yada yada.” And I just don’t understand why anyone would try it. And as bad an idea as toying with the rules as a person trying to cross the border may seem….doing it as an importer seems even dumber somehow!

    5. working mom*

      I’ve made my career managing the logistics of high value art / antiquities. Not sure it is more or less comforting to know everyone is like this and not just eccentric/self-important billionaires. I would share that nothing makes people move faster quite like sharing that USWF plans to remove a physical butterfly wing from your $2M Hirst. Boy does that result in some quick email responses and shared paperwork.

      1. Tradd*

        Fish & Wildlife is worse to deal with than FDA &EPA, in my experience. Those agencies are petty dictators.

        1. Tio*

          Really? The Chicago division is super nice. I used to do live animal imports with them and they never gave me a hassle.

    6. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I worked as a customs officer years ago but on the government side. We were the ones that got called when the goods (non food or agriculture) were held up to beg for exemptions. This is was so long ago that tariffs and import controls were in place that no longer exist. Our rules and regulations were in black and white and yet we still got “please make an exemption for me” calls all the time. We had a discretionary leeway of 10 percent so we could release shipments but it had to be a very good reason and “I forgot” and “I didn’t know” are not good reasons. I don’t miss that job.

    7. Tio*

      I was FDA liaison for a customer at my last job, so basically any time they wanted to do something they’d ask me what to do.

      They decided they wanted to bring in a lot of seeds (paprika) for planting to grow some new peppers for testing. Technically USDA, but whatever. A CFR is a CFR. I look it up, and for the phyto, they need a special marking for Tomato Brown Rugose Virus (TBRV) for any piper genus. I show them the reg, tell them the draft phyto doesn’t have it, and get it revised and I’ll look over it again and then if it’s fixed they can send it. I didn’t hear from them for a bit, assumed they were working on it.


      They just sent it. With a letter they had written (or the supplier, I don’t remember, they were all equally useless) saying it didn’t have the TBRV.

      USDA was not amused. They had to reexport the shipment. “Woe is us, how could this happen!” Because I told you what to do and you didn’t do it?

      The amount of people who try to import with no idea how regulations work and/or that they aren’t just suggestions is mind boggling.

      1. Tradd*

        Yes! Someone else who gets it, LOL. OMG, I have SO many stories of importers who were told do X, didn’t do, and are bewildered how they ended up with delays, etc. I’ve got one good importer who is having struggles with FDA about labeling. We’re on third round now and importer is STILL leaving required things off the labels.

  21. The Game Catcher*

    I’m trying to set up a fun game around peoples’ office setup preference that I need help with. Can you tell me what items you prefer that help with your productivity, habits and comfort?

    For example, I prefer writing notes over digital notes, I have a plastic water bottle, I use magnets to hold up my pictures rather than tape, I use a separate keyboard over the laptop keyboard, etc.

    1. Oof and Ouch*

      I have so so many different colors of pens (Pilot G2 for the most part). I go to a lot of meetings and it allows me to separate my notes easily. For example any kind of one on one conversation with my manager is always purple so that I can quickly find it.

      I also just added a second whiteboard to my office specifically to keep my todo list on. It’s in my eyeline from my desk and it means I can use my main whiteboard when I’m trying to work something out/demo to a group.

      Also double monitors was life changing.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I purchased a new work laptop after mine finally died. The salesclerk asked if I wanted a second monitor, are they really worthwhile?

        1. A Significant Tree*

          It depends on how you like to arrange your digital space – I use my laptop screen and a large monitor. I like to be able to have several windows showing at once for quick reference or document comparison. Previously when I worked in an office I used two large monitors and no laptop screen and at the time, that worked for me. but when I tried that at home, the sheer area of screen space was too overwhelming.

        2. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

          Depends on what you are doing!

          I love having two monitors for situations when I need to reference information while on a video call, allows you to do so much more seamlessly without “losing” the other person in windows. In my case, this is having the video visit with the patient on one screen, and the medical record/file on the other, but might be any combination of things.

        3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Oh, very much yes!
          In the office, all our desks are sitting/standing (electrical), with two 27 inch monitors. That is about the perfect size; at home I’ve got two 32″ and they are too big (need to move my body when somethings on the far end of the other screen).
          Two screens allow you to work on one and use the other for reference material, email and stuff so you don’t have to Alt+Tab all the time. Major productivity boost.

      1. Imprudence*

        pens vs pencils
        e calendars vs actual visual calendars
        email vs teams vs whatspapp

        Staples vs cut flush folders (my boss cares deeply about this.)

    2. Amber Rose*

      Post-its, specifically the ones we get from our shipping company that come on little tiny wooden pallets, because that wooden base keeps them from slipping around while I write.

      Tiny notebooks because I prefer to take notes in meetings that way rather than on my laptop. I have like 5, for different types of meetings.

      Magnetic paperclip holder. I paperclip a lot of stuff, and the little jar with the magnets in the lid is so useful, seriously.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Software preferences could be included too,
      Google Drive vs Dropbox
      Outlook vs Google Calendar
      Powerpoint vs Google Slides
      Mac vs Linux vs Windows

      Wireless phone charger vs cord
      Bose style headphones vs airpods
      Paper notes vs tablet/laptop notes

    4. Jess R.*

      I live for my 4″x4″ lined Post-It notes. The smaller unlined ones are fine in a pinch, but with the kind of work I do, I can keep one full Task/Client on one of the larger lined stickies, and it makes it much easier to keep track of my work.

      Also: Jumbo paper clips over the “regular” sized ones forever.

    5. Who Knows*

      I have a small (9”x6”) white board to write notes on, so I don’t fill up my desk with sticky notes.

      1. Polaris*

        I need a whiteboard or something mounted to the side of my monitor….for the express purpose of sticking sticky-notes on it!

        I go through a million and a half sticky notes, but I have a perpetual notebook (ie a Paperwhite, remarkable, or similar) because I write so many notes.

        All the pen colors – G2 or Flair, please.

        Standing desk please!

    6. Tradd*

      Sitting. I have bad knees so a standing desk is useless to me.

      Wireless keyboard and mouse.

      5”x7” notebooks for notes. They take up much less room on desk than larger ones.

    7. Midwest Manager*

      Here’s a random to-do list hack for whiteboards that some genius shared with me:

      Write the list from the bottom up. As you erase things, the list gets shorter and you don’t have to rewrite it ALL. THE. TIME.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          If the thing you intend to do last is at the top, and item you intend to do first is at the bottom, then you erase from the bottom as you go until done.

    8. phototrope*

      I’ve used the same style of college-ruled spiral notebook from CVS for my entire professional career so far (15+ years). I am pretty laid back about most things, but I love those notebooks and don’t want any other kind!

    9. Girasol*

      Stereo headsets for phone or voice meetings. It’s so much easier to pay attention in surround sound!

    10. anonymous anteater*

      inbox zero or 17000 unread messages?
      email, chat, or phone to ask a question?
      9 to 5 or flexing hours?
      coffee or tea?
      social chat before the meeting or get right to the agenda?
      using emojis in emails?

  22. And I'm Doonise*

    I applied for a job that I met like 98% of the job description. I was so excited! I got a call back and interviewed, but then was told “don’t get too excited because the client is looking for Seaweed experience.” Seaweed experience was listed as “preferred but not required.” I do have seaweed experience adjacently though and highlighted this. However I got a rejection and it said “It wasn’t your skill set, but rather the client doesn’t know what they want and are re-writing the position.” A part of me feels like this is a kind lie and something is wrong with me, which I feel is normal when you get rejected from a job. One thought was should I ask the recruiter to let me know when they re-write the position and see if I could get considered? Or leave it alone since the recruiter didn’t offer that?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Since they framed it that way, I don’t think it would hurt to reply with a fairly breezy “I understand – please do let me know if it gets reposted!” But don’t count on them actually doing so.

      1. Seashell*

        I agree.

        It sounds like the recruiter thinks the client is flaky, so factor that in too.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I don’t think it’s indicative that there’s anything wrong with you! This happens more often than anyone would like (hiring managers included) – you start talking to candidates who match the description and then realize you left out something or want to go in a slightly different direction with the role given the available skillsets.
      I’d definitely drop a line about remaining interested, if you liked the interview and would want to work there in the future!

    3. AFac*

      If it is a white lie, I think it’s the kind of white lie that covers issues on their part, not yours. ‘Client doesn’t know what they want’ = disorganization and infighting on the client’s end.

    4. Garblesnark*

      When I was a kid, Toys-R-Us mailed out a toy catalog every year in early November. My siblings and I would go through the catalog and circle everything we wanted for Christmas with a marker, each of us using a different color.

      This was not because we actually expect that everything we circled would be given to us. It was more to give our parents an idea of the kinds of things we were into and might like. If we got 98% of the things we circled in that catalog, it would be like winning the lottery twice in the same day.

      Job descriptions are a lot like that circled Toys-R-Us catalog. You gave that company 98% of the circled items, and they still said, “Hm, no, this isn’t what I wanted for Christmas, actually.” The recruiter calling you back and saying “They don’t know what they want,” sounds like exactly what happened, not a white lie.

      That said, telling the recruiter you’d love for them to reach out if the position is re-posted sounds like a great idea.

    5. Corporate Fledgling*

      I can commiserate. I applied for and was accepted for a role recently that asked for many things that I have lots of experience in, and a one line “nice to have” was experience with “Salesforce”. I thought, great, I was a Salesforce user at my previous job so I have some experience with it.
      Now that I’ve started it’s clear that they need someone with extensive Salesforce knowledge and expertise, which is not something I have nor claimed to have. I truly don’t understand why this was not a major part of the job description because it’s a major part of the job. Very bizarre how so many companies get job descriptions so wrong.

    6. ScruffyInternHerder*

      I completely understand the feeling of rejection and the “did they REALLY?”. I’m so sorry; they’re real feelings, and they completely suck.

      I’ve been in those shoes and seeing who they hired eventually made me sigh in relief and say “okay, no, they really DID rewrite things”.

      Would it hurt to let the recruiter know that you’d like to see the rewrite? Probably not.

    7. Piscera*

      Agree that it’s not a reflection on you.

      Long story short, I was ghosted on an initially promising interview. It was obvious the employer had decided to start over and search for cheaper candidates.

      They’d had a reason to initially offer top dollar. Which changed along the way, and I think they belatedly realized they’d be locking themselves into a higher salary than usual for the job’s physical location.

      I also wondered if the salary change involved forcing some unwilling people to team up.

    8. Ama*

      Honestly it sounds to me like the recruiter thought that you *were* a good fit for the original description and is a bit frustrated with the client for changing their minds (I wonder if this is maybe not the first time this has happened).

    9. Sharpie*

      One of the best job interview experiences I’ve had didn’t end with me getting the job. It was a locally based position for a national company supplying PPE for llama workers around the country. I was interviewed by two people, the manager I would have worked for and a lady from HR who had come down from Scotland for the interviews.

      It went well, I don’t think I second-guessed about anything afterwards… And she phoned me a week or so later to tell me that it had come down to me and one other person, who would both have been great, but the hiring manager wasn’t hapy, and she didn’t know what he was looking for.

      It’s the only time I’ve had a rejection via a phone call but I so appreciated her taking the time to do so because it was more personal, especially when it had been that close.

      So yes, that is a thing that happens, and probably more often than we know.

  23. anon for this one*

    Currently a hypothetical question, but one I may have to deal with at some point if I continue to work for my company – what’s the best way to back out of a business trip if you would genuinely feel and possibly be very unsafe going on it?

    1. EMP*

      I think this depends on a lot of factors. Is it critical for your job function? In which case, it may be harder to back out of and your company may reasonably feel like you should have brought this up at an early opportunity. If it’s not critical but more nebulous like a conference or networking, I think it’s best to start with the assumption that everyone will act reasonably and you can just say something like “unfortunately I can’t travel right now”.

    2. Maggie*

      I think I would need more details but I’ve backed out of a trip by referencing the fact that there was a very high level travel advisory for the country for things like kidnapping. It’s someplace I’d have gone with a group but they wanted me to go alone.

    3. Miss Patty*

      I think this needs more context. How important is this trip to getting your job done? Can someone else go for you? What are the consequences if you don’t go? Has travel already been booked and paid for? Also, what are your safety concerns and are they realistic? Is there any way to mitigate your concerns while still taking the trip? For instance, if you’re worried about flying on a Boeing 737 Max, but might be ok flying on a plane model with a better safety record?

    4. No Tribble At All*

      One of my friends had to request not being assigned a trip to a country where it’s illegal and actively punished being queer.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      It may help to clarify whether the location you’re going to is generally unsafe for anyone/travelers, you feel safe where you are now but a combination of personal (perhaps private) situations and conditions at the destination are a recipe for danger, someone traveling with you is unsafe to be around, something else? Your best approach and script will vary based on which bucket it falls in.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, it would help to know why you feel unsafe and if it’s something specific to your own circumstances or something more general.

        I mean I wouldn’t go to Belarus because the UK Foreign office advises against all travel there, as it’s not considered to be safe for UK nationals and would invalidate travel insurance.

        I wouldn’t go to Saudi Arabia because I would feel personally unsafe as an atheist feminist and find the restrictions placed on women there unacceptable and disagree strongly with the structure of Government there. I have used that to refuse to travel there.

        So how I declined to go somewhere would depend on why it felt unsafe.

    6. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      It would really depend on the details.

      There are some countries that I would never visit or even transit through as an out lesbian. And I would be very upfront about that being the reason. (There are some US states that are going in that direction but which haven’t quite reached the level of “never cross the border” yet – I’ll fly through Miami or DFW if I have to.) If it’s something like “that city gives me weird vibes” where there isn’t concrete data to point to, it’s harder.

    7. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Figure out why your company would want to send you on such a trip in the first place and be ready to offer alternatives. If it’s a conference in state X, is there something comparable in state Y you’d feel better with? If it’s a client meeting, would they be open to flying the client in instead of sending you out? If it’s training, is there a virtual option? Basically make it easy for the business to keep you safe and happy.

      *Ideally your business would want to keep you safe and happy whether it’s easy or not, but I know that’s not always the case.

    8. Anecdata*

      I think it matters a lot of you’re uniquely unsafe (you’re at more risk than an alternate person going) vs. if you are average risk, but you’re not ok with that level of risk (basically the company’s level of risk tolerance is higher than yours personally).

      The first is often easier – talk to whoever’s in charge of the “who goes” decision (or your boss); and ask them to handle it discretely. This is for situations like eg. “I actually fled Xinjiang as a refugee; I really cannot go meet our supplier in Beijing; can you help me get off the trip without repercussions”.

      For the second, it can be done but there is more a sense that you’re using some capital by refusing/need to be conscientious of the impact on rest of team. (For context, I’ve been on the other side of this – working at an office in our “level 4 state dept warning” country, and there is a bit of secret eye rolling when a US-based exec refuses to come visit the office… like, we’re here all the time, you are already living the cushy life in the States; and it just plays into the HQ-is out-of-touch dynamics. You still shouldn’t do stuff you don’t feel safe about, but it’s a dynamic to be aware of). Some options for this situation:
      – Is there more detailed info that you can explore that might change your mind? For example, what emergency plans are in place? Would you like to talk to someone currently in DangerZone about what they do/don’t feel safe about? (there’s a lot of nuance beyond what goes into the state dept warnings)
      – In general, is this trip considered a “perk” or an annoying duty? (will someone else be excited to swap with you?)
      – If you don’t go on the trip, what else can you do to actively build strong relationships with the team there? Can you make sure to be seen advocating for them in other areas? Can you be especially thoughtful about involving them in decisions that affect them? When time zones make picking meeting times hard, is it /always/ DangerZone that stays up late/gets up early to accommodate HQ Time?
      – Come up with a few different alternative solutions, so people have options to pick between. Eg. instead of you going, can you do a virtual tour with someone walking around with a phone? Can the company pay to fly DangerZone team to your location (or a convenient 3rd location, if visas are an issue) instead?

      1. anon_sighing*

        Thank you for this — as someone who comes from a “state department warning” country with family is countries around it that have the same warning…I don’t ever want to downplay the threats and precautions but the people MOST effected are the locals, not the obvious Westerner who will likely be in the capital city (usually the safest place to be) who just needs to practice basic situational awareness and cultural competency.

        That said, this is excellent advice when navigating this situation. If you feel unsafe and suspicious, there is just no point of going at all — best thing is to do what’s right for you.

    9. Hillary*

      As others have said, it really depends. I’ve done business travel to places I would never go alone, but the company had a comprehensive security plan that addressed my concerns.

      As trite as it sounds, I’d try not to worry about hypotheticals. They may already have solutions in place to address the issues, especially if this is somewhere employees regularly need to go. I didn’t learn about the security stuff on one trip until we were actually talking about me going there.

    10. StellaBella*

      My org has strict security protocols. We use an online security tool called garda world. If where we have to go is experiencing unrest we can use that to cancel the trip. Also we are allowed to not go and try tondo virtual or zoom if possibe

    11. Love to WFH*

      I skimmed the replies to this, and didn’t see anyone mention laws that affect trans people. It’s illegal for someone who is trans to use the restroom in some states now — and that includes a state where one might be changing planes, or that your plane is diverted to because of bad weather.

      That makes business travel a nightmare.

    12. Cheshire Cat*

      A few years back, Alison answered a question from a reader who didn’t want to travel somewhere with a Zika epidemic. You could use/adapt her language from her response. Link in a separate comment.

  24. Question for the UK*

    Anyone who has launched a scheme where employees can buy more annual leave, what have your experiences been – good and bad? Did you set a limit on number of days. We currently have a sliding scale for leave based on both seniority and length of service (e.g. 20 days plus Bank Holidays to 30 Days plus Bank Holidays based on seniority and the ability to earn an extra day on top of that with every length of service milestone passed).

    1. talos*

      I used to be at a company that gave you 15 days and you could buy 5 more (effectively working the 5 days unpaid). They didn’t roll over and you would get your money back at the end of the year if you hadn’t used them.

      It was nice because the company kept mandating PTO at arbitrary times on short notice, so buying days was a good way to make sure you actually had any when you wanted it

    2. Grey Coder*

      We can buy extra days of holiday up to a max of 30 (not including Bank Holidays). I’m not in HR so I can’t speak to the wider pros and cons, but it’s been a benefit for a while now, so I guess there weren’t surprising negative effects.

  25. Lily Rowan*

    Thanks to the conversation here, I just typed out “chef’s kiss” in a chat to a colleague because I was scared to do it via emoji!!

    1. Jess R.*

      Haha, I think I’d do the same! No kissy emojis at work for me! I’ll do hearts when it’s called for (like when one of my reports was telling me her medical leave had been extended and I was wishing her healing) but otherwise I’m all thumbs up and smileys. We don’t have much of a “chat on IM/Teams” culture, though; it’s mostly functional and we chat IRL.

      Site note: in my personal life, “chef’s kiss” is a 3-emoji set: kissing face without the hearts + OK hand + plate of pasta. I got the idea to add the spaghetti emoji from a podcast and it just tickles me every time.

      1. ElastiGirl*

        Just a heads up that the traditional “ok” symbol is being used by white supremacists to mean “white power” (because it vaguely combines the sign language signs for W and P). If you’re in a situation where your use of it could potentially be misunderstood, you might want to switch it up for a thumbs up emoji instead.

    2. Industry Behemoth*

      Several years ago I sent a message to a colleague by Instant Messenger, which contained some numbered items.

      In her reply, IM turned (6) into an emoji that looked like either a cow’s head with horns, or the devil.

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Wait, isn’t the emoji for ‘chef’s kiss’ the hand, the one in ‘chef’s kiss’ formation? Can a youth weigh in please?

      1. Sharpie*

        Presumably you mean this emoji.

        I’ve always used that one as chef’s kiss, apparently it’s described as ‘OK’ (at least in Discord).

        1. Sharpie*

          …and of course it gets stripped out of the comment. Yay comment fail. *insert facepalm emoji here*

  26. JP*

    At my recent review, I brought up that I’m struggling with my workload (it is objectively a massive workload). I was also very recently switched from hourly to salaried. So, of course, the solution I was given to put in a few 50 hour weeks to see if that helps. What a weird coincidence…

    1. Camellia*

      Are they allowed to just switch you from hourly to salaried? I thought there were some rules that dictated what can be hourly and what can be salaried. You might check in to that; if they switched it so they can get unpaid overtime, that may be illegal.

