open thread – May 10-11, 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.

{ 1,006 comments… read them below }

  1. Ashley Armbruster*

    Does anyone have any stories about a person in power at their company who was sexist, racist, sleazy, purposely trying to cross the line, etc. who actually got their comeuppance? I need to hear these stories right now!

    1. Daisy*

      Not at a company, but–

      One academic in my field is simply *awful,* just a pile of trash on every conceivable level. She was scheduled to give a talk at a Very Prestigious and Famous University Indeed…and then one of the professors in that department sent out an e-mail telling everyone of her awfulness, and inviting them not to attend.

      At her Very Posh talk, there was only one person in the audience, and that was a friend from another university.

      1. NotBatman*

        As someone who has reported a sex pest professor and then seen nothing happen to him because he gets grants, I needed this. Thank you for the dose of hope.

        1. Daisy*

          She also got herself banned from the research facilities of an entire country. Do you want to know why? It was a North Korea/South Korea or East Germany/West Germany sort of situation, and she took grant money from Country A while hosting the capstone conference in Country A’.

          1. H.Regalis*

            That’s impressive! It takes an extra level of jerkiness to get banned from every facility in a whole country.

      2. DivergentStitches*

        But did she ever find out why? Awful people need to hear that they’re awful.

    2. Justin*

      Sort of. My company merged with two others right around when I was hired. My company has very strong explicit values of inclusion (and they live up to it, best I can tell). I was encouraged by this when applying and also because they espoused these values long before 2020.

      Anyway, the other companies weren’t racist per se but they were the type to believe that funding any small business should count as equity work, and they were really rude to me and the people on my team when we talked about the values we cared about at a company offsite.

      We expressed concern about all this, and then, when they were told they’d have to align with our values, a whole bunch of them just up and quit.

      Not comeuppance, but it was nice that the values won out.

    3. CzechMate*

      I worked at a franchise business, more or less. The owner was the ne’er do well son of the founder of Very Big Important Corporation, and they had basically given him this location on the condition that he not f*** it up. Long story short, he proceeded to f*** it up in a number of ways, including regularly making racist, sexist, and homophobic comments, not paying his vendors, and (I believe, although I don’t know the details) doing some light tax fraud and inflating his sales numbers for corporate. A few months after I left, my old coworker told me that the “Stormtroopers” (as owner called them) from corporate swooped in and said they were shutting down the location, effective immediately. I think he manages an AirBnB now.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I worked for someone who was an absolute nightmare. He was the CEO of a small company. He was absolutely horrible. Treated people like trash. Made it extremely personal. He was a gaslighter– in the true sense of the word, so much so that when someone claims someone else is gaslighting them, I measure it against this guy, who would kick off a project and assign several tasks to himself and then insist he never said that when the deliverable was due the next day (that’s only one example). When I left that job I was broken. It broke several of us. That company failed, as did his next venture. I don’t know where he is right now or what he’s doing, but I do know that a) he has never managed to maintain a successful business and b) he got sued by several people for failing to pay his bills.

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m not sure if this is the kind of thing you want but when I worked retail there was this guy who just gave me the creeps and I couldn’t say why. Then an 18 year old coworker told us that he had essentially been harrassing her and she was thinking of quiting because he was making her so uncomfortable. Somebody else told her before doing that, to go to the manager or deputy manage and let them know the stuff he’d been saying to her. He was still in his probation period at the time, so he was fired immediately.

    6. Jane Bingley*

      I worked for an international development organization and traveled overseas to participate in an audit. While there, I witnessed a male employee who treated his female boss and myself with absolute disrespect – uncooperative, rude, distainful. I knew he was beloved by my male boss, and I dreaded having to go back to the office and tell him that the young up-and-comer he’d been investing so much in was sexist.

      To my surprise and delight, my boss listened carefully, apologized to me, wrote to the other employee who’d been mistreated, and immediately fired him. No debate, no he said/she said, just a man who heard a woman report that another man was sexist and immediately believed her.

    7. Yes And*

      I have two stories of awful ED’s I’ve worked for being “permitted to retire” when their awfulness caught up with them. Interestingly, in both cases, the thinly-veiled firings were spurred by open letters signed by the organization’s current and former employees and volunteers.

    8. Industry Behemoth*

      I knew an admin who finally got away from an awful boss when his mistreatment eventually crossed a legal line, and put the firm on the wrong end of a potential lawsuit.

        1. Industry Behemoth*

          I should’ve clarified, the admin stayed because the firm had good benefits. The boss was a big rainmaker, so the firm catered to him.

    9. Ultimate Facepalm*

      1. Company owner had to pay $2million to his former admin for being so abusive to her.
      2. He paid it but continues to be a jerk and has refused to hire women in the C-suite because they are too emotional. Turnover is so high that his whole company is going under and his legacy is ruined.
      3. His daughter is horribly mean and makes constant mistakes that cause real damage to the company. We all make fun of her behind her back. She will not have a company to inherit and nobody feels bad for her.
      4. Misogynist harassed me and so my VP went to HR about him. My SVP had to get involved. It is not the first time he’s had an HR complaint. His boss was asked to leave, and now he reports to my SVP and is on thin ice. We expect him to quit or be laid off soon.

    10. Ultimate Facepalm*

      Also, I resigned when a really incompetent and mean boss became literally unbearable. HR investigated but didn’t do anything – I think they were afraid of him.
      I emailed his new CFO outlining everything the boss did, including talking smack about the CFO.
      He was let go a few months later and has been blackballed from the entire industry. He works in a field that he hates because it is the opposite of all of his political beliefs and I have never heard from him again.

    11. Elle Woods*

      Most of the people I worked with at my most recent contract role were great, except “Diane.” In the year I was there, I witnessed her make derogatory comments about those with intellectual disabilities, working mothers, and minorities. She was reprimanded at least three times in the year I worked there.

      The incident that finally got her fired though was when she divulged confidential employee information–via company email, no less–to one of her friends. Diane’s friend knew the employee whose information Diane was sharing and contacted her about it. The employee notified our employer and Diane was fired immediately. Last I heard, the employee has sought legal representation for a potential lawsuit.

    12. Dust Bunny*

      Decades old now, but my mother’s Ph.D. advisor was notoriously difficult, self-centered, the works. He sabotaged students’ dissertations so they couldn’t graduate because he couldn’t get new advisees (because of his reputation). My mother didn’t finish her degree because he basically bailed on the department and told her she’d have to find another advisor in (slightly related but not the same discipline) before finals, which were the next week. It was insane.

      Nobody came to his retirement celebration. Not “nobody came from any distance” but literally nobody. Apparently the only people in attendance were working the event.

      1. Yes And*

        Wow, he must have been really awful if people in academia turned down free wine and cheese.

        1. AnotherOne*

          right? i remember my grandmother’s retirement party (from a university). people flew in from other countries.

          (the entire party was essentially people going- i know you think you understand how wonderful your grandmother is but let me explain to you how amazing she really is. i was sorta- yeah, my grandmother intentionally didn’t want any of the grandkids to feel this pressure but thanks?)

      2. RecoveringSWO*

        It seems like there are a good number of people on this site who prefer uniformity in retirement and going away celebrations for all workers. I’ve seen some people only get their comeuppance via a difference in the enthusiasm of those celebrations. It may be petty, but I think there’s something to that (with some caveats).

      3. Anonymous cat*

        This may be naive but the university let her (and I assume other students) not get degrees that way? Maybe he was hot stuff but surely the school wants more successful graduates?

        1. SinkOrSwim*

          It’s pretty standard to make finding and keeping an advisor the sole responsibility of the student.

          My undergraduate thesis advisor disappeared for an entire term and I couldn’t find a replacement. He showed back up with no apology about 6 weeks before my thesis was due and I basically worked 20 hours/day 7 day/week for those six weeks to get something remotely passable done, but I was so tired and stressed out that I did a poor job at my thesis defense the following week and nearly failed out. I convinced them to let me revise and redefend without additional input from my advisor (thanks in large part to my advisor going AWOL) and did a much better job on take 2.

          Sucked to be me.

    13. Redditor123*

      There was just a post on “Best of Redditor Updates” titled “Male boss is clueless about pregnancy” that was pretty good and satisfying.

      1. Elle Woods*

        Holy moly that one was wild. I do love that a fellow employee had a George Takei clip cued up though!

      2. LCH*

        :-O that was something. i agree with top comment “ioantha: I realize that not all sex education is created equal, but damn.” he definitely needs remedial sex ed.

    14. Dinwar*

      We had a project manager that did adult films on the side. Which was fine, what you do with your own time is your business, but he made some very skeevy remarks about it to women on jobsites, offering them roles and whatnot.

      Eventually he did it to the wrong person–a woman with sufficient political capital to be willing to burn a bunch of it to burn his career down, and didn’t need him to find work. As soon as she made her complaints dozens of women came out of the woodwork to complain about him. The man was fired pretty much immediately after that, and I believe went to court.

      I also know of a businessman who sent explicate pics to a woman working for him. She forwarded them her lawyer, who practically drooled at the fact that there was a time stamp and the texts clearly indicated she was NOT interested in that sort of thing. He ended up going to jail. And this was a small town, so his reputation is ruined. During the trial his business was struck by lightning and burned down–and either he didn’t have insurance or they refused to pay; either way, no payout for him. So social, legal, and (if you ask me) divine punishment!

    15. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      An absolutely vile, verbally abusive, boundaries-tromping manager I worked for was BELOVED by our department head. He was bulletproof, despite heavy turnover and the many complaints to HR. Department head got promoted to a different department, and his replacement took one look at the manager’s hidden HR file and fired him immediately. Former department head tried to overrule her and failed. It was a great day.

    16. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m a cis woman and an MD. I worked for a company that employed mostly NPs and our group was almost entirely women except for one PA and the medical director. Both were sexist and obnoxious. The PA decided he didn’t like me and tried very hard to sabotage me. The medical director called me on the carpet in a meeting with our grandboss and grandboss hauled him up short when it became clear that the feedback was entirely hearsay from the PA. She then put the PA on probation when he tried to same thing with one of the NPs.

      Then the pandemic happened. We did telehealth for six weeks and then returned to doing home visits – or at least we were supposed to. The PA decided that was a stupid decision and didn’t apply to him. He was told it did. He ignored it. He was put on a PIP. He started documenting that he was doing in-person visits. His mileage app backed him up – until a patient called to complain that the PA pulled into the driveway and then conducted the visit by phone. That was that.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        And I hit “enter” too soon. He also took the medical director down with him. It took a while but the dude got his comeuppance for his sexist favoritism. The region expanded and he was told not even to apply for the bigger job. They hired someone over him and then demoted him completely.

          1. JSPA*

            I’ll push back gently, as there are many cases where you need the option to examine in person, but may not actually need to be in the same room, depending how the telehealth or thru the window pans out. I mean…I remember when you could not get treatment for a yeast infection without seeing a doctor. We all remember when you could not get birth control pills OTC. Given how many things have shifted from “must be seen in person” to OTC, There must be a long list of things that are ” Probably but not certainly adequately dealt with remotely.” And so long as you’re there to pop into the house , if it turns out that it’s something that needs contact, I see this as overall benefit to patients and provider.

            “That’s cradle cap, no need to come in” or “I’m not sure that’s cradle cap, let me pop in and take a sample” are both reasonable outcomes from a call.

    17. Bitte Meddler*

      I’ve told this story here before, but I was once the EA to the president of a company that made supply chain and warehouse management software. He is truly the most awful human being I have ever met in real life.

      Some examples:

      * He asked my assistant why she had a safety pin holding the top of her blouse closed because he “liked being able to see [her] bra.”

      * A group of top managers had gathered in the large space between my desk and the president’s office, just chatting. President chimed in with, “Hey, Bitte, I had a dream about you last night. We were working late, just the two of us. I was sitting on top of the conference room table and you sat down next to me, leaned over, and laid your head in my lap.” [I responded, “Ha! Even in your dreams, I’m laying down on the job.” But I was seething.]

      * He made anyone who traveled for work give him their airline miles because, “If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be making those trips.” He then used those miles to take his various mistresses on luxury vacations.

      * He had IT configure all the desk phones so that he could use the speakerphones on them to listen to his employees without them knowing. He also had the overhead speaker system wired to be listening devices, too. Why did he do this? Because his wife found out about his mistresses and he was convinced someone from work told her.

      So… the comeuppance:

      Shortly after I quit, an Australian company made an offer to buy the company. They had offices in NYC and, after months of negotiating, flew the president to NYC to sign the contracts. He was to be kept on as the head of US operations.

      While he was in the air, every single manager at the software company — from the Sr VP level all the way down to team leaders — agreed that if the president stayed, they would all quit.

      The senior-most VPs called the Australian bigwigs in NYC just as the president was being seated in a conference room with the Aussie execs. They conveyed the urgency of the call, had the Aussie CEO pulled out of the meeting, and told him that if President stayed, there wouldn’t be a company for him to manage because not only would they, the managers leave, but at least 90% of the employees had agreed to leave too.

      The CEO went back into the conference room and told President that the deal had changed: He would get a nice golden parachute but would no longer be associated with the software company.

      The president’s wife left him shortly thereafter. It was a nasty divorce and she got millions of dollars plus the mansion-like house.

      When I look him up on LinkedIn now, his job title is “CEO of [president’s last name] Family Trust”.

    18. Oink*

      Our former director had an affair with a direct report and was – at the same time – sexually harassing another employee.

      He was fired. It was announced as “Fergus is resigning to focus on his other business”. Anyone reading the memo would have no idea that during the firing meeting he was full on ugly crying, snot sagging out, begging for his job.

    19. run mad; don't faint*

      Maybe not quite what you’re looking for, but:
      A friend worked in one office of a business with branches in different cities and states. There was some restructuring and he ended up reporting to someone out of state. In fact the new manager was out of state for pretty much every other office they were managing. Perhaps because of this, this person was a horrible micromanager. They installed cameras in their distant reports offices, key stroke counters on their computers, told them they had to inform her every time they left their desks, even if it was to go to the bathroom. The manager got angry at them for helping other employees locally because it wasn’t in their job description and it took them away from their duties. Manager was misinformed on that point but refused to listen. Lastly, they were supposed to be converting to a new system, which meant retrofitting and reclassifying thousands of entries. The manager got mad at all of them for not working quickly enough on that while completing their other tasks.

      I believe that finally some of these reports went to their local higher ups and explained that they were considering quitting and why. Shortly after, the manger was fired along with their local assistant who had aided and abetted them. It turned out neither of them was doing any work except spying on their reports. My friend’s stress levels and blood pressure have since returned to normal.

    20. FACS*

      This is from me in the 1980s. I was a college student working at a very large computing company. I was a sort of quasi EA, jack of all trades, right handish sort of person as a college person. Didn’t know anything about computers but I am organized and can type. I followed my boss to a business conference in case she needed anything. It was a presentation of a big deliverable sort of thing. The main systems engineer was with us. He is Black. Client said, looking at engineer, “one of your people was rude to me at a cafe today”. My boss very calmly looked down her nose and said “why would a systems engineer be rude to you at a cafe?” It was such a moment for my little self! Classy but to the point. They shuffled off after that.

    21. Tegan Keenan*

      New nonprofit ED hired 6 months into my tenure. I still refer to them as “Demon Spawn.” The board members and recruiting firm(!) in charge of hiring DS apparently do not know how to Google someone, as DS’s trail of dumpster fires at other agencies was easy to find. Racism, classism, bullying, lawsuits, etc. Those in charge were also not deterred when the organization’s only POC board member resigned in protest to DS’s hiring. I did everything I could to bring DS down, without success. I left; DS stayed for another 3 years and continued to wreak havoc.

      Finally someone, The Savior, had a genius idea (and I kick myself I did not think of it): There was a board officer who was an elected official. Which means that any emails sent to their official account were PUBLIC RECORDS. The Savior recruited current and former staff, volunteers, donors, community partners to write emails to Elected Official detailing DS’s escapades. I don’t know if The Savior then said, “hey, I’m going to file a Freedom of Information Act claim” or if Elected Official knew full well what was happening and realized they had to act before there was a PR disaster.

      DS’s termination was swift and sweet, and we all were singing “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.”

      1. JSPA*

        Flagging this up as brilliant, not something I’d ever considered, and Probably more broadly applicable than one might guess!

    22. Alex*

      I had an awful boss. I won’t go into it all but he was just the worst. Very condescending to me as a young woman and also asked me to do personal errands for him that were gender-coded (aka, babysitting his kids during work). One of the crap things he did to me was disinvite me from a meeting where I had been previously included, for the sole purpose of trying to hide the fact that I was doing some of his work for him and he was taking credit for it (in the meeting).

      Well, I became friendly with his boss’s assistant. And so I casually started mentioning the work I was doing. And she started casually mentioning to her boss that I was actually doing large portions of my boss’s work.

      Some other stuff happened too that is too long to go into here, but a few months later, my boss announced he was leaving to “spend more time with his family” aka he was fired.

      That day happened to be my birthday. It was a good birthday.

    23. Green Goose*

      Yes, I do. Please enjoy and I’m looking forward to reading the comments too.

      My first office job I was hired to be the sole direct report for “Matt”, a man who was very intelligent but also very mean. Back then I was not good at standing up for myself and would take a lot, and looking back, I think he hired me because of those qualities. He belittled and scolded me, like I was a child, often and I was so stressed during the 18 months I worked for him. If there was a small infraction on my part, he would hold me hostage in the conversation and not “excuse me” until I said I was wrong and he was right. He implied that if I ever walked away from him before I was excused, he would fire me. This was pretty humiliating, and I would NEVER put up with something like that now, but I did then.

      He got very angry at me one day, and came into my office, closed the door and stood in the doorway, physically blocking me from leaving as he berated me for 20 minutes. In that specific tirade he said he regretted hiring me but that was “on him” for making that mistake. I somehow was able to hold my tears in until after he left.

      Other women coworkers who were young and low in the org chart confided in me that he had been nasty to them too, but their managers dealt with it by acting as a buffer so that they would not have to interact directly with Matt. He also slept with three of my coworkers and then started dating one of them and cheated on her with another coworker all while we worked together.

      After 18 months I finally snapped one day. I was at work late because Matt had made an error in a print out so I had to fix the error and stay to print hundreds of pages for a presentation the next day. Two people who were coming to the presentation asked if I wanted to go out for dinner. I had a very low salary, and it was a work-related meal so I called Matt to ask if I could go out and expense the dinner. Instead of just saying no, he ripped into me for having the audacity to ask, and I needed to apologize for asking. I stood up for myself saying it was fine I asked and I accepted that he would not allow it to be expensed. He then continued to berate me and insisted that I say it was wrong for me to ask. By the end of the conversation I was crying and saying I needed to get off the phone but he would not excuse me.

      His boss John, my grandboss, was at his desk getting ready to leave for a two week vacation and I went over to his desk and told him that I needed to have a serious conversation with him when he got back from his vacation about Matt. John could see how shaken I was, and we talked briefly but he told me we would talk and he apologized for not realizing what was going on. It turned out that Matt was already dangerously close to being put on a PIP and that final conversation with me may have been the nail in the coffin.

      After he left our organization on very bad terms, he was not able to hold down a job for more than a year. He was fired at a job for basically treating his new direct report like he treated me, but luckily she was not the one, and she reported him immediately.

      What truly surprised me was about five years after he had left I got an email from a company saying that he had put me down as a reference and they asked me to fill out a questionnaire. I ignored it. It just showed how if he thought I would have been the best person to give him a recommendation, how badly had he burned the other bridges.

      1. Elan Morin Tedronai*

        “He put *me* down as a reference? Are you sure‽ … Okay, I apologise, but I am not able to provide a reference for him without extreme prejudice, so here is the contact of the HR department at the company where he and I were colleagues.”

  2. Daisy*

    Hello! I’m re-entering the job market after a period of illness which gave me a relatively spotty job history, and I would like your advice on how to frame these events on my resume. Some questions:

    — Prior to all this, I was on an academic career track and my work experience consists of postdocs. I’ve read all the good AAM advice about how to present this time in terms of skills and deliverables, but is there anyone who’s made the jump from academics to business/tech who could share what’s worked for them?

    — How to explain the career switch away from academics? It’s a broad swath of things (DEI initiatives not translating into actual support for my particular set of disadvantaged groups, poor work/life balance and pay, taking a new job requires moving, I like working in collaborative teams and this career trajectory was increasingly shunting me towards solo work, etc.) but honestly the precipitating factor was the riot cops and teargas. I don’t want that in my place of work. The end.

    — The work gap. I had to take two years not working because I was literally trying not to die, and was too disabled to do anything. I have no activities during that time. My resume covers the gap with [Time taken off to recover from a life-threatening illness], but is there a better way to handle things?

    — Since then, my work history has been spotty. I had a six-month part-time teaching contract (replacing someone who went out last-minute on sick leave). I didn’t continue there because the pay wasn’t enough to live on, and then took another postdoc position with someone who bait-and-switched me on the project– told me one thing to get me in the door, and when I showed up the PI wanted me to work on something completely different, which she clearly had planned in advance, and was nothing I would have agreed to if I had known– the necessary data to complete the project simply wasn’t available. The PI refused to let me work on either the original project we’d agreed to or any new project I would have proposed, so I only lasted six months.

    Following that, I’ve continued various academic collaborations with different groups which have produced substantial deliverables but pay has not materialized because…academics.

    How do I handle these unpaid collaborations on my resume?

    — Anything else I should be aware of/know/do? I was looking at taking tech/business contract work on UpWork to have *something* but I don’t know what you all would recommend. My housing situation is very precarious right now and I’m more or less couch surfing between friends in different cities, so taking on show-up-every-day work is out unless it pays enough for me to rent an apartment.

    Thanks!

    1. FormerAcademic*

      Former academic here- I would recommend looking at academic adjacent research/non profits where your research skills and degree are more likely to be valued. The trade off is you have less control over what you work on but the work is more collaborative and in my experience generally better work-life balance.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      That’s a lot to process into a job search. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with so much now.

      From a recruitment perspective, what you need is a coherent “story” about what you’ve been doing that you can get through quickly in order to get to the important things – ie. why the employer should interview you.

      So, I would condense things down.

      Also, a combined Functional / Chronological resume might be the best option – group your skills/experience in one Functional section. Have your roles in bullets in the chronological section. This will allow you to highlight your skills/experience that are relevant to the role(s) to which you are applying, while providing the recruiter a snapshot of your employment history. You can always put a bit of a blurb in such as “funding cancelled” or whatever reason it was that your employment was short.

      1. You were off work for a health issue that has been resolved. OR, if you’re concerned about potential employers worrying that you’re not back up to working full time, you took time off to deal with a family health crisis, now resolved (you’re part of your family, right?)

      2. Why leaving academia – “I like working in collaborative teams and this career trajectory was increasingly shunting me towards solo work” – that’s something that will resonate in business, as so much is team oriented. You could also talk about the bureaucracy/ wanting to work in a more agile, results-oriented environment where you feel your skills in your discipline / field / etc. will bring an immediate impact. (I would not talk about the work/life balance – most people in business are under the impression that academic or gov’t work is a walk in the park, compared to being in business.) Basically, make your shift a selling point about what you’re going towards, rather than what you are leaving.

      3. If you were supposed to be paid / compensated for your work, then it’s employment – feel free to put it on your resume. Or, if you’re concerned that it wasn’t for a specific institution, put it in a section you call “Research Projects” and detail the scope/scale/impact, your role, and what you accomplished.

      1. Daisy*

        Thanks so much! Follow-up comments/questions on individual points:

        General. So far I’ve been framing my cover letters describing how my specific work experience would be a good fit for the job I’m applying for, and then at the end a brief paragraph explaining the desire for the career switch/move to another country. Does this sound like the way to go? Thanks also for the reminder to craft this as a narrative, can definitely use the team environment narrative there (which fortunately is easy– I only started doing these large tech team projects after my recovery.)

        1. Love the wording, will update to [Time off for a life-threatening health issue which has since been resolved.] Woohoo, glad to not be dying any more!

        2. Thanks so much; sounds good. I suppose I can also talk about how I’m happiest with teaching when it comes to a close mentorship rather than classroom instruction kind of arrangement, which is best suited for a tech/business environment.

        3. So, for the particular instance I’m thinking about, I got paid for part-time work (very part-time, I think it was 10 hours/week max) with the expectation that they’d hire me as a postdoc when the funding came through…which didn’t, or when I landed an outside fellowship…which I didn’t. Still OK for employment? I’m currently listing myself as Part-Time Data Analysist/Expert Collaborator.

        Thanks again!

        1. PotatoRock*

          Yes, you can absolutely list part time work! I wouldn’t even emphasize it as much as you are: “Data Analyst (part time)” is fine.

          If your part time / short term roles were mostly relatively similar areas, the other classic way to handle this is list the whole time period as “Consulting Projects” and then have some details about your projects and accomplishments as bullet points

        2. City Mouse*

          Yes – to emphatically agree with the commenter above – part time work can and should be listed as employment (because it is!), and in this context you don’t need to say (unless asked) the exact hours you worked. And you can do a cover-all bullet / section about freelance / consulting work, with a overview mentioning some of the specific organisations/projects. You don’t have to get into the weeds of what went wrong – you just gloss over it, like a kid in socks sliding themselves down a gloss floored hallway.

          Having been through such an immense challenge (medically, socially, professionally), I wonder if you’re somewhat over-scrupulous and/or self -conscious about accounting for perceived differences between your work history and that of others? Your resume is a marketing document. Lots of people have unwieldy parts to their work histories that they feel bad about and that they yet convey as appealingly as they can through resume storytelling. (Not lying.) We’re allowed. So many people do this by instinct, and talk themselves up with great ease. Those of us who are less good at that, I think we might need to shake off some internalised shame and self-consciousness and get on with getting a new job! I would imagine you are highly knowledgeable in a specialist area, detail-oriented, committed, and great at working with others, and also that illness/recovery may have added to your wisdom and grit. I’d imagine you are “good at work”, in other words, so you need a resume that sheens over friction-y details and sells your value. A resume isn’t “now, stand there and account for yourself”, it’s “tell us truthfully why we should hire you”.

    3. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      I can speak to the career switch — I was in academia, and when I went on the market I tried to frame my interest as what I was seeking, rather than my complaints about academia. In you case (and I did this in my case), I would emphasize seeking opportunities to collaborate, especially if you like working across functions rather than with a bunch of people who do the same thing you do. If you’re coming from a field where there is heavy overlap with your hard skills and the skills expected of the tech positions you’re seeking, then I would also talk about seeking practical application of your skills and growth in that area.

      For the unpaid work, where you include that really depends on how relevant it is to the type of job you’re seeking. For a resume, you want the most relevant experience to be the first thing people see, so if you have really relevant, recent, unpaid experience (which included lines of oversight and accountability for your work — probably the case with deliverables), you can reframe “work experience” as a “relevant experience” section. Sometimes career switchers use functional resumes instead of chronological ones but I hear very mixed things from hiring managers on those. But if the unpaid work is not directly relevant, you could have a “volunteer” or “publications” part of the resume, depending on the nature of the deliverables.

      I did do freelance research consulting work through Upwork. I had a couple of regular customers, and it helped me give me more business/industry-related examples of my work and experience to use in interviews. I would say that there have been changes to the Upwork platform that I think make it harder for a new person to break in without treating your pricing scheme as a race to the bottom. Depending on the kind of work you want, there may be industry-specific places that have better job boards, even for freelancing/contract jobs (eg, I have a qualitative research background; if I were to go freelance again I would turn to the QRCA job board before going back to Upwork.)

      1. Daisy*

        Thanks so much! I think I’ll steal your “you like working across functions rather than with a bunch of people who do the same thing you do” wording, because that basically nails it.

        Thanks for the QRCA job board post– I don’t think my skills are a good fit for it (I don’t work with people directly), but I’ll see if there are other, more specialized job boards that people with my skills are using. One of the problems with my field is that there are definitely jobs out there, but often the transition from the academic skill set to the industry-based one is pretty oblique, so more often you’re just peddling your general writing, coding, and spreadsheet skills.

        Thanks again! (Also, love the user name!)

    4. Nesprin*

      The professor is in is the blog to check for alt-academics.

      That said, anyone hiring PhD’s has some familiarity with postdocs & the unsettled lifestyle that comes with.

    5. DrSalty*

      As someone who hires a lot of ex-academics, what I want to know is why they are interested in this specific position and field. I want to know if candidates are just desperate to get out of academia and they’ll take anything, or if they have actually thought carefully about what career they really want and researched this field. Have they done informational interviews? Do they demonstrate knowledge of what we do? So I’d brush up on those answers. Obviously I get it, academia sucks and I was desperate to leave too. But I don’t want to hire someone who’s going to move on in 6 months bc they realized this job is a bad fit.

      Good luck and hope you find what you’re looking for!

    6. EMP*

      Depending on the company/field, adding that “I want my work to make a more direct/immediate impact for clients/consumers than I had with academics/research” (if that could be true for you) is a good “why I’m moving out of academia” reason.

    7. Our Business Is Rejoicing*

      Caveat: I made the switch out of academia (checks calendar)(yikes!) 25 years ago. so this info isn’t sparkling fresh, but it’s useful as an example of where a former academic could go. I had a fresh, shiny humanities PhD and a mother with Alzheimers and a disabled spouse. I could literally not afford to move all over the place taking adjunct or postdoc roles for peanuts while I tried for a tenure-track job (it was bad even back then, and it’s only gotten worse). So when I got a job offer as a business analyst from the company where I had been temping to make bank while I conducted a job search, I jumped at it. What has worked for me since: project management skills (starting with managing myself through a PhD), an ability to work with and understand data, writing skills, research and analysis skills, and–since a recent career pivot–the fact that I had classroom teaching experience with adults (I never really stopped teaching even after left academia; I just taught different things; I also learn things quickly and can turn around and teach them).

      Good luck. I’m not sure what field you’re in, but at least PhDs who aren’t pursuing academic careers aren’t looked on quite so much as “failures”. No one who does a PhD is a failure. You will find your type of company and your people.

  3. Jennifer Strange*

    My best friend just left her job as a preschool teacher after 17 years. She’s trying to figure out good career changes that her skills can transfer into. Any suggestions I can pass along to her?

    1. Justin*

      Is she interested in more office-y work or no? I went from the classroom to curriculum development and training. (I still teach sometimes.)

    2. Pam Adams*

      A friend of mine switched from teaching preschool to working with our Regional Center, supporting people with disabilities.

    3. passinglibrarian*

      If she still wants to work with preschool-age kids, she might be a good fit for a children’s specialist role at a library! If she wants a librarian salary she’ll have to go to library school eventually, but many roles don’t require it.

    4. Redux*

      Government work! Preschools are overseen by either your state education department or your state health and human services agency (or both). If she is interested in doing technical assistance, training, regulation or other oversight for preschools, look to government regulating agencies!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I knew folks with preschool teaching experience who wound up working for their county office of education in some capacity. And First 5 (or local equivalent organisations) had a variety of roles that preschool teachers could move into.

    5. Yes And*

      If Kristi Noem is to be believed, your friend is qualified to negotiate with Kim Jong Un.

      1. PBJ*

        Lots of things! Teaching is easy to transfer over to:
        Learning and Development
        Curriculum Planning/Design
        Instructional Design
        Lesson Planning (probably a Freelance gig)
        The non-techy things in Ed Tech like project management.
        Any people manager role (classroom and behaviour management transfers well with a few tweaks).

        1. RussianInTexas*

          She is a Governor of South Dakota that has a book coming out with some …interesting stuff in it.

        2. Ally McBeal*

          Kristi Noem is governor of South Dakota. Who recently admitted to shooting her puppy because it wasn’t useful to her, and lied about having a meeting with Kim Jong Un.

    6. MissMeghan*

      I think lots of teachers would do well with project management if they can handle being stuck at a desk. The planning, organizational skills, keeping track of how lots of people are progressing, and managing a calendar all translate.

    7. Employed Minion*

      If she wants to continue working with kids: an aid with elementary students. There are 3 in my kindergartener’s class. One for the overall class, and two for specific kids.

    8. Mrs. Frisby*

      If she’s still interested in working with kids, a library job might be a good fit. Library associates or assistants in the kids department usually do storytimes and other fun programs for kids.

    9. another chatterbox*

      My aunt reached out to SLPs and similar development professionals whose books were always full, and she served as a para-professional tutor of sorts, helping kids up to 2nd grade with whatever development skills they needed.

    10. Banana Pyjamas*

      Rules vary by state, but in the last state I worked in a person could have an unlicensed daycare with up to five unrelated children. The going rate was around $200/wk/kid, so 1k per week. I don’t know if that exceeds your friend’s income, buts it’s above the typical range for a pre-k teacher. Your friend would have less kids and would be able to fire difficult families instead of being stuck with them until the end of the year.

      Depending on state laws, licensed teachers may be the only people allowed to administer education to homeschoolers other than parents or legal guardians. Private tutoring and homeschool co-ops could be an option.

  4. Aspidistra*

    At my one year mark at my job. Doing very well work-wise as far as work accomplishments and relationship with my boss. But I feel lonely and marginalized from the social life of the office. I’ve never been invited to a happy hour and been invited out to lunch by colleagues. I am pretty introverted and focused on work. Work-wise, salary, benefits, I am happy. But socially I am not sure I fit in to the company social culture. Should I worry about this?

    1. Ashley*

      Are you up for inviting folks to lunch one day? The trick on this is you might need to be prepared to pay since you haven’t been in the group. It could help ease the transition.

        1. K8T*

          hmm if a peer asked if I wanted to join them for lunch I wouldn’t ever assume they’d be paying, I wouldn’t worry about that

          1. Clisby*

            I wouldn’t either, and it’s hard for me to imagine a peer would think of something like that. It’s just a workday lunch.

            If I invited people to a party at my house, I wouldn’t expect them to chip in for the expense, but that’s very different from a casual lunch with peers from work, during the work day.

        2. Ashley*

          Does anyone eat lunch in the office? Or do you have a nice spot to eat outside? I found when I eat at my desk because I need the break I don’t get the invites so sometimes just putting yourself in the physical space can help.
          To your bigger question it can really depend ime. Culture fit is hard to gauge on the outside and how much it matters can vary based on department. If it is bothering you though I would try some small overtures to be a little less introverted … and honestly Fridays to me are good days for the that because you have the weekend to recover. (And they tend to be less busy.)

        3. RedinSC*

          I would think if you said something like, I’m going to go to the Pho place tomorrow for lunch, want to come too? People wouldn’t think you were going to pay. At least I wouldn’t.

          1. Tio*

            This – maybe find a place you think looks interesting, and then go to your colleagues like “hey, have you guys heard about Food Spot? Any good?” Those who say yes, follow up with “I was thinking of going on Thursday for lunch. You/anyone want to join me?”

        4. Morgan Proctor*

          This isn’t a thing, I’ve never expected someone else to pay when they invite out for lunch.

