open thread – May 17-18, 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.

{ 1,158 comments… read them below }

  1. Tradd*

    The letter from this morning about a LW not being able to leave her own pens from home on her desk got me curious about who has been FORCED to use company supplied office supplies? You know, the cheapest pens, sticky notes that don’t stick, etc.? Let’s hear your stories!

    1. Tio*

      I know you’ll like this one – my first FF job back in 2010 my boss – who was an amazing boss! – still made us type up delivery orders on a typewriter with the carbon paper DOs for any local transfer. I wonder if she still has that typewriter.

      1. Tradd*

        I actually LIKE typewriters, but that’s banana pants! What was the reason for not using the system generated ones?

        1. Nea*

          Some bosses are just addicted to the old ways. I had an editing job not that long ago where pages were printed out from the computer, handed to editors to edit with a red pen, corrected by “the typists,” and then both redlines and new version were returned to the editors to manually check. Lather, rinse, repeat until all changes were made, and *then* the whole thing was given to a second editor to look over for any further corrections!

          This entire tedious 19th century process was happening in a scientific lab in the mid 2000s. And no… editors weren’t allowed to simply sit at a computer and fix things themselves.

          1. Tradd*

            I’m in the same industry as Tio. Their system would generate the delivery orders (DO). There is no flipping good reason to have to type them on a typewriter. That’s more than old ways, that’s Luddite, still writing checks at the grocery store territory! LOL

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              The one silver lining of the pandemic for my job was FINALLY being able to quit taking checks! The owners had wanted to for years but we had this handful of holdouts that refused to pay any other way (they never bounced anything, so that wasn’t the issue, it was simply a pain to deal with.)

              Then came the “six foot” rule and voila! No more checks! Four years later we still get the occasional “but whyyyyy?” but honestly. I can’t fathom a food service related business that still takes personal checks.

            2. Dog momma*

              I still write checks lol. We’ve been hacked too many times to be comfortable with most stuff on line. I will pay on line if there’s no choice.

              1. Tradd*

                Do you still mail checks, too? I know people who’ve had their checks washed, lost tons of money, and still won’t give up sending checks through the mail. Then add the slow postal service for bills being late and payments, too, their credit score takes a hit. Lots of late fees, too. I know people overseas who can’t understand the US thing with still writing tons of checks.

                1. DJ Abbott*

                  Absolutely. One of the things I handle at work is direct deposit changes. I’ve heard from many people over the last year who had checks stolen from the mail, washed, and attempted or successful stealing from their account. This includes when they took the check directly to the post office and mailed it there. It still got stolen.
                  I’ve also talked to many people who will not mail a check for any reason and don’t trust the mail for anything. They use a courier or bring the documents in person.
                  I stopped mailing checks about two years ago. I pay all my bills online. So far I haven’t had trouble with that, but I did have credit cards stolen last year after using them online at Amazon and Home Depot. Now I have my cards locked down in PayPal and Apple Pay, and I don’t shop at Amazon because they don’t take either of those.
                  Criminals are getting more desperate and going to greater lengths, so we have to do more to protect ourselves. If you haven’t had checks stolen from the mail yet, you’ve been lucky.

                2. DJ Abbott*

                  Also, never ever use your debit card for purchases! It’s easy for thieves to steal and clean out your account. If you must use a card, use a credit card because they have protections.

          2. JFC*

            I had a brief stint at an ad agency in 2019 and it was astonishing how old school everything was. The business manager insisted on printing out everything by hand, making notes, etc. She was still using carbon paper books to keep track of payments, bills, etc. The owner was working from home a lot but still had to review materials before they were sent to clients. Someone was dispatched to his house every afternoon with a manila folder filled with printouts of that day’s work so he could red-line them, put them back in the folder and have them picked up the next morning.

          3. CatMintCat*

            My principal does this with report comments. We write them in Word and print them out (about 100 pages per class, our reports are huge). He edits them with red pen and returns them to us. We do the fixes/changes, print them again and return to him. He checks again and there may or may not be another round. Then they are printed as a final print. So minimum three prints for each class.

            Trees die twice a year for this.

            1. Tradd*

              I do some publication editing for a non-profit as a volunteer. I got a stylus for my iPad and now edit the publications in a pdf with stylus. Everyone LOVES it. I used to do edits in Word and formatting sometimes got tweaked by accident. Now, that’s not a worry and being able to edit this way is actually much easier. I write comments in margins, circle, cross out, etc. All in red. Works wonderfully and it’s more comfortable to sit in bed on iPad than at desk with my laptop and two big monitors.

        2. Tio*

          She just liked the security of having the carbon copy. We did all out non-local DOs through the system and email, and was otherwise very tech savvy, so idk. Just a weird attachment. But if we had to do a CFS transfer or anything, we had a carbon DO typed up.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            At a previous job, we did all our back ups in triplicate. A server backup after hours, a backup to the cloud on Fridays, and…tapes, as in magnetic tapes. We brought the tapes to a safety deposit box every (6 weeks?). I know multiple back-ups are smart, but seriously the tapes seemed both excessive and archaic. There was also an issue getting the paperwork to change who had access to the safety deposit box after the employee responsible left.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              More than once I’ve seen files that were supposedly backed up to servers lost forever, so I can kind of understand wanting them on media. I would probably use a USB drive though.

              1. Banana Pyjamas*

                Oh absolutely, it’s just that this was 2013 so tapes felt really out of place. I understood the need for multiple physical backups.

                At a different job we lost a week worth of work because a ransomware attack came on the heels of a failed backup.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        There’s a guy in my city who actually does typewriter typing of forms for a living–so many agencies still use these government-issued forms from fifty years ago that are carbon papered and can’t be accessed with a computer or printer.

          1. Clisby*

            Some years back I read a Wall Street Journal article about people who were making quite a nice living transcribing shorthand documents, because apparently this was becoming a lost art.

    2. Nea*

      Not quite the same but contracting companies prefer it when you use their swag and not anything you may have gotten from a previous employer.

      … even if it’s nicer.

      1. An Australian In London*

        The only time I got respect from a long-ago manager whose failing were many was when I said I always took a company-branded coffee mug with me to client sites (consulting; typically on site 1-3 weeks)… and would always contrive to leave it in their office kitchen.

      2. cabbagepants*

        I used to work at a large company where we all used Dell PCs, except for the people who were on the Apple account, who of course had Apple!

    3. cold_call_catastrophe*

      At a previous job we were only allowed to use cheap, uncomfortable budget wireless computer mice provided by the company because the crazy IT guy convinced the owner that you could transport a computer virus into the company servers via a mouse brought from home.

      1. Bruce*

        I can kind of see how that would work if the mouse was designed to have a data file embedded in it, but I think there are ways to block that. My company has locked us out of using USB thumb drives, for example… we have to get specific permission to have them turned back on if we are using them in the lab. But I can use whatever mouse I want to. Caveat I’m not an IT expert, just an old man who has used whatever system was put in front of me over the last 40+ years

      2. Loa*

        My company is that way with headsets. We do lots of online meetings and have to use the company issued headsets – I tried to use my own earphones but it wouldn’t connect the mic at the same time and I wasn’t allowed to install the necessary plugin. The headsets they issued are terrible on your ears (doubly so if you’re wearing glasses), and the sound “leaks” a lot – so if your desk neighbors are in a meeting, you hear it too, and then you raise your own volume and it becomes so stressful.
        It’s otherwise a great company to work at, but this one point is so annoying!

      3. Orange You Glad*

        I work for a large company with thousands of employees all over the US. We have very strict rules about what can be connected to our laptops. We can only use the company-approved keyboard, mouse, and monitors. Anything else won’t work when plugged in even if we try. I think it’s just easier for some companies to have a blanket policy like that instead of planning for every exception.

      4. BubbleTea*

        What, like the Black Death? I think he’s thinking of the wrong kind of mouse… (yes, I know, it was caused by bacteria, but I bet IT guy didn’t know that)

        1. Retired But Still Herding Cats*

          Cold_call_catastrophe should have made a point of making a “pet” of their crappy company-issued mouse and naming it Yersinia!

    4. Susie*

      Teachers are very particular about office supplies. While many do buy their own materials, that adds up. Dry-erase markers are expensive, especially when teachers regularly have students use dry-erase boards in class. So, the teachers at the school where I worked used the dry-erase markers provided in the supply cabinet. So, it was not explicitly required but de facto required.

      When I started as the Administrative Assistant for a school, the supply cabinet was stocked exclusively with generic markers. Brand-name dry-erase markers last many times longer than generic and just write better. One teacher regularly came back for replacement markers. One day, he asked that I get the Brand-name markers when I needed to restock the cabinet. So I did. Switching didn’t seem like a big deal because they lasted so much longer.

      At some point that school year, I found out that teachers were stuck with the generic markers because the prior Administrative Assistant had a deal with the head of school. If she was able to stay under budget for supplies, then she received half the difference in cash.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Wait what? Did I read that line correctly, the previous AA was taking kickbacks to stay under the supply budget?

        My flabber is gasted. Truly and well.

      2. CL*

        I’m shocked…not at the kickbacks but that your school provides dry erase markers. Each kiddo has to bring two packs at the beginning of every school in our school. (I only send the name brand ones because you are right about the generics.)

        1. Clisby*

          We also sent them in with our kids. Also crayons. Teachers begged parents to get Crayola, because according to them knockoffs are useless. (After once buying Rose Art crayons for my kids to use at home, I realized the teachers were right and joined the Crayola Fan Club.)

    5. Clisby*

      I’ve never heard of that, either. I’ve worked places that wouldn’t buy special office supplies just because someone preferred them, but never a place that told you not to bring in your own.

    6. ONFM*

      I had a grandboss who would kick back reports if the tabs were an “unprofessional” color. As in, neon pink or orange. As in, the colors that were provided if you purchased an off-the-shelf pack from 3M. We could not submit any post-its that were not the standard pale yellow in the standard 3×3 size. (He believed that we were conspiring to cut down regularly sized post-it pads to create the smaller, mini pads.) He was nuts and when he retired, I announced to my staff that they could use office supplies in any color from that point forward. :)

      1. Tradd*

        He was VERY nuts. I use bright or neon colors as they just stand out better. And very fine point black Sharpie writing stands out well, too.

    7. Zona the Great*

      I worked at a bank that provided coffee for customers with a supply of those terrible styrofoam cups. We were not allowed to bring in generic water or coffee vessels. They had to be company branded if we wanted to use them and the company made you buy these items–which were cheap crap, not Yeti or the like. One day I forgot my branded tumbler and needed coffee so I used a styrofoam cup. Boss comes by and sees it and reprimands me for not using a branded vessel. So I drew the effing logo onto the styrofoam and drank it while daring her to try again. She didn’t.

      1. Polaris*

        What’s worse than those awful styrofoam cups?

        The thick paper ones that our supplier just switched to. You cannot separate them without man-handling the one on the bottom of the stack, they’re leaky on the bottom after five minutes, and if you have a hot beverage in them (and they have steaming coffee logo on the side so its not likely they’re being misused) they will burn your hands.

        1. HonorBox*

          As much as it pains me to say this because I know the environmental impact… I really like a styrofoam cup for coffee. I had the largest ones I could find in my desk drawer (at my cost) for awhile because I liked those better than scrounging in the office kitchen cabinet for the right size, and for one that was reasonably clean.

          1. dawbs*

            Those of us fortunate enough to live in the cities that manufacture these cups 1-always know someone who works there who can get them for us at a steep discount and 2-can dismiss *some* (not all, I know) of the environmental stuff, because we all just drop them off when done–the factory takes them back for recycling purposes.

            (Actually, I work education-adjacent and my workplace allows Styrofoam recycling dropoff–which means when I need Styrofoam for some project I make with children, I can go dig in the recycling too–we reuse and then it goes back into recycling :)

    8. Elle Woods*

      For a short while, I worked at a place where the boss insisted we could only use the pens he provided. They didn’t write worth a darn. Found out just before I left that his wife bought a case of them at some estate sale and he wanted to write off the purchase as a business expense. Heaven only knows how long those things had been in storage.

    9. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I told this story once before here:

      In my first professional job, I needed to take phone messages off my voicemail all day long. I would keep track of them on a scratch pad – one little square for each message. Then the organization started refusing to buy scratch pads. They would, however, buy legal pads.

      We were not allowed to touch the copier, so I was unable to access blank pieces of copier paper. So I took the legal pads, cut them up, and made them into scratch pads.

    10. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I worked at a car dealership for about five minutes once where the office manager insisted that files be labeled using FELT TIP PEN. God help you if you used ballpoint for any reason.

      She even got onto me for hunting out a ballpoint pen because I needed it for a triplicate carbon form—you need a pressure point like ballpoint or pencil for those, felt tip and ink gel just won’t go through -and she was all “I don’t understand why you need a special pen!” Lady I don’t need a “special” pen, I need a cheapass Bic!

  2. Anonymouse*

    Hello all,

    Wondering if anyone knows if it is typical to repeat a background check when converting a contractor to full time? Like an idiot I didn’t mention a previous job on the last background check and now I not only feel terribly guilty but worried about the next check! I don’t have the job yet so may never come to pass, I’m wondering if there is any way out of this. Goes without saying I regret it intensely- thanks for any help or advice!

    1. Sbtyah*

      You should be fine. Ppl forget jobs. You can reach out and say: hey, forgot this one in last go. Here is the info.

      1. Anonymouse*

        it was the job before this one, I just didn’t put it on my resume and thought I’d have lots of time to mention it… no just one interview! I got caught off guard but it will be obvious I left it off on purpose! I should’ve included this

        1. Annony*

          Did you have to fill out a form with all your previous jobs specifically for the background check or did they just use your resume?

    2. Thank someone I no longer work there*

      I’d just fill it out with the now remembered job included. If anyone even notices apologize for the oversight the first time. Unless you got fired for something really serious. I did backgrounds for a civilian public safety adjacent organization and while rare it does occasionally happen.

      1. Anonymouse*

        it was the job I had before this one so it’s not plausible I forgot I think… It was just that it was short & doesn’t look good on my resume, once I took it off I intended to mention it but then didn’t know how to raise it. I should’ve included that originally

        1. canuckian*

          Send them the info and say that because it was short, you don’t include on your resume, but forget to put it back on. You’ve got nothing to lose by doing that, where if you don’t, it might look worse? Up to you, of course.

        2. FashionablyEvil*

          I don’t really think it matters that it sounds potentially implausible that you forgot–people make mistakes like that all the time! I can think of any number of reasons, all of them totally reasonable: you were copying off your resume and it wasn’t on there, you got interrupted as you were finishing and didn’t realize you hadn’t put it on there, etc. etc. Just do the “So sorry, don’t know how I managed to leave that one off, but here’s the info!” It really will not be a big deal.

          1. LaurenB*

            A coworker forgot to list his stepsister on his security clearance application. His mother remarried when he was an adult, he met his mother’s husband’s daughter at their wedding and never saw her again, and it didn’t occur to him while doing the paperwork that she was a sibling he had to provide information for! The security officer he called laughed.

            My impression is that context matters. I hope so, because no one wants to lose good workers for dumb reasons (or have to explain that someone ineligible to pass the background check had been working there for years). If someone else had realized that the woman in the newspaper arrested on organized crime charges was my coworker’s stepsister, the conversation would have been very different.

            1. BofaOnTheSofa*

              I can totally see how this can happen! My husband’s dad remarried (eloped) when my husband was an adult. We don’t think of his wife as “step mom”, because she never held a maternal role, so we certainly don’t think of her kids as step-siblings. I don’t think I could name all of her adult kids if I tried; I can name 4/5.

              1. Dog momma*

                same here, we call..or at least husband calls his kids my “steps” either to be more inclusive with me in the family or just bc its easier. I go along bc its not a hill to die on; his daughter isn’t sure how to introduce me..& called me step mom (& asked if it was ok..its fine,) she just calls me by my name usually, but this particular person asked her how we were related. For context, I’m wife #4, her mom and I are friendly, I’m17 yrs younger than her dad, & old enough to be her mom.lol We are certainly A blended family, but shaken, not stirred.

        3. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

          In my experience (government contracting), they’re more likely to hold it against you if they find out before you tell them, from missing job time frames to DWIs. [Even if, as someone says below *not* to do, you were fired for an issue that makes you look less favorable. You will not necessarily be disqualified for past actions to or by you, but lack of transparency leads them to larger concerns.] So, I say you should notify them asap, with the simple explanation that it was a short tenure, you didn’t think it looked good on your resume, and you forgot to put it back before submitting for this position/investigation. Good luck!

          1. Anonymouse*

            thanks for your reply! maybe an odd question but do you think they will verify my current employment, ie. with them through the agency? I ask bc the omitted job uses the same employment verification service as the current agency. a true nightmare!!

            1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

              I’m not sure how that works, but I think the first step would be to confirm/verify your current employment so they can identify people to speak with, if necessary. I don’t know if they can search their own verification service to see that you worked at a different client.

    3. Nea*

      How long ago was the forgotten job? Many background checks only go back 5-10 years, so if it’s long enough ago you can add the job now (because it bothers you) and on the off chance you’re ever asked about it, say “sorry, I forgot, this one was also in the time period.”

      If it’s long enough to be out of the time period, then stop worrying about it. Even if the person investigating the background tries a “gotcha” point out calmly that they asked for X and got X so why is Y even a concern? (This actually happened to me once. The investigator was trying to get me flustered and defensive. I calmly pointed out I had followed instructions exactly.)

    4. Onyx*

      I don’t think that’s typical since you already have history at your organization but depends on the org. You can probably contact the 3rd party to provide updated information for the background check if needed, mistakes happen. When I was having my background check last year for my current position, I reached out to the 3rd party company running the background check for some guidance on what information to provide. They told me that unless instructed otherwise by the employer, you only needed to provide jobs from the last 7 years (in case that helps your situation).

      1. Samwise*

        I interviewed for and got a lateral change at my large state university. They ran a background check on me. I could not for the life of me remember the last name of my boss at my first job after college. Maybe because I’ve thought of him as Bob the Crook for decades. Pretty sure his business is no more, because, Crook and not a very ept one at that.

        Sorry, got off topic! All this to say, just because you already work there doesn’t mean there will be no background check.

    5. NuMom*

      You’ll be fine. I leave jobs off my resume all the time and have never been asked to fill out a new form for a background check despite all my jobs requiring them.

      Outside of the government who wants everything most employers can get a good background check off the typical resume.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I think from your reply comments below that you are getting too hung up on the notion of “forgot” versus “intentional.” Your real situation – it wasn’t good on your resume so you left it off, and then there was never really a good opportunity to bring it up – is a perfectly good explanation. Just say that.

      If it even comes up. Which is probably won’t anyway.

    7. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Is it typical to repeat a background check when converting a contractor to full time? It’s not abnormal. We run them because contract agencies don’t always run the same types of checks we do and/or so that we can affirm with our clients that all staff had a background check at time of hire.

      Are you worried about them finding out you had a job that you missed disclosing via bg check? Any reasonable company would find it understandable if you tell them that you missed including a job (because it wasn’t relevant, short, whatever). However, I also think it’s also unlikely they’d discover that you missed it unless they call references and that reference specifically says something about it. It would be a pretty intensive search to run your name to find all of the places you’ve ever worked and I’m not aware of any bg check that sophisticated beyond possibly a government intensively digging into your background.

      1. Anonymouse*

        it’s not govt but it is highly regulated. I know this sounds strange but do you think they will confirm my current employment (ie. with the contacting company)? I ask bc they use the same verification service…. seems silly that they would do this but this is my concern!

        1. Sneaky Squirrel*

          It’s possible they do an employment verification to keep records whole. That’s one where we we would have skipped it.

          With an employment verification, whoever is running the verification (whether it’s the company you’re applying to directly or a 3rd party doing it on behalf of that company) reaches out to a former employer listed on the application and ask them to confirm dates/title. They may ask for more, salary, performance, but a lot of companies won’t provide it without extra hurdles. Or, a lot of employers use a site so that they don’t need to be contacted (The Work Number, that’s a common one). However, it’s still usually employer specific.

          1. Anonymouse*

            thanks for your reply you are all so kind! they do in fact both use the work number. so I believe if they verify current employment they will get a report with the omitted job!

          2. Anonymouse*

            I think while I was rushing to respond earlier, I misunderstood you. You are saying the work number is still employer specific? That would really change how I thought about this situation–thanks so much for this, I am going to look into it & try to confirm.

    8. Policy Wonk*

      If this is a government job, yes it would be normal to do another background check, depending on whether the agency does their own, the agency’s view of the company that conducted your original check, etc. The hiring agency can accept the other check, but it is very case dependent. As others have noted, reach out to your POC at the hiring agency or company and tell them about the omission. Far better to tell them before they find out and ask why you were not honest about it.

      1. Anonymouse*

        it’s not govt but it is highly regulated. I know this sounds strange but do you think they will confirm my current employment (ie. with the contacting company)? I ask bc the omitted job& the agency use the same verification service. not sure if I am being paranoid!

    9. Charlotte Lucas*

      The background check might be done by an outside company. (The kind I have in my work are more about whether I’m a threat to vulnerable populations and less about my work history.)

    10. kiki*

      This is different if you’re applying for a job in the US that requires security clearance, but if you’re just talking about a standard background check, you’re really fine! I used to work at a background check company– people make mistakes on background checks all the time. Don’t worry about it too much Unless there’s some reason the company would assume you were hiding your past work at a previous job, they’ll probably just ask what happened. They’ll nod and say, “yup, happens all the time,” and move on. You could potentially reach out to the company now and mention that you think you made a mistake and left something off of the background check, if it’s really weighing on you!

      But really, it will be fine.

    11. Just Thinkin' Here*

      Really depends on industry, but in general I wouldn’t worry. For highly regulated industries, this is normal to rerun (banking, power industry, healthcare, etc). If it’s government or defense contracting then required. Depending on the background check, they could just be making sure you have relevant licenses, no outstanding warrants, criminal convictions, credit bureau check, etc. If it’s for government clearance, they will send you a questionnaire online and you get the pleasure of telling them everything about yourself for the last 7 years.

    12. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      We would run a background check prior to hiring but we wouldn’t be looking at missing jobs on your resume, we would be looking at criminal history and at most making sure everything you listed WAS there.

      I guess if I was on the fence about hiring you I might delve into that missing job a bit just to make sure you weren’t fired for bad reasons (theft, assault, etc.)

    13. theletter*

      it’s far too easy for resumes to become ‘out-of-date’ – Oops! Just send the ‘most recent information’ to the top of their inbox so ‘they don’t need to search for it.’

    14. JanetM*

      I don’t know whether or how often this is enforced, but my university’s application site says that new background checks may be required to transfer positions within the university. As far as I know, I was not subjected to a check when I changed positions several years ago, although to be fair it was within the same department.

      I’m not sure about this second one because it doesn’t affect me, but I think they also require a new background check every two years for anyone who works with minors.

    15. Still*

      Clearly I have no idea how background checks work in the US, because I don’t understand why a short-term job would be relevant at all? Why would there ever be a need to bring it up? And if the people doing the background check find it, why would it matter? It’s not like it’s illegal to work a short stint. Is there some obligation to disclose everything you’ve ever done to your potential employer…?

      1. Anonymouse*

        the joy of at will employment, they can fire me at any time. yes, the background check asked for every job I worked in a certain time period, which includes this job.

      2. BackgroundChecksAreHard*

        you are required to include everything, even if you only worked there for a day. if you monitor something and they find out later it’s usually a firing offence.

        I once filled one out during a period where I’d been doing a lot of contracting and it took me >80 hours of work to get all the info I had to supply, and some of it didn’t work with the format of their mandatory forms. I had to do stuff like call individual agencies to get a variety of information that they no longer had handy, dig back on tax forms from 4-5 years earlier to get certain info, and all sorts of other stuff. Then it took them over a month to process the form because they had to verify it all.

        There are different standards/types of background checks in the commercial world (I’ve done government/clearance checks too and they’re a whole different kettle of fish). They were designed with an expectation that most people work at the same place for 5-10 years at a time, don’t have side gigs, and live in the past in various other ways.

        1. Alisaurus*

          Concurring with this. I know someone who very nearly didn’t get a job because he left off a 1-day stint at a warehouse that had nothing to do with the job he was applying for.

    16. Happily Retired*

      I would list it now, and if (and this is a big if) they bring it up, explain that it was so short that it wasn’t relevant (assuming that you weren’t fired for cause, etc.), which is becoming common advice. <- It's Alison's advice!

      If this was something where you had to pinky-swear that you'd listed everything you'd done since you were mowing lawns at age 12, don't use this response.

      I was a Federal (US) employee, of the legendary 10-page resumes, and I know I didn't include irrelevant jobs, like three years working for a veterinarian when I was applying in the health information field. It was never brought up.

  3. Kitten*

    I struggle with maintaining boundaries with coworkers when they ask me personal or rude questions in meetings in front of a group of people. It’s always in front of a group of people! Does anyone else struggle with this? I also struggle with it, though less, in my personal life. There it’s easier to shut people down, but I’m not as comfortable doing it at work because the people asking the rude questions seem to be “well-liked” in the team.

    For example, I recently moved states and my coworkers keep asking, “did you move to a house, apartment, townhouse, etc.?” or “where is your work space now?”. Why am I being asked this? I don’t remember others being asked this when they move! Last Friday at the start of a meeting with a bunch of people, a coworker (who I’ve talked to several times alone on chat where she’s asked me about the move) asked about the “did you move to a house, apartment, townhouse or condo?”. How is this anyone’s business? There are plenty of other questions they could ask me about the move.

    The way the culture is at this company, if I had responded with, “oh I don’t like to talk about my personal life!” or “what a strange question!”, I would be seen as problematic. I saw a possible method is to answer a rude question with another answer, like “oh I really like the area and I’m still getting settled!” but I’m so bad at thinking on my feet.

    1. Throwaway Account*

      I think you can find a way to not answer the question and then ask them:
      “ugh, moving! This area is so interesting tho, do you live in a house, apartment, townhouse, or condo?”

    2. MsM*

      I’m curious why you see these questions as overly personal or strange. You don’t have to answer, of course, and deflecting with a different response, or changing the subject, or turning the question around on them (“you seem very interested in all this; are you thinking about moving soon?”) are valid strategies. But I think they’re genuinely just asking because these are reasonable things to ask about when someone’s mentioned moving or is new to the area.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Agreed, this seems like a friendly standard question to ask. You aren’t obligated to answer, but given what you’ve shared, I think it’s fine for someone to ask and is not rude.

      2. Tradd*

        Agreed. I’d consider these questions as small talk and coworker asking about bland things. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t consider that a prying question about private things. If someone didn’t answer or objected to answering, I would think it was strange.

      3. CTT*

        Yes, this strikes me as making conversation around a recent life event they know you just had and moving is a relatively safe topic. You absolutely don’t have to answer if you aren’t comfortable and I think Throwaway and MSM have good deflectors, but unless you have found them to be boundary-steamrollers all the time, your coworkers may be asking because they are showing an interest in you as a person.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          In the US, it would also probably be about celebrating if you were able to buy a house (“In this market! Wow!”) or commiserating if you weren’t (“I’ve been looking for eight months, but every house has eleven bids on it!”). Or maybe it’s forming a point of connection (“I own a condo too, if you ever want tips on dealing with the association, I have some war stories!”) or (“I’ve always wanted to live in a town house, they’re so pretty”).

          If you don’t want to share, you don’t have to! (Particularly if you get the sense they’re trying to invite themselves over to your house to use your grill or whatever.) But it is a pretty socially-acceptable type of conversation in the offices I’ve worked in (whether it should be is a separate discussion), so I don’t think you’ll get much mileage from “What an odd thing to ask!” or shocked silence. “I’m so tired of talking about the move, can we talk about you instead” might be the smoothest way to redirect.

          1. LaurenB*

            Or wondering whether to mention hanging out on the balcony or backyard, etc. I guess that specifying house vs townhouse sounds a bit snobby and I would never ask someone, but I know when a lot of my friends were moving out of apartments all we wanted to talk about was the joy of having our own outdoor space.

      4. londonedit*

        Yep…they’re just trying to make small talk. It’s what people do. They’re trying to connect with you, and one way of doing that is to ask questions about something in someone’s life. They know you’ve just moved, it sounds like it was a big move, so it’s natural for people to ask questions about it. Not because they’re trying to pry or because they have some sort of nefarious reason for wanting to know what sort of house you live in, but just because it’s a standard question to ask. ‘How’s the new place? Did you manage to buy, or are you renting? Oh, are you planning to buy eventually? How are you finding the area? Do you have a good space to work in? Is it a house or an apartment?’ All perfectly normal questions to ask.

        If you really don’t want people asking, then you could deflect by saying ‘Oh, I’m so bored with all the moving stuff! What’s happening with you?’ but I think you risk coming across as rude if you respond with ‘what a strange question’ – because it’s not a strange question and it’s not rude of them to ask!

      5. Clisby*

        I agree – nothing seems strange about these questions to me. However, to be fair, I’ve lived in only two parts of the US – the South, and Columbus, OH. So those questions would not be at all odd *there*.

        1. Keep it Simple*

          It wouldn’t be odd in the Northeast either. We have the tightest housing market in the country and we LOVE to talk about moving. It’s a way of bonding.

        2. Tippy*

          I’ve lived in a lot of different places in the US and a lot of different types of places and no where would this have been a strange question.

      6. Rex Libris*

        Agreed. These are basic “talking about the weather” level questions. Unless it’s more intense than described, it’s just coworkers making small talk, just saying “Heard you have a new thing. How’s it going?”

    3. Dust Bunny*

      “Are you looking to move?” “Sorry, I have a meeting. Later!”

      I think a lot of people just blather questions without actually thinking about what they’re asking you or if it has a purpose (and a lot of them probably don’t listen to the answers).

    4. CommanderBanana*

      ……this isn’t a rude question? Those two examples are normal, boring, small-talk questions to ask someone who just moved.

    5. Cordelia*

      I’m in the UK so it might be different here, but those questions don’t seem particularly rude or personal to me. Asking how much you paid for your house is rude, asking who you live with is personal, but those questions sound like showing polite friendly interest in a coworker who has just gone through the stress of moving. I do think you would sound a bit odd if you called them out for being rude, you could just give vague answers – “it’s bigger than where I was before”, “I’m getting used to a new workspace”.

      1. Peachtree*

        I also think that asking who you live with (depending on how it’s worded!) can be fine. Sometimes I might ask, “Do you live by yourself?” because that gives people the space to answer as they would prefer (rather than “do you have a partner?” “do you live with friends?”). As a queer person, it’s sometimes nice to have an opening to say “Oh yes, I have a girlfriend, we live together”.

        1. Cordelia*

          whereas if the answer to that is “yes”, I have found the follow-up is sometimes more pitying than I really appreciate! I think it’s usually an ok question, but it would depend who was asking, and it’s not something I would particularly want to be asked in front of a group

          1. spiff*

            My answer to “do you live alone?” is always “Yes! It’s amazing, I *love* living by myself!” :D

          2. GythaOgden*

            Eh, I’m widowed and I’m up front about it because I don’t want anyone to blunder into my sore spots. Thing is, by the time my husband died, it was a relief for everyone, most of all him, and I’ve done him proud by going for and getting this job. Other people’s sympathy and compassion is not what I’d call pity, precisely, but it gives me a way of getting it out in the open and experiencing momentary emotions of that nature is better than them unknowingly triggering me.

            (And I’m TOTALLY ok with people having families when I don’t. I can’t exist in the world without that so it’s my emotional labour to perform to ease the pain rather than others’ job to tiptoe around any mention of their spouses or kids. NGL, in-person work on Valentine’s Day was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t my place to intrude on others’ joy and I know my colleague has that as the anniversary of her parents’ death, so she also has stronger reasons not to be around on that particular date and my old job was coverage based so both of us could not be off at the same time.)

            We’re never guaranteed to spend our life free of discomfort or the fallout from other people’s perspectives and actions. You may have to live with a tiny bit of pity every so often. Getting comfortable with it is worth it to not end up being prickly about how other people see the world.

      2. An Australian In London*

        As someone who’s been in the UK for seven years, and works almost exclusively with banks, my spider senses always tingle when coworkers ask where in London I live. Most times there is an emphasis on the “where”. My wife has overheard some of these and agrees the answer seems to matter to a lot of people.

        We don’t know if as outsiders (she is also not British) we just aren’t clued in to subtle British class signals. I do note that some people treat me with noticeably more respect when I mention the fairly posh expensive area we live in.

        1. lost academic*

          I think that kind of thing is fairly common for large metro areas – certainly has been many places I worked. It’s like all the other sorts of questions described above – gives an opening to make a more human but still fairly topical connection about neighborhoods, commutes, certain benefits to being in various areas (super common thing in Atlanta, DC, for instance). And certainly some areas are going to connote a certain level of income or status, but I mostly hear/see a reaction that can be summed up as an overtone of “oh, good for you!”

        2. Starbuck*

          In the US, I personally feel someone asking about location is more likely curious about your commute and attempting to start commiserating about that, vs neighborhood as a class signifier. Not that that can’t happen, but in a work convo the former is more common in my experience.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            In Ireland, it would be either a commute related question or…a…sort of locality thing? Like “oh, you live in such a suburb? My mom grew up there/brother-in-law lives there/best friend works in the nearby school.” In some of our cities, people are quite proud of their area. I’m not sure if that’s the same in other countries.

        3. The Unguarded Moment*

          I used to live in London, and this is one of the standard things that people ask eachother about. I imagine that with some people they are indeed curious about your class / financial situation (and some will be snobby, because the British are so class-focused), but for most people it is simply a fascination with the different-ness of different areas of London. London is like a hundred or more different towns that are all called London – people just want to if you’re living a Balham life or a Brixton life or a Bethnal Green life or a… Most people in London are trying to figure out, “What IS London?” and that’s where it comes from.

        4. Excel-sior*

          i think it’ll vary from person to person. absolutely for some it’ll be about class/social status, but for most i think it’d be about commute, crime or just general small talk.

    6. Ama*

      I’ll be honest, I moved a year ago and those are the same questions my coworkers asked me — I really don’t think they are that rude. They are just curious and, if you’re in the US, a lot of people are extra curious about the real estate market right now because it can be really difficult to find a new place to live in some areas. You don’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to, but those are pretty common questions when someone you know has moved.

