open thread – April 5-6, 2024

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,150 comments… read them below }

  1. Albatross*

    One of the departments adjacent to mine (basically, they collect clients’ payments and basic info, then pass it on to us for a specialized review, then it goes back to them to be sent to the client) is redoing a lot of their workflow, which is requiring us to adjust ours to go with it. We’re getting a lot of emails from Frank, the head of that department, telling us about changes and what we need to do about them. The problem is, Frank doesn’t write very clear emails and there’s often multiple possible interpretations of his emails, and when I try to get clarification, he’ll tell me “just talk to your boss”. I do, but my boss is no better at understanding Frank than I am, so we’re both wrong often, and this is messing up my department’s workflow too. Stuff is getting delayed at multiple steps in the process and we’re struggling to make deadlines.

    Is there anything I can do about this, or do I just keep going with “this is my best interpretation of Frank’s latest email, we’ll do it this way until he corrects us”? My boss seems just as sick of this as I am – it’s making us look bad – but I don’t think he has a better solution either.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      How about your boss suggests a sit-down meeting with you, your boss and Frank with a few of the more egregiously/ambigu0usly worded examples ask him to clarify. At the very least, you can try to get on the same page as Frank regarding what he intends (if not what he says). If your boss doesn’t have the juice to get a meeting, maybe his boss does?

      1. MaryLoo*

        Have a meeting with your boss, Frank, yourself, and a big whiteboard. Make a giant flowchart. You could even write out the flowchart before the meeting if you can figure out Frank’s writings enough to do so.

        Descriptions in emails aren’t “visual” enough to see where the changes are and who they affect. You need the big picture of the entire thing.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          This is a great idea. I’ve arranged for a similar meeting for process mapping with another division we work closely with to clarify roles, responsibilities and work flow. I’m fortunate to work in a large agency that has people whose job includes process improvement (certified in lean, among other things) so we have a neutral facilitator who can ask clarifying questions. Even without an expert on staff you can find examples online and start a draft if you think they’ll do better responding to something they can complete/correct vs staring at a blank whiteboard, which can be intimidating.

          We’re going to start with agreement on outcomes at the beginning in our meeting. Are their changes expected to address cost? Efficiency? Time to completion? New technology? New legal requirements? Pinning that down and then using it as a touchpoint (“Does this support the intended purpose?”) might help clarify what’s most important to address.

    2. Not A Manager*

      After you and your boss figure out what you think Frank means, can one of you email him something like, “per your email of ___, going forward we will ___ and ___. If this is incorrect, please let me know.”

      You could even flag the ambiguities that you are trying to resolve, if you want to. “This email refers to maximum llama weights of 500 pounds and also 500 kilograms. To be safe, we will cap all llama transport at 500 pounds unless you tell us otherwise.”

      1. Observer*

        Do this rather than asking “what do you mean by this”.

        Also, CC his boss when you do that. And if it keeps us, have a meeting with you, your boss and *Frank’s* boss.

      2. JSPA*

        Most effective will be if you draft or ghost?Write the email for your boss, and it goes to frank from your boss.

      3. Venus*

        Sounds like this is happening a lot, so I agree with email rather than meetings. I think it needs to be sent from your boss to Frank. Hopefully he will clean up his language after a few of these.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      It sounds like Frank wants communication from your department to come through your boss, not you. Could you have your boss formally email Frank to let him know that you’ll be taking point on these communications and he should work directly with you to clarify information?

      1. Debtfordays*

        Hmmmm I read this as Frank thinking he’s clear and OP just doesn’t “get it”.

    4. Generic Name*

      You could suggest to your boss that he needs to set up a meeting with Frank to get on the same page for everything, but really, this is your boss’s problem and isn’t yours to solve.

      1. Reebee*

        Generic Name, I am a fan of your posts, and this ^^^ is just another example of why. YES. Boss should be driving this, not shrugging it off and “Oh, well”-ing it. Good call.

        1. Generic Name*

          Aw, thanks for saying that! Now if I could just follow my own advice. Ha ha!! :)

      2. Annie*

        yes, exactly! If Frank says go to boss, boss needs to get with Frank and make sure he understands the direction. This should be communicated and agreed upon those two since Frank’s changes affects Boss’s groups workflow.

    5. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Yes – this is a face to face situation, not asynchronous. You will clear things up faster in the moment than with a back and forth. Also wondering if your boss should not be involved in the discussions as your team’s workflow will change??

    6. Zona the Great*

      I would have boss schedule a meeting with you, boss, other boss and have the emails ready. Highlight every single instance of ambiguity or confusion and ask him to clarify. Make a point of stopping to take very detailed notes. Let him memorize your shape as you do this by being very pointed about it. Ask him with eye contact, “Does this mean this or this?” then stop and write notes on the email. Keep going until you are done. Then your boss needs to tell him to develop standard work processes and that if the process is not followed by his staff, your staff will immediately send it back for correction. There will be no nicely checking in to see if their staff meant X or Y–you send it back and say Fix This Please.

    7. Also-ADHD*

      Can you send an email back explaining what you’re going to do based on your understanding (CC your boss) and ask for confirmation? I would talk with your boss and present this to Fred as a united front, saying it’s a new department process based on examining prior workflow issues.

    8. Plume*

      I’d recommend designating someone from your department to go to these meetings directly so they can bring the needed changes back to your group.

    9. OMG, Bees!*

      I agree with Peon that this sounds like an email that needs to be a meeting.

      1 alternative though it to respond to Frank’s email acknowledging it and saying something like “This is how I interpret the email and these are the steps I will take. Let me know if anything needs to be changed.” That way he has a chance to say “No, I meant XYB” before you get too far along. (And this helps with a bit of CYA outlining your steps and asking for corrections, if need be, instead of a nebulous answer. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not. I had a boss like this and the only way to get it 100% was to talk on the phone then follow up with email)

    10. Scandinavian Vacationer*

      Is IT involved in these changes? Does the IT dept have a Business Analyst/Project Manager? If so, this person should drive the meetings with both bosses. This will make it super clear what needed to be populated in each field. Blame it on the software.

    11. JPalmer*

      1. Keep track of every time this happens. It is way easier to show a pattern of not being good at your job when you say ’13 times in the past month I have had to spend at least a fifteen minutes of additional effort’

      2. It seems like your boss is on the same page. Get his opinion on how to solve this problem long term.

      3. Focus the conversation on “Addressing the communication gaps” not saying Frank is shit at his job. Align yourself with the business so the business wants to solve these limiting problems (which might be putting Frank through more training, PIP, checklist of requirements for emails, form for emails)

      4. Figuring out the common trends of omitted information. This might help in giving you more of the information you need. If he always leaves out the end dates, or finances of things, that could be it isn’t a thing he realizes you need. I doubt this is the case.

      5. Raising this topic as a ‘SWOT Threat’ to deliverables will get upper management interested in addressing it. Like describing it as a source of slippage and what’s costing deliverables will get a larger amount of movement to fix it.

    12. Saturday*

      Can you copy your boss on the emails or even have your boss send them so that it’s clear you’re both asking, and he can just do the “talk to your boss” brush off?

    13. Office Chinchilla*

      A lot of people have already suggested a meeting, but I just want to add that I’m basically on Frank’s team (except at my company, it’s your team that are making a bunch of changes) and one of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t set up a regular meeting with your team at the beginning of the pandemic to discuss the changes that were happening and have continued happening. A meeting once a week or once every other week would have cleared up a lot, and we didn’t even have any unclear emails! There was just so much going on that it was hard for any of us to stay ahead of it (and also people like me better when they talk to me and get a feel for my tone). So I would suggest not just a meeting, but a recurring meeting. Hopefully that will help take some of the pressure off. Good luck!

  2. Fives*

    I’m going to be out on intermittent FMLA soon to help a relative with a medical issue. I’ll definitely be out a couple of days and then probably off and on for several more.

    I wanted my out-of-office message to not say why I’m out specifically but that I’ll be in and out for about a week or so. I was going to say something like “I will be out of the office beginning [date] dealing with a family matter. I may be available sporadically. If you need help immediately, please contact [person].” Does anyone have any suggestions?

    1. urguncle*

      “with limited access to email” is perfectly acceptable. Maybe you’re on a desert island, maybe you’ve just uninstalled the app from your phone.

      1. Venus*

        For me that would mean rarely checking email, rather than randomly. I’d go with “I will be out of the email beginning [date], checking email sporadically until my return. If you need… ”
        The language below using intermittent is also good.

      2. Momma Bear*

        In Outlook you can set a message inside and outside your org. You can include more detail inside if that works better for your workflow. I will sometimes include a cell number that I don’t in the public version.

        I’d keep it to what’s pertinent – you’ll be out and you’ll respond to email intermittently (or not at all) and talk to x person in your absence. I wouldn’t even specify why, personally.

    2. WellRed*

      You don’t even need to say family matter if you don’t want to. I just say out of the office and may be checking emails sporadic attacks. For immediate assistance please contact…

    3. Zephy*

      “Thank you for reaching out. At this time, I’m out of the office with limited access to email. I will respond to you as soon as I am able. For urgent matters, please contact [somebody else].”

      Turn it on/off as needed.

      1. Rick Tq*

        Yes. I use this basic message for my OOA regardless of the reason. People need to know any answers will be delayed and they have to find a workaround if something is urgent.

        The point-blank version is “I am out, I’m not monitoring my email. Deal with it.”

    4. londonedit*

      I probably wouldn’t bother going as far as saying it’s a family matter – I’d just say ‘I will be out of the office until [date] and will only have intermittent access to email. If you have an urgent query, please contact [person]’.

    5. JustMyImagination*

      I’d just say “I’ll be out of the office but checking in periodically. If there’s anything urgent, please contact X.”

    6. KK*

      “I am out of the office today and have limited access to voice mail and email so please expect a short delay in my reply”

      1. Rick Tq*

        This is what I use, with one added sentence: “If this is an urgent matter please contact your Account Manager.”

    7. JSPA*

      “I will be out of office and checking email only sporadically for a week to ten days. Please contact [person] in my stead.”

    8. ooo (mostly) autoreply*

      I just wrote a similar ooo for similar reasons and mine includes the line, “My responses may be delayed or arrive outside normal working hours.” Otherwise it’s very similar to what the other commenters suggest.

      They don’t need to know why you’re gone, just that you’re gone, will check in periodically, and who to contact if it’s on fire.

    9. Fives*

      Thanks everyone! I got slammed at work and couldn’t respond to everyone’s suggestions. This is just my first time out on FMLA to help someone else.

      I appreciate the help!

  3. Justin*

    I have mentioned before how well things are going at work, and will be embarking on a big project that will last the spring and summer, great.

    But I reached out to a friend from my last job just to catch up and I found out that, despite how miserable many of them seemed, no one has left since I did two years ago. (And I’m not making that up, several of them have the little green “open to work” on their LinkedIn pages.)

    I can’t really do anything about it, just realizing I was really lucky to escape a demoralizing place and I feel for those of them I got along with.

    1. Throwaway Account*

      Same! I don’t understand why several folks from last toxic job stay! About half of my friend group have moved on, but half are still there, and nothing has changed except the people who come and leave after seeing how toxic it is.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I stayed at a job like that because my husband had cancer and a six month gap in health insurance could have been fatal.

    2. My bondsman is a billionaire*

      Same for me. They’re not miserable but they’re not happy with their situation. I need to remember that their reasons for leaving are different than mine and their ability to leave is different, too. Some people hate change so much that they’ll stay beyond time. I was desperate to stay because it would have been the longest I’ve stayed, but I couldn’t use that excuse any longer.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      I would say the job market started to get extra weird/tough for many markets about 12-18 months ago, so it could simply be they missed an easier window and now they lack the job search skills or have other factors that make it hard for them to navigate this market.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, I moved jobs in late 2022 and I’m really happy I did because a lot of tech layoffs started happening soon after (I moved to a very stable niche of tech that’s not as impacted by broader tech and market trends).

        There was a sweet spot for getting new jobs in tech and that was 2021-2022. You could punch a recruiter in the face and they would offer you a job during that two year period. It’s a lot harder right now so I know a lot of people who have been looking for six months to a year.

    4. You want stories, I got stories*

      A friend of mine and I worked for the same company until I was laid off from that company. Afterwards he would complain to me about how he still hates it there. I found a decent job and we were hiring for his position. So I sent him the link, told him to apply. He wanted to know the salary. Come to find out, he was making double my salary at the current job. We did different things, so that is fine. The job at my company wasn’t paying that high, it was perhaps 10k less. So he leveraged my job to get himself a 10k raise at work.

      Now I don’t tolerate listening to him complain about work, because he is paid quite well to work long hours sometimes.

      1. Anna*

        Maybe I missed something, but I see two interpretations of your comment and neither make sense so I’m confused. Either

        – Your friend leveraged your job, which pays half as much as his job, to get a $10K raise.

        – If by “my job” you meant “the position at my company I encouraged my friend to apply for”, then I read it as your friend leveraging the fact that another company was offering $10K less to do the same job to get his company to pay him $10K more.

        I’m clearly missing something here because in both those scenarios, your friend is using a lower-paid job as “leverage” to get paid more.

        1. linger*

          We are missing some information, but one internally consistent interpretation is:
          (1) Pay for [Friend’s role] at A = 2 x Pay for [OP’s role] at B.
          (2) Pay for [Friend’s role] at A = (Pay for [Friend’s role] at B + $10k).
          But the role at B is for a less stressful position, working fewer hours.
          Hence the effective hourly rate at B for [Friend’s role] is higher.
          Somehow Friend was able to parlay this into a counteroffer of a raise at A to reflect the higher hourly rate available with the offer in hand at B.
          And OP is justifiably salty about Friend’s continued complaints
          —because of (1), and/or
          —because Friend then chose to stay at A.

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      I think there are a number of possible reasons.

      Firstly, job security. I know this is a bit different in places that have at-will employment but even there, if you are a respected, long-term employee (and heck, sometimes especially if the job is toxic and therefore, it’s hard to get people to stay there) and you know the company is financially viable, then the odds of your being fired or the company going bankrupt are reasonably low. On the other hand, whenever you take a new job, you are taking a risk. A lot have probation periods during which it’s a lot easier to fire you and even if they don’t, well, there is always the possibility you won’t do as well in a new employment or that there will be factors which undermine you or that the new company may not be as solvent as you think and may go bankrupt.

      I know a couple of teachers who left permanent jobs for reasons like it being in an inconvenient location or because their partner got a job elsewhere or because they got a job offer from a school they really wanted to work in, but their new job was probationary for the first year and at the end of that year, the school had its teacher numbers reduced or the principal took a dislike to them or whatever and they ended up spending years subbing on and off, which meant no pay during holidays as well as no job security and difficulty with things like getting a mortgage and when I say years, I know of at least one case where it was decades. There may be other factors involved in that and yeah, teaching is a particular case, in Ireland at least, but it does show the risks involved in leaving a job where you have security.

      If somebody really cannot afford to be between jobs, then leaving a job that appears secure for one that may have a lot less security is a risk and while in some cases, the benefits definitely outweigh the risks, it’s still something to be considered.

      Then there are perks. If, for example, somebody’s health insurance gives them good benefits that they might not get elsewhere and that they need, then again, leaving can be risky. Would they get that elsewhere?

      Also pay. Many people are reluctant to (or cannot afford to) take a lower-paid job even if otherwise it would be much better and they may not be able to find something else paying as well that they are qualified for.

      Then there are personality traits. I know some people who are very indecisive and would be reluctant to apply for another job because if they got it, they would have to decide whether to take it or to remain at their current job. There are also people with low self-esteem who do not think they will get anything better and people who see job interviews/applications as if they are exams and if they don’t get offered the first one they apply for, they think they’ve “failed” and that that means they aren’t good enough for whatever they are applying for and therefore, what’s the point in trying for other jobs?

      And of course, we’ve seen some examples here of how toxic bosses can feel much like abusive partners or parents and cause people not to realise they have an “out.” There has been more than one letter along the lines of “my abusive boss says she will allow me to start looking for another job in 3 months. How do I put up with her abuse until then?” or “I’ve been offered my dream job but my boss says he refuses to accept my resignation. What can I do? I really don’t want to miss out on this.”

      We have also seen at least one letter when the LW convinced themself to endure shocking levels of toxicity because they had themself convinced that all jobs are terrible and that all their friends hate their jobs too and “just spend all day every day staring at the four walls.” That was an extreme case, but it’s not that unusual for people to assume their lives are pretty much normal and therefore that their job falls about midway on the good-bad scale, so there is a 50% chance of ending up with something worse.

  4. Cabbagepants*

    Ideas for part time remote work opportunities for engineers? I have a PhD and 7 years of experience in computer hardware engineering but would be fine switching fields as long as I don’t have to get another degree. I need a break from the 9-5 life. I’d prefer to do something engineering-y or data-y for the higher pay.

    1. downtown*

      Apply to one of the big contracting outfits like Accenture if you don’t want to market yourself as a contractor on your own. Apply to be an instructor for any of the reputable bootcamps. Look into the STEM camps provided for under supported minorities.

    2. Intermittent Introvert*

      You may want to look into adjunct teaching. It may not pay what you want. There are online universities that hire remote faculty. I’m familiar with Western Governor’s University. (WGU.edu) They hire “Subject Matter Experts” for remote work all over the United States.

  5. Hot Dish*

    Is there a good way to ask for the specifics on the health insurance plan before accepting a job offer? Do you think asking this will set off red flags about me?

    I keep trying to leave my job, and life keeps telling me not yet. We’ve now had very serious long-term medical stuff come up which makes having a good health insurance plan a dealbreaker for our family.

    At this point, I have to aim for larger employers to make sure coverage is good, but I still want to verify before accepting. Case in point: my husband has a very big employer, and their plan sucks.

    1. Educator*

      I have never had an issue asking for a copy of the summary plan description (not just the marketing handout they usually give!). HR should have this on hand. I ask after I have an offer, but before I accept.

      1. Annony*

        Yep. It is a part of the compensation package. Why wouldn’t you want that information before accepting an offer? Also, pulling an offer because the applicant asked about health insurance could open them up to a lawsuit since it would look like they were trying to screen out anyone who has health issues.

    2. Engineer*

      I didn’t ask about benefits until my current company gave me an offer, and then I asked if I could review their benefits information including insurance before I gave them my answer. HR sent me a pdf version of the insurance package options within the hour.

    3. Future*

      I am not American but just from reading this site it seems to me that this would be a pretty normal bit of information for a potential employee to request and for any reasonable employer (ie an employer you’d want to leave your current job for) to provide prior to your making a commitment. In other words, if it set off red flags for an employer, that’s probably not someone you’d want to work for anyway.

      I hope some US-based folks can confirm this and offer advice. I’d give my own but given I have never worked in the US I don’t want to overstep (at least not more than I already have).

      1. Dragonfly7*

        Yes! Any employer who provides that information up front, somehow connected to their employment posting website, automatically becomes more attractive to me. My current workplace even schedules a 30 minute sit down with HR to go over benefits right before your first interview even occurs.

    4. Zephy*

      “Would you be able to provide some more information about your health insurance plan or plans, like a summary of benefits and what they cost? I need to run some numbers on my side to see what’s going to make the most sense for my family.”

      Even if a new job’s insurance plan is excellent and covers everything you need, you might discover that the premiums with a spouse/dependents are $1500 per month until you’ve been there 6 years, or something crazy like that. It’s not your fault we’ve tied health insurance to employment in this country, it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to ask about.

    5. Antilles*

      It will not set off any red flags whatsoever. It’s a very normal question to ask as part of the offer process, pretty similar to asking about salary. The hiring manager probably doesn’t know details off the top of his head like he would with the salary, but he should be able to send you their Summary of Benefits paperwork from HR in short order.

      In fact, it’s such a normal request that any company who *does* treat it as a red flag for you asking is probably a place you don’t want to work.

      1. Hot Dish*

        Thanks all! I’m slightly uncomfortable about asking and so it helps to see that it’s pretty normal. Thanks for the comments!

        1. Cj*

          it is absolutely normal. even if you don’t have any existing Health problems, you never know when something is going to come up and want to know what your coverage would be if it did.

        2. Guy Buttersnaps*

          From an HR person, it’s extremely normal. I more surprised when people *don’t* ask about it!

        3. Pillow Fort Forever*

          Totally normal to ask and receive and doesn’t set off a single alarm (I’ve worked in HR for 20+ years). Good luck to you!!

        4. Banana Pyjamas*

          Some companies actually have this on their website. My previous employer did. It was in the Human Resources section.

    6. Etc*

      Yeah, that’s not a weird ask. Health insurance is part of your benefits, lots of people need the details. Someone wrote in not long ago about needing to make sure Ozempic or another glp 1 inhibitor was covered when switching jobs. I can’t find the letter but it might be helpful?

    7. Czhorat*

      I’ve always just asked. They’ll often give the plan summary at the same time as the first salary offer, and if you request more you’ll probably get it.

      It’s a major part of ccompensation; asking how much you’d have to pay in and for what is as normal as asking how much PTO you get.

    8. Dannie*

      Warning based on my own mistake: if you are looking for a remote role, make absolutely certain that the data they provide is accurate based on your real location. I was sent information about the in-state flagship coverage for my company’s headquarters and was pleased with it, only to be smacked in the face by the bare-bones minimum coverage garbage that was the only option I was eligible for as a remote employee in another state. It’s an HDHP plan with high coinsurance and it costs us (two sickly people with chronic issues) an absolute fortune. If I knew the truth, I would have negotiated harder to make up the extra cost.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Seems like you ought to be able to bring this up after the fact anyway, since you were de facto misinformed about the benefits in the first place?

    9. LCH*

      totally normal to ask. i usually do it to get the financial benefits info (how much will this plan set me back out of my paid salary?, i.e., how good are the benefits?) the employer will have no idea exactly why you are asking so won’t assume health issues.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      Not only did I request information about the health insurance, I used the difference between the new and old job premiums to increase the pay new job was offering.

      Usually, I don’t even have to request – they include that information as part of the offer package.

    11. Rage*

      If it does set off any red flags, you can take that as absolute assurance that you don’t want to work for them. Decent companies won’t even bat an eye.

      When I interviewed with my current employer 8 years ago, they gave me the insurance information at the interview, so I could review it and then have questions ready to ask if they came back with an offer. It was their standard practice (not sure if it still is). But the transparency was nice.

    12. Hillary*

      Slight tangent on this – you might want to look at manufacturers if they’re a good option for your line of work. My experience (limited sample size but still interesting) is large manufacturers that self-insure both health and workers comp tend to have good coverage, especially if they talk about safety in their annual reports.

    13. Reebee*

      In my opinion, the only red flag here would be if their reaction to your specific questions about health insurance were dismissive or suspect in some way. Indeed, anytime I am on the hiring side of an interview table, I am always impressed when candidates ask for clarification or for more details about anything, but especially about benefits. I figure that’s how they’ll be on the job – naturally curious and willing to get to the nitty-gritty – and it is a huge GREEN flag for me about them.

      However, about 10 years ago, when I was unemployed and desperate, I was hesitant to ask questions because I was fearful of doing the least little thing that might put someone else even a hair’s breath ahead of me. I cried myself to sleep a lot during that time because I felt it was too risky to just be myself.

      So, ultimately, I think the onus is on employers to spell it out. Employers, PLEASE communicate things clearly, especially in those fancy brochures. My aunt, who was in HR, used to bring stuff like this home to my cousins starting about when they were teens. They’d read my aunt’s work-related information and ask what such-and-such meant. It made for a great test case, and allowed my aunt (later a technical writer) to express in writing very clearly and succinctly. I’ve never forgotten that, may she rest in peace.

      Also, this situation is exactly why I get really impatient with people who don’t value clear and simple writing. I am looking at you in particular, Frank. ^^^^^^ Pay special attention to the ways in which people write when hiring; cover letters can do wonders in these situations.

      Good luck!

    14. TX_Trucker*

      As many have said, it’s a totally normal question. However, what you will typically receive is a short summary document with fees, deductibles, and coverage area. If you have any “unusual” medical stuff going-on, you will need to dig deeper. And their definition of unusual can be very different than yours. I oversee contracts, including our health insurance contract. You can have what may initially look like fabulous coverage, but very crappy options in some areas. I have seen the widest coverage disparity in: fertility services, mental health, reconstruction surgery, routine foot care, addiction programs and weight loss surgery.

      1. WellRed*

        For my situation I look to make sure the health plan doesn’t require me to meet the deductible in order to be able to get prescription meds. Those just have (tiered) copays.

    15. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I always ask for the basics before I interview and complete details on all benefits before I accept.

    16. kiki*

      I only had an issue when I’ve asked once and it was because that job’s health insurance was really limited and I don’t think they wanted me to know that before I negotiated salary. They did ultimately give me the info and I did indeed use it to negotiate for higher pay.

    17. InfoYouGetVaries*

      I always ask, but I’ve had very mixed results and rarely get what I would consider a reasonable amount of detail (out of pocket maximums, for instance, have been hard to come by). Some companies tell you how much your portion of the premium is. Some give you the one page description which includes deductibles, premiums, and basic copays for primary care vs specialist but little else. Some tell you what the drug tiers cost (I’ve never had this match up to reality though). Some tell you it’s Blue Cross or UHC or Humana or whatever without any details. When it can become more of an issue is if I go back for a second round trying to get more info.

      I don’t ask until I have an offer unless they set up a session with HR as part of the interview process (which can happen at places that do 4-5 people in a row at one interview).

    18. fhqwhgads*

      It’s a red flag on THEM if they treat the request as anything other than completely normal at the offer stage.

    19. Clisby*

      Ask for it along with specifics for any other benefits? PTO, sick leave, paid holidays, 401K contributions? You can’t really compare compensation if you don’t know things like that. In any good company, providing this ought to be routine.

  6. CanadianTechWorker*

    How much does your title matter? My current title only accurately reflects 20/30% of my day to day work and I am trying to figure out how to propose a title change. Does anyone have any tips for requesting a title change? I think management would be open, but I’m not sure what title to use. Does anyone have suggestions for figuring out a title?

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      I think it matters in terms of accuracy (is it even pertaining to the right field). For example, if you’re title is Admin Support but you do Accounting, not good. Need to change title.

      Where I’ve seen it not matter is with how elaborate the title is. For example, if someone wants to be called Senior Manager of _ or Director of _ it’s not going to get you a huge raise switching jobs unless you’re going to back it up with direct reports and accomplishments. I’ve worked with people like this and also screened resumes where it’s clear from the rest of the resume that the title is just overstated. I think many small companies just give them out as some sort of reward but it’s pretty obvious to outsiders.

      As per helping you pick a title, I think we’d need some bullet points on what you do?

      1. Rage*

        Yeah, you need to make sure your title is both reflective of what you actually do as well as appropriate for where you are in your career.

        I was EA to our CEO and Leadership Team when I was “poached” by another department (totally with CEO’s blessing and support). It was a role that the department was creating and had not had a separate position for this before, though it’s an extremely common position found in the public sector version of my nonprofit employer. Naturally, they looked at what that role would be called in the public sector and it was “MIS/Data Clerk”. I said absolutely not; this is not a demotion (it was actually a step up in responsibility), I won’t have it look like one on paper. CEO fortunately agreed; we came up with a rather unwieldy title, but it was better than “Data Clerk”. Yeesh.

    2. Medium Sized Manager*

      When I moved from the US to Canada, HR told my manager that titles are important in Canada as they are regularly audited to ensure your pay is in line with your title (i.e., all Llama Managers make between 60-100k per year). They made it sound like a government mandate, not a company one, so you may have some luck searching through the federal websites or coordinating with HR to figure out where to start. Depending on the size of your org, there may also be designated lists of the various title options in each band that can help.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I’m Canadian and I’ve never heard of this as a government mandate.
        (sorry if this showed up twice)

        1. Medium Sized Manager*

          I attached a link to the other comment, but it looks like the federal government at least keeps a data base! I haven’t dug into how helpful it is, but might be a good thing to explore.

      2. Astor*

        Also Canadian and never heard of this. Could it be specifically for people on work visas and other immigration concerns? I could also see it being that if you’re audited then they’ll look at details, including your title, which may flag that other issues are at play?

        1. Medium Sized Manager*

          I didn’t come here on a work visa, so I don’t think so! But I also work for a pretty large corporation, so they may be extra cautious. Or it could have been a miscommunication – my internal transfer was a hot mess.

          I did find this on a quick search though: https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/trend-analysis/search-wages. That may be what they were referring to with job titles vs. pay

          1. Astor*

            That makes sense! I see that a lot in my own work, where people don’t have enough information to properly understand the rules that they then have to comply with, and so they definitely err on the side of caution and sometimes get so used to doing that they forget it’s not actually what the rules say.

            The database you linked seems to get its data partially from surveys (as opposed to being fully from a single source like tax information) and is used in the administration of hiring “temporary foreign workers”. It could be that there’s something else going on, but I think the auditing of work titles probably isn’t something that applies to most people working in Canada.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      If your employer regularly does salary reviews, it matters because it will allow them to compare your salary to people with the same title. If your title misrepresents you as being lower in rank than the work you do makes you (for example, you’re titled as an assistant but doing associate work), it could lead to them overestimating how well you’re compensated for the work you do if, say, assistants are paid $50K on average and associates are paid $65K–not good!

    4. Susan Calvin*

      For figuring out what to use, your best bet is to look at other people who do similar work to you – if there are none in your org, then on LinkedIn.

      As for requesting, I think it’s easiest if your role is public facing – I’ve personally made the point that my title (which shows up in my email signature) is potentially confusing to customers – although even that has gone nowhere, because of politics and historical reasons, so tread carefully if you’re not sure what the lay of the land in your company is.

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

      I hear you with titles not being accurate. I work in a state university in the US. We have our titles set, but it really fluctuates depending on the departmetn. I’m and admin assistant. The majority of my job is front desk/receptionist type of work, like answering phones, greeting people, appointments, and making sure paperwork is completed before their appointments. There is a lot more of organizing schedules and staying on top of things and I do orders, specialty items, and some marketing type things.
      When I worked in another department I did a lot of other stuff, like arranging travel, organizing files, expense reports, organizing meetings, etc. I’ve talked with others and they have similar experiences.

      I don’t know if all departments do this but in my department we have working titles, to better express what my role is.
      being that our titles cannot be changed I have no suggestions for you. The only thing I can think of is their some sort of industry group of professionals that you could reach out too?

      1. Blue Pen*

        I also work at a university, and this is similar to what I know of my employer, as well. It’s rare for titles to be revised here—even new job/titles created, altogether. I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s extremely rare. I haven’t received a formal explanation for why that is, but my impression is that it’s a job classification or pay “equity” thing they hide behind. It’s frustrating, though, because there are people all over campus with the same job title (and therefore the same pay), but their actual job responsibilities are all over the place. So, while one person with that title would have a lot more writing responsibility, another with the exact same title would be focused more on scheduling calendars and whatnot.

    6. Ashie*

      I asked for a title bump in a previous job because my boss left and I started taking on some of his more public-facing responsibilities. I was finding nobody took me seriously until I had Manager in my job title.

    7. House On The Rock*

      Agreeing with all the folks who mention compensation and equity review vis-a-vis your title. Our overall HR did a market review for some titles and people who had titles that mapped to the “outside world” (e.g. outside of an academic medical center) got raises but those who do functionally the same thing with “internal” titles didn’t. If there are others in your group/company who do what you do but have a different title, that’s an easy way to frame it.

    8. Also-ADHD*

      I think how much it matters really depends on how it varies (like is it inherently more junior or just more obscure), your field and how clear places usually are with titles in similar roles (my current field is littered with so many weird titles, it’s totally normal to put clarification in parentheses next to title), and how people view your title in the context of your organization (if it is a well known org). My resume is littered with some weird titles and I’ve no issues there usually that I can tell. I do add some clarification in parentheses, and I make sure everything overall seems to make sense.

    9. The Ginger Ginger*

      One of the ways I requested a title update was pointing out that internal teams and external contacts were confused about my role (my seniority, what they could expect me to be responsible for, how I fit in with my team/department, etc), so a clearer/more standard title would be helpful in comms with others.

      It’s also a problem on resumes, but that one feels harder to point out because it can sound like you’re updating your resume for a reason, even though it’s a super relevant point whether you’re job hunting or not.

    10. Zephy*

      There’s no single objective standard for titles except maybe within government. In terms of private sector, Company A might call a given role a “coordinator” and Company B may call a virtually identical role a “project manager.” What defines a “junior” or “senior” XYZ will also vary wildly from one company to another.

      The following is a list that is 100% my opinion about a general hierarchy of titles, highest-to-lowest.