        5. Blue Pen*

          Hmm, I don’t think this is a thing. If a colleague ever invited me out to lunch (other than my manager taking me out to celebrate something), I would never expect they pay for it. In fact, I’d be kind of put off if they did. A coffee, MAYBE, but lunch? No way.

        6. Nancy*

          Coworkers do not expect you to pay if you invite them to go to lunch with you. It isn’t a date.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        I don’t think asking someone the next cubicle over if they’d like to come to lunch also includes offering to pay, does it? I’ve never assumed anyone would treat for lunch, especially in a larger group!

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Do you feel like you’re missing out professionally because you don’t have that kind of social relationship? Or do you just feel kind of lonely? If it’s the latter, how is your social life outside of work? If the social stuff is all that’s lacking, trying to find more of that OUTSIDE work might be all you need. If, OTOH, you feel like you’re missing out professionally, maybe you ought to start reaching out to colleagues for coffee and work-focused but not work-exclusive chats, build up those relationships a bit.

      1. Aspidistra*

        I don’t think I am missing out professionally. More on missing out on camaraderie and feeling awkward in office social events where I find myself sitting alone and no one talking to me

        1. TechWorker*

          What are the other people in your office like? Do you see other groups already formed? Or do most people just keep to themselves? If the former you might just have to effectively muscle your way in there (‘hey folks! Mind if I join you for lunch? Great!) – yes it’s awkward, but if you don’t try it won’t happen and even if you have to try more than one group to work out where you ‘fit in’ the outcome is probably worth it. I didn’t have to do this at work, but I absolutely had to at college (some setup where I moved subject after friendships groups had formed and it felt SUPER awkward – but it was ok in the end! And worth the effort). Good luck!

    3. ThatGirl*

      I think that depends on how much you care about the social aspect. And it sounds like you do. Is this a company with a lot of turnover, where you may be able to find new friends as new people come in? Are YOU up for doing the work of trying to make friends? They may not think you’re interested, and it may help to force yourself to be a little more outgoing. But it’s hard to say from here.

      1. Aspidistra*

        I would not mind doing some work on making friends at the office. I just find it hard to know how to start. I am pleasant and friendly in person collaborate well on work projects. I am interested in joining in if my colleagues let me know when a happy hour or other activity is happening but so far they haven’t

        1. Claire*

          Why not just say to one of them, “Oh I’ve heard about the office happy hours, they sound fun. I’d love to join. When is the next one?”

          1. Sloanicota*

            This. I used to be the one who organized happy hours at our office and it turned out that someone who had literally never spoken to me or made a friendly gesture my direction felt excluded. These weren’t organized on any high level beyond me asking around at the end of the day. I would have been happy to have any one join who wanted to but I would have needed them to throw up some kind of smoke signal that they wanted to come

          2. Nesprin*

            +2 The organizer probably doesn’t know you, or have your number, or assumes that you would have just gone when someone says to the masses “happy hour at 5 at bar X?”

        2. ThatGirl*

          A few ideas:

          – bring in donuts, cookies, or some other small treat as your budget allows. put them near your desk. chat with people as they come get treats.

          – if people tend to eat lunch around the same time in the break room, ask to sit with them and join in the conversation.

          – ask a little more about people’s personal lives (what they did over the weekend or vacations they have planned or pets or low-key things like that) and share a little more about yourself as you feel comfortable

          – if you hear about a happy hour or other activity after the fact, say something to the person you like the most/feel the most comfortable with like “hey, I didn’t realize there was a happy hour, I’d love to join you all next time!” and see what happens.

        3. Choggy*

          How do you know about the happy hours and other activities that are happening if you haven’t been invited? Do your colleagues talk about them after the fact? Could you casually join in on a conversation to say something like, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to go there/try that!”. Maybe they just don’t think you are interested?

    4. ICodeForFood*

      Are there other folks in the company who are also likely introverted? Perhaps technical people? Not sure how large your employer is, but I’m technical and have a lot of contact via Slack with other technical folks… Until I joined this company I never really felt like I fit into the social life at work, and now I find many like-minded folks in tech…

      1. Aspidistra*

        That is an intriguing suggestion. I am a technical person myself so that idea may be useful info for me!

      2. Clisby*

        As someone who was a computer programmer for 27 years before retiring, it would never occur to me to think tech folks are likely introverted. They’re all over the place, just like other people.

    5. K8T*

      Take the initiative in a casual way :)
      Like in the morning mention to someone/people about wanting to try a lunch/HH spot and ask the group if anyone wants to join – but no formal invite if that makes sense. If you show interest in doing these things a couple times then they’ll most likely start including you as well.

    6. Bearbrick*

      If you’ve been heads-down focused on work for the first year and are a bit more introverted, it’s probably come across as not wanting to socialize. How is your relationship with them like in the work context? You might need to warm up a bit first, engage in the coffee chat, take headphones if you wear them, and generally make yourself a bit more approachable and send the social cues that you’re open to hanging out. If that already describes you, you can casually say “Hey, I’d love to join next time you guys go to happy hour! Can you add me to the invite?”

    7. Cheshire Cat*

      You could ask the person you work with most closely if they want to grab lunch one day

    8. Generic Name*

      Are you engaging with your coworkers on a personal level at all? Even at the small talk level? I don’t mean sharing your childhood traumas with Fred at the water cooler, but have you made it a practice to ask folks about their weekend, for example? You don’t have to have anything amazing to share. Just “Hi, Fred, how was your weekend?” Fred says he went to a concert (or whatever) and you say something positive about that and share you puttered in your garden (or whatever). I know a lot of folks are very derisive of small talk, but frankly, that’s mostly what most people like to talk about at work if they’re not discussing work topics. Movies, the weather, books you’ve read, etc.

      Another thing to consider is what nonverbal signals are you sending to your coworkers. You say you are focused on work and sit by yourself at social events. Sometimes even if someone desperately wants to be included in group conversations, they send nonverbal signals that says “do not approach”. Standing off to the side, looking at your shoes, not making eye contact with anyone are signals to most people that a person is not open to being approached. If you aren’t comfortable joining in a conversation that is in-progress in a social setting, you might try just making eye contact and smiling at someone as they pass by. If it’s a colleague you see every day, you can say, “Hi, how’s it going?” (note you’re not really asking how they’re doing, you’re starting a standard greeting ritual).

      1. Aspidistra*

        I do engage my colleagues and also do small talk. I ask them about what happened in their weekends and I share what I did in mine. In office parties, I make an effort to talk to people and even approach them. But I find that the conversation does not become sustained, as if they really aren’t very interested in what I have to say. I do share in my last comment to spcepickle that I am much older than many of my colleagues, am a member of a minority group, and am a parent whereas most of my co workers are younger and single

        1. JSPA*

          Ask about their taste in music? And show real interest, ideally without relating it back to the music you know best?

    9. OtterB*

      Specifically about social events (where you say you’re sitting alone and nobody is talking to you), one thing that has worked for me is to find someone else who is alone, introduce myself, and chat for a bit.

    10. Clementine*

      I think there’s a good chance you can turn things around by being more overtly social, as suggested by others, but don’t feel like it’s your fault it’s this way. I’ve worked at a number of different workplaces, and for some, it’s just way easier to find friends, even if the companies are in the same approximate fields and seem superficially similar.

    11. spcepickle*

      I agree with others that is depends. As a manager I do keep an eye on how my team interacts with one another and I do mentally flag it if people are not fitting in with the culture. I watch lunch and happy hour invites kind of happen spontaneously so if you saw a group headed out the door for lunch it would totally be okay (in my office) to say – mind if I tag along. Waiting for an invite is going to only lead to disappointment.
      You could try taking the lead either with a lunch invite yourself or with a different suggestion (at one office there was a standing card game at lunch on Tuesdays).

      That said the word marginalized in your question raises all kinds of red flags for me. Do you feel like you are being excluded (instead of just not invited), are you by an chance a member of a minority group (the only women or person of color on the team)? If those are the cases you could flag it for your boss, I would want to know so we could make the major the culture shifts needed. Or you could decide you didn’t want to work for changing culture and going elsewhere.

      As for is it a problem for your future – once again depends. I know that work social group I created as an entry level person in my office is a solid part of the social group I have now that is all managers. People come and go from the agency I work for – but knowing your peers will help you. Yesterday one of my peers gave me a heads up about a project in development that I would never have known about if we were not social.

      You can keep your head down and work hard and do well, but I strongly feel that having work friends will make where you spend 8+ hours a day way better.

      1. Aspidistra*

        I am one of only three of a specific minority group in the office and the org. I am also an immigrant and a parent, and older than many of my colleagues (I am in my 50s and most of them are in their late 20s and 30s)

        1. Anon for this*

          I’ve worked in places where I was the only person over 40 and everyone else was in their 20s. And that can be rough ngl because it’s assumed that you go home to do your knitting and darn your support hose before going to bed with a nice cocoa. I was once the only person in that office not invited on a weekend office night out, and people actually talked about it in front of me as if my advancing age had made me deaf as well as terminally uninteresting. I don’t think it was particularly personal it was more “Anon wouldn’t want to come to that” (Anon didn’t, and would have declined but would have liked to be asked).

          that said I was usually included in postwork happy hours and leaving lunches and what not.

          My way of dealing with this was to smile at everyone, make small talk, embrace the joy of learning Gen Z slang AND to pick out one or two people who seemed more open to connection and have lunch or drinks with them, which led to having someone to talk with at corporate events, which just made things more comfortable. but in my experience where you are the different person socially you are the one who has to build the bridge unfortunately.

        2. Doc McCracken*

          It’s tough when you’re older than your colleagues and in a different phase of life. I went back to school over age 30 and married over 10 years. A large part of my classmates came straight from undergrad. You have to look for something universal to both age groups. If your coworkers are really big into their pets and you also have a pet, try connecting with them on that. Nothing builds more bridges than cute furry animals! Also, your younger peers will bond with you as a “pet parent” even if they cannot bond with you as a human parent.

  5. Justin*

    I mentioned this last week but they’re hiring someone to work with/for me, and I pushed for it to be a more senior role. The ranks here go specialist, sr. specialist, manager, national manager (or sr. manager), director, sr. director, etc, though not every supervisory line has every title in it. (I’m a National Manager.)

    They were debating hiring a specialist but I said I wanted a sr. specialist and as of today that’s what happening. Also means I can let more of the people I’ve known with my professional background know because it’s a jump up salarywise from 70ish to 90ish.

    So it’s cool that my voice is being listened to all the way to the top (the CEO had to approve the idea).

  6. Specialty versus security*

    WWYD?

    My company is in chaos: legal problems, multiple layoffs, projects adrift due to lack of personnel, etc. I am passively job searching.

    I have been trying to break into a specific high-tech specialty of my job title for years, at multiple companies. It’s difficult to do in a “you need experience to get experience” kind of way. As of June, I will be starting a project that will give me exactly this specialty. Having this specialty will give me a HUGE boost in job searching, and will pump my salary by 30% or more. (This specialty is not something I can self-study; I need corporate access to tools and data.)

    A recent high-level hire has me spooked, because he is a known “axe man” in the industry. I should be kicking my job search into high gear…but I’ve been fighting to get this specialty for years, and giving it up is painful.

    So which would you, personally, pick? Gamble on staying longer (and possibly get laid off) so you have a more competitive resume? Or get out ASAP in favor of stable employment, knowing you may permanently lose the chance to get this specialty? Feel free to elaborate on your thought process.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I might stick around and strive for that specialty, but continue to passively job-search in case something so awesome you can’t resist comes along.

      1. K8T*

        +1. Also is there any way you can try to make yourself indispensable to the project early-on? If you take some role within the project no one else can/wants to do then there’s more of an argument for keeping you on in the meantime

    2. You want stories, I got stories*

      I would stay. You get the experience, and f they do happen to lay you off, hopefully severance comes with it, which all of that should make it easier to find a new job.

    3. JMR*

      It sounds like you’re thinking that if you do decide to bolt right now, you’ll be in a new job in no time, and that seems overly optimistic to me. I don’t know your specific filed, but the job market in tech and biotech is absolutely dismal right now, and it might take longer than you think to find another job. For that reason, I’d start searching now. That way, if there are layoffs at your company in a few months, you’ll have gotten a leg up on the process and you may be in the later stages of talks with a company, rather than starting from scratch. In the meantime, you’ll be gaining that specialty experience, so if nothing you apply to now pans out and you do get laid off later this year, you’ll at least have a few months of that experience under your belt to make you more competitive.

      1. Littlegreyca*

        I agree with this one. It took me way longer than anticipated to find a new full-time position that I liked once I started searching in earnest. A whole year!

    4. Super Duper Anon*

      For me personally, I would get out ASAP but I am a risk averse person by nature.

      I think any answer is going to be so individual, based on your risk tolerance and life setup. Can you afford to be on unemployment for a while if you don’t get out before things fail?

    5. H.Regalis*

      Do you know if people got severance and how much? If so, would that money be enough to support you for a while?

      Can your own finances handle being unemployed or underemployed for a while if you got laid off? If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or close to it, I would choose the option that does not risk you losing your home. If you can weather being unemployed for a while, I’d give it a shot to see if you can get this experience.

      With all that is going on, do you think the project will realistically start in June? That’s only a couple of weeks away. How long will you need to stay on this new project to get experience in this specialty? Six months, a year, something else?

    6. WellRed*

      GTFO. Legal problems and layoffs? And yet you still think this project has a chance of kicking off in June? Pipe dream.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        It doesn’t have to finish, it just has to start. Even if the company is in death spiral mode, the higher ups may want the shiny new project “in progress” as they look for investors / a buyout. Also they probably can’t afford to hire, so as long as you can keep a straight face when you’re introduced by your shiny new job title, you can get away with almost anything. It’s great. The downside is, you’re going to show up one day, the doors will be locked, and that’s it. Been there, still have the T-shirts, no regrets but I’m getting a bit too old and responsible for that stuff.

        1. WellRed*

          I’m afraid it won’t kick off at all or it will be such a short duration before the doors are locked that it won’t add value for OP.

    7. KOALA*

      I would still passively look but also voice how excited you are to work on this project.

      Maybe knowing that it is something you are looking forward to, and that there likely wouldn’t be time to have someone else trained to work on the project if they let you go, might at least buy you the time to finish out the project before you end up on a layoff list.

      Especially if you can, in a subtle way, highlight how important the project is overall and how you are the best positioned to lead it.

    8. BellyButton*

      Ugg that is a tough spot. I would probably be job searching and hope that timing wise you can start the new project and that project would protect you from getting laid off. We are already mid-May, best case scenario- if you started getting phone interviews as early as next week you wouldn’t likely get a job offer until the very end of May, and by then you might know more about the stability of your position and the project.

      Good luck!

    9. Andre*

      The question I have is – is the company in so much chaos that they have bigger fish to fry than focusing on you? If so, stay to get the experience and get it as fast as you can and then get out knowing you are able to get a bigger/better job. It doesn’t sound like it’ll be easy what with all the chaos going on but it sounds like it’s what you want so you should be prepared to put in any extra time you can for the larger goal.

      If you feel that you are in the cross hairs of the axe man, start the intense job hunt NOW. If they are in legal trouble, they may not offer severance (but you should be able to find out from others who have been laid off).

      Another option is, if you do get laid off, say to your manager that you’d like to work on that project for a contractor rate. Again, if it’s a short term project, it may well be worth the loss of $ in the short term to get more $ in the long term. You’d be leaving anyway, so there’s literally nothing to lose in pitching that.

      Good luck!! :)

    10. SoloKid*

      I would stick around and try to get that experience. If you have any opportunities to meet the “axe man” yourself maybe you can get insights on his plans in the first 6 months. (Every place I’ve worked in had these sorts of meet and greets, and if not, high level hires are good at shmoozing in the break room.)

      In my experience new, shiny projects tend to take precedence over stale ones like “adrift due to lack of personnel”.

    11. PotatoRock*

      Honestly I would stay – it sounds like the value of the new project is high, both personally (it’s work you find interesting) and professionally (hard to break into, salary bump). And the layoff risk is unpredictable – even if there are large (say 20%) layoffs at your current company, that means there’s an 80% chance you stay – and on the flip side a new job at a company that looks very stable now might bring in their own cost cutter.

      The big variable though is your risk tolerance in the rest of your life – if you do get laid off, is it a temporary difficulty or likely catastrophic? I am single and have emergency savings – I would feel differently if eg. I had kids and was on an H1b visa and my spouse would also lose their work authorization if I got laid off.

      A middle ground: spruce up your resume and check out the market in your field. You don’t have to decide for sure to leave just to look around – if it’ll be relatively easy to find a new job in your current area, that mitigates some of risk of getting laid off

    12. ForestHag*

      Start job searching now, because job searching in tech is ROUGH right now. I have been actively searching for almost 2 years, and I do have experience in the things I’m applying for, and I have not gotten anything close to an offer. I’m not saying this to worry you, but it’s just that it might take a long time before you find something even with active searching, and you will have done the project by then. You can mention in your cover letters that you are working on that project, or even put something in your resume about it, and that should help.

    13. Double A*

      I’d stay but upgrade the job search to “selectively active” and also start bolstering my savings if possible.

    14. kiki*

      In you shoes I would start job searching now to know my options and get the ball rolling in case I’m let go, but given that we’re already in May, I would plan to hold on to at least start the project for the specialty. I the project is delayed or put on hold past June, though, I would assume the project will get axed and really put the pedal to the medal on job searching?

      A few considerations I’d think through:
      – How likely it is you would receive somewhat generous severance in case of a layoff. A generous severance could give enough cushion that I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about being laid off with nothing else lined up yet.
      – How necessary this project is in the scheme of your company– is it something so important it’s unlikely to be axed? Does it align with major initiatives for the company going forward

    15. MissMeghan*

      Can you stick with the environment there or will it make you crazy? Will you be able to have the resources you need to actually learn your new specialty when on this project or will you be stuck on a resource strapped project only getting to nominally note your involvement in the new specialty? Or is that enough of a foot in the door for your specialty?

      June is not that far away so if this project is looking like it will move forward with appropriate resources, and you’re not hating your life in this job, I would stay. Getting that experience on the resume would open lots of doors

    16. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I would stay to get any amount of that specialization on my resume, the better to find a desirable option when you do leave. Every little bit helps!

    17. Cacofonix*

      The time to ask this question is when you’ve got an attractive job offer. Step your search way up. Include stretch opportunities. You don’t need to accept a job just because you’re applying for it. Meantime you have a chance to see how this plays out. Find ways to jump start your experience in those special skills, such as networking, pitching a pre-project quick win, using said corporate resources in small ways, research, etc.

    18. learnedthehardway*

      I would stick with it where you are and take the gamble. You’ve been trying to get this experience for a long time now, and you can’t get it without the access to the tools. You’re just about to start the new project – definitely get it on your resume.

      Also, you don’t have to do one or the other – you can keep a passive job search going, just in case. Just be picky about what opportunities you look at. Once you get your new role started and update your resume accordingly, it will make it easier for you to find other opportunities that align with your interests.

    19. Tio*

      I would probably stick around, just because if this is a big project they’re unlikely to axe people on this specific project. But you would probably know better how important this project is to them

    20. Giz's Mom*

      Do you need the project on your resume or do you need experience with the tools & data? Obviously the former is preferable, but if the latter helps, then can you volunteer with the specialty group to get to the tools you need? If you position yourself as interested in the specialty and wanting the experience (and be willing to do the small chores you can take off their hands), will they let you help? Just to get exposure?

      Also – +1 to everything said about severance. If you’ve got enough of it to provide a cushion if things go badly, then hold on for a bit and see where it takes you.

    21. TheBunny*

      I would continue to passively job search. It takes time to get a resume that really works well and interviewing well is a skill.

      I’d continue as you are so you are well placed to jump if needed while trying to get gnat specific skill.

    22. Kay*

      You can always turn down an offer or slow your search, but you can’t go back in time and start job hunting earlier.

      I’d say step it up to actively searching no matter what, unless you are okay with the possibility of suddenly being without a job and can support yourself for a while. If you get an offer in hand then you can decide whether to take it or not, but since it is already mid May I don’t see how that will happen before June.

      I don’t know how long it will take you to get the experience you need from the project, but at this point you don’t know if it will even happen. It usually takes a few months at least to find a job – so actively looking now should give you enough time to know whether this project is even viable before you have to make a decision on an offer.

  7. Achtung, Baby*

    More of a thought exercise than a real question – how do you know when it’s time to move on from a job?

    I’ve only ever left one company voluntarily, and that was because I wanted to move out of the area/be closer to my boyfriend. My other job changes have been due to firing (once) or layoffs (twice). My current job is not perfect, but it has a lot of unique perks, I like my coworkers a lot, and I feel like I’m in a good, stable place in it.

    Cut to this week when I heard from a recruiter about an opening at a competitor. I know a few people who work there, and it’s something of a niche position that I’m well-qualified for. But, it would be a more or less lateral move in terms of responsibility and salary, and at a smaller company on a smaller team. I’m up for an interview to hear them out, but I feel like the chances of them wowing me are slim.

    I feel like the consensus will be “can’t hurt to talk to them” and I agree – but how do *you* decide if a new opportunity is the right one?

    1. You want stories, I got stories*

      I don’t think I would do a lateral move unless my current job was toxic. Also a smaller team and smaller company, could mean less promotions and less salary.

      But things I might be looking at.
      Does my current job have a sameness to it? In three months will I be doing the same thing and perhaps that same thing is getting dull. Not that new is better, but new is new.

      Do I think a promotion might come or have I been passed over before? At one job, while I liked the company, I had been passed over for promotion 3 times, I was looking to leave.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        Yeah, my current job has its frustrations, but it’s not toxic. There would probably be a small salary bump, but it wouldn’t be huge (less than 10%) and I have a stock bonus coming this summer.

        Those are solid reasons to start looking, though! And obviously everyone has their different priorities.

    2. BellyButton*

      A lateral move for me would be ok for a few reasons- If I thought there was more growth opportunity, if I felt like my boss would be stronger at developing me, if there was something about the company/team that really sparked a big interest. Mostly it would be about the potential growth and the boss.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        I made a lateral move a few years ago, no regrets. My previous work situation wasn’t toxic but it had been made clear I wasn’t going to be promoted. I also left because the new type of work was appealing to me and I feel that it’s the best fit for me now.

        Ironically, my new position is already the top level or an individual contributor, so it really doesn’t have upward mobility unless I try to move into management or into the technical expert path, which is pretty limited. But that honestly doesn’t bother me – I’m not having to watch less qualified, less experienced individuals get promoted above me simply because the decision-maker liked them more.

    3. SansaStark*

      I’m definitely in the camp of “it can’t hurt to talk to them,” and I think the decision to move on kind of comes down to what you value/need. I stayed in an ok job for quite a while because I really valued the breadth of experience I was gaining. After a couple of years, I was also sort of presented with an opportunity like you and figured I’d go for it just to see what would happen. At the end of the process, I saw that my values had shifted and I wanted a job that would take advantage of that experience but also allow me to grow in a way that the old job couldn’t. It was a tough decision to move on, but I knew that the new opportunity was the right next step once I could define what I valued and the path I wanted. I can’t lie, the giant salary bump also helped make the decision a lot easier. Although I miss my old company, I haven’t regretted the decision to leave because I know that after a lot of introspection, this new job is exactly where I want to be.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        Sure – and I do value money (I mean, who doesn’t) but not so much that I’d move for a few thousand dollars with no other benefit. My current job is widely varied in scope and there is room for growth and promotion. It’s also really close to home, with a well-lit and modern office. The potential job is a smaller company, smaller and older office, further drive (but one less day per week)… I’d have more responsibility but a smaller scope there if that makes sense.

        Anyway – I appreciate you sharing your thought process.

    4. ecnaseener*

      In the midst of this decision right now, and I feel like it’s less an It’s Time feeling and more that I’m comparing the potential new job (with all its uncertainty) to the current one as I go.

      For example I have a good manager and overall good coworkers, and I know it’s impossible to really be sure what a new manager & coworkers are like until you’re working there, so I’m weighing that accordingly — not assuming worst-case scenario, but a genuine possibility of a pretty bad scenario. Other elements are more certain, but I sit down and go through all the pros and cons of each.

      Personally I am pretty risk-averse and set in my ways, so if I’m really on the fence then I won’t be able to convince myself to take the new job. If I’m actively wanting to take the new job, with no “I sure hope that yellow flag isn’t what it seems” feelings, then I trust that. I’m at that place now with a potential job (knock on wood cross your fingers for me etc etc) — consistently feeling good about the possibility of leaving current job for that one.

      But if I don’t get this job or if something changes my mind about it, I’ll be fine staying put for a while, so I still wouldn’t say It’s Time to leave.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        Appreciate your thoughts. I am not risk averse, per se, but I also have had a lot of shakeups in my jobs in the past decade and would LOVE some stability … which granted, may or may not happen at my current job, considering that my 3 years here have had their share of shakeups as well.

    5. Caramel & Cheddar*

      “Time to move on” is usually a multitude of factors. My last job I moved on from because they kept cutting the things I was working on without replacing them with anything and I got really, really, really bored (they weren’t trying to manage me out, I think they had been working on some new stuff for me by the time I resigned). In my current job, I actually love the work and the people, but I’m concerned about the broader direction of the org and my ability to get regular salary increases, so I’m at a point where I have think about whether or not it’s time to move on even if I actually do love the work.

      In terms of deciding if a new opportunity is right: even the most perfect opportunities might not be right once you get into them and it’s so hard to tell from an interview. That said, I think lateral moves are ones you should only make if there’s some other benefit to it (e.g. your commute is cut in half, the title is the same but they pay is 20% more, they have a pension, you’ll be working with a previous boss you loved, you’re getting away from a horrible boss, etc.).

      I do think going to the interview is fine; if they don’t wow you, that’s okay, but if you’re looking to leave your current job anyway, then regardless the interview practice will be good.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        Yeah, I don’t see any harm in doing the interview, but I also can’t imagine they will knock my socks off – the salary is comparable, the commute is further (but not objectively far), the benefits look the same to slightly worse.

    6. Garblesnark*

      I know it’s time to go if I wake up in the morning kinda wishing I was sick so I didn’t have to go in.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Similar. I’m generally not enthusiastic to take PTO; I normally put in more work before and after the break than I get actual break while I’m gone, so when I’m ready to take PTO just to avoid the job, that’s a blaring red flag.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Reasons to move jobs include money, better commute, better benefits, better work/life balance, better boss, better use of skills/advancement opportunities. I work at a smaller company. Pro: I’m highly valued and compensated fairly. Con: I’m at the top of my particular food chain. If I want a new challenge, it won’t be here. I have coworkers who left so they could do something new.

      If talking to them gets you excited about the possibilities, crunch the numbers and see what makes sense in the long run. If you’re only lukewarm, stay where you are.

    8. HonorBox*

      I think hearing them out would be worthwhile, because you don’t know what you don’t know. For a lateral-ish move, I think you’d need to weigh some of what you hear about the new place. Are there aspects of your job that you really don’t like that you wouldn’t have to do? Are there perks that are more interesting to you at the new place? Will you have opportunity to grow more quickly in areas of the job that put you in better place to move upward?

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        These are all good questions and valid points.

        In this specific case, I do know a decent amount, because I have a former coworker there who’s given me a good rundown and because the [industry] world is small. Obviously you can never know everything, though.

    9. Generic Name*

      If it were a lateral position at a larger company, I’d say maybe, but I personally wouldn’t move to a smaller company for a lateral move. Small companies have fewer opportunities for advancement than large companies in my experience.

    10. pally*

      At some point during the hiring process, you might ask this competitor what THEY would be willing to offer you to make the switch to working for them worth your while. Not just a bump in salary or extra PTO, but say, a higher job title with avenues for promotion not normally available, or lots of opportunities to acquire skills that would put you ahead or footing the bill for an entire round of schooling for an advanced degree.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        Mmmm in my industry/job area that would not really be a Thing. I don’t want or have any use for an advance degree, I’m a individual contributor in the creative space with ~20 years of experience. The things I want are either money/PTO/good benefits or more intangible like a flexible schedule, a boss who will go to bat for me and personal development.

        1. pally*

          So see what they are willing to give you in regards to what you do value.
          I was only making suggestions as I don’t know what all you value.
          Sorry.

    11. kalli*

      a) if the new job is better than the one I have (hours/pay/type of work, benefits/environment/people, you know it when you see it)

      b) if the current job is making me miserable in some way (physical difficulty, stress, OT, coworkers etc.)

      Can’t hurt to talk to them but so far the difference is ‘smaller company, smaller team’. For some people that would be a bonus. For other people it would not. It does tend to affect benefits. A common tool would be a comparative pro/con list, either listing pros/cons for each side by side and comparing the ratios, or directly comparing aspects and evaluating which one is better and comparing how many ‘wins’ each job has at the end. I tend to weight some factors more than others, and some of those aren’t tangible, or easy to know without being in the job, but in general ‘is this empirically better? y/n’.

    12. Busy Middle Manager*

      One would be that you keep having to do too much stuff that feels way below your level, that used to feel at your level. I think this one gets misconstrued to mean “I think I am better for it.” But I have been having this feeling for a while now and its not about ego. There are many projects I can do half paying attention while listening to podcasts. Feels like it makes sense to pass this job onto someone else and I focus on high level stuff. But it’s a moot point given how frozen white collar hiring is right now

    13. Wordybird*

      Disclaimer: I’ve been in and out of the workforce due to two kids and a couple big moves + never worked anywhere for more than 3 1/2 years so take my advice with that in mind. :)

      When I was younger and/or had small children, I valued culture/the people a lot more: Would we get along? How would I fit in? Were there other people with small children who would understand my need for a flexible schedule or sudden sick days and help accommodate me in that way? I did a lot of deciding to take jobs based on “feel” and gut. For a couple jobs, I had to take them because it was better than no money at all, and I didn’t have enough experience in any one field to differentiate me from the masses.

      Now that I’m older (mid-40s) with school-aged children, I value money the most. At the end of the day, your happy hours + virtual holiday parties aren’t going to pay my bills but a good paycheck will (and as the primary breadwinner in a family where my partner’s industry often has layoffs and slowdowns, this is always on the back of my mind). Of course, I don’t want to purposely work with jerks and I would not stay working for a company that was blatantly racist/sexist/homophobic/Republican but I no longer need to be universally liked and make friends with everyone at work. Next is other uns*xy things like insurance and PTO. If I were to make at least $10K more + the benefits were comparable or exceeded what I had with an immediate insurance start date + I had at least 3 weeks of PTO (not including sick time) which quickly increased with seniority… then other factors like responsibilities and culture come into play.

      At the end of the day, I don’t need to LOVE my job but I do need to be able to tolerate it and be good at it with at least an average boss. The rest is gravy.

    14. A Simple Narwhal*

      One thing to factor in is where you are in life and any upcoming major life events. You say your job is stable – sometimes stability is nice for the sake of being nice, and sometimes stability is an absolute godsend. Is there anything in your life now or in the near future where being a known entity in a stable job would be beneficial?

      For me, my husband just switched jobs and we have a 20 month old so the stability of my job is a huge benefit. If I have an off day (or week) because kiddo didn’t sleep I’m not worried that I’m about to get canned – my boss and coworkers know I’m dependable and reliable after working together for several years, so being off my A-game every once and again isn’t a stressor. This also allows me to feel more comfortable handling last-minute things that come up during work hours, so while I’ve considered moving on before I realized that the stability at a fine job was worth sticking around for a bit longer.

      This might not apply to you at all! Not sure if you have a spouse or kids or are looking to have kids or buy a house soon/etc, but it’s always good to consider if not having to think/worry about your job at all is a hidden perk of your current job.

      Note: You also can do all of those things at a new job! I’m just a bit risk averse so it’s a consideration for me, it may not be a consideration for you. This is also just if you’re considering a new job only slightly better than your current. Something crazy awesome better can completely outweigh the benefit of stability.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        I’m married, no kids, we own a house, I make a bit more than my spouse but not a ton, my coworkers largely love me and definitely cut me slack (having earned a good reputation is not a small thing in a job)… there is something to be said for not starting all over at a new job, but no big life events on the horizon where I *need* stability.

    15. Tio*

      Mostly, when I’m more frustrated to come to work than anything else, and when I’m getting very bored and feel like I could be doing more.

    16. staycation*

      Okay, I am in nearly the exact situation as you. Did my interview a week and a half ago. I think after you interview you will have stronger feelings about “should I stay or should I go.” I have no idea whether or not I’ll get an offer, but I’ve had time since the interview (where I learned a lot more about what the job entailed, visited the site, and met some of the people there) to really make objective comparisons. I could think through what it would look like if I were to leave my current job, or if I were to stay, and helped clarify in my head what I wanted out of this current job that I thought I’d get were I to take the new job.

      1. staycation*

        I’ll also say, the last two interviews I did (this one I did last week, and the one for my current job), I was not desperate to leave and they were so much more enjoyable. Ask the tough questions you need to know to find out if leaving would be worth it.

    17. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ve left 3 jobs of my own accord, and each time I got serious about getting out when I realized I wasn’t going to make it long term. On one, the quality policy changed so I would have liability on other people’s work, on another my supervisor wanted me on a three foot leash mounted ten feet in the air, and the other was the quiet realization that the job I liked had evolved into something I didn’t like and the good version of the job wasn’t coming back.

      The first was a snap judgment; I just knew. The last two, what tipped me over were the performance reviews. When I got better at the role and the assessments of my work got worse, that was the impetus I needed to start prioritizing self-preservation more strongly.

  8. noncommittal pseudonym*

    I wrote in a couple weeks ago very late about the possibility of taking over for my boss in an interim position. I was conflicted about it. Well, I found out who the grand-boss is putting in that position while we search for a replacement for my boss – and that is no one. He’s leaving the position open. He also says he will come visit our location more often, and one of his assistants will be available to help with admin stuff.

    I’m … not very happy about this. We definitely need someone in that position, and my grand-boss doesn’t have the time or attention to deal with our, rather tricky situation in being away from our main location. The assistant is very nice, but not at all a specialist in our field, so her usefulness in our situation will be limited.

    He also made it clear that he’s going to hire from the outside for my boss’ replacement, which also makes me very nervous, as I have to work closely with this person.

    1. WestsideStort*

      Just please do nothing more than work to rule. It sounds to me you are being set up to have additional responsibilities tossed at you, while the company enjoys not having to pay a boss salary. Be wary.

    2. Project Maniac-ger*

      Ugh! I don’t have any ways to fix your problem, but I would recommend not hiding anything that goes wrong. Let the absence of your boss be felt. Don’t fix grandboss’s own decision for him. That might be hard since you thought you might be interim but he chose not to do that so he needs to see what happens when there isn’t a person in the role. I recommend this not as a “stick it to him!” But to help him – he needs to fully see what not having a person in that spot looks like and what the pain points are so he can hire a good person that has the skills to alleviate those pain points. We don’t know what we don’t know, even if we think we do!