      1. JP*

        I received a 15% raise a couple of months ago, which put me on the same level of two other employees who were already salaried, and apparently that’s why I was switched. I’m not clear on the details. My title and my responsibilities have not changed. It just feels crappy. The overload has been an ongoing issue, and I was never told to work more than 40 until this review.

        1. Panicked*

          Salary is a requirement, but not the *only* requirement. And you can still be non-exempt even if you’re salary. I’d look more into that to make sure they are properly classifying you.

        2. Irish Girl*

          Just because your pay has been increased, that doesn’t automatically make you exempt. There are specific rules to that. You should review your job vs the FLSA to see where it should have been. They could have been wrong before having you at non-exempt.

          Requirements vary by state, but the FLSA classifies exempt employees as any job that falls into these categories:

          Outside sales

        3. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

          Getting 15% pay increase and asked to work 25% more hours per week? Doesn’t sound reasonable to me.

      2. Clisby*

        I don’t think the rules (in the US, at least) are what can be hourly and what can be salaried. The main rule I’m aware of is whether you’re exempt or non-exempt, and therefore whether you’re eligible for overtime. Overtime can be required for both salaried and hourly employees – the pertinent factor is whether they’re non-exempt. If the job is salaried but non-exempt, the employer is required to pay overtime. It’s not up to the employer to decide whether an employee is non-exempt – the law is quite clear on who’s exempt and who’s non-exempt.

    2. WestsideStory*

      OMG do not give them anything over 40 hours, unless you can get it in writing that they they pay you your old hourly rate for any overtime.
      Try it. Ask. See what response you get, specifically pointing out the switch to salaried. The extra $ does not math out.
      Meanwhile start looking before you get too burnt out to make the effort.
      I am very worried for you, I suspect your workplace is full of bees.

    3. linger*

      It is objectively crappy of them. Leaving aside the vexed question of whether “salaried” should imply “exempt from overtime” for you and your salaried peers —
      1. Had you brought up your unsustainable workload before you got the raise?
      2. Was your raise seen by your org as the solution to the unsustainable workload?
      (Of course, it isn’t.)
      3. Are they also asking your peers on the same salary to do significant amounts of overtime?
      (If so, then your org does salary as a cost-cutting exercise and won’t change. If not, you have evidence that the raise does not cover the cost of the work needed … though that still leaves the problem that they may choose to offer more money rather than a reduction in workload. Which of those outcomes are you seeking?)

    4. Starbuck*

      Ugh, I’d push back. Maybe cite your availability? Something like, you’ve got commitments based on your existing 9am – 5pm schedule (or whatever hours) and the pay bump didn’t spell out an hours change, so unfortunately you’re not available to stay until 7pm or whatever.

      That sucks!

  27. CreepyPriest*

    Hey all,

    I have a question about how much it’s worth pushing back on sexism when it’s not overt. Chaplain staff in a hospital. Priest is older Catholic man (celibate for what it’s worth) and saying comments to female chaplain that he’s not saying to any of his male coworkers. Only the female chaplain has reported the comments, but rumor has it he says this stuff to female nurses as well, which begs the question is he saying it to patients. The comments all fall under the “it’s just a compliment” category but the demeanor is creepy, and it’s a pattern. Things like “Your hair looks better than it usually does”, “You look cuter than normal”, “Nice hair today”, “Do you have a date tonight”, etc. He’s pushed back when she’s told him bluntly to stop commenting on her looks at work, that he’s just being nice etc. But he never says nice shirt to his male coworkers. Is this something that sucks but just needs to be ignored or is there value to trying to continue to get him to stop?


    1. desk platypus*

      If he’s not commenting on male coworkers appearances it really gives a bad vibe. Furthermore, comments like “you look cuter than normal” would immediately make me think, “How often do you think about how cute I am?” He might claim innocent intent but any considerate person would stop making comments like that when asked to stop. Even if he wasn’t making the comments to nurses and patients it’s still bad enough that he’s making at least one person uncomfortable. There’s value in getting him to stop.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        “Furthermore, comments like “you look cuter than normal” would immediately make me think, “How often do you think about how cute I am?” ”

        Yes, this alone is why it needs to be reported. How often is he thinking about this stuff and NOT saying anything?

        My grandpa was like this – not a priest, but he made compliments to people he shouldn’t have said, or was more touchy that was appropriate. He never ever meant any ill intent, but once we told him – several times – that he couldn’t say “stuff like that” he stopped.

        1. Emily Byrd Starr*

          “How often is he thinking about this stuff and NOT saying anything?”

          I think we all do sometimes, but the difference is that sometimes he *is* saying something. We’re only human, and it’s normal and natural to have attractions to other humans. However, the professional thing is to leave it COMPLETELY in your head and not let them know, even if (ESPECIALLY IF) you’re celibate.

        2. Car park*

          Omg. Same with my grandpa. I was coming here to say the same thing. It doesn’t make it ok at all!

      2. KitKat*

        It’s not an appropriate line of compliments for work, full stop. You don’t comment on coworkers looking “cute”. You might comment on their *shoes* being cute, but even that is not appropriate for all professional relationships. Commenting on a *person* being cute falls along the lines on their being beautiful, sexy, attractive — inappropriate, and if happening repeatedly, textbook sexual harassment.

      3. Busy Middle Manager*

        Even if he was complimented men as well, it’s a problem! And I say this as a Catholic so I’m not knocking religion as a whole. But dude’s job is to assist with our spiritual well being and sometimes our general well being (helping feed the needy etc). Not go overboard with the personal questions.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This is absolutely not something that should be ignored, it needs to be escalated and addressed.

    3. Goddess47*

      He’s not responded to direct requests, go to HR with it. The concern about what he says to patients is important.

      Good luck.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      All I’m going to say is: a remarkably similar letter was posted to Not Always Right today. In their case, they flipped the script and responded to a creepy compliment but using the exact same words to compliment the creep.

      In a similar vein, I would almost see how he responds to, “You look nicer than usual.” or “Got a date tonight?”

      1. linger*

        The OP’s response used the same word (“magnificent”) back that Creep had used to justify his comment as being a compliment, but applied it in a context that would not normally be complimentary. It was something like “You have a magnificent pot belly, would you mind if I rubbed it for luck?” Thus demonstrating that the use of a positive adjective does not excuse the behaviour.

    5. Angstrom*

      Continue pushing back. If this escalates to HR it needs to be very clear that he was told repeatedly that the “compliments” were not welcome.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      It’s a red herring that he’s clergy. Inappropriate behavior is inappropriate behavior. If your workplace policies would make his conduct reportable, then report it.

      1. Jamie Starr*

        I agree; but also, he might be using that as a cover to get away with it. Being a man of the cloth and all, of course his comments are benign. /s (Insert eyeroll and barf emojis here.)

        1. Love to WFH*

          Being a chaplain doesn’t mean he isn’t crossing the line. A friend of mine was hit on by the Catholic priest who was arranging her husband’s funeral.

    7. Anecdata*

      A) yes, worth trying to stop if it’s making people uncomfortable. Use the same “please stop” messaging you would for any colleague. (fwiw “hey your hair looks nice today” wouldn’t bug me from most colleagues, but could 100% be part of a creepy trend)

      B) In addition to whatever workplace channels you have, please feel free to send a letter to his diocese (Google “diocese of biggest-city-near you to find contact info. If you’d like to post a burner contact info or the city name, I will help you find someone to contact). “Creeps out female colleagues” is absolutely something a diocese needs to know about its clergy.

      I am so angry on your behalf/female colleagues behalf that this is happening.

    8. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’d push back and tell him his behaviour is inappropriate, overfamiliar and definitely not “nice”.
      If he’s decided 70 years of celibacy is quite enough, he should still not pester hospital staff (or of course patients, if he really loses all sense). There is a big wide world outside the hospital where he can flirt or date.

    9. The Ginger Ginger*

      If it’s not being taken as a compliment, it’s not a compliment. A compliment is something that should make the recipient feel good. If they don’t feel good, STOP SAYING IT. Why would you want to force “compliments” on someone who doesn’t enjoy them? That makes it about the “compliment”-giver and not the recipient and that is WEIRD. This dude is hiding behind the “it’s a compliment” line, just like every other creep who uses that as an excuse. And an actual, good, clergy person should REALLY be able to tell the difference between something that SEEMS nice but is performative and something that is legitimate kindness.

      This guy is being unkind under the guise of niceness and it’s creepy. Keep calling him on it.

    10. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If he’s been told that she doesn’t appreciate the comments, then it’s NOT nice for him to keep making them. Period.

    11. anywhere but here*

      If she’s said “do not comment on my appearance” and he’s persisting, that’s definitely worth flagging to whoever is in charge. “Hey Boss, Father Dude comments on my appearance frequently despite repeated requests to stop. He does not do this with male colleagues.” Even if it’s not technically sexual harassment or discrimination, a reasonable workplace would recognize that it’s close enough that it should be shut down. Also, for the female chaplain, she has likely standing to push back in a way that the nurses may not, so it would be good for her to use that standing.

      I would guess that this is largely a generational thing more than a priest/celibate man thing. Many old men don’t want to change habits that they’ve had for generations and are often pretty comfortable with being casually sexist/harassing. “Women these days are just so touchy, you know?” kind of thinking.

      Inb4 not all old men: yes I know young men do this too and not all old men do this. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t observable generational differences in sexist behavior.

      1. No? Yes? Maybe.*

        A hospital chaplain’s entire purpose is to provide comfort and support. Creating an uncomfortable environment? That’s a performance issue. Run it up the flagpole.

    12. HannahS*

      Try to get him to stop. He’s harrassing female coworkers both within and outside of his department. No one who works in a hospital should be behaving that way; female chaplains and female nurses deserve a working environment where they are respected on their merits as professionals. It is not a compliment. I, as a woman who works in a hospital, do not get dressed in the hopes that a priest will comment on whether or not he thinks I look nice.

      If you have the least suspicion that he is inappropriate with patients, you must say something. It doesn’t matter if he’s a priest or a doctor or an orderly; if he celibate or polyamorous, if he means well or not.

    13. Hlao-roo*

      Echoing everyone else that this is absolutely worth addressing. I don’t know what the hierarchy works in a hospital (who do chaplain staff report to?) or what you have the standing to do in this situation, but at the very least:

      1 – He needs to be told (by someone who has authority over him) that when someone tells him to stop commenting/”complimenting,” he needs to apologize and stop. And “someone” includes the female chaplain you know has told him to stop, any other hospital staff, and patients.

      2 – Someone (not sure if this should be you or someone else) should ask around the nursing staff to try to understand the scope of the Creepy Priest comments. Is he saying similar things to the (female) nurses? Have any of the nurses heard him saying similar things to patients?

  28. ecnaseener*

    At large institutions with an ATS, is there any chance an internal recruiter I’ve been talking to for Job A can submit me for Job B without me filling out another application? (ie should I say “hi, I saw this posting for Job B which I think could also be a good fit for me, here’s a differently tailored version of my resume attached, lmk if I need to submit an application too” OR just “hi, fyi I’m submitting an application for Job B too”?)

    The recruiter told me to check in with her around this time so I’m not worried about bugging her.

    1. EMP*

      Definitely possible – I just had that situation where I was simultaneously submitted for 3 positions (all related software positions) and didn’t even use different resumes.

  29. mean green mother*

    Hi everyone! I’m about to reenter the workforce for the first time in 8 years, due to illness and children. I’m switching careers and will be a clinical mental health counselor. I’m about to start my clinical internship at a community health center. Does anyone have any advice for readjusting to the working world in general, or about beginning work as a therapist more specifically? I’d appreciate any and all advice!

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

      Welcome aboard! I’m not a counselor but I am support staff for the counseling center at a university. We get a few interns a year, just like you!

      You will most likely have some sort of supervisor or mentor assigned to you. They are going to be your best source about how to work as a therapist, and should be helping you adjusting.

      I’m assuming you have been doing some schooling, since you are doing your clinical internship. One thing to remember is that although this is work, you are still learning. So if you aren’t sure, ask. And jump at chances to talk with your coworkers and learn new things and how they can teach you. That’s what you are there for. On the flip side don’t allow people (including your boss or coworkers) to push your boundaries, especially when it comes to work life balances. We at my center are really good about that but I have heard of other places that really try and put too much on the interns, and put them in un safe situations like not having a supervisor clinician in the center with them. Trust your gut. If you are doing this through your school, if there are problems talk to whoever is the internship coordinator.

    2. Hillary*

      It’s going to be absolutely exhausting for a while – your schedule is changing, you’re probably going to be around people in a different way than before, and you’re going to be processing a ton of new information. Try to give yourself downtime, order pizza for dinner, and just be kind to yourself.

      The book The First 90 Days is usually good when moving into a new role.

  30. Anecdata*

    Can anyone tell me about how internal transfers work at your company (large, tech, if that matters?)

    Another VP reached out to me about applying to a role on his team and I’m – kind of interested? But I have no idea how this goes usually: should I assume he’s already talked my current manager? Would telling my current manager I had this conversation have the same risks as telling him I am applying outside the company?

    1. PX*

      Never assume. Companies this large usually have a policy written somewhere, if not, have a quiet word with someone you trust who has been around longer or with HR if you think they will be reasonable.

    2. Irish Girl*

      I would think your company would have some guideline to that.

      We have a whole document about it. Min 1 year in current role, not be on a PIP and you need to tell your current manager is the gist of it. Sometimes you can get approval for less time and there are some jobs that require 18 months in role.

      Our company wants to keep people and people developing so while it might indicate to your employer your are looking outside, they should also be thinking about individual development and succession planning. Its not always the best to hire a person from the outside when you can bring someone internal along.

      1. Anecdata*

        We don’t have a policy that I have access to – without asking HR (which I am worried about would be the same kind of tipoff). Our manager has said he wouldn’t block us if we wanted to pursue something else internally, although he hopes we all stay, so there probably is some kind of veto available to him. What I’m trying to figure out is when in the process to bring it to to him (or does the other VP do that?).

    3. Hillary*

      It really varies. If you’re interested the most straightforward solution (and I wouldn’t recommend it at all companies but tech tends to be more direct) just say to the VP you’re interested and ask what next steps should look like.

    4. Admin*

      Depends on the managers and the company – in my last corporate job, it was absolutely required that management got checked with before someone tried to acquire an employee, and if the VP hadn’t checked in, it’d look very bad for them, but not for you. But other places I’ve worked, it was considered fine to ping people and let them navigate the job change, and for the most part, management was good with losing folks to other places in the company, from the view of ‘they’re still working for (the larger sense of) us.’ It also depends if the VP that pinged you is higher up or in the direct hierarchy of your current boss.

      I’d check with HR about departmental transfer policies on the larger sense, and if you have any decent rapport with your current boss, mention the conversation.

    5. Devender Sellars*

      At my big tech company it is all visible and open. When I transferred the last 3 times internally my manager knew ahead of time and was notified when I applied.

      1. Anecdata*

        That makes sense – I haven’t applied formally yet, this is still “hey, I have this role; So and so (a 3rd VP I’ve worked with) recommended you; are you interested” in a chat. I asked for an informal discussion, and we have that scheduled now — but I’m trying to figure out if eg. my manager likely already knows, if I need to mention it, if I wait until I decide I’m for sure applying, or after interviews when I have a better sense of if it would be offered to me, etc

    6. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I would not assume he’s talked to your manager. If you’re interested in the role, I’d go back to the VP and ask for more info about the job and what transitioning would look like. Do you need to formally apply and compete against other applicants? What does his timeline look like – is there a position open right now, or expected soon?

      In my tech company, it would be totally normal for me to go to my boss or the Teapots boss and say “hey I’m interested in the Teapots team, what would it take for me to move over” and they’d both give me lots of info and set up shadowing and stuff – no big deal. We’ve seen other letters here were internal transfers were blocked by the current manager and there was no recourse.

  31. Hypoglycemic rage*

    Hello! Okay, this is mostly venting, but I do genuinely want to know if I’m overreacting.

    Yesterday my co-admin was shipping out several packages to go out internationally (she’s primary person for a lot of stuff but I help out if she asks, and only if she asks). It was EOD and I could tell she was stressed. She asked me if I could help her pack up the shipping slips, using a shipping thing I hadn’t used before and apparently wasn’t going as fast as she would have liked. She said, harshly, “can you move faster?”

    Then a few minutes later, she asked if I could pack up one of the boxes, and snapped “don’t even ask me how, just figure it out yourself.” (This was a package type I hadn’t done before.)

    She then told me I could go home (EOD) before everything was final, even though I previously offered to help her take everything down (and that offer was initially accepted).

    I cried my whole commute home, I felt so bad, and so useless. Still do, honestly.

    But this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like I’ve annoyed her, with like who I am as a person, but her tone and words have never been that harsh. So if it were just this one time and she was otherwise fine, I’d let it go. And while yes I do need to pick up speed sometimes, and figure things out on my own, and honestly probably grow a thicker skin, I do not deserve being snapped at.

    I don’t really have a question, but if anyone has any tips on how to improve, let me know. Co-admin and I work more parallel to each other in that we have our separate projects (and she’s the primary for most), but I’m the backup to her.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Honestly, this is all on her. She asked you for help on something you were unfamiliar with, got mad at you for not being good enough, told you to do something else without explaining how to do it, then got even madder for you somehow not knowing how to do the thing she didn’t tell you how to do. She may have been stressed, but that’s no excuse for being a d!ck to you, especially when you were offering help she otherwise wouldn’t have had.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        yeah, I totally get being stressed, especially with a large project, but snapping at me – at anyone! – is never okay. she was pretty mad though and I am not someone that can forget and forgive.

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        :( but thank you for the, like, validation in that it’s not me (at least not to the point where I deserve the reactions she gives).

    2. Goddess47*

      Hopefully channeling my inner Allison for you… ;-)

      Start with a calm period of time when you’re both not stressed. “Can we talk?” And then, depending on how much you want to soft-pedal things, move on to “I know there was a lot to do the other day but it’s unfair of you to snap at me when I am doing tasks I am not familiar with”

      You can suggest “When you’re swamped like that, ask me to do the [boring task you already know how to do] so you can focus on the more demanding work” If she looks open to it, “We have time now, can you show me more about [things you are not familiar with], so I can help better the next time?”

      And, if you’re up to it, “I may need to step away and take a breath if you snap at me like that again.” (And don’t hesitate to do so! She has asked you for help, not the other way around, even if it is part of your work!) And/or add “If there’s a reason for speed, it would be helpful if you would explain it to me so I can deal with it.”

      If all you get is “That’s the way I am when I’m stressed” then that requires an escalation to your supervisor(s). You are not required to put up with that kind of treatment.

      Good luck!

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        i know rationally i should talk to her about this. but i have been given an annoyed answer about questions i’ve asked in the past, and i don’t know how receptive she’d be to this conversation. like, if it were just this one event and she was otherwise open and warm, it might be easier to talk about, but as it is…. i really don’t want to get snapped at again.

        1. Ms. Norbury*

          I think Goddess47 has given you very good advice and a polite yet assertive script to use (which you can soften a bit further if you feel it might help the conversation go well). I will second and stress the importance of the point about having this conversation when neither of you is especially busy or stressed.

          It’s very understandable that you don’t want to get snapped at again (I certainly wouldn’t). I think it’s still something you should do even if you’re pretty sure it won’t go very well, because (also trying to channel my inner Alison) then you can raise it with your boss as a problem that you have tried to solve on your own and couldn’t, and so need some advice on.

    3. Not A Manager*

      “I’m sorry you’re stressed, but you still can’t snap at me.” “If you don’t want me to ask you, I won’t, but then it might get done wrong.”

      1. hypoglycemic rage*

        I’d love to say the second one sometime, but that would only make it worse. the first one, though, is great!

          1. RVA Cat*

            The follow up is to disengage when she snaps at you again.
            Please report this to your supervisor – not just her snapping at you, but the fact you may need more training to be her backup.

            1. hypoglycemic rage*

              part of the problem, with me, is that the training documents might cover, say, how to ship a general fedex. but we need the weight for shipping costs. and i am not always the best at bridging the gap between information i know, and information i don’t know.

              so, an example from earlier this week…. (we work at a law firm and are often asked, by secretaries, to send out stuff on behalf of the lawyers they work for.)

              me: hey, nancy, do you know the weight estimate for the large box roy wants to send out?
              nancy: no, but ask emily what she usually puts.
              me: hey emily, what do you usually put for weight for a large box?
              emily: just think of a large box of paper, and how much that might weigh.
              me: ok, do you have an estimate, cause i am not the best at figuring out weight.
              emily: i am going to let you figure this out.