      Boundary pushing would be my coworker who, when we were having a work event in the city I moved to a few months after the move, kept hinting she thought I should invite everyone over. In that case I just brushed it off with a “oh we’re not even close to ready for guests yet.”

      1. londonedit*

        Yep, the housing market here in London (and other parts of the UK) is mad so whenever someone moves everyone wants to ask questions like ‘Whereabouts are you living now? Did you buy? Was that outright, or is it shared ownership? Is it a flat, or a house? Do you have a good space for working from home? What’s the commute like?’ (People are super interested in commuting times – Londoners can discuss the merits of various Tube journeys forever!) And whenever someone moves from London to a different part of the country, there are even more questions about what life is like there, how is it different, what sort of house did they manage to get, how are they finding the commute, do they have to drive everywhere, what are the local pubs like, is there anything going on like theatre or restaurants, etc etc etc. People are just curious!

        1. bmorepm*

          maybe it is just me, (and I only picked your comment to respond to of many bc of your good examples) but there is a discernible difference between, “do you have a good space from working from home,” and “where is your work space now?” as well as “oh, a flat or a house?,” “and an apartment, house, townhouse, condo, etc?” One set of questions could pass for small talk, and maybe not rude, while the other is more specific and I think that is why it feels more invasive. how they’re finding the commute, do they have to drive/if it’s walkable/public transport/local pub scene are on a totally different (and more acceptable) plane to me, bc those are questions about the area at large vs my personal belongings/decisions/circumstances.

          I see lots of people saying this isn’t objectively rude, but that’s a silly statement-people have different levels of comfort and boundaries and are allowed to do so. tone, continued behavior, and circumstances all count for a lot, none of which we are privy to from this person’s comment.

          finally, just because YOU don’t find something rude, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be attuned to other people’s levels of comfort with these lines of questioning. Personally, making people uncomfortable, even if I wouldn’t be made uncomfortable by the same things, isn’t appealing to me, so if someone appears hesitant or otherwise reluctant to discuss something, particularly at work, I’d much rather stay away from that topic than make my colleague feel bad or awkward.

          1. Cordelia*

            yes of course, it would be rude to continue asking OP about this once they’d clearly shown they didn’t want to discuss it, it doesn’t sound as if anyone is deliberately trying to make them uncomfortable. The fact that the majority of commenters wouldn’t find the topic rude is relevant, because this suggests that the OP’s coworkers aren’t intending it as rude. OP’s response therefore doesn’t need to assume or address rudeness from the coworkers, they can just give a vague response that doesn’t cross their own personal boundaries.

          2. Tio*

            For “Where are you working from?” is the kind of question I would expect to be answered with like, “Oh I found a room with really great sunlight to work from!” not like, a floor plan or anything.

            While I do generally want everyone to be comfortable and mindful of their comfort levels, this level of discomfort with general small talk is pretty outside of the norm. Not that it’s wrong, but “What a strange question!” would be a strange response, because it’s not a strange question. Something like “Oh, I’m terrible at small talk” would be more accurate, and understandable. Still difficult, because if you can’t have small talk, I then don’t really know where to go from there. Do you not want me to make small talk at all? I would be worried about coming off rude or ignoring them, but if that’s what they want, then I can honor that.

          3. Anonymato*

            To me somehow it feels like a different, more invasive question when the condo part is added. Like, perhaps, they are trying to find out OP’s financial situation? If it’s just about living in an apartment vs house, then I can see that being small talk. For example, they might want to connect about gardening if you live in a house. It is hard not to answer and keep it friendly when put in the spot. Asking “Why do you ask?” in a friendly way might be an option. Or answering with your own topic like “Omg, there are some beautiful historic houses in the neighborhood one over, I love going on walks there.” followed by “Which part of town do you live in?” or “Do you have recommendations for some nice trails around here?”

            1. Jasmine*

              Yes! Why do you ask? Are you looking?
              Some may be living on a tiny efficiency, or stuck in their parents basement and would like to live vicariously through you.

        2. An Australian In London*

          I hadn’t considered Tube curiousity as a factor in London obsession with home location. Thank you, that’s a happier explanation than classism.

      2. MsM*

        Also, at least in the cities I’ve lived in, a general idea of neighborhood and living situation save a lot of questions about other aspects of your life: I’m not going to try and ask for recs about fun places to go after work from the person who just moved out to the suburbs the way I might with someone who bought a brand-new condo in the up-and-coming part of the city.

      3. BellyButton*

        Same. I moved states in December and just moved into my permanent home. I am now in a high COL area so people are curious what my house is like and what part of the county I am in. Now, if they asked how much I paid for my home, that would be crossing a boundary.

        1. Clisby*

          Plus, if they have even a modicum of common sense, they know they can look that up in public records anyway. (Not so for rental properties, of course.)

        2. Lisa Simpson*

          Comparing home prices and rent is totally normal in some circles, too. It really depends!

      4. Awkwardness*

        They are just curious and, if you’re in the US, a lot of people are extra curious about the real estate market right now because it can be really difficult to find a new place to live in some areas.

        This seems the most likely explanation to me too.
        OP, you could have asked: “This is a very specific question. So you have a special interest in the housing market?” in order to understand the behaviour better.

        People want to get their coworker a little bit. If you act secretive about every little detail, it is much more likely to raise curiousity and further questions than some bland standard answers.

    7. Tio*

      “did you move to a house, apartment, townhouse, etc.?” or “where is your work space now?”.

      These are… pretty normal inoffensive questions to me? It’s just people trying to start conversation and get to know you. Tbh if you said something like “Why do you need to know this?” or “What a strange question!” I WOULD be put off, because like… it’s not. It’s small talk. I would have expected to see much weirder question examples here.

      If you don’t want to answer, just give a breezy non-answer like “Oh, still settling in!” or some other non-answer and switch the subject. (This is often easily done by… asking people something about themselves, like they were trying to do for you.)

    8. Don't You Call Me Lady*

      Maybe there’s something in the tone we can’t get from this post, but those seem like fairly innocuous questions, certainly not anything overly personal or rude

    9. Hlao-roo*

      For the “politician answer” (answering the question you wish you had been asked instead of the question you were actually asked), you might want to take some time and list out topics that feel personal/rude to you.

      From the example in your post, one of the topics might be “moving questions” or “housing questions.” Then list out some answers on that topic that are comfortable, like the “oh I really like the area and I’m still getting settled!” answer. By mapping out your comfortable answers ahead of time, you don’t have to do as much thinking on your feet. You just have to remember your stock answer for moving questions/housing questions/other topics.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        That usually works. If they double down and press for an answer, I deliberately misunderstand the question, and just keep on going (with great enthusiasm) until they get frustrated or their eyes start to glaze over. Then I start asking them questions.

    10. pc*

      Sorry to say, but I think you’re overreacting! But if you really don’t feel like answering, I would just go with your “oh I really like the area” idea.

    11. EA*

      This is really normal small talk. If you don’t want to see what type of house you live in or details about your space for some reason, just vaguely answer the gist of the question with whatever you’re comfortable sharing. For example: “Where is your work space now?” “I’ve got a nice setup in my new place. The move was a little stressful, but pretty much settled in!”

      1. PotatoRock*

        Yes, this! I think these are pretty normal questions – unless they’re following up with something like “and what exactly was your credit score?”. It would be weird to try to shut them down

        To reduce the burden of thinking of an alternate response each time, can you pick 1 or 2 “personable but not private” things you are comfortable being known for, and use them for /all/ work small talk. Like: you have a 3 headed dog named fluffy: “Where did you move?” -> “I love it! the best part is there’s this great dog park just a block away – Fluffy and I go every evening”. “Where’s your workspace? -> “I’ve got a great co-worker! *picture*” “What are your weekend plans?” -> “Hanging out with ol’ Fluffy!”

        Warm tone + personable goes along way to coming across as open & friendly & a real person without actually divulging much private info.

        Some of the scripts/advice about how to be “friendly but not friends” from past posts might be helpful too?

    12. WorkerDrone*

      I just wanted to chime in that I really don’t think those are rude questions, at all. I think it’s totally valid if you find them to be intrusive/unwelcome/overly personal – that is of course your preference. I don’t think it’s fair to label the questions themselves as rude, though, nor the people asking them as being overly intrusive in any way.

      That having been said, you could deflect with a phrasing like, “Honestly, moving is such a stressful thing, I’d rather not even talk about it! I did find this great restaurant nearby [or, insert whatever positive small-talk topic works for you].”

      The important bit is to say it with a friendly, exasperated tone of voice (moving! what a pain!) and ending the interaction on a positive note (great restaurant, whatever).

    13. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      “Small talk” gives me the heebie-jeebies. I bristle at people’s questions when I feel like they don’t really care about me or my life. I have to remind myself this is how people try to be friendly with each other. Just answer the question without going into a lot of detail and turn it around on them and let them talk about themselves (which is what most people want to do anyway.)

      1. Ashley*

        I suspect this is why this is odd. My partner hates sharing any personal information and only talks to probably 3-4 co-workers despite working there for years. They never would have shared they moved so this wouldn’t come up. To avoid these questions you really have the monitor what you share because you will generally get polite engaging questions like this after the fact.

      2. Maggie*

        Maybe they’re trying to get to know you so that you can become friends who care about each other! Also what an ungenerous attitude towards others.

      3. Blowfish*

        Can’t imagine why people don’t care about you when you seem like such a kind, friendly, warm person! o_O

      4. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Oh my God me too, Mermaid. These kinds of questions feel to me like a disrespectful overstep, even though I know that’s not how they’re intended. Like, you’re not entitled to the details of my life just because we work together! But I have colleagues who feel disrespected/overlooked if people DON’T ask “personal” questions, so like you, I remind myself that this is a communication style thing and turn it around as quickly as possible.

        Also genuinely horrified by the replies to this comment! No, Maggie & Blowfish, not enjoying small talk does not make one ungenerous, unkind, or unfriendly, wtf. Think of it like eye contact – lots of people find it warm and relation-building, some people find it physically painful and cannot tolerate it for long. But it’s possible to figure out ways to have friendly relationships with people who are different from you,I promise!

    14. Yes And*

      I wonder if there are regional/cultural differences at play here? In New York City, where I am, talking about real estate is as inoffensive a subject of small talk as the weather. But it’s often at a level of detail that I imagine would be TMI elsewhere – not only apartment/house/condo/co-op or set-up, but also price (rent or buy), mortgage rate (if applicable), broker fees (if applicable), how you came by this housing situation, bumps in the process… it’s all fair game. I wonder if Kitten is coming into this from a culture on the opposite end of the spectrum?

    15. StressedButOkay*

      Is it coming across rude based on tone/body language? I think for many of us, finding out a colleague moved and asking about the move/work set up is general small talk and getting to know you talk. I was asked the same questions when I told colleagues that I was moving in with my now-husband – what area, are you guys renting, is it a townhome, etc.

    16. ElastiGirl*

      This feels like normal post-moving small talk to me. But people can have sensitivities around life changes, and that’s fine. (I have some myself!)

      The way to test whether it’s just small talk is to respond by pivoting to an adjacent topic without actually answering the bothersome question.

      “Did you move to a house/apartment/condo?”
      “I had far more boxes of stuff than I expected, I can’t believe I’m still unpacking.”

      If they respond to the adjacent topic (“Oh, I moved 5 years ago and I still have boxes I haven’t opened!”), their initial question was just small talk. And you can relax.

      If they return to their original question, they’re prying, and you can respond accordingly with one of the excellent suggestions on this thread.

      1. bmorepm*

        I did this accidentally when a coworker asked me in front of a group what kind of surgery I’d just had, I answered before processing and thought she’d asked when so said last Thursday, and realized as I was speaking what she’d actually asked and it was kinda loud and busy so she let it go and I was very happy! That it’s actually a practice that some people employ to avoid nosey questions is new to me but makes total sense. I think even in a regular volume/less chaotic setting, the asker of the question might be unlikely to clarify and you are off the hook.

      2. Clisby*

        I agree with your conclusion, but will add that if I heard anyone responding like this to similar questions, I’d be wondering if they were in a witness protection program. Or avoiding a stalker.

        1. GythaOgden*

          That’s funny. I just dreamt about someone from my work being accepted into a witness protection programme. Small world.

          1. Clisby*

            It is kind of an interesting thought. I can imagine that person reacting badly to being asked about where they moved. Or what they did over the weekend. Or where they’re going on vacation. Or whether they have children.

    17. learnedthehardway*

      I’m guessing you are renting and feeling a bit sensitive about what that says about your financial situation. I would err on the side of assuming people are just making small talk – your idea of “oh I really like the area and I’m still getting settled!” is perfect.

      People buy / rent different homes for a wide variety of reasons, and these often do not relate to income per se. Eg. you buy a townhouse but I buy a house – well, perhaps you don’t have kids and I do. etc. Or you are renting because you’re new to the area and don’t know where to buy yet. Or you’ve found that owning your own home has far too much maintenance and upkeep, and you prefer for someone else to take care of that.

      Same with the questions about your work space – since the pandemic, working from home has been a big thing, and a lot of people have struggled to figure out how to make space for work within their homes. It’s perfectly fine to say “I’m using the spare bedroom” or “I have a desk area set up” or “my office is now in the basement” or “I’m still working that out – I’m trying some different options to see what works best”.

    18. N C Kiddle*

      I get how people can ask what they think is a perfectly inoffensive small talk question that just hits wrong because they don’t know all the background, and I do sympathise with that. I think your best bet is to come up with a short and matter of fact reply that doesn’t go into more detail than you’re comfortable with and then quickly move onto something you’re happier to talk about or ask them something about themselves.

    19. Observer*

      Why am I being asked this?

      Because you moved, people want to politely acknowledge it, and they also want some lightweight connection to their colleagues. I would be willing to be almost anything that no one cares much about the answer and that there is really NO agenda.

      I don’t remember others being asked this when they move!

      Of course you don’t. It wasn’t addressed to you, so even when it happened in your presence it probably did not register. For most people, even if it did register at the time, they would promptly forget it because it’s like remembering what the sky looked like three weeks ago on Tuesday.

      The real question I think you need to think about is *why* are you so fussed about these very normal questions. In my experience, when someone gets this bent out of shape over something that seems so normal, it’s generally a sign that something else is going on and this reaction is a symptom of that. So that’s worth thinking about.

      1. Cascadia*

        Yes to this! Where I’m from (the midwest, known for being extra nice!) it would perhaps be rude to NOT ask any follow-up questions or make small talk. Most people don’t actually care what the answer is, they are just showing interest in you as a person and making conversation because this is how humans forge relationships to work together collaboratively.

        LW, you’re viewing this as an interrogation, but it’s really just a conversation. When you mention a new thing in your life, most people only have a couple of obvious follow-up questions, and will ask those ad nauseum. If you mention you moved, people follow up by asking where to, or where from? When I was pregnant, anytime anyone found out I was pregnant I got asked pretty much the same three questions repeatedly – “Are you excited?” “When are you due?” and “What is the baby’s sex/gender?” At first it bothered me, but then I realized that these are pretty much the natural follow-up questions to “I’m pregnant”, especially for casual coworkers.

    20. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Like others have said, this is just really basic small talk stuff. I also don’t love small talk, but that’s a me problem, not a small talk problem. My hating it doesn’t make the questions weird or invasive or whatever.

    21. RagingADHD*

      I think you’re having trouble coming up with an unobtrusive way of “shutting this down” because it is a very normal conversation topic and shutting it down is going to be overt and unusual, no matter what you do. They aren’t strange questions, and they aren’t really about your personal life at all.

      If you are really strongly opposed to anyone knowing whether you live in an apartment or house for some reason, then the only socially smooth way I can think to respond would be to make a very silly joke that is obviously a joke, like “actually I moved to a BatCave because none of the complexes around here are bat-friendly,” or “I live in a shoe and don’t know what to do,” or something equally frivolous. Then when everyone chuckles, change the subject.

    22. Wordily*

      I agree with other commenters here that it’s almost certainly meant as friendly small talk rather than rudeness, but I do feel you! When I joined my current team I was very conscious that my colleagues were all a lot more settled and had hit a lot more life milestones than I had, and I hated being asked about my living situation because of that. It felt like I was highlighting my inexperience/lack of success to say “I’m renting a room in a shared house” when my colleagues were buying second homes. I also wasn’t super happy with my living situation for various personal reasons and found it difficult to put a positive face on it for their benefit.
      Maybe that’s not your situation, but I do think there are understandable reasons why this kind of question can feel really intrusive even when it’s not meant that way.

    23. Taylor, no not THAT one*

      I actually see your point on this. In a prior job, someone asked me if I bought or rented, and then when I said where my apartment was, he felt the need to say that that complex was trashy. In another prior job, my coworker would then ask about how much I paid for rent and then just gush about how I was wasting my money and that his mortgage was less than that. It is annoying and uncalled for.

      You could just reply with that you rent or own, but then say you don’t want to talk about where for privacy reasons.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Both of your examples got into more detail and personal areas than the questions the OP got.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          I’ve lived in places where living in anything other than a single-family home would have provided overly identifying information about exactly where you lived.

      2. jane's nemesis*

        THOSE people were being very rude. But I don’t think the initial questions being asked OP are the same?

        1. Starbuck*

          Yeah there’s definitely a rude way to ask the question, but I think that’s the exception! I also enjoy being brutally honest about my own housing situation as a younger worker at a business with mostly older employees who all bought their houses over a decade (or two or three) ago and could use a clue about how much harder it is to get established in our city today. Absolutely let’s compare the rent on my tiny apartment to the mortgage on your enormous house with a yard!

    24. Seashell*

      Maybe you think people are inquiring about your financial situation or how much you spent, but they don’t need that much detail. “I got an apartment in a building I really like, and there’s a great coffee shop down the street” is plenty and might be enough to change the topic.

      If anyone cared enough to get details, they could Google you and probably find out where you are, so it’s really not a gigantic secret in the age of the internet.

      1. What the what*

        I had someone in a book club I belonged to google a house I bought and she then commented on how small the square footage was! WTH. Not sure why she was so invested. I declined to tell her she was looking at old data—the house had been remodeled and added on to which increased the square footage. Maybe square footage was a book club membership requirement? People are so weird.

        1. Don't You Call Me Lady*

          Maybe book clubs are weird like that – years ago someone in a book club I was in told us all that she liked to look up people’s mortgage rates (apparently this is public information through the registry of deeds or similar) ..

          1. Clisby*

            Not sure about the mortgage rates, but the amount of the mortgage and the mortgagor (bank, whatever) are public record where I live (SC).

    25. warm smile in your voice*

      Kitten, did you maybe grow up in an environment, or spend a lot of time in an environment where people’s housing situations (particularly owning vs. renting) were judged a lot? Or is your financial situation stressing you out right now, particularly as it pertains to your housing (i.e. you want to buy a place but can’t afford to, or you wanted to rent something but couldn’t afford it so you had to settle for something else, etc)?

      Because these are very innocuous, small talk, boring questions on the surface. And you’re kind of having an outsized reaction to them. And the responses you’re proposing do NOT match the tone or “insult” of the original questions at all so yeah, if you did respond to your coworkers the way you want to, it would be seen as problematic. But if you have some internal baggage about your move or your finances, then I could see why these questions might be hitting you the wrong way. Even though I am 99.9999999 percent sure your coworkers are just asking because they’re interested in a “oh hey, good for you!” way and not because they want to like, do a deep dive on your credit score or if you’re in the “cool” part of town or if you maybe own a mansion full of priceless antiques protected by a rusty lock. I’ve been around people who get really shame-y about renters and that can mess with your head sometimes. Between that and the absolute mess that is the US housing market right now, I could see where you’re like, “[activate sarcasm detector!!!]” when in the employee breakroom.

    26. tabloidtained*

      I agree with the others who’ve said your coworkers are just making normal, friendly conversation. You’ll come across as rude and/or cold if you respond to those kinds of questions as if they’re nosey or invasive.

    27. Nancy*

      Those are normal small talk questions and ‘what is your workspace like’ can be people wanting ideas on how to better set up their own workspace.

    28. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      I see a lot of folk saying these questions aren’t rude and I agree with that, but a question doesn’t have to be inherently rude for it to be more invasive than you’re personally comfortable with. It seems like you may be reacting to how specific the question is, but honestly that doesn’t matter.

      You can be a reserved person who protects their peace while still being a pleasant coworker. I think the folks who’ve recommended turning it back around on the question asker are right. You should be able to say “Sorry I’m super private so I’d rather talk about something else” but if that would be weird in your work culture, giving folk an opportunity to talk about themselves is the most distracting thing. I’d think of a few different questions on the topic that you could ask:

      “I’m honestly so relieved to not have to think about moving anymore. Are you native to XYZ area? How long have you lived here?”

      “Oh! That reminds me, I’m looking for recommendations on great places to grab brunch/go to the gym/eat after work.”

      “It feels like I moved to the middle of nowhere/the inside of grand central station. Is there a lot of XYZ where you live? How long is your commute? Do you have a favorite coffee spot?”

    29. Pokemon Go To The Polls*

      I agree with others that this is generally considered a pretty inoffensive question, at least in the US where I am. That said, certainly not everybody who asks that sort of thing is making innocuous small talk and I can see many reasons why you wouldn’t want to engage. I myself live in a city with a bad reputation in the area and got really sick of people asking me how many gun shots I’d heard or making snide comments about the state I live in.
      Another way to shut it down might be to say “Yes, I did move, and it was such a process and still all I think about when I’m home that I actually really enjoy not having to think about it when I’m here, so can we talk about anything else?” Not everybody will love it but oh well, some people mix together tuna, canned pumpkin, fat free mayo, and frozen peas and microwave it.

    30. Busy Middle Manager*

      You’re throwing up with the example. ” There are plenty of other questions they could ask me about the move.” Are there? I feel like they asked the safest one

      If you live in an apartment say “it’s tight, I need to save money” or “it’s in a nice complex” if you like it

      If it’s a house mention how you like the kitchen or want to redo the bathroom one day and how you like the yard

      They did indeed ask “safe” questions

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        I would like to push back on this, because I have lived in multiple places where living in anything other than a single-family home would provide overly identifiable information about the exact location of your house. For example I live in a row house, and there are only two strips of row-houses in our town.

    31. NaoNao*

      The housing market in the USA is upside down and really wild lately. I suspect she might sincerely just be trying to get a bead on “can someone in X position in life afford X?” meaning let’s say you’re a single mom or a younger person–she’s just trying to figure out what someone in that “role” in life could afford.
      It’s for sure not her business! But real estate “wars” are something people really like to talk about at work, it’s considered a safe/neutral topic so I don’t think they think they’re prying.

      1. Starbuck*

        Yes, where I work/live is well know to be extremely unaffordable for local workers so people are almost always curious how new arrivals are managing it. There’s definitely ways to ask this question with genuine interest/concern (we’ve lost staff to housing challenges so it’s very relevant!) but there’s also ways to ask it where it’s clear you’re trying to ask essentially “are you rich/married wealthy/etc” that most people find rude because of a resistance to wanting to talk about money.

    32. Helewise*

      In addition to wondering if you have experienced people being judgmental about living arrangements before, I’m wondering if there’s anything else that feels off about the situation to you and if that’s why it feels so intrusive. I’m in an office environment right now where I find myself being very, very private because I don’t trust people to trample my privacy given the slightest opening – because I feel like people are trying to shove themselves into my life in ways I’m not interested in. In a healthier environment I’d happily volunteer information I keep under wraps here.

      You may also just be more private than is the norm, and that’s okay – just know that asking these questions alone doesn’t necessarily mean there’s any ill intent.

    33. Starbuck*

      “For example, I recently moved states and my coworkers keep asking, “did you move to a house, apartment, townhouse, etc.?” or “where is your work space now?”. ”

      I am surprised to hear those are considered rude questions; I do live in an area where housing affordability for workers is a massive challenge so curiosity about this is very common and it’s a occasional conversation topic, and almost sure to come up for new arrivals. I wonder why you think it’s a rude question?

      Not answering isn’t necessarily strange – there’s plenty of ways you can respond to the question without actually giving an answer to what was asked, but responding like it was a rude/uncommonly invasive question would definitely read as strange to most people I know. Something like, “oh I was lucky it was easy to find a place with the budget I had” or “I really like the X neighborhood I ended up in” etc. could work.

    34. Remedial Chaos Theory*

      Neither of those questions sounds overly personal or rude to me. They sound like run of the mill smalltalk.

    35. Hyaline*

      I think the “these aren’t inherently rude or invasive questions” has been thoroughly covered, but I appreciate that knowing that’s a general consensus doesn’t really help you navigate talking about topics you don’t want to talk about (or maybe knowing this is normal and not prying or invasive does help in which case ignore me!). And everyone is allowed “normal” conversation topics they personally prefer to avoid! So: I’d suggest practicing the art of the pivot. Find something within the question or topic that you are ok talking about and quickly pivot there. “Did you go with a townhouse or an apartment?” “I found a great place that has enough natural light for my plants—I really wanted to keep raising orchids!” “I’m just glad I found something close to the train station—hey was your train delayed this morning too? Bonkers!” And…I’m not trying to be a jerk here—if there is literally nothing you’re willing to chitchat with coworkers about, that is kinda a problem, and it’s a you problem, not a them problem. Small talk is part of a normal workplace landscape and to refuse to engage entirely is going to be seen as standoffish—because it’s pushing others away.

    36. Irish Teacher.*

      Just because so many people have said otherwise, I wanted to say I can see why you would find “do you live in a house or an apartment?” an odd question. I wouldn’t find it particularly rude or, on its own, intrusive (though in my experience, the people who ask stuff like that tend to do so in a list of…rather specific questions: what suburb do you live in? Is it a house or an apartment? Do you own or rent? Are you married? Do you have children? Do you have siblings? Where do they live?) but it seems a bit…well, more like something one would be asked in an oral for a language you are learning than normal conversation.

      It does depend how it comes up. If it was in response to a reference to getting the keys for your new home or buying something for it, it would seem more natural, but if it’s something like “oh, you’ve just moved to the city? Are you living in a house or an apartment?” it just seems strangely specific. It’s certainly not a question I’ve ever asked or been asked.

      Where you are living seems pretty normal to me, but asking about the type of house seems unusual.

    37. Jinni*

      So interesting the answers are. I find this question kind of rude.

      In my experience, when people ask these questions, they’re *really* trying to ask about finances. Whenever I’ve seen this the follow up question (possibly disguised) is how can you afford X, or if you’re renting, oh, too bad you can’t afford Y (buying).

      It’s like getting a new car and asking if you’re leasing or buying. I’d honestly never ask any of these as this is really none of my business.

      At work, I’d deflect all day long.

      1. Cordelia*

        I’m sure sometimes people are really asking about finances, but that’s not always the case, and it’s a little ungenerous to assume it is. If I had a coworker who I knew had just moved, I would ask them how the move had gone, what sort of place they were living in now, and about their new workspace. I would consider that showing a friendly interest in a coworkers big life event (that they have already shared with me, as I knew they were moving). I would expect to be asked similar, and would find it a little rude if no-one mentioned it when I returned to work after moving. But I genuinely have no interest whatsoever in my coworkers finances. Small talk does not always have a sinister motive, sometimes it’s about making positive connections with people.

      2. Nightengale*

        I get the house/apartment thing as judgement although sort of reverse class judgement.

        I’m in a profession – I’m a physician – where I am presumed able to buy a house (and financially I could.) But I live in an apartment for many reasons, largely disability related. Now in a city it isn’t as bad but when I lived in less urban places there was a lot of undercurrent of how everyone who can afford it owns and house (and drives a car. . . )

        1. Clisby*

          But telling someone you live in a house (vs. an apartment) doesn’t say anything about whether they’re buying or renting. At least where I live, plenty of people rent houses.

          1. Clisby*

            Adding … buying v. renting wouldn’t indicate anything about income to me, either. The only thing I might assume is that if a person bought a house or condo, they’re planning on staying put for at least 3-5 years.

  4. Caretaking and job offers*

    Hi all. Experiencing lots of mixed feelings and would love advice. My parents are 75 and 67. They live down south whereas I live up on the east coast. I currently have a remote job but I’m not making enough money, so I started looking.

    my dad had total knee replacement this year and taking care of him for two weeks was an eye opener to my future of taking care of my parents. He is going to have the next knee replaced later this year. Thankfully, both me and my sibling’s jobs are remote so we took turns staying there to help, because mom is fragile and small.

    I have an offer for a new job. I’d make much more money, but it’s fully in person. I have an interview for another job which makes a bit more than I make now, but fully remote. I’m actually excited about the in person job (like the role itself, not being in person) that I feel like I would sacrifice staying remote.

    However, thinking about needing to take care of my parents makes me think I shouldn’t take the in person job, even though it would really help me with my savings and debt. While my parents are in relatively good health, my dad is getting up there in age, and I know he’d need at least 4 weeks of help for his next knee surgery. I don’t want it all to fall on my sister.

    I’m also thinking what if a year or two from now, something happens, and my parents need me?

    Unfortunately, my parents refuse to move closer to either of us. My sibling is in a major city 4 hours away from them, but they insist on us moving down there to them. They live in a rural town where there isn’t great job prospects or quality of life for us. They say that because they’ve sacrificed for us, we should sacrifice for them and move there. Both me and my sibling are in our 30s, unmarried (but partnered) and without kids, so my parents feel like we don’t have a “life” to keep up with. They also do not want outside care (in so little words, “that’s what we had children for.”) I love my parents a lot and they did sacrifice for us. but I also don’t want to be resentful AND I’m worried about my parents future.

    Should I turn down the job offer and pursue the remote job? I know that having a remote job would continue to save me money from commuting and time in general, so I guess I can factor that in. I’m trying to think of the future and I fear I’ll be banking my PTO at an in person job in case I have to go and take care of my parents. Anyone with aging parents, I’d love to hear from you!

    1. Ginger Baker*

      Is the in-person job a “there is no remote work for any reason” job? Asking because it’s possible there will be *some* flexibility for you to work remotely while supporting a parent during a medical issue (i.e. before getting into such options as FMLA). I did a lot of work from the hospital and/or rehab center when my mom was going through it, even though technically I was supposed to be in the office most days; it was seen as a very reasonable accommodation and for days when my mom needed help or company but not the *intense* level of help that would mean I could *not* work, it was great and very helpful. (And, yes, I banked a LOT of PTO over the years, because I knew it was likely I would need it, and I did.)

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I would ask if you can negotiate a temporary part-WFH period to help your dad after surgery, at least.

        1. Caretaking and job offers*

          Thanks yall! I didn’t think of this. I know they allow WFH in very specific scenarios for short periods (1-2 weeks) but it’s not often. Should I negotiate this now for October or try and save PTO? I don’t want them to think I’m not committed to the job.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I don’t know without knowing more about your workplace. I’d start talking to them now, though, to figure it out.

          2. Hlao-roo*

            If you’re still in the offer stage, now is the best time to negotiate. You mention your dad will likely need 4 weeks of post-surgery help, so you might want to negotiate for 2 weeks of remote work in October (or 1 week remote work, 1 week vacation, or any other configuration you want).

          3. Annony*

            If you know you need the time off in October it makes sense to negotiate it now. They may not let you work remotely for it, but you would at least want them to agree to the time off.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              The more specific you are, LW, the better and more professional it will come off. You aren’t trying to get off early every Friday to party, this is a set obligation that they should want to know about.

    2. MsM*

      I don’t think you need to prioritize what would be most convenient for your parents in making this decision when they’re clearly not willing to factor your needs or what’s practical into their plans for the future. Take the job you like, set aside what you can as a travel/care fund, and make liberal use of PTO and FMLA if and when that’s warranted.

      1. Nesta*

        I would echo this.

        Though helping your parents is a wonderful and noble thing, your career is what is going to make sure your needs are met. It will make sure that you can afford healthcare and retirement. If they want you to make a long-term move that is also going to damage your ability to financially succeed in life… that isn’t really an option.

        Though I understand and applaud anyone who wants to maintain their independence as they get older, they can’t do that while expecting everyone to revolve their lives around them. That isn’t independence. They can hire an aid or you can chip in financially to help with that, but if they insist on living in a remote area with no job prospects and no community… it is sad, but they are grown and you have to let them make their choices.

        1. Chicago Anon*

          I have heard Nesta’s last sentence practically verbatim from a social worker in a nursing home. She also said, “Our parents have the right to fail.” What would they do if you were hit by a bus? Take the better job.

          1. Kuleta*

            Yes. Sometimes retirees move to a smaller/less expensive area because they didn’t save for retirement but did own a home, and had to sell it to avoid running out of money.

        2. PotsPansTeapots*

          Yes. While it’s fine for your parents to expect you to help, that doesn’t mean they get everything they want with no discussion. Do what’s best for you and support your sibling in doing the same.

        3. Bruce*

          There will come a point where your parents will need to be taken care of, you will be in a better position to do that if you have the resources and support of a good job. They may think you will be their personal caretaker, but it may make more sense to be in assisted living near you than for you to move to them… even if they try to guilt you into doing what they want.

          1. Bruce*

            Also I know a lot of families where culturally the parents expect to be taken care of… so they move in with the kids, and baby-sit the grand-kids. A third the families in my old neighborhood were like that! They did not tell their kids to sacrifice their own careers to be caregivers.

            1. IT Manager*

              ^this

              It’s one thing to continue to share resources and depend on one another through the generations, it’s another to say “that’s why we had children” and expect your grown children to devote their life to your location, your care, your desires.

              They won’t even move to your location but you’re supposed to make job choices based on their needs? No thanks.

      2. Fake Kirkland Coffee*

        Echoing this. You can politely say “That plan doesn’t work for me. I want to support you. Let’s figure out how what we CAN make work.”

        If your area has it, check for senior social services organizations. They may have professionals who can help with these kinds of plans, who know what options are available and have seen it all and know what works. Having a third party working with you might neutralize some of the arguments.

        If your employer has EAP, check out what options are there as well. They may have some sort of support for caregivers, which increasingly includes adult children caring for their parents.

      3. The Unguarded Moment*

        Yes. It’s not reasonable of them to expect you and your sister to make major sacrifices to quality of life to care for them with them not compromising at all on how they can access care. This is on them. You’ve got to think of your whole quality of life, not merely your parents’ welfare and your wish to care for them.