      Chief X Officer (Executive, Operations, Financial, Information) or President – runs or owns the whole shebang, “this is the kind of work we do”
      Vice President (VP) or Senior Vice President (SVP) – reports directly to the above
      Director – works with C-suite leadership on high-level, long-term strategy and goals, “this is how we are going to do the work;” represents a department and gets information from a manager
      Manager – reports to a Director, deals directly with the staff, i.e. people actually doing the work; has hire/fire authority; receives orders from above and directs staff below to carry them out, “this is what we are going to do”
      Lead/Supervisor (typically “shift lead/shift supervisor”) – usually not actually a manager (no hire/fire authority), relays information from dept manager to staff, common in businesses with multiple shifts, “this is what the boss says to do”
      Coordinator – might be in charge of a *program,* so title might include the word “manager” but doesn’t have any direct reports; mostly responsible for liaising between the business and the public (e.g. event coordinator) or directing people to resources; confusingly, some companies have people at the next level down called “coordinators” for some reason
      Counselor, Advisor, Agent, Associate, Officer – the people actually doing the work.

    11. Banana Pyjamas*

      One place I worked had job titles and descriptions in the manual, so I would start there. See if your job lines up with another title, if not you have a business case to create a title.

      Another option is to take a survey of job boards. If your title generally includes your responsibilities, there’s a business case to rewrite the job description. Keep a list titles that closely align with your responsibilities, and tally up how many listings for each, then request the most common as your own title.

    12. GonnaBeAnEngineer*

      At most places I’ve worked the company is very specific about seniority and pretty lax about the actual job function. By 2hich I mean they care a lot about classifying you as junior X, X, senior X, principal X, X manager, X senior manager, director of X, VP of X, etc. but they don’t care too much what X is or whether it reflects what you actually do. My favorite example is the company that called all technical staff engineers regardless of their function. Architect, developer, QA, technical documentation, data analyst, etc were all engineers. We were hired for a specific job function and most people stayed in the function (I didn’t) but we all had the same titles.

      Now at my current job, we do have descriptive titles. When I got a promotion I got a new title. After a year I went to my boss and said I didn’t think that title accurately reflected what I did and proposed a new one. He agreed and we announced the new title (this time, sadly, without an attached promotion). If you think it’s important, I’d think about what you want the new title to be and create some talking points around why it’s better. As the opportunity presents itself (performance review, regular checkin, whatever) bring it up, make your case, and see what happens.

      Good luck!

  7. UV*

    An unexpected issue of remote work — sitting in a zoom meeting with coworkers from other countries, without anyone working nearby to confirm if that shaking was in fact an earthquake.

    1. Czhorat*

      Here in New York everyone on the Teams chat – including those working from home – ALL told us that they felt an earthquake.

      It was definitely a weird moment.

      1. Justin*

        My office in midtown didn’t shake at all. And then the last more notable one we had was in 2011, and I happened to be in CA of all places at the time. So, I guess they all miss me.

          1. Justin*

            lol I am by Herald Square. Maybe I felt it but thought it was something else but that seems impossible.

        1. UrbanEarthquakes*

          You’re lucky – this one was very mild here in Boston, but about a decade ago I was working on the top floor of a 100 year old building in Back Bay (which is landfill over the water) and the entire building swayed in circles for about 45 minutes. It made me soooooo sick. I couldn’t even stand up for at least an hour. The absolute worst, though, was when I was in the elevator of my apartment building in Philadelphia at around the 22nd floor when an earthquake hit, my first. I thought the cable snapped and I was going to die.

          1. Jasmine*

            I can’t imagine being on the 100th floor!! I live in Taiwan and 10th floor is the highest I’ve been in during an earthquake. And you were stuck there! Can’t use the elevator after an earthquake!

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              I had a friend who was under the bay in the BART system for the World Series earthquake. Fortunately the lights stayed on…

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Our Slack has blown up. Everyone in NY, CT, PA, and NJ is shook. Pun intended. Hope you’re ok and not too freaked out!

    3. In NYC*

      Yes, in NYC and just got an e-mail allowing people to go home and work remotely for the rest of the day.

        1. Venus*

          Meh, allowing people to work from home doesn’t seem like much of a reaction. It would be helpful to allow people to go home whenever they want, in case their young children were worried or to avoid any potential increases in traffic or some simple side-effect like that.

        2. Dannie*

          It’s not. Buildings need to be inspected/cleared for damage, particularly in dense high-rise areas.

          1. Justin*

            I mean, no, I don’t think they need to inspect every single building in the city below a 5.0.

            But no reason not to let people go home.

          2. Czhorat*

            Nobody around here even went outside, and this is pretty much the definition of “dense urban area”.

        3. Ahnon4Thisss*

          Eh, a bit since it lasted like 5 seconds (felt it here in MA and it shook the building), but we aren’t used to earthquakes in the Northeast. If they have the ability to work from home, why not?

          I suppose it is kind of like how northerners laugh a little when we see southern schools/workplaces cancel for a week for an inch of snow. An extreme reaction to us, but to them, it’s highly unusual and they don’t necessarily have the infrastructure for it.

        4. Fluff*

          Could be they were extra careful and for anxiety. Lots of folks saw the bridge collapse in Baltimore. Unrelated, but a collapse of something people use in NYC a lot and probably on their minds.

          Plus seeing the buildings in Taiwan – which are much more earthquake ready. Lots of collapsing things in the world lately to highten worry.

      1. Pam Adams*

        In my last earthquake, I stopped presenting for a minute, and we all said ‘hmm- that was an earthquake,’ and then I continued with the presentation. However, I’m in Southern California, so earthquakes are much more common here.

        I would have been worried having one in an assumed no-quake zone.

      1. Artemesia*

        While 4.8 is scary it is rather mild. I was in a nearly 7 in college and remember my books sll flying off the book case and the chandelier swinging in the staircase of the building I lived in as we ran for the street. There was still relatively little damage in Seattle where I was at the time, but some — a bridge twisted there, bricks falling there. Each 1 on the scale is a factor of 10.

    4. DannyG*

      Northern New Jersey, 4.8 per initial report. One of my colleagues was on with us at the time.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        When I was about 6 years old I woke up at about 11pm and asked my mom if the washing machine was doing something weird (my room was right above it) and it turned out it was an earthquake. So used to that thing being unbalanced, I guess!

      2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        The last time we had a significant earthquake in Portland Oregon I was on the commuter train going through a tunnel 250 feet below ground. I did not feel it at all, clearly. Was very confused when I emerged at work to the jibber jabber and then got post-event claustrophobia at the thought that I was that far below ground and visions of tunnel collapse.

    5. K D*

      I am in north Jersey and my phone was blowing up from all my friends going nuts. My whole home was vibrating. My respect to anyone in more geologically active areas because that was terrifying.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        As someone who has spent 2/3 of my life in California, but the rest on the East Coast (including one similarly-sized quake), I can attest that it’s less bad when buildings are built for that. East Coast quakes are at least +1 magnitude on the oh-crap scale relative to West Coast quakes.

        I moved while still in school, and found myself on the second floor of a two-story schoolhouse built to East Coast standards. Took a couple of months before I stopped diving under the furniture whenever another class was walking from place to place elsewhere on the floor.

      2. Giz's Mom*

        We’re in northern NJ as well, and it felt like a train was going through the living room. Crazy when it’s not something you’re used to.

    6. watermelon fruitcake*

      The only reason I knew it was indeed an earthquake (rather than, I don’t know, a low flying plane? A suspiciously quiet herd of wildebeests? Godzilla?) was because I was in a Zoom meeting at the time, and my colleagues are all in the same state but spread out around it. Everybody felt it and were freaking out accordingly.

    7. Llellayena*

      I was in a Zoom with several people locally so we were able to confirm with each other that yes, it was an earthquake and not a low-flying plane from the nearby airport. Hello from central NJ!

    8. Dannie*

      I was in a Teams meeting with a notorious Loud Talker presenting, and my split-second reaction was “Is this woman really so strident that my chair is shaking?” and then common sense kicked in.

    9. Mimmy*

      I was in the middle of a virtual graduation for two of our program participants. We are all spread out in New Jersey (I’m in central NJ) and everyone felt it. At first I thought it might’ve been a truck, but as it got more intense, I knew something was up.

      Thankfully, everyone seems to be okay. But… yeah… that was really freaky.

    10. Seashell*

      I felt it too while working at home. I texted my husband, who felt it & gave me a report of his co-worker’s spouse feeling it in NJ, so I knew it wasn’t just me.

      I was at the office for the earthquake in 2011 that damaged the Washington Monument & was felt throughout the northeast, and they made us evacuate for a while.

    11. Choggy*

      We felt it here in Monroe, CT. I thought it was just a large truck driving past, but no, it was an earthquake!

    12. GreenGal*

      Yep, here in NYC my five story building rattled for a good 5-10 seconds. Consider it a bonding experience!

    13. fhqwhgads*

      earthquake.gov USGS will show an earthquake within seconds. If it’s not on USGS, it’s not an earthquake.

  8. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

    I’ve run a lot of training sessions this week and I’m BUZZING from the positive feedback and comments from my trainees! I’m thinking I’ll take a note of some of the specifics (not just the ‘llama is an amazing trainer!’ type comments… which I love but probably aren’t the right ones) for my CV, to validate what I do? Is that okay? It works as examples to back up what we are doing and the impact?

    1. Engineer*

      I don’t know that I would put them in your resume, but maybe as part of your portfolio? Or have them organized in a word document that you could pass along during the interview itself?

    2. syzygistic*

      Congrats, that’s such a lovely thing to get!
      Personally, I wouldn’t put it on my CV…but I do keep a file to collect positive feedback, performance reviews, etc. and draw from that in my cover letter/interview. Don’t lose the comments, even the generic “llama is an amazing trainer!” ones—keep them to gas yourself up and remind yourself of your successes—but they’ll have much more impact in a cover letter where you can be super selective and add context. (The one possible exception is if the quote is from a high-profile figure in your industry, and even that is a bit country/industry-specific IME.)

      1. Throwaway Account*

        This! And I sometimes work those comments into my cover letter if it makes sense for the job.
        But definitely keep a file!

    3. Nesprin*

      If you’re in the US and use an academic style CV as a long form listing of your whole career- you can list average feedback scores or awards for teaching, but collecting feedback would be a bit strange.

      If you’re international and use CV as a stand-in for resume: taught (coursename) to rave reviews (average feedback score) including “llama is the best trainer for this class I’ve ever had”

      Either way, collect your scores and feedback so that your line management knows how much you’re rocking this!

    4. Texan In Exile*

      I have used compliments on my resume and in my cover letters.

      For instance, on my resume (which led to several interviews and a job offer):
      • Defined value propositions for internal and external programs. One VP wrote, “I really like it! You have a great way of making a boring subject sound exciting.”
      • Increased support for internal initiatives such as certification programs by developing messaging and designing and implementing multimedia campaigns. The product manager said, “You have an amazing ability to cut to the chase and storytell on value.”

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Thanks all, this is really helpful! It’s she’s since I’ve kept a file, I really should get back into that habit. A couple really stood out this week as they were very much ‘I didn’t think I needed this training but I actually learnt quite a lot’ and I just love it when training changes someone’s mind like that! Thank you all so much.

          1. Melissa*

            You could put them in a cover letter if it’s relevant to the job description (and what JD doesn’t say “excellent communication skills”). But I’d be cautious with the example you gave above about the training changing someone’s mind – that feedback is about the training, not you (did you write it? because then that’s about your skill in preparing training to match the level of participants)

            1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

              On this occasion I actually did write it, so thanks, that’s helpful!

        1. PBJ*

          Yes! I keep a “brag book” with all the nice comments I receive (amongst other things). It’s great to look back on when you need a boost.

    5. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      If comments are very generic, see if you can make statistics out of them! Like “consistently received positive comments/ratings from over 90% of participants.” Maybe not for a resume or CV, but it’s good to get metrics on things… useful when asking for raises.

  9. Phony Genius*

    What accommodations are your employers making (if any) for Monday’s eclipse? Our office bought glasses for everyone. People who work in the totality zone are required to work remotely (due to traffic concerns). Everybody else has the option to do so.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Nothing here. Most of us are remote, and we’re a generally flexibly workplace. A bunch of people are taking off either because they’re going on an eclipse vacation or, if they’re in the path, their kids are off from school. My larger team has a regular meeting scheduled during the eclipse and I’m really surprised they haven’t moved it yet. I’m sure Monday morning will be full of rescheduling. For my part, I blocked off time on my calendar to take my dog out before the eclipse happens, and I would love to block off more time to go out and see it.

    2. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      What time is it happening? I’m very excited for you all, but it sounds like it’s going to be chaos!

      1. Phony Genius*

        Depending on where you are, roughly between 2 and 5 pm, peaking for most around 3:30.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Nothing – about 1/3 of us live in the partial zone, and we all have flexible WFH. Several of us are taking PTO for the day and driving a couple hours to get into the area of totality and (hopefully) avoid too much cloud cover.

    4. Engineer*

      My office expects to be dead on Monday. It’s not an official day off, but it’s assumed that if you’re there, it’s because the view is better than your backyard/apartment patio. We already have a very generous WFH policy, and people have been rearranging meetings for the last couple weeks.

      Plus, we’re right across the street from a science museum, so my work partnered with them to order everyone eclipse glasses, free to us.

    5. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

      We’ve had some meetings moved around so people are free to go out during that time. That’s about all.

      In the 2017 one, pretty much everyone took a long lunch and we went out in groups.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I was in a 98% area in 2017. The bosses had both skedaddled off to their vacation homes in the totality, didn’t let anyone else take time off, and graciously told us we could go outside to see the local view between appointments. Gee thanks! Fortunately, my husband signed the kids out of school and they all headed north to see it.

    6. CTT*

      I’m in an area with 85% totality, which is close to what we got in 2017, so I think we still have some eclipse glasses around and will be handing out more and we’ll be able to go outside and watch. (That said, the 2017 eclipse occurred right before my last year of law school started and we had a big party, so if it doesn’t involve a cookout and margaritas, it’s going to feel lame in comparison!)

        1. CTT*

          Good to know! They did say something in the email about not handing them out till Monday, so that may be a sign it’s all new ones.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            You can check them. Before you stare at the sun, go stare at a light bulb, preferably an old-school one – you should be able to see the filament, but dimly. If you can see anything else, the glasses are old and/or fake, don’t use them.

            1. The Other Sage*

              Thankyou so much for this info. It’s good to know you can check eclipse glases and how to do it.

        2. The Other Sage*

          Thank you so much for pointing this out. I have very old eclipse glases, and I wasn’t aware they could become unsafe even if I only use them rarely.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      Nothing here–we’re mostly remote or coming in once a week, and our workplace isn’t in the totality zone. My family is actually traveling a few hours north to a town in the totality zone, so I’ll be on vacation anyway! During the 2017 eclipse, we were well north of the path of totality, and more people were working on site, and our employer provided everyone with a pair of safety glasses for viewing.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      We have glasses, but we also have limited WFH for the positions that allow it, and our building doesn’t have a lot of windows so it would be hard to look at it by accident if you were in the office.

      1. Guy Buttersnaps*

        Same, and we’re in the path of totality!! I took the day off though, as did several others.

    9. Mimmy*

      My state is in the roughly 85%-90% zone but nothing has been announced for us. My agency generally is WFH on Mondays but the center I work at has M-Th in-person programming.

      And of course, dummy me scheduled a virtual job interview around the time of the peak!

    10. usually lurks*

      we’re all remote now but last time (2017?) it was midday and we had our own sort of festival outside. We had a grill out there and periodically did potluck cookouts, so we did that, and then had some tables set up with materials to make pinhole projecters, etc. (some people brought their own glasses.) It was fun! The hit of the thing was bringing out the colander from the kitchen and looking through it down onto the pavement. Result: a whole bunch of little circles with a bite taken out! The leaf shadows from the trees also had some pretty cool effects. Needless to say we were not in an area that was going to be affected by traffic or anything. There was just a general understanding that no work would be done during the actual eclipse so we might as well celebrate.

      I do love working from home but I miss this kind of companionable interaction.

    11. Ama*

      They aren’t making any formal accommodations, but I did successfully lobby to change a very important two hour meeting we originally scheduled for Monday to next month — it was a Zoom meeting that involved people spread across the totality zone right over the two hours it would be peaking in the Midwest and Northeast and I successfully argued that the herding cats generally involved in that meeting would be extra difficult (not to mention there was a risk we’d get to today and half the attendees would cancel because they just realized they wanted to take their kids to see the eclipse or something). I did this a few weeks back, not at the last minute.

      My husband and I both took the day off in hopes of driving a couple hours south to the totality zone (we’re in Chicago), but our plans have been foiled by car trouble we’re probably not going to be able to get fixed in time. I’m trying to tell myself the forecasted cloud cover would have messed it up anyway.

    12. Anonforthis*

      Our HR dept actually sent out a *safety* alert how to view a solar eclipse which brought me right back to elementary school.

      1. Panicked*

        I just did that as well. I had one of my staff members tell me that he didn’t need eclipse glasses, he was just going to squint.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          NOOOOOOOOOO please advise that he read the myriad articles online about permanent retinal damage before he does himself an injury!

    13. Not a thing*

      Nothing. We are in the path of totality, but it sounds like it will be a bust here. There is an 80% chance of rain and storms, and they are calling for mostly cloudy skies all day(I’m in Texas). I’m ready for it to be over so all the mania will go away.

    14. Throwaway Account*

      Nothing, and we work in the office and on a college campus!!
      How are they doing nothing!?

      I took the afternoon off and am heading to my spouse’s campus where they have a program with telescopes, etc.

      1. Dek*

        I’m on a campus too. I was here for the last one, and I feel like it was a bigger deal. Maybe students are getting too geared up for finals this time.

    15. Blue Pen*

      No formal accommodations that I know of, but I get the impression that no one would really care if we ducked out for a bit to see it.

    16. Margaret Cavendish*

      I think we’re at 99% totality. I asked to have a 3:00 meeting moved – the organizer had planned to do that anyway, but I haven’t heard of any other accommodations. There’s no great view of the sky from our office, so I expect most people will WFH and that’ll be it.

      Looking forward to it, though!

    17. House On The Rock*

      The overall Big Big boss of our group (my boss’s boss’s boss) has told everyone to take time to observe it (with appropriate safety precautions) and my boss told our department not to schedule meetings during that time and to feel free to decline meetings from external groups. I’ve also reiterated that to my staff. We are remote but most people live in a near-totality zone and many are traveling to see it.

    18. Lyn*

      Our community college buildings will be closed – we are all working virtually that day. We are in the path of totality.

    19. Lifelong student*

      I live in a totality zone. Banks are closing early, schools are closed, the county courthouse is closed and the deadline for voter registration has been extended since it was April 8. Our town expects to have 300,00 visitors! Traffic will be awful. Emergency services are planning remote sites in various parts of town to avoid the traffic. I will be in my back yard! Of course the weather forecast is not promising. Hotels are charging triple rates and three night minimums. I did fill my gas tank today because all the gas stations will be drained by the influx of people traveling here!

    20. 248_Ballerinas*

      We’re very much in the path of totality and have a work-from-home day for everyone Monday.

    21. Anon Today*

      We’re having a party (pop in and out to the lunch room as you like) where we’re going to live-stream from NASA or someplace – we’ll get 30% at best.
      I might make some pinhole cameras with paper coffee cups and push pins for folks to take out on the deck.

      The party planner and I did try to pick some sun/space themed snacks – Moon Pies and the like. (I hope she managed to get the eclipse Oreos!)

    22. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We’re (mostly, fully remote team, but I think the farthest out ones are still like 95%) in the path of totality. I had a bunch of people take all day or the afternoon off, and everyone else has been explicitly told they are absolutely encouraged to take a break or flex their schedules to get outside during the shenanigans if they want to.

    23. Lady_Lessa*

      Our office will be closed, but those who can are expected to work from home.

      We are in the area of totality, and I’ve made sure that I have good glasses. (fresh from the local library). And there is enough treeless area around my apartment complex, so I can just walk there.

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        I listened to a podcast a little while ago that said we are the only planet that gets eclipses (and rainbows), and that if there are aliens visiting us, they’re definitely coming to see eclipses and rainbows as you can’t see them anywhere else in our galaxy. Made me appreciate our little blue dot even more!

        Hope you all get to see it!

    24. goddessoftransitory*

      We aren’t in the path of totality, so nothing, really. I am jealous of people who get to see it, though. Guess I’ll read Connie Willis’s “And Come From Miles Around” again to celebrate.

    25. Dragonfly7*

      None that I’ve heard of. Our totality is in the upper 80s. It’s not an in office day for my entire team (I am every day just because I’m new), so folks at home might be able to take breaks more easily than me to go outside. I bought myself a nice pair of glasses a few months ago and some inexpensive pairs to share at work (in 2017, by the time most of my coworkers thought to order any, there weren’t any to be had).

    26. fhqwhgads*

      Nothing. We’re all remote. I think some people took the day off because they wanted to go to somewhere with a better view, but there’s nothing company-wide at all.

  10. New Manager*

    I am 20 weeks pregnant and my husband is searching for a new job. His current company just had layoffs, he was luckily not affected, but still wants to find something else.

    We live in MA – so he gets 12 weeks of bonding leave through the state. This isn’t FMLA so he does not need to be at the job for a year.

    I was wondering when in the interview process it would be best to disclose this – if at all? I know legally he does not have to, but most people I have interviewed in my field do. Granted, paternity leave is new and most of those cases were pregnant women.

      1. Hot Dish*

        I agree with not disclosing, especially since it’s through the state and has nothing to do with the employer.

        1. A non-mouse*

          Not all employers are eligible for the MA-based leave! Source: am a MA resident.

    1. Etc*

      Definitely do not disclose. Don’t give the employer a chance to discriminate, whether subconsciously or not.

    2. Visually Impaired Guy*

      If you do disclose at all, do it after the offer is made. At that point it will be obvious discrimination if they rescind the offer, and a good employer will know it and not do anything. I have to disclose my disability at some point and always do it after their offer is made and before I accept, and I have never had problems. It really depends on his comfort level and gut feel, but I would suggest that it’s a good time to mention it, with the caveat that pregnancy and birth is more time-specific than a long-term disability so it’s normal for people to not mention it until later (i.e. it’s normal to wait until month X to say something). He can’t delay the birth, so if he’s still interviewing in a couple months then he should mention it before accepting if the time off request will be imminent.

    3. Jane Bingley*

      Only after accepting an offer with all the details confirmed. Something like:

      “Thank you so much for this offer! I’m glad to accept and look forward to starting on May 1. I wanted to flag that I will be taking state bonding leave in late August and expect to be out through October. Can we plan to connect in my first week to talk through the best way to handle that absence?”

      1. Shirley You’re Joking*

        Yes, as someone who interviews candidates I’m grateful when they don’t disclose during the process. We want to make the best decision for (hopefully!) long-term employment and not be distracted by an upcoming leave of absence.

    4. JPalmer*

      If he discloses this, it would be illegal for them to discriminate against him in hiring.

      However, to hold them accountable, you would need to be able to prove they did so for that reason. They would claim something like “Oh it is because you have 4 years llama wrangling experience and our minimum cutoff is actually 5 years” or “We didnt feel he presented enough team spirit”.
      Even if the company doesn’t suck, there would likely be passive bias against him over it.

      Do not disclose this. Wait until he is in the position for a least a few weeks probably. “As it would be illegal not to hire me based on this reason, I waited to avoid even introducing subconscious bias which would open to legal liability”

    5. anon_sighing*

      Zero need to have him disclose. 12 weeks in the grand scheme is nothing, but people make it out to be something. It harms you more than it helps them.

  11. I just want to do my job*

    My skip-level boss “Frank” has a very obvious crush on his subordinate, “Lisa”. During meetings she kind of flirts with him (although I’m holding judgement) while he suggestively and overtly teases her and makes sleazy innuendos to her. It’s uncomfortable and he seems to be getting more aggressive lately. Even when she’s not in the meeting, he mentions her constantly. It doesn’t have anything to do with work, her role or anything, it will be like, “I was chatting with Lisa and the smoke detector went off.” Again, he’s like a teenager with this crush and it’s so uncomfortable. 

    I recently moved to the same area Lisa lives in. Frank didn’t ask me many personal questions before but now he’s suddenly so interested in my new location. Like, “I bet you were glad when you saw that Lisa was in [town]”, and “I didn’t realize you lived 10 minutes from Lisa!”. He says this in smaller meetings (without Lisa, but with my boss also attending) and I’m sick of it.

    My question is – Is there anything I could say that won’t make me seem “difficult” but calls out the fact that he constantly mentions her, and I’m aware he constantly mentions her, and I want to make sure Lisa is okay? I can’t stop the flirting between them, but I want him to stop mentioning her in meetings where she isn’t there (again, he doesn’t mention work things with her). I also don’t want to put any blame on her or make it seem like she’s the problem. Frank’s the problem and I want him to just chill out.

    For example, if he says, “I heard you got lunch with Lisa last week”, what could I say to politely shut it down? He’s a bit fragile, so “let’s get back to work” will seem too abrasive to him. My direct boss is there too, so I want to be careful.

    I was thinking – 
    “Oh, what did Lisa say?”
    “Oh if you have a question for Lisa on it, I’m sure you can reach out to her?”
    “Oh goodness! Am I in the middle of something?”
    “Oh, what was the question? I’m not sure what you’re asking?”

    1. MsM*

      For direct questions about things you actually did with Lisa, I think just a straight “yes” or “no” with zero elaboration will suffice. For everything else, “What does Lisa have to do with this?”

      1. anon_sighing*

        Yeah, keep it work related. “Oh, is this something I should be looping Lisa in on?”

        If he inquires about a personal appointment with Lisa, “Yeah, I did. How was your weekend? or How was the (get it back to work) thing?”

        Just shut it down and redirect. He has mention-itis, the most embarrassing phase of a crush and even more so when it’s a superior on their subordinate.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      “Yeah, the Greek place near us makes great gyros. Did you ever hear back from Fergus about the numbers for next quarter?”

    3. NaoNao*

      I’d go with a bored “mmm” in response, make it sound like you’re a distracted adult politely acknowledging a child’s excited nattering about their favorite new toy when he brings her up if he’s not directly asking a question. Maybe soften it with a smile, but if he’s making remarks about how excited you must be to work near Lisa (sigh), I’d just smile tolerantly and say something vague and anodyne “Hasn’t really affected me one way or another” or “my new apartment is nice, thanks”. If he’s like “I heard you got lunch with Lisa” same thing “yep!” and move on or “the restaurant/food/dish was great” and give him an expression that indicates you’re not here for this boondoggle.

      1. Too old for this nonsense*

        Yes! The bored-but-pleasantly-neutral facial expression and tone is perfect for this situation, followed by changing the subject to something work-related.

        They could also remark, “that’s the nth time you’ve asked me about Lisa today” (again, said in a neutral tone).

        If it wasn’t someone in a position of hierarchy above them, I would also suggest saying something along the lines of “I really don’t feel comfortable talking about someone who’s not in the room” or “Let’s ask Lisa herself, she’s right next door”.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      How I wish you could just say, “You keep bringing up Lisa. Why is that?”

      Do you have a good relationship with your direct boss? Is there a way to enlist their help? If not, then deflect, deflect, deflect. It’s really all you can do.

      As far as making sure Lisa is ok… if you’re friendly enough to have lunch, and you’ve developed a rapport, you can ask things like what it’s like to work with Frank and pay close attention to her responses. Though you seem to get the sense that she’s flirting back– just reading your email makes me think there’s something going on between them and he’s really bad at hiding it.

      1. I just want to do my job*

        I asked her and she referred to him as a “gem”. And later in the conversation she referred to the whole apartment as “we’re all adults!”…so yeah….[insert Nina Katz cringe face].

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you want to make sure Lisa is okay, talk to Lisa.

      If you don’t want to hear sleazy innuendoes, talk to HR.

      If you want to shut down the mentionitis, your go-to question is “why?” As in, “not really, why do you ask?” or “I hadn’t thought about it, why do you ask?” or “I suppose so, why?”

      1. New career no. 6*

        I agree with this. Even if it’s not directed at you, if it’s making you uncomfortable it’s sexual harassment. Seriously consider going to HR.

        Has this person shown bad judgment in the past?

      2. Throwaway Account*

        Yeah, I prefer these options.
        You don’t have to listen to this, talk to HR.

        I also like the greyrock lines: “not really, why do you ask?”

    6. Awkwardness*

      I would try playing dumb as if you have no idea what he is talking about.

      “So you had lunch with Lisa?”
      – “Yeah” (shrugging)
      – “And did she tell something special?”
      – “Umm, don’t know? Normal lunchtime conversation… ?” (confused look)
      – “But you do not meet so often?”
      – “No.” (raised eyebrows, cheerful but confused looks)

      “This happened when I was talking to Lisa”
      – “So seems to be talking to her a lot lately. Do we finally have information about project ABC?”
      (This one should be handled with care but I can imagine scenarios where it could work)

      1. Awkwardness*

        To add as it might have been misunderstood: This is to imply that they of course only talk so much because they share a new work topic. In asking about the work topic one could imply that it is obvious how often Lisa is mentioned.

    7. Annony*

      Give a bland answer and then redirect back to the work conversation. You don’t need to call out the behavior to not engage.

      “I heard you got lunch with Lisa last week.”
      “I did. About [work issue you were actually meeting about], I think [insert work thought here].”

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I’ve been in this situation myself; the Lisa at my job was mildly flirty and the senior guy took it so far we all got second hand embarrassment. In my experience you can’t really call someone out on mentionitis indirectly. It’s an obsession and obsessions are impervious to hints. It’s not something you have any control over (but you can definitely flag it up to HR safely since I bet SO many people have heard him drone on about Lisa. If HR do nothing, congratulations you have useless HR). As for what to do in the moment when he’s intent on indulging his obsession and you’d really not get dragged into it? Be just as impervious to the hint as he would be if you were to try and give him a clue. Behave as though you honestly don’t understand he wants to talk about Lisa, and talk about whatever you want to, or about the tangential topic. So, if he mentions Lisa + smoke alarm the response is as though he only mentioned the smoke alarm: “Yeah, I always remind myself of the safety implications if I am tempted to find them annoying.” He talks about Lisa + your new town, you respond about the new town only: “What I was actually most glad to see was they have this amazing restaurant. If you ever want Italian food, I’d recommend it.” If his opener is really zeroed in on Lisa, like”I heard you got lunch with her last week”, just give him a “Yes?” like of COURSE he has more to say, or something else to discuss and give him the expectant look you give when people have only said “Hi” or “Can I ask you something”. If it’s not forthcoming try “I did have lunch with her why do you ask?” It’s okay to let him be awkward without rescuing him; remind yourself you’re not the one making it awkward.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Nothing I hope; the age differences and marital status alone gave me nightmares. She did get side promoted under him which wasn’t popular. There wasn’t much time to observe, the workplace imploded soon after (it was all symptomatic of poor management) and most of us left.

    9. subaru outback driver*

      Short answer to your bolded section is no.

      You could try saying to Frank that he talks about Lisa a lot and people have noticed. IF you choose to do this you are going to have to really pull off calm and genuinely concerned for Frank and his reputation.

      I would not go to HR over this if you were wanting to keep any kind of good relationship with Frank.

    10. Joielle*

      YMMV on whether this is a good idea at work, but what I said once in a similar situation in my friend group was “You and Lisa have gotten pretty close, huh?” Said in a friendly way, not an accusatory way. I was trying to suss out whether a married friend was cheating on his wife with another mutual friend. Based on his awkward sputtering and vehement denial, I figured the answer was probably yes. Real bummer of a situation, but he dialed down the public flirting after that.

  12. Amber Rose*

    HR Advice please!

    I need to make a formal harassment complaint. It’s become bad enough that I’ve spent this entire week having panic attacks and crying in my office. My manager refuses to do anything and simply says he’s sorry I feel that way and I should talk to HR when she’s back from holiday. (Useless sponge man jfc.)

    Our HR, who is still in her 3 month probation, reports directly to the manager who is harassing me. A manager who is also the EA of the CEO.

    How badly is this likely to go for me? I really can’t, cannot quit this job until June at the earliest. If I get fired though that’s OK since they’ll have to pay me out and I can live on that for a while.

    1. Emmie*

      It is hard to say. I hope your company is a good one with competent people.
      Many companies have Ethics Hotlines and you may wish to use that for reporting.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s not a good one and management is not competent. It’s also much too small for any kind of reporting, which is why this is our first HR person ever.

        That said, some of the people on the board aren’t so bad. So if it gets pushed hard enough, it might not be… the worst.

        1. kalli*

          Then email them and say you’re concerned this isn’t being dealt with appropriately because of the HR reporting chain creating undue influence.

    2. Pizza Rat*

      From what you describe, it looks pretty bad. Can you talk to an attorney before you file the complaint with HR? I think that’s the best way to see how you can protect yourself.

      Best of luck. Please keep us updated.

      1. Amber Rose*

        No time. I know a couple of people are going to HR first thing monday morning, and I need to get my side of things submitted before I get completely steamrolled.

        1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

          Do you mean that other people are also being harassed and also going to HR about it? Or that people are going to HR and telling a different story than yours? Either way, make sure you have a lot of documentation and consider whether sending it to board members in addition to HR makes sense.

        2. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

          Do you mean that other employees are going to HR with a different side of the story? Why would you get steamrolled?
          Would it make sense to discuss and/or send your documentation to a member of the board as well as HR?
          Best of luck with this difficult situation.

          1. Amber Rose*

            I don’t know! All I know is my manager said they were going to have a “discussion” on Monday with the managers and HR and I don’t trust anyone to have my back.