              1. Mockingjay*

                Ask the office admin to purchase a scale.

                Make it about efficiency. “Hey, can we get a scale for packages? We’d have accurate weights for shipping costs and would speed up prep of the mailing labels immensely.”

                Also, if she seems receptive, suggest that she talk to her boss/bosses about the aggregate amount of shipping. Sounds like the lawyers are tasking her individually; likely they don’t realize just how much in total is being sent and there’s no mechanism for Coworker to figure out which packages are priority or if all are (quite probable if the lawyers have to meet court dates, etc.). She needs to get the cause of her workload problems fixed. You aren’t the problem, just the convenient target of her misplaced ire.

                1. hypoglycemic rage*

                  our firm is, i don’t want to say “cheap” but…. we’re not allowed overtime because i guess it would cost too much. so i don’t know if a scale is something we could get, but i could at least ask!

                2. Zephy*

                  This is meant as a reply to hypoglycemic rage – assuming you’re mostly sending things under 50 lbs, you can get a scale on Amazon for twenty bucks. Even if you routinely ship heavier stuff, even a heavy-duty postal scale isn’t going to be more than $200.

                3. hypoglycemic rage*

                  zephy – *eyes emoji* thank you! if work won’t get one, maybe i can find one that’s like $20…. obvi work SHOULD get one, but…..

              2. hypoglycemic rage*

                for context, “emily” is my co-admin. “nancy” is one of the secretaries for one of our lawyers – one of many who could ask us for stuff.

              3. Saturday*

                It sounds to me like people are wanting more independence and fewer questions from you. If that’s true, obviously you don’t want to not ask when you really need information, but it might be worth thinking about whether there are some additional things you can handle on your own.

                Nothing excuses the rudeness though!

                1. hypoglycemic rage*

                  i for sure take more issue with how she said it, not what she said. i am trying to work on figuring things out myself, and had i not been stressed and upset, i might have been better able to help. but yes, nothing excuses the tone imo.

                2. Saturday*

                  I totally get that. Just in case it wasn’t clear, I didn’t mean anything as a criticism at all – just trying to offer impressions. As for stress, sometimes I can barely function when someone appears frustrated or angry with me, so everything would have taken me a lot longer from that point on.

                3. hypoglycemic rage*

                  saturday – oh no, i totally understand, no criticism read! :) and i also do not do well when other people are stressed or angry, especially at me (perceived or real) and things would (and tbh did, in this case) take me a lot longer, too.

              4. Starbuck*

                “emily: just think of a large box of paper, and how much that might weigh.
                me: ok, do you have an estimate, cause i am not the best at figuring out weight.”

                If that’s the example, that would be the point where I’d expect someone to be able to Google the answer if I’m busy with a higher-level task and really need to delegate this one.

    4. hypoglycemic rage*

      thanks for the tips, everyone. is this something i am just gonna have to deal with, or should i talk to our boss at some point?

      1. Bloomshine*

        I really think that you would need to address it with the co-admin before trying to escalate it. If you did bring it to your manager, I’d expect their first question to be “have you talked to her about it?” You’ll need to be willing to address it with her, accepting that she may be snappish and cold about it. You can’t change her but you can set boundaries, address her behavior etc.

        1. hypoglycemic rage*

          you’re right, if i go into it knowing it might not be the most productive/easiest convo, that might help. and if the convo doesn’t help, i’d escalate it.

    5. Starbuck*

      She sounds like the type to react to her own stress (heavy workload, upcoming deadline) by becoming mean and snappy. I know people like this, it’s never about you. She’s just a jerk. You asked reasonable questions on how to do a process (to help her) and she, instead of being grateful for your help, was mean to you.

      How to improve? Don’t let her get away with this. Walk away! Next time she says something jerkish implying you’re not good enough to be helping her, say “ok then, I’ll leave you to it” and go back to what you were doing before.

  32. HBJ*

    Building your own website help.

    My husband and I own a very tiny company that is entirely offline. We don’t “need” an internet presence really for anything. However, we would like to have some internet presence just so we “look legit” if, say, someone refers us and they Google us (which has happened).

    Does anyone have recommendations for what platform to use for a site that’s really not much more than a glorified landing page? It would basically be a home page with some photos, an about page and contact page. Maybe some of those combined! Maybe one day we’d do very minimal blog-type content about our projects. I want something I can build/customize myself. Again, nothing fancy. We are tiny, we have no interest in spending even $1,000 to have someone build something for us. I’ve used WordPress, blogspot and Blox back when it was still townnews. I hear ads all the time for squarespace. My sister used wix for something or other. What is best while still being very inexpensive? And best places to buy your domain?

    Also, my husband thinks he wants our actual contact info on there, whereas I’m in favor of a contact form. I don’t think we’d get any real clients looking for our particular niche in our industry that way. How do companies who put their real email and phone numbers on their websites keep from being inundated with spam?

    1. Bee*

      I’d just create something simple on Squarespace or Framer. There’s some solutions to ensure you don’t get spammed if you share your email, and it’s possible these platforms have that available.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      No specific help, but I am one of those people who very heavily analyzes a business based off their website when I am referred, or looking for something specific. Here are a few of the things I look for:

      Modern look/feel. Nothing scares me away faster than a site that looks like it was built many years ago an never touched again. So yeah I would use something like squarespace to get modern looking templates without a ton of effort.

      Enough information on the website that I can get a clear idea of what you do before I have to contact you. If you make a physical product for example, what are your shipping policies? Can I order from you at all or should I look elsewhere? If you have a service, what exactly do you do? What are example rates? Do you have example projects posted? If it is somewhere I physically need to go to get that service, what is your address?

      A contact form or email is fine, but make sure for the contact form that when it is submitted, a message pops up saying the information was received. Just so I know that it went through OK. Also, if you want to put an email address, you can create one just for the website that uses the website domain, like and not use your current business email. That way if there is spam, you are just checking this account for initial inquiries and your main email is not getting bombarded.

    3. SLG*

      I built my business website in a weekend using Squarespace, a google doc where I had already written the copy I wanted to include, and a healthy sense of “good enough is good enough.” There are plenty of plug-and-play templates and it’s fairly easy to change colors, move blocks of text around, search for free stock photography, etc. Pricing is around $250 / year (there will be an annual price for your website itself, and an annual price for the domain you use).

      Squarespace also makes it very easy to look up and buy whatever domain you want to use as long as it’s available. You can do it from within the Squarespace platform.

      I use a contact form on my website so that my real email isn’t published to the whole internet, and I don’t publish my phone number. Even with that I do get some email spam, but it just consists of people who apparently think it’s effective to fill out my contact form and tell me that my site needs more SEO and they can help. No thanks! I delete those and move on with my day.

      Not affiliated, just a reasonably happy customer.

    4. FromCanada*

      If you can use WordPress it’s probably the cheapest. I use Squarespace for both the website and the domain registration and I use google business service. Honestly, I spend way too much on this for what is barely a side Hussle in my case. That said, I think it cost me about $300 US for the website. Squarespace is easy to use and I really appreciate that. It’s also one stop shopping for it all.

    5. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I really like SquareSpace–I think it keeps things looking organized and professional, and it’s really hard to mess up the site if you aren’t experienced with HTML or building websites with these sorts of drag and drop editors. I’ve also used WordPress (great option, maybe a bit tougher if you don’t have some website building knowledge–I moved away from it a few years ago because I realized I’d lost all my skills that could help us really use it well) and GoDaddy’s website builder (an org I’m part of uses it…absolutely horrendous looking, super easy to mess up and make your site a nightmare for users to navigate, AND expensive).

    6. Hillary*

      Seconding squarespace or similar. They’re pretty straightforward.

      Bonus of having your own domain, you can make an inquiries@mydomain email. It can be great for filtering/managing.

      Unfortunately they spam through contact forms too.

    7. WestsideStory*

      For contact info,I use a dedicated email (they usually include at least one with a website) like The phone number on my website goes to an old landline with an ancient answering machine attached. I can’t think of any time that number has been used, but I do check the email daily and have gotten clients direct.

    8. GythaOgden*

      I’m sorry, but in my jurisdiction your husband would be right — a business needs to display their contact details, and IME as a consumer it’s pretty much necessary for me to see concrete details up front before I make a purchase. In internal situations as an employee, privacy is great; however, if you’re directly dealing with the public it looks shady if you don’t provide some personal details. Particularly if your services are expensive or will be ongoing (like a cleaner coming in every week or so), I want to know that I’m not at the mercy of just a contact form going out to a hidden address.

      What I’d say about contact details is to check your local laws. In the UK you must show certain contact details up front — it’s not enough just to have a contact form. Having been burnt by this in the past, as a consumer I now always look to see something like that before I hand over any of my details.

      The article below is UK specific but does actually give a run down of a consumer’s perspective on why having specific details up front is a good thing regardless of jurisdiction. When you’re taking my money for something, your privacy plays a secondary role to my peace of mind that you’re going to deliver on what I’ve paid you for and be accessible if there’s an issue.

      1. HBJ*

        I think you’re probably imagining a pretty different business from what we actually do. All of our clients already have our contact info. How we get clients currently is someone who we’ve worked for in the past says, “hey, so and so did this for us, here’s their cell,” and then we get texts or calls. We interact with them daily. They come to our place of business, and we interact face to face where they get a business card. They have to physically be with us at least twice during the work, if not more. We’re also business to business. We don’t necessarily want individuals to contact us (just takes up work time on the phone talking about their job) and if they do, we pass them on to other businesses that target that type of work.

        I do not expect ANY legitimate business we will accept to come through the website.

        1. GythaOgden*

          These laws also relate to other kinds of communication with your customers (e.g. invoices, receipts, flyers etc). And if you have a web presence and a contact form, you’re expecting some kind of business to come through that form — and thus you need to think of this from the potential customer’s perspective. It doesn’t matter how much you’d expect to come in through the website, you’d still have to ensure your customers who found you there were confident enough to contact you through that form AND adhere to local laws regarding display of contact details.

          In the UK at least you’d be opening yourselves to problems with consumer law if you didn’t display contact details on any customer communication, including websites. I don’t know what the US is like with regards to organisations like our Trading Standards, but the article basically explains why it’s an issue for the handful of customers you want to get in through this web presence, even if it’s not legally mandatory.

  33. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    Data analysts, I have a question! I have a very strong qualitative research background, and I want to strengthen my quant skills so I can be competitive for more mixed-methods positions. I can do some basic descriptive stats and tests (like T-tests) and consider myself an “advanced beginner” as Excel. I’m thinking of taking either the IBM data analytics intro or the Google data analytics intro. From what I can tell the only major difference in curriculum is that IBM uses more Python and Google uses more R. Thoughts on which I should do? I think I’d primarily be working in the NGO/nonprofit/foundation space.

    1. fish*

      Personally I prefer R for what you describe but look at posts you’re interested in and see what they ask.

      Also, if you learn one, you can learn the other.

      1. Data Slicentist*

        In industry, python has been the default, but I’ve learned both and the skills build on each other, as fish indicates. If you do go for R, I highly recommend working through Kieran Healy’s Data Visualization book, also available as a free e-book at socviz dot co.

      2. A Significant Tree*

        YMMV but I learned a good amount of R through a data science certificate program, which also covered a little more advanced statistics (I took several years of stats in undergrad/grad school but it had been a while so was a great refresher). It was through Coursera but the content was from Johns Hopkins, and the cost was nominal. It was structured with graded projects and tests, which I personally needed to stay focused. Took me ~2 months, I think, and I enjoyed it.

  34. Emily Byrd Starr*

    I have been asked to write a recommendation for someone, and I said yes. However, I have never written a recommendation before, and I now realize that I have no idea how to even start! Can anyone help me?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Tailor it to the role they are applying for, what are key traits and skills they demonstrated in their time with you that are useful in new role. You can ask the person what they want to highlight from you too.

      Be honest about their strengths, if you are too complimentary, if you say they are the best person you ever worked with and their farts don’t smell, that gives less weight to your recommendation. Talking about their growth in the time they worked with you is one way to balance that.

      Talk about why you liked working with them, recommendation letters are one of the few insights to how they are to work with as a person in the hiring process.

      Be quantifiable if you can, did things run faster when this person was doing them? Did this person save your department money? etc. Also share feedback from others if applicable, especially if you were their manager and can speak to how others saw them too. (“Coworkers always requested Georgina on their team for projects”).

    2. EMP*

      I got a template from a professor friend who does a lot of references, though it was specifically for an academic program. Maybe you have a similar friend?

    3. Imprudence*

      para 1 — this is how I know this person, and for how long
      para 2-5 — I have seen them do this thing and these are the skills they showed. Largely positive. You can be silent about small negatives
      para 6 — If I can be of any further help etc

      Its not your job to make judgments or to say they will be a great fit because you don’t know enough about the size of the hole. It’s your job to say what shape they are, and the recipient can work out if that’s what they want.

    4. Garblesnark*

      You can do this! Key points:

      Some recommendation letters have specific requirements about how things should be worded – ask the person who asked you if this is the case. Additionally, some recommendation letters have to be sent directly to a specific place and never handled by the person being recommended. Ask the person who asked you for the directions.

      Point 1: I am writing to recommend [name] for [thing you are recommending them for].

      Point 2: I know [name] from situation.

      Point 3: [name] impressed me in these ways, which make them a good candidate for your thing.

      Point 4: Please contact me at my contact information, which is included here, if you have any questions.

      If you have any fancy letterhead, use it. Don’t forget to sign your name at the bottom.

    5. ElastiGirl*

      Ask the person who wants the recommendation for some combination of a) their resume; b) their cover letter/application/essay for the job/program they’re applying to; and c) the job posting/language describing the program. Rephrase for your recommendation the language already used in those documents.

  35. A Simple Narwhal*

    Best way to request a certain type of/better mentor?

    My company reopened it’s mentoring program, and my manager encouraged me to apply (as a mentee). I participated in it several years ago, but I didn’t find it super useful. The main reason was I was assigned a mentor in a completely different department and sector. I know it’s great to expand your knowledge and your connections within a company, and I went in with this attitude, open and eager to learn. Except the person was unfortunately completely unable to do anything – any advice or knowledge he had was only exclusive to his department and completely inapplicable to mine or my career. For example, say that we’re a dog-related company, and he was a salesman in the toy department, and I’m the person who builds and maintains the machines that makes treats. All of his insight were sales or toy specific, he didn’t know anyone in the treat department or industry, had no idea how anything worked over there or really what I even did. He was very nice but unfortunately all of our meetings ending up devolving into small talk as he couldn’t answer any of my questions or offer any advice.

    So now I’m a little hesitant going into the mentor program again. I would love to enter it and be paired with a real mentor, someone I can learn from and look up to, not just a seemingly random person who happens to be higher up than me in the food chain. They actually have an application form that lets you ask/answer questions this time (last time you just said you wanted to participate), so I’m hoping it will be different. Is there a polite and professional way to say “please pair me with someone who can actually mentor me this time”?

    1. Garblesnark*

      I just want to say I relate. I’ve tried a few times to find a mentor through these types of programs, and I’ve heard people have been successful with them, but it hasn’t worked for me yet.

      Finding mentors is hard! I’m not sure how to do it and keep returning to my journal and self help books.

    2. SLG*

      I started a mentorship program at OldJob and currently run a consulting business, which has some distant similarities to mentoring. Mentorship — receiving and giving — is way harder than anyone thinks!

      A few tips:

      – Be as concrete and clear with yourself as you possibly can on what you want out of a mentorship relationship. Information on the industry? advice on dealing with specific XYZ challenge? help rising in the ranks? etc. etc. etc.
      – Now that you know that, think about where you’re likely to get those things. What kind of person could give them to you? Is that person likely to be in your company’s official mentorship program at all?
      – Use your company mentorship program as just one possible source among many for what you’re looking for. Use your company’s application form to describe the specific things you’re looking for, to increase your odds of success. Beyond that, ask around in your network, describe what you’re looking for, and see if anyone might be willing to set up one call with you to answer a few specific questions.
      – When you’re finding mentors through your network, always default to “can I meet with you to ask a few questions about X” rather than “will you be my mentor.” A longer-term mentorship relationship can develop out of a few productive conversations.
      – Treat any mentorship relationship as likely to be temporary. Meet with them a few times, see if you vibe and you get what you’re looking for, and how you might be helpful to them in return. If you can, suggest something like “Can we try this for 6 months and then check in on how it’s going?” and then be ready at the 6-month mark to say “thanks so much, this has been really helpful, I’m going to give you back this slot on your calendar while I work on some other goals” if that’s what’s true. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and the relationship will turn out to be long-lasting.

      In other words, the challenges you ran into last time around in your company’s mentorship program are extremely common, and not every mentorship program is set up to solve them well. But you can still get what you need, if you bring intentionality to the overall mentorship process.

    3. Corporate Fledgling*

      Can you request a specific mentor? I’ve been part of mentoring programs as both a mentor and a mentee. I have had mentors that are not very helpful and just kind of talk about themselves but not in a way that is applicable to my situation. This year, I actually just asked the mentor pairing person if a specific person was available and she was! I’m so happy, so now I just request people and if they can’t, then no big deal.

    4. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      What if you picked one work or networking skill that you want to develop and say you want your mentoring to include that focus.

    5. Generic Name*

      I think a lot of these mentor programs aren’t intended to be a way to increase your technical knowledge or as a way for you to get expert advice on the nitty gritty of your job They’re meant to be bigger picture personal career enhancing. So someone from a different department/technical specialty could very well be able to advise you on presenting professionally, how to network, how to ask for a raise, etc. They might be someone who could help you navigate the corporate structure/hierarchy, etc.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        That was my hope going into things! I wasn’t looking for technical or specific advice for my job, but when I say their department operated incredibly differently, I mean it. They had a completely different hierarchy, advancement was built around entirely different structures and requirements, everything he said was caveated with “oh but that’s just how my department works and we’re very specific, I don’t know how yours does so that might not be good advice”. I was also about 10 years into my career at that point so basic professional knowledge such as networking or how to present myself wouldn’t have been helpful as it might have been when I was new to the workforce.

        I think I went into with open and good intentions – it really just wasn’t a good fit, and I’m hoping this time around will be better.

    6. TX_TRUCKER*

      Is there an industry trade group that has a mentorship program? Maybe that will work better for you?

  36. Dovasary Balitang*

    Got all turned around in a physics lab assignment yesterday and my lab partner starts feeding questions into ChatGTP. This made me really uncomfortable and I tried not to use its feedback and push on. Professors/STEM instructors/school admin/etc., what are your thoughts on this?

    1. Oof and Ouch*

      What was the context they were using chat GPT in? Like were they just straight up using entering the questions and copying answers from chat GPT?

    2. Anecdata*

      Does your class have a genAI policy?(check the syllabus). If not, check the general academic integrity policy for what help/collaboration you can do on assignments and how you cite it? (For example, are you and your own partner allowed to collaborate on the questions with other students? if yes, are you supposed to cite who else you worked with? Cite your collaboration with chatgpt in the same way)

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you are using it as a tool (asking it for example problems with solutions, asking it to clarify your understanding of a concept, asking it for example code, etc) it’s fine. If you are blindly copying your homework questions into it and blindly pasting the output into your submitted assignment, that’s not fine.

    4. ferrina*

      Not in STEM, but use a lot of AI.

      That’s a pretty bad way to do it. ChatGPT doesn’t cite sources, so you can’t double check your answers. Google or CoPilot would be better resources.

      ChatGPT is better at writing voice and generating material rather than providing strong factual content. If you know what content you want but need help drafting it, that’s where ChatGPT is better. If it’s a basic question, usually ChatGPT is okay, but when it’s wrong, it’s really wrong.

    5. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Echoing what others have suggested about checking your syllabus for a formal policy. I work at a university and we encourage all instructors to include this in their syllabus at this point. It obviously varies from instructor to instructor, but what I’ve seen most often is policies that allow for use of ChatGPT etc as a tool, but not to produce final work–so if your classmate was just trying to get some ideas to get closer to final answers, but not actually copy-pasting the output into the assignment, that would be OK under that sort of policy. I’ve also seen a good number of faculty requiring students detail how they use AI, if they’re using it; so if you’re comfortable asking your professor about this, you could ask them whether they would want to know about the use of AI as part of the work process.

