open thread – April 26-27, 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.

{ 1,092 comments… read them below }

  1. Friendly Fireing*

    I’m in a weird situation at work and can use some advice. I will be losing my job most likely by the end of this year, no set timeline, due to changing my mind about relocating.

    I let my boss know about it weeks ago and he’s told me to keep quite about it and let him communicate. The thing is I want to stay within the company and it’s tough to lean on my network if I can’t be honest about the situation. In addition, a logical time I may be let go is the actual deadline to move which is May 15 so I’m getting nervous I might just be fired with little warning. I also want to maintain relationships as much as possible if I end up not landing an internal role. It’s important for me to maintain a positive business relationship with the company, even if my relationship with this boss is damaged a bit.

    When I spoke to my boss about it he was understanding and said he wanted to keep me on to train my replacement. However when I tried to nail down what some dates might look like, such as keeping me on guaranteed until the end of the year he said nothing and changed the subject. That’s made me very nervous too! If he had said something like “I would want to keep you on at least 3 months after rehiring your replacement, but ultimately I need to confirm with my boss” I would be feeling a lot better. Instead I feel like his plan is to fire me as soon as he feels the new hire is sufficiently trained. However he wants several months notice before I leave for another role, but his wishy washy approach is making that a dangerous prospect for me.

    Anyone have advice to navigate this tricky situation? Am I just being anxious or is this also yellow flaggy that he’s stopped me from giving my network a heads up or communicating what will be happening with my team?

    1. Stuart Foote*

      Someone at my company is a similar situation, where he has changed his mind about moving due to a huge disparity in living costs between his current city and the new city. Apparently Leadership wanted to fire him, but he got bailed out for the moment since his old boss left the company, throwing the department into flux.

      It sounds to me like you are trusting your boss a little too much–I would assume he is going to fire you the minute he feels you aren’t needed any more. Asking for several months notice before leaving is insane and a big red flag. I would NOT let him communicate on your behalf because he clearly doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

    2. T. Wanderer*

      From his perspective, probably it’s a matter of poor communication (he doesn’t want to give you information that isn’t accurate, or leans toward “give all the info at once when you have it” instead of “any info as it comes up”, perhaps).
      But if he wants several months’ notice (!), imho when he’s not communicating he loses that right. Can you go back to him and say “Knowing that I won’t be relocating, that deadline is coming up soon and I need to know how it will impact me. Any information you can give will be helpful, even if it’s not finalized yet.”?

    3. TheBunny*

      Honestly, and maybe it’s just me, when you told your boss that you wouldn’t be open to relocation you de facto gave notice.

      I realize you didn’t say flat out that you are quitting…but you said “hey boss person, as of May 15th I’m no longer going to comply with one of the requirements of my job.”

      Also this sounds more harsh than I intended…or I think it might. I likely wouldn’t relocate either. Lots of people aren’t open to it for tons of reasons.

      Can he stop you from telling your team? Yes. That’s within his role, but he really can’t stop conversations with your network. You mention the relocation date is in less than a month…people are going to notice you aren’t moving, talking about moving or complaining about it, as people do.

      I resigned from my previous company with notice. But they had a habit of not saying people were leaving and having them be quiet about it until a goodbye Teams message on their last day. I was really upfront with my manager that I was going to tell people but was OK with following a reasonable timeline she set. I think maybe this is what you do. Yes it’s potentially risky to upset that boss… but it’s also fair that you get to communicate your own big news. My company, FWIW, did end up working with me on the timeline.

      1. It’s me now*

        I’m curious about how it works in this type of situations re refusing to relocate (I may find myself in a similar scenario down the road) so would the company then be forced to fire you or can they put down that you resigned and this don’t have to provide a compensation package ?

        1. Friendly Fireing*

          I think this heavily depends on the wording of the relo agreement you signed.

          In my case I’ll have to pay back a relo payment that was made to me. They could argue I’m quitting, but they can also keep me on remotely past the relo date. There’s nothing in the agreement that says I will be separated from the company, just that I may be separated.

        2. Snow Globe*

          In the US, the company doesn’t *have* to provide a compensation package, regardless. However, if the relocation was something that came up after you were already working for this company, then in most places if you decline, that would be considered constructive dismissal – the terms of your employment are significantly different. So you should be eligible for unemployment.

      2. Awkwardness*

        Can he stop you from telling your team? Yes.

        I would argue no, he can’t. What is he going to do about it? Fire her?

        It would be good to be on the same page about communication in order not to burn bridges and maintain good relationships, but LW has to take care of herself and make sure her livelihood will not be affected. If boss does not see that LW is under some constraints, I would not trust him enough to let him alone communicate.

        1. Awkwardness*

          I would contact my network the same way I would contact them if I was looking for options for an internal transfer. Be discrete and let them know to handle the matter discretely, too.

        2. dawbs*

          Yeah, you kinda have to tie yourself in knots and either lie or lie by omission to NOT tell people.

          I’d consider (not saying what way I’d decide, just that I’d consider) telling boss that you appreciate the concerns and you won’t tell your team intentionally, but that you’re not comfortable lying if someone asks.

          And then within 2 or 3 days, I’d find a way to make them ask.
          (Because I’m bad at social cues, but if someone said “hey, the big move to Reno, how are things going? Did you find a moving service” I’d either say yes, do they want the info (when they can reply “oh, no, I”m not moving”) or no, which could segway into another question–if you ask enough small-talk questions about others’ plans, you’re bound to trigger one about your plans)

      3. Merida*

        “Honestly, and maybe it’s just me, when you told your boss that you wouldn’t be open to relocation you de facto gave notice.”

        Agree, and the reverse is true. An employee once complained to me that she felt she’d been fired because when she was sent to Australia to open a branch office there (and hire a branch office manager), she asked her boss (one of the company owners) if her original job would still be there when she returned, he said “Probably not.” He also told her not to expect to get airfare back here because she wouldn’t be an employee anymore.

        When I told her boss that he’d effectively fired her, he was very surprised. And shocked, because we’re in Canada and firing someone here for a non-reason like this is expensive. (For her, it would have been at least 12 weeks’ pay + benefits continuance + airfare home. At least.)

        1. GythaOgden*

          I don’t think it’s necessary to pay one in the UK either. Not sure about constructive dismissal (because that would be illegal here and you could take someone to a tribunal), but it might also be looked on as a refusal to comply with management, which would be grounds for discussion about her future with the company.

          It also depends on whether OP was taken on with the proviso that she’d relocate or not, or if she has had ample chance to make the decision and the facts to base that decision on. If she knew that was a necessity when she signed on or has known about it for a while now, and it sounds like she has, she needs to adhere to the policy and move or resign and apply for other jobs.

          If she originally discussed this with her manager when the situation came up, and has now changed her mind, I think the manager could point to that as a situation where she knew that keeping her job was contingent on moving and could equally choose not to and thus effectively resign.

          Case in point: We transferred to new management a few years ago from being a facilities offshoot of a clinical healthcare trust to a dedicated part of the NHS responsible for facilities in general. In the UK, laws cover us for changes in terms and conditions, so we kept our original contracts (which actually aren’t as well-paid as the new org’s structure, but I digress) and stayed in our facility; we just had new bosses and arguably better access to career progression for ourselves. There were no redundancies. However, the terms of the transfer stated up front that if you were not happy with the new arrangements, you could quit — but it would be treated as a resignation. So in exchange for guaranteeing our jobs would continue under the same conditions and contracts and that nobody would actually lose their job, we were told that deciding not to continue with the new company would be a resignation and there was no option to take voluntary redundancy, because no positions were actually redundant.

          So yeah, even in the most iron-clad, gold-plated jurisdictions, this would likely not be constructive dismissal. CD would have to be a matter of personal antagonism leading OP to quit because of intolerable strain on her own self. A change in terms and conditions of the job — where presumably she’d be paid the same and her hours not cut — would probably mean that OP was considered to have resigned if she didn’t want to move by the date in question.

          I’m not a lawyer so don’t quote me, but with things like this on a message board, it’s easy to fall into the comforting way of saying ‘that’s constructive dismissal!’ when actually a judge might look closely at the facts (that we don’t have because OP is being vague about her own situation, never mind has no insight into what management feel or need; in any good judicial decision they’d look at both the plaintiff’s situation and the defendant’s) and decide that actually, OP’s decision not to move amounted simply to a resignation (as in my case above) rather than CD.

          It would be awkward for the OP if she’s let go and spends a lot of money fighting this on the basis that we told her here that this was CD, and then she lost. Companies go to fairly considerable lengths to document what goes on; I rarely delete any emails (except the chaff of out of office replies, receipt acknowledgements from the helpdesk etc) but file them away in different folders. They can point to due diligence on their part or that this decision affects more people than just OP and was communicated appropriately. We only have OP’s word on this and it’s inappropriate of us to egg her on to sue when she might not have a terribly good case even in a jurisdiction like mine.

          1. John*

            Not entirely sure where your reference to “the most iron-clad, gold-plated jurisdictions” has come from, because the UK is certainly not one of those in terms of workers’ rights.

            We’re not completely dreadful, but we’re very much loaded towards the employers’ side, especially within the first two years of employment

        2. GythaOgden*

          Not fired — that would be treated as a resignation in my UK context. We transferred between NHS orgs a few years ago and in exchange for no redundancies or having to re-interview for our jobs (the news shocked me so much I fell down the stairs and broke my ankle; my fear was that in the middle of the pandemic, a government flunky in London had just eliminated my job because of a process that had probably been started beforehand, and the message was ‘So long, and thanks for all the fish’, but as I lay with my ankle in a cast and talked to my boss on the phone about it, he was really good at allaying my fears and the talk actually made me think the new org might have many more options for my own personal development than my current one did), we were told that any refusal to change to the new org would be treated as a resignation. That reads a bit bluntly; it was put more tactfully, but I think the main thing we were concerned with was continued employment on the same contractual terms as before (which is guaranteed by UK law even if, as in my case, the new org’s contract is better than ours except for maybe the NHS pension scheme and AL allowance).

          All above board and legal, and to me, yeah, reasonable. Companies’ needs change, and my late husband was actually laid off when his company pulled out of our local area towards a more centralised location an hour or two away from where we lived. It sucks, but it’s a two way street — OP could well find something better for herself at any time and we’ve pretty much established the fact that companies have no singular loyalty towards an individual employee. They need to do what’s best for them, and that leaves us having to do what’s best for us.

    4. Quinalla*

      It’s fine for him to want to communicate it internally, but you should start talking to your network now and just let folks know that dates haven’t been finalized and nothing has been communicated outside you are your boss so to be discrete.

      I’d give it a bit and then follow up with him that you are going to of course be looking for a new job and want to coordinate the start date with his timeline. If he still won’t give you some idea, just proceed with looking for new jobs and when you are getting close to offer stage or even just starting to get interviews, I’d give your boss one more chance to coordinate dates. Tell him you want to do right by the company. If he still won’t, I mean what else can you do? You need to look out for yourself first unfortunately!

      1. Friendly Fireing*

        Sorry I should have been clearer. I’m talking about my internal network. I’ve worked here several years and I feel a bit hamstringed trying to get a new role internally if I can’t let my old bosses and contacts know I’m not moving.

        Externally, yes I’ve just been completely open about what’s going on.

        1. A.P.*

          I’d tell the internal people who I know will keep a secret.

          Just ask them not to spread the info around but still keep their ear to the ground for any opportunities that might be out there for you.

        2. m2*

          Was the relocation for the job or just because you wanted to relocate?

          If your job was relocating you, or you were told you needed to RTO and then recently decided you wouldn’t, a few things could be going on. If they need that role somewhere or in office in less than a month, then they need to find someone new and hiring someone takes more than one month. It could be frustrating for your boss especially if you were given ample notice of the relocation and just recently said you didn’t want to relocate.

          Honestly, if I were your boss I probably wouldn’t let you stay on extra months especially if you knew ahead of time about the relocation and gave a short notice that you in fact wouldn’t relocate. I would have a conversation with you and ask why I was told with such little notice. If they just sprung this on you and you told them shortly after you wouldn’t move, that imho, is totally fine. I would also try and work with you (if you were a strong employee) about either an internal move or external role. I also think you know your boss, do you think they are trying to help and keep you on longer?

          The other thing here is how long (if this was a relocation for the role) did you know about the relocation and say yes to it and how much notice did you give? Honestly, if you were given months of advance notice, but decided the month before you didn’t want to relocate that might put people off, especially if that role needs to be filled.

          Where I work everyone was given a 6 month notice period when people were to come back to the office and had to live within certain states (tax reasons). They said if you aren’t back in the office 3 days a week 6 months from now and live in these states you no longer can work here. They reminded everyone at 4, 3 and 1 months. It was VERY clear. They asked people who weren’t coming back to inform their supervisor I think at a minimum either 8 weeks before so roles could be posted. People were grateful because it gave them time to apply for other roles and move on and the departments were grateful when employees gave early notice so roles could go up.

          No one was let go before that 6 months, but there were a few who tried to keep their jobs and work in other states/ push it longer than 6 months. Coworkers found it frustrating since the company was very transparent and (imo) fair. I don’t know if this is what you are going through, but I would not only apply for internal roles but external ones as well. Cast a wide net for roles in case you are let go May 15th.

          Good luck!

          1. Friendly Fireing*

            Sorry I’m not going to give you those details for anonymity’s sake.

            Suffice to say it’s not like the scenario you painted with the RTO stragglers at all and my boss completely understand why a relo is not going to happen given the circumstances. He knows I let him know ASAP.

            1. GythaOgden*

              We can’t really help you then, because it really does matter how much notice you were given about the relo and how much notice you’re now giving. To be fair to them, their needs as a company will trump yours as an employee, because they have to factor in many more variables than you do. We can give you honest answers but we can’t say yay or nay whether this is poor treatment or not because we don’t have all the facts, including the perspective of your boss. We can say what would be reasonably fair, but I’ve been through a similar situation in the past and it was made really clear that if we didn’t want to transfer to a new organisation, then we’d be treated as if we had resigned.

              I’m totally lucky to be in a job which can be done 100% remotely. The other day I was scribing for HR in a town two hundred miles away and get expenses/an overnight stay if I have to come in to the office because of my gammy ankle that makes me have to walk with a stick. It blows that you’re effectively being reeled back in and I totally sympathise (although I was 100% in-office during the pandemic itself, so didn’t have the luxury of moving away to somewhere where my south of England salary would go a bit further).

              But we just can’t give you the answer you seem to want without more details. There are probably thousands of different companies doing this kind of reorganisation around the US and other developed countries, so it wouldn’t necessarily be outing yourself if you gave us a bit more details about what’s actually happening.

              But just from what you’ve told us, you’ve effectively resigned from your job by telling people you won’t move. You haven’t necessarily even been fired, but there are reasons why a boss would treat this as a resignation and why it wouldn’t even be tantamount to constructive dismissal, and not letting us know how much notice you were given makes it harder for us to give you a good answer to this question.

        3. Snow Globe*

          If you are considering internal job postings, I would think that you could apply and then tell the manager of that department that you’d love to be considered for this role, and will be happy not to relocate if you are offered the position. You don’t need to say that you are definitely not relocating no matter what. Just treat it like any other internal job posting.

        4. learnedthehardway*

          I think you should have another conversation with your manager about the fact that you need to be able to disclose that you are looking to your internal network. You need to set a date for when you can disclose this information. If your manager balks at this, ask why – he knows he is going to have to replace you and you’ve given plenty of notice.

          Your manager may just possibly be trying to keep this quiet in hopes that a last minute disclosure means that he can keep you on the team in a remote role. Or, it’s possible that he’s expecting blowback because he hired someone who will now leave – although that’s fairly unreasonable, considering it’s the location, not his management style (still, if he has had a lot of turnover on his team, maybe he’s worried about that.)

          1. Kay*

            This was more my take – he told her to keep quiet so she didn’t get fired immediately. It doesn’t sound like there was a conversation about wanting to stay with the company and transfer locally so I would assume it is the boss doing is best to keep her on.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Yeah. I begged my ultimate boss to find a way of getting me some experience to move upwards into a crunchier and less front-facing admin role. It took her a whole summer to work it out — not just to put together a basic plan, but find out whether she could get me that sort of experience where I was, whether she’d have to promote me, and in the latter case, make a business proposal for an extra admin. This was on top of an ongoing restructure where she was also having to build a team of managers (who I ended up serving in my current position) and the daily job of stopping four large community hospitals and a couple of dozen other clinical sites across three UK counties from collapsing in on themselves (in one case, fairly literally; no joke but in the course of reshaping the site, we discovered that the place had been basically thrown up overnight just after the war and the foundations were such that we were lucky it had lasted 70 years).

              So that it /only/ took her three months to come back to me with a specific proposal and a job opening was pretty good. In the mean time, of course, I couldn’t bank on anything and until she did reappear at the beginning of September I was at peak cynicism. I was very surprised for her to come through but fully appreciated how long it took to dot all the is and cross all the ts.

              We’re the centre of our own lives but not those of others. Boss is probably figuring it out and doesn’t want the OP to jump the gun.

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

      If you want to stay at the company and you know or see other positons available (where you don’t have to move) I think you should apply and tell your boss that you are applying.

    6. Parenthesis Guy*

      It sounds like your boss doesn’t want you to tell people that you’re not relocating because he doesn’t want you to be fired before you train your replacement. That date may be after May 15th, so he wants to keep things quiet as much as possible. Problem is, he’s not going to keep you after you train your replacement.

      I’d reach out to your contacts and not tell them that you aren’t relocating, but that you’re interested in different opportunities in the company. I’d also start looking outside the company. May 15th is coming soon, and you probably want to have some job.

    7. Annony*

      I would say it is a red flag. Based on what you actually have in writing, you will be out of a job in about two weeks. Your boss has stopped you from looking for a new job for weeks without any communication on what he is trying to do for you.

      I would probably try to have one last conversation with him today where you say that you need tell everyone you are actively looking for a new job unless he can guarantee today (in writing) that you can keep your job without moving for at least 3 months. He has had more than enough time.

    8. DottedZebra*

      Your boss is using you, not being “understanding.” He told you he wants to keep you so you can train your replacement. How does that help you? It doesn’t.

      You should be applying outside the company and using your network inside the company to find other positions. I would go tell your boss that you want to stay within the company, and since the deadline is coming up you are trying to see what else is available. This is you telling him, not asking him.

    9. Alex*

      I would say that if the deadline is May 15, you should be prepared to be fired at that time. Don’t assume that because he is requesting months notice from you that he is going to reciprocate. He definitely won’t. Even if he says he wants you to train your replacement, a) he hasn’t cleared that with the higher ups and b) he may only envision a few weeks of training.

      To that end, requesting months notice is an absurd request and not something you need to honor. You can respect his “don’t spread this around” request by not announcing it to your immediate coworkers, but don’t let the request stop you from the job search that you need to do. You don’t have to explicitly say “I’m not moving and therefore quitting,” but you can express interest in new roles.

    10. Ygritte*

      Oh well I might start using my network anyways, even if it meant letting the cat out of the bag a little. in your own best interest if you can have a job lined up in advance and just because you’re seeing what is out there doesn’t necessarily mean you’re leaving. if anyone at your present job hears of it at least

    11. DivergentStitches*

      Personally I’d give him as much “notice” as he’s giving you, which is very little to none.

    12. JSPA*

      I’m not completely clear on the scenario because the question is a little ambiguous:
      It potentially makes a difference whether you are planning on relocating to a place of your choice) and refusing to cancel those plans…or whether they want you to relocate and you are refusing. ” I have a new place that I have not told you about” Is going to be more immediately problematic than, “Yeah no I don’t have a new place yet, keep sending paychecks to the old address.”

      If you’re staying put, it makes me wonder if he pretty much wants to keep you on the down low and string HR and his bosses along. That… Actually might work if they do still have a presence in the state that you live and it doesn’t cause major tax headaches for them.

      If they’re pulling out of the state or if you are moving to a different state the calculus is very different, as it could make real tax problems for you and the company if the relocation address is in a different state from the actual. You would really need to talk to H.R. in that circumstance.

      In contrast, he may be angling to bend the rules for you (correctly and legally) but not bend the rules for anyone else. That would be a legitimate reason to say very little to the others.

      If you know enough about the tax rules in the respective places, that may tell you more about what sort of time scale you have to play with.

      But if he can’t give you clarity on scenario a or scenario b–and even if he can!– It’s absolutely time to talk to your network, In an, “I’m very happy here but I’m also looking at options” way. That is you don’t have to undercut his (hypothetical) legitimate maneuvering to do your own legitimate maneuvering!

      If it turns out that he’s moved heaven and earth and called in a lot of favors to find a way to keep you for 6 months instead of 2 months? Then you can still take another job. One that isn’t going to leave you on tenter hooks and feeling beholden to him.

      And in any case a job search can take months. Be searching now. You don’t need to disclose situations to put in applications.

      It’s a way to know your worth and demonstrate your worth. If he’s not screwing with you it’s actually in his interest to have you be able to demonstrate your worth. And if it gets back to him and he gets on your case, you can tell him exactly that.

    13. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Why does your boss want you to keep it quiet? On the surface, that doesn’t sound like it’s to your advantage at all.

    14. DJ Abbott*

      We had a really great associate who left for a better job. She gave notice by email to the director.
      The director did nothing. No announcement, no communication. If our associate hadn’t quietly told us herself, we never would have known.
      Can you confirm your boss is communicating to your colleagues? If not, I would start discreetly telling them. Or maybe tell one or two, and ask them to tell others.
      Your boss might not intend any harm, but on the other hand he might. Taking control of the message protects you from that.

  2. TheBunny*

    What’s the rule regarding keeping or canceling pending interviews after accepting a “contingent” job offer? I have a salary but no firm start date and have been advised by the new job not to give notice until all of the pre-hire stuff is complete.

    I know the wisdom is once you accept a job you stop interviews…but this one is contingent on medical results, a live scan, a background, drug screen, and references. All of this, including references, is happening after the contingent offer so there’s still a lot.

    I’m looking because my current company is struggling financially so I’m really not feeling great about suspending my job search and having to restart if something happens with this offer.

    I’ve got no criminal history, I don’t use any substances that would show on a drug screen as positive…so I’m going to be good there. But you also hear of errors in hiring processes, false positive drug screens, etc.

    Trying to do the right thing regarding the offer but also look out for myself and would appreciate opinions on keeping interviews until the offer is no longer contingent.

    1. Lurker*

      I would keep interviewing until after all the background checks, references, etc. are done and you pass. And you have a formal/signed offer letter and start date. You never know what could happen.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. Until background checks are passed and the offer is officially in hand in writing don’t stop exploring options. I had a coworker get a new job and give notice but it was pending some investigation and they pulled the offer. He should have just waited.

        1. TheBunny*

          That’s my fear.

          I have no reason to think there will be an issue, and if it was just the normal background, no big deal. But this is a LOT and with all of that there’s so much potential for delay, not to mention errors, that I don’t want to stop momentum or resign and stop paychecks too early.

        2. RedinSC*

          and an employee where I work got totally delayed with their start because they have a common name and the background check took 2 months!

          so keep looking and interviewing.

          1. NotUsingName*

            I can see that happening to me. Think of the most popular girl’s names in the 70s and 80s… ding.

            Think the most popular middle name in existence. Yup.

            Tack on a last name that is so common if my company has more than 100 people someone else will have the same last name…and there you go. So yeah.

          2. Anonny1*

            One of my students years ago had an opera pulled because her name was the same as a local criminal who would embezzled tons of money. It finally got worked out, but it took months.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Yup! I spent 17 years supporting public safety software, connecting remotely to their systems, and as a consequence I promise you I knew my background checks were clean – I got them run so often, if they’d been shirts they’d have been threadbare.

        And when I left that job for the one I have now, I didn’t give notice until after the background check cleared and I had a start date. I wanted to coordinate my end and start dates so that I didn’t have a huge amount of time off in the middle, or anything. And I know from some hiring experiences in the first company that sometimes even a background check that comes back clean takes a while to. (You can just about count on it with a name that’s very common in your country, but even without that it can still happen.)

    2. londonedit*

      Yeah, I’d definitely carry on with whatever interviews you have lined up until this job is all confirmed. Much better to say ‘So sorry, I’ve accepted another job’ to the subsequent interviewers than finding yourself with nothing.

    3. Friendly Fireing*

      Treat a contingent offer like no offer. I’ve seen these pulled and delayed to the point of effectively being pulled.

    4. Audrey Puffins*

      Keep interviewing. You’re not employed until you’re employed, and you never know, you might end up getting further offers that you would actually rather accept.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Did they give you a timeline for all of the screening? Even if they did… keep interviewing because you just never know. Something may come along that pays more or suits you better. You have very little to lose by continuing to interview.

      1. AnonJustInCase*


        Your company needs to get with the times on WFH and flexibility. It’s clearly possible to do it as you have in the past and the only reason it’s not an option is the “owners don’t like it”. You’re going to lose good employees and prospects over this.

        I’m currently delaying signing an offer letter for a job that offered me last night because I have an inerview this afternoon. The company I’m hesitating on is fully in office. The interview this afternoon is 3 in office and 2 remote.

        Pay ranges are equal. Not sure about PTO and holidays yet. But even if it’s less than the other one, I’m taking the job with flexibility in work locations.

        If the one that offered me yesterday was WFH even one day per week they would have my signature already.

      2. AnonJustInCase*

        They did… but it was vague. Nor really their fault as background checks take the time they take and the employer can’t control it.

        So I have a vague 2-3 weeks and then you give notice timeline.

        1. DontCountOnIt*

          You can’t count on this, especially if a background check is in play. There is a really wide variance in how long background checks take, and some types of checks take longer than others.

    6. ScruffyInternHerder*

      I think that this is a case of “you need to take care of yourself first”. I don’t see a reason to even mention the timeline issue if you do need to remove yourself from contention for Job B once all the contingencies for Job A are cleared up. I’d go on the interview, mainly because I’ve been in the situation where Job A sat on my candidacy for too long and was very Pikachu faced when I removed myself from consideration three months later…

      1. AnonJustInCase*

        3 months? Bless it. I’m at a start up that seemed great until the founder of the company resigned. I decided I’d be dumb not to see that writing on the wall.

        I don’t think I (or the company) have 3 months!

      2. AnotherOne*

        My office had an issue with background checks at one point taking more than a month. After some issues, no one is allowed to start without having a cleared check and a (now former) coworker- knowing there wouldn’t be any issues gave notice at her job, expecting to start work in 2 weeks.

        The background check took way longer than her two week notice. Going without a pay check for several weeks was a rough learning opportunity.

        1. TheBunny*

          Yeah. Trying not to have that experience. I could make it financially but no reason to do so when I can wait until all is clear.

    7. Victoria*

      Definitely keep interviewing. No need to tell either the company that has made the offer or any other companies you are interviewing with.

    8. cat in human form*

      I’m dealing with a similar issue right now! In your case, I would definitely keep interviewing, especially because you don’t have a start date yet.

    9. Caramel & Cheddar*

      They told you not to quit your job yet, which means even they know that nothing is actually official yet. You should keep interviewing.

      1. AnonJustInCase*

        This was actually what I’d pretty much decided…but didn’t want to come out and say as I wanted to see if anyone else felt this was a “we’re not committed fully yet so do as you will” sign.

    10. PubIntAtty*

      Having experienced these kinds of contingent offers- if you are worried about the stability of your current employer keep on interviewing.
      I’ve seen background investigations take up to a year, but three to six months is in the normal range at my current employer. And if that background turns up something unexpected or inaccurate they can withdraw the offer or you may have to provide more info to clarify things-dragging the process out more.
      Employers that have these pre-hiring requirements know that they will lose a portion of candidates during the process.

      1. TheBunny*

        This is actually my concern. I have a VERY common name. First, Last, Middle…common.

        I have had results come back in OK (when this happened I’d never been there) and on the check for the job I started late last year there was something from CT. I’ve never been there so I certainly didn’t live there but for some reason the background check thought I did. Both times the record was clear but it’s always in the back of my mind.

    11. Space Needlepoint*

      Keep interviewing until your first day working. A company can pull an offer with no warning and you should have some irons in the fire if you can.

      1. Loreli*

        This is what the people at the unemployment office (or whatever they call it) told me. This in Massachusetts. If you’ve been laid off and apply for unemployment, you have to Kerry records of your job search. For unemployment, you have to go to an info session where the instructors tell you to keep interviewing. Even if you’ve received an offer letter, you don’t say that you’ve been “offered work” until the day you actually START the job.

    12. Cee Es*

      I had a verbal job offer getting pulled because the company decided to close the site. Fortunately I didn’t resign but I was mentally checked out.

    13. A.P.*

      Definitely keep interviewing. You really never know. The hiring manager could quit or get fired, there could be a company-wide hiring freeze that prevents them from filling the position, they could lose a contract, even a fire at the job site could make them rethink hiring you.

      You don’t really have the job until you actually show up the first day and fill out the paperwork.

    14. EMP*

      I had an offer pulled right before background check etc started because they hit a hiring freeze. You never know what’s going to happen! I’d keep interviewing and just try to slow roll the other companies if you can.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Eh, I wouldn’t bother with a slow roll. If you get another good offer, just take it. As others have mentioned, a lot of things can go wrong with a contingent offer. You need to put yourself first.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Keep interviewing and if one of them gets to final round and asks about your start date, disclose that you also have an offer from another company but no start date scheduled.

      If another company makes an offer before the contingencies are complete, then you have 2 competing offers to choose from. Take the best one.

    16. Sharpie*

      I’m in a similar position, I’ve supplied my proof of my right to work in my country (the UK) but haven’t heard anything further, for a full time temporary position, as of a week ago, but I’m continuing to look until I have firm start date because I can’t risk having it fall through with nothing else in the process.

    17. theletter*

      you want to keep the search going until you’re sitting at your desk at your new job, you got your first assignment, your first compliment from your manager, and you’ve got your payment details with HR squared away. You don’t have to tell them that’s what’s happening, but it’s recommended. You never know if the job is really going to work out until you get there and experience it for a day or two.

    18. Katie*

      So while you may not ever fail your checks it could take forever. So don’t feel bad if you get the firm offer. My company has a big background check (but not as thorough as this one) and it has taken several months before (angry words over those).

    19. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Continue with the other interviews. But have a plan in mind for what you’ll do if they make you an offer, and you still don’t have the solid offer from the other company.

    20. I Have RBF*

      WTF is a “live scan”?? I know that for some jobs that a physical and a drug test are required, along with a background check, but I’ve never heard of a “live scan”.

      But I would not give notice until all that stuff is done, even if I figured I could pass all that easily. Because some testers are weird/sloppy, and you don’t want to be left with nothing.

      1. Anonopotamus*

        Live Scan is fingerprinting without paper or ink. It’s electronic; your fingerprints are scanned on a touchpad device thing.

        My employer recently reclassified a bunch of folks into a category that requires fingerprints and an advanced background check, so I had to go get fingerprinted even though it wasn’t required when I was hired five years ago.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Yup, and I adore it. It’s *hard* to get good fingerprints off me, and Live Scan means you can redo the fingerprint that failed instead of starting over on a new card and having to redo all of them. (Extra fun when one of the others fails to print well on the do-over.) Yes, they have tricks to get better prints from people like me, and nope, I don’t really want to wallow in ink when I don’t have to.

    21. anon_sighing*

      Why not keep going…? You might even get a better offer in the meantime. On the back burner, you have a tentative position. The only crunch decision comes when you have multiple offers. I don’t think the company should keep an applicant they want on tenterhooks like this. I know the federal government takes MONTHS to get HR paperwork in before you can get a start date and they lose many candidates this way because better, speedier offers come (and the applicant isn’t determined to break into a federal job enough to wait).

      1. Kyrielle*

        Some jobs need to. My old job, where we couldn’t really employ someone who hadn’t passed that background check because they couldn’t connect to any of our clients’ systems, had good reason. But we also knew that sometimes we would lose good candidates because the background check took too long and they accepted another job. No one enjoys that, and we didn’t want the background check to mess up timetables, but sometimes they have to be done. And any job that’s been doing it for more than a hot second knows some candidates will take another job if the check doesn’t turn around very quickly.

    22. Ex-Teacher*

      Until you have a start date, you don’t have a job. Their choice to leave a contingency in place means they don’t have any right to claim that you’re fully spoken for.

      Because of this, it’s not unethical to keep taking interviews. If I were in your shoes I would absolutely keep taking interviews.

    23. learnedthehardway*

      In your shoes, I would keep interviewing until the job offer is confirmed. I’m a recruiter, and I have seen a lot of things go sideways or be delayed. Until you have a signed offer and all your references and background checks are confirmed as completed, you shouldn’t resign. Until you have resigned because you have a firm job offer, I would keep on interviewing. If other companies ask where you’re at in your search, just tell them that you’re at late stages on another opportunity but that a final decision hasn’t been confirmed yet.

      1. TheBunny*

        I really like that answer. Thank you.

        I don’t want to be dishonest or for it to feel like I’m playing games, but it’s a LOT and that means there’s a lot of margin for error. I’m at that sweet spot in the application process right now, I’m not out of jobs to apply to that interest me and I’m getting a nibble at least every couple of days. I don’t want to withdraw from that before I’m certain this is going to go smoothly and know when.

    24. KeepLooking*

      Honestly, I keep interviewing until I start the new job. Too many things can go wrong. I once interviewed on Friday and started a new job on Monday.

      On a similar note, I hate the waiting period between giving notice and starting a new job; there are so many things that can and sometimes do go wrong. I would never give notice until all known contingencies are met to limit the likelihood of the new job going away, but it happens regardless.

    25. Clisby*

      The job offer is “contingent” so your acceptance is, too. Keep interviewing.

      I’ve never heard that current wisdom says to stop interviews once you accept a job. It makes sense to stop interviews once you have a firm offer with no contingencies, all salary and benefits made perfectly clear in writing, and you’ve given notice at your current job. Until then, everything is contingent.

  3. Payne Ostentatious*

    I’ll be going back to work from parental leave at the beginning of June and I’m already dreading the massive number of emails in my inbox. I know most of them will be irrelevant by the time I’m back, but some will still matter. Any suggestions for managing email and other things after getting back?

    1. Justin*

      Set aside time blocks just to handle that mess in your first week. I do that even when it’s just a vacation (and did it after my own parental leave).

    2. Friendly Fireing*

      When I returned from maternity leave I sorted by “from” and looked at just the emails from a few important people. Once I sorted those emails into folders I resorted my mail and deleted everything older then 2 weeks. My thinking was anything missed or important from back then would resurface itself. It’s worked out well (been back 4 months now) and no issues.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      How long have you been out? If it’s been several months, I’d recommend you start by asking people to re-send important items to you so they are at the top of the in-box and you don’t want them to get lost. That should start you out right. Then set aside some time each day to troll through the old ones for keepers if you think it is necessary. But honestly, having been in your situation, I found very little of value in the older ones so I don’t see this as an urgent task.

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I try to get rid of all the “spam” first when I’m dealing with a glut of email. I don’t mean actual spam, I just mean anything that isn’t addressed directly to you personally, e.g. internal distribution lists that only ever receive overly broad notices, stuff sent from mailing lists you’re on, anything sent from a piece of software (e.g. Teams notifications when you miss a chat, Microsoft sending you daily digests of things, etc.).

      There are certain types of regular emails I get that don’t meet those two criteria, but might have some other common element (e.g. consistent text in the subject line), so I search for that common element and either delete outright, mark as read, or move to a folder.

      Some email systems let you delete everything but the most recent email in a chain, so I’ve used that in the past to cut out the back and forth and reduce some volume before seeing if the most recent thing that got said is still relevant.

      After that I usually just skim for stuff from leadership first and then the people I work with regularly.

      I have a folder called “decisions” where I move stuff where important decisions got made in my absence so that I can easily refer back to them.

      Also, this won’t help you now but could help others: see if your IT team can remove people on leave from distribution lists so that there’s less to sort through when they get back. No one will ever need to know that there was leftover food from an event three months after the fact.

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      I sorted by “from” and deleted a bunch of stuff I didn’t need to read and then did a second sort by subject so I could see threads and only read the most recent message (since I use Outlook and it’s not good at threading messages). I also asked key people to let me know if there was anything urgent.