  9. HumanWoman*

    TL:DR My team lead is bullying and gaslighting me, he lied to my immediate boss about my performance leading a recent meeting for which I have eyewitnesses and written proof of the truth; and has taken away all of my projects, without talking to my boss, to do them himself. I’ll tell you I’m a VP at my company only to demonstrate that I am experienced and have grown throughout my career. I’m a woman in my late 50s, the thought of job searching is just……..

    It’s been going on for nearly a year, we’ll call my team lead Harvey. Harvey is a man in his mid-40s. I used to report to Harvey and before then we were peers. I had no interest in pitching our mutual boss’ job when they retired, Harvey pitched it and got it. We’ve been working together for nearly 7 years and I would say he thinks quite highly of himself and wouldn’t hesitate to throw someone under a bus for his benefit. I’ve seen it as had our former boss.

    Microaggressions started last June, I was reprimanded because I used the first initial of a co-worker’s name in a teams message, instead of his full name. Harvey became furious but he was likely still holding on to the anger he expressed earlier when he told me I “make him look stupid sometimes.” This was after a joint presentation to our department.

    The lie came about 5 weeks ago. My immediate supervisor knows it’s a lie and sees what is going on, but is older and close to retirement and being in my 50s myself, I understand why he’s like a deer in headlights. He sees it and protects me, it’s not enough. I can’t get over that lie. Plus I have next to nothing to do other teams are swamped! When I do have something to do, I can’t get the files I need. I have been isolated, I joke that I could drop dead at my desk and if my husband doesn’t call my company, no one would notice!

    This is a couple of instances out of sooo many. I can say with certainty that there is a gender issue at play. I’ve seen the questionable messages to other women. Harvey also demoted a male VP over age 50 who was out on FMLA, I don’t know how! I wonder about age too.

    I spoke to a lawyer last week. If I can offer enough documentation (which I believe I can), he can send a letter on his letterhead requesting I be moved to another team. I still like my company, Harvey is not my whole company. I also ended up speaking to another team lead in my dept about transferring, very receptive as that team works 15 hour days. But that team lead is leaving for an extended vacation after Friday and I don’t want to be a nuisance.

    My dilemma is that I really can’t take this anymore. It’s affected my physical health. I didn’t want to get a lawyer involved originally, I did go to HR and they are sitting on it, but I can’t handle this stress and need something done quickly. Or do I wait it out and work on my own transfer? I go over both choices all the time in my head, I would love to hear another POV. Thank you xo sorry so long

    1. I Can't Believe It*

      As a woman of 50 you are in a protected class. Document everything in writing. If you have not already send HR an email outlining all of your concerns. Print off all of your communication and documentation and support and take it out of the office. Talk to a lawyer.

      1. HumanWoman*

        Thank you. I did speak to a lawyer and am headed toward retaining him next week. I’m concerned about retaliation, getting fired.

        1. WellRed*

          The thing is, they are setting you up to push you out one way or the other. I really don’t see a future for you here so, as long as the lawyer thinks there’s a case to be made, you might as well. I agree with I can’t believe it’s advice as well. Also, can you take some time off right away? To preserve your mental health?

          1. WellRed*

            By no future, I mean under Harvey’s department. If it’s a big enough company for you to get away from him, great.

            1. HumanWoman*

              THANK YOU for clarifying. The head of my department, my immediate boss — no one else has an issue with me! Actually this is part of a re-org, my position before the re-org was eliminated — my department head wanted to keep me.

        2. I Can't Believe It*

          If they do take them for all they are worth and maybe get an early retirement.

        3. Achtung, Baby*

          Retaliation is illegal and would be grounds for a lawsuit (I am not a lawyer).

    2. BellyButton*

      What an awful situation. I am glad you are getting a lawyer. If you have PTO, it might make sense to take a week or two off to get your stress level down so you can think really clearly. Under this amount of stress, anger, fear — it is hard to think through what are your options and how to handle them.

      I don’t have any advice other than that. I hope you will keep us posted and wish you all the best!

    3. pally*

      I’m sorry you have to go through this.

      As a woman over 50 myself, I’d urge you to push hard for a transfer to another department-ASAP. Maybe you can procure a transfer and take a bit of time to recover your health before starting the new position. Or, fight to keep the job you have- if there’s a way to completely neutralize Harvey.

      Maybe you should be a “nuisance” to this other department if it means getting away from Harvey. How many options are available to you? You might list them for yourself.

      If you do decide to quit, know that job hunting can be just horrid with the rampant age discrimination that goes on. There’s nothing you can do to counter it (i.e., legally) as it’s awfully hard to prove. Your reality may be that the only jobs offered to you will be below your current compensation (and title).

    4. Ultimate Facepalm*

      Been in a similar situation (I am leaving this whole industry, I swear I have too much experience being abused) and my advice would be to go on FMLA, call the whistleblower hotline and report so that you are protected from retaliation that way, and/or resign. They will find a way to push you out and discredit you. They will rake you over the coals, it will take forever to get resolved legally, and it will continue to harm your well being. Also, if you are in the US, the laws are not on your side and largely protect businesses. Employee cases are hard to prove / win.
      That’s just my experience, I am not a llama. Ask you llama (i.e., your lawyer before you do anything).

        1. allathian*

          Llama grooming is used as a replacement for a job when LWs don’t want to name the field they’re really in.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      I have loads of sympathy. One thing I will say is to set boundaries and call stuff out. I truly know you don’t accept this, but sometimes people send messages that they accept a situation by not pushing back hard enough. You push back in a way that a normal person would realize they are out of bounds, but you are not dealing with a normal person. You need to push back on their terms.

      You really need to start calling out every lie, loud and proud, not caring as much about what is “professional” or what the consequences are.

      Believe me, long term, people lean towards the side of truth.

      It hurts in the beginning but helps mid-term and long-term. It’s hard but sometimes you get pushed into the corner and have to fight back harder.

    6. Goddess47*

      Since you’ve been collecting documentation, and you’re a senior member of management, do you have the political capital to go to your grand-boss with this? Or anyone in the C-suite who will at least listen to you and be able to do anything?

      Starting a discussion with “I’ve been to a lawyer and do not want to do what he is recommending” can at least get their attention.

      Good luck!

    7. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      You can also go straight to the EEOC. I understand that you’re already speaking with an attorney, but there’s nothing stopping you from opening a case file with the EEOC with the evidence you already have of sex and age discrimination from this coworker, which to date has been tolerated by your workplace. You can choose whether or not to actually file a discrimination claim while they keep it open for a year, giving you time to sort through your feelings and options.

      If you decide to file a claim, it would take at least a few months for them to start investigating, also giving you time to maneuver, or decide to call it off. It’s not going nuclear — the nuclear option is the lawsuit. For HR to have the EEOC come calling, though, might finally wake them the hell up.

  10. That Crazy Cat Lady*

    Hi everyone! I need some shoe recommendations.

    I’ve decided to start walking on my lunch break. I get an hour for lunch and work near a park, so plenty of time for me to go strolling. But I will need to change into comfier shoes so I don’t kill my feet.

    I am not permitted to wear sneakers/sandals/etc. in the office. I can only wear heels or flats. Flats are the obvious choice, but I honestly don’t find them that comfortable and they tend to give me blisters after a while.

    So, is there a shoe out there that looks professional and office appropriate that doubles as a comfy walking shoe?

      1. Managing While Female*

        Seconding this. I like walking too and my Rothy’s have been great for that. They also have lasted for years.

    1. cubone*

      Can you leave shoes at the office, or bring them with you?

      Not to be a total cultist, but my feet (and my life) changed immensely for the better with barefoot shoes (not the ones with individual toes, just wide toe box – brands like Lems, Groundies etc). They’re very thin and flexible shoes, so I find them easy to throw into a bag without adding a ton of extra weight. Lots of cute sneakers, check out the website Anyas Reviews

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I am also a barefoot shoe fan. I recommend SoftStar Shoes – in plain black, they can pass for a loafer-type dress shoe. In a formal context, they might not be “good enough”, but they don’t look like sneakers and they don’t draw attention to themselves.

      2. Alisaurus*

        Xero makes a leather flat (Phoenix) that’s very comfy and looks professional. I wear mine to work regularly, including on a business trip that involved 15+ minute walks at a time between office locations/hotel/etc, and my feet felt great. No rubbing or blisters.

        (Note to say that it will take you some time to build up the muscles in your feet if you switch to barefoot shoes from regular cushioned shoes. So they might not be a “jump right into it 24/7” change, but worth a look at least.)

    2. mreasy*

      Can you change into sneakers before you walk? If you’re going mile-plus distances it will probably feel better to have the support of a walking shoe/sneaker.

    3. NonprofitExec*

      Are you not allowed to bring a pair of sneakers to the office just to walk at lunch in? Why can’t you change into the sneakers right before you walk out of the building and change back into your work shoes when you get back? Or do you not have a place to store the sneakers? Skechers might work they do have some shoes that might be ok as work shoes as well.

    4. Jenny*

      I’d just change into walking shoes at lunch. But I find Tieks really, really comfortable. I can easily walk a few miles in mine.

    5. K8T*

      Naturalizers are my go-to for comfy work shoes that are still cute – I have a job where I have to walk around a lot but we aren’t permitted sneakers 99% of the time. In broader terms, loafers tend to be the most comfortable shoe that can have the most built-in support.

      Otherwise I’m echoing everyone else in having “lunch sneakers” at your desk

    6. Nesprin*

      Would cole haan oxfords meet the bill? They’re sneakers with oxford detailing.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        There’s also Samuel Hubbard, which is the same concept. I’ve never owned Samuel Hubbard but Cole Haan are very comfortable. Cole Haan offer all sorts of ladies styles.

    7. Happy Camper*

      Check out allbirds, amazing company and their boat shoes are incredibly comfy for walking. I say this as a person who can’t wear flats because of blisters.

    8. Jen*

      Check AllBirds – they are my new go-to shoes. I have to present and work conferences in my job, and my feet feel a lot better when I wear them!

    9. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I live in Clark’s mary janes. Having trouble replacing my last pair—for whatever stupid reason, mary janes are seasonal and come in and out of fashion, so I’m following this thread closely for other recommendations!

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        Related question, what kind of socks do you wear with mary janes? I have two pairs, one black and one red. I usually wear black socks with the black shoes, so that’s easy, but I don’t know what to do about the red ones. Particularly in the fall/ winter when I can’t go barefoot inside them, or wear those little invisible socky things – I need actual socks to keep my feet warm!

        1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          I wear funky socks! I like socks with a pattern that can be seen. I used to wear thin striped AlaskanKnits, but you can’t get those where I live. I feel like if your socks are going to show anyway—and I have to wear socks because my feet sweat and I canNOT get those no-show footies to work, ever—you may as well lean into the style. (This also means that wherever I go, I can safely buy socks as a souvenir, because I will wear my Lowell Observatory planet socks or my Boston Aquarium octopus socks.)

        2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          Your red socks will look *awesome* with your black Mary Janes!

        3. Hypatia*

          I like gray socks (plain or with a small pattern) with my red Mary Jane’s. It’s not a strong contrast like white or black would be. or lean into the fun patterns if that would be appropriate for your office.

      2. Sara K*

        Have you tried Dansko’s mary janes? I have 3 pairs (black, blue, red) that I wear to work and they are very comfortable for walking. They make shoes for nurses and teachers so they know about comfortable shoes!

      3. Banana Pyjamas*

        Cole Haan has a couple of colors of Mary Janes on their site. I find BOC shoes comfortable and they currently have Mary janes available through several retailers.

    10. RM*

      I would search for something like non-slip formal work shoes to find some of the heels or flats sold to hospitality workers who have to stand, walk a lot, maybe carry heavy stuff for 8 hrs in dress code. Sketchers as mentioned previously makes quite a few. You could also try searching for something like flight attendant nice shoes recommendations.

    11. DrSalty*

      I would check out Clarke or Aerosoles. Neither are heavy duty for walking but they will be comfier than a straight dress shoe

    12. Ama*

      I particularly love Cole Haan — in fact I just wore my Cole Haan loafers to walk around a trade show all day and my feet didn’t hurt at all. But I will admit that their shoes fit some people’s feet better than others — their arch support happens to line up really well with my foot. The nice thing is if you’re willing to buy shoes off season they have really good clearance sales.

      At this point I own seven different pairs of Cole Haan shoes, five of which are work appropriate (the other two are sandals). I also am really prone to blisters, but I’ve never had one of my Cole Haan shoes give me blisters.

    13. Giz's Mom*

      I have tons of foot and leg issues, and usually plan my wardrobe around what shoes I think I have the spoons for on any given day. Clarks are good but pricey. Sketchers makes some decent Mary Jane types that aren’t too informal. Also (depending on your specific needs) look at wide widths, orthotics or extra padding. Every little bit helps.

    14. threetailfox*

      Clarks have been a good go to for me, as they seem to have some arch to them and hold up well.

    15. Anonymous Koala*

      I like vivaia; I have very wide, flat feet and have trouble finding professional-ish shoes that are comfortable, but I have several styles of their wide (D-EE) flats and they’ve all been fine after a couple of days of breaking in. I walk at least 1-2 miles in them every day and they’ve held up pretty well. They do get pretty dusty, but I just throw the shoes and the inserts in the washing machine and let them air dry once every few months or so and they’re fine.

    16. lilybeth*

      Vionic. I have found my Vionic ankle boots to be particularly amenable to walking for literal miles.

      Also seconding the Naturalizer recommendation I saw.

      1. Doc McCracken*

        I second Vionics! Recommend them to my patients all the time. Also, Coach loafers are amazing! I don’t normally care to buy branded things but their loafers are heaven! Found them when I was pregnant and doing my internship rotation in a clinic with cement floors. I look on Poshmark now that I know which ones I like because I’m frugal. I own a pair in brown and black.

    17. JSPA*

      there are high end shoe-style birkenstocks, some very professional looking, if those happen to work for you, and you don’t mind the weight and cost.

  11. ecnaseener*

    How do you handle it if jury duty cuts into your 2 weeks notice?

    I assume if it’s just a day or two that’s not a big deal, but if it’s expected to be a long trial do you delay your departure date accordingly if reasonably possible? Or is it fine since you gave them 2 weeks notice and it’s not your fault you’re out of office for a chunk of that time? (I work from home so I can certainly log on every evening to check in.)

    And what if the offer comes in and you’re ready to accept it, say, 2 days before the jury date? Set your start date assuming it’ll be a 1-3 day service? Ask to get back to them about the start date after the first day of jury duty just in case it’s a long trial?

    (Obligatory knock-on-wood disclaimer that I don’t have an offer yet and don’t know whether one is coming, just wondering!)

    1. IndyDem*

      Personally, I wouldn’t let it change my two week notice, as I’m assuming you’ve let your current company know in advance of when your jury duty is. The only change is how you are compensated for jury duty by your company.

      As far as the new offer, I’d start with letting the new company know about jury duty, and suggest an adjustment to a start date if necessary. I will say some companies have limited ability to move start dates, so I think it makes sense to notify them when you accept. I’d also suggest that this would have been a good question to ask Alison.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It totally would’ve been, if I’d had time to wait! Alison, feel free to post a response to this if you feel so inspired.

    2. linger*

      You can’t assume anything in advance about jury duty duration. You might not be selected, and be dismissed in a day; or you might be empanelled for a months-long trial.
      Workplaces legally cannot penalize you for time on jury duty.
      So it need not extend your notice time (especially with asynchronous WFH as an option, though in practice you will not be able to do much of that if you are empanelled).
      And it need not prevent you from accepting an offer if it comes in, though it would be a good idea to reach out to advise that because of jury service your phone access will be temporarily limited, but you will still be checking emails daily.

      1. ecnaseener*

        True, obviously if it’s weeks or months then everyone will just have to deal! I’m thinking more about if it’s in the realm of one week, eating up half my notice period.

        I know legally it’s protected, just wondering if there’s a general expectation to do one thing or the other. (After all, the 2 weeks notice isn’t a legal requirement – we’re talking about professional courtesy either way).

        Basically if I were to give 2 weeks notice but be gone most of that time, would people think of it as not ~really~ giving 2 weeks? If it were vacation, yes. Idk if that extends to jury duty.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Depending on your state, you can request a delay. I was able to get one when my jury duty conflicted with my (only) counterpart’s vacation. I have plenty of alternatives for dates available, so it was clear that I wasn’t just trying to get out of jury duty.

      1. Evan Þ*

        Yes; my friend was also able to get a couple delays for business trips. Unfortunately, they only offered a limited number of delays, so he eventually needed to reschedule a vacation to actually show up for the jury duty.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I think I would’ve needed to request that more in advance in my state, my summons is for next week.

    4. StrayMom*

      My son was called for Jury Duty a couple of weeks before he and his wife were due to leave for her 6-month contract job across the country and he was in the midst of offboarding his responsibilities to another team member. When he was being interviewed during voir dire, he explained the circumstances and he was dismissed. I don’t know whether this is the case across all States/courts, but if you are interviewed and asked whether you’d have any issues with being able to serve, I don’t see why you couldn’t explain your situation

  12. Trout 'Waver*

    The question about the boss who vetted how messy applicants’ cars were is living rent-free in my head.

    I’m going to be hiring for a person to work in a shared lab setting in the near future. I’d love to hear ideas about how to hire someone who is neat and tidy and able to work in a shared lab space.

    Imo one of the toughest things about hiring is the “show-me” stuff. Things everyone believes to be true about themselves, but you have to see their actions to actually know.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Behavioral interviewing is designed for this kind of “show me!” Ask candidates to talk to you about specific techniques they use to keep a shared lab space clean and tidy. Ask them about times when they had challenges sharing a lab space with others, and how they handled them and what the outcome was.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Set up a couple of benches at various levels of messiness and ask them to critique them, or tell you what they’d do to each if they had 5 minutes before another person had to take over the bench.

      Have them tell/show you what they do when they switch between 2 ongoing analyses, or what they do when they finish one analysis and get set up for the next.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I like this. The science people I’ve worked with in the past tend to be very messy in real life, but it’s how they are in the lab that counts when you are hiring.

        FWIW, I was in the lab the other day and five out of six drawers had labels on them. I said “that bottom drawer had better be empty, then.” I opened it, and it wasn’t. It about drove me bonkers.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      This might be one of those situations where a ‘tell me how you dealt with’ question works – something like : “Describe a situation you’ve encountered where you and a coworker had differing opinions on how to organize or keep a shared workspace clean and how you resolved it.”
      That should give you an idea of what they care about and how they’ll deal with the conflict. Especially if they cast themselves as the neater person in the past conflict, vs the one able to negotiate with a more stringent coworker.

    4. crookedglasses*

      This also feels like a great question to probe in the reference check stage. The downside is that you won’t be able to hear about it until someone is pretty far along in the hiring process. I also agree that behavioral interview questions like “Tell me about a time you had to share a lab space. (Optional follow up): How did you ensure the space was safe and functional for everyone?”

    5. SoloKid*

      Ugh as a lab rat that has to share space with very messy people, it would be nice if more applicants were judged on this kind of thing.

      If you are able to talk to references, they would give a much better idea since nobody will willingly admit “I leave my tip boxes open and my ice out to melt at the end of every day”. But I suppose you can test for some hesitation if you ask “have you shared a lab space with others; what were the challenges”. Someone that is a neat freak like me will happily parrot the protocols they wrote for specific take down duties lol.

    6. Nesprin*

      “How did your last group manage shared lab responsibilities? Who dealt with stocking? What happened when someone left a mess”
      “Can you tell me about how you organized a workspace?”
      “Can you tell me about how you managed your last shared lab?”
      “Can you tell me about a time when you shared resources with a group, and how you handled it?”
      “What do you think separates a great lab working group from a good one or a bad one?”

    7. Anonymous Koala*

      In addition to all the great suggestions above, I suggest asking your candidates what kind of shared lab space they’re used to working in. In some labs ‘shared lab space’ is “I get my own bench to organize as I please, my own pipettes and tips, and we share common reagents” and in other labs it’s “we have one bench for 10 people and one set of pipettes, if you contaminate them you will ruin everyone’s experiments until we notice the problem and deal with it”

    8. Violet Newstead*

      I once worked at a company that had a combination basic practical and silly question lab interview. It included the following tasks. (1) Being presented with a print-out of a hypothetical buffer you had prepared and asked to write the bottle label. (2) Asked if you are running a test with 7-point dilution standard curve and 15 samples – describe how you prepare your bench and materials to avoid prep errors. (3) Going into the lab and being asked to weigh 1g of salt into a vial. (4) In the lab, being presented with 5 different items and asked where they should be thrown out. (5) A bunch of random silly lab questions – best color of lab tape, what are three things you hoard in your lab coat pocket, favorite instrument or technique.
      Interviewees were told ahead of time that this would occur so that they wore appropriate shoes, and that this was not weighted heavily in the process. The interviewers would answer any question you had and it mostly mattered that the interviewee asked the right things back (where’s the sharps disposal? where are the gloves?). You couldn’t really fail that portion of the interview either unless you claimed to have a ton of lab experience and did something egregious (like the guy who had 20 years in the lab and then put an uncapped syringe and needle into a trashcan clearly labelled ‘no sharps’).

      1. Nesprin*

        That’s… Brilliant. I may have to adopt this for new trainees through my lab.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Jesus wept. The regulations are there to protect people at the most basic level. Sharps are a major hazard in healthcare cleaning and I’ve known people having to take a month off work after a cut from something someone else disposed of carelessly to get all the tests done and recover from the side effects of prophylactic medicine. What a [censored] [censored].

    9. Jinni*

      I’ve always wondered about this. I have a friend who has done lab work for the last 15 years or so and there’s always one guy who is an absolute mess. (in her experience it’s always a guy). They make the overall lab work difficult and slow things down. She’s never hired, so we’ve speculated as to how this happens…

      (I’m in a creative industry – so this is never something I’ve dealt with)

    10. Hyaline*

      Just my opinion, but you really can’t judge how someone will use a workspace based on how they use their car, their home, etc. I think you’re better off hiring someone who’s a good fit for the job and setting clear expectations on workplace sharing, cleanliness, tidiness, etc., then following through on any problems in a swift and consistent manner. this might be less an issue of hiring the right person then of training the right person.

    11. Part time lab tech*

      So this is more for microbiology labs but I’ve done one where I made peptone, and a couple where I demonstrated aseptic pipetting. To demonstrate alpha numeric skills I’ve also been asked to match labels and sample labels.
      I like these because labs are hands on. The one thing I will say is that I really dislike being asked to remember even a basic process on the spot because in real life I would follow the manual or shadow someone initially. Between nerves and it being a while since I’ve worked in a lab I’m likely to forget a step. I think “Let me check the manual” is a legitimate answer.

  13. Emily*

    I commented a couple months ago about my work having a baby shower for me that I didn’t want. It resulted in a meltdown and I was unable to return to work. Since there was a similar letter this week and my story came up in the comments, I decided to give one last update here.

    I am still not working. However, I am being paid. I was still not able get myself to answer the phone to talk to people from work, but eventually my grandboss and a person I think was a lawyer showed up at my house and talked to my husband, who convinced me to talk to him. Officially I am on paid leave until the end of the year, and when I look for new jobs I am supposed to put my grandboss down as my reference and he will say good things about me. He also said when I was ready to look for a job I could contact him and he could connect me with people. So that was nice of him.

    My husband says my grandboss feels bad about what happened. I would prefer if my actual boss felt bad about it but I also hope I never have to see or talk to him again. Or anyone else from my office. I will start looking for a new job when my paid leave is going to end. My baby is coming soon and my husband and I are excited and I will get to spend a lot of time at home with her.

    I hope things work out better for the letter writer from this week. I am happy I am being paid, but I would have rather not had a meltdown in front of people.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. It sounded like a terrible situation all round and at least now Emily can have some breathing space and a chance to start her little one off on the right foot.

        Best of luck, Emily, and remember we’re all here for you in the future.

    1. Stuart Foote*

      I am glad this story has a somewhat happy ending (compared to what might have been). I can’t remember if you explained the reason for your meltdown in your previous story, but pre-partum mental health issues are no joke. Post-partum health issues get a certain amount of attention (not really enough though), but pre-partum physical and mental issues can be absolutely horrible and get ignored, including by health professionals.

    2. Roland*

      Thanks for updating. I’m glad it’s mostly resolved in a positive way, though of course it would have been nicer not to have gotten to this point. Congratulations on your upcoming baby!

    3. Double A*

      Thank you for the update! I wish it had never happened in the first place and they had just respected you, but I’m glad you get this time where you can just focus on your family. Wishing you the best with the birth and the new baby!

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m still appalled with everyone at your former employer who thought it was a good idea to force a shower on you. I hope they feel all very bad about it for a very long time. I’m glad that they’re continuing to pay you – frankly, it’s the least they can do.

      Best wishes for the upcoming arrival of your baby! I hope that you enjoy motherhood and that you land somewhere great if you do decide to job hunt again.

    5. DrSalty*

      So glad this worked out for you. Best wishes for a smooth and safe delivery and I hope you have a wonderful time with your new baby!

    6. Marta*

      I’m so sorry that you had to deal with all that. Though paid leave ’til the end of the *year* sounds pretty amazing!

  14. Late Bloomer*

    I could use some thoughts on strategy for giving notice at my current job. I’ve read various AAM posts on this topic but still feel at sea.

    Context: This week I was offered a shiny new job that I am delighted to be moving on to. My current job is a bananapants situation, where the sole benefit has been the trial by fire that’s left me poised to make this move. Chronic understaffing means I’ve been overworked and, especially recently, I’ve often offered to take on tasks and participate in planning well above my ostensible position. It will be a pleasure to drop the bomb that I’m fleeing, though I am empathetic about the trouble it will cause for the colleagues I most care about.

    We have a use-it-or-lose-it PTO structure. I can find NOTHING spelled out anywhere about what happens during resignation. I’ve been scouring the org files and sites to find anything I can. The lack of spelled-out policies may relate to the fact that it’s a huge org, operating in many states and countries, with I suppose various rules. I’m quite sure there’s no pay-out for unused PTO. I can’t think of anyone from work to ask privately without showing my hand before I’m ready. There’s also no way to shoehorn in some PTO immediately before I give notice; trust me on this. So, I just accept that I’m losing what I’ve got, be happy I’m getting out, and talk to my manager a day or so before I want my two weeks’ notice to begin? [Precedent shows that I will work out those two weeks rather than being quickly ushered out.] I can live with it but want to know if there’s anything I haven’t though of.

    1. WellRed*

      If it’s use or lose, I doubt it pays out. You just lose it. In the meantime why not take a few scattered days?

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Ours is use it or lose it, but pays out if you’ve accrued any PTO for the year that you haven’t used when you leave the company. (And I guess the reverse would also be true, e.g. if you left after half a year but had used more than half your yearly PTO.) This is in our handbook, though — it’s strange that the OP’s company doesn’t specify. In that case, I agree with Hlao-roo that pre-scheduling some PTO and then taking that into account when calculating their notice period sounds like a good idea.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      There are only two things I can think of:

      One option (that may or may not work at your org) is to schedule a few days of PTO during your notice period (before you give your notice) and then give 2 weeks + PTO days notice. For example, schedule PTO for May 17 and May 20, then when you give your notice on May 13 you can say “my last day will be May 29 to account for my scheduled PTO days.”

      The second is to look up your state laws about PTO payout. It’s possible you’re in a state where PTO has to be paid out.

      1. Random Bystander*

        That’s what I thought … I’d check the state laws. I live in a state that does require payout and it actually gave me a nice little bonus to offset the annoyance of the yo-yo thing at work. If it’s state law, I can imagine that the detail wouldn’t be included in a handbook.

    3. IndyDem*

      Beside checking the state laws, is there any former employee you trust enough to ask what happened with their PTO?

    4. Late Bloomer*

      Thanks, helpful people. The “former employee you trust enough” suggestion knocked loose a vague memory that one of my best friends at current workplace had, at a time before I knew her, strategically quit from this workplace and then come back a year or so later. [Strategic: the easiest way to get significant title + pay boosts at this org is to leave at a point where your loss puts your project in a difficult spot, thus proving your worth. Then you engineer a re-hire after an appropriate time.]

      I completely trust her so told her what’s up yesterday afternoon, and she not only agrees that the info about PTO in conjunction with separation is hard to find; she also has a wealth of info to provide based on her relatively recent experience. She’s retrieving what she has/knows and will start coaching me through the lead-up to giving notice, which will be Thursday.

  15. Mystic*

    i had to do one of my first separations ever, and while it felt bad, it also came w/ a sense of relief and i don’t know if i should feel bad that i felt the relief?

    1. Admin of Sys*

      There is nothing wrong with feeling relief at not having to deal with the conflict or person any more. If you fired the person solely to not have to deal with the conflict or person, that’s different and might be ethically suspect – but if it was a reasoned decision that’s best for the company and department, it’s okay to /also/ be happier the person is gone.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      You never need to feel guilty about the feelings you feel! It is a relief to have gotten through a difficult conversation/interaction. It can also be a relief to know you don’t have to deal with a person/organization/situation anymore, even if it means someone no longer has a job/desired relationship/etc. The relief doesn’t necessarily mean you’re glad it happened, just that you’re glad it’s over.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I don’t think so! I assume you did this separation because it was better for your employer that the person NOT continue to work there. You did the right thing for the organization. Terminating someone who’s not pulling their weight is often a good thing for other employees and employee morale, as well. I think this mix of feelings is just right: you feel bad because you’re human and don’t like causing other people unhappiness. You feel relief because you know it was the right decision and will overall improve your workplace.

    4. NotBatman*

      Something my dad said to me: “there’s the sadness it’s over, but there’s also the lightness that comes with knowing it happened, you got through it, and it’s over.” This was about my first breakup, but I remember it because it applies to other bad events I knew were coming (a move, a loss, etc).

    5. JHunz*

      Honestly, I felt the same way from the other side of the table the one time I’ve been fired. It took me a couple days to get from the initial shock to the relief, but when it hit I was so glad I was no longer going to be working there. I don’t know what the circumstances of your separation were, but it’s totally possible for a person to just be at the wrong place. Correcting that helps both sides.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Totally. In my case, it was my opportunity to apply for disability benefit and focus my energy on getting my neurodivergence sorted out. I did have family back-up, but it was really the tipping point where I realised I couldn’t go on having to muddle through and had to get some help with my very obvious differences to other people. When I got back into the workforce I was more balanced and focused on salvaging situations I had let go for too long at previous jobs, and also had a much more supportive environment which got me through ten years of various different personal anxieties until I came out the other end.

    6. DrSalty*

      You never need to feel bad about feeling a certain way. Feelings are just feelings!

  16. Elle Woods*

    I wrote in last week about receiving an offer that was significantly lower than what was discussed during the interview process. A couple of people asked for an update but I couldn’t provide one as I didn’t hear from the company until late Monday.

    The short version is that the offer wasn’t a mistake; it was a test from my (potential) grandboss to see if I would notice the discrepancies and how willing I was to advocate for myself. The company sent over another offer on Tuesday that was a bit closer to what we had discussed but still pretty far off what we had discussed. I went one more round of negotiations with them, got nowhere, withdrew my name from consideration on Wednesday afternoon, and wished them well.

    The hiring manager emailed me after I withdrew. She said she had been looking forward to working with me and understood why I had removed my name from consideration. She stressed that she had pushed back hard on the initial lowball offer but was unable to convince others that it was not a good idea. (The grandboss has been there only a month and perhaps his methods aren’t well-known yet.) It seems like maybe I dodged a bullet.

    1. Johnny Karate*

      I don’t understand why people insist on playing games with hiring. I agree that you probably dodged a bullet.

      1. That Crazy Cat Lady*

        Once, during an interview process, a grandboss (while reviewing my resume) said that he didn’t think the college I attended was accredited and so my degree was probably worthless. I knew he was full of it so I didn’t worry, but I didn’t know why at the time.

        Turns out, he told me that just to “test” me to see how I responded to pressure and stress.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Me too. The game playing would not have stopped there, and I really dislike messing with peoples’ salary expectations. You know next up would be bonuses, overtime, and other forms of compensations.

    2. Jane Bingley*

      You definitely dodged a bullet! What would grandboss have done if you accepted – not hired you at a lower salary? Hired you at a lower salary and treated you disrespectfully because you failed his test? That’s extremely strange and toxic behaviour, and the fact that no one stopped him is a huge red flag.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      So… they wanted to test your ability to stand up for yourself, which you “passed”, yet they wouldn’t meet what they initially discussed? You’re so much better off. Good work!

      1. Project Maniac-ger*

        I noticed that too – several levels of bad faith decisions by the Grandboss. It’s so disappointing people still do this, but there’s lots of folks who don’t and you should go work for them, OP, not this jackwagon.

    4. pally*

      You did dodge a bullet.

      The offer was a test?? That is insulting. If they can’t be straight with you with the job offer, what else are they going to play games about? The job assignments? Raises? Benefits? Office space?
      That’s no way to treat anyone. Shame on them.

    5. WellRed*

      Omg. So many times, people think companies are testing them when they are not and you actually got tangled up with one! Bullet dodged.

      1. linger*

        “I was just testing you” when called on an error is also incompetentjerkese for “I f’d up but won’t ever admit it”. So it was unlikely a valid offer would eventuate.

    6. BellyButton*

      What??? It was a test?? Oh that is not good at all. It isn’t fair to the candidate and it could actually end up getting them in trouble. If someone does accept their lowball offer and then it comes out that there is difference in pay between a woman and a man or a POC of color and someone else- they could be sued.

      It is known that women and POC do not negotiate as hard or they under value themselves more often than men do– so it is unfair to test them in this area.

      I think you have dodged a giant bullet.

    7. M2*

      I’m sorry that is awful. This is why I always check with HR the max we can go for a candidate and I don’t play games and say that salary from the get-go. If it’s someone with less experience I want to take a chance on we usually don’t go to the very top of the range but I’m also very clear about that as well.

      I don’t understand the games with hiring. Should be a very short band of hiring. I have actually seen it where they say if you have X experience you’ll be paid between b and c and if you have more experience you will be paid f and g. I think it’s better to be upfront about everything. My organization has large bands (basically because you can have different titles in the same band) so I make it my job to know the # and give it to candidates right away so they can make that choice. I also push Hr to share benefits with candidates too.

      1. linger*

        Note that Glassdoor recently changed its privacy policy in ways that make this less advisable.

    8. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      You definitely dodged a bullet!

      I’m remembering a letter where the boss loaded the employee up with a literally impossible workload to test what they did under stress. Jerk move!

    9. Sherm*

      This is very messed up. The fact that they continued to low-ball you makes me think that the grandboss just wanted to hire you for cheap and made the excuse that the first low offer was a test. I wouldn’t be surprised it the hiring manager is now job hunting, too.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yes, that’s my take too because there was no way to pass the test! Not standing up for yourself = fail. Stand up for yourself and still not get what was discussed = fail. He just didn’t want to pay.