        Side note 1: If you can, try and scrutinise the merits of the job in relation to OTHER factors too. Ie, don’t let this conundrum cloud your assessment of whether it’s the right job for you in other respects.

        Side note 2: My parents are elderly and they have been elderly a long time! I think sometimes we imagine older parents are “on their way out” but can be surprised that they’re really not. Depending on their age, health and luck, they might not need as much help quite yet as you are envisaging. I hope that is the case for you, at any rate.

    3. AnonyOne*

      I would go for the job you want now, whichever one that is, on the basis that most of the things you are worried about are future problems (unless that job is likely to limit your future prospects).
      You don’t know what will happen to either job in two year’s time – you could take the remote job and there could be layoffs, you could take the in-person job and you could reach a place where your manager was happy to sign off on some remote work.
      I would go for the role I was interested in that paid more, and then set aside funds in case I wanted to change jobs or arrange unpaid leave in a few years

      1. Kesnit*

        ^ This.

        In 2022, my wife left her job to take care of her father (who was ill).* He passed away 2 weeks later. She decided not to go back to work (choosing to keep house me and her mother).

        You don’t know what will happen with your father. He could be hit by a bus and need more care than you could provide. You could be hit by a bus.

        * My wife and I lived with her parents, with the intention of purchasing a portion of the property and building on it. Plans for that had just started when my FiL passed.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I mean this nicely: Therapist.

      Your parents are pulling some major guilt strings involving things that are not realities in the lives of you and your sister. You can’t just move to a small town and magically manifest supportive jobs or endlessly flexible work situations. Parents are supposed to sacrifice (up to a point, obviously) for their children–it’s called parenting. You’re not my grandmothers, who were mostly housewives and theoretically had more time to manage aging parents.

      But you’re unlikely to change your parents so your next-best bet is boundary-setting.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’m feeling a sudden need to call my parents and thank them (again) for planning how they wanted to spend the ends of their lives and choosing their own continuing care retirement community.

          They certainly never treated my siblings and me like an investment in their own future care that they expected to be able to cash out at need.

          1. Clisby*

            Mine didn’t, either. They took very good care of us when we were children, and were wonderful parents, but there was nothing lavish about their spending on us.

            For example, when the 6 of us were getting to college age, they were clear: “We’ll pay for you to go to any in-state college or university you can get into. If you want a private college, or to go out of state, you have to figure out how to pay the difference.”

            I still remember, when I had a child of my own, and for some reason we were talking about planning for the future, I told them they shouldn’t even think they needed to leave us any money. My father said, “Don’t worry – our main concern was that we didn’t want to be a burden to you.”

        2. Some Words*

          Maybe appalled but not surprised. When I’d share that parenthood was never part of my life plan I’d often hear variations of “who will take care of you when you’re old?”.

          People have offspring for many reasons, some more noble than others.

      1. Live Your Life*

        I am the only person in my immediate family who not only doesn’t live within an hour of the very small, rural area where they all grew up, but moved literally halfway across the US. I was always very upfront with my parents that I was not moving back to care for them. My mother laid many guilt trips on me over the years and often accused me of not caring about “family” because I didn’t live nearby. Eventually they cut me out of their will (after previously telling me everything would be split 50/50 with my sibling). It was a long time coming, but we’ve been estranged for almost 5 years. It’s sad but at the same time, I refuse to let them manipulate me.

      2. Nea*

        THIIIIIIS! All my hackles raised at “we should sacrifice for them… my parents feel like we don’t have a “life” to keep up with.”

        You absolutely DO have a life and your first obligation is to it and your spouse. A therapist would help you draw and hold those boundaries.

        This doesn’t preclude helping your parents in some ways, though. Would the better money help pay for temporary in-home help where your parents are? Is it possible to bring your father to your place temporarily for help while he recovers?

        Note use of “temporary.” Because you have your own life to get back to.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I puffed out like an angry puma at that line. No, the LW should not sacrifice for them! Help, listen, assist, care, yes. But expecting your kids to hand over the most productive years of their own lives so you don’t have to deal with big choices? No.

      3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        “You had us in order to care for you when you got older? Huh. Seems like it would have been cheaper for you to save the money and just get specialized care when you needed it”

    5. Live your life*

      Perhaps this will be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think you owe your parents caretaking services, or anything, really. They signed up to care for you when they chose to have children. That’s what being a parent means. You should live your life and take the job you want. Your parents seem sort of selfish — refusing to move closer and expecting/demanding that you and your sibling move back to them. F that. You said if you take the in person job that pays more, it will help with your savings and debt. Might be worth considering how that might help you care for your parents down the road…like the ability to hire outside care. (Even though they say they don’t want that.)

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Nope, seconding this.

        Helping them seek out and arrange care? Absolutely. Doing it personally? Not reality.

        I mean, there are some things you can do for them, but long-term, they need to accept outside care. My parents already know this–I’m the only local child and I have decades of work ahead of me and won’t be available to be their caregiver. That’s just reality.

        1. rainyday*

          My mother, now in her 70’s and doing well, looked after her own mother for years, giving up her own work and much of her life to do so. My grandmother was similar to OP’s parents, in refusing to accept outside care and expecting my mother (not my uncle, of course…) to care for her without thanks or appreciation. It was awful.
          My mother is adamant that she will never ever come and live with me or my brother, or accept care from us. She says we are to find her a nice home, organise her care and then spend time with her as her family not her carers. She does not want our relationship to deteriorate in the way hers did with her mother.
          OP, we don’t have to sacrifice ourselves for our parents, thats not the way it works. If you plan the rest of your career with the expectation that at some point you will end up living in an area with no quality of life or job prospects in order to provide free care for your parents, you will end up resenting them.

          1. Eucerin*

            That is something important to consider! Caregiver burnout is VERY real and the resentment that can and will occur can truly poison a parent-child relationship. Your parents clearly don’t think that will happen (as far as your and their relationship). But it will. Is that the legacy they want to leave behind? That their children’s memories of the last few years with Mom and Dad will be tainted by resentment, guilt-tripping, and emotional manipulation??? You do you, is what I’d say to them.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Thirding. It is sad, but true, that the vast majority of us will be ill/infirm enough that we will not be able to live our final years and die at home, at least not without major planning and no unforseen financial catastrophe. Simply expecting our offspring to step in and make sure we never have to make any changes to our lives is…not generous, let’s say.

        3. I Have RBF*

          Yep. I wouldn’t be able to provide care for my mom anyway – I’m more disabled than she is.

          My sister is unlikely to do it, but she wants to shove my mom, minus her things and pets, into some cheap assisted living place and sell her property (and keep the proceeds for herself, natch.) I paid off the mortgage on that property, and my mom doesn’t want to move when she can live independently.

          Before that, my sister wanted my mom to sell her property in Florida and move into my sister’s basement, without pets and under my sister’s “rules” for what she could and couldn’t have. Made my mom really mad – cold weather aggravates her old back injury and arthritis, and she sure as hell doesn’t want my sister to act like her parent.

      2. Justin*

        We made the same comment basically.

        It reminds me a bit of the old Chris Rock joke, where he imitates someone saying, “I take care of my kids!”then says, “What you want, a cookie?”

      3. Tradd*

        I’m with this. I’ve seen so many friends who gave up jobs and/or neglected their own children/relationships because parents moved somewhere hours away and expected their kids come to them to take care of them. Parents like this are selfish, no other way to put it.

        And given policy at the company where I currently work, even part-time WFH may NOT be an option. You can ask, but don’t be surprised if they say “butts in seats only.” My company has a firm no WFH policy.

      4. EA*

        I think this is actually the popular opinion in middle class US culture these days! Definitely not in other cultures though.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          And yet I feel like I read a fair amount about (usually married-in daughters-in-law) resentful of the demands placed on them by the parental generation.

          It’s definitely a logistical reality for the modern US. Most of us can’t afford to have someone be an on-call caregiver instead of working.

          1. Clisby*

            If married daughters-in-law are resentful of demands placed on them by their in-laws, the solution is: No. Talk to your son/daughter.

            If it’s their own parents, then it has nothing to do with the spouse’s family.

          2. Don't You Call Me Lady*

            In my experience that’s because the women will 99% of the time be the main caregivers, whether they’re the daughter or daughter in law, so she know’s what she might be getitng into

        2. Observer*

          I think this is actually the popular opinion in middle class US culture these days! Definitely not in other cultures though.

          This is most definitely NOT just a US Middle class thing, though. In many cultures the parents’ expectations would be seen as really unreasonable.

          1. Bruce*

            I commented elsewhere that I know a lot of families where the grandparents move in and are the baby-sitters. They did not expect their kids to move away from a good job.

      5. Maybesocks*

        don’t forget Allison’s advice about working remotely in a state different from where your employer is. maybe that would not be possible. also, debt gets worse and worse. best of luck!

    6. Justin*

      Take the job you want. No one owes a debt to parents for parenting, it is, in fact, the job we (meaning parents) sign up for. Not that it’s not good to help as much as is reasonably possible. But what if they don’t need help beyond those 4 weeks anytime soon? My dad is 79 and doing fine (for now), who knows what happens?

      1. Clisby*

        Yes. I’m 70, and my children are in their 20s. Nothing like a late start. They don’t owe me anything for having them. I wanted them, and I did, and aside from my husband, they are the greatest joy of my life. There wasn’t any sacrifice involved.

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        Exactly. My grandpa is in his 80s, had a double knee replacement 20 years back, and he’s going strong.

    7. M2*

      Take the job you like/ want. Also think in the future 5-10 years down the line, which role will
      Help propel you possibly to your next role. What are your goals for that time?

      Don’t worry about your parents. No one knows what life throws us. After you have been at your new job awhile when you have a better idea about your dads surgery ask if you can work remote there for a week and then maybe use a week of PTO (if you banked it by then). Is your dad able to go to a rehab facility for the first week or two after the surgery? That might be really helpful.

      I think also setting up boundaries so people understand especially your sister saying you have a new job and it isn’t remote so you won’t have the same leeway as before to help. Maybe you both can brainstorm ideas together to help your parents and maybe look into what insurnace or the state offers.

    8. job holder and elder care provider*

      Take the job you are excited about, you like the position and it is for “much more money”. That’s important for someone in their 30’s who is establishing themselves in a career and beginning to save money for their own retirement. Despite your parents’ beliefs, you actually do have a life and it is important to honor that for yourself and your partner. And you and/or your sister might have kids of your own.

      Your parents are not that old, your mom is 67 and could live another 20 – 30 years. You and your sister will need to partner up and share their care and it might be that the next knee replacement is on your sister, while you take care of something else down the line. And having all that extra income can help in hiring care for your parents.

      Don’t move to a rural area with limited opportunities while you are in the highest earning years of your career and don’t allow your parents to make you feel guilty.

      I took care of my dad for several years, eventually moving him to my town when dementia hit. And I’ve been taking care of my 99 year old grandmother for 12 years by myself ( her son, daughter-in-law, and other granddaughter (my cousin) haven’t lifted a finger the last 15 years to help with either time or money),. Having a job that pays well is what has enabled me to do this. Without that, I would be in financial trouble and be less able to help grandma.

      1. Manders*

        Seconding this. Eldercare is SO much more expensive than people think it will be, and parents who assume their kids will provide caretaking often don’t budget anything close to enough for even the bare minimum essentials of aging in place (never mind the worst-case scenarios like long-term memory care). Putting your career first now will help you cover those expenses when they do come up later.

    9. Tio*

      I have an in person job, and I was able to get an accommodation to work form my mother’s house for 3 weeks when she had her first knee surgery, even though we are hybrid and she’s in another state.

      Considerations:
      1. Does the in person job have a business in the state your parents are in? Mine did, so there was no business nexus issues, and she was in Florida so no payroll issues.
      2. If not, do they have enough PTO that you could plan to take it for his surgery? Are you ok with using it like that?

      Honestly if you get an offer, I would explain the situation to the job and ask about what accommodations would be available. Treat it like a preplanned vacation – “My father is looking to have knee surgery in the next X months and I’m wondering what options I would have to stay with him after the surgery. What would my choices be if I accepted the offer?” and listen to what they say.

      People have aging parents and family issues all the time, the company shouldn’t find this at all weird. And some have good options for this – my company offers separate caregiver leave, which I didn’t end up taking for reasons, but it was there.

      1. Tio*

        Additional option – Depending on your housing setup, could your dad come stay with you during his surgery? My mom was up and around way faster than I thought with her knee surgery, so he won’t necessarily have to be babysat the same way other surgeries might need to.

    10. Ghostwriting is Real Writing*

      I would take whatever job makes the most sense for career advancement. Your parents could go years without needing additional help beyond the known knee replacement. My 99-yer-old mother did not need outside help until just a few years ago. Making decisions on what “might” happen is a recipe for resentment. If you take the higher paying job, you could bank PTO, but also bank additional savings that would allow you to take a week of unpaid leave. A higher paying job early in your career typically means significantly higher paying jobs later in your career when your parents might need financial support as well as in-person help. Doing what’s right for you will normally benefit everyone.

    11. Texan In Exile*

      Mr T’s dad insisted that Mr T take care of him after his knee replacement surgery.

      We didn’t know until much much later that going to a rehab center had been an option – an option Mr T’s dad had rejected. I just wondered how people who didn’t have kids managed, not realizing that there exists an entire infrastructure that Medicare pays for.

      All this to say – please talk to a social worker or the county’s council on aging to find out what options exist that are not you drop everything to help your dad to the toilet.

    12. allx*

      Take the in-person job that you are excited about. You are jumping the gun on the “needing to take care of the old folks.” I say this as a person about the same age as your mom, with a husband a bit younger than your dad. I also say this as a person who spent the last 20 years “taking care of” my mom, with similar health issues etc. Live your life now. Let your sister live her life now. Make choices that prioritize your own lives. Your life should not be forfeit to other peoples’ lives. And you aren’t abandoning anyone or leaving it to your sister to manage. Your parents have options, many options, including daily nursing and PT and OT care that are available to persons on Medicare. Your dad also could go into skilled nursing or rehab after the second knee surgery to get over the worst of the recovery. He has information available to him based on how he did the first time. As one of their generation, your parents are not yet old-old. Their request for their children to come live near them is unreasonable. Love yourself first, your parents second.

    13. NuMom*

      Take the job.

      I think you are being a bit anxious and jumping the gun here. Have you even talked to your parents about what they expect or want from you if they do need full live in care? Maybe having this chat will help you make decisions and plans. You can always take a long weekend here and there to assist.

      If they expect both of you to live nearby then they may have to move near you. If they refuse to move then they will have to make do with home services, home health, hospice, nursing facilities, and the whole host of medicaid and medicare paid services for age and surgery related healthcare.

    14. Observer*

      Should I turn down the job offer and pursue the remote job?

      Short answer? No.

      Obviously, you want to look at all of the numbers to see what the actual impact is. But don’t give up a good job that a significantly better financial / career move based on what might happen in a few years. If you need to make that change down the road, you can change then. In the meantime, don’t shortchange yourself.

      Also, you have a partner. If this a serious long term relationship, what do they say about the situation? Moving to your parents’ hometown without thinking about their needs is not great, either. So that’s the other issue you need to think about.

    15. Pretty as a Princess*

      Pursue the job. Oh my word. Your parents’ behavior is manipulative and appalling.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Having been in a similar situation, take the better money.

      Trying to work around your parents’ needs is going to happen whenever it happens, regardless of which job you take, and the thing that’s actually going to be most helpful for you in the long run is having less debt and more savings.

    17. cactus lady*

      I’m going to preface this by saying that I don’t think you should listen to anyone on here who tries to tell you what to do or how to feel about your family relationships. However I cared for my mom the last few years of her illness and through hospice and her passing while working a job that required going to the office, so I can share what my experience was with you. Remember that FMLA is an option to keep it in mind when caring for a parent. I believe you have to be there for a year before you qualify, but it’s something to think about with the new job. Also, if you have a good boss, generally they are very understanding.

      I actually ended up taking that job and moving closer to my parents because I wanted to help out, even though I hated living in that city and the office politics were crazy. My parents didn’t try to guilt trip me, I just wanted to help because I loved them. I realize other people might have different family relationships than me, but for me it was worth the sacrifice. I was open with my boss about what was going on, and was able to work fully remote when I needed to help them, and use my sick time to get paid during FMLA. If the new job has separate sick/vacation time, you should be able to use sick time for it. I had been banking my sick time for about 3 years when this happened because I knew her health was declining, and was able to cover all of my FMLA time off with it.

      Good luck. I know how hard it is to make this kind of decision.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This sounds, though, like you were able to find a job that was generally appropriate to your skills and also could provide a sufficient living, and that is more than likely not the case in the LW’s parents’ area.

        1. cactus lady*

          oh this was definitely NOT my first choice on any front. but again, to me, it was a worthwhile tradeoff.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            That’s what I’m saying, though–it was a tradeoff that, while less than ideal, you could still afford to make. That may not be the case for the LW and her sister. There may literally be no jobs they can live on, never mind jobs approaching their chosen careers, in wherever their parents live. “Worthwhile” isn’t a factor if you cannot actually support yourself on whatever is available.

            1. cactus lady*

              my point here was that they should tune into their own values rather than a bunch of strangers on the internet when it comes to stuff like this. we all should. no one here knows this persons relationship with work or their parents to a degree that we should be doing anything other than sharing what has worked for us.

      2. IT Manager*

        “ My parents didn’t try to guilt trip me, I just wanted to help because I loved them”

        This is what makes the OP’s situation entirely different. You made your own choices and they should get to do the same. The parental manipulation here is way out of line.

    18. Annony*

      Your parents are trying to choose an option that is not available. You moving there is the only option they want and that is not something you want. While taking a remote position allows you to go there as needed, it does not sound like a good long term solution. What will you do if they start needing permanent help? They think you will move. You are probably better off removing all doubt and taking the job you want. They need to figure out whether they want outside care or to move closer to you because you moving to them is off the table.

    19. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Take the job you love, and ask yourself how you and your sister want to handle it when your parents are no longer capable of living on their own. Your parents refuse to move for now; that will probably change later when they need 24-7 care.

      I’ve put my own career on hold for 4 years because various elderly family members needed help. The most recent (and hopefully last!) is my aunt. She lived about 1500 miles away from me and my spouse and was set on staying put. Her eyes got worse, her arthritis got worse, I was on the phone with her or straightening things out from a distance for 2+ hours every day, along with flying back and forth to put out fires. When she started having hallucinations, I started researching assisted living communities in our area and how to pay for them. I took my own photos, asked questions, and even set up video calls so she could have a remote tour. Once my aunt had an accurate picture of what moving out would look like, she did a complete 180 about staying in her area. She’s now been here for a happy 7 months. Today I’m working on a volunteer project for an NGO in my field; tomorrow I’m taking my aunt on a lunch and shopping trip.

      NGL that was a LOT of work, but like you, I wanted my loved one taken care of while I pursue my career. You have your sister for help, more time to make a plan of attack, and a job possibility you’re excited about – I’m jealous! Good luck!

    20. JGV2*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. My parents have had knee and hip replacements, and luckily at the times of these operations the caretaking could be done by the other parent and family in their area, but I am concerned about continued aging issues as well (both of my folks fall between your parents’ ages). My sister is married, no kids, and lives about an hour from them, but they don’t see her as often as I would expect with proximity. I am unpartnered and have no kids, and live ~2000 miles away with no direct flight options. One thing that moving this far away has allowed me is to use a financial machete against my debt, which makes me feel a lot better about upcoming years as things becoming harder with everyone’s health. My parents are not overtly requiring my assistance, but the money can purchase assistance you need if you feel less equipped to do the physical caretaking and also don’t want to push extra work on your sibling. I realize this is difficult, and the guilt associated with it, but your sacrifices are you sacrifices and don’t have to look the same as what your parents did.

      In my opinion, none of you should move, and you should take the job you are excited about, and see what options it leads you to. You may be able, after establishing yourself in person for a few months, to arrange some temporary remote work, and you can lay that foundation over the next few months, both in discussing upcoming caretaking needs, and in showing up and working. It’s no small thing to relocate and disrupt existing support networks, and caretaking is rough work, mentally and physically. As much as you can possibly keep your support steady, it will help you provide what you feel you must do for your folks.

      I don’t mean to minimize the attachment and sacrifices at all. I have always tried to express my love and gratitude for the sacrifices my parents made throughout many years, to do the best they could do with what they knew and what they had, and how they maximized what they’ve had. That said, I’ve had those sacrifices thrown in my face over the past few years during any disagreements, and it’s hard to swallow. That does not mean I do not want to help them in times of need, just that we will never be able to simply be friends and they will demand a bit of deference because they don’t understand that disagreement does not equal disrespect.

      A few months ago, I helped one of my best friends, an only child, with the last week of her mother’s life, which we didn’t realize immediately was the last week. I have a fully in-person job for which a lot of work cannot be conducted remotely, but I was able to arrange remote work for the first couple of days, and traveled to be with them. When it turned out we were in early hospice and caretaking was taking a lot of time and energy by both of us, I had to stop working and just tend to friend’s mom, but it was a very profound experience to be trusted that deeply. A combination of money, to make other caretaking happen, and physical presence did the trick. I hope that my parents will be understanding when theirnext health complications arise, but I feel more confident in following what I feel is the right thing to do, which changes with different situations. I hope you can arrange caretaking, presence, and assistance in ways that work to ease your spirit.

      1. Plate of Wings*

        I don’t know how quote but

        “I’ve had those sacrifices thrown in my face over the past few years during any disagreements, and it’s hard to swallow. That does not mean I do not want to help them in times of need, just that we will never be able to simply be friends”

        this is so well said, so true, and honestly so sad for _them_: by holding this over your head, they have lost out on potentially many years of adult friendship and true closeness with you. You sound like a kind and thoughtful person, and your best friend and her late mom were so lucky to have you! I’d rather have your friendship than your deference.

    21. Just Thinkin' Here*

      Unless your parents can pay you to make up the finance difference for both you and your partner, no. Take the job that has the best opportunities for your future growth and retirement and personal savings. If they need care, they need to move to where the care is available. Another option would be to use some of your and sibling’s income to pay for in-house helpers / folks to drive your parents around as needed.

    22. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My parents moved from where they had lived their entire lives to where I live. They did it because they needed to be closer to one of their adult children for purposes of assistance when needed.

      Your parents are being unreasonable. Which means the rules change. No, you don’t sacrifice your career for them. You assist as you’re able, but they ALSO need to make it possible for you to assist.

    23. Wordily*

      This is such a personal thing I feel like I can’t advise, but I feel for you! My mother will be having her second major surgery this year at about the same time I’ll be moving several hours (and an international border) away to start a new job, and it’s difficult. I’m lucky that my parents have made it clear they want me to be able to live my own life and not let their care needs dictate the choices I make, but I love them and I’m aware from watching them care for my grandparents that even if you are able to afford professional care it’s often still necessary to have a family member there to advocate for an elderly person’s needs.
      Ultimately it’s your life, you only get one shot at it, and it’s all too easy to sacrifice things you weren’t really prepared to and end up with little positive result to show for it/resentful/struggling to take care of your own current or future needs as a result. But there’s not a right answer or a right way to feel about it, and if your quality of life would be significantly affected by wanting to help your parents and not being in a position to, or by using unreasonable amounts of travel time/money/employer’s goodwill helping them, then you have to factor that in as well.
      Getting old sucks.

    24. tabloidtained*

      Your parents are my parents in an alternate universe: similar cultural values and beliefs, but mine used their “parent power” to move in with me, rather than making me move closer to them. One major factor: Dad wanted to retire and I couldn’t support them where they lived. Have you talked to your parents about that? They can’t have everything: You caring for them *and* you moving down to be close to them isn’t going to work if you can’t make a good living in their town. Do you provide financial support to them? That’s the only power I have with my parents, so they did follow the money, so to speak. :)

      1. Generic Name*

        I think OP’s parents have already anticipated this very reasonable response by saying OP and sister “don’t have lives” where they are at, therefore it would be easy to upend everything and move to parents rather than the other way around.

    25. fellow caretaker*

      I’ve been in your position with my grandparents, and I have to say you need to be careful with your own life here. I understand how much guilt is associated with this decision, but I’ll warn that the guilt can turn into resentment if you allow it to control your life decisions. You don’t want to resent your parents at the end of their life, and if you put your life on hold until you’re 50 so they can have theirs the way they want I’m afraid that’s how you’ll feel. Especially based on how they speak about it now, what you decide to do may never be enough. It is difficult to get old and some people unfortunately don’t realize how much pressure they put on their loved ones as they do, and it can feel like you’re trying to fill a bottomless bucket.

    26. Seashell*

      If you can’t do it, then they will need to have outside care. Medicare would probably pay for that. I don’t get parents who had children in order to have home health aides.

      1. bly*

        Medicare is way harder to get aide coverage from, and Medicaid requires a spend down of assets first. The elder care “system” in the USA is way more complicated and difficult to navigate than many understand.

        1. Hyaline*

          This. However—if they truly do end up needing 24 hour care in a facility, Medicaid is a safety net after they’ve spent through their own assets to do so. (If OP and family ever hit that point, their best bet is talking to a lawyer specializing in elder issues.)

    27. DivergentStitches*

      My FIL was insistent that he would die in his home. He never ever wanted to move from their small town. Then my MIL got cancer and died, and he developed Parkinson’s, and he suddenly didn’t want to be alone. He now lives in an assisted care facility near my BIL, but for a couple of years he did live with my BIL until his care got too demanding, and that was a 4 hour drive from their old home.

      Just to say that, older folks do sometimes change their mind when medical problems become too overwhelming and/or one of them passes.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is good to hear. I have taken my mother at her word that she will only leave her house “on a gurney”. But recently she said that she didn’t have plans to downsize *right now*, so I think her opinion is evolving (fortunately!).

        1. Eucerin*

          “I have taken my mother at her word that she will only leave her house “on a gurney”

          They all say that, thinking that they’re somehow the miracle 80 year old who never breaks a hip and thus starts a merry-go-round of hospital-rehab-home-hospital-rehab-home-hospital-permanent-nursing-home 5 years later because their care needs are now too high for independent living in their own house anymore.
          (A lot of experience with elder care in my family).

    28. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m a hospice doc and I’ve worked in something geriatrics-adjacent my whole career. I also went through this with my mother. Take the job that’s best for you. Your parents may or may not need care and if they do it may not be for many years. You are not obligated to them, no matter what they think.

      It can be very rewarding and fulfilling to provide care for family members if you can do it with a whole heart. If you’re going to be filled with guilt and resentment, it will not be rewarding or fulfilling. The fact that you don’t have kids doesn’t mean you don’t have a life. You have your own life and what sounds like an exciting opportunity.

      In addition, caring for older people is like caring for kids in the sense that it’s often not compatible with a full-time job, even when that job is remote. Doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions happen during working hours. If they’re hospitalized, you will need to be with them to talk to staff, who will not function on your schedule.

      Do what’s best for you, and if you feel crushing guilt at that thought, maybe consider therapy to talk it through.

    29. OtterB*

      You might also talk to your sibling about the needs and how to meet them. When my MIL needed help, we were halfway across the country and his two sisters were local. They dealt with the hands-on stuff, but he did his share by managing the finances and paperwork.

    30. Rara Avis*

      Bear in mind — you don’t have children, so there will be no one to care for you in your old age — so you need to have a job that will build your savings! It’s so hard when you love your parents, but they need to give a little too.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Also, after being deeply involved in end-of-life care for 3 of my grandparents, my parents have sworn that they will not inflict that on my brother and me (from 3000 miles away). They have taken care of a lot of business — up to and including buying their tombstones. (My dad is extremely practical.)

    31. My Experience*

      I haven’t read any of the other replies yet. Do what’s best for you. Your parents likely won’t be around to take care of you when you are 75! So if you want to take a job to save money and pay off debt, do it. Future you will appreciate it. You don’t owe it to your parents to care for them in the manner they wish. Speaking as a married 68 year old – we wouldn’t expect that from our kids – and would move to be close to them if we needed them. Also we have one living 90-year old parent between us. She lives nowhere near any of her three kids. We get out there about 4 times a year. She really wants to stay where she is. We’ve discussed it and she knows all of our limitations and if she has an adverse event and moves to assisted living there, then that’s where she’ll wind up staying. Also you have a partner so you can’t ( LoL shouldn’t) make a decision without consulting them!

    32. Database Developer Dude*

      Your parents are undermining themselves. In order to care for them properly, you have to care for yourselves, which means the best job you can get, and living in a place that fosters your own mental, phyiscal, and emotional health.

    33. Rex Libris*

      Take the job you want, with the salary you need. In-person jobs normally have PTO, or other ways to take time to tend to ailing family members.

      Most of all, you can’t predict the future, but you already know that you need the money.

    34. HannahS*

      All the (very meaningful and important) emotional/guilt-related considerations aside, I suggest taking the higher-paying job. If, in an unspecified amount of time, you need to quit to have a more flexible job, then fine. But your parents may not need large amounts of help for many more years–years that you could spend earning more money. You can also use the more prestigious job to get a higher-paying flexible job later.

      I recognize that there are lots of different ways of thinking about parenthood and what we owe our parents; I don’t come from a culture that really requires filial piety to the extent that some do. But I am a parent. I hope to never need my child’s help; I hope she’ll want to visit me and call me and will enjoy my company as I age. I hope that she’ll be with me at the end of my life. But I don’t want her to feel like she can’t take the jobs she wants or live where she wants just because of me. It’s not her job to nurse me into old age.

    35. Throwaway Account*

      I am 60, still working full time, have an aging mom a plane ride away, a son with some previous mental health issues, and a new granddaughter just out of the NICU. I’m saying all that to show I understand the need to care for others, and my advice is to put yourself first! Take the job YOU want.

      It is like on the plane, to be able to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself.

      My mom always says she does not want caregivers, and she does not want to burden any of us by living with us. But I was quick to say she would have to do what works for US, not for her. We have to consider everyone’s needs and if it is easier for me to have her with me rather than me having to travel to her or run across town to check on her, then that is what we are doing!

      Someone told me a story once that I think fits – a mother bird is saving her two babies by flying them over an ocean, one in each claw, bc their island home is flooded. She tells them, I’ll be old and used up by the time we get to the mainland. Will you take care of me? The first one says, “yes, I’ll make you my priority and make a nest for you and feed you for ever!”

      Plop! Mother bird drops the first baby into the ocean, and it drowns. She asks the second baby, and it, wisely, says I’ll do my best, but I have to take care of myself, I might have children one day, etc. Mother bird hangs onto that baby – the future matters more than the past. YOU matter more than your parents.

    36. Dancing Otter*

      I guess I’m here to give the aging parent viewpoint. My only daughter lives half a continent away.
      I just had a knee replacement earlier this year. Medicare paid for a 2-week stay at a rehabilitation facility, because there was no one to care for me at home. (If your mother cannot lift your father, surely that would qualify.)
      He would get better care there than you or your sister could provide. For example, daily physical and occupational therapy with *all* the equipment and no excuses, pain medication on time with no arguments, trained caregivers…
      After the two weeks, there were various home health aides and therapists who came to my home until I could drive again. Since I had already met my deductible for the year, all of this did not cost me extra.
      In addition to him getting objectively better care, maybe you could emphasize the part about taking advantage of the medical coverage for which they paid taxes while working and premiums now?
      About the “that’s what we had children for” attitude, I can offer no advice. That’s so selfish that I just can’t comprehend it. I love my daughter and want her to have a good life, not to become my servant.

    37. goddessoftransitory*

      My first reaction to reading this?

      TAKE THAT IN PERSON JOB.

      Aging parents are one of the biggest issues facing Generations X through Alpha. It’s never going to be solved easily or without worry. But you cannot, financially if for no other reason, live your life underperforming/earning in order to make sure your parents never have to face changes.

      Everyone wants to be the person who dies in their sleep at age 100 having never ailed a thing. But that is simply not reality. The vast, vast majority of us (yes, you and me as well as our folks) will need care of some kind, and planning for that now is the only really kind thing to do for your parents.

      Sacrificing is bunk. You will end up seriously shortchanging your own future and retirement (and aging process) and most probably have to move your parents from their present home anyway. There’s no committee that grants them a happy at home death as long as their offspring give up enough of their own lives.

      This obviously does not mean abandoning them next to a coyote den; it does mean that unfortunately their version of aging may not be compatible with what you and your siblings can provide. All the kids need to provide a united front on this; no “allowing” one of you to ruin their financial futures by giving up their job and moving in with the folks (unless they actually want to.) Your parents have to give you a full and realistic picture of their finances. They have to research local care and nursing options. They are adults and can make choices, you aren’t going to steamroll them into whatever is convenient.

      But they aren’t entitled to do that either. They don’t get to take over your life because they once raised you.

    38. Maotseduck*

      I would gauge it with them in the interview. My job is in person, but they’re totally ok if I have to work from home to care for my parents (I live with them but sometime it’s necessary) or to miss days to take my mom several hours away for appointments. I wouldn’t turn down a job you’re excited about if it’s possible they’ll work with you.

    39. jasmine*

      This is such a personal and cultural question. There’s no right answer here. A lot of people are taken aback by your parents, but what they’re saying isn’t unusual in a lot of societies, historical and present day. But of course, it is unusual in some societies too. Honestly I feel like the best thing would be to talk through your choices with a therapist, though that’s probably hard if you don’t have one who already knows you.

    40. Lisa Simpson*

      My husband and I grew up in the Northeast and our parents are still there. We now live in the South.

      We’ve specifically instructed all four of them to not plan on moving closer to us as they age. Because in our Red state, assisted living and nursing homes are simply unregulated, and as a result, most of the seniors in them are charged astronomical amounts of money to be neglected and abused, in filth. They will receive better care, if and when the time comes, if they stay close to home.

      We can travel. We can’t magic a high quality nursing home out of thin air.

    41. Happily Retired*

      I know that there are cultures where it is fully expected that the daughters/ daughters-in-law (oddly not the sons) will take care of the older generation in their declining years. But that’s the whole point – it is expected that this will be done. It’s not something sprung on the sandwich generation at the last minute.