      Honestly, it was not as bad as I anticipated–the thing about being out for an extended period is that people start leaving you off messages because they know you’re away.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      When I have a massive backlog I take it in stages. First pass I clear out the stuff I obviously don’t need. I’m not reading emails, I’m spending 30 seconds to assess if I can delete or file without reading. This clears out a LOT (and sometimes this is the stuff that you can setup mailbox rules to filter into a folder immediately). Second pass I start skimming or reading the emails. If that’s all I need to do, I then delete or file. Otherwise, I move on. From there, I’ll actually start tackling emails. If there’s a bunch of emails in a thread, I read them all then decide if I need to do anything. I’ll either do the thing immediately (if its 5-10 minutes to do) and then delete/file, or I add it to a to-do list. Once I have completed all 3 passes, then I tackle the to-do list.

      Note that my method of inbox management is if its in my inbox, I need to do something with it. Everything else is deleted or filed. So the inbox itself is a kind of to-do list.

    7. Managing While Female*

      Before you start going through the emails, create a few folders. I like “To Do”, “Follow Up”, and “Updates”. You can also add some more specific folders based on what you do and the projects you’re working on. Then, go through the emails and assess where each of those should go. If you can ignore or delete, go ahead and do that, otherwise, focus on filing them. Then, go through based on that prioritization. For me, “To Do” is more of a priority, followed by the other two. It’s like a triage system. Hope that helps!

    8. Super Duper Anon*

      I took the first day I got back as a settling in day. I met with my manager to see what was new and what projects I should start working on and took a large portion of the day to clean out my email. Any all company or marketing information emails older than a week were immediately deleted, all other emails were quickly scanned to see if they were relevant or not. I couldn’t do a mass delete because I am one of those people who like to keep their old emails in case I need them again.

    9. Bast*

      I’m not sure how many work irrelevant emails/spam you get, but it can help to identify a few and just “Delete All” ie: Subway coupons, irrelevant newsletters/sales emails, etc. Many people sign up for many things with work emails and the amount of junk emails can be overwhelming… even just clearing out a few constant offenders can greatly reduce the overall number of emails and make it appear more manageable.

    10. A.P.*

      Work backwards.

      Look at all the emails from the last week or two. Before that I’d pretty much filter out everything except for your boss and other VIPs, external clients, and so on.

    11. WantonSeedStitch*

      I might suggest meeting with your boss and asking “what are your top priorities for me for catching up?” then you can search for relevant terms in your email and follow those conversations.

    12. A Manager for Now*

      Honestly, I marked all as “read” when I came back and only hit the last few weeks worth, filtering by people sent to get to the important stuff and reading by opening the most recent e-mail, reading that and then scrolling up from the bottom of the thread. I was out 12 weeks in a mixed management/individual contributor role.

      I found things hit one of three categories:

      Most older things had already been managed or answered by someone else, but I didn’t want to delete in case I needed to look through a history of what was done later, so I just kept those but never really looked at them. I did have one that came back to me, but the person just acknowledged that I had been out and set up a meeting.

      Some recent things were big in scope and needed projects, so once I realized it was one of those, I just stopped reading the emails and set up meetings with stakeholders to figure out the current situation and get moving on an agreed action plan, referencing past e-mails later if documentation was needed.

      Others of the more recent things were unanswered and I could complete quickly, so I read through and worked on those.

      Since I also had direct reports, I set up 1:1’s for early my first week so they could just give me a quick rundown of their current projects, main issues, etc. Also to mark the hand off between my boss, who was managing them while I was out, and me because my then-manager was kind of a headache and I wanted to make sure it was clear that I was managing them again.

    13. Brillig*

      Seconding the advice to mark everything as read and then sort from newest back. I recommend switching to a threaded view so that once you have determined a thread is irrelevant, you can delete all related emails. I have a job which relies a lot on archived emails to track change requests (yes, I know this isn’t ideal!) and I use a lot of subject line based filtering. Once I spot an “maintenance downtime on X date” email from IT, for example, I search all other emails with that line and get rid of them all. Luckily my company has a good culture of descriptive subject lines! And congrats on the kiddo.

    14. Alex*

      I wouldn’t think the expectation would be that you would read all your emails of the past three months (or however long your leave was) when you get back. If you know there are a handful of emails you need to see, search for those, read through the last week or two, and then select all + delete the rest. You were NOT AT WORK during that time. If people need your input now that you are back, they can ask again.

    15. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Move everything older than a week into a folder to sort through later. Everyone who has anything urgent is going to re-email anyway the second they hear you are back.

      If at all possible start on a Thursday or Friday and just spend a day purging email and reorienting yourself and creating your task list/follow up list. It is also so much easier to start in with a short week and then get the weekend then to go to straight 5 days.

      For my particular job, sorting for attachments is useful as that is more likely to have something specific to me. So take a moment to consider tasks/topics/people that are a higher priority that you might be able to sort/search for.

    16. A Simple Narwhal*

      So when I went back to work after maternity leave I tried to sort through everything but at a certain point is wasn’t worth it and I just marked everything as read. It was still available to find if I needed to search for it but I wasn’t stressed out by the huge “messages unread:” number.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve found that most people don’t expect you to be 100% up to date on the months of previous messages and are pretty good about working with you to help you get back up to speed.

      I know not everywhere will be like that but I think jumping back in and searching your backlog for specific information as needed is more manageable than trying to read through the thousands of messages in your inbox as a whole.

      Congrats on the new baby – try not to think about work and just enjoy the rest of your parental leave!

    17. WhereTheWindBlows*

      When I came back, I cleared out all the junk like meeting notices that passed, all employee emails etc and then I had informal chats with my manager and a few other teammates covering for me and asked what topics were still open and “hot” so I could read those emails first. Then slowly I sorted through but didn’t necessarily read the rest of the emails in the first couple weeks by thread to keep as records.

    18. Dry Erase Aficionado*

      I archived my entire inbox (I left the week or so before I returned in my active inbox) upon my return from maternity leave. My coworkers knew I was out. They were mostly cc’s or group emails, and I figured if they needed something from me, they would reach out again.

      I never once needed to look in the archive for something. YMMV

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        It probably won’t help you yet, but some of my workplace are on an AI pilot with Microsoft (think it’s actually called Microsoft Pilot) that will pull the important things for you. So when this particular colleague has been away, she comes back and prompts it with something like ‘go through my emails and summarise what I need to know’ and it does!

        I’m pretty nervous of AI, but I can see this as a good usage.

    19. Tio*

      This is why I always use conversation view on outlook – much easier to see that one email has 14 responses and is probably dead to me, vs the email with no response that has been sitting waiting for me to notice it. Also, emails with no responses or conversations are more likely to be background noise I can delete/file immediately for cleanup.

    20. Blue Pen*

      Depending on how many emails you anticipate having accumulated, I would block off either half or the entire first day of your calendar for catching up. Use the first hour or so to make the office rounds (or let people come up and say hi, welcome back, etc., to you) and get coffee/settled in, but after that, the calendar block should protect you and allow you to focus.

    21. Quinalla*

      If your leave is long, I would just sort through the last 2 weeks. Tell everyone internally to resend anything longer ago than that if they need something on it. Any important clients/external, I would check back maybe a bit further, but I expect things on leave to be taken care of while I’m out and if they aren’t, I should be notified when I come back, not have to sort through months of emails. I actually didn’t have much while I was out as once people got the first OoO they stopped sending to me mostly or were clearly just CCing me while others handled it.

    22. Karma is My Boyfriend and so is Travis Kelce*

      depending on how long you’ve been out (and if you’ve had an out of office message on), I might delete anything over than a week! Good Luck!

    23. Momma Bear*

      I’d have a “back to work” meeting with the boss to make sure that you know what they see as critical. Then I’d prioritize those emails. Start from the top because you will likely find a trail for a number of things that you should know about but are no longer action items for you. It’s a waste of time to start from the day you left and find out 150 emails and two days later an item is over with. I’d also send key team members a “hey, I’m back, what’s new?” email to see what bubbled up while you were out.

    24. EA*

      Agree with others that it may not be as bad as you expect!

      Start by archiving all junk. I ignored any “mass email” type of message, meeting invitations, other notifications. Bonus that this makes you feel really productive by quickly clearing out lots of emails :)

      Then I agree with focusing on only the last two weeks, messages from key people, and archiving all the rest of it. I do zero inbox so only leave emails that require action in my inbox.

    25. Too Many Tabs Open*

      I moved everything that had come in during my leave into a “needs processing” folder, so that I knew everything in my inbox was new.

      When processing the folder, I did a few searches to delete certain automated notifications I didn’t need, messages from email lists, and similar easily-found and irrelevant emails. Then I sorted by sender and dealt with the most important-to-me people first (my supervisor, various regular contacts, direct messages from higher-ups).

    26. Greta*

      I use inbox cleanup which deletes early parts of the chain. So if there was a chain that ended up being 15 emails, I only have to focus on the last one (which may have already been taken care of). I also search for frequent alerts. Like we get timesheets reminders from a specific email. I search for those and delete in bulk. That trims email significant enough to go from needs action soon to more process/procedure changed (like how to request professional development training) that can be read as I get settled.

    27. Skytext*

      I was hired to cover my friend’s maternity leave. She recently got back and our boss just told her to delete all her missed emails and start fresh. Anybody emailing her got her OOO message and contacted me or one of our other colleagues and we took care of everything. After she got back I did forward her a few emails relating to ongoing situations she was needing to deal with. I seriously doubt there was anything in those deleted emails she needed.

    28. TheBunny*

      Start at the top. Usually when I get back from a trip, I filter emails by subject so I can see the whole string. I look at the question and see if it’s resolved by the last email in the thread.

      I don’t always catch the mid thread issues that crop up…but those are usually quickly mentioned to me.

  4. Justin*

    Just another example of how good workplaces really show themselves beyond the basic facts of salary/benefits (not that these don’t matter a lot).

    3 jobs ago and last job, my managers explicitly told me they supported their employees. And then as soon as a mistake was made – and everyone makes them – they either became irate or micromanaged or both. Both times I started to have trouble sleeping on nights when I had to go into work the next day, which, uh, did not decrease my mistakes.

    2 jobs ago, they really were supportive, just didn’t pay very well.

    And now, on top of good pay and flexible hybrid work (we can be fully remote, I go to the office 2x/week because no one else does so I have a whole suite to myself and also I can get good lunch at Koreatown in Manhattan), I was having an issue with an external partner who was really disrespectful to me and my time. I got a little too heated in response but my boss and his boss, while lightly telling me to chill, stepped in and put him in his place in a more diplomatic way, and then apologized to me on Wednesday when I saw them in person on a work trip for my having had to deal with it. The external partner is clearly mad he got smacked down and is becoming even more demanding in his emails, but I can ignore an email, and I happen to be off this week (to move).

    In other words, there’s really no excuse not to support your employees. And this is the job where the projects “matter” the most in terms of how much money is involved in each one. I think 3 and 1 jobs ago I had bosses who felt underappreciated in life (not just because of their treatment of me and others but because of things they said) and used control to feel more valuable.

    To make this a question (before Alison chides me for just storytelling), what are some examples of how your supervisors have truly stood behind you, even if/when you’ve made a small mistake?

    1. Past Lurker*

      My first job, I made a mistake due to lack of experience. (It was my first job after college.) The Head of the entity discussed the mistake in the next all hands meeting! They didn’t say my name, but everyone knew it was me since I was the one in charge of that project area. My manager immediately explained it was an honest mistake and had been handled with additional training. She and my mentor met with me right after to reassure me everything would be OK. They were pretty livid that the Head had done this. In their defense, it seems my mistake did cause an issue with a client. But still, not a cool thing to do to someone brand new.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Years ago, I accidentally missed a deadline because I just had it in my head as being a different date. When my manager asked me if I’d completed the assignment, I checked the deadline and felt awful! She actually helped me get the assignment done in a matter of a couple hours by taking on some parts of it herself, because it was important not to damage the team’s reputation for reliability.

    3. Much Anony About Something*

      A couple years ago, we brought in a new hire to handle grunt work – filing, stamping and distributing mail, etc. Because newbie came from outside, there was a six-month probationary period, but having prior work experience meant that they picked up where they left of with PTO accruals.

      They…were a disaster. Some of their own doing, some due to external factors, but it was a lot. Issues showing up on time, literally falling asleep on the job, and other troublesome things that I’d rather keep off the internets.

      At three months, I did a preliminary eval. Given the issues that had already come up and her subpar performance, I made it clear that unless the ship got righted, we would pursue termination. When I submitted the eval to HR, two high-ranking, long-serving HR folk demanded a re-write, claiming my language was too harsh, and there’s no way that the facts were what they were (we work in a satellite office about a mile from HQ, so these two had less than a clue as to what was happening on the ground).

      My boss (who started ~6 months before I came in) made it abundantly clear that I’d kept it a buck and stuck to the facts, and even stood by my eval when his C-suite boss was forced into the conversation. The eval stood, and ultimately the employee was out two months later due to a continuation of the issues highlighted in the eval.

    4. ADD hoc*

      I was doing support for a small startup that sold their software to big enterprises. Part of my job was sending out CDs (yes, that long ago) to customer contacts and to prospects under NDA. One day the CEO came to me and said “You didn’t do anything wrong, but don’t ever do this again.” Turned out that a new salesperson had gotten “hot“ prospect that he didn’t realize was one of our competitors. I didn’t recognize the name either, though I did verify that they signed an NDA before I sent the CDs. The sales person was fired, but I was not punished, because I’d followed the defined procedure. That was when I learned to be aware of the competitive landscape, regardless of my role.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      For this story, I was in a role that handled some data, and I was the first person hired into this role created to work with these data, so the prior system was created by non-data people and kind of a mess (which they knew- it was a lot of Excel tabs with duplication and color-coding and no legend, minimal documentation, that kind of thing). I was given a tour of these files upon starting but was largely left to figure out how to handle it better on my own. Within a couple months, I had loaded the data into a database and had a pretty solid front end going. About a year later, I had plans to leave work early and head out of town to help deal with a family member’s death. That morning, a request came in relating to some data we didn’t normally report on. I completed the request and left.

      A day or two later, while I’m helping with the family member’s affairs, I noticed a couple missed calls from my supervisor and called them back, but they had figured out the issue by then so I didn’t get the details. The day I returned to the office, there was a meeting in which my grave error was detailed (my numbers had been logically incompatible with numbers given prior to my tenure for a similar request, and the receiving party noticed) and a data-focused colleague informed me, my supervisor, and my supervisor’s supervisor that their team would now handle our data requests. I wasn’t happy to hear this, but assumed it was a done deal and had bigger concerns on my mind.

      My supervisor was having NONE of it. They emphatically and slightly heatedly explained the request included data prior to my tenure (which was a mess and that’s a big part of why I had been hired), I had done so much to improve data systems, I had completed the request well ahead of the deadline while dealing with a family emergency, the error had already been corrected, they didn’t understand why it seemed to be unthinkable that we could simply acknowledge and correct an error, we would figure out why it happened in the first place, and there was no need to take this responsibility away from me and give it to people who don’t know the data (or data systems) as well as I do. The data-focused colleague backed down, and the responsibility remained with me. I felt seen and that my skills were both valuable and valued.

      We quickly realized that when I loaded data into the database as a newbie, I had accidentally skipped one of the Excel tabs. I loaded it in and it never came up again.

    6. Nancy Nicolas*

      I received a group email from a colleague asking for guidance on a legal issue (we are attorneys) and I misread a provision and replied-all with incorrect advice. Unlike many legal questions with gray areas, this one had a clear “can I or can’t I” nature, and I advised the wrong one. My supervisor came to my office right away for a private meeting, pointed out my error, and suggested I send a revised response after more consideration. Not only did he allow me to save face, he assigned that case to me when it came to our division and I ended up really deep-diving into that very issue until I had such mastery of it that I litigated it all the way to the highest court. He saw a training opportunity and with his gentle but immediate correction I was able to become very well-versed in a topic I originally misunderstood.

    7. Thank You Sheep*

      I delivered an external training for 7 professionals. Two of those people were from the same organisation, and their boss had mandated that they attend this weekly training, after their work day, for no extra pay.
      At the end of the first session I outlined what I was planning to cover in subsequent weeks and collected a questionnaire which asked people to say what else they’d like me to cover if it wasn’t on the list.
      Those two attendees, I think, may have thrown me under the bus as a way to get out of further training. Because a day later one of our senior staff got an angry phone call from the two attendees’ boss, saying their two employees found my training very bad and that I wasn’t covering what I should be covering. I explained my side of the story to my boss.
      After the *second* session there was another angry phone call from the two attendees’ boss, saying I’d been late to the training (I hadn’t been), the training was unprofessional in a few ways (the truth was our industry is less beurocractic than the two attendees’ industry, so it was a different style of training to what they were used to), it wasn’t covering the right topics (even though I was covering everything the attendees had asked for), etc, and that their two employees would be leaving the training. (The two had won their objective, I guess.)
      Anyway, my boss unquestioningly stood by me. She simply believed me when I told her the other attendees were getting a lot out of the training. I am glad.
      The one regret I have is that I only got a completed feedback form from just one of those other, happy participants – because the pandemic hit just then, and I imagine my email for feedback was largely ignored as everyone reeled. The one form I got back (thank you dear lovely woman!) was glowing, phew.

      Lesson learned: to collect feedback before the people leave. I hate having to do that stuff just to cover your arse – who wants to end an inspiring training by filling in a form? I dislike when evaluation interferes with the quality of an experience. (Even though evaluation obviously matters.) But wish I had done it.

  5. Yellow Orange*

    My team rarely if ever travels for work. Last year someone on my team needed to go to the opposite coast for a customer meeting and she let me know she was very worried about flying. For business reasons it was pretty important that she was the one to go, so we ended up working with her for her to take a train. With US train infrastructure being what it is this was not easy or cheap and cost a lot more then flying would have. I really had to stick my neck out to get the approved, and make sure she wasn’t required to use PTO for the travel time, thinking that if this was a legit phobia it wasn’t fair to penalized her for taking a trip we really wanted her on.

    Flashforward to now and she just got back from a vacation, and I heard her chitchatting with a coworker about how she was in a destination that you basically have to fly to. Especially considering how short of a time she was away for. Now thinking back I do recall her being kind of cagey about the trip before (were a pretty social group so normally we all talk about upcoming travel plans).

    I know it’s possible that she has gotten over her fear of flying (maybe urged by the whole process we had to go through to get her train travel approved). This trip could have even been a celebration of having done so. But without knowing that one way or another I’m feeling kind of duped about the whole situation. I really wish if it was the case she would have talked to me about it. Should I just get over this, or talk to her about it? For what’s it worth it’s unlikely she’ll need to travel again for work, so it’s unlikely to come up in that context.

    1. Audrey Puffins*

      Getting over it is probably the one, if she’s unlikely to ever need to travel again.

    2. londonedit*

      I think you just need to get over it. It’s entirely possible that she really didn’t want to fly for work, but when it came to a longed-for holiday she was able to find a way to manage her phobia. And that’s fine. If she isn’t going to be travelling again for work, why bring it up?

      1. StressedButOkay*

        There’s also a chance she had … ~help~ with her flying on personal vacation that she would not have felt comfortable taking on this business trip. Either because of internal office rules or legality in states, etc.

        1. HungryLawyer*

          THIS. I am also afraid of flying. Managing that fear and anxiety is much easier during personal travel since I can fly medicated with my spouse.

          1. Anonny1*

            I had a fear of flying for many years, which meant that all of our vacations were either driving or train travel. As I decided, I wanted to see places outside of the US or Canada, I actually started a fear of flying therapy group, listen to self-help tapes, and learned all I could about the safety of flying. If this was a year ago, it’s entirely possible your employee did what she had to do because there a place she wanted to go that you have to fly to. Agree with another poster who mentioned she may have had health and support going on a vacation that she wouldn’t have on a solo work trip.

        2. Hotdog not dog*

          This was my thought too. I have a terrible fear of flying, but properly medicated and accompanied by someone who has enough wits about them to let me know when to board, etc. I can just barely handle it. Upon landing it generally takes several hours before I’m competent again. Business trips don’t usually allow for any of that to happen.

        3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          This was my first thought. My FIL used to fly for worked and only could do it if he was plastered – a plan that worked better in the 80’s than it does now .

          But I know several people who self medicate before flying and who also require a specific travel companion to manage their fear.

        4. Claire*

          Right or the help could have come in the form of emotional support from a traveling companion, which it sounds like she didn’t have on the business trip.

        5. I Have RBF*


          On a business trip, you often can’t go with someone.

          My spouse reacts badly to flying due to an inner ear issue. If we need to fly, they hold on to me as a security blanket, because if I am not concerned about something, then it isn’t actually an issue, it’s just their fears popping up, and they can better ignore them. This would not work on a business trip.

        6. Siege*

          Or even that she had a seat upgrade of some kind on her personal flight that she couldn’t get on the work flight. As a plus size, tall woman, I’d feel pretty differently about a first class flight than an economy flight.

        7. learnedthehardway*

          Or she could have been travelling with a friend or partner who provided moral support that she wouldn’t have had for business travel solo.

    3. Millie*

      If she isn’t likely to need to travel again, I would say you’re fine to leave it alone. It is possible she got over her fear of flying in a more casual/comfortable environment after the train ordeal. You might be able to talk about it casually like “I heard you went to (Place) for vacation, how was your trip? Was the travel okay?” just for curiosity.

      I had a huge fear of driving for most of my life. Last year I had some family medical issues that made it essential for me to drive to be able to visit ill family members. Maybe that train trip and seeing how much trouble it caused for everyone including herself, helped her get over her fear of flying.

    4. Luna*

      What would you get out of talking to her about it? I get you feel like she was misleading, but at this point there’s nothing to be done.
      File it away as a thing you know about her, but move on.

    5. Bluebell Brenham*

      Maybe she got over the fear of flying, or maybe her phobia isn’t as bad if she has a family member or a close friend there to help her manage it? I think you should let it go.

      1. Saturday*

        I know someone like this. Flying with a spouse is still hard, but flying for a work trip is much, much worse. It also might be the case that if there is another option – even if it’s not super-convenient – she would much prefer to go that route. For a lot of people fear of flying doesn’t mean they’ll never do it, just that it’s a really bad experience for them. So I’d let it go.

        1. Office Plant Queen*

          And it could be that she’s able to take time to rest when it’s a vacation, but if traveling for work she’d have to be “on” and that’s just not possible for her

    6. Hyaline*

      Since it seems very unlikely this would come up again, I would let it go. What good does it do to raise it? You can’t really do anything to resolve that situation. If your feelings are more that this is suggesting you can’t have as much confidence or trust in her, I’d say reserve judgement but keep your eyes open and follow your gut if you feel she’s being as you said “cagey,” and follow through on new situations if and when they arise.

    7. funkytown*

      I would let it go, especially if it’s unlikely to come up again at work. If it does, maybe stick your neck out way less for her so you don’t feel resentful and just see what works out.

    8. londonedit*

      Also remember the whole point of phobias is that they’re *irrational* fears. So they don’t behave rationally. As someone with a phobia, it doesn’t help hugely when people start questioning or saying ‘But you did X, I thought you had a phobia…?’ as if you’re making it up. Maybe she isn’t able to fly on her own without it being too much for her phobia, but if she’s with her family/partner then she can force herself to deal with it. Or maybe she knocks herself out with medication when she flies with her partner, but she didn’t want to do that on a solo work trip and she couldn’t think of another option that would allow her to fly. Maybe it was likely to be the last ever holiday with an elderly or ill family member, and she just made herself suck it up for that one trip. Who knows. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a phobia or that she was somehow scamming the company/you out of the cost of a train journey. If flying was far more straightforward and quicker and cheaper you’d have thought she’d have flown if she really was able to.

    9. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If she’s not going to have to travel for work again, I would let it go–precisely because she could’ve discovered that the train approach was far worse than she anticipated, and has learned since to just deal with a plane if she has to.

      But if it comes up again that she does need to fly somewhere, then I think this time you tell her that the train is not an option anymore.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      As someone who used to have very bad flight anxiety… there are so many factors that go into this. It’s much more likely that she wanted very badly to go to this destination and had to steel herself beforehand and now that it’s done she feels much better. It’s also much more likely that she was more willing to fly for vacation than for work travel. And who knows, maybe she’s had therapy.

      Maybe maybe maybe. We could speculate all day. If she rarely travels, this will not come up again. If it does come up again, then maybe for business reasons the train is not an option and she can either fly or skip the trip or attend virtually.

      But you were not duped. That’s a really uncharitable way to look at it. I don’t know anyone who would thinks several nights on Amtrak for work is a great way to spend your time (and I enjoy train travel). It was nice of you to stick your neck out at the time, and I’m sure she appreciated it, and I seriously doubt she was congratulating herself on getting you to put her on a multi-day train journey for a single meeting.

    11. Policy Wonk*

      Agree with others that you need to let this go, but I would put a flag in her file somewhere that with regard to travel she has subsequently flown for vacation [with dates/location] so likely will not need the accommodation in the future. Just because it is unlikely she will need to travel, doesn’t mean she won’t, and it never hurts to document just in case. And that simple act may make you feel better.

      1. londonedit*

        I don’t think that’s necessary – you’d basically be putting a note *on file* that says she lied about having a phobia of flying and declaring that she definitely doesn’t need any accommodations. And that may not be true at all! If it ever comes up again, all that needs to happen is for someone to ask whether she would be able to fly, or whether there needs to be an alternative.

      2. PotatoRock*

        I would not do that. And if she requests an accommodation formally, with documentation from a medical professional, it doesn’t /matter/ if she’s flown for other reasons

      3. Hyaline*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t officially document anything. That feels like overkill and potentially screwing her over in the future over suspicions that might be unfounded. If you wanted to save notes in your own files/keep the pertinent emails for yourself on the odd chance this morphs into “turns out Sally was a pathological liar all along,” that’s one thing, but official documentation seems unnecessary and potentially problematic here.

      4. allathian*

        I really wouldn’t do that, because flying for work is one thing, and flying on vacation when you can be accompanied by your spouse or a friend to keep you safe when you’re tranked to the gills is something else.

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

      I think you need to let this go, because you don’t know the ins and outs of her phobia. Also, maybe its she has a fear of flying ALONE, like she would have for work, but that she was fine when going with family or friends. Or that the work flight was her FIRST EVER flight and she didn’t want that stress. Or perhaps it was flying from cost to cost, which would have been a much longer flight but the other place she went was a shorter flight.

      1. Tammy 2*

        She could also have taken some medication to get herself on that vacation flight that she wouldn’t have felt comfortable using for work travel and/or without a trusted companion flying with her.

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      What good would come of it? None that I see. However, if she needs to travel for work in future, then she’s going to fly. No special train trips.

      1. Phryne*

        Or she is just but going to fly. What are you going to do about it? Physically force her on to the plane?

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Then the employee can use her PTO and pay the extra cost out of her pocket. Of course that’s an option. However, there is an expectation that the employee would be at x location by y date/time, and the company will pay for flights and accommodation according to z policy, which applies to everyone.

          1. Phryne*

            Except it is the company who wants her there: ‘For business reasons it was pretty important that she was the one to go’
            I see no evidence the employee herself cares about going. So she can just tell them she will not fly. And sure they can probably fire her, but this is a person who apparently has important and specific knowledge about the business and her job normally does not require travel, so I don’t really see how they think they have the upper hand here.

            1. I'm A Little Teapot*

              I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t particularly enjoy travelling for work. We do it because it’s a requirement of the job. So yes, she could quit. She always has that option. That doesn’t mean that it’s unreasonable for the employer to want her to travel for something.

              Bottom line – barring the employee having a medical reason that flying isn’t an option, it’s not unreasonable to require that they get on a plane and fly somewhere. Just because it’s not a frequent part of the job doesn’t mean that it can’t be an occasional part of the job. And just because you’re not fond of flying doesn’t mean that your employer has to accommodate other methods of travel in all cases.

              1. Phryne*

                I’d say having a phobia is a medical reason and no, het private trip is not proof she does not have a phobia. I have phobias and I have worked though these for various important reasons, but work would never be one.
                It does not matter what you think is reasonable or not. She can simply say no. And the company can decide if they really want her there and if they do they can accommodate her. Or accept she is not going. Or fire her. And if they fire a good employee with important knowledge for the company over something as trivial as a train ticket, she would be well rid of them.

      2. constant_craving*

        This is a poor, and probably illegal idea.

        As has been clearly described by other commenters, it’s highly likely she has a phobia of flying that she was able to deal with during personal travel in a manner that would not be possible during work travel. And denying an accommodation for that will almost certainly run afoul of ADA.

        This would really be no more rational than telling someone they don’t need accommodations for their ADHD because you saw them in a movie theater and they didn’t have trouble paying attention to the movie.

    14. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think you should get over it. It’s bothering you because it feels inconsistent, but there are lot of things I’d be willing to do in my personal life that I may not be willing to do in my work life, and getting on a plane is definitely one of them right now with the number of airborne illnesses out there.

      Obviously sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to, but I think you should look at this as a time you went to bat for an employee and found a way to accommodate them, rather than as a time you got duped (because you may not have been duped at all).

    15. norm Peterson*

      I HATE HATE HATE HATE flying with a passion. I would cheerfully drive from the Midwest to California or the east coast solo (and have done this many times, sometimes on a whim), but I occasionally suck it up and fly when the cost of a plane ticket is cheaper than gas (and hotel – I caved and flew to Florida the two times I’ve been there thanks to cheap flights). I have also been to Hawaii, Europe, Asia, and Africa. All those flights were super anxiety producing but the trip at the other end was worth it. A conference for work probably does not get me in a plane. Especially with this rash of doors popping off of them! I’ll drive anywhere and be mostly happy about it. But 36-48 hours on Amtrak might make me rethink a flight if the stars aligned (nonstop and limited time to enjoy destination).

    16. TheBunny*

      Would this irk me? Probably. I used to have a coworker who conplained she wasnt paid enough but ordered toast…TOAST from a restaurant across from the office every freaking day. The number of times I didn’t say “buy a loaf of bread and use the office toaster. It will save you $20 per week should qualify me for some sort of work place medal.

      So coming from someone who gets it…

      Get over it.

      Reading this, my first thought was how differently I travel for work and fire personal.

      Work travel I’m early for flights and slightly dressed up. I don’t drink even if it’s complimentary.

      Personal? Yoga pants and hello mini airplane bottles of booze. (No I don’t get plastered, LOL)

      But the difference in expectations of the 2 types of travel certainly could change how she feels about travel as you really can’t take a pill on the plane that knocks you out for work travel to deal with fear of flying in quite the same way you can for personal travel.

      1. norm Peterson*

        … wouldn’t toast get less crispy while packed up for travel?? And just be warm crusted over bread?

      2. Claire*

        Someone can spend frivolously (in your eyes) and still not be compensated properly for the work they perform.

        1. TheBunny*

          Right. But that was my literal point. What follows for one person doesn’t always for someone else. Hence why I never said anything to the toast person.

          1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

            This is my thought on people who DAILY buy specialized coffee from shop that rhymes with “Warbucks”. I tended to bring a thermos of coffee to work because I have a sensitivity to artificial creamer and use Almond Milk instead.
            But at a previous job I went out to lunch every day in order to keep (?) my sanity. Money I believed to be well spent that coworkers didn’t understand.

    17. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t see what benefit she would get from duping you. If she’s not afraid of flying, why would she willingly take a days long train across country rather than a few hours in the air.

      1. Hyaline*

        It would have to be a pretty labor intensive con for it to pay off in any way! Like if the travel was reimbursed, so she booked the train tickets and submitted them for reimbursement, but then she actually did fly, pocketed the difference, and also got a free couple days of vacation on either end. Incredibly labor intensive con. Still, I suppose, a tiny teeny chance it was a con.

          1. linger*

            See also: the OP who rebooked on cheapo airline, pocketed the difference in air fare for self and subordinate, then wrote in distraught about being fat-shamed by needing to use both plane tickets, and oh by the way stranding subordinate in foreign country without access to funds or company phone.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Also consider difference in airplane itself, destination, and time of year. Was this around the time when somebody got sucked out an airplane when the panel fell off? Was it rural enough that she was going to have to fly on a proper plane for the first time in her life? Was she flying into the gulf during hurricane season?

      A kinder thing to do is that if she does have to fly again, ask her what made her personal vacation comfortable so the company can try to do that for her business flight.

    19. RagingADHD*

      She may not have “gotten over” her phobia, but she may very well have found a treatment plan for it that was good enough to help her get through the trip.

      It makes sense that someone would be more motivated to pursue / pay for treatment for a personal goal than for a required work trip. If someone asked me about it, I’d probably tell them that if work needed them to go on the trip, then the onus belongs on work to make it possible. You can’t rightfully demand an employee get mental health treatment for work travel, when travel was never part of the job.

    20. jasmine*

      People who don’t generally have to live with limitations tend to see life in two boxes. Things you can do and things you can’t. But that’s not really the reality for people who do have to live with limitations.

      For example, I have chronic pain. Some days I might use some sort of aid (a splint or a cane), some days I might not. I might get better over time. I might get worse. When I have to deal with my condition at home, it’s all good, but I’m often self-conscious in public about my shifting needs because what if someone decides I’m faking? It’s not like I *can’t* walk. But it’s not like I always can either. There are also other environmental factors which might affect what I can do and different situations also give me different flexibility in terms of what accommodations I can use.

      It’s possible that she got over it. It’s also possible that there were other factors that helped mitigate her phobia, which wouldn’t have applied to your business trip.

      Phobias, disabilities, mental health issues… these are all things that an outside observer doesn’t have the context to comment on. If your employee is otherwise trustworthy, don’t let this become a reason to distrust her. Having others judge you because they’ve made assumptions about your condition is a disheartening experience (having to answer to them and explain to get their approval is too).

    21. EA*

      Honestly, this would bug me too. That said, I don’t think there’s anything to talk about. I don’t even know what you’d say in the conversation – or what she could have said to you prior to her vacation. But I think it’s also legitimate for you to be more hesitant about going above and beyond for her again to avoid flights in the future, should it ever be necessary.

  6. Irish in Canada!*

    2 years ago I made a career change from executive admin to a marketing specialist role. Love it and was so lucky to be given this chance. I did study marketing in uni but it was over 20 years ago and I have had no practical experience until now!

    Here’s the problem, marketing speak sounds like a foreign language to me! Can anybody recommend a marketing text book that I can read to help me learn that language? Particularly in B2B marketing, and strategic planning.

    1. crying in chicago*

      hello from a fellow B2B marketer! I think marketing lingo changes so often that a textbook might not cut it — by the time I graduated college, all of the info I learned during my marketing degree was outdated. instead, maybe look into online courses (there are a lot of free ones) walking through B2B concepts? I’d recommend looking into LinkedIn Learning courses, they have several B2B marketing courses, including a fundamentals course that could be helpful for learning jargon!

    2. Fuzzy Crocodile*

      I would add that I’ve worked at a few companies doing B2B marketing and some of them have their own lingo. I have an acronyms lists from my current company and we use acronyms that I knew as something else at a previous role… so it gets confusing.

  7. My Back Hurts*

    I’m shopping for a new desk chair for work-from-home use. I do a lot of sitting, but I often want to sit ‘weird’ and need a chair with multiple adjustments. Any recommendations? (I’ve been looking at the Hinomi brand so if anyone has experience with it that would be helpful…)

    1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

      I have an Alera ALEEL42ME10B Elusion Series Mesh Mid-Back Multifunction Chair. Reasonably priced, I find it very supportive, and you can adjust all sorts of things like the seat angle, back angle, back height, seat height, and arm width. I did a lot of research first and found a really exhaustive post by someone on Reddit looking at affordable chairs from an ergonomic and physical therapy lens. This was their recommendation.

      1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

        I also looked at Branch chairs and ultimately their reviews were terrible.

        Yoga blocks for inexpenisve footrests if you are short.

        And, you can look on Facebook marketplace for offices that are offloading their gently used, discounted Herman Miller chairs.