    6. Admin of Sys*

      Depends on context, as others have said. It’s pretty good if you are asking for rewording explanations of concepts – like ‘this is how the book is explaining quantum entanglement but i am having trouble with the concept of locality, please explain it in different words’ it’s generally really helpful (assuming it has decent training data). But llms are notoriously bad at match.

    7. DrKMnO4*

      1. Don’t use any of the answers your lab partner found, because:
      a. ChatGPT is wildly inconsistent in its accuracy.
      b. Even if the answers are correct, using ChatGPT may be a violation of your instructor’s or your college’s academic integrity policies.
      c. Even if using ChatGPT in this way doesn’t violate any academic integrity policies, you aren’t going to learn the material by just copying the output and moving on.

      2. Tell your lab partner that you are uncomfortable with the use of ChatGPT when completing assignments in lab. This is especially important to do if your reports/assignments are supposed to be in sync with one another.

      3. Talk to the professor about the following:
      a. If there is no clear course or college ChatGPT policy, ask for their stance on it when completing lab assignments (skip this if there is a clear policy).
      b. The questions you have about the lab assignment (unless the course is set up so that TAs run various sections – in that case, talk to your TA).

      In terms of reporting ChatGPT actively being used by fellow students, especially if there is a clear policy against it in place – as a professor, I would appreciate the heads-up. If you didn’t name names, I would likely make an announcement to the class reminding them of the policy. If you did name names, I would be more likely to scrutinize the work of said student(s) and try to find evidence that indicates the use of ChatGPT. I understand the tension in reporting something like this, as I know if your peers suspect you made the report they can make your life very difficult. I would never out my source, but, especially in small classes, it might not be hard for the other students to figure out who made the report.

      I realize that not all professors think alike, so if you suspect your professor may out you as their source…it pains me to say this, but you might be better off not reporting it to your professor. Do what is best for you as you finish out the semester.

    8. DontDoIt*

      ChatGPT flat out lies about a lot of stuff. You should not rely on it for anything factual.

  37. Lizabeth*

    Need some help with designing a survey. Is there any online resources that people can recommend? I’ve worked on a few in the past but they were very simple ones.

    Background: a fellow HOA board member sent out a survey to the homeowners without a formal review from the rest of the board (another issue for another day). It is badly written and confusing about what amenities the homeowners currently have, what was taken away and what they feel should be added. This is a small retirement community of 18 units.

    1. hypoglycemic rage*

      when I’ve filled out surveys, they’ve either been through Survey Monkey or Google Forms.

      unless you meant more content, and then please disregard!

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

      I think it really depends on the survey software you use. I think most have some sort of tutorial to help. For example my company uses Qualtrics and they have a “boot camp” that has all sorts of tips and stuff for you.

      I would just do a google search of the name of the software and tips

    3. ferrina*

      Many survey platforms will have tips or commonly asked questions. That’s a good place to start (Survey Monkey, SurveyGizmo, etc)

      Always ask yourself “what am I assuming?” We automatically design questions based on our individual experience, so think about how that biases what you are writing? Sometimes I pretend like I’m a specific friend or coworker who has had different life experiences so I can think about how they would take the survey. There should always be an answer option for everyone (and watch out for “select one” vs “select as many as apply”- often people will think something is a select one when it’s not)

      Have someone user-test it. This person should be someone who thinks differently from you and has had different life experiences. Don’t ask for grammar- ask for their gut reaction. If their reaction is “it’s fine, but I’d add XYZ”, you’re on the right track. If they get annoyed from reading it, something has gone wrong and you probably need to start from scratch.

      Finally, keep it simple. If it’s hard to read or feels like James Joyce wrote it, people won’t want to respond and you’ll get bad answers (because people will be reacting to the impression of the survey, not to the content of the questions)

      I write surveys professionally, so feel free to ask follow-up questions.

      1. Lizabeth*

        This is great stuff. Have been noodling on Qualtrics and Survey Monkey. One of my questions is how to keep the bias out of the survey from the beginning?

        1. ferrina*

          You can’t eliminate bias entirely. That’s just not how human brains work. We do not and cannot know every frame of reference at once, so our brain usually defaults to our own experience. That’s not bad as long as you recognize that that is what your brain is doing and think about whether that is appropriate for this context (for example, a survey that is going exclusively to Americans should ask American-centric questions; if you are also sending the survey to the UK, you’ll need to adjust it).

          The trick is to know what your biases are and compensate for them. This is why I prefer to work with a diverse team- you get more perspectives and a more complete view of the world. It also helps when you consume media that represents a wide array of cultures and world experiences (for example, movies or books by people from another culture or life experience). There is no way to capture every experience, but you can be more intentional about how you capture that.

          Since you are writing for a small retirement community that you are already familiar with, you’re at a pretty good advantage. It also helps when you narrow the scope- it will be harder to write a survey about “books” than about “biography or autobiography”. And only write questions that you will use the information from.

    4. The Ginger Ginger*

      It really depends on what kind of actionable info you want. A checklist of amenities for them to select what they want is helpful because the software will be able to convert that into tables/lists. An open text for a user to enter a list will require a human to interpret and allows your survey takes to input something that might throw your lists off.

      As a product owner, I’ve had clients sort a list of possible features from most desired to least and included an “Other” line with text entry for the user to enter a feature not on the list and prioritize it against the others. Sounds like something similar could work for asking your members to select potential new amenities. Once you have everyone’s sorted list, you’ll be able to do a ranked prioritization to see what amenities are crowd pleasers and which most people don’t care about. You need to start from a list of possible amenities though, so if you don’t have anything that you’re considering already, then this might not work.

      Then I’d leave an open text entry section for people to add comments, feedbacks, concerns, whatever. With only 18 units, that’s not too much lift to review, and it gives people an opportunity to address things the survey may miss. You may see recurring themes or find something interesting/worth addressing that escaped your notice before.

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        Sorry that first line should have read – A checklist of the amenities they HAVE (not want). That’s what you want to be just a table or list. Free form entry there will be way too confusing.

    5. Lizabeth*

      This is all really helpful!

      I’ve discovered that our management company uses Survey Monkey so I’m going to noodle around on that for starters. After that I’ll do a google search.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      It sounds like you don’t have very complicated needs, so I’d suggest you look into (Google) basics of survey design: components of introductory text, multiple choice vs. text, select-one vs. select-all, skip logic, etc. Response options should be both comprehensive and mutually exclusive, that kind of thing. And start your survey from scratch, don’t try to edit the badly written one!

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

    I’m an admin assistant for a department at a university and the semester will be ending soon. this means things will be slowing way down. I’ve already started to see a reduction in people coming in to the office and tasks.
    Any suggestions on things I can do over the summer. I already have a few items like website updates, supply closet organization, etc. Does anyone have any suggestions on training or things to read?
    Hopefully we will be hiring someone for the other front admin position so that I can help train them. But everythign I have thought of will only take a few days. I need enough stuff to do for 2.5 months

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Create documentation. If you were hit by a bus or won the lottery tomorrow and never came back to work, what tasks would need instructions?

      What are you future career goals? What can you learn to aim for those?

      Make your professional social media, LinkedIN etc. up to date. Update your resume.

      Does your work have cycles? Creating calendars for the upcoming year can be really helpful.

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        Upvoting everything DisneyChannelThis suggested.

        Re: Cycles: university admin tasks definitely have cycles. If your role is not directly involved with many of those, you can still timeline them out and ask the people who are most involved if there’s any way you can help with advance prep or post-deadline reconciliation/cleanup.

        For example, say you’re not the one whose job it is to help faculty submit their materials for promotion or tenure consideration; you can still familiarize yourself with the submission cycle and check all the faculty are keeping their CVs up to date. Or, you’re not the person responsible for reconciling the petty cash at the end of the month/quarter/fiscal year, but you can ask that person if they’d like you to organize the receipts ahead of the next reconciliation.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      A great opportunity to reflect on the academic year, write down anything that stood out as a problem, squeaky wheel, etc. Also write down what went well.

      In some ways you serve as a liaison and/or buffer between students and faculty, and between faculty and leadership/administration. So what are the things you observed that could make next year go smoother? And you don’t need to figure out the answers.

      If the university PR office was always hounding the department chair for blurbs about recent publications, maybe you just suggest a couple of ways for that stuff to get generated easily and right in the moment, so the chair never has to see nastygrams again.

    3. t-vex*

      Update your SOPs and write your training plan. It’s good to have even if no one else is hired.

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

        Thanks, just did this because we got a new system so a lot of processes changed. I’m actually just waiting on my manger to review to make sure there’s nothing else I need to add, and the few things that out out of my scope that other people have to add

    4. Goddess47*

      Depending on how much you need to be present in your office, see if there’s some new student activities you can assist with. Either for the university or your department. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes things for new student orientations that you likely can do in the office but for the days students may come on campus, an extra set of hands is always welcome.

      Are there any things you can do for new faculty? Especially for the adjuncts? There’s almost always a new adjunct or two and what kinds of things can you prep for them? Making sure they know who to contact for tech support, where/how to get copies made, etc.

      Depending on your relationship with the faculty, is someone in need of, umm… organization in their office? Can you quietly offer to do whatever to help them be ‘better organized’ — filing, sorting, etc.

      Ask your IT folk about training things. They may have suggestions of things you might want to learn more about. If your campus has an ERP system, what do you want to know more about so you can get the reports you want? If you learn X, maybe you can run the reports the departments wants instead of having to ask for them.

      And ask your IT staff if your department has any outstanding help desk tickets that you might help close. They’ll appreciate that.

      Good luck!

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

        There are some things I will be doing in the summer for student orientation. But for the most part I have to be in the office. I’m at the front desk and have to answer calls, etc.

    5. Project Maniac-ger*

      My university pays for LinkedIn learning and trade association memberships. When things are slow, I do a LinkedIn learning course or sign up for a webinar or training from the trade association.

      I just did a LL course on project management software selection and implementation and it was really helpful to get a team on board with using a software instead of an excel sheet from 2005 to organize their big projects and events.

    6. eeeek*

      I’m on the side of the university that works with folks in departments to get a lot of deadline-driven stuff done (like the tenure and promotion submissions, as well as proposals for new courses, updating program requirements to add new courses or delete/retire old ones, editing the program catalog, and getting everything approved by the various powers that be along the way). I am always grateful to the admins who have looked ahead at the deadlines and pathways – “to get X approved in time to implement it by Y, it needs three committee approvals and the committee deadlines are A, B, C, so we need all relevant departmental curriculum committee discussion to be completed by deadline A…” Building out the calendar of deadlines can include the cycle of things in your documentation – “tenure deadlines fall in March so be ready to help the chair gather materials in early January…”

      When I do this sort of planning ahead, my future self always thanks my past self…

  39. TB*

    Is there any benefit/ harm to telling your boss you don’t know what your purpose is anymore?

    I’ve had good experiences at my company over the past 5 years, but have hit a bit of a lull in the past couple months where I feel like I’m just doing “stuff” rather than solving problems. The current roadmap of what I’d be doing for the rest of the year does not look much better either. There is certainly more fulfilling work to do, but it’s not a high priority at the moment. Has anyone else had this experience?

    1. The Ginger Ginger*

      I certainly wouldn’t phrase it like that. It risks sounding like your role could be phased out, and worst case scenario, they’ll take you up on it. Instead I’d just ask to talk about the roadmap.
      Something like, “looking ahead, I think I’ll have bandwidth beyond what’s outlined here. Would you mind if I pulled in X (work that is more fulfilling) when time allows? Or is there a list of lower priority tasks you want me to pull from during times when I’m caught up on the roadmap tasks and waiting for others to complete their tasks?”

    2. ferrina*

      No benefit, lots of potential harm. If you don’t see the purpose of your job, you’re at risk of being laid off.

      A couple better ways to approach:
      1) Figure out what high priority business needs you want to contribute to. Make a loose plan of what you can do and share it with your boss for feedback and approval. Tell your boss if it will impact your other work and how much time you plan to spend (most bosses won’t care if it’s 1-3 hours/wk)
      2) Make time for your favorite activities. Maybe spend 90% of your time on your assigned work, then spend 10% of your time working toward low-priority interest projects (assuming the high priority stuff still gets done). You can usually get away with spending time on low priorities if high priorities don’t drop and when you say “hey boss, I casually made a finished solution in my spare time”

      1. TB*

        Not nosy at all! I last took off a couple days at the end of January, so it’s been a bit. I have scheduled a week off later this month.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      Depends on what the larger picture is in your industry. I’ve been focused on automating stuff because I also am in a lull in other areas, but that is because there is a lull in the greater industry. People have been ignoring that the good GDP numbers are very general and covering up slowdowns in many areas of the economy and job market. So if the issue stems from a general slowdown, would NOT say anything because it may put you closer to the top of any layoff list. I would say something if there is a high likelihood of meaningful projects being given, and the company is generally doing well

    4. Girasol*

      I’ve always been told to come with the answer in hand. What would you like your job to look like? What would it take to make that happen? What is the advantage to the business in doing that?

    5. anon_sighing*

      Could you do a little of that more fulfilling work on the side?

      It sounds like what needs to get done isn’t glamorous, but it’s needed, I suppose. Being bored at work is a terrible feeling though. It’s something worse than burn out…being under stimulated just dulls the senses and makes time go slower.

  40. Startup*

    I work at a start up for the first time. Is there a way to ask for adding some tasks/skills to my job that doesn’t necessarily relate directly to my job? I was told that in start ups you get to wear many hats but so far I’ve only worn a couple. I’d really like to get some data analysis skills under my belt, but there doesn’t seem to be a direct way to do this in my current role. I am a bit scared that asking to do skills out of my wheelhouse might look like I’m trying to pivot away from my role, but I just want to grow. Any advice from other start up workers?

    1. ferrina*

      How long have you been working there? If you’ve been there a few months and you are doing well, you’ll have more leeway. It also depends on what the needs of the start-up are. If data analysis is already covered, they won’t be willing to delegate work to you for the sake of learning.

      It also depends on the type of analysis and platforms that your organization uses. There’s a big difference between pulling a few crosstabs vs driver analysis, and a big difference between Excel and R or Tableau. Start by just chatting to the data manager so you can learn more. Tell them you’d love to learn more and maybe help out if it makes sense. (make sure you get your boss’s blessing first)

    2. EMP*

      I think it’s down to timing. Is there data analysis to do? Is it a formal job someone has, or do you just see it needs to be done and want to try to do it? How close is it to your job?
      If it’s someone else’s job already, then you need to tread a little more carefully and I think the conversation with your manager is something like, “I’d like to learn more about data analysis, if Lucy’s department ever has extra tasks, is that something I could take on?”
      If you just see it needs doing and no one is doing, then I would more tell your manager, “I noticed we could be doing X with this data, I was thinking of spending some time on that this week.” (assuming you are getting all your regular assigned work done)

      And all of this is me thinking data analysis is at least visible from if not related to your current job. If you’re, say, a manufacturing engineer who wouldn’t normally even see the data, it does look like a strange move and like you want to leave your job rather than add to it.

    3. BellyButton*

      I love it! “I am really interested in developing my data analysis skills. Are there any opportunities for me to grow in that area?”

    4. Love to WFH*

      If you have a great manager, they’ll want to hear about areas you’d like to grow into and give you opportunities to try new things.

  41. Procedure Publisher*

    This week I received a rejection for a job that I applied to back in November. So far this is the longest it took to get a response for a job that I applied to. However, I do have some jobs that I applied to in October that I have not heard back from.

    Anyone else had a really long time between application and the rejection email?

    1. Annie Nominous*

      My longest run just ended, from early January to now. I applied for a kind of government job cattle call in which several similar positions in multiple different locations were being offered. After waiting and hoping I would be the only applicant left who remembered applying, I just got an email last week telling me the posting had been updated. The locations I want are no longer listed. Angry shrug.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      18 months from application to rejection is my record. At least the rejection email didn’t sting, it just made me laugh. I’d figured out more than a year before that it wasn’t going to happen.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      I think my longest gap was around eight months to a year, maybe? It was for a small game studio made by some big names, so I didn’t really hold the delay against them – I figure that even though I made it to the first round test submission, they probably had a zillion other candidates to handle on top of their other work and I weirdly appreciated that they closed the loop anyway (even if it did make me chuckle to get the email lol).

    4. Panicked*

      I know the Federal hiring system is a whole other world, but I’ve gotten rejections YEARS later from jobs I applied to through them!

      1. anon_sighing*

        I got a rejection from a state job a year later (and 8 months into a new job) once, lol. I was confused on why they were contacting me at all until I remembered.

        When I was at the federal level, we got someone hired…but even after 1.5 years (includes the hiring, interviewing, selecting, submitting docs to HR to get an offer letter, background check, etc), they were still in HR hell when I left that job. So even the ones who make it aren’t having a great time!

    5. Anecdata*

      Years, sometimes it’s just “oops we just realized we forgot to click the button that closes out the posting and sends all the folks we didn’t hire rejections”

    6. Roland*

      Recently, I came across multiple posts on a certain job hubting subreddits where the OP was blasting a certain company for sending rejections for an application like 8 years back… Semeed the company had a bug that caused this to hapken for many old apps. But the company that had done this was Pinkerton and so mostly the comment sections just focused on how these people were not ashamed to admit they applied to the Pinkertons and/or are tragically underinformed about the Pinkertons.

  42. ZSD*

    There’s been talk on this site about working two full-time jobs at once, and how you’re likely to get caught when people realize they can’t reach you as readily as they should be able to, if you double-book meeting times, etc.
    Well, the DC Public Library’s director of HR just had to step down and will be paying a $17k fine to the city. She supposedly worked full-time for the library system, but she also had a full-time contracting gig with a company in California, plus she was a part-time doula.
    She says that she disclosed these jobs early on and that any time she was doing doula work, she used vacation time from the library. The library leadership, in contrast, says that library employees often had trouble reaching her for hours on end, and there was a day when she was simply missing all day, when it later turned out she had been delivering a baby.
    And I have to say that I’m not sure why she needed the contracting job. Her salary from the library was $144k! It’s not like she should have needed an additional full-time job to make ends meet. (I know, I know, I don’t know her financial situation, etc. But I would feel a lot more sympathetic if her library salary were only $60k.) I think if she had kept her HR job and then been a part-time doula, that probably would have been fine. It was shoehorning in the additional contracting work that (I suspect) made the arrangement unsustainable.

    1. Elsewise*

      That is truly bonkers. I’m not a parent, but I can’t imagine trying to be a doula around another full-time job, much less two! Babies don’t really tend to wait until it’s a good time for you or your doula.

    2. WellRed*

      Not only is it not a good idea, I think it is doubly so when you work for a govt entity. Taxpayers don’t like this stuff.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, you have to know if you work for the government in the US that you’re getting unusual scrutiny and zero “fun” perks. Our salaries are public information, as are most of our emails. We don’t get free coffee or bottled water, much less lunch, for mandatory meetings. You can’t just pull that shit and expect to get away with it!

        Ironically, the most wasteful part of my government agency is the part that investigates government waste. Spending $1k to recover $100 is wasteful, people!

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Do you live in DC? $144k would be a great salary in Green Bay or Knoxville but maybe not in DC, especially if the director has a family to support.

      Regardless, I don’t think it’s possible to work 2.5 jobs in the time allotted for 1 job, and she should have cut back once it first became evident that people couldn’t reach her when they needed her. There are a slew of AAM letters about missing coworkers becoming missing stairs.

      1. Roland*

        Right. Not saying what she did was ok but 144k in DC is absolutely a salary where I get why some people would try.

    4. Bee*

      I can see how it could be possible to do *some* jobs at the same time, especially if you have a lot of downtime, but 2.5 jobs is truly pushing it.

    5. anon_sighing*

      I saw a reddit community around this and it sounded exhausting. They had all sorts of tips and tricks, most of them had remote jobs in tech or stuff like HR that could be done remotely and/or asynchronously. Some of them touted they just have two jobs with very little to do except look online…you gotta be pretty brazen to do this, to be honest. I’d be an anxious puddle.

      However, here, it sounds like she was sloppy with the doula job. Saying she uses vacation is also silly unless these are induced or scheduled births – babies are famous for not coming out when you want them to, lol.