            I also don’t know if those two “credible” witnesses exist and what lies they might tell.

            1. Tio*

              Speak to a lawyer over the weekend if you can.

              If you can’t, you can go to the meeting and grey rock as much as you can while you take the temperature of the room. This weekend, Write out as many specific things that have happened and the timeline as you can. The goal is not to give it to them, it’s to have a clear picture to you on how much has happened, and prevent you from blanking out under pressure. Staying calm and having facts gives off an impression that you have it together.

              FWIW, be cautious, but I don’t know why witness would come up and demand a meeting against you, but that’s why I suggest letting them speak first to take the temperature.

    3. Katrine Fonsmark*

      Honestly I’d talk to a lawyer and get some advice, because that sounds like a shitshow.

    4. Double A*

      Am I reading this correctly that getting fired is an acceptable outcome to you?

      So think through worst case scenarios. 1) They fire you. That sounds like an okay outcome. 2) You report everything. They keep you on and the harassment stays the same or gets worse. You would still be getting paid, and you would then have time to seek a lawyer. You could aggressively job search and prepare for your exit. As well as document and prepare a case in case they act so egregiously you need to quit but have evidence you should be paid out and/or qualify for unemployment.

      1. Amber Rose*

        After this many years and so many glowing reviews, they would have to fire me without cause, and I’d be paid out enough to keep me going for a while with my savings. They’d also suffer the consequences of making me a bottle neck on three departments (tasks only I can do and I have no backup), which the petty side of me kind of wants to happen.

        So yeah, getting fired would be… awful, but acceptable. I emailed in my documentation to HR.

        1. Observer*

          They’d also suffer the consequences of making me a bottle neck on three departments

          That sounds like you have at least 15 employees, which means that most Federal anti-discrimination laws apply.

          Get hold of a lawyer if you can. Also look at reporting to the EEOC.

    5. Yes And*

      Firing someone for making a formal harassment complaint is retaliation, and it’s super illegal. If it goes that way, DEFINITELY call a lawyer.

    6. Nesprin*

      YOU SHOULD TALK TO A LAWYER NOW- they’ll have advice on how to make your complaint more likely to be heard and acted upon even if suing your employer is not your end goal.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I’m so sorry you have to go through this, this is inexcusable AND highly illegal. You can usually consult with a lawyer for free in the first meeting, and I would definitely try to at least get some numbers together this weekend. Apart from that, I think you should document as much as possible and CYA.

    8. Winn Dixie*

      As someone who has reported harassment twice in two separate companies. Just leave. You will have to anyway, even if you are 100% in the right. I was managed out both times.

  13. Jenn*

    Short version: How do you deal with the supervisor who doesn’t understand what you do and doesn’t really care, especially when (for various reasons) there is no point in trying to change their attitude?

    Long version: I had a fun little conversation with my relatively new supervisor (new to me, not to the organization) on Wednesday. We were discussing my budget for the upcoming FY and I was forced to reduce it by almost $5000. This is the 11th year I’ve submitted a budget (the second to her) and as long as I had an explanation for why I was asking for the money, it was approved. Suddenly, there was an issue, and trust me, it is not an issue of organizational finances. This upcoming year, there are two additional conferences (both are triennials) and a “regular” conference that I always go to is in a very expensive location this year. I would also like to take my assistant to one of the triennials, as I have done in the past. I explained all of this in my budget, but was told that out of “fairness” to other departments, I need to reduce my budget. During this discussion, my supervisor said that, given the number of conferences I was proposing and the 2 – 3 weeks a year that I am out of the office to assist a similar organization (with full approval from grand-boss!), it raised the possibility that maybe my job didn’t need to be full time. This proved to me what I had suspected – my supervisor knows, in theory, what I do, but does not understand it, nor does she care. Given some other things happening in my organization in general, and my department specifically, I don’t feel the need (or have the bandwidth) to try and explain things to her. I’d been starting to job hunt for family reasons, but needless to say this conversation has definitely speed up that process!

    1. Cat*

      Oh, I’m sorry, that’s awful. I would go over her head with that conversation, particularly since you have grand bosses approval to work with the other organization. I think that’s a very easy way in to the conversation. You can say, “I’m concerned because you have approved this, and now it might be threatening my livelihood.” Telling you your position doesn’t need to be full-time – yikes!

    2. Anonymous Demi ISFJ*

      No advice here, but solidarity. I work at a tiny nonprofit and report to the president of our volunteer board, who has no idea what I’m doing most of the time…

    3. Unemployed Hot Mess Express*

      What I did – quit. They never asked despite reading my 1:1 schedule every week with many opportunities to inquire what everything meant. They were new to the organization, by 3-mos and never asked, never cared about my work. I don’t have time in my professional life to spend inordinate amounts of time with ‘leaders’ who aren’t that and why they should have some modicum of knowledge of what I do before making decisions that affect my work.

    4. Banana Pyjamas*

      It sounds like your supervisor is looking for reasons to get you out. In that case there’s nothing you can do except ramp up your job search.

    5. Anon22*

      “my supervisor knows, in theory, what I do, but does not understand it, nor does she care. Given some other things happening in my organization in general, and my department specifically, I don’t feel the need (or have the bandwidth) to try and explain things to her.”

      Why should your supervisor care about what you do?
      How does what you do advance the goals of your organisation?
      Have you made this clear? It sounds like you expect her to know, but no-one else but yourself can educate her. It sounds like with all the “other things happening” you want to abdicate responsibility.

    6. KatherineJ*

      Oof. I thought for a moment I wrote this. My manager has no idea what I do despite continually explaining different aspects. I don’t think he cares either and I don’t have a supervisor between us right now. My previous supervisor even spent part of an 8 hour drive explaining it. I think my struggle is I just tend to use either too much jargon or get to scientific and he just doesn’t have the basic education to get it.

      I found out said manager was attempting to do something that is part of my job last week and now I am just mad at him. Called him out in an email and had to reply to say this is my job because his reply indicated he didn’t get what he was attempting to do. Waiting for the second reply email still. Its hard enough to find a job in my field, I am not letting someone blunder into my niche role and half ass the work.

  14. Kesnit*

    The letter from April 2 (“my boss says my work is bad, but all evidence says the opposite”) really hit a nerve. Although there were obviously some differences, a lot of that letter sounded like my last job. It was comforting to see all the support in the comments. I know they were not aimed at me, but seeing so many people say “get out and move on” brought a smile to my face. I got out of my last job 6 months ago and now keep asking why I waited as long as I did.

    1. Ama*

      I am about to leave a job that I would have said just got bad in the last couple of years, but I found an old diary entry from back in 2018 where I had all the same complaints I have now — I guess I just repressed it for a while (to be fair in 2019 I intentionally did not look for a new job because I was planning a wedding and didn’t have the energy for both things, and then 2020 happened so I think I did just put myself in survival mode for a few years). I think humans are adaptable to a point that it sometimes keeps us from recognizing when a situation gets to the “get out” stage.

    2. The Other Sage*

      I was in a situation where I did a good job until I got a burnout, but managers claimed I was bad at my job.

      I didn’t get out before partially because of the burnout self, partially because I was affraid of being unempliied, partially because I was affraidof change.

      Here I only speak about me, but I can imagine a lot of people take so much time to get out of unhealthy jobs because of fear of the unkown.

    3. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Same here! And congrats on getting out of that job. :) I was able to get out of my similar job after just a year, and feel lucky that I had a former colleague who was hiring…if I’d stayed longer, I really think I would have lost my sense of myself as a person who can be good at anything. I still have no explanation for why my manager acted like he did (literally cursing about the stupidity of entirely innocuous and necessary emails I’d sent to our clients; vaguely referencing performance issues but never being able to point to a specific example of any of them) and getting out is definitely the only solution in that situation.

  15. Chocolate Bear*

    My job is set to restructure everyone’s positions in July, but I’ve been applying for new jobs since mid-March. Aside from the toxicity of the place, it’s mainly because I haven’t received a title change in the 4.5 years I’ve been here, and the pay raises have been abysmal and difficult to obtain. Also, my manager keeps locking me out of opportunities that would make me visible to the ED and others in the agency.

    Is it worth having a conversation with the ED about my future at the agency? Should I let them know I’m thinking of moving on if I don’t receive something bigger and better?

    1. MsM*

      Unless you’re prepared for them to call your bluff and fire you on the spot, I wouldn’t. And even if they decide to meet your demands, do you really want to stay somewhere that’s toxic and unlikely to allow you to advance further without resorting to more ultimatums?

    2. pally*

      Giving an ultimatum (“I’m thinking of moving on if I don’t receive something bigger and better”) may result in them moving you on way sooner than you’d like. Is that something you are prepared for?

      It is certainly good to have a talk with a higher up as to what the company plans are for the future and what role you have in those plans. And to express your interest in bringing those plans to a success.

    3. ferrina*

      Have you already said that you are interested in growing your role? If not, that is definitely the first conversation to have. Depending on your industry/role, not getting a title change is still in the range of normal. The thing that worries me more are the raises- do you mean that you aren’t even getting cost of living adjustments?

      Honestly, if you’re at the point of ultimatums to get what you need, look elsewhere. If you have to use an ultimatum once, you will need to use it again when you want the next title/pay bump.

      1. Chocolate Bear*

        @ferrina – I have expressed interest throughout the years I’ve been here many times, asking about other job responsibilities, asking for an updated job description, title change (had that conversation three times), and also asking about promotion opportunities. Each time, I’ve received a non-answer from my manager, and they have pushed me to speak to my ED, but I didn’t trust that they were suggesting that with my best interest in mind. My manager is quite territorial over our ED because they booted me from a project the ED had wanted me to work on a couple of years ago. As for the raises, they have not been COL raises, but I have been told to be grateful regardless. I’ve spoken to other co-workers of mine, and it seems there is an uneven structure for raises because one of my co-workers, who has been here for about the same time, has not received ANY raise. Meanwhile, another co-worker of ours received a 40% raise after 2 years, and we all work in very similar roles with overlapping responsibilities. (In other words, it didn’t make sense.)

        I agree with the advice that it’s best to inquire generally about the restructuring, but I also was wondering if it might be better to get ahead of my manager, who seems hell-bent on keeping me down.

        At this point, I will definitely be out regardless of their responses, but I’ve been struggling to apply to certain jobs because my job title is lower than the responsibilities I’ve taken on.

        1. ferrina*

          Oh man, that’s really bad.

          Yeah, I’d put all my energy into getting out. If you get a higher title in the restructure, great, but at this point it’s about as reliable as rolling a dice. It’s not based on your performance at all, so invest your energy accordingly.

          Good luck on your job search!!!

    4. Artemesia*

      I would not mention that; it is implicit. But have a ‘talk about future opportunities’ — have something in mind and be open to what they might hve in mind. If they don’t offer something good and soon then increase the attention to job search. One outcome of overtly hinting you will leave is to be first on the layoff roster.

      1. Chocolate Bear*

        @Artemesia, that’s true. I’ll probably let my ED lead the conversation so I can see what they’re actually thinking. I wouldn’t want to stay somewhere where I continue to be undervalued and under-appreciated.

  16. Underboard*

    Supervisors – how do you / would you reply if one of your supervisees directly asks if you’re applying for an internal role? For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t want to disclose that. No need to introduce transition worries before I need to and no desire to discourage others from applying to the role as well.

    1. Yeep*

      I’d be pretty hand-wavey about it. “Oh, I haven’t decided/given it a lot of thought/still thinking about it.”

    2. ferrina*

      I would laugh and say “don’t worry, I’ll let the team know if I have any plans to go anywhere”.

      It’s a total dodge- an application doesn’t mean that I’m planning to leave, technically. Most of the time my team has been able to read between the lines when I do stuff like this (i.e., they know I can’t share certain things), but occasionally people get upset. But some people will always get upset over things that are unpredictable.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I might say something like “the hiring process is pretty confidential! I don’t want to start any rumors by talking about who might or might not be up for that role.” Is your report someone fairly early in their career? I ask because I can’t imagine asking that outright because I know it’s putting someone in a tight spot!

      1. Venus*

        Agreed. I have said something to my boss but would never ask them! In fact my boss recently commented about how much he loves working with us and doesn’t want to go anywhere, yet there is a good opportunity in our department that just opened up so I teased him with “not going anywhere, huh? that new role would be a good option for you, if you changed your mind” and left it at that. He agreed so I suspect that he’s applying, but I wouldn’t mention it to others in our group, and the fact that I wouldn’t is likely why he said anything at all. Additionally, our group is experienced so there wouldn’t be transition worries and it wouldn’t change anyone else’s decision to apply.

  17. Yeep*

    Are you always obligated to pass on feedback to your direct report from their grandboss?

    My direct report made a slight, mostly political blunder earlier this week. My boss followed up with me the next evening and asked me to talk with her about being careful. Thing is, she already called it out to me and apologized for it. I told him this, and he didn’t reply (which could mean he agrees/doesn’t care or that he disagrees). I think the situation is handled, and I don’t need to tell her he said anything. It’ll just be another boss bringing up the TPS report.

    I’m totally comfortable with my decision, but I’m curious where the commentariat falls on this.

    1. ferrina*

      I depends how much the direct report interacts with your boss. If they regularly interact, it is worth flagging that the boss asked you to talk to them (just “hey, I wanted to flag this for you; in my eyes the matter is settled and you’ve handled it, but I wanted you to have this info in case Boss/Grandboss mentions it”). In that case, it is important info for Direct Report to have regarding their relationship with Grandboss.
      But if they never have contact, I wouldn’t pass it along.

    2. Meh*

      If she caught it and already apologized, you could use phrasing like “I know we already discussed this and you already know that you’d handle it differently, but wanted you to be aware that it pinged on grandboss’s radar. I told him that you were aware of the misstep and that we discussed it, so it should be okay.”

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This is pretty much what I would say. Keeping the language light like this helps it not feel like piling on.

      2. Throwaway Account*

        I don’t love that language. I don’t want to know I’m on the grandboss’s radar like that.
        Saying it that way makes it feel bigger than it needs to be.

        I like what Ferrina said but with SLIGHT MODIFICATION: “hey, I wanted to flag this for you; GRANDSBOSS ASKED ME TO CHECK IN WITH YOU. In my eyes, the matter is settled, and you’ve handled it, AND I TOLD GRANDBOSS THAT, but I wanted you to have this info in case Boss/Grandboss mentions it”

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          This is great! I personally don’t bring up things like this with my directs once I’ve already addressed something with them, but I may start using this script.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would feel the same as you. I’ve been in her shoes– made a mistake and immediately mentioned it to my supervisor. She realizes she made a mistake, so unless it keeps happening, she doesn’t need coaching or reprimanding or anything like that, and it certainly doesn’t help to keep bringing it up. If she’s generally a strong team member and she’s self-aware enough not to repeat the same mistake too many times, I think you’re fine.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Your boss asked you to have a conversation with her. You did have a conversation with her. Just because these happened out of order doesn’t mean it’s not handled. You’re good.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, that’s where I fall. I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned grandboss to them even if he had asked me before I talked to them! Of course, it might be a different story if you have reason to believe it’s not actually settled with grandboss and your report might need to be careful around them. But if that’s not the case, all done and settled.

    5. Marta*

      I think it’s fine either way. Sounds like you’ve already handled it appropriately, but it also doesn’t seem so terrible to let her know the GB was aware – maybe it makes her just a little more careful next time.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      Personally, I would want my manager to at minimum say, “Grandboss asked me to talk with about X. I appreciate /acknowledge that we already discussed it, but I wanted to pass that along in case Grandboss asks you if we discussed it.”

      Because if manager hadn’t mentioned this, I wouldn’t be able to keep at least a slightly surprised expression off my face if Grandboss mentioned the request to discuss it to me, but it hadn’t happened.

  18. Texas Teacher*

    What are everyone’s thoughts about appraisal score transparency? Not individuals, but patterns?
    I’m a teacher. I’m trying to figure out if my bosses just score really hard, or if I’m just…. not very effective. I’m the only one on my campus that teaches my content area (think fine arts) and my colleagues at other campuses seem to not struggle with their ratings, or if they do, they’re not talking about them.
    I’d love to find out what the average appraisal scores for teachers are at my school and compare to other campuses.

    1. Educator*

      Three thoughts:
      1) Ask your boss to tell you more about the scores, including the range the scores they give usually fall in. It will get you more information about their approach and show them that you take feedback seriously and want to understand it.
      2) Ask your students for feedback! When I was a classroom teacher, I had my kids do short feedback surveys every month or two. So much more helpful to my practice than anything I got from a boss. And very helpful data for self-evaluation.
      3) Ask your union, if you have one, to ask for average appraisal scores for the district. Or district HR directly, if you feel comfortable with that. Never hurts to learn more. But the truth is that those scales are always a little subjective, no matter how well designed the criteria.

      1. Texas Teacher*

        Yeah. I get frustrated sometimes. I’ve had a different appraiser every year, and the typical classroom stuff they’re used to seeing is very, very different from the way my specialty field teaches teachers to teach. But from our campus attrition and what some of the classroom teachers say, I have a feeling we are graded tough. Honestly some of it has made me a better teacher, but it’s killing my morale.

        We are obviously used to salary transparency, since compensation tables are based on years of experience. I wonder if this sort of thing affects other industries.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      What about the data showing your students’ progress? That’s usually pretty hard to argue with. If that’s not an option I’d be looking for an open two-way conversation about how they see your progression and what training you should be taking to meet their high standards. It’s one of two things: either they hold up a high standard because they want you to be scrambling and to never feel quite good enough or ask for a higher pay band (bad workplace which probably won’t communicate with you at all) or they think there’s no such thing as a “good enough” teacher and everyone should be striving towards high goals and making progress; but they actually have a plan that will develop and help you (good workplace). I do also have experience in being the odd duck and if your subject area is very different, they may have hired you without really realising how their systems and appraisal scores only fit their traditionally round pegs, not the new square ones. If that’s the case, I’d ask if your appraisal documents could be redrafted to better reflect your job description or curriculum area.

    3. Rebecca1*

      Maybe one of the unions (TSTA or TexasAFT) would have some kind of data about regional or statewide appraisal averages broken down by subject area.

  19. Lirael*

    So this is academia-specific, I guess. I just got tenure (yay). I’m not in a traditional academic department, but it’s still a pretty big deal for us. There was a reception for newly tenured faculty and my department chair congratulated me, and I assumed that was it. And it was nice. But then I learned that my department chair had gotten not inexpensive gifts for the two members of my department who got tenure last year, and not me. It feels really stupid to be a little put out by this, but I am? I’m reading things into that I ought not to be.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      In a similar vein, I often ended up being the person who had to organise collections and cards for people who were leaving. One person, who was doing the same job as me got gifts worth nearly 300 euros!

      When I left that company, it was a card and a box of chocolates. Whilst it was a kind gesture it did feel like I wasn’t as popular.

      So yes, I think you can feel a bit put out. My last day at my previous job I got a card and a cheap bottle of wine. I got the impression it was more forgetfulness rather than maliciousness.

      1. Artemesia*

        I watched a retirement party where i worked for 35 year veteran of the place who had made incredible contributions to the department as well as gained national recognition in their field get a lame generic toast and a cheap memento that was not at all related to their interests or accomplishment while they added in a retiring part timer who was also leaving and made a big fuss and gave him gifts that related to his fishing hobby. It seemed like a real slap in the face to the person who was supposedly being feted.

        Sometimes it just depends on who got tasked to pull it together. but I can see why you feel wounded by it.

    2. ZSD*

      Congratulations on your tenure!
      Some possibilities:
      1) There really is a deeper meaning to the slight, and you’re not reading too much into it.
      2) The chair intends/intended to give you a gift as well but hasn’t gotten around to it because of a family emergency/unexpected busy-ness in the department, etc. Maybe you’ll get a gift later.
      3) Someone told the chair after last year’s gifts that such gift-giving was inappropriate, so they’re not giving you a gift this year, but it has nothing to do with how they feel about you personally.

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

        I’m betting it’s number 3. Especially if it is at a state University, they can be weird about gifts, even if the manager purchased it themselves.

        1. Ama*

          I’d also add a 3b — that the chair purchased the gifts assuming they could be reimbursed by the university and then found out they could not so they didn’t buy them this year. (When I worked in university admin this happened all the time — faculty would make purchases without checking and then be surprised to find out we had a very clear policy stating those types of purchases were not reimbursable and couldn’t be charged to any research stipend they might have.)

          1. 20 Points for the Copier*

            Or 3c. The chair pays for those out of pocket and was in a better personal financial position last year than this year.

            1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

              Or 3d that there used to be a budget for things like this and now there is not. I am in academia and we are trimmed down so much we don’t even have a budget for birthday cards anymore, let alone gifts.

      2. Car park*

        Congratulations! Tenure is huge!

        I would def have my feelings hurt if I found that out, BUT there are also a lot of non bad reasons it could have happened. But I would still be hurt a bit. lol.

        Any chance you’ve waived off gifts/recognition before? I only say this because at my former place of work they used to solicit our office for money for everyone’s birthdays and it bothered me, plus I couldn’t afford it, so I asked they not do the same for my bday. Then I totally forgot I said that (doh) and they started adding cards and a cute ppt presentation and all this other non monetary stuff to the bday celebrations. My bday comes back around and I get a brief happy birthday at our staff meeting and nothing else. I’m super cranky! Why don’t I get a rhyming ppt or ecard?? Eventually I remember I asked them to not make a big deal of my bday (by asking my coworkers for $20 each) and they held me to that. *facepalm*

        Congratulations again!

    3. Frieda*

      Sounds like a blunder on their part that suggests some bad manners but I wouldn’t necessarily read more into it than that.

      Reminds me of someone at my org who was told on Administrative Assistants’ Day that they would not be getting any recognition because “your role is so much more than that.” Just an unforced error made by someone who does not really consider the ramifications of things like that.

      1. Green Tea*

        That one may have been a bad call for that particular colleague, but it wouldn’t be for everyone. When I was an admin (in an org where admins are promised career opportunities during the interview process then once hired, treated as a servant class with basically no opportunities for upward growth), I hated Administrative Professionals Day. When I finally clawed my way into a hybrid position that was part programmatic, part admin, the last thing I would have wanted was ‘recognition’ on that day. I wanted to be publicly known for my programmatic work and took efforts to make my admin work as low-visibility as possible, to improve my chances for moving into a fully programmatic role.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Honestly, same. In fact the ‘so much more than that’ comment would have made me feel more included in the general team than a present or card for a meaningless holiday. The management team I currently work for treats me as one of them (I expected them to break into a ‘Consider Yourself…’ musical number on my first day because that’s what the welcome felt like) to the point that I think a recent addition to the team mistook me for someone with a slightly higher title and responsibility set the other day, ending up in an awkward missive from my boss telling them that I was only /reminding/ people to do /their/ job and not expected to be able to drill down into the details /for/ them.

          Contrast that with the condescending woman who worked for my old boss and who questioned my expertise in a stretch job I’d been doing for ten years and was the office ‘guru’ for. She actually stated that I was ‘just the receptionist’ and to not question what she was asking me to do based on her very poor knowledge of how Royal Mail systems actually worked. She left after a year in the job and it was much worse because she herself had been a receptionist not that long before getting that job herself. My workplace is a very blue/pink-collar place, everyone mucks in together, no-one is too good to get the rubber gloves on once in a while (a lot of the senior facilities staff, including two of the women I serve as admin, started out in the cleaning areas and we really do talent-spot for management; the head of facilities for one healthcare trust was helping deep clean their installations at the time everyone else was going into COVID lockdown), everyone has their areas of expertise and no-one stands on ceremony.

          The assumption that I’m higher on the ladder than I actually am is something that has dogged me in my career to date (I’ve always had an abundance of qualifications but very little practical experience due to my twenties being a rough ride mentally) but it’s worth it to feel part of the team and valued for my own expertise rather than ignored because of my lowly rank.

          It’s also much, much more meaningful than any Administrative Professionals Day BS to see people finally treat me as the respected colleague I am.

    4. It's me, hi, I'm the commenter, it's me*

      Absent other info, don’t read anything into this. In the “similar but different” vein, our department has organized baby showers for some people and not others. Because the person who did a few baby showers didn’t think she should be responsible for every baby shower ever, but nobody else stepped up when she (unofficially) stepped down. It had nothing to do with how the department felt about the individual people!

    5. Nesprin*

      Congrats!!!! Getting tenure is such an accomplishment- you deserve all the gifts in the world.

      Don’t read much into it-often times gifts in academia are “there was money in the kitty for gifts” or “the admin was on top of things and ordered gifts through the secret money pile” or “the chair was reminded that they had to do this in time and forgot this time”

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup, this. As a receptionist for ten years, you could tell when one department had cash because they’d get a caterer in, then there might be a couple of years where someone was buying supermarket finger food, then suddenly the commercial sandwich trays would reappear.

        In any public service job (the UK government is not as strict on catering as the US is but we’re still meant to be mindful and not overdo it, so you have to become used to cold Sainsbury’s sausage rolls) there’s going to be an uneven pattern of who gets what, and nine times out of ten it’s because the cash is/isn’t there, and the other one time it’s because you’re not moving on but moving up and your boss so dislikes making a fuss that she says ‘Thanks for ten years of good work’ in the same voice in which she normally said ‘See you on Monday’ and you appreciate it because you know that’s just what she’s like and she means it way more positively than it comes out.

        I wouldn’t take it personally at all.

    6. Throwaway Account*

      Write the chair a thank you note for the reception and congratulations and say how much those meant to you. That way you do a nice thing and you might find more info – like if they chair says, didn’t you get the x gift? Just in case there was a gift and it did not reach you or even to jog the chair’s memory about a gift (but don’t do it for that reason!).

    7. Academic Anon*

      Congrats on tenure, that is huge! I would be put out as well to not receive the same/equivalent gifts as other people that got the same achievement, but more so for the future implications of it. Does this mean that your department chair would favor the other two as far as budgeting? How often does the chair change? And how did you find out about the gifts? All of those answers would influence me on how I would feel about it. And *sigh*, academia is not in a good hiring place, so leaving is not the automatic response that it might be in corporate. Good luck and hope this is a blip.

    8. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Congratulations on getting tenure!

      I understand being a bit miffed about the gift thing, but other commenters have give plausible reasons for it.

      Little things can cause feelings even if there is a good/valid reason. I retired in 2020, so obviously my department couldn’t throw the retirement party they usually throw. They offered me (and a colleague who also retired that year) a virtual retirement part over Zoom, and we both said no. But it did niggle a bit when they didn’t circle back and offer *something* to commemorate our time at the institution.

    9. AFac*

      Congratulations on tenure!

      Is your department head new or are there other things going on that are taking their attention? When I earned tenure, the department head threw a combined congratulations and welcome party at the start of the next school year. The following year, there was a lot of other things going on at the beginning of the school year so the welcome party didn’t end up happening, which meant, of course, that the congratulations party for those who earned tenure also didn’t happen. The following year, the department head was different and didn’t like throwing parties.

    10. Lirael*

      Thanks, everyone! I appreciate your thoughts on this, especially ZSD’s. It’s probably either 2 or 3.

  20. WafflesFluff*

    If you want to leave a job after a few months because of management, how do you deal with that in interviews?

    My manager is rude, gives really vague instructions, and is OOO frequently without letting anyone know. I haven’t gotten any feedback on my performance since I started 5ish months ago. I have some goals set for this year but have no support in reaching them.

    There’s other aspect of the job I don’t like, but I feel like I have had *much* better managers in the past and could do better elsewhere.

    1. Hot Dish*

      I would focus on what you do want in your next job, including what you’ve learned you need from a manager. It’s always tough trying to get your head away from all the complaining about things you’re trying to get away from (I have been there multiple times), but try to focus on the larger picture of what you do want in a job. Separately, sometimes I’ll ask how long people have been there to get a sense of whether people stick around.

    2. ferrina*

      “It wasn’t a good culture fit. The role is more independent to the point of isolated, and I realized that while I enjoy independence in my work, it’s also important to me to be able to have a manager that I can get feedback from on at least a monthly basis, and maybe even be able to collaborate with my manager.”

      i.e., you are positioning it as “I’m looking for something…completely normal”. Say this in a neutral/upbeat tone, as though your current manager’s style is an acceptable variation of management (even though it’s not), and you are just looking for a different variation of management (i.e., a really normal one)

    3. Artemesia*

      I would focus on what you want to do on the job and that the last job turned out to be entirely different than it appeared when you accepted it. i.e. don’t diss management but talk about the job fit disappointment. You wanted the challenge of building new level widgets and it turned out to be data entry about widget sales though the job was advertised and talked up as widget design. You are a go getter who wants to do challenging things.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      “The job is pretty different from the way it was described in my interview.” Because in the interview it sounded like I’d have a decent manager.

  21. Huge Canadian Candidate Application pools*

    Any Canadian HR staff here? I’ve been talking with friends and they’re so surprised by the incredulous increase in job applications, with even niche roles have 500+ applications! They think it’s totally related to the population increase (if I recall correctly…Canada has the highest population increase amongst G7, and even one of the higher population increases in the world!).

    As a job seeker….it feels like I’m discouraged to apply when I see there are already hundreds of applications.

    1. Jane Bingley*

      Not in HR but I do some hiring and honestly, most of them are absolute garbage applications. We have to sift through so much nonsense. I don’t mean just bad applications, I mean utterly unfit. Say our company is called Llama Love and we sell stuffed llama toys; we are inundated with llama grooming and vet tech applications, despite having zero connection to actual llamas and clearly stating so in both the job ad and all over our website. We’ll have a job ad called “marketing lead” that clearly states we sell stuffed animals and are looking for someone with experience marking stuffed animals, and 90% of the applications are people saying “I love shoveling animal poop! Hire me!”

      If your application shows that you clearly understand the nature of the job and want the job we have, not something completely unrelated, you are 1 in 100 applicants and will be immediately marked for pre-screening call.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        I am also not HR but review resumes sometimes, and yes, very much this (I’m in Vancouver). The bulk of the resumes are clearly not sent by people who read the ad or care about seeming to want/understand that specific job. Many are just 100% unqualified based on the clearly stated requirements.

        It’s true that many seem to be new to Canada, but for us at least we’d be happy to hire a new immigrant if they met qualifications, but the vast majority of applicants just don’t.

        In some ways it boosts the ones who make an effort, because after 40 typo-ridden zero effort applications you get so excited when one is an actual maybe.

        Good luck!

      2. Tio*

        I hired a specialist position at the beginning of the year and we received 151 garbage applications who didn’t make it to or past phone screen. We’re a big company with a good name, but we’re also farther from city centers than a lot of companies are. We only had 4 worth interviews overall.

      3. Artemesia*

        I hired at a US organization for years for roles that required PhDs and would routinely get about 200 applications. At least half were non-starters; didn’t come close to approximating what the job description asked for. Another quarter were people who made reasonable guesses based on the job description but were unsuited because we were not allowed to make the job description quite specific enough about what we were looking for for political reasons internally. (these were the ones who felt their degree and experience should make them at least attractive enough for a phone screen and were puzzled why not — they were right — I couldn’t do anything about it). The final 50 got close scrutiny and were winnowed to 10 and then 6 or so were phone screened and 2 or 3 flown in for interviews. but always there were tons of applicants that were just noise in the system.

      4. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        So much this. I’m in the US and well over 75% of applications are unrelated and incomplete. Keywords are flagged by the job posting sites and applications started that are not even remotely relevant. Fairly certain AI is starting the application process and soliciting the applicants to further complete it.

        Downside of online applications.

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me of the old comic strip Retail and the series he did on hiring holiday help: my favorite was the one where the interviewee asks “If I got hired here and two days later the store burned to the ground, could I collect unemployment?”

    2. Book Addict*

      Not HR, but I know several people who have hired lately, and a lot of the applications are… ridiculous. Huge amounts are completely unqualified and my partner received one application in less than 5 minutes of it going live. (And I don’t mean it’s a stretch application, I mean they don’t even have the basic qualifications.) There’s also been a lot of people trying to get hired by Canadian companies so they can use that to get a work visa and come to Canada – which in a lot of orgs is not going to fly, because you have to rule out Canadians and those with Permanent Residency first. I wouldn’t put much stock in the number of applications already submitted. If you are qualified and interested, go for it!

    3. Gingham Altar*

      Canadian hiring manager, just got almost 500 applications for a fairly niche role. The vast majority didn’t seem to read the job posting, but a good 40 or so were qualified. That’s about 35 qualified people who don’t even get an interview. :(

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Not in Canada, but I’m pretty sure no job posted anywhere I’ve worked in the past dozen years got fewer than 400 applications. Generally less than 20 of those were actually remotely qualified for the roles.
      So I guess I’m surprised by your friends’ surprise, unless they’re indicating a significant portion of that applicant pool actually have a chance in hell at an interview, let alone the job.

    5. aubrey*

      Not HR but hiring manager, echoing that the vast majority are absolutely unrelated or complete trash. Our pool of actual qualified candidates hasn’t really changed much, but the volume of nonsense has definitely increased. Do not be discouraged from applying, these people (or bots) apply immediately to every posting I think, so just because there are already hundreds of application that doesn’t mean that there’s even a single qualified candidate in there.