        Horrified by the suggestion of a beanbag

        1. Missa Brevis*

          Yeah, my Branch chair works fine for my needs (gaming and some writing on my computer, rarely more than 3 or 4 hours in a day), but I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who works from home and needs a lot of adjustability.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      I keep seeing Pipersong chairs and am so eager to get one – but I only work at home 2 days a week and am feeling guilty about the idea of spending $350+ for a desk chair. I have ADHD and constantly sit crisscross and then my feet fall asleep…

      I don’t know why I feel guilty. A month ago I spent $250 on color for my hair (though I do believe I look fabulous…)

      1. WellRed*

        As someone doing PT because I like to sit cross legged in my office chair, $350 might be money well spent.

      2. Roland*

        I would consider a good-quality Herman Miller secondhand on ebay. I got a really nice one for 400 dollars which yes is a lot but is less than the 1100 it would have cost new. I got it when we were sent home early in the pandemic because it was the chair stocked in my office and it’s honestly worth every penny. Mine is the Mirra 2 (I tried an aeron at a store but liked it less). It’s really wide so I sit cross legged all the time no problem.

      3. a giant ant*

        I bought one of these and I actually hate it. The adjustability is very limited – you cannot raise the leg platform, only the seat, and only slightly. The seat is also TINY, so unless you have a very small butt you are going to feel like you’re sitting on a bicycle seat for most of the day. It also encouraged some very bad sitting habits and made my slouch a lot worse. I regret having bought it.

    3. Office Plant Queen*

      Have you thought about non-chair options as well, like a bean bag? The ones that are large enough to hypothetically use at a desk are going to be several hundred dollars though, and I don’t know your budget

    4. ShysterB*

      I just got the Flexispot C7 for my home office, after putting up for far too long with an old, worn-out office chair. (Shout out to the spouse who put it together after I went to bed, leaving me to realize it only after I actually sat in it.) It seems to have a bazillion different adjustment options that I still need to figure out, but (a) I love it and (b) my back and legs feel tons better at the end of the day.

    5. BellyButton*

      I have given up a traditional desk and chair set up. They don’t work for me. I end up hunching over desks are never tall enough or the right height.

      My new set up- I bought a super comfy and large club chair style recliner. It is wide enough so I can sit cross leg and still have room for my little pup to sit next to me. I got a desk that is on wheels and has two parts one part sits along the side of the chair and the other one swings over the arm rests. That side also adjusts to be a standing desk. I added an extra attachment so that my monitor would be high enough (I am tall). It has worked perfectly. The other thing I really like is that the piece that swings out over the chair, can be swung back and it sits directly over the side that is along the chair. It is a nice way to tidy up and mentally signal that I am done working.

      No more hunching, no more neck and back pain.

      Good luck finding a set up that works for you.

      1. Kez*

        What kind of desk do you have, if you don’t mind my asking? I’ve never heard of that setup, but it’s exactly what I would want given my own sitting/working style.

    6. DivergentStitches*

      I got a great wide one on Amazon that has no sides, so I can tuck my feet under me. It’s been great for my back!

    7. My Back Hurts*

      Adding to clarify – I am looking for an ergonomic chair that offers lumbar support. In addition to my work, I’ll be sitting in it for gaming, sewing and painting. So beanbag chairs need not apply. :)

    8. I Have RBF*

      I recently picked up a remanufactured Steelcase Leap V2 from Crandall Office. The only problem is that I thought I ordered a headrest, but I guess I didn’t. It was about $700, IIRC.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I also have this chair. I bought it refurbished from a company local to me and it was about $800 after tax. They’re about double that in Canada if you buy them brand new. I LOVE this chair. I used to get terribly stiff necks and they’ve almost disappeared since I started using this chair.

      2. Gatomon*

        I blew a tax return on this exact chair back in ~2017. I spent all day at work in a terrible chair (I tried to get a better chair but they won’t pay for it), then came home and sat in my own terrible chair to study, and then got hit with a 6 hour outage overnight. My back and neck were killing me on top of the exhaustion. I realized it made more sense to buy a better chair than to suffer and pay the chiropractor $50/visit indefinitely. I used a lower model (the Aria?) at a previous job, so I felt confident that I’d be able to adjust it to fit and that it would last. I didn’t regret the purchase then, and I *definitely* didn’t regret it after the pandemic hit. I’ve been WFH for the last 4 years and it has been worth every penny multiple times over.

        I do wish I had ordered the headrest though. Next time.

  8. cat in human form*

    Hey all — any advice for my situation?

    I got fired from my last job a few weeks ago (it just wasn’t the right fit, but I’m eligible for rehire), so I panicked and accepted a job offer for a mid-May start — but I also emailed another employer and asked if they could make a decision by end of Friday (today).

    I really am excited about the job I accepted, but I do know that it’s contingent on reference checks, which they still haven’t started. And as far as they know I’m still at my old job (I was still employed when I applied and wasn’t asked about my “current” job in the interviews), so I don’t think they’ll be happy to learn that I was fired (but I do think I have a reasonable explanation — the job had a very specific focus that would only be ~10% of my new job’s responsibilities; the job was very isolated to the point where I wouldn’t hear from people for days but I accepted this new job because it emphasizes collaboration; and the job had vague expectations whereas the new job has performance reviews with measurable deliverables).

    For the other job: they said they weren’t sure when they’d be making a decision, but that they would send me an update on Friday either way. So I’m not sure what to do if they come back and say that they haven’t made a decision — do I ask to remain under consideration until I receive a final offer? What complicates things is that this job is with my former employer and they would normally be my strongest reference, but right now I’m wary of giving out their contact info to the other employer.

    Ok that was a lot! I tend to be prone to catastrophizing, so genuinely welcome any thoughts or advice. I really am committed to the job I accepted, but it feels like they’re not fully committed to me, at least while it’s still contingent — so maybe I have to keep my options open? But I really want to be respectful of everyone’s time.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You are overthinking. Keep job searching until the reference checks check out. And provide your references as appropriate to the company you accepted an offer. If an employer is going to flip out about getting a reference check that’s valuable information.

    2. Claire*

      Why do you need the other employer to make a decision by today? If anything, it sounds like it’s to your benefit for them to wait longer to offer you something, til you know whether or not the other offer is final. Also, you don’t need to ask them to keep you under consideration; they are already considering you. You only need to let them know if you want to be taken out of consideration.

    3. HonorBox*

      Keep the door open to other possibilities until you have a formal offer and start date in hand.

      1. Anonny1*

        I’m confused why this was considering a firing – did they not offer to let you resign? If it’s just a bad fit and it’s clear that he wouldn’t succeeded in with the new positions roll offered. It seems harsh to fire.

  9. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    I have a question for any Hawaiians reading — I am a white midwestern woman who has never even been to Hawaii. I recently have been communicating by phone with several people in Hawaii as part of my job. They often begin and end calls with “aloha”. What is the etiquette for responding? Say aloha back? Or say hello/goodbye?

    1. Howzit*

      You’re fine with either! People in Hawaii know it’s a local thing, and there’s no expectation for anyone to return it. But if you feel like responding with “aloha”, by all means go for it! (There’s also no expectation of you to know more Hawaiian, if you did – though you might also hear “mahalo”, which means thank you.)

      I was born and raised in Hawaii, and now live in the Midwest – this question warmed my homesick heart :-)

      1. Happily Retired*

        I spent my teenage years in Hawai’i a long time ago, and “Mahalo” (thank you) was stenciled on the sides of public trash cans. Apparently quite a few tourists went home calling trash “mahalo,” as in “Honey, did you take out the mahalo?”

        – were you living there when the public buses on Oahu were officially called “Wiki-Wiki Bus”? This was long before the internet and Wikipedia. (For anyone confused, “wiki” is Hawai’ian for fast or hurry.)

        1. wow*

          I think they’re still called wiki wiki – these are the shuttles at the airport not the city buses.

      2. tentative turtle*

        Agree 100%! I was born and raised in Hawaii but lived in California for many years. When I moved back to Hawaii, I struggled with this same question for myself. At first it seemed like everyone was saying aloha/mahalo which I didn’t feel authentic doing but I also felt weird not following what seemed like a general convention. (None of my friends or family here in Hawaii really say aloha/mahalo so it was a surprise to find it so prevalent at work.)

        But several months after I moved back, I noticed that in emails to me, a locally well-respected leader who was also born and raised in Hawaii and lived here for most of his life did not use aloha/mahalo at all and used hi/thank you, including in his social media posts. And that freed me to not feel like I had to say aloha/mahalo either.

        On the other hand, in my work I interact with people outside Hawaii and I do find it heartwarming when people use aloha/mahalo, even if I don’t do it myself.

        Which is all to say…whatever you feel like doing is great!

        I would also like to mention this guidance from the AP Stylebook which people in Hawaii generally practice:

        “Use the term Hawaii residents — not Hawaiians — for the overall population of Hawaii.
        Use the term Hawaiian or Hawaiians only for members of the ethnic group indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. They also may be called Native Hawaiians….”

    2. Sassy SAAS*

      I had a recent similar experience! I was working with a client in New Zealand, and they used the Maori greeting/closing, “Kia ora”, meaning “have life/be healthy”. I asked if it would be appropriate if I also used it as a reply to them (as I don’t want to be insensitive as a white woman from the Northeast, as as your thought!). They were excited I asked, and excited to be able to share a tiny part of their culture with me! It was a really fun moment, and they were a truly lovely group to work with!

      1. Friendly Fireing*

        Fun fact – I watch a street called Rycon and it took me literal months to figure out he was saying “Kia ora” at the beginning of his streams.

        YouTube subtitles translated it as:
        Cure ah
        Cold aura
        and my all time favorite Your Koala!

      2. Jill Swinburne*

        Quite a lot of people here also end emails with ‘nga mihi’ – basically, ‘thanks’ – should you ever come across it :-)

    3. Seashell*

      In a somewhat similar vein, I hear my (American) spouse saying “Cheers” when saying goodbye to British co-workers on work calls. I find it amusing, but the co-workers haven’t complained yet.

      1. Vocab*

        Oh yeah, British co-workers wouldn’t even notice – they would just assume it’s part of your husband’s vocabulary. (I’m in the UK.)

    4. wow*

      I’m so curious what your job is, but to answer your question, no one would expect you to use aloha, and I think it’s safer to stick with whatever your standard greeting is without knowing more about who you’re talking to. If you want to give it a go or aren’t sure if you’re hitting the right tone by being the one NOT saying aloha, maybe casually ask if it’s okay if you use aloha, or what they would prefer. I know you got a lot of advice saying it’s totally fine, just go for it, but IMO, there is a chance you may encounter resistance as an outsider if you use it. While many people will use aloha casually as a greeting, there is a layered meaning to the word that goes much deeper beyond just a greeting so that when someone who does not understand or embody this deeper meaning uses it casually it can come off as ignorant or performative. If you’re interested in using it, I’d recommend starting a conversation around it as the most culturally sensitive approach since it’s not clear how many layers deep their use of aloha goes. That’s the best way I can explain it and I hope no one is offended by me posting this (sweating emoji!). I think you asked a good question so I wanted to reply. It seems like a simple question, but IMO, it’s rather complicated!

  10. I'm a product manager, get me out of here*

    I commented earlier this year, asking what roles could be realistic for someone who doesn’t want to be a tech product manager anymore. Someone suggested technical writing, which has been at the top of my mind for a while.

    Most of my unofficial experience comes from a previous workplace, where I wrote all internal and customer-facing guides for several products, and helped roll out a third-party software for in-app user guides. It wasn’t my official role: I was filling a gap alongside my job description duties, because we didn’t have a dedicated writer. I got a lot of praise for that, which I’m aware doesn’t mean the work was good by any other employer’s standards: it may well have been a case of “please never stop doing this as no one else will” (this is where I warn you that I have rampant imposter syndrome). But it did make me realise that breaking down a product or process in writing is something I feel comfortable / good at doing, and that I enjoy it more than being a product manager.

    At that past workplace, my role sometimes crossed paths with Paul, a technical subject matter expert, who also works somewhere else now. Today, he shared a technical writing vacancy at his current workplace (enterprise software company with a product used by developers). I’ve been wondering whether to message him and express interest, even though we haven’t spoken in a couple of years (we were on good terms at OldJob). He’s not in the team where the vacancy is, so it would be more of a “would your company trash my CV if I don’t come from a writing role and the technology is new to me?” reality check.

    I worry I’d sound out of line, because the role focuses on documentation for a product that uses a tech stack I have zero experience of. My sense, reading the job advert, is there wouldn’t be much point applying if I think I could learn the writing process quickly but don’t have the specific technical background. Plus, it’s been long enough that I’m fairly sure the guides I wrote at OldJob are no longer online for me to use as work samples for tech writer roles.

    Should I listen to my gut and leave it alone, or drop Paul a line on LinkedIn and see what I can learn? And in the latter case, how would those of you who have successfully reached out to old connections phrase the question?

    1. MsM*

      “Hi Paul! Saw your company’s posting. I’ve been looking to shift to tech writing, and this seems like it might be a fit, but I’m obviously a bit concerned about my lack of direct experience. Would you or the appropriate person on your team be willing to offer some tips on how to break into the field?”

    2. Parenthesis Guy*

      Drop Paul a line. People like to help people, especially if you were friends. Especially if it doesn’t cost them anything.

    3. Hillary*

      Absolutely drop him a line. A couple years is nothing in LinkedIn terms – I regularly reach out to folks I knew 10+ years ago. You already have a technical background, writing experience, and a demonstrated interest in learning. Bonus points if you two worked at the same company and he saw your writing there, but it’s not necessary.

      Hey Paul. I hope you’re doing well – I saw your post about the technical writing role. I’ve been thinking about my next steps for a while and realized that technical writing was my favorite part of my job at xxx. My experience with product management taught me (translatable skills 1 & 2) that I think will help me succeed.

      Next is ask him for help. Depending on how well you know each other and comfort levels, that could be:
      – grab a coffee
      – jump on a call to chat about the culture and what he may know about the expectations
      – just ask if he thinks they’re interested in nontraditional candidates and if you might be a good fit for the culture overall

      his company may also have a referral program. Don’t ask for a referral on the first message unless you know him well, but if he says you’re a good fit definitely ask.

    4. TCO*

      You’re overthinking this. I’m always happy to chat with friends/good former colleagues about job openings at my company. Determining whether it could be a good fit and is worth applying is part and parcel of conversations like these. I’ve never resented it when the conversation leads to a conclusion that it’s just not the right fit. This is a super normal networking thing.

    5. juliebulie*

      There is no harm in trying. You can assure them that, given your technical background, learning new tools is no problem.

    6. FormerTechWriter*

      Definitely reconnect, but know there are different types of tech writers. This is an oversimplification, but some focus on end user documentation, some on system administration, and some on developer/data/API/etc. Folks in the first group can come from almost any background. Folks in the second group can come from a fairly wide background but must have some technical and sysadmin knowledge and experience. Folks in the third group need to know how to code, design data systems, and do other really specialized really technical tasks (they are effectively teaching other people how to code or do complex data design or complicated data mappings). I was in the third group for a while and I filled in as a product architect for a while and also did things like help key customers design their data models at various jobs. I needed the same background as the more senior software engineers. I’m now effectively the CTO at my current org.

      So be aware of the type of tech writing and what it actually entails/requires if you decide to look in that area.

      1. I'm a product manager, get me out of here*

        Thank you! That’s exactly what’s nagging at me. This role does sound like end user documentation, but the end users are developers, so probably closer to the third kind. That’s why I see it as a very long shot. I do believe there are technical areas that I can develop into if I come across a hiring manager open to nontraditional backgrounds, but also can see why they’d only consider candidates that have that specific background. “Job description mentioning software I never came across” isn’t the best omen to me.

        My ideal position would be a tech writer role of the first kind, where I’m confident I’d have a fairly easy learning curve, even though potential employers may not see it that way because my related experience is not the most obvious thing on my CV (I haven’t yet worked out a way to make it so without cutting some of my other achievements that make my path so far actually make sense).

  11. Building Management Team*

    Team building/training ideas for a group of managers?

    I manage a team of managers, and have recently added multiple people to the team. I want to do some team-building/norm-setting/training with the group fairly soon to pull us together. I think this is also a good time to perhaps do some additional training to strengthen ALL of our management skills, in addition to the two new members.

    I’m at a non-profit with a limited budget. I don’t want to do forced-fun type team-building like an escape room or happy hour – I’d prefer something that has a tangible connection to work and think the team would too. We get along well socially, but I think we need to pull together more as colleagues and a support system.

    Any ideas or culture-building things people have really loved in the past?

    1. Justin*

      My company has done things related to what we (a nonprofit but with a pretty good budget) do as an organization. We, for example, help to fund small businesses, so we have had tours of places we’ve funded.

      I dunno what you all do but that sort of things relates to our work and you can then have a discussion or a meal or a happy hour where you discuss whatever the thing was that you did.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      At the job where I was first trained to be a project manager, we did a several-day offsite PM bootcamp. The experienced people and the senior management gave us some book learning, then we split up into small teams and were given a sample project to grab ahold of. Then a few hours in, one of the execs running the exercise would drop off a piece of paper with an unexpected event or risk, and we had to figure out what to do about it, on the fly.

      It was actually a lot of fun.

    3. MsM*

      Do you all do departmental/organizational retreats? I feel like those are the most productive way to strengthen bonds professionally: a bit of laying out pain points so you can do some directly applicable problem-solving; a bit of soft skills training; and then an opportunity to decompress. You don’t have to rent out a fancy venue, either; you just need to give people an opportunity to get up and move during the exercises.

    4. Janine*

      Our management team (about 15 people) did StrengthsFinder tests individually, then had a trainer take us through a (purposefully somewhat informal/casual) 2-hour workshop to better understand our results. You can find lots of resources for running StrengthsFinder workshops online too, if you don’t have budget for an external facilitator. I personally found it useful, but it depends on your team culture as to whether folks will be into this or not. Of course these types of quizzes are never fully accurate, but our leadership was transparent that they were just using it as a tool to help prompt personal reflection and group conversation, and weren’t going to delve deeply into (or take too seriously) anyone’s individual results.

      I’m sure some have horror stories about StrengthsFinder tests gone wrong too though, so take this with a grain of salt :) but it worked for us to provide some structure/tentpoles to an otherwise unstructured discussion.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      One activity my senior director has all of us directors and assistant directors do at strategic planning time is to write up the first paragraph of an article in an industry publication that talks about something we’ve accomplished, a few years in the future. It’s basically a fun way of getting us all to think about and share our visions for the team and what innovations we’d like to make. We then pull out themes that we see across multiple people’s writing: “lots of people are emphasizing that we think changing X could result in raising more money.” “most of us seem to think we really need to reorganize how fundraisers are distributed.”

    6. Katrine Fonsmark*

      I think you’re combining too many things here – in my opinion something can’t be both team-building and training. For example, I’m 100% remote, but our whole office (60-ish people) gets together in the HQ city twice a year. This has only been the case since the pandemic ended, as 20% of our staff is now remote and prior to that it was only a couple of people.

      As these 2-day meetings have evolved, everyone has begun to realize that the team-building aspect is most important – we have 2 days twice a year for people to socialize and get to know each other. We usually do a couple things (think trivia or other games, happy hour, etc.) with the whole group and then break down into our smaller teams for more socialization. The least popular thing is always the 1/2 day “professional development” piece because it’s usually applicable to only a very small group or so broad as to be appealing to no one, or one of those stupid “personality/work style” assessment things. I have lobbied on every evaluation to just get rid of that part – if we need to do something like that it could be a zoom, but we don’t need it, they’re just checking a box.

      Obviously if you’re fully in-office/hybrid/remote or a mix makes all of this a totally different calculus, but if you do decide to go the “training” route make sure it’s actually going to be valuable for everyone attending regardless of their work function. Otherwise, social stuff is the way to go – our group had a blast doing a homemade “minute to win it” that had us working together to complete the game. I have found that by making those social connections with people in person, my working relationships with people I didn’t know or didn’t know well have improved exponentially.

    7. BellyButton*

      Look up humansynergistics they have group scenarios that will get people working together, it is reasonably priced, and doesn’t need a paid facilitator. I’ve used a few different scenarios over the years, people always enjoy them.

    8. Claire*

      Nonprofit consultant/trainer here. I think you need to clarify what specifically your team needs in terms of training. Based on what you wrote the need sounds vague and unclear. If there are multiple needs, the key is to prioritize them. If it’s relationship-building that’s needed, training isn’t a particularly good tool for that. If it’s culture-building, that’s something that happens in the day-to-day, not via training. Happy to talk more if you need some help.

    9. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      From what you’ve said, I think you might like “Clean for Teams” / Systemic Modelling.

      Clean Language is a way of asking questions with minimum presuppositions. There’s a fair amount of stuff online about that, most of it referring to therapeutic contexts where it’s part of inviting metaphors for healing.

      Caitlin Walker took it in a different direction, optimised for groups to learn from each other – initially with young people, subsequently in business & other organisations. There are people offering it in various places across the world & also online. I’ll put some links in another comment.

      (Full disclosure, I’ve been learning the skills of it myself & also collaborating with Caitlin on some stuff.)

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Thanks for sharing these links. I had learned a little bit about Clean Language in a workshop on Liberating Structures in the years BC (Before COVID), bought one of the books, kind of lost track of it. Happy rediscovery.

    10. Panda (she/her)*

      I started running monthly learning sessions with my team, and it’s been great. Everyone has a say in topics (some are technical, some are interpersonal or soft skills) and usually the format is something like 15-20 minutes of talking or watching a YouTube video, then we discuss it for the rest of the hour. It’s free because we use publicly available resources or internal subject matter experts (know someone who’s great at presenting? Great! Get them in to talk about it) and everyone has given great feedback.

  12. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Today’s my last day. I’m composing my goodbyes, all the loose ends are wrapped up, and I’m indescribably numb. After 12 years and 9 months, for the next 3 days, I’m on my own; no queue to keep current and no deadlines to meet.

    1. Space Needlepoint*

      Even if you’re leaving for the best of reasons, there’s going to be a lot to process emotionally. Your brain will get there when it gets there.

      Meanwhile, if they don’t let you go home early, take a long lunch.

    2. Jenna Webster*

      I am sure that feels crazy weird. Please do something great to treat yourself, whether that’s dinner out, some ice cream, a shopping trip, some time in the park, a pedicure – anything that helps you realize that you get to do whatever you want!

    3. chemipedia*

      That sounds like a lot to process! I hope you enjoy your three days of zero responsibility.

    4. Snow Globe*

      A couple of years ago I left a company where I’d worked for 30 years. There were definitely a lot of feelings the last few days. But I started another job a few days later and once I was in the new position I had way too much to do to think (much) about the former job. Once the new phase of your life kicks in, you’ll be ready to look forward, not back.

    5. Blue Pen*

      Some of the best times of life is that period between ending a job and starting one. You’re truly free—enjoy it!

    6. anon_sighing*

      You’re at work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. You have a space that’s yours there. You decorate it, see the same faces every day for the most part, know how things work. Even leaving jobs after a year or two have been bitter sweet, but nearly 13 years at a spot has to be an incredibly weird feeling.

      It might help to have some ritual or mini-celebration to make it feel like an event.

  13. it was just a sandwich.*

    Coworkers are doing a weight loss challenge thing, and unfortunately it’s spread from just the field teams to everyone in the office as well, to the point where I’m one of two people not participating (and the other is still involved).

    I don’t have an eating disorder or anything that’d let me argue my case to HR. What I do have is a combo of being overweight, terrible social anxiety, and autism that has left me hyperconscious of others perceiving me eating (or perceiving my weight, or perceiving me generally). And even though I’ve opted out, people are still commenting on what I eat, with “oh I’m jealous!” type implications I’m eating things these healthy people are Not Allowed To. (One time this was… a sandwich from Panera?)

    They’re also just endlessly talking about weight and food and diets and being overweight in a way that sucks for me, a fat person, to constantly hear.

    I don’t think I can speak up and be heard – office culture is pretty set. But does anyone have tips on surviving this and tuning them out instead of finding myself also hyper-scrutinizing my food in a way that isn’t healthy for me? Or anyone want to commiserate?

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I feel your pain.

      What I always try to do in the situations where people are making weird comments about my food/what I’m eating is to just own it. “Yep, this is delicious.” “It’s just a sandwich from Panera, but it is good.” You don’t have to agree with them that it’s particularly unhealthy or that you’re super lucky to eat what you want or anything, just make it boring for them.

      As for the general weight/diet talk, that is so much harder to deal with. I try to remind myself that what I eat is my business, not anyone else’s, and that whatever people’s weight/food/diets are is their business. I’m not their doctor, they’re not mine, so any advice from them or from me isn’t worth listening to. And I use headphones/earbuds if these conversations are just happening around me, and I would avoid eating in breakrooms/cafeterias/etc. where chitchat around what everyone is eating is much more likely–eat outside or at your desk if possible.

      1. it was just a sandwich.*

        It really, really is. Hearing everyone talk about how miserable they’re making themselves for Health is exhausting.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Especially when it gets harder and harder to not blurt out NO ONE IS MAKING YOU DO THIS!

          There are plenty of perfectly legit reasons to be on a dietary restriction of some sort or other, but I can’t stand these group misery/bonding sessions masquerading as “let’s get healthy!”

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “It turns out that this kind of group thing doesn’t work for me; I do much better with my health and wellness when it’s just me and my professionals. So I’d appreciate it you just leave me be.”

      And if you have to take your sandwich with you while you walk around the block in order to avoid everyone else, do it.

    3. Miss Patty*

      Yeah I’m not a fan of office weight loss challenges. When my workplace had me be in charge of their annual weight loss challenge, I changed it to a general fitness challenge instead. So we got points for walking or other exercising, and points for drinking the recommended amount of water per day. Still not perfect, but I don’t think focusing on weight is appropriate for most people (not all people need or want to lose weight).

      Anyway, for your question, I would recommend eating somewhere else (can you bring your lunch to a nearby park, or even an unused conference room?) or if you must eat in a common area, use noise cancelling headphones and sit in a corner or other place that shows you want to be isolated. If people try to talk to you, just smile and point to your headphones and say sorry I’m trying to catch up on podcasts (or whatever), or just ignore them completely and pretend you don’t notice them.

      1. it was just a sandwich.*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t mind a steps challenge or similar, and might have enrolled – I am actually trying to exercise more! Just I don’t super want all my coworkers to know my weight in pounds. (They literally have the Excel sheet of everyone open right now and are comparing notes on who’s gained and lost???)

        Thanks to both you and the above for the suggestion of heading out. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty industrial area, so there’s not many spots to hang out. Maybe I’ll make it work.

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            This. The public spreadsheet indicates that the people running this have no idea of the territory they’re in or the harm they could be causing.

        1. Janine*

          Omg, that spreadsheet is truly wild. In my office, HR would have shut that down in a heartbeat (without needing to be asked).

          I guess just… try to revel in how absurd this all is? Look at what those crazy coworkers are up to now, ha ha. And revel in how freeing it is to NOT be weight-/food-obsessed, and to have your brain space available for other things, like… Critical thinking? Bird-watching? Taste-testing every sandwich at Panera to find your favorite? Whatever!

          I feel for you OP, but I feel worse for your coworkers who are actually engaging in this, that’s pretty sad.

          1. it was just a sandwich.*

            I THINK the spreadsheet is less malicious and more “the guy running this isn’t tech savvy and just threw it all in one place to keep track”, but there was “oh and Dave lost 3 pounds!” chatter going around when I posted that last comment. Behind Dave’s back. Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t give in to signing up.

            And yeah, like. There was an event with food with a vendor yesterday, and I felt like the only one just… enjoying free tacos and the best pineapple orange juice ever. So much easier and lighter on my brain.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I. But. FREE TACOS.

              I am almost sad for them except they are doing an anti-fatness to themselves and also inflicting it on everyone around them and that is even more sad than irrationally depriving yourself of free tacos.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                When your non medically required diet means you give up FREE TACOS it’s time to get off said diet.

            2. LlamaLibrarian*

              I have inflammatory bowel disease. I could win this competition SO FAST just by shitting straight blood for a week or so! Also if this were happening in my office I’d be SO TEMPTED to be like, “hey! I can lose 10 pounds faster than all y’all if I go off my meds!”

              Also, this is nonsense. My GI doc usually congratulates me when I gain weight, because even if it puts me in a higher BMI category, it means my gut has healed enough that I’m retaining my nutrients and also, it’s not a bad thing to have those extra pounds when you’ll occasionally flare up and lose all of it by pooping.

              1. I Have RBF*

                Yeah, this.

                My spouse (she/they) has cancer, and chemo has made them so sick that she can’t eat or drink, to the point they are hospitalized. Technically she’s still “overweight” according to the charts, but looking at them? Her ribs are showing, FFS, and their skin is hanging off of her.

                I would be thrilled if they gained at least 25 pounds.

                1. Once too Often*

                  Oof, I’m sorry. Chemo is a bear. May they soon reach NED & have a smooth recovery. And may you remember to care for yourself, too.

            3. goddessoftransitory*

              I can just imagine the chatter about participants who GAINED weight.

              I guess nobody reads Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great anymore, but slam books are a bad idea no matter how they manifest.

        2. BikeWalkBarb*

          A spreadsheet?! This is every flavor of wrong.

          Do you have HR in your organization? Can you talk with them about the general unhealthiness of commenting on each other’s food choices and bodies?

          Does your building have stairs? That might be a place to walk if they’re out of sight so you’re not self-conscious (thinking of an enclosed stairwell that most people aren’t using).

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

      Dear, I think you can go to HR. You don’t need to be diagnosed with an eating disorder to speak up about this. Plus, being hyperconscious of others perceptions is not normal and could be classified with eating and body image concerns, which can affect your mental health. If nothing else you should be able to say to HR that this is harmful. I understand that you don’t think there would be any change. But here are some tips for you.

      When someone comments on what you eat
      “Its weird that you are so focused on what I eat. Mind your own business.”
      “do not comment on my body or what I eat. You shouldn’t comment on anyone’s body. It’s weird and intrusive. You don’t know what someone is going through.”
      “I’m following the directions of what my doctor/nutritionist/dietitian/trainer has told me. I’m not into dangerous fads
      “All of this body dysmorphia and diet talk is getting ridiculous. Please stop.
      “there is no good or bad food. all food is energy.
      “I’m sorry that your own eating concerns do not allow you to eat things that you enjoy.”

      1. it was just a sandwich.*

        Being less conscious of others is a thing I’m working on, but sadly it looks likely to be a lifelong project.

        I’ll consider HR. I just know the company owner and the HR liasion are also involved, so. Questionable how much it’d do.

        1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

          It won’t change at all (and has a chance develop into something worse when this challenge finishes) if you don’t speak up to HR.
          Empathy with you.

      2. RagingADHD*

        If OP wants to maintain positive collegial relationships with their coworkers (who after all, are participating in a company-organized activity, not looking for ways to personally bully them), then there are at least a dozen less confrontational and defensive ways to express that they don’t want to participate in diet talk. I mean, that line about “I’m sorry for your eating concerns” is just passive aggressive.

        How about:
        “Yep, it’s great, thanks!”
        or “No thanks, I don’t do competitions like that.”

        Being openly hostile does not make one’s mental health better, and certainly does not give the appearance of being comfortable with one’s own choices. Actively being nasty to people isn’t going to make OP feel less “othered,” it’s just going to earn them a bad reputation. It’s not going to do their credibility with HR any favors, either.

        1. Blue Pen*

          Agreed. I would bet that most/all people in the LW’s office are not at all being malicious or intentionally causing harm, and I see no reason to respond to them in such an aggressive way. The diet industry isn’t a multibillion-dollar industry for no reason; it’s ingrained in us, sadly, at an extremely early age that how we look matters. Compassion and empathy go both ways.*

          *I completely agree with the LW, though, that a program like this has zero business in a workplace for all reasons already indicated.

        2. Awkwardness*

          A challenge like this would never fly in my office and I am pretty sure HR would shut it down quickly.
          But I eat a lot of vegan/vegetarian among heavy meat eaters and this is often commented on. My preferred way to deal with it is owning it.

          – Yep, it’s tofu, and this is actually my preferred brand.
          – Yes, and I think it looks so nice work all the colors in the salad!
          – Yes, and it’s delicious.
          – Yes, and I am so hungry, I’m happy it’s ready for me to eat!
          – I’d miss my veggies. So you can have your plate all to yourself! (said with a cheerful voice)

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I think the only thing that’s going to work is to have some distracto-topics at hand to toss out there when the food chat starts happening. It’s A Thing at the office that everyone’s doing so shutting it down isn’t going to work.

      For the direct comments about your food, you could say something like “It’s delicious, and works for me. Luckily I’ve decided that judging my food doesn’t work for me, so once I make a choice, I’m pretty happy with it.”
      For the direct comments about how jealous they are about how you’re not doing The Challenge, it can be “Yup, I do my best to make my choices and then move on. That’s why I’m not doing the challenge. I don’t want to feel like I have to keep judging myself.”

    6. Salty Caramel*

      I hate it when a workplace focuses on weight loss. It’s such a personal thing and shouldn’t be anyone else’s business.

      I keep a tin of a coffee candies on my desk–they’re the size of M&Ms. There’s a woman in my office who will take one and only one when I offer and then talk about how bad she’s being. There’s about 4 calories in each one and they’re not that high in sugar, but no, she’s BAD.

      A person is not morally deficient for eating something that isn’t packed with nutrition and I’m sick of people thinking so. Virtue signaling with salads gets tiresome to hear.

      1. T. Wanderer*

        I would never actually do this, but I would be SO tempted to say “hey, are you okay? I’m worried about you when you say a candy makes you bad!”

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        One of my favorite memes is a cat nibbling a lettuce leaf and looking disgusted; the caption is “This salad tastes like I’d rather be fat.”

        Not that there isn’t a plethora of tasty salads out there to be savored, but that’s even MORE reason to not treat vegetables, etc. as an endurance test in which you “earn” being seen as “virtuous” because you’re denying yourself what you really want. All it does is set people up to see just about every stereotypically healthy meal as something to get through and eventually rebel against, instead of enjoy.

    7. Elsewise*

      Ugh, I feel you. I’m in recovery, and I used to work at a place that was super set on a weight loss culture. I was socially isolated for not participating, and I knew that there was no way I’d be heard if I brought it up.

      My advice: change the subject or leave the room if you can’t. It’s okay if this is obvious- if they notice, they’ll realize you’re uncomfortable, and it sends a signal that you’re not okay with this.

      Coworker: Wow, I’m jealous! I wish I could eat food at lunch.
      You: Yeah, this sandwich is really delicious. I saw a duck while I was walking to Panera, it was super cute. Have you gotten outside much today?

      Subtext coworker: Please tell me how good I am because I’m doing a weight loss challenge
      Subtext you: No, I’m not talking about this with you.

      Keep in mind that your coworkers may or may not respect these signals. (In my experience, when people get super into weight loss, it also comes with an assumption that anyone who’s not participating or obsessing over their weight is wrong and their boundaries don’t need to be respected because ~*healthy*~) But some of them will, and others who aren’t participating and are also feeling uncomfortable will feel empowered to set their own boundaries!

    8. A Manager for Now*

      I do have ED history, so a little different situation, but I’ve found that when people don’t respect my, “Wow, please don’t comment on what I eat, it’s weird,” being incredibly boring about the topic is the next best thing. Being boring also helps when weight/food/bodies is a default topic, but it is SO EXHAUSTING so infinite commiseration.

      (Phrases give by OP and ones that I’ve had a hard time with to follow, with example practiced responses)

      “Oh, I’m jealous you get to eat that” “Mmhmm. It is pretty good. [resumes eating, counts to 10 in my head, reminds self that all food is good food]”

      “I’m trying to be good right now” “It’s ok if you don’t take one. [continues to take communal food, reminds self that it’s ok if I do take one]”

      “I worked out today, so I earned this.” “Ok. [reminds self that I don’t need to earn eating.]”

      “I’m feeling so fat today” “Oh, ok. [reminds self that fat is not a character trait or moral failing, it’s just one way that bodies exist]”

      I will say that I will never forget the time my spouse and I ran into his local HR and proponent of Healthy Things at a Panera and he had a soda she commented on while looking at me, his femme partner, to which I responded, “Oh, I don’t really police other people’s food. [pointed stare]” The. Look. On. Her. Face.

      1. it was just a sandwich.*

        Thank you for the tips! I do think the reminders will help me in a similar way.

        Also, why is it always at Panera?