    6. Project Maniac-ger*

      The only way I see someone holding down two jobs is if the work for both is very independent. Doula-ing, by definition, is a team sport with very unplanned “deadlines” so that was never gonna work. Especially as Director of HR – what if she was in a sensitive HR meeting and one of her clients called and their contractions were 3 mins apart? Was she going to just leave while someone was getting fired?

  43. PissedOff*

    How do you keep yourself from handing over your badge and walking out? I don’t have anything lined up yet, and with my field it might be a little while, but every snide comment, threat, micromanagement check-in, and new meeting I’m somehow not invited to has me on the edge of throwing my computer at a wall and taking myself home.

    I don’t have the job I applied for, I have nothing anywhere close to the job I applied for, and my boss seems to think nothing is wrong with that so long as she looks and feels powerful.

    How do you keep composer and professionalism after two years of abuse until your new opportunity is sealed?

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I remind myself that I love my lifestyle and mutter “Eff You” in my mind to my boss frequently during the day.

    2. ferrina*

      You are getting out.
      That is your little secret, and you should smile smugly about that. You are getting out and your old boss will be left in the dust. Emotionally disengage- do the work well but don’t care about the work. Not invited to the meeting? Okay. If they want you to know, they’ll hand you the notes. Of course, we both know that they won’t, but that’s on them. The workplace knows what they are like, and once you leave, that will be one more competent person that is gone, leaving the bananapants behind.

      Grey-rocking can help with the verbal responses, but internally, can you amputate the part of you that cares? This is the part of you that wants to invest in the company, wants it to be a good workplace, and hates your boss/conditions for holding everything back. That part of you isn’t serving you well right now. That part will be helpful at your next (healthier) job, but it’s not helpful here. Dissociation can help- in survival situations sometimes our mind will just feel like it is dethatched from the situation or even our bodies. This is not a good long term strategy, but it does help us get through an instance where we are being attacked and can’t fight back.

      Also- stop thinking about work when you are not at work. It can be really, really hard to reclaim that brainspace, but it is important. It will help speed recovery in the long run. Find hobbies you enjoy, do whatever matches your energy, connect with friends about not-work.

      It sounds like you are already applying, which is excellent. Sometimes toxic situations can quagmire us, but you are neatly avoiding that trap. You will get out- that day is coming. Your boss doesn’t know it yet, but they won’t have you forever. You’ll be out and you’ll keep growing professionally and as a person, and they will have the karma of living with their own awfulness forever (okay, karma doesn’t always take hold, but when it does, it is so sweet. and it’s taken hold more often than I ever expected!)

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Your second paragraph is so spot-on IMO. When I was in a similar situation, I relied on the dissociation a little too much and tanked my mental health. But if I’d focused that detachment differently – IE, stop taking everything so personally and stop caring so much, just do what they ask you to and let the rest slide off you – I think I would have gotten through it with a lot less heartache and brain spiders.

        Of course, it’s easier said than done, but that’s where the first suggestion comes in – you’re already leaving, that gets to be your secret armor that they can’t change or get past.

    3. Art3mis*

      Honestly it’s the fact that I have bills to pay and that I have had job searches that have taken me years. And I don’t mean “Oh I haven’t found a job I liked and I settled for something for now” type jobs because if we’re doing that, it’s been on going since 2006, I mean actual looking for a job and not getting any offers for years job search. I’m not a good candidate and I just have to hold on to what I have until I can find something more tolerable.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      The advice I’ve always gotten is to detach and stop caring so much. Especially, stop complaining and ranting to people after work; it just gives work too much of your time and emotional energy.

      I am terrible at following this advice, so I try to refine my complaints into a tight 10 minute stand-up comedy routine. “Yup, we had our 14th meeting today, which means this project has been going for 1 year 7 months, but I’m sure they’ll finalize the details on that email they want me to send out any day now!”

    5. not applicable*

      Reminding myself that how others treat me is not a reflection of me but of them. It gives me a lot of inner peace to remember that, since it means that I am not the problem. Having that peace also frees up a lot of brain stuff to do other, more productive things; okay, so I’m not invited to that meeting? I can find something else to contribute to now that will set me up better for other opportunities. (Has that turned me into somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none? Sure, but better than master of one!)

      Other people only have power over you when you let them have it. That has helped me to remain calm and happy. And ferrina makes another great point too, when you leave work for the day, leave it mentally too!

      The last thing I do is try to focus on /any/ good there is, because there’s always a sliver of something. Take time to reset and recenter, and take stock of all the good that happens because you have this job, even if it’s just that you get paid x amount. That can snowball to other good things that come from it, which can ground you until you find something new. What you dwell on will be what you focus on, so don’t give your boss that honor. You got this!

  44. anonymous professor*

    I would welcome people’s thoughts on how to manage in a toxic workplace that you cannot leave for the time being. In particular, if you’ve been in this type of situation before, how did you manage emotionally? How did you make your life good (if you did) despite your work situation? I am a tenure-track but untenured professor, in case that is helpful for guiding people’s thoughts in response to this question.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      It can help to think of yourself as an observer rather than an unwillingly participant. It’s a way to disengage. These people aren’t doing things at or to you, they’re just doing things that of course they would say/do/act like that because that’s how they are.

      If you can provide more info on what is making it toxic people might be able to give more pointed advice.

    2. ferrina*

      I mentally wrote a satirical novel about bonkers things that would happen. You can also picture yourself as part of a sitcom, or spin-off of Hunger Games in a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy style. Or maybe an assistant zookeeper working with the strangest venomous creatures on the planet.

      Basically the trick is to emotionally disengage. Do your work, but don’t take the workplace seriously. Become an observer rather than an actor. You aren’t in a position to detox the environment, so make sure you do no harm but don’t increase toxicity to yourself by trying to change things (avoid the false hope of ‘maybe it will be different’ when you know it won’t be).

      Then get engaged in things outside of work. Don’t let work take up brainspace outside of working hours- find other things to use that space. Good luck!

  45. Onelia*

    Okay, folks. What’s the best way to try and slot a number of people in for some training sessions that doesn’t involve using a poll.

    My predecessor would send out an email telling people different Outlook invitations would come out and they should respond to the one they preferred, but another person in my office usually sends an email out with dates and times and asks people to email them back with their preference.

    I’m looking at hosting probably 4 different dates, and they would be hybrid sessions. These sessions are typically capped around 8-10 each, and there would be some room logistics to work out if people want to attend in person. In total, I’ll be reaching out to about 50 people.

    Any great ideas or suggestions?

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          This might not work but instead of a “poll” can you just have people sign up? Just pick 4 days out reasonably far enough that people’s calendars should be super full, and have people email you their first and second choice.

          When a day is full it’s full.

          1. Onelia*

            I think that’s what I am leaning towards. I’m just glad it makes sense to more than just me. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to do a poll without a poll and I’m afraid the last remaining brain cell abandoned me about an hour ago. Haha.

            Appreciate the response!

    1. ferrina*

      Depends how much flexibility you have with the number of attendees.

      If you are okay with people dropping in, send multiple calendar invites and label them “Llama braiding training (Option 1)”, “Llama braiding training (Option 2)”, etc. Send an email to everyone explaining that they only need to attend one session. That way if someone is sick or unexpectedly busy on a certain day, it’s easy for them to drop into the next session.

      If you need to know the attendees in advance, either a poll or an email. Don’t ask them to pick when they thing a session should be- you pick the session times and have them sign up for one. In general, try to minimize the touchpoints for people. Expect that you’ll need to chase a few people down to sign up for a session.

    2. BellyButton*

      Since we are all remote and all over the country I tend to offer several sessions and ask people to pick whichever one works for their session. In outlook it was easy to create an ics and link all the dates in one email. My current company uses Google and I haven’t figured out how to do that, so I send multiple invites and tell people to pick the one they want.

      The other way I have done it is to create a Survey Monkey registration page, which allows me to cap the number of people who can attend.

      I have also used Google sheets to create a registration page- spreadsheet format, each tab it’s own date, with a set number of response lines allowed.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you’re not allowed to poll, can you make a open access spreadsheet and give each session a column then ask people to sign themselves up under one of the dates?

    4. Mighty K*

      There’s an app within Outlook where you can set up the options, it emails everyone and they mark each session with yes-good/yes-ok/not available

      So it’s not *technically* a poll and it is really helpful, could that work?

      I can’t remember what it’s called, sorry

    5. IndyDem*

      What I’ve done before was list the 4 training slots, and have people rank them 1-4 as to which they’d prefer. I also tried to have the training slots on different days of the week, and some in the afternoon, some in the morning. Also, just to confirm, you said 4 training slots capped at 8-10 people, but you’re inviting 50? Are you planning on 80% compliance with the training? It might make sense to have more slots, if that’s feasible for your training schedule.

      1. linger*

        They’re hybrid sessions: room availability imposes a cap on physical attendance, but more could attend remotely. So there’s only potentially a problem if most people want to be physically present.

    6. Just Here for the Cake*

      I’ve done both, and I think it comes down to personal preference and how motivate people are to take the training. I personally like the multiple Outlook invitations because its less admin work on my side and people seem more likely to actually sign up for the training since the meeting invite is already on their calendar.

    7. Chip Chip*

      Are you looking for something like SignUp Genius (free for a basic account, I think)? You can set up sessions, send out the link to choose and limit sign ups for each session to how ever many you want. You can include a Zoom and/or address for where the session is.

  46. TheGrassIsGreener*

    I’m expecting a job offer for a position I applied for, and I’m having very mixed feelings about what to do. Thought I would see if anyone else had been in a similar position, or had any thoughts to share. Pros: great job, lots of money, good team to work with. Cons: moving across country, away from friends and family, HCOL area where I would be in a small apartment rather than a house with a nice yard, no real way to bring my dog (who would stay with family), (underrated but I think a real issue), in a different timezone from friends & family at home, which in my experience makes it hard to find time to catch up (no virtual lunches, eg). Any advice/thoughts?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      The cons preety heavily outweigh the pros.

      Genuine question after looking at the cons – what is the thing that keeps you considering this job? It’s not necessarily a “pro” but there’s clearly something. Im curious what it is.

      1. TheGrassIsGreener*

        It’s a huge step up careerwise and would double-triple my salary (although COLA applies).

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          It sounds like it really wouldn’t double/triple your salary. Maybe on paper but if your living expenses so drastically increase that you can’t maintain the same style of living then it’s not a raise.

          Frankly it sounds like a pay cut.

          Unless this is the only company on earth that has a job that would be a step up in your career – well just look at the list of pros and cons.

    2. Garblesnark*

      I’m concerned that the “lots of money” is still so little money that you will be taking a significant lifestyle downgrade from house with dog to tiny studio with no dog.

      1. TheGrassIsGreener*

        True, I didn’t really explain. It’s because I don’t want to sell my house, which is in a great location and which I’d like to move back to eventually, so I’d be maintaining two residences, which makes me not want to overspend. I would be banking a lot of money, which I could put into a nice apartment, but I can’t afford to buy a second house in a HCOL area, and I don’t want to waste a ton of money on renting a luxury space. I guess I have to figure out the balance of paying enough to live comfortably without being wasteful.

        1. Garblesnark*

          Oh, that puts things in perspective for sure. Is there any chance there’s a property management co or friend looking for a place to rent in your current area that could make that a bit more tenable?

        2. A Significant Tree*

          So it sounds like the move would be a huge career and money boost, and also not a long term/forever job. I’ve done two moves like that – big cross-country moves to HCOL areas where I didn’t know more than a handful of people. It was worth it to me both times. The first move sounds a lot like the situation you’re debating. I moved for the money and the career boost, stayed about 2 years, and was able to save a significant amount which went even further in the LCOL area I moved to next.

          I should note for the second move, I also went with the idea of just staying a few years but met someone, started a family, and am looking at my 20th year here… You just never know!

    3. ferrina*

      Focus on the quality of life.

      If you would be miserable living away from family, no amount of money or colleagues will make up for that. It also really depends on where you would be living- if you don’t like the culture of the new place, it can be really miserable.
      If you are excited about living somewhere new, mentally commit to working 2 years in that role then re-evaluate then. I’ve known several people who happily moved across the country so they could experience living somewhere new; some moved back, some stayed in the new locations; some moved to a third location.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Seconding this advice. Some good questions to ask yourself:

        – Are there skills/projects/people you’ll get to work with in the new job? Will these skills/experiences/networks be transferable if/when you want to move back?

        – Is the change from house with a yard to an apartment a downgrade, or a change? (Not taking your dog is a definite downgrade! But aside from that, how do you feel about apartment living?)

        – How do you feel about making new friends as an adult? Do you have hobbies that lend themselves to meeting people (for example, joining a running group/book club/house of worship in your new location)?

        – How many time zones away is it? I’ve lived one time zone away from friends/family before and that’s enough to make lunch catch-ups difficult but evening/weekend catch-ups are still very do-able. At two or more time zones, evenings and weekends start to become difficult as well.

        – How does the higher salary stack up against the higher cost of living? Will you be saving less/more/about the same amount of money in the new location?

        – What is travel like between your current location and your new location? How often will you be able to travel back to see friends/family/your dog? Cost of travel in dollars, vacation time, and how often you prefer to travel all matter.

    4. Cordelia*

      hmm, really in the “pros” column all you have for sure is the money – you don’t actually know yet, presumably, whether it really is a great job in a great team. And it kind of sounds like a cut in money in real terms, if you can’t afford the standard of living you have currently. Do you feel excited about living in the new area? Are there any positives you can identify about the area compared to where you live now?

    5. TheCakeIsALie*

      I would think long and hard about this, but it doesn’t mean you have to say no.
      1) On this site we talk all the time about how there’s no such thing as a “dream job.” Do you know what the concrete benefits would be (aside from money)? Is this a growth opportunity? Do you feel like you want this enough to make such a big commitment?
      2) Can you talk to anyone at this company who might be able to give you a better idea about the company culture or the city? Basically get as much information as you can about what kind of life you would have.
      3) Do you think five years from now you would regret turning down this opportunity? Why or why not?
      4) Having moved far away from my family on my own before, I can tell you it is very difficult. I was lonely for a while. I definitely put myself out there and built a new network, but it’s not easy.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      if you’re moving “across the country” you’re most likely moving to a HCOL and high tax area. Been there done that. Was always surprised how much taxes were, and how much some random expenses were. It wasn’t financially worth it until maybe year four when by that point, my rent was considered “low.” But even then, most places are at the peak of a rental bubble so you won’t get a deal on rent. At all. So not a great time to move either

  47. Anon for this*

    Anyone here familiar with the Boston area?

    I’m moving soon for my partner, and while I have a stable (remote) job for now, I’m looking to move on in the next year or so. But I have never spent much time in Boston and don’t know about what’s out there. I’m interested in work related to the environment, although I also have a strong international work background that I’m trying to connect to it (and I love to travel). I have experience in project management (including the PMP). Any and all suggestions would be welcome, including remote jobs – basically looking for some peace of mind!

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I’m in Boston! (ish) We have some decent-sized international and environmental NGOs around, although I don’t have specific knowledge or experience with most of them.

      1. Anon for this*

        Could you name a few? I’m not looking to apply anywhere right now, just want to get a feel for what’s out there. Boston (ish) is perfect since we don’t have an exact location yet.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Environment/climate: Ceres, Union of Concerned Scientists

          International, I only know healthcare off-hand: Partners in Health, JSI

          All the universities have related work, that’s a huge employment sector here.

    2. EMP*

      I’m in the Boston area. I can’t speak to specific jobs but there’s a lot here, especially if “Boston area” is not strictly downtown Boston (I don’t know about environment but there’s weird little industrial hubs in some of our more far-flung suburbs). I don’t hear about a ton of fully remote work but that may be down to my specific industry. If you have less work, more living area questions, I may be able to help more!

    3. Emily Byrd Starr*

      I’m in the greater Boston area, and there are definitely companies that are connected to your interest and background. No matter what you’re interested in, it’s a good chance that you’ll find in Boston or the surrounding area (unless it’s something really niche that’s mostly confined to a specific location; i.e., film-making in Los Angeles, space exploration in Cape Canaveral).

    4. BostonBurbs*

      Boston has a really substantial nonprofit sector and a lot of universities. I don’t think you’ll have any problems finding something. I don’t have specific intl experience, but MassNonprofit has a weekly newsletter that might give you a sense of what’s going on, though their job listings aren’t that big. Oxfam America is in Boston, and Tufts has a well regarded Intl relations school. Plus, if your project mgt skills could be used in biotech, that sector is huge here. Good luck!

    5. Anon for this*

      Thanks to everyone who’s responded so far! If you have any specific examples to share, please do – I’m basically just trying to make a list/get a feel for what’s out there so it seems less like I’m stepping into a great black void.

      1. Anecdata*

        Both City of Boston and State of Massachusetts have some really cool stuff going on with bringing “tech” product management/design/user research to public services (like “design how low income families find and sign their kids up for head start” or “make the MBTA app actually good” – could be a fit if your international work comes with language skills, or maybe there are PM roles?

    6. Which Susan are you?*

      I’m in Boston. I think we are the second or third most expensive metropolitan area in the country. Be prepared to live in a 350 sq foot studio apartment by yourself, or else share with at least two other roommates. We have lots and lots of non-profit/higher ed jobs but they don’t pay well. It’s a trade off between salary and 4 weeks of vacation. There are tech and bio-engineering/medical research companies, and a lot of hospitals. Finding a job won’t be too hard, if you can afford to live here three months or so without getting paid.

    7. Anon in Greater Boston*

      Trustees, Mass Audubon, and Appalachian Mountain Club are all environmental non-profits.

    8. BostonProsAndCons*

      Despite having a reputation otherwise be aware Boston has dreadful public transportation. Seriously awful. It’s also the most expensive place to live in the country (last I checked; it rotates fairly regularly with NYC and SF; they are consistently the top 3).

      However, it’s got a ton of companies in nearly every industry and the east coast HQ of many tech companies. It’s the largest biotech center in the US, has more colleges and universities than anywhere else, and you can find pretty much any type of food you want.

      Most folks I know have no problem working remotely full time if they want to do so and hybrid has been common at many local companies since at least the 90s; the only person I know who works onsite 100% does so by choice.

      1. Chip Chip*

        As a lifelong Boston area resident, I have to say this is unfortunately very true about the public transportation! It’s definitely gotten worse and worse over the years, too, with higher prices and less service.

    9. Chip Chip*

      I’m in the Boston area and to add to what everyone else has said – take a look at some of the universities. I worked at Harvard for a while and it had great benefits & work life balance (in my department, anyway). There are lots of institutions and research groups attached to universities & I’m sure some would have areas you’re interested in. Harvard at least also seems to lean towards hybrid positions pretty often, from the dozens I’ve looked at. What that looks like can vary wildly & they don’t usually specify, but something to think about!

      1. BostonProsAndCons*

        FWIW, I worked close to fully remotely at Harvard (pre-pandemic). Obvioysly it will depend on your exact job.

    10. Parakeet*

      Universities, as others have said (and Tufts’ Fletcher School is an international affairs school, which could dovetail with your international background). Seconding Union of Concerned Scientists. Silent Spring Institute. Depending on how close to Boston proper you need to be, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (which is on the near part of the Cape). Something on the MassCEC Clean Energy Jobs Board. Greentown Labs or one of its member companies.

  48. Arizona - really? C'mon!*

    Non-Profit fundraising, Coordinator. $50-70k. I’d ask for top line. Benefits. 30% travel from the East Coast to Midwest.

    The chief development officer was very open as to what the job entailed:
    1) Act as executive assistant for the CDO whose running around the country gathering up high dollar Corporate and individual donations. This could be an immediate phone call to create of brief and imagery for a high dollar donor, in a 1 hour window.

    2) set up all internal fundraising operations such as installing a donor CRM, working with marketing on donor engagement, interface with direct Mail vendor. Individual donors are 10% of revenue.

    3) be the face of fundraising and organization for donors from $1 to $15,000 nominal stewardship but I don’t think 2nd gifts outside of what digital and direct Mail can do. Keep them happy until they get to a certain point where the CDO might be interested.

    I’m overqualified for the position but they wanted to make sure I felt comfortable for the EA part. A Development Director acts similar as an EA, in fundraising, to the CEO but then delegates down. I’m not sure the EA part fits me, but the rest does.