  22. No Tribble At All*

    Just solved a problem that’s been plaguing me for a MONTH. A tool I wrote didn’t have permissions access to stuff it should have, and my boss was driving me up the wall by saying “but it should just work!” Finally sat down and in 5 minutes we figured it out. My tool was running in an entirely different place, which is why it didn’t have permissions! I’m glad we solved it, but I was going to gnaw on the furniture I was so frustrated. If my golden-retriever-chasing-squirrel of a boss had been able to schedule time to sit down with me, and had actually listened to what I was saying, this wouldn’t have been broken for so long.

    1. Meh*

      Empathy!
      Sometimes I want to scream “will you just LISTEN to what I’m telling you !!!”

      1. Anon Today*

        And it’s even less fun cousin “I told you that. I told you that 6 months ago, 3 months ago, last month and last week. I’ve told you in person and in writing. I’ve sent you reports.”
        “Uhhhh, you did?”

        I swear, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink!

  23. Meh*

    I’ve got a set of skills unique to the team that are
    appreciated at a superficial level but not well understood with limited resources to do my job and no opening for advancement or growth.
    They keep telling me I’m valuable to the team, but I’m not well utilized.

    I’ve got a performance review coming up. Is there a good way of saying “I’m not actually doing that *good* of a job – your standards are just really low. I want the ability to do more/better!” I absorbed 90% of the other person’s work (was in similar role but left) without batting an eye.

    My manager and grandboss think that by them telling me that I’m “doing great”, it will make me feel better. I have my own internal calibration of what “great” involves, and this is not it. But that won’t go down well.

    1. MsM*

      I’d skip the “your standards are really low” part, and just focus on the “I want to do more/better,” accompanied by your plan for how to do that. If they’re not interested, then maybe it’s time to start looking for a place that will challenge you.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly this.

        Never say “your standards are low”. In my experience, that just means that they re-set standards to Impossibly High. They don’t understand your role, so you need to help them develop it by saying what you can/can’t do. Give them tangible ways that you can take on more/meet additional business needs.

    2. Ama*

      Agree with the above, saying something like “Now that I’ve had some time to settle in, I have the capacity to add [projects you’d like to take on] if that’s something you’d be open to me exploring.”

      1. anon for this*

        That’s what I will be doing, and I’ll be coming with example projects. For myself, I’ve already determined that I’m going to sketch out project proposals for topics/skills that would serve me well if I decided to leave (whether for another internal position or external). They’d also serve the unit I’m in, for sure.

        In my position, I have very niche skills in a hot area (think AI) and everyone else in my unit knows what they know well, know how to do it in an old-school way, and when the rubber hits the road, do not know enough about my skillset that they can even imagine what I would consider “a good job”.

        1. kalli*

          If they don’t know enough about your skills and your job to imagine what you can do then they’re not going to understand you wanting to do it, how it can work for them, and how to manage/assess you on it, and that’s not going to change unless the people do.

          Either prepare to be bored, or start looking. If it’s a hot area, you should find something before your skills stagnate from not keeping up with it and do it before you’re stuck behind the times because you’ve been kept back at a basic level. Whether it’s because they’re behind or because what they’ve been doing is mostly fine for them, it’s not right for you moving forward and you can’t expect to change that with one review or even a campaign if the actual people above you aren’t keeping up.

          1. Meh*

            that’s where I’m landing. I’m scared that after 5 years post-graduation for a career switch, and this being my only job post-switch, my career is shot. Too experienced for “new grad” but my experience is… meh

            1. kalli*

              You just need to be able to explain how your pre-switch skills transfer and what your post-switch education allows you to do. ‘I’ve been working in this area for [how long] now and I’m really interested in developing my [think AI] skills towards [advanced level] so I’m looking for jobs where I can stretch and use things I learn in professional development. If you choose me you also get [pre-switch soft skills] which mean I can [do a thing, like communicate better with the public, project manage] as well as [think AI but more than what you do now.’ Also think about what you like and what feeds your ‘yay I’,m doing good’ brain which may not be just doing complex work – for me it’s taking the boring stuff off other people’s plates so they can do their best work and I can just backstop them but I don’t have to deal with clients. So I can really sell the ‘I’m qualified as a lawyer, please let me do all your lists of documents and schedules and calculations, y’all can litigate and plead knowing your docs are super organised and your billing’s up to date!’ and I’ll only get bored and demotivated if they’re giving those to admins instead of me and everyone else is like ‘I’m so busy’ and I have like half an hour of data entry for the day. What is it for you and can you sell that? Because that basically removes the ‘I started late’ part of “career switch”.

              1. Meh*

                We both know that getting one’s foot in the door is harder than it seems. with an 8 year gap between careers (2 kids + grad school follower by COVID) , my network is stale / mostly irrelevant.

                I know I just need to keep looking. I keep reminding myself that a thousand nos matter less than the one yes. But omg some days I want to cry. “no, you cannot average an average”. “yes, you can use exponential notation for numbers”. “this is called a histogram, it’s one way to look at your data”.

                My colleagues are NOT stupid – they can trace $15 dollars across 5 accounts and a dozen transactions while I sit there looking befuddled at the spreadsheet, and track down $5 dollar discrepancies in $10B ledgers.

                But every interaction reminds me how alien I am to them and vice-versa.

    3. Ms. Norbury*

      Is it possible for you to frame this information in concrete terms that would show the benefits for the company? Something like “if I had X resource/more authority/freedom to make decisions about Y, I would be able to give the company Z result”. If it fits that situation, that would make really clear what they’re missing out by NOT giving you what you’re asking for. They might still say no, but them they’re making clear that they want less from the role than you can give, and that’s… useful information.

    4. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      I’d recommend that you rate yourself highly on all categories (if you do self-rating) and then include additional tasks or projects that you can take on, and how those will be helpful to the team.

    5. Ostrich Herder*

      Like others said, I’d skip the “your standards are low” language, but maybe “there’s a lot more room to grow here” would work as an alternative.

      I think your ability to absorb someone else’s job with ease really drives home how poorly your management understands the role you fill, and the work you do, which makes me think that “making it easy for them” is the best way to get what you want/need to meet your own standards. If you could come with some specific projects or ideas you’d like to tackle and, like Ms. Norbury mentions, how they’d benefit your organization, you might get some momentum going.

      But it’s also possible that they’re not going to want to go to the trouble of doing more or improving, no matter how easy you make it for them. I’d be prepared for the possibility that you present the best, most compelling case in the world, and still get told that you’re meeting their standards and that’s all that matters.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      Do you have ideas on how you could be better utilized? If so, I’d use the opportunity to pitch that to the boss. Create a one-pager on what you see as being your next challenge and how it will help the organization. Leave the one-pager with the boss, as this will probably be new to them and they may want time to think. But if they don’t know what you do, they won’t come up with ideas on how to better use you. Good luck!

    7. Sharon*

      If your company is paying you to do X at a mediocre level, and you want to do X+Y+Z at a high performance, there’s a mismatch there. Either get your company to promote you or look for another job, or you’ll just be consistently overdelivering and getting underpaid for what you do.

    8. Yeep*

      Just commenting in solidarity. This was my last job. It was mind numbing. I tried to manage up (which I’m usually also very good at) but my boss just did not know how to deal with “someone like me.” I ended up leaving and telling them to advertise my replacement at a lower level because they weren’t utilizing the position to its potential (they did, hired someone competent, and unfortunately she’s just as as bored as I was).

  24. Amber*

    I’m back again, had another interview on Wednesday for a manager position! I followed up with the managers that had previously interviewed me for a different position (that I’d prefer due to schedule) and sent a thank you note to this weeks interview panel. Personal goal of being a manager in 2024 is on the right track!

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Congrats, and good luck!!

      (Also: same hat! My fancypants manager job interview on Wednesday was pushed back by two weeks though due to an interviewer being out sick though… >.<)

      1. Amber*

        Sorry to hear that! At least you made it to the interview stage! Good luck on your interview!

  25. lost young professional*

    Hey all — would really appreciate an employer-friendly way to explain that I was fired from my first post-college job.

    What happened was that I got excellent feedback on my 30 day review and had no idea my manager wasn’t happy until my 90 day review (which she submitted two weeks late, and in hindsight I’m bitter about losing that extra time to improve). But even then, the feedback was largely positive: she just asked that I take more initiative, so I tried to sign up for professional development opportunities and suggest new ideas.

    The next month didn’t go well — my manager didn’t respond to most of my messages or emails and rejected most of my ideas whenever I did get in touch with her, so I was trying to figure it out on my own — and in late February she sent me a long list of complaints, most of which she had never before mentioned (some of which weren’t even true!).

    Two weeks later, I asked for updated feedback and was told that they were impressed with the changes I’d made, but that I should have been doing them before. And then a month after that (three days ago) I officially got fired for not showing “sustained and significant performance”. In hindsight, I’m not even sure why I worked so hard in the last month — I think she made up her mind in early March.

    I guess this is mostly a rant, but also looking for advice: was there anything I should have done differently? I’m definitely going to push for more specific feedback early on at my next job.

    But also, how do I explain this to prospective employers without blaming my manager? Taking initiative is a basic component of most jobs, and I know I can do it: I even had a former colleague say she’d worked with many interns over the years, but none of them took as much initiative as I do.

    I’m thinking about saying something like “it was my first time doing [very niche work] and it wasn’t a good fit, and my manager agreed but said that I was welcome to apply for other jobs in the department. So I’m excited to get back to my roots in [different work that I’m now applying to].” (All of which is technically true.)

    Really appreciate any advice, commiseration, or whatever (if I’m delusional and arrogant and this situation is entirely my fault, I would also appreciate knowing that).

    P.S. I have a couple of interviews lined up from when I was still working — can I dodge “why are you thinking about leaving your current job?” by saying “well, I’m excited about this job because XYZ”, or is that too sneaky? I know I have to tell the truth if directly asked “are you still at this job?”

    1. MsM*

      “It wasn’t a good fit” is generally a safe response, as is pivoting to what excites you about this job instead. But I don’t think you’d be out of line to say something along the lines of, “I don’t feel like I was set up for success, but I learned a lot, including what I’m looking for in my next role.” Then if you want, you can pivot to asking about how this place handles providing feedback.

    2. Hillary*

      One, this is 1000% on your manager. It sounds like your manager wasn’t able to give you clear expectations for the role. The kindest interpretation is she wasn’t prepared for a new grad. The learning curve is different when it’s someone’s first job, even if they’ve had internships. She might be used to more experienced folks who operate independently and already know what to do.

      You need to tell them you’re no longer there if they ask, but you don’t have to bring it up proactively. If it’s upsetting it’s worth writing and practicing a script.

      I’d probably say they figured out they needed someone with more experience. You figured out that you want a role where they have structure, systems, and/or processes to set entry-level people up for success.

      1. Hillary*

        also, in some states you’re eligible for unemployment. hiring someone who can’t do the job is the employer’s fault, not the employee’s. if that’s true in your state you should absolutely file.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I just have commiseration! I was in a similar situation where all I needed was clear, early guidance but what I got was a manager who freaked out, delayed, went AWOL, hid behind positive language to the point of making my head swell and then got angry I didn’t understand the situation. In general, as impossible as it sounds it’s a lesson you should use to think about rather than talk about. In general they want to hear what you like about the position, and not your woes from the past. But, if you’re asking your next manager questions in the interview about their style and they’re flaky or if they’re not even the person who’s going to be managing you… you’ll be less inclined to sign up. I do really like the language suggested by MsM about not being set up for success and the fit not being good in general. Your own language is very good too.

    4. Tio*

      I would not dodge the “why are you thinking about leaving your current job?” question, as that is pretty much a direct question, imo. If someone didn’t tell me and we found out they weren’t there, it would look shady. Just go with the same language as “are you still at the job?”

      Taking initiative is good, but for an entry level person – which I’m assuming you were since it’s first post college job – you have a limited skill set and experience, there’s only so much to do without proper direction. This isn’t on you.

      I would go with the “They were looking for someone with more experience” phrasing someone below mentioned, as that’s mostly true.

    5. ecnaseener*

      I would just have an answer prepared in case they probe into *why* it wasn’t a good fit. Ideally not “I didn’t take enough initiative,” were any of the more recent critiques something you can own (struggling with X when the jobs you’re applying for don’t do X) or spin better? If not, I agree with Tio that the way to spin the “initiative” thing is “I didn’t have much relevant experience for that work and it turned out they needed someone who could hit the ground running without much support”

    6. Stuart Foote*

      For the purposes of job interviews, I would not focus on fault and just focus on what you will do moving forward. I would just say it wasn’t a good fit and bring up why the new job matches your skills better and try to segue into that topic. Generally employers want new grads to show their worth early by performing tasks rather than coming up with new ideas. Try to get in your manager’s head and try to figure out what work the new hire is going to take off their plate. Chances are it will be something like maintaining a spreadsheet versus process improvements or anything too exciting. That comes with time.

      If they ask why you’re thinking of leaving I’d just be honest and explain that it wasn’t a good fit for your skills and education. Dodging the question is a lot of risk for not much reward.

  26. Pizza Rat*

    Nothing like a morning earthquake to get your blood moving. No damage where I am, but it was rather unnerving.

    1. Dannie*

      I got called on in a Teams meeting to answer a really technical question, immediately after the shaking stopped. (Headquarters is in the midwest, they had no clue.) I had to unmute and admit that I was basically useless at the moment, and they would need to e-mail me with questions.

    2. Bast*

      I’ve never felt anything like that before. We are on an upper level, so I think we felt it worse than those on the ground. Some of the people walking around the city didn’t feel it, but I had things move around my desk and the doors rattled. We get bomb threats around here (work across from a courthouse, which is ALWAYS getting threats) so at first I was worried someone made good on it. No one wanted to go back in the building.

      1. Pizza Rat*

        14th floor of my office building. Things on my desk shook, but not to a noisy degree. A friend in NJ things fall from shelves.

        Then we couldn’t find any information about it. We all ran to Google or Bing, “Was that really an earthquake?” and it took a while for anyone to have any coverage.

    3. UnemployedInGreenland*

      It was crazy! I was sitting on my couch in the living room and suddenly the room was shaking so hard I almost fell off! I had just put a load of laundry in and my first thought was that I had done something to the washing machine. But then I realized it was much more than that. All my neighbors were outside saying “Did you feel that??” Yesterday was a crazy day.

  27. Frankie Bergstein*

    For real – how do you all deal with work stress? I know this is such a basic, 101 question, but I have never before had colleagues who are “retired in place” — that is, they intentionally do not do their jobs or will give you the runaround rather than solving an issue. What’s got me particularly angry is colleagues who not only refuse to solve a problem that is their responsibility (e.g., an underperforming contractor) but add to that by gaslighting you into thinking you are the problem (“maybe your standards are just too high?”). I am wasting a lot of energy feeling frustrated, but I’m doing all the things you’re supposed to — documenting the issue, escalating it, providing evidence, talking it out with the contractor myself, etc. But that leaves the emotional piece of it.

    One of my friends says that I should vent. With a frustrating colleague in the past, I would anticipate that meetings with her would leave me steaming, so I would schedule time to go for a walk and decompress afterwards. I would also do as much work as possible to avoid having to work with her. In other words, I will find ways to go “around” difficult people rather than having to deal with them.

    What else works? Do you all journal? Run? Vent? Box? Talk to your leadership?

    1. WafflesFluff*

      I go to the gym and try to eat healthy and make sure I’m getting enough sleep.

      I would absolutely talk to management.

      I also remind myself that it’s “just work”. It’s not a reflection of my whole self or my worth as a person. It’s just a thing I do to make money so I have a place to live, food, and money to travel and do my hobbies.

      Therapy also helps!

      1. Cordelia*

        yes I do the same – I tell myself it’s just a job, and all jobs suck to a greater or lesser extent. I try to notice the things I like about this job, to balance out the inevitable frustrations.
        And I have a venting arrangement with a friend in the same line of work, we used to work together years ago so understand the context and culture of our kind of workplace. We just fell into this pattern, but now it has become deliberate – we meet in a pub after work, drink one glass of wine while I vent about my work, a second glass of wine while she vents about hers (the order may vary!) – then we go to a restaurant and have dinner while talking about anything other than work, so the venting has time limits and we also get to have a nice social catch-up.

    2. Hot Dish*

      Journal, exercise, and look for something else. That place does not sound good for your mental health.

    3. Etc*

      Return the energy. I work somewhere that people would get fired for not meeting billable/chargeables or hindering it for others, but in the rare cases I’ve run into this, I document “project a cannot move forward without Lego pruning report, deadline contingent on Lego team as of 4/2/2024, see emails to Lego lead dated 3/25,3/26,3/26,3/28,4/1” and make it clear in all our meetings that the ball is in their court. Zero remorse about making it clear it’s in the Lego team’s failure, not mine. But I’m junior enough that I can pass this problem to my boss, in this way, I’m not directly responsible to the client.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        This. Make it known that you’ve done all you can until *insert coworker hindering project here* does the next part. This is what ccing the boss was made for.

    4. Julia*

      Exercise, therapy, pretending to be an anthropologist observing alien life forms when I interact with people like this. Also power shoes and a firm, friendly “of course you want to do this for me” attitude with a lot of eye contact and smiling. But I am a dominatrix as a side project, so I pull from that a lot when dealing with difficult people.

    5. Hillary*

      My answer was therapy. Lots of therapy. Depersonalizing is key to releasing the frustration. This person isn’t doing it at you personally. Unless you’re both responsible and accountable on the RACI diagram they’re not *your* problems – they’er the company’s problems.

      Working around them or cleaning up the mess feels better in the short term but it’s worse in the long term. Sometimes we have to let things run their course and fail.

      I’m still terrible at this, but now I run a startup so the problems really are mine. good luck!

    6. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      What others have said, and also: resist the temptation to vent; evidence shows it is less effective than it seems, or even counterproductive (link in following comment).
      If you do want to talk about your stresses to someone else (which can help you feel connected and supported even if it doesn’t lower your stress about the situation directly), frame it as asking for perspective (“can you help me think differently about this situation?”) or practical support (“I want to make a change like X or Y to deal with this situation, but I need A or B to make it work– can you help with that?”) rather than blowing off steam, going over all the things that are stressing you out.

  28. feeling very lost*

    Hey all — would really appreciate an employer-friendly way to explain that I was fired from my first post-college job.

    What happened was that I got excellent feedback on my 30 day review and had no idea my manager wasn’t happy until my 90 day review (which she submitted two weeks late, and in hindsight I’m bitter about losing that extra time to improve). But even then, the feedback was largely positive: she just asked that I take more initiative, so I tried to sign up for professional development opportunities and suggest new ideas.

    The next month didn’t go well — my manager didn’t respond to most of my messages or emails and rejected most of my ideas whenever I did get in touch with her, so I was trying to figure it out on my own — and in late February she sent me a long list of complaints, most of which she had never before mentioned (some of which weren’t even true!).

    Two weeks later, I asked for updated feedback and was told that they were impressed with the changes I’d made, but that I should have been doing them before. And then a month after that (three days ago) I officially got fired for not showing “sustained and significant performance”. In hindsight, I’m not even sure why I worked so hard in the last month — I think she made up her mind in early March.

    I guess this is mostly a rant, but also looking for advice: was there anything I should have done differently in the last two months? I’m definitely going to push for more specific feedback early on at my next job.

    But also, how do I explain this to prospective employers without blaming my manager? Taking initiative is a basic component of most jobs, and I know I can do it: I even had a former colleague say she’d worked with many interns over the years, but none of them took as much initiative as I do.

    I’m thinking about saying something like “it was my first time doing [very niche work] and it wasn’t a good fit, and my manager agreed but said that I was welcome to apply for other jobs in the department. So I’m excited to get back to my roots in [different work that I’m now applying to].” (All of which is technically true.)

    Really appreciate any advice, commiseration, or whatever (if I’m delusional and arrogant and this situation is entirely my fault, I would also appreciate knowing that).

    P.S. I have a couple of interviews lined up from when I was still working — can I dodge “why are you thinking about leaving your current job?” by saying “well, I’m excited about this job because XYZ”, or is that too sneaky? I know I have to tell the truth if directly asked “are you still at this job?”

    1. ThatGirl*

      I got fired from my second-ever job, and for what sounds like much more solid reasons than you. I was told by an employment lawyer friend that I should never lie, but that it’s totally fine to paint a more favorable picture of yourself. And since you were let go pretty early in your stay there, “The position turned out to not be a good fit” is totally reasonable.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Also, to echo something someone said above – focus on what you learned from it and what you’re looking for in a new position.

    2. Sherm*

      I was fired from my first post-college job, too. This will one day be far way in the rear view mirror.

      My own little rant: Generally in America, employment is at-will, and, fine, I see the advantages. But being firing therefore shouldn’t be seen as an automatic black mark. Of course, someone could be fired for doing something truly terrible, but many times it really does come down to fit.

      I’m not sure I would say “it was my first time doing [very niche work]” as to me it may imply that you were in over your head on the technical aspects of the work, whereas this may have been a soft-skills clash. Perhaps: “I learned a lot doing X, and got many compliments doing Y…” and then the rest of your script. Definitely keep it brief.

      It’s not terribly likely that they will flat-out ask you why you are leaving your current job. Often, an interviewer’s first question is to let you expand on some length on your history and what brought you to the interview seat. They may ask “Why are you interested in our job,” in which case you can focus on the new job and not what happened at the old one.

    3. PeteG*

      I’m sorry this happened. It sounds like it really sucks.

      I’d be curious for others’ thoughts, but I wonder if you need to mention it at all. Obviously don’t lie if it comes up, but it sounds like such a short amount of time that you might not even want to list it on your resume since your resume should largely be about accomplishments (and being so new in a job it’s unlikely you’d have a lot of major ones to identify yet) and you probably won’t use those folks as references, right?

      1. Pillow Fort Forever*

        I was just thinking the same – two months isn’t a big deal and you can skip it. Also – I was fired from my first job out of college after ~6 weeks. It was ridiculous-basically our manager skipped some key training (we were at HQ for several training weeks), told to not mention what he had skipped, then I was fired for not being well trained. At the time I was so embarrassed and humiliated that I didn’t realize how screwed up it was. I had it on my resume until a friends parent in HR said to take it off. A short time, it really isn’t relevant-nor is it indicative of how you’ll perform on your next gig. Hang in there!!

      2. feeling very lost*

        I was there for nearly six months! Apologies for the misunderstanding. I worked there Oct. 2023 – Apr. 2024 and was unemployed beforehand since my May 2023 graduation, which is why I was planning to leave it on.

        Since it’s nearly May, maybe I can get away with taking my graduation year off of my resume and people might think I’m a new grad? But then my most recent relevant experience would be a summer 2022 internship, which feels really long ago.

    1. Dannie*

      More than 5% if it’s a standard yearly adjustment or COL increase.

      More than 15% if it’s an internal promotion.

      More than 20% if it’s a jump to another company.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      In what circumstance? Annual increase? Merit-based? Promotion? Moving from one job to a similar job at a different employer? It makes a big difference.

      1. amoeba*

        Also, which country? I know, probably mostly US, but it makes a huge difference! Even the inflation rates are wildly different just in the neighbouring European countries here…
        Also, in the country I live and work in, starting salaries in my field are typically higher, but then increases tend to be in the low single digit percent range most years. In my home country, same field, they start lower but typically have a 10-20% increase in the first year or two. Really can’t compare!

        So, for my very specific case: 2-3% yearly COL adjustment is fine (inflation is actually lower than that here). For promotions/title changes to more senior, maybe an additional 3-8%. If you change company (lateral move), eeh, actually not a huge change, I typically aim for 5-10% increase when I apply – they tend to be pretty well aligned and similar in pay ranges!

    3. NaoNao*

      Anything about 4% if it’s an internal raise based on COL. Up to 10% for merit bonus or performance based pay.

    4. Alex*

      4-5% would feel generous for an annual/merit/COL increase. I’ve never received more than 4.5% and have received as little as 1.5%.

    5. The Real Fran Fine*

      The one I just got – 17% for a non-promotion based increase. I was gobsmacked when my manager told me the news – my company usually does 1-3% raises (which they call merit increases) yearly for people not receiving a promotion. Shoot, this percentage raise was even higher than the two promotion-based salary increases I’ve received at this company (13 and 15% respectively).

    6. Dragonfly7*

      Yearly? I’m a renter, so whatever increase keeps my rent at roughly the same proportion of my income.

  29. I detest organized fun and want to make this painless*

    I need some icebreaker ideas for a team of 18 that will take 5 minutes!

    I don’t want to put anyone on the spot with demands about their personal life or feelings, possibly have the icebreaker be work related?

    Previously, our team icebreakers were time-consuming and exhausting, and the same people talked every meeting. Some of them were trivia (don’t want to do), where you put in an image of whatever theme and everyone guessed who did it (this got less fun the more we did them) and some were surveys where we would go through each answer (not the most fun).

    The only thing I thought of was to put a list of “or” choices (vanilla or chocolate, summer or winter, etc) BEFORE the meeting, then have people go through and either put an X or their name (which is better?) next to the choices. No guessing please!

    1. Daventry*

      Pineapple on a pizza: yes or no?

      I guarantee everyone has an opinion on this and many will be eager to share.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ask people to come prepared with a small, cool thing they learned recently? Could be skills or facts, work related (“I learned how to do a pivot table in Excel!” “Our oldest living donor is 107!”) or non-work related (“I finally learned to drive stick!” “Even during an eclipse when there’s not as much visible light, the ultraviolet light from the sun can damage your eyes!”), and if folks want to know more about the thing after the meeting, they can approach the person to chat. It’s vague enough that people can find something totally not personal to share, and putting it in the agenda in advance gives people the opportunity to look up some wacky fact to share if they can’t think of anything off the top of their heads.

    3. WellRed*

      I posted an unofficial poll on teams Wednesday about coffee. People weighed in there was a bit of back and forth and we all moved on with our day. Would something similar work?

        1. Anon for This*

          We did one around Halloween about what is your favorite candy. I think we listed five or six popular ones, plus an other with space to enter. (Snickers edged out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but it was close.) It had everyone talking about favorite candy for a couple of days – you could use something similar for a five minute icebreaker.

        2. WellRed*

          I basically just asked if they drink coffee, how old were they when they started. And then people dropped in things like, used to take it black, love Dunkin, drink tea. It was a totally random question but got us several minutes of low key team chat.

    4. Alex*

      Is the icebreaker required? 18 people is a large group for individual participation in 5 minutes.

      I’ve never come away from a group event thinking “gosh, I wish we’d done an icebreaker.”

        1. Rick Tq*

          Ask them to vote yes or no on having icebreakers in general. Ask everyone for a one sentence position statement then vote.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      Five minutes isn’t enough time for 18 people to each say something, so your “or” idea sounds good, and could include work things, too. I’d do Xes, but then if there’s something that only one or two people picked, you could ask if anyone wants to fess up to it.

    6. nonnie*

      I wouldn’t advise that last one, since it doesn’t seem like it will actually break any ice. Honestly, it sounds like past icebreakers have been way more elaborate than I’d expect! It’s probably worth thinking about what you want to achieve with the icebreaker—do you want individuals to get more comfortable speaking to the group? Is it a team-building exercise? Do you want people to relax and have fun? Are you just collecting trivial data about employees’ personal preferences?

      The other thing that stands out to me is that your examples mostly seem to rely on people volunteering to speak, rather than systematically asking everyone to participate. If you have a lot of shy people who hate speaking in front of a big group (for a given value of “big”), you might want to break people into e.g. random groups of 3-5 and assign them a silly 2-minute task requiring basic collaboration and a bit of creativity. But again, that depends on your goals.

      In my experience, the best icebreakers I’ve sat through have been specific to the context. So in a natural history museum, you might ask people to name a favourite tree; in a music performance org, you might ask about instruments people have always wanted to learn. I know that’s probably a bit more difficult in less “passion-driven” fields, but if you can find something that’s work/field-adjacent without actually overlapping too much with day-to-day work, you can really remind people why they care about the work and what the team has in common.

      1. I detest organized fun and want to make this painless*

        This is great! The goal of the icebreaker is “getting to know each
        other” and “laugh” LOL

        I just want it to be quick and not put anyone on the spot

    7. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      What about using a short word game? Like, make a list of all the words you can find in “icebreaker” (ice, break, beak, car, back, rice, bear, etc…) or some other meeting-appropriate word? With 18 people that should go pretty quickly.

      Or maybe come up with a list of all the kinds of something (favorite office supplies, for example), and either in that meeting or in the next, make a March Madness style bracket for people to vote on and pick a winner?

    8. Scott*

      One I have used many times at the start of a leadership workshop I facilitate is a drawing game. I’ve described it below. I tell them the rules (e.g., no discussion) and mark the time by calling “change” every 5 seconds.

      A quick flexible exercise for groups of all sizes and ages. It’s based on a simple drawing game we have all played as children.
      Equipment required: Pens/pencils and paper.
      Split the group into teams of three.
      Instruction to group:
      One person in each team starts by drawing a shape or outline.
      The drawing is then passed to the next team member who must add to the drawing.
      And so on.
      Time spent by each person in turn on the drawing is limited to 5 seconds. (The facilitator can shout ‘change’ when appropriate.)
      No discussion is permitted during the drawing, nor any agreement before the drawing of what the team will draw.
      The drawing must be completed in one minute.
      Optional review (short version of exercise), for example:
      • Did the team draw anything recognizable?
      • How easy was the understanding between team members?
      • How did team members work differently on this task?
      • What was the effect of time pressure?
      • Was there a natural tendency to draw supportively and harmoniously, or were there more conflicting ideas?

    9. birder in the backyard*

      Put people in six teams of three (preferably someone they don’t know as well), have them work together on a speed round Kahoot about current events. It gets people talking to one another, learning each others strengths, but not having to disclose personal information. Low stakes.

    10. OtterB*

      We had fun with a trivia-type activity where the questions were about organizational history, with an aim to be lighthearted and not too dull. We were having a staff retreat to better integrate a bunch of new people, so the focus on where we’d been was fun.

    11. EA*

      We did some “brain gym” exercises at a recent meeting that were fun. We did three little challenges with making different shapes with each hand and then having to switch the shapes rapidly. If you google Brain Gym Hands something should come up :) It was quick and also easy for people to participate as much or little as they wanted.

    12. Workerbee*

      Since this is a required to have fun activity, you have 18 people, and only 5 minutes total, just go with: “What is one of your favorite animals?”

      Hopefully this will counter the folks who want to list ALL their favorites, plus it’s far friendlier than “cat or dog?” which ignores so many other beloved pets.

    13. MJ*

      For question/answer icebreakers I’m alway useless at coming up with examples off the cuff. I’d prefer getting prior notice so I can think about it.

      I also find it helpful to be given a couple examples of the level of response being looked for. Alway embarrassing if I go work focused if everyone else’s is super fun (or vice versa).

    14. fallingleavesofnovember*

      You can ask people to stand up (or sit down) as you ask questions – it’s simple and it gets people moving, but not in an embarassing or time consuming way. Things like ‘sit down if you travelled for less than an hour to get here? two hours? five hours?’ Specific questions could depend on your context, you could keep them all work focused even (how long you have been in your current position, as an example).

    15. GeorgiaB*

      A virtual icebreaker that my team loved recently was responding to prompts with GIFs. For example “The feeling when you finally finish THAT deliverable”. We did several because we had a lot of time, but 1 or 2 would only take a couple of minutes.

    16. amoeba*

      I like the poll ideas – maybe to make it more efficient, just use menti? Bit easier than all 18 trying to chime in…

    17. Double A*

      This might take a bit more than 5 minutes, but I’ve enjoyed it. Pair everyone up, have them find 3 things they have in common. Then have them choose 1 to share out as a pair. Give them like 2-3 minutes to find the things, then 3 minutes for the share out.

    18. Dr. Clara Mandrake*

      I just had one that I didn’t hate- the group was in a circle and the facilitator called out questions (nothing too personal) and you would take a step forward if it applied, pretty rapid fire. Stuff like “Have you ever left the country? “, “Would you sing karaoke?”, “Do you speak more than one language?”, etc.

    19. Hillary*

      if you’re going after single-word answers:
      If you were a muppet, would you have fur? what color would you be?
      if you could go anywhere for vacation, where would it be?
      what Pokemon would you be? (depends on age of the group and general nerdiness)

      For longer timeframes or smaller groups, work-safe never have I ever can be fun. Never have I ever travelled to seven countries in five days. Snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef. Been pickpocketed in Shanghai.

      1. EA*

        You could generalize Pokemon to “animated character” for less nerdy crowds :) I like that one!

    20. Artemesia*

      Can you come up with a small group brainstorm or activity that will kick off your topic rather than an ice breaker that has nothing to do with the session. For example to kick off a class on designing training for the workplace, I would ask them to come up with ‘disasters in the workplace’ — something they experienced or observed. some would choose things that happened to them or mistakes they made; others things they observed (there was no pressure to admit to personal failings. They would share in small groups and then choose one to present and we would talk about whether the problem was a training or management problem as a way to begin to frame the limitations of training.