    10. Glazed Donut*

      Thanks for sharing this update! I’m sorry it didn’t work out – this grandboss seems a little unorthodox, to put it kindly.

      The job market in general is trash right now, and it’s so insulting that the hiring process/offers are playing games like this. The amount of time you (likely) put in…the time they put into it…I hope you feel good about walking away, at least!

    11. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      Whoa. Bullet dodged. Bizarre games/tests are no way to negotiate. That’s bad faith negotiating and I would have withdrawn too.

      Glad they showed their hand before you wound up working under this guy.

    12. Jan Levinson Gould*

      Damn, thanks for the update! Agreed with everyone else, you probably dodged a toxic bullet.

    13. A Significant Tree*

      That’s such a gross misuse of power from the grandboss. The first offer might have been remarkably low but the second was also a low-ball compared to what you thought you had agreed to, so … what did they think was going to happen?

      I mean, I’ve been “tested” a few times in interviews but always something banal or work-appropriate – once during my presentation one of the interviewers asked what he later described as a tough question (it wasn’t in my opinion, just a bit off topic) to see how I handled that sort of thing. Another time an interviewer asked me to explain Extremely Specific Statistical Formula, which I’d never heard of. I said I’m not familiar with that one, what is it? And apparently that was the test, how would I respond to that sort of situation – he’d randomly picked it out of a stats book and then had to look it up since I asked. :-)

      The idea of a stress test like being assigned an impossible work task or someone getting agitated to see how you cope is just awful, but a lowball offer just to see what happens? FAFO indeed.

    14. TheBunny*

      Bullet absolutely dodged. That’s a bonkers tactic and should make you run for the hills.

    15. WestsideStory*

      No it was not a test. Based on what the hiring manager told you, the new boss wanted to see how desperate you were and how cheaply he could get you.
      You did the right thing by withdrawing. Raging red flag.

  17. Elsewise*

    This got way too long, I’m so sorry! Tl:dr: I was passed over for a promotion and now bosses want to talk to me about it and I’m not sure what to ask.

    I was hired as a Footwear Specialist. About a year ago, it was announced that the footwear department would be split into two teams: Sneakers and Boots. I told the Director of Feet (DoF) I was interested in boots. She told me she sees me as a Sneaker Expert and wanted to promote me directly. But HR told her she couldn’t do a direct promotion: she had to post the job. She had just hired a new Assistant Manager (AM) and was about to hire a Sneaker Manager (SneM), and so the manager would be doing the hiring. She didn’t promise anything, but told me she was sure I’d be a great Sneaker Expert (SnEx). Also, if I didn’t love it, she suggested I could eventually transition to a Boots Expert.

    I started doing expert-level work. AM told me to apply for a raise if I didn’t get the job (there’s a process for doing that when you’re doing work above your pay grade), but that they were sure I’d get it. (AM was not part of the hiring decision.) Everyone said they were happy with the work I was doing. DoF and AM both talked publicly about me like I’d be in the SnEx position soon.
    Long story short, I found out this week I didn’t get the job. Everyone on the team is stunned, I’ve been fielding messages all week about it. I’m kicking myself, because I wanted to do Boots originally and if I’d done that, I’d be in a better position now. SneM wants to add another expert position that “we would definitely want you in”, but there’s no timeline, and it might be at the expense of my current position, and there’s no guarantees.

    Next week I’m meeting with both AM (regular check in) and DoF (scheduled to follow up on the hiring process at her request). I have no idea what to say or ask or talk about. Do I ask if the Boots position is still happening? Ask about getting a raise? Getting expert-level work off my plate? Help!

    1. Tio*

      Absolutely ask about the boots! And ask for feedback on what the hire had that you could learn to have gotten it. (If they can’t give you a real answer, that’s a red flag.)

    2. kalli*

      tl:dr; “My team got split in two and I was interested in the other team, but told to stay with my team, I’d get a promotion, and then if I didn’t like it we could revisit transferring to the other team. The promotion went to someone else, even though I’ve been doing the job since the split. Now I’m meeting with the people who told me all this and I don’t know what to say!”

      So you don’t like it and it’s time to revisit switching to the other team. Use the fact you’ve been doing higher level work to demonstrate you’re capable of taking on and learning new tasks. You also want a guarantee or defined progression plan whether you stay and your position gets elevated or you move to the other team, and you want to know what pay and title you’ll have by the next review.

  18. Tradd*

    Have to rant. Customs broker here for 11 years. Several decades in industry as a whole. I qualify my company’s corporate brokers license. Anyway, yesterday I had my first ever audit with CBP. Turns out they just asked about how we handle various procedures and provided some paperwork for five customs clearances so they could see how we do things. No problems at all. This was all remote and scheduled a month in advance. It was an hour and I was super nervous. I put my desk phone on DND. Told everyone in the office I was NOT to be disturbed. Had a messed up urgent shipment I was trying to handle for a customer and told customer I would be unavailable and when. Customer tried to demand I cancel appt with Customs. Told customer absolutely not. During the call (which was all audio, no video), a coworker comes to get to me with a note customer wants to talk to me. I wave coworker away. He just stayed there. I wrote a note and told him to go away. Customer needed to wait until I was done. Called customer when I was done and he just screamed at me for ignoring him. I calmly told him this appt was scheduled way in advance and had to be done. He was advised the time I was unavailable. The reason he wanted to talk to me was nothing important.

    1. yeep*

      This is something my 8 year old does. Your customer is behaving like an 8 year old who is the archetypal baby of the family.

    2. Some Day I'll Think of Something Clever*

      The rant is totally justified. Maintaining boundaries with clients is something that I perpetually struggle with, but never have any of my clients been so egregious in over-stepping as what you describe above.

      I am also disturbed by your coworker’s actions. Not only were they inappropriate, but s/he undermined you. They ignored your directive that you were not to be disturbed, disregarded your priorities, and distracted you during your hour-long call that required 100% of your attention. Personally, I wouldn’t let that one go. The one thing I can trust in my workplace is my coworker’s and boss’ support in dealing with testy clients. There’s value in a “united front.” Not that it happens that often, but clients tend to back down once they realize that they won’t be able to play off one against the other.

      1. Tradd*

        Yeah, I was NOT happy with coworker. I asked him why couldn’t he have just told customer I would call when I was off the call? He just shrugged. Told him that was not acceptable. Seems he wanted to pass the buck on a customer who was screaming at him. Like I would have gotten off call with Customs? Sheesh.

        1. Lucia Pacciola*

          I get the frustration, but I don’t see passing the buck here. It was your customer, a shipment that you messed up. Obviously you can’t make that right while you’re meeting with Customs, but that doesn’t mean that your co-worker should get screamed at by your disgruntled customer.

          1. Tradd*

            Did I say I messed up the shipment? No, I said the shipment was messed up. FDA and agriculture issues I have no control over and it was importer’s first shipment of these commodities. You have to allow FDA 24 hours for them to release after submitting requested documents and customer did not want to wait.

      2. Shandra*

        Tradd, when you told your coworkers that you were NOT to be disturbed, did you also add something like, “And that includes Customer X, no matter what he tells you. I already told him I’d be unavailable during this time.”

        If your coworkers didn’t know the situation with Customer X, then I can see how they might’ve felt awkward staring him down on your behalf.

        1. Tradd*

          Yes, I did tell them that. And the coworker who came to me during the call is the one who handles the transportation side of the awful customer’s shipments (I handle the customs side). I made sure that coworker knew to not bother me for ANYTHING, including awful customer.

          1. Eucerin*

            Ugh yeah I’m side-eying your coworker as much I as am that customer (because customers like that are a dime a dozen unfortunately). And it seems like your coworker knew that they shouldn’t disturb you even for Pushy Customer but chose to do so anyway. WTF, dude/dudette.

            Can you fire both the coworker and the pushy customer???? (I’m kidding but like, that’s how I’d feel in the moment).

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      What part of Government Audit are they missing? Seriously, the people who control the very essence of your job want to ask you questions? I don’t care who the other person is, you make time for the auditors, full stop.

      1. Tradd*

        I’m a licensed customer broker – clear imports through Customs. Licensed by them, don’t work for CBP. They will audit customs brokers to make sure we’re in compliance with procedures and stuff. Import duties are the second largest source of income for the feds after income taxes. Customs brokers are how those get authorized for payment daily. Getting the duties statements paid is the first thing I do each morning.

      2. Star Trek Nutcase*

        I handled government benefits for hundreds of disabled people at our facility. It never failed that whenever I got a Social Security, VA, or Civil Service, or Medicaid supervisor on the phone to resolve a problem (usu. decades old), and despite verbal, email, and closed door sign reminders, I would be interrupted. Frequently it was my lazy incompetent coworker who wanted *help* again to do her easy job. Not so frequently it was my entitled grand boss trying to get info urgently so she could pretend to her boss that she had a clue (BTW her boss would never interrupt me). Some people just think limits don’t apply to them.

    4. Project Maniac-ger*

      This dude thought he was more important than the United States Department of Homeland Security. Impressively bad.

  19. PropJoe*

    If your employer has an explicitly spelled out dress code, with things like “these garments are fine” or “these garments are unacceptable,” it seems pretty obvious how you would accommodate an employee who is going through a gender transition and remaining in the binary.

    But in an explicitly spelled out dress code situation like this (as opposed to a generic “business casual we don’t want to see your butt hanging out” or whatevs), how might you reasonably accommodate an employee who is nonbinary or genderfluid?

    1. WellRed*

      I’m not sure there’s a difference? If items are appropriate they are appropriate no matter who wears them. If it’s inappropriate, it’s inappropriate no matter who wears it.

    2. PotatoRock*

      Is the issue that the explicitly-spelled-out dress code has different men’s and women’s versions? Sounds like a great opportunity to rethink whether that’s really necessary
      (in practice, if you’re not in a position to push for that overall rethink, I would just let the employee wear anything from either list)

    3. Stuart Foote*

      I don’t really see how that would make a difference? The nonbinary employee would just not be allowed to wear the “banned” clothes from each gender and be allowed to wear the “permissible” clothes from each gender category.

      1. kalli*

        That’s assuming that being non-binary automatically is taken to mean ‘can wear clothes from either list’. This is not always specified, nor does non-binary always mean one wants to blend or vary presentation to use both lists, or would feel comfortable with picking from explicitly labelled lists.

        It is often the case that people who are non-binary are simply lumped in with their assigned-at-birth gender and expected to stick with that, and less often that non-binary is conflated with ‘woman/female’ because of how androgyny is incorrectly considered as feminisation of men.

    4. Rara Avis*

      They can just wear anything from either list? If the dress code says that women have to wear skirts, that’s a problem in itself.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Is there some rigid line between male and female dress codes? Like women are forbidden from wearing pants or something? I would expect a nonbinary person to wear whatever they were comfortable in that fit in a dress code, but I feel like I might be missing something…

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      If it’s just a stated list of “these garments are fine” (e.g. “skirts at least knee-length, button-down shirt with tie”) then reasonable accommodation would be to allow any person of any gender to wear those garments.

      If the “these garments are fine” list are delineated by perceived gender, then the system itself is unaccommodating.

      1. kalli*

        If it’s just a stated list of ‘these garments are fine’ then it’s already inclusive, and an accommodation isn’t actually needed – the list in itself isn’t gendered.

        If the list is delineated, then a reasonable accommodation is to allow people to treat it like it is not.

        The problem comes when the stated list is not delineated but people impose social expectations like it is.

    7. MindBoggled*

      I’m not sure I understand? Are you positing a different dress code for men and women in this case? I would suggest that is the basic problem in that situation and should be rowed back on so everyone is able to wear any suitable clothing.

    8. I Can't Believe It*

      I think that unless the dress code states one gender must wear one kind of clothing (e.g. a skirt) and another gender must wear another kind of clothing there is no reason someone cannot be gender fluid and appropriate (e.g. no mid drifts, shorts, flip flops, pjs, etc).

    9. Roland*

      Might be time to show to the powers that be that a binary dress code is outdated. If you don’t have that kind of power, I’d turn a blind eye as long as they are pretty much within the spirit of the rules once you remove gender from the rules.

      1. Roland*

        Haha, didn’t mean to repeat exactly the same thing as everyone else. What a fast-posting group we all are.

    10. Bearbrick*

      If the approved lists are gendered, the simplest approach would be this person being able to pull from both lists, but I would sit down with the person first and ask what they want in terms of accommodation.
      Some of the better/more inclusive dress codes I’ve seen are categorized by clothing item (eg tops, bottoms, shoes) and listed all approved items underneath those rather than relying on a gender split. Maybe you could come up with something like this for the employee as a solution that still supports the required dress code.

    11. Withans*

      Does your dress code specifically say things like ‘men must wear suits’ or is it more ‘acceptable clothing includes suits’ in its wording? If the former, I would suggest just rewording the policy to remove the ‘this clothing is for (people we perceive as) this gender’ element. Your non-binary colleague can then decide which items of clothing they want to wear like anyone else.

      (This is complicated by the fact that being ‘formal’ often implicitly means ‘performing normative gender’, which is often impossible, or at least deeply unwanted, when you’re non-binary, but I think if your company does want to be a decent place for trans people to work (and indeed cis people who don’t want to have to perform rigid gender standards all the time!), that’s an assumption that needs to change.)

    12. Generic Name*

      If you have “men can wear this” and “women can wear that” lists, mush them together and remove the gender labels. If you don’t want to see hairy (male?) armpits, state tops must have sleeves or be covered with a sleeved garment, or whatever. If a woman can wear a knee-length skirt, so can a man or nonbinary person.

    13. PropJoe*

      Thanks for the feedback everyone.

      At my employer, the dress code is an undefined business casual except for specific departments who have uniforms (security, maintenance, food service, etc.)

      I have no input on that sort of thing, and asked this out of a sense of curiosity for what its like at places that have defined & gendered dress codes.

    14. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t see why there’s a need to accommodate. The dress code shouldn’t be written in a gender-specific way in the first place. If it is, it’s a problem regardless of the presence of transitioning, non-binary, or genderfluid employees.

  20. CzechMate*

    The admin at my work is a good friend (same age, similar backgrounds) and we chat fairly often. There is another individual (“Fergus”) in our workplace who is lackluster at best, incompetent at worst. I don’t interact with him very often, but my impression generally has been that he’s not interested in working (frequently comes in 30-45 minutes late and leaves early most days, tends to be not very aware of general goings-on in the office, frequently needs others to cover for him but doesn’t offer to cover for anyone else). Admin, however, has had to deal with issues that arise with his work more–for example, angry phone calls and emails complaining that he is unresponsive or work isn’t being done in a timely manner, seeming to be unavailable for scheduled appointments and not responding to messages, phone calls, etc. When the office director and Fergus with said partners over the past year, they’ve seemed to be becoming increasingly combative and angry. So, there is a direct impact on our work, although it’s not something I have seen a ton of first-hand.

    I suggested that Admin Friend talk to her immediate supervisor, but she said her immediate supervisor said, “Fergus is new at the company, so we need to give him some time to get up to speed.” However, he’s been with the company for two years–making me think that supervisor may not want to wade into this. I suggested that Admin Friend go to Fergus’ boss (the office director) with her concerns, but she is very reluctant to do so. I am also somewhat reluctant to speak to the Director as I haven’t observed much of this firsthand, although it all fits with the already-lackluster image I have of Fergus. I covered many of his job duties before he was hired, so I also know that his workload is not necessarily unmanageable for one person.

    Do any of you all have any advice that you’re willing to pass on?

    1. Choggy*

      Admin should speak with the Director but phrase it as, “When I receive this type of feedback, how would you like me to handle?” Do it every time there is an angry phone call or email about Fergus. You could also redirect the phone callers/emailers to the Director, so they are getting them, and not the Admin!

      1. MsM*

        I don’t know that I’d offer “how would you like me to handle?” as an open question, not least because it implies this is Admin’s problem to handle and not Fergus/management. Maybe something more along the lines of “what is the plan/timeline for ‘getting him up to speed,’ because there’s only so much I can do to manage the growing levels of frustration around this, and I’m concerned about the ramifications that will have for all of us?”

        Definitely loop management in on the problem emails/calls, though.

        1. Anonny*

          Yup, this definitely has to be put on the Director to handle, just trying to provide a way to start the discussion. I have had a Fergus in my own department, and people would come to me to complain, not our manager. I encouraged them to go to our manager, but they never did so that made me less inclined to listen to their complaints. After 10 years, our Fergus was finally termed, should never have taken that long.

        2. kalli*

          That’s probably admin punching above their weight – most admins aren’t involved in training and office strategy and marketing, and if they were they’d already have standing/power to act here.

          ‘how would you like me to handle this specific situation?’ over and over seems to imply the opposite – it’s not admin’s job to decide what to do here, and it puts the burden on management to provide instructions, the point being it quickly reaches a point where it’s faster for management to deal with Fergus instead of dealing with ‘Fergus pissed someone off what do?’ 4-5 times a day. An approach without an element of ‘what do’ just ends up as taking messages and giving them to someone other than Fergus.

    2. K8T*

      Is she already documenting everything? If not – that’s the first step.
      Once she has specific documentation, I would go back to the supervisor again and lay it all out including the expectation that some action be taken. (YMMV on actually spelling out that she would continue up the chain).
      If the response is the same, then it’s time to go above their head with additional documentation about how many times they’ve raised the issue with said supervisor.

      1. Ama*

        I definitely agree with documenting — complete with dates and how long it took her to handle the issue. I find certain kinds of bosses will deny something is a persistent and recurring problem until they actually have in front of them how much time staff are having to spend on it.

  21. Aurion*

    There are probably posts about this but my Google-fu is failing me today…

    How do healthy organizations handle requests to departments (within their regular scope of duties)? To be clear, I’m not talking about a new project which would have to be funnelled through the appropriate management levels and approved, but stuff solidly within that department’s scope, just not often enough that it would require a ticketing system.

    Let’s say Fergus asks Jane for a TPS report, here’s how I would respond:

    If the report is easy and Jane isn’t overloaded: Jane says “Yeah sure”, run the report, send back to Fergus.
    If the report is not Jane’s usual duty, but John’s: Jane says “Point person is John” and forwards the request over to John.
    If the report is Jane’s duty, but there are difficulties/roadblocks:
    a) Jane lists the issues and request further clarification/information
    b) Jane cc’s her boss on the response if needed (as FYI only, not requesting her boss to respond)
    c) If Fergus continues to push or is otherwise unreasonable, Jane backs off and lets her boss push back

    In other words, if the request comes directly to Jane, I would expect Jane to “own” the authority to respond, and only loop in her boss/have her boss reply back if the exchange becomes contentious. I would also, personally, use that same blueprint whether Fergus is a peer in another department or the grandboss (I personally don’t see any issue with skip-level responses, so long as the immediate boss is cc’d when appropriate). However, I’ve also seen arguments that requests should go through Jane’s boss as Jane’s boss is the manager and has context on inter-departmental or managerial politics and whether her department has the resources etc etc etc.

    My current job has a very flat hierarchy and my volunteer gig has a very large/sprawling hierarchy (the details of which are a mystery to me) so I think I’m getting opposite ends of the spectrum here. Curious as to how other places work!

    1. GreenShoes*

      I agree with you.

      With a few caveats
      – I’ve put myself in the path if it’s a behavior that I’m trying to change. Dept X is trying to systematically foist work on my Dept
      – If there a politics at play that I want to shield my team member from
      – If the team member doesn’t yet have the confidence to push back appropriately (with extra support to get that confidence

      And a few other things, but the general rule is I tell (and show) my team they have the authority and I’ll back them up.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      In my experience, as a manager: If a direct report had a request from outside our team, I’d want to be looped in as to understand the bigger systems at play (who needs the report, why, is this something we should expect more often, is there any info we don’t want to share for some reason, etc). I would also want to keep tabs on how well my direct report can fill it, time management with other projects, etc.
      If it came to me directly, I’d share it with my boss in my weekly 1:1 (“Oh, we got a request from X for Y report”) as long as the requester was a well known entity to us. If I didn’t really know the person or why the report was needed, I’d loop my boss in earlier like through a Teams chat.
      In neither case would I expect the report-filler to complete the request without sharing up the chain that the request was made and filled.

      1. Aurion*

        Interesting! I guess I was a little off. Would you still let Jane have the authority to respond as long as you’re cc’d? And would that change depending on the type of response Jane would send (yes/no/need more info)? For example, would you let Jane have the authority to respond if the answer is yes, but you’d prefer to jump in and respond as the manager if the answer is no?

        1. Glazed Donut*

          Yes, if it’s something Jane knows how to do and has the time to do, I’d want her to own it – I just wouldn’t want her to be adding to her plate without looping me in.
          If Jane needs help, I’d definitely provide it, but if she can do it on her own, great. I may want to be CC’d on an email chain (moreso if the request was from someone we don’t really know/work with often) but my general thought is you hire people you trust to do their jobs and get out of the way.
          I’ve also worked in some very political-style offices where people push reports/ask for data to back up their own desires (ie not for straight up business needs), so some of this is me wanting to keep an eye on what’s happening elsewhere and where I may want to block a team member from unknowingly playing into other people’s mayhem.

    3. Rex Libris*

      As a manager, if it’s something beyond “Can you email me this file?” or whatever, I’d want to be cc’ed, because it’s my job to balance their time and work load, which means I need to know what they’ve been tasked with.

      1. Aurion*

        I’ve the same question for you as I have for Glazed Donut! Would you let Jane have authority to respond so long as you’re cc’d? Any caveats to that authority?

        1. Tio*

          Caveats: How big of a project is it and is it something Jane regularly does?

          Both of those would change my answer. If another dept is sending my report work to do that isn’t in her job, I’d want to be the one who approves that. Also might depend on how much I trusted Jane to manage her own workload and know what to push back on. I have one employee who will agree to things from higher titles without thinking about whether she should be doing it because that person is Important, so she figures she should be doing it. Or sometimes she does too much work trying to help someone with their duty because they’re confused… but it’s not her job and taking up her time. I had to train her to check with me rather than just doing the work automatically. I’ve started calling this “volunteer syndrome” when I see it.

          1. Florence Reese*

            As someone with chronic volunteer syndrome, you’re the kind of manager I rave about to my friends. It makes so much of a difference to set clear guidelines on what your employees should handle and what they can push back on, and to then support them privately and help them recognize those scenarios…*chef’s kiss*

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      In my office this happens all the time, as most people in the office double as general workers and SMEs in a different niches. Most of the time if you’re asking a peer in your department to write you an SME report they accept/reject the request at their discretion based on their workload. If you’re asking a peer from another department, it’s common to send the request to their manager or at least copy the manager on the request. I believe this is done to manage workloads, as others have said, and to identify SME needs across departments so that resources can be allocated appropriately.

    5. Ama*

      What I have done in the past as a manager is try to make sure my staff is very clear on what work is a “standard” request that they can go ahead and handle without including me and what work is a special request they need to ask me about first. There have unfortunately been a few particular colleagues that have tried to foist extra work on my staff (including one who would ask my report to “help out” with something and then would conveniently forget to tell her own boss so her boss thought she’d done it herself), so in those cases I’ve asked my reports to run any request from that particular person by me so I can keep an eye on the situation and intervene if necessary.

      But I don’t usually ask them to cc me unless they are saying no to something and I want to make it clear I have their back in that response.

    6. Project Maniac-ger*

      We created (and I just updated – these things need to be kept up to date) a “Request Flows” document that helps folks figure out what to do when they want something that’s not covered by a request form or ticketing process. It has contact info (department emails – avoid putting it on one person because these one-offs are often collaborative), scope info (our database only covers llamas from 1800- now; ask the Alpaca unit for alpaca data and ask the Museum for historical data) and expectations (please allow 2-3 weeks for a Grooming Report with photos). If it’s a project that is obviously out of the confines of the document, it’s a high leadership to high leadership discussion. Hope that helps!

      If you’re having a lot of trouble with this I suggest Project Management training for applicable individuals or hiring a project manager. Shameless plug for my field!

  22. Busy Middle Manager*

    I’ve heard a resounding “RTO bad” from online sources but as someone who works hyrbrid next to other companies working hybrid and seeming to love it, I wanted to point out some of the positives of in-office work ,that perhaps people who are fighting hybrid don’t realize their coworkers are dealing with:

    Having someplace to go to if you have noise in the neighborhood (landscaping, construction, outdoor music). This has been a God Send for me as they progressively renovate every house and building around me, the one behind me has been having drilling and sawing going on for months

    Have someplace to escape to if you live in tight quarters, especially true for early career folks with roommates. Being trapped 24/7 with an unpleasant roommate or overbearing parents is NOT a benefit!

    Getting (free) HVAC if it’s hot and you don’t have central air at home or can’t afford to run it constantly

    If you don’t live in a downtown, office may be near chores you can run during lunch or after work

    More lunch variety for many of us, especially if you don’t live in a populated area or nice area that has places to go to (my area has a lack of food options besides pizza and a grocery store)
    Speaking of locational logistics, sometimes if I am going to class at the gym or something in the evening, there is not enough time to get there if I WFH, so it makes sense to go to the office and then go to the class from there.

    Concentration – the flip side of “you can run laundry” is “you don’t have household chores to distract you”

    Avoiding bad habits – as someone who stress eats, having a place to go helps me control those sorts of habits

    Training/collaboration –I’ve had in-office days when we’ve gotten a week’s worth of work done in a day. Granted, a week’s worth of only certain type of work, usually helping junior level workers do stuff more efficiently and offering ad hoc training throughout the day. I think ardent WFH supporters really want online training to work but the truth is, people who aren’t upskilling don’t volunteer this to people to receive the ongoing training you need in some jobs

    Interruptions aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be: I find that people interrupting me in person is less distracting than teams. Teams rings out of the blue. In person, I feel like you always subconsciously know someone is coming. For example, my coworker will angry type then be quiet

    Having a third space to socialize with people you were work but only know as little boxes on a screen

    Less half an hour chat chains that could have been a one minute conversation, the type framed as “doing chat to save time” that end up interrupting you for way longer than a conversation

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think many people in the “RTO bad” crowd are saying “Not only do I not want to be forced to go back to the office, but nobody who even wants to go to the office should be able to go.”

      If you like the lunch and HVAC system and the relative quiet without construction, go into the office.

      The main issues is companies saying “Go in, or else!”

      1. Filosofickle*

        This. Of course there are advantages! I know there are things I miss out on at home and great reasons why working onsite is necessary / helpful for many people, roles, and teams. Just don’t force me to, especially if I was hired with the clear expectation that the job would remain remote. (Looking at you, Dell.)

    2. Tree*

      I agree with your list. I would add that for me personally, wfh/remote has greatly increased my anxiety. I know many people thrive in a remote environment and I assume I would too as an introvert, but I am finding that I need those casual, in-person interactions throughout that day. Seeing friends and family in the evening and weekends does help, but spending 40 hours plus a week by myself isn’t good for me.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      I trust that people who want to be fully remote know what they’re getting into and have weighed the pros and cons enough to make that decision.

      For me, going back to in person work means I get the following:
      -Reliable Wifi/electricity – if the power goes out from a storm, we’re all off for the day (whereas if I’m WFH and lose power, I’ve got to go elsewhere or take PTO since everyone else is still working that day)
      -STEPS! I get to walk from my desk to other desks and lunch and up and down stairs. Sitting/standing at a desk at home made me “a body at rest that stays at rest” and I began to loathe it
      -Small chit chat conversations, unplanned/unscheduled, to build relationships — and other people can do that with me without me feeling like I’m interrupted every 5 minutes that I’m not on DND
      -Fun little side trips on the way home to Treat Myself

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I trust that people who want to be fully remote know what they’re getting into and have weighed the pros and cons enough to make that decision.

        Yes, most people know their own preferences best. It’s unlikely they haven’t considered the benefits of the alternative options. They’ve simply decided that for them, the benefits of one outweigh the other.

        Personally, I prefer teaching in person because online teaching doesn’t work all that well and I also found it very hard to confer with colleagues on little things. E-mailing somebody to say, “hey, such a student seems to be losing focus in my class. Is it the same in yours because I’d deal with it differently if it’s a case of him not being interested in my subject/my teaching style not suiting him than if it’s an across the board issue which could raise red flags for depression, etc?” makes it a way bigger issue than if you can just ask casually in the staffroom (and if there is something like depression, it would warrant that, but if the kids is just tired or something, it could make it a bigger issue than it needs to be).

        On the other hand, I love the fact I can correct the state exams from home.

        Different jobs…different ways they work well.

        1. Double A*

          I teach at an entirely online school, but it has always been this way so we have systems set up to make it work that were not possible when everyone when online overnight. Also, our students choose this, so that is huge. I actually find it more collaborative than in person teaching because we have very active chats! But again, this is because of how the whole organization is built.

          Remote works really well with my current life (young kids, husband with a lot of health issues) but I do miss a lot about in person. Including many of the things on this list! Especially the “errand stacking.”

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            Yeah, I think the fact that the students and their parents chose it is crucial. We have a number of students living on a halting site that has actually made national news for its poor amenities, so students there may not even having wifi at home. We have students living in homeless shelters. We have a large number of asylum seekers who are living in hotels or similar. We have students with pretty severe learning difficulties who struggle even with accessing the lessons because they can’t work the computers.

        2. GythaOgden*

          They don’t often know it until they’ve tried it. I’ve worked remotely now for six months, and it has a lot of up sides. The main downside is that I’m not getting the forced exercise I used to when commuting, and I’m having to therefore watch what I eat and how much I move during the day because the extra calories don’t get burned off so easily and I’ve ended up feeling very stiff and sore. I’m not dropping with exhaustion like I was which is the MASSIVE benefit, but don’t be too sure that people do know what they’re letting themselves in for when they change the modality of how they work.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        For me, the biggest thing is that I want a very clear line between “work” and “my home.”

        My specific job is taking phone calls/orders, and I truly do not want the energy of customers calling me all day in my small apartment! Not even rude, crazy or drunk ones, just the endless attachment to a headset in the space where I am normally free to do what I want–psychic pollution.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t think the point is so much that “working in person is bad” – it’s not – so much as “it’s bad to assume that working in person is right for every industry or that because an industry was in person before the pandemic, that necessarily means it should be in person again just because it’s legal for it to be.”

      I have not heard anybody saying that “every job should be done remotely and there are no benefits to any job being in person.” That would be ridiculous anyway, because things like construction work, surgery, etc can’t be done remotely. The argument is more that we now have an additional option and we should be looking at it in terms of “does it suit this company better to have people working in person, from home or a mixture of both? Can employees be given a choice?”

      I think that in say another 10 years, one of the things people will be taking into account when choosing a job is whether it is remote or in person or hybrid. Just as now careers advisors might ask “do you want to work in a team or mostly independently?” and “do you want to work in an office or do something more practical?”, they will then be saying, “do you want to work remotely or in-person or a mixture of both?” and taking that into account in the jobs they offer you.

      Companies, for the most part, aren’t going to be choosing whether to be remote or in-person based on what employees like best. The reasons for going remote are more going to be that a) it’s often a much cheaper way to run a business and b) it allows you a greater variety of choice in who to hire as they don’t have to be living nearby. “Well, the jobs could be done entirely remotely, but we’ll pay for an expensive premises so our employees can do their errands more easily.”

      I think most people are aware that there are benefits to remote work, in person and hybrid and disadvantages to all too. The thing is that companies should be deciding based on how their particular job can be done most efficiently and cost-effectively and then people can choose their jobs based on which suits them best.

      The problem now is, of course, that a lot of people are already working in a particular profession and some of those in the professions likely to go mostly or entirely remote prefer in person work and some of those in jobs that can’t be done remotely would prefer that.

      But the argument isn’t “all jobs should be remote. Everybody prefers that.” The argument is that jobs that can be done equally well or better remotely should not be returning to in-office solely because “that’s how it was always done and the pandemic restrictions are over now and we want to forget it ever happened so we aren’t going to continue even with things that are working well” or because “we don’t trust our employees to work without somebody looking over their shoulders even though their work for the last few years has been as good as or better than when they were in the office”.

      There are benefits to both and it’s finding the environment that is right for you, but it is silly if people are just deciding to bring people back because “that’s how work is done.”

    5. WellRed*

      I totally go to the office when the house or neighborhood are noisy. It’s also where the best office gossip is. I get in xtra steps. Once I’m out and about it’s easier to run errands, otherwise it gets harder to leave the house the longer I’m there.

      1. Double A*

        So true about the gossip! It’s harder online when you know everything you write is recorded. It’s taken me a long time to have a few people that I’ll text on the side when we want to have some “offline” gossip, and I greatly value our in person events for getting the goods more holistically.

        (BTW this is not mean spirited gossip, it’s just that more informal information that circulates more naturally in person).

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        My sister usually goes into the office 2 days a week, but the last 2 weeks she’s gone in every day because she’s having her kitchen re-done. Her husband has always worked from home, so he gets to oversee the contractors!

    6. Head sheep counter*

      I think the fevered few who are true believers of work from home for everything skew the comments sometimes. They forget about all the folk who can’t/shouldn’t work from home. They forget about the privileges they have (of HVAC, wifi, quite, large enough, etc living situations). They very definitely forget about the social aspects as being important to many.

      1. Reebee*

        What an exaggeration. The “fevered few” are advocating for their own roles as being okay for full remote work, and that’s all. You are really over-thinking things.

    7. Piscera*

      OT, I know of a consultant who gave up their regular office space early in WFH lockdown, then had to get one again. Think a medical doctor who employs other doctors to provide the consulting services.

      They did it for three reasons. One, they needed a physical business address for the doctors’ licensing board records. Two, the business owner tried coworking spaces, but found they couldn’t always get one they liked. Three, sometimes clients wanted to meet at the consultant’s office instead of their own. The clients didn’t always want the consultant to be seen by their colleagues.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      “Getting (free) HVAC if it’s hot and you don’t have central air at home or can’t afford to run it constantly”

      I agree with this one. A couple of years ago we had to shut down all our locations due to excessive heat, so Husband and I got to stay home! Great, right? Actually I was really, really looking forward to going to work and having the A/C on (and trying to figure out if we could sneak our cats in, too.)

    9. Long time reader, first time commenter*

      As someone who very much prefers being fully remote, my main problem with the RTO policies is that they’re mandatory. I think it was better when companies that had office space available kept it optional for everyone and we could each choose what works best for us. I do think the forced RTO is all bad.

    10. Dannie*

      This conversation ALWAYS assumes people live near their work and just don’t want to go in, so I’d like to point out (as a resident of the middle of nowhere) that remote work has opened doors I’d never otherwise access, and RTO actually means “uproot your entire life and move, or lose your job.”

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yes, at least in Ireland, we have a massive housing crisis. There just aren’t enough houses in the large cities for all of the people who work in them nor anything like enough. Around Dublin, people can have commutes of two hours each way and it’s getting worse. This is not sustainable. Then there is traffic. Quite frankly, we need to get more people out of the cities and work from home makes this possible.