      The demands by the parents are horribly, horribly selfish if they weren’t openly and actively communicated through the years and discussed. Even then, more and more people who grew up in this background are pushing back on it. The world is economically very different from how it was 50 or 100 years ago.

      But for me, the issue is this “oh hey, you’re now to drop everything and sacrifice YOUR financial futures to come to our map-dot town and take care of us.” That’s just wrong.

    42. Hyaline*

      There are so many good points offered already and I will just add: You cannot plan or prepare for every eventuality that may happen with aging parents. I would not do anything that if the situation only lasts for a year or two you would be very disappointed in the choices that you had made. I don’t want to be a huge downer, but sad to say anything can happen at any time, and counting on decades of uncomplicated life for aging parents is a gamble. A example: When my mother-in-law retired, we helped her move to our town, including buying a house for her, as she couldn’t afford to stay where she was. The other option would have been moving to her and sharing a house. She was healthy and looking forward to a long retirement. She ended up developing a severe degenerative disease and needing full-time in-facility care within two years. Had we chosen to move to her instead, I would have been very disappointed with our decision. Anything can happen—and you can only make decisions with the information you have right now. Weigh your job choices without factoring your parents’ potential but impossible to predict need for support, and deal with the situation that unfolds when it unfolds—who knows when and if it will happen?

  5. Jennifer Strange*

    My fundraising team of 6 is looking to start using a project management tool to track events and appeals. Does anyone have recommendations? My boss isn’t a fan of Asana, though is open to it. I previously used Trello just for my personal tracking, but I’m not sure if it’s as functional for a larger team.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      My company uses Workfront! I personally really like it, you can break every project down into as many steps as you want and assign each step to a team or an individual, which allows you at a glance to know where a project stands and who it’s with.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      How about Jira? It’s based on the same kind of design as Trello, I think–it’s from the same company. Disclaimer: teams in my office use it, but my team is not one of them, as it’s used by teams that utilize a ticketing system for work assignments.

    3. Scriveaaa*

      Why isn’t your boss a fan of Asana? If there are specific reasons, that might help you understand what kind of tool would work best for everyone.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        So she used it at a previous job and she felt the issue was that people still had to make sure to login to the system regularly to check their steps and mark things as completed. I’m not sure if any of the systems will allow for specific alerts or automation in that regard, though.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Yeah this isn’t necessarily a software problem, this is a user problem. No system is going to work if your employees won’t log in to use it!

          I appreciate that some have more automations/notifications than others and maybe that will be a difference maker, but I find that people who simply don’t want to use a system will not use it no matter how many alerts or automations exist. They’ll get notification fatigue and simply ignore them.

          My only recommendation is that whatever system you get, using it should be considered a performance metric for staff. Not using it is a performance issue and should be treated as such.

          1. Scriveaaa*

            I’d agree with C&C on this front. Asana’s by far my favorite out of the available project management tools. The trick (as with any PM tool) is in the implementation. At our company, we live and breathe out of Asana because it’s been so embedded into our work routines.

            Whatever you end up using, I’d focus on making sure there’s a clear rollout and transition period and everyone is held to the new standard of using it.

            1. Miette*

              Agree with all of the above. I like Asana best because it’s easiest to learn and use, and as a freelancer who uses whatever my clients use, that’s saying something. But it’s very much a situation where you get out of it what you put into it, so unless everyone’s bought into the process and concept of using such a tool, the platform you land on isn’t going to much matter.

        2. Observer*

          Are you using Exchange? Because if you are, look into Exchange / Outlook integrations. That would make it less necessary for people to explicitly log into Asana for a lot of things.

    4. EA*

      We like Monday.com. If you’re working for a nonprofit, they usually will give discounts.

      1. Rage*

        We started trialing Monday.com at my office, too, and I use the fool out of it. I really like it; I’d be lost without it. We’re a non-profit too, and the discount is 10 free seats of the “Pro” level account (plus a few “Enterprise” features). If you need more than 10 seats, you can purchase them at a 70% discount.

        The only problem is it’s not HIPAA-compliant unless you have the Enterprise plan.

    5. Lady Dusk*

      My company uses Asana and I love it! I’ve also used Monday, which is similar to Asana but different enough your boss might like it more.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I have used Workfront, Wrike and (briefly) Clickup. Workfront and Wrike are pretty similar and allow you to break projects down into tasks pretty easily. I would not recommend Clickup, I found it annoying.

      1. MissBliss*

        I actually really like ClickUp and use it on my fundraising team of 3. It also addresses the concern at Jennifer Strange’s boss has about people needing to log in to make updates, since you can set it up to send you emails when things aren’t completed on time (and probably in other circumstances too, but I’m just using it as it was set up out-of-the-box, so to speak).

    7. PBJ*

      I like Smartsheet for this type of thing. A lot of Excel knoweledge will transfer, so whilst it doesn’t have the prettiest UX, it’s easy to get up and running.

    8. hi there*

      I have a side-gig in which a VERY dispersed group (global) of more than 6 people track projects on Trello. There are lots of pieces of each project, and within each project there can be checklists to track the finer details. Projects can have priority flags, get moved to a “pause” column… I think it functions great for work. I wish my main gig’s folks would use it!

  6. Muffy Crosswire*

    I’m a Senior Llama Groomer and my team recently hired a Junior Llama Groomer, “Brett”. I like Brett as a person, but back when we were interviewing, my concerns were that he lacked the technical and problem solving experience needed for the job. Our boss’s response was that Brett would be a great culture fit!!! And that job skills were teachable. Now Brett’s been here a few months, and for a “culture fit”, he complains to our boss daily about a weekly department meeting we all have, complains and makes joking gifs regarding an external vendor we work with, complains about updating formatting of a dashboard we created from feedback from upper management, etc. My opinion is that he needs some training on how to be more professional, but he keeps doing it so I don’t think it’s registering with my boss that this “culture fit” really isn’t fitting into the culture.

    Thankfully I haven’t worked too closely with him, but I’ve met with him like 3 times on something he’s been trained on. On his most recent question I tried being less helpful and it seemed to work, as he solved the issue on his own.

    I’m not sure if I’m necessarily looking for advice, but can anyone commiserate about hiring a “culture fit” that’s not great?

    1. dorothy zbornak*

      No but I just got rejected for a job because I was lacking one of the attributes they were looking for even though they thought I’d be a good culture fit. I think skills & culture fit need to blend. Curious if there were others who applied that had both.

    2. Anon for This*

      “Culture fit” in this case could be cover for hiring a nephew, son of a friend, etc. Would explain how a new hire thinks he can complain to the boss over attending a meeting.

    3. Just Thinkin' Here*

      I’ve heard culture fit to be used as a euphemism for “less qualified but I like them better as a buddy than the more qualified candidate”. In IT I’ve seen this as a reason to hire the white guy instead of the woman or the minority.

      There are situations where there truly IS a work culture difference, but they don’t suss out during an interview as people are on their best behavior. Behaviors like aggression, harassment, failure to work as a team player, etc. Those are good reasons to pick one “cultural fit” candidate over another, but again, unless you get a red flag during background checks, won’t know right away.

      In this case, what culture was the manager looking for? He wants a “young, motivated guy?”
      Junior groomer doesn’t have to be young by definition, but certainly sounds immature.

      1. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

        We ask candidates about the culture/environment of the role they’ve liked the most. We ask about how they collaborated with others in previous roles to see if the team they’re applying to will too collaborative for their workstyle or maybe too independent. We also do exercises or ask problem-solving questions to see if they’ll be able to function and be happy either without a lot of oversight or with a fairly rigid reporting structure. (This varies from dept to dept in my org and I sit on interview panels for a lot of depts.)

        I’ve found this is especially important in the teams that have a really independent, quiet culture. I know everyone says they hate micromanagement and love being left alone, but most folks coming out of a role where they were micromanaged or the org was just toxic will need a lot of coaching and/or support to adapt to an environment where they are trusted and expected to trust. It’s a really hard transition to make and it’s better for everyone if the hiring manager is honest with themselves about whether they’re up for that or not.

        My most recent hire was chosen over another candidate with equally high ratings in the recruitment process because their weaknesses aligned more closely with my strengths. They would have more opportunities to grow here and that generally leads to more engaged and productive employee than when there’s not much to learn from your supervisor or there’s 3 people on your team with the same strengths as you. It takes all kinds and sometimes when we say culture fit what we mean is you’re filling a gap in our roster of skills and interests. This person cares about HR stuff which is something no one else on our team is interested in. That’s not a formal part of their job but it’s helpful to have someone for whom thinking about HR stuff is not a punishment.

        TL;DR Culture fit can totally be a euphemism and it can be hard to use it in a good faith way but there are a lot of really good reasons to try!

        1. Plate of Wings*

          Agree, “culture fit” is an easy place for conscious or especially unconscious bias to land.

          My presence will usually bump up the, erm, “diversity” of any team I join (perhaps there are companies in my field out there where this isn’t true, but I don’t hold my breath). But true culture fit is very very very important to me. And I only want to work somewhere that feels the same way about me! I obviously don’t want (and can’t have lol) a team where we all fit the same mold, but I want our culture to be comfortable, welcoming, ambitious, kind, and humorous.

    4. Qwerty*

      Teachability and attitude are the main things that I look for in a junior. By definition, a junior does not have experience in the field.

      Who is Brett’s mentor? In my world of software, all the senior devs would be responsible for coaching the junior dev on professionalism, tech skills, company norms, etc. Getting casual feedback like a senior peer tell them to knock it off when they joke about the vendor is often more effective than having an Official Conversation with their manager. (the official conversation also becomes more effective if they’ve been getting indicators from their peers). The effectiveness of being less helpful makes sense – juniors do better when taught where to find the info they need rather than being given it.

      I think every bad “culture fit” that I’ve seen was a strong candidate from an experience perspective. Sometimes its because you get a different person in the job than you saw in the interview, other times because an interview isn’t going to show you how people react in the moment.
      – Multiple men who yelled or made others feel unsafe
      – Multiple men who did not react well if they were not the smartest person in the room
      – Juniors who just flopped once there was no longer a text book answer
      – Juniors used to hacking things together the day before the due date and couldn’t handle structure
      – So many people at all levels who do not understand that startups are very different from giant corporations and need to get something working quickly

      On the other hand, culture hires that turned out great
      – Someone hired mostly because they got along with Prickly Peter who was the sole keeper of knowledge on our critical systems. New Guy partnered up with Prickly Peter which no one else had been able to do, learned the system, is currently teaching everyone else plus got Prickly Peter onboard with modernizing it. I’ve seen this play out where New Guy is very smart and where New Guy does not have strong tech skills but his interpersonal skills make the whole team run better
      – Opened up a senior position to non-senior applicants who just really won over the senior devs and just worked super well with them. Its rare that someone clicks like that, but when the top devs are willing to work extra hours to partner with a specific candidate and train them up, no one really argues.

      1. Awkwardness*

        The one time I got a new colleague to work closely together, boss did not say “cultural fit” but “great potential”. New colleague had zero specific knowledge and, despite a lot of training from myself, was absolutely unmotivated to do work on his own. It was a mess. But he had a similar path of changing careers as boss once had done, so boss saw himself in new colleague and wanted to offer a similar opportunity as he had received.

        Unfortunately, this rarely happens to women. Therefore I am so happy to read your last examples as they show that it CAN make sense to hire for personal fit and sometimes even is necessary.

  7. Everything is awesome, or is it?*

    I say “awesome” too much lol. It’s just my go-to response to things, and even I get irritated when it comes from my mouth. “Nice!” is another one too. Are there different words I could say?

    1. Microwaved Anchovies*

      Are you using it as a response when people are telling a story, or are you calling things “awesome” all the time? If it’s the first, I recommend saying something specific about their story. Like, if a co-worker is telling you about their dog who won an award at a recent show, ‘Wow, your dog sounds really smart.”

      If you’re doing it in response to a direction or an answer to a work question, just a simple “got it, thanks!” or “understood, will do.” works in almost all instances.

    2. Chopping Broccoli*

      When something comes together really well or I get good information, I have said the following:

      Fantastic, Beautiful, Amazing, or just THANK YOU!! (Wonderful is my go-to when responding to senior staff, it’s nice but less … eager)

    3. ArchieBell*

      As a Brit in the US, I can get away with “Brilliant!” a lot. “Absolutely brilliant!” is reserved for Very Special Occasions. Then there’s splendid, outstanding, fantastic, fabulous, marvelous and smashing.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If you’re just commenting about the state of things in general, other posters have some good advice.

      But if you’re commenting on somebody’s work, make it more personal: “Well done” “I really like what you did!” “That’s impressive work”

    5. Double A*

      Sublime.

      But seriously: excellent, great, fantastic, swell (if you’re feeling vintage), sweet (if you’re feeling surfer-y).

    6. RagingADHD*

      Great, excellent, good, perfect.

      No need to get quirky. If you’re trying to sound less slangy, then just go toward something conventional.

    7. Older Boomer, yet still working*

      Not more to add to what others have said except PLEASE do not use “Perfect!” I am starting to cringe whenever I hear it as it seems to be the current generations’ version of my generations’ “Cool!” Wonder if “Cool!” grated on the older than me generation as much as “Perfect!” does to me! If so, this Boomer apologizes to the The Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation!

    8. Zona the Great*

      I love to say silly things at work and pretend I wasn’t being silly. It makes me laugh in a stuffy world. So I like to say things like: Wunderbar! Smashing! Fandamntastic! Heckin’ yeah! That’s the tops! and so forth. I also love randomly shoving phrases like, ‘sally forth’ into work conversations and then pretend like that wasn’t a silly thing to say. I say it in City Council presentations and everything. Really makes me laugh inside.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        One of the front desk staff in my agency’s large HQ said “Cool beans!” to another person as I was passing by. That person said, in unison with my internal monologue, “Haven’t heard THAT in a long time.”

        The person who said is a lot younger than I am and I had been known to say cool beans once upon a time back in the day so I’m wondering if it’s coming back around or they just like vintage sayings.

        1. Clisby*

          Once I was talking to my 22-year-old, and he used the word “bread”, then hastened to tell his ancient mother, “That’s what young people these days call money.”

          I said, “How retro of you.”

      2. Goldfeesh*

        I laughed at myself the other day at the post office when I said, “Heck, yeah!” to the question if I wanted the Underground Railroad postage stamps.

    9. The good kind of dropout*

      Going the full nerd to say there’s a show on Dropout (formerly College Humor) where one of the main personalities says ‘IN-credible’ when someone does something cool (or ruins his plans, it’s a D&D actual play show) and it always makes me smile.

      Though generally yeah as a recovering over user of filler words I’d say your discomfort with “awesome” might be more about your lack of specificity than needing to widen your vocabulary. Let people know what they’ve done to earn that awesome!

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve picked up a habit of “right on” and “good times” the last few months, and it’s actually been contagious, other people around me at work have picked them up too :)

    11. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      Lots of good suggestions here. Mine is “crushing it”. I say it way too often and I can’t seem to stop. Send help I require an intervention.

    12. Sharpie*

      Amazing! Brilliant! Fantastic! Super! Wonderful!

      I have no idea how those came out in alphabetical order,that was completely unintentional!

    13. office hobbit*

      I found myself doing the same a while back and switched to
      Great, thank you! / That’s great!
      Excellent!
      Perfect! Thanks so much.

      And I keep some Awesomes and Nices in the mix just for fun.

    14. Quinalla*

      Sweet! or Nailed it! are ones I throw out on occasion in addition to many of the other great suggestions. Oh and also a good Woah! Keanu style for fun sometimes.

      I do like the first reply about giving specific feedback or asking a follow up question if someone is telling you a story, but if it is just something that needs a quick acknowledgement, then yeah.

    15. Dek*

      Well, one of my friends says “Slay” in response to just about everything. I think it’s a verbal tic at this point.

      You can go for a Brennan Lee Mulligan: “Fan. Tastic.” or “HELL YEAH” maybe?

  8. Justin*

    It has truly taken our HR team months to post the job that everyone all the way up to the CEO has agreed to, and I know they work hard, but it’s very frustrating because I really want to start my search for my #2. I know several people who would be interested, too.

    Fingers crossed they post it ASAP.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I hope that it takes less time for us to find a replacement for someone who moved onto a different company. Her absence is stressing others out. (we are a small division of a larger, more siloed company that is about 1/2 cross the US away.)

    2. Dr. Doll*

      I feel for you. It has taken from NOVEMBER to get a position filled on my team. I’m wracking my brain to think how I could have made it happen faster.

  9. Skates*

    I’m about to enter a grant-supported period of 8 weeks of writing, in hopes of finishing my (scholarly) book this summer. I’m looking for two bits of advice:
    1. I need a desktop computer. It’s really just for writing and I will need to access Wi-Fi occasionally. I’m broke as a joke right now— any tips for cheap, reliable desktops (and maybe keyboards as well?)

    2. I’ve done things like this before but this is the first time in a while where I need to be completely self-motivated for 40 hours a week for 8 weeks to get things done. Any tips on how to make the most of my time? Luckily my office is upstairs and there’s nothing else on that floor of the house so I will have a ritual for putting on real pants and “going to work” but I’m still nervous that I’m gonna spend 8 weeks starting at a blank word doc!!

    1. Just Here For This*

      For cheap computers, it is okay to buy refurbished – they do come with warranties, and can be great buys. But avoid anything advertised as Open Box. That means you are stuck with whatever is wrong with it. Look for bargain refurbished models on Amazon and Woot. I’d go to Woot first. Just make sure you max out the memory as much as you can afford and then be lean on software and you can get fast performance cheap.

      1. Just Here For This*

        Also, there is a website called Major Geeks with a ton of information, and reviews and links for free software and other assistance.

      2. Observer*

        I would NOT go to Amazon for anything refurbished, unless you can manage stuff on your own, because you have no idea what you are really getting. No quality control, not even assurance that you are getting what it says on the box.

        However, if you go the many of the major makers that have direct sales (HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc.) they will also have their own “refurbished” section, and there you know what they are getting. There are some other vendors that I would consider – B&H and BestBuy come to mind. The key difference is that you are buying directly from them, and they are the ones who actually refurb and (to the extent there is a warranty) provide the service.

        1. Sharpie*

          My current laptop is a Dell (I really really wanted to call it Adele when I set it up but apparently that’s not a thing any more, woe!) I’d be wary of HP – both my two previous laptops were HP but they’re moving (have moved?) to a subscription model for their printers and printer ink, i wouldn’t put it past them to do much the same with aspects of their computers. Look for a refurb if you can’t afford new,my last laptop was a refurb I got off Amazon and it did really well for years. Just do your research.

    2. Fierce Jindo*

      Starting ritual is great; I recommend also having a closing ritual (such as writing a note about what you did and what the next steps are).

      Turn off your internet if at all possible.

    3. birder in the backyard*

      If you are near a university, see if they have a surplus store. It being the end of the spring semester, lots of departments will be getting rid of “old” but still usable computer equipment that you can get for a fraction of the price of new.

    4. Ashley*

      For the cheap computer I would would check really basic laptops and a remote monitor / laptop. It has been awhile since I bought a desktop but there are some pretty cheap laptops out there.
      For number 2, maybe some kind of reward system for yourself? I also hear writers that claim working towards a daily word count which might help you focus your time instead of clock watching until your 8 hours are up. I had a professor tell someone who had writers block (or laziness) on their thesis, and they said write something/anything you can build from garbage. (He actually said cr**.) If you have words it is easier to edit then to not have the words.
      Good luck!

      1. Miette*

        I would support the latter suggestion here. Have a daily goal for yourself, whether it’s word count or section/chapter-related, rather than time. Break it down as granularly as you can so the goals are easy-ish to accomplish and give you a sense of completing things/success. This is what worked for me when I had to write a long-form report (I typically do blog posts and product one-sheets, so yikes).

        For PCs, I’ve been a loyal Dell user for many years. Their support has been quite good to me and they stand behind their product–at one point, I had a laptop where almost every major component had been replaced by the time I upgraded, so it turned into a ship of Theseus kind of thing. As others have suggested, get as much memory as you can afford, and also get a solid state hard drive if you can–less time to boot up and I’ve found it to be overall a lot more reliable.

    5. EA*

      Break it down into smaller parts so that you can have small wins. A whiteboard with milestones as sticky notes or a digital version of a task manager. I also use small “treats” to incentivize myself to work. For example, I love cappuccinos, so if I have to do a really onerous part of a project, I’ll have a cappuccino while I do it. I don’t use the treat as a reward for finishing but rather as a “you are having this treat, so time to GET S. DONE!” push (I’m fully aware how ridiculous this all sounds…)

    6. Cwaeth*

      Check if your library has equipment you can borrow. At our library we can borrow a chrome book and wifi hotspot bundle for 6 weeks. You could get a bundle and buy a used monitor & keyboard to make it easier to work on.
      Remember that editing is always easier than writing – just write something/anything and plan to “edit” it later.

    7. Nesprin*

      Any chance your grant would stretch to cover a computer?
      Does your institution take overheads? Any chance they could scrounge up computer money? Do they have ergonomics money and could they get you a good keyboard even if not a whole computer?

      If you’re just writing + reading, I’d suggest something like a chromebook or a dead simple, stripped down desktop – those can be had for ~200 if you find the right sale. For keyboards, figure out what will be most ergonomically comfortable for you and spend the money.

      As far as productivity, if you figure it out, please let me know. (My house has never been as clean as when I was writing my thesis.) I did have some luck rotating surroundings when I hit writers block for a major grant- I’d move from my office to my home to a starbucks to a library every time I got stuck and the change of scenery tended to unstick things.

    8. Astronaut Barbie*

      Besides a starting and ending time, take your “lunch hour” every day.. When I ran a small business out of my house, I made sure to go out each day, whether it was just a walk or going to the post office. If I didn’t get out of the house, I at least made my lunch and sat in the kitchen with a small TV and ate there, not at my desk. A mid-day break is really important! You could even set a time each day for a coffee break.

    9. DrSalty*

      If all you need to do is word process, I’d look into a really cheap/basic (used?) laptop and an external keyboard and mouse. Then prop the laptop up on some books so you’re not craning your neck looking down at it.

    10. Sundance Kid*

      For computers, the suggestions for used or refurbished are spot on. Consider if a laptop will work for you – you can always plug in a bigger monitor if you’d like, but the are portable (duh) if that’s useful.

      What you should look for: an Intel Core processor (i3 or i5, and the number should be 8000 or higher, so for example i5-8365U. Under 8000-series and you risk some performance problems, but that is also a few generations old, so they will be cheaper), 8GB of ram (less than this and you’ll start to swear if you need to use Chrome for anything), and any size SSD (that’s the hard drive — the other option is HDD, which will be slower, but fine if that’s what you can get). (To the PC experts – I’m trying to be as simple as possible, not as exhaustive as possible.) If you need WiFi, be aware that many desktops may not have a WiFi adapter built in (they’ll have a wired option instead), but you can get a USB dongle for cheap if needed. Laptops should all have WiFi.

      Free options: do family, friends, or colleagues have a computer they can loan you if it’s only for a limited duration? I have an old computer at home I’d be happy to lend out in a pinch to someone I knew.

      Cheap options: check Woot, refurbished sites run by Dell or HP. A computer that is $250 or less will meet your needs for writing and light web browsing.

      Peripherals you may need: a monitor (unless you get a laptop), keyboard, mouse, USB drive for backing things up (seriously, if you are writing, keep a copy on your computer and a copy on another drive). Monitors are less risky to buy on FB marketplace or Craigslist as long as you can plug it in to check that it works – get literally anything cheap and big enough for you. For the other bits, try Best Buy if you have one near you – you’ll be able to type or hold things and see what’s comfy for you.

      Good luck!

    11. LizB*

      If you happen to be near a Micro Center store (they have locations in a bunch of states, but mostly just 1 or 2 per state), I love them for all my computer needs. At my local one (MN) the staff is friendly and super knowledgeable. They would know what cheap desktops will meet your needs and are great about not upselling.

      1. DefinitiveAnn*

        I worked for the corporate office years ago. Our selling skills training had the motto “Don’t sell the customer what they don’t need, but if they need it, make sure they get it.”

    12. Wordily*

      #2: At least for academic writing, the most useful writing hacks I’ve found are:

      – Perhaps obvious, but don’t get hung up on writing in order, or even on finishing one section before moving on to the next, if that doesn’t work for you. I like to start by writing the sections where I explain/think through the ideas that feel most interesting to me, or most central to my argument, then go back and work out how to stitch them together later. Saves the pressure of trying to nail the flow of a whole chapter in one go.

      – I like to find a useful but mindless task that I can use to procrastinate on the heavy brainwork – something like getting citations in order or tidying data. When I can’t be bothered to do “real” writing I’ll mess around with those jobs instead of mindlessly scrolling social media. Then when I get bored of the mindless repetitive procrastination task I get back to thinking and writing – rinse and repeat!

    13. Observer*

      I’m going to disagree with all of the advice to get a basic laptop. Do yourself a favor and get a basic desktop instead. Or an All-In-One. You get more for the money and it’s MUCH more ergonomic. That’s really important if you are going to be spending hours a day on that computer. It also means that you can get a decently sized monitor. Again, not so important in many cases, but when you are spending your entire days, for 8 weeks, staring at the screen – especially for text and diagrams, 13″ or even 15″ is not really enough.

      Consider a Chromebox, as you may be able to get some really good prices on that (even if you have to purchase a keyboard and mouse separately.)

      1. Clisby*

        I wouldn’t get a desktop just for a larger monitor – you can always add a 2nd monitor to your laptop, and monitors are pretty trip.

    14. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      If it’s just for writing, do you really need a desktop? What about a low-end or refurbished laptop?

      1. Observer*

        For heavy writing? Absolutely a desktop. It’s not the power you need, but the ergonomics, good keyboard, and larger monitor.

        1. Clisby*

          You can get a large monitor and a completely separate mouse and keyboard for a laptop, though, and the laptop is portable. The only reason I’d get another desktop would be for the power, and I’m not doing anything these days that requires it.

      2. Hyaline*

        You don’t. I’ve written five plus books on a laptop. But if it’s useful for the OP it’s useful!

        1. Cazaril*

          I’ve worked for years with a laptop on a stand plugged into a dock running a keyboard, mouse, and larger monitor. The laptop then functions as a small second monitor. Ergonomically customizable.

          1. Clisby*

            That’s the setup I used when I worked remotely. I never used the laptop monitor unless I was traveling, though. The laptop stayed in a docking station on the lower shelf of my computer stand.

    15. colorguard*

      One thing that helps is building in some structure: Start times, breaks, etc. Also, turning off the internet so you can’t go down a web research rabbit hole. (If you hit a spot where you need to look something up online, a comment or CHECK CITE ON XYZ can be a placeholder so you can move on.)

      You might also want to experiment with smaller time chunks — 30-45 minutes writing, then a 10-minute stretch break — within your bigger time blocks.

      My last tip is to work with your schedule. If you work best first thing, front-load your writing time in the day and save research/citation checks/etc. for later in the day. If you’re more a “slow start, work late in the night” person, flip the order around.

    16. Hyaline*

      How to Get The Thing Done: Do not plan on just writing 8 hours a day! From a professional writer—most people cannot butt in chair hands on keyboard 8 hours a day. So how to maximize productivity? 1) figure out how long you can write in one go before you start to fizzle out. Most people have a bit of time getting into the deep work of writing and then can hang out there for anywhere from an hour to three or four hours, but at some point your brain starts to fuzz around the edges. Figure out what that fizzle point is for you. 2) figure out what time of the day you are most alert, productive, and able to get into that deep state. For me it’s mid morning through early afternoon. For some people it’s late afternoon or evening. Some people can roll out of bed and jump right into it. 3) figure out what other tasks aside from straight up writing you need to do to complete your project. That might be editing previous chapters, cross referencing material, even making posts on social media or networking with colleagues. 4) use all that stuff to come up with the daily schedule that prioritizes letting yourself do your deep work when you are most productive and filling in around the edges with everything else that you need to get done in a day. Then add things like lunch, exercise, opening the mail, whatever.

    17. Hermione Danger*

      If looking at that blank word doc adds to your stress and makes it harder to write, try these things to get you started:
      1) Write an outline for the next chapter or the whole book or whatever will help you both gain clarity on your thoughts and also act as a springboard. Even if I am stuck, I always have some idea of what I want to say, and outlining is a great way to get started.
      2) Don’t worry about starting at the beginning. Start writing whatever part interests or excites you most. Start where your ideas are. You can write the beginning later. But having something, anything written is your goal for taking the first steps.
      3) At the end of your day, write down a brief description or outline of what you want to tackle next so you’re not starting from scratch again the next morning.
      4) Schedule regular breaks to move and get a drink so you’re not trying to write with what a mentor of mine refers to as “brain jerky.” Take walks when you get stuck.
      Good luck and happy writing!

    18. Tio*

      For the blank document – this might not help you, but whenever I need to start a memo or report or writeup of something, I find that it helps me more to start explaining it out loud (to my cats, mostly) and then go back and write down what I was saying because it’s somehow easier for me to talk about it than start the blank document. Then if needed I can go back and fill in an opener and closer and it doesn’t feel as intimidating or paralyzing as the blank page was.

    19. Wildbow*

      Professional writer here: this advice is expanded on from an article I wish I could find today, that I studied in University (I took applied language & discourse studies – the who what where when & why of language use; including how it’s learned, taught, and put to effect):

      * Throughout the process, consume media of the sort you want to write.
      * Number one goal, get to the finish line first. Don’t sweat editing, don’t revise, focus on forward progress. At most, take notes on what you want to fix up or expand on later.
      * If you can, use goal setting or other motivation, push yourself to have a chapter done every X days. If you get disrupted (sickness, life emergency, distraction), get back on the horse right away.
      * Hit that finish line, take a short break.
      * Revise. Do an editing sweep, focusing on the parts you know need more attention, the stuff that’s nagged at you. Often this means rippling changes throughout the text, so do those too.
      * Do a closer, line-by-line edit.
      * Take breaks as necessary for the editing process, but try to stay primed on the material by consuming similar & related stuff.
      * When you’ve burned out on editing, lost all objectivity, you’re getting semantic satiation (if you’re writing a book about the life of anteaters, and anteater starts to look like an impossible word…), that’s when you find someone else to review your work for you.
      * It may work for you to trade works (it can be very hard to find people who’ll gladly read your work – I know many a person who have husbands/wives/partners who don’t read their stuff) but this can play into burnout too. Sometimes you have to pay someone. Or find a writer’s circle.
      * Academic articles call for a greater level of polish and accuracy of fact than other textual genres of media, so be sure to put that to effect. Verify your facts, cite your sources.

    20. Self Employed Employee*

      Body doubling works really well for me. I’m a sculptor, not a writer, so I just find a tiktok live of someone working in their studio, say hello and chat a bit so I am committed, and it keeps me going. But there are all sorts of real life body doubling options as well, from irl meeting up, facetime, or just text check ins.

    21. Doc McCracken*

      If you are in the US, look at new egg dot com. I purchased a refurbished dell desktop there for $100 last year for my business. That was only the tower, keyboard, and mouse though. The sellers there have good warranties. I recommend going with Dell for no frills workhorse situations.

      On adding structure to your day, look at tools like body doubling and the pomodoro technique. These are both great productivity tools that are very popular in ADHD circles. Good luck!

    22. Hyaline*

      BTW, I’m going to disagree a little with the “just get words down” or “do not edit until the end” advice. If it works for you, great! But some people do better with different processes. I tend to write a bit cyclically, revising previous chapters as I draft (and discover loose ends or holes). I have friends who just race to the end to produce a zero draft—so rough it’s not even quite a first draft, it’s so full of holes! Some people find it really helpful to get into writing to read over and lightly edit what they did the previous day. So don’t feel you’re doing anything wrong if you’re taking a different tactic—do what works for you!

    23. Retired But Still Herding Cats*

      I’ve been really happy with the cheap refurbished desktop computers I’ve bought from NewEgg over the years.

  10. Chopping Broccoli*

    So without getting into the specifics… I have a final interview next week. I had two interviews with others in the org before, including the Director. I will be flying in for it. They were very eager to get this done and upfront about asking if how interested I was to determine whether they might wait for schedules to free up or not. In the end, I was able to drop everything on a particular day and come in. So I am. But, based on what I’m hearing, it sounds like I may be the top choice? In that they would go to all this trouble if I was their #2? I don’t want to get ahead of myself. So I’m either looking for confirmation or a slap in the head. Thanks!

    1. Peachtree*

      Ask yourself: what would you do differently if you knew you were their first choice? Would you slack more in your prep? Would you be won over by their enthusiasm and not do your due diligence on the role? IMO it’s better not to know, so that you can give it your all and learn as much as possible.

      1. Chopping Broccoli*

        I wouldn’t do anything differently… Sounds like they’re making a pretty strong effort for me, but I haven’t interviewed much, so just trying to gauge whether this is a good indication. (Also very much need to leave current position before they drain me dry)

        1. Observer*

          so just trying to gauge whether this is a good indication.

          It’s a good sign that they have strong interest in you. But that’s it. You could be their first choice and then not make it. Or you could be their second choice and they are bringing both in because they need to move the process and they want to have their backup in place in case their first choice doesn’t work out.

          Bottom line is that you clearly have a good shot at the job unless these folks are “special” (in a not good way.) But you won’t have the job till you have it.

      2. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        This is the best piece of advice so far. Until you have the job, you need to make all the effort you can to make sure you are a good fit both from their end and from your end.

    2. Cordelia*

      neither confirmation nor a slap from me, I’m afraid. You are definitely a serious candidate, but you may not be the only one. It’s natural to be thinking the way you are, but really there is no way of telling at this stage. Good luck!

      1. Chopping Broccoli*

        I know they have at least one other. I guess my thought is that if they “liked” the other one more, they wouldn’t be quite so invested in me flying in ASAP. But, maybe that’s not the way I should look at it!

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          They’re doing it ASAP so they can make a decision ASAP before they lose the spot. Open postings are always the first things cut. I wouldn’t read anything about your strength as a candidate into the hurried nature of the interviews.

    3. Scriveaaa*

      I’m flying in for a final interview with an org next week as well. It’s a little terrifying, right?! Wishing you good luck.

    4. RedinSC*

      That all sounds positive. But depending on so many things they might be flying in the top 2 just to get that in person vibe. BUT you’re definitely a top choice, they wouldn’t fly you in if you weren’t. But how top? IDK, but good luck! I hope all goes well, crush it!