      This got people talking and getting to know each other while also moving into the framing of the subject matter of the sessions.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        yes – I was coming here to say something similar.

        I’ve found in training session that “crowdsourcing” our knowledge about the subject always raises engagement and helps increase confidence.

    21. Mad Harry Crewe*

      We did one where my grandboss brought in a list of terrible interview questions he’d been asked during his last job hunt and we went around the table and everybody got one. Stuff like “if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” or “How cold is half of zero degrees?”

      It was fun and pretty quick.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Similar theme, he had a set of This vs That (pineapple or anchovies? Summer or winter? Burgers or lasagna?) and we went around the table and everybody got one pair and had to pick. I think we raised the stakes by saying that the one you didn’t pick would be banished from the world entirely, so there was some friendly heckling when people made choices the crowd disagreed with.

    22. Nightengale*

      I hope your team really likes icebreakers.

      I find a lot of these supposedly safe topic mindless “this /that” really stressful because often my answer is “neither” or sometimes “I’ve never HEARD of either.” Sure I can lie and make something up – but that requires a lot more thought than an icebreaker is supposed to take. And if the idea is to get to know something about somebody, now they have gotten to know a lie, even it it’s on an innocuous topic like pizza.

      Neurodivergent people and people from minority cultural backgrounds can find these questions more othering than cohesive.

  30. Axolotl*

    I have a question on whether it’s possible to negotiate outside a stated salary range. I live in a state where it’s required that the salary range be posted on the JD. I was laid off in early February and after weeks and weeks of nothing, several companies contacted me about setting up initial phone screens. The position that I am most interested in has the lowest salary range. Even if I were to be offered the upper end of that salary range, it would be about 10% less than I was making in the job that laid me off, and 15% less than what I would be making if I were offered the *lowest* end of the salary range at the other positions I am interviewing for. Now, I don’t want to get ahead of myself; I know I haven’t been offered any of these jobs yet. But I was thinking ahead to how I might handle it if I am lucky enough to have multiple options and the job I want most has the lowest salary. I think it’s likely I would take that role even if I did have higher-paying options, for a number of reasons. But is it possible to negotiate here? I know it can be possible to negotiate for a higher salary within the stated range, but is it ever possible to negotiate for an increase that would put you outside of the range? My only reason for asking is that I now know what other companies are offering for similar roles, and that their range seems low for the market. But they told me what the job paid when I applied and I applied anyway, so is there any grounds to negotiate?

    Another piece of potentially relevant information is that the stated salary range is extremely narrow ($8K), which strikes me as unusual – I tend to see $20-30K salary ranges in my field, and one of the roles I applied to has a $120K salary range, which is bonkers for different reasons. But the fact that the range for this position is so tight makes me wonder if there’s not much negotiating room.

    1. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      It depends on the organization, the role and how far outside the range! I’ve been able to say “yes” to asks from super-super-strong candidates that were like $2k outside the range. For us it depends on internal equity. In the rare cases I’ve been able to go above the range it’s been because I can make a case that there is no equity issue because of really exceptional skills or experience the candidate brings. Because of the equity implications, it’s extremely unlikely that I’d consider a request 10% higher than the posted range.

      But definitely flag it the first time you’re asked about alignment on salary (if the interviewer asks). I always check on the range in phone screens and if a candidate tells me they’re aligned there and then springs a higher number at the offer stage I am going to be Deeply Annoyed – which, honestly, makes it less likely I’ll go to bat for them. Whereas if they tell me early, I can be real with them about the possibility either way so no one wastes time.

      I have a lot more flexibility to negotiate within the range for candidates who would not be at the top, than I do to negotiate outside the range.

    2. m2*

      Having a $8K salary range is actually great. So many people complain about large ranges. Many ranges as you mentioned are $20-$50K range and none I have applied for or hired for pay at the top end of that large range. So, having an $8K range = shows you they will probably pay at the high end. I think it is always ok to ask if there is wiggle room or if the role pays above the range, but I wouldn’t ask multiple times. Also, look at benefits. Some companies may have a lower salary, but have better benefits including cost of health insurance, retirement, PTO, etc, so I would also ask to see the benefits package if you get to that stage.

      My organization usually posts $20-$30K ranges and we almost always hire toward the middle and sometimes lower end of the range. Whenever I interview someone I make sure to know what HR will max pay out (they are all about equity and parity and I am sorry, but sometimes better employees are worth more even if they do a similar role) and tell those I am interviewing. HR usually gives a smaller range, but I find out what they will pay and let the applicants know so they can decide if they want to proceed. My issue is if the applicant asks me for more $ gets their answer and then either asks me or HR for more again. If I tell the applicant max salary is $110K HR won’t go more and then when they are the final candidate they tell me they won’t take the role unless they are getting $130K (which is a salary for a completely different role) I usually thank them for their time and move onto candidate #2. I don’t mind negotiating if I can, and asking once in a respectful way is totally fine, but if you are told after asking what the max salary is and that isn’t what you want, then walk and find something else.

      It may be different in other fields, so I think it is fine to ask around. More places are giving a lower range so people understand the exact salary. Also, just because you see a role saying they pay between $90K-$130K does not mean they will pay $130K. Usually that means you will likely get somewhere between $105-115K unless they state in the JD they pay lower or mid-range for the role. I would never expect to be paid the highest of a salary range unless you are a total superstar. Good luck!

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        The cost of benefits is such an important consideration consideration. At my last position insurance was only $60 per pay period for a family. In order to change jobs I would have needed to find something making around 50% more because insurance was so much higher in most cases.

  31. Muffy Crosswire*

    Does anyone wear makeup who works remote? Back in the office days I wore makeup to work, but haven’t since going remote 4 years ago. I think I miss it! I bought some bright red lipstick and I wore it during a few meetings. I work in a male dominated office, and my women coworkers don’t wear makeup or lipstick either for work calls.

    Curious what others do! Do you think it makes a difference with video? I noticed that since the lipstick highlighted my lips, I might have come off more friendly since my smiles were easier to see.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I wear makeup specifically when I have remote meetings! Sometimes lipstick, always blush. In addition to elevating me on screen from “corpse” to “alive and awake”, it makes me feel put together and prepared to tackle the issue. I have a few fun lipstick colors (hot pink, black, teal) and some more neutral colors.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Same. I love makeup, so I continued wearing it when I went to a fully remote role 5 years ago. It makes me look more awake on camera (and glowy – shout out to Hourglass ambient lighting powders for making me look like an ethereal sage).

    2. ZSD*

      I have to wear foundation/concealer or I look like I’m on my deathbed. I often also wear lipstick so that I don’t look too pale on Zoom meetings.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I work remotely and I wear makeup almost every day. It’s part of my work costume. I do think it makes a difference with video– evens out my skin tone and I think I look better– and it just works for me. I stopped wearing lipstick a while ago, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone else did.

    4. Tobias Funke*

      I only do eyebrows (mine are really sparse from trichotillamania back in the day and have only grown back partway) and mascara. I have pretty much put away the face makeup, lipstick, eyeshadow. It really made me understand why folks on TV do so much makeup – my face looks noticeably less expressive and engaged (which is a huge part of my work) when I don’t have eyebrows. If I were to go back to eyelash extensions (which I won’t because they are $$$ to lie on a table with my eyes taped shut) I would stop mascara. But I would only go back to extensions if I were getting the giant Betty Boop ones. Which I won’t because $$$ and lying on a table with my eyes taped shut. So…eyebrows and mascara.

    5. JMR*

      I work a hybrid role and I wear make-up every day. When I go into the office, I tend to get more dressed up and do a “full face,” with eyeshadow and mascara. When I work remotely, I don’t wear as much make-up, but I always use some tinted powder or tinted moisturizer and a bit of blush, and maybe a lip gloss. I honestly don’t know if it makes any difference to anyone else, but I feel like I look better that way.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Same here, minus the eyeshadow – I wear a little makeup pretty much every day because it helps me feel more confident. Without it my skin tends to get a bit blotchy and oily.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      I don’t wear makeup, anyway, although I might if I had a small-group Zoom meeting where someone might actually see me. We only have occasional office-wide Zoom meetings where I’m a tiny head in a sea of tiny heads and nobody can tell what I look like, anyway, but if I were meeting with a small group and I felt it was more important that I be seen, I would wear a bit just so I don’t look dead (I have natural dark circles around my eyes. I’m fine, but it’s really noticeable on camera).

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I LOVE makeup. It’s one of my hobbies. But working remotely full time and parenting a three-year-old while I’m not working means I don’t have time to do makeup every day, like I used to pre-pandemic/pre-pregnancy, when working in the office everyday.

      I sometimes do put on a little photo-finish primer (the one from Nyx that’s a good dupe of Smashbox) because it makes the light reflect more nicely from my skin, and that helps me not look all weird and shiny on Zoom. If I had more time, I might also do eyebrows and lashes, as making those look a little bolder helps to define the face in general.

    8. WellRed*

      I was throwing on a quick face ahead of a video call and got caught! We had a good laugh.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Yes, I always wore makeup when remote, about the same five-minute face as I normally wear in person – a tinted moisturizer, a little contour under my chin, cream blush on cheekbones and browbones, eyeliner, mascara, lip color.

      For me it makes a huge difference on video. Without it, I look like a blancmange.

      I only do more than that if I’m going somewhere very fancy. And I wear that most days unless I’m just doing housework, working out, or going to the grocery store.

    10. Snax*

      I always wear something on my face. It helps me feel more energized and confident. My WFH look is pretty quick and low key…tinted sunscreen, brow gel, mascara, dab of liquid blush and tinted lip balm.

      1. allathian*

        Same. I don’t deal with external clients so nobody cares how I look. I certainly don’t.

        I do use the slight blur filter on Teams, though.

    11. Ama*

      If it’s a meeting with external people or I have to present or lead the meeting, I find that tinted lip balm and a little eyebrow powder really read on camera and help define my face a little better. When it’s a standard internal meeting I don’t always put anything on.

      But really, you do what your preference is — if you like putting a little more makeup on, you should feel comfortable doing so. Somedays I put together a little bit more of an outfit even though no one’s really going to see it because I just feel like it.

    12. Blue Pen*

      I’ll put a little mascara on and make sure my hair is brushed, but that’s about it. Maybe some concealer if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. IDK, I don’t really wear much makeup anymore, and it’s been nice to just get up and go!

    13. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I don’t know if this is just because I have a lot of windows in my office, but when I started with all the Teams meetings in 2020 I noticed I looked VAMPIRICALLY pale on screen in a way I (hopefully) don’t in real life.

      Now I have one of those lip and cheek tint sticks in my desk and even though I am already wearing a little makeup, I put it on before video calls. It’s far more colour on my cheeks than I would ever wear normally.

    14. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I do sunscreen, brow gel, and lash curler/mascara only for regular days, and a “full face” including lipcolor for days that I’m leading presentations to external people. We’re a mostly cameras-on culture, and I feel a bit more put together with groomed brows and lashes.

    15. TX_Trucker*

      I never wear makeup in the office. Can’t stand the stuff. But I will put on lipstick when working remote, because yes, it does make a smile easier to see. And depending on your lighting, you may need to wear an obnoxious “loud” color that you would never use in real life.

    16. postscript*

      If I have to go on camera, I’ll put on some lipstick and try to get my hair under control.

      1. DuckDuckGoose*

        I keep a tube of lipstick next to my computer and throw some on before zoom meetings when I’m in charge. I’m super pale so I feel like it helps if you can actually see my mouth when I’m talking a lot!

    17. Ellis Bell*

      I’m way more likely to wear makeup for a remote meeting than for a full day in the office. My own particular reasons are: 1) I don’t have to commute, so I have more time in the morning for something fun like makeup 2) Despite really enjoying makeup, I can’t wear it all day every day without my skin suffering. Wearing some for a morning meeting and then having an early face cleanse at lunch works out really well for me. 3) I see my own face more often and in different lights than would affect me in reality. I have ultra pale vampire skin and sometimes you can’t even see my features because of glare. There are platforms which are better at picking up my face in any light, and let me adjust for a better picture (and it’s not actually a big deal) but sometimes I will just highlight a few features off camera if I’m waiting for the meeting to start anyway. For me it’s having visible eyebrows rather than lips!

    18. anywhere but here*

      Nope. If a man’s face is sufficiently professional and “friendly” without make up, then so is mine.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is exactly the same conclusion I came to during the pandemic when I stopped wearing the minimal amount I was wearing at that point. I work in two intertwined fields. One field, the vast, vast majority of women of all ages wear no makeup. The other field, most women under 40 are not wearing makeup.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I’ve got to know who told you makeup was “friendly”?! That’s super weird. I’ve heard the myth that it’s professional but I’ve never heard that one.

    19. Send in the clowns*

      I work remotely but wear some makeup, mostly so I don’t forget the hang of applying it and looks like a clown when I really want to wear it

    20. Onomatopoetic*

      I never wear makeup, but I sometimes play around with the settings in Zoom to give myself some lipstick or other eyebrows. And when I’m on hobby related meetings, an occasional beard.

    21. Parakeet*

      I never wore makeup but if I’m having a major zit outbreak or something I might turn on the “touch up” feature on Zoom. I also try to keep my hair coloring reasonably current and put on some of my (mostly fairly gender-neutral, as that’s more my style) jewelry.

    22. ElastiGirl*

      I do foundation and eyebrows only — nothing else really registers on my face on zoom, but those make a difference. And I use the “touch up your appearance” setting.

  32. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Thank god for great students with fascinating research questions, because I am OVER the faculty at my institution this week. And yes, I am also a faculty. What made you happy at work this week?

    1. Hot Dish*

      I have to say, just having fairly normal work week after 6 weeks of crazy and crisis with a family member’s really serious medical issues. Very grateful to be back to a normal, boring week.

    2. Yeep*

      I was actually at my desk, appearing to work (reading this thread, actually), and the dean popped his head in to say hello. This is the best I can do for you.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Finally back AT work after a four day tooth saga that ended in an hour and a half root canal (I am apparently part Shoggoth; the dentist/hygienist kept going on about the length of the root and how it was a record-setter. Filled with a weird pride!)

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I was going to say something similar. “Not having to go since we’re on our Easter holidays.” We’re back at work on Monday, though.

    4. Dragonfly7*

      All 3 of the people training me at New Job applied to a lead position on another team this week. Watching them openly discuss the job posting and mutually encouraging each other gave me great insight into how growth / development is supported, at least on my own team. It’s not really a big pay increase, mainly a change in responsibilities, so I am under the impression that as long as one of the 3 of them gets it (vs someone from another team), they’ll be fairly happy.

    5. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      Not at work anymore. But my final radiation treatment for cancer is on Monday! 25 treatments 5 days/week. CT scans scheduled every 3 months for at least a year to confirm cancer-free. I bought gift cards from Trader Joe’s to give to each staff person at the center to pass out on Monday.

  33. Somebody’s watching me*

    The last few months I have been recorded by family members of my clients at work-on their phones-without consent. I don’t like in a two-party consent state; but I’m trying to figure out a polite way to ask that I not be recorded. Anyone have any thoughts or successfully had to have this conversation at work?

    I’m a music therapist and so often I know when family attends sessions they want to have a video memory. But I’m put off when they aren’t asking permission to record (it IS a medical visit being done by a medical professional) or when they try to record me without my noticing. If they want to record their loved one or their loved one’s reaction, that is fine with me! It’s increasingly been just a phone pulled out recording only me.

    I realize some people will have rude comebacks bc it’s all kinds of inappropriate. But people act inappropriately when in situations of grief, etc. If someone asked you to stop recording them, what language would help you to feel less reactive?

    1. NaoNao*

      I would stop the session or whatever you’re doing and just politely state your “policy”. “Oh, I have a policy about recording–could you put the phone away/down please and not record? Thanks!” (no need to explain it’s a personal policy) or you could soften it and say “I’d prefer not to be recorded, thanks, but if you want to record your [person], that’s fine. Please make sure I’m out of frame.”

    2. RagingADHD*

      Does your employer have a policy you could invoke?
      Could you put up a sign or add something to the intake paperwork?

      1. Somebody’s Watching Me*

        I’m a contractor, but I’ve asked to find out what the places I contract with have for rules. I haven’t heard back from anyone yet. I need to set myself up a script before it happens again though. I’m sure there would be understanding from the places I contract with.

        I’ve spoken with the clients or their primary caregivers/anyone actively participating in the sessions at the start of service and they all know the rules. It’s always visiting family sneaking filming. People I will almost surely never see again, who don’t come to regular sessions or aren’t a part of the care plan. Maybe they are just in town this once to see their loved one, or someone told them the therapy sessions are moving and they ask their loved one if they can stay, etc.

            1. IchKriegDieKrise*

              I understood that they don’t actually tell these one-off visitors. If not, that’s what I would change. Anyone coming for the first time gets a quick spiel about not recording you… I think if you say it matter of factly and in a friendly voice, it should be okay?

              1. Armchair analyst*

                Yes, this! “Welcome! So glad to have you here to see little Arthur’s progress. My only rules are visitors sit in these chairs, please no noisy fidgets, and no recording, please, since this is actually a medical visit. Thanks.”

    3. Awkwardness*

      it IS a medical visit being done by a medical professional

      I have no sensible wording to suggest but I really like your language here.

    4. Former Local*

      Do you have any sway over posting signage before they even get in the door to you, in a reception area? I find the conversation is easier if there’s a posted rule like “while videos of sessions are permitted, please do not film the therapists”. That gives you an opening to say “sorry, but could you please keep the camera pointed at (loved one)? filming therapists while they work isn’t allowed.”

      1. Somebody’s Watching Me*

        One coworker suggested perhaps having a sign on my bag or case that is laminated and says something. So it’s a consideration. I go into hospitals, nursing homes, private homes, assisted livings (etc) so I’m mobile and don’t have a dedicated space for visits. I go to the client, they aren’t coming to a brick and mortar place where I work.

    5. Fluff*

      You could also try directing people to what or when a recording may be appropriate. I do NOT deal well to find surreptitious recording and it is legal in my state. When I catch the patient or family member, I say something like, “Please don’t record now. I really want to focus on your family member and recording is distracting to me or gives me stage fright. I am happy to give you notes / print out x / email x.” I’ll add something funny if it helps like “too many memories of my parents sending in my recitals to Funniest Home Videos” to lighten the request.

      If they push back, I may sometimes off a recorded summary, “Like we can record a quick summary of the plan after we are done with _.”

      So far I have been able to direct them to stop or to when. It will be interesting to see what risk management or legal says once we have a stalemate – no idea what would happen.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I think it would be a lot less contentious if you get an agreement together before the session begins; before you even agree to do the session: “Lots of people like to record their loved ones in sessions like these, but because it’s a medical visit, there are some rules! Is a recording something you would like to do, or not?” If they’re interested, they need to have the consent of the person they’re filming. I would say “Since patient is okay with it, all I ask is that is you don’t accidentally record me, as my policy is that I don’t consent to recordings”. If they forget I’d phrase it as a reminder and say on camera “Oh hey, I don’t consent to recordings remember”. You can say it with a smile or however gently/firmly you like. Is it possible to stop proceedings until the rules are complied with? Another possibility is that you record the session with yourself out of shot and let people know they can have the recording but they can’t use their own devices. Something else to consider is where they sit relative to where you sit; if it doesn’t affect anything else you could position them to make recording you more awkward or more difficult to hide.

      1. Somebody’s Watching Me*

        That’s the language I’m looking for-what to say at the start of a session with a new face temporarily joining for this one single visit. I like the questioning first if they want to record, I think it brings some of the bite out of how to phrase it. Thank you.

        I cannot (and do not) provide recordings of visits and sessions. There are times videos are part of the intervention treatment program, but in this case, a memory to be saved or shared (to socials as it would likely happen) would be unethical and not a valid intervention.

        1. Awkwardness*

          Some people might think they do not want a recording because they do not know will happen or how it might move them. So maybe be prepared for some to say that they do not want a recording and still doing it.
          I really think you can be clear about the recordings upfront in a warm and lovely tone. As you said yourself, it is a medical appointment for which one wants as little distraction as possible and most visiting family members probably only need to be remembered of this instead of treating it as a lovely novelty.

  34. Baffled Professor*

    Combo work/school question here. I’m an adjunct professor teaching an online graduate class. I’ve taught it several times before, including last semester, and it’s always gone well.

    This semester though, the majority of my students are just aggressively lazy. They don’t look at any of the assigned material (the learning management system monitors activity – they literally don’t open the tabs to access the reading & videos). They don’t listen to me, they won’t meet with me one on one, and they don’t read the assignment instructions.

    Most of them are dropping the assignment prompts into ChatGPT and then turning in the results without even proofreading. ChatGPT cannot pass my class, so of course, fully half of my students are failing.

    Then they send me ChatGPT-written emails whining about their grades and demanding I give them points back because they worked so hard…

    It’s a required class, but not a difficult class – anyone who wants an A can get one without too much trouble. Past students have found the material interesting, engaging, and directly relevant to their career track too.

    I’m furious, disappointed, frustrated, and completely at a loss. There’s always a handful of students who are checked out, but I’ve never dealt with this level of laziness and entitlement before. There’s no clear reason why this class should be any different from the others I’ve had in the last two years.

    There’s still a month to go, plus all the likely complaints and investigations after half the class fails in May. I need to care less and not spend any more emotional energy on this class. I also need to do that without completely abandoning the five good students who have the misfortune to be there.

    Ideas? Commiseration?

    1. NaoNao*

      Maybe engage them one on one and ask them what’s going on in a caring way. Try to remove the anger (although I get it) and just state what you’ve seen “I’m alarmed and concerned that I’m seeing so many ChatGPT generated essays and emails–that’s not acceptable work. This isn’t like you, and I’m deeply concerned you won’t be able to pass with this level of work. What’s going on? What can I do to help?”
      I’d consider addressing the use at the beginning of class at the next class and focusing on the whole “you get out of it what you put in/you’re adults” thing.

      1. Justin*

        Yes I use that final tactic too. And I tell them, the best final project is a done final project, as some are trying to be perfect while others aren’t submitting things.

      2. Scholarly Publisher*

        Some of my faculty friends have used the metaphor of a gym membership. You can decide to join a gym in order to become more fit and strong, but just joining the gym isn’t enough; you have to show up and do the work. Not doing your homework and then complaining when you fail the class is like not doing your strength-building exercises and then complaining that you can’t benchpress your own body weight.

    2. Justin*

      I also adjunct a grad class (it’s just because I like teaching and I am teaching teachers).

      Mine are more “having trouble keeping up with schoolwork and work work” but the result is the same.

      I remind them weekly that I just want them to show thought and reflection (I don’t think I’ve received any Chat GPT submissions because my questions are too unusual).

      I may have to fail one or two of them.

      But it helps it’s not my main job so I’m not as stressed about it. I feel bad though.

      I do not have a solution. I wouldn’t call them lazy so much as just disengaged, but the impact on you is the same.

      1. Baffled Professor*

        Here’s a ChatGPT example. The class final requires everyone to do a slightly different, individual project. I have a quiz set up partway through the semester where they should get free points for telling me their plan for the final.

        It’s very straightforward. Provide an answer along the lines of, “I’ll be observing the fainting goats at Fainting Goat Farm and writing a report offering recommendations to improve goat fainting couches.” Easy 10 points just for planning ahead a little bit. Usually, they love that.

        This semester, I had 20+ quizzes come back with some variation of “For a final project, you might write a research paper, take a test in class, or turn in a project. Finals test your knowledge of everything covered in the class.”
        wtf??

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            It sounds like they didn’t even read their cheating answers before turning it in!

            This reminds me of the old Garfield comic where Jon says “his lying to me isn’t half as insulting as the credit he’s giving my intelligence.”

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Oof. I don’t have any advice, but I can imagine how demoralizing it must be to give an (easy!) assignment and receive answers that so clearly say “I used ChatGPT for this and didn’t even bother to double-check the AI answer to see if it made sense.” Sorry you’re dealing with this :(

        2. A Significant Tree*

          Reminds me of when I TA’d a class a few decades ago – the assignment was to come up with examples of bad design, and I showed them the site ‘bad design dot com’ to illustrate the kind of thing we were looking for.

          You will not be surprised to know that a handful of students just printed out the website content, complete with embedded links and header/footer metadata, and turned that in. On the plus side it made it really easy to catch.

          It sounds like you’ve done as much as you can and you’re not going to be able to reach the non-participating students. If they’re aware that they’re failing and you’ve made it clear it’s because their content is gibberish and they still aren’t taking advantage of redos and make-ups and free points? I’d say you have done your due diligence. Document the opportunities you offered, their lack of digital engagement, the examples of failing work, and be ready when these students come whining that you didn’t give them a chance.

          I hope next semester’s students are better!

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I agree. At some point you have to tell them “I can’t care about this more than you do. If you want to pass this class you know what needs to be done.”

        3. Yeep*

          Yeah, they may actually be robots. Have you checked to see that they aren’t robots? [/s]

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Hmm, this may be more energy than you want to put into it at this point, but I would share this info with them.

      “Unfortunately, it looks like you haven’t opened XYZ pages in the Learning Management System. These pages are necessary for a good understanding of the assignment. In addition, your previous work appears to be created using ChatGPT for XYZ reasons. This is unacceptable for graduate level work, but I encourage you to resubmit the assignment in your own words (or whatever the policy is). My office hours are blah blah if you’d like to discuss the course content and how best to engage with it. I can also provide you links to these resources: *insert whatever makes sense for your institution – Writing Center, student handbook, AI policy, tutoring, student support.”

      1. Baffled Professor*

        That’s a major source of my frustration – I have done all that.
        I’ve given direct feedback on their assignments. They don’t read it. (Literally – I can see if they open the file)
        I hold office hours twice a week per uni policy and advertise that in class every week. No one shows up.
        I set up individual meetings with struggling students. They skip those.
        I send them direct emails. They never respond.
        I allow redos, and they turn in a second round of AI nonsense that doesn’t address the fundamental problems.
        I have different kinds of assignments so it’s not all writing, and they either don’t submit anything or still manage to involve ChatGPT.
        I’ve provided examples, resources, easy point aasignments, and other places to get help. Only the handful of engaged students even look at those.

        This is why I say it’s laziness versus disengagement or being overwhelmed or whatever. I have put so much work into this, and the majority just can’t be bothered.

        1. Justin*

          Makes more sense. I think it’s definitely entitlement. It reminds me of a guy for my day job, where I run professional development programs for small business owners, who told us he’d completed a survey and sent us a screenshot of him having clicked the “Completed” button even though I could see he hadn’t actually done more than press the button (I leave that button on because some students, like I once was, like to be able to visually check things off, and most people ACTUALLY DO IT before pressing it).

          Like, dude, I KNOW you didn’t do it.

          1. Baffled Professor*

            LOL, I like that he went to the effort of taking a screenshot, but couldn’t bother doing anything else. People are absurd.

            1. Justin*

              The funny thing is he actually took the quiz (after we badgered him) but didn’t do the survey, which was just, you know, “please tell us what you think.”

              1. A Nonny Mouse*

                I had a student photoshop a weekly survey completion report to say they completed it when in fact they did not actually do it.

                Each survey was just 3 questions, so they definitely did more work in photoshop than doing the survey would have taken.

        2. Ama*

          I suspect that the fact that you are seeing a lot of this in one specific class may mean you have a ringleader or core clique pushing some of this behavior and maybe pulling in people who wouldn’t normally do this on their own.

          I would just say save all the documentation of what you’ve provided and that they have never opened the files. I’m sure your university system does save it, but I’d even take screenshots and make a little external log for yourself just in case. You’ve tried to get them to engage and they won’t engage, they’re going to have to reap the consequences.

          1. Baffled Professor*

            Hm, I hadn’t considered that. Now that you bring it up, I suspect you’re right. I guess they’ll all enjoy failing together then?

            1. Mad Harry Crewe*

              Yeah, there’s something going on here beyond individual students making choices. Agree that CYA documentation is your best bet at this point. Hopefully next semester is better.

        3. anon for this*

          You cannot care more than they do. You cannot care more than they do. You cannot care them into learning. You cannot learn for them.

          This was my mantra for several years. It was a blessing that a number of students *were* engaged and enriched the class, each other, and my life. But the example you provide above of a ChatGPT answer? ZERO and move on. Mirror their effort.

          1. A Nonny Mouse*

            Yes, this.

            As an adjunct, I know it’s harder to set limits because technically you’re there just to teach, but as TT faculty I have to manage my time distribution. I do as much as I can, but I can’t supply endless motivation, engagement, or effort needed to get all my students’ issues resolved. Particularly if they don’t want to resolve them*.

            *Sometimes it’s worse if they do want to resolve them but they can’t be resolved with the time or effort you have to address it. It’s not unreasonable for me to say I can’t give weekly personal tutoring sessions at 9pm on Fridays but it *feels* unreasonable when you know that the student needs the help and is only available at 9pm on Fridays.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            This! Don’t bother engaging more than they are: aside from everything else, they may use your engagement as an excuse to demand that you “understand” why they absolutely must pass the class without any work being done.

        4. Bots. It had to be bots.*

          Any chance they are bots that are only in your class for the financial aid?

          1. Yeep*

            I half jokingly suggested this above one minute before you and now it looks like we’re both robots commenting on this thread

          2. Baffled Professor*

            Ha, no. I require a handful of video posts so it’s a bit more human. A lot of them still awkwardly read the ChatGPT answers verbatim while filming, which is kinda fascinating to watch in a sad way.

        5. I Have RBF*

          “If your assignments are written by ChatGPT, I can tell. All ChatGPT assignments will be marked as incomplete, and will be an F at the end of this course. I know when you have opened the assignments for reading, I know when you have opened my feedback on your work, and many of you haven’t. ChatGPT will never pass this class, and it will not help you pass this class.”

          I would not soft pedal any of it. Yes, I might even let them know I’m angry at them wasting my time asking me to grade crap emitted by ChatGPT.

        6. Mztery123*

          I’m an adjunct professor and I’ve been teaching online since May 9, 2020. All of what you’re describing has to do with students feeling frustrated, tired, overworked, and without much support to make reasonable plans for their education. I would say if you’re feeling this way about your students And see them lazy maybe it’s for a different profession. I know that sounds harsh, but with my students in similar situations if I’ve evidenced any interest in what’s going on for them personally, I get lots of incredible feedback that helps me figure out how to further engage with them.

          I think you may not realize how different it is for students now to what it was in pre-pandemic times. Prior to 2020 I always had one or two students who didn’t engage, didn’t do the work and resisted any efforts to engage personally or with the work itself. Now I would say about a third of my classes overall, frustrated, and don’t see the point of doing the work I’m asking them to do. And like you, I have different assignments, creative assignments, and assignments that are difficult to look up the answers for. One differences I engage with AI actively, and I often ask students to provide a draft they’ve created through an AI tool and a draft they’ve written on their own and see what they think. They usually wind up with some combination of the boiler plate and AI and creative which I feel is preparing them well for the future.

    4. YNWA*

      My university’s policy is that faculty must make explicit in the syllabus if and how ChatGPT can be used in a class. Any violation of that constitutes academic misconduct under the university’s umbrella protocols.

      As a professor, I honestly would let them fail. They’re not just being lazy, they’re being combative, and they’re cheating. They’re grad students so they should know better. Then again, I’m almost at the end of the semester and I am all out of empathy and DGAF at this point if someone has slacked or insulted me (which cheating is, an insult) the entire term.

      1. Baffled Professor*

        I feel that…
        My syllabus policy says AI use isn’t banned, but assignments have to make sense, follow directions, not plagiarize, and include correct citations. That’s enough that half the class mathematically can’t pass at this point.

        I’ve submitted a couple academic integrity violation reports for really blatant plagiarism, but the complete burden of proof is on me, so that’s often not worth it.

        1. Rick Tq*

          Start a documentation trail for your department head and Dean(s) to review when you do fail half the class. I don’t know what the rules are at your institution but I would expect a hard F would end with them being ejected from the program.

          If that is the policy you might add that fact to your next interactions.

        2. YNWA*

          Do you have access to Turnitin? I know there are ethical issues about it but it does have an AI percentage (not accurate, but enough to establish proof) score now that could help you with AI-generated plagiarism.

          1. Hyaline*

            And if you don’t, GPTZeroMe is a similar free tool—though really, it’s just confirming what you probably already know.

        3. anon for this*

          Honestly my policy (as someone in higher ed for 8 yrs post-PhD before leaving) was to grade/fail people mostly on the quality of the answer, and only move to plagiarism documentation if it was really blatant (copying someone else in the class, or a paper) or or if I couldn’t give the low score based on content alone.

          Here’s the other thing I did to make things formative, which you may or may not want to do: I set these writing assignments (unique enough to not be easily answered mechanically) and said something like, “If you get me a rough draft by Tuesday April 9 I will shadow grade it — I’ll go through & make a quick pass with my rubric and make brief comments. If you like your shadow grade, then you can be done, and if you’re unsure of things, want to improve from the shadow grade, etc, then hand it in by the true final due date of April 12. If you don’t want to take advantage of this opportunity, that’s fine, hand in the assignment by April 12.”