        Not for everybody. There are a fair number of people who are going to need to work locally but even if we can get 10% of the population to move to the areas that are underpopulated, that would help both areas a good deal.

        1. GythaOgden*

          The problem with that is, if only the people move, then gentrification can happen (since the more mobile people tend to be those with more money). What’s happened to rural areas in the UK is that people move but the jobs don’t, so villages essentially get hollowed out. They’ll move into existing properties rather than build their own, push up property prices and make it harder for locals to settle in the area. Locals then move into towns and cities and face the problem of housing shortages elsewhere. The transplants, on the other hand, have cars and drive to large towns to buy food rather than supporting local enterprises, and thus the local shops relied on by the poorer locals also close. They’re replaced by gentrified things like farm shops and so on, which price out the poor and cater to the rich.

          Inshoring — businesses building plants in a less privileged area — is better and more sustainable in the long run. New plants mean more jobs in the local area and thus more jobs for local people. This means the area isn’t gentrified and the stresses of people with too much money moving into a place with too little is ameliorated because you now have actual growth, rather than just moving stuff around.

          So just moving people sounds simple on the face of it but even before the pandemic it was having a bad impact on many rural parts of the UK. It’s best to think about these things holistically and not assume there’s a quick fix.

    11. Project Maniac-ger*

      I think we’re seeing a lot of “RTO bad” comments and articles due to squeaky wheels getting the grease, but that’s not an accurate vibe check of the entire working population. Those that are most passionate about staying home are going to yell the loudest, and the folks who are like “thank god I can get good AC” or “sweet I don’t have to watch my roommate eat spaghettios with his hands for lunch every day” aren’t writing op-eds for the New York Times.

      The bigger problem imo is that a Hybrid Workforce is a best case scenario for people, worst case scenario for companies. Companies (feel like they) have to RTO to justify the expensive office spaces, make managing people easier, and reduce the need to understand and follow tax and employment laws from here to Timbuktu.

  23. RunShaker*

    Question on religious discrimination. This was a long time ago in a far away land…..lol. There was a local law firm that hired non-attorney staff and they focused on hiring people that graduated from local Catholic schools. I thought it might be discrimination but my coworker disagreed. This firm is no longer in existence, at least not under the same owner. This was also in 80s and 90s so probably the reason why was able to get away with doing this type of hiring. Just curious.

    1. Stuart Foote*

      Lots of non-Catholics attend Catholic schools, so I doubt it would be discrimination. Especially if there was some non-religious reason for the firm liking those grads–if the founder went to one of those schools, they’d hired people from there in the past and they worked out well, etc. Lots of employers have “feeder” schools like that.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        If the public schools are underfunded, Catholic schools are often an affordable private alternative (or were at one time). Of course, the real solution is to get better funding and support for public schools.

        From a Catholic who went to public school, because a parent emphatically did NOT want us kids in Catholic school.

      2. GythaOgden*

        My mum was headmistress of a school that had an explicitly Christian ethos and had had it since it was founded. (This is the UK, so it’s not fundamentalist, and my mum is doing everything in her power to promote LGBTQ rights within the CofE.) She said people of other faiths were attracted to the school not because they were potential Christians but because they could empathise with the empowering spiritual ethos that mum did a lot to promote in her ~13 or so years as head. She’d also caught in a Bernardine school (on the site of a literal convent) in one of the most diverse towns in this area and they had a real mixture of students, mostly of South Asian heritage (so Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims). I wonder if the openly faithful ethos of a Catholic school in the US would be that any tying of behaviour and upbringing to a strong credo is preferable to a perceived lack thereof. On paper, we may have different outlooks (doctrine on forgiveness, for instance, exists in many religions but has different characteristics), but in practice the divide was not between faiths but between having a faith and not having one.

        But I’d be concerned at any one firm taking new employees from any one school. Identity aside, that’s not going to lead to a strong workforce diverse in terms of outlook on life. One of the ways my facilities team hung together for so long was, despite being three white women, we had different backgrounds and outlooks that complemented each other. Diversity is more than just external identity; it’s pulling a team from enough different places to get enough different people — individuals — from enough different backgrounds. Even if it’s not legally discrimination, it’s still not very ethically sound.

    2. Ruby Soho*

      Where I live, the Catholic schools are by far the best in the area. The public schools are below average for the state, with one or two exceptions. Maybe the thought is that they were hiring people with a stronger educational background?

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      They focused on hiring, or they hired only from…?

      Also, worth mentioning, now that I’ve worked at a Catholic school—lots of people who attend Catholic schools are not Catholic or even Christian. We had protestants, Jewish students, Muslims, atheists, etc. Not saying that Catholic schools don’t lean heavily Catholic… they are, after all, Catholic schools, but unless you can make a case for “This law firm will look at these two candidates with equal qualifications and favor the one who practices Catholicism,” I don’t know that that’d count as religious discrimination.

      I’m not a lawyer, though. I don’t even play one on TV.

    4. Educator*

      This is all kinds of not great. Not great because they were actively creating a staff with less religious diversity, which means non-Catholics were likely to be uncomfortable. Not great because whether or not someone’s parents can afford private school tuition is a terrible factor to consider in hiring. And not great because the implications for members of the LGBTQ+ community, given how the Catholic Church, as an institution, treats them. There are a lot of thoughtful ways to build feeder programs, and this is not it.

      1. RunShaker*

        I understood that majority of the hires came from Catholic schools, as in your resume would be looked at first if you graduated from Catholic school even if stronger candidate skills were equal to Catholic school graduate. I also realize that many people who attend these schools are not Catholic. The law firm didn’t look at their religion only that they graduated from a Catholic school. I figured it wasn’t discrimination but it was an interesting discussion with my coworker this morning and made me wonder.

        1. PotatoRock*

          Not a lawyer but my guess is “Did they graduate from ANY Catholic school” would be tougher to defend than “Did they graduate from Ave Maria down the road, we’ve had great experiences with them”. Not great from a diversity perspective but similar to eg. “we like to hire from Harvard Yale Stanford”. Bad for equity; but I’m not aware of a comment successfully being sued for it

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      I think the key difference is that they are saying “we prefer to hire people (regardless of religion) who graduated from Catholic schools” and not “we prefer to hire Catholic people”.

    6. Hyaline*

      There are so many variables here but in some areas Catholic schools are an affordable alternative to public schools that may be legitimately failing. (They often offer sliding scales and scholarships that other private schools may not.) The firm may also have specific things that they liked about the curriculum of the local Catholic schools as opposed to the local high schools in terms of how they prepared graduates for the kinds of jobs that the firm hired for. They may have had contact with the Catholic schools that they knew they could trust in terms of references. I don’t think that weeding out based on which high school an applicant went to is a great plan, for a lot of equity based reasons, but they may have had good luck hiring from graduates of a certain pool of schools that had nothing to do with religion.

  24. VBA FTW*

    One of my goals at work this year is to learn the basics of VBA, specifically enough to redo some Macros my predecessor created to generate various form e-mails. I used HTML to build websites when I was a kid, so I understand the basic idea of using coding—hopefully that helps.

    My employer will reimburse me up to a few hundred dollars, so I can use paid resources. I can’t devote a ridiculous amount of time to it though because I need to be able to do all the learning at work (I have chronic fatigue and don’t know what’s causing it yet, so I don’t have the energy to learn at home unless I stop doing necessary things like cooking and laundry).

    Does anyone have any suggestions for good resources to learn VBA? Any tips? Is it very hard and time consuming to learn?

    1. Former Mailroom Clerk*

      I know you mentioned VBA, but if your employer uses the Microsoft 365 suite, you may also want to look at the MS Power Platform (Power Automate and Power Apps), which are a newer, web based method of “low code” development.

      VBA is still around, a quick google search will come up with a lot of Youtube videos and tutorials. Although, I will say that I consider myself a VBA expert, and almost all of my learning was of the “I have this specific problem in a larger project that I’m working on, how do I solve it?” and then google (and experiment) until it works type.

      chandoo dot org does a lot of stuff with Excel. Not so much with VBA, but it’s a good resource.

      For Power Platform, I love Shane Young’s videos on Youtube.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I use Power Automate for generating auto response emails in Microsoft Forms. I didn’t get any training in it, but it’s not too difficult to pick up as there are a lot of flow templates you can use and a good support database. It does take a bit of wrestling sometimes to get things to work. There are a lot of other tasks you can use it for and many integrations, so becoming an advanced user would probably be a good skill to have.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I’d agree to that suggestion. Macros (VBA) are fairly deprecated nowadays for security reasons. I recently had to replace a fairly complex macro with an app in C# that then calls into the Office object model as macros are disabled in our system.

  25. Time for Tea*

    Good grief! What a disrespectful time waster that man is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the hiring manager is job searching to get out from there now. At least you didn’t start work before finding out he was a nightmare boss.

  26. Re-orging my own job*

    I’m in a weird spot – my company has changed their business model and it makes sense to combine my team with another one. As the manager, I’m advocating for this change and have been for a while since it makes sense for the business, but once the teams are combined there’s going to be an impact on headcount -and the most obvious role that goes away is mine since we don’t need two managers and my team is the ‘feeder’ one. It’s a big company, and there’s obviously going to need be a re-org that would (probably) end up with me in a different role rather than gone altogether, but I’m basically pushing myself out of my own job!

    I’ve talked about it with my dotted line supervisor directly, who’s response was ‘well, no decisions have been made yet’, and indirectly with my direct manager who just agreed when I said ‘obviously, this change will have an impact on headcount'(I wasn’t quite brave enough to say the headcount would be mine!). Any one been through something similar?

    1. Generic Name*

      I work at a mega company, and as far as I can tell, when there are re-orgs and when departments get combined, they typically figure out some other spot for a person who’s position isn’t a thing anymore. Frankly, I wouldn’t assume you’re pushing yourself out of a job. They may decide to add a level and have several “assistant manager” types directly managing folks in the team who then report up to the group manager. At least that’s how my very hierarchical company is structured.

      1. Re-orging my own job*

        I agree – it’s almost certainly the way it’s going to play out with me being reassigned to an ‘equivalent’ role, possibly at the parent company. My real stress is coming with the uncertainty of the whole thing – there’s 4 or 5 different ways I can see this playing out depending on how the pieces fall and how much they want to change the structure. I want to know what my job is going to be 6 months from now, but having been on the other side I know that it’s reasonable for them not to have figured out yet. But it’s stressing me out!

        1. Anon for this*

          Can you try to influence that reorganization rather than just waiting for them to tell you what your job is going to become? is this an opportunity to design your own role almost?

  27. I edit everything*

    I posted a couple weeks ago about an interview that would involve a screen share Excel exercise. It went OK–I ran through a mid-level tutorial in advance, to refresh some basic skills, and I’m glad I did. There was one request I didn’t know how to complete, summarizing data from multiple sheets, and I just said, “I don’t know how to do that. In a real-world situation, I would google it, but in the interests of time, I’m not going to do that right now.” Fingers crossed that was ok. One of the interviewers (3-person panel) said something like, “I’m glad we didn’t explode your brain with that.” Which suggests that my composure, at least, was what they were looking for, even if I couldn’t tell them the data they wanted inside a couple minutes.

    Now I’m asking for good vibes that I get to the next stage.

    1. Penguin*

      Good vibes! As an interviewer I think that response is great. I google stuff all the time. I don’t expect candidates to be perfect but being able to respond back and show thought process is valuable!

      1. Ama*

        I agree! I think I said this on another open thread recently, but I think a lot of times when candidates lack specific knowledge or experience the people running the hiring process often just want assurance that you’re willing to try to find the answer on your own.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think that was a great way of dealing with that problem! I’m known as the Excel guru at work, but in reality I can barely remember most excel formulas off the top of my head. I am exceptional at googling the solutions, so I’ll have to tuck that answer away in case this ever happens to me.

      Good luck with the rest of the process!

      1. Project Maniac-ger*

        This! At work, I think I’ve developed the reputation that I know a lot of technical stuff when really I’m just good at googling technical stuff. Which is a skill in itself, I guess!

  28. Busy Middle Manager*

    How is everyone’s companies dealing with AI at the moment? I just had an encounter with the main person pushing “AI” here and yet again he is deflecting work.

    I’ve become more comfortable that AI implementation may never happen, given the psychology around it. The people pushing it think there are a bunch of data entry jobs to automate, not realize those already went away. But they don’t ask, because they think they’re smarter than us.

    They aren’t realizing that implementing any sort of AI is going to be a huge amount of work and they seem to not want to do much work, which is what is driving them to want to adapt AI
    It’s such an interesting dynamic that is completely lost on all of the stock market earnings calls talking about how AI is going to take over everything. It would be interesting if Nvidia etc actually surveryed low level managers at fortune 500 companies to see how many jobs can realistically be replaced

    Wondering if my experience in the white collar world is common or not
    Personally I’ve been automating stuff via regular coding and every time I automate something, a new issue or question arises, so I don’t even see AI taking my job, just changing the focus

    1. WellRed*

      My company is encouraging us to experiment with it and says it will help with efficiency but I’m not sure what it thinks will be made more efficient. I think they just think we have to because “everyone uses it.”

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Yes similar. Anything I needed to make more efficient already got done in SQL, Tableau, PowerBi, Python, or PowerQuery or our custom software. I haven’t been waiting around until now to decide to become efficient!

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Company policy is: not for confidential work and any engineering just be double checked by a person.

      Personal policy: I am an atheist and AI inadvertantly made me believe in the human soul because I now know what soulless work looks like.

      1. I have RBF*

        This.

        I hate that AI is trying to plagiarize and replace artists. I want AI to replace drudge work, like data entry and OCR, or even sweeping the floors and watering the plants.

        I don’t want it doing art, or even writing. Creative endeavors or things that require judgement should be done by humans, not machines.

    3. Choggy*

      My company is trying to put some type of policy/procedures around AI but without really defining what it means to use AI in our environment. So, I’m sure there will be more savvy users trying things out on their own and will probably just get blocked from doing much by our security.

    4. Roobbeer*

      It’s not coming up in my work but there is a magazine we advertise in that put out an edition with (imo) hideous AI generated cover art and I pushed back. I asked if we should expect to see more of that, and they actually gave me a chance to talk about why that concerned me. I wasn’t interested in continuing to send money to a company that could potentially be laying off or sidelining graphic designers to pump out AI images scraped from who knows where. I think it’s important to make noise, even when it feels pointless.

    5. Jan Levinson Gould*

      AI seems so buzzy right now. Recently there was a New Yorker cartoon with two guys in front of computers with the line “Can you go through all the old pitch decks and replace the word ‘crypto’ with ‘AI’?”

      A big consulting firm tried to “AI-itize” a process on a project I was involved in a few years ago and it only took care of 30% of the work (and the easiest work at that), and fell short 70% of what was promised. Big consulting firm was shown the door when their automagical machine essentially failed. I’m not losing sleep over losing my job or having to reduce headcount for my team because of AI, at least not in the foreseeable future. I could see AI taking on maybe 5% of what my team and I do.

      One thing I do hope AI excels at quickly is making pretty PowerPoints. I only have to do that occasionally for work, but I have zero artistic ability and I hate the tediousness of making PPTs that go beyond just bullet points.

      1. Double A*

        So much of this.

        So many apps and tools I’m using are pushing AI writing and like… I don’t need AI writing. The Google email sentence completion is sometimes useful but I could live without it. Generally, I just need the tool to do the thing I originally got it for and stop trying to add these AI bells and whistles.

        Canva has a bunch of AI integration for making presentations but figuring out how to make it look good seems like just as much work as the usual tools.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          So true. Maybe it’s the operations and analytical type roles I’ve been in, but I’ve never worked with anyone in corporate America who needs to write much. Even our lawyers don’t write much beyond one-pagers. Yet so much AI is geared towards pushing out volumes of writing that no one reads. They REALLY need to start asking people what they do all day!

    6. Violet Newstead*

      Company policy boils down to:
      (1) If you use AI to generate work and it’s inaccurate and poor quality, you are held responsible as if you did that work. No excuses.

      (2) You may not put anything that might have even the faintest connection to company-generated data, reports, IP, trade secrets, or confidential information into any sort of AI, LLM, ChatGPT. If you are found to have done so, you will be fired immediately.

    7. ForestHag*

      I work at a university, and we’re flailing. Students who don’t cheat use it to help them with work, student who would cheat use it to cheat. Administrators are trying to figure out how to stop students from cheating (which is an age old problem). Some faculty use it with research, some abhor it. I’m on the administrative side of the university (central IT), and it’s like an elementary school race to be the first to use it in a practical way, and the prize is brownie points with exec leadership. I’ve been asked to write an article about a successful use case/implementation with AI, but I can’t, because no one has done anything even remotely useful with it. Plus, the amount of work that is needed to even make anything AI have value (like data quality and infrastructure) is so massive, we can’t even begin to start. So basically it’s just confusion and politics around here.

  29. Ultimate Facepalm*

    If you made 3 very obvious typos in a row and caught it before it was uploaded into the portal but NOT before you attached your resume, should you say anything or just pray they look at the portal and not the resume? Now that I am done spending a couple of days dying inside, I don’t know how to handle this.
    To complicate matters, a friend works there and I don’t want this to reflect negatively on him. To correct or not to correct? Should I ask him how he wants to handle this?

    1. BellyButton*

      If they have a portal you should be able to log in and take out the typo resume and upload a new one. You may have to do a little digging, but I haven’t seen a system that didn’t allow the candidate to do this

  30. Who is the TP Thief?*

    I went in to the office yesterday, and sometime in the early afternoon, nearly all the toilet paper in the women’s restroom got stolen! Four of the six stalls suddenly had no TP at all, and the other two had one of the two rolls stolen.
    And no, it didn’t just get used; if it had been used, the brown center cylinders would still have been there, but they were gone. So somebody took it!
    I don’t know if it was a prank or legitimate theft.

  31. OKtokeepthecourse?*

    Does anyone have tips about how to deal with a manager who insists on more internal prep work than a project is worth? I have about 10 years experience so I have a good sense of how to do my job and the right amount of prep work to take on a task. My manager insists on specially formatted multiple page strategy documents for every little new thing we want to try – even stuff that is free, low stakes, and quick to try. No one reads the documents. I find myself not proposing new ideas because it’s not worth the headache of prep work and multiple meetings to get the go ahead, and instead just putting time and energy into building upon already approved initiatives with good quality work. Considering I don’t really have room for advancement at this job and am hoping to move after my masters degree is done, does this seem like a reasonable course of action?

    1. BellyButton*

      Would it make sense to propose a different shorter version of the form for the kind of quick jobs you mentioned? Create a high level one pager with the most important things to consider. It is still not the best use of your time, but it might make things move a little quicker and be less frustration.

      Good luck!

      1. OKtokeepthecourse?*

        I definitely did try this in the beginning of my time and my manager continued to push for more detail for every pitch, claiming that she just wanted to ease me into it by not having such stringent requirements when I first started. Which felt weird to me, like why not get out of the gate with the standards you expect, but I digress!

    2. Bruce*

      I think you’ve figured it out already. As a manager I’ve dealt with needing to add more formality to our planning vs making the process more trouble than it is worth, and I’ve been at a place that was notorious for micro-managing… the CEO wanted to sign off on everything and drove away a lot of good people. Just try to do quality work where you can so you can feel OK about it.

      1. OKtokeepthecourse?*

        That means a lot that this is a valid course of action!! I struggled with not giving 110% but I found myself just getting frustrated and working on internal slide presentations instead of external work.

  32. Discouraged*

    Does anyone know what kind of jobs outside of urban planning someone with a Master in Urban Planning degree can do? Nobody in the field will even give me the time of day because I’m in America and I’m unable to get a driver’s license due to a disability, and I’ve even had cities outright tell me they aren’t willing to consider ADA accommodations even when I explain how getting to offsite meetings isn’t really a problem. It’s become very clear I need to leave the field because I’m not wanted, but I have no idea what I can do that can make similar money, money I need to survive in high cost of living areas I have to live in because I need the public transit they have.

    1. Ashley*

      Can you pivot to something with disability accessibility? There have been some suggestions in the comments (maybe in the past year), but I am thinking this like working for a housing authority or another place that needs to maintain or write disability standards.
      Urban planning makes me think about property developers and LEED projects. I don’t think the LEED is as popular now, but it is basically building planning projects that might match some of the same skills.

    2. Stuart Foote*

      I don’t know how much urban planners make–are we talking $80k or $160k? I know someone with an urban planning degree who now works as an engineer for a utility, but it took him a while to work his way up (and not sure how much he makes).

      Also, there may be low (or lower) cost of living areas that have adequate public transit but may be walkable. The area you can live in and get away with being car-free may be smaller than NYC or Boston, but still be a livable size.

      1. Transit planner*

        The issue is likely that for some kinds of urban planning, you have to do a lot of site visits and community meetings. If you’re working on a sector plan for neighborhood X, you may have a couple of months where you have to show up at various places in the neighborhood with a boatload of flip charts and maps and survey forms and such. The summer I interned in a local planning office I was out taking photos, measuring store frontages with one of those little rolling wheels, taping up flyers for community meetings, etc.

        It’s certainly possible to accommodate someone who doesn’t drive and the city offices refusing to do that suck, but it’s not as simple as “this city is walkable/has decent transit” because you have to be able to get all over the city, potentially taking a lot of stuff with you.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Can confirm. In my field, facilities management doesn’t just require being able to get places, it means getting places that aren’t accessible even by relatively good public transport. I don’t drive either for similar reasons and I know it locks me out of a lot of stuff — but yeah, in a job like planning and anything that involves community site, it’s going to be very necessary to have your own transport and be able to carry things about between places.

    3. Ama*

      Are there any large universities in your area that might have a department that handles their buildings and any plans for renovations/expansion? (I think it would probably be called something different at every school – I worked at one where it was called something like Office of Strategic Planning but it was in the Facilities and Operations division) I would think that a university would be much better at ADA accommodations (plus you’d likely be talking about a fairly set location in most cases).

      1. Distracted*

        Well, I already work for a university in a kinda similar area but not in that role, but my university has a hiring freeze and a construction freeze, with all non-essential renovations and maintenance deferred. This is likely the situation at other universities in my state, as well. The university pays horribly, though, and I desperately want out.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          Similarly, are you in an area with large healthcare organizations who have hospital campuses?

    4. yeep*

      I have an MS in Community/Regional Planning and I work as a research administrator for a university, specifically on interdisciplinary projects, which require a lot of the same skills as community planning – primarily the logistics around meshing multiple objectives to achieve one shared outcome. I treat my research teams and stakeholders as community coalitions. I was never a practitioner in a municipal setting, but my coursework has been very applicable to my work.

      1. Discouraged*

        Funnily enough, that’s kinda my job right now, though in a slightly different context. After I graduated, I transitioned from a student assistant to a full time staff member at my school. The problem is the pay is really, really bad, like, unsustainably so.

        1. yeep*

          I can agree with you that the pay *can* be really bad, so let me tell you my story. I came in 12 years ago making $40K working for a project that had a sub $100K budget. I now earn over 2.5 times what I started at through a series of strategic moves:

          -Learned everything I could learn about the classification/compensation structure at the university
          -Made friends with people in my same boat to be able to have easy access to comps
          -Helped bring in additional grant projects so any raise I wanted could be paid for
          -Argued for promotions by taking on any higher level responsibilities the faculty were willing to pawn off (spoiler alert: literally anything administrative)
          -Told my faculty exactly how I needed them to advocate for me instead of expecting them to know or do anything on my behalf
          -Jumped to different projects as needed and negotiate for a bump even if it were a lateral move

          You will probably have to get out of your home department because your base with them is you as a student and they will have a hard time (both psychologically and HR-wise) adjusting your compensation much higher with that as the anchor. When you look to move, I also recommend doing as much reference checking on the hiring faculty for projects as you can – in my experience, the faculty members who understand the importance of a good research admin are willing to pay well for a good research admin. There are plenty who budget $25K and think they’ll get someone half time to share with another project. Stay away from those.

          I see above you mention the university being on a hiring freeze and in a bad financial situation, but I do know there are some universities/NGOs that are hiring remote research admin/project managers in other states.

    5. Former Housing policy consultant*

      Based on my past career life, because we hired a lot of them, and related to urban planning: Housing policy and consulting. This was at a government contractor, doing work for HUD, Census, other Federal government agencies, states, and local governments among others. Projects at the firm ranged from pure research (never leaving the office) to people in the field doing in-person technical assistance to communities. There was work involving pure housing issues, to environmental issues, to disaster recovery among other things.

      And also consider exploring some other Federal agencies who may be able to make use of your knowledge/educational background. The Department of Defense and the Department of Agriculture do far more real estate/land planning than people guess.

      Good luck with your hunt!

    6. Transit planner*

      Depends a little on what part of planning you studied and have worked in. I work for a transit agency and we have planners on staff and I hire data-oriented people with urban planning degrees for my team. Easier to work in transit if you have some amount of transportation planning background, even just a couple of courses or class projects (some urban planning schools offer that and some don’t).

      Housing, transportation, environmental policy, real estate development (especially with an urban design type background), economic development, some kinds of nonprofit community development work, sometimes landscape architecture if you’re more on the design side, public policy roles more generally, some kinds of advocacy organizations and business groups, sometimes it’s a good background for staff for local political officials, probably others I’m not thinking of. It’s a pretty broad field with a lot of skills that can translate, but what fits for you will depends on what part of the field you’re in and what sort of experience you have and can figure out how to convince people is relevant.

      Also I’m sorry that the places you’ve been looking at suck. Most urban planners that I work with (in a very large US city) are very focused on multimodal transit as a way to improve communities so the idea of not accommodating someone who doesn’t drive is especially awful.

      1. Transit planner*

        *Multimodal transportation, of which transit is a part. Walking and biking are great too!

      2. Discouraged*

        I’ve taken every transit planning class my MUP program offered, and I’ve got a certificate in HSR planning. It’s actually in part transit agencies rejecting me, San Diego, for example, will not entertain hiring a transit planner without a driver’s license. There’s also the issue that every transit agency is forseeing fiscal crisis and layoffs, so not many are even hiring in the first place.

      3. GythaOgden*

        I think the problem comes in needing to get out to more remote areas and transport stuff, as has been said. Additionally, if I had a car, my commute to my last in-person job would have been halved, but relying on buses and trains made it longer because of the general need to run to a schedule.

        In any job with a physical element (which includes facilities, the field I work in, since the healthcare org I work for can’t have a whole team on every single site they own), even if you want to end up with multi-modal transport, there is going to be a need for people working on that site to be more flexible than can often be allowed for with public transport. It’s not personal — it’s the practicalities of building that infrastructure.

    7. Educator*

      I would talk to an employment lawyer before you give up on your dream. Employers, and especially government employers (!) are not allowed to just opt out of the ADA. It’s a law, not a casual suggestion, and requires an interactive process, not an abrupt dismissal. I would ask someone with a legal background in this area for advice on how to handle this in the application process so that employers are being fair to you and themselves. (I did this early in my career, and I have been using that lawyer’s very good advice on managing my physical disability ever since.) Start with the bar association for your state if you are not sure how to find someone.

      1. Discouraged*

        I’ve been suggested this, yes, but the problem is, planning is a small world, and I seriously risk blackballing myself from the field if I am ever seen carrying out legal action against a potential employer. I also just don’t have the mental health or energy for the fight, I need to prioritize getting a job that pays enough to meet my needs first.

        1. Educator*

          I totally hear that–you have to take care of your needs first.

          For what it is worth, no employer ever knew I had a lawyer, and I definitely never even hinted at legal action. The lawyer just talked to me alone and advised me on what I should say to employers. They were more like a behind-the-scenes coach.

      2. spcepickle*

        This is not true – I hire for a positions that require drivers license within a state government. I am not “opting out of ADA”. I am setting a job specific requirement. My team goes to active construction sites which requires driving a state vehicle with a flashing light on top – there is not option to take public transport when we have closed a road and because my team normally works alone there is not an option to have someone else drive.

        Trust me when I say I have FOUGHT with our HR to take the drivers license out of most of my job posting, but when they are there they are a job requirement and ADA accommodations don’t remove job requirements. ADA accommodations allow people to fulfil the job requirements with an accommodation.

        I understand that sucks, but better to spend your energy finding the right fit instead of trying to shoehorn into the wrong fit.

        1. Educator*

          The question is whether or not driving is an *essential function* of the job, not whether it has been listed as a job requirement. From Discouraged’s description (“getting to offsite meetings”) it does not sound like it might be an essential function for some roles they have applied for. A lot of employers are not particularly thoughtful about license requirements, assuming that just because driving is the way they do their work, it is the only way someone could. If someone needs to operate a particular company vehicle, then sure, that’s an essential function. But if someone just needs to be able to get around the city to offsite meetings, it is not.

          1. GythaOgden*

            It might not be a functional requirement of the job, but disability accommodations can’t be unreasonable to the employer. Having to have someone to go out beyond, say, the limits of an existing public transport system are very common in my field (healthcare) and as such not driving is going to limit your ability to do the job.

            The interactive process is just that. It has to take the needs of both parties into account, employee AND employer. It’s not as black and white as it may seem.

    8. Regulations!*

      Don’t sleep on regulations development — a lot of staff in those positions come from urban planning backgrounds because of their experience running public meetings and organizing public comment into actionable decisions.

    9. Betty Spaghetti*

      Perhaps consider going in to park planning for a municipality or state? The knowledge and skills overlap is considerable (coming from a landscape architect who is currently studying urban planning), and may offer more flexibility with your transportation needs.

    10. Llellayena*

      Check the state jobs website for stuff in the housing and development departments. If your state has an affordable housing requirement and a department assigned to enforce affordable development they’ll need urban planners. There may be other state departments that use them as well. The State will be less likely to discriminate (not guaranteed, but a better shot). Larger architecture firms or Civil Engineering firms can use urban planners as well. Community advocacy groups for infrastructure and neighborhood improvement. Some residential development companies may be able to use urban planners. Universities often have a building department for campus improvements.

    11. GIS Map Cop*

      There are people who have a similar background who have done the pivot to GIS. If you’re more on the technical side of planning this might be an option.

      GIS is usually easy to accommodate remote work or centrally located offices that have transit access.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      I would consider you and your experiences invaluable in your field! That URBAN PLANNERS say to you that they can’t be bothered with ADA accommodations is appalling.

      1. GythaOgden*

        It has to be an interactive process. Their needs are considered as well as OP’s — an employer who needs people to be able to get around where there is very sparse public transport (like mine regarding some of the village healthcare centres we serve with like, one bus a day or something ridiculous like that) can’t have someone in that position who is unable to do that.

        My first conversation about moving up in my org involved talking to the regional manager about what my disability meant I could do and what I couldn’t, and she said that facilities team supervision over the range of sites we have — scattered across half of a larger county and with me living a two hour public transport journey away from the nearest point in that county already — would be pretty much impossible to do without being able to drive. Even if you’re able to get a bus, the job might involve delivering/distributing supplies, actively having to go out at different hours and maybe beyond the times when public transport ran, and so on.

        She was really helpful in sorting out my priorities and my interest in more general administrative work than necessarily being a supervisor in my own chain of command. We had the disability conversation in the first place because my educational achievements way outstripped my professional ones (direct quote — ‘What’s a graduate of the LSE doing sitting on reception?’) and I’ve had to be really honest over the years because when I masked, or realised I was masking, it was painfully obvious AND it was killing me to have to do so. As neurologically disabled myself, I know my own limitations. I know I’m never going to have the stamina that my parents had that took them to the top of their careers. My priority is rather to find a niche that allows me to do what I do best and. My accommodation is that if I’m asked into the office, about once or twice a month, I get to go up the night before and stay in a hotel on the company account. It helps me do a job that it’s possible for me to do; it doesn’t wave a magic wand and make me suddenly Prime Minister. (If only! I could harness a source of free energy by giving my mum an exercise bike and hooking it up to the National Grid.)

        It’s about practical limitations and their needs as well as the capability of the employee. (Say I was looking for a job as a marathon runner. One look at me — with a limp and a walking stick and so on — would tell you that there’s unlikely to be an accommodation that would make me able to do that kind of job. Even if I beat out all the competition, I’d still have that fundamental disability that would not even allow me to start training, let alone complete anything.) I could have said that I wanted to apply for the supervision job, but having an adult conversation about the difficulties of getting to some fairly remote sites in a timely fashion (such that I’m not actually sitting on a bus for two hours just to get there) before I considered applying, it was clear that I wouldn’t be a competitive candidate and that their needs were genuine.

        It’s very unlikely to be that these people are rubbing their hands with glee at OP’s problems and purposefully making it difficult for her. It’s the realities of life in any kind of work on sites not necessarily connected to main transport hubs, and even if the results of the building work would make it easier for OP in the long run, the jobs are just not always the most practical to do as a non-driver.

    13. Project Maniac-ger*

      I’ve read through your comments here, and have a few suggestions:

      -try to get out of your department into another job in your institution- that’s the only way to significantly increase your salary in higher ed sometimes. Your knowledge might be a great fit for the government/community relations, architecture, or engineering departments.
      -teach a class or two to increase your income.
      -take on research to increase your income.
      -do consulting on the side. I don’t know what that looks like for urban planning specifically, but I bet smaller communities or niche areas could use a consultant rather than hiring a FT urban planner. That gives you extra income and if it goes well enough that’s your whole job.

      Stay strong!

  33. Corporetta*

    I’m thinking of going back to working in market research (either third-party or in-house). What are the prospects, and what skills should I brush up on?

    1. Aitch Arr*

      Depends on what type of research.

      In Tech Research, a couple of the big names are hiring (e.g., Gartner, IDC) and at least one is laying off (Forrester).

  34. newlyremote*

    Hello! I am graduating this weekend and starting my first post grad job next week. My job is fully remote, and while I’ve been in communication with my new job to get payroll set up, I haven’t heard anything about what exactly I’m supposed to do my first day, in terms of getting on a zoom call or onboarding. When should I have this information? Should I reach out today, sometime next week, or wait until I hear from them?

    1. Bruce*

      I think you can ask “Hi, what should I expect for onboarding?” If you are starting next week I’d think they should at least tell you when they will give you the instructions.

    2. Roland*

      I would send an email today. Do you have a firm start date? If it’s next Monday, I might call Monday morning. If it’s later in the week, maybe give them a little bit more time to reply. But this is definitely info that you should have by now no matter what day next week you start.

    3. Penguin*

      Definitely send an email today and ask about onboarding zoom calls, technology access (computer and email / instant messaging). You can email HR and your manager (such as if you have their information from during the interview process). I had one remote on boarding that was well organized and communicated in advance and at a second remote on boarding job I was just shipped a laptop and basically figured it out. You may need to dial-in to a video call or a telephone call with their personal device that first day just because it always seems to be tricky to get access to your company login right away. Good luck and congrats on graduating!!!

    4. HonorBox*

      Congrats! Best wishes as you start your new job.

      Send an email today, to both your manager and HR (if you’ve met them). Just something like, “I wanted to check in and see what to expect for any scheduled meetings for onboarding next week. Thanks!”