      1. Cherry Ames*

        I agree with posters indicating it’s not possible to know…the “pace of business” can be so fast that it might just be that, but not really anything beyond that.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Honestly, make no assumptions either way is your best bet! You could be top choice, or there could be two people they’re having a hard time deciding between, and if one of you were less interested it would be an easy way to break the tie. Therre’s no way of knowing!

    6. Distractinator*

      Doesn’t matter if you’re currently their #1 or #2 choice, or even one of 5 interviews. It’s a committee and they may not agree anyway… they do agree they don’t have all the info, otherwise they would have decided by now. What matters is not your “ranking” coming into this interview, but coming out of it. If we said you were definitely their #1 choice, what would you do differently vs if we said you were their #3 choice? I’d suggest that “nothing different” is the only correct answer, as any other candidates are outside your sphere of concern.

    7. Blue Pen*

      It certainly sounds positive, but I’ve learned enough to know that, until I have a job offer in writing and the ink has dried, it’s never guaranteed.

    8. BRR*

      Alison’s advice in this type of situation is to not read into it (always easier said than done!). This only means they were very eager to get it done. You could be their top choice, you could be one of multiple finalists, or you could be other things. There’s no way to know more. Good luck!

    9. Starbuck*

      In the end it doesn’t really matter if you’re the #1 or #2 at the moment; they’re interested enough to fly you out, that’s good! But in general I never get my heart set on a job until there’s an offer and the details look good. Why bother? I can always get excited later once it’s real. Getting too optimistic before the offer stage is usually a set up for disappointment.

  11. N C Kiddle*

    I had my first volunteer shift yesterday. I think it went well, but there was one awkward half hour when everyone else disappeared to get lunch because there was nothing much needed doing and I was standing around like a spare part. I’m not good at taking initiative at the best of times, and especially not when I’m 90 minutes into a job and not sure how things work yet.

    Also the most manager type bloke kept telling me good job when we finished a task and I’m not sure if he was being sincerely encouraging or gently mocking. But I’m sure I’ll figure it out with a few more shifts.

    1. 867-5309*

      Unless he is otherwise a grade-A a**, I cannot imagine he was mocking you. He likely just wanted to make sure you feel encouraged as a new person.

      Give it a little time. Starting something new is always a little awkward.

      1. N C Kiddle*

        Maybe mocking wasn’t quite the right word. I got the vibe that everyone teases everyone else and it’s all in good spirits, so I’m not ruling out the possibility he was teasing me as a way to make me feel included. But I’ll default to feeling encouraged until I see any reason to think otherwise.

    2. Paint N Drip*

      Starting a volunteer gig is a special kind of awkward – I’m sure you’re fine! I have so few social skills (lol) so the intersection of social and work where volunteering lives is complicated for me, but I like to remember that when volunteering typically you have common ground with the folks surrounding you. Ask questions if you have them, but I think you’re right that a few more shifts will have you feeling much more comfortable :)

    3. hi there*

      First day I wouldn’t expect you to take initiative, because you’re learning.

      Idk, but would assume that the manager bloke was genuinely appreciative that you were more capable than volunteers in his previous experience. (The work may feel obvious to you, but competence and common sense are not guarantees in any new “hire”.)

      Regardless, it’s on the STAFF to provide the volunteers with encouragement and constructive feedback if necessary. Good volunteers are hard to find. Consider yourself a gem! :)

    4. Starbuck*

      I’ve always been trained in volunteer management to be sure to thank people every time they come in; and encouraging during the work – many people are volunteering for fun or to be social, so we try to keep that in mind.

  12. Ganbatte!*

    Just wanted to post some encouragement and support for anyone out there currently job-searching and feeling down and disheartened. I am one of you, and I share in the struggle – I see you!

    Also, some extra love for anyone else who has tried to make a career-change happen with less success than originally anticipated: it’s rough, I see you, we’ll get through it!

    1. Despairingly unemployed*

      Arigatou! I alternate between bouts of fervent hope and seeing light at the end of the tunnel and extreme, crushing despair that something’s seriously wrong with me (my application). I’ve considered applying to other industries (where I have minimal experience) because “at least it’s a job” and I might enjoy it, but I overthink and hem and haw about what would come next and don’t even dare.

      Minna de ganbarou!

    2. RedinSC*

      Oh, I was you, for so long. BUT I was successful, and you will be too!

      Hang in there, it can take time, and it’s crushing, but it does happen!

    3. Glazed Donut*

      Commiseration!

      After not working for 6 months, and actively interviewing for about 4 of those, I finally got an offer. I was a finalist for 2 positions – A extended an offer at the same time B told me I wasn’t selected, so I went with A. Now B has come back around (I guess their top pick didn’t work out) and wants to chat again. Wild ride.

      High highs, low lows. I’ve been enthusiastically told I’ll be receiving info on scheduling the next round just to be ghosted, I’ve applied for more roles than I can count, I’ve changed my salary/location/role expectations, I’ve smiled through well-meaning advice from others who aren’t currently searching… it’s a whole process BUT one day it will end! It just takes one yes!

    4. The Real Fran Fine*

      Thank you for the encouraging words. It’s rough out here – been job searching since February with no bites, though currently employed, so not in dire straits yet. I really gotta get out of here though – this job is slowly killing me.

    5. Sharpie*

      I’ve been offered a short-term (eight week) contract with a company who apparently ask people back once they’ve worked there once and who like moving people around to give them experience of different areas. And I was told that it’s not unknown for them to take people on into permanent roles after they’ve done shot term stints (the head of recruitment said she initially started out on a summer contract and now she’s the one doing interviews and filling the short term roles!) So I’m hopeful – and it’ll happen for you, too!

    6. Mimmy*

      Also, some extra love for anyone else who has tried to make a career-change happen with less success than originally anticipated: it’s rough, I see you, we’ll get through it!

      Thank you for this! I’ve been trying to get into a specific area of higher education since getting my Masters 2 years ago with no luck. I hardly ever see the kinds of positions I’m seeking anymore unless I do a nationwide search, which is not feasible for us right now. I’m at a point of wanting to go back to the drawing board.

    7. beware the shoebill*

      Thank you! It’s rough going. I had a phone screening last week (first nibble since December) and the hiring manager said that her person would reach out that day to schedule an interview…….and nothing since. Left a message to check in but not expecting anything at this point.

    8. Anax*

      Thank you! I’m lucky – I’m starting a new job Monday! – but oh gosh, I’m tired and nervous.

      I’ve been job-hunting most of the time since last July, and while I’ve been fortunate to be making an income for most of that time… god, I’m so tired of job-hunting, and nervous that the new job will become a nightmare like my last one.

      Old Work got acquired in 2022, I was given my official layoff notice in fall 2023, found a new job I was really excited about which would have been great… Except that the governor got a bee in his bonnet about RTO, which is a problem for me, a housebound disabled guy. Job hunted AGAIN, and finally found a new gig, and that’s starting Monday. I hope it’s good, but I’m gunshy after last time.

      If I have to job-hunt for a third time in a year… gosh, I’m going to do it but there might be some exhausted weeping.

    9. Hrodvitnir*

      Thank you! ❤️

      I’m really struggling – I am currently on a break from my PhD project, dealing with fatigue with an unknown timeline and the uptick in my lifelong depression that comes with that.

      I’m trying to find a part-time lab job but it’s pretty hard to look interviewable! I finished my last job in 2021 then had a year gap for cancer treatment, then did a year of my PhD project before realising I could not push through the brain fog and fatigue. I then have kept extending my deferral, so how do I convince someone to hire me given that?

      I got shortlisted for one position at the main local lab employer and second place for another (whose vibe was SO GOOD and I’m so so sad), but I can’t commit to full-time permanent right now, so it’s thin pickings.

  13. Aspiring dreamer*

    Has anyone branched off and created their own job? I’m pondering the viability of an inspired idea: to organize (and participate in) llama retreats, mainly abroad. Aside from the obvious start small, build a network, and it’ll take some years and hard work to get there, any broad tips/advice?

    (Currently unemployed so starting right away will have to wait until I have some funds unfortunately.)

    1. Just Thinkin' Here*

      You mean like start your own company? Because llama retreat manager essentially sounds like what travel agent companies did before so many got wiped out due to COVID. Check out Collette tours and the like. They set up group tours and can also work with existing groups that want to do their own trip/cruise/outing. My advice would be to work for such a company first and subscribe to and read all the trade journals and news. Get some experience in the field so you can learn some of the pitfalls, issues, etc before losing your hard earned money. Also, alot of small business folks struggle with the accounting and billing side of things. I don’t have great advice for addressing that, but money management is a key skill needed for long term success. Maybe talk to a local entrepreneur group if you have one in your area?

      1. Aspiring dreamer*

        Eventually, potentially? It’s very… vague in the way of new ideas.
        I didn’t know llama retreat manager was a thing but I suppose it is very similar to a travel agent company! I thought about becoming a travel agent to see how it works on that end so thanks for the specific rec. I think I’d be ok with the billing/accounting (at the beginning at least), I’ve been wanting to learn more about it for some time. A local entrepreneur group is another good suggestion, thank you!

    2. PotatoRock*

      Hmm maybe before starting are there any free things you can do to help figure out whether there’s a viable market for your service – are there enough people willing to pay you to organize llama retreats?

      Some ideas:
      – Do you know anyone who goes on these retreats? Can you talk to them about how often they go, how they pick one, do they self organize it or go with a group?

      – Organize an imaginary retreat — look up location costs, food, etc. How much profit (basically your salary) would you need to make to make this your full time job? Add that — then is the total cost something people would be willing to pay?

      1. Aspiring dreamer*

        That’s a great question (market research, agh).
        – I don’t know anyone going on them because I haven’t gone on them yet, I’ve always wanted to. I’ll ask around my new forming network.
        – a great exercise! I’ll try that, thanks :)

        1. Starbuck*

          Good luck! I hope you get the chance to go on one soon because I’ve got to say, I’d be very leery of hiring someone to manage a Llama Retreat who’d never even been to one.

          1. Aspiring dreamer*

            A very good point. I didn’t really think of that aspect tbh because “it can’t be that hard, I’ve been llama-ing for years!” but. Apples and oranges? Lol. There will be llama-ing, but the format, expectations etc will be different. Fingers crossed I get hired soon and I can treat myself to one!

  14. SmokeyTheBear*

    I’ve been asked to help organize a friendly competition/social event between our “junior llama groomers” and “junior llama feeders” for late summer. We are all on different farms, so the furthest person would have to travel about 40 miles. Most of them are 23-28 years old and are fairly physically active. Any ideas for fun and engaging low impact competition ideas? Probably have a happy hour afterwards.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Ask the junior llama groomers to write procedures for what they think the llama feeders do, and the llama feeders write procedures for what the llama groomers do. Then … do something with them together: read them, pretend to do the procedures. This could be fun, if it’s kept light-hearted. It’s a way to see what other people think your jobs entail.

      But, if the teams are not nice to each other now, do not do something like this.

    2. Em from CT*

      Trivia-type games can be fun! Especially if you can somehow incorporate llama-grooming topics.

      (You mention they’re fairly active. Maybe this goes without saying—and you’ve already thought of it—but just in case, I’d encourage you to make sure whatever you come up with is as inclusive as possible. Some people may have invisible mobility issues, and some people simply may not want to do physical activities with coworkers. And maybe try to find a location for happy hour that includes lots of good non-alcoholic options.)

      (I say this as a very-active but very-klutzy and uncoordinated sober person for whom my last staff gathering, which included volleyball followed by wine, was…not the most fun I’ve ever had.)

    3. Astronaut Barbie*

      Anything that does not require physical exertion or participation. Not everyone is fit or healthy enough (or wants to) participate in that type of activity. Some of the other suggestions are great- like trivia (it could even be a quiz type game about what the other team does in their job).

    4. Paint N Drip*

      Hmm, for ag folks?
      Lawn games? I’m specifically thinking bags/cornhole and the like
      The science-class type activities might also be a hit, first group to build a stool that holds out of newspaper and tape type thing

      1. Generic Name*

        I think the “farm” comment is an extension of the llama analogy, but I was going to suggest cornhole. I am not at all athletically inclined, not in great shape, and even I can enjoy this game. :)

      2. ranunculus*

        I think the llama/farm thing was just the usual analogy for this site and not meant to imply that these are all ag workers.

    5. Qwerty*

      We had a great event at a zip line park and set up board games / card games in the party tent. Some people spent all their time in the air or all their time playing board games, but most were split betweent the two or wandered off to hike and encourage/heckle their team mates in the trees. I’d call it more co-opertition than a competition though.

    6. hi there*

      Depending on the groomers/feeders’ natural tendencies and the company culture, you may want to find things that play to each group’s perceived strengths. So a series of games where one is Hungry Hippos (feeders) and one is Mr. Potato Head (groomers). Group games of Battleship or Guess Who? might be fun. Life-size checkers. Turn the office into a massive scavenger hunt or escape room.

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      Why does it have to be competitive? Has anyone asked the groomers and feeders what kind of team-building time together they would actually enjoy? (I’m assuming team-building is sort of the purpose here.)

      Think collaborative instead of competitive. What about having someone come in and quickly teach some short-form improv? Lots of laughter, letting go of the need to be right or perfect, supportive, clapping and cheering for everyone and everything including the moment where someone freezes and has to just make a big bow and call it done. I say this having just taken several weeks of intro to improv and short-form through our local parks/rec office and I’m signing up for another round.

      Don’t lean into the “most are physically active” element. That doesn’t mean they’re all equally fast, coordinated, good with hand-eye coordination, or whatever else you think goes with your assumptions about their fitness. Others pointed out the possibility of invisible disabilities. There’s also just the “I got done with PE in high school, man, don’t tell me I have to play games now” if you’re not picking something that everyone loves. They probably don’t all love the same sport or activity.

  15. Axolotl*

    I have a question for the group about working with recruiters. I was contacted via LinkedIn by a recruiter at a staffing firm, about a position I am a great fit for. I said I’d be interested, we set up a call, he asked me a few super-basic questions, and then sent me an email with the full JD and the salary range. He asked me to confirm that I was OK with the range, and I confirmed that I am. I did notice that the email contained some fine print that stated that I was agreeing to work exclusively with his staffing firm, but he never mentioned it, and all I said was that I agreed to the salary range. All of that that back-and-forth happened within a bit an hour of his first reaching out. Later that afternoon and the next day, I was contacted by three (!) other recruiters working on the same JD. I thanked them for reaching out, and said I’d been working with someone else on the role, but please keep me in mind for similar opportunities in the future, etc etc. In the meantime, I never received confirmation from the first recruiter that he actually submitted my application packet. I wrote to him several times to ask him to confirm that I have been submitted, via both LinkedIn message and email, but he hasn’t gotten back to me since that initial contact, so I am not even certain that I actually applied to this role.

    So I was wondering about whether I should reach out to one of the other recruiters who contacted me and ask them to put me forward. Is that even possible at this point? If the original recruiter did submit me for the role and then another recruiter did, would that disqualify me for the role, or simply disqualify the first recruiter from receiving the “finders’ fee?” What about if I applied myself, directly, via the company’s website?

    As a side note, it’s unusual in my industry for companies to use external firms, and especially unusual for companies to use more than one, but the position is posted on the website of a large pharmaceutical company, so I believe it’s legit. It’s a long-term contract, which might explain them going through a recruiter. I’ve been out of work since March and I work in a specialized field, so I’d hate to miss out on a great opportunity because of something like this. But I don’t really know how to navigate this, either.

    Sorry for the novel, but please help!

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      For that job, DO NOT touch any other recruiter. Nor apply directly either. That will only put you in a bad light.

      I’ve worked with several external recruiters and have been very careful for both not to submit me to the same job. At least once, both were interested in selling me to the same company and I had to tell the second one that another one had already submitted me to the company.

      But you can work with multiple ones at the same time.

    2. Yes And*

      Something fishy is going on here. I’ve never heard of any company posting the same job through multiple search firms. The last time I worked with a recruiter at my company, their contract specifically said that they were our exclusive representative in the search we hired them for, and I believe that’s a standard term.

      The most logical explanation here is that all of these “recruiters” are freelancers, scraping existing job postings of the internet and representing themselves as recruiters for that position. But if so, I can’t imagine what their endgame would be. Who would pay them, and how? Is it a scam to collect job seekers’ personal data? I have no idea, but it doesn’t sound on the up-and-up to me.

      1. alldogsarepuppies*

        This is not true. Many companies will use multiple search firms to widen their net. My husband is a recruiter at a reputable firm and exclusives are very rare. However, the hiring company will not accept your resume from multiple places and could hinder your chances if they are worried about a fight for commission, so only let one company represent you per job (you can still work with multiple firms overall)

      2. Cj*

        in 2023 I worked with a recruiter at Robert Half and got the job. I’m in the Midwest and affirm was in California and it was not a good fit, so by 2024 I was looking for another job. I was contacted through the LinkedIn by a recruiter at a different firm, and he set up an appointment with me at the firm I am with now. before I was offered that job, I talked to the recruiter I’ve been working with in Robert half, and she wanted to me to submit me for the same job, and I told her I was early working with a different recruiter. so this does happen.

      3. TotallyNormal*

        This is incredibly normal. I used to get contacted by multiple recruiters for nearly every job opportunity that came through a recruiter. As a candidate you need to have a very explicit first come, first served policy to make it work, but that is the normal system in most industries (I’ve worked across many) except for the very top level positions (C suite, etc).

        1. IT Manager*

          I have never been in this position but – why wouldn’t you be noncommittal to the first one and see if there are differences between recruiters? Wouldn’t you risk locking yourself into a bad recruiter (like the OP might be experiencing)?

      4. Usedtobeunderpaid*

        Recruiter for many years and I can tell you many companies posted with many recruiters.

    3. Golden*

      Something really similar happened to me this year! I let the second recruiter know that someone had already submitted me, but he had an exclusive contract with the company and confirmed that the first guy (who also ghosted me) never sent anything.

      I know normally you’re not supposed to contact the HR team or hiring manager outside of the outlined process, but I’m wondering if that might be an acceptable approach here to ask about whether you have been submitted. I’d hate for you to miss out on the opportunity due to a recruiter’s bad behavior. I’m not responsible for hiring at my organization though, so maybe prioritize other advice from those that are.

      1. RecruiterExclusivity*

        You cannot trust the recruiters on this. You must contact the company. I’ve been blacklisted at a couple of companies because unscrupulous recruiters periodically submit me without permission and that usually results in a double submission. The company knows it isn’t my fault but doesn’t want to deal with the legal chaos that would ensue if they so much as talked to me. I am a particularly good fit for them which makes this super frustrating for all. If you as a candidate approved it, things could get really nasty – I’ve had at least a couple of employment attorney say the candidate could have legal liability if they deliberately used multiple agencies for the same job.

        You can apply through another agency later (90 days is fairly normal, but I have seen agencies make you agree to 6 months exclusive before they’ll submit you).

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      Can you try reaching out to the recruiter one more time to have them confirm they submitted your application, and tell them if you don’t hear back from them you’re going to apply through the company directly yourself?

    5. A Significant Tree*

      You might have done this already, but since you mention the job is posted on the company website, check that to see if they have any language about not using recruiters or 3rd parties to fill a position. I’ve seen language like that on some company sites, basically saying they’re not going to accept your recruiter-brokered application.

      Otherwise, for the recruiter who isn’t responding to you, could you send a final “if I don’t hear from you by X I’ll assume you didn’t submit me” email? If after that time has passed and you want to apply directly or through another recruiter, you could explain that you thought you were represented but the recruiter never followed through.

    6. Quinalla*

      I would call the first recruiter and get it sorted. If you can’t get a hold of them after 2 business days, I’d leave a message (email & voicemail) saying that if you don’t hear back in 24 hours you are going to move on with a different recruiter on the opportunity. And if the recruiter continues to be flaky, definitely don’t use them going forward for anything!!

      And yeah, these are likely outside recruiters. Either the company hired multiple firms or they just saw the job posting and are trying to get the commission cause they know the company works with recruiters.

      1. RecruiterExclusivity*

        Don’t do this. You will almost certainly get rejected for the job as this will lead to a fight over which agency the employer needs to pay.

        If you must, contact the employer directly, tell them you engaged with X agency but they have been unresponsive and you have been unable to ascertain if they submitted you, and ask them what to do. They will likely either tell you sorry or take your information directly but internally attribute you to the AWOL recruiter. Under no circumstances do you want to have two agencies feel they are legitimately representing you – that way leads to legal battles with the employer that will, rightly or wrongly, be laid at your feet.

  16. Aggretsuko*

    I got a new job! I resigned yesterday. I’m so relieved. I had applied for one more job at my organization and had the interview Wednesday, I asked them if they were likely to pull the job for budget cuts (AGAIN) and they said no, then immediately told my disability caseworker afterwards they were considering pulling the job. I was all, “I’m out, bleep this.” I’m told that my manager announced my leaving by saying I’d been on a lot of teams and thank you for your service, and that was it. I was surprised it wasn’t just “Aggretsuko no longer works here” like I’d been fired, the coworker who told me this was shocked by it and I said well, they wanted to fire me, so…. I have to bring my computer equipment back and they made sure to tell me to go in the back door so nobody sees me and they’ve presumably locked me out of the building already. I’m bringing a friend as a buffer to “haul the equipment.” Then I’m free.

    I note that I applied/got this new one with disability certification and they asked me what accommodations I might need. Truthfully, the one thing I had in mind is asking if I can knit/crochet under the table in meetings so I’m not sitting perfectly still and falling asleep. Unfortunately this job is 100% in person and hiding it while doing Zoom is no longer an option, and my old job complained about my falling asleep/looking bored, but I also had to sit perfectly still. I know it doesn’t “look right” for some people, but I’d rather be awake and focusing on the meeting than having to stab my leg under the table to not zone out. I don’t know if this can count as a “disability qualification” though. Added bonus is that the job will be giving me evaluations every single month due to the disability certification, so I presume I’ll be more scrutinized than usual. I truly don’t know if I CAN “sit still and focus” and I don’t really have any kind of doctor’s note supporting this since they wouldn’t do that. I absolutely can focus while doing something (and I’d rather have a productive fidget, I have fidget toys but they just don’t do a lot to sit there popping buttons or whatever) better and I can prove I’m not losing interest in the meeting, but I know there’s the “it doesn’t look right” thing. Anyone have any advice on this? I’ll have to discuss accommodations Monday morning.

    1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      People often stand up and hang out in the back of the room in meetings I’m in if they start to feel antsy or tired. No one really bats an eye at it.

    2. RedinSC*

      I’ve been in meeting with knitters. So maybe just ask, explain it helps you focus. No harm in asking, I think.

    3. RLC*

      If knitting is not an option, would you be able to take notes (for your own personal use) during meetings? I’ve also been accused of looking visibly bored/sleepy during meetings and found that taking notes (paper and pencil) stopped the comments and helped me stay awake.

    4. Goddess47*

      Especially as a newbie, take notes… having to focus on the discussion enough to be able to write anything reasonably intelligent will help you stay awake. Once you’ve been there for a bit and folk get to know you (and, hopefully, you don’t need to take notes) you can segue into the yarnwork!

      Good luck!

    5. NaoNao*

      I think there’s an easy solution to the meetings: taking notes! But also bring a discreet fidget ring and a fidget pen or other type of pen you can discreetly fiddle with to distract yourself. If someone was crocheting or knitting during a meeting, even under the table and with their eyes wide open and trained on me (and I’m ND, FYI) I’d have a real tough time believing they’re paying 100% attention and retaining everything.

      You could also teach yourself shorthand and try to translate as a way to “double occupy” your mind or similar–not just take notes but translate them in some way.

      I will also be honest: I’ve never seen a job that outright says one has to be “perfectly still”. Not wiggling around and visibly moving, sure. But wiggling a foot under the table, playing with fidget jewelry, taking notes, taking a sip of water now and then, stretching discreetly, readjusting your pose, all of that is fine. Yoga poses and constant full body movement, sure, no, that’s not something most jobs will tolerate. But you don’t have to be a department store mannequin!

      1. GythaOgden*

        Same here (autistic myself). Also chances are that other people will be /interested/ in it, and that can be awkward and distracting for anyone presenting or trying to chair the meeting. I’ve had to bite my tongue to stop pestering a knitter on a train because I know she wants to knit in peace but as a fellow crafter I’m desperate to engage her on it and have to keep that impulse in check.

    6. Generic Name*

      Congrats on your new job!!!!

      I echo the other’s suggestions about standing up or taking notes.

    7. office hobbit*

      I work with several people who knit in meetings! I agree with others that starting with taking notes will give a good first impression. If/when you switch to knitting, I would pick a simple stitch and project so you’re able to look up at least like 80% of the time, and make an effort to look visually engaged in the conversation (nodding, putting the knitting down occasionally to take a note or participate).

    8. Zoey*

      I used to draw in meetings to help focus. I did so for decades. I always cleared it with whatever new boss I got, but after that everyone got used to it. (I didn’t do it in meetings with outsiders.).

      I had undiagnosed sleep apnea for decades and would fall asleep otherwise. Insomnia, too. If I had been tested and diagnosed, I could have had drawing as an accommodation. Or possibly even without a diagnosis , just by explaining I fall asleep when too still. Of course you don’t want them to worry you will generally be falling asleep on the rest of the job, so not sure how to word it.

    9. Kt*

      Good luck and congrats!

      For everyone who says “take notes”, it’s not so easy. I can either take notes and not absorb info or participate and potentially fall asleep, or I can knit and absorb info and ask probing and appropriate questions. I have so many notepads of notes where the pen just ran across the page as I nodded off…

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, but I think sometimes you have to challenge yourself. For better or worse, taking notes is going to go down a lot better than knitting in a meeting and I would definitely not go to a brand new boss and ask directly for a specific out of the ordinary fidget.

        That’s not to say I haven’t tried in remote meetings, but I wasn’t able to keep the yarn from bouncing away from me and ultimately, the meeting was the most important thing for me to focus on when I’m getting paid to be present for someone else. I get the impulse, but honestly it’s a hill not worth dying on for me, and adapting to circumstances is something my neurodivergent mind has had to do a lot of, so it may take some effort at first but…that’s life.

        I think if Aggretsuko goes in with this request, there’ll be enough eyebrows raised that it would colour other people’s opinions of her. And this is someone who would totally do it if I could get away with it.

    10. allathian*

      Congrats on the new job! I really hope that you can get the accommodation you need.

      Second taking notes for yourself if you can do that and listen at the same time. I can do keywords but not full minutes.

      My 100-person division had a full day Teams “offsite” two weeks ago. We were on camera for a part of the time, and the invitation explicitly invited attendees to draw or knit, crochet, etc. if it helped them to focus. So in a breakout session I saw a director knitting on camera. That day, she knit half a sleeve.

  17. Achtung, Baby*

    Related to what I was asking about last week… is it worth going through at least part of an interview process if there’s only, like, a 5% chance you’re interested in the job? Ugh, I’m so indecisive.

    1. ferrina*

      This is something that will vary person to person. Me, I like interviewing, so if I’m having a slow week, I’ll happily do an extra interview. If interviewing causes you a lot of stress, declining might be a better option. Maybe flip a coin and see if you agree, then do whatever you feel like doing?

      Either way, you are always allowed to bow for any reason (even just ‘bad vibes’ or ‘not feeling it’).

    2. pc*

      I would say it’s still worth it to at least talk with them if you’re even remotely interested – who knows, during the interview you might discover something you really like about the position! But if it’s going to take more energy and stress from you in order to prepare for the interview then you think you’d care about the job, I wouldn’t go through with it.

    3. Sherm*

      A 5% chance sounds pretty decent to me! Imperfect analogy, but if you knew you had a 5% chance you’d win the lottery, you’d buy a ticket, wouldn’t you? You can always politely bail out of the process, even mid-interview, if you realize that you would never take the job.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        Well, I would not bail mid-interview unless something really insane happened – it’s a small industry and that would be very rude – but my thought process is more like “I really don’t think I want to leave my current job, but it might be good for the hiring manager to know my name/be familiar with me just in case it comes in handy down the road”

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      I once went for an interview for practice, because I wasn’t interested in the job. Then, after learning more about it, I changed my mind, and took the job when it was offered. So yeah, it’s worth it.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        Not to sound too cocky, but I have changed jobs three times in the past ~8 years so I think my interviewing skills are pretty solid (one of those changes was in the same company, but I still had to interview).

    5. FricketyFrack*

      Ugh, I wish I had an answer for this. I applied for another job after a one of the worst days I’ve ever had at work and I’m extremely likely to get asked to interview, but things with my current job worked themselves out and I don’t think I would leave at this point unless there was like, the absolute unicorn of job offers (and the salary on the one I applied to makes that very unlikely). The problem is that it’s an employer I’d be interested in working for eventually, and I was in the interview stage with them a year or so ago and withdrew because they take months to hire and I was offered my current job in the meantime. So now I’m worried if I bail again, I’ll basically be blacklisted and I’m kicking myself for panic-applying.

      On the other hand, I feel awful complaining about (possibly) being able to get an interview that I don’t even really need when so many people are struggling in their job search. Obviously I’m grateful for where I am, I just don’t know what to do with it.

    6. Distractinator*

      Do you think you’ll learn something about yourself in this interview? I’m thinking things like confirming you do/don’t like talking to people in your industry, you do/don’t like smaller/larger companies, that the previously reasonable-sounding hybrid work arrangement sounds completely bananapants in the details and would never work for your llama-care needs, that this micromanager interviewer gives you more respect for your hands-off boss (or vice-versa, that a laissez-faire environment makes you appreciate the specificity in a boss despite their micromanagement), or some other thing you might learn from a compare/contrast study of this new work opportunity. If you feel that a job interview is only valuable if you take the job, then there are fewer ways it’s a good idea; but if it’s a lab exercise in professional growth, it could be kind of fun!

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        One thing that did occur to me is that it might help me figure out what I DO want in my next job, or whether I want to stay in the same industry were I to switch, so that’s not nothing. As far as I can tell the differences in this new one vs my current job come down to a lot of personal preference – 3 WFH days vs 2, smaller vs larger team, more hats to wear vs broader swath of products, all that stuff. There is no ONE big thing on either side right now (but you’re right that it could come out in the interview).

        Right now I think I will do the next interview just so I can say I talked to the hiring manager, and that I gave it a fair shot. She is someone who might be good to know down the line. But unless she really wows me, I’m likely to bow out after that.

    7. Nesprin*

      Yes, if you’re broke and need the work.
      Yes, if that 5% is a real 5% and not just a “stranger things have happened”
      Yes, if you want to practice or network.

      No otherwise.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        If I was out of work or desperately underpaid, this would be a great opportunity – but I have a job and the new one wouldn’t be a huge upgrade in pay or responsibility/title/etc.

        That said, I want to be open to “the universe” nudging me somewhere, and networking is not nothing.

    8. Savor The Peelies*

      If you do end up interested, how interested would you be? Is this a dream job situation (like, say, some sort of rock star lawyer ;^]), or is it a difference between “not interested at all” vs “maybe could do it”? I think the potential outcomes would factor highly into my decision to go through with it or not.

      1. Achtung, Baby*

        If it were a dream job I’d be more than 5% interested haha :)

        It’s remarkably similar to my current job (even salarywise) which I am in no way desperate to leave, so that makes the whole thing a bit harder to judge.

        1. Flower*

          Yes, do it!! Years ago I interviewed at a place I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to want to end up at for several reasons. In fact, it was probably only 5% likely! But went anyway because there was some chance. Sooo glad I did. I turned the job down at the time, and then months my life changed drastically and I ended up at that job after all and loved it. If I hadn’t gone to that interview, never would’ve happened.

    9. Quinalla*

      For me, it would not be worth it, but I love my current job. I’m not going to bother interviewing unless it is an amazing fit with higher salary. But if you are in a position where you hate your current job or don’t have a job, yeah it is worth it to do a phone screen or initial interview most likely!

  18. NuMom*

    As a palate cleanser from the craziness we read this week let’s talk about what pregnant people and new moms are more likely to be dealing with in the workplace: discrimination.

    If you were a pregnant person, new mom, or birthing parent and experienced discrimination after returning to work or during your pregnancy how did that look and what did you do about it?

    For me, my company was brilliant while I was pregnant. They said and did all the right things. I felt very supported.

    Then when I returned to work things changed. I started to experience subtle new mom punishments pretty early on. First, my boss said that it was fine when I told him I would be logging off at 5pm and logging back on in the evenings around 8pm or 9pm after my child was asleep. However he then complained about it passive aggressively. If we had a 4pm meeting he’d start the meeting with a cutting remark like “Well we better speed this up since apparently NuMom’s kid falls asleep the second the sun goes.” It was awkward and shifted the focus to my status as a mom instead of me just being able to say “I have a hard stop at 5pm” if the meeting was a starting to run late. 9 out of 10 times the meeting was resolved by 4:30 anyway making his comment especially annoying.

    He then cracked down on my use of flex time. Our team is all salaried and typically works overtime so flexing time was never an issue before. In fact all the men on my team, including a fresh from college intern!, was flexing way more time and I confirmed with them that our boss never confronted them. Yet the first time I texted the team that my daughter was sick and I was up with her all night and would be in at 10am instead of 8 he called me into a meeting and said –
    “you need to be careful not to abuse flex time. My wife was a nurse who did 12hr day shifts after caring for our baby and she never missed work.” I had been back to work for 2 months and not flexed anytime at all despite working through lunches, evenings, and weekends!

    Ultimately I didn’t say anything about it because I felt it was subtle enough that on paper it could make me look unreasonable or hormonal and I’m getting transferred to a new team in a month anyway.

    1. Microwaved Anchovies*

      It’s not subtle though. I think it might make sense to document it in case your transfer falls through, or something else happens where you want to have evidence that your boss has been discriminatory towards you based on you being a parent. It might also make sense to mention to him–if your relationship allows it–that he’s been really focused on you being a new mom and let him know that you are concerned his comments have begun to veer in the direction of legal discrimination, and you don’t want him to get in trouble.

      1. Double A*

        I agree this isn’t subtle. The only person who is not being allowed flex time on the team is the new mother. Definitely start documenting all of this.