          I had small-ish classes (<30), they were master's students, some of them had some insecurity about the topic I was teaching, and a number took advantage of this "deal." And once or twice I literally got to say, "This is plagiarism. You will need to rewrite this section in your own words to answer the question asked to get full credit. Feel free to talk with me if you'd like to talk it through." And the students did! And it created a good rapport!

          And then the students who handed in plagiarized material on April 12? No mercy.

    5. Rara Avis*

      Is there a dean of students or similar position that you could flag it to, to get ahead of the complaints in May? Take what you wrote here and send it to that person?

      It sounds like you’ve done everything you possibly can to allow your students to succeed. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drunk.

        1. A Nonny Mouse*

          Also relevant advice in this situation. Whether it’s *good* advice or not…

      1. Baffled Professor*

        The head of the graduate program knows, and thankfully she’ll have my back.
        I’m mostly grumpy knowing that I’ve already put in so much more work than these students, and then I’ll have spend even more time on them to prove that I’m not a terrible instructor or failing people out of spite. Thankfully, the abysmal quality of their work really speaks for itself.

        And I’d like to drink enough to get a horse drunk at this point, haha.

    6. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I wonder if maybe you’re seeing late effects of pandemic learning? Depending what level the class you’re teaching is, you might be getting more students who practically lost their last two years of high school education but got passed anyway due to relaxed requirements. Doesn’t excuse it, but might be why you’re getting an uptick now?

      1. YNWA*

        They said it’s a graduate class so while the pandemic did affect them, it wasn’t at the high school level. They’d likely have been in college at that time and honestly, they shouldn’t hae forgotten classroom etiquette or professionalism.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          If you were stuck doing remote learning in college it’s going to have an effect on the sorts of things you would normally learn in college… like attending events to get more in person feedback and using that backing to be a more independent learner than you were in high school. It’s not an excuse but it may be an explanation.

          1. Baffled Professor*

            It’s odd that the fall 2023 semester was the best class I’ve had yet. All but a couple students were engaged, enthusiastic, and creative. Then two months later, using the same content and assignments, the ratio is reversed.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              It’s not really comparable because primary and high school are such different life stages to college, but we’re seeing higher highs and lower lows in terms of both motivation post and ability pandemic. You would think they came from different planets. The thing that puzzles me most about your situation is how did they graduate with this work ethic? Are they having a last hurrah of student life and trying to dodge the work? I can really see why you’re baffled.

    7. It's me, hi, I'm the commenter, it's me*

      Some classes are just like this :-/ After you’ve had it happen more than once you get better at just shrugging it off, but the first time sucks. Just keep reminding yourself it’s not personal, you have no idea what other stuff is going on in the students’ lives, and in the end all you can do is give them the opportunity to learn — you can’t force learning on them.

      You’ve done everything right so far. Fail the students who deserve to fail (and document, document, document, which it sounds like you’ve already done) and teach the remaining month to the five students who care.

    8. Jane Error*

      Mention all this to your faculty supervisor/department chair! Unfortunately higher ed is a business so retention of students matters, but I understand after having been an active adjunct faculty member for over 16 years.

    9. Hanani*

      Lots of commiseration – I switched to a non-teaching role right before ChatGPT got big, and I’m very glad for that.

      You’ve sent emails and tried to schedule meetings. I’d have one “you get out of it what you put into it” conversation with the whole class, send a very specific email (if you haven’t already – maybe you have?) to all the failing ones that says “You cannot mathematically pass this class, and should talk to your advisor about dropping it.”, and then spend the entirety of your energy on your five engaged students. Any of your disengaged students who send you an unhappy email get an invitation to come to office hours or schedule another appointment time with you.

      May probably won’t be fun with a bunch of grade appeals, but at this point you can’t actually stop that from happening. Make sure you have documentation in place for why they failed. If the institution forces you to pass some of them, well, that’s probably not the first time your institution has done something you disagree with that makes your job harder. Remind yourself that you are doing your work well, and both the students and institution will see consequences later (via struggling at work for the students and likely not getting donations for the institution).

      I also had to regularly remind myself that the students aren’t doing anything they do at me specifically. They are making poor decisions, but those decisions have some kind of logic behind them (even if the logic is “I don’t value this class and value other things far more, so I won’t put any work in and try to weasel my way to a passing grade”). They don’t like the outcomes of their poor decisions, and may blame me, but ultimately they’re the ones who did it.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      Weird, I had no idea my high school class were taking a graduate class online; this is so them!! Seriously though it sounds very frustrating. I don’t know if this is as true for Higher Ed as it is for high school teachers, but you shouldn’t be working harder than your students if you want hard working students. If they get the impression you’ll bend into a pretzel for them, then they’re definitely going to want to see the Pretzel Professor. The first moves out of the gate for lazy people is 1) can someone else do it and 2) I couldn’t get someone else to do it, so can you just let me off? You need very strong and visible boundaries with this type of student. I don’t know if the pandemic could have affected their independence and motivation and understanding of consequences, but they get to learn consequences now! Finally! If they’ve chosen to learn this instead of your course content this year, so be it. Make it very plain and make consequences predictable and relatively swift. I’m not saying don’t give chances, but make them a limited offer. Possibly draft an email with the most common offenses listed in priority order and direct your email complaint students to the list of offences so they can make sure they aren’t making the following “mistakes”. I don’t love your vague AI policy either; a lazy student will just see that as encouragement to cheat, so if you can I would strongly rule against use of AI with your class even if you phrase it as “unedited and uncited use of AI is both incredibly obvious and strictly banned”.

      1. Baffled Professor*

        The uni wants to “leverage AI,” so I have limited options for handling it. Most of my syllabus is boilerplate from the grad school. I just make the schedule and handle the details of the assignments.

    11. Stuart Foote*

      Isn’t using ChatGPT plagiarism and an automatic fail? I thought colleges were generally pretty strict on that. Especially since this is a pattern and the work isn’t even good anyway.

      1. Hyaline*

        You’d be surprised. I’m very lucky that my institution is supportive of professors taking a hardline no (but they require that we spell it out in our individual syllabi, as there is no university policy), but we’ve actually been encouraged to incorporate it into our coursework. I feel it’s truly contrary to the goals of my classroom, but every other meeting or email I get more AI crap peddled on me…by the university.

    12. Anon for This*

      May not be the case for your students, but when my kids’ college classes went on-line, it seemed to me that their perception changed – almost as if the classes were no longer “real” but just another boring thing on line. They were definitely mailing it in, at least compared to their effort when the classes were in person. They were much less engaged and unable to discuss what they were doing/learning. Are your classes all on-line, or are some in person, and do you see a difference? I think your students would put in a bit more effort if they actually had to look you in the eye.

    13. Anon Today*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and I’m honestly kind of surprised to see it at the grad school level. Like, one of the things I liked about grad school was that everyone was there because they wanted to be there, not because their parents said, or they didn’t have any other ideas (this was a “working professionals” program, so mostly remote ~5 years before COVID).

      But man, the two people who didn’t give a damn, they were exponentially more frustrating than people like that in undergrad. Why are you paying thousands of dollars to not show up?

      In undergrad I had a terrifying physics professor who, if she thought you were just completely slacking (rather than trying but not getting it) would ask you, very pointedly “why are you so stupid? You’re wasting your parent’s money!”
      It wasn’t kind at all, but it did get a remarkable number of freshman to get their heads out of their behinds and realized that they needed to *work*.

      1. Baffled Professor*

        Right?? Why are you here unless you actually want to learn?

        Usually teaching at the graduate level is great. I’m technically a professor of practice as an adjunct. I have the same degree they’re getting and have a full time job in that field. They could learn a lot and get a pretty useful recommendation letter from me, but not most of this group! They’re setting themselves up for expensive failure, and it’s bizarre.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I wonder if it’s more of a professional qualification. When I did the post-graduate year to teach, there were a number of people there who behaved in a way I had never seen at undergraduate and it shocked me, because we were spending the mornings doing teaching practice and how could you be teaching in the mornings and then spending the afternoons, talking over the lecturer, laughing at him or her with the person beside you, asking stupid questions just to see if he or she will take them seriously, etc? One of our lecturers earned my utmost admiration for telling them “well, it’s nice to see that some of you are on the same wavelength as your students!”

        Some of those courses are just seen as kinda “jumping through hoops,” “I have my degree; I just have to sit through this to get the professional certification” sort of thing. (And honestly, I would suspect people were more likely to be there because their parents insisted they needed to get a professional qualification or because they couldn’t get a job in their field and “I guess I can always teach it; it just means one more year in college” than they were likely to do an undergraduate degree for those reasons. I did feel everybody in my undergrad was there because they wanted to be whereas there was a certain cohort in the H-Dip who were there just because “well, my parents think my art/music/English degree isn’t leading to anything and they want me to have some profession to fall back on so I agreed to do this year before launching the career I really want” or “I hate my job in the corportate so I guess I can always teach Business Studies with a Business degree. I’ll give it a go.”)

        Yes, those people annoyed me.

        However, it may be more helpful for the Baffled Professor to frame it as “I have a number of students who are struggling with motivation or don’t see the importance of this class” rather that being lazy and entitled. There is no way of knowing who isn’t engaging due to laziness and who isn’t engaging due to having to work while studying or because they have a family crisis or any other issue and it might be less frustrating to think of them as possibly struggling with unknown issues.

        And the way I look at it is that lazy tends to be a conscious choice and people who are lazy don’t tend to skimp on things where there are consequences that could come back and bite them. The lazy person might not work during a group project because they assume the rest of the group will do their part but they tend to step up when their grades are actually at risk. If the person does not work when it is to their disadvantage, there is usually something else going on – difficulty adjusting to online learning (very common), neuroatypicality, too much other work, not really being invested in getting this qualification.

        But the good thing, from Baffled Professor’s point of view, is that these are adults. It’s really their responsibility to work for their grades. It is Baffled Professor’s job to present the information, support them if necessary and then assess them to see if they have a good grasp of the information. I teach secondary, so children as young as 12 and 13, in the youngest class, and even there, there comes a point where you have to say, “I have given this student every opportunity. I have worked with them. I have involved any necessary supports. They have not done their part, so there is no more I can do for them.”

        I actually once got so frustrated with a bunch of really obnoxious 15-17 year old boys who were actively trying to undermine my teaching that I simply told them, “look, I don’t care whether we get the work done or not. I have my qualifications and quite frankly, if you don’t do the work, all it means is that you won’t get your grades/get into college. It makes no difference whatsoever to me.” They were horrified and insisted “but it’s your job to teach us,” and I told them I would teach them, but I couldn’t learn for them. If they didn’t do their part, well…it was only themselves they were fooling.

        I did feel sorry for the one really hardworking kid in the class, who I once saw with online printouts of notes on the play we were doing. I think he’d been googling the information online because we were getting so little done in class/I got interrupted so often, but presumably your students aren’t shouting over you or interrupting constantly or throwing things around the room.

        Adults presumably are aware of the choices they are making and wouldn’t need to be told but the fact that they are only sabotaging themselves remains true.

    14. Kingfisher*

      My French professor did the math for us one day when half of his class was giving up. He figured out how much it cost for all of to take his class for one hour and wrote it out on the whiteboard. At least back then, it did seem to straighten some people out!

    15. Hyaline*

      I teach undergrads both online and in person, and yeah, I get it. First, don’t blame yourself, some classes are just worse than others for no apparent reason. Second, I think we’re seeing the worst of ChatGPT right now. They’ve all figured out it’s there, and they haven’t figured out that it’s really not benefiting them the way they think it is.

      You nailed it–it’s not even an ethics-based banning of ChatGPT that causes them to “fail” a class, it’s that the canned, surfacey blather that ChatGPT spits out is not passable work. Honestly, what’s most disappointing here is that grown-ass adults didn’t get grades back on the first couple assignments and change their approach. (Have you overtly called them on their AI BS? I have found that directly addressing it is working better than not with my undergrads–for first offenders, I’ll give them a 0, tell them why the response/paper didn’t meet expectations, suggest that “I don’t think using generative AI is serving you well,” and give them the option to redo the assignment for potential full credit. Most take me up on it…except if they’re totally checked out, which, well.)

      Maybe when you have some distance from this semester, you can poke around on ways to restructure or rework to minimize reliance on AI, but honestly, only you know if that’s even a) possible or b) a good use of your time. A few tweaks have helped me feel more confident about my material not being as AI-compatible, but students will, of course, still try it if they’re going to try it!

      Focus on those five good students. That’s really all you can do. The other students have shown that they are not willing to do the work and learn–they want to get the credit and move on. That’s not how it works, and they’re going to have to learn that lesson. (I increasingly am finding students who want to “be credentialed” rather than actually learn, which is a whole different issue, and it’s demoralizing enough without the ChatGPT garbage thrown in there, too!)

    16. ElastiGirl*

      Every syllabus I submit now contains the sentence: “Use of AI in this class is grounds for failure of the class.” I repeat that in class when announcing every paper.

      A colleague who forgot to add an AI warning is drowning in AI papers this semester. I haven’t had one (and yes, I check with an AI detector at the least bit of suspicion).

      Fingers crossed, the continued warnings will keep making a difference.

      As for your class being so disconnected— I’m so sorry. Sometimes that just happens. Being remote has to exacerbate it. Hope you’re dealt a better hand next semester.

    17. linger*

      I found access of resources was sometimes underreported by our system because e.g. some students worked through material in groups, using only one access log, and that was fine (they still had to submit assignments as individuals). But that doesn’t sound like your situation.
      Yes, if they’re doing nothing, and handing in obviously zero-effort work, and nothing improves after you call them out on this and explicitly state what counts and doesn’t count as ethical use of AI under the university anti-plagiarism regulations (because you’ve got those, yes?), then you have to fail their sorry asses. (Parallel to PIP: clearly and explicitly lay out requirements and consequences for not reaching those, then follow through.) Even if there may be perfectly understandable reasons for the lack of effort (e.g. cost-of-living squeeze forcing students to work unsustainable hours at low-paying jobs). And even if it just means you get some of them back next year.
      About “calling them out” — since this is the majority rather than isolated individuals, it’s more efficient to do that to the group (though preferably with some backup in written/emailed modes to ensure all get the message, regardless of attendance, in a verifiable CYA way). There may sometimes be issues around discussing (extracts of) individual student work in class, but AI-generated responses seem the perfect case for that since there’s nothing in the content to anonymise; thus publicly pointing out the defects of that approach with real examples is feasible.
      And yes, it’s really hard to stay motivated as an instructor when so few of the students give anything back. (How few are the exceptions? And how much visible praise do they get for it?)

  35. Busy Middle Manager*

    The politics of status meetings. So we had one last Thursday in which the leader didn’t want to go through all of my issues. Then by the next meeting this week, no one wanted to discuss the issues I had resolved because they had been resolved. But the point of the meeting is to spread work out more evenly because too many problems fall on my lap. Cant’ do that if I can’t even shed light on the projects that got done and tickerts I resolved quickly. I think it’s time to start strategically taking a long time on some things so they get more visibility? Or let something fail/sit

    1. Mockingjay*

      I’m a big proponent of “let it fail.” The weirdest thing is how often nobody notices or cares. I just make sure everything is documented on my end: sent the report, updated the log, did my task. But I don’t follow up on the next person anymore, or track the project’s or task’s status.

      If it’s really important or urgent, it will get brought up again. If not, I’m okay with not ever thinking about it.

  36. Busy Middle Manager*

    Is anyone else confused by the anti-management slant in comments here sometimes and also in other places, Not because they want to pick sides, but because they legitimately don’t think the manager is in the wrong?

    I read so many “you are right, your manager is wrong” comments in various places but then I can easily think of at least five reasons why the manager was probably correct in the given situation. I’m not sure if it’s helpful long term to just agree with people that their manager is always the issue?

    I’m thinking of the Accounting and working 18 hour day letter from earlier this week because it reminded me of something at work yesterday where someone didn’t understand what they don’t understand, and so can’t take certain projects, and despite it being a “management issue” it doesn’t mean we can wave wands and turn someone into a stellar employee, from an average one, when being stellar involves thinking outside the box or how to automate it away

    I work with someone who also is always very busy but what they don’t see is the amount of time it takes similar employees to do similar work, and they don’t see what we don’t delegate them. I think sometimes the things we can’t delegate turn into a long list, and then that becomes a problem.

    1. RagingADHD*

      A lot of commenters here have had very bad experiences with terrible managers, and they tend to bring that energy to every question. It’s just like any other online comment section in that regard. On relationship forums / blogs, it’s always “break up immediately,” no matter what the issue. On work topics, it’s “rage quit immediately” or “your boss sucks,” no matter what the issue.

      It’s the nature of the medium.

    2. Turingtested*

      Yep. I think managers are just an emotional topic. Almost everyone has had a bad one. And it’s very difficult to see yourself as others see you, workers almost always have good intentions whatever the outcome is. So they want to be judged on intention but work is generally judged on outcomes.

      A lot of perspectives and advice in work related threads here and elsewhere isn’t good. (Not Allison’s obviously!) And whenever anyone tries to redirect they’re drowned out by more terrible advice.

      But do people actually want actionable feedback or do they want to vent and feel validated? There’s nothing wrong with the latter but it might not help the situation at work.

    3. Managing While Female*

      I feel you, and I agree with RagingADHD. There are some folks who, based on their own bad experiences, will immediately jump to the conclusion that a workplace is toxic or a manager is a Machiavellian super-villain for the littlest things. It’s hard when you’re reading that as a manager who is just legitimately trying to do their best and has no say in people’s compensation or other big gripes.

      1. Blue Pen*

        In my time as a professional, I don’t think I’ve ever had an intrinsically Bad manager. Annoying managers? Yes. Inept managers? Yes. But if I am frustrated by someone in management for whatever reason, I think I’ve always been able to keep a healthy perspective on the fact that the employer is the one I’m more frustrated by. The environment the employer has created that allows “bad” management to breed is usually the issue, not the person who’s in the hot seat to reinforce the employer’s policies.

        1. I Have RBF*

          I’m jealous.

          I’ve had actively bad managers – bullying, yelling, belittling, gaslighting, sexist, racist, etc. I’ve also had wonderful, fantastic managers – supportive, clear, the right balance of hands on and hands off, promoted personal development, etc. Most have been in the middle – okay, but not knock your socks off wonderful.

          I essentially have the equivalent of PTSD from some of the awful managers I’ve had. That shit stays with you forever, it seems. So I tend to be pretty cynical, because I’ve been burned badly. I even have to tell my newer managers, after I get to know them, what some of my flashpoints are.

          Some managers are just bad, others are okay but in a bad company with bad policies. The advice in the end is the same: Get out. Whether a bad manager or a bad company “culture”, it can really warp your reality and self esteem.

    4. Voting for the Other Woman*

      This – “have had very bad experiences with terrible managers”. The amount of terrible (not toxic) management is prevalent in every workplace. No one is getting training on how to be a good manager and then how to be a good leader. It’s killing employees and our desire to like you. People rarely quit the org; they quit their manager/boss. We held a meeting and the vote was unanimous. You, et.al, are not good at your roles as managers and/or leaders.

      Group thinking happens because we’re not allowed to talk about it at work, we shouldn’t do so on LinkedIn, don’t bring it home, and don’t burden our friends. Where else are we supposed to share the bucked-up world of ‘management’. This is the only place we can express ourselves.

      1. Managing While Female*

        Look, I get the frustration, but you don’t need to turn into a personal attack against people you don’t know.

        1. Voting for the Other Woman*

          I said, “You, et.al, are not good at your roles as managers and/or leaders.”

          I’m not railing against the OP per se, but to ask “Why are we under attack?” is naivete or spiteful ignorance. We trudge every day to work to look at some inept, clueless, or terrible manager and psyche ourselves up for a ‘great’ day knowing that the manager is going to chew that up for lunch and then take our dessert and tomorrow’s lunch money, too.

        2. WellRed*

          I don’t see a personal attack? At any rate,managers have power that others don’t. Or at least, they are perceived to have power. I’ve had two frustrating management encounters this week (Two managers). Nit toxic or terrible by any means, but one basically shrugged her shoulders at me. The other, who thank the higher powers isn’t my manager, shut down an entire teams chat about a policy question.

          1. Busy Middle Manager*

            I don’t mind criticizing a bad manager; I care about just assuming someone is a bad manager because of one little thing in a letter or video, meanwhile one hundred plot holes remain in the retelling of the situation from the employer’s POV.
            Using the Accounting letter as an example, no explanation was given as per whether those extra hours getting billed were allowed, if they came out of set project budgets, if they were actually hitting higher metrics or getting done what someone else could get done in 12 hours, not 18, and not addressing the content of the work. For example I know from experience I’ve trained people how to do things another way more quickly then find out a year later they went back to the old time consuming way for no real reason.

    5. Yoli*

      I notice a trend in the comments where people make a bunch of positive assumptions about the character of letter writers (maybe a misguided application of the “believe LWs” rule), saying things like they must be conscientious/a good employee/in the right because they wrote in. It’s like a version of affinity bias–the most frequent contributors here seem to hold each other in positive regard just by virtue of commenting on the same website, and I would guess many of those people aren’t managers.

      1. My employee is a Rock Star*

        I have noticed the same thing. I have written in a few times, and my letters have always been published, sometimes as a manager, sometimes as an employee (I manage at one job, and am an employee at the other) and without fail, I take some sort of crap in the comments as a manager, and am fully supported as an employee. What amazes me is the pettiness of the comments when I am writing in as a manager. I was once dressed down for calling someone I manage a “rock star”. WTF? But, as with anything on the inter-webs, I just take it with a grain of salt. I know I am a good manager and a good employee, and dammit, you can’t tell me otherwise! ;)

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I think that happens in every conversation. We get the speaker’s version of events which no matter how hard they try to be accurate will always be slightly biased so unless they are really out of touch, the odds are we will sympathise with them. I’ve even told stories sometimes when I’ve known I was in the wrong and told them as my being in the wrong and gotten a response along the lines of “that’s ridiculous. They shouldn’t have gotten annoyed at you for that. Anybody’s allowed a mistake,” because they could hear that I was apologetic and clearly hadn’t meant to cause harm whereas they didn’t get the other person’s side and see how my mistake inconvenienced them.

        I don’t think it’s fully avoidable when you only get one side of the story.

    6. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      “I work with someone who also is always very busy but what they don’t see is the amount of time it takes similar employees to do similar work, and they don’t see what we don’t delegate them. I think sometimes the things we can’t delegate turn into a long list, and then that becomes a problem.”

      I’m currently managing someone who’s on a PIP for this reason. Whenever my manager and I evaluate this person’s performance, this person fixates on the number of hours they’re putting in. Yes, that’s part of the problem: you put in so many hours and produce so little. This person still doesn’t get it. It’s always, “I’m working my butt off!” No one is contesting that. Work isn’t what you’re getting paid for; producing value is.

      And recently we’ve been running out of work that we can entrust to this person that will adequately capture the reasons for their failure (or, conversely but less likely, allow them to demonstrate they’ve acquired the skills they need in order to succeed) for the PIP, while also not putting the business at risk from the work being done so badly. I’ve started documenting that the reason the PIP includes so many artificially devised tasks is that we can’t delegate the real work of this role to this person, which is why they ended up on a PIP in the first place.

      (Ironically, one of their defenses for not understanding how to perform their job duties after so many years here is that for the first several years, previous managers kept them busy with unimportant work. It was definitely bad management to deal with a low performer in that way and let that situation go on for so long, but the reason this person was given so many unimportant assignments is that there was nothing else they could be trusted with! They were also perfectly free to start doing their actual job at any point, but they were always “too busy” putting in many hours working very inefficiently on the unimportant assignments. If they’d had the skills to finish an assignment that should have taken two weeks in less than six months, they could have had 5.5 months left over for actual work. Then their most recent manager–my boss–started putting this person on important assignments in hopes it was just a motivational problem…and we started having to micromanage and clean up after them if we wanted the work done and done right. And then I said, “This cannot go on.”)

    7. Irish Teacher.*

      I haven’t noticed an anti-manager slant, to be honest. I see people supporting both managers and employees who raise issues about the other. And sometimes people here even say that the person posting is themself in the wrong.

      I think, however, people in general (though less here than elsewhere) do tend to side with the person raising the issue, probably because we see all their side whereas we only see the other person’s from the outside so if somebody posts and says “I have a phobia of x and my colleagues keep bringing in pictures of x,” it seems like the colleagues are being unkind. But if somebody posts and says “Y keeps complaining about my pictures of x,” then a lot of people might assume Y is being judgemental, because none of us, including the poster, knows they have a phobia.

      I remember the post you were talking about and yeah, it is possible the manager had genuine concerns with the person’s work, but even in that case, they were addressing them in a very problematic way, so the question really was whether the manager was totally to blame or whether there was blame on both sides. Even if the employee was subpar, just telling somebody “I don’t think you are up to standard” without giving any specifics and basically starting off right from the start telling them that the manager didn’t think they’d be any good at the job based on their background means the manager was almost certainly subpar too.

      And I’m not sure it mattered as regards advice anyway. My thought on that post was that whatever the background, the best thing the LW could do was apply for other jobs because there were two options – either they were struggling so much with the job that even working more than double the normal working hours still wasn’t enough to meet minimum standards and they had a boss who either had no interest in helping them or who was struggling so much themselves that they were unable to offer any training opportunities or else they had a boss who was out to get them. Either way, their chances of success in the role are minimal.

      But I don’t think people’s criticisms of the manager there were because they were a manager. I think it was both because there were clear deficits on the manager’s part (expressing a judgement before the person started, not discouraging 18 hour days, not giving specific feedback on how the person could improve, expressing the feedback in a way that sounded less like advice and more like just personal insults) whereas other than working harmful hours, we did not know whether or not there were deficits on the part of the employee and also because of the part about the LW covering for their manager. That made it seem like the manager thought they couldn’t do their own job and yet were skilled enough to do the manager’s when he/she wanted a day off.

      There were indications in the letter that the situation was not the same as your employee’s and yes, that may be because it is from the employee’s point of view; it is possible the manager would tell a different story. But we can only reply to what is written and to assume the manager was not at least partly to blame, we would have to assume the LW was not giving the full story, which is both against the rules here and would make discussions completely pointless because if we are going to assume LWs are wrong, well, then anything could be the real situation.

      It’s possible the LW is like the person you work with but there is no reason to assume that and nothing in the letter suggested they were.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I haven’t noticed an anti management slant at all; I can’t think of a single example tbh. I think following the commenting rules involves taking the OP at their word as much as possible, so taking a stance against the manager depends on what details you get and whether the OP is the manager or not. I think it would be disastrous to abandon those rules and take a slant either for or against managers in general (remember the micro brewery boss who was trying to oust their most competent employee? Taking them at their word, involved the inescapable conclusion that they were a terrible boss, but they had assumed AAM would just automatically side with a manager). The accountant who was working 18 hour days is *possibly* someone who takes forever to do the work, but the other details provided by the OP don’t support that (and we take the OP at their word, manager or not). The fact that they got glowing reports from everyone else doesn’t suggest snail pace worker. The fact that the manager didn’t provide any actionable feedback doesn’t suggest it either. It does suggest a poor manager, even if OP has issues though. Are there lots and lots of terrible employees in the world? Absolutely, there are yes. There are also lots of bad managers. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to take either a management/non management side because either one could be someone who’s dropping the ball. It’s not an anti management stance that drives me crazy on here; it’s people who refuse to believe the OP’s stated experience could be different to their own… and then they speculate accordingly. To me, it’s all about helping the OP (who is often a manager!) and that could be anything from “Have you made sure you are really not at fault by doing (actionable suggestion)” to “If you’re right about everything you’ve said here I would do (actionable suggestion)”. It’s not about our own lives and it isn’t a chance to pick sides. It’s not AITA.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Yeah, if we’re supposed to take the OP at their word, and we’ve only heard the OP’s side of the story, and non-managers outnumber managers….statistically, you’ll see people agreeing the employee that the manager is the problem more often than the reverse.

        It is definitely true, as Irish Teacher says immediately above, that the 18-hour accountant’s manager might tell a different story. The moment my employee was presented with a formal letter indicating they might be terminated, they erupted in rage that no one had ever told them their job was in danger or that they were having performance problems. They also said there had been zero problems with their work. The fact that I have it in writing that I had told them their job was in danger months before, and that these performance conversations had been going on for months, in detail, frequently, is not something you’ll learn if this employee writes in.

        The fact that there’s no way to know both sides of the story pretty much limits us to seeing things from the perspective of the person who sees themselves as the wronged party. For the reasons I gave, that statistically means most often agreeing with the person who writes in, i.e. the employee and not the manager.

    9. Joron Twiner*

      I think a key element you haven’t acknowledged is that managers have all the power in the relationship. They can fire you, change your workload, affect your pay, affect your workplace environment, your duties, how and when you get promoted, literally everything about work. It’s tough when something about that goes wrong and you have to rely on someone else to fix it.

      Especially with something as critical as your livelihood, and as all-consuming as the thing you do with most of your time. Managers have a lot of influence, so with great power…

  37. InterviewPlz*

    I’ve been job hunting for months and have been getting little to no responses. Not even for part-time positions. I’ve gone over my resume and cover letter and everything else with people in my industry. Even friends of friends who work in HR departments. No luck in getting interviews or even responses. I feel at the end of my rope! What is someone in my position supposed to do??

    1. Procedure Publisher*

      I’m in the same boat as well. Looking back at my resumes that landed interviews was not helpful.

    2. RagingADHD*

      What sources are you using for job postings?

      Do you have all your skills and certifications on your LinkedIn profile? There’s a “Resume Writer / Brand Strategist” on LinkedIn named Jessica Hernandez who has a free video series on optimizing your LinkedIn profile, and I found that very helpful.

      Once you get your profile all shiny and set up a couple of searches for the type of jobs you’re seeking, you can try a free trial month of LinkedIn Premium and see what they recommend as jobs where you’d be a top applicant.

      If your industry uses contract / temporary agencies, you could submit there and see if the recruiters have any advice on how to position yourself better. They may be able to suggest skills or certificates that would make your resume more attractive. I took a few 2-4 hour classes and it definitely got me more interviews after I had those items on my resume / profile.

      Good luck!

    3. Despairingly unemployed*

      Same here. I had my first interview in… I can’t even remember how long, literally maybe 8 months?? Because I applied to a CL job on a whim (completely different industry that I don’t think I want to step foot in after all). That’s been a nice mood booster because my interviewer was so confused why I wasn’t getting contacted for jobs in my field with all my experience.

      Otherwise I’ve been looking at a couple of volunteer opportunities, as the commentariat recommended a while back, just to have something current on my resume. Maybe you could look at something short term? (I use idealist)

  38. JD lady*

    Any toddler moms in the legal field? What’s your job like on a daily basis? Has anyone taken a JD advantage role or policy role? What’s that like?

    1. ErinB*

      Me! I’m in BigLaw, which has exactly the pros and cons that you’d expect: unpredictable work flow/hours and occasional last-minute work emergencies, but also great benefits (solid healthcare, really useful back up childcare) and (candidly) money to throw at child-related issues, to the extent possible. I love the specific type of legal work that I do – and the people that I do it with, many of whom have young kids – which is the only reason that I’m still here; I understand that this isn’t the environment for everyone.

      Several friends of mine have left firms for in-house and also seem to really like it. They cite the much more predictable hours as a huge perk with young kids.

      Happy to answer specific Qs if you have them.

  39. Dobermom*

    I got screwed out of a promotion recognition at work today, so I’m just here to get some “congratulations.”

    In 2022 I was promoted from Associate Awesomejob to Awesomejob, with the plan to promote me to Senior Awesomejob at the next round of reviews–so I could get two promotion raises.

    Well, leadership changes and layoffs occurred and… apparently the powers that be said, “Oh, that promotion in 2022 should have been to Senior Awesomejob. We’ll go ahead and change your title in Workday.”

    I spent the past year and a half busting my butt to get that “promotion.” It was even in my goals for 2023! But I guess I’ve been “Senior” all along.

    Today in our all hands meeting, other promotions got called out and recognized by senior leadership… but not me. Even though my title technically just changed in the system.

    Anyway, please congratulate me! I got a promotion a year and a half ago that I didn’t know about!

    1. Amber Rose*

      Congratulations! I see how awesome you are and while I don’t have confetti, I do have a bubble wand so I am blowing some bubbles in your honor.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Congrats! I hope you got the deserved raise alongside backpay! And if not, you definitely should make a case for it.

    3. knitting at the baseball game*

      Mazel tov! You are absolutely aces! Way go to, Senior Awesomejobber!

    4. MsM*

      Congratulations! No one noticed my promotion to Senior, either, until they made an unrelated tweak to my title. So maybe your kudos are en route, too.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I was thinking this. A lot of time, there’s a list that’s prepared in advance, and it might’ve gotten to whoever did the announcement before your promotion was in the system.

        If you know who creates that list, a quiet word with them should get your name added either in the follow-up or at the next meeting.

        Also, congratulations!

  40. NaoNao*

    Our company (and specifically my larger team/department) is tightening up on RTO recently, which is frustrating and honestly a bit alarming for me.