    1. MsM*

      That’s…a lot. Even for $70k. I’ve done it before, but I can’t say I did every aspect equally well. The donor CRM part in particular concerns me; that’s something you’d really want to consider hiring an outside consultant for. (Or if you’re comfortable with that aspect because you’ve done it before, I imagine you already know it’s not simple and it can be hard to shift mental gears from that to having to put together a pitch.)

      1. Arizona - really? C'mon!*

        I agree and I might advocate that if I wanted to continue with the interview process. I’m familiar with the CRM brand but haven’t done an installation. That’s a huge task

    2. BostonBurbs*

      I agree w MsM that this position is a lot. How big is the total dev team? In most places this would be 2-3 people- one to be the EA or Dev coordinator, one as a Dev Ops person, and an individual giving director or assoc dir. Coordinator is usually an entry level title. Even in a v small dev dept, Asst Dir of Development or Development Associate would be more common titles for this type of position . Of course, go for the salary first, but then try to negotiate title. In my very first Dev position many years ago, I was Assoc Dir of Dev because we were a 3 person office. I did all individual giving, plus a membership appeal, the newsletter, and then whatever the DoD wanted. She had a Development Asst to make her appointments and enter all of our gifts, and do gen admin for us.

      1. MsM*

        Also, if you’re going to be interacting with four to five figure donors on a regular basis, it can be tough to get them to respond to outreach if you’re “just” a coordinator.

        1. Arizona - really? C'mon!*

          Totally agree. I was lucky at my last org, most donors weren’t snobby. They didn’t care who they talked to. We had $50k donors, too. Very grounded folks. I’m not as familiar with corporates.

      2. Arizona - really? C'mon!*

        CDO, Development Manager who primarily functions in grant writing and some corp sponsorships, and then this new position. You’ve given me great things to consider. I would be responsible for the CRM installation (I’ve used it for 3 yrs in most recent job).

        Previous role I primarily did gift processing and related tasks, reports/analytics, managed 5 installed db (transition from one fundraising platform to another), and donor relations for anyone, but didn’t steward them. I was responsible for the recurring donor program.

    3. Delores Van Cartier*

      On the East Coast, that’s a pretty normal range from what I’ve seen, especially if you are expected to have a portfolio of your own donors. $70k may be a bit high or I’m just underpaid (which is likely!).

      Setting up fundraising systems is a lot of work, and if you’re not using any contractors, it can take quite a while. I’d ask for their timeline for that, as people often underestimate it.

      I’d also be curious how many people make up that 10% of individual donors. If you’re going to be the staff member in charge of stewarding them all (or a very large range of them), I’d want to know what they currently have set up as stewardship plans and what the expectations are. Some orgs have very little and some have very detailed plans and if you had 1,000 people in that pool, it wouldn’t be manageable.


      1. Ginger Baker*

        This is so “wow the view from here is really different” because I do admin work but in the for-profit world for a long time now and I would absolutely not want to take on the listed tasks for anything less than $100k minimum [also East Coast, but NYC which is to be fair very pricey]. Not saying that the salary range is out of line with non-profit norms per se – it’s been way too long since I was in that world to know – but…yeah.

    4. Which Susan are you?*

      They are being cheap. The CRM portion needs a specific dedicated position, which does not include being a fundraiser/solicitor; it is a technology/operations job. I would do 1 and 3 for $70,000, but no way would I do the CRM also. This is a red flag for the organization being stretched way too thin.

  49. SummitSkein*

    What sort of communication would you expect from management when someone is unexpectedly out for a long period of time, end dates uncertain, and their work is falling to other people? I’m currently in a situation where someone at the same reporting level as me has been out for, now, 3 weeks. It was an unexpected “not feeling well, out for the day” thing and it just has gone on and on and on. Each day, there’s a new, “Out again today” message. A few times there have been “Out again today but probably in tomorrow” messages that haven’t gone anywhere (except to give false hope). Everyone is really concerned for them and wants to be sure they’re ok, and we know that management has spoken to them about what’s going on. The issue is that, in the meantime, I’m juggling two workloads with no end date in sight. I occasionally have some back up from other support positions but it’s inconsistent: they’re much newer and in other positions so they aren’t as well trained, and they’re already buried with their own work, too. I get that things happen — I’m not blaming this coworker in the least, and I know that they have the right to privacy for their medical issues — but at what point does management have the obligation to fill us in a little bit more on what to expect, instead of just telling us “we’re taking it day by day”? And if not obligation, then courtesy?

    1. BellyButton*

      They probably don’t know yet. Before someone can apply for FMLA they have to use all their PTO and sick time, and then have a ton of paperwork to get filled out by doctors. I would assume after 3 weeks they are probably getting close to exhausting their time off and something will happen soon.
      I am sure it is frustrating and a lot of work, but the person and management may just not know.

      Good luck!

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        “Before someone can apply for FMLA they have to use all their PTO and sick time”

        This is not accurate. FMLA is about job protection – you can absolutely apply for it and use your paid leave while on FMLA.

        1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

          My experience with FMLA five years ago was that there is $0 pay while you’re on it, and you’ll owe your company for your share of insurance coverage. So, if you’re actually sick, you’ll want to use PTO and sick time first to continue receiving a paycheck. When I applied for Short term disability almost a decade ago, I had to use one week of my PTO/sick time before it kicked in (so 6 weeks of Disability only paid weeks 2-6) and I was able to save the remainder of my PTO. I filled out the paperwork to extend into Long term disability, but I received ok from my doctor to return to work. All that is theoretical if your company doesn’t cover the ST and LTD and/or you didn’t pay for the insurance coverage.

      2. Workerbee*

        No, you can and should apply for FMLA as soon as you think there’s a chance you may be out for a period of time with a serious issue. Even if you end up not needing to use it, you want that job security just in case.

    2. Piscera*

      My advice to management is if they don’t know (yet), then give the backup employees a longer absence period in updates. Then if the absence does go on for a while, at least the backups can plan their own time off in the short term.

      I once took it at face value that a colleague would return after eight weeks out. They didn’t. Then they were out for several more months, and ultimately didn’t return.

      I knew privately why my colleague was out, and realized they might be out for a while. I made the point to management that when they say someone will be out thru June 30, the rest of us expect that the someone will be back on July 1.

      1. SummitSkein*

        Yeah, I guess that’s part of what’s been so frustrating — there’s no estimate, and little communication around any sort of expectations. Even as early as week one, some things from the employee said “anticipating being back tomorrow” and that has now been… weeks. I wish at some point in time anyone had just said “for an undetermined amount of time” and then actually addressed the workload issues as if we were planning for a long absence, rather than just this “well, maybe tomorrow!” dance that we all keep doing. It isn’t helpful to me as I pick up the coverage, and it isn’t helpful to the people whose positions we support to think that they can send them something expecting “maybe tomorrow” and then it gets missed and comes back to me later as an emergency.

    3. Educator*

      I think this might be the wrong question. They probably are taking it day by day and don’t know what to expect, and I am sure that is challenging for them too! But it would be very, very reasonable to ask how you should prioritize your work in the meantime. You can’t do two workloads, so they need to help you figure out what can wait or be delegated to someone else (who can actually help) while this situation is ongoing. Figuring that out with you is very much your manager’s job.

    4. Annony*

      The problem isn’t that you are owed more communication on your coworkers absence. You are right that they deserve privacy and honestly it sounds like no one knows how long they will be out. The problem is that you cannot keep shouldering two workloads. Approach it from that angle. Let your boss know that you cannot “take it day by day” because it is too much work for one person. Ask them what tasks they do not want done or if they can redistribute some work to another team or if they can hire a temp. They need a solution because the status quo has become untenable.

    5. Happily Retired*

      Separate your mind from the “what is up with co-worker; when will they be back” and just look at how you are affected by their absence. And so this is when you use Alison’s advice to go to your manager and say, “I can’t do two full-time jobs. I can do A and B, or B and C with a little bit of X, but I can’t do A and B and C, and I sure can’t do X and Y on top of them. How do you want me to prioritize these tasks?” And ideally, go in with your proposal on what you feel you can take on, and what you’re interested in. Make it easy for your manager to agree.

      That’s it. This is just as if your co-worker had suddenly quit or been fired or had been beamed up by aliens.

  50. Stuff*

    I really don’t like American immigration law. I’m hiring for an entry level, minimum wage, part time position at a university, and this is a university with a high proportion of graduate students, and high proportion of international students, who tend to also be graduate students. My applicant pool is about 90% international graduate students. The reason why is simple – international students are banned from working off campus. There are far, far fewer on campus jobs than there are international students, so competition is intense.

    My department is a bit specialized, so it tends to attract graduate student applicants even though an undergrad freshman can be trained to do the job. Maybe I’m old fashioned a bit, but I see that as part of my function, here. People come in here without skills or work experience and then make professional screw ups in a safe environment where I can calmly correct their behavior without it having to be a big deal, and then they learn their lessons so they’re better employees when they graduate and get a full time job. We are a school, after all. On the other hand, I also have to run my department in a time of increasing staff shortages, and the graduate student applicants usually have years of full time work experience, very often some supervisory experience. On the other, other hand, I have to give them minimum wage and 20 hours a week, and these people have years of experience and qualifications and deserve so, so much better. But they are legally barred from seeking the employment that challenges their skill level and pays what they deserve.

    Well, my responsibility is to my department, so I could just say, well, the graduate student applicants are by far more qualified, and hire one. Problem is that reinforces a system where young undergrads are totally shut out from the entry level career development opportunities that were designed to help them, because an 18 year old freshman can’t be expected to compete with a graduate student in their mid-20s or older who has years of life and work experience. However if I go with an undergraduate applicant I really like, I’m shutting international students out from the only jobs they are even allowed to seek, and reinforcing a system of forced unemployment that also isn’t fair. And if I do hire a graduate student, I’ll always know I am way underpaying and underchallenging them, and that they only took this job because they’re banned from everything else.

    I hate this, this sucks, it isn’t fair to anybody involved, and I feel like there really isn’t a moral choice, here. Immigration law here sucks and hurts everybody and I really feel like America doesn’t live up to its constant messaging about being a nation of immigrants.

    1. BellyButton*

      It s*cks so much. I just want to reinforce that none of the choices you presented are morally wrong. You have thought about all the facets of each choice and ultimately you need someone. I have no doubt that someone who cares this much will make the choice based on what is right for you and your department. Good luck!

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Seems like there is a lot to unpack here that goes beyond the scope of immigration law or work advice. The main gist of your comment is that positions are limited. Why does it matter if they are limited because of this reason or that reason? Also, same as you can’t be responsible for the life trajectory of every person who applies to work there -well, you can’t be responsible for the left trajectory of every person who applies to work there.

      One thing I will think about is your assumption that it’s either excellent immigrant candidate or horrible local candidate. Surely there is more a mix than that?

      I would also try to gauge what immigrant students’ expectations are. I’ve lived in rich areas on the coasts and people come here knowing there are going to be tradeoffs, they care more about the experience and degree. You may care more about this minimum wage job than they do

      No matter where you work, you’re always going to be rejecting excellent candidates because you can’t hire everyone

      1. Love to WFH*

        “Stuff” is at a university, and is factoring in the organization’s mission to educate the students.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If I were in your position, I would try to hire some of both–because it is good for the graduate students to work with the undergrads, and the undergrads to work with the grads. I don’t think you should go entirely with one or the other, because there are good reasons to hire both.

      If it helps, remember the graduate students *are* more experienced adults and didn’t go into their graduate studies in a foreign country completely blind to what that was going to mean for them financially. Most other countries’ undergraduate degrees are much cheaper than US undergrad degrees, and they were probably able to save for their goal of pursuing a graduate degree somewhere they wouldn’t be able to work. (It would still be better if they *could* work wherever, but it’s also not a uniquely US thing for foreign students to not be able to work off campus).

      You are doing a really good job of being aware of the pros and cons for both of the sets of people you might employ, and that is something so many people in hiring don’t do. As the other said, you’re going to make the best choice you can, and that’s all anyone trying to get hired can reasonably expect of the person doing the hiring.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Seconding this. I work in an academic department at a university and our undergrad and grad offices are on different campuses. That means our student-wage employees are groups of either exclusively undergrads or exclusively master’s/PhD students. It’s fine but not ideal.

        On the rare occasion when they overlap (like the PhD students are in the undergrad office regularly because they are TAing classes or assisting with faculty research), it’s a much better experience all around! The undergrads get to see professionalism in action as well as future academic possibilities. The grad students get to be like informal mentors. I wish I was free to hire a more diverse mix for my team every time!

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yup, agree totally! It gives undergraduates an insight into postgraduate life as well and a chance to talk informally with students. Especially since I went to the LSE, in which British undergraduates were a minority compared to international undergraduates and postgraduates of all nationalities, the opportunity was one which was invaluable.

          Having a drink after class as an undergraduate with a couple of my PhD teachers at uni was great fun. It was a bit odd at first because obviously such a relationship with your teachers at school would have been unthinkable, but it gave me a really good insight into what was involved in a PhD should I ever get into a programme myself. It was clear that the seminar system (lectures were optional, seminars were mandatory, and you had one of each per week) at the LSE was designed around encouraging different types of students to engage with one another. Some of the teachers were more formal than others — I had a really interesting relationship with one lady in my third year who explained the concept of neutrality still being a definite political choice, and helped me realise that I get a bit mentally claustrophobic in echo chambers and need to get a bit of a debate going, but it was in office hours rather than over a curry — but it was a really engaging and collegiate way of learning.

          (Regarding my PhD, I did actually get a place at Kings College London, but alas there was just about zero funding for me, particularly because my interests were in Ukraine and Russia BEFORE the crap hit the fan even over Crimea in 2014. I was planning to examine legal culture in the east Slavic countries as to whether they truly had more of a collectivist philosophy and considered dissent to be legitimately criminal or whether punishing dissidents was just cynicism masked by expedient framing of individuals. I can say now that I believe the latter case rather than the former, but at the same time I also wrote a paper as an application essay for my Master’s under the question of whether Belarus was a dictatorship by consent: whether Lukashenka’s regime was sustained by actually being popular with those he governed. A case study at the time was Yulia Tymoshenko being targeted by the then pro-Moscow regime over suspected corruption, because Ukraine was the only one of the three states in question that probably wasn’t going to send the FSB after me for asking too many questions — and that’s not a joke; I lived with the daughter of a Belarusian dissident at uni in Poland and her concerns were VERY real.

          (One of my professor cousins told me I was better off learning Chinese, since Russian was completely irrelevant. I absolutely wish to God she’d been right :(, because now I don’t want to study it all until I’m attached to the department of history rather than the department of international relations :’-(((.)

    4. Scott*

      “The reason why is simple – international students are banned from working off campus.”
      What is the basis for this ban?

      1. Stuff*

        It’s federal immigration law. International students are only authorized to work in the US if they’re working at the school they attend.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, I’m guessing it’s to prevent people registering with the university and never attending classes. Our version of it in the UK is to prohibit people here on student visas from working more than 20 hours a week.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’ve never been an international student in the US, but have lived there as a green card holder. My best guess is that this is due to some strange and illogical visa restriction, which sadly abound in the immigration systems of many countries, not just the US.

        1. Anecdata*

          The idea is basically that they’re there on a student visa, for the main purpose of studying (not working); and it’s trying to thread the line between allowing the kind of work that’s “part of an academic program” (like TAing or working in your professor’s research lab, or getting a scholarship that includes a guarantee of X many paid hours on campus) without making it too easy to exploit as an alternative to H1b or other work visas. Like many parts of the US immigration system it works… not so great, but that’s what they’re going for

          1. Stuff*

            What complicates things is that, while not every international student wants to stay in the US, the majority of our most common demographic does want to, at least based on the conversations I’ve had with international students. Which is incredibly stressful for them, because they get a very short time frame in which to find a job that sponsors them after they graduate if they want to stay in the US, and with recent tech layoffs, it’s brutal finding a job. Like, if you compare the US and Canada side by side, Canada gives international students who graduate way more time to find employment before requiring them to leave. I myself am a recent graduate school graduate who’s working as an underpaid university staff member because of difficulty finding work in my field, it’s hard enough for me as a citizen who’s immigration status isn’t on the line, I can’t imagine the pressure on my international classmates, who are good people the US should be endeavoring to keep.

            1. GythaOgden*

              That’s not your problem to fix, though. They presumably understand that it’s going to be tough or it’s an object lesson for them and they may well end up being SOL and going back home. I did it when out in Poland — I wanted to stay, but the only way I could get a proper job and a visa until Poland entered the EU a year after I finished my studies there was to teach English. I was terrible at it and, having started in September, I was back home in the UK in early December after having being sacked.

              These are grown adults and, as much as you’d like them to be able to stay, they can’t. If tech is experiencing a bust in the US, then yeah, there’s a lot of US techies looking for work. The priorities of the US Government are going to be to make sure their citizens are employed before your students are. It’s tough, but while the country may be as big and rich as the US, their loyalties are still going to be towards their own citizens. Any country is going to want to prioritise citizens ahead of non-citizens, and your students presumably realise this and would have the resources (either financial or personal) to handle the disappointment of not being able to get a job in the US immediately upon attaining their postgraduate degree.

              It sucks, but the law is there to protect the people who grew up in a given country and are the same worldwide. I’m sure if it were the other way round — you trying to emigrate to their country — you’d face the same obstacles for the same reasons.

      3. Pam Adams*

        Actually, international students can do off-campus internships if they are related to their degree. It’s called CPT- Curricular Practical Training.

    5. anon for this*

      Another consideration- and I really don’t quite know how to say this. During my short experience in academia, I was at an institution which had a large number of foreign students- both undergrad and grad. Most of them were from a culture with very different mores about performance both in the academic and business world. This caused difficulty both in the classroom and in student employment positions. I am not saying do not hire such persons- I am suggesting that might be a factor.

    6. Reba*

      Only responding to the problem of not paying the graduate students what they are “worth” … when you enter graduate school, you are exploited by the university in many ways! (ideally you also get a lot of good out of it, heh.) This is just one of those ways and it is the terms that the students accept when they sign on for the whole situation. I’m not saying it is right, far from it, but it’s a problem that is much bigger than you and much bigger than the international student body. So don’t feel like you and the jobs you are hiring for are uniquely problematic or harmful to the students. It sucks and is hard for them, but students should be going into this with their eyes open.

    7. IT Manager*

      I mean, our sadly-likely next President has been calling immigrants “animals” and is waffling on birthright citizenship so I’m not sure how much we still believe the Nation of Immigrants thing…. except the Slovenian ones I guess….

  51. Random Bystander*

    Doing a resume update and this is kind of weird … I see a lot of “how to list multiple jobs at same company” but not this particular wrinkle. Maybe it’s too esoteric.

    So, I have been working in a position (let’s call it Teapot Account Rep) for a period of time under company A; then awhile back they decided to outsource our positions to company B … same exact job, company B signed paychecks, but we were exclusively “supporting company A”. Then company A claimed their “expectations weren’t being met” by the partnership and took us back.

    Yes, I had been trying hard to get other positions at company B because I *HATE* my job. *HATE* as in I ugly-cry often because I got forced into this particular wrinkle of the job by supervisor fiat and have to apply my way out (even though with company A there is probably never going to be an opportunity … at my age, other companies–as opposed to internal transfers–are going to be really rough as I’m 58).

    But they’re doing some sort of compensation review, and wanted a resume uploaded and it’s like I did this job from October 2013-February 2022 under company A, same job “supporting company A” under company B February 2022-Dec 2023, and same job again under Company A Dec 23- present. (There were some changes, but if I write the exact title that I was forced into May 2022, it sets me off into another round of ugly cry.) Do I just not mention the Company B interval?

    1. EMP*

      I would list them like multiple jobs at the same company and include the Company B section with wording like you have here. Maybe something like “Supporting A as Llama Groomer while employed by B”. I’m assuming since this is internal they’ll understand the situation.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, I would do something like this. List the jobs as Company A as the company, then add a bullet with a brief explanation that it was briefly through Company B and give the time frame.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Doesn’t sound like a resume question, I actually don’t see a direct question. Seems more that your annoyance at the re-request is giving you writers block. Don’t let it, pretend your applying to a job elsewhere, and write accomplishments accordinly. TBF no one will care as much as you about the “did X” versus “supported company doing X” in fact the fact that you’re stuck on that will be confusing to hiring managers. They only care about whether you did X or not. If you want to job hunt as well, this understandable animosity towards your job won’t help you!