    5. kalli*

      Usually IT or your direct supervisor will let you know your login details and anything else you need, but sometimes they do weird things like set up your email then email it to let you know, instead of emailing you somewhere you can access it. Either it happens on the first day, or over the week before, and it may be affected by whether they’re providing a computer (which they should, but don’t always) and when HR are done putting you in the system for payroll.

      It would be fine to ask whoever you’re talking to about onboarding the next time you’re in touch with them, or reach out a couple of days before and ask.

  35. Bruce*

    Shortly before my employer was acquired by a bigger company one of the managers was quietly fired, my boss told me that it was because he had been relentlessly sexually harassing a woman who worked for him… I was very surprised since it was a small company with an overall good vibe, but he’d been very discreet about it. A couple of months later a group of us were visiting the company that was acquiring us, in the lobby we saw this guy… he took one look at us and turned pale as a sheet, looked around in panic and exited immediately. He knew that we knew.

    1. Bruce*

      I meant this as a reply to the question about evil people getting their comeuppance, to be clear…

  36. Dr. Doll*

    How long does one wait for a candidate who one is offering a job to RESPOND to the email/voicemail/text message? 24, 48, 72 hours?

    1. The Araucana*

      If I were the hiring authority, I would hope within 24 hours, but expect 48, and attempt to re-contact at 72 (two ways: voicemail, text and/or email depending on previous communications).

      If it went beyond 72, I’d probably move on to my next choice of candidate.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      A day or two to consider the offer is reasonable. Did you give them a deadline? If not, you might want to follow up indicating you need to know if they accept by [insert date/time.}

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d give a little more slack offering on a Friday (in terms of them getting back to you over the weekend), but I think 48 hours is fairly reasonable to expect a reply back.

    4. ruining my life*

      were they expecting your offer? Are you sure they got the message? I’d give them 48-72 hours, then try contacting again.

    5. Dr. Doll*

      Well, sigh, never mind. They were stalling because they were waiting for another offer and took that one.

  37. YayMe*

    Not really a question but I’m proud of myself for asking to be taken off a certain task at work. It’s a task I’ve done in the past, and it always caused my anxiety to flare up. I basically had to collect numerous forms from outside sub contractors, combine, and then send into the City. Everything would have to be collected and turned in by the 5th of each month, and the last week and first week of the months were filled with stress and anxiety for me because of this. I thought I could handle it, but turned out I was wrong. So I went an email to the Manager in charge and asked to be removed. He had no problem doing so I can already feel the stress melting away. Of course I felt like I was going to be sick while sending the email but it all worked out!

    1. PMaster*

      Good for you! I hope you’ll be able to help the next person learn the process and get around some of the pain points.

  38. Annony*

    Neither way is inherently bad. It generally depends on staffing level, how much overlap in responsibilities there is and how much work they have. If there are a lot of people with overlapping responsibilities and a high work load, it may be better to contact the manager who can then assign the task more equitably than if everyone contacts Jane because she is highly competent and has trouble saying no. If Jane is the only person who does that task, then it can be a waste of time to go through the manager first.

  39. Advice needed*

    How do you tell people that you just don’t have the time/ energy to help them with very real systemic problems within your industry/ company. I am one of a few visible minorities in a mid level leadership position at my company, with access to higher level leadership and I have lower level people coming to me to help them with events and things that are meant to bring more diversity and inclusion to our industry/ company but I am just burnt out. Getting to where I am and doing a lot of it remotely while dealing with other personal things has left me in a position of having no energy. I go to work, I do my job, and I go home and do nothing. I am taking steps to address my mental health but right now just going to work to do my job and nothing more is taking everything I have. I need help with how to tell someone, that yes there panel/ event/ job fair/ etc for first generation college students/ POC folks/ Women/ Queer folks is very important, but I can’t help right now. That yes our company should be willing to spend money/ sponsor events at schools/ groups that focus on these groups of people and yes our company should do more too make them feel welcome and address the barriers causing folks in these groups to leave before they get to a level of leadership , but right now I don’t have the energy or bandwidth to be the one to help them with that.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      “I’m really glad to hear this is happening–we need more things like this! But to be honest, I don’t really have the bandwidth right now for working on initiatives like this.” You also might see if you can find someone else who IS interested in and able to help out with stuff like this, but who might not be as obvious a first choice as you. Then you can direct people to them: “I know Juno has said she wants to take a more active role in DEI efforts. Maybe you could see if she’s able to help.”

    2. MsM*

      “As you can imagine, I receive a lot of these requests. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to decline this one, but I wish you the best of luck; it sounds like a great event.”

      You can skip the first sentence, honestly; you don’t really need to justify why you’re not available. There’s only so much you can do about people feeling like you’re blowing them off or taking rejection personally.

    3. ICodeForFood*

      What you said in your post sounds pretty good, something along the lines of “What you are trying to do is good and valuable and important, but unfortunately I don’t have the bandwidth to help you with it.”

      1. yeep*

        Yes, and feel free to just copy and paste from one group to the next. Do not expend emotional labor customizing your response for every request.

  40. No fish (yet)*

    My workplace’s “return to work or you’ll have to go to hotel desking” initiative shook out in my favor and I was assigned to move from a cubicle into an office. Yay! A door!

    But the office shares a wall and apparently a section of the ventilation system with the kitchen, so for about half the day on a busy day it smells like other people’s lunches. I’m having flashbacks to when my diet used to consist primarily of Lean Cuisines.

    I hear from my buddy next door that they are not able to adjust the vent situation. Fortunately people are pretty polite about not cooking anything too smelly, but I wish there was a way to mitigate the smell a little bit. I do run a fan and open the door when I can, but is there something I could get to freshen up the smell that wouldn’t bother perfume-sensitive visitors–a box of baking soda? A bamboo reed diffuser? I don’t like floral or heavy scents and if I use a scented product I gravitate towards citrus.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Can you put a filter over the vent so that the smells aren’t even making it into your office in the first place? I googled “filters to stop smells from vents” (very technical) and got a bunch of hits, so I wonder if there’s something in there that can help with your predicament.

      I think instead of purposely putting out something scented, you’d want to find a way to use something scent absorbent instead. The baking soda might work, and I know coffee grounds can also help with this, but there may be a more practical solution that isn’t just “loose kitchen granules”.

    2. Ama*

      Look for the kind of air fresheners that just neutralize odors and don’t add any fragrance — they usually aren’t very pretty looking but they work. I used to have to share a tiny home office with my cat’s litter box and I am super sensitive to fragrances (and I’m actively allergic to something in all of the plug in air fresheners) and those worked great. I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the brand we used to buy.

    3. HonorBox*

      The diffuser sounds like a good idea. There are also some odor absorbing things you can find that are pretty inexpensive (I just looked at Amazon).

    4. Admin of Sys*

      If you can put a filter in the vent, definitely try that. Otherwise, If you’re not reactive to ozone, an ozone filter will help and otherwise basically run as a fan.

      1. ruthling*

        Ozone in an occupied space is a bad idea. HEPA filter might help either on the vent, on the return vent from the kitchen, or as a stand-alone unit.

        1. Moo*

          Was going to say an air filter would help. I have one in my house and I know when I bring it downstairs my cooking smells disappear much quicker

    5. Goddess47*

      Talk to the maintenance folk. They will know more about what might and might not be feasible (i.e. no putting a filter over a vent for [OSHA or whatever] reasons). But they may have ideas you wouldn’t know about.

      Good luck!

    6. Joielle*

      I use Zero Odor for lingering cooking smells at home – it has a slight bleach-ish smell when you first spray it but it dissipates quickly. It’s really effective!

  41. staycation*

    On a whim, I took all of next week off. I commute 85 miles roundtrip and have three kids in upper elementary/middle school and the end of the year activities and volunteering has DESTROYED me. I just need to be at home for awhile before the kids are at home for the summer and I don’t get a second alone outside that soul-sucking commute until September.

    My plans right now for every day are:
    -read
    -exercise
    -cathartic cleaning

    I’ll be home alone from 7:30-3 and live in a rural area, so I don’t want to do anything that requires traveling to town. Other recommendations? What would you do with the time off?

    1. WellRed*

      Take myself out for a nice breakfast or lunch or coffee. I did that today in fact, for a whim day off. Otherwise your list is excellent.

      1. Ama*

        I would add that if you don’t want to go out, buy some special treats for yourself for that week. I’ve done a few “I’m just going to stay at home and enjoy not doing stuff” vacations and I like to get myself something special for lunch or some dessert/snacks I like to enjoy during the week.

    2. Janeric*

      The fun suggestions might be a higher priority, but I might make a couple of meals to freeze as a gift to your burned-out summer self.

    3. Autumn*

      I’m also staycationing next week with lots of alone time. I plan to listen to spring birdsong, read, play with the cat, play music, eat exactly what I like, and jobhunt (and I wish I didn’t have to do that last one, but I need to get out). Maybe I’ll make a cake, I haven’t done that in forever and I used to really enjoy baking. Enjoy your vacation!

    4. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Do you have a garden? What about relaxing with a nice drink and listening to music or an audiobook?

    5. NotBatman*

      I’ve found that how I exercise makes a big difference in how relaxing I find it — doing a yoga or karate class on YouTube where I learn a bunch of new moves gets me energized, whereas running or biking on equipment while I watch TV makes me drained. So can you use your exercise time to try out new sports and see if one appeals to you?

    6. AnonAdmin*

      Doing the same next week (asked a while ago) and so far have planned:
      – sleeping
      – clearing my kitchen table
      – getting some badly needed car maintenance done (taking laptop & headphones and gonna watch a movie…) I know it’s traveling, but haven’t got it done due to commute/place not open on weekends
      – do some needed online shopping
      – finally attempt to make some cold brew coffee

    7. Double A*

      When I get time like that I also tackle organization projects that are hard to do with people around, but that is something that helps me feel like I’m getting my brain order so your mileage may vary.

    8. ruining my life*

      when my kids were at home, I’d always make sure to take a few days to a week of holiday time without them. I really needed it. Honestly, the first 2-3 days are mostly drinking tea on the couch and surfing. Maybe watch a movie, if I’m feeling energetic. By Friday I could get up to a swim in the middle of the day. If you have more energy: walks in the sun (if it’s not too hot), reading in a coffee shop, maybe treating yourself to a special pastry? Right now, I’d just watch movies.

    9. Peace*

      Shamelessly binge watch that show you never get to watch when others are home. Sit on the couch in your pjs and eat bon Bons while you do so.
      Order the pizza YOU like but can never get .
      Turn off all noise making devices and enjoy Silence!

    10. radish*

      Do Move with Nicole’s Wake Up Pilates videos. Those make me feel really relaxed. If you do end up going anywhere, mani-pedis are relaxing too.

    11. GythaOgden*

      I use most of my AL for staycations. Actual holidaymaking is pretty expensive and sadly, the war in Ukraine/Russia being stupidly aggressive has put my previous favourite destinations for a quick getaway beyond reach.

      Do it :D.

  42. Mom of 3*

    To work or not to work (outside the home)?

    I’m feeling totally overwhelmed with my responsibilities to the point that I am considering leaving my job, pulling my youngest out of daycare, and doing the SAHM thing for a year. Have I gone out of my mind?

    Im having trouble staying organized, keeping track of everything I need to do for everyone in my home, and I still can’t keep on top of it (ie shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc). My job is thankfully very flexible, remote, and I have a great and understanding boss. In many ways it’s an ideal job.

    I feel like such a failure, I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to do it all, for feeling tired, for not taking better care of myself.

    My income is about 1/3 of our family’s earnings (but our expenses will go down a bit if my youngest stays home).

    I don’t know if I’m thinking straight or not…does anyone have any advice? Has anyone done this and then successfully returned to their chosen field (or not – a big fear of mine)?

    1. BellyButton*

      I just want to say you are not a failure. I don’t know how moms do it. I don’t think it is possible to “have it all” and I think we got screwed by being told we could and should have it all. It isn’t fair to expect one person to manage everything and everyone and hold down a full time job.

      Hopefully some parents will chime in with some advice. Good luck!

    2. WellRed*

      You need to have a big serious conversation with your spouse(?) about what that would look like day to day. Would you ever get “time off” or would you be expected to do absolutely everything related to house and kids(im actually already wondering where they are in all of this right now). Do you have the type of job and skills that it’s fairly easy to step back into the workforce? Can you outsource some of the things you do now ( I rarely step foot in a grocery store anymore).

      1. Ginger Family Med NP*

        Agree with this – if you are both working, then you should also both be managing the household stuff, including the mental load.

    3. Tradd*

      Advice I’ve seen online –

      Go through your expenses with a fine tooth comb and look for where you can cut. Streaming subscriptions, eating out, etc. If you’ll be home, that will mean more time to cook. Can you live on a new budget for a month, only living off spouse’s income to see how things go?

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      You are not a failure! I think before you quit your job, though, you need to do an audit of everything you feel dragged down by and to what degree your partner is a) helping with those things in general, and b) if they can take some of the load off you. I don’t want to make any assumptions about your relationship, but a lot of couples think they’re splitting things equitably and they’re really not, and that’s especially true in households where both parents work. If that feels familiar to you, then it’s worth a conversation with your partner about why that is and how you can fix it so you don’t feel so burned out.

      I would also consider outsourcing anything you can afford to outsource, e.g. if having someone clean your house twice per month is a cost you can bear, is that something that would help reduce your stress levels? Can you get groceries delivered instead of having to shop? Can you supplement your cooking with meal kits to reduce the amount of prep? Etc. Do the math on how much your time and energy is worth: is it more or less than the cost of these things for the hours you’ll get back by not doing them?

      1. Tio*

        There’s a card set called Fair Play that can really help with defining the division of labor in a household. You can get it on amazon. It helps call out a lot of things that people don’t think of in terms of labor

    5. Policy Wonk*

      My kids are grown, but I remember those days and have a lot of sympathy for your situation. I also know people who did this and one year turned into two, turned into five, and they had trouble reentering the workforce. Since your job is flexible and remote, could you go part time? (If you do, recommend you have specific working hours so you don’t end up doing full-time work for part-time pay.) Sending good wishes.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yeah, the year turning into two and then five is the part I’d worry about. Heck, I’d even be worried about a year out of the workforce because of how tough the job market is right now, but I’m also very risk averse so the OP may be more willing to take on that possibility.

    6. staycation*

      Please see my post above where I am just noping out of work for a whole damn week because it is TOO MUCH TO DO ALL THE THINGS. I commiserate with you. I think a lot of moms are feeling this right now, especially with the end of school looming and there being 500 events and celebrations to get through.

      I agree with other suggestions to really sit down and hammer out all of the logistics to give yourself time to think through what life would be like and whether or not giving up on work would solve the problem. A couple of weeks ago I applied for a job that was much closer to my house/kids school thinking that would solve the problem. I interviewed last week and as I look to my staycation next week, three of the kids’ after school activities ending this week, and me giving myself permission to use vacation for school activities the last week of school instead of trying to flex time, I realize that I don’t really want the other job, I want to personally set more boundaries with my time both as a parent and as an employee. I looked externally to set boundaries and then got mad when I felt like I wasn’t in control.

      If you do end up being a SAHM (which is a VERY VALID CHOICE!), if there’s anything you can do to stay up to date with work, like maybe a little bit of consulting/part-time work/serving on a board, that will help with re-entry.

      1. Jen*

        I’m a teacher, and I thinkschools feel pressured to put on all these events because they think the parents want them (and some of them do). Can you just–not do some of them? I doubt it will irreparably harm your kids. And if the events don’t have enough volunteers, maybe they’ll stop scheduling so many. it might be a helpful boundary.

    7. Rex Libris*

      My thought is if you can afford not to work, don’t. One thing you don’t get more of is time, and less money to daycare plus more time with the youngest is a pretty good perk.

    8. Managing While Female*

      Just wanted to say — it’s totally normal that you feel this way. No one has it all together (unless they’re able to afford significant help). You’re not a failure. You’re doing the best you can and, honestly? The expectations we’re held to (be awesome at your job, never get annoyed with your kids/have time to make them cutesie lunches, keep your house immaculate, feed everyone a well-balanced meal, and look amazing while doing all of it) are literally impossible to meet.

      A few recommendations of things that might help:
      -take a PTO day (or more!) for yourself, if you can. Spend at least some of that time doing something that fills your cup (NOT someone else’s)
      -Talk to your spouse about balancing the load. Is there more they can take on? And I don’t mean having them be like “tell me what specific chores I can do.” Tell them “I need you to be in charge of keeping track of the kids’ doctor’s appointments” or “I need you to be the one responsible for groceries.” Hand them the whole area that you need them to cover, and resist the urge to micromanage how they handle it.
      -Watch the Barbie Movie.
      -Be comfortable with the reality that, at the end of the day, some things will just not get done. They just won’t! There will never be a point when everything will be all in order, and that’s okay.
      -Sit in silence with yourself periodically and really ask yourself what YOU need at this time, and go from there. That will be your key to figuring out next steps.

      I hope everything gets better for you! It sounds like you’re feeling really dysregulated right now and need a chance to check in with yourself without the demands of everyone else around you. Give yourself that!!

    9. Generic Name*

      Can your spouse not pick up the slack?? It looks like you are doing everything for the children, house, AND you work full time. And your spouse is…..just working his day job? You are basically working 3 full time jobs. You are not a failure. If your kids are older than babies, consider giving them chores. (Sidenote: I was feeling overwhelmed with house stuff recently, so my husband, unprompted by me, sat down with our teenage son and said, “Look, you want $X allowance every week, but your mom has to nag you to do your chores. She’s tired of doing that. Let’s figure out a system where you’ll remember what to do every day.”) I suggest a sit down with your spouse and explain you are feeling overwhelmed. If you like your job, and want to continue working, your family will need to make changes to support you. If you are excited by the idea of not working outside the home, then that’s a different conversation. I personally stayed home for 2 years after my child was born and we moved states. I just did not want to even think about going back to work after a big move with an infant, so we set up our life so my husband’s salary could support us. When I was ready to go back to work, I went back to work.

    10. not an expert*

      Well for one you’re not a failure. You feel overwhelmed because you’re a human with an overwhelming amount of things to do. You’re normal! Honestly the taking care of yourself I think is so huge. If you can’t stop to breathe everything piles on top of each other. Can you take some vacation time to look at things with some more clarity?

      For what it’s worth, if you have any sick leave left or FMLA, I was able to get a few weeks of medical leave while going through a difficult acute depressive time and it made an enormous difference for me. My regular doctor wrote me a note to take time off and I gave it to HR and got medical leave. If your workplace is supportive think about it. I thought I was being wimpy at first going to a real doctor for feeling overwhelmed, but then I sobbed at the doctor’s office because I was too brain-fogged to remember my emergency contact’s phone number when asked, so in retrospect it was something I really needed. Give yourself room to breathe if you can and then make those difficult decisions after that.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        This is what I was going to suggest. It really, really, really depends on your job, but if you have a role that could be stepped back intermittent FMLA or going half time might be a way to do less at work without loosing your connection to your job. If you think your work and your daycare would allow it, you could also talk to them about taking some unpaid time off (say, a month) and try doing the SAHM thing on a trial basis. IME when you take a break from the work force it’s very difficult to go back unless you have a clear entrance strategy, like joining a new degree program or something.

    11. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      It’s worth comparing everything you do “for everyone in your home,” and everything your spouse does for everyone in your home. Are those lists similar in size and the amount of time involved? If not, it’s time for your husband to do more of his share, rather than you feeling like a failure because you aren’t doing two jobs well (paid and all the stuff at home) while he does one, or one and a half.

      It is very easy for heterosexual couples to fall into a division of labor that has the woman doing much more work than the man, even if the man isn’t consciously trying to get his partner to do more of the work.

    12. Maggie*

      I wouldn’t give up a good, flexible, remote job to stay home and depend on someone that doesn’t even seem to contribute

    13. spcepickle*

      You are not a failure! I have no kids and few years ago (preCOVID) hit a burn out wall so bad I quit my job and lived in a camper trailer in my friend’s yard in Alaska for 4 months. It was AMAZING. You can’t run away from your kids – but give yourself a break!
      One thing to consider (if you like your job) is talking a medical professional about using FMLA. You should be able to find a doctor who says time off is required for your mental health. Take all 12 weeks of FMLA (or if you any leave combine it for a longer break!). It is unpaid time in most states so it will test your budget. See if you like being at home, see if a few months is enough of a reset that you want to go back. If you dislike being at home full time, well look your job is there waiting for you. If you love being at home, you can always quit you job.

    14. Employed Minion*

      I was where you are a year ago and completely burned out. If you’re also burned out, you would be eligible for FMLA. That could be a great option for you:
      1) gives you a much needed break if you take 12 straight weeks off
      2) allows you to test the waters from a sahm and budgeting standpoint. Though I would recommend keeping the youngest in care for a few weeks so you get a Real break.
      3) you can return to this great flexible job and boss, if you decide to.

      I quit my job and didn’t work for almost a year. In addition to the burnout, was ready to move on. The break was wonderful!! But my new job is not ideal and worse in many ways than my previous job. Some days I really regret not going the FMLA route

    15. honey cowl*

      I also have young kids, and while we are both pretty high earners, so I don’t have the same 1/3-2/3 split, I agree that this is more of a marriage problem than a work problem. I know it’s more mental load for you to work on redistributing the labor, but I agree with others here that you can probably reevaluate how much of the home work your spouse is taking on.

      Honestly, you couldn’t pay me to stay home. Taking care of kids is 10x harder than working. And that’s to say nothing of the problem of getting back into the workforce or the danger of losing everything in a divorce or widowing situation.

    16. RagingADHD*

      This “failure” thinking is the stress talking. It’s a lie. Ignore it.

      I was a SAHP for about 3 years when the kids were little, then swapped with my husband to take advantage of job opportunities and he was SAHP for another 3.

      We both wound up with better jobs afterward than we’d had before taking the time off.

      If you can afford to do so, and want to do so, IMO giving yourself that lower stress for a few years benefits you and the whole family so much that it outweighs the risk of job hunting afterward. (Obviously not everyone wants to, and it wouldn’t be a good thing if they had no choice).

      If you can make it work, I think it’s very worthwhile.

  43. BellyButton*

    Cat antics on Zoom: I was just on video with the entire executive team. I had HAD a half grilled cheese sitting next to me. I was turned slightly and talking so I didn’t notice the very bad cat jump up, grab my grilled cheese. She then walked right in front of my camera with it. That got a ton of laughs and then turned the last 15 minutes of our call into bad things their own pets have done.

    Guard your food!

    1. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      Haha! That is awesome. Our kitty just seems to know when my hubby is on a global call and frequently will jump right to the camera or walk across his keyboard.

  44. Slytherin Bookworm*

    I have a resume question. I left Old Job 1 in November 2023 and started Old Job 2 in December 2023. After being at Old Job 2 for about five months, I accepted that the role was not for me for many reasons (micromanaging boss and less than 2 hours of work to do each day being the primary ones). I was fortunate and received a job offer from the first company I interviewed with within a week of starting my search – huge shoutout to AAM for all the advice!

    I plan to stay in my current role for the foreseeable future, but I like to keep my resume and LinkedIn updated in case I need it at short notice. At what point would I take Old Job 2 off my resume? I am keeping it there for now, so there’s not a five-month gap between jobs, but Alison’s advice seems to indicate that it doesn’t need to stay on there long-term since it was a short employment. How do I know when it’s been long enough that having that gap won’t raise any eyebrows? For what it’s worth, Old Job 2 is in a different industry than Old Job 1 and my current job.

    1. Janeric*

      Maybe like a year in New Job? After a year my eyes would kind of glance over the dates and be like “late 2023, first part of 2024…”

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I keep a “master resume” that has all of my previous jobs on it. When I’m applying for jobs, I delete the jobs/bullet points that don’t strengthen my application and just leave the relevant jobs/bullet points. So, my answer is: get rid of the 5-month job when you have better things to put in that space.

      For “eyebrow-raising gaps,” I think having a solid answer to the “what were you doing between [Old Job 1] and [Current Job]?” brings those eyebrows right back down to normal. “I briefly worked at [Old Job 2] but it wasn’t a good fit so I moved on to [Current Job]” is a solid answer to questions about the gap.

    3. Jinni*

      Is five months a gap an issue you have to address on your resume? Can’t your resume read: Old Job – 202x – 2023 and New Job 2024 – present? It’s what I’ve done in the past and there are no questions in interviews.

      I don’t really use Linkedin, but if you don’t have to use month/year, I wouldn’t.

  45. Annoyed*

    Our former Police Chief. I’m a reporter, and he didn’t like what I was reporting. He tried to get me fired two times. I found out he had secretly affixed GPS tracking units on certain officers’ police units to keep tabs on them. I did a ten-week investigation that ended with his resignation. It was delicious.

    1. Choggy*

      I think it’s odd that putting GPS tracking units on police cars is not a normal practice. Of course, all the officers should know they are being tracked. My company has GPS on all company vehicles, and yes, they are tracked for dispatch, idling time, speed, etc.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, at my late husband’s landscaping employer that was SOP. The business or agency can have an entirely reasonable need to know where its employees are for logistical reasons that eclipse any kind of privacy issues while on the clock. It probably also helps in an emergency to know where your emergency responders are so you can find the person closest to a problem that needs attended to.

        Also like Deliveroo/Uber Eats/etc drivers have them to track your delivery. Pizza Hut has just implemented it for our area.

      2. 1LFTW*

        Sure, but they need to be on *all* vehicles, not just those driven by certain officers.

        (I’m guessing that Annoyed was responding to the first question in the comments, about racist/sexist/homophobic/generally abusive jerks getting their comeuppance, and that the GPS trackers were used in a way that was discriminatory or retaliatory.)

  46. ErgoBun*

    I was laid off from my workplace of over 24 years in March. I’m lucky that I have enough savings to take some time to regroup and do some planned travel, but of course I’m thinking about the future.

    I would love to spend a few years working contracted positions, 6/9/12/18 months, and then taking time off again to travel and enjoy life. My retirement savings are in a great place and I don’t need to worry about that. What do I need to be thinking about (other than insurance, which I know will take a big chunk out of my disposable income) to make this dream a reality? Do I need to have a business identity or can I just individually apply? Should I consult an employment lawyer? And, of course, any success stories of people who work this way?

    1. BellyButton*

      I think it depends on the kind of work you do. I did it for about 5 years (when I was in my 30s)- I specifically applied to contract positions- for projects that would typically take 6-12 months. I would then spend 3 months traveling and then find a new contract position. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot easier decision than you have because I lived in Canada at the time, so healthcare wasn’t an issue.

      I hope you can make it work. It was one of the best times of my life and I got to see and experience so many things and made some great friends along the way! Good luck!

    2. kalli*

      If you’re thinking about being an independent contractor or freelancer you’re probably looking at speaking to a) a business accountant and b) a corporate lawyer.

      a) to get your taxes and filings squared away and make sure your savings stay in a great place, and b) to set yourself up as a business.

      Employment lawyers handle employment relationships – a contractor may be deemed an employee, but following advice from the IRS/ATO/similar as to when that happens and what influences it should be enough to get a basic understanding of the difference – if you’re working simply fixed-term contracts as an employee, you wouldn’t need insurance, so you’re looking at being classed as an actual contractor, and being set up as a business is very handy for administration/taxation/invoicing, so long as you have the actual advice to do it correctly, which is what lawyers who set up companies do (thus, the corporate lawyer, aka someone who specialises in business law).

    3. MJ*

      Even if you decide to operate as a sole trader and not setup a business, as a bookkeeper I alway recommend having a separate bank account!

      Deposit any payments related to work into this account and pay any work related bills from it. If you use your personal account / credit card to pay for anything, repay your expenses from the “business” account and put the receipts in a file noting the date paid.

      This will make it much easier to separate out business income & expenses when doing your taxes.

  47. Mimmy*

    I’d like to hear from readers who work for state agencies, especially those who are part-time. I want to see if what I’m experiencing is common.

    TL;DR – Is it common for long-term part-time temps to 1) not get a pay increase and 2) to face a bureaucratic process if they want to convert their role to a permanent one?

    I have been working for a state agency for over 7 years. My position is temporary part-time where I am only permitted to work a certain number of hours per fiscal year. So essentially, I’m a perma-temp lol.

    One of the biggest issues is that I have not received a pay increase in all these years–ever. My supervisor is trying to change that, but her request (with my proposal) has fallen into a black hole. We’re also hoping to increase my hours–it’d still be part-time but it’s more permanent, which would include some benefits and ability to join the union. However, it sounds like converting my position to permanent part-time involves a very bureaucratic process, moreso than in the past.

    It just rubs me the wrong way that the state does not seem to value their part-time temps, especially the long-term ones like me (there are others in my unit). I know of at least one other person who hadn’t gotten a pay increase, and I’m sure we’re not alone.

      1. TX_Trucker*

        In Texas it’s very rare for a part time position to be converted to a full time position. If there is a need for a full-time position, the part time person would be let go, and they would have to apply for the newly created full time position. This is assuming you are a “state” employee. If you are employed by a temp agency, I have seen those positions converted to a full time “state” position at the start of a new budget cycle.

    1. Janeric*

      I think it depends on the state: where I am it’s very rare for part-time positions to be converted to full-time positions, but the part-time workers get the same COL increases and time in role pay bumps everyone does. (Usually there’s a pay bump at 2 and 5 years in a role) I actually don’t know if they get the pay increases for time worked at the state — I think that’s dependent on which type of part time position they’re in.

      Unless the program has a need for a full time position, the position won’t become full time — usually those workers are at a big advantage for applying for other jobs in the department because they know the programs and the processes, but I have not seen a part-time position become full time without a significant change in budget priorities.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      Those both seem very normal to me. Pay increases that happen agency-wide are for full-time and depend on a few things (mostly performance reviews, which part-timers don’t have). The policies are typically outlined in the handbook or HR’s annual updates.
      Making a change to a full-time job (new classification, change in salary for something like a new degree, etc) is a PROCESS and I’ve seen it take 5+ months for an already-established position. Trying to move a temp part-time role to a permanent would likely involve a similar process needing to go through the agency’s ranks plus state-level HR to ensure equity, etc.
      I’d think if your job is temp and keeps getting renewed, you may be able to negotiate at the end of a contract period for additional pay, or your supervisor could lobby for an increase at that time?

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      That seems normal to me. In my state, raises are determined by the legislature (there is an option for one-time merit pay that your manager has to do a lot of paperwork for). Converting a PT position to FT would require a complete reclassification of the position. And you would probably need to reapply for it. I had to do this when going from being a contractor to being a state employee.

      If you want to be FT, there should be state job listings you can check out.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        A lot of these rules are to show that the government isn’t engaging in graft or nepotism.

    4. kalli*

      Depending where you are, hourly part time with a regular schedule can request to be converted to permanent and it’s meant to be accepted unless there’s a very good business reason not to; the process is meant to be far less bureaucratic than some systems make out.

    5. GythaOgden*

      UK-based but (1) yes and (2) yes.

      In reverse order — (2) Hiring in the UK public sector has to be open and transparent. It doesn’t matter whether the internal candidate is in a very good position, but it does have to be handled by the book.

      (1) is because you’re being paid by the agency and they are in charge of your pay and benefits. If you wanted a raise or they wanted to bump up your pay, they’d have to negotiate extra from the client you’re working for. That can be difficult.

      Ironically when I went temp to perm I was paid a penny (£0.01) less an hour than when I was with the agency. The discrepancy disappeared with the next scheduled pay rise (pay is set rigidly by the government here) but it was enough to make me think carefully about converting to permanent.

      It’s generally to do with the responsibilities the client employer has to their role as stewards of tax money and that will therefore have a knock-on effect on what the agency can do for you. I know the NHS as a client was in a position to bargain my role down to 5 hours a day from the normal 8 because of their own budgetary constraints and business needs, so yeah, the employee can feel a bit like a pawn being pushed around. But to be frank, the ultimate deciding factor is funding from the government, the need for transparent hiring practices and concerns that affect the operations of both agency and client, so yeah, it can definitely be frustrating but it’s not unusual.

  48. Hannah*

    I work for a very large company that is relatively flat in the hierarchy – so long as I deliver what I need to for my team, nobody is really looking our way. As a senior manager, I get tons of vacation time. But my team of 2 staffers are relatively new and don’t have a lot to burn.

    We just came off a huge project and I already see the next one coming down the pike. The team is exhausted and I worry about us being able to handle it all. But in the meantime, we are in a lull. So I told my staff to just not show up* next week, I’d cover it if anybody asks (they won’t) and don’t log the vacation time.

    Yes, I know that isn’t super ethical. But at the same time, it feels like I’m taking care of my staff in the way they deserve be taken care of. Does anybody else see it that way?

    *metaphorically, we all work remote.

    1. oof*

      If my manager did that, I’d certainly feel seen & my work appreciated. Can you ensure that this won’t get back to other employees?

      1. Hannah*

        Absolutely! The fact that literally nobody will ever know is both empowering and a bit scary.

    2. NotBatman*

      I felt appreciated when my supervisor told us she wouldn’t notice if none of us happened to come to work the day of the solar eclipse, and assured us our other work was up to par. So I agree about keeping it on the down-low, but think your employees would appreciate it.

    3. Achtung, Baby*

      Absolutely. My manager has done similar things for my team in attempt to help us avoid burnout – told us to quietly work an extra day from home, or take an afternoon/extra day off without logging it. I don’t really see it as unethical – you’re helping your team be happier and more productive in the long run.

      1. WellRed*

        My manager has done this and I even have generous time off but it was a “bonus” for taking on a travel assignment she had to back out of and she felt horribly guilty (she needn’t. I mostly like work travel).

    4. not an expert*

      You could call it “professional development week” no specific projects, but everyone is doing self-guided professional development. They’re still “working,” but not required to be at their desks and not required to show you what they chose to do for their own development. Maybe nobody asks but it gives a nice go-to response for co-worker friends on other teams if your team members feel weird about saying they’re just not working that week.

      1. not an expert*

        To be clear it would still be their own free time, just with a nice title :)

    5. PotatoRock*

      You know your industry; a week would be a long time in mine, but the general concept – unofficial comp time – would be very normal. And I have always appreciated it when my manager has been able to be “hey, get out of here”

      1. Double A*

        Yeah, it sounds like they were putting in those extra hours that you’re suppose to when you’re salaried, this is just the employer actually living up to their side of it (that is conveniently always forgotten) that when there’s less work, salaried employees can work less. This is just untracked comp time.

        1. Hannah*

          Ok, I’m glad to hear I’m not doing something radical here!

          And yeah, a week is not a problem. It’s a company where bigger chunks of time are more the norm than the random day off here and there.

  49. Generic worker*

    After more than a year of handling the program solo, I’m finally getting a new boss! Does anyone have any advice on how to transition back to an individual contributor after spending time making high level choices about long-term program direction etc?