    I am autistic and one of the reasons I’m knocking it out of the park at this job is that I don’t have to mask all day at the office. On the days I go in I’m drained and exhausted end of day, it’s notable. I know I don’t have to “fake it”, it’s not mandatory, but when everyone else is chortling over grating “Dad Jokes” and spending 20 minutes on small talk during a 30 minute meeting, it’s a must because otherwise I’m going to come off jerky, clueless, and self-centered.

    I’m wondering if it’s worth it to disclose to my boss and ask for an exemption based on this, but how can I phrase this? The company is focused on “networking” as one reason in-office is so desirable, but again, I’m not even at a manager level, 90% of my team isn’t co-located, and believe me, the people in my office have ZERO interest in “networking” with someone outside their team (which is what leadership suggested when workers protested about coming back to office, noting that their teams were scattered). And being autistic just makes those oh-so-valuable watercooler chats all the harder for me.

    I don’t plan on saying anything about “masking” but maybe something like ability to concentrate, environment, etc?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Can you point to concrete productivity changes on WFH vs in-office days? I think citing noise and distractions, and linking them to how you’re knocking it out of the park from home, can help.

      If you want to request formal accommodation, you don’t have to name the disability. You can just get a note from your doctor that WFH or having a quiet, private space with minimal interruptions would be appropriate / beneficial accommodations for your needs.

      1. NotTrue*

        Every accommodation process I’ve gone through absolutely did require disclosing specific medical information and allowing my doctors to disclose more. I’ve seen other folks say you don’t have to disclose reasons, but that is not true.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Well, I don’t know where you live, but in the US, in order to get ADA accommodation you have to disclose that you have a disability and the employer may require medical documentation of the impact on your work or any restrictions to your activities.

          The employer is prohibited from requiring specific information about your diagnosis or treatment, and a number of large employers (such as Disney) have been found liable in court and penalized for overstepping what questions they are allowed to ask.

          So your employer may have violated the law, and if so I’m sorry that happened to you. But my statement is nonetheless true as to what US law requires.

    2. Not So Little My*

      I’m putting off filling out the accommodation form for the same thing, because autism, but it’s pretty straightforward. You say you are not disclosing the specifics of the conditions due to the ADA (in US), but your accommodation need is to WFH. Here is how my doctor phrased it: “experiences sensory sensitivities that make commuting and working in an office
      environment physiologically challenging, emotionally taxing, and mentally distracting.” About 80% of my team is remote and I think it’s so stupid to drive in 3 days a week to sit at a hotdesk in my headphones and do mostly solo coding and the occasional Teams meeting.

  41. CMR*

    When do you know it’s time to take another job? I’m an upper level manager but honestly, I’m burned out of the managing component of my role. I may be able to find a staff level job in my field but it may require moving to private sector or another agency in the public sector I currently work. I really enjoy the culture and people I work with and am reluctant to leave this agency. There are no opportunities at my agency for which I can side-step into a non-supervisory position. The majority of openings would require an entirely different education/career path that I’m not in a position to tackle. Changing to a non-supervisory job will require leaving this agency and I’m most nervous about a new employer and the potential for toxic culture.

    1. ferrina*

      Just look.

      Looking isn’t a commitment to leave, but it can give you a better sense of what other opportunities look like. You can always interview and decided “this other company isn’t for me”. Job searches take a long time anyways, and you can always stop a job search whenever you want.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I think a good first step is to look at what’s out there and available: do you see positions you’d be interested in that are non-supervisory and meet your needs for location, salary, and work area?
      For me at least, I usually have an ‘aha moment’ of realization where I just flat out know I can’t continue the work and need a change. Sometimes it’s due to leadership, or salary, or burnout — but it’s always been pretty clear to me.

    3. Generic Name*

      You know it’s time to take another job when you wonder if it’s time to take another job. :)

  42. I wanna be mean*

    Is there any circumstance in which it’s appropriate not to be “polite” to someone I used to work with?

    I’m rapidly approaching the point where I will need to interact with my prior, highly abusive manager, something I’ve been consciously avoiding for months due to the trauma that I’m still recovering from. But we work in a smallish field where that won’t be possible forever.

    I negotiated a voluntary exit from that place with an HR commitment that they not say anything negative about me. I then got my new job; unbeknownst to me, my new boss kind of knew my old boss and briefly reached out, and I learned that they did indeed not throw me under the bus as negotiated (though didn’t exactly give me glowing praise either).

    But now they are starting to claim that they “got the job because of their help.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. I haven’t talked to anyone from my old company in months, nor do I want to. I applied to the new job on my own and got it on own merits and knowledge. If I had known they would have done pseudo-reference checks, I would have steered them in a different direction.

    When I inevitably have to interact with this person and get a condescending comment implying they are in control of my career prospects, can I just be rude and walk off without saying anything? Can I tell them off? I am very good at my new job (which is essentially the exact same job I used to do, just not with a micromanaging and vindictive manager) and not worried about my job security.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      In what circumstance will you have to interact with exboss? I feel like that makes a difference, In any case, I wouldn’t tell them off. You’re better off remaining professional no matter what, and staying calm. “Jolene, I appreciate your willingness to abide by the terms we negotiated before I left my old job, but I applied to this job and got it on my own merits. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go talk to a colleague about something.”

      1. BellaStella*

        Agree with this. Also just blinking when they talk to you and then slowly saying this, then walking away is good too.

    2. ferrina*

      If you hear you “got this job due to Ex-Boss” from third-party sources, treat it as a joke. Laugh and say “oh, that’s funny! No, this was something I found on my own. I guess Ex-Boss gave me a reference?” Just treat it as something that’s a funny misunderstanding. Don’t take it seriously (side-note: gaslighters hate when you don’t take them seriously, because it’s basically using their own tactics against them. Except that you have verifiable truth on your side).

      When you see Ex-Boss, be pleasant and “happen” to be elsewhere. There are so many excuses to not be in proximity with them. Don’t give them any drama- these people thrive on drama. Prepare a few exit lines until you can say it under any circumstance- being chased by a tiger? “Oh, I see someone I need to talk to, excuse me.” Pennywise is playing marbles with Jason Voorhees? “Excuse me, I need to take care of something.” Seriously, practice these lines until they are seered in your brain so when trauma response freezes you up, your brain will automatically pull the script to the front.

      I don’t think rudeness is something to worry about, but avoid the drama. They’ll just use the drama to get closer to you.

      Good luck!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree–the best kind of “rude” is the kind that is simply uninterested. So much more effective/grating to the person than overt insults, which signals you still care what they think (and that is of course what they want.)

    3. RagingADHD*

      You seem to think the options are:
      A) Be rude and walk away without saying anything
      B) Tell them off

      I vote for C) none of the above. You can just say, “I don’t believe that’s the case. Excuse me.” or “I think you’re mistaken. Excuse me.” And then walk away.

      That’s not rude, and it won’t make you look unhinged / vindictive to anyone else who may be present. Your desire to put the ex-boss down is understandable, but no good will come of it, and it won’t be as satisfying as you imagine it would be. It would just reflect badly on you in a work context.

      1. Observer*

        Your desire to put the ex-boss down is understandable, but no good will come of it, and it won’t be as satisfying as you imagine it would be.

        Exactly. OP, the advice here is not about what you “owe” (or don’t owe) your ex-boss. Rather it’s advice on what will serve you best.

      2. Mad Harry Crewe*

        “Huh, that hasn’t been my experience.”
        “What an odd thing to say.”
        “Oh? Weird.”

        Followed by, “Excuse me, I should [action that gets you out of the conversation].” And then leave.

        Basically, don’t engage. Kill the conversation by responding briefly, politely, but with zero engagement or emotion, and then make your exit (grab a drink, throw this plate away, bathroom, someone across the room you need to speak with, etc)

    4. Not A Manager*

      “Thanks, Old Boss. Everyone knows exactly how helpful you’ve been to me.”

    5. Observer*

      can I just be rude and walk off without saying anything? Can I tell them off?

      Unless your field is very odd, doing that is going to look quite odd, at best, to anyone else.

      There are a lot of other ways you could respond. Raise an eyebrow if you can do that. Respond with a flat “Oh” or “I see”, whichever fits the comment better. Think of some other non-responses and practice them, especially if there are specific types of comment you think he’s likely to deploy.

      eg If you think he’s likely to say “What would you do without my help?” you might practice saying something like “I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing now” in the calmest possible voice.

      He won’t get what he wants, but you will look good.

    6. Miss Manners*

      Totally understand the impulse to be rude or get your comeuppance but it’s really best to have that be a fantasy that stays in your head. There’s some great suggestions here to be “Miss Manners above reproach.”

  43. It's a Bev-olution and I'm all in*

    Week 1 of Unemployed

    The first 3 days were untethered. I cleaned, watched some shows, took the dogs on extra long walks. I had to stop thinking that my breaks had to be in 20 minute increments. During this first week I haven’t thought about the organization, how they might change the role I left, or how they’re doing any of my work. On Monday somebody responsible for reporting texted me to ask if I had trained anyone on a particular report. I had not and was not asked to. Their response, “I wish you the best in your future endeavors.”

    Rejoined a pro bono platform in which I booked two projects with two non-profits and have another interview for one on Monday. Signed up to volunteer in person with a local food pantry. I have a couple of coffees booked, And I’m scheduling all my vacations for the year.

    The sabbatical I didn’t want but have to take. This too shall pass.

    1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Sounds like a pretty good week to me! Hope things continue to go well.

  44. Sansa*

    Ok I’ve got a weird one, not really a question…

    I started a new job as a low level supervisor, and on the first day we were doing a round table with the team. Now I’m aware the new thing is that people tend to say their names and pronouns, so I was ready for that. What I was not expecting is that everyone would say their name, pronouns, and then sexuality. Example, “Hi I’m Tyrion, I use he / him pronouns, I’m pan-sexual, but it took me a long time questioning to decide if I was scoliosexual or just bi, but after a long relationship with a femme, I realized my true identity was more open than that.” Not just one guy, but everyone’s intro was like that.

    When I said, “Hi I’m Sansa, she / her pronouns, very happy to be joining you” everyone looked at me VERY expectantly, like they wanted a lot more.

    So… weird or what?

    1. Alex*

      That is super weird. Really. Wow. I would be so uncomfortable with that. Why does anyone need to know your sexuality?

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      It is super weird in general that people should feel they need to report on their sexuality in the workplace! I could maaaaaayyyybe see it being a common thing if the workplace is one whose primary function is to advocate for or otherwise support the LGBTQ+ community, but even then, no one should be looked at oddly if they don’t share that info.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, I was wondering what environment this was in. I have friends that work in very liberal industries in very liberal locations, and this wouldn’t be out of place. But anywhere that I’ve worked (more moderate location, moderate industries), this would have been wildly inappropriate

          1. Csethiro Ceredin*

            Huh! My dad worked for the federal government here until recently and this would have been bizarre at his workplace. In fact I am pretty sure it would be considered Not Ok to ask this, per policy. Maybe some weird dynamic has evolved with this team?

    3. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

      Weird. My work history is hardly dotted with conservative industries and that’s still pretty far afield from what I’d expect.

    4. anon for this*

      Extremely weird and I hate it!
      I’ve been out as queer for about 20 years at this point, using they/them pronouns since ~2010, and heavily involved in numerous queer community orgs—I’ve been on the board of several citywide Pride celebrations around the world and had long-term appointments to queer member organizations, including developing diversity/D&I/DEI/DEBI/DEIA strategic plans around communications. I mention all this to say that I’ve dealt with a ton of different situations around queer identities and cultures, and developed many policies about pronouns etc.
      I am really, really uncomfortable with the recent mainstream turn towards obligatory disclosure, and what you’ve described just made all the hair on my arms stand up. This is well beyond the norm and extremely troubling.
      I would actually consider this a HR-worthy issue if you had a little more tenure/standing: it puts a wild amount of pressure on people to out themselves, which is obviously worse for people with more marginalized identities. It sounds like this is an ingrained part of the culture, though, so you may not have enough leverage to say anything at this point.
      Without additional context, I don’t know whether or not this is a quirk of the org or a red flag, but I would definitely be on the lookout for other boundary-crossing behaviors.

      1. Zona the Great*

        I currently identify as askew from center, sexually, and I completely agree. This was so off-putting to read that I cannot imagine what it would have felt like to have it said directly into my earballs. I may have wanted to run out the door right then and there leaving behind a Zona the Great shaped hole in my wake.

    5. Cordelia*

      Weird and unnecessary. I don’t need to know someone’s sexuality in order to work with them – I do need to know their preferred pronouns. It’s an entirely different thing and it’s weird that the two things have been combined at your company.
      In my last job there was someone who had “He/Him – Gay” in his email signature, which always seemed inappropriate to me, no-one else had their sexuality listed and I have never seen it elsewhere. He wasn’t someone I interacted with directly though, so I just ignored it. In my new job, I recently received an email from him, and the “Gay” has been removed, so I don’t know if he took it out or someone higher up told him to.

    6. Kink*

      Super weird. I’m very private at work. I don’t talk about spouse/family at all. I cannot imagine discussing my sexual preferences and frankly don’t want to know about anyone else’s. Who and what i do in my time off is no one’s business.

    7. Educator*

      I work in a liberal industry in a very liberal city. It is common sense around here to make sharing pronouns routine but optional and low pressure, in case someone is questioning or does not feel safe sharing yet.

      I cannot believe a whole room full of people a) thought that it was appropriate to share sexual orientation in introductions in a work environment and b) thought it was appropriate to make people feel pressured to share any aspect of their identity. Totally fine to mention your partner in conversation or talk about your advocacy work, but mandatory statements about something so personal before any sort of rapport has been established? No.

      Your response was great. If it happens again, I might say, in a breezy tone “Oh, I would hate for anyone to feel pressured to share any aspect of their identity before they felt ready. Let’s make that optional.”

        1. Observer*

          But the unspoken pressure is there, from your description. By responding in this way you call it out in a low key and non-confrontational way.

    8. Melody Powers*

      Very weird and way too much. I’d be very uncomfortable with people expecting me to say something similar.

    9. Charlotte Lucas*

      I would only want this if it included a song and dance number, like when the boss realizes he’s bisexual in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

    10. RagingADHD*

      So, do they do this at every meeting, or only when they are meeting a total stranger for the first time? Both are exceedingly weird.

      The last time I dealt with a company that took “bring your whole self to work” to this level of total boundarylessness, it turned out that not only were members of C-Suite routinely inviting their underlings to their homes for “inner work sessions,” they were pressuring them to take MDMA, climb into bed together, and talk about their abusive childhoods as a form of unlicensed therapy. People who declined got frozen out of meetings and promotions.

      They laid off 3/4 of their workforce with no notice, and went bankrupt a couple of years ago.

      I’m not saying that’s happening at your company, but in your situation I would keep my eyes open for other signs of weirdness. People who have zero personal boundaries about one topic don’t usually have robust boundaries about other things either.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        What the ACTUAL double fried fuck????
        I’m sorry, that is cult behavior, and sounds like they were an inch away from ATF conducting a raid.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, yes. Totally. As with many cults, there was a grifter at the center who used cult-speak to collect willing minions, and then they assembled into a pecking order.

          I was a freelancer, and of course those of us on the periphery didn’t know how bad it really was until afterwards when people started opening up. But there were a lot of inklings from the beginning that the culture of this company was not something I wanted to be further involved in. Fulltime openings came up pretty regularly, but I never applied.

          I started working for them because the money was good. And then one day, I didn’t get paid on time. So I was out. I just hung around the Slack channel to hear the stories afterwards.

    11. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Pronouns are fine but the rest is definitely weird. I’d rather get a tooth pulled than recap the finer points of my sexuality with my brand new coworkers. Work people are who I would consider to be the least appropriate audience for that information. What kind of company is this?

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Super weird. I don’t get that detailed with most of my close friends. Like, most of the time, my sexuality is the business of exactly one person in this world besides me, and that’s the one that I’m married to.

    13. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I work in social sciences in a progressive city and this would be so odd to me. It’s a more specific description of sexuality than I could give about many of my friends.

      Unless it’s in some way integral to your work, it’s invasive to expect this kind of thing, IMO.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah that’s very weird and strange. I work in a British company where people give their names and some people give their pronouns and some don’t. Giving information about their sexuality is way too much information. Apart from anything else I don’t want to know that much about my colleagues as I prefer to think of people I work with in a non-sexual way. I also would not want to share my preferences because that’s private information.

        I mean I don’t know that much about my close friends either. Because they don’t talk about it that way.

    14. I Have RBF*

      Definitely weird.

      Mine would be “My name is I Have RBF, my pronouns are they/them, and I keep my sexuality out of the workplace.”

    15. Anon for This*

      Very weird.

      My coworkers need to know what pronouns I use, for the same reason they need to know my name; they need to be able to refer to me correctly.

      Unless there’s a work-related reason, they don’t need to know what body configuration or gender presentation I want to bang.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      Uh, yeah. VERY weird. There are things I want to know so I can interact with a person in a respectful, kind manner…and there’s this. It’s the definition of TMI.

    17. Irish Teacher.*

      Really, really weird and as somebody aromantic asexual, I think I’d be quite uncomfortable with it and I know this is ironic, since I’ve included it in this sentence but it’s relevant here whereas just saying it at random… Well, while I know others feel differently, to me being aromantic asexual means sexuality isn’t important to me. It means I’m just…not interested and it’s not a major part of my identity.

      It’s not a secret but I kinda figure most people can figure out the significant part without my having to label it. I mean, they can see I’m single and appear pretty satisfied with that.

      I would have no problem with everybody mentioning their partner or even people mentioning they were in a throuple or something like “I have two children with my ex-husband, Josh and I’m currently dating Samantha.” But this feels different.

  45. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    Over the past few years, our CEO has given out various accolades (Award of Excellence, All Star, etc.) every month or so, including several employees in my department.

    I casually asked my boss how I might qualify for these and he seemed “surprised” that I hadn’t already received at least one. Apparently, he hasn’t thought to include me before now because I’m already such a high performer that surely I must have received lots of awards by now — but no, I haven’t, because the one person who could have nominated me “forgot” that he had never nominated me!

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      IS your boss the one person who can nominate you? In my workplace, the culture is that for most accolades, it’s NOT actually your manager who nominates you. Instead, it’s more common for someone on a different team with whom you collaborate to nominate you. For example, I recently nominated a couple of people on another team because they’ve been amazing about sharing info in advance with my team that makes our jobs a lot easier. It’s not uncommon for a manager who thinks a team member has done something above-and-beyond to reach out to one of the people who works closely with them to suggest they nominate the team member for an award, sometimes even drafting some language for them to use, but it’s also common enough for it to be done spontaneously (no one asked me to submit the nomination I did).

      1. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

        Unfortunately, he IS the only one, because he is at the top of a chain of command.

    2. ferrina*

      Ugh, that is so frustrating. Unfortunately, this can be the way of things sometimes.

      I’m glad you brought it up to your boss. I might bring it up one more time (maybe in a few weeks) to show your interest, then watch what your boss does. If he still doesn’t nominate you, that’s important information to know- this is someone that just won’t nominate you for awards.

    3. ConstantlyComic*

      Eugh, I hate that for you. My workplace has a similar “shout out board” where people can shout out a coworker for doing something above and beyond, but all the submissions are coming from the same group of 4 or 5 people so it’s pretty much just a popularity contest

    4. Anon for This*

      Not at all uncommon for the superstars to not be nominated for the awards either because they are so good that the benchmark for them becomes much higher than for their co-workers or – as in your case – because it’s assumed that they have already received awards. Managers need to be aware of this so they can counter it.

  46. Dwight K. Schrute*

    Earlier this week, I had the following text exchange with someone claiming to be from a company related to a position I applied to with them:

    Them: Hi, Dwight. Thanks for applying to our Assistant to the Regional Manager* position at Dunder Mifflin in Scranton. What’s your availability this week and next week for a call? Best regards, Jan
    Me: *gives available times*
    Them: Michael, who manages hiring, will call you on (date and time) from his cell (cell phone number)

    Since the invite came by text and I couldn’t confirm that it was actually from who they claimed to be, I requested they send me an email and got the following responses:

    Me: Can you please send a calendar invite to my email?
    Them: We don’t typically do that for initial interviews.
    Me: Can you send me some kind of email confirmation? I just prefer to have this kind of confirmation via email.
    Them: I understand and you can consider this text your confirmation. We’ll be happy to send you an email confirmation/calendar invite for future interviews. But frankly we don’t on the initial interview because we want to see if candidates will show up to the interview. Michael will call you on your cell at the time I mentioned. Have a great rest of your week and a terrific weekend.

    At this point, much of my interest in the position had waned and I strongly considered backing out of the interview because I didn’t think my request was unreasonable. After giving it some thought, I sent a response and the following exchange ensued:

    Me: I would really prefer to have an email so that I know it’s linked to the company. I can’t definitively confirm that a text is linked to the company.
    Them: This is our hiring process. We can see that this is problematic for you and wish you well in finding the right opportunity.

    In the past, I have requested calendar invites multiple times from interviewers (though not a whole lot of times) and this was the first time I was told no. That said, while I do prefer emails to discuss scheduling interviews, and most employers I’ve spoken to in recent years have used email for this purpose, I like to think I wouldn’t have pushed the issue as much had Jan sent me a message on LinkedIn or even called me. I can easily connect a LinkedIn message to the company. While it’s true that I may not be able to definitively link a call to the company, at least I know it’s a real person talking to me. I have received text messages from recruiters with staffing agencies, but I can count on one hand the number of times I recall an internal recruiter or hiring manager texting me as the initial method of contact.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have pushed the issue as much as I did but I didn’t think losing the interview was the end of the world. I also wondered what else they might refuse to accommodate if they insisted on not sending an email, which would potentially be more problematic as I would have had to relocate to take the job. I also didn’t understand their logic for not sending emails for many reasons. I think they probably shouldn’t have told me the reasoning (i.e., not knowing if candidates would show up to interviews) because it sounded like they already didn’t trust me.

    Am I off base here, or is the company? Any feedback is appreciated.

    *The position is not a management position, and all names were changed.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This would have set off my spidey senses pretty hard. You’re not wrong to ask. That they wouldn’t email you is, in my opinion, extremely weird.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        The weirdest part to me is that they said they would email for any future interviews but not this first one, and that it’s some kind of test. Nope, the test for me as the candidate would be “is this a legit contact from the company” and by refusing to verify on request, the company fails that test.

        They may be legit, but probably not a reasonable place to work if they play games like that.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah, plus they spent probably 5x as much energy texting to say “no” than it would’ve to send a calendar invite. So even if the idea that they’re screening for people who won’t even show up made sense, like they won’t waste an email on someone who might not show up….they’re not saving themselves any effort. So yeah the whole thing is either a scam to begin with or BS from the real company and who would want to work with that nonsense.

          1. Dwight K. Schrute*

            Yeah, plus they spent probably 5x as much energy texting to say “no” than it would’ve to send a calendar invite.

            Right? They would have spent so much less time sending an email or a calendar invite, even if just to shut me up, than they spent telling me no.

          2. Trice*

            If this is really a time management test the effort they’re trying to save isn’t sending this invite; it’s the future effort that comes with having hired someone who needs handholding.

            1. Dwight K. Schrute*

              I fail to see how asking someone to send an email (calendar invite or simple confirmation) when they’ve only texted me would indicate that I would need handholding if hired. If that was truly their concern, I’d assume they’d call off the interview after the second request, if not after the first. Also, the fact that they said they’d be willing to email me for future interviews indicates that this likely wasn’t the case.

              1. Tio*

                If they already sent a text with the information, sending an email with the same info should be no big deal and not affect their “time management” test at all anyway. They’re either really bananas or a scam, something is definitely wrong here.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, you’re in the right. Either it’s a scammer, or they were telling the truth about refusing to email as a weird test to see if you’d show up, which is bananas. Weird tests in hiring = bad management, you don’t want to work there.

      1. Observer*

        Weird tests in hiring = bad management, you don’t want to work there.

        Agreed (assuming you have other options.)

        But it’s ALSO a very *stupid* test. Because why would making an appointment by text be more of a test than making it by email?

        Which is why I tend to lean towards scam.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          The only thing I can think of is they want to be super duper “modern” and email is seen as–not? I really cannot come up with anything reasonable.

          1. Dwight K. Schrute*

            I don’t know that that’s it, but it’s no less reasonable than their own logic. They were supposedly willing to do it for future interviews. So it’s like I have to earn the right to be emailed by them, which is dumb. I wonder if it would have been more appropriate to ask them to send me a selfie at the office. :)

    3. ferrina*

      I don’t think it was a red flag on either end, but both of you were a bit odd.
      From the hiring side, I assume the candidate can manage their own calendar. I would be a little turned off if they asked for an invite for the screening interview- usually we just arrange a mutually beneficial time to chat, then I call. I would wonder if the candidate wasn’t good at arranging their own calendar if they needed me to send an invite (and why are they adding that burden on me?).
      That said, I would have sent the invite. Not sending an invite or email is a weird hill to die on.

      The texting is a really weird way to reach out to candidates. That would definitely be a red flag to me, but I also wouldn’t dismiss it off hand (some companies have really strange processes). Even though the company was the weird, you also had a baffling response. I’m not sure what you hoped to gain by insisting on an email. Surely a scammer could set up a fake email? Couldn’t you have done a LinkedIn search to find the person you were texting with? Or called the company’s main line (or called the number you were texting with)?

      At the end of the day, if something felt wrong, you did the right thing to withdraw.

      1. Dwight K. Schrute*

        I agree that it’s my responsibility to manage my calendar and appointments, but as I said in the original comment, I’ve made this request many times and have never been told no before this exchange. I don’t know if it adversely affected my candidacy for any of those roles, but I have to believe that it wasn’t the difference between me moving on to the next stage or not moving on to the next stage (at least not more than maybe once or twice). I’ve also had it sent to me without asking, even for initial phone interviews. Also, many companies have a setup where you can pick a time on a shared calendar and it automatically sends you an invite for that time.

        That said, it was more about verifying that I was talking to a legitimate person from the company. I was not given last names for either Jan or Michael but I looked at the company’s LinkedIn page and did not see anyone named Jan or Michael when looking at their employees. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not legitimate but I say that simply to answer your question about the LinkedIn search.

        I wasn’t dismissing it outright for sending a text, but I would think that even a company that texted candidates as the first method of contact would be willing to contact them another way if requested. As far as calling is concerned, I don’t know if the text was from a shared text line or from Jan’s personal cell phone. I also thought it would have been weird for me to call the company to verify this kind of thing.

        I also imagine it’s extremely difficult to create a fake email using the URL of a real company. However, even if someone did manage to do that, or managed to compromise an existing company email address of an existing employee, I feel confident in my ability to spot a scam at some point in an email exchange. If an email came from the company URL, I would have almost certainly felt comfortable with it.

      2. Dwight K. Schrute*

        ETA: I don’t see how asking them to send a calendar invite would be asking them to manage my calendar. Assuming Michael and/or Jan are adding it to one or both of their calendars (either through Gmail or Outlook), it requires minimal effort to add an email address to the appointment. That said, if they insisted on not doing it that way, they could have sent an email simply reiterating that Michael would be calling me at the agreed-upon time, which requires slightly more effort (italics added for emphasis on “slightly).

      3. Observer*

        The texting is a really weird way to reach out to candidates. That would definitely be a red flag to me

        And that’s the key to the whole thing. The OP was clear that they wanted the email because they were trying to confirm that the invite actually was from the company, which is reasonable. It may not have been the best way to do it, but it’s not something that should have put off any reasonable hiring manager.

        Also, claiming that somehow not sending an email is more of a “test” of someone’s ability to actually manage their schedule and show up where they are supposed is very, very odd. If someone is not going to make it to an appointment that they made over text, it’s not likely that they would show up to an appointment made over email.

    4. Voluptuousfire*

      It’s def off. Texting candidates as an initial outreach is odd, IMO. Being adamant about sending an email confirmation is def weird as well. It’s good they canceled your interview.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Good for you.

          Text only, no email, no full names, and no calendar invites shouts either “scam” or “really shady and disorganized” IMO.

    5. Melody Powers*

      I have twice had potential employers reach out through text and neither time ended up being a job I decided to take. It was just the first of many signs of disorganization I saw. I would not interview with anyone who didn’t email or call me again.

    6. BubbleTea*

      Your policy worked as intended. I think there’s a very high likelihood that this was indeed some kind of scam.

      1. Dwight K. Schrute*

        I don’t know that I think it was a scam since I did apply for the position they named with the company they named. I agree that they exhibited scammer behavior though by insisting on not emailing.

        1. WellRed*

          I guess my question is, what did you have to lose by taking the initial call, even without an email follow up?

          1. Dwight K. Schrute*

            That’s a fair question, but the fact that they insisted on not emailing me turned me off quite a bit and it felt like it was already starting on the wrong foot. I also didn’t like how they justified their refusal to send an email by tying it to whether or not a candidate would show up to the interview (I still can’t figure out the logic there). I agree that in most cases it doesn’t hurt to take the initial call, but I went with my gut on this one.

            1. Anecdata*

              FWIW, I think they were weird, but it’s also possible you might have had better results if you had asked them to reply to your email (“I’m really scrupulous about cyber security, so I’m going to just recap this scheduling info to hr@newcorp.com, is it possible to have someone just reply to that to put my mind at ease?”. That gets you what you’re looking for (confirmation that it’s not a scam?), with you taking the initiative to actually do the work. In my world, sending a calendar invite is kind of a favor: like I’ll set up the invite if I need our busy big boss’s time, but if another team needs me to help them out with something, they should do the invite.

              Again, for a candidate, I’d shrug a little, but I would send them the invite. It sounds like the hiring manager wants to use “do they manage their calendar well enough to remember to be on the call” as an annoying powerplayish hiring test. If you’re in a position where you can turn down companies with annoying hiring practices, more power to you, go for it!

              1. Dwight K. Schrute*

                FWIW, I think they were weird, but it’s also possible you might have had better results if you had asked them to reply to your email

                Can you elaborate on what you mean by that? The whole issue stems from the fact that no email was sent. I didn’t have a way of reaching the company by email. If you are thinking that I applied to the job via email, I didn’t. I applied via LinkedIn. There was no way I could have “taken the initiative to actually do the work.”

    7. Tio*

      I have never even heard of anyone being contacted for a job solely through text. I’m sure it happens, but when they refuse to even email a confirmation, that is incredibly weird to me. Dodged a bullet, I think

      1. Dwight K. Schrute*

        I’ve had headhunters do that, but I usually ignore those texts. I just think it’s always best to reach out by email first. Even a LinkedIn message works. I’m also not the biggest fan of getting calls from employers, particularly when they won’t email me after a missed call, but it’s definitely better than texting and refusing to email when requested.

  47. Anonforthis*

    Coworker was finally termed after 10 years of incompetence and my stress (related to them) has disappeared. Their time-wasting chats and emails, refusal to learn anything on their own, and total lack of interest in the job will not be missed! My only complaint is it never should have gone on for so long! They showed their true self within the first 90 days, and as Maya Angelou famously wrote, when someone does that, believe them the first time!

    Managers, if you have a staff member like this, they aren’t only affecting their work, but causing a ripple effect. The entire team was demoralized because of this one member, and our reputation within the organization will take some time to be repaired. Our manager had to implement time consuming tasks to be completed daily for the entire team because of one member.

    1. BellaStella*

      Managers who love and support their very own missing stair employee and make others cover for that missing stair employee …. are The Worst. Glad the person is gone and so sorry you had to wait so long.

      1. Anonforthis*

        By literally putting my head down and working, oh and I may have been a complete and utter b*tch to them.

  48. Pocket Mouse*

    In what scenarios do you take a full day of sick leave for medical appointments? I have a situation where there are multiple medical appointments in a day (two scheduled appointments plus a medical thing that is flexible on timing but will also be taken care of that day). All will take place in the afternoon, and they don’t require prep ahead of time or recovery time after. And… I’ll be taking the morning off as well because I want to. I have a lot of sick leave accrued, but not a lot of other PTO; my ideal would be to use sick leave for the full day rather than using a combo of sick leave and vacation leave. I feel like it won’t be a problem to just use sick leave but am an inveterate rule follower and have typically been scrupulously, perhaps brutally stringent around my hours. I plan to submit at least one doctor’s note to document that the absence was related to something medical in nature.

    What would you do?

    1. Amber Rose*

      “I plan to submit at least one doctor’s note to document that the absence was related to something medical in nature.”

      I would not do this.

      I have used sick leave plenty of times to take full days off for a handful of appointments. It’s never been an issue. I don’t work for your employer and you don’t work for mine, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from a decade of reading AAM, it’s not a good idea to try and justify leave. Take the day as if it’s perfectly normal that you would, because it is and that’s what sick/personal leave is FOR, and say nothing more about it unless you absolutely have to.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      You’re overthinking things – take the whole sick day!

      Do you even need to submit the doctors note? Seems overkill to me for one day.

      1. Billy Preston*

        same here! I travel to a few doctors across town and usually take the entire day for one appointment because I don’t want to have to rush over or back from there. If you have the time, take it! And don’t submit a note unless it’s required.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          And depending on the kind of appointment, you may not be set mentally or physically to work the rest of the day!