    9. Seashell*

      Is eating lunch somewhere that the others aren’t going to be around to talk about what you eat an option? I’d take that.

      Otherwise, if they direct this topic towards you, maybe say, “I’d rather not talk about that sort of thing” and change to topic to something work-related or “how about this weather?” or “Seen any good TV shows lately?”

    10. TPS Reporter*

      I like the idea of saying something back that helps tamp down the rampant diet culture mindset. However, I also support you just saying nothing, walking away, or saying you’d rather not discuss.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this in a place where you have to be every day.

    11. Choggy*

      Been there, still there, over it. Thankfully, my office has evolved into me being onsite when others are not, so it makes it easier to avoid the whole food comments issue. My boss is buying us lunch next week, so we’ll be in a conference room, but I’m bringing my own lunch, and if anyone comments on it, I am ready to be flippant about it. I’ve learned people (usually women) just have this need to make comments about food. I keep out of it, don’t say anything about what others are eating, and mind my own business. The leave me alone now, which is the way I like it.

    12. jasmine*

      no advice, just sympathies. I’d hate to do anything weight-focused in the office and I’m not at a weight that causes scrutiny from people who are being fatphobic. a lower weight does not automatically make you more healthy, this can unintentionally trigger people who deal with eating disorders, and this probably causes fat colleagues to face more prejudice than they already do

    13. Username required*

      I had to stop going to our lunch room every day because all the women, who are easily 30-40 pounds lighter than me, kept moaning about how fat they were and swapping diet tips. I felt quite literally like the elephant in the room. Now I go once a week, for 10-15 mins, long enough to eat my sandwich and say hi and then go back to my desk.

    14. EA*

      This is kind of unrelated, but in one office I worked in people were constantly commenting on what others brought for lunch – not weight-related, just constant commentary – and it drove me NUTS. Ranging from “same thing again today?” to “wow, a salad, you’re so healthy!” to “oh, I can’t stand broccoli” to just “that looks delicious” but I got to a point where I could not. stand. it. and I just stopped eating with my coworkers for a while. I couldn’t eat at my desk, but I sometimes went out for a walk, to my car, or just timed my lunch differently from others. Honestly, it ended up being a nice break from the office anyway, and I made sure to have friendly coffee station/water cooler interactions to compensate for the loss of socialization and connections.

    15. anon_sighing*

      People telling you to go to HR are doing you a huge disservice. Even if HR shuts it down, it’s clearly something everyone is having fun with and you’ll be the one who shut it down. They could all be very nice and sympathetic about it, but “the person who shut down the fun office thing” probably isn’t the title you want if you don’t want attention drawn to yourself.

      I think, based on your other comment, you can participate. “I’m not looking to lose weight, but I do want to exercise more. Can I participate by tracking my steps instead or can we add a steps challenge to this?” Or can you be involved the same way the other person is who isn’t doing the weight loss component? If they comment on your lunch, you can acknowledge and change the subject to them. People tend to like talking about themselves, e.g., “How is your progress going anyway?”

      1. it was just a sandwich.*

        I really don’t want to participate with the specific ways they’re doing this. Fasting and the carnivore diet and similar have become involved for some folks, plus the talking about results on the chart and comparing progress in ways I would find devastating. I think I could participate in some alternate universe health focused program, but I don’t want to fund or organize this (what the other non-participant is doing) and I don’t want to try and come up with some sort of compromise program.

        I’ll try redirecting to their progress in conversations.

        1. anon_sighing*

          Ah I see. Thank you for the additional details and the context – I thought this was akin to a more classic office weight loss challenge thing. This also explains why people are commenting on the sandwich, if they’re doing carnivore dieting and fasting. They can’t eat it with their restrictions.

          Redirection is the best option to keep “interacting.” Otherwise, finding another place to eat in peace is also an option.

          1. it was just a sandwich.*

            It is a classic office weight loss challenge – with a month long time limit, money on the line, and people making risky, unsupervised choices. No one was told to do any specific diet, but the challenge is encouraging it, and I don’t want to be involved in that. I personally think anything where it’s just “count how many pounds you lose in this short period” can ever be done fully healthily, but I’m not going to try and stop them. I just don’t want to contribute to it or participate.

            1. anon_sighing*

              You do not have to be involved and I merely thanked you for additional context & clarification and also added maybe finding another place to eat — I did not insist in my comment you participate at all. The “interacting” bit was meant in the sense of more engaging with the comments they make with the purpose to redirect to something that isn’t about the food or weight loss (in contrast to just avoiding them entirely until whatever this is is over). I also never suggested that weight loss challenges can be done healthily — I don’t know where you’re reading that in my comment.

              Nothing about a spreadsheet feels “classic” to me but I may have a different experience as I don’t work in your specific office.

              1. it was just a sandwich.*

                You suggested several ways I could participate in your first comment, though? That part of my reply was me elaborating that even if it were a “classic” weight loss challenge I don’t think it would be something healthy for me to participate in, that’s all.

                I do plan to use your tips on redirecting. Thank you.

                1. anon_sighing*

                  I did in response to the original comment, until you said it wasn’t an option for you and then I said “Redirection is the best option.” I didn’t know you what level of comfort you had going into this, hence why I thanked you for the additional details and the context.

                  In the end, we’re on the same page.

            2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              This might be getting more involved than you want, but since you said money is on the line, maybe say you don’t like health-related challenges, especially the competitive kind that only one person can “win.”

              If the challenge is to do at least X steps a day, or spend 15 minutes a day on Duolingo, or read at least two books in the next 30 days, everyone can succeed. Blood donors may collect gallon pins, but when you’re at the donation site, every donor gets the same “I gave blood today” sticker.

      2. anon for this*

        People are _commenting on other people’s bodies_. I don’t think that’s OK no matter who all is involved.

        Perhaps at this company that doesn’t seem like an HR thing, but at my company it would absolutely not fly.

        In the end, OP, do what feels right for you within the context of your company’s culture, whether it’s just walking away and ignoring it until it’s over, or going over someone’s head and expressing your discomfort, or somewhere in between. Maybe you can at least encourage them to do a steps challenge next summer instead.

        Best of luck, OP!

        1. anon_sighing*

          People are commenting on other people’s bodies with other people’s consent. You don’t get to make this call for them; they’re clearly okay with it. OP has made a call for themselves and rightfully has said “I don’t want to be a part of this in any form” (see above). Also, just from the original post, they aren’t commenting on OP’s body, but their food choices, “people are still commenting on what I eat, with “oh I’m jealous!” type implications I’m eating things these healthy people are Not Allowed To.”

          This wouldn’t even be thought of where I work, but it was thought of here and they’re doing it openly without anyone butting in. Clearly it flies here. OP needs context-specific advice, not what they should & shouldn’t be doing in that office and what wouldn’t fly in other offices.

          1. it was just a sandwich.*

            I didn’t give them consent to comment on my meal choices, actually. And I believe no one who signed up had any clue the organizer would just be making the full sheet public.

            1. anon_sighing*

              I am responding directly to a comment “anon for this” for this made. I, in no way, shape, or form, even remotely suggested you gave consent to have your food choices commented on. I merely responded to something someone said – I do feel you are putting words in my mouth.

              If they didn’t sign up for that, then you should have a conversation with them on their comfort level of having that public, if they don’t know it’s public. Or if they need support in getting it taken down and reported.

              1. it was just a sandwich.*

                The event is affecting everyone, including those who have not signed up. Everyone’s choices are being commented on. The environment has changed.

                They’re aware it was public because it was literally emailed out to everyone doing the challenge. I heard several people say they weren’t aware that would happen, although they seemed joking; I obviously don’t know the comfort level of everyone in the office.

                1. anon_sighing*

                  Comment OP, I only have the information in your comment to work with. You are responding with more and new information that I can’t possibly have access to and then responding as if I’m ignoring it. I literally cannot possibly know what you’re telling until you tell me.

                  Those people can advocate for themselves, presumably. I don’t know what else you want me to say. I don’t even agree with this and I have only commented in support of you but you continue to position me as a supporter of these things — and for this, I really am going to step away from this conversation.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      Ugggh to all of this, but especially to the “proxy eating” where people participating decide to project “forbidden fruit” onto your Panera sandwich.

    17. Merideth*

      Hi there,

      My city sponsors these stupid things a all the time. I am a fat lady, with health issues I didn’t care to discuss, and get pressured to participate.

      I have a strategy that works 75% (?) of the time to shut down people who won’t take “I’m not participating and don’t feel comfortable discussing this at work” as an answer.

      I become Miss Um, Actually and start quoting research about the dangers of yoyo dieting, the bult in discriminatory practices and utter lack of results in workplace wellness programs. This flusters people enough that they usually leave me alone.

      If you’re looking for information, I recommend Aubrey Gordon’s books and the Maintenance Phase podcast.

    18. BikeWalkBarb*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It shouldn’t be.

      If you haven’t already discovered Virginia Sole-Smith’s work at her Burnt Toast newsletter and her book Fat Talk, she has a great commiserating community in the newsletter and Fat Talk has specific scripts for various scenarios. The subtitle talks about parenting in the age of diet culture but it is most definitely not only useful for parents.

  14. Once upon a time*

    Have been with my company for a long time and have established myself as a responsive and supportive colleague. Over the past year, my department has undergone some changes. It’s been a little challenging, but I picked up some additional work to support the team and people know who I am. Recently, we hired a new department head. And I don’t think people know what she does. She also is not very responsive. This has led to people assuming I’m still responsible for things I am not responsible for anymore. It has also led to things falling through the cracks, because I am not responsible for them. Which has resulted in people asking me about why something fell through the cracks and assuming I’m responsible for it. The department head has apologized to folks for some things. But my concern is that it looks like she’s sticking up for me, rather than being responsible for it. And I’m concerned that the reputation I’ve built over the years is going to start to evaporate. I don’t know how to fix it.

    Am looking to leave, but in the meantime, how do I get myself out of people assuming I’m responsible for things I’m no longer responsible for without directly throwing my boss under the bus?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      This has led to people assuming I’m still responsible for things I am not responsible for anymore.</i.

      Does "assuming" here mean "asking you for information about things/asking you to complete tasks that are no longer your responsibility"? If so, I think you can handle those requests with a cheery "oh, I'm not in charge of XYZ anymore, you should reach out to [Department Head]."

      Which has resulted in people asking me about why something fell through the cracks and assuming I’m responsible for it.

      I think you can handle these situations similarly. “Hmm, I’m not sure why that fell through the cracks. I’m not responsible for XYZ anymore. You should ask [Department Head] about it, she’s the one handling those tasks now.” That’s not throwing the department head under the bus, that’s redirecting people to the appropriate contact.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Sorry for the HTML fail. This paragraph was not supposed to be italicized:

        Does “assuming” here mean “asking you for information about things/asking you to complete tasks that are no longer your responsibility”? If so, I think you can handle those requests with a cheery “oh, I’m not in charge of XYZ anymore, you should reach out to [Department Head].”

      2. Once upon a time*

        It does mean exactly that. I’ve added my boss to these inquiries, noting that it’s something she’s working on. I have even sent the emails directly to her to reiterate that I’m not working on it. But she sometimes doesn’t respond at all. And there’s only so much managing up I can do on responsibilities that are not mine, before the responsibilities I do have (and they are alot!) start to suffer.

        The other day someone reached out to me and my grandboss about a slip that a colleague was handling temporarily and which I added our boss to previously. Both my colleague and boss knew that it was not my project, but I think both are relying on me to tell them what to do, without actively asking me to tell them what to do. I had to tell my grandboss that I wasn’t proactively involved in the project, since I have a lot on my plate (which they knew). But that doesn’t resolve the issue that people in other departments are still making assumptions that it’s my issue to fix.

        1. Everything Bagel*

          Why are you still involved after you’ve forwarded the message to your manager? Are you not copying the person asking on those emails? I would copy them and say you manager copied here has taken that project/task over and also say, “Manager, can you give so and so an update?”

          1. Awkwardness*

            I would not ask the manager to do this because then it is again on you.

            “This is not my responsibility anymore, please contact boss Jane instead.” Copy Jane in, and forget about it.
            Now it is on the other person who has a request to track Jane down.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      When people ask you in person, just re-direct them to the department head. If it is in e-mail, loop in the department head and indicate in the message that now that she has come on board you are no longer responsible for [x]. When people come to you in frustration, point out that you are not the department head and can’t do anything about it. Just keep up the drum beat that now that she’s on board it is no longer your responsibility.

      1. Laura*

        Yep, this is the way to go. “I’m not responsible for this anymore, Jane is.” or something like that.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s not throwing your boss under the bus to say, “Oh, now that Jane is here, she’s handling these types of things. Please send this to her.” So you could just say that.

      However… I’d also make sure you have a clear idea from this new department head about her expectations for you. Have a discussion with her. She might believe that you are responsible for certain things because you were doing them before she started. But if that’s already been established, then again, no harm in sending people to your new department head.

    4. DottedZebra*

      When people ask you about things, do you tell them it’s not your responsibility? Don’t think of it as throwing your boss under the bus. You’re just giving people the right information to help them get what they need.

    5. Stoppin' by to chat*

      I would erase the thinking of “throwing your boss under the bus.” If something is now your boss’ responsibility, then it’s okay to tell people that. It’s the truth…it’s not throwing someone under the bus. “Actually [Boss’ name] is responsible for xyz now, please contact them.” I totally get wanting to protect your reputation, but it seems like you’re viewing the key way to do that as something bad. But you’re just explaining the new roles and responsibilities to people.

    6. Hyaline*

      I think a lot of this is just about tone. A pleasant “Oh, that’s going through Sally now! Thanks for checking!” isn’t going to come off like “throwing your boss under the bus.” If you’re really worried about seeming that way, you can add “It’s great to have her on board for this” or something along those lines. I think if you make a big deal about it not getting done or sound like you’re complaining about her responsiveness, then yeah, it can sound like a blame-game, but if you just keep it to sharing who’s responsible for what in a normal conversational tone, it’s fine.

    7. Goddess47*

      This is a grand-boss problem. You may want to have a one on one with the grand boss to point out the business problems that are occurring. They’ve seen it at least once, they need to know it’s consistent. You’re not throwing Jane under the bus, you’re reporting a business problem you are not capable of handling.

      Good luck!

    8. OtterB*

      Can you just suggest to boss/grandboss that because of the changes, there’s some confusion among people in other parts of the organization about the right contact for different tasks, and that it would help to clarify that? I would suggest a list that could go out by email or be posted on Slack or Dropbox or wherever your organization keeps public information, specifying the primary contact for each task or project.

    9. Happily Retired*

      The first time someone contacts you about this: “I covered those areas during the re-org” (or whatever your company calls it), but now Jane does. Please check with her, because I’m not involved in this at all.”

      Subsequent times someone contacts you about this: “As I told you before, I covered those areas during the re-org” (or whatever your company calls it), but now Jane does. Please check with her, because I’m not involved in this at all.”

      Jane was hired as a department head and will need to develop her own methods to respond to requests.

      As a CYA, you should probably email her that this is what you’re doing, but please let you know if she wants you to do something different.

  15. Despairingly unemployed*

    I heard back from two throwaway applications (easy apply on LinkedIn) for PT/contract jobs, which is great at getting me excited and maybe giving me hope, but why is it so hard to hear back for FT jobs ): (Which so far always seems to take forever to even look at applications so that’s one reason.)

    My overthinking is 10 steps ahead as usual, and presuming I get offered a role, I’m always thinking “what if I say yes to (PT/contract) and hear back from FT job I want? I don’t want to quit too soon.”

    Any advice on navigating those waters?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I honestly think that “a full-time/permanent role fell into my lap and I just couldn’t say no” is a completely valid explanation for quitting after a short time, when you’re in a PT/contract role!

      1. Despairingly unemployed*

        Phew, reassuring to know! I would feel bad if the contract was for 4-6 months and I’d leave after, say, 2 or something, but it is the world we live in unfortunately huh.

    2. Student*

      Any decent, reasonable person who works with PT folks will understand you moving on for a full-time job and be happy for you.

      If you end up working with unreasonable people as PT and then move on to a FT job, and they whine about it, then that’s on them, and you’re dodging a bullet by moving on quickly.

      So, really, win-win for you. Don’t worry about it. Take the full time job, and try (within reason and your work hours) to make the transition easy on the PT place as you leave it. That means giving 2 weeks notice, making a professional best effort to transfer any major responsibilities you might have, and not “checking out” by lowering your work effort until your last day on the PT job. If anyone freaks out at you about that, they’re the unprofessional ones – not you.

      1. Despairingly unemployed*

        Thanks for that validating response. I guess I got all in my head about anyone going “why would you say yes to PT if you didn’t want to stay (X time)” to which I’d love to respond “in this economy!?” (But wouldn’t, because as you say, professionalism.)

  16. NothappyinNY*

    Can we stop the use of work wife or work GF? One of my co-workers kept using it, and people resented her. It was like she was flaunting she was favored. She then used it in front of the “work BFs” wife and it turned into a dumpster fire.

    1. Justin*

      I didn’t know people still did that.

      I do say “good work friends.” But that’s not gendered at all, so it seems fine.

    2. WellRed*

      I’ve always hated that phrase! Separately, I have a coworker who often refers to his (actual) wife as wifey. As in, “I’m going to lunch today with wifey.” Gives me a hard cringe every time.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I wonder if he does it because he finds “hubby,” which is much more common, to be obnoxious!

        1. Armchair analyst*

          I hadn’t thought of that!

          My grandpa called my grandma “Wifey” for many years…

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I find them both icky! And I am of the generation who surreptitiously read their mother’s copy of Judy Blume’s Wifey, so it’s extra weird to me.

          Not work related, but I would also like to get rid of “fur baby” and “pet parent.” (I find them not just too cutesy but disrespectful to animals as fully actualized beings.)

      2. Alex*

        My boss refers to his wife as “his bride.” It wouldn’t bother me so much if she didn’t ALSO WORK THERE. Use her f**king name dude!

        1. Vio*

          Yeah, when at work it just makes more sense to use a persons name rather than their personal relation. Just like it’d be weird to have one colleague calling another “mum” (or “mom” if you’d prefer) or “dad” it’s the same for other personal connections.

    3. Distracted Procrastinator*

      I’m on board with this one. You can say “we work closely together and have a good repport” without bringing weird heteronormative relationship dynamics into it.

    4. Generic Name*

      Agreed! That term is so cringeworthy. My last company had a big anniversary party, and there was a tribute video for the CEO. In that video, not one, but two women said that the CEO was their “work husband”. I’m cringing right now just thinking about it. There were a lot of jokes about if one “wife” knew about the other one. Ugh. So awkward.

    5. anon_sighing*

      “work wife” and “work husband” are some of the most awkward things I’ve heard, especially if it’s not used by single people. I don’t really *care* but as you pointed out, my head just goes to “does your actual partner know you’re using this phase and are they really chill with it?”

      IDK. No one at work, no matter how well we work together, will ever be called my work spouse. The word that comes to mind is “corny.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I mean, I work with my ACTUAL husband so I guess I would be 100% accurate using the term…but I’m not going to.

        Although I find the idea of referring to our work friends (also married) as our mutual work husbands privately hilarious.

  17. madhatter360*

    I’m a teacher. My district got a new superintendent this year who has done a lot of reshuffling, including moving my principal to another school. We currently have a (good!) interim principal but it’s very ???? who the principal will be next year.
    If I end up interviewing in other districts, how specific can I be about why I’m looking to move? The completely honest answer is that I work in the lowest paying school district, so if I’m getting a new principal anyway (who may or may not be good) I’d rather have a new principal and more money, but I know I can’t say that.
    I assume it’s ok to address that lack of stability (the principal moves are public information) as a reason for wanting to move, but I’m not sure what exactly to say or how to phrase it.

    1. KT*

      Focus on what you’re looking for, not what you are leaving.

      Say you are ready for a change of scenery, a new challenge, etc.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I would say something like “The district I’m currently in has been doing a lot of reshuffling of leaders, including moving principals. After spending one year under an interim principal with no information about if they are staying or if we will be assigned another new principal, I’m looking for somewhere with more stable leadership.”

    3. Lomster*

      “There have been a lot of structural changes in X District and I am looking for a more stable environment since I hope to be in the same district for a long time.” (You could also add that you’ve heard great things about [something] in this new school district and that really attracted you because you too are [stable, innovative, interested in x].)

    4. Educator*

      Former district administrator here. You never know what is going on behind the scenes at another district, especially this time of year, so I would not name stability as the thing you are looking for unless it would really be a deal breaker for you to have a new leader at your new school.

      I think the best answer to this is to name what you would really like about working for the district where you are interviewing. Read a little about their mission and what makes them unique, and tie those things to your goals. I would much rather hire someone who wants to do my job than someone who does not want to do their current job.

    5. Rara Avis*

      Do you work at my husband’s school? Luckily, he can shape his job search as looking for a shorter commute.

    6. HonorBox*

      In the districts my kids have attended, lack of stability seems more par for the course, so that stability may not be something another can give you assurances that they can provide. Focus instead on what things the other district is doing that you respect and how you see yourself benefitting them.

    7. Hyaline*

      I’m not sure I would mention the lack of stability. It could come across as airing dirty laundry if these changes within your district aren’t well known (even though the info is public), or nitpicking if they are well known and widely understood. There’s probably no way to do it without suggesting you’re critical of the superintendent, which may not be a good look. Plus, it misses the opportunity to answer the question with what you ARE looking for, which is a good time to highlight how what the district you’re interviewing with and you would make a good match. It seems like the positive “I am looking to work in [this type of environment] [apply this skillset] [work with these student populations]” rather than the negative “I want to escape a crappy thing in my current district” gives you more of a chance to shine.

      If stability is important to you and moving schools only to jump into another unstable situation is a deal-breaker for you, maybe ask about long-term stability within school and district leadership when it’s your turn to ask questions–or maybe you already know this from your own research.

    8. DefinitiveAnn*

      I’m sure you are correct that you can’t use the reason you gave, but I love the reason you gave.

  18. 2fast2furious*

    I’m helping to hire for a team adjacent to mine, and one of the top candidates prominently lists Harvard Business School as their most recent degree/education. However, when I checked their LinkedIn, they actually completed a four month long Harvard Business School Online certificate course. To me, those are very different accomplishments, and I consider that a reasonably sized red flag/lie. Is that reasonable, or am I being elitist?

    1. Justin*

      It would be more elitist to view “anything related to Harvard” as more valuable than someone who really did get an MBA with less of a name.

      So it’s closer to the opposite of elitist if anything.

      1. Blue Pen*

        I see what you’re saying, but TBH, there are elite schools—Harvard Business School, being one of them—that really are worthy of the distinction. That said, I’m not at all saying that someone who went there immediately trumps everyone else.

        1. Justin*

          I mean, my point isn’t that a Harvard MBA doesn’t matter (my dad has one!) it’s that if you didn’t scrutinize the difference between a Harvard MBA and this certificate just because Harvard.

    2. Alex*

      That is completely different altogether, but what did the resume say? Did it say “Certificate in Fruit Squeezing, Harvard Business School,” or did it just say “Harvard Business School, 2023”? Harvard Business school DOES have online certificate programs, and I think if they listed the certificate, it’s not really a lie. But if they made it look like masters or something, yeah, that is deceptive.

    3. Millie*

      Did the candidate indicate it was a certificate and not a degree? No matter the school, they would still be misrepresenting their education if they didn’t clarify. You’re being reasonable to see that as a red flag.

    4. cat in human form*

      I don’t think this is necessarily a red flag — it depends on how the application is worded. If it just asks about their most recent degree, then it’s kind of a lie, but if it just asks about their most recent education, then it’s ok to just list “Harvard Business School” and not specify the type of education.

    5. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      If they’re listing a degree from Harvard on their resume, but don’t actually have one, I would also flag that as deceptive. How exactly is this listed on the person’s resume?

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Is it on their resume implying more than what they actually did there or was it ingested from the info they entered in an online application? I recently applied for a job and my certificate courses like that are under the education section (maybe they shouldn’t be). When I uploaded my resume into the application system, it extracted a bunch of info and definitely put the schools I got those certificates from in the education section without any details about what I actually did there, which was annoying.

      Their system had a separate section for certifications, but I think that was for more formal things (e.g. forklift operator license, PMP designation, etc.) and I don’t think my certificates belong there.

      1. 2fast2furious*

        It’s the resume itself, so not an issue of system ingestion

        It says Harvard Business School in bold, and the description underneath does specify the course + end date.

        I think the lack of specifying that it’s online is what gives me pause–I had to do extra digging outside of the resume to see what it was. Not a full lie, but imo a purposeful misrepresentation/attempt to resume pad. But again, I know the job market is competitive and I sympathise with wanting to stand out.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          It wouldn’t even occur to me to put that a course was online, to be honest! If the school is offering a course, then they’re offering it, and you either trust the quality of the school or you don’t (e.g. would you feel better about an in-person certificate attained from [Insert Sketchy School here]?)

          It’s 2024. We’ve mainstreamed online school in a major way in the last five years. I think if the online portion is giving you pause, that’s definitely more about how you feel about online programs than about the course this person took.

          Anecdotally, I’ll add that I’ve been looking at a ton of post-grad certificate programs and most of them offer the exact same courses both online and in-person so you can choose what works for you. I’d hate the idea that someone who did the in-person option was considered a better applicant than someone who did the online version even though the course content is the same.

          1. m2*

            Certificates are completely different than degrees.

            Getting into HBS for a degree is very difficult. The program itself is also rigorous. Many of these schools are doing online certificates and things basically to make $. Hate to say it, but it is true. A degree is different and you do a lot more work than in a certificate program. Also, anyone who can pay can do a certificate program. I think that is great to widen the scope of people who can experience places like HBS, but it is not the same.

            I say this as someone who attended a well-known, Ivy equivalent graduate degree program. It was rigorous. I was in the library all the time and worked my butt off. That school also has certificate programs. A friend of mine did one, and although a good option, the work that was completed and certificate itself was not the same as getting a degree. She wanted it for a promotion she wanted to go for and that certificate helped her in her next steps.

            I think certificates are great if you need some new tools in your tool-kit or are shifting careers and need to learn a few new things. Or if you have the $ and just love learning!

            I think certificates are great, but they are different from a degree. Put them on your resume as a certificate.

            1. Caramel & Cheddar*

              Was this comment nested correctly? Because I’m definitely aware of the differences, a someone who has done both.

              The comment of mine that you’re replying to was in reply to 2fast2furious* indicating that yes the course (not degree) was listed clearly but that they felt misled by the fact that the applicant didn’t specify the course was online.

            2. DependsOnType*

              It depends on the type of certificate. My father has a Certificate of Advanced Study which is actually a recognized course of study some people do in certain fields after getting a Master’s degree but before a doctorate. In general, a Master’s degree in a related field is a prerequisite. This is absolutely a legitimate program that should be listed under education along with degree programs. This is really different from a certificate of completion from an Extension School class or similar.

        2. Educator*

          If they were transparent about the fact that it was a certificate course and not a full degree, I really don’t see the issue.

          So much higher ed happens online these days–you can get whole degrees from big-name universities that way! Online learning is not somehow lesser–that may have been true once, before ed tech was a thing, but instructors have so many good ways to engage students online these days that is not anymore. There are good and bad online instructors, and good and bad in-person instructors.

          And a bias against online degrees often ends up impacting the kind of people who cannot afford to pack up their whole lives and relocate because of finances, family, work obligations, etc. more than the young and privileged.

        3. Decidedly Me*

          Why is it being online a problem or not mentioning it considered a misrepresentation?

          1. anon_sighing*

            The misrepresentation is from bolding Harvard Business School at the top to catch the eye and not being clear, since it’s listed under education, that it’s not a degree. I have certificates but I put my actual education (degrees) above them and I don’t list the school in bold because when you get a certificate, it’s typically for skills — where you got it doesn’t matter unless you got it from Fake College or Sus University.


            Degree1, University, dates attended
            Degree2, University, dates attended
            Certificate in XYZ, University, dates attended
            Certificate in XYZ, University, dates attended

            1. AnonHarvardEmployee*

              “Certificate” can actually mean a lot of different things, too. There’s certifications, which typically are NOT part of the education, but likely a section on their own. Then there are certificates that are like mini-degrees. Meaning, you took a few courses in a particular subject and got a certificate saying you did so. It is usually like 3-4 courses. I have two of these kinds of “certificates”, one from BU and one from Harvard Extension school. I definitely put these in my “education” section! I would say I learned more useful stuff in those certificate programs than in most of my actual college.

              And then there are certificates of completion, which is what an HBSO course certificate usually is. I know this because I actually work for the part of Harvard that makes some of these courses (not all of them–there are actually a few departments involved). While a lot of hard work goes into creating them and we hope that people get something out of the course, it is definitely not intended as a degree and does not carry academic credit. That said, a lot of people who take those courses are confused about that and feel that they have “gone to Harvard”. I even recently had someone who had taken one of those course angry that he couldn’t now be a part of the Harvard Alumni association. Lol.

              I think if it named the course and said that they earned a certificate, yes they are overinflating its importance, but I don’t think it is a huge red flag or actually dishonest. They paid a couple thousand dollars for that course and want it to help them in their search! And also, it’s kind of a niche thing that is hard to place on a resume and I think not integrating it perfectly into your resume shouldn’t be a capital crime.

        4. Enough*

          Given how many courses are online including undergraduate courses for those who are living on campus the fact that this is online should not be an issue. And almost anything that is not a full degree will be online these days so stating it was online does not seem necessary.

        5. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          Online is not something anyone would need to say. There is no magic “better” by being in person. I say that as someone who would never take an online course because it does not fit my learning style, but I know other people who prefer online learning.

          Top colleges have online classes. Some have hybrid. Some offer both options to students to allow them to choose. Nobody needs to disclose delivery method on a resume

        6. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

          Online is not something you need to disclose on a resume.

          It is a valid delivery method and says nothing about the rigor of the course. (I personally hate online as a learning method, but I know others who learn better)

        7. anon_sighing*

          They’re being sneaky but they didn’t lie based on this (you said they listed the course, why did you need LinkedIn?)

          That’s kinds of where you need to go with it.

        8. cloudy*

          I work for a somewhat prestigious masters program and we work very hard to ensure that our online programs are truly equal to our on-campus programs (same classes, same instructors, etc. – a lot of our on-campus students take online classes and vice versa). We specifically tell people they do Not need to specify the format.

          I think the idea that online education is somehow less rigorous or valuable than in person education is somewhat outdated now. It’s definitely the direction that higher ed is going. Our on-campus enrollment is dropping while our online enrollment is growing rapidly.

          In my opinion this is a good thing because online education has opened up a lot of opportunities for students who can’t relocate for one reason or another. Our on-campus students are almost all straight out of undergrad, but our online students are very diverse in age and background.

          Schools like Harvard very likely are also expanding rapidly into the online space for their programs as this is really the thing programs are doing right now to stay at the front of their fields.

          1. cloudy*

            (If the confusion was the certificate listed as a degree, then yeah that’s definitely a misrepresentation. But if it was just that it didn’t mention it being online, I don’t think that’s inherently suspect.)

        9. Self Employed Employee*

          I think they did just fine by listing it as a course, that is their clarification. That wouldn’t imply a degree to me at all.

    7. Bast*

      If they have it listed as a degree, this would be a red flag. If it lists “Certificate” then that’s exactly what they received, and I would not see it as an issue. I’d also want to clarify that their Linked In isn’t out of date — how recent is this certificate/degree? Plenty of people do not regularly update Linked In at all, so it is possible they may have gone back to school and gotten a degree on top of the certificate, or recently completed the certificate on top of a degree, etc.

    8. m2*

      It is completely different and is a huge red flag if they listed a degree or anything other than a certificate! If they just put HBS and 2023 then that would be a red flag to me too. They resume should have certificate on their and honestly it should be under certificates not degrees. It is not a degree.

      Getting into HBS and then graduating is very difficult ( I wouldn’t say that for all Harvard graduate programs) and means something different than a certificate that anyone who can pay for it can do!

      1. m2*

        Ugh. so many errors on my comment. Apologies, writing from my phone while walking outside for a break.

      2. Aglet*

        I have all my certificates and degrees listed in one education section. They’re all bolded the same, also (as someone mentioned bolding above). They’re clearly marked as certificate or degree.

    9. DivergentStitches*

      Are you reviewing an application that parsed someone’s resume?

      I ask because on my resume, I’ve got “University of (State) College of Business, Master’s Degree in (field,) (incomplete) because I wasn’t able to afford to finish the Master’s, but I still had coursework in the field.

      But whenever I apply to an online job, often the Applicant Tracking Systems (specifically Workday), adds that University as a degree, and I have to be vigilant to remove it.

      1. Whoa*

        I would find that incredibly misleading. Should I say I have a Ph.D. because I completed all of the coursework but not my dissertation? Of course not. You do not have a Master’s Degree. You took some graduate level classes.

    10. Username required*

      I don’t see the problem if the category is specifically listed as most recent degree/education. The certificate is their most recent education, and it shouldn’t be an issue if they took it online or in person. Surely it’s the same course online or in person – unless the fact that they didn’t walk the hallowed halls to take the course is somehow an issue.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      It’s a red flag/lie to me. Getting a cert from HBSO is SUPER different than getting accepted to and graduating from the actual HBS.
      I always like when people lead with the truth. If they don’t, I will forever question their integrity.

      1. linger*

        The CV was 100% truthful: it stated that this was an online certificate.
        OP seems to be saying it was misleading to … choose to put Harvard in boldface.
        Nah, nothing to complain about here.

    12. learnedthehardway*

      You’re being reasonable if this is on their RESUME as their most recent education.

      With LinkedIn, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. It’s not always understood how to put things on LinkedIn, and I only just realized – because I checked – that my own education was in the wrong order on my profile. So, I’m really glad you posted, because I was able to put my most important education at the top, whereas it wasn’t showing before.

    13. BigLawEx*

      I don’t know if you’re ultimately going to interview them, but I’d ask questions. I have two friends who are instructional designers.

      One creates full, in-person course equivalents (and has for 25 years before/through/after Covid).

      The other creates courses to make money for the school. She too has 20+ years, but what she does has always been clear to employers. These universities want to take advantage of their name to supplement their income, not necessarily broaden the knowledge of their students, and they knowingly hire her to do this.

      Right now, they’re both doing this for large, well-regarded universities, but the courses were and are created for completely different reasons. I’m not sure if you can know which without inside knowledge, or talking to the applicant.

    14. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Ask them about their “degree” and see what they say – do they correct you or let you carry on ‘believing’ that it’s a MBA? how they respond will speak volumes.

  19. Need a Lift*

    Would like a couple of encouraging stories as two 30-something family members have each been out of work for over 6 months (both were laid off). They have been looking and applying. They have had referrals and then never heard back after submitting an application. They have had some interviews including multiple interviews with a company (different companies for each, of course, they are in different fields) but no offers. They have had good help revamping their resumes, etc.

    1. scout*

      Just solidarity here. I’m 32 and am having the same experience. Have revamped my resume several times, was laid off in December. I’m starting to believe I might be the problem.

    2. SituationNormal*

      Totally normal. Just keep at it. If they’re willing and haven’t considered contracting that can be a good option to widen the search in some fields.

  20. RMNPgirl*

    I’ve been job searching for almost 9 months now. The job I have now is fine but things have happened that made me realize it’s time to move on. I have some applications in the works now and it finally seems like things are moving in my industry in terms of hiring.
    I saw a job posting for a position that would be a stretch, it’s a VP position and the highest role I’ve had so far in my career is Supervisor. However, the job duties are all things I’ve done or could easily learn how to do. So this is one where the cover letter is going to really matter. But I’m sick of writing cover letters! I just don’t know if I want to spend the time writing a cover letter for a stretch position. What would others do?

    1. DottedZebra*

      I would write the cover letter! You’re exchanging a few hours of your time for a better title, more money and a better career trajectory.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I would find out what kind of job levels they have under the VP job first, because based on your comment alone Supervisor to VP sounds like a very, very, very large jump. But if your Supervisor title is equivalent to a Director title or their VP is closer to Manager because it’s a small company, then I think you can write the cover letter and make an argument for why you’d be a great fit.