        1. lost academic*

          Agreed. Also it’s not only not subtle but it’s literally like a case you’d put in a training on what NOT TO DO and WHY.

          Report it.

      2. NuMom*

        I agree the flex time is concrete but it’s the only thing I felt was actionable and it’s the only flex time I’ve needed. The examples I provided were the easiest to nail down but the rest of the stuff was gut feelings, shifts in tone, and a general unease.

        Even the flex time issue I initially wrote off as him panicking that I would be missing every day that week since I mentioned a sick kid. It’s just combined with his other stuff I started to see it in a discrimination light and it was all but confirmed for me when I later heard through the grapevine that he was complaining about me taking the remainder of my parental leave (I had came back early from leave to address a botched project launch).

        1. Observer*

          when I later heard through the grapevine that he was complaining about me taking the remainder of my parental leave

          Absolutely discrimination.

          Please report all of this. Especially in the context of your coming back early to fix a mess not of your making!

        2. Jaydee*

          Wait, this is all happening now? Like in 2024? That is not subtle discrimination. That is a neon sign with a flashing arrow that says “Discrimination Here” surrounded by red flags with a full brass band playing just in case you hadn’t already noticed something going on over there. Please consider at least doing an initial consultation with an employment lawyer.

    2. Stuart Foote*

      Unfortunately there is an attitude out there that new parents are showing they aren’t serious about their job because they decided to have kids. At my previous job, a manager mocked a new dad who was taking his paternity leave by calling him “Mr. Mom” behind his back and trying to pressure him into going back to work early. This seems to pop up more with older and more traditional people who seem to think that Mom should take care of the kids, Dad should work, and the scopes shouldn’t mix too much.

    3. Astronaut Barbie*

      When my boss said “work didn’t have to conform to my time, around my life” when I was taking classes outside working hours, and could not work overtime on a Saturday- which was a surprise and not something we usually did- I said to him, “I agree, and that is why I make sure my classes are scheduled around my working hours.” Then I asked him to please put it in writing if he was requiring me to miss the class that I paid for on my own time.
      Of course he knew better than to pout that in writing.
      If you have a decent HR department, start asking for him to put his “reprimands” in writing, and to be very specific about what the issue with your flex time was, so that you can show how ridiculous he is being. Don’t let him use a general “you abused flex time” in your yearly review!

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Three maternity leaves, three very different experiences.

      1. I had to turn down a longterm project because its launch date coincided too closely with my due date, and they were weird from then on. When I returned I had neither desk, computer nor phone, but was put on a part of that project I wasn’t really qualified for, rather than the part I was ideally suited to (which is why they’d offered it to me in the first place). I returned part-time but when I was heavily overloaded and requested to increase my hours HR flat refused. I left shortly afterwards.

      2. Even though I was pretty new everybody was completely thrilled for me, and had a big special catered lunch on my last day. In the end I couldn’t afford to return (daycare for two, yikes) but they couldn’t have been nicer about it, even though it meant they had to pay me a year’s worth of PTO, equivalent to about seven weeks’ salary. They are very supportive of personal development and never expect anyone to put work ahead of family.

      3. Headhunted; hired at 7m pg; paid in full through maternity leave as a retainer; fully remote and flexible.

    5. Observer*

      I felt it was subtle enough that on paper it could make me look unreasonable or hormonal

      It is not subtle AT ALL. In fact, it’s classic – you are doing the exact thing that men are doing, but only *you* are being called out for it. Please document it and let HR know. Because if he’s doing this to you, it’s either happening to someone else, or it will happen. Having this on record will make it easier for the next person.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Not subtle from where I sit! He may be counting on the fact that you’re transferring to be such a jackoff to you (“She won’t rock the boat since she’s leaving”) but this is discriminatory and illegal. I would record every incident and file with HR: if he’s doing this to you to test the waters, he’ll get worse in future with other women/parents.

    7. Banana Pyjamas*

      I was forced to work overtime during both of my pregnancies expressly to finish a project before my due date. It generally wasn’t allowed for most staff, so working 52.5 hours per week was truly an outlier. I was too busy drowning to realize I was experiencing discrimination.

      I also had to go to HR during my first pregnancy because the office manager refused to calculate my comp time. I had a prenatal appointment during business hours, so she claimed I wasn’t eligible because I didn’t work my first 40 hrs between 8-4. Payroll found over the course of the pregnancy she owed me 20 hours of comp time.

  19. pc*

    I sometimes run into issues on my comments or replies in posts posting – does this happen to anyone else? I get it if they’re caught up in some kind of automatic moderation system if that’s being used, but I don’t think that’s the problem. I wonder if I’m getting caught up in my work’s internet connection.

    1. Tradd*

      I think I’ve read before that comments with certain words go into an approval queue. Couldn’t tell you what those words are though!

      And while you’ve brought this up, I have a question – how do you go back to a specific post or comment? If I’ve posted something, I’d like to easily read the comments without having to scroll tons.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Most mobile browsers have a “find” in the menu – I have done that on mobile/my iPad.

          2. Hlao-roo*

            Most browsers on mobile have a “find in page” function (instead of ctrl + f). It’s in different places on different browsers, so I usually search “[browser name] find in page mobile” to see how to access it.

          3. Sharpie*

            Click the three dots at the top to bring up the menu and do ‘find in page’ on mobile. On Android, anyway.

    2. ferrina*

      Yep, there’s an automod system that can catch some comments. It can take a little bit to get posted, but it will show up.

    3. NotYou*

      Some comments are randomly delayed and some never show up. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to it.

    4. Sharpie*

      I have issues with posts not showing sometimes. I posted a reply to the person further up asking about cheap computers, in fact, and don’t think that comment went through. Mostly I don’t bother trying to repost a failed comment (I post from my phone) but there’s been at least one occasion when a ‘failed’ comment was there when I read back through comments a week or so later.

      1. Sharpie*

        And that post did show up, I have absolutely no clue how or why it glitches like that.

  20. Jake Peralta*

    I am writing this post to find out how much interviewers really care about pets when conducting live video or phone interviews.

    I have a cat who decides pretty much when he wants to get the zoomies and sing the song of his people. I learned the first time I tried to interview from home while I had him that he would be more likely to be a distraction if I closed him in a room than if I let him roam freely.

    There haven’t been too many occurrences of him being distracting during my interviews. There’s been a few times where an interview could have heard him. I also remember at least two video interviews where he got on screen, though only one of those recruiters said anything. I wasn’t moved to the next step in that job but I don’t think it had anything to do with the cat. I was offered the job with the company that didn’t say anything about him being on camera, though I didn’t end up accepting it for unrelated reasons.

    There was one interview recently where he he was pawing at the bathroom door that was closed and I felt I couldn’t ignore it, so I told the recruiter “hang on” and opened the door, but I didn’t tell the recruiter what I was doing. He also likes to rub on my laptop screen during video interviews and there have been a few times I could probably be seen adjusting the position of the laptop or holding it in place in order to minimize potential distractions from him.

    As I said earlier, he’s more likely to be a distraction if I close him in a room because he doesn’t like being closed in rooms. At least if I let him roam freely, there’s a chance he won’t make a sound or be anywhere near me when I’m on the interview. Also, cats are not like dogs or children, both of whom you can simply ask to leave you alone for a few minutes to one hour or shut the door. I also don’t live in a big enough space that I have a room I could lock myself in and hope he doesn’t try to paw at the door.

    So my question is, do interviewers really care that much about pets not being locked up? I see advice columns saying to lock them up, but it’s more realistic in some cases than in others. I also wouldn’t want to work for someone who got that upset about a cat but I do understand why they’d want me to minimize distractions.

    1. MsM*

      I think Alison’s post about cat etiquette during work meetings also applies for interviews – as long as the cat or your interaction with the cat isn’t creating a major distraction or interfering with the conversation, most people aren’t going to hold it against you. You can also apply a bit of humor by way of explaining what’s going on – “Sorry; as you can see, Fluffy’s excited about this opportunity, too” – and then get back to the interview.

    2. ferrina*

      I also have very *ahem* assertive cats, and I’ve worked with plenty of other people with big-personality pets. Here’s my reccomendation:

      -Free roaming pets are usually fine. My cats are the same as yours- they’re usually fine when they are able to do their own thing, but a menace if I try to lock them up. A pet sleeping in the background of a call has never been a big deal in any of my meetings.

      -If the pet is distracting you and not the interviewer, ignore it. You probably shouldn’t have paused the interview to open the door for a cat- that’s not a good look. Let the cat annoy you if it only affects you (sidenote- this will absolutely confuse the cat). My cat once climbed to the top of my 5ft free standing lamp in the middle of a client call- but he was behind my laptop and only I could see him, so I had to desperately pretend that nothing was happening while he tried to decide if he could jump from the lamp to the bookshelf (while strategically hovering over the mute button to see if he would knock the lamp over).

      -If the pet jumps into the frame, gently make sure they aren’t a distraction. You can pet the cat and gently move them to a non-intrusive part of frame. I have a cat that is regularly in meeting with me- she hops on my lap and sometimes sticks her tail in my face. I just pet her and gently move her tail down and keep talking. This is just fine- most people have no problem with it, and some people want to be introduced to the pet. If I were to keep the tail in front of my face, it becomes distracting. If the cat is a distraction for the interviewer, its okay to say “I am so sorry about my cat! Usually my cat is sleeping this time of day, but I guess he really likes you.” Then move the cat in whatever way works for you. It also gives the interviewer a chance to chat about the cat- some will love talking about your cat or say it’s not a problem.

      Good luck in your job search!

      1. Jake Peralta*

        I like your advice on moving the cat if he becomes too much of a distraction. That said, I think it would be easier for me to move to a different chair than to move the cat- I usually do interviews at my dining room table which seats four. He hasn’t been distracting to the point that I’d need to do that, but do you think doing that would be a big deal?

        1. WellRed*

          Getting up and physically moving around during an interview would be weird and distracting. I agree with the other comment that getting up to open the door wasn’t a good look either.

          1. Jake Peralta*

            Well, it was a phone interview, so no one saw me get up, so I’m not sure how it was a bad look. I didn’t notice that part in the original comment. It was getting to the point that I couldn’t think about what I was saying so I felt it was better to just open the door. If it were a video interview, I would have agreed that I had to try harder to ignore it.

            1. ferrina*

              Oh, yeah, in a phone interview move as much as you need!
              I always walk around during a phone interview, and that’s regardless of what the cats are doing!

        2. ferrina*

          Seconding WellRed- definitely don’t move yourself in the interview. That is horribly distracting for the interviewer (as an interviewers, I’m also wondering why you didn’t just start in the better location).

          I usually just adjust the cat onto my lap (just off camera) and pet them to keep them in place. If needed, I actually have a cat tower behind me and I can spin around and put them on the cat tower (it looks out a window). That’s a bit more distracting, but my cat and I have agreed that this is acceptable and she won’t make any more trouble (for at least 10 minutes). On the flip side, she’ll sometimes start on the tower and then move to my lap- my coworkers find this hilarious.

          1. Jake Peralta*

            Love hearing how you’ve had to reason with your cat about being on camera. Sounds like she’s a handful :D

      2. Jake Peralta*

        ETA: For the interview where I got up, I failed to mention it was a phone interview, so no one saw me get up. It also took me about 20 seconds max to deal with it given the close proximity of the door and where I was sitting.

        That said, even if it was a video interview and someone saw me get up, I think they can cut me some slack as I’ve had cases where interviewers responded to distractions happening around them while on video interviews. Of course, I’d want to avoid it if possible but things don’t stop happening because you’re on a job interview.

    3. PayRaven*

      This is going to depend interviewer to interviewer, but you can also do things to minimize the impact.

      For example: I’m an interviewer for a pretty informal tech environment. We have a pet pictures channel. My colleagues know the names of my dogs and hedgehogs. I am not going to freak out seeing a cat in frame, or even moving in and out of frame from time to time.

      But if the cat is taking your attention away from the interview–if you have to get up to manage the cat, if I’m having trouble hearing you over the cat noise, if the cat is blocking me from being to read your lips (I had just gotten an accommodation to do in-person interviews only right before COVID hit, so that’s out the window–virtual isn’t any more fun for me than it is for you), if we end up having to have any kind of real conversation about the cat, then it’s going to color the experience.

      If you do start having Cat Related Issues, your best bet is to be professionally apologetic (“I’m so sorry, let me deal with this quickly”) and return smoothly to the interview without redirecting attention to the cat.

      1. PayRaven*

        I’m also going to politely chuckle at the idea that you can successfully ask dogs or children to leave you alone. ;D

        1. ForestHag*

          Got me thinking about the time my youngest daughter – who was 2 at the time – ran into my office wearing nothing but a diaper and screaming loudly, ran into the video frame and even with background blur, her little diaper butt got picked up and everyone got a nice view of a screaming toddler for a few seconds. :D

          1. Jake Peralta*

            Okay, I can admit that I was wrong about this one. Forgive me as I’ve never had a dog nor a child. :)

    4. spcepickle*

      If your cat jumps into frame I promise you the next thing that will happen is I will go grab my cat and shove her into frame. We will have a bonding moment over cats and then move on.
      It is only a problem if a) I really can’t hear you – I have found this more with dogs that bark then with cats, but I did also have a cat that I swear was practicing a self composed opera so I don’t count them out I guess.
      b) You are really distracted.

      Otherwise anyone who is a real person knows that life happens and working from home comes with a different set of challenges.

      Good luck!

    5. StressedButOkay*

      I, as an interviewer, am DELIGHTED when pets decide to say hello. I might be in the minority but it’s just a part of life. (I was giving an interview when my cat decided to parkour onto the back of my chair and then fling herself off, face first into the sliding glass door. The ~thunk~ was audible.)

      If they’re going to be more of a distraction shut away, keep them out because seeing a cat butt across the screen is far better than the song of their people.

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think for background sound, a lot of computer microphones and/or video platforms these days are good at isolating sound, so while it might sound like your cat is making a ruckus, they may not be able to hear anything on their end. That doesn’t mean it’s not distracting to *you*, just that I’d temper the urge to immediately deal with it because they probably can’t hear it at all.

      I think if it’s unrealistic to lock your cat in another room and you know he’s probably going to appear on screen, I don’t think it would be the worst idea to give your interviewers a heads up, e.g. “I just wanted to give a heads up that my very assertive cat might wander by, but I’m hoping that will be less distracting than hearing him meowing off screen trying to get into the room!” or whatever you think makes sense, delivered in a cheerful and straightforward manner.

      1. Roland*

        1st paragraph is exactly what I wanted to say. Pretty much any time I apologize for noise on my end, my teammates say they can’t even hear anything. Most likely the cat can cry for a bit in the other room with no one the wiser – you could trial this with a friend to find out. As a cat owner, I know it can be hard for us to ignore, but if it’s possible to keep cats away during an interview I think it’s ideal.

      2. Jake Peralta*

        I think if it’s unrealistic to lock your cat in another room and you know he’s probably going to appear on screen, I don’t think it would be the worst idea to give your interviewers a heads up, e.g. “I just wanted to give a heads up that my very assertive cat might wander by, but I’m hoping that will be less distracting than hearing him meowing off screen trying to get into the room!”

        Thankfully, this question isn’t applicable for most of my interviews as he about 95% of the time isn’t seen or heard from by either me or the interviewer. That said, if he ever changed his ways, that might not be a bad idea to give them a heads up. For now, though, I think I’m just gonna continue doing what I’m doing as far as the cat is concerned.

    7. Decidedly Me*

      As an interviewer, I’ve never minded pets (and will ask their name if I see them :) ). When looking for a job, I saw at least one ad that specifically mentioned pets being welcome on interview. Most people understand that pets exist at home and that if you’re interviewing people that are at home, these things can happen.

    8. Clisby*

      “Also, cats are not like dogs or children, both of whom you can simply ask to leave you alone for a few minutes to one hour or shut the door.”

      I’ve never had dogs, but who are these magical unicorn children you can just shut the door on for an hour? OK, if they’re 7 or 8, or infants in their cribs – but toddlers? Not happening.

    9. PotatoRock*

      Eh, I think you should do whatever you can to minimize it. If it seems like you’re not planning ahead (ie you could take the interview call from somewhere without the cat, and you just didn’t plan for that), or you think it’s normal to have a cat interrupt a call/are applying for remote jobs & don’t have an appropriate home work space, those would all be negatives for me. I think it’s easy for cat people (and pet people!) to underestimate how much everyone likes to see their pet, and also how distracting a pet on screen can be. If it seemed like an unusual occurrence – equivalent to eg. a bunch of sirens started up during the interview, or totally outside of your control (like interviewing new grads living at their parents’ house in 2020), I wouldn’t hold it against you. But in general, interviews are fairly formal meetings. I want to see the professional judgment that an occasional cat fly-by on an informal team call might be okay but the same cat on a big demo with a potential major client is not appropriate – and it’s really not appropriate to an interview either.

      1. Jake Peralta*

        There’s not much I can do to minimize it. I live in a relatively small condo and if I lock him up, he’ll just paw at the door or start meowing loudly. That’s why I err on the side of leaving everything as is and hoping for the best.

      2. Tio*

        This is where I fall too, as a self described cat lady. If you can’t lock him up, which I understand, can you shut yourself in a smaller room so he has most of the house and you have the small space? That’s usually what I do when I want to make sure the cat won’t crash my call

        1. Jake Peralta*

          That would be the equivalent of locking him up and would cause the meowing and pawing at the door that I mentioned. The guy simply does not like closed doors.

          I have an office that I use for working from home but that has the litter box in there simply for lack of a better place to put it. I definitely wouldn’t want to shut off his access to that even if only for a few minutes. I also think him using it would be a distraction, at least to me, even if the interviewer didn’t see or hear it. I typically use the dining room because that’s the best place to do it where his litter box isn’t located.

          All this aside, I’d say for 95% of the interviews I do from home, I don’t see or hear him, but this question is for the 5% that’s the exception.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Peanut Cat cannot bear a closed door. He sees it as a personal affront and will loudly say so. I have much better luck with him sleeping the afternoon away on the couch if I don’t try to slip the bedroom door closed.

      3. Jake Peralta*

        I want to see the professional judgment that an occasional cat fly-by on an informal team call might be okay but the same cat on a big demo with a potential major client is not appropriate – and it’s really not appropriate to an interview either.

        I work in corporate accounting, so I wouldn’t be dealing with clients or potential clients, making that point moot. That said, after reading this comment, I’ve determined that I’d never want to work for someone who thinks like you. I could understand you wanting to minimize distractions but it’s people who think like this who are the reason I felt the need to create this thread.

        1. DrSalty*

          You asked how interviewers feel about pets on screen and you’re getting an answer – sorry it’s not one you like.

          1. Jake Peralta*

            I’m just being honest that I wouldn’t want to work for someone who was that rigid about an interview. It’s as much my prerogative to not want to work for someone like that as it would be for someone to be like that.

            1. PotatoRock*

              Sure, if you want to filter out workplaces like XYZ, that’s a reasonable thing to do. I thought you were trying to figure out if “cat on video” is more like “not wearing a full suit to an interview” (most employers no longer expect this, you’ll know if you’re in an industry that’s different) or more like “wearing your oldest comfiest sweatshirt to an interview” (your prerogative and can be an effective filtering tool if you are looking for a super casual environment – but while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it’s outside of current professional norms and yeah, might lose you some opportunities).

              1. Jake Peralta*

                I mean I have more control over what I choose to wear to an interview than I do over how a cat will behave while I’m laser-focused on a job interview. I’m not inviting the cat to come on camera, which it seems you’re implying here, but the chances of him appearing on camera are non-zero (albeit on only two occasions that I recall in the nine years I’ve had him). But he can also be distracting in ways that don’t appear on camera, which is why I let him roam free rather than trying to prevent something that probably won’t happen and would be more likely to cause distractions than if I did nothing.

            2. Shard*

              You’ve answered your own question. If you don’t want to work for anyone who would have a problem with anything cat-related in an interview, then you should just keep doing what you’ve been doing. You will then know which employers you should reject based on their reaction.

              It’s actually the perfect screening tool for you.

              1. Jake Peralta*

                I’ve only had one reaction to it ever. I should clarify that I wouldn’t want to work for someone who would automatically reject me solely for that.

                1. RagingADHD*

                  Well, it’s not like they’re going to tell you.

                  How many interviews have you been on recently, and how badly do you need a job? If you need work, or need to get out of a bad situation, and are not getting past the first interview, it’s very counterproductive to tell yourself a fiction that there’s some deep cultural correlation between an interviewer thinking you didn’t show good professional judgement or problemsolving, and some kind of toxic workplace.

                  There isn’t. If your interview track record is poor and there are cat incidents involved with several of them, it would behoove you to get creative about mitigating the situation, like using a different type of mike & headset, or taking interviews somewhere else.

                  Unless of course you’re just interviewing for kicks and giggles and don’t need the job at all.

                2. Jake Peralta*

                  @RagingADHD- I can’t reply directly to your comment for some reason but I’m employed but actively looking. I’m also mostly looking outside of the area I currently live in, so that puts me at a disadvantage over local candidates. I’ve pretty much addressed every cat “incident” I’ve had in my initial post.

                  I also don’t have a reason to think that there’s any correlation between cat incidents and my interview track record. It has only been noticed one time that I’m 100% aware of and, as I mentioned, the other time he appeared on screen, I got offered the job but turned it down for my own reasons- specifically they couldn’t meet my desired salary. I also don’t know if the latter interviewers noticed it as he appeared on screen for a split second and there were no reactions.

                  I don’t think an interviewer wanting me to try to minimize distractions is a bad thing or in any way indicative of a toxic work environment, but things happen, even when I’m on interviews. I would hope an employer would understand that if I worked for them.

                  All this being said, I think using Airpods is a good idea and something I should consider doing more frequently regardless of what the cat may or may not do.

        2. Qwerty*

          Serious question: Why did you ask this question?

          Your question was to find out if interviewers care about pet related distractions during interviews. When people say yes, you become combatitive. If your view is that interviewers should never care then there’s no reason for this thread – change nothing, invite the cat to be a distraction, and weed out anyone who cares about distractions during interviews. Zero problem to discuss.

          You give three examples of the cat being a distraction where one required you to actually pause the interview. If that is only 5% of the time, then you’ve had 60 interviews and there’s probably a different issue going on, though that doesn’t count the “few times” you mention the issues around adjusting your screen. Its common for writing things out to show a bigger trend than our personal perception of circumstances.

          You had to pause an interview because the cat is such a distraction. While the later arguments are that is was on the phone so it doesn’t count – you still told the interviewer to “hang out” and are being argumentative when people point out that’s an issue.

          Whether a pet appears or not isn’t the issue for me in interviews. It is how the candidate handles themself and whether the interruption distracts either of us. You received some good suggestions here but don’t seem willing to try anything. I avoid interviews during my cat’s most talkative time and increase the odds that he’ll be sleeping by wearing him out ahead of time and/or giving him some bonus wet food 30min prior. There’s also the option of going somewhere else for the interview – libraries often have free bookable rooms.

          1. Jake Peralta*

            You give three examples of the cat being a distraction where one required you to actually pause the interview. If that is only 5% of the time, then you’ve had 60 interviews and there’s probably a different issue going on, though that doesn’t count the “few times” you mention the issues around adjusting your screen. Its common for writing things out to show a bigger trend than our personal perception of circumstances.

            I obviously can’t give an accurate numeric figure about the percentage of the time that he’s a distraction, but I know my situation enough to know that he’s almost never a distraction. I think you’re just taking what I said too literally. I also believe I’ve had more than 60 interviews from home in 9 years.

            You had to pause an interview because the cat is such a distraction.

            The cat wasa distraction and it took maybe 20 seconds to fix the problem, and probably a lot less than that.

            While the later arguments are that is was on the phone so it doesn’t count – you still told the interviewer to “hang out” and are being argumentative when people point out that’s an issue.

            I definitely didn’t say that it didn’t count, just that it was less likely to be a bad look if it was on the phone since no one could see me. I also admittedly didn’t specify that it was a phone interview instead of a video interview in the initial comment but, once I cleared that up, you can see that commenters changed their tune about it.

            I avoid interviews during my cat’s most talkative time

            Glad to see you can plan your interviews around that. My cat doesn’t have a specific “talkative time” so I can’t really schedule it around that.

            There’s also the option of going somewhere else for the interview – libraries often have free bookable rooms.

            Yeah, I’m not going to do that for something that has been basically a non-issue aside from the times I’ve mentioned.

            1. Me*

              If the times you mentioned are unusual and you’re saying these distractions aren’t really an issue, I don’t understand why you needed to ask your question. It does seem like you are not interested in changing anything or listening to people who suggested they would be distracted or find it off-putting to have you be interrupted by your cat.

              1. Jake Peralta*

                I don’t think it’s necessary to change anything as I think I’m doing the best I can do for my situation and with the options that I have. I just don’t know how much interviewers are truly bothered by it. I appreciate the advice more on how to handle it when the distractions do happen rather than making changes for something so infrequent.

          2. Eucerin*

            Hmm yeah I have to agree with Querty here. Don’t ask questions and then get cranky that you’re getting answers based on the provided info.

        3. GythaOgden*

          You’re going to run into all sorts of people in the working world and you can’t control them as much as you can control other people. Most people here are very supportive (see the knitting thread from Aggretsuko above), but we can’t in good conscience simply all reassure you that’s fine because there are other legitimate perspectives that aren’t always represented here (also present in that above thread). Other people’s behaviour is their concern to fix and maybe they should think more about it — but on the other hand, it’s you asking for advice about the 5% of times that it /does/ matter and having those other perspectives represented on the thread means you get a more accurate picture — that not everyone is the demographic of person who hangs out on AAM but a diverse society in terms of outlooks and needs.

          Besides which, corporate accounting has important internal stakeholder meetings, no? You need to ensure Pussycat Willow isn’t bothering you in big internal situations already, right, because she’s being disruptive when shut up and wandering about? You asked what other people might think, and, well, that poster is telling you.

          Even I at a very junior level present action logs to my colleagues and while they’re very tolerant of banter, there’s often a compliance manager on the calls who’s very much an /eminence grise/ when it comes to formality. She’s not heartless, but her time is valuable and she’s having to do the rounds of a lot of teams in her patch, and so we keep distractions to a minimum. You’d ideally want to have the same approach there as you would in an interview and understand that others might look askance at cat-butt on the screen (we have a cameras-on culture). I’m considering cat ownership myself and so this is a very useful thread for me, but I want to know the bad bits as well as be reassured about it, because I want an honest picture of how people might respond. (I’ve seen my colleague’s kittens in a direct show and tell and even an ultrasound of another guy’s imminent puppies, but those were either as an adjunct to a more casual meeting or at an after-hours pub visit.)

          It’s about working well with a range of people and accepting that you might have to make compromises for the sake of someone else’s needs. As Alison says, sometimes a manager needs to be straight with someone and not just sugarcoat stuff. Take the comment you’re taking offense to in that spirit (because they sound like they can express themselves better as a manager than I can) — because ultimately that’s what you’re asking about when you post this sort of question.

          1. Jake Peralta*

            Besides which, corporate accounting has important internal stakeholder meetings, no?

            In my particular role, no. But I do like to think that, in most cases, people won’t be bothered solely by the presence of a cat. I’ve also had worse things happen during interviews and still moved on to the next stage. I’ve also had things go perfectly on interviews only to not be selected for the next stage. You just never know.

            As far as PotatoRock’s comment is concerned, it wasn’t necessarily about the cat that I found off-putting. It was more the fact that it seemed to imply that I would be intentionally making the distractions happen. Also, there were other things said about people’s living situations that made it seem like he wouldn’t be flexible. Recent grads (and not-so-recent grads) have lived with their parents both before and after 2020 (I was one of them). You also can’t judge how “adequate” someone’s work-from-home space is in one meeting with them. Even if you could, what’s inadequate for you wouldn’t necessarily be inadequate for someone else. It should all be about “Can this person sufficiently perform the duties that they are assigned in whatever setting the company will allow?”

            Overall, I’d want to work for someone who realizes things happen and cares more about how I handle these things. Also, I would want someone to give me the benefit of the doubt for something that’s really not that big of a deal, like a curious cat making an impromptu appearance.

    10. WellRed*

      I’ve responded elsewhere but wanted to ad: count me among the crowd that is always happy to see a pet appearance!

    11. Quinalla*

      I definitely understand not wanting to lock the cat in a room, can you lock yourself in a room and leave the cat the rest of the house to roam? I know some cats would just paw and meow/howl at the door, but if this works, I would do that.

      Depending on the interviewer, it can come off as unprofessional like you don’t know how to manage your environment for an interview. I personally would not care if a cat jumped up on a desk really quick or could be heard on audio briefly, but I know folks who would see it as a strike against you even if they’d be fine with it in normal work world. I don’t think it is that many people though that would see this as something major.

      I know if I was interviewing, I would not have pets able to get to me in the room, more because I wouldn’t want to be distracted.

      1. Jake Peralta*

        can you lock yourself in a room and leave the cat the rest of the house to roam? I know some cats would just paw and meow/howl at the door

        Yeah, he would be more likely to paw and meow/howl at the door, especially since the only room I can lock myself in has his litter box and it’s there because there isn’t a better place for me to put it. I try to manage the environment the best I can and usually, the cat isn’t an issue when I let him roam freely. If I was living in a bigger place with more rooms or a better place to put the litterbox, I’d probably at least try to shut the door, though I wouldn’t do it if it was a job I was super interested in.

        1. Hazel*

          I’m not sure you need to say it’s your cat that is noisy/ needs you to get up. It might cover the bases if you said ‘excuse me for a moment, there is some noise outside, I’ll shut the door’. Every office and home office is occasionally plagued by car alarms, construction, the sun moving around and making it hard to see the screen etc. and that is in no way unprofessional. So just make a polite excuse.

          1. Jake Peralta*

            I agree that maybe I could have said more than just “hold on”, but I was also trying to take care of it quickly and not draw attention to the situation. I think I was in the middle of responding to a question when this happened and I was losing my train of thought. It was just another reminder to not close doors if I didn’t want to be distracted. :)

        2. Don't You Call Me Lady*

          Can a friend or neighbor or someone just watch the cat during the interview?

          1. Jake Peralta*

            I don’t think there’s anyone I can ask who doesn’t have a job of their own to be at during the times at which I typically interview. My cat also doesn’t like being away from home, or riding in the car, at all if you’re suggesting that I drop him off at their place. It wouldn’t really be worth the effort for something so infrequent.

    12. Jellybeans*

      I had a pitch interview with Netflix once with three large rats on my lap. Didn’t seem to bother them.

  21. Ella Minnow Pea*

    How do you deal with managers who drag their feet on responding to time-sensitive questions and needs (with ample lead time and clear communication about the urgency), yet expect employees to drop everything and move mountains on short notice? I’ve tried asking about how my manager prefers I handle these situations and can’t get a clear answer, just vague “do your best” statements. I’m beyond fed up.

    1. ferrina*

      For the feet draggers- I make it less troublesome to respond to me than to not respond. I am friendly about it, but persistent in following up. After a while most folks find it easier to do what I ask earlier rather than put up with my friendly reminders (I’m also strategic about who gets a reminder in what frequency when- only the worst offender get the Starlight Happy Reminder Time Special!)

      For the folks who expect mountains moved- tell them what you can do on their timeline, and what you could have done with advance warning. This is where you use the line “I’ll do my best with the short time frame. I can get you X in the time frame you gave me; if you want Y, that will take until [DATE].” If you have other things that need to be done, their job doesn’t get done exactly the way they want.

      Definitely be strategic about this- there are some people that you can’t do this to. The CEO can tell you to drop everything, and you need to drop everything. There may be others who are in these roles- you’ll figure out who these are. And loop in your manager if doing one person’s work means that another person’s work will be late- your manager needs to help you figure out the priorities.

    2. PayRaven*

      I’d consider moving past “asking my manager how they prefer I handle it” to “telling my manager directly that this is negatively affecting my workflow, here’s how, and asking THEM to handle it.”

      Might not help if you’ve got a wishy-washy manager, but sometimes directly making it THEIR problem can help spur them to action.

    3. PotatoRock*

      What happens if, when your manager gives an urgent, “move mountains” assignment and tells you to do your best, you just do your best – for 7:45 hrs. Then spend the last 15 minutes of the day writing a quick summary of what you got done and where you’ll pick up tomorrow, and go home/log off.

    4. Brevity*

      The best strategy I’ve used is to put a hard deadline on it, then describe consequences, e.g.:

      “Since the required TPS takes 30 minutes to run, and is now due to CEO by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, I’ll need your approval no later than 1:30 p.m. Thursday. If I don’t have your approval by then, I’ll email CEO’s assistant at 1:45 that the TPS report will be delayed.”

      That way, it’s in writing for CYA reasons.

  22. Ripley*

    Wondering if this is something I can/should put on my resume/cover letter. I work for a large organization that does centralized marketing and recruiting. I am featured in marketing and recruiting materials in my province – both my picture and a blurb I wrote about the job I do. Is this something I can put on application materials, or not really an accomplishment?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t think that’s an accomplishment unless they selected you to be featured because of an award or something similar. If you’re only featured because you work there, then I’d leave it off.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I would file as “not really an accomplishment” unless there was more to it (like you contributed to recruiting/hiring, did speaking engagements to student or professional orgs, or similar.)

    3. Distractinator*

      Include only if it’s a blurb making a point that you really want to make to your interviewer. if your blurb was talking about how your job helps (previous employer) improve their environmental standards, then you say “As you can see from (web link) I have always felt passionately about environmentally conscious llama care; I am excited to continue that interest in maintaining critical emissions standards during llama grooming activities.” But if the blurb is not about anything in particular, or especially if it’s about how great (previous employer) is, then the fact you you appeared in promo materials isn’t part of your resume. (only part of your modeling portfolio)

    4. Astronaut Barbie*

      If these materials are also online, then just add the link to your LinkedIN profile.

  23. Go Grant Lightning*

    I got pulled into my boss’s office Wednesday morning and was told “Hey you know that grant you have been writing for two weeks thats due today at 4? Scrap everything and redo it with with this angle” And I DID! As a new grant writer this was a hell of a challenge but I DID IT YA’LL. HOO-RA!