    This is also a small thing, but I’ve heard that my new boss can be a little sensitive, I’m going to need to hand off several projects at a vital inflection point and I’m looking for scripts to say “Please let me train you on this and please don’t sink my last year of effort.”

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Can you frame it as project hand off and not training, if what you’re worried about is that “training” will somehow upset them because they know how to do their job, etc.? i.e. “Let’s set up a transition meeting for each of these projects so I can catch you up to where we’re at and what my next set of actions was going to be.” Or is it actual formal training, like you have to show them how to use the Finance system or something like that?

      1. Generic worker*

        Yeah, it’s like we do financial management for a llama grooming organization, and they have a lot of experience with llama grooming and minimal financial management experience — they’ll know all the ways someone can groom the neck and how to safely restrain a llama during grooming, but they won’t know how to set up the system to accept a neck grooming protocol new llama restraint system. Our job is 100% the system and 0% actual llama contact, but llama expertise will be extremely useful.

    2. BellyButton*

      I don’t have any advice for your first question. For the second part- I would highlight the projects that are in a critical stage with the length of time until they are past it and ask “Would it make sense for me to get these projects past this, before handing them over? It would give you time to get familiar with the other projects and I could also train you so that when other projects get to the critical stages you will be up to speed.”

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      For your second item, I would make it less about them (or you) and more about the projects.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      There was a previous post here “how do I adjust to not being the boss anymore?” from January 28, 2021 that might have advice that will work for you.

  50. DJ Abbott*

    Advice on how to not be annoyed by an inconsiderate coworker?
    She’s been here much longer than I, and recently transferred in to my department. She didn’t seem to have much to do in her old position, and has always seemed like a nice person.
    But she has entitled ways that make me feel disrespected and angry. She’s the only person who doesn’t use her badge to get into the office, expecting me to stop what I’m doing and buzz her in. Even when I’m on the phone with a client. She’ll use the printer by my desk, making me wait till she’s done, when there’s a perfectly good unused printer by her desk.
    My annoyance with this is affecting my mood and stress level, and I’m afraid I’ll get snarky. I can’t go to the manager because coworker is a favorite and I am not. The manager would dismiss it and add another ding to my next review.
    How can I get past being annoyed and stressed by this?
    Thanks!

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think the printer thing is probably annoying but not something you can do about it, so I’d just ignore it (or start using the printer near her? which I realise is more of a walk, but would you rather spend the time waiting for her to be done or getting a short stretch in?).

      For the badging in, I would 100% just ignore her. Sorry, I didn’t see you there, Arabella! Sorry, I was on the phone, Arabella! Sorry, I was in a meeting, Arabella! Unless you’re the only one who can let her in, in which case I’d still ignore her while I’m actually indisposed because it’s rude to interrupt. If she doesn’t want to wait, she can bring her badge like everyone else.

      1. NotBatman*

        This. Be polite about it, but go “one minute Arabella, I have to finish writing this email” and then finish the email before you buzz her in. If it takes 5 minutes, it takes 5 minutes — she’ll learn that asking you for help isn’t worth it. I think that one is solvable, even if the other annoying behaviors don’t rise to the level of being enough to comment on.

    2. Ama*

      Have you actually said to her that she’s not doing things the standard way that would be expected in your department? Next time she wants you to buzz her in say something like “just so you know we all just use our badges to let ourselves in instead of buzzing.” And with the printer it’s worth checking that her computer got set up to the printer closest to her desk and that she knows how to switch to that one.

      Since she’s new to your department it’s easy enough to approach this from a “oh you wouldn’t know this since you’re new here but this is actually how we do things here” kind of way.

      1. pally*

        Along these lines:

        Next time she asks to be buzzed in, ask her to verify that her badge is working properly to allow her access to the office. Then once that’s established (i.e., no issue with her badge) then hey, she’s all set to do this on her own. Maybe even say something to this effect.

        And if she continues? No need to respond in a timely manner -at all-when she wants to be buzzed in.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        No, because she is a manager favorite and I am not. She and management would consider me to be the problem.

    3. HonorBox*

      Can you start to see this as an observer versus a participant? It doesn’t change the fact that she’s inconsiderate, but you might be able to fictionalize this and see her as a Michael Scott type character versus someone who is annoying to you.

      I would absolutely ignore her requests to buzz her in, though. You don’t need to drop what you’re doing to let her in. That’s actually something I might raise with a manager since it could be a security issue.

    4. Ms. Norbury*

      What have you already tried to get her to stop? How does she communicate with you in general – is her vibe more clueless entitled, or more passive-aggressive entitled? Is there any chance she is unaware that those behaviors bother you?

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I think she’s oblivious and entitled. There doesn’t seem to be any malice.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        I did say something sarcastic once, and next time she used her badge. But now she didn’t use it again.
        Can’t go any farther with sarcasm or direct communication, or they’ll see me as the problem. I’m starting to realize the real problem might be our unprofessional manager who plays favorites.

        1. Ms. Norbury*

          Yeah, you manager is definitely a large part of the problem, here. That means you can’t count on them, but it really might not be hopeless. Especially if you’re not detecting any malice or power play angle from her, there are a few things you can try:

          – about the badge thing: if you’re busy, don’t immediately stop what you’re doing to buzz her in. I don’t suggest leaving her waiting forever, but a few minutes should be fine. Follow up with “Sorry (you don’t have to actually be sorry), I was busy doing X”. If after a few times she keeps doing it, say “You know, (coworker’s name), I’m sure it’s incovenient for you to wait for me to buzz you in. You should keep your badge in your bag so that you don’t have to wait.” Try to say this with zero sarcasm and a tone of genuine concern.

          – about the printer: next time it happens, with the same tone of kind concern, ask if there’s something wrong with the printer by her desk. If you’re willing, offer to help set it as default in her computer, or direct her to someone who can do it. She might say she prefers yours for whatever reason. Depending on the kind of person she is, you can try saying “I’m sure you don’t realise it, but I can’t work while you’re using this printer and I really need to do X. Would you mind trying to get used to yours?” or just filling this fact as “coworker is weirdly picky about printers”.

          This might work or not, but apart from these issues, it feels like you’re a bit at BEC stage with her. Is she otherwise ok as a coworker and decent at her job? Because even though these things you mention are legitimately annoying, they’re somewhat minor. I’d consider if they’re not a reflection of frustration at bigger issues with her and/or the company.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Thanks! I was at BEC stage with her today. Had to do some CBT breathing to stay under control.
            That’s one of the things I’m concerned about, because I’m normally calmer and more supportive.
            It seems to be the manager. I can’t trust her. She came in new asking questions about my work and acting friendly and sociable… then gave me a bad review saying I was uncooperative. She gets her social needs met at work and wants us all to be friends (she has said this). Her favorites are the ones who spend time socializing in her office. I don’t know what she really thinks of me or what she’ll do next, and it makes me anxious. As well as not being able to take small problems to her-she always dismisses them.
            This is a good job and none of the people are really horrible, so I don’t know if it’s worth it to look for something else. If I found something obviously better I would take it, but all jobs have problematic people I would have to deal with.

          2. DJ Abbott*

            I did ask her about the other printer. She said she uses both, like it’s no big deal. Sigh…

        2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

          I think you have a manager problem more than a coworker problem. We had a situation where a few people would regularly come back from lunch and buzz to be let in at the loading dock because they didn’t have their keys and didn’t want to walk to the other side of the building to the main door. It was really frustrating the person responsible for handling deliveries. Her manager talked to the manager of the main slackers who got them to stop. After that, if it started happening again, an e-mail would go out to the whole library reminding them that it was not the delivery person’s job to let them in (they had many other duties besides the loading dock), which seemed to be enough to fix the problem again.

        3. Ellen Ripley*

          Is your manager really micro managing down to the level of monitoring all employee conversations? If not, I don’t see why you can’t say “hey, we badge ourselves in in this department. Can you please do that from now on rather than waiting for me to buzz you in? Thanks!” to her even if she is more favored by your boss. Don’t be snarky or sarcastic, be sincere. If she is just oblivious and not being intentionally rude, I really doubt she’d go to your boss over this.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Maybe if I just quietly tell her she’s the only one who does that.
            The manager tends to fixate on small things and make them into a big deal. That’s one of the things she did when she was learning about my job and giving me a bad review. She had asked me about accepting a financial document, and I told her the payment manager determines that. Then she got all mad and said I was uncooperative, and brought it up again in my review. I can just imagine her doing that with this.

    5. Goddess47*

      For the badge thing, you could offer to put in a report that her badge seems to only work intermittently and turn that into whomever manages the security system. That’s a security issue in the making and if there’s a way to loop in the security folk, I’d try that.

      A not-so-innocent ask to the security folk on “what is the policy on not using a badge to get into the office?” If they don’t care, then there’s no help for it. But if they care, see if they can do the heavy lifting.

      Good luck, sorry. I think you’re going to need it.

  51. Relocating for a Job*

    I did all virtual interviews for a position on the East Coast (I’m currently in the Midwest). They gave me an offer and I did a substantial counter offer and they didn’t match that but did come up $15,000 from the original offer.
    So I am going to fly out next week to visit in person to just make sure I want to officially accept the offer. What should I be looking for/asking about during this in-person visit? Also will be checking out the area. I did go to college near this place and one of my parents is originally from a nearby state so we still have family and friends in the area. My parents currently live in the Mountain West so I’ll be moving further away from them if I accept.
    I also currently have a house that I adore/love so I have to make sure this job is worth selling my house (once I move from where I’m currently at, I wouldn’t ever return so this is would be a permanent goodbye). No spouse or kids to worry about, just my cat :)
    I’m looking for jobs because I’m miserable in my current one and basically don’t have any career advancement opportunities at my current company. This new job wouldn’t be a promotion but would put me in a place where there are a lot more options for advancement, within the new company, and also with other companies in the surrounding area.

    1. WellRed*

      Depending where on the east coast, it’s going to be a lot more expensive to live so make sure you are clear on the numbers.

      1. WellRed*

        Also depending on where, it may be an expensive inconvenient pain in the butt to fly to the mountain west. In the plus column, what are some cultural or entertainment things you might like to take advantage of in the new area?

      2. Bruce*

        That is the biggest worry for me, cost of living can be shocking. Check the real estate taxes! On the other hand, my career was definitely helped by working in the center of my industry, you may get opportunities you’d have missed staying where you are. If you do move the time would be when you are younger and not tied down.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Cost of living is key. My expenses in the DC area are significantly higher than those of my family in the Midwest. You need to ensure the pay bump will be sufficient to cover your bills. You should also do a little house-hunting. The pickings are slim in my area right now; you might not be able to find what you want. If you are a religious person, check out the church situation as well. One part of my area is far more conservative in that vein than others. If you can afford it, I’d recommend stay for a week to understand the area a bit, see what different neighborhoods are like at night.

      1. Bruce*

        Oh yeah, I have family around DC… there is a WIDE range in cultural views around there :-)

    3. NotBatman*

      Ask as many people as you can about what it’s like living in the surrounding area, and how it differs from where they lived before. Ask how long their commutes are. Ask what there is to do for fun in the area.

      My biggest regret in taking a job came from moving to an area that was remote, lacked fresh food, had a culture very different from mine, and offered no good housing options. Don’t underestimate how godawful a 40-minute or 60-minute commute can be, and don’t move to a place you’re worried will not accept you as a person.

  52. SarnPoster*

    How do people get the most out of ‘catch-ups’ with senior managers when you’re junior? Or are they always lip service and just to be endured?

    I now have quarterly scheduled catch-ups – short meetings for ‘coffee’ with no agenda – with both my manager’s manger (Elizabeth) and her manager (Polly).

    I’ve already done one lot of the catch ups. Elizabeth is incredibly awkward in a semi-social setting and, from my own experience, is generally terrible at people management (e.g. she hired someone to take over part of my team’s jobs but didn’t bother to directly tell us she’d done this until after they’d started!).

    Polly is better but, by her own admission, doesn’t understand my job. And she’s so senior that I am sure most of my stuff is too small scale for her anyway!

    Everyone seems to indicate that I should be taking the opportunity to ‘raise my profile’ with senior managers, so I try to be pleasant and sound like I’m competent at my job but is there more to this I’m missing?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Just because she doesn’t have an agenda doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Do you have questions you’d like to ask? Want advice on something? Go in with a list of items to discuss. Write it down because, particularly if the manager is awkward, you might forget in the moment what you wanted to discuss. I had an employee do this for her meetings with me, and they were the most productive of any of my 1:1s.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        This! It’s a YMMV with their personalities, but I’ve found that if they don’t have a busy meeting plan, they seem to like it if someone brings up something they can immediately answer. So no trick questions, but can we do something about X? Or do you know what Y means for the company?

        I’m assuming they like it because it helps fill out the meeting!

    2. NotBatman*

      Maybe try showing up to the meeting with a few specific things you’d like to talk about. For example, brainstorm a question for your grandboss, or write out 3 bullet points about your most recent success at your job. That can prevent awkward small talk.

      Also: use this judiciously, but saying “I’m sorry, I have another meeting this afternoon, so I can only take 20 minutes” can work as well to keep things brief. My most recent meeting with my grandboss started with me (truthfully) announcing I didn’t have a lot of time, and she said “I’m happy with your work, so I’ll let you go right here” and that was that. 30 seconds in and out.

    3. Janeric*

      I think pleasant and competent is a great start! When I get face time with a manager’s manager, I try to:
      – Give them the 10,000 foot overview of my recent work
      – Get a bigger picture understanding of what I’m working on, especially if it has pinch points
      – Talk up my manager (especially if we’re not close – their manager saying “Janeric said you really had her back on the Teapot Project” can pour oil on a lot of rough waters)
      – Talk up my coworkers, especially new ones (solidarity.)
      – Ask if there are any changes or new projects on the horizon — a couple of times I’ve been able to pivot this into targeted training and a lead position on the project

      1. Plate of Wings*

        I do everything on this list in mine, except I never think to initiate the last one! Thank you for this tip, I am totally going to do this rather than waiting until I hear something and asking about it.

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

    So there are 2 articles I found on Inc today that just had me rolling my eyes and were obvioulsy written for the bosses out there that don’t care about their employees. The first one was titled It’s time to make Hush Trips a fireable offense. (I will link in a a reply). And I agree that there are problems with working remotely and tax implications, but the tone of the article was just annoying and very much toxic micromanager boss like.
    But what really stuck in my craw was one of the other INC articles linked “What to Do About Your Lazy Girl Employees”
    1. First of all the term “lazy girl” is just annoying. if you are working age you are not a girl and why are they only saying one sex is lazy? Where’s the lazy boy workers?
    2.the whole premise is Work-life balance is the “holy grail” but it doesn’t lead to rewards. The first sentence of the article is:

    “I’ve been seeing a lot about “Lazy girl jobs,” which are well-paying jobs that allow for so much flexibility, someone doesn’t have to work too hard. It’s all about focusing on work-life balance.” and then goes on that bosses should “explain” that the hours worked makes a difference in their income,” but yet “Paychecks aren’t everything” ??
    I will link it below too. I would love some other perspective. I know Alison might not be able to comment or write about this, since she does often write for INC. They might not like her contradicting her other writers.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I think the article makes some good points about some legal issues if you stay too long in a particular location, but saying it should be a fireable offense is a bit over the top a response.

      2. Tio*

        I honestly don’t see much wrong with this article. and at the end they say “consequences, up to and including termination.” which… is pretty reasonable. They don’t say “fire anyone the first time they do it” or anything.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Not to mention the liability of losing work equipment, or the distractions of being somewhere else while supposedly on the clock. I have to be available for short notice things during the normal 9-5 day, and I’m not honestly going to put the benefits I get from working from home in jeopardy so I can go to a fun place.

      3. Hyaline*

        My response to this article when I saw it was that maybe a more interesting topic would be “tax laws are out of date for new economic and work conditions and generally reality, time for legislative change” rather than “managers should punish people for stuff.”

    1. cubone*

      My local news had an article on “lazy girl jobs” a while back (I also hate everything about that term), and they tried to combine it into some kind of millennial/gen z takedown as well.

      They interviewed (anonymously) a Gen X manager who said she gets frustrated with her younger employees because when she books a meeting with them, they’ll decline because they have a conflict (the article specifically included examples of the conflicts as: “other meetings or work to do, a scheduled appointment, or a lunch break”). Whereas the manager (in her own words) would cancel those things immediately if her boss requested her time.

      all I hear is that your employees are better at time management than you.

      1. Justin*

        Wow, I assumed the examples would be like, “lunch with friends” or something. Other meetings? What is the point of a calendar if not that?

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I’m GenX and annoyed by how terrible many people seem to be with checking calendars and time management. Sure I move my lunch for meetings, but I do judge the scheduler for that (unless it’s the only time available and we need it that day).

          I keep having to choose between meetings because I’m double booked regularly.

          Also, who is this woman? Aren’t all us GenXers supposed to hate meetings?! (I usually do!)

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        That’s just obnoxious to be like “You must cancel all your existing appointments at the drop of a hat, because my last-minute appointment is the most important appointment.” I mean, if it’s an emergency, that’s one thing, but if everything’s an “emergency,” then nothing is an emergency.

        1. IT Manager*

          I’m a manager and I have 16 direct reports and dozens of ppl under them. I also have meetings on my calendar 40+ hours a week.

          So if I, the manager, need to meet with one of those folks and there is a window on my calendar, that’s when we’re going to meet. Please free to tell me what other conflicts you have so that I (again, your boss) can prioritize my meeting against something else you are trying to cover. But don’t decline my invites.

          And of course, my boss has the right – and the broader context and visibility- to do the same thing to my calendar. This is not about work-life-balance but about work prioritization.

      3. Lazy for this!*

        I have turned being lazy into such an asset for my company. I don’t want to spend time every month doing tedious processes manually, so I set up automated systems that do the same thing in five minutes and that can be easily repurposed. That’s great for the company. I don’t want to spend time and effort solving problems, so I find ways to spend less time and effort preventing them. That’s great for the company.

        Laziness is the parent of efficiency!

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

          Exactly! The article says “if you have multiple employees, the ones who opt for the “lazy girl” approach won’t perform as well as those who put more into it. And you don’t need to feel guilty or worry about promoting and rewarding those who perform better.”

          Like why wouldn’t you want to have employees who can get their work done within business hours.

      4. WantonSeedStitch*

        Huh. I’m an Xennial manager. When I book meetings with my employees (of any age), I look at their calendar and mine and find a time when we’re BOTH free. Is it that hard?

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I’m a Gen X’er, and I’ve worked with Boomers, Millennials, other Gen X’ers, Gen Z’ers. I’ve never in any workplace (even with a couple of managers who weren’t great) had a manager say “I expect you to cancel all your existing meetings if I schedule a meeting with you.”

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          If you’re using Outlook, there is Scheduling Assistant right there in the top menu.

    2. Justin*

      I will not defend the term “lazy girl” but I wonder if it’s the name of a tiktok trend or something? Like “girl breakfast” was a while back.

      I do not know, I am 37, I do not tik tok.

      That article is just poorly written. I think there’s a smidge of truth if explained better – “you need to meet your obligations and if it is your goal to advance then sometimes you do a bit extra, and ideally you find a job that will reward you for doing so.” But that’s not how it’s written.

      1. Managing While Female*

        Yeah, it was a TikTok thing a while back. It’s basically a remote job that pays well and has minimal responsibilities.

        Inc. loves to take these TikTok trends (which aren’t really trends, they’re just content that someone has created that others have latched onto) and write about them like they’re A THING when they’re not a thing.

        1. Double A*

          I’m 40 and I don’t tik tok because I’ve already been an early adopter of every other social media platform and as such know exactly how they are going to burn and screw you.

      2. Tio*

        I think they’re going for the whole “girl math/girl dinner” Tiktok vibe. I think that article’s way more annoying than the first one though (hush trips). Didn’t seem to have as much of a point and seemed a bit more sanctimonious.

    3. BellyButton*

      I was just over at Evil HR Lady and she posted a link to it! No comment from her, but she did link to it. I just read it. I hate the term “lazy girl”, it is just another way to punish young woman and the younger generations refusal to be worked to death. To the writer’s credit they did change their language to say “lazy people” through out their article.

      One thing that isn’t addressed- is who is deciding what lazy is. We need solid at potential employees who are happy in their roles and do not want to advance into leadership. As long as they are performing well and keeping their skills relevant and up to date- those are the people who are the backbone of your company.

      I am in people development and currently going through talent reviews with the leaders- this is something many don’t seem to understand. Because THEY are ambitious and high performers, they want everyone to be. But in reality most companies about 5% of their employees are high performers and about 5% of those are considered high potential. Most of any company falls into the solid performer at potential category.

      Can we please stop punishing people for wanting to have a life and for not wanting high stress/high level positions? And can we also stop pretending any of this is new- it just has a flashy name now and people are talking about it. I have been in people development for 20+ years, we have always had these people.

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

        I agree. The article makes it seem like if you don’t have high responsibilities that you are lazy. But I would say at least half of the jobs are going to have low responsibilities. You should not treat a non c-suite job like it is one. especially when you aren’t getting the pay that goes with those responsibilities.

      2. Paint N Drip*

        I wish I could give you a gold star! I couldn’t agree more. Honestly I think the concept of ‘C-suite/bosses are a type of person and expect all employees to be the same type of person if they want to succeed’ is a long-term thorn in the management process and employee experience

    4. Dinwar*

      I don’t think you can blame the authors of the linked articles for the term. They’re using the commonly-accepted term. I mean, I don’t like it either–like “girl dinner” and “girl boss” and “girl math”, it carries with it the implication that this is how girls are supposed to act, and I don’t want my daughter feeling she has to be restricted in these ways. Still, it’s how this phenomenon is named; blame should properly be placed on the meme-makers who coined and popularized the term.

      As for lazy boy jobs, there’s a whole complex history of terminology for such men, all of it with negative connotations. “Slacker” is probably the kindest. Historically these terms directly called the man’s virility and virtue into question. Men are conditioned to believe that their job is their value–they are to provide for their family, and since their job is how they do it failure in the job is failure as a father, failure as a worker, and failure as a man. The body count associated with this view is on par with a mid-scale war.

      As for what to do about them, as long as their work is getting done make them the example employees to follow. I know a project manager who’s in at 8 and out at 4 every day. He gets his work done and gets his hours in, then devotes his time to his hobbies and his family. He is also the one everyone points to in terms of how to manage schedules, how to organize documents, and how to run a project.

      Instead of calling them “lazy girl jobs”, the idea should be that the best workers are focused, balanced, well-rested, and efficient. The “lazy girls” are the ones that have the reserves to be agile when necessary, which is a direct benefit to the company. They are also far less likely to make mistakes than someone who’s stressed out, overworked, and working 12+ hours a day–and mistakes cost time, money, and reputation. And it’s just more pleasant to work in an environment where everyone is focused, efficient, but relaxed than it is to work in one where everyone is frantic, stressed, and on edge. Given the shift in worker priorities these days, that’s a way to attract top talent.

  54. Dinwar*

    Any advice from men with wavy hair bordering on curly for how to grow it out without looking unprofessional?

    I’ve been in the field for years, and haven’t had time to see a barber in forever. Now I’m transitioning to more of an office-based role, and decided to lean into the long hair rather than chopping off six inches or so. Partially this is because for the first time in my adult life I’m in a position where I don’t need to worry that anything loose will get wrapped around a drill rod and get me killed.

    I know several guys that have grown their hair out, so long hair itself isn’t considered unprofessional. However, I’m at a stage where it’s too long to be considered short, too short to put in a ponytail, and wavy enough that it’s a pain to keep looking neat. Plus it’s a redish-blond color, and I’m two shades darker than Caspar the Friendly Ghost (seriously, they have trouble taking my picture in full sun because I reflect too much), so if I’m not careful I end up looking like a circus clown. Hats are an option sometimes, but not always. They’re considered unprofessional in cubicles, for example.

    If it matters, I’ve got a fair bit of political capital built up. I’m a key person in the program I’m on, so I’m unlikely to be fired for being a bit less than perfectly clean-cut. And I’ve got a reputation for being a little rough around the edges, which honestly isn’t bad–the clients and regulators I’ve worked with have mostly worked in the field, so it’s a way to say “I actually know this work, I’ve done it”. I just need to get past the Bozo the Clown part!

    1. MsM*

      Not male, but do you have enough to do a half-ponytail/braid? That helps tamp mine down until it’s long enough to tie back fully and/or stop poofing up.

      1. Dinwar*

        I can pull the back maybe 2/3 into a ponytail, but the hair in front still poofs out. Still, may be worth a try!

        1. MsM*

          Pin curls might also be an option for trying to impose a bit more shape, if you’ve got the patience (I don’t).

        2. Lexi Vipond*

          Have you tried putting the top/front part into the ponytail, and leaving a kind of fringe hanging down at the bottom? I feel like that was a fashionable haircut for (UK) footballers for a while!

          Or if it’s long enough you might be able to catch the ends of the top ponytail into a second lower ponytail with the leftover bits from the bottom.

      1. Dinwar*

        I worry that this would be perceived as unprofessional. It’s an option I’d considered (just didn’t know what they were called, so sincerely, thank you!), but I’m on the fence.

        I’d also considered just leaning into the “Dinwar is kind of strange” thing (paleontologists tend to be a bit odd) and make myself a circlet. I do jewelry-making as a hobby, and have worn a few bracelets that I’ve made in the past (simple, thin byzantine or half-Persian 3-1 bands, that sort of thing, nothing showy), so the office is aware of it. I just can’t think of a way to do it that wouldn’t read “cosplay”.

        1. AFac*

          paleontologists tend to be a bit odd

          This geo-related geek confirms that statement. :D

          I am not a curly-haired person, but I am told by other curly-haired people that the right combination of hair treatment and styling products tames curls into manageable chaos rather than frizzy halo.

        2. Slytherin Bookworm*

          I think the circlet would look really cool! As a female, I’m not sure that *I* could wear a circlet and not have it come across as “playing princess” or like I’m in cosplay, but it might read differently since you’re male? You could always start out wearing some bracelets/bands you’ve made in the past for a week or so, and then add the circlet to it, and then once people get used to the circlet, keep or remove the bands.

    2. EmF*

      I’m a woman, but I’m a woman with wavy hair who’s had it shaved and subsequently grown it out. At the stage where it stuck directly out from my head in a halo (but did not look cool), I found gel very useful, in a retro Dapper Dan sort of way. Past that, I invested in a straightening iron, because it looked better when it just hung down. Not the nicest thing to do to my hair, but it worked during that awkward transitional phase.

    3. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      My hair is curly, not wavy, but for awkward phases, a good gel or cream product works well. Also make sure your hair is in good condition—split ends and the like can make you look shaggier than you actually are. Also seconding the Alice band, Bobby pins, or hair jewelry option—these are no longer considered quite as unprofessional or gendered as they used to be (though you would have the best sense of what will fly in your particular office, of course.)

    4. Slytherin Bookworm*

      To some extent, there is always that awkward stage when growing out your hair but know that it’s temporary and most people also aren’t noticing it enough to think “wow, Dinwar’s hair looks unprofessional like that,” especially since you have political capital in your role.

      Jaw clips (of various sizes) are super useful for gathering a portion or all of your hair back. They also have the benefit of having been used for women’s hairstyles for decades, so they’re accepted as part of “business/professional hairstyles” from my experience. Headbands are also great, and you have lots of options there.

      Doing two small braids on either side of your head and then tying them together in the back (think like Legolas’ braids, except you gather the tails of both braids behind your head) is another good way to get your hair out of your face and have it look like you put the effort in to make it presentable, even if the curl means it kind of goes every which way behind your head.

      You didn’t ask about this (so apologies if this is information you already know!), but from having seen my dad transition to longer hair in his 50s and have no knowledge of maintaining longer hair – using shampoo and conditioner for your hair type/texture will make a big difference in how well it styles. It took him trying several different brands to find what worked best for his hair. I (female) have waist-length hair that changes curl/wave texture depending on how humid it is, so I’ve also found that using a hair oil spray on the length and brushing it in when I’m doing my hair in the morning helps keep some of the flyaways tamed, which in turn helps with how professional my hair looks. I usually just buy whatever TJ Maxx happens to have on the shelf whenever I need a new bottle of hair oil. Dad doesn’t use hair oil, but that’s mostly because I haven’t been able to convince him that having nice smelling hair is a perk of long hair! :)

    5. Paint N Drip*

      So hairdressers use these flat clips (alligator clips or duckbill clips) to hold hair back when styling or cutting. I am a fellow glow in the dark ginger-ish person and we probably share that specific hair texture thing. I’ve successfully used the flat clips to just coerce the long hair on top to come together and not be in my face, you can kinda nestle them under the top layer of hair so it isn’t obvious. I think this is a fairly good longer term solution that you can use as needed.
      Honestly the suggestion for a good hair gel is golden, although I find a mousse to be the ideal product. Use a product to keep your hair from being too ‘fluffy’ and as a white person, you pretty much land at neutrally professional. I’d recommend adding any products to DAMP or wet hair, so you don’t end up with a ‘Kim K at the Met Gala’ wet hair look ;) Not sure where in the world you are, but in the USA there is a cheap brand called CAKE (all pink branding and products) that has a light foam/mousse for like $5 that works like a charm, you can find it at drugstores or big box stores.

    6. RM*

      I would comb it into its most professional looking formation (probably either straight back or parted and diagonally back if that makes sense), finger comb with a bit of gel or mousse on your hands (all the hair not just the top) and then let it dry without touching it. Scrunch the crunchiness out of the hair when it dries. Then the hair has been “trained” to stay back from your face which is half the battle for professionalism. A hairpin similar to your hair color behind each ear could help depending on the length. Depending on hair texture you could maybe just skip the hair product.

      Another option I used to do when very straight flat hair was in fashion was to comb it back wet, put on a bandana tightly and let it dry that way.

  55. not feeling happy*

    I’ve been unemployed for a year. The only job I’ve been (tentatively) offered makes about 25% less than my previous salary. I’m 60, and feeling like a complete failure. I will also have to move to a city I’ve never wanted to live in. Any similar stories that turn out well? Words of encouragement?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      that really sucks and im sorry.

      1 – youre not a failure. we cant control the job market or companies hiring processes. i think sometimes because we spend so much of our waking hours at work, we give work more weight in it’s importance to our identity than it deserves. you are a whole person who has value outside of your job

      2-the move. can you set aside some time to start looking for things in your new city that you would enjoy? restaurants? tea houses? classes offered by the city rec department?

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      Good luck, because I’ve been there myself. I’m commuting just over an hour 1 way for a similar reason. I didn’t want to move closer because of the challenge/impossibility of developing new social networks.

      It’s rough finding work when you are in the 60’s.

    3. Hope to be encouraging*

      75% is way better than 0%. This has been an incredibly challenging year for a huge number of job seekers, many of whom are considerably younger than you.
      I made a significant move across the country after being laid off in 2023 and it has worked out. I am just a few years younger.
      You may want to make another post under a different alias asking about your new city. You don’t have to be pollyanna’ish, but most cities have enough good points you can find something to enjoy.

    4. Digital Hubbub*

      You are not a failure! You are a good person who is experiencing hard times. Since you are 60, you must have experienced extraordinary changes over your working career, and dealt with them. This will be another example of that I’m sure , you just can’t see how yet. You say you feel like a failure – that sounds like someone with high expectations of themselves and their work. If that is the case, then you will work out how to do well. I hope you can think of two or three small ways to treat yourself kindly soon. If Alison doesn’t mind, I’d recommend The Latest Kate’s artwork as an antidote to this kind of overall blah/ugh feeling.
      (I am speaking from similar feelings of a total career crash and burn lately, so I am hugely sympathetic to all in this boat right now.)

  56. NotBatman*

    Looking for… maybe advice, maybe support. I’m overworked at my current job, which is part of the reason I’m job hunting — but I’m so overworked that I have no time to job hunt.

    I’m in academia, which means it’s standard to require every job application have multiple written statements tailored to a particular institution, and to make every applicant complete all the paperwork to create a profile with that institution. It can be over 2 hours per application. I’m exhausted, I’m working 80+ hours a week, and I’m horribly ashamed that I’ve let so many job ads go by without applying. Has anyone found a way to balance this, or at least to cope with the guilt?

    1. trust me I'm a PhD*

      I’m faculty in higher ed, and it’s so so so okay to let job ads pass you by. I feel guilty about it too but 1) you literally can’t target every job (this is true outside of higher ed as well as inside of it) and 2) your applications are often stronger when you focus on the ones that you’re interested in, vs. trying to apply to everything.

      I’m coming off an application cycle myself, so I’m going to put a few tips in a reply. Feel free to bypass if you’re not in a headspace for tips and just focus on the encouragement, it’s okay to let job adds pass you.

      1. trust me I'm a PhD*

        A couple tips:
        * Drop what you can at your current job. Especially since you’re overworked/need to get out, it’s okay to do 80%, 70%, 60% whatever, for a short period of time.
        * The only thing really necessary to tailor for an institution is the cover letter. If you’re overhauling your DEI statement, teaching philosophy, admin philosophy, etc, for a specific institution, that’s too much.
        * Also, prioritize jobs that require fewer documents. My first time on the market, I skipped ads that required too much documentation or documentation I didn’t have. No guilt. Some ads will ask for only a CV / cover letter / maybe a teaching philosophy. Go for those.
        * Not sure what area of higher ed you’re in, but the hiring cycle in my field is slowing way down right now. Can you pause applications until it starts back up again in the autumn? That could give you a chance to take a breather and reset.

        1. NotBatman*

          Thank you!!! This is good to hear. I think that the hiring cycle winding down for the year is the reason I’m dealing with so much guilt right now: it’s becoming evident I’m not going to be in a new position this fall, despite my best efforts.

          I do sometimes nope out of applications that are too labor-intensive, but I also fall into the trap of “I can’t stop now; I’ve done so much work already!” But yes, screw the schools that require an entire dang essay about why you’re a good fit for this job. It’s not grad school anymore, and I shouldn’t have to write a new personal statement.

        2. AFac*

          I second both the re-using of documents with minor changes and taking a break in sending in applications until the fall.

          However, if you can carve out a few minutes each day in the summer to refine your standard documents, that will likely set you up to be ready to go in the fall when the hiring cycle starts again.

    2. Justin*

      This is why I left academia, so my advice might be… that?

      (I still adjunct for fun and extra cash, and I still write, so I get my itches scratched.)

      I hated those applications, and was rejected from all of them.

    3. BellyButton*

      ChatGPT. It won’t be perfect, you will still have to edit and make changes, but every time you do it will learn your voice more and will get better. Put in the job posting, the question and ask it to answer. Then you can edit. It will cut your time down. I use it constantly now.

      I will continue to say- AI will not steal your job, but someone using AI will.

    4. Nesprin*

      Nope! Applying for academic jobs is godawful and terrible and will just be a goddamn slog till you’re through to the other end.