          I had a dental appointment yesterday morning–time wise I could have made my afternoon shift easily. But I was tired, zonked and in pain, and doubted I would have been pleasant to customers. My managers didn’t blink at me calling out.

    3. ferrina*

      This is….. a lot.

      As a manager, I don’t want my team to give me doctor’s notes for a sick day- I just want them to take the day and feel better. I wouldn’t care if you took a day to go to an afternoon appointment. (assuming you generally do good work and you have the sick time available).

      Were you previously under a micromanager or someone that made you feel guilty every time you missed work?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same. I specifically tell my teams, y’all are adults, you do not need to convince me that you are too sick to work. It’s your PTO, I do not give a hang what you use it for, just put in the request and I’ll approve it. (Or leave me a message and go back to bed, if it’s last minute, and for the love of whiskey, don’t give me details, I’m queasy and I work on the administrative side of health care for reasons.)

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      Adding because I should have known my employer is not the best on this: my employer has a policy that requires documentation in some cases. For example, if someone takes over a certain amount of sick leave in a span of time, they require documentation for additional sick leave for an even longer span of time. So in this instance, please assume either documentation is required, or it is beneficial to me to provide it when I have an appointment scheduled so that I don’t have to submit it later for a mild illness I wouldn’t otherwise see a doctor for.

      1. ferrina*

        That makes so much more sense!

        How is your company about sick time in general? Is the documentation a box that they have to check but no one really cares much beyond that, or is there a more prevailing attitude of weirdness around sick time?

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          There’s not pervasive weirdness around sick leave. Only one person would see the documentation and check off a box, but that person is my newish supervisor so their opinion of my judgment matters somewhat. I don’t know how they think about this type of thing in general, so I’m trying to do something that minimizes potential impact to my reputation.

          1. ferrina*

            I think you are fine to take the whole day and submit the paperwork to check the box. As a lot of commentors are saying, even submitting the documentation feels like it’s over the top, so if your new supervisor wants more than that, that’s not a good sign about this supervisor. And that would be their weirdness, not anything on your part.

          2. Observer*

            so I’m trying to do something that minimizes potential impact to my reputation.

            In my experience, being matter of fact, providing whatever documentation is required but not more, and keeping things simple, is the best way to reduce impact.

            Depending on how time off is managed, it’s going to be easier and less remarkable for your manager to deal with “PM out on Tuesday sick” than “PM out for 3 ours vacation, and 3.5 for sick. That’s a bit odd.”

      2. EA*

        I would still just say (ahead of time), “On Tuesday, I have several medical appointments scheduled, so I’ll be taking sick leave that day.” Multiple appointments on one day is definitely a justification for taking a whole day. Your employer doesn’t know (or need to know) that both are in the afternoon and that you don’t need to do any prep. The doctor’s note will be more than enough to justify it. I still think you’re overthinking it!

      3. Observer*

        So in this instance, please assume either documentation is required, or it is beneficial to me to provide it when I have an appointment scheduled so that I don’t have to submit it later for a mild illness I wouldn’t otherwise see a doctor for.

        That’s annoying. But I’d still do the minimum here. Document that you’re having tests done, and don’t get into details of exactly how long it’s going to take. And take the day. You’re not taking a vacation day. You’re out because of this medical stuff. It’s fine if not every second is actually taken up by the medical stuff.

    5. Alex*

      I would just take the whole day. Definitely don’t give a doctor’s note!

      Just say “I have three doctor’s appointments on X day so I will be taking it as a sick day.”

      Really normal. Don’t overthink it.

    6. Observer*

      I plan to submit at least one doctor’s note to document that the absence was related to something medical in nature.

      Why? Unless you are required to do so, skip it. There is no good reason to give that to your employer. Even a good employer who won’t use it against you. Because all you are doing is putting your personal health information into one more place where it could get breached and then misused by someone else. Or copied by someone who gets unauthorized access or abuses their authorized access. In other words, data security 101.

      Take the day as sick. I know of very few places that require you to take only the actual time of the doctor’s office as sick time. You are out that day due to medical stuff, so it’s a sick day. Period.

    7. I Have RBF*

      “I have a number of medical appointments on XX/YY. I will be taking a sick day to take care of them. Thanks for understanding.”

      Travel, waiting, dealing with multiple medical professionals can be exhausting!! Taking the whole day means that you can prepare yourself mentally and physically for all the medical stuff, rather than having to mix it with work.

      My wife is undergoing chemo. Her appointments take up most of an afternoon. By the time we leave the hospital, we are both exhausted and more than done with medical stuff for the day.

      Take the time you need, even if it seems excessive.

    8. Dragonfly7*

      Any time I have more than one appointment, I take the full day. Also:
      1) Are you required to submit doctor’s notes?
      2) Do the doctors typically put the time of your appointment in the notes? Mine never have. Your employer doesn’t need to know, and probably doesn’t care, that one of those appointments wasn’t in the morning.

  49. Fluff*

    Asking for a raise question. Two parts.

    I am asking for a raise in part of my job – my time is split into portions of the FTE (Full time equivalent). My lama leader role is current 0.5 FTE and I am asking for a significant raise (25 % is my goal – asking for more because it has been 6 years for any increase – no COL, etc. for this role). This is in line for my role nationally and in similar sized lama companies. I learned others here in similar leader positions have gotten raises most years. I have done great work, added more lama certifications, etc. The value is there.

    Now, they may want me to take on additional duties for the main office and potentially bump my lama leader FTE to 0.6 or 0.7 where my other job – lama groomer coverage – would decrease appropriately. They are still discussing because the leader work load requires more time (and more projects). I also have advocated for more leader time in the role if they wanted me to do more at the central office.

    I fully expected my boss to be happy to give me the raise. While he was supportive he was vague. Currently it had been 3 weeks and boss is “waiting for the market analysis guy”. Also frustrating because I know others will be getting a similar rate I requested for leading camels. Most raises here start in Jan or July.

    If I get my minimum number, I am fine increasing the Lama Leader time. My minimum sounds like a lot but it has been years and even at that level I would be in the 25 % – 40 % of my role in pay.

    If I do not get my minimum number, I am not interested in increasing the lama leader time.

    Questions for the hive mind:
    1. Any good phrasing I can use to demonstrate I am glad for the raise, however, at that rate I do not wish to increase the time? I am working on the feelings because I will be bummed if I do not get my number. Due to 6 years and really performing well and my perception of inequity (hi therapy). A mix of grateful and also still low.

    2. Should I give my boss a heads up that the leader rate will determines if I want to increase the hours?

    3. I will feel bad because I advocated for more time and others are as well. I really expected my raise request to be a quick yes over 1-2 weeks. I was surprised they went with the “waiting on market analysis” when I know others here got a similar rate. I fret about how I will come across if I decline the increase in lama leader time due to $$ to those who advocated for it.

    3. Increasing the FTE also makes it harder for me to have boundaries. I already lead way more lamas at my 0.5 FTE of leader. I am exempt in the lama leader role and already work many hours over in the leading role. FYI as another reason the rate is crucial to me.

    What do you all advise?

    1. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      This sounds like a super specific situation to your context, but the thing that jumps out at me is if they’re doing a market analysis of the role, you want to be sure the JD they’re using accurately reflects your responsibilities. So, if they’re scoping a job that’s 50% leader and you know you’ll be expected to be 70% leader, that’s worth clarifying. Worth asking your manager if they submitted an updated JD for the market assessment, and if you can see it?

      Also – super normal for market assessments to take a minute. I wouldn’t be too worried about a 3-week turnaround time even if others have gotten faster turnarounds. Especially in roles that are a hybrid of responsibilities 3 weeks actually seems super fast.

      In general I’d treat it as a conversation about how to get your pay in line with your JD. to the extent you can, taking a collaborative tone with your boss to the extent that’s possible (like “this isn’t aligned, how can we work together to solve that problem?”).

  50. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Right after the “my employee is too buddy buddy with me” and “my coworker won’t stop talking about how young I am” letters earlier this week, I had a 1:1 that entertained me greatly.

    One of my direct reports apologized for talking too much at me, but “Any time I talk to you young girls, I just run off at the mouth giving y’all encouragement to make sure you strive to be the best that you can.” I was like “Well, I appreciate the thought, but I think I’m doing alright here, being your manager and all.”

    1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      This made me laugh out loud! Was your report at least a little abashed by your response?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Not in the slightest, but she didn’t take it poorly either, she thought it was funny and agreed that yep, I was probably pretty well set.

        I wasn’t offended – I feel like she was coming from a well-intentioned place, and her daughter is about the age I think she thinks I am, plus I’m used to people underestimating my age. I just thought it was hilarious, especially fairly shortly after reading those two letters. Though when my husband came up and asked why I was laughing so hard and I told him, he was like “How old does she think you ARE?!”

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Oh, I am so happy for you that you were able to give that perfectly dry reply in the moment instead of being gobsmacked.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      Yikes, that sounds pretty patronising to say to your manager. I mean, it would be patronising to a peer too, but especially to your manager.

  51. Anon Today*

    My boss of nearly 15 years was laid off in a massively unkind way this week (They could have asked him to take early retirement, instead he was given an hour to pack up his office, and no time for an actual handoff).

    I’ve got a job interview today – would it be massively rude to ask my just-laid-off boss, who is also on vacation, to be a reference? I wouldn’t worry about it at all except the new org is moving very fast and I’m not sure he’ll be back from his trip before they want to hear back. (But also I think he’d be happy to spend half an hour giving a reference because 1) he likes me and 2) this would excellent revenge on the person who laid him off.)

    1. ConstantlyComic*

      Since it sounds like you personally have a good relationship with him, I definitely don’t see the harm in asking at least.

    2. Anon Today*

      … And I just got an email from him (in response to my “you’ve been a great boss” email) saying he’d be thrilled to be a reference, so I know that 1) he would be happy to be a reference and 2) he’s checking his email!

      Oh please oh please oh please this interview goes well.

  52. Dogwoodblossom*

    I’m hoping you commenters can help me with job search keywords. My most recent position has been a seasonal one at a tax firm where I’m basically holding clients hands through the process. Telling them what documents we need, how they can find them, etc. I’m very patient and don’t mind repeating the same thing in different ways until simmering understands. I’ve done similar work before in other contexts but this is the first job I’ve had where clients don’t scream at me. I found on various job boards that the pay jumps quite a bit when you swap out the word “customer” for “client” but I’m wading through a lot of sales jobs and I hate sales. Is there some other phrasing I can use for the algorithm?

    Also, a thing that I’m doing at this seasonal job and that I’ve done before in different positions is take technical documents and translate them into language lay people can easily understand. (I’m really good at this in person as well). I’ve done this with technical manuals, with legal documents, with data science, and now with tax information. Is this a marketable skill? Should I put this on my resume? If so, what do I call it?

    1. Procedure Publisher*

      This “take technical documents and translate them into language lay people can easily understand” is exactly the kind of thing thing that technical writers do. So, you might be able to do something related. Business analyst and proposal writer jobs might like this skill.

  53. Cat*

    I am writing letter of recommendation letters (for high school students and fellow teachers). These are letters that will be used at a number of different places. It feels so awkward to address it as to whom it may concern…..is no greeting at all better?

    1. AmberWrites*

      You could start with Greetings, or simply put “Reference for X” as a header and then go right into the letter without a salutation.

    2. Ama*

      You could go with “Dear Hiring Committee” or “Dear Selection Committee” I run a grant funding program and we see that second one a lot on the recommendation letters that get submitted.

  54. Dancing in the Moonlight*

    Does anyone have advice on how to ask your company about their moonlighting policy without seeming like you’re not committed to your current job? I work for a big nonprofit (like a museum) and got approached by a small org in an unrelated area (like a soup kitchen) about doing some contract work for them in the evenings and weekends. I want to make sure that there’s no conflict of interest, since I’d be doing similar work for both organizations. Should I ask my current boss at the big org, or HR? Does this bring the risk of them thinking I might quit the big org? (I have no plans to quit right now and don’t want to do anything that could risk my current job, but the contract work does sound interesting and I could use the extra cash!)

    1. ferrina*

      Ask HR and your manager. You want to loop in your manager because it may impact your availability for work (and plus this would be a weird thing to withhold from your manager), and loop in HR because they are much more likely to know the policy than your manager is (it’s amazing how many managers don’t know HR policies and don’t refer people to HR).

      Honestly, doing a small contract for an unrelated company that does something that is a hobby or charitable passion for you doesn’t scream that you are job seeking. “Hey, this group that I regularly work with wants to pay me to do a small project in my free time. It won’t affect my availability or anything, but I want to make sure I’m dotting the i’s and crossing t’s before I say yes.”

    2. TCO*

      Do you have an employee handbook? That usually has policies about second jobs and/or conflicts of interest. I’d start there if it exists.

      1. Dancing in the Moonlight*

        I looked for it, but my org went through many mergers over the last few years and it’s been really hard to find. I thought I found one link to the handbook, but it said “page not found.” I don’t believe I was given one that included moonlighting guidelines when I started years ago.

    3. Panicked*

      Does your handbook outline this at all? Ours states that as long as it’s not in competition with what we do, or on work time, it’s allowed. I’d be surprised if a large org doesn’t already have that stated somewhere.

      That being said, I’d probably ask HR what the policy is. They’d (most likely) be a bit less nosy than your boss.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I think this should be just fine. It’s exactly the sort of moonlighting that generally works out. The only caveat would be if there were conflicts of interest or something.

    5. MsM*

      Double-check the employee guide first to see if there’s already anything in there about moonlighting and/or conflicts of interest. If not, as long as you have a good relationship with your boss, you should be able to just say “This opportunity came up; I don’t see any way in which it would overlap with our work or impact my time and focus here, but I didn’t want to say “yes” without talking to you first.”

      1. Dancing in the Moonlight*

        I like the way you phrased that, I might use that with my manager! I can’t find anything in the employee guide about it.

    6. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      One place conflicts of interest can come up here is in donor outreach – if either role would have fundraising components, that could cause issues. Definitely worth checking your employee handbook and asking HR if you’re at all uncertain; it would not reflect well on you if there were any later suspicion that you used donor relationships from one org to benefit the other. (Even if you don’t actually do anything of the sort – it can look questionable even if you do nothing wrong.)

      1. Dancing in the Moonlight*

        It is fundraising related – that’s exactly what I was worried about! I can’t find anything in the handbook but I think I’ll play it safe and check with HR. Thank you!

    7. Ostrich Herder*

      My org is small enough that I don’t have insight on the boss/big org/HR distinction. But I work closely with lots of nonprofits of lots of sizes and having this conversation would be a nonissue at all of them, especially if you tell the whole story upfront, which is that you’re happy in your role, Soup Kitchen approached you, and your first instinct was to check with Big Org to make sure it wouldn’t cause issues before learning more.

      The only time I could see asking the question as causing a problem is if layoffs are obviously looming, and/or you’re in a place where the culture is already suspicious or paranoid about employees leaving. If you’re hearing grumbling about “loyalties,” seeing management speculate about whether people’s doctor’s appointments are real or job interviews, or anything like that, then maybe proceed with caution. But in most workplaces – especially nonprofits, where pay it notoriously low and employees are likely to be involved in their communities – this conversation wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar.

      1. Dancing in the Moonlight*

        You made some great points! No current paranoia about leaving or talks of layoffs, so I’m hoping if I do as you say and just tell them the whole story, it’ll all go fine. Thanks so much for the advice!

  55. ConstantlyComic*

    Posting with the last (for now) post about ConstantlyComic’s Potential Promotion situation:
    I didn’t get it. Wildly, the person who did is a coworker/work friend who I encouraged to apply because I thought she’d be good at it. It’s a weird feeling: I’m not particularly upset that I didn’t get the position, but I am upset that I’m not more upset. Is that normal?

    Anyway, there are going to be more positions at that same level opening in my organization soon, and a large obstacle to my going for one of them has been removed, so I’ll probably be back with more panicky “how do I do this” questions in a few months.

    1. ferrina*

      Normal is an illusion.

      Honestly you sound like a remarkably level-headed and pragmatic person. You recommended someone to be your competitor because you thought they would be genuinely good at the role; you are content that a well-qualified candidate got a well-deserved role; you are already looking forward to future opportunities. Honestly, you sound like a person that would be amazing to work with!

      For the upset that you aren’t feeling more upset- that makes sense to me! There’s a lot of individualistic philosophy that says that you should always want what’s most profitable for you first and foremost. I suspect that’s what’s driving your upset with yourself for not being upset (you aren’t being capitalist enough and grabbing everything you can!).
      You sound like a lovely person, and good luck in the next opportunity! I’m rooting for you!

    2. Plate of Wings*

      Well done you! You can think longer term and bigger picture than most of us, and your coworkers are lucky to have you. And congrats on removing the obstacle to promotion, that kind of thing feels so good.

      I wouldn’t be upset if it was a work friend I recommended, because something good for a work friend is almost always good for both of us.

      It’s only a weird position you’re in because many people are extremely competitive and wouldn’t be in your position by choice!

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        Technically I didn’t remove the obstacle to promotion, it removed itself (long story short, the upcoming position in question would’ve been at another location under a manager that I know I wouldn’t have been able to work with, but that manager just announced that he’s leaving for another opportunity).

  56. OMG, Bees!*

    I wanted a (lighthearted) thread of some funny work stories after reading some older posts on here around email. I worked as 3rd party IT for companies too small to have their own in house IT, and encountered a lot of silly email issues. (Where possible, names are fake).

    To start, my all time favorite was a first initial, lastname format for “Cersei Lam” who had the email clam@company.

    Another company kept first name only for emails long, long after it was an issue. They had the opposite approach of First Name + Last initial if the firstname was already taken, but there are only so many Chrises and Katies before issues arose anyway. And many issues did occur.

    There were 3 Katies: Kate, Katie, and Katie R (katier@company). Unfortunately, a policy was finally adopted before a “katiest” got hired, but I had hopes.

    For Chris, it mostly wasn’t an issue until they hired Chris Travail, who would have had the email “christ@company” but we stepped in. Still, that wasn’t the email that made a formal policy be adopted! It took a much more benign email, Joe Lastname, who would have been “joel@company” (a different firstname) to make the change!

    I’m sure we can find more similar silly work stories!

    1. Amber Rose*

      We had the Great Business Card Debacle.

      We always used to order our business cards on one of those freebie print-your-own websites, and that was part of my job tasks at the time. I always used the exact same template and just changed the text.

      One day they arrived and instead of the proper Company Brand Blue, they were purple. Everyone was incensed. We couldn’t have purple cards, can you imagine! But the company we ordered from INSISTED that it wasn’t their fault and that the color we selected (which we’d been using for years just fine) was in fact, a purple shade.

      And then someone pointed out that it was blue in different lighting, and we ended up with like 6 people roaming the building to see which lighting made it look purple or blue. People were digging up cards from years ago to do shade comparisons.

      People were spending so much time on this that management finally just got a proper printing company to design us official cards.

    2. OMG, Bees!*

      As a follow up, less silly, more eye rolling, another company had multiple email standards, but the coveted one was to have firstname only as your email as it was thought you were Important Person (instead of just the first person hired with that name). Wasn’t an issue until Fergus 2 was hired and became a minor partner in the company.

      Since Fergus 1 was hired first, he had fergus@company while Fergus 2 would have had fergus.lastname@company and being a partner this COULD NOT BE. Fergus 1 was a lowly project manager and obviously he was better!!1 So he forced the issue until Fergus 2 got the coveted fergus@company email. Thing is, Fergus 1 had been with the company for awhile (maybe a year?) and thus had established himself with contacts both inside and outside the company. Despite best efforts, people kept emailing fergus@company trying to reach Fergus 1 only to get to Fergus 2’s inbox, which upset Fergus 2 as why couldn’t these people contact the correct person? Urgh! (You can probably tell what type of person he was by now)

    3. Rick Tq*

      We rolled out email using First Initial, Middle Initial, First 6 characters of last name. Simple yes? Nobody thought about pervasive use of nicknames..

      Nobody could find Tish C in the mail system….. Turns out she hated her full name (Leticia) so nobody knew it to know to look for LACardia…

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I had an employer whose email scheme was the first two letters of your first name, the first two letters of your middle name, and the first four letters of your last name. It was ridiculous and impossible to remember.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I worked somewhere that did the first initial+last name email addresses. If they had used middle initials, we wouldn’t have had complaints about sexum@company.com or kill@company.com.

      Strangely, if you had the same first initial and last name as for an existing employee, they would include your middle initial. Which makes me think the IT department was doing it on purpose.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      The three Katies makes me think of my own workplace! I lead a team, there’s 13 of us in total, with a very odd distribution of names. There’s an Alice, two Alisons, and an Allyson. (Not the actual names, but the distribution follows this pattern.) So, close to a third of the team has practically the same name.

    6. anon for this one*

      We had a stupid design for id badges. The name size also affected the photo size – something to do with aspect ratio. Normally, your name would be would be Initial followed by last name. No hyphens allowed (to keep it short). Well, I have a super long continuous name. Instead of using more lines or increasing the font, the badge shrunk names to fit them on one line. This made the photo huge and also distorted. My name was in 0.005 font and my face was HUGE and distorted, like you were seeing me in a peephole from behind a door. All of us with long names had badge with a line (what the name looked like) and a big head or big eyeball / eyeglasses effect. They refused to change the badges. Even if you “lost” yours.

      I think we had those badges for a year or two before legal made them change the design. I kinda enjoyed the surreptitious looks at the badge when meeting new customers. It was an ice breaker usually. Once though, someone called the boss to confirm I was not a con artist.

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I have a first name and a surname people love to misspell. Most of the time, they get one right and screw up the other, but on my first day at an old job, I was greeted with an email address that was all wrong.

      Let’s say my name is Katie Smith. The email address I got assigned read katy.smyth instead. Set up by people who had my employment paperwork, my ID, and so on. Not great. I raised it and IT corrected it within minutes. They set up the right email address in such a way that the wrong one still existed in the background, but any emails to it got redirected. No one realised for years. AND THEN.

      Enter Janet, one of my most demanding clients. We exchanged hundreds of emails, all with my correctly spelled first name in my signature, and she kept misspelling it every single time. I never corrected her, because there were far greater hills to die on in our project, and she wasn’t particularly polite either.

      One day, I was chasing her on the phone about important information she hadn’t sent, delaying the project. She got annoyed at me, and said I was to blame, since I had ignoring her urgent email for days. My jaw dropped. What email? There was nothing in my inbox. She didn’t believe me. I asked her to forward it to a colleague, who got it immediately.

      Here’s what we found out Janet was doing. She always hand-typed my email address as katy.smyth, because that’s what she still thought I was called after all these years! Because that old redirect was set up, I still received her emails, and she was none the wiser. This one time, she misspelled the misspelling, and emailed katy.smythe, which didn’t exist.

      I found it hilarious. She never, ever misspelled my name again. I even got an apology out of her.

      1. OMG, Bees!*

        One of my mess ups in IT that I regret is misspelling new hires’ name when HR sent us the info. I should have done copy + pasta (ideally, there is a system in place where HR can create the account themselves without needing IT), but sometimes I hand typed it, even foreign and hard to spell names (to me). But I definitely learned copy + paste is better.

      2. Tradd*

        OMG, I’ve had this SO many times. My first name is the uncommon spelling. People don’t just respond to my emails, they manually type out my name. I never get those emails. I’ve had customers screaming at me about why I didn’t respond to emails. Don’t get an apology.

        And then I was at a place for years where email addresses were first initial last name. A lot of those customers spelled my LAST name wrong.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Oh, I get you so much. I have a simple short surname that is read the way it’s written, and yet people take extreme pleasure in getting it wrong IN MY HOME COUNTRY. Where I live now, it’s my first name that causes trouble, because it makes people think of a different version of it from a different language. Which is neither written nor pronounced the same. Facepalms, facepalms all round.

    8. GreenShoes*

      I once received a resume in MS Word format. Not unusual, although most people use PDF. I really don’t what I was doing or why but I stumbled on the metadata for the document (you know Author, Created, etc.). Usually that metadata has the user name or initials of whoever is logged in, right?

      The document had something like Author: “Nigerian Warrior Narwhale” or something like that.

      I don’t remember exactly what it was but I thought it was hilarious. His resume didn’t pass the first cut because he didn’t have the experience I was looking for, but I damn near scheduled an interview to meet him :)

    9. Cedrus Libani*

      I work at a very large company, and have a co-worker with a very common Chinese name, so her email is something like jin.li.12@company. The first one is long gone, and one of the others works in IT, so jin.li@company is now set up to forward any emails sent there to the half-dozen Jin Li who currently work there. Guess how I figured that out. *facepalm*

    10. I Have RBF*

      I knew a guy who got a really cool username/email: math. His name was something like Mark Thurmond (not his actual name, only as close as the first two letters of first and last.)

      When I get to pick my login/email at a company, I use my initials and another short descriptor, like “nerd”. It beats a first initial and the first few random letters from my last name.

    11. Dogmum*

      Yesterday I had to email someone who goes by Bill, whose middle name begins with A and last name begins with P. The format used by his organization is first name initial, middle name initial, last name initial.
      Readers, his email address was not BAP@institution.org.

  57. zippeedoodah*

    My company recently announced a company wide bonus because we exceeded our forecast last year.

    I currently have a bonus payout structure as part of my total comp(based on individual goals I set with my boss quarterly) but I did not receive the company wide bonus they announced. I’m definitely going to ask about it, but is it normal to expect a *separate* bonus from what’s part of my normal compensation?

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I would expect that a company-wide bonus would be on top of any other compensation structure employees have. But companies have done stupider things in the past. Definitely approach this as an honest mistake until you find out otherwise.

  58. NYC Librarian*

    Work related reading thread… does that happen here on the Friday work open thread? I have seen a regular (pleasure) reading thread on the weekend open thread, so I was curious: What books have you read recently that you have found meaningful for your professional life?

    I just finished, and appreciated, Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine by Uché Blackstock, MD. I work in health care, so I found the book directly applicable to my professional setting (hospital library), but I think it would be useful for people in other industries. Dr. Blackstock details, through personal/family experience as well as published studies on Black Americans in general, the health effects of systemic racism. I am not Black, so I learned a lot about the lived experiences of people who are my professional colleagues, patients in my health care system, and my neighbors.

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Up the Organization by Robert Townsend. Yeah, I know, first published in 1970, the Mesozoic, but it’s full of common-sense organizational information. Also, I haven’t read current editions but at least the first edition was organized alphabetically by topic, and each “chapter” was a maximum of two pages—Townsend made his points clearly, concisely, intelligently, and usually wittily. Quick, easy reading, and usually with a laugh.

    2. Trice*

      How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors That Determine the Fate of Every Project, from Home Renovations to Space Exploration and Everything In Between

      by Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner. Fascinating and at times appalling but in a way that makes it hard to put down.

  59. Want Out*

    I’ve been an elementary school teacher for 11 years, ever since I graduated college. Like many teachers right now, I am done. I’m planning to leave teaching in June when the school year ends but I have no idea what to do next! All my work experience is in education. Even in high school and college all my jobs were childcare or education related. A lot of people I know who left teaching either became administrators,(which I don’t want to do because I need a break from working in schools entirely) became stay at home moms (I don’t have any of my own kids) or went into entirely new fields. I looked into some jobs that were kind of adjacent to what I have been doing, but they are with nonprofits and would be anywhere from a $15-25,000 pay decrease! I am the primary earner between my husband and I, and I understand taking a pay cut when I move to a new field, but I can’t take that big of a cut.
    I am so lost! I don’t want to go back to school, but it feels like I’m not qualified to do anything other than what I do right now. I have never done anything else and I just don’t even know what else to look for. I have a summer job lined up through the beginning of august, but after that I have no idea what is happening. Has anyone else successfully made the switch out of teaching and found something they were happy doing?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      How far away from education do you want to get? The EdSurge job board focuses on education-adjacent roles such as instructional design, educational product management and sales, and curriculum design.

      What skills or fields are you interested in? It might be easier to narrow just a little bit, find a relevant job board, and then start combing through positions to see what’s out there.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I’m not a teacher, but this question comes up every once in a while, so I can point you to past answers from former teachers. A good post to start with is “how do I change careers?” from November 19, 2020. The post has two letters and the second letter is from a teacher. There’s lots of good advice in the comments.

      The second post I recommend is “let’s talk about mid-life career changes” from May 28, 2020. Not teaching-specific, but some former teachers commented on their career changes. Instructional design is mentioned in the comments on both posts.

      I will link to the posts and relevant comments in a reply.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        How do I change careers? post:
        https://www.askamanager.org/2020/11/how-do-i-change-careers.html

        Mid-life career changes comments mentioning instructional design:
        https://www.askamanager.org/2020/05/lets-talk-about-mid-life-career-changes.html#comment-2992322

        https://www.askamanager.org/2020/05/lets-talk-about-mid-life-career-changes.html#comment-2991594

        Mid-life career changes commenter who became a message therapist:
        https://www.askamanager.org/2020/05/lets-talk-about-mid-life-career-changes.html#comment-2991570

        Mid-life career changes commenter who became a journalist (then worked in higher ed, then became a therapist):
        https://www.askamanager.org/2020/05/lets-talk-about-mid-life-career-changes.html#comment-2991686

        Good luck with the switch, wherever you end up!

    3. ferrina*

      Corporate trainer/talent development?
      Basically teaching short term curriculums, but without the admin or parents to deal with.

      1. Ama*

        This is what a friend of mine leaving teaching is trying to get into — she’s been applying for HR positions focused on professional development and training.

    4. EA*

      I worked as a teacher and now work for a nonprofit; the pay is not great, but the flexibility and lifestyle, at least where I work, is great, and I enjoy my work and feel that it’s meaningful.

      Look at the Ed Tech field. There’s a guy on LinkedIn named Jeff Patterson who posts opportunities and sometimes writes about teachers transitioning to other fields. It also depends what your skill set and interests are for your career.

    5. m2*

      I would also really think about if you want to leave. In my state teacher gets excellent salary with an excellent pension, excellent healthcare, an insane # of sick days that get paid out (my child’s teachers two years ago took every Friday and Monday off for the last 2 months of school bc of all their leave they had accrued). I do not get the kind of healthcare benefits or pension that will be paid out to teachers and administrators and neither does my spouse who works in another industry. I also don’t get the same # of vacation days and when I am on vacation sometimes I still work!

      My entire in-law family are all in K-12. Some are teachers, some administrators. One just left a superintendent role to move to law (they have a law degree). They are worried about retirement as they won’t get their pension anymore. If they go back I believe they will have to pay something onto the pension scheme to get back into it.
      My MIL has an excellent pension after working in schools for 30 years and she retired in her mid 50s! Everyone else I know who is working unless in government or leadership in private or tech work until their 60s. My SIL is an administrator who hates her job but stays at it for the healthcare and pension she will receive when she can retire in her 50s!

      Some ideas: non profits, but like you wrote many pay less than teachers.
      Higher education? Advisor/ Student facing roles. You may not get your same salary, but there is potential for advancement
      Grant writing/ development careers? You have to work with people, get $, do a lot of writing.
      HR? Could possibly start out at entry level HR and work your way up?
      Go back to school and pivot?
      Sales?
      I would also say realtor, but with the NAR stuff happening you won’t make much money anymore.

      Many people are not happy in their jobs. They give us a salary for we can survive and if you’re lucky you can make an impact. Teachers make an impact on students. My child has had good and bad teachers in our “excellent” public school system where I pay an insane amount of taxes (yelling, making students cry, favoritism, watching movies, IPad instead of learning, calling students name etc). I do wish the bad teachers would leave!

      I hope you find something that you like, but I think searching for happiness for a job is not the way to look at it. Look for the happiness in the small things. Even if your are miserable right now, think of all you have done for those students.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        This comment really minimizes the very real burnout that Want Out and teachers across the country are facing. I am sure Want Out has already thought through the ramifications of leaving teaching as well as the impact it will have on their students. “Think of the children” is a manipulative tactic that has led directly to the burnout of our teachers.

    6. Glazed Donut*

      There are so many things you can do! I think a good place to start may be thinking about what you WANT to do. Give presentations? Sales? Trainings? Reviewing documents? Grading?
      The likely closest adjacent track would be to work with the state-level education agency or county/city level, if you’re in the US. Other options are working with curriculum companies (SO many job postings all the time about sales, training, and even part-time scoring with the big-name orgs), non-profit work like you mentioned (even not education-related — many skills will transfer), training teachers/PD delivery, or other customer-service related areas. One thing to keep in mind is that outside of education, many people don’t commit to a specific job for decades :) so it’s okay if you do something for a year or two and want to change again.

    7. OtterB*

      I work for a not-for-profit that has hired several elementary school teachers over the years although we don’t do K-12 related work (our stuff is higher ed). These people have worked in program management for programs related to increasing diversity in STEM, mostly planning and running workshops for undergrads, grad students, and faculty. I’m not sure how our salaries compare to teachers.

      There’s a lot of need for support staff for teens and adults with disabilities, but those unfortunately pay very badly.

      Good luck finding something.

    8. carcinization*