    1. ferrina*

      HOLY COW! That was a plot twist! I was definitely ready for a “and everything went badly and I had a terrible week”. This is incredible! You did amazing! Good luck on getting the grant!

    2. Grandma to three cats*

      You definitely get a gold star for that! Your boss – not so much. Congratulations on pulling off the impossible!

  24. SmokeyTheBear*

    I was asked to help set up a friendly competition/social event between our “junior llama groomers” and “junior llama feeders” for late summer. They are all on different farms, so at least someone will have to drive up to 40 miles to attend. Most of them are 23-28 years old, and are fairly physically active. Any ideas for a fun and engaging but low impact competition activity? We would probably have a happy hour afterwards.

    1. WorkerDrone*

      What about cornhole? Doesn’t take too much physical activity, though of course no activity will be 100% inclusive. And it fits with a happy hour afterwards.

      Could you rent a pavilion in a park or something midway between both farms? That would be a cool picnic space for cornhole, allow for some food and drinks, but also hopefully discourage too much drinking because a) supplies will be limited to what was brought, and b) with everyone needing to drive home, one would hope they’d all be cautious about drinking too much.

      1. Annie Nominous*

        I was going to say exactly this. I am *terrible* at the game (and secretly hate it) but it’s the ideal activity for a group of people because it is practically designed to encourage hanging around in groups talking. Nobody’s at risk of getting nailed by a spiked volleyball because they turned around to talk to somebody.

    2. RLC*

      Croquet? I’ve seen the sets for rent at event rental centers. Even the set up could be a shared activity.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yes! it’s a very low-impact exercise and not a seriously competitive sport. You do have to be ok with driving spikes into the ground and have a relatively smooth surface for the balls to roll along, but as long as you’re not spiking stuff into someone’s cricket pitch or other immaculate lawn, it would be ideal.

  25. Nicki Name*

    Mid-career tech folks, how’s the job market looking right now? I’m about ready to start freshening up my resume and looking for a better place to be.

    1. PayRaven*

      I say this with all the love and empathy in the world: absolutely abysmal. My partner (8 years direct tech experience) been looking since January. The market’s flooded with the big tech layoffs.

    2. Jan Levinson Gould*

      On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being terrible, 10 being on fire), I’d say it’s a 3 – 3.5. I dipped my toe for the past month or two to see what is out there. Applied for 10 jobs, only two of which fully met my criteria for salary and area of interest, but the others were close enough and wanted to see if I’d at least get any bites. So far 4 or 5 ‘thanks but no thanks’, one response that the company is pulling the role (one of the two I was really interested in) and otherwise crickets. I haven’t applied for anything in a few weeks and in the meantime some frustrations with my current job have been subsiding.

      A few weeks ago we had this discussion during the open thread and especially in a tough job market, having an insider pass along the resume or having a business contact reach out is much more likely to yield success vs. online applying. I’m waiting to hear back from two inside connections that mentioned future openings at their companies, but not holding my breath.

      1. Jan Levinson Gould*

        I’ll also add my employer is going through small, incremental layoffs instead of hiring. Two years ago we could not hire fast enough and it was the first time I hired someone that applied online who was an unknown quantity (fortunately they are a great hire and fit). All previous hires were internal transfers or referrals. We only had four applicants for a fully remote job with potential travel, although it is in a very niche skillset. Would be curious how many applicants we would get today, although if I am miraculously able to add headcount, I already have someone targeted who was laid off from another group.

    3. Almost Academic*

      Limited jobs available, pretty flooded market. But I’m still seeing some movement for strong mid-level candidates, especially with good names on their resume and strong skills match. FWIW every person I know (myself included) who got hired recently was directly contacted by in-house recruiters or strongly referred by internal parties at their new company, so I believe that networking is especially crucial in the current market.

    4. SoonToBeEsquire*

      I really wish the VA or the FedGovt in general would hire more tech people. The VA is unfortunately reducing staffing through attrition but we so need more staffing it’s ridiculous! The one upside to working tech in the FedGovt is the job security. I can’t imagine having to work in tech in the private sector.

    5. Savor The Peelies*

      It took me about six months to get a new job last year– granted, I spent some of that time just floundering, as the last job was deeply traumatic, but as someone else already said, the big tech layoffs have absolutely flooded the market. It’s not great out there.

    6. FFRDC person*

      The defense industry, national labs, and federally funded R&D centers and university affiliated research centers (FFRDCs and UARCs) are ALWAYS hiring for software & tech people. ALWAYS and now is no exception.

  26. Jaid*

    My work deals with items that require signatures. We are supposed to store documents with signatures on them, so they can be reviewed later for possible forgery issues.
    However, our manual was updated so that we are supposed to classify waste a subset of our work…so we can’t review the signatures if it comes back that someone is claiming forgery.
    SMH.
    BTW, the author of the manual was in a meeting with my unit and they were very rude and dismissive of us. Later, they were bullying my lead into taking actions that should have been researched first.
    My co-worker and I are figuring out a work-around, because we do need to retain documents, but don’t want to be written up for not tossing them.
    Two more years…

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Can’t there just be a record-keeping requirement for anything with a wet signature? (Your procedures should include where they’ll be stored, how they’ll be organized, and how long they’ll be kept.)

      If you have a legal department, get them involved in creating and reviewing the procedure.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Maybe talk to your legal department about your document retention requirements, and if scans are acceptable instead of physical copies.

      Good luck dealing with the bully.

      1. Nesprin*

        +1 this sounds like you need the chief counsel to yell at the manual writer- I’d suggest reaching out to legal and asking for advice.

      2. Observer*

        Maybe talk to your legal department about your document retention requirements, and if scans are acceptable instead of physical copies.

        This is what I was going to suggest.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Does your company not have separate retention periods for different types of documentation? They should! This should be a matter of policy, and your manager needs to step up and make the situation clear to the Purging Crusader.

      Document the need (especially if there are legal or regulatory requirements) and escalate it over the Purging Crusader’s head.

    4. Goddess47*

      That’s a ‘above your paygrade’ issue. Ask it as a calm business-process question “legally, we need to do X but manual says Y” and let someone else answer it — in writing! Don’t give in until you have an answer in writing/email.

      Good luck.

  27. Microwaved Anchovies*

    For federal employees transferring between agencies, how long should I wait to contact the HR at the receiving agency to follow up on receiving an FJO if I have already negotiated a start date?

    I ask because my boss told me for lateral transfers you have to give 2 pay periods notice, and this Friday is the last day I could give notice with my current negotiated start date. I do not want to push back any further. Plus, we discussed this a little over two weeks ago.

    1. Taylor, no not THAT one*

      Nope, there’s no required notice period for the federal government, changing jobs or otherwise. My former HR told me I could walk out one day, and that they don’t need notice.

      Is a PCS involved? How long have you been waiting on the FJO? Do you have the tentative job offer? The FJO takes at least a month after the TJO in my experience.

      1. Microwaved Anchovies*

        I received the TJO a month and a half ago. No PCS, in fact the job is in the same building which makes the swap easy. I am concerned though that my current job’s HR is doing the thing where she undermines the whole process to keep you in your current position for longer.

        Also, thank you for the clarification! My boss got very heated when she heard they were asking me to come aboard earlier.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I would follow up with the hiring manager and have them check in with HR. While my HR sometimes seems to take forever to do things, the formal offer is generally issued as soon as HR has clearance to do so – it’s the easiest piece. If they haven’t issued it yet, there could be a problem – in my agency it’s usually that the security office hasn’t signed off yet. This doesn’t mean there is a security issue, often it just means that there are a lot of cases before yours, so review will take a while. And HR won’t tell you that, but may tell the hiring manager.

  28. Pocket Mouse*

    In a comment several weeks ago, someone mentioned that OneDrive files may not be private/secure in the sense that others at the same employer could potentially access them, and I’m curious to learn more about that. Is it a case of “IT ultimately has access to everything on the workplace system” or “coworkers can find a way to view your OneDrive files even if they’re not shared”? Or something else? Explanations much appreciated!

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      My experience with people sharing files from OneDrive is that you definitely have to share them directly with regular uses for them to have access (one reason why I always tell people to put stuff on SharePoint instead). But I don’t work with especially tech savvy people, so I don’t know if there’s some secret crafty way people can get into files they haven’t shared because I’ve never encountered that as an issue.

      IT can get into anything they want, so I think that’s a separate concern.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Saving a file to our OneDrive shared folders automatically uploads it to SharePoint. You still have to set permissions properly, but it’s not going to be private to those who have more over-arching access.

        Ultimately yes, it amounts to not putting anything into a shared drive you don’t want anyone to see.

  29. Jane*

    Hi! I’m looking for some career advice.

    I work as an AP clerk for an organization that has a central admin office and several branches- my role serves all of these locations. Over the last year, I recognized that we had several phone/internet accounts that were duplicates, or incorrectly billed, so I’ve spent the last several months cleaning all of these accounts up (about 150) and it’s been SO fun. I’m wondering if anyone could recommend careers or roles in which I could do this kind of thing full-time?

    Things I liked about this project: detailed spreadsheets, contacting people in all different branches for information and confirmation, tracking monthly costs, holding a few meetings in which I showed graphs of how much money we’ve saved and how many incorrect bills had been corrected, the general feeling of cleaning up or decluttering a messy, neglected space.

    1. Annie Nominous*

      You sound like you might be a really good digital archivist! I would look into it, it’s not just libraries and museums that are trying to digitally organize their collections (although that can be incredibly cool) but law firms and major corporations that need ways to easily find and access decades worth of records.

      Data analyst also comes to mind, while you might need an additional degree and/or certification but I think strong attention to detail is really the key.

    2. Tio*

      We call these Data Quality Analysts at my company. They’re meant to just go through the system and clean up all the accounts that people make because someone spelled a town wrong or whatever so now it’s in there twice; forgot to add a complete address; missed filling in a blank somewhere, etc. Data Quality analyst/management would probably be a good set of search terms for you.

    3. Part time lab tech*

      Document Control? My understanding is that it’s indexing and cross referencing documents and inventories and often has that tidying aspect you like.

    4. Astronaut Barbie*

      You’re my spirit animal>
      If you know more about bookkeeping than just AP, start a side business. This is what I do for a living. Not only do I clean up people’s accounting books, but also their databases, and filing (used to be paper but now digital) and all of their paper. I also got many steady bookkeeping and admin jobs out of this. The key to getting jobs is to start networking, and then word of mouth will help you also.

    5. New manager woes*

      In large organizations, you could fit into the property management department. Dealing with assets, and inventory and so on.

  30. Taylor, no not THAT one*

    My coworker, Rogers, is in his mid to late 20s, and this is his first professional job. I don’t really care how he dresses, though I guess there have been comments from other coworkers about his sloppy appearance. My issue is that I can see his underwear because he wears his pants too low, and his shirts too short. I don’t see them all the time, but when sitting, he’ll raise his arms and/or play with his hair, resulting in his shirt lifting up. I know it’s just clothes, but I don’t feel like I should be seeing my coworkers underwear anywhere near as often as I see Rogers’. Thoughts??

    1. 867-5309*

      What kind of work and work environment is it?

      While I would like to say, “Of course you should never see a coworker’s underwear,” I think the standing to say something depends on the environment and your reporting relationship to that person. For example, I hired third-party moving help via U-haul and that company contracts out the work. The lead mover had his pants half way down his rear. Not professional but also, I am not going to hassle a guy who’s doing physical labor and likely just eking out a living in this economy.

      1. Taylor, no not THAT one*

        We work for a school district, but not with kids, but our jobs take us out to different schools. It’s mostly an office job.

    2. kalli*

      It’s just a fit problem, not a deliberate choice, so just leave it the underwear out of it. If everyone’s commenting that his appearance is sloppy, it’s likely his direct supervisor has noticed too – at most a quiet word to them so they can address that gently.

      A lot of people in their first professional job have to save up a few weeks to buy new clothes that match the culture, so it’s not really something that stands out as egregious or actively chosen, so stepping way back and leaving it with the chain of command is usually the best option.

      1. Taylor, no not THAT one*

        It’s his first professional job, but he’s been here for 3 years. We have no direct supervisor, as the old one left, and a new one hasn’t been hired. No, I don’t know his financial situation, but I’m sure after 3 years, he’s likely not making so little that he can’t afford clothes that fit.

        1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          With men, it’s rarely an issue of not being able to afford clothes, and usually an issue of being in denial that clothes they wore 10 years ago no longer fit. For most of them, it’s not even conscious, it’s just that unexamined mindset of “I can still get the shirt over my head and the button through the buttonhole on the pants, so these clothes fit.”

          Unless you’re his manager, you don’t have authority to speak to him about his poorly-fitting clothes. You can complain to his manager, but if I were his manager, this would tell me more about you than it does about Rogers. If you “don’t really care how he dresses,” as you said, then you should probably just roll your eyes internally and stop worrying about it.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, that’s my problem too! Plenty of money (an unusual financial situation due to life insurance being a thing and marrying someone who was a squirrel trapped in a human body so that when he died, I was still unearthing caches of small change three years later), about zero interest in clothing so long as it fits, and a very casual ‘dress for your day’ set-up. I’ve had days when I can’t take my jumper off or undo my cardigan because of a popped button where it’s least appropriate. I’ve had days when I’m wearing a white shirt, spilled some coffee down it, and ducked into a charity shop to get a light jumper to cover it up.

            It wouldn’t matter with us as we’re property management and so used to dressing casually to go round working sites, but if there’s a certain expectation of professionalism, then yeah, seeing someone’s underwear isn’t going to fly.

        2. Banana Pyjamas*

          You’re being presumptuous. At a previous job I couldn’t afford the full benefits package until I’d been there 5 years. I definitely wasn’t wasting money on clothes in the meantime.

    3. Hazel*

      Our school district has a ‘no underwear or swimwear on the outside’ rule. Other than that the dress code is very liberal – literally ‘cover your bits, no offensive words or images’. I would suggest that ‘no undies on the outside’ includes a good view of tighty whiteys. It’s really not appropriate, especially in schools. A joking ‘whoa, thanks for the eye full’ might drop the hint. It’s not about sloppy dress, it’s about underwear on parade.

  31. Annie Nominous*

    So today is the day I quit my job due to burnout. The email is drafted I think I’m going to set a 1 hour timer to give myself one last chance to reconsider. I’ve been struggling for 2 years after the only other person in my position quit and they were unable to fill her role. It all came to a head within the last 2 weeks though, when I missed an important deadline and got threatened with a PIP. I thought that quitting because I was burned out would make me look unprofessional, but I’ve realized that letting the burnout ruin my performance is way more of a risk to my professional reputation.

    1. Managing While Female*

      “letting the burnout ruin my performance is way more of a risk to my professional reputation.”

      So true. Give yourself permission to disappoint people. You know what you need. Take your time. Take your rest. There’s nothing unprofessional about putting yourself first.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh my goodness! Send the email and get out of there! You’ve been doing two jobs and got threatened with a PIP because you missed a deadline because THEY are understaffed.

      No, no, my dear. Do not re-think this. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. GET OUT NOW and heal thyself!
      And I wish you the very very best of luck and everything.

      1. Annie Nominous*

        After reading the comments I welled up a little and hit send, the timer wasn’t enough and I kept making excuses (“I just want to wait until this expense report is approved… I’ll just get this one thing done in case they cut my access on the spot…”) but the kind words here really did give me the guts to do it. I’m taking a walk outside with the dog (I’m remote) and hope the neighbors don’t see me crying. Thanks everybody for the support!

        1. GythaOgden*

          Well done. It takes real courage to do that. Many of us would just slog on until it swallowed us up, but that’s a really brave thing to have done.

          Good luck with finding a better team.

    3. AnonyOne*

      Yay you! I did not quit a job that was burning me out and while I am out of that job, I still regret not quitting 12 months earlier as it would have been better for my mental health and wellbeing. I share that because at the time I think I was too overwhelmed and could not make the decision to quit, and wish I had had someone who would have helped me feel it was ok.

    4. Kesnit*

      I got put on a PIP a year ago and ended up leaving before the end of it. After I started my new job, I realized how burned out I had been, but it had been going on for so long that I had started thinking of it as “normal.”

      Go while you can.

    5. hi there*

      You’ve persevered for two years. That’s strength. Quitting when you realize your job is affecting your mental health AND performance? Also strength. Wishing you peace!

    6. right there with you*

      I’m currently on leave for burnout, and I’m not going back. It was hard for me to make the decision — wondering if it was “bad enough” — and I finally acknowledged that yes it is that bad AND it will get much worse later if I don’t.

      Best of luck!

    7. [insert witty username here]*

      You may not see this so late in the day, but I’m proud of you!! I also recently left a job due to severe burn out. it’s been about 3 weeks and I’m finally starting to feel better…. but I’m also still thinking of all the loose ends and things that may have fallen through the cracks because I was overloaded for YEARS. I’m pretty darn good at what I do, but when you don’t have the right support, NO ONE can do a good job.

      YOU GOT THIS! Take a breather and pat yourself on the back for prioritizing your mental health and your future!

    8. Anna Nona*

      I recently quit due to burnout after trying to make it work, for two years. It was scary to take the leap, but two months later, I have heard from my former colleagues that things are still impossible at the former workplace and getting worse by the day like I predicted they would. I am not sorry I left.

    9. Employed Minion*

      I quit due to burnout last spring. We had enough savings I was able to not work for almost a year. It took months for me to get better. The time off was AMAZING.

      The job I started this year is not a good fit, unfortunately. But its a paycheck and there is some freedom in knowing I will not be staying long

  32. Mads*

    Can we talk payroll processing companies? Ours is awful, but I’m told they are all awful. Anyone have a positive experience with one?

    1. Stuart Foote*

      ADP is fine. Paylocity seems okay too. I’ve heard Paycor is pretty bad though due to understaffing.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      ADP is fine. If you need a PEO with it, Insperity or ADPTotalSource is fine too.
      Go big or go home. The smaller ones tend to suck more.

    3. saskia*

      I loved using Paylocity. Easy to use, good interface, lots of reporting options, and the customer service was awesome.

  33. a fever you can't sweat out*

    a few of you commented about my precarious job situation in which i was made to be a scapegoat during a time of extreme challenges.

    well.

    i was headhunted by another company and they made me an offer. a quite nice offer. but, i don’t think i can accept due to logistical challenges. that being said – how do i bring this up to my current company that someone out there wants me? money isn’t the issue here – i simply want some more support and acknowledgement that i do things right. how do i do this without them a) getting angry b) telling me to take a hike and c) realizing that i TRULY did not seek these people out?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think if you work somewhere that you’re being made out to be a scapegoat in a time of extreme challenges, your bosses don’t seem like the kind of people who will take “Hey, I’m being headhunted!” with grace or provide needed support.

    2. WellRed*

      You’re seeking something they simply aren’t going to give you and you may find yourself out if the current sucky job to boot.

    3. Double A*

      I think if you’re concerned about A, B, and C, then you are in far too precarious a situation to leverage this in a useful way. You’re looking at giving your work an ultimatum, but the only way an ultimatum works if if you’re willing to walk away, which it sounds like you’re not.

      Think of a dating analogy. Your partner is treating you poorly. A hot person asks you out. You want to go to your partner and say, “Check out this hot person who wants to date me” and you’re hoping that means your partner will see you with new eyes and value you. If your partner only values you because other people want you, then it’s a crappy relationship.

      I think you should think more seriously about making the offer work. If you’re truly willing to take it, *maybe* you can leverage it into something with your current job, but counteroffers when you’re unhappy with your current job famously rarely actually turn things around.

      1. 1LFTW*

        This is a very good analogy. If you were dating someone who scapegoated you like your workplace is, receiving attention from a new, hot person would not make the scapegoating partner treat you any better. Option B would be the best-case scenario; the chances of them actually believing C would be very small, and there would be a better than average chance of A. Abusive organizations resemble abusive interpersonal relationships far more than many people realize.

        I’m sorry, OP, your workplace sucks and it isn’t going to change.

    4. Two Dog Night*

      Are the logistical challenges really insurmountable? It sounds like you need to get out of your current job, if you can possibly manage it. The way you describe your current company, they’re probably never going to treat you well.

    5. Glazed Donut*

      I don’t think you bring this up with your current company. I think you take this data point and use it to find another job that won’t scapegoat you and that will work out logistically.

    6. Tio*

      Leveraging offers is useful for companies that want to keep you. It honestly doesn’t sound like your company wants to keep you. I think if you told them about your offer, you would almost certainly be putting yourself in a bad position with them, if not outright let go.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      I don’t think anything can fix you being scapegoated except you leaving. Don’t stoop to play their games. Just find something better that works for you and LEAVE.

    8. Clisby*

      You don’t. You stay, or you take the new offer, or you take some future offer, but don’t look to current job for affirmation.

    9. StressedButOkay*

      Ooofff, I’m sorry to say but I don’t think you can. You don’t sound like you work for a sane company/people. They’re not going to start treating you with respect and more support – if anything, you’ll find yourself either more of a target or simply pushed out of the company.

      Use this, instead, as a sign that other companies DO want you to start looking!

    10. Rex Libris*

      In a toxic workplace, there’s a good chance that all they’ll hear is “Hey, I’m job hunting, so get rid of me as soon as you can.”

  34. 867-5309*

    Does anyone remember the story of the nonprofit president who, for “team building and morale” made each office care for a turtle, including a rotation of taking the turtles home and caring for them on their time? Was there ever an update on that?

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oms. I just saw that letter using “Surprise Me” There was never an update and I was bummed about that.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      NGL right now I kinda wouldn’t mind an office turtle. I would absolutely trade “here’s your mandatory turtle care weekend” for the excessive load of crap I have had to fix/resolve/ponder this week because my organization fails incompetent men upward at an alarming rate.

      Turtles, it turns out, are extremely competent at turtling.

  35. kalli*

    I got a promotion, but it means I won’t effectively get raises for the next two years as COL raises are indexed against the payrate we had at 1st January 2023 (eg. W x 2023% x 2024% x 2025% not W2023 x 2024%, W2024 x 2025% etc). I’ve run the maths and it ends up less money overall assuming my hours are stable at 0.2FTE.

    I feel like this is uncommon but nobody I’ve tried to explain it to seems to understand the maths and assumes that next year’s COL will be on my new payrate so it’s just an early raise this year. Does anyone else have a similar situation?

    (I’ve been looking but the kind of available jobs here tend to prefer people who can talk so it’s very slim pickings, and there are not many unicorn jobs that don’t require direct phone calls!)

    1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I had this happen – I got a promotion and then it was announced that anyone who had a promotion would be ineligible for COL for 15 months. It was the first COL and only COL available since I started, I missed out on furlough bonuses during covid because I had worked there 5 months and 3 weeks instead of 6 months and now they have announce baseline raises for positions below me that will raise them up to my payrate but to fund that, anyone at my level and above gets no COL. So people I supervise will make the same as I do.

      I love my job and my coworkers but it is getting nuts. Basically I have been promoted twice and am not keeping up with entry level new hires

      1. kalli*

        That’s even worse because of the retrospective angle – you couldn’t know when you got promoted what you’d be losing out on, or that they’d make such weird decisions in order to not increase the total payroll. It’s almost like it’s not worth holding out for the next round because they’ll come up with another way to not give it! Of course, I hope they don’t do that to you.

    2. Hazel*

      Have you asked HR or Payroll if this is correct? It could be, or there may be some ‘if this results in less than x % or if there is @ job change’ exception. Or you can make an argument there should be, bc it doesn’t make sense for a promotion to lose you money.

      1. kalli*

        Oh no, it’s correct and there is no exception. It was explicitly agreed on in our last round of bargaining as our employer explicitly did not want to be on the hook for people getting “two raises a year” if they got a merit raise, and the two of us who understood how numbers work could not make everyone else understand, and lost the vote – mainly because everyone else was sick of trying to make sense of it and half of them get merit raises every year anyway and thought that it was just ass covering and nobody would actually be affected.
        The point of the original clause was simply to guarantee that everyone’s raises weren’t less thanthe July COL, but my proposal to index the yearly COL against the wage on 1 January of that year (so the boss could be happy that he wasn’t giving someone a 5% raise in May then paying 5% x5% in July, but the spirit of the clause was preserved) was simply something that everyone else didn’t understand, to the point of our bargaining rep emailing me at home to pressure me to let it go because she couldn’t understand it and thought I was talking about the cap to which the raises applied (another part of the clause that says if we’re getting 250% of the median wage on a particular report, we don’t get raises at all) and just kept saying nobody would ever earn enough for that to take effect.

        The problem is if I don’t take the promotion, I don’t get extra duties which means I can’t take on extra hours, and a) I’m so sick of seeing everyone else complain about being busy and having to work overtime when I have time and no work, but nobody will give me anything else to do and b) I need the money to get out of an abusive home situation, so I’m not sure whether to privilege ‘chance of more hours’ over ‘will have total less money over the next two years if COL increases are less than 5.6%’. The promotion is basically in exchange for me not exercising my right to request permanent employment, which would lock my hours at 0.2FTE at the lower classification (so I don’t want that since I want more hours when there’s work available!) but also require the employer to start giving me annual leave/sick leave.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          I’m sorry you’re experiencing abuse. I wish you speed and safety in finding a new situation. Depending on where you live you may be able to call 211 to access crisis resources.

          1. kalli*

            Already pursued all the crisis options available; they either can’t or won’t help and I’m more focused on sorting work right now – hence, here.

        2. Astor*

          I’m sorry you’re dealing with all of that. It just makes everything harder.

          I think with the situation you’ve described: go the route that gives you both the possibility of working more than 0.2FTW (since that’s what you want) and more importantly that gives you additional items to put on your resume so that you can eventually get a better job. I know that there’s a risk that you’ll be earning less money per hour given the way that the economy is going, but I think it’s a risk you have to take anyway. You’re right to be angry about the situation that you’re in with work, and how you didn’t get any support to stop this from happening, and also how doing it this way lets management win on the nickle-and-diming, but unfortunately I think you’re likely to get more benefit if you take the promotion even though you won’t be eligible for the COL increases.

          I hope that it works out for you, and that you’re able to leave your home situation! Good luck!

          1. kalli*

            Thank you. My title won’t change – I’m just going from level 2 admin to level 3 admin, which effectively means that I can draft documents as well as file them, so I’ll only get to boost my resume if they actually have me do that. I hadn’t thought of that aspect though; I have been applying elsewhere but since I lost a job due to ending up in hospital I haven’t had any more interest so maybe it will help!

  36. Cj*

    in 2023 I worked with a recruiter at Robert Half and got the job. I’m in the Midwest and affirm was in California and it was not a good fit, so by 2024 I was looking for another job. I was contacted through the LinkedIn by a recruiter at a different firm, and he set up an appointment with me at the firm I am with now. before I was offered that job, I talked to the recruiter I’ve been working with in Robert half, and she wanted to me to submit me for the same job, and I told her I was early working with a different recruiter. so this does happen.

  37. sometimes working milspouse*

    I posted here a couple weeks ago about potentially being a bind due to the timing of applying for multiple jobs at one company (Job A was posted more than a month before Jobs B and C). Job A has checked my references and gave me a timeline of 2-3 weeks to extend an offer to their final choice. Job B just contacted me to set up a first interview. I know if I actually get an offer from Job A I’ll have to make a decision or see what my timeline for responding looks like, but in the meantime: do I owe Job B notice that I am a candidate for this other role? I know if it was different companies I would definitely not disclose it, but I don’t know if it’s different since it’s the same organization (different departments). I don’t want anyone to feel like I am misleading them as I am interested in both roles, or if it will come off as tacky or something else to continue taking new interviews knowing I’ve already passed a background check for this other job (but no offer has been made and nothing has been promised to me or anything).

    1. Double A*

      Nope, until you have an offer in hand that you have accepted it absolutely makes sense for you to continue interviewing. If/when you decline any of the jobs you don’t have to explain the timeline of when anything happened, just “I’ve accepted another offer.”

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      As a hiring manager I always default to assuming that anyone I interview is on the job hunt and a candidate for other positions than my own. (I am not a special unicorn! If you are talking to me about a job, it is 99% of the time going to be because you have already decided to move on from your current role.) You don’t need to tell them or feel awkward or tacky about that.

      BUT if you wind up with an offer in hand from company A during your interview process with company B, you can just tell them you are on a timeline with another offer. A company that is serious about your candidacy will work their process to be able to be responsible about being considered by you if they extend an offer. And a responsible hiring manager will also be honest if they will be unable to meet your timeline and wish you well.

  38. Retail Dropout*

    Not a question, but I’m quitting my retail job today for an internship I have lined up for the end of the month. Everyone wish me luck!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Great news – many congratulations! I hope it goes really well for you and that you learn and develop.

    2. Retail Dropout*

      Update: It went well, my boss told me that I’m welcome back anytime, and she wished me the best of luck at my internship!

  39. Polygons*

    Any recommendations on how to answer someone who starts video meetings with “are you okay?!?”

    I’m fine, and I promise my face isn’t any weirder than usual when I talk with them! But they say it with such panic that it really throws me for a loop.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m wondering if there is something weird with your lighting, or your camera takes a few seconds to auto-adjust, that makes you look ill or out of sorts. Can you get some feedback from somebody you trust about that, or play around with location and lighting?

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I love saying “That’s just my face” to any kind of question I don’t know how to answer, e.g. when someone comments on you looking tired, etc.

      1. ampersand*

        I say this, too! In a lighthearted way, not while glaring or anything. It seems to be an effective response.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Do they start every meeting that way? I joined a video meeting from a different room earlier in the week and the lighting in the new room washed me out – I looked like a ghost. I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone asked me that. If it’s not normal, the why do you ask might be appropriate. But if they start every meeting that way, I’d say fine, but are YOU ok?? They might be fishing for you to ask. But if you ask, be prepared for a trauma dump.

      1. Polygons*

        Maybe they do need to vent! I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll leave the door open for that next time and see if they walk through it. Thank you.

    4. Asco*

      Are the British by chance? When I started working with some of our UK teams at work, they say “Are you alright?” Instead of “How are you?” And it threw me off for a bit until I got used to it.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes! I am British but worked in Canada, and realised a little too late that I was really confusing people when I said “are you all right?” or “you ok?” as a greeting. It just means, hi, how are you, hello etc. The answer is “I’m ok, are you?” It doesn’t mean that we think something is wrong!

    5. RagingADHD*

      “Sure, why?”

      And of course let your surprise show. A lot of folks on here seem to be looking for magic scripts, when in a lot of situations it’s just as effective (if not more effective) to let your nonverbals do the work. If you’re baffled as to why someone would ask that, it’s okay to look and sound baffled.

    6. Goddess47*

      Depending on the situation, you can just do an airy, “I’m having a bad face day! I can’t do anything with it!” and then move on…

      Good luck!

  40. CSRoadWarrior*

    Has anyone ever been offered a job, told to go to a particular office, only to be told in the morning at the last minute on the day you are starting that they want you in the other office? I don’t mean 24-48 hours in advance. I mean when you are getting up in the morning the day you are starting and told at the last minute.

    This happened to me. Office 1 was accessible by public transportation but Office 2 I had to drive, and traffic where I live is horrendous during rush hour. Think LA traffic. That is how bad it is. And I would have been over an hour late on my first day. This was also a temp job if it makes any difference. Being naïve, I ended up backing out at the last minute because I thought I blew my chances since I would have been late on my first day and leave a bad first impression. This was also a text message about the office change at 7:30am in the morning on my first day when I was still at home in my pajamas. I know this was silly but I did not know any better then.

    I know it is water under the bridge now, but I am just curious if this has happened to anyone else. How did you handle it?

    1. massian*

      This has not happened to me, but I definitely would’ve communicated the obstacles that the change would put on you. If you were going to be late on the lack of communication of the company, then that’s something they would have to be understanding with. “Unfortunately I live X minutes away and was planning on a shorter commute. I would be able to be there at X time with this change.”

    2. Switcheroo*

      Being reliant on public transit I would have called up, indicated I can only work at the agreed upon location, and ask if I should still report.

    3. RagingADHD*

      I have had temp jobs switch things up on me at the last minute, sure. It doesn’t reflect badly on you that they screwed up.

      You deal with it by communicating with the agency. “Thank you, I got the message at 7:30 this morning that my assignment has changed from Office1 to Office2. Would you please let the site manager know that I am on my way and will be there as soon as I can considering traffic?”

      And then, knowing what I know now, I would follow up with both the site manager and the agency to ensure that Office2 was actually going to be my permanent site location or whether there would be further changes. Not only is it important information to have, it’s a tactful way to reinforce that it was their mistake and not yours.

    4. Zephy*

      “OK, thank you for letting me know. Just a heads up that I may be a little late getting there – I thought I was going to Office 1 today. Google Maps says my ETA for Office 2 should be around 9:15. See you then!” And then upon arrival, ask about how they want you to make up the time.

      It wasn’t your fault they changed it on you at the last second. If you had just responded “k” and rolled up around 10:30 with Starbucks, that would have looked bad. Arguably, to a certain kind of manager, quitting entirely might have also been an overreaction that didn’t reflect great on you. But, IMO it’s still better to self-select out of a job that’s going to pull this kind of thing if it’s going to stress you out when they do, because I promise that would not have been the last time something like this happened.

      Now, if you had sent a text like mine above and then your would-be boss launched into a text-lecture about professionalism? After you, let me check the notes here, warned them you’d be late because of a situation they caused? THAT would have been your cue to exit stage left.

  41. chocolate muffins*

    Small joys at work thread! What made you happy this week? For me, it was getting my student evaluations because many of them had lovely things to say. And also making progress on some projects that have been waiting for my input for a long time.

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      I’ve been on leave from my job to get ready for cancer treatment and then in the treatment. Before this the plan was I would leave the job on June 15. My organization is going to keep me on the payroll even after that since I will not be able to work. This is so generous of them! The Church Pension Fund will pay a good chunk of my salary for the times when I am technically on disability (which is not all of the time, like the window between mostly recovered from surgery and the start of radiation) but the organization will still be out some funds.

      Now that I think about it I wonder if there will be an issue with me moving to a different state, which is one of the reasons I was leaving. I’ll face that later and just bask in the glow now of them being so supportive!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Apparently HR did a market review on the job code for one of my teams and decided that job code needed a range increase, so I got to SURPRISE tell all those team members that they get a raise effective Sunday. That was fun. :)

    3. PropJoe*

      We are hiring for a senior administrative leadership position. I am not directly affected as I do not work in that division and would only interact with them sparingly.