      Academic jobs are wonderful once you have them (sort of) but the hiring process is just nightmarish. It’s so so fine to skip postings that are a stretch or a bad fit. If you wouldn’t want the job, don’t apply. If there’s anything off about the institution, don’t apply. If they’re looking for a specific sub discipline, and that’s not you, don’t apply. If they demand you generate something beyond cover letter, research plan, CV, DEI statement and/or teaching philosophy, skip.

      Can you “quiet quit” your current job until you’re through to the fall? Can you take a week off with “a flu” to make some headway? Can you quit and adjunct to get through to the fall?

  57. englishturtle*

    I am suddenly dealing with a visible medical issue; something I can mostly work through, but it is visible and potentially startling or distracting to others. Where’s the (generally accepted) line in terms of when it would be bad enough that I should work from home, or avoid client-facing interactions, etc?

    1. Educator*

      Focus on your comfort, not anyone else’s. People will take their cues from you. If you feel confident being in person and saying “no reason to worry–I’ll be fine. Now let’s get back to xyz” then do that. If you don’t feel confident redirecting the conversation yet, that’s ok too, and you should ask for what you need.

    2. kalli*

      When it actively impairs your ability to do the job, or actively impairs others’ ability to do their jobs, or when WFH is a reasonable accommodation because it lets you do your job better than you could at the current workplace.

      Tics, palsy, frequent bathroom breaks etc. can be ‘distracting’ or ‘visible’ but they don’t often actually get in the way of anything and once people know not to be concerned and it’s your ‘normal’ then it’s just part of who you are. You certainly don’t need to be kept away from clients just because your medical issue is visible.

      It would be easier to answer based on your specific issue and your workplace, so it’s really going to have to be a discussion you have with your direct manager and HR, if you have them. While the general principle of ‘if you can still do your job you’re fine’ is sound, the accessibility of your workplace can change where that line is in practicality, especially with regard to what can be adjusted and what can’t.

    3. Nesprin*

      If you’re contagious, leaking, or unwilling to deal with intrusive questions, stay home.

  58. Angstrom*

    Years ago I accepted a work transfer to a position in a city that had a bad reputation in the company. Turned out to be a great place to live. One had to take advantage of what it was instead of bemoaning what it wasn’t.

    1. HonorBox*

      I LOVE this comment so much. I’ve heard people say so many times in so many places that “there’s nothing to do here….” Rather, there are always things to do. You may just need to actually do something that is different than what you might think you want to do.

  59. Employed Minion*

    I’ve posted a few times about having a difficult time at a new job. Last week, I posted that reviews were coming and I was unsure of how to handle it etc when I plan to leave once I find something new.

    I had a surprise review this week (not a fan of the surprise). They are happy with my aptitude and overall performance. They didn’t mention anything that needs improvement. And I even got a raise!! I guess things are going better than I thought

    1. allathian*

      Congrats on the raise! I hope it helps your confidence. Others clearly think you’re doing well enough to merit a raise.

  60. Jay*

    There’s someone I manage who uses they/them pronouns and I’m having the hardest time getting some staff members to be respectful about it. I can only send so many emails, provide so many resources and talk about it with them privately before it just feels like there’s nothing I can do. I don’t want to stop pushing this issue, I’m openly queer (as is the employee as well) and this is very important to me. I don’t think the three people who are misgendering my employee mean it maliciously, I think they just don’t get it. I’ve provided so many resources that explain pronouns but it’s like such a foreign idea to them. (I don’t want to play it’s an age thing but honestly the three of them who are the worst are significantly older than myself and the employee).

    One of them started calling everyone (clients included) “person” and they always followed it by saying something like, “I had to use person, since you don’t know what anyone is anymore”. I’ve tried to shut that down too, saying they didn’t need to add the comments.

    (They say things like, “The client called the other day and the person said xyz” or “We have a new client, the person’s name is ___”. For some reason I feel like person is a bit… rude? I dunno, it could be my own personal opinion tho. I think I’m reading a bit into it espeically after they add thier comments to it.)

    Personally I think writing someone up for constantly misgendering their coworker is reasonable but HR is pushing back a little, insisting that the employees need more time to adjust. (I should add the employee has been here for about 3 years but in the last year started using they/them pronouns). I really don’t want this to happen and I want to protect my employee as much as possible. They’ve been really good about correcting coworkers and we’ve had plenty of open dialogues about how the change is going/how they feel.

    I also get the feeling some of the ones misgendering think I’m “siding” with the employee since I’m queer. While that’s not completely true (it’s also, you know, common decency!) I don’t want there to be this “them vs us” idea and cause any more rifts. I just wanted people to treat each other with respect, even if they don’t “understand” the idea of using they/them. I’ve been pretty straight forward in my delivery lately, as in, “You need to start using they/them pronouns for ___ it’s what they use and you need to respect that” and I’d like to say you’ll be written up but once again HR is being sticky about adding something harsher to the message.

    1. HonorBox*

      I think I’d go back to HR and ask how much time they feel is necessary. Because a year seems like a lot of time. Far too much time. While I think it can be a little more challenging when you’ve known someone for awhile and there’s a switch in pronouns, I think you can give people a bit of grace the first couple of times. But at a certain point…like within a couple of weeks…we need to use the correct pronouns. Period. So I’d put it back to HR and ask how long this coworker needs to continue to feel bad because people aren’t being respectful.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Huh. My reply got eaten. But the gist of it is the same as HonorBox. How much time would HR really give these same people if they had a coworker with a different name, say due to marriage? Not a year, certainly.

        The bottom line is that they are being disrespectful and petulant – as evidenced by that whole “person” thing. HR just doesn’t want to rock the boat. Whatever steps you take when someone is disrespecting their coworker, do that here. This is not just about pronouns. I bet you wouldn’t have to look hard to see how they treat people in general.

        1. Jay*

          I really like the idea of pointing out the marriage/last name, I’m going to bring that point up, thank you.

      2. Jay*

        I agree, a year is a lot of time and it’s what I pointed out when I first talked to HR (when it had only been about 4 months, I thougt that was too long!) I’ve been gathering instances to bring to HR (as in, tallying how many times I’ve heard/corrected the misgendering) so they can see it’s a pretty consistent problem. I’m hoping that will turn the tides, as they say.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Have you taken this as high as possible in HR? I’ve noticed in AAM that sometimes one needs to bring something all the way to the top and explicitly point out the legal liability caused by not acting to remedy a hostile work environment (which this actually could be, according to current EEOC guidance).

    2. Momma Bear*

      It sounds like they’re being petulant about it at best. I would not focus on the pronouns as much as the disrespect. How much time would HR really give someone to get used to a new name if someone’s marital status changed? They just don’t want to deal with it.

      It’s not about “getting used to”. They are choosing to be disrespectful to fellow coworkers and possibly to clients. You know they have Opinions about it by their other comments. The singular they has been in use for a very very long time so this employee is deliberately choosing not to use it the way they’ve been asked. (The number of times I’ve used “they” in this post does not escape my notice.) What would you do if someone was being disrespectful in other ways? Do that. And thank you for being direct. These kinds of people don’t take hints.

      1. Paint N Drip*

        Agreed. The response is the issue. There is a difference between calling a person who formerly identified as a woman ‘she’ when they are now non-binary, and being obtuse about ALL people’s pronouns. Some people are embarrassed to be corrected and would rather default to not gendering anyone until they identify themselves, but that isn’t what’s happening :/

    3. kalli*

      It sounds like a reminder of the solo they could come in handy – that’s why ‘person’ sounds odd, because usually it would be ‘we have a new client; their name is xyz’, and they’re deliberately using ‘person’ to make a point. This is active misgendering, not just getting used to it, which HR need to be pushed on with that particular coworker even if the others still skate by appearing to be slipping. Like, instead of going ‘we don’t need the comments’ I’d be like ‘if you don’t know, you use ‘they’ like you normally would in that context’ and any pushback would trigger a report to HR so that they’d have the documentation to know it’s not just adjusting.

      At some point you have to stop teaching – continually providing resources and explaining, after a while, just reinforces that ‘this is something you need to be taught about’ whereas by now they should know. It’s at the point where the basic ‘coworker uses they/them’ and moving the conversation along so they don’t have the opportunity to comment or go on should be all you’re doing – don’t give them a platform to keep going, document continued slips (especially ones that feel pointed/deliberate or come with the comments) and look at wider inclusivity measures like allowing pronouns in signatures/on nametags and nameplates, removing or revising unnecessarily gendered policies, updating precedents to be gender-neutral, so as to create the environment you want such that it assists with reminders.

      I’d maybe give HR one more ‘this is not okay and something needs to be done’ talk, but at the same time, you are the manager here – if you have the power to give a warning to a person who is essentially bullying someone because of their gender, you do it and let HR know for the file. If you don’t have the power, you just keep following the process to make whoever does act on it. The key with that is to make sure that your effort is visible to the person affected, which you are, although tbh it’s pretty rare for this to be an ongoing process with lots of check-ins about how it’s going instead of a one-and-done ‘these are my pronouns’ so it’s probably very visible in this case!

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Agreed—referring to a person as “a person” isn’t inherently rude, but it feels rude in this case *because that is how they intend it*. They’re being cute and need to cut it out. Ugh.

        1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          Also imagine all the situations where people get testy about being referred to as their gender—I’m thinking for example “the lady on the phone said” or “there’s some dude at the door”, both of those could be equally rude depending how they’re said!

        2. Tio*

          Also – if they’re thinking hard enough about it to say “person”, which is also an unnatural speech pattern, instead of them, then they can certainly figure out to use them instead of that.

          And I would push back if they said something like “I don’t know what anyone is anymore.” Make them get specific. “Who don’t you know anymore?” “Everyone!” “Why is that? Only one person has changed, and it was clearly communicated. Who is telling you something different?” They probably won’t be able to answer well. After they try, then “Good, sounds like the confusion is cleared up. I’ll need you to respect the coworker’s pronouns now that it’s clearly understood. If you have other questions, come directly to me; otherwise, I’ll expect you to be following this procedure.”

          For HR, can you start hinting/saying that this could become a discrimination issue for the company if the nonbinary employee is not respected?

    4. WellRed*

      If I knew how, I’d link the letter where one employee was, I think, deadnaming another employee and that employee finally had it and turned the tables on them. But otherwise, this has gone on far too long and needs to be treated as a serious work issue, including appropriate disciplinary action.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The deadnaming letter and update are here:

        https://www.askamanager.org/2020/08/my-employee-keeps-getting-deadnamed-by-a-coworker.html

        https://www.askamanager.org/2020/12/update-my-employee-keeps-getting-deadnamed-by-a-coworker.html

        There was also this past letter about an employee refusing to use her coworker’s correct they/them pronouns (update is #2 at the update link):

        https://www.askamanager.org/2021/03/my-employee-refuses-to-use-her-coworkers-correct-pronouns.html

        https://www.askamanager.org/2021/12/updates-the-poor-work-ethic-the-misgendering-employee-and-more.html

    5. Anon for This*

      I had an employee get divorced and go back to her maiden name. It took one of my employees nearly a year to get it straight. (With occasional slip ups for a while after…) Some people are just bad at names. That needs to be taken into account. However, your “person” person is not slipping up – they don’t approve. Document it every darned time and go to HR each month with your file of micro-aggressions and ask if it is enough for a write up yet. Eventually they will have to give in.

    6. Educator*

      Wow, your HR is horrible. If you are in the US, I would remind them that the EEOC guidance documents in this area indicate that misgendering can create a hostile work environment (in the legal sense) and ask them how you can work together to make sure your that these employees are not exposing your company to legal liability.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Also, it is HR’s responsibility to educate employees about how to comply with the EEOC guidance on not creating a hostile working environment by misgendering other employees. It shouldn’t be on Jay and other queer workers to have to continually explain and re-explain their existence to willfully ignorant coworkers.

        1. PotatoRock*

          Make sure your HR knows about the pointed “I don’t know anyone anymore!” type comments – that’s what tips it out of good faith effort on their part. (And on their own, the person quotes provided actually read as slightly corporate jargon but not disrespectful of pronouns to me – but I am coming from a business where people will call people “the resource” from XYZ department, so you want to help convey the overall picture to HR)

    7. TPS Reporter*

      I don’t know if this actually works but I have been in the habit of using they/them or their specific name to refer to everyone. I can see my direct reports doing it more the more that I do it.
      Even if I do think I know the pronouns of a particular person, I don’t want to make assumptions. I also work virtually with so many people with names that are not immediately gender specific.

  61. HannahS*

    What are your favourite little things to make the experience of being at work more tolerable?

    Nice lunch containers make me feel fancy. I love eating yogurt and granola out of a squat glass jar with my little Ikea teaspoon, as opposed to disposable stuff. It’s heavier and less convenient, but it really does elevate the experience for me!

    1. ruining my life*

      For me (older female in engineering): colourful pens. Purple, raspberry, a variety of blues.

    2. WellRed*

      I mostly work from home, but I adore lunch containers and lunch boxes. Also, good office supplies including excellent pens.

    3. Tradd*

      I bring in all my own consumable supplies for personal use (obviously not things like copy paper, etc). The office supplies cheap stuff. So the Pilot gel pens I like, name brand Post It notes in the big size that are lined, my own notebooks. I even bought my own (inexpensive) Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse as they don’t supply them.

    4. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I am with you on the lunch containers! I love the Porter brand.

      Also my lunches feel much more gourmet since I brought in 4 little tiny grinders with salt, peppercorns, smoked salt, and Szechuan pepper. At least one of them tastes great on everything.

      My little bluetooth desk speaker makes me happy too.

        1. Late Bloomer*

          Thank you for saying it, because I was thinking it as I scrolled down through the replies. It’s been over 50 years since that book was first read to me, and about a dozen years since I last read it with my kids, but the delightful, satisfying orderliness of Frances’s lunch is so vivid in my (orderly) mind.

    5. Dinwar*

      A coffee cup with some meaning to it. Like, a cup that came as part of a set, and my grandmother has the rest of the set (same garage sale, I got mine first, she bought the rest). Or the SCP Foundation mug at work (toxic waste is basically a SCP).

      Nice pens. The G2 series pens for most writing in my case. I do a lot of hand-written notes, and you’d be amazed how much difference a good pen makes.

      Small origami projects. I’m currently doing the thousand-paper-crane thing. Each one is about an inch tall, and I keep a container on my desk to toss the finished ones into. It’s something to do with my hands while I’m waiting for the computer to boot up or listening to another meeting that I didn’t really need to be on! (I use my own paper for this.)

    6. Annie*

      Mine are double-wall insulated stainless steel tumblers with matching lids. I’m one of those “always cold” types (it’s drafts from the HVAC more than the actual temperature that trigger the feeling), and hot tea is how I cope when I’m in the office. Hot water is free in the breakroom. Everything else is my own.

    7. Fluff*

      One of those cheap- but nice- bamboo like drawers with dividers. I got them at Lidels. I fill them with many different teas. It gives me a bit of zen when I pick out a tea for the break.

      Sometimes I am in the holodeck asking for earl grey. Other times I imagine warm breezes from South Korea when I pick out a yummy rice tea.

      And of course pens. The pen of the day. The week. But that is a whole weekend topic in itself.

    8. skeptic53*

      Desk toys, especially the screaming goat. The last 4 years before I retired were post-merger with a multi-state entity, the goat really helped with the many moments of anger and frustration.
      https://www.amazon.com/The-Screaming-Goat-Book-Figure/dp/0762459816/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3GJYLW9XHW6WM&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.d9LjjbLrEE_PsvF0-JP0mWXiOXovSl1uEXkgY-zbaLFbckZair1ECtSzJK24ofStnsWGqcS3EB-tMpYbXzSVxD1D-6XqMXeDq6JT8OmCuoPa6l7VADRUelPQVnjZE4lQ7TeNtkgOH2b3b_d4fJG51k9XLDkw-6QFjd9QAscUQtwX-zYWlb59rjxYT_RPME00S90HC7QbLvDC-AijdiGJSR-LhyG4Y-SFaNvXcxFFdp4.-YSwUwW85RhVhW1lFp8CXIjys9Erp94sAlMSgFOht_M&dib_tag=se&keywords=screaming+goat+desk+toy&qid=1715527300&sprefix=screaming+goat%2Caps%2C160&sr=8-3

  62. RosemaryShrub*

    I have a question about hiring timeline in academia.
    I’m at the final interview stage of being considered for an administrative role at a university, and despite hearing about how slowly academia moves (and having experienced a bit of that during previous job hunts) this seems to be moving fairly quickly (ie it’s been about a month, maybe less since I applied). If I were to be offered the role, what sort of timeline is reasonable to expect post final interview given that everything else has moved surprisingly quickly?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I would not be surprised if things slowed down at this point! In my experience, the process of drawing up an offer and getting compensation approved is the longest and most annoying part of the process when it comes to hiring in my non-academic department at a university. It has to go through a central compensation committee rather than just being approved at the department level.

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

      Keep in mind that once you have an offer, thats when things can slow down. HR could be bogged down, background checks needs to be done, etc. It also just really depends on the department and everything. I would say if you get an offer to check in after about 3 weeks.

    3. yeep*

      Faculty timelines tend to be very slow. Staff jobs, it is like any other workplace and just depends on the process. Once I’ve made a decision on who to hire, HR runs the reference checks, tells me how much I can offer, and I make the offer to the candidate. Once we’ve agreed on a number and start date, I tell HR and they run reference checks. Last year I interviewed someone on April 12, made an offer April 17, and their first day was May 1. They weren’t working at the time, so didn’t need to give notice. So it can go really fast!

      Even a few years ago when I had to argue with HR about giving a candidate more and they had to talk amongst themselves over whether they’d allow it, it only took an extra 2-3 days to get an answer from them. Our university has actively worked on getting this process completed faster, though, because we were losing out on good candidates all the time for being slow.

      I say all this and when I got my current role a few years ago, I applied in February, interviewed a month later, and then wasn’t offered the job until July because they were waiting on state appropriations to be finalized before HR would let them extend the offer. Ahhh I love this place

  63. Blue Pen*

    I’m curious to know what everyone keeps in their desk drawers at work—not so much in the way of pens and stationery supplies, but aspirin, hairbrush, snacks, etc. What are your staples?

    1. Momma Bear*

      A can of soup, hairbrush, small toiletries and OTC meds, granola bars, nail polish and remover, tea.

    2. Choggy*

      I have:
      A nail clipper/emery board for those times when I break a nail – have used it
      lint roller – never used it
      Tea bags
      Snacks I like
      Toothbrush/paste
      Floss
      Hand lotion
      Eye drops
      AA/AAA batteries
      Face masks
      Olive oil/vinegar
      Microwaveable soup

      1. Anonymous cat*

        I second the lint roller if you wear dark colors or have pets! So much pet hair….

    3. The basics*

      Advil, hand lotion, lip balm, nail file (for emergency snags/breaks only!), toothbrush & toothpaste, umbrella, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes.

    4. Sneaky Squirrel*

      a mini sewing kit, a nail file kit, USB charger for a personal phone, hairbrush, tampons/pads, a tide-to-go pen, fork/knife/spoon set

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

      Now that I’m doing a quick inventory… I have a lot:
      Hairbrush
      Hair ties and bobby pins
      Can of soup
      Crackers
      My own ground coffee, mug, Kalita Wave dripper
      Starlight mints
      Hand lotion
      Compact mirror
      Nail clippers nail file
      Small travel toothbrush and toothpaste
      Aspirin — we have a very-well stocked first aid kit in the break room but they don’t have aspirin only tylenol or advil
      Contact lens case and small travel saline solution
      Tampons and pads
      Clorox wipes
      Pair of flat shoes
      microwavable heating pad
      water bottle

    6. Tradd*

      Tea, can or two of soup, crackers, Motrin, extra condiment packets, hand lotion. Phone charging cord lives on desk (I steam audio from phone).

    7. Blue Pen*

      For me, I keep a lint roller, my nice office shoes, a Tide to Go pen, aspirin, chapstick, hand sanitizer, hand lotion, Tiger Balm, hairbrush, dark chocolate-covered almonds, and an umbrella.

    8. Roy Donk*

      Chapstick, menstrual supplies, granola bars and a few other assorted single-serve snacks (could be fruit snacks, chips, trail mix, depending on what’s in my pantry when I restock), a few nice notes and cards I’ve received to lift my spirits when it’s a hard day, a Tide To Go pen, ponytail holders, Advil, hand lotion, gum.

    9. Claire de Lunar*

      Painkillers, nail files, stain remover pen, comb, eyedrops, lip balm, hand cream, powder compact, baby wipes, deodorant stick, Lush Whoosh! temple balm. All tucked into a cheerfully colourful zipped pouch.

    10. Honoria Lucasta*

      Aside from the things I carry in my purse (tampons, bobby pins, safety pins, needle/thread, chapstick, lipstick, tums) I keep in my desk:
      Emery board
      Hand lotion (unscented/lightly scented)
      A couple small packs of olives (from Trader Joe’s)
      A pack of little disposable toothbrushes
      A jar of marcona almonds
      A charging cord for my phone
      A stress ball
      A scarf (especially in winter months)
      Altoids
      A pack of chewing gum
      Tide pen

    11. Macgyver*

      For me: Triscuits, twizlers, masks, cough drops, gum, mints, toothbrush and paste, eye glass cleaner, screwdrivers, plyers, utility knife. For my coworkers: Pepto chews, Tylenol, chocolate, hair elastics, cans of ginger ale, Zip lock bags, and a quart of hand lotion with a pump on top of desk. All except the toothbrush and paste are shared as well.

    12. Anon. Scientist*

      My drawer has menstrual products, a bottle of excedrin, a box of separately wrapped crackers (which I have handed out to my staff as needed), leftover takeout napkins, leftover Covid supplies, and a bottle of naproxen. They’re in a drawer that I’ve spread the word is for whoever needs it.

    13. Kristin*

      Basic makeup kit – I bike to work so do a 30 second makeup routine at the office, just foundation, concealer, blush
      Emergency sewing kit in case of wardrobe malfunctions
      Usually some carby snacks
      Advil, heartburn meds, allergy pills
      Workout clothes for lunchtime fitness classes

      They’re reducing our in-office requirement which may mean I lose a dedicated workspace, in which case a lot of this will move from my desk drawer to my work bag (don’t really mind, it’s worth it for one more WFH day).

  64. Aggretsuko*

    I just wanted to say that I finally got a final job offer for a better job today (and turned down the prison). What a relief.
    Ironically, I got offered a reassignment interview at my current employer for the start of next week. I’ll still do it since I’m planning on quitting at the end of next week, but I don’t have much hope there that they’ll think I qualify for what they want. Academia has done nothing but disappoint me and tell me over and over again that I’m not good enough for them, and I’m about ready to say “eff it” and get the heck out. It sort of makes me wonder how it’ll go if I quit mid-process, but at this point, I just want out and to get in elsewhere before budget cuts hit, and they’ll probably take weeks to decide and then pull the position, as usual :P
    If anyone has tips for starting over again in a new field, feel free…I haven’t done that in 20 years!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      No tips from starting over in a new field, but congratulations on the job offer!!

    2. Flower*

      I am absolutely thrilled to hear this, I remember how awful things had been for you.

      I would honestly google your “new field” or “new career” question, I bet there are good articles out there.

      A few things to consider: (1) nobody is perfect. It’s hard, but try not to put pressure on yourself that you have to do everything right at the new place — you’ll have a learning curve and even after that you still won’t be perfect. And that’s ok. Be forgiving towards yourself. I am really hard on myself about everything, it helps to ask myself “would I think (fill in your brain’s negative talk here) about a friend?” (2). Ask for help when you need it. (3). Rejoice! You get to (not have to, get to) remake your life! (4) Be really proud of yourself. Going into a new field is BRAVE. You have courage and you have resilience, having survived a really hard place to work. You are awesome.

  65. Not My Circus*

    I think my coworker ate my peanut butter and lied about it?

    We have a selection of various snack foods and emergency rations in our breakroom. One of my coworkers requested peanut butter, and now we have a two pack of the organic kind that has to be refrigerated. Unfortunately, it turns out that you really can’t mix or spread organic refrigerated peanut butter with plastic knives, so I also brought in a small jar of normal peanut butter. The open jar of organic ended up getting thrown away quickly because someone left it on the counter.

    I don’t eat peanut butter terribly often so I figured the small jar would last me a long time. I didn’t touch it for a few weeks, but then when I went to use it, it was almost empty. I had assumed that my coworker who asked for peanut butter requested the organic stuff specifically (he’s a big health nut) and that he wouldn’t want to eat mine, hence the small bottle. The general attitude in our office is that food in the breakroom is up for grabs unless it’s labeled or obviously part of someone’s lunch (ie in a lunch box or tupperware container), so it’s not a big deal to me that someone else helped themself to my PB. When I saw him next, I said something to the effect of “Oh I didn’t realize you’d been eating my PB, I’ll be sure to get the big jar next time. But can you let me know if you’re using it next time? It was almost empty and I don’t want to rely on it being there if it’s been used up!” and he responded by assuring me that he hadn’t been using it and he didn’t even know it was there, he only used the organic stuff. At the time I just accepted that and moved on but the thing is – no one else in the office eats PB, he’s been seen eating a LOT of PB in the last few weeks, and the second jar of organic had never been opened!

    Again, this isn’t like. a Big Deal so bringing it up doesn’t feel good or necessary, but I also feel very weird that he lied? And it makes me worry about other things because the way he brushed it off is VERY similar to other conversations we’ve had about work things where I had no way of finding out if he was being honest or not.

    I don’t know! What do you guys think?

    1. WellRed*

      Some people lie as naturally as breathing. But you haven’t actually seen him eating your PB so let it go and stash yours in a desk drawer if possible.

    2. Tio*

      Kind of sounds like a panic/embarrassment lie… I’d try to ignore it an just keep the PB in your desk like someone mentioned above.

      1. Box of Kittens*

        I agree with this. Relatedly, I had this happen but with mayo. I used to keep a small jar of mayo in the fridge at work for sandwiches so they don’t get soggy. We hired someone new on my floor and all of a sudden, my small jar of mayo was getting emptied like within two or three days. (It was labeled too, so obviously not a free for all.) I have no idea how someone can eat that much mayo in two days but I just started buying individual mayo packets and keeping them at my desk instead.

    3. TPS Reporter*

      eh you did bring it up to him and he denied. and you say otherwise that having unlabeled communal items in the breakroom are supposed to be up for grabs so you never know who could take some. If you really want to save it then label or keep at your desk.

      I would make it a bigger deal if he lied about something that was a bigger deal, like a crucial work thing. generally keep your guard up around him.

    4. kalli*

      Any chance he just didn’t know the organic one had been thrown out and was just using the open peanut butter without registering the label?

  66. Help! I have a job offer*

    This I suppose is a good conundrum because I have a job offer, but I’m feeling lots of feelings about it.

    I’m feeling mixed feelings because I’m not really excited about the job itself and I can’t get a good read on the work culture. The previous person “had to resign” but they wouldn’t give any more info than that. They did tell me that they don’t micromanage (but since they volunteered that…does that mean they do?) and people have stayed for a long time… but it’s state government, people rarely get fired. I tried to message the person last in this position on LinkedIn and they aren’t active on there.

    On top of that, I got an offer really fast! Same week as the interview. Granted, they are desperate to find someone because the director is swamped with work.

    I’ve been burned by workplaces before and so I’m really hesitant, but the job would give me a big title bump, and some pay bump.

    At the same time, I have a second interview for a job next Tuesday that I’m more excited about.

    My questions are… is the quick offer a red flag? Could I say I have a second interview and would need more time to get back to them on the offer? Would you consider a job for higher pay and title but you’re unsure about the culture?

    1. Glazed Donut*

      The only time I had someone tell me she wasn’t a micromanager was the ONE supervisor I had who absolutely WAS a micromanager. Additionally, “had to resign” could mean a lot of things: needed to move to a different state, won the lottery/a sudden inflow of cash from a family death, burnout, outside of work family things to deal with…
      I wouldn’t read into the timeline of receiving the offer. It will likely take 4-6 weeks before you start, and that’s an easy thing to have ready and launch when they know who they want to hire. The rest takes a lot of hurdles with HR.
      I’d accept the job and continue with the process for the Tuesday interview. You’ll likely have a lot of time before you start to see how the other job process goes and if that results in a better offer.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I would not accept a job if you might reject it in a couple of weeks. Ask for more time to consider; if they don’t want to give you time to consider, that is a red flag.

        1. Momma Bear*

          I agree. Tuesday isn’t that far off and it’s not uncommon to have people interview for multiple roles. Did they give you a deadline for a response?

          I wouldn’t consider the quick offer a flag in and of itself. Sometimes they know who they want and they are ready to make an offer as soon as they find that person. My interview to offer timeline for my current role was not long.

          You might also reach out to anyone in your network working for the state, just got get a feel for the overall benefits and pay structure and vibe (at least where they are).

    2. BellyButton*

      A quick offer isn’t necessarily a red flag.
      I wouldn’t say you have a second interview- just that you need more time to decide. Can you book another meeting with the recruiter or the hiring manager to ask more questions about their culture?
      Earlier in my career I would 1000% take a job for higher pay and title without caring about the culture. Because I needed the higher title to get to where I wanted to go. Now, that I am an exec nope. I care way more about culture.

      So– ask yourself- will the pay raise change your life in any sort of meaningful way? Will the title bump help you reach your goals, will working in a job with that title for 1 year help you get a job you really want, will working a job you aren’t excited about crush your soul/spirit, will working in a so-so or bad culture crush your soul.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      The quick offer isn’t a particular red flag, I don’t think, but you do need to do more digging to figure out the culture. Ask for more time to consider the offer. Reach out to people who currently work there or used to work there and ask open-ended questions about the culture.

      If they are pressuring you to accept the job really fast or don’t want to connect you with current employees, that *is* a major red flag.

    4. Help! I have a job offer*

      Thank you all! So since I got the call in the early afternoon today… I’m going to play a lil dumb and say I missed it and call back on Monday.

      I also unfortunately found out from a friend of a colleague that there’s a huge lawsuit about abuse going on for that workplace, and while my role may never interact with the people accused, I feel really not good about that. Really not good. I will see if I can get some more info and keep buying a little bit of time.

      1. Happily Retired*

        Wow, I’m starting to hear bees buzzing. A LOT of bees.

        Keep your focus on the second interview, and good luck! I think your instincts are trying to tell you something.

  67. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    My research library has finally admitted we need to work on career development & retention for non-librarian, non-union roles, and I have been tapped to work on this. Does anyone have recommendations for things I could read to get started?

    1. AusLibrarian*

      I’m in Australia, and was part of a working group looking at a similar topic at the beginning of last year. One thing we were looking into was job shadowing. I left that job before the work was complete, and know nothing of the outcome, but do remember that in certain circumstances studies showed that shadowing was beneficial, especially around exposure to different kinds of library work to help develop career ideas/paths.

      In Australia, retention and development is an issue in both professional and para-professional library roles, so there might be some literature on the ALIA website of interest (ALIA is our version of ALA).

  68. beep beep*

    By coincidence, I’m traveling to a vacation destination a short train ride from the office where my boss works in a few weeks. I plan to meet her and a few other colleagues for coffee while I’m there. What should I wear? Should I bring business casual for this? The office I work out of is very much so, but I’m not sure if it’s the same in hers- this company varies. A building down the street is business formal only, for example. I don’t often see my boss in a blazer or suit, but on occasion she will.

    1. BellyButton*

      You are going for vacation but are meeting up with them because you will be there? Are you meeting at the office or a coffee shop? If outside the office I would wear what you would normally wear to meet up anyone for coffee, if in office I would step it up a notch with maybe a cardigan. But if you are there on your own time, then dress as you normally would.

      1. beep beep*

        Yes, for personal vacation, booked PTO and all, but I’ve never met my boss in person so I wanted to get some face time. We will meet at a diner near the office. I tend to dress pretty casually and read pretty young and I’m not sure I want to put that off, if that makes sense.

        1. WellRed*

          I’d probably throw on a smart blazer over my jeans and decent top or whatever suits your style but otherwise wouldn’t worry about it.

        2. BellyButton*

          Since you are there on your own time, I would wear what I would wear to go to coffee with anyone, add a cardigan if it is spaghetti straps or strapless. I am a remote VP and my CEO boss will be in my town for personal reasons so we are going to grab lunch, and I am wearing whatever I would normally wear for lunch with anyone.

  69. Non profit volunteer*

    Update from a few weeks ago, I had asked about providing notice to a nonprofit organization and am happy to report that I have resigned and while I am still working through the emotions of leaving, I am so happy to have moved on!

    I ended up giving notice when I had almost a week until my next shift and explained that I would not be working a notice period for XX reasons. The email I received back solidified for me that the organization is not going to change and that I was right to have moved on.

    1. Happily Retired*

      Good for you for standing up for yourself! Best wishes for your future better job!

  70. Kesnit*

    One year ago Sunday, I was put on a 6-month PIP at Old Job. At the time, I was determined to fix what had gone wrong and get back to normal. As time went by, I started to realize that “normal” was “toxic disaster zone.” In late July, I had the chance to talk to people with the same job as me at other locations about what was happening. My peers were horrified and within days, I made the decision to move on. By mid-August, I had an offer and started my current job September 1.

    It has been night and day. I do not dread getting up and going to work. I do not spend my evenings fighting off the urge to drink until I do not feel the emotional pain. Since leaving, I have learned that much of what Old Boss did and said was deceptive and manipulative. I do feel some twinge of nerves when my new boss asks to talk to me, but know that is just an effect of the sociopath I used to work for. (He is not a diagnosed sociopath. A former coworker called him that once and I think she is right.) I actually feel respected and liked at New Job. I feel like I can ask questions without being made to feel stupid or being told to “do X” and then rebuked for doing X. New Job requires I work with people who do the same job I used to, including one who was present when I talked about Old Job in July. I like and respect the people who do the job I used to do, but am thankful every day that is no longer me.

  71. Prorata*

    Happy Friday!!

    A “little” out of the mainstream…..the squirrels outside my office window have been wrestling this morning. Not just chasing each other around – wrestling! Don’t know if it’s territorial, or a squirrel pre-mating behavor, but in six months here, first I’ve seen them in this mode.

    Birds have been feeding well today – cardinals, sparrows, and the odd crow around. And a thrasher just landed.

    Hopefully, our groundhogs will show up later today.

    Thank you for allowing me to waste your time with my wildlife observations.

    Cheers!!

    1. MigraineMonth*

      My wildlife biology-major friend informs me that the reason you’ll see red squirrels chasing around gray squirrels twice their size is because their diet includes magic mushrooms. Red squirrels aren’t crazy, they’re just tripping on hallucinogens.

      1. Prorata*

        As long as they aren’t trying to eat my house, they can trip on mushrooms to their little heart’s content!!

        I think in this case, though, they being what I think were two grey squirrels, they probably were (REDACTED), and (REDACTED). To which, again, as long as they aren’t chewing on the building, they can (REDACTED) all they want!