      I’ve made the mistake before (in the opposite direction) of assuming a job was one level below what I was currently doing and it ended up being *two* levels lower, which was not ideal.

      1. m2*

        I agree with this.

        Write a great cover letter and see what happens. That being said, I agree with the above to see if any other positions are open that might also be a good fit.

        Where I work a supervisor would be way below a VP. We have Director, (depending on the department) Senior or Executive Directors, Assistant and Associate VPs, before the VP position. Some organizations I worked the Executive and Managing Director title was above a VP. It may be different at your organization or the one you are applying.

        I have read a ton of applications and read people who I thought were great applicants apply for the wrong role! So, widen your net and diversify what you apply for.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Here to emphasize that titles can be so different in different places! Depending on all kinds of things — like, most people at Goldman Sachs are Vice Presidents, it’s not a high position there.

    3. Bluebell Brenham*

      Definitely write the cover letter! This is your chance to make your case about why you could make the stretch.

    4. DontRelyOnCoverLetters*

      You can write it if you want, but I’ve never once seen a cover letter as an interviewer, nor have any of my friends who semi-regularly interview candidates. So don’t assume anyone useful will see it. It never hurts to try, but I wouldn’t count on a cover letter moving you above the pile.

  21. Finnresttest*

    Hello everyone!
    Can I ask you all for some advice about my boss?
    She’s wanting to pretty much be friends (invited me to clearly social events a few times by now etc). Now, she’s sent me a clearly “join my religion” e-mail (from her private email to mine, she got the email from work data though) and told me at least thrice to read it and how great the context is.
    For reference, I’m a cupcake decorator (well, using that as stand-in for my real job), and being able to talk about cupcake decorating is somewhat part of my job. She’s attempted a few times to turn talk about cupcakes to what implications the decorating of cupcakes has to religion. The email probably is an expansion to that.
    Two questions:
    1) She is the weird one here, right?
    2) Assuming she is, how do I tell her to stop it without causing issues in the work?

    1. Justin*

      1. Yes
      2. Someone with boundary issues like this… you can either get them to stop (by being polite and direct) but they might act weird or you can let it continue. I doubt there’s a “get it stop but she doesn’t take it personally” path.

    2. MsM*

      1. Not only weird, but problematic.
      2. “Jane, I respect your freedom of religion. Please respect mine and don’t bring this topic up again. Thanks.” If she keeps doing it, hopefully you’ve got an HR that can shut her down.

    3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Yes, she’s overstepping. On some level, she knows she’s using her power as your boss to compel you to listen to her proselytizing. You can ignore the emails since they’re going to your personal. Don’t reply, don’t even acknowledge that you’ve received them. For in-person chats, I would say something like “I prefer not to discuss religious topics at work. Thanks for understanding.” Say briskly but with a smile, and change the subject. She may be offended by you not being receptive, but she really can’t find fault with the request itself.

      1. MsM*

        The trouble with “at work” is that she’s already tried to take it outside of work. She’s going to need to hear it’s off-limits, period.

        1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          Yeah but since those have just been emails, they can just be deleted without responding.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      1. Yes
      2. Agree with Justin that this is a tricky situation. There’s a slight possibility that you can get her to back off by wording your request in a certain way. She might respond well to something along the lines of “my faith is a private matter and I prefer not to discuss it at work” or “my faith is a private matter between me, my [pastor/priest/reverend/etc.]* and God” that implies you share (some) of her beliefs and take matters of faith seriously but privately.

      ** I would only mention a religious leader if you are religious and if your religious leader has the same title as her religious leader. For example, if you both go to Christian churches that have pastors, I might try mentioning “my pastor.” But if she goes to a church with a priest and you go to a church with a pastor (or if your religious leader is a rabbi, or an imam, or you don’t have one) then I would skip that.

      And skip this advice entirely if you think she’s the kind of person to take any mention of religion–even a request to not talk about religion–as an invitation to talk about religion more/try harder to convert you.

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      Your boss is REALLY over the line. Proselytizing, and using work resources to do it “privately” is a BIG deal.

      How big is your organization? I would politely tell her once that you’re not up for discussing religion with work colleagues, document all of it, and go to HR.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yes, she’s the weird one.
      “Hey Jane, I love my job, but it’s really important to me to be able to separate work and personal life. Can I ask that you stick to using my work email instead of my personal one? And please don’t be offended if I don’t go to social or religious things with you–I really don’t have time for more stuff on my calendar outside of work.”

      1. WestsideStory*

        I don’t – I think the one offered above (“Jane, I respect your freedom of religion. Please respect mine and don’t bring this topic up again. Thanks.”) in a stiffly brisk tone is what is needed to shut this down. And to be said as frequently as needed.

        As to the personal emails, block her. There is no reason for her to be corresponding on your personal email when she has your business email for business things.

    7. Student*

      I find that it is usually easiest to just be very firm about your own religion. Some of these types of people are mainly checking a “evangelizing” tick-box, where they feel obligated to try to convert you once but will stop when it’s clear you aren’t going to change.

      The key to doing this well is to not give them room to try to persuade you. You don’t want to phrase it as something you are tentative about. You don’t want to open up discussion of the details of your religious beliefs, because that might invite debate as if you’re willing to hear them out.

      Using my own beliefs as an example. “Oh, I’m an Atheist. Quite happy with my beliefs and faith community, thanks, not looking to convert.” Immediately follow that by changing the subject firmly back to anything at all that is work related, or some social thing not involving religion. If you can, asking a follow-up question about something you know she cares about, like her own family, or cupcake flavors, or whatnot will help change the conversation direction.

      Act like of COURSE you have your own religion, of COURSE it is just as valid as hers, and of COURSE you’re quite firmly set in it. Don’t soften it, and try not to act nervous about it – that invites further engagement. Even if you don’t feel any of that is true – just own it as best you can. It’s your right to do so. Your beliefs, whatever they are, really are just as valid as hers.

      If she tries to ask about details of your faith, tell her you don’t proselytize for your faith, and encourage her to talk to… anyone else at all about it. Point her at a google search term, a church contact, a web site, a group lead, and do not engage further directly with her. It is critical to recognize that in this context, she does not really want to learn about your religion; she wants an opening to talk more about hers, and so we’re trying to deny her that. Do not explain your “faith community” – mine happens to be a pair of doves and a small flock of sparrows that comes by my bird feeder daily, and no one else needs to know that.

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

      She’s the weird one. I’ve had success with a polite and direct response to this sort of overstep with a more general request, “Please don’t include me on any religious, political or medical emails. I’m not the right audience for it, and my personal email account settings flag all of these topics as spam so I’m not going to see them.” Then, hopefully, it doesn’t feel so personal about her or her religion.

      That also tends to cool the in-person talk too, in my experience, but if not it makes it much easier to become a boring gray rock, “I’m really not the audience for that (event/group/topic). Were you able to check the TPS reports I sent yesterday?”

    9. Goddess47*

      1. Definitely.

      2> I’d try something like: “Thanks for the social invites but I’m pretty low-key and my social time is completely committed at this time.” Don’t soften it with a ‘maybe some other time’ or even ‘I prefer to do X’ or any explanation at all. “No” is a complete sentence.

      If she uses your personal email again, she gets a one-time disclaimer that “My personal email is only for emergency contacts, please do not use it” and if she uses it again, go to your grandboss about it.

      Then it’s her problem and not yours.

      (Also, if she’s doing it to you, she’s likely doing it to others. You’re doing them a favor by calling her on it.)

    10. Armchair analyst*

      If by “cupcake decorator” you mean “a specialized skill that is usually only found in small businesses or small departments within larger businesses, like bakeries within grocery stores” you may want to leave this job. Your boss is wrong, but you may not have recourse or other options

      1. Finn*

        Cupcake decorator really was just something that is clearly not my real job :-) The actual one is way way more generic, to the point that my company consists of management/owners (well, 1 owner representative and 1 management/admin/receptionist/etc person who is my boss) and people in my position (who for contract etc reasons technically can’t do the stuff boss does).

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      1) YES.

      2) If you have an HR department I would go to them. This is pretty violating on a number of levels and honestly? Your description of the befriending attempts escalating to the religious talk pinged my “possible cult” radar. Not that she’s in one or that all religions are cults, of course, but this is a tried and true method of recruitment for them.

      1. Finn*

        No HR sadly, can agree with the cult direction though (don’t want to give away too much info, but it’s not an uncommon group).

    12. Finn*

      Hello everyone, thanks for your replies! Some things:
      1) She is my boss in the sense that she makes my schedule etc and looks at some performance stuff and would be the one interviewing for my position, but she can’t tell me how to do my job, other than her there’s only the owner.
      2) Good to know I’m not the weird one.
      3) Not sure how receptive boss will be to me saying no… Her idea to go meet for drinks or so outside of work came up a few times by now. I know for a fact that it’s meant socially.
      4) I feel like I’ve been keeping my message too generic… I’ll try making it clear we’re nothing but coworkers though, not friends or so who know each other outside of work. Not sure how much I want to push this though, I don’t want my boss be angry at me. I doubt she’d fire me right now, not for this, but she has the ability to pretty much make work stressful and horrible if she wants to. And the work itself is nice, and not something I’d find again.

      1. WestsideStory*

        I would posit that the attempts to meet you after work hours “socially” is really just to proselytize you. If you can make it clear you are not interested in religious conversations, the social invites will likely stop as well.
        I am concerned you feel she will strike out somehow if thwarted this way. Don’t let her have such power over you!

  22. CzechMate*

    Any US university/college professors and admins out there? The recent protests on campuses (including my own) have been kind of getting me down. I love to see students getting involved in things that matter to them, but recently it’s been kind of wearing on me. One very beloved colleague was just denounced as a “war criminal” in the student newspaper, for example.

    Anyway, does anyone have any advice about navigating this when you work at a college or university?

    1. Millie*

      It’s mostly been wearing on me to see the administration of my university show double standards. There have been countless protests on my campus over the years I’ve worked here and they have been fine, but now there are memorandums about prohibited activities and you will be trespassed from campus if you participate. The protests recently on my university have not been more violent than past protests or anything, so I think the memorandums are pre-emptive.

      That being said, it is disheartening when students don’t see the real decision-makers and are insulting folks who really have nothing to do with the decisions. I’ve been treated very poorly by students who think I’m personally in charge of high rental rates for on-campus housing, for example, when I was just an accounting assistant in the dept of housing.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      In my professional life, my campus has been very quiet- we’re small, rural, and tend not to get swept up in these things. So, I can’t speak to how that feels, but I have nothing but compassion for the situation. Does your campus have an EAP? A few therapy sessions might help. My therapist has been a godsend right now.

      1. Diversity in unity*

        This is kind of a weird response, given the portryal of the issues at hand as basically being accusations of supporting genocide at worst or being a guilty bystander at best

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hey there! I work in advancement at a university. It’s a bummer for sure. I’m not someone whose ethnic or religious background gives me any kind of a personal stake in the conflict, so I’m always VERY hesitant to express any kind of a personal opinion beyond “I just wish people would stop hurting one another.” It’s tearing the community apart. We’re having to keep tabs on people who have been outspoken in one way or another about how our university is handling things, because we want to make sure we don’t upset people by, say, asking them for money just after they’ve told us how angry they are at us!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I am also in advancement, but in a back-office role, and I don’t know how the frontline folks are dealing with it all! And I mean everyone on the front lines — I was recently reminded that if you google the university’s phone number, you get the admissions office, so those folks have just been inundated with awfulness.

        So, I’m tired just from being on campus, but I know it could be so much worse.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Yeah, I’m back office as well, and I’ve seen the correspondence that alumni are sending in that vilifies the university’s response to everything. Some really vitriolic words. It seems like no matter what they do, someone is going to be REALLY unhappy with how the administration is handling it. They have to walk such a fine line. Err on the side of free speech for the protesters? You’re horrible antisemites. Err on the side of shutting the more disruptive protests down? You’re horrible fascists. Try to bring people together for dialog? You’re creating useless committees instead of taking action.

    4. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I’m happy to see students getting involved, very depressed and concerned by how quickly speech is shut down if the students are supportive of Palestinians–there is a real difference in how protestors are treated depending on their views. It really feels like there’s a movement away from free speech on my campus, and I think we’ll look back on all this really poorly 50 years down the road. I have no solutions apart from not discussing the issue at work and shifting from the newspaper to novels in the morning, and from radio to audiobooks, when I’m getting too overwhelmed by the news.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Honest question, since the pro-HAMAS group tend to be more aggressive than other protest groups. Do you think that another group, at the same level of aggression would be treated differently?

        I would hope not.

        1. Pinky*

          Do you have any actual evidence that the anti-war protestors are more aggressive than other groups? Because ‘these are aggressive disruptors’ seems to be the standard response to left leaning peace protests in the US, from the Vietnam war to Occupy to BLM.

          1. SD*

            Are you joking? In the past months Jewish students have had to hide from mobs of protesters (at one point having to hide inside a locked library while protesters outside tried to break into getting to them), have been assaulted, have been threatened simply for walking by while appearing Jewish.

            Sheesh, the gall of posting something like your comment on a Jewish person’s website.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Thank you. Most Jews I know are scared right now and it’s not because of “peace protests” (which we have traditionally been a reliable part of, thank you very much). We’ve seen this before and we know where it goes.

    5. Pinta Bean*

      I can commiserate! It can really grind you down. Another challenge is that I see a lot of opinions from the outside world that are not reflective of what is happening on our campus, and I have to be very detached about it … I can’t speak on behalf of my entire institution, and I can’t convince anyone else that their opinions are wrong or not fully informed.

      One thing that is noteworthy to me is that so many of the views expressed assume that “everyone” agrees with their stance — “everyone” thinks the university should do A, and then “everyone” thinks the university should do B, and A and B are complete opposites.

      I try to anchor myself in going with the flow … I know that there is no magic answer that “everyone” will be satisfied by. I remind myself that protest and dissent is part of how a university system operates, and philosophically it requires two things: the protest and the thing you are protesting against. You can’t stick it to The Man if there is no Man, and in some situations, I’ve been the symbol of The Man to the students protesting (not specifically on this issue but around other issues) and I have to not take it personally, sometimes the job is “playing the part of The Man today will be … Pinta Bean!” Um, yay?

      I try to check in with colleagues, people seem to appreciate it especially if they are having their rotation of playing the part of The Man right now. I also try to focus on some of the positive things happening on our campus — it’s graduation season and many students continue to experience joy and pride in that, even if that doesn’t make the national news.

    6. anon_sighing*

      You have to accept you are not a decision maker. This grinds you down the most – you want to do something but you’re powerless. I don’t know your colleague but being called a ‘war criminal’ in a student newspaper is more an offense to personal pride than it is career shattering so it’s helpful to think of scope. It’s rough being misinterpreted but we’re misinterpreted everyday in life.

      Just do your job and separate yourself from triggers in your personal life since you can’t avoid them at work. Ultimately, your job is to do what they hired you for (students are not in this category and also students have a long history of protesting social issues; different ballgame, perspectives, and relationship to the university) — if that’s not you can’t have an opinion, but in a charged atmosphere and without any real say, it’s best to treat this as any other “self-care” moment.

    7. Mimmy*

      I don’t work at a college or university now but have been wanting to for a long time. However, the protests as well as other recent events is making me very leery about going this route. It seems like you really need a thick skin and be able to not take these things personally. Much, much easier said than done :(

  23. JustaTech*

    First question:
    Are there any major pitfalls I should look out for as a first time manager managing someone who used to be a peer (ish)?
    My boss was laid off a few weeks ago and I was asked to take over managing my one coworker, who is junior to me both in terms of title and tenure. She seems fine with this, we’ve had a good but not super friendly relationship so there’s no “you have to pull back” stuff, and she’s the only one so I don’t have to worry about favoritism or anything.

    The only thing I’m worried about is that she’s super open with how much she hates this job (our VP is disintegrating, her commute is terrible). Now that I’m her manager do I need to ask her to not tell me so blatantly that she’s job hunting?
    If this were a more functional workplace I would be thinking about telling my new boss that she’s very unhappy and a flight risk, but 1) it’s not a functional workplace, 2) the VP has been on a low-key “get rid of everyone” roll recently, and 3) if my boss and the VP haven’t noticed how unhappy she is (and everyone else), that’s kind of on them.


    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      “Now that I’m her manager do I need to ask her to not tell me so blatantly that she’s job hunting?”

      I’d be asking her to tone it down simply because I wouldn’t want to hear about it all the time. You already know she’s job hunting so I don’t know if it matters if she’s blatant about it or not, but I’d position it as “I’m happy to be a reference if you find something, but until then I’d appreciate if you could just keep your hunt to yourself.” Only say that if it’s true, obviously.

      You could also just say that while it’s fine to mention it in passing to you, her boss, she needs to be more mindful that you work with people who won’t take the news so well and that could work out poorly for her, i.e. if the VP overhears her and cans her before she finds something else.

    2. spcepickle*

      I have been managing teams for 5 years now, and I really like it when they tell me they are job hunting. I think then when people can be open about that you know you have built a level of trust.
      As a manager I 100% believe my first priority is to my people, and that means not only finding the right person for my jobs, but helping to find the right jobs for my people. So I would listen to her, ask open ended questions about what she wants to do and where she wants to be.
      Fix what you can about her job now, tell her openly what you can’t fix (I can’t change pay scales, I can’t change basic job duties, I can’t change that my work requires people to work night shifts), listen to where she wants to go. Then listen for opportunities that align with what she wants. Maybe in your company, maybe outside it. Don’t let unhappy people linger on your team, they don’t do their best work, and they will drag the rest of our team down.

      It sucks to lose people in the short term, rebuilding teams and training new people is hard. But it is amazing in the long run, I have a huge network of people who use to work for me who often “owe my a favor” because I helped them get into a job that is a good fit for them, so in return my projects get bumped to the top of to do lists, I get call back, and questions answered. Basically my job becomes easier when my network is bigger.

      Long story short, if she is unhappy be the change that sets her up to move to something else.

    3. Sharon*

      Have you considered…managing? Ask her what her biggest issues are and see if you have any ideas for improving them. Some things you can’t do anything about, because they are decisions that are made way above you, but lots of things you CAN do something about, and even just knowing that your boss is in your corner can be a huge help.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh, I fully plan to do that! I only started yesterday!
        It’s just that most of her issues are mine as well, and they’re systemic – upper management that is inconsistently draconian about in-office, no clear path forward, business instability.

        I’ve identified a special project for her to have ownership over, and a cross-training project that isn’t very exciting but is new and needful and with a person who’s reasonable to work with.
        I just want to be sure there isn’t something I’m missing.

        1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

          That’s great! She can definitely feel heard with you. As a manager myself, and knowing we have a LOT of issues that directly and indirectly impact my team in doing our function the best way possible, I always tell my team I will TRY (and I do!), to get things resolved or at least moving to try to resolve. But I also tell my team that WE do have control over some of our own processes, so we can also focus on that, where we will see positive change. Good luck and congrats on the new manager role!

        2. Aglet*

          If you haven’t already, let her know that you’ll be a reference for her during her job search, that you see the systemic problems, even as you ask her not to talk about her job search at work.

  24. Alice*

    My company is switching from Box to OneDrive for storing shared files. I used Box Drive pretty heavily, and set up the directories I often use to make their contents available offline. So, opening a Word file I wanted to view or edit was pretty fast — 7 seconds in a test I just ran (with Word desktop already running).
    But opening documents that live in OneDrive to view or edit in Word online takes a lot longer — 70 seconds for the document I timed!
    Is that normal, or can I speed things up by changing my settings?
    And, if it’s normal, how do I avoid getting distracted during the “microbreaks” when I’m waiting for a file to open?
    And, how do I stay positive or at least neutral about this change when I’m feeling aggrieved that, adding up all the microbreaks, I’m losing some worktime? I don’t want to be seen as a complainer who doesn’t like change.
    (I know it doesn’t seem like much, but 60 seconds waiting time per file, 20+ times per day, will start to add up — even if I can stay completely focused.)

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

      That seems really long for a file. I would recommend talking with your IT department to see why it takes so long.

    2. Reba*

      oof, that is definitely not normal in my experience! You can similarly set Onedrive to host some things locally/offline and some things cloud-only, I’m not sure from your post if you have done that yet. I would put this question to your company’s IT support folks, they should know if there is an admin setting that could be changed, and they should also be aware if a product they have purchased doesn’t perform as well as the old one! It’s not being a complainer, it’s a real hit to your productivity.

    3. Former Govt Contractor*

      Not normal from my experience with OneDrive. More like the few seconds you described with Box.

    4. mreasy*

      I use one drive and it should NOT take that long to open a file – definitely talk to IT.

    5. DorothyGale*

      I wonder if it’s slow because it’s still uploading/syncing things in the background.

    6. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      I used to have an issue with standard MS Word because it was loading from RAM (previous version) instead of the copy I was opening from a shared server that had been updated by someone else. It was fast, but it was the incorrect file!
      You may have more accurate time comparisons if you reboot your computer and retest by loading the file.

  25. Glazed Donut*

    Help on navigating ending two job interview processes when the timing is slightly misaligned?

    I’m expecting an offer from A any time now – I provided references Wednesday afternoon and they contacted all of them Thursday morning. I’m 80% excited about this job, in part because they changed the title and description after I had finished all rounds (slight bait and switch). I’d likely want to negotiate for title, maybe description/duties, and perhaps salary depending on what they offer (I gave them my range/expectations weeks ago before the change).

    For B (government job), I’ve finished 2 out of 3 rounds, and they’ve told me they’ll be in touch about scheduling round 3 in the next week. I anticipate that if I’m moving forward to round 3, it may take a few days to schedule and then at least a week for an offer. I’m 80% excited about this job (would include more travel & I’m feeling a little imposter syndrome-ish).

    What can I do to slow down A and/or speed up B? I’m nervous about getting an offer from A and needing to get back to them before I know my standing with B. I’m not working right now and have never been in this situation before.

    1. EMP*

      I hear all the time in these comments that government is different, but normally I would tell B that you’re expecting another offer very soon and ask if they can move more quickly.

    2. JugglingJobPipelines*

      There really isn’t a lot you can do. If you get an actual offer from A you could call B and tell them, but it rarely works. I know some people who’ve accepted A, kept interviewing at B, then left A for B if they got an offer, but you have to be willing to both be a bit of a jerk and burn bridges to do this.

      Hiring processes are going to move at their own pace and there just isn’t much you can do about it.

      I’ve been there multiple times. It’s stressful but there isn’t really much you can do about.

      Do insist on getting offers in writing and taking a few days to read the paperwork (while saying you intend to accept if everything is in order if, in fact, that’s the case) but delaying more than that puts job A in jeopardy.

      Good luck.

    1. anon_sighing*

      As a stand alone comment, I really thought you were introducing yourself.

      Hi, Finn!

  26. Elevator Elevator*

    Any tips on how to navigate quitting when you know it’ll be devastating for your company? I’m unquestionably vital to the continued operation of this company, and they’ve used up all their chances with me and then some. I genuinely don’t know how they’ll manage when I’m gone, and it has me dreading the resignation conversation. I need to see how some compensation things shake out before I give my notice, but once I do it’ll be a non-negotiable two weeks. Everything runs through me, and two months wouldn’t be enough to set them up to cover half of what I do.

    I don’t feel guilty or anything – they made this mess, and they’ve shattered any faith I had in them. I’m just stressing about the conversation itself and not really sure what to expect or how to prepare myself for it, beyond knowing I’m not budging on my end date. Maybe that’s all there is to it, I guess.

    Anyone been through anything similar?

    1. Finn*

      I’ve seen Alison recommend pretty much saying “if you don’t treat me decently I won’t be able to work my notice” (she phrased it nicer though).
      Not sure if that works for you, but good luck either way!

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      The company has set itself up for this problem by making their operations overly reliant on one person and then, apparently, not treating this person the way they should. They could have prevented this and chose not to. Let this inform your mindset and help you shore up your mentality going into the conversation.

      Stick to the facts – I am resigning, my last day will be X, I’m open for meetings on the transition, etc – and resist the temptation to bring up how you feel. If anyone starts acting inappropriate or abusive, be prepared to stand up and excuse yourself from the room. Aside from this, you’re just going to have to forge ahead and do it. You will feel a million times better when it’s done. Good luck!

    3. Panicked*

      I would let them know that it’s not up for discussion. You are letting them know what your end date is, then move into how you can make the next two weeks as beneficial to them as possible. Rinse, repeat. I’m sure they already know what led you to look elsewhere so rehashing it isn’t going to do anything helpful.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      That’s all there is to it, yeah. If they beg and plead, say “I understand this is a difficult situation, but I can’t change my end date/stay on/whatever they’re asking you to do.” If they scold and blame, “I’m sorry you feel that way” with a neutral expression.

    5. ONFM*

      I think if you’re feeling EXTREMELY generous, you can start working on guidance documents/instructions, if they don’t exist already, for the position you hold. Having something like that in hand will make the hard exit date conversation easier. Other than that, be clear and firm. It’s not a negotiation; you’ve made the decision to leave, and the only thing left to discuss is what your final two weeks will look like. Good luck!!!

    6. Tio*

      Practice grey rocking them at home, with a partner if you can wrangle one. I practice a bunch of hard conversations at home before I have to have them, and I’ve found even if the conversations goes in directions I didn’t’ expect, it makes me more calm during the conversation anyway.

      1. Never Knew I Was a Dancer*

        This, 100%. It may not prevent all of your nerves when the time comes for the real conversation, but it’s like giving a presentation—it makes it easier to stick to what you want to say.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      The main problem seems to be that the only thing you can tell them that would help at all is “You have caused all your own problems and driven me away,” but they refuse to hear it.

      It’s hard when you know going in that the conversation is not going to help either party in the least.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      “what are we going to do without you blah blah waaah”

      “I hear you, unfortunately I can’t change this date so I think the best thing is if we start to talk about a transition plan. I’ve prepared documentation on x, y and z please let me know the next steps”.

    9. wow*

      Yes, and after I gave my notice, they pushed me out immediately, even though it was not in their best interest. Would you feel bad at all if they turned around and did that to you? Do what you need to do. Accept the conversation might be awkward or not fun but realize that it will be fairly brief in the scheme of life and that it will end and you will get out of there and move on and forget about it.

  27. Female Legal Beagle*

    Has anyone female had a baby and this be the impetus for career progression? As a cisgender female, I keep hearing doom & gloom stories but having a baby really helped me assess my career trajectory, know my worth, and opt for a place with far better work-life balance. What’s your story?

    1. Anon for This*

      Yes. When my kids were little I took a job in a backwater office in my organization that gave me very predictable hours, was in the same building as the child care center, etc. After I’d been there a few years the manager changed. The new manager, who I’d worked for before, shook things up, promoted me, and I found myself back on the fast track, but with all the work-life balance things still in place. I have to admit, it still took me longer to get to the senior ranks than it would have taken a man similarly situated, but I got here. It’s a challenging balancing act, but it can be done.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      As a twenty-something, having the goal of having a child kicked my career progression into gear. It mattered that I got the promotions and the changes of status because then I got access to the good benefits. I might have floated for far too long without that goal.

      And the “gotta raise this kid” duty wasn’t bad later when I was changing things up.

    3. EMP*

      My recent maternity leave gave me the mental space to start a job search! I’m starting my new job next month with more WFH privileges and a 57% salary bump.

    4. A Manager for Now*

      Not only did I get two invitations to apply for internal role advancement immediately upon return from my leave, I also came back with an appreciation for my time away from parent-mode. I found that I was much better able to compartmentalize my focus time at work and motivate myself toward broad goals.

      (fwiw, I am not out at work, but I am femme nb and afab)

    5. Chip*


      When I returned from my maternity leave, my manager and I used it as an opportunity to make a “clean break” and change roles within the company (we set this up prior to my leave). That role didn’t end up working out (it was very boring, which had its upsides since I don’t think I was operating at my normal level for a few months, but it wasn’t what I wanted long-term), but I was able to use some of the experience I gained in that role to be successful quickly in yet another role at the company.

      Before having my child (and while in the role that didn’t work out), I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to stay in my field long-term or if I wanted to make some kind of shift, but now I feel more confident that I’m in the type of role that provides both the level of challenge (medium to high) and the work-life balance that I’m looking for.

    6. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

      I recommend the /r/workingmoms subreddit, it’s a really supportive space for all kinds of stories!

    7. A Significant Tree*

      Similar good story here – my first pregnancy was motivation for me to get my in-work promotion firmly in place before I announced it. Then when I came back from mat leave and struggled with the hours, I got approved for part time with full benefits (an option at my company). This helped tremendously with work/life and didn’t impact my work, professional relationships, or reputation.

    8. Kt*

      Yes. I got pregnant while in a job that allowed me a lot of freedom but didn’t have a lot of pay. When I got pregnant, I re-examined a lot in life and realized that I didn’t want to continue in this kind of, well, dead end position. (Think being an arts administrator so you can keep doing art, something like that: a “pay the bills more or less to do something beautiful” job.) The reason I call it dead end is that there was not room for advancement and I was treated with genteel condescension by those in the field with the “real” version of the job (and being a woman definitely played a part in this, as it’sa field where there is an unconscious bias that men create and women teach).

      Anyhow, pregnancy (unexpected). Realized I wanted more financial stability if I were to end up spouse-less. Geared up and put in place a two year campaign to either get a big promotion or leave (and get my kid old enough for lower-priced childcare at 16 months). Made the case for promotion, was denied and learned that it would never happen, got a new job for literally double the pay five months later. Yay paying daycare and saving for retirement simultaneously!! Worked my way up into management at that job where there *was* room for growth. Learned a ton. By the end had tripled my pay from the dead end job. Now in a new job, switching industries again to try to move towards impact on climate change. Taking a big career risk here, but at least still making 3x dead end job, maybe more.

      Before I had a kid, I figured I could live cheaply through retirement. Wouldn’t need anything to leave behind, you know? With a kid, I feel compelled to provide security now and later. I feel a greater responsibility to the planet. I feel like I can’t cede my power to the idiot guys who just talk loud and self-promote into positions of power, to be blunt. I feel like it’s selfish to not enter the ring. It’s absolutely motivated me. And by carefully observing these jobs, it was easy to see that the choice to ramp down a career to spend time on kids didn’t always work as planned. I know way too many women who did that but something bad happened and then they had to work two jobs to keep the family afloat. That scared me. I want to bank my $ while I can, and I have a job that gets me home for pickup from the bus. I don’t “have it all”, I live a simple Midwest lifestyle, but the kid really inspired me to take control of my career and kick out of the low-energy orbit I’d been in.

    9. Going for Coffee*

      I moved into management when I had a 7 month old baby. My future boss, a woman with 6 kids, pulled me aside when I got back from maternity leave and asked me why I hadn’t applied for the open position. I was like, “baby.” She pointed out to me that the men had this figured out. They saw that by moving up, they had more money and more control over their work life than by staying in the lower ranks. “You see the men in suits going to meetings. Do they look stressed out? No.” I’m so glad she pushed me – Instead of pulling back from my career, like I envisioned, I pushed forward, and my career has continued to advance, even after a 2nd kid. This may not be the case for all management roles, but in my field (medicine), the administrators are generally less stressed than the front line staff.

  28. sofar*

    I’m applying for jobs and in three cases, I had something happen that I’m kind of disturbed by (or am I overreacting?).

    I apply. Upload documents/cover letter, etc. I fill out the required fields for email address, etc. I have a “professional” email address that I use specifically for job stuff, so that’s what I’m entering (it’s different from the personal email address I use for everything else).

    I get either a rejection or no response. But then … within a couple days, I start getting the company’s newsletter/promotional emails. In one case, after a rejection, I got the newsletter (it was from a company that lets you search mental health services, so the subj line was “[My Name]: Are you doing OK?”

    I laughed at first. Like, “Here’s a rejection email and now ‘are you ok?'”

    And then it happened at two more companies.

    The only thing I’m doing with this email address is entering it on job applications. And I’m really careful of what I opt into. There was no “opt in to newsletter” box on ANY of these job apps.

    Anyone else had this experience? I think it’s kind of gross that companies are using job applications as “fodder” to pad their promo emails send size.

    1. Alice*

      Seems weird as well as gross. What’s the point of padding their promo emails send size at the cost of lower open rates?
      Good luck with your job hunt!

    2. cat in human form*

      Yes! I’ve been subscribed to several mailing lists. But the most annoying case was when I applied for an internship and never heard back… until a year later when I got a mass email asking me to buy the CEO’s book.

    3. Elsewise*

      I’ve definitely been added to a mailing list when I’ve applied somewhere! It’s a horrible practice. I’ve also heard (possibly here?) about some places that will add *references* to their mailing list. Terrible all around.

    4. PotatoRock*

      Weird and gross and you’re right to let it color your view of the company. But not unprecedented, I know of companies that intentionally keep fake job posts up just because it drives traffic to their site and bumps up their SEO rankings

      1. sofar*

        Yes, I’ve heard that too re: fake postings.

        I’m guessing if hundreds of people apply to these jobs, that’s hundreds more on their email send list. And, if most folks are like me, they’re going to open any/all emails from companies they just applied to, so that gives them a good open rate, too (at least on that first send). Immediate unsubscribe, though!

    5. Tio*

      Weird! I haven’t had it happen, but I only applied at the place I’m currently working at in the last five years, so I’m probably not a great sample. Also, I’m in freight logistics, so they don’t really have anything to sell me, so that might be a big point for why

    6. Mighty K*

      I think in the UK this would be against the Data protection Act – using the information for a different purpose than it was given, without permission.

      Probably be a lot of hassle to do anything formal about it though, which is why they get away with it.

  29. stelms_elms*

    For those of you who have moved to a different state for a job with a new organization, how do you mentally prepare/wrap your head around giving up control/not knowing what could happen, good or bad? My husband and I are 50, and our youngest graduates from high school next month, and we might be ready for something new. We’ve lived in our town for 25 years. I’m looking for practical tips on how you made the change.

    1. ZSD*

      I moved from California to the DC area for a new job almost a decade ago. That said, I had only lived in CA for five years and thus wasn’t as entwined in my city as you must be in yours.
      As far as wrapping your head around the uncertainty, I’d just suggest you remind yourself that if it goes poorly, you can always move back! The only truly irrevocable decision in this life is having children (a decision you’ve already made). Other than that? If you move across the country, you can always move back. If you start a new job, you can always quit. Etc., etc.
      So frame it for yourself that you’re trying something new to see if it’s a good fit, not that you’re moving into your “forever home” and that you’ll definitely live out the rest of your lives – or even the next decade – in the new place you try. If you’re sick of it after two years, move back!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Figure out what kind of place-ness you really need to feel comfortable in life. What are you going to miss the most about where you are now? (Or what would you miss if it burned down?). Eg – the dog park, the library, a couple good restaurants you can be a regular at, walking trail, church, whatever. Make a conscious effort before you move to discover your options, and after you move work to develop and integrate them into your daily life.

      1. colorguard*

        Seconding this, as somebody in a field where a relocation is almost a requirement to advance. When I was moving after living in one place for 12 years, I made a mental checklist of the things that had helped me really feel like it was home, especially the ones I didn’t discover until 5-7 years into that stint, and actively looked for those things on every subsequent location — a welcoming coffee shop, good running routes, a church in my faith that was at a similar spot on the spectrum, walkable neighborhood for that region’s norms of walkable, etc. My last move, during the pandemic, could have been the hardest one, but because by then I had things down, I felt settled and at home within weeks.

    3. Distracted Procrastinator*

      We did this big move a few years ago. It helped to be excited about where we were going. We were very intentional about what city we were going to move to (it had been on our radar for a long time), our neighborhood within the city, what jobs we would take. It made it easier to look forward to where we were going. I also used the move to transition into a new career that has been very good for me.

      We also took the opportunity to clear out all the *stuff* that had accumulated from living in the same place for 20+ years. That was very freeing.

      1. I project managed our move (yes, this is the new career. It was good practice.) I had spreadsheets and milestones marked out.
      2. break it down into smaller tasks. Don’t pack the house, clean out one room. then pack that room, then move to the next one. Don’t apply for jobs, apply for this one job. then the next one. Keep track of what you are doing and what’s next (that project management thing again.)
      3. say goodbye to your home. Take time to visit your favorite places before you move.
      4. be a tourist in your new home! Go places the tourists go. Then find the places the locals go and visit those too. Take time to travel around and visit all the cool sites/museums/restaurants as you have time. We made an extra effort to do this and it helped us feel comfortable navigating the city much faster and it was fun! You’re going to be empty nesters. Take advantage of it!