    3. Pinta Bean*

      Because this is for an internal purpose, I would simply list the job for the entire time you had it as if it was all for one company. You don’t have to agonize over it very much.

      Then, at the bottom of the resume or in the cover note or anywhere else you can make a comment, you can add something like “NB: Feb 2022-Dec2023 period of contract employment with Company B.” I’m assuming that the people who work for your own company are going to be aware of this blip in the structuring, and if for some reason they’re *not aware,* you have pointed it out so that anyone who has questions can follow up with you.

      Maybe unrelated to this specific issue, but I’m curious if when your position transitioned back to Company A from Company B, how did they handle your benefits, seniority, etc? Were you considered a brand new employee at that time, or did all your years of service and anything you are entitled to due to seniority transfer back and forth with you? If everything transferred with you, I would take that as even more of a sign that your own company sees this as continuous employment.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Seniority did transfer back and forth (which really only influences rate of PTO accrued/max PTO cap). Of course, the retirement plan was managed by different companies for Company A vs Company B, which meant transferring back and forth twice in under two years.

        They did treat us like new employees in some ways–requiring us to go back for another drug test (blood and urine) we all did that when initially hired as well as when transferring to company B, supply vaccine records (again! … and I mean all the records, like the ones I got in the 1960s and 1970s and “no, I did not get the chickenpox vaccine, it didn’t exist yet … but I did have chickenpox in 1974”), re-do the I-9 form, have yet another background check, and this 3 hour via Zoom seminar for new hires (titled as ‘for new hires’) that should have been better organized–they combined clinical staff and office staff in the same seminar sessions (they had more than one just because of the volume of people affected) with 85% of the material presented geared exclusively to clinical staff.

        Company B had specifically stated that we were transferring up to 40 hours of PTO from company A when we joined; Company A said that couldn’t happen when we returned but they would “generously” front-load 40 hours. With Company B, holidays were paid separately. With Company A, holidays are paid out of PTO (so due to timing, immediately losing 16 hours of that PTO for Christmas/New Years).

  52. Junony*

    How can I make working in the office more comfortable?
    I currently work in a hybrid setting with 2 in-office days per week. More days are appreciated but the actual amount of days I work from home in any given week is up to my discretion. However, since I work in an academic environment, seeing my colleagues in person is actually helpful for brainstorming etc.
    I’ve always been prone to burn out quickly and roughly on days I have to commute in. The commute itself (75mins) stresses me out, the office environment and furniture stresses me out, and I essentially feel trapped and overwhelmed very often. And that’s although I like my team and enjoy chatting with them! However, on bad days I completely withdraw and do not join for lunch or other chitchat.
    So my question is… how can I find ways to make all this more bearable? Reasons might be introvertedness, undiagnosed neurodivergence, and sensory overload. I’m grateful for any advice!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I’m going to throw out a bunch of suggestions:

      – Is there any way to make you commute less stressful? Maybe: leaving earlier when there’s less traffic, playing soothing music, driving a different route to avoid particularly frustrating turns/intersections/traffic signals/etc., wearing headphones on public transit, etc.

      – Is there a quick thing you can do to de-stress from your commute when you arrive? Maybe: 5 min walk outside, make cup of coffee, sit with your eyes closed for 5 min.

      – Can you build in some little breaks throughout the day so you don’t reach the “overwhelmed” level? Similar to the de-stressing suggestions above.

      – Can you wear headphones while you doing focused work? (and/or during your destressing breaks) Does it make sense for you to pay for noise-cancelling headphones to reduce sensory overload during not-chatting times?

      – Can you request a different mouse/keyboard/monitor/chair that is a better ergonomic fit for you? (Can you get the same set-up you have at home?)

      – For feeling trapped–when you start to feel that way, can you get up and go for a short walk? To the bathroom, to the breakroom, outside, anywhere that works to tell yourself “I’m not actually trapped”?

      – Pack your favorite lunches/snacks for your in-office days!

      Also, it’s OK to take a break from lunches and office chit-chat on some days. If you’re not feeling up to a social lunch, you’re not feeling up to a social lunch.

    2. chocolate muffins*

      Some suggestions:

      – Would changing your commute help at all? If you drive, maybe taking public transportation (if available in your area) would help, since you could read or do other things on the commute? If you take public transportation currently, maybe driving would help if it makes the commute shorter?

      – I have a long commute and plan for something relaxing, like a bath, when I get home. I have commuted for multiple days in a row followed by several work-from-home days, and I have also spread out my commute throughout the week, and the second way has been easier for me (in other words, it’s less exhausting to have a day to recover at home between commuting days, for me).

      – Can you make the environment/furniture more pleasant? Bring in a lamp with soft lighting? Add a pillow to your chair if that would make it more comfortable? Hang a poster that you like looking at? Bring in some photos of people you love or adventures you’ve taken that will make you smile when you look at them?

      – Maybe some quick breaks during the day to take a walk or read something mindless or watch a video?

      – Would bringing headphones and listening to music help at all?

      – Maybe storing a special kind of snack at work that you can only eat there? Like if you really enjoy almonds, maybe have a bunch of almonds at work and that’s the only place where you can eat them? Might help you look forward to coming in at least a little.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Audiobooks are a great suggestion. My youngest son has a commute that’s about an hour each way, and he’s gotten into audiobooks (and like me, he is very solidly introvert).

    3. Junony*

      Thanks so much for those nice suggestions! They’re all great.
      I notice that I already tried some of them (noise canceling headphones, going for a walk, audiobooks) but need to put in some effort to make them actual habits.
      Other recommendations, like asking for a more comfortable chair or doing something relaxing for myself directly after arriving at home, I will definitely give a try!
      Feeling confident now that I can improve my mood on days I have to commute.

  53. Ed Tech*

    The district I work for got a new superintendent this year and it’s been a wild ride. Morale across the board has been tanked, we’ve gotten a whole rash of ‘consultants’ wandering the buildings who all mysteriously have connections to her and administrators are leaving/being pushed out in droves.

    Then this week we had a meeting where we were informed that the technology department was being cut in half and we all had to interview for our jobs again. And that salaries were being “normalized” (basically, all the seniority raises people had earned were going away).

    So now I’m job hunting for the first time in a while, because I don’t trust anyone in charge not to keep messing with us. Good news is that a job I applied to yesterday has already responded with a request for an interview and the posted rate would be a 25% raise. So maybe this was the kick in the pants I needed to go find something better. Time to reread Alison’s book!

    1. Corporate Fledgling*

      Ugh, my sympathies. At my former, previously beloved organization, we got a new CEO who did the same thing. She cleaned house of executives, hired her friends as both permanent staff and highly, highly paid consultants and just kind of ruined the org. I wonder if my former CEO and your new superintendent went to the same Disney Villain corporate takeover training?

  54. NothappyinNY*

    Shot out, my mom worked for a great company. Unless termination for cause (like really bad stuff, like violence, etc), if they cannot terminate by the 15th of a month, they push to the first of the next month, so person can handle transfer of medical stuff, etc

  55. Help?*

    I would love some advice. I am in my final year of school getting a graduate degree. Over the summer, I interned with a company. The company made me a full-time offer. While I interned for them, they also encouraged me to pursue another type of job, as a development opportunity. (This job would be a year-term government position that is usually extremely coveted and competitive.) They told me that they would defer my offer if I received this position. I asked them if we could put it in the offer letter that the deferral would be in place. They refused to put it in writing and told me I had a verbal promise. (I know…but I didn’t feel like I had any power to push back.) All this occurred in September/October of 2023.

    I recently received an offer to this government position. I think I would love the job, love the opportunities, and that it would be the right choice for me. I reached back out to my company. They are now telling me that I can no longer defer my position with them because a) the government position is not what they expected it to be (it is less prestigious than other government positions in the same category, but that was not specified to me when our discussion first occurred) and b) because too much time has passed (which was also not clarified when we’d had our discussion. I was led to believe that I could defer at any point up until my start date.)

    I’ve thought it over for hours and hours and honestly made myself sick. But I think at the end of the day, I need to take the position that is right for me. I need to call my contact at the company to let them know. I KNOW that I am making the right decision for myself, but I have no idea how to approach the conversation. I know it will get personal, and I am worried that they will get defensive and difficult, and I don’t know how to even start navigating this. Can anyone give me some advice?

    1. MsM*

      Just stick to “I’ve thought about it, and I really feel like this is the right role for me at this time.” If they try to guilt trip you, tell them you’re grateful for the experience you’ve already had with them and that you’d love to continue working with them if the deferral terms as you understood them are still on the table, but this is the right role…etc. etc. And if you find you’re going in circles or things are getting increasingly heated, say “I think we’ve covered everything we need to cover,” thank them again for the opportunity, and end the call. You’re clearly in demand, and it sounds like this role will lead to good things for you, so hopefully they either they quit being stubborn or will at least keep things civil if you have to interact in future.

    2. NaoNao*

      Eh, it sounds like it’s just business, not personal. I’m not sure what would be defensive or personal about it—just express disappointment that they’re withdrawing, accept the gov’t position, and move on, mentally noting that the company which withdrew their offer is nitpicky and not somewhere you want to work. Things have changed. I’d take the bird in the hand 100% over the yes we do no we don’t company any day!
      But I’m not sure what exactly you have to let them know? You’re taking the gov’t job–they already know this, right? That’s why they withdrew the offer to “hold” the position, because the gov’t job isn’t aligned with the conditions they’d need to “hold” the job they initially offered.
      I’d just be crisp, polite, and professional.
      “After considering all the aspects of this, including being aware of the withdraw of the offer to hold the position, I’ll be taking X job. I really appreciate everything X has done for me, and all the opportunities, blah blah. I wish you the best in filling X role.”

  56. DivergentStitches*

    I work remotely in a role that involves being available for phone calls.

    I have to have an endoscopy to look for serious stomach issues (cancer, etc.) which is pretty stressful, especially since I’ve been having pain for 2+ months and trying to manage working while dealing with the pain and dr appts. The endoscopy is scheduled for 4/25. I requested 4/25 and 4/26 off (4/26 just because). My workplace offers unlimited PTO.

    My boss said 2 members of my team already have those days off and I can’t have them. I’m not worried about 4/26 and said so, but I really need this medical test and I will be under anesthesia for it. I told him I would be available to work in the afternoon after the test but that I’d still be groggy and he said “ok thanks.”

    I don’t think this is ideal. I would never want someone else’s time off to be revoked (one of my coworkers is running a marathon, I’m not sure what the other one is doing, not that it’s my business) so I’m working when I shouldn’t be. I don’t really want to escalate it further but am just really nervous about taking calls while groggy.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Your health trumps your employment. Cancer is one of those things were the sooner you can spot it, the sooner it can be treated, the better your survival rates. It sucks that your department is short staffed that day, but it’s not your problem to solve. You are your only advocate for your health. Don’t cancel the procedure. Don’t work through anesthesia. Fingers crossed it turns out not to be cancer but something easily treatable!

    2. ferrina*

      Go back to your boss and say “my doctor said that I shouldn’t work in the afternoon, so I actually won’t be able to work on 4/25. I’ll see you on 4/26 though!”

      Since this is a medical appointment, I think you’ll get more leeway. It sounds like you may have already told your boss this is for a medical thing, but if not, make sure you tell him. I don’t think he’ll risk you going to HR over a single day off (though he would be fine with pressuring you to make that decision on your own)

    3. I edit everything*

      Definitely not ideal. I tried to work the afternoon after an endoscopy (I was the first one of the day, too), and it did not go well, and I have a very low-pressure job, where I’m mostly just there to be there. If you can move your procedure by a couple days, I think that would be preferable to trying to be coherent on multiple phone calls.

    4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      It is quite likely that the post-procedure instructions will tell you not to drive, sign any legal paperwork, or make any important decisions for 24 hours. You absolutely should not attempt to work the same day.

      Best of luck with the scan, and hoping for a simple and easily-resolved explanation.

    5. Anon for This One Since It's Medical*

      I’ve had this test, and I assure you–you absolutely should not be working. I was crazy tired and dizzy, and my throat was killing me. I could not speak above a whisper and I was slurring my words. And that’s just the physical side–the emotional side was very overwhelming too. I was not back to normal for several days. (But also then you will be totally fine and it is very much worth it know what is going on!)

      I would go back to your boss and say something like, “As I have learned more about the medical procedure I need to have on the 25th, I’ve discovered that it will not be possible for me to work on the afternoon of the 25th or the 26th. I physically will not be able to sit at a desk or speak on the phone. I need to use sick time to cover those days. Given that I won’t be able to work, what can I do in advance to set you and the team up for success?”

      And then it is your manager’s job to figure it out. If you were hit by a bus, they would figure it out. Honestly, as a manager myself, I am appealed by your manager’s initial response. Check out your company policy on sick leave and be ready to escalate. You need to take care of yourself, and your manager needs to figure out coverage.

    6. Lily Rowan*

      Unless you are providing some kind of emergency assistance, stuff can wait a day. You need this procedure, and everyone knows how impossible scheduling medical stuff is! You can’t work those days.

    7. Anecdata*

      FWIW, if your boss is AT ALl reasonable “I actually need these days off for an important medical test, and it can’t be rescheduled” is all you need to say. If your manager hasn’t heard medical or maybe has the impression you were just scheduling like routine dental cleanings it would be easy to do another day, that’s worth correcting [and if your boss knows it’s important, urgent, and medical, and is still saying you can’t have the days off, they’re a jerk].

    8. GythaOgden*

      First up, I’m so sorry for your situation. As a widow of a cancer patient, we caught my husband’s kidney cancer just on the cusp of it making a bid for freedom, and sadly because it had got out, it ended up killing my beloved husband. Get it seen to early as people have said and hopefully it won’t be as difficult to contain.

      We did have a system at work where we had to coordinate simple leave with others on the team, but sick leave/medical issues were different and not part of that system.

      This is one situation in which your need for the leave trumps their need to have you on the rotation, and where your need to be clear about the purpose of the leave trumps your privacy, unfortunately. In my working culture we’re a bit more open about things like this, but if there was ever a time //not// to keep it private, it’s this one.

      I’m sending you good thoughts and vibes and, if you’ll have them, prayers, because this is a a crappy situation to be in and you need to be able to have those days off.

      Best of luck sorting this out.

  57. This Can't Be Real*

    Need some advice on how to manage my toxic boss. Toxic boss sets different parameters for the female staff than the male staff. For example:
    1. Female staff are told that they have to groom 100 lamas per month when the previous expectation was 90. Male staff are not told this and are in fact scheduling 33 lamas per month to be groomed. Boss is punitive with female staff if they groom 95 lamas per month and tells them this will impact their review/raise at the end of the year. When it is questioned if male staff have the same expectations boss states “male groomer has a higher learning curve to scheduling and completing grooms”. Male and female groomers all have the same education/qualifications.
    2. Some male groomers are doing terrible haircuts that are getting bad community reviews and may have harmed lamas, boss gives these groomers glowing reviews while being punitive with female groomers.
    3. Boss has agreed that he is setting female groomers up to fail with how expectations are worded but agreed to adjust wording.

    In addition to this boss has been heard telling a staff who needed to take time off to bring their pet to the vet that “it would be easier to put it in a bag and throw it into the river” instead of continuing to take time off to provide said vet care.

    As a female groomer I know I will not get any support from boss and I do not trust HR. What does one do in this situati0n? Will not be able to leave for 6 months for a new position.

    1. BellyButton*

      If you can’t go to HR, I would start documenting anything and everything that is in writing and being said, get a lawyer and sue this company. There are clearly different standard for men and women, and that is 1000000000000000000000% illegal. I would get all the women on board and go to a lawyer- all of you sue! If you can find a difference in pay that will also help.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      If this is as you wrote it, it is so egregious and over the top that you have to start pushing back as a team (and surely you could quickly rally support since it’s so nuts). I am more curious than ever, what the actual job is! And what the actual explanation is, I am guessing they don’t say “male” and “female” but label groups differently and it happens to be gender based?

      1. This Can't Be Real*

        I am the only female lama groomer with my role, there are other similar roles (e.g. lama prep, lama intake etc) but all the other groomers are male.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          Now we’re probably all confused because how are you comparing unrelated jobs? This is why I was saying it’s helpful now to say what the actual job is because are we actually talking about grooming vs. intake (which should have different metrics?) or something actually the same?

        2. Ginger Cat Lady*

          So if you’re the only woman who is grooming llamas, can you actually show that this is gender based, and not personal?
          That’s going to be the tricky thing.
          Also, make sure that CYA file is not on work computers. Or is, at minimum, copied to your personal computer. Won’t help you if IT deletes it, or makes changes, or you lose access if you’re fired.

          1. This Can't Be Real*

            Yes I agree that all the other female lama groomers leaving does make this harder to prove. I am going to start printing off copies of things so that I have a hard copy.

        3. Sneaky Squirrel*

          Please don’t take this as disbelief to your situation but I’m curious how you came to the conclusion that females are being told that they have to groom 100 llamas and male staff are being given a different expectation. In this situation, it sounds like “you” are being set up with higher expectations than your peers who (maybe coincidentally) are male given that there are no other females in the role. It still sounds unfair and potentially sexist, but I’m curious if you’ve considered whether there are other possibilities for the inequity such as years of experience?

          1. This Can't Be Real*

            I have considered this but I have watched how boss interacts with female employees versus male employees or employees lower on the totem pole. As with any kind of prejudice it can be hard to prove but it is the micro aggressions that lead me to this conclusions. E.G. lama prepper (female) who has lower level training is being given many additional duties while lama prepper (male) who has lama grooming training has had over 6 months to “get acquainted with the system”. Lama support is often insulted or corrected in front of lamas for minor infractions (e.g. wearing wrong colored smock) and made to change in front of lama to ensure that bosses rules are being followed (as opposed to pulling lama support aside and asking them to change smocks). When boss states that he IS setting an employee up to fail it is concerning as there is a shortage of lama groomers in our area and many have quit in the last year.

            If it is not gender based then I can only assume it is a power trip and boss is intentionally setting the bar higher for someone who a. he is threatened by or b. he feels questions his authority.

  58. Parentially*

    Any other attorney parents who decided on a JD advantage/career path alternative to practicing law? What’s that been like?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for (I’m not a lawyer), but commenter Wonky Policy Wonk posted in yesterday’s knowledge swap post about alternate career paths for lawyers. I’ll link to that thread in a follow-up comment if it’s of any interest to you.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          The comment with the link is in moderation, if you check back in an hour or so it should show up.

    2. Corporate Fledgling*

      I have a friend who is a lawyer and a parent of young children and they work at Social Security in their state. They do decision writing. They said that it was one of the jobs that offered the best work-life balance.

  59. Sharpie*

    So I had an interview last week, for a position I think I would really like, that would help me get back into the work world, especially in an office – it’s for a short-term contract position in a company that asks people back once they’ve had a role there before. I think the interview went well, I was second-guessing some of the things I said, afterwards, but that’s just part of being human.

    So I’m hoping to hear back from them, while still looking elsewhere – I’m at a stage in my life where short-term or part-time roles would give me income and allow me to have time to do my own thing outside of work too. And I’m feeling better about looking for work now that I’ve got that first interview out of the way, having not interviewed for about four years by this point.

    I will keep you updated!

  60. Whomst*

    Motherhood penalty strikes again…

    I had a baby at the beginning of the year, came back to work about a month ago because the US is super behind the times on parental leave. /my workplace is great in terms of culture, coworkers, and benefits, but I really don’t like what my position has evolved to. Two weeks ago, a contact reached out about a position they thought would be a good fit. We had an interview and it went really well. I got through all their technical questions with time to spare, we joked and laughed a bit, I liked what I heard about the position.

    This is where I may have gone wrong: I was very transparent that I just had a baby and was still ramping back into work. My current workplace has allowed me every Friday off while I have to care for an infant that won’t sleep more than 4 hours at a stretch (and 4 hours is if I am very lucky, it’s usually 2.5 hours) and I still get full benefits, though they reduced my pay proportionally. I know that I would be sacrificing my physical and mental health to work full-time right now, and from an employer perspective they’ll get more and better work out of me if I have time to take care of my other commitments and maybe myself. HR guy followed up with me after the interview to clarify what my scheduling needs are, and I conveyed what I conveyed here and that I’m planning on getting back to full-time hours as soon as I can do so without sacrificing my health.