      This week the finalists were brought on site to give open presentations to any employee that cared to attend. All three have great resumes and would do a fine job. One however has soft skills that the other two lack. In talking about their leadership experience, they mentioned that in a prior civilian DoD role early in their career, they got sent to lots of leadership training classes.

      Candidate said their biggest takeaway is that a leader’s job is to be the umbrella for their staff (to protect from stupidity), and to be their megaphone (sing their praises for accomplishments).

      I wrote in the feedback survey we should hire them before someone else beats us to the punch. If we can hire them we will have done well.

    4. Sparkles and Chaos*

      There’s currently a litter of puppies hanging out with our scheduler, getting socialized before going off to their forever homes. Puppy Friday is a good day!

    5. I Have RBF*

      My wife has cancer, possibly terminal. My boss and my company have been wonderful in putting up with crazy schedule shifts and needing to take off in the afternoon for her medical appointments.

    6. H.Regalis*

      I went for a bunch of walks outside, and played a board game I own but hadn’t played in ages. It was fun to do something engaging instead of passively staring at a screen.

    7. Sharpie*

      Doing a course and got the GDPR module back with zero corrections or additions to make, and some really nice comments by the teacher, which was so good as I’d been kind of stressed about that and another module that I’m still waiting to get the marks for.

    8. Rara Avis*

      We had a guest speaker. Her name was really familiar to me but I couldn’t place her at first — then I realized we were college classmates 30+ years and 3000 miles ago! Fun to reconnect.

    9. GythaOgden*

      My boss in the team meeting with our new Action Log (a fancy To Do list): ‘I’m putting the teapot continuity reports on here for Gytha to do…if she hasn’t already done them…’ :). I’m liking the reputation I’m getting for being efficient.

      A manager I serve as admin after I pulled something out of a spreadsheet for him — ‘I really needed this, thanks SO much’ — so he could pull his rear end out of the fire.

      I love being busy and being useful, and my job allows me to be both at the same time.

  42. Small cog in a big machine*

    I’m in the midst of month 11 of Project Dumpsterfire and at this point I’m so miserable I wonder if I could make a case for constructive dismissal. This is a long story, but bullet points:

    -I was hired to work with Software X

    -Rather than have my team build a new thing using Software X’s new version, leadership chose Software Y and hired an expensive vendor to create the new thing for us to take over

    -None of my team has experience with Software Y, and the vendor created something that is wildly different than a standard Y install, so tutorials aren’t really an option. We were barely trained by the vendor (3 hours of Q&A on a system that took six months to build).

    -Leadership decided what we need is for yet another third party to come in and explain how the system works. I’m skeptical about how much they’ll be able to help…but also leadership is too busy with other things to actually set this up. It’s a tidy package of insult + injury.

    -For the past 6 months, my team has been inundated with complaints about how Y works (much of which we predicted when we recommended NOT going with Y). I keep asking what our priorities should be, given this volume, and my boss keeps saying “well, everyone is mad and everyone wants their thing immediately. So everything is top priority.” We are talking about hundreds of issues, and leadership keeps adding things to the pile based on whose complaints are loudest. Meanwhile, our ability to troubleshoot is hampered both due to software Y having crap debugging tools and our own lack of experience.

    I feel so frustrated and burned out that I just can’t care about any of this mess anymore. I feel like a total failure and seriously considered leaving my field entirely. New complaints come in and I want to throw up. I really want to take some time off to clear my head so I can job hunt without this cloud of failure hanging over my head, but I don’t know if I can afford it. Does this count as “altering my working conditions” or should I just suck it up as best I can?

    1. LizB*

      You’re not a total failure (or any kind of failure), you’ve been put in an impossible situation. Your leadership has failed you, not the other way around.

      I’m not an expert on constructive dismissal, but I kind of doubt this rises to that bar, unfortunately. It sounds awful, but most awful jobs are legal. Can you take a chunk of PTO or some kind of leave of absence to let you focus on the job search?

    2. kalli*

      Altering your work conditions is more like not giving you hours, or placing you on a different floor than the rest of your team – your job is still to support people using the software, the company just changed the software which they’re allowed to do, and counts as a reasonable business decision, or at least, it isn’t aimed at you personally.

      If work is making you nauseous and you need a mental health break, chat to a medical professional and look into how your area’s workers’ comp treats mental health claims. Your boss not assisting you with prioritisation may count towards the business causing you adjustment disorder under some systems and be sufficient to demonstrate that your medical condition (the nausea from stress) arises from an action in your workplace. At the very least, you might get a medical certificate enabling you to access paid leave/short-term disability which will get you some time away to regroup.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, that’s the angle I’d take.

        IME, even if UK law/company policy allows me to self-certify for up to 7 working days, I’ve leaned on the doctor to give me a note for mental health or stress situations (mostly when I was dealing with the struggle and fall-out of my husband’s death). I did it because I wanted to be legit and take a protected break for a couple of weeks rather than hanging on each day feeling guilty about not going back to work. It also may create a paper trail of documentation for your issues — it wouldn’t be constructive dismissal (here you’d go to tribunal and yeah, there’s not enough substantial change to the job for that to be much of a case) — but it certainly is good to have actual documentation that there are issues beyond simple mental health burnout.

    3. Qwerty*

      1. Take a couple days PTO if you have it. Do not pay any attention to work or job hunting – catch up on sleep and recharge by doing something low stress during that time
      2. Before returning to work – adopt a “not my circus, not my monkeys” attitude. You cannot fix this fire. You can try to slow down the damage but this is not something in your power to fix.
      3. Pick a strategy. Maybe that means you only care about one corner of the app and will work to make that functional. Maybe it means juggling whatever hot potato item comes your way. Balls are going to drop. Let them.
      4. Now start networking. Look on LinkedIn, EventBrite, Meetup, etc for evening networking events – with summer starting, there’s a lot of those outdoors. Go to some and enjoy yourself. Only casually network – get some sunshine, chat with some people, maybe find some commiseration about being on a project off the rails then change the subject to something non-work. It’ll help you mentally and talking about what you enjoy and *are* good at will help you feel less like you are failing.
      5. Ok, now you are in a better headspace to job hunt while feeling good about yourself. Find someplace that you like and are running towards, rather than just running away from the current job.

    4. GythaOgden*

      Yeah, I don’t think this is constructive dismissal. A lot of places pivot to new software systems and while there’s a lot of incompetence in the way it was rolled out, you’re not being targeted individually and made to feel so uncomfortable that you can do nothing other than leave. While management is being a PITA, this is no more targeted at you than asking for another updated version of a particular report that we rolled out for each of our properties (in healthcare facilities) as a way of ensuring business continuity in the case of emergency. We can moan all we like about months of work being for nothing, but the new versions need to be done for the sake of compliance. So yeah, it’s a week of tedious work for me simply to transfer each of the ~35 reports to the new version, but it’s work that ultimately does have a purpose despite being a tedious process. It’s minor compared to the clusterfudge you’re dealing with, but it’s sadly business as usual.

      I think you have a good case for some sick leave though and definitely to consider your options. But no, that’s not constructive dismissal, just management with its head up its ass. I can’t give you justice, but I can give you a cyberhug if you’ll have it.

  43. Robert E. O. Speedwagon*

    I got hired at a paralegal job earlier this week, basically on the spot (yay!) but then today I got an interview request from another place I had applied to. I’m gonna schedule an interview, because here’s my pro-con breakdown for Job 1 (where I am now) and Job 2 (interview pending):

    Job 1 Pros:
    – I’m here, right now, as I type this. Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    – The pay is actually pretty good, especially considering I’m entry level.
    – My coworkers are all friendly.

    Job 1 Cons:
    – The boss. Yeah, he hired me 15 minutes into my one interview with him, but that’s more indicative of his overall thing, which is that he’s… old school. He’s a cantankerous old lawyer, which does have its charms I suppose, but the main issue that I have with him is that he smokes in his office. If I were asthmatic or pregnant or had other medical issues this would have been a dealbreaker, but as it is right now I do think I could keep working here with that. Still is a con though.
    – Related, but the firm is very tech-averse. Like, yes I’m typing this on a computer, but I feel like the only reason we have computers are that computers exist. The boss likes having all his emails printed and reading physical copies of them, and the firm has no website (when I applied, I tried googling the firm, and all I got was that the lawyer who runs it exists and that it has an address).
    – The benefits are not ideal. Medical only – no vision or dental (though it is apparently fully paid by the firm). PTO, but not a lot of it. No 401K matching. Overtime exempt.

    Job 2 Pros:
    – The job prima facie is better than the one I have now, and not in a “grass is greener” way. The floor for the advertised pay is only $1000 per annum less than what I’m making now, with the ceiling $10,000 more, and the median $5000 more. The firm site says that there are benefits, which at minimum can be as good as they are here, and are most likely better. The firm site also says that they pay overtime.
    – Speaking of, the firm has an actual website where I can research what they do and who I might be working with there.

    Job 2 Cons:
    – The fact that I don’t have it.
    – It would honestly be a somewhat longer commute there than to where I currently work.
    – A commitment of 2 years. I don’t know how much of a con this is, but it is relevant, because I’m currently technically on leave from law school, and if I work there and decide to go back (at this point I don’t think I will but who knows the future) I would either have to work the full 2 year minimum and start law school from scratch or break contract with them and burn a bridge.

    Currently my plan is to see when they want me for an interview, reschedule a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment to be on that day, and make a whole sick day of it – basically tell the job my doctor wants me to come in to have tests run and that it wouldn’t be worth it for me to come in for the little of the day I would have left. What’s got me double and triple guessing myself is that when I told my family this plan, I was told that taking a sick day this early into a new job would be seen as unprofessional and unreliable and would jeopardize what I have here.

    So I guess my advice is – am I being smart about this? Is my family right? Should I take the interview at all? What do?

    1. MsM*

      I dunno, friend. Unless you know there’s an urgent filing deadline or something else important that day, I don’t think the sick day plan is horrible – if they’re going to be jerks about you wanting to take care of yourself, better you know while your resume is still circulating – but I’d want a lot more than a $10k potential bump in salary before getting locked into a two year commitment.

      1. Robert E. O. Speedwagon*

        Well, I guess for a bit more context in re: the two year commitment, it’s an entry level paralegal role, and it’s not unheard of (at least in the job postings I’ve seen) that firms hiring at entry level specifically ask for two years minimum, especially if the candidate is someone considering law school.

        Also, for me, $10K potential bump is a lot – I’m a little older (27) but still pretty green to the workforce, given that I graduated college right when COVID began and then I was in law school for a little bit/ $10K takes me up from $55,000, where I am now, to $65,000, which gives me and my wife a lot more wiggle room with regards to rent, groceries, and family/future planning. If it was less than that, or if I wasn’t entry level, I would agree, but in my mind that’s nothing to sneeze at.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          You’re undervaluing free insurance. Once you factor in the increased insurance cost and increased commuting cost, there will probably be very little difference in your bottom line.

    2. 867-5309*

      REO, I do think taking a sick day this soon doesn’t look great. Allison has talked about this a couple times. Basically, they don’t know you yet so it could raise concerns. Probably not a huge deal.

      The bigger thing that stood out to me is that you accepted a job after a 15 minute interview. This means you did not get your questions answered. How are you prepared to vet this new opportunity differently? What kind of work do you want to do? What culture do you want? Taking a breath and figuring all of this out is probably worth the time.

      Also, you will likely burn the bridge with this employer and if you leave the new one before the two years, you will potentially burn that relationship, also.

      1. Robert E. O. Speedwagon*

        > The bigger thing that stood out to me is that you accepted a job after a 15 minute interview. This means you did not get your questions answered. How are you prepared to vet this new opportunity differently?

        I guess to answer that question – I was hired 15 minutes in because in this firm, the boss is the be-all-end-all of every job here. With where I would be interviewing, because it’s a larger firm with, y’know, departments and more than ten employees, I would expect a more traditional hiring process, with more rigid interviews and an HR team to talk to for onboarding and actual documentation to sign and whatnot.

        In re burning the bridges: yeah, it’s something to take into account. I spoke to two of my coworkers today about this and they said that there have been people in the past who have quit on the spot one week in because they couldn’t work with my boss’ demeanor or his smoking (or both). I presume they are personae non grata in this office, to be sure, but I think that would be something more tangible if or when Job 2 extends an offer rather than just an interview request.

        1. Robert E. O. Speedwagon*

          Oh, some more context that I think would be helpful – a couple of months ago, I took a position that was advertised as permanent but they told me day 1 would be temp to perm, and then basically never trained me. While I was there, a similar situation happened, in that I got an interview request from another position I had applied for a few days into that position. The circumstances of Job 2 in that case were different – it was prima facie worse in pay and benefits than the job I had taken, and I was also further into the interview process there – but I told them that I had taken another offer. A few days later, the boss pulled me into the conference room, told me that my output wasn’t fast enough to match pace with the office, and “let me go” with the promise that she would be a refence for me if I needed it. Then when I emailed Job 2 saying that the offer had fallen through and asking if scheduling the interview was still a possibility, I was told that I was no longer being considered for the position.

          So I guess a lot of this is just fear of that situation happening again, and then starting from scratch a second time in the exact same way.

        2. Lawyer advice*

          Take the day as leave and go to the interview. If you get a better offer, take it. Worry about the two-year commitment once you have an offer. It isn’t even a “burned bridges” situation. You accepted because you needed a job. If a better job comes along, you are well within your rights to consider it. Do what is best for your own career. Usually this means money and opportunity. Generally, bigger firms will give you better compensation and growth, especially at the beginning of your career. Good luck to you.

    3. Bast*

      How is the turnover in job 2? I ask only because some of those firms use that to trap you into an abusive and terrible environment because you “can’t leave” so they figure they can get away with a lot. Not everywhere, just some, but enough that I’d be cautious. Tap into your network, Google, Glassdoor, whatever you can find as to an inside look of what working there is really like. I also find it interesting that they are making you commit to 2 years as a paralegal. As an attorney, it is common enough for attorneys, but I have not yet heard of it for paralegals UNLESS the job is putting them through law school. Would they be paying for you to attend law school? Is that one of the “benefits?” I would clarify what benefits they do have before just accepting this job too, so you can more fully weigh the pros and cons. Sometimes amazing benefits can outweigh slightly negative aspects.

      To be fair, your current environment seems… okay. Not the worst job, but definitely room for improvement. I don’t think you’d be “going anywhere” there or that there is room to move much (smaller firms usually don’t) and it’s very unlikely this guy is going to change his ways. I’d see the job you are at as a stepping stone, especially if you plan on going back to law school.

    4. MissBliss*

      If it were me, I’d do the second interview. It’s better for all involved if you realize so quickly that you’d rather be somewhere offering you something else – and boss at Job 1 hired you after 15 minutes, so I’m not sure he’d have a super hard time finding someone else.

    5. I Have RBF*

      IMO, the 2 year commitment is a deal breaker. You know damn well that they would dump you the moment they felt you were too expensive or didn’t have enough work. What I would do is try to put in an “except if I decide to return to law school” rider into the agreement. (If they would count going back to law school as part of the commitment, that would be ideal, but no one is that nice.)

    6. Jinni*

      When I was in law school, there were a couple of people who’d done a kind of 2-year paralegal program, most of which were law school feeders. They were placeholder legal jobs for folks who thought they wanted to attend law school but wanted money/time/legal experience before making that leap. I’d take the interview and then see. If it’s this kind of 2-year (and out) program, would you still do it?

  44. Jules the First*

    I have to say this here because otherwise I will go mad…but my line manager just sent an email entitled “Happy Friday” (with absolutely no irony) informing our department that effective immediately everyone will need to be in-office four days a week, with no home working in weeks where you have booked holiday or have a public holiday. The kicker is that the rationale for this is that she has recently obtained more seats for the team in the office so that fewer people will need to hot desk. Absolutely no one except her was asking for this (and no one wanted to be in more than they could find space for). Thankfully I have a prearranged exception agreed with senior management, so this doesn’t apply to any of my reports, but oof…I’d lose half my team tomorrow if this did!

    1. Anon just in case today*

      Of, we had a mandatory 2 day announced this week but at least we have until August… springing that on everyone with no prep time is majorly harsh.

      And why, WHY?! If the job can be done well at home, why demand bums on seats in office?!

      1. I Have RBF*

        IMO, it’s two scummy reasons:
        1) Someone high up in the company hasd commercial real estate investments, and need to have the office occupied to make money, or
        2) Upper and middle management are control freaks, and are cargo-culting the “Pandemic is over, return to the previous system” (Nevermind that Covid isn’t gone, and people can do the job at home.)

        Butts in seats management will never change, at least not until they lose all of their senior people because of an outmoded, paternalistic management style.

        They stuffed everyone into cheap-ass open plans to save money. Sure, they said it was for “collaboration”, but open plans actually hinder collaboration. Now that people are working from home, saving them even more money, they realize that they have lost their sense of command and control, so they want you to come back into the worst working environment available. To me, it’s insane. If a job can be done remotely, it is actually cheaper to the bottom line (unless CRE is part of their income) to have people work remotely, and avoid the office expense (square footage plus utilities). But I guess most upper management lives in a different reality than I do.

  45. vegan velociraptor*

    I am currently 12 weeks into maternity leave. I live in the UK, so I’m entitled to a year – I plan to return to work probably in January. I also have a job interview on Monday, for a role in the same organisation I currently work in, but a different department. Am I right in thinking that I shouldn’t mention being unavailable until January unless they make me an offer? It would be illegal for them not to make me an offer solely because I’m on maternity leave – if I were the best candidate, they’d need to make the offer and find someone to cover in the meantime. It does feel rude not saying anything, and I’m a bit anxious about springing it on them if they give me an offer. But I’m guessing it would be a lot safer to say nothing (unless they explicitly ask me when I could start?).

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      How big is your organization? I’d be surprised if they didn’t already know you’re on mat leave, unless you’ve got thousands of employees.

      1. vegan velociraptor*

        It’s a university – a ton of employees, and those in different departments/schools are pretty separate from each other. There’s no particular reason for the hiring manager to know that I’m on maternity leave.

    2. this-is-fine.jpeg*

      Definitely don’t say anything! Don’t give them the chance to discriminate against you. Imagine this is the same if you were to be interviewing while pregnant or while about to have a surgery and need leave — wait until you have an offer in hand.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I agree that in principle you shouldn’t need to mention it. I’m assuming it’s a permanent position so they would only be covering you for a few months before years in the position. Bear in mind that other candidates (especially external) might have long notice periods anyway.

      If they ask when you can start, what do you intend to say? Don’t forget that you could use KIT days for training in advance of your full return.

      1. vegan velociraptor*

        If they ask directly I’d probably just be straightforward that I’m on maternity leave – just not bring it up unprompted. Good thought about KIT days!

  46. Corporate Adder*

    This is just a fun thing from my office that I’m sharing here… I am new to my position within the last 6 months (not new to the company), but I’ve replaced a long-term, well-known employee. I knew there would be a period of growing trust between me and all of my coworkers in my new role, and getting to know a lot more people that I hadn’t previously worked with. Trust and relationships are very important to my role so I’ve been trying to find ways of building rapport with everyone. So I’ve been using novelty Oreo flavors, to massive success. Once a month I buy a package of one of those seasonal/limited edition flavors of Oreos (Red Velvet, Tiramisu, Churro, etc.) and go around to every person and offer them a new flavor of Oreo. It gives us a chance to chat, get to know each other better, and build rapport. It seems dumb at first but it’s totally working. It’s a bit of a joke around the office now that I love Oreos, but I’ve noticed a big shift in people’s comfort levels with me, feeling like they can approach me more, and letting me do my job more effectively.

    This week one of my coworkers brought me a packet of Oreos she saw and thought I’d like, and suggested I pass them out to everyone this week, because they all look forward to the Oreo tastings now and getting to bond over the experience.

    1. Tio*

      Nice! I was doing this sometimes when they were doing those weird coke flavors – like the stardust coke, spiced coke, whatever else there were. Mostly just for fun, as I had been the team’s manager for a long time, but it was interesting to give everyone basically a shot glass of coke and see what they thought “stardust” tasted like!

    2. TX_Trucker*

      That’s a fun idea. If there are any Asian markets near you, they might sell Oreo flavors not available in the USA. I’m a fan of the lemon flavor.

  47. Julie Emrick*

    I analyze data for a llama grooming facility. I work on a small team with one manager/owner and i am the only analyst. Our record keeping software is tricky, so to address issues with it that make it harder to track the data I analyze, my team members who work directly with the llamas are supposed to send me information every day we are open. The problem is that I often get this information weeks after I’m supposed to—sometimes so late that I’ve already analyzed data that may or may not be complete. My manager has asked that I inform them when I don’t get the reports so they can address it with the team (the only hierarchy is the manager/owner), but I don’t like being in a position of tattling on my colleagues. If the owner brings up the need to turn in reports on time, it’s clear that I’m the one who told him I’m not getting them. But I have no authority over my team members and feel like I’m constantly reminding them to send me the reports. When I say constantly I mean multiple times per month, which impedes my work. This is a minor aspect of my colleagues’ work so there’s no worry they’d be fired over not sending them promptly, but that also seems to contribute to the lack of urgency. I don’t want to get the owner involved but I also don’t want to feel like I’m constantly nagging others to do something they’re supposed to be doing.

    1. ecnaseener*

      If your manager’s explicitly asked you to tell them, that’s not tattling, it’s following directions.

      Is this a situation where you can tell what data is missing every day, or do you only find out when you receive late data out of the blue?

      If the first, I’d just do a matter-of-fact status update for your manager every week, or every time you’re starting a report, whatever makes sense: “I have the data for X, but still missing Y and Z.”

      If the second, then by nature it’s going to feel like a bigger deal if you have to say “I just received some data that should’ve been included in the week 2 grooming report, so I’ll need to re-run that and get you the updated figures.” But you still have to say it, you can’t just sit on it.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Telling your manager you don’t have all of the relevant information to do your job is not “tattling.” It’s just telling your manager you don’t have all of the relevant information to do your job. And your manager is specifically asking you to do this, so I think they would be annoyed if you didn’t and they later found out that you were still analyzing incomplete data and providing them with incorrect/incomplete analyses.

      It sounds like you have done everything in your power to try to get the reports from the team members directly. The steps you’re taking haven’t worked, or don’t work all the time, so it’s time to start looping in the manager when you don’t have the reports you need to do your job.

    3. Nesprin*

      This sure sounds like a problem for task tracking software, so an automated portal does the nagging for you and you can go to your boss with data (say if Anne always submits reports on time and Bob is always 3 weeks late, he can manage appropriately).

    4. Awkwardness*

      You need to have data; everybody knows they have to send data; manager is willing to support you if you do not have data – you only need to confirm that you do not have it (which your manger is suspecting all along, otherwise they would not have offered help).

      I am surprised that you think it would be “tattling” when you are actually enabling your colleagues behavior and undermining yourself and your job performance.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Not only that, but in some fields like mine a lack of reported data in a crucial place and time could cost someone their life or condemn them to permanent disability. Your colleagues are not doing their job properly and it’s not your fault if you tell your manager and they get sacked for it, because then it’s them, not you, who are not doing their due diligence.

  48. ecnaseener*

    Hi all – in your experience, what does it mean for an org when HR starts asking for FTE benchmarking data?

    In my context, it’s taking months to even get a decision on whether we can post an opening to replace a former coworker, so I’m already a non-zero amount of worried that layoffs could be on the horizon. Should the benchmarking make me more worried, or perhaps less worried (an alternative explanation for the hiring delay), or is it impossible to tell?

    (The org is a large healthcare system, but I’m not in patient care so there’s no legally-required staffing numbers, we’re being asked to produce this data.)

    1. Tio*

      I’ve done FTE benchmarking in various companies. Usually it means they want to look at either whether they need more people or whether they want to restructure departments, but the first is more common. Here, we do it roughly every two years to ensure we’re on track with our FTE positions vs. workload vs. growth plan.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. Business cases need to be made to hire new employees, and thus you’re essentially being asked to show where the pinch points might be in your department so someone can make the case for extra staff.

        Labour is expensive, so while we assume that someone could just post a vacancy tomorrow, there has to be some sort of analysis done to ensure they’re deploying the right numbers in the right places. It took my boss a while to make the case to her superiors that she needed me on board as an admin rather than a receptionist (so long that I genuinely thought it wouldn’t happen and was making other applications left right and centre once it became clear that she could only give me the training she wanted to give me if my job title was different; it greatly surprised me that she turned up on the allotted day and told me that the posting was live and /good luck with the application/), but it was really worth it in the end — I’m six months into the job and loving every minute.

        But to do that she had to do a lot of paperwork and surveys and so on and have a watertight case. The more expensive labour gets — and rightly so — the more analysis needs to be done to answer the question, ‘are you SURE you need this role open/this many people on board?’ because the costs of employment have got to come from somewhere.

        So in a way I’d take it as a good sign, particularly if you’ve been struggling up until now. Yes, it does happen the other way round, but again, since labour is so expensive and company resources are finite, they have to make those decisions on occasion. So I wouldn’t be too worried; it’s how hiring works in practical terms in businesses where headcount matters to the bottom line, i.e. virtually all of them.

        I’ve crossed my fingers, toes AND eyes, though, that it’s for good reasons rather than bad. Please let us know how you get on, ecnaseener — it’s useful to know who’s hiring and who is contracting/downsizing, but also we care about you as a colleague AND comrade here and want to share in your joy or help you through any awkward stuff.

  49. Mass to Conn*

    This is a pretty specific question, but does anyone have experience with the tax implications of working a fully remote job based in Massachusetts while living in Connecticut? I know the employee would have to pay income taxes to both states (although hopefully there would be some kind of reciprocity credit between the states, not sure though).

    I believe the company would have to pay taxes to Connecticut as well, if they have an employee doing work there. The company has 40,000 employees. Is it more likely that they have some kind of setup to make it more likely that they would be OK with this since they’re so large? It’s possible they already have some other remote employees in Connecticut, or the taxes they’d have to pay would be negligible and they’d be OK with it.

    Asking for a friend who currently lives in Massachusetts and just started a remote position also based in Massachusetts. They are thinking of moving to CT (but would stay in Mass. if the company had an issue with it). Obviously they will check with HR but I wanted to throw it out there.

    1. 867-5309*

      It is more than just taxes. The employer would need to be prepared to follow a whole host of different laws, paperwork filings, healthcare, and more, in addition to tax implications. It is a very big deal to ask an employer to do that if they do not already have an office set up in that particularly state.

      Also, the employee’s taxes would be taken out for the state in which they live and work, which in this case would be Connecticut. Where the complicated taxes arise is if they lived in Connecticut but continued to drive into and work from Massachusetts.

      1. 867-5309*

        BTW – I know it is not possible to communicate from CT to MA. :) A better example probably would have been CT to NY or NJ to NY.

          1. Mass to Conn*

            The commute would be about two hours from where they’re looking to move in CT. Apparently they just want you within reasonable driving distance for the occasional meeting, etc.

        1. Bast*

          Wait… Why is it not possible to commute from CT to MA? As someone who lives in CT, the MA border is roughly half an hour from me; I wouldn’t consider that commute a big deal.

            1. Mass to Conn*

              They are considering a move to southern CT and the office is in northern Mass.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          It’s extremely possible to commute from CT to MA. They’re adjacent. It’s potentially inconvenient depending on which end of CT and MA, but impossible is a weird thing to bring up.

          1. Mass to Conn*

            I think they were joking :) as in wondering why my friend doesn’t just commute. But we’d be talking an hour and 20 minute trip even to the Mass. border from where they’re looking to move in CT (to be near a loved one).

      2. Mass to Conn*

        From what my friend was told initially, apparently as long as they live within New England and their manager is OK with it, the company is fine with it. But that seemed odd since I know there are issues living/working between states, even if they are in the same region. The company does have other offices in Vermont but headquarters is in Massachusetts.

        I guess a company that size probably has an HR that knows the law inside and out, but it seemed odd that the answer was there’d be no issues even if they were living in another state as long as they’re in the region.

        1. 867-5309*

          Yeah – if they have remote employees in the state already it is not a big deal. Your friend just needs to confirm.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Came here to say this.
            Or they have nexus in CT for another, non-employee related reason.
            Your friend just needs to talk to their HR.

    2. Wordybird*

      If the company has 40,000 employees, are HQed in MA, and are offering remote work, I would find it hard to believe that they don’t have at least one employee already in CT. Your friend would need to notify them of the move but it won’t be an issue as long as they’re already set up for business in CT (and yes, the company would pay taxes for every state where they had an employee working). I work remotely for a company on the East Coast with employees in 20+ different states, and that’s how it works for them.

      As neighboring states, it’s highly likely they have tax reciprocity. I live right on the border of two states in the Midwest, and they offer reciprocity. I also once upon a time lived in WY but my (ex)husband worked in CO, and they had reciprocity, too.

  50. Regina*

    Any advice from people in writing/editing/comms on switching fields mid-career?

    I’m a writer/editor working generally in public engagement with science. Although it’s an area I’d ideally stick with, my current job is a terrible fit for me, I’m not getting the experience I want, and I’m struggling to find relevant open positions in my job search. I’d be interested in working in a different field that isn’t necessarily related, but I’m not sure how compelling I would be as a candidate.

    1. zolk*

      if you’re not currently with a university, academia has problems but is usually very stable, secure, and a good space for work like this! I’ve seen some jobs such as supporting the dean of research, or supporting the marketing for a science department like astronomy. Those could be good options! They usually like people with a background like yours. Some continuing education in marketing could really boost it further.

    2. Nesprin*

      Well, would journal editorial roles be right for you? Grantwriting? University public relations (someone at every university writes news blurbs about recent research)?
      Outreach and education support? Teaching or textbook writing or editing?

    3. DrSalty*

      What kind of degree do you have? I work in med comms for pharma and there could potentially be roles for someone with your background. Patient directed plain language materials are becoming more and more important.

      1. HigherEdCommunicator*

        Research development in higher ed! It’s a field that’s becoming more recognized all the time, and it’s not like there are specific degree programs for it. As a communicator, you can probably make the case for seeing connections across disciplines, hitting deadlines and working with lots of different stakeholders at once. It sounds like you have experience in STEM, which will only help.

        I am on a search committee for a job like this now, and the pool is tiny because I feel like people aren’t necessarily looking for jobs with this title, even if they’d be really good at it.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I do similar work at a state agency and love it! Varied work, interesting topics, and it’s useful. And you can focus on different things. For example, I also work on web and LMS content.

  51. Sweet Clementine*

    Bad news, I got laid off yesterday. Good news is, I have a job offer that I was planning to accept, whose start date I had extended to end of June.

    I know I am much more fortunate than others, but I am considering my next steps. Now I gave two options:
    a. Take the time off between now, and relax. I have not had a real vacation in years, and odds are, I would not get one in another many years. I am comfortable financially, and this would work.
    b. Call up the new job and start as soon as they can take me in (probably early June). I’d be out of work for a shorter period, but I would probably have to notify my new employer of the situation (which I feel a bit bad about).

    What would you recommend? I realize that I am in a stronger position that most, and am very glad to have had the new job.

    1. Managing While Female*

      If you can afford it, take the time and enjoy it. Based on what you’ve said, I’m not seeing a super compelling reason to not do that.

      1. Sweet Clementine*

        Thank you! I think I’m just feeling guilty about taking time off, while others are struggling, while I keep the new job waiting. I know its not rational, but its great to see folks agree on option a!

      2. Managing While Female*

        Another thing that might help is a mental shift — what are you more likely to remember when you’re near the end of your life? The month you took off to be a human? Or that extra month of work you did? What’s going to be the thing that mattered and made you say “I made the right call”?

        1. GythaOgden*

          IDK. For some people like my mother, that calculation would be different. She’s very much someone who lives to work, and is no less of a human for it. She’s at her most human when she’s doing stuff and ten years into her retirement she still does a lot for the community and her former field of education. Even I find that if I’m up early and ready to go for the day by 8.30 rather than 9, I log on and start working on emails. I can sit around forever at the weekends and in the evening, but it’s hard to be ready for work or when I had an in-person job, on-site, and not just get going. (Our wage system actually helps with this as we don’t generally clock in/clock out in my organisation and aren’t prevented from doing so. We’re not penalised for waiting until our official start time, but despite contracted hours starting at a specific time…I just don’t see the point and often don’t want to simply get engrossed in something else when I only have ten minutes before that start time; similarly if I’m in the middle of something relatively short at 5pm I’m not going to down tools immediately and leave it unfinished. It’s how I work and I’d never be on anyone’s case for not starting until a specific time, and my pay system is less rigid than it would be in the US as I’d very likely be a non-exempt worker under your system, but it suits me here to be more laissez-faire about timings when I just want to get going.)

          While I’d definitely take the six weeks off in these circumstances (and have no shortages of things I could be doing in the mean time; I’m a needlecraft junkie and six weeks non-stop could help me finish a few of the projects I’ve started now I at least have more energy to stitch in the evenings after work thanks to WFH), I’d not disparage anyone who felt differently about wanting to get going. It’s those people who keep the infrastructure we rely on to be ‘human’ in a modern sense going in order to service our needs while we take that six week break, plus the army of people who work hard in factories and fields to keep us fed and amused. I’m not going to treat them with any kind of contempt as — unfortunately and presumably unintentionally — your post implies.

      1. Sweet Clementine*

        It’s certainly the most tempting option which I am leaning towards now! Thank you!

      2. RVA Cat*

        I’d say take option A.
        If you’re stressing too much over it, would an option C of starting mid-June be on the table?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Definitely take the time! The best way to be unemployed is to have a job lined up– you can truly enjoy your “reset” time knowing there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Yes, this! I see no benefit to the second option if you can afford not to work for those few weeks difference.

        1. Sweet Clementine*

          Thank you! My severance will see me through the next few weeks, and I have money saved, so it is certainly becoming a very tempting option to take the time off!

    3. Panicked*

      If they aren’t expecting you until the end of June already, I’d absolutely take the break.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      Option A 1000%! You said you haven’t taken time off in years, probably won’t take time off for several more years, and you can afford it. I see only positives, no negatives!