    4. Hlao-roo*

      One thing you probably already thought about (but just in case you haven’t), how do your children feel about you moving states while they are in college/their first full-time jobs? Especially your youngest. My aunt and uncle moved when one of my cousins was a freshman in college and my cousin was fine with the move (he didn’t have a strong connection to the town he went to high school in). My same-age sibling was afraid our parents would move away while they were in college. My sibling had (and still has) some strong friendships from high school and it was very important to them to be able to come home to the town they grew up in on college breaks.

    5. HonorBox*

      I did something similar, though had a bit of a safety net because my CEO was a known quantity to me. But everyone / everything else was a complete stranger.

      If you can, schedule your move on a timeline that gives you a bit of cushion between landing in the new city and starting your job. Then you have some hours to explore, to figure out how to get to the grocery store, to check out locations of necessities to you (maybe that’s the library, a coffee shop, dry cleaner, etc.). You can also spend some dedicated time unpacking and setting things up before you start working and have to try to set up a home on an empty tank at the end of the day.

      If you haven’t figured out the specific “where” just yet, spending a little time in each community that you might have on your list would be great too. Ideally go during the week so you can get a sense of how the place feels 5 out of 7 days, not when many people are out of work routines.

      I worked in one community for nearly 20 years and we moved halfway across the country 7 years ago. It might help to maintain some small connections to the place you’re leaving, too. Obviously friends are a good connection point, but you might still check the weather or read the newspaper, just to keep tabs on a place you spent such a significant amount of time.

    6. retired3*

      My yoga teacher keeps reminding us that there is no past (it’s done) and no future (not here yet, who knows what will happen?). There is only the now. What do you need in the now? The only thing you will ever know for certain is that you just had a heart beat and you just took a breath. I turn 80 next month. I can tell you for certain that I like my life and that there is no way I could have imagined what my life is like today when I was 50.

  30. I edit everything*

    I posted last week about my having applied for an admin position with our local university. Last night they emailed to schedule an initial interview over Teams (Woo hoo!). I have 3 questions:

    1. One of the people I’ll be interviewing with is someone I interviewed with several years ago at a different institution. It was a good experience, and I was one of two finalists but did not get hired. Do I bring that up, if she doesn’t?
    2. The job is a support position for a program that involves high school students. My son is in the process of entering the program now. I understand that could be a conflict of interest. When do I bring it up? They might already know, because I had to call the office earlier this week to discuss a scheduling matter, and the interview email came very shortly after that conversation.
    3. Part of the interview will be running through some kind of exercise to demonstrate that I know how to use Excel. They say “simple instructions” and “manipulate data.” I use Excel regularly, but am not an expert user, and I typically have to Google how to do some things. I’m going to run through a tutorial or two. Anyone know any good ones and what types of things I might want to make a point of looking at/learning? I have access to LinkedIn Learning, so will probably find something there.

    1. Pita Chips*

      1) I wouldn’t bring it up, but maybe focus on the new skills and experience you’ve developed since you spoke to her.

      2) I would probably advise about your son in a separate email after the interview.

      3) “manipulating data” might be VLookups, pivot tables, or SQL queries.

    2. Nesprin*

      1. “oh we met a few years ago when I was a candidate for X. I really enjoyed meeting you and I’m excited to tell you about how my career has progressed since then’

      2. Once you’re in the job and the COI comes up.

      3. Looking up commands in an interview feels weird, but I guarantee demonstrating that you can rapidly find information on the fly is never a bad thing.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Agreeing on #2. If it would be a dealbreaker for them to employ someone with a child in the program, it’s something they need to determine before making an offer. If not, you shouldn’t disclose it beforehand!

    3. AdminAnon*

      Oh boy, I’m going to reach back approximately 16 months for this memory, but I’ll try! I’m an admin at a community college, and my first or second step in the interview process was a practical skills test for both Word and Excel. I don’t remember everything I had to do on the sheet exactly, but essentially they gave me a USB, a piece of paper with instructions, and then showed me to a laptop to use. I think some of the things I had to do were things like adjust column width/row height, split a column of “Full Name” into “First Name” and “Last Name”, sum dollar amounts in one column into a different cell, use that sum to calculate how a budget was looking (or something like that), and… there was one thing I can’t remember now that I thought I had done clunkily, but I think I got the point across well enough that I had at least gotten to a CLOSE solution and, if nothing else, proved I’d be teachable. I think I might have used Excel’s built-in “Help” menu once or twice – but nobody was looking over my shoulder to see how I’d done things, either. I didn’t have to do anything close to a VLookup, pivot table, or SQL query, but that might depend on the specifics of the role you applied for. If you’re going for a general admin position, I’d think it’s closer to the “can you use =SUM and =COUNTIF” functions rather than VLookup or pivot tables, but I could be wrong.

      I’m rambling so I’ll stop, but if you have any follow up questions or if I didn’t explain something well, I’m happy to clarify if I can!

      1. I edit everything*

        Thank you! I’ll have to look up how to split a column of full name into first and last. Never done that before. I’m hoping for sums.

        1. linger*

          To split information within a column, assuming some standard delimiter (space or comma) has been used: use Text to Columns (in the Data menu).
          To do the reverse (combining information from several columns), use the CONCATENATE() function.

      2. just here for the scripts*

        X lookup is way easier and more forgiving than v lookup. Learn that and you’ll be good to go!

  31. Mo*

    I recall a past question asked by a woman who had very little/no work history because she had been in a religion that didn’t allow her to work. She was trying to figure out how to find a job after leaving the religion with no work history. Can anyone point me to it?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t think either of these are the letter you’re talking about, but this post has good tips for people who have been out of the workforce for a while:

      “returning to work after being a stay-at-home-mom” from February 4, 2013

      And this letter was written by a woman who was taught that women shouldn’t work when growing up (explained in the update) but that wasn’t the point of the letter:

      “can my husband’s employer constantly record all the conversation in our house?” from August 24, 2020

      “update: can my husband’s employer constantly record all the conversation in our house?” from December 10, 2020

      I’ll link to all three posts in a follow-up comment.

      1. Bananapants Circus with Dysfunctional Monkeys*

        Hlao-roo, every week I’m in awe of your citing past questions and helpfulness, and I just wanted to say you’re appreciated for it!

  32. Peanut Person*

    Short question: which accounting certification(s) would be the most worthwhile? (Jump to end)

    Detailed: I went back to school several years ago and earned a second bachelors degree, now holding my BS in Accounting. I didnt, and honestly still don’t, have the intention to go the CPA route. I wasn’t super proactive in searching for a new job, but eventually was recruited by a temp agency and hired on full time into a large company doing AR assistance. The two current concerns are:

    I was onboarded from being a remote temp, and corporate is heavily in-office. Apart from moving there (not willing to), I’m a little limited on growth and the visibility of remote-friendly positions is missing.

    Secondly, we were recently given emails telling us “thank you” on ADMINs day. It’s clearer now than ever that this position is not on track for finance/accounting. (They hire people with no experience, pay at the low end of wages, and wonder why the AR department is constantly behind.)

    I am looking at making a request for our company-sponsored “tuition reimbursement” program, and I’m considering which route to go. I’d like to do a program to be payroll, bookkeeping, and quickbooks certified. Also considering AR or AP certification.

    Any pros/cons to these options? Is it really just a matter of preferences? I’d like to be full-time remote permanently for any company, so are some these more friendly for that than others?

    1. Prorata*

      A couple of rambling thoughts:

      1. If you don’t already have ADP and/or Workday experience/certification, try to go in that direction.
      2. Try to gain certification/experience on SAP, MS Business Central, NetSuite.
      3. Become as much an Excel expert as you can.
      4. Consider attempting the Certified Management Accountant exam.
      5. It sounds like current employer is not a good fit (you already know that), and you need to find what’s next. Frankly, that may be an on-site/hybrid role, at least initially. And we can go round-and round about why companies ought to embrace remote work, but what I am seeing from my vantage point is more of a return to the office. In short, don’t absolutely reject the idea of on-site work.

      Good luck!!

    2. DorothyGale*

      Quickbooks training is free via the website. I really don’t think what you need is more school, just more experience. If you can get hired at a CPA firm as a junior accountant (or even a bookkeeper) you would get experience in a variety of different businesses.

      A bachelor’s in accounting is way more education than most bookkeepers have. A couple of years of experience will teach you the rest. I have been a self employed bookkeeper for 8 years.

  33. JP*

    How do you get someone to be more thoughtful in their email cc’s? I have a coworker who’s either thoughtless, oblivious, or somewhat nefarious in his cc’s. Today, he attempted to correct me in an email chain with several others unnecessarily cc’ed. I responded to only him (maybe too generous there) to explain his own error. I wouldn’t care if it were a one off, but it’s a persistent problem. I’ve spoken to him about it before. Other coworkers have also complained about him doing it to them. He just doesn’t seem to get it.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Honestly, I’d reply all in that case because it can be so satisfying to be one of the cc’ed people and see the problem person get served.

      But this sounds like a bigger problem that possibly his boss needs to address if coworkers complaining to him hasn’t worked. Or just something you accept is part of having him as a coworker.

    2. Cee Es*

      Since you and some co-workers have spoken to him, it’s time to speak to his manager. Gather some email and instant messaging evidence.

      I had a co-worker who didn’t get why some questions were inappropriate. He told me how he “self diagnosed” to be in autism spectrum. Being in the spectrum, even he’s clinically diagnosed, is still not an excuse to be unprofessional. He was laid off when the site needed to make some adjustments. Unfortunately, his professionalism made the choice easy.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is happening repeatedly? Call him out in “public”. If he makes an error you want to correct, don’t bother giving him the courtesy of a side conversation.

      I also want to say– the side conversation is indeed the appropriate way to handle that kind of thing, so you’re not wrong to have done that. I recently got into a bit of a Slack “argument” with someone who decided that instead of messaging me on the side with questions she would just attack everything I wrote in threads that included other people. I thought about asking her to take it to the side, but then I realized she was just making a complete fool of herself (I’m senior to her and the SME on the project). My point is, as long as you work with reasonable people, he’s just making himself look bad to do this kind of thing in a thread like that.

    4. HailRobonia*

      I would try to say something like “Thank you for that feedback/correction, but going forward if you notice a similar situation it would be best to contact me directly so you are not clogging up other people’s inboxes”

      Unfortunately it sounds like you’ve already tried the polite method… and it even sounds like you are quite direct. Maybe if your other colleagues responded to him telling him “please don’t cc us on things like this, it just causes confusion.”

      Not that any of us miss “Clippy” but wouldn’t it be great if they popped up and said “it appears you’re ccing multiple people for a communication that is specific for one person… are you sure you want to continue being a jerk?”

      On a tangent, I wish the cc had a function where you could flag or tag it for why someone is cc’ed… like why am I copied on this, is it just for record keeping? Do I need to take action? Is it just to provide the initial contact with my email?

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      I am petty and leave people on when I’m correcting a “correction.”

      I agree that this is annoying, and I get so many emails that I ignore it, because I think it tends to backfire on the person who does it.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Reply all, all.the.time. And perhaps add your boss or his in for good measure if he hasn’t already.
      He’s a jerk IMHO.

    7. anon_sighing*

      You have to fight fire with fire. The idea of “praise publicly and criticize privately” is important for growth – what he’s doing here is trying to demean you in public and maybe needs to learn why it’s important. I can’t say he’s doing it on purpose but to correct someone publicly and be wrong about it is something that needs to be shut down with a correction to the correction…so he knows to think twice before making a public mistake.

  34. Oy With The Carrots Already*

    I started at a new law firm (assistant) 2 years ago next month.
    During negotiations to make that move, I was upfront and told them I wanted to move into firm support instead of daily attorney support, although I understood this was the way to get me in the door. They basically said I’d need to be there for a year, and after the first year, they “see” me moving into a role like that.
    I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities to learn bits and pieces about different areas of the firm (and am very grateful for that) and love the BD projects I have been given. I have made it known that I’d like to move into that department when a role I am qualified for opens up (and the BD people have repeatedly said they love working with me and it’s always in the back of their minds how to make that possible. HR supports this idea as well. I had an interview with our internal recruiters in January for a BD role that I was overqualified for but they assured me that if I am patient for a few months, they had things coming down the pike that might be a really good fit for me or potentially they could tailor something towards my interests.)
    My review comes up in June. I’m still doing what I have been doing – and although I have occasionally reminded the BD people I’d love to officially be one of them, no further changes have been made, just vague “be patient!”
    The thing is, I have had that carrot dangled in front of me for oh, the last 10 years of my professional career – I was promised if I was just patient at my previous firm, I’d get the role I wanted. It didn’t happen, so when they told me here that they see career growth, I believed them. How much longer do I need to be patient before something happens? I have taken every opportunity I can to help this department whenever they need me (and am open to training opportunities to learn more about that field to make me more attractive to other places), I still manage my regular role just fine but I am of an age where I am worried it won’t happen and I’ll be stuck here “being patient” until it’s too late. My friends who work in legal BD have told me firms need BD people all the time but it’d definitely be a salary cut for me to move to another firm since I haven’t been doing it full time, just learning things as I go.
    Current thought is to just take as many opportunities they give me through the rest of this year, wait for my holiday bonus and then look for a new job next year but do I say that during my performance review in 2 months?

    1. EMP*

      I wouldn’t tell them you’re ready to leave at a performance review – it’s not the time or place and you don’t want to risk them pushing you out before you’re ready to leave.

      I do think you have to accept that this job has shown you that they are unlikely to move you in the direction you want to go. It sounds like you’re good at your job and they like you where you are. If I were you, I’d keep my head down at my current job and do a very selective job search. Don’t apply for things to “get your foot in the door” – hold out for what you actually want this time.

    2. CTT*

      Reiterate that you’re interested in the BD role at your review, but I think you need to start applying for BD jobs even if it is a pay cut. I understand seeing the legal assistant job as a way of getting your foot in the door, but good legal assistants are so hard to hang onto (at least in my city) that I think there is a subconscious (or overt!) reluctance to let them move into other positions because of having to hire a replacement.

    3. Antigone Funn*

      At the review, you can always say that you appreciate the opportunities to grow you’ve had, and you want more. That’s not likely to set off alarm bells; a good employer would like to hear that you want to grow and do more. Maybe they’ll surprise you! But I agree with EMP, don’t bring up wanting to leave, and also make peace with their lack of help with your development.

  35. JustaTech*

    Second question: I need a gut check on how much people in biotech work.
    My VP has been on a major kick about “why am I the only one in the parking garage at 5:30?” “Why isn’t anyone online at night?” “Why isn’t anyone on line or in the office on the weekends?”
    (Never mind that we actually are in the lab some weekends, when the science needs it.)

    Am I out of touch thinking that the only people who are ever expected to be in the lab or doing research 7 days a week are graduate students, and even then that’s falling by the wayside as people realize that rest is important?
    The VP is really, really upset that the lab folks work their 40 hours (or more, if the lab work needs it) and then we go home to our lives.
    I literally had to tell him that the reason I am not in the garage at 5:30 (when I get in at 8) is that I must pick up my child from daycare, or get CPS called on me. “Oh, well, but that only applies to you and Coworker A and Coworker B.” (Actually no, there are 3 other coworkers with kids who aren’t old enough to get themselves home from school, but whatever.)

    He also wants “innovation” and “spark” like we had back when the R&D department was a hundred people. Now it’s maybe 20 people, and we haven’t done new product research in like 10 years.

    I think he’s so out of touch he’s in low earth orbit, but I want to get a reality check from a wider group. Do people in biotech work 7 days a week? Should I be trying to do “innovative” science with no people, no budget and no direction?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Your VP is trying to feel important by having their people worker-beeing constantly.

      VP wants to be able to show off somehow and the R&D dept can’t produce something to brag about.

      I’d be tempted to ask VP so many questions about what direction he’d like to take with renewed innovation, and whether he plans to increase headcount, and how the budget will change. With wide-eyed awe and optimism smeared all over my face. Not making a single change in my day to day until there were actual directions rather than bluster.

      1. Cazaril*

        This. Any manager who resorts to criticizing people’s hours instead of guiding the outcomes they want is a terrible manager.

    2. Nesprin*

      He’s passing the Kupier belt.

      In academia, when you have to get experiments done to graduate, sure >40 hours is pretty typical. In busy periods, when there’s crucial deadlines to meet, sure >40 hours is pretty typical. But given that your R&D group is shrinking and not growing, and that there doesn’t seem to be any active urgent work, no.

      Honestly I’d suggest finding a new job, because shrinking groups are not typically stable.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’m trying so hard. I’ve been trying for years. Referrals get me nowhere, non-referrals get me nowhere, there aren’t that many positions in this region and I’m not willing to move away from the few friends I have to live in an *even more* expensive area.

        I reach out to my network and hear nothing. I’m really tired.

    3. Expectations*

      I’ve never had any technical or scientific job where working only 40 hours was considered normal. The specific expectations around where/when/how/how much have varied, but most of the time flexibility is granted in return for the extra time. Thus has been true everywhere I’ve worked and for everyone I know in these fields regardless of their specific industry. I’ve also found it decreases a bit as you get older/further along in your career, and at this point 30+ years in I probably average 48-55 hours/week, but I still have the infrequent 80+ hour week. Grad school was 100+ hour weeks, early work life was often 80 hour weeks, etc.

      The innovative science ask us a different thing entirely. It’s hit or miss regardless of group size and not something that can be ordered up on demand, but it is certainly more likely when there are more projects underway and wider collaboration.

      1. A trans person*

        I’ve never had a science or research job post-grad school that required me to work over 40 hours more than a couple of weeks a year. I’m sure it is very field dependent but it is not universal and, in my opinion, not acceptable to work long hours even as a salaried exempt PhD.

    4. Cazaril*

      Depends on the company culture, and your level. In general, science culture is hard working, but technicians at established companies tend to work fairly regular schedules, with exceptions for when the work requires it, eg a protein purification protocol that takes 10 hours, a cell culture that needs to be started on Sunday, etc. Leadership is generally expected to work longer hours and be available nights and weekends. Startups have cultures of longer hours, with a willingness of all staff to put in more overtime at crunch times. Generally this is recognized with an ownership stake in the form of stock options.

  36. Meg*

    Kind of a weird question, but I’ll put it out there.

    I work in academia and like a lot of places, they’re doing “administrative efficiencies” aka looking to lay folks off. Due to the nature of my position it may be likely that I get laid off. While that will suck, it’s not the end of the world, and I’ll be able to leave guilt free and find a better paying position.

    THAT SAID. I did pay for an employee meal plan. Has anyone left a position with a meal that they paid for? Would I get my money back, or am I SOL? Its not a crazy amount of money, but its still my money. For reference it was $X for Y amount of meals, so I could just try to use them up if I think I’ll be laid off.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I would just try to use them up–how it’s going to be handled if you get laid off and still have meals left is going to vary widely from campus to campus, so even if someone else has been able to use theirs post-layoff, there’s no reason that would hold true for you at your campus.

    2. Panicked*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask them to reimburse the remaining meals. If you were quitting, that may be a weird request, but if they’re laying you off? As an HR manager, I would absolutely make sure you’re paid back for that.

    3. anon_sighing*

      If you can use it up before you’re potentially laid off, that might be the easiest way rather than trying to navigate their refund system or process. Or learn you’re SOL.

    4. Pam Adams*

      Perhaps you can donate the meals to the campus food pantry. Food insecurity is a huge issue for college students and they aren’t the ones laying you off.

  37. Cee Es*

    How are you all judging people from the resume/CV and cover letter alone?

    My team is hiring. I and at least one colleague referred our former colleagues to the opening. I referred my former colleague because there may be a fit.

    My manager was a bit disappointed that the resume was a bit disorganized. My former colleague used some lingo that was specific to a workplace. Overall, he got things done and had a positive attitude, so I overlooked the deficiencies on paper.

    Unless you are interviewing for a designer-like opening, not many expect an aesthetically pleasing documents. I have seen people using “joke” fonts such as comic sans in business communications. (Facepalm!) Some people can’t tell from one font to another. Some people jam as many keywords on the resume and overlook white space.

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

      I’m on the panel for hiring again and some of the applications we get are just so weird. Like I can understand if someone wants to jazz up their resume and make it look different. But what’s the point if it doesn’t even have the information we need. I’ve seen some that were just basic text, which is fine but didn’t say anything about the job. I’ve seen some cover letters that were over a page long but didn’t say anything different than what was on the resume or address why they were looking at this position.

      What really gets me is the people who cannot follow directions, and also don’t do the application correct either. If you can’t write a resume coherently or follow the directions in the simple application process then you won’t be able to use our software

    2. Another Hiring Manager*

      I want a resume to be organized and easy to read. That includes not using the tiniest font you think you can get away with. Too much text too close together is hard to read.

      Job experience chronological, most recent first, and I want to see it start on the first page. I also don’t want to see a professional summary take up three or more inches of the page or raise flags when I run it through AI checkers. I use three different checkers; most of the jobs I hire for need writing skills that don’t depend on AI for the bulk of the work. When I started seeing professional summaries that sounded similar enough to each other to tweak my radar, I started doing this. All these applicants couldn’t be using the same resume service! But I digress.

      That said, I am not a stickler for grammar. I live in a very diverse community and there are many people who are not native English speakers. I have to approach resumes with that understanding. Typos I’m iffy on. On one hand, attention to detail is important. On the other, I know that many’s the time I’ve proofread my own work and missed things, and you certainly can’t depend on autocarrot.

      I have seen resumes in bright red that hurt my eyes to look at. The bright green headings weren’t much better. I’ve been handed resumes where the applicant would bold not just keywords, but words at random. Gave me a headache the first time before I converted from PDF and dumped it into Word to change the font.

      The only resumes I don’t read thoroughly are those where someone re-applied for the same job and I have already passed on them.

      1. Cee Es*

        I’m not a stickler for grammar as well, but some signs show that the writer made a little or no effort in writing clear.

        A few years ago, a resume and the questionnaire associated with the application were full of spelling errors. The errors were often slight such as replacing “a” with “e”or missing a letter etc. If you remove those errors, the application package made sense! I was not enthusiastic about the applicant, but my then manager wanted to give the applicant a chance. It ended up that the applicant’s thoughts were very scattered.

        I spoke to someone about this job application. Some folks suspect that this person had a learning disability that is associated with reading and writing. Somehow the person did not know or know how to handle the disability through adulthood. One person in the chat said, “There is a spell checker on Google Doc. You can also subscribe to Grammarly.” As a part of the hiring team, we could not tell our honest feedback (“Get Grammarly!”) but to send them a generic rejection email.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      If I don’t know the person, their application materials are my introduction to them. This is make-or-break for an applicant. A disorganized, jargon-heavy resume will not impress. You know this person so this didn’t seem like a big deal to you. It will mean a lot to a hiring panel that doesn’t have that personal experience. (And if there are a lot of applicants for a job, would mean that your colleague doesn’t make it to the interview stage.)

    4. Educator*

      One of the greatest gifts I received from my college was a resume template that they really pushed all of their alumni to use. It is clear, simple, makes good use of white space, and came with instructions for how to describe accomplishments from each job. Most of us still use it decades later–I smile when I get applications from my fellow alumni and their resumes look just like mine!

      But when I am hiring, I really look for the content. Honestly, I’ve found rubrics that spell out what I am looking for (the key job qualifications) to be the most objective way to do that. Sometimes, if the job involves developing content for public consumption, clarity in written communication is on that rubric. But, most of the time, the rubric is focused on other skills.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      If resumes and cover letters are disorganized, have typos, are not well written and in general are not good, professional products, I assume the candidate does not know how to communicate professionally. I really don’t have time to figure out what they might really mean or whatever when there are other candidates who care more/communicate better.

    6. TX_TRUCKER*

      I wish comic sans had a different name, because it’s one of the few widely available fonts that is dyslexia friendly. I think if it had a more “serious” name there wouldn’t be so much backlash against it.

      1. Cee Es*

        I didn’t know that comic sans is dyslexia friendly! It’s good to know. I’d give some slacks to others who insist to use this font then.

        1. InputVsOutput*

          on the other hand, it’s really hard for many visually impaired folks to read. so there’s that. Plus most character recognition software (including job application systems), reading assistance tools, etc can’t parse it.

          If someone gave me a resume in comic sans that I couldn’t switch the font on (in some electronic format) I would be unable to read it.

          If someone finds comic sans easier to read, I would recommend writing the resume in comic sans, proofreading it, then switching to a more professional and more scannable font prior to submission to make sure the resume is properly scanned.

  38. erika*

    I’ve read this site so long but rarely comment. I need to release some jitters today!

    I’ve been an Executive Assistant at my very large global company for a long time. I’ve been with my manager for 12 years and we’ve always had a great relationship. In that time, our team has been cut through multiple rounds of “restructuring” and I’ve been the one to catch a bit part of the work left behind. So while my title says “Executive Assistant” my workload has me doing biz ops, internal communications, GTM support and content management. In our company, these job duties line up more with a Chief of Staff, which he is not eligible for at his level. We’ve talked multiple times about how I’ve outgrown the position and am ready to move to something new. He has been a good advocate for me to get as many of the performance related rewards as possible. But our area of the business is one that has been stagnant (budget/investment – wise) and if I got promoted there is a real chance that my position would not be backfilled. In fact, grandboss lost her EA and Director of Ops in the last round of cuts and the work was redistributed to me and her Chief of Staff.

    Well, due to another round of “restructuring” and early retirement offers two things happened one right after the other. (1) A Chief of Staff role opened in an area of the business that is hot/growing and getting a ton of investment and (2) my grandboss took on an additional responsibility and it looks that there might be opportunity for me to move to a role more aligned with my skillset and development goals.

    I applied for the Chief of Staff job and got it. Yay!

    My boss did not take it exceptionally well. He was blindsided and is doing the “hard sell” to get me to stay. He is trying *everything* he can to convince me that this is a wrong move for me. That there are opportunities in this new area of responsibility for me to finally get the new title/role I’ve been wanting.

    But for the last couple of years, with every restructure it’s always been “this will open up some good opportunities for you” — and yet here I am. With a leadership who really does recognize my potential and skills but keeps me in this role there would be no one left to take my administrative duties.

    I haven’t signed the offer letter yet — it’s in process but I’ve gotten the verbal from both the hiring manager and the recruiter. Grandboss has been traveling but we have time scheduled in 90 mins. I set the call up so I could tell her about my moving on, but I know she has a head’s up. Boss told me that she is talking to great-grandboss about what can be done for me.

    All of this pressure for me to stay feels crappy. Because it feels like it’s not rooted in concern for me and my well-being. I’m being asked to stay (which will burn a bridge with a leader who has a significant amount of political capital) based on promises that I have heard before and have never come true.

    I trust my boss enough to know that he has always done what he could within the confines of our company policies. That he has fought for me — he saved me from a layoff once! And some things are just outside his control. He doesn’t have the authority to make headcount come out of thin air.

    Not sure what advice, if any, I need. But I really need some “stay strong” vibes sent my way!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Vibes on the way.

      Remember, this is YOUR career. If your boss is sad that he couldn’t give you a strong enough reason to stay with him, well … tough cookies.

      Just make up your mind that you’ll be able to have a great professional relationship from that other team and you’re looking forward to continuing to be colleagues.

    2. EMP*

      Stay strong!! Your boss is pressuring you for HER gain because you are good at your job and she’ll miss having you as her assistant!! You’re moving on and moving up and that’s a great thing. I suspect once the dust is settled all will be well with your current-soon-to-be-former boss as well, if she’s as good as you say she is. Good employees move on and that’s life.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      A bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush. So, unless they can get you a written offer for a Chief of Staff position + the appropriate pay increase by the time you get it for the new job, take the new job. Yes, you leaving is going to cause them problems. That’s a them problem, because they’ve repeatedly cut staff and loaded more and more onto your plate. Not your problem. Take care of yourself.

    4. Former Govt Contractor*

      Stay strong! Take the promotion. If a new role opens up with old boss in the future, you can consider whether to move to that position. I left a paralegal job where I’d worked very closely with my boss for 21 years. He and his entire staff tried to convince me I was making a mistake by leaving. At the time I thought they just cared for me and wanted me to stay, which was true, but it was also insulting. I knew what was best for me, and 13 years later I can say I was right!

    5. Ginger Baker*

      I’m so sorry your otherwise-supportive boss has dropped the ball on supporting your career moves when they take you outside his orbit. That sucks. I absolutely think you should take the Chief of Staff role. When you have your call with Soon To Be Former Boss, I would stick to repeating a few key lines: “I’ve really enjoyed working with you and I appreciate all the ways you have supported me! I’ve given it a lot of thought and this is the best next step for me career-wise. :-)” “Thanks for trying to put together a compelling package for me to stay in this role. I do appreciate that. But I’ve given it a lot of thought and the Chief of Staff role is the best next step for me.” “I will miss working with you too! It’s been a lovely twelve years.” “I’m excited about the CoS role!”

      Continue and don’t get tricked into arguing about past or future promises. None of that matters! You are excited about the Chief of Staff role and looking forward to exploring this progression of your career. <3

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Seconding all of this! Especially the staying positive, expressing genuine appreciation for the things you’ve appreciated about this boss, and then remaining firm as hell that you’re taking the new position.

        Tell them thanks but no thanks as many times as it takes until you’re in the new role, and do your absolute best not to care about whatever guilt trips (intentional or otherwise) that they try to lay at your feet. Rooting for you!!

    6. HonorBox*

      Sending those vibes!

      You have talked about your desire to do more. You’ve heard that opportunities will open up. Consider this a step in the right direction for both of those. Does it suck for your boss that he’s losing someone awesome? Sure thing. But this is something he shouldn’t feel blindsided by. You’ve been clear in your wishes, had more added to your plate that takes you beyond EA, and you have been recognized (with the offer) as someone who will do the CoS roll well.

      “This is a great opportunity for me, and I couldn’t pass it up because we don’t know when this would come along again.” Rinse and repeat.

      His feelings are valid. But you don’t have to feel feelings about him feeling feelings.

    7. erika*

      Thanks everyone! It was one of the most intense calls I’ve ever had in my career. But I kept reiterating that I am excited for this new opportunity and while I am open to a counter, I cannot see that they’d be able to make one strong enough to cause me to reconsider.

      She kept talking about how upset and disappointed she was that I didn’t come to her sooner because she was thinking of a new role for me as part of her additional area of responsibility. But I kept reiterating that I made the decision with the information I had at the time. All of this “new role” talk had been super hypothetical until the last 24 hours. She also said she is going to reach out to my soon-to-be grandboss (they have a monthly sync call as he is one of her stakeholders and her predecessor in her current role). There are folks looking for internal jobs right now due to layoffs, and she was disappointed that they offered the CoS role to someone who already had a job and wasn’t impacted by the layoff.

      That last comment sealed it for me. Other people’s careers are not my responsibility.

      I stood firm. I didn’t mean to burn the bridge with my current grandboss but looks like that’s what happened. I hope that when things settle down everyone will understand why I did what I did, but at this point I’m not sure I could stay with two leaders who acted so unprofessionally and out of character.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        …your current role opening up is, in fact, now a role available in the pool for layoff-affected folks to interview for so WIN WIN.

      2. A Significant Tree*

        Oh wow, that does sound like a stressful call! I’m glad you were able to withstand the guilt trip coupled with bribery.

        What stuck out to me in your original post was all the times your boss claimed that you just needed to wait, your opportunity will come! And it did – it wasn’t what the boss had in mind, but it is the right opportunity for you.

        And honestly, your grandboss being upset (and worse, telling you) that a job went to you, a very qualified applicant over a laid-off person, is flat ridiculous. If your grandboss wants to save someone’s job, *now there’s an opening* – your soon-to-be-old job!

    8. Happily Retired*

      Do NOT let them to you in the box of “too valuable to promote”!

      Doing the happy dance for you, Chief of Staff Erika!!!

      1. Aye Nonny Nonny*

        100% this! It’s literally what I experienced working for the same boss for over a decade. I tried to transfer out but was blocked, and now the whole team I was stuck in is being outsourced.

        Also, you did not burn the bridge with grandboss. She did and expected you to put out the fire.

    9. BigLawEx*

      I love your style of communication. So clear! You’re going to rock the new job. Stay strong during your transition period. You’ve got this!

  39. gingersnap*

    Some of you may recall I posted a few weeks ago about my difficult work situation (TLDR: the grandboss who convinced me to leave my job and work for him got suspended and investigated, new supervisor hated me, mental health spiraling).

    Well, I just got a call with a job offer that I am SO excited about! My long nightmare in this position is almost over. I feel like a weight has been lifted.

    1. River*

      That is amazing and well deserved! I’m always happy to see stories like this and karma doing justice. Best of luck at your new gig!

  40. Finally!*

    I officially have a new job, after a year and a half of looking! I was recruited by an executive firm, so I didnt even have to apply for it. The new role comes with an almost 40% pay increase and is fully remote.

    My current employer is freaking out because I am the only person at my organization that has my skills set. They have treated me so poorly over the past several years (I could write a Target best-selling novel about this place). Honestly, it feels really good to say, “Im out. Heres my last day.”

    I share this because I want others in dysfunctional work situations to have hope. It will get better, and you will find something… or it will come to you!

  41. Ziggydm*

    How do you deal with a coworker/office situation that causes you to be paranoid?

    I have a coworker (let’s call her Janet) who intentionally cuts me out of meetings, constantly goes to my boss and colleagues pointing out my “mistakes” (areas where she disagrees with my approach), questions my decisions repeatedly, and essentially gaslights me claiming I said things that I did not (sometimes my boss or other coworkers even correct her in real time about this “that doesn’t sound like what Ziggydm said…” and proceed to correctly state what I said). I am feeling myself dive deeper into paranoia.

    I’ve already spoken with management, framing this as a “team cohesion” issue, and we’ll be doing “team building” work in the next few weeks to work on this, but I can’t help but feel like any kind of teamwork building exercise assumes that everyone on the team is well intentioned. I just no longer believe this person is, and I can’t really openly say it to anyone. My boss is great, my manager is nice but conflict averse. I go into work each day, something that I’ve described as my dream, feeling I’m a courtier trying to navigate life and death level court politics — one false move and it’s off with my head. I hate this feeling. My work is constantly critiqued and analyzed, while no one else’s is (part of this is the nature of my job, but another part is that now there is a set expectation that my work should always be open to transparency and criticism, while no such expectation exists for anyone else — yes I mentioned this to management as well).

    How can I handle what should be normal/neutral parts of my job (receiving criticism, being excluded from some meetings, relying on my colleagues reports and memos to be truthful and informative) when every move feels like there is some kind of malicious intent behind it? I feel so socially overwhelmed and stressed by this situation that today I crawled under a desk in an empty office and cried…

    1. EMP*

      It sounds like several of your coworkers know that Janet isn’t being truthful and have your back!! When Janet bring “mistakes” to your boss, does your boss address that with you in any way? If your boss is treating Janet’s reports as a weird thing Janet is doing, then that’s great, it’s not reflecting poorly on you. If your boss is bringing it up with you, how do those meetings go?
      I think framing this as “team cohesion” was a small misstep, since you’re right, that’s not what it is – this is a single coworker who is misrepresenting your work to your colleagues. I would remind yourself that your boss and your coworkers have had your back before and try to document what you can about Janet’s behavior.

      1. Ziggydm*

        My concern was it wouldn’t be taken seriously if I said “this a problem with Janet” they would tell me this is a personal issue and I need to get over it or work it out.
        To answer you other questions, in the past Janet has just made these comments to our entire team, with the boss saying nothing, while I spent a bunch of time explaining and defending myself publicly. So this last time, she went directly to my boss, who has scheduled a meeting for the three of us to meet while, I assume, Janet airs all her complaints and my boss referees. Usually when Janet brings this stuff up with everyone, my boss just doesn’t comment on it, but I know my department head talked to her about being more assertive and moderating these things, so now she’s trying to be more active.