    Got an email a week later saying that they can’t hire me if I can’t work full-time hours and if they have another position in a couple months they’ll reach out. On the one hand, I don’t want to work somewhere that expects me to put work over my health, but on the other hand I would have liked that work a lot better than what I’m doing now…

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I think this probably feels more personal than it is. Most companies would not hire someone for a full-time position that couldn’t work full-time. I dont think its a matter of a company expecting people put work over health – you’re an unknown factor to them, you don’t meet their current needs, and you (of course) don’t have a known date of return to full time. Yes US family leave is abysmal but I very much think this would have been the case for anyone unable to work FT for them for any reason.

      It certainly sounds like they would still be interested in hiring you, so definitely keep an eye out for future postings.

      1. Whomst*

        Oh, I know it isn’t personal, it just makes me reflect on all the public messaging about “underrepresented groups.” Companies “value diversity” as long as you don’t express needs outside the norm. This applies to working moms, people with disabilities, people who aren’t Christian, etc. I wish people would acknowledge that there are always “legitimate business reasons” to do things that lead to these groups continuing to have a difficult time succeeding in their careers.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          I do understand that. We as a society fall at providing living wage jobs in general let alone for those who cannot work a 9-5.

    2. Bearbrick*

      Fluffy fish is spot on. There is a version where you could have asked at the offer stage, but you would very likely get the same answer- they need someone full time and Mon-Thur isn’t full time. You were fine to ask and they were fine to decide that it wouldn’t work for them!

  61. Ben Wyatt*

    I was let go from a local government job in 2017 for the city of Partridge, MN during my probationary period. During the subsequent job search, I was honest about having been let go on applications and in interviews but tried my best to frame it in a way that was favorable to me. I landed a position in the private sector in Pawnee, IN a couple of months later, and ended up working there for five years. Afterward, whenever I applied and/or interviewed for jobs, I would continue to be transparent about having been let go from my position at Partridge, until about two years ago. At that time, I was facing an impending layoff and decided to frame it as having resigned from Partridge voluntarily because I was moving to Pawnee anyway. The only time I would ever mention having been fired would be if I was applying for a government job in Minnesota or if there was a specific question (separate from the “Reason for Leaving” each job) that asked: “Have you ever been fired from a job?”

    As of now, I have had three positions since leaving Partridge and no longer include that position on my resume or any job applications unless the requirements of the application would mean I had to include it (i.e. if it asked for the last ten years of work history) or if I was applying for a government job (to show that I had experience in government). That brings me to the question of applications that specifically ask if you’ve been fired.

    My gut would be to say no to this question, but is there a general rule of thumb for how long one would need to say “yes”? I’ve seen it addressed before on this blog and other blogs but it seems to be more geared toward questions about why a person left their most recent employer. I haven’t seen anything that addresses jobs from long ago. I of course want to be honest on job applications but I don’t think a job from several years ago for which I was simply a bad fit should be held against me anymore.

    1. ferrina*

      If they ask directly, you need to answer honestly. So if they say, “Have you ever been let go from a job?”, the answer is yes. Then you give the date that it happened. At this point it was long ago enough that most people won’t care. A lot of people were let go from roles that were a bad fit and go on to have great careers elsewhere. Lying will be worse that giving the honest answer.

      But if they don’t ask, you don’t answer.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Agreed. I’d put this in the same category as some of the LWs who applied for a job while still employed and then were laid off or fired between the application and the interview. You don’t have to proactively mention it, but if directly asked (either in person or on an application), don’t lie.

      2. Ben Wyatt*

        The concern with that is that it might keep my application from being considered when it would have otherwise been considered. When I left Partridge, they said they would only verify dates and job titles with a potential employer who called (though I don’t know for sure if that’s entirely true). Every situation is different but, in my case, the only way I think it could truly come back to bite me, at least in my current situation, would be if someone from my current employer was having a casual conversation with someone from the city of Partridge and the person from my current employer mentioned my name and the person from Partridge said something like “oh, Ben Wyatt? He used to work for Partridge until he was fired.” I’d be willing to put a not insignificant amount of money on that not ever happening. If I were looking for work in Partridge in any sector (which is not off the table for me), I might be more inclined to be more transparent.

        1. ferrina*

          I have never worked at a place where being fired once was a disqualifier. It’s possible that those companies are out there, but odds are high that any company that would disqualify a candidate for once being fired 7 years ago would also have some other weird policies.

          But lying to an employer is a big deal. Exaggeration? not great, but happens. But straight out lie? That can easily be fireable.

          1. Ben Wyatt*

            Maybe it’s not an automatic disqualifier, but I do tend to think that companies who ask that question separate from the “reason for leaving” each position are looking for a way to disqualify candidates. In some cases, they might have a good reason for doing that, but in most cases, there’s no reason that they should ask if one has “ever” been fired. Just why they left their most recent position if not currently employed, and maybe one or two positions prior to that.

    2. Antilles*

      Practically speaking, if you’re an industry that doesn’t do in-depth background checks and verification of your entire work history (and I assume you’d know if you were), you probably *could* get away with saying no. If you’re not even listing it on your resume or applications, they probably won’t even know you worked at that job; there’s no national database of firings database the way there is with arrest warrants. You’d be taking a risk since they would almost certainly end your candidacy immediately if they found out about the lie, but the odds would be very much in your favor of it going unnoticed.

      And I think that would be an unnecessary risk in your case. It’s far enough in the past (nearly a decade and multiple positions ago), that it’s not going to hurt you to say yes with the dates and your framing explanation appended. As long as you can explain it well and (more importantly) can explain how you’ve learned from that disaster, it won’t hurt you.

      So IMO there’s no real upside to lying, while the downside is unlikely-but-huge.

    3. Anon for This*

      Do a reference check on yourself – call Partridge, MN and find out what they tell people. My daughter was let go from a job several years ago during the probationary period and they made a big deal about how she was being let go, not fired. (And her supervisor didn’t agree with the decision – made a big deal out of that, too.) Not sure how they coded it in their system, but she never had a problem with them saying she was fired, just that it wasn’t a good fit. If Partridge thinks you were fired, check yes. If they don’t, that answers your question.

      1. Ben Wyatt*

        Well, as you may know, many employers won’t say anything beyond dates and job titles when verifying employment. Partridge said they would do the same, though I don’t know for certain if that’s true.

        Also, I’ve had enough positions since then that the job is not on my resume and I don’t put it on most applications. Even if I decided to say that I was fired from a job that I was no longer including on my applications, it’s not like the company would be given a way to contact Partridge since those questions typically don’t ask for contact information for the job the applicant was fired from. Basically, I don’t think this will come up frequently enough that a reference check would be necessary. I just don’t know if there’s a rule of thumb where you can generally say no if it happened X number of years ago, similar to how a late payment will fall off your credit report after seven years.

        1. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

          “I just don’t know if there’s a rule of thumb where you can generally say no if it happened X number of years ago”

          I don’t know either, but I do know that I was once asked on a job application if I had quit a job to avoid getting fired in the previous ten years. I panicked, but when I figured out that I had quit a job to avoid being fired over eleven years ago, I had no problem answering “no.” I was just glad that the interviewer hadn’t asked me the question, because my immediate panic and worry would have convinced him that I was lying when I said “no.”

          1. Ben Wyatt*

            I was once asked on a job application if I had quit a job to avoid getting fired in the previous ten years

            That seems oddly specific. Usually, it says “fired or asked to resign” or just “fired.” That said, at least it gives a definitive time frame. I just hate the idea that I would have a black mark that I would be obligated to talk about for the rest of my career, even if only sparingly. I’ve also only ever been asked once in an interview if I’d EVER been fired and that was about a month after I was fired from Partridge. I don’t know what I’d do if asked that in a future interview, but I think I’d wonder why they didn’t ask it on the application (if they had one I needed to complete before the interview) and then follow up in the interview if necessary.

    4. HBJ*

      I mean, I think the answer probably at least partly depends on if the reason for firing is as high profile as making headlines because you bankrupted a town by building an unfinished winter sport complex. And if you can years later speak to someone in Pawnee and just the mention of your name plus the name of Partridge immediately calls to mind your firing.

      1. linger*

        Likely downside partly depends on rate of staff turnover in Pawnee.
        If the admin staff there now don’t remember you at all, that’s somewhat less dangerous than if they’re still those who presided over your firing.

        1. Ben Wyatt*

          Likely downside partly depends on rate of staff turnover in Pawnee.

          I’ll assume you meant Partridge. Either way, local government turnover is generally very low in local government because the benefits are great and the job security is exceptional once you successfully complete your probationary period. I don’t know if anyone who had a say in the decision is still there and I don’t know what anyone remembers- I was there for less than a year and nothing egregious happened. Except in a very small number of circumstances, the odds of it being found out if I don’t say anything are extremely small, though (barely) nonzero.

          I’m also omitting it from most applications and my resume, but this is 100% due to the passage of time and the number of positions I’ve had since then. I’d be doing the same if I hadn’t been fired from there and I didn’t start excluding it until after I started my current position.

  62. IT Kat*

    How do you handle it when your boss gives little feedback? He’s not really involved with my work because while he works in the same department it’s on different systems. He just says the client is happy (we’re contractors) and to keep doing what I’m doing. When I ask about specific things (like how I handled a project) he just says the client is happy so I did a good job. Help?

    1. Pine Tree*

      In addition to trying to get feedback from your boss, maybe you can ask your clients for feedback. So when a project is over, or even during the project, you could ask them what you could be doing/have done differently to help move the project along, communicate, etc.

      1. IT Kat*

        That’s a good idea. If I do it during a project I think I can get away with it, since performance is supposed to go through our reporting structure but phrasing it as how can I move this along better/more efficiently would work!

        1. Pine Tree*

          I work with a few different contractors, and I love working with the ones who want to improve the processes. So I like when they ask me if there’s anything that they are doing that’s holding things back, anything they could improve. There’s a few contractors that I work with who always ask this and then are willing to change up their workflows/communication to better meet our project management needs, and I really appreciate that.

          Can you also suggest that the reporting structure at the end of a project includes some feedback from the client? I would assume that this feedback would benefit your organization on all projects since they should want to be meeting their customer’s needs. (I say that a bit tongue in cheek because I work with one of our contractors who really doesn’t understand that we are the customer – but they’ve contracted with us for over a decade and the relationship is complicated so we can’t just boot them)

          1. IT Kat*

            I can suggest that! It can’t hurt to ask and it’s possible they’re already getting that and it’s not filtering down. This company (not I, it’s been less for me) has been on this contract for 20+ years so I understand the complicated relationship part you were mentioning!

      2. BellyButton*

        I second this, you can even create a poll and ask some standard questions. Like a project postmortem. I work exclusively internally, but do this for every project, every webinar, every strategy meeting, etc.

        1. IT Kat*

          We used project post-mortems extensively at my last job and I miss them. Not sure I can get away with a poll given the rules in place for reporting structures but I can definitely ask verbally.

    2. Anecdata*

      Can you give your boss some specifics about what you want feedback on – like tied into your career goals (how did this project compare to what you want to see at a Senior level); or identify the areas you want to grow in

  63. Pine Tree*

    Small rant – me and a few of my coworkers went on a work trip last week and one of them came ot all of the meetings obviously ill and unmasked. Unsurprisingly, by the end of the week I was sick, and now I’ve been sick all this week and it’s disrupted many of my personal plans that I had for last weekend and this week. We have plenty of leave time, and our boss is also extremely flexible, so there was no need for this coworker to come to the meetings sick, other than that they wanted to be there. But I wanted to not be sick!

    End rant.

    1. IT Kat*

      I hate when that happens. We have someone who never takes sick time and always comes in. It’s frustrating.

    2. JadziaSnax*

      Arrgh, that is so frustrating!! I would lose my gourd if it were me, but sadly I’m not sure if I’d actually have the courage to speak up and be like “please mask or go home for the love of god.” I hope you’re feeling better soon!

    3. Pine Tree*

      Reply to myself: Yes, I should have masked when I realized they were sick. That’s on me.

  64. Jazz and Manhattans*

    How one looks for a job (and is successful) changes every few years and here we are again with more change – even more use of AI (yes it has been there for a while but it’s more widespread now). I applied for a job last week and one of the questions in the application was “do you want to opt out of the use of AEDTs in the recruitment process?” According to Dr Google: “An automated employment decision tool (AEDT) is a computer-based tool that uses machine learning, statistical modeling, data analytics, or artificial intelligence to substantially help with employment decisions.” I was torn. Do I say yes and have a computer automatically kick me out for a job I know I’m qualified for or say no and have my application not be seen due to the high number of applications? I would like to hear from anyone applying for jobs and specifically anyone in HR that has that question and what you do if someone does ask to opt out?

  65. April Twelfth*

    Anyone have advice on how to proactively show your value at work? I’ve been in my current job a little over a year, and in the field for over 15 years. My manager passes me over for assignments because I’m “still training.” There isn’t really training though, it’s all hands-on. Also, I’ve received good feedback on the projects I’ve been assigned.

    I’m open to any suggestions!

    1. MsM*

      Have you asked your manager exactly what they think you still need training on to be considered fully up to speed and ready to take on more?

      1. April Twelfth*

        I brought this up at my review at the one year mark. I got a vague response with some general topics that the whole team also needs training on due to a shift in the industry.

        It sounds like a moving target, unfortunately.

    2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I can’t think of an industry where you’d really be “still training” after a full year. Something is up with your manager.

      1. April Twelfth*

        It has been really jarring for me. I’ve always been thrown into new jobs and learned while doing, and enjoyed that for the most part.

    3. Generic Name*

      Still being in training over a year into a new job with 15 years of experience seems off. I agree, something is going on with your boss. I have a similar amount of experience, and I basically hit the ground running at my job. While I’m still learning a fair amount of company processes, I’m not considered “in training”. I suggest talking to your boss saying you feel ready to take on more, but if she disagrees, ask what she’d like to see before you are “out of training”.

  66. TheBunny*

    I’m hoping I can get some quick advice on this as I need to send today.

    I had an interview this am that I felt went really well. It was virtual.

    My issue…I’ve only ever communicated with the recruiter via email and I want to send a thank you note. Usually the email addresses of meeting attendees are masked, but this was a Teams call sent to all of password? so the contact info is in the invite.

    Am I ok to send the thank you notes directly to the interviewers since I have the email info or is that a faux pas?

    I hope this makes sense….

    1. Jazz and Manhattans*

      I think it’s expected that you may send it directly to the hiring manager of they are on an email or a meeting. I’ve set up interviews before and have done it so that one meeting goes to the interviewee and one goes to the interviewers but the same call in info if I want to keep the emails anonymous (since I don’t know how to mask in a meeting invite). If they don’t do that then I think it’s ok. If you are really concerned, what I did recently was sent my thank you to the recruiter and tried to get the email of the hiring manager right. I thanked the recruiter for their time and asked them to forward the email to the HM if I got the email wrong.

      1. TheBunny*

        I just don’t want to make a glaring error. I was planning to reach out to the interviewers and then to the recruiter in another email… so I like your idea a lot.

        Thank you!

    2. Hendry*

      That is totally normal. Depending on if LinkedIn is big in your field you can connect there as well

      1. TheBunny*


        I figured it was fine, but I just wanted to confirm I wasn’t missing some big “you should never”.

    3. mreasy*

      I would send to everyone thanking them for their time, with a different message to the HM that’s more of a follow up. They showed the emails so they clearly didn’t need them to be kept secret.

  67. LIFO the Party*

    I’m in a position where I work with a lot of non-profit clients. I work with individuals as well, but the non-profit clients are becoming a larger part of my job, which I really enjoy. A lot of these non-profit clients host charity golf outings, and my company is often a sponsor. As such, I get multiple invitations to participate. I can only assume that I will get more as I take on more of these clients. The problem is…I don’t golf. I’m not against it, I just have never learned, don’t have the equipment, etc. Am I missing out? Is it worth learning? How good do I have to be to participate in a charity event? I hate having to say no all the time, and I don’t want these clients to think I’m just not interested or can’t be bothered to make the time.

    1. Lifelong student*

      Try it a few times. I bought cheap clubs when I first tried to be a participant. I enjoyed it,and while I was never very good, I got a lot of pleasure from golf. Unfortunatly- my health no longer allows me to golf. As far as I know, and based on my experience, these events are more about cameradie than skill.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I have only played a couple of times, but if the weather is good, it’s a nice thing to do while you’re chatting. If you have decent hand-eye coordination, I would think that one package of lessons should be enough to get you out there without embarrassing yourself.

      You can usually rent clubs, or buy secondhand that’s still in very good condition. Basic sets of clubs with a bag run about $75-$100 near me. If you’re going to take lessons, you can ask about how to find a good deal on equipment.

      I will say that you should shop around for word of mouth on who to take lessons from, because good form is key, and a bad coach can be worse than no coach at all. I had a family member try to teach me, and I was hitting the ball straighter and further just on instinct before they started than after they finished.

    3. Jolie M*

      Can you volunteer in another capacity or ride along in the cart? I don’t really like golf and that’s what I’ve done in that circumstance.

      1. LIFO the Party*

        That’s a good idea! I haven’t thought to ask, since we usually just sponsor and enter a team, and aren’t volunteering in any other capacity.

    4. Anon for This*

      I don’t golf either, but learned enough about the game to have a conversation about it. Go for the social hour at the 19th hole (usually the name of the course bar) for a drink and mingle after the event.

  68. JadziaSnax*

    I’ve been at my new job for about six weeks now, and while it’s largely going well I am struggling to adjust from a decade of working for micromanagers to suddenly working for a boss who is very hands off. It’s also my first time in a leadership/content strategy role, and because I know lack of confidence is usually a weakness of mine I’m struggling to walk the line between “carry on as if I know what I’m doing” and “asking for permission with everything please give me feedback I need to be told I’m doing a good job.” What is that line? I’m pretty sure he’s happy with my performance (earlier this week he was like “you’re happy??? you’re staying, right??” lolsob) but I don’t want to suddenly get slammed for doing something wrong because I didn’t ask.

    1. BellyButton*

      When I started this job, about 3 months in, I told my boss what you just said. I told him I had come from a not so supportive workplace with a boss who didn’t always trust or support my vision or expertise- so if he can be really clear on when it is something we should discuss and needs his approval or when it is something I can run with, it would help me be more confident and to know I am meeting his expectations. My boss is an amazing coach, so he loved knowing exactly what I needed to perform my best and it has been such smooth sailing.

      Hope this helps and good luck!!

    2. Panda (she/her)*

      I have made that transition, and found that it was very helpful to just have a conversation with my manager about how involved they wanted to be, and what I needed to be successful.

      I like to get clarity on two things:
      A) How involved do I need them to be? For example, I need guidance on which project I should prioritize, or approval to hire a new resource.
      B) How involved do they want to be? In addition to what I need, they may want to be more involved or have more oversight. Or maybe they trust me to run it and they want to focus on other priorities, in which case we just go with the minimum involvement that *I* need.

      As a manager, I find it very helpful to know both of those things separately, because I want to be there enough for my employee to be successful, but also know where I can cut back on my involvement when I have other priorities I need to work on.

  69. WWYD??*

    Thoughts on what, if anything, to do in this situation?

    In my workplace, located in a conservative rural community, I recently learned that a colleague has come out as a trans female. As part of her transition, she has changed her name and informed her manager and HR about these changes. While she has been accommodated with access to non-gendered restrooms, little else seems to have been done to support her transition. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that her deadname appears on the weekly schedule, despite hearing her being paged by her new name in her work area. Unfortunately, her supervisor, the HR manager, and the executive head have also consistently used her deadname and misgendered her, which I believe is deliberate due to their known views on the transgender community.

    I am unsure if my colleague is aware of this ongoing deadnaming/misgendering, other than the schedule, or how she feels about it, given that she appears to be a private and reserved individual. While I haven’t spoken with her beyond brief greetings, I have tried to show support through friendlier interactions. However, I am concerned about speaking up due to potential retaliation and lack of HR support, given that HR is involved in the misgendering.

    Moreover, I am uncertain if my colleague wants others to advocate on her behalf. In past experiences, coworkers facing discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, or race have preferred not to have others intervene. Considering her quiet demeanor, she might prefer to avoid drawing attention to herself.