    2. Raia*

      This sounds absolutely awful, I’m sorry you’re going through this. As far as advice goes, Document, document, document. Do your utmost to not have a meeting or call without her so that conversations can be tracked, and take screenshots where possible. It sounds like your boss and coworkers are aware of this and helping push back on the false information which is huge, despite the conflict aversion. In addition, I’d take screenshots of meetings you are supposed to be on, loop in your manager of course, and then join the call. In short, be relentlessly factual and ‘by the book’, and your antagonist will either show herself as a liar to the wrong person or back down/be privately grumpy.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Ugh. I have a Janet right now (and worked for one, which was even worse!). My boss thinks she’s great, but she tried to throw me under the bus once along with my Grand boss’s right hand woman. It didn’t go as she planned, and now I think it’s a matter of time before she leaves.

      In the meantime, cya and document everything. Also, avoid her as much as you can while still being professional.

    4. A Significant Tree*

      This sounds like a situation for what I’ve seen termed as work jiu jitsu – use the other person’s attack against them. Janet is constantly trying to put you on the defensive with what sounds like a scattershot approach to cutting you down whenever possible. One thing I’ve found that Janets hate is when you turn it around on them and imply that their objection stems from the fact that they are missing the point, don’t understand what’s happening, or otherwise need things spelled out in very basic terms. I’m not talking about speaking condescendingly, but seeing past the negative intent to the specific things being said and addressing those as though Janet is honestly just confused. Like, of course Janet wants to better understand the situation and you’ll help explain.

      It’s hard to separate emotion from that though, because it definitely feels like a personal attack. But if you can find a way to make Janet stumble when she’s on the attack that could throw off the whole game. She wants all the pressure to be on you, which is why you feel like you need to defend and explain and keep talking until people understand. The term JADE (justify, argue, defend, and explain) comes in here too – avoid doing any of these in response to her attacks.

      If it makes sense to, politely push back by asking where she’s coming from, what she’s basing her question/criticism on, basically make her prove her case. (“I’m not sure where this is coming from, could you help me understand?”) Alternately, respond specifically to the thing she’s said in as clear and brief a way as possible. (“Oh there’s been a simple misunderstanding [on Janet’s part], the situation is ___”)

      I just dealt with this myself, being grilled by a manager (not mine) about something I said during a meeting that this manager ‘misheard’ and then went off on me. She kept asking if I was really saying X because X is wrong, we always do Y, and I kept having to calmly say No I said Y, nobody is saying X. I stopped short of saying out loud “I don’t know how to make it any clearer to you” but I stuck with the same polite but short response and she couldn’t provoke me further. After three rounds she gave up trying to convince anyone else that I had misspoken so she could be right or make me look bad. The first time she pulled this I sincerely thought she didn’t understand and so I responded as though that were the case. Now I know her game but it doesn’t change how I’ll respond. She’s done it before, she’ll do it again, and so will I.

      1. 1LFTW*

        I’m dealing with a very fraught situation in my workplace right now, and this was so helpful I’ve saved it in a screenshot so I can memorize it. Thank you.

  42. girasol*

    How do folks manage to separate/decompress from work during time off when you know you’ll need to put in greater-than-normal hours to catch up and face significant stress upon your return? Is it just something you accept as a trade-off for taking the time off? Do you do a few hours of work each day so less accumulates during that time? I would like to fully separate from work during time off but the anxiety of knowing the pile of work/heightened stress that awaits me upon my return is a big barrier.

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

      Is there anything you can do before you go on leave to make coming back easier. Can you forward emails onto someone else, or assign tasks to another person?

      Can you let people know in advance that you are going to be gone for X days and that if they are going to need something during that time or the day or so after you get back that they need to send requests earlier? Also, what can your boss do to help support you? Have you asked them if there are items to reaarange or things that can wait?

      I think it was said in another comment but can you set up some time the first day back that is dedicated to just catch up.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve come to a point in my career where I just accept it as a trade-off. I also block off several hours on my first day back to sift through emails and take care of things, plus I keep notifications turned off.

      I do not work on vacation. I don’t check messages. I’ve done it in the past, sure. But at this point I just trust that someone else will take care of things (I also don’t manage people so I don’t have to worry about personnel issues, so I have that privilege). I set things up before I leave– I send notes to my co-workers with details about ongoing projects, I give a couple of weeks’ notice to my internal clients that I’ll be out, I make sure everyone has access to my folders. And when I come back, I schedule time with my cover to go over what I’ve missed.

      Also, I leave my home. If I’m on a staycation, I plan day trips or museum visits or other things that keep me away from my dang phone.

      Remember that if your role or department or the company fall apart without you for a set and brief period of time… then there are problems that go far beyond you. They will be fine. Your clients will be fine.

    3. gingersnap*

      Oof I feel this. I try to prepare ahead of time as best I can. It’s hard depending on what type of work you do, but I’ve always tried to close out as many projects as I can, leave detailed notes on anything outstanding, etc. I have always asked coworkers to take over anything that has to happen while I’m away and assure them I’ll repay the favor when they are on vacation.

      I also leave a detailed out of office e-mail reply directing who to contact about specific things (eg. contact Harry for questions about Quidditch, Contact Ron for all your chess inquiries, and Hermione can help you with anything library related.)

      Finally, if I’m going on a true vacation and want to unplug/destress, I take my e-mail off my phone so that I can only check it deliberately. I’ll check in once every few days to make sure nothing emergent is going on. Coworkers have my cell phone so they can call/text if there’s a true need to get in touch, but otherwise not being tied to e-mail 24/7 makes it easy to enjoy the moment.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Until my previous employer implemented a cap on PTO rollover and started confiscating anything above that cap, I coped by just not taking PTO and banking it for the day that never came when it would be safe to take it.

    5. Wordybird*

      Yes. I know that if I were to die tomorrow that my employer (and every employer I’ve ever had) would replace me in a month (or less). I don’t work nights or weekends, and I take every single day of PTO I’m given. I don’t check email or respond to any work-related communications of any kind while I’m out.

      Life is too short, and I’m too old to miss any of it worrying about a job that doesn’t care about me.

    6. Anon for This*

      It depends on your role.

      If you are an individual contributor, just unplug completely. If you quit they would find a way to handle things – they should be able to do the same while you are on vacation. (I will note that I would mentally prepare for return to the office by going through work stuff the day before – usually a Sunday – just to get ahead of the deluge.)

      For me, I am a manager of managers. While I have a competent team, there are a couple of things that do require my personal approval. When I went on a two week vacation recently I promised the team I would check e-mail once per day to deal with anything that was truly urgent, and asked that it be flagged that way in the subject line. Otherwise I ignored everything. My team could deal with almost everything, and the rest could wait for me. In two weeks off I dealt with one thing. It was wonderful.

  43. Stanley Hudson*

    I wanted to hear some of your thoughts on leaving unsolicited feedback for recruiters after they reject you on how the news is delivered.

    A few of my own experiences come to mind:

    At the end of last year, I went through three rounds of interviews with Company A, with whom I applied using LinkedIn’s “quick apply” feature. The third round was in-person and I went in with less than 24 hours’ notice. I did this because one of the interviewers was traveling out of the country and the only time available after that would have been the first week of the new year, which is never a good time in my profession to be away from work. About a week after the third interview, I got an automated email from LinkedIn- a form letter with only the position, location, and company names modified accordingly- stating that the company had chosen to not move me forward. This email came in at 10:15 AM on a weekday. I’ve gotten the exact same email for jobs I’ve applied to on LinkedIn that didn’t even select me for an interview. Because I had once gotten this email in error from a different application (specifically, a company reached out to me to interview after I had gotten the notification that I was being rejected) and because I had gotten so far in the process, I emailed the internal recruiter I had been talking to about this position to verify that this wasn’t a mistake. The recruiter’s response was something like this:

    “We have decided to go with other candidates. I apologize that you got the email before I could call you. We had our holiday lunch yesterday and I didn’t come back to work so I didn’t have my computer to call you.”

    To me, there was a lot wrong with that answer, so I said:

    “I got the email this morning. I respect the decision to move forward with other candidates but I think I deserved more than an automated email- a more personalized email or a phone call would have worked- when I took time out of my day three times (and once on short notice) to interview. I don’t know what happened but I think I should have been notified as soon as the decision was made. I hope this feedback will be taken into consideration.”

    Recruiter: “It was my fault and I apologize. (LinkedIn) said that the message would be sent in 3 days. You were on my list to do today.”

    I still felt there was a lot wrong with her answer but didn’t respond to the last email. While there is no point in apologizing now if I was wrong, I do wonder if I should have left the feedback I left. I also wonder if there was a way to leave feedback that would have been more appropriate.

    There are also three other experiences that I have in which I didn’t leave feedback but wonder if it would have been acceptable to do so. In each of these instances, the recruiter I had been speaking with called me and left a voicemail to tell me they had “feedback” without giving any other context. Of course, when I reached back out to them, the “feedback” was of course that I had been rejected. Here are the three instances:

    • About 2.5 years ago, I interviewed with Company B and got to the second round with the hiring manager. After the last interview, the recruiter called me to say she had “feedback” and to call back. Since she was located in Australia (I am in the U.S.), I sent her an email stating that it would cost me money to call her and asked if she could tell me over email. The feedback was that the hiring manager enjoyed the conversation but that they weren’t moving forward.

    • About 2 years ago, I only got to the initial call with the recruiter for Company C. After getting the voicemail from the recruiter about having “feedback”, I called and, because she didn’t answer, left a voicemail of my own. I later emailed her and she responded telling me they weren’t moving forward because I didn’t have a specific experience. I didn’t email back but have wondered if it would have been acceptable to politely leave feedback on how the news was delivered.

    • A month or so ago, I got to the initial call with the recruiter with Company D. I agonized for a few minutes about whether to call back when I got the voicemail about him having “feedback” because I had a feeling that I knew what it meant, but I called back because I could have been wrong. I also had only ever spoken to this recruiter via phone so I wasn’t able to email him. The “feedback” was that the hiring managers weren’t moving forward because I would have had to relocate for the position. I did not respond to it in any way other than saying “Thanks.” Side note, I don’t know how much the recruiter and the hiring managers talked before interviewing me about my needing to relocate but, for the sake of this post, that’s neither here nor there.

    Note to hiring managers and recruiters- when calling to tell candidates they’ve been rejected, and they don’t answer, please do not simply say that you have “feedback” and leave it to them to reach out to you to find out. Please say it in the voicemail. If you have further feedback, either leave that feedback in the voicemail or give the candidate the option to call or email you if you’re willing to allow that.

    I would love to hear some thoughts about how I handled company A and if it would have been acceptable to give feedback for companies B, C, and/or D.

    1. EMP*

      Frankly, these companies won’t really care about your feedback. Candidates have different preferences and they can’t please everyone so they’re going to stick with their internal processes.

      1. Stanley Hudson*

        I agree with your comment. Also, my interaction with company A was the only time I’ve left direct feedback about how I was rejected. I don’t think there was a point in sending the automated LinkedIn email if they were going to contact me before they expected it to go out- I see this as kind of like I’m being rejected twice- but I wouldn’t have left it if they had reached out before the LinkedIn message went out. I also only reached out because I had had this message sent to me in error before and, being that I’d been in communication directly with the recruiter, I figured she would have told me directly if they weren’t going to move forward. As far as the other instances, I don’t see how anyone would be okay with the approach of making the candidate reach out to be rejected, particularly after only 1-2 rounds. To me, that seems more like the preference of the individual recruiter than it would be part of any internal “process.”

        1. DivergentStitches*

          Ok but the automated LinkedIn rejection email goes out to everyone who applied once they mark the role as filled. They don’t check one person to receive it but not another. That’s why you got it.

    2. DivergentStitches*

      These actually don’t seem particularly egregious to me? Especially the first one. She explained that it was an automated email and that she’d intended to call you before you received it, she didn’t, and she apologized. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

      Obviously it sucks to hear that you weren’t selected to move forward in the process, I’m in a job search as well, and have many times in the past, I feel you. But at least you’re hearing something back! Most of the applications I send out just float in the void for eternity.

      For example, I found a position that was a stretch in that I’d never worked in that industry, however, it was for a nonprofit that specifically worked with people with disabilities, and the job posting/company website said that disabled folks were strongly encouraged to apply. I sent in all required application materials by the deadline, and I haven’t heard a word. Not one word. My cover letter specified my disability and how it would benefit me in the position, as well as all of my qualifications and related experience, etc.

      I’m not a 100% match, only about 80%, but the website said something like, “we have found that women, minorities, and those with disabilities are not as likely to apply to positions if they don’t think they are a 100% match, so we strongly encourage you to apply!” IMO it’s especially awful for such an employer to not send a word to applicants who follow such a strong suggestion.

      1. DivergentStitches*

        I went and pulled their exact verbiage – “Frequently cited statistics show that people from underrepresented groups apply to jobs only if they meet 100% of the qualifications. [We] encourage you to break that statistic and apply. No one ever meets 100% of the qualifications. We look forward to your application.”

        And they ghosted me.

      2. Stanley Hudson*

        For company A, it was more the fact that they had plenty of time to send an email, or make a call, to let me know. As I said, I got the rejection at 10:15 AM on a weekday a few days after the last interview- there was plenty of time even that day to tell me. I was aware that it was an automated email, which is why I was taken aback in the first place. I can’t do anything about what I said now.

        Obviously it sucks to hear that you weren’t selected to move forward in the process

        This has nothing to do with how I feel about being rejected. I’ve been rejected from several jobs before and I’ll be rejected from several jobs in the future. I just think there are certain ways one should go about doing it. That said, leaving feedback is not something I plan on making a habit of doing.

        But at least you’re hearing something back!

        I agree with that. I have gotten to the point that I don’t expect to hear anything back until I do or until I’ve gotten to a certain point in the process. That said, I think after three interviews (especially when I made one happen on such short notice), I should hear from the company, not from LinkedIn, if they decide not to move forward. Maybe they meant for the automated LinkedIn email to go out after they talked to me, but that begs the question of why it was necessary at all. I’m sure they could have set it so that the message didn’t go out to me.

        For the other three, it should never be on me to call a company to find out I’ve been eliminated from the process. I can’t always answer a call (and usually don’t from an unknown number when I’m not expecting it) and it makes me feel obligated to call back because there may be one time where a recruiter leaves a similar voicemail but the company actually wants to move forward. They should just get to the point in the voicemail or send an email.

    3. JustDont*

      If these are worst things potential hiring managers or recruiters do to you, consider yourself fortunate and move on.

      You probably got yourself on a never hire list at employer A, and that person will likely never interview or hire you again at any company they work at/for in the future. Complaining may be temporarily satisfying but it’s counterproductive and downright problematic if you push back repeatedly.

      1. allathian*

        Depends on how often they hire. If this is a person who sees hundreds of resumes a year and recruits fairly frequently, I doubt it’ll be an issue at the next company.

        I work for the government in Finland, and when someone’s hired, all data pertaining to the losing candidates must be destroyed after two years. This means that if the new hire doesn’t work out, they can offer the job to the next candidate without stsrting the hiring process from scratch.

        Last year my manager hired someone full-time, and they were able to hire the another candidate on a short-term contract when a coworker went to a sister organization on job rotation.

    4. Expectations*

      You have a very unreasonable expectations of how the hiring process works. These are pretty normal and your pushing back at all was weird.

      1. Stanley Hudson*

        I’m not sure how any of these are normal.

        Say what you want about how I handled company A, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to hear back from the company after three interviews, and after going to their office on less than 24 hours’ notice when they couldn’t/wouldn’t be flexible with me. I’ve had cases where I’ve heard nothing back, but at least I’ve been conditioned to accept that.

        As far as the other three, those are the only three instances in recent years where I remember getting a call for a rejection. I did get a few that I can recall earlier in my career but at least those callers would deliver the news via voicemail if I didn’t answer. Most rejections I get now are via email, whether it be a personalized one from the recruiter/hiring manager or a form letter from their careers website or LinkedIn.

  44. Axolotl*

    Does anyone have any experience with applying for one role and possibly getting another?

    I was laid off from my Llama Handler role earlier this year. Llama Handling roles are hard to find, so I also applied to several Llama Groomer positions I came across. I have no direct experience as a Llama Groomer, but it’s a related field, and I have several transferrable skills. Still, it’s a tough market, and I realize people wouldn’t want to hire a Llama Handler with some Grooming skills when they could hire someone with direct Llama Grooming experience instead. So I was surprised when I did hear back about one of those roles. I had a great conversation with the internal recruiter, and then when I spoke to the hiring manager, she told me she was going to be hiring for a Llama Handling role in Q4, and I would be an excellent fit for it, if I was interested. I was! We talked about my Llama Handling qualifications and accomplishments, and where we left the conversation was that she was going to have some internal discussions (I assume about whether it would be possible to open up the role earlier) and set me up to have conversations with some other decision-makers. I had one other phone conversation with another person in the department and it went well, but I’m not sure where we go from here.

    Does anyone have any experience with this sort of thing? I guess I’m wondering how it works. If she gets budget approval to open up the position earlier (a big “if”), would she be able to directly offer me the role? Or would she have to post it, speak with other candidates, and start the whole process from scratch? And what would the timeline be for this kind of thing? It’s a small company, which I assume means less red tape, but could this happen in a few weeks? How do I even follow up on something like this? I feel like the normal rules don’t apply and I don’t know what the standard process is, so I’m excited but also kind of anxious about how this will play out.

    1. MsM*

      Hard to say, because the process is going to depend entirely on their company. My guess is they’ll still at least ask you to send in a resume, but they might fast-track the interview process straight to the top. I wouldn’t assume that’ll make things move any quicker, though, so don’t stop searching.

    2. EMP*

      I’d say it depends on the company but a small company is more likely to be flexible. We did something similar at my current job where someone applied for a Llama Handler role but was a perfect fit for a Llama Groomer role that I don’t think had been posted yet. I think he had an extra round of interviews so the right people could talk to him but he didn’t have to start the process over.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      I agree with other commenters that it depends on the company. A very similar scenario is how I got my current role – I applied and interviewed for a different role, and then the hiring manager called to tell me that they went with another candidate BUT they have another role that’s going to be opening soon that they thought I’d be a good fit for. They gave me the number for that hiring manager to call and ask questions, that role sounded like an even better fit to me than the one I applied for, and here I am almost a year and a half later. I did still have to apply and interview, but I think I skipped the initial phone screen and skills test since I’d already completed one for the other role.

    4. TX_TRUCKER*

      It depends on the company and probably how hard it is to fill the position. I have offered folks jobs different than the one they applied for, without an additional interview … but only if I was the direct supervisor for both. But more generally, I say “Bob” is going to have an opening very soon for xyz. Let me introduce you to each other. And then Bob decides if he wants to do an interview or not. For specialized roles that are hard to recruit for, Bob will probably make a job offer. But for roles that are veey generic with lots of candidates he likely will still interview several folks.

    5. LivesinaShoe*

      When I interviewed for my previous job (well, for a different role), the interviewer said very sweetly that I didn’t have enough experience for that one but there was a very similar one, probably one step down, in an adjacent department, would I be interested? So I got that job after interviewing with the second department. Not exactly one interviewer with two jobs, but close.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Depends on company processes and approach – I would keep the lines of communication open with her. I actually have a similar situation, someone who I don’t have headcount for at the moment bit if/when it changes and they are still available, they’d be first choice for the role. I would have a brief “re-interview” with them at that point but it wouldn’t be a whole recruitment process if they are still suitable.

  45. Carrots*

    I was on my way to a meeting when a coworker, “John”, stopped to ask me a question. He said that a Teapot wasn’t listed in the database and asked who he should reach out to. I assumed it was an obsolete teapot, so I suggested he contact Accounting. (Accounting handles credits and talks to customers.)

    My boss called me into her office- John was in there- and proceeded to yell at me about how she “never wants to hear an answer be “Go to Accounting'” and she then asked me all of these questions. She was yelling at me but almost had this smirk on her face. John turned around and was looking at me, almost like he wanted to get me in trouble or he was enjoying it or something. (I work in a toxic environment, so it isn’t that much of a stretch to think this. My boss is a bully and very petty.)

    I realize that I should have taken more time with John or approached it differently, but I was taken aback by my boss yelling at me and John turning around to look at me.

    I’m job searching and hoping to get out of there soon, but is there anything else to do in a situation like this?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You were stopped in the hall on the way to something else, got asked a random question, and you gave the answer that was possible without stopping, researching things, and then responding.

      Go ahead and stonewall John as much as you want going forward. Be hyper-attentive to exactly the rules and procedures and make John endure every single one of them whenever he needs something from you.

      Then apply for some new jobs.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yeah, John is a dick who deliberately trapped you into getting yelled at. Work to rule for both John and your bully boss. They do not deserve the extra mile.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Document it, I guess, but if they react like this there’s probably nothing else to do. What did you say after you answered her questions? I assume she didn’t have a change of heart and say “Yeah, that was reasonable, fair enough.”

      1. Carrots*

        I told her that I would look into it because I didn’t have answers to some of her questions. (Ironically enough, I’d have to ask accounting!)

    3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      If it were me I would answer every single question going forward with “Sorry, I don’t know.” And then have a staring contest with the person who asked until they walk away. This type of environment doesn’t deserve any of your emotional energy. Hope you find something better soon.

    4. 1LFTW*

      Oh gods, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. One of the managers at my employer is like this. I was in a meeting with her once where she bitched us all out for the fact that we’d been saying “I don’t know” in response to clients’ questions about when a particular service would return post-pandemic. The reason we didn’t know? Because that service was her jurisdiction, and she literally hadn’t decided yet! When we asked for clarification, she was like, “well… obviously that depends on a lot of factors beyond our control…”

      I don’t report to her, but when my own boss spends too much time with her he starts sponging up her abusive mannerisms (usually, he’s nice enough, just weak). It’s… not great.

      I don’t know what to advise. I’m in a union, which gives me some protection, but honestly it’s less and less worth it. My only suggestion is to find whatever level of malicious compliance keeps you sane and employed until you can GTFO. Maybe get used to saying – in your most cheerful voice – “I’m need to get to a meeting, but let me email you”. At least you’d have a paper trail? Especially if John is getting off on making you look bad, having ample documentation of his own lack of knowledge might help you. It can’t hurt, anyway.

      Best of luck, comrade. Your handling of John’s question was perfectly normal and reasonable. Your boss is not.

  46. Freelance Bass*

    What do we think of the “looking for work” feature on LinkedIn? I’m in an industry that’s really struggling this year, and I’m far from the only person looking right now. I get the vast majority of my work through networking, and it always looks better to be (or at least appear) in-demand. On the other hand, I want to make sure people know I’m available. Thoughts?

    1. PotatoRock*

      I would put it up, especially if you’re in an industry known for having a lot of layoffs recently! People know layoffs are a thing, and anyone who really cares about only hiring employed people is going to realize when they get your resume that your past job ended anyways

    2. Qwerty*

      There’s an option to only show the “open to work” banner to recruiters if you aren’t comfortable with advertising to the whole world.

    3. Open to work*

      I’ve put it on there, because I’m open to other opportunities. My company is quite Linkedin-focused but hasn’t asked about it yet, but if they ask “why does your profile say open to work” I’ll say because I’m open to work. I have already told them I’ve been looking for other roles due to various issues (yes, I have brought them up with senior management etc. They are a mix of things that can be fixed but aren’t, and things that just “are what they are”). Really a company should assume everyone is looking for other opportunities all the time.

  47. Pivot time*

    Looking for advice on a midlife career change as an audHD person. I’ve been running my own small business and adult learning program for over a decade, and I’m burnt out. While I’m passionate about the subject (think wellness/environmental niche), I’ve never been great at marketing and wearing all of the hats that it takes to keep going as a solo entrepreneur has become increasingly difficult and financially untenable. I enjoy public speaking and engaging with the public, and am considering going back to school for a graduate degree in eco-therapy or related mental health, though I know from prior experience that staying on top of the paperwork of traditional counseling can get overwhelming. Suggestions on career ideas and/or grants for returning students?

    1. Nesprin*

      Is it possible for your business to hire on a partner covering marketing?
      Could you sell your stake to a larger company in the same space? Or merge with another group?
      Can you freelance for your most reliable clients and take on a day job?

      1. Pivot time*

        How does one go about hiring a marketing person? Hiring someone for that would make sense if I wanted to keep going with this version of the business, though I would have to borrow money or use personal savings to pay them. At this point I’m so burned out with the many facets of running this project solo for so long that I’m hesitant to expend the energy and funds to onboard someone and still have to do the rest of the jobs involved in running what is basically a school. I am the brand, and the brand is tired.

        1. DivergentStitches*

          You can look into one of those websites where people bid on work, I think Odesk is one, I’ve used another one for help with Etsy listings and the like. There are marketing people on those sites.

          I hear you – I have a tiny business myself sewing handbags, and am also autistic, and the marketing piece is The Worst. It’s why I can’t get off the ground.

          1. Pivot time*

            I wonder how many other creative, ND small business owners we’d need to form a coop and pay somebody really well to do our marketing?

            1. 1LFTW*

              Depends on where you live (and my info might be old) but in CA you need 3 people to form a co-op. How many of us we’d need to afford a marketing person is another question.

  48. J. Quadrifrons*

    Just looking for some reassurance, I think – my company got bought out last year, and what was a very good job has turned into a tolerable job that’s rapidly sliding into intolerable the more changes they introduce. (Retroactively changing the job from salaried to hourly is the latest and most egregious offense, but the new laptop with the monitoring software hasn’t arrived yet.)

    There are jobs where you can be treated as an adult, right? Where your boss’s boss doesn’t want to watch what you’re doing every hour of every day and you have some degree of autonomy in how you work? I didn’t just luck into the one exception and I’m an idiot for looking for anything else?

    (I know there are good managers out there, my manager is a good manager, but the bureaucracy and the absolute ignorance of what this does to our day to day does seem to be a feature of corporate.)

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Yes, jobs like that exist. Start looking now, so you can go before it finally reaches intolerable. Good luck.

    2. WellRed*

      My company was bought by a corporate. I definitely felt the corporate difference for some things but overall it’s been decent though I will probably never fully drink the kool aid, unlike my coworkers. At least my health insurance is better?

    3. Decidedly Me*

      They totally exist!! I’m in a similar situation – my small start up was bought by a large corporation. We were left alone for a long time and now we’re being brought into the oh so fun corporate fold. I’m now looking for a job where I am treated the way I was before we were bought.

    4. Diana*

      That sucks! Regarding the salary, aren’t there federal rules about when something is hourly vs. salaried? Can they just change that? Hoping you find something better!

      1. J. Quadrifrons*

        As far as I’ve been able to find the only rules are about exempt vs non-exempt, which doesn’t technically have to correlate with salaried/non-salaried. (Believe me, I’ve been looking…but I’m not in the most employee-friendly of states.)

    5. Aitch Arr*

      The acquiring company probably realized that your role was not correctly classified as exempt.

      1. J. Quadrifrons*

        They actually changed our job duties so we no longer qualified as exempt – and that’s fine, I’m not too bothered by that, although I will miss the monthly on-call pay. I’m more annoyed that 1) they did it retroactively – apparently I’ve been working as hourly since January, and found out about it last week; and 2) it’s reflective of an overall change in how my role is valued at the company. I do tech support; it would be called tier 2 or 3 except we don’t have enough tier 1 issues to bother making that distinction. Since the acquisition I’ve gone from being treated like a professional to being treated like a call center drone, and I don’t appreciate it.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Oooof! That sucks. If I were in your position I would be looking hard to leave. Life’s too short to be treated like a juvenile delinquent.

    6. I Have RBF*

      I work 100% remote, and my boss doesn’t micromanage me or monitor my computer like I was a juvenile delinquent. I think you need to hunt for a new job. That place sounds like a smoldering dumpster about to burst into high intensity flames.

  49. Albatross*

    Anyone got advice for dealing with a boss (and honestly an entire company) with really unclear email forwarding practice? I just found out that one of the higher-ups is going to be on leave until May due to a death in the family and anything he usually does should be sent to someone else, with a provided list of contact info… via an email with “County-Level HOV Usage Data Collection” in the subject line and that had two layers of “fyi” forwards before getting to the actual content. This is typical of emails with important info in them, it’s just the example that was waiting in my inbox this morning. Do I just resign myself to reading every forwarded email as if it could contain essentially anything?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      How’s your relationship with your boss? If it’s good and they’re open to feedback, you could say, “Hey Fergus, thanks for forwarding me the info on Prunella’s leave. I wasn’t sure what the email was about at first since the subject line dealt with something unrelated and the info was pretty far down in the body. If there’s something you really want to make sure I see–especially if it’s something I may need to be able to find again–could you maybe copy and paste it into a new email with a subject line that tells me what’s important for me to know? That way I can prioritize that stuff and make sure I can easily access the information in the future.”

      If you don’t think your boss would take that well, I would say yes, read all the email as if it could contain anything. Then if there’s something you want to save for future reference, copy and paste the info in an email to yourself with a relevant subject line and save it to a folder that makes sense.

    2. Charley*

      I think this depends a lot on your seniority/status, unfortunately. If you are in a support role and getting emails from people many levels above you, you have a lot less leverage to get them to change small habits around stuff like this, even if it makes your job harder.

  50. Commuting*

    Really curious about folks thoughts on commuting, especially after the pandemic.

    I have a WFH job that is making me more stressed and miserable, I’m underpaid, and I will need to get a second job to keep paying my bills. Remote jobs in my field are more and more scarce, so I know I likely will have to consider a hybrid (actually fine with that) or in-person (less fine with that) job in the future.

    I live with my partner, who makes double what I do and thankfully we don’t split the rent 50/50 anymore, but still–I have loans and bills to keep up with that I don’t feel comfortable asking for his help right now (complicated factors I won’t get into.) So… I need a higher paying job. The area we live in we really like and it’s a short commute to his work.

    As I look for jobs, I got an interview for a role that I knew was likely not hybrid, but might have earlier work hours. What I did not realize is how bad the commute is. We just moved to this area a couple of weeks ago. The commute would be 30 minutes in the morning (fine) but 1 hour to 1.5 hours in the afternoon.

    The job though could potentially pay me at least $30k more, which is not breaking like 6 figure salary, but it’s a lot more money. Then again, a commute would suck away $8k per year. But maybe I’d save in not having as much therapy?

    I dread a long commute, but I also dread staying in my current job. I’m trying to not desperately jump ship, but with how slow jobs are popping up in my actual city, I’m feeling like I should go for a long commute.

    What’s the longest commute you did and was it worth it for you? Would you commute so long if you were paid way more?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      That afternoon commute would probably kill me, tbh. That said, I know someone whose philosophy is that you can do anything for a year, so if you took that job and did it for a year, where would you be at the end of the year financially? Would your debts/loans be paid off? If not, how much longer would you need to stay there for that to be feasible?

      1. m2*

        Could you try it for a year and if you like it you and your partner move closer to your job?

        Could you ask for maybe 4- 10 hour days and have a random day off? Might you leave later in the night or having off hours help with the commute?

        I know people at my work who commute and they have permission to work 10-6. One top person is in 11-6/7 unless they have important morning meetings (they also work weekends and travel).

        Is there a gym close-by or a yoga studio/ art studio you could take a class after work and then commute home and have a 45 minute commute instead of 1.5 hours?

        1. colorguard*

          I had a 90-minute afternoon commute for what should have been a year but turned out to be six months because of Covid when I changed jobs right around the time I had to sign a new lease on my apartment, and part of my way around it was to bring my running gear and run near work and then head home when the commuting situation had improved. It made a rough situation bearable, plus made it easier to carve out that time for me.

        2. A Significant Tree*

          I paid for a gym membership during the couple of years I commuted in a similar way (30 min morning drive but 1+ hour evening). It gave me something to do to wait out afternoon traffic and regular exercise helped me deal with the stress of commuting. If I didn’t have that option (or some similar after work activity) and had to do the long afternoon commute, that would probably have been a deal-breaker.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I personally couldn’t handle that commute, but I know others that have done that (and longer) with no issue. Something worth checking is if there is flexibility in your start/end times. For my partner, leaving at one time could be 45min + home, but leaving even 30min later can drop that to 20min

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      That describes my commute both before, during, and after the pandemic. I look at $22k post taxes as getting paid $20/hour to commute. And that much will totally pay for an audible subscription (or a healthy donation to your library instead.)

    4. Miss Dove*

      Can you change the hours so you are not coming home in the middle of rush hour and thus have a more reasonable commute time?

      My commute is 45 minutes each way. It’s long, but it’s doable. I can decompress, listen to podcasts and generally relax before I get home.

    5. Kesnit*

      My longest commute was about 90 minutes, but almost all of it was mass transit, so I doubt it counts for what you want to know.

      My longest driving commute is the one I have now – 45 minutes each way. It isn’t too bad. Most of it is on freeway, so I don’t have to worry about stop lights. (The 15-20 minutes closest to work has lights.) I just listen to podcasts or audiobooks to make the time pass.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Same here, my longest commute was 1 hour in the morning and 1.5 hours in the evening on transit. I found it mostly OK, but I did fantasize about moving to a place on the subway line to avoid a subway-bus transfer.

        @Commuting, are there things you could do after work near your workplace (such as going to the gym, meeting a friend for dinner, going for a walk) that would push your evening commute later and also make it shorter? For example, the evening commute may be 1-1.5 hours if you leave at 5pm, but if you go to a gym near your work for an hour and leave the gym at 6pm, maybe the commute will be back down to 30 min.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My longest car commute was right out of college and it was horrific. I found an apartment closer to work and only had to do that commute for six weeks, but it wrecked me. It could take me 45 minutes in the morning or it could take me 2 hours. Afternoons were the same. This was from Baltimore County to Northern Virginia. Over 20 years ago and it still gives me anxiety. You could not pay me enough to do that every day.

      Then I lived in New York City, and my commute from Queens to Manhattan could be 30 minutes or an hour, depending on whether I got an express or a local. My claustrophobia also decided to escalate during that period in my life so I often waited for less crowded trains before embarking on my journey. Getting home was usually easier. I would do that commute again, every day if I had to, because on the train I could read or listen to music or watch a video. I could also go for a quick drink after work with a friend or co-worker and not have to worry about driving.

      Then we moved south and I was back to commuting in the car. It was about 20 minutes and I could avoid highways if I wanted to. That was fine.

      So TL; DR– it depends on the mode of transportation. If you’re talking about a train commute, chances are you can get some of that subsidized or at least taken out of pre-tax dollars.

    7. Onelia*

      Would the new job allow for flexibility in the time frame you work? I lived in a city that had very much the same commuting issue. Zoom to work in 20 minutes or so but it was a time suck in the afternoon just depending on usual traffic and if there were any accidents (as there are limited ways in and out).

      What most of my coworkers did was find ways to adjust their working hours so they could avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic. They might not even have to be big adjustments either. We often found that if we left at 3 we would shave 45 mins off our commute compared to leaving at 330. Also, if there are any other major employers in the area, figure out when they get out and leave well before or after them. We tried our best not to get caught up in common hospital shift hours because then our end of the city got very, very congested.

    8. Choggy*

      I used to commute, every day, an hour each way, depending on weather/traffic, but since back then we did not have the ability to work remotely, I had nothing to compare it to and did it because the salary/benefits justified the commute. I moved closer to work, and my commute is now about 40 minutes each way, depending on weather/traffic. After Covid, the company finally allowed WFH (they had no choice!), and now I come into the office three days a week, or less if I can swing it. Unfortunately, while WTH is great, not all companies will allow it, at least not every day. Sometimes you just have to suck it up if the payoff is good. You could always keep an eye out for remote opportunities in the future, or things could change with the company where they may allow at least a hybrid schedule.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      My current commute when done by walking and public transit is about an hour and a half each way. I absolutely could not do it daily now that I have a child. It wasn’t quite that bad before the pandemic: subway trains were more frequent and ran faster. I only have to go in 2-3 days each quarter, though, so I suck it up for that. I do take a Lyft frequently instead, paying $45-50 each way to shave off ~45 minutes of travel time each way.

      Before the pandemic and before I had a kid, I was spending about 65-75 minutes each way every day (though I think I’d started WFH on Fridays a couple months before the pandemic). I dealt with it. It was easier being on the subway: I could just bury my face in a book or my phone, or even knit.

    10. Anon for This*

      Commutes can be nightmares, so this a real issue. Any chance you could flex your hours so you can leave before evening rush hour? I did it that way for a few years, going in early and leaving early, and loved it. I particularly enjoyed being in the office for an hour or more before anyone else got in – helped me to focus and knock out difficult projects first thing in the morning.

    11. PropJoe*

      Longest commute I’ve had was 45 minutes in the morning and 75 minutes in the afternoon.

      At the time I thought it was worth it, due to being in a much nicer neighborhood.

      I survived it for 3.5 years.

      In hindsight it was absolutely not worth it. I regularly had trouble staying awake on the drive home. Doing the ol’ bobbing for apples thing while in 65mph traffic is bad. I’d leave the office at 515, get home at 645, and I’d be so frazzled mentally that by the time I was coherent enough to do anything, it was 1030 and therefore time for me to go to bed.

      I would consider a similarly lengthy commute nowadays only if the position was intrinsically not able to be done remotely, had excellent benefits, and paid at least 125k per year (currently I make just under 60k annually). If you want me to drive that much you better make it worth my while, otherwise I’m sticking with my current 10 minute commute.

    12. aria*

      How are you commuting? Car? bus? etc.
      My commute at my last job was about 1-1.5 hours, no matter how I did it (car, bike, train were all about the same). Car was most stressful, but most flexible. Train, I could read. Bike was good exercise. It felt like a long commute by train or by car.
      Ironically, the job moved to where the commute was an hour by train, 1.5 hrs by bike and 30 min by car. The car commute was worse because it was more stressful.
      So, I’ve done it, it can be done.
      In your shoes, I’d take the longer commute, more money, and start paying things off/down. But: could you do a second job in less hours than the commute and earn the same amount of money? So, can you get $30k/yr for an extra 20 hours/week work? If not, the long commute wins.

    13. Sbtyah*

      I say… don’t worry about this aspect yet. You haven’t even interviewed with them yet. Wait before you add this stressor “concept”–cause you don’t know much yet.

    14. Blue Pen*

      In my late 20s, I commuted by train nearly two hours each way. I loved the job and the people there, but I burned out after a couple years; they tried to offer me a hybrid schedule during year 3, and while that helped some, by that point, I was done for. I left just before I hit 4 years.

      Looking back, no, it was not worth it to me. I don’t like using the word “regret,” but I do feel like I wasted that period in my life because so much of it was dedicated to commuting (on top of the stressors of the actual job). And even when I wasn’t commuting, I was usually so drained from the commute, that my social life took a major, major hit.

    15. Hiring Mgr*

      Have you had the interview yet? If not I wouldn’t really worry about the commute at this point.

    16. TX_TRUCKER*

      I think you need to consider the quality of the commute and not just the distance. I used to have a 90 minute train commute where I could work on my laptop and that was fine. I had a 60 minute commute in rural traffic with nice scenery and virtually no traffic where I listened to lots of audio book and was actually my favorite. I also had a 30 minute stressful traffic situation, with high traffic,, no matter what time I traveled which was awful. I suspect this is a bit regional also. In California and Texas, 1 hour+ commute are normal.

    17. Banana Pyjamas*

      There’s a lot of variables.

      It’s amazing the difference a 15 minute departure time can make. If I stayed with my sibling on the north side of Chicago when I worked in the southwest suburbs leaving at 6:45 would have me to work 30 minutes early and leaving at 7:00 would have me at work 90 minutes late.

      Another important consideration is sometimes the most obvious route isn’t the best route. I had two commutes where I took a lower speed road a couple streets over from the higher speed main roads and cut 1/3 of my commute. The lower speed routes had so many fewer stops that they were faster.

      I think my final consideration for commuting by car would be the parking situation. For the right job in a city that I love I wouldn’t mind an additional walk from where I park to where I work, but honestly walking to a job I didn’t love in a city I don’t like was like the straw that broke the camel’s back some days.

    18. I Have RBF*

      So, I’ve had commutes like that – 45 minutes in the morning, 2 hours in the evening during normal 8 to 5. It sucked. But yes, I’d do it for enough more money that the cost was more than offset.

      What I also did was negotiate my start time so that my arrival and departure were not at peak commute times. This may or may not work for you, depending on culture and coverage issues.

    19. DecideWhatWorksForYou*

      That’s not a long commute here, but if it’s too much for you it’s too much for you. You get to decide that.

      The mode may make a difference. 1.5 hours on a train is different from 1.5 hours on a bus is different from 1.5 hours of easy driving is different from 1.5 hours of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. Also, if you have to be fully onsite perhaps you can get some flexibility on the hours if the issue is rush hour traffic going home.

      PS I once took a six month contract that required a 3.5 hour bus trip monday morning, staying a hotel two nights, and a 3.5 hour bus trip hope Wednesday night while (in theory) working 3 12 hour days. I lasted about 2 months. So that’s my worst. But I don’t drive because of a disability so I sometimes have to get creative (thankfully I’ve been mostly or fully remote for the last 7-8 years now).

    20. BigLawEx*

      I’m not sure of your field, but most people I know move their hours around 10 – 6 or in my case 7 – 3 (I’m a morning person). Would that be something to consider IF it changes the commute time? I’m in LA from NYC and time shifting can change things dramatically.

  51. PlainJane*

    Does anybody have advice on how to handle frequent political and current events conversations at work?

    The situation: we had RTO orders last September. One of my co-workers brought up politics and current events very often. It was akin to bringing up the weather or a local sports team. Our manager must have addressed this with them because they stopped the political conversations.

    My co-worker switched to constant digs and jokes about this election cycle. Their manner is almost compulsive, they don’t seem to care if the joke lands when they make it. They just have to say it.

    A few weeks ago, another co-worker started asking faux-innocently “I don’t get the joke, can you explain it?” The original co-worker excitedly launches into a political discussion. I think my second co-worker is hoping the original co-worker will notice this and stop. That isn’t happening.

    Thus far I haven’t said anything to anybody. It’s getting to be a drag and November is some time away. Is there anything I can to or do I let my manager handle it?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think if someone else already complained and it stopped for awhile but then started again, I think it’s fair for you to bring it up to your boss because a) they’re still doing it, and b) your boss needs to know it’s a problem for more than just one person. Maybe your boss will speak to them again, maybe they won’t, but at least you’ll have told them the issue.

      You said you haven’t spoken to anyone else about it, but I’d see if there was a way to join forces with the person who is doing the faux-innocent thing, because that feels like they also hate that this person is behaving this way so you have an ally there.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Based in the US, I’d try a, “It’s April. Does this mean we get six months of your commentary?” but I’m also more aggressive in shutting down stuff like that.

    3. Nesprin*

      If your boss isn’t being helpful, gray rock it.
      i.e. be boring until they give up.

      Try these responses in the blandest possible tone of voice:
      “Oh sorry, I don’t talk politics at work”
      “Huh, please excuse me”
      “Wow” then walk away
      “That’s an interesting take”
      “Well, that’s certainly an opinion”
      “So about them sportsballers”
      “Oh, sorry I need to catch Sarah about the TPS reports”

    4. Annony*

      It depends on dynamics. You could try pointing out that you dislike the jokes and political talk. “I really don’t want to hear about politics at work, even as a joke. I’m already burnt out on the election.” “Can you please not talk about politics around me?” “Political jokes aren’t really work appropriate. Not everyone shares your politics or your sense of humor.”

      If you don’t think that will go well, you could always flag how uncomfortable it makes you to your boss and hope they step in.

    5. PlainJane*

      Thanks, everybody. To clarify, this is what is happening:

      Before: in the break room “jury selection is finalized in the Trump case!” Deliberately opening up a conversation about the Trump trial.

      Now: bankruptcy comes up in relation to our work “maybe we can hire Trump’s bankruptcy attorney, we know they have experience.”

      It’s not a discussion, it’s these jokey barbs in casual and professional conversation. This happens if people respond or not. With my co-workers new response its more like:

      “Are you looking forward to spring break?”
      Co-worker: hope you get a better tan than Trumps
      Other co-worker: I don’t get the joke
      Co-worker: Trump has a really fake tan, anybody will look better than him.
      Other co-worker: He does? Huh, I never noticed.
      Co-worker: [monologue about Trump’s fake tan]

      My other co-worker is delivering this in a deadpan manner that is meant to point out how tired these jokes are but it is not landing. Both of them are frustrating.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I’d take other co-worker aside and say “I totally get what you’re trying to do when you say you don’t get Bob’s jokes, and I appreciate it, but I don’t think it’s working. He’s just not stopping.” Then enlist them to work with you on actually shutting him down and saying things like “Bob, we’re all really tired of hearing this stuff. We need a break from the news cycle sometimes and like to think about other things!” Then other co-worker can chime in with “yeah, we don’t need to talk about this stuff every day.”

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          Agreed. We actually had a letter here from an OP with a very similar problem, who also tried the “make them explain the joke” strategy and it only made it worse, and their coworker did exactly this. Gave them a, “Hey, we understand what you’re trying to do here, but you’re actually making it worse,” heads up. I think that OP ended up leaving for a new job, but I can’t remember – if I think of the title or link I’ll come back with it!

      2. Turingtested*

        Full disclosure, I am a Trump hater in an office of Trump lovers and I find those comments distasteful at work.

        I’d try being more direct. “You know Trump is divisive stop bringing up.”

        “I don’t care who it is, mocking someone’s appearance is in bad taste.”

        “We get it, Trump’s in trouble and you love it. please drop the subject.”

    6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I tend to be extremely assertive in situations like this, and have been known to ask groups to take their conversations outside or into the break room, even when it’s just 2 guys arguing over the finer points of NFL playoff rules. They are being disruptive and annoying in a shared area where presumably people are trying to focus, and it’s OK to make that known and ask them to stop. ESPECIALLY since it’s happening repeatedly.

  52. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Librarians (or other folks without extensive financial resources to purchase new software), how does your institution organize data? Do you have some kind of data dashboard? Excel files? Shared folders? Free version of something like Tableau?

    I’m very interested in data analysis and visualization, and I’m trying to shore up for what I think is going to be a rough financial year full of cuts. We have so much great data floating around, but I want to make it more accessible so we can analyze different pieces of that data. But I don’t know where to start!

    1. Albatross*

      Excel files, and a really complex Windows folder tree on the shared network. I don’t know if I’d recommend the folder tree, just because it’s hard to visualize, but the Excel files work decently well, and if you’re really cash-strapped the OpenOffice alternative works fine.

    2. Another Librarian*

      No software suggestion, but may I recommend this book?
      Managing Data for Patron Privacy: Comprehensive Strategies for Libraries. Kristin Briney and Becky Yoose. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions, 2022.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I used Excel & Access a lot (university had site licenses). Also, our Library Management System had a program to create reports and dashboards. I dove deep into that and created dashboards for circulation, electronic resource usage, and acquisition data. For example, you could see what the use of a resource was for its subject area and find outliers so you weren’t comparing apples to oranges, so humanities journal usage wasn’t held to science journal standards (we had many more science undergraduate and graduate students).

      1. MeridethLibrarian*

        We’re looking at Power BI. Also, people keep mentioning Smartsheets? That looks like project management to me, but YMMV.

        Right now, we’re using Excel and SharePoint. I didn’t recommend SharePoint.

        Also, see what tools your ILS or vendor offers for free. We have Innovative and they offer Simply Reports licenses for free. If you’re a public library, and need benchmarking data,the IMLS Data catalog has comparison tools

  53. Anon for This Comment*

    Can I get a sniff check, please? This is my first time working for a publicly traded company in 20+ years, and my finances are such that I’ve never really dealt with stocks outside of my 401k.
    For the first time in years, the company gave quarterly bonuses to everyone. However, they gave everyone shares of stock rather than cash.
    I noticed that as soon as they announced the bonus (at $X/share) the stock price dropped and kept falling as people were able to log into the account and put in sell orders. I had no interest in holding them, so I sold them, for which the broker took a handling fee plus a per share charge.
    For me, watching them play games with the stock and stock price seems disingenuous at best, and now I’m out extra money to turn their magic beans into stuff I can use to buy actual beans. Am I missing something?

    1. Anon for This Comment*

      For an example, I’ll add that when they announced the bonus, we were told we were receiving 20 shares at $50/share, so $1000. But by the time I sold it, it was $42, so $840. Minus fees brought it closer to $800. Yes, eight hundred dollars is nice, but losing that two hundred dollar difference leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      Uh… a large number of people all trying to sell a stock at the same time does not usually make the price go UP, let’s say.

      Obviously it’s not clear that the number of shares in play here was really large enough to cause a noticeable dip, but stock prices are by definition volatile, and we’ve had a couple pretty bad days in the world markets these last few weeks, so I would be extremely hesitant to say anyone is “playing games” here.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      No, this always feels like a scam to me. A friend has worked at numerous start-ups that do this and they always hedge on how staff will be able to cash out enormously when the start-up eventually gets bought and, spoiler, it never happens.

        1. Annony*

          If the company is stable and the only thing driving the price down is a ton of employees selling their “bonus” then it would be reasonable to expect the price to go back up. This obviously is not a good assumption if the company is not stable or there are other events driving down the price.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            This also depends on the number of shares that exist vs the number that are given as bonuses. I worked for a public company that had enough shares that the semi-annual bonus sell-off couldn’t have budged the price unless a senior executive decided to dump their ownership stake.

        2. Lady Danbury*

          I would look at the stock history before making that decision. Does the drop in price look like a temporary market correction due to a large number of people selling at once or is it part of an ongoing downward trend? If it is a downward trend, how confident are you that things can be turned around, based on the management, deal pipeline, etc? If it looks like a temporary dip, I’d definitely wait it out. If it’s a downward trend, it’s definitely a trickier decision because waiting could result in more money or as little as no money.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      I’ve dealt with this too, and in my opinion receiving company stock instead of cash bonus is an absolute pain in the ass. I have no interest in investing in the company that I also depend on for my paycheck, so I too sold as soon as I could (and also paid a ridiculous broker fee). I still had to pay to file my taxes that year because of all the extra forms to figure out if I’d had any capital gain.

      I assume companies get a tax break when they give their employees stock, but from the recipient’s side it’s just irritating. Not to mention all the time coworkers spend checking the stock price every 15 minutes between when the stocks are granted and when we’re allowed to sell, even though the was absolutely nothing we could do about it. Fortunately I wasn’t depending on that bonus, but I can’t imagine how it must have felt watching a single pretty volatile stock for people who really needed the money for daycare payments or similar.

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      Do you have a financial advisor or even an accountant that you can talk to? Even the broker could have probably given you some basic advice here.

      If this is a publicly traded company it seems unlikely that some employees selling their bonus shares would trigger a downturn, unless it’s board members or C-levels selling massive amounts.

      Anyway, I’d recommend just getting some general financial advice, especially around stocks/RSUs and such if this is going to be a quarterly event.

    6. I Have RBF*

      My stock philosophy is “grab and hold”. I try to hold stuff for at least two years so I don’t get hit with short term gains tax.

      When dealing with RSUs (restricted stock units, IIRC), I consider them to be like lotto tickets bought with found money. They have zero value until they are sold. So I don’t sell off when everyone else is selling.

      When I do sell, it’s because I figure the company is starting to circle the drain, or I have a specific need for the cash. Most companies have “trading windows” for when employees can sell off their company stock, so I often hold on to the stock until well after I’ve left.

      This is just my person philosophy. For professional financial advice, please consult with a fiduciary financial advisor.

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think it’s “disingenuous” to describe stock as ‘magic beans’ (assuming it’s a legitimate public company, rather than a startup) and the company as “playing games” with the stock and stock prices. It’s a market – supply and demand. I doubt the bonus announcement in itself would make the price move by more than a couple percent, any more does seem quite a large swing and I think there must be additional reasons for it. Personally I would hold the shares rather than jumping to sell if I had confidence in the company for the medium term. Are you sure it isn’t just the normal swings of the stock market – there may well be many other points in time where you’d look at the price, and then shortly after it is dropping!

  54. MissBliss*

    This could probably just as easily go into the weekend thread, but…

    I’m looking for a (free or cheap) scheduling tool for a very specific purpose. I am part of a D&D group and I’m in charge of scheduling. Some of my campaign members are not great at filling out the scheduling poll (we use Xoyondo currently) which means that by the time the last person finally does, other peoples’ schedules have changed.

    Does anyone have a tool that would work that would remind invitees to fill out their availability, and ideally, send people a calendar invite as soon as a date is finalized? Or even hold the prospective dates on their calendars until the final date is selected? Like Outlook’s scheduling poll, but for people who communicate via text message. TIA!

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Good luck, fellow nerd. I’ve seen several apps but none with the reminder nudge that will break through executive dysfunction.

    2. Nesprin*

      Calendly is pretty great if you all use google calendar religiously- everyone’s availability blocks are updated real time.

      The other option is to set your raids for the same date and time and never move it. Say first Thursday of the month at 6PM EST forever and send reoccurring invites to block calendars for the foreseeable future.

  55. Sandworm*

    Highly embarrassing– Early last week, I had a really difficult doctor’s appointment before work (specifically in terms of a new doctor minimizing symptoms I was having and I, subsequently, having problems communicating with him at all) and by the time I got in I was having an EXTREMELY visibly hard time collecting myself. Like, able to participate in work focused conversations, but still occasionally getting teary-eyed or sniffling. (Which I was trying VERY hard to not let happen, to be clear!) Everyone who shares an office with me was very understanding and graciously turned a blind eye past the initial “are you okay”s, and they have context that I’m trying to get some long-term symptoms diagnosed.

    The latter is NOT true of our executive director, with whom I have a friendly and open but not very close relationship, and who popped his head in and made eye contact with me while I was blotting some tears. I’ve seen him a couple times since then, and he hasn’t mentioned it but he’s seemed a bit concerned. And every time I see him now, I just get embarrassed all over again!

    I had another appointment yesterday which went way, way better and have a maybe-sorta-visible heart monitor on for the next couple weeks. So, the question becomes– Does this need to be a discussion? Like, if I see him again while I still have the monitor on and he notices, should I say like “hey, I know you saw me crying the other day and I have this now, I promise I’m probably not dying! Thanks for being cool about it!”

    1. Pita Chips*

      I wouldn’t bring it up at all. He hasn’t mentioned it and you behaving at your usual normal will smooth out his concern. If it leads to where you might need to take FMLA, then you can approach him proactively.

    2. Dittany*

      I wouldn’t bring it up unless he asks. Unless you regularly have emotional outbursts at work, one bad day isn’t a huge deal.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I wouldn’t bring it up unless he does. Doing that might make a bigger deal of it than necessary, especially since he seems to be respecting your privacy about all this.

    4. MissCoco*

      I would not bring it up.
      I think it reflects well on the executive director that he isn’t bringing it up and is letting you take the lead on if it’s an issue he needs to know about. I also think it’s quite possible that he won’t really connect “found employee expressing emotion for unknown reason” with you wearing a heart monitor, if he even notices the heart monitor. In your situation they are connected, but it would be just as likely that they weren’t.

  56. River*

    I have a driving question. Someone in another department at my company drives extremely fast in our parking garage. At least twice now, they’ve almost hit me because they’re driving way too fast. While some might say this is more of an issue that I have, I genuinely feel like this person is speeding at an unnecessarily speed. This morning, we were both approaching our parking garage and I saw her zooming super fast into the garage. No we don’t live in a major city so it’s not like our garage is crowded with cars or people but still. Cmon now.

    Should I approach her manager about this or should I go to HR or should I even bring it up at all? I don’t feel comfortable approaching her one on one because knowing her, it will make her anxiety go up and also it’s not my place to tell someone in another department what to do. I do feel like it should be addressed because this is a safety issue.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I would not personally care about whether or not I spiked the anxiety of someone who had nearly run me over twice. What about *your* anxiety about nearly being flattened at work multiple times?

      I do think if you want to frame it as a safety issue, you could raise it with your security team or health & safety or I guess HR if you don’t have those other options. Are there posted speed limits? (Not that I think they will matter to this person.) Are there cameras in the garage? Are there ways of adding stuff to the garage that impede speed so that people who don’t care about hitting people might change behaviour because they care about hitting their cars on stuff?

        1. WellRed*

          For the record, pointing out to someone that they’ve almost hit you twice is not “telling someone in another department what to do” because it’s not a work issue.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      This is a work safety issue. A coworker is behaving dangerously on company property and threatening her coworkers’ lives. You absolutely have standing to do any of the following as a first step:

      –Bring it up with the coworker. (She *should* feel anxious about nearly running people over if that will make her change her behavior.)
      –Bring it up with security/safety/administration/whoever seems to be in charge of parking garage stuff
      –Bring it up with HR
      –Bring it up with your manager
      –Bring it up with her manager

      It is not your job to manage her emotions. It is, however, in your best interests to get this dealt with before one of those near-misses… doesn’t

      1. A Significant Tree*

        Depending on the company, you may have a safety reporting hotline for exactly this sort of thing. Many companies have safety management systems – I know from a previous company, our program specifically listed things that could be reported like driving while texting on company property, jaywalking resulting in a near-miss, and other things that weren’t work activity specific.

    3. Part time lab tech*

      Safety issue so fill in a near miss each time. Under Australia’s safety laws we are explicitly told that safety is “everyone’s responsibility”.
      Besides, I guarantee both you and her would feel worse if she actually hit someone.

  57. Annie j*

    A major UK retailer, John Lewis, has put that interview questions up online, which I think is a really positive step.
    Allowing people to think about their answers and give thoughtful responses over prioritising people who can think on their feet, unless that is a critical component of the role.

    1. Kathenus*

      I started sending candidates the interview questions in advance about two years ago and have been pleased with the results. Since for me the goal is really knowing what they think about a certain thing or what specific experience they have in a specific area is, letting them take the time to be prepared for a better answer is a win. Not true in all circumstances, there can be times when thinking on your feet is a critical skill and answering questions on the fly can help with that, but for me it has helped hone in on skills/experience/perspective versus who is just more comfortable in an interview setting.

      1. PMaster*

        I think it would be interesting to provide some questions beforehand, like about education and experience, greatest professional achievements, and a time you solved a problem with a coworker, boss or work thing. When they are warmed up with their prepared answers, then you can get into more spontaneous questions like going over specific aspects of the job, do you prefer working individually or in a group, how do you organize and prioritize your work, and my favorite, tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t learn from your resume. If done well, it would let you see both how people prepare for something (we outright ask “what did you do to prepare for this interview?”) and how they think on their feet.

        (I’m a Gemini, so if you give me two options, I’ll take both.)

  58. DivergentStitches*

    I’m the one who wondered about the internal job posting that specified they wanted an “energetic go-getter.” I had my interview this past Monday and I did ask about it. She said she basically is looking for someone who doesn’t wait for work to be handed over, but goes and finds work to do, which fits me, so I’m good with that. Unfortunately she caught me off guard with a question and I wound up disclosing my autism so I’m probably a “no” for her now. But oh well! Lesson learned, it’s all good practice.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I hold out some hope that she decides not to break the law, but it is probably best to assume it’s a “no” unless you hear otherwise. I’m sure everyone would be excited to hear your update when you do get a job!

    2. Rebecca*

      I blabbed out my autism in an interview when I hadn’t intended to, and I got an offer anyway! I’m pretty sure they have all forgotten I told them, too.

      To the point about breaking the law, my position is, eh, let them break it, if not hiring an autistic person actually is breaking the law, which it actually might not be if any of their autistic traits interfere with a core job function. I’ve held enough jobs at this point to know that if they can’t handle an autistic person, then I won’t do well there anyway.

    3. wow*

      It helps me to know that I am not the only one that gets thrown by interview questions and regrets how I answered them after the fact. I have the same kind of thinking as the other commenter that if they are going to hold it against you in hiring, you might have dodged a bullet.

  59. MWKing*

    Several younger team members are using ChatGPT to write essentially every email they send. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the emails, they just sound *weird*. For instance, in agreeing with a deliverable sent around for review, “I must say it is a thorough and comprehensive piece of work.”

    The workers using it are in their early-to-mid 20s. Is anyone else seeing this?

    1. Workerbee*

      I’ve got a 32 year old colleague and a 50-something colleague (it’s a small team) who both delight in using ChatGPT in place of their own uniqueness.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      My direct report suspected that one of their directs was using ChatGPT in their replies to questions, which was really odd. It didn’t sound like her at all, had a lot of unnecessary filler, etc.

      I’m finding that a lot of people are using it when applying to our jobs.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        My sister told me she has been using it to generate text for her volunteer job sending political emails. Honestly, coming up with 50 ways to say approximately the same thing (“I’m running for office, my opponent is the anti-Christ, send money plz”) while not really saying anything at all does seem right up ChatGPT’s alley.

        Plus it’s politics, so that minor issue where it lies all the time isn’t a big deal.

    3. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      Yes, but it’s my mid-50s boss doing it. So I don’t think it’s age related!

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      We have a couple of a Chat GPT culprits in my company. My concern isn’t really about the formulation of the writing in its own right, but more about what they had entered into the application in order to get a response generated for them. are they feeding company proprietary info in there?

  60. Eli*

    Does anyone have advice on how to handle someone who constantly interrupts/talks over you? Maybe it’s just me . . . but I work with the public and in the last year or so, have talked to more and more people who will ask a question (because they need an answer/help) and then as soon as I start to speak, talk over me. It’s hard to get more info so I can help them/answer their question if they won’t let me talk. So, I usually just stop and let them talk (because if they’re telling me more info that I need, that’s what I want). I do this each time they interrupt/talk over but it often seems like me stopping and letting them talk confuses them. I’m not sure what to do in these situations — just talk over them or keep doing what I’m doing, which is stopping each time, letting them talk and trying again to help/answer a question. I want to be respectful, but it’s frustrating. Perhaps this is a cultural/regional communication style difference? I am in the US, from the US, just not from the state that I currently have been working in for a few years. Any ideas/thoughts/advice are appreciated. Thanks!

    1. HonorBox*

      After reading your first sentence, I was going to suggest doing exactly what you’re doing. I’d continue. If there’s confusion, either expressed verbally or through facial expression, you could tell them that you stopped talking to let them continue. Let them sink into the uncomfortable and hopefully if it happens a couple of times, they’ll start to figure out that they should do the same. Keep doing it. If it continues to happen, I’d suggest addressing it very directly. “You’ve asked for an answer, but when I start to answer your question, you don’t actually let me fully answer. I’m happy to do that, but need to be allowed to do so.”

    2. Banana Pyjamas*

      I wonder if you may be like me and try to infodump everything at once? I try to explain in one go, but people respond better to a conversational style. Try answering just the question they ask with no other context. The next question will almost certainly be something you could have headed off if they just shut up and listen to your spiel, but that’s not going to happen.

      Try building in purposeful pauses, say one thing, pause, and if they DON’T say something ask if what you said makes sense. I found that defaulting to make sense or got it after each 1-2 sentences made it feel less overwhelming for both parties. Building in pauses is difficult at first when you just want to get the information out there, but it truly does make the interactions less frustrating over time.

      1. Antigone Funn*

        Oh yes, please. It is really hard to follow somebody just infodumping everything they know about a topic without giving me time to digest and incorporate it into my own understanding. I’m not even a person whose mind tends to wander, but I cannot stay focused on somebody else’s stream of consciousness for more than a minute or so at a time.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I have found that when folks have come in to ask for help for something, there’s usually a stack of pent up pain & angst that they haven’t quite been able to get out completely. My strategy tends to be to let them get their first five minutes out without much interruption if they’re on a roll. I take some notes, get organized about how I’m going to answer, and then once they’re “spent” I try to recap the key action items to address. Then the goal is to knock out each action item in turn.
      If they keep jumping in and overexplaining or defending or whatever, that’s when I kick in a “OK, I hear you, and other folks have had similar issues, so let me go through the steps to fix it.” (They got a chance at the beginning to be the star of their victim party, but later it works better to normalize the drama so that they can imagine themselves following a path that other people have successfully traveled.)

      It’s a trick I learned from some talk show host who was talking about how the guests always have an agenda when they come on the show, so the host just lets them get through it right away because otherwise the guest keeps trying to come back to it.

  61. MigraineMonth*

    How do you put down boundaries with boundary-crossing roommates around job stuff? Now that I work full-time from my apartment, my roommate has shown a lot of curiosity about my work. While I’m normally excited to talk about what I do, I also have to actually get work done. He has even taken to trying to help sometimes, which is just not helpful at all; his lack of skills aside, it’s my job, not his!

    Reasoning with him is useless (it’s like he doesn’t even understand there’s a problem) and continually moving him away from my desk is distracting. It isn’t a big problem when he’s sitting on my lap, but he loves to lie down on my desk and poke at the keyboard with one paw. My best solution thus far has been a box on top of the desk, so that when he’s inside it he can’t also reach the keyboard. Does anyone have any other tips for dealing with boundary-pushing cats when “shut them in another room” isn’t really an option?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Explain to him that you are bound by NDAs, client confidentiality clauses, and HIPAA. And then give him catnip before your most important meetings.

      I got a heated floor mat for my home office, and my late cat used to love to curl up there.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Unfortunately, my distinguished older gentleman is immune to catnip and honeysuckle. He did love his heated mat in the winter, but I think the appeal wears off in the summer, so he’s back to keyboard-flopping.

        The real problem is that he’s a fan of pair programming, but he’s really bad at it. I’ve tried to give him constructive feedback like “You can’t just stand on one key for a minute and expect the code to compile afterwards” and “Please wait for your turn, if we both type on the keyboard at the same time it just comes out as gibberish,” but he never listens. I love his self-confidence, but his programming skills just aren’t a match!

        1. anotherfan*

          They actually make a plastic cover you can put on the keyboard where your wanna-be coworker can hang out but you can put your hands under and type without any help. It might be a help in this situation.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Given the WTFery we see on the regular on this site, I was fully prepared for it to be a human even after the “on my lap” clue.

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      My furry roommates are way more likely to go take a nap and let me focus for a couple of hours if I give them treats.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I set up a couple of cat beds in my office for my cat to sleep on. She still jumps on my desk a few times a day, but she responds surprisingly well when I relocate her to one of her beds

    4. Goddess47*

      I’ve seen ‘decoy’ keyboards… so if your cat has their own keyboard, they may let you work on yours!

      Good luck!

    5. Can't think of a funny name*

      I have my personal computer next to my work computer and when my roommate is being extra “helpful” I turn on a video on the personal computer for her to watch. Sometimes it’s birds or fish…sometimes it’s a painting tutorial…although…she tries to help the instructor too and winds up pausing the video when she hits the screen sometimes lol.

  62. Keyner*

    Thanks to everybody who helped me out last week by reminding me that I can’t keep a combative person in a job forever because I feel bad for them. I did finally try to talk to my direct report about the instances of insubordination, which resulted in a yelling/crying phone call about how she thought I was her friend. I could tell by the end of that call that things were going VERY POORLY, so I sent an email summing up the disaster call in order to create documentation. She insisted the email was a pack of lies she could totally disprove and met with HR to “show receipts” that HR seems unconvinced by. She has also threatened to send those receipts in an email, which she somehow never got around to writing. At one point she showed up to a 1:1 and announced she’d be filming me every time we met from now on because I’m such a liar. Sigh.

    Lots of yell-crying meetings later, and today, she has finally absorbed that she will absolutely be fired in two weeks if her attitude does not improve. This means she is finally complying with the training and not being mean to me when I try to help her pick up on the basic concepts of our field, all of which she claimed to already know when she took the job.

    Uh, it turns out she knows none of this stuff at all and may not be able to learn. None of the lessons I have given her so far have sunk in, and although she’s spent half of today on more training, she’s still scoring a C- when I try to test her on a concept we’ve been going over for the past several weeks.

    I now understand that the hostility came from deep insecurity, which came from setting herself up as a subject matter expert in a field in which she’s actually unusually low skilled and struggling to learn, which is also super sad but feels less frought. Given how today is going, I’m pretty sure this won’t work out, but at least there’s no more yelling and we don’t have to end on the worst possible terms.

    Any advice on how to update her on the fact that this is not working? I’m supposed to give her daily feedback, but it’s very hard to figure out how to phrase feedback that amounts to “You’re actually horrible at the job that you made your identity.”

    1. PotatoRock*

      I’d just be at objective as possible: “you’re scoring a C-, the person in this role needs to be a B”. Definitely don’t use the “you’re horrible at…” phrasing:)

      1. MigraineMonth*

        This. Just lay out the requirement and how she’s doing in comparison to the requirement, every time. Maybe imagine you’re giving feedback to a pleasant stranger interviewing for the job who just doesn’t meet the requirements.

        Gray rock, gray rock, and document.

    2. WellRed*

      Im sorry your company felt it was OK to make you work with her for two more weeks. Can you not just let her go now?

      1. Keyner*

        Unfortunately, no. She’s been threatening lawsuits and my HR is too inexperienced to understand she’s unlikely to get a lawyer with her non-case and no money. So we’re building documentation of her incompetence and/or hostility for the next two weeks. I don’t love this plan either, but here we are.

        1. MsM*

          I feel like you’ve got enough, but if HR insists, I’d either direct her to them or have them in the room as much as possible. She’s the one who’s insisting she considers you impossible to trust or work with; she doesn’t really get to complain about an impersonal, by the book “this isn’t up to our standards and we’re not seeing any improvement.”

        2. WellRed*

          In that case, cross off the days until the end and plan a little something for yourself to celebrate.

    3. Rara Avis*

      “you have not yet mastered …”
      “you still need further practice on x to get to the level required for this job”
      “you have not made the progress we need to see …”

      1. A Significant Tree*

        “you have not demonstrated the skills needed to remain in this job”
        “you have not implemented the training you received on XYZ dates”
        “you have not incorporated feedback into your performance”

        Hopefully this will all be over in two weeks, this person sounds like a nightmare to try to manage.

    4. Generic Name*

      This sounds a lot like an old coworker of mine, except she quit with no notice(via LinkedIn). The really wacky part was her boss really wanted to keep her, because she knew “so many people” in a market the company wanted to break into. I have no other advice other than to keep doing what you’re doing. I actually left that job because of how management handled one of her screw ups that I had to fix.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I don’t get people who wholeheartedly lie to get a job they can’t do! I mean, I understand financial desperation and so on, but why on earth would a person try to get a job that they cannot handle in any way? Can’t even fake their way through? I get stress hives just thinking about it!

      1. Annie*

        I imagine for some it’s ego, for others it’s family or other social pressure to have the “right” sort of job, some want the prestige of the job even if the job makes them miserable, and there can be implicit pressure to use your education in some way even if you soured on your field(s) of study.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Someone who thinks like this probably assumes they will be able to (or are likely to) fake their way through. In some cases this is because they assume everyone does it, so their manager etc is also a faker so will have the wool pulled over their eyes…

  63. Is it me or is it you?*

    I’ve seen a lot of comments here about how managers and employees might interpret the same situation very differently – e.g. around whether a PIP is justified and the quality of an employee’s performance. I was put on a PIP, and I think it’s unfair. Just as a sample, I was written up for not writing a report, after I had been told explicitly that all written reports would now be handled by our new hire (I should have “known” this didn’t apply to this special kind of report); for not writing up talking points for a meeting a week in advance for others to review, for a type of external meeting we had done 100 times and had never used prewritten talking points before; for not completing all of the tasks in an out-of-date checklist that no one had opened or referred to in six months; etc.

    But how can I be certain about that? The environment here feels toxic – I am routinely told I’m incompetent, constantly ambushed and blamed for things that go wrong, don’t have any autonomy or decision-making authority, my manager hoards information and micromanages everything ranging from meeting logistics to email wording, and so on. I’m so beaten down I don’t feel like I can trust my judgment anymore – like whether the problem is me or them. Unfortunately, until recently I was the only employee in this department, and the first employee my manager ever managed, so I don’t have a good way to calibrate either.

    1. Sherm*

      Ugh, sorry :( You really need to try to get out of there ASAP. Even if you were incompetent (and I doubt that), you don’t deserve to be lambasted and beaten down to the point that you don’t trust what you’re seeing. How could anyone be expected to thrive in such an environment? I had a job where the boss disliked me, and I felt like the “class dunce”, and he eventually fired me. At my next job, my boss loved me, and I knocked it out of the park. Things can really turn around — but it needs to be in a new environment.

    2. WellRed*

      They want you out and the pip is their backhand way of doing it. This will not resolve, I’m sorry.