open thread – June 14, 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.

{ 1,036 comments… read them below }

  1. SubContractor Woes*

    I have a full time job and, because of the times in which we live, a freelance side hustle that is fairly lucrative, bringing it between $5-10K a year.* My issue is that for the first time my usual client has booked me for something, but not committed that it’s actually a go yet. For example, let’s say I’m a party clown, and they asked me to submit a bid for an all-day party *this coming Monday,* but they haven’t gotten paid for it yet – they bill in advance – so it might be on or it might not be. Not knowing if I’m needed on Monday for an in-person all day event obviously doesn’t work for someone who has a full time job. They’re not usually like this, and typically give tons of notice. I don’t have a lot of power in the situation since they bring the work and their routine business is influenced by my availability and ability to be flexible … but I’m trying to figure out how to structure my bids in future to charge more if they do this. In the past I’ve added an “express fee” when they request me to send party favors an hour after the party (I ususally require a week) and that went over okay. Could I add a “short notice” fee, say $500, if there is no confirmation a week ahead? That would give me a better attitude about this – and if I get the ususal notice, no extra fee. For people who hire contractors, how badly would this p*ss you off? I realize they would say it’s not their fault, it’s the client, but …

    1. SubContractor Woes*

      *I realize to most of you that probably sounds like nothing, but it’s a lot to me/my budget, which is tight.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        No need to defend that – this is your work, and it’s important!

        I think the short notice fee is a great idea. It’s a pretty common business model – we pay more for express shipping, or for buying plane tickets two days before, etc. Obviously I don’t know your clients, but I don’t thing most people would be surprised to see something like that on your invoice. Especially if it also serves as a deposit, or a safeguard against possible cancellation – it’s a really normal part of doing business.

      2. Blarg*

        Don’t apologize — that’s a lot of money for almost anyone! (And for those it isn’t … they probably aren’t reading this blog; they are the people who have questions asked about them).

    2. Rosyglasses*

      In many industries a “rush” fee or “expedite” fee is pretty common, so I would imagine you could do something of that nature — that said, I would make sure it’s really clear in your contracts and other documents that due to your need to plan projects (I wouldn’t bring up a full time gig necessarily, depending on the client) you need at least 7 days notice for XX, otherwise there will be a rush fee or expedite surcharge.

      As a former person that would order supplies, or set up events, this wouldn’t phase me at all.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I worked at a job with a 4 day standard turn around time-you send us your stuff Monday, we’ll ship it out complete Friday. 3 day turn was a 25% rush charge, 2 day turn 50%, next day 100%. With appropriate minimums. I think that is a pretty good framework. Figure out what your standard notice is, and then charge accordingly.

      2. Ama*

        Yes I do freelance work where the timelines can sometimes be a little fuzzy, so I have built in that if they need the work returned in less than 5 days there’s a pretty hefty rush fee.

        I think for something where you need to book someone’s time for an event it’s pretty common to tell someone that you can’t reserve the time for them unless they agree to cover a certain percentage of the fee if they cancel on short notice.

      3. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I paid Worldship beaucoup to get a package to Germany in less than three days. Shrug. Extra costs extra.

    3. WellRed*

      Hmm. I’m looking at it from the other direction: deadline by which you have to be booked.

      1. SubContractor Woes*

        Well, I want the work though. And I want them to think of me first when they’re looking for party clowns, because I am (somewhat) flexible and always show up. So I agree I’m within my rights to withdraw or just decline at this point, but I want the job.

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          What about a discount for early confirmation?
          So, on your next contract, pad the amount by 15% with a clause that if the job is confirmed 5 days ahead of event, there will be a 15% discount.

          Discounts usually go better than extra fees.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I think this is the best idea from a client relations perspective. If they don’t complete the booking by X days before the event, they have to pay your new (updated for 2024) “full price,” and full price includes your rush fee.

            If they complete the booking on time, they get an early bird discount that equals the rate they have normally been paying.

          2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            I like this. Was going to suggest a cancellation fee if they cancel on you more than X days before. But this is a much smarter way to accomplish the same thing.

          3. JB*

            This is the best approach by far.

            Clients may try to argue or negotiate their way out of fees, but they typically will make an effort to do what needs to be done for a discount and won’t try to argue their way into it if they miss the window.

      2. Colette*

        Yeah, me too – and either payment by that deadline or, if you bill afterwards, a cancellation fee if they cancel (assuming they commit to the booking by the deadline).

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would first send them a reminder ASAP that until you receive the deposit, you may take other bookings on Monday that put down a deposit. Then, yes, add the rush fee to your standard contract/quote, and make it dependent on the deposit/prepayment, because IMO that is when you’re contracted by them, not when you send them a quote. Otherwise, in the future they might get quotes ahead of time, but not actually book you (pay you) until a day or two ahead of time.

    5. Kes*

      I don’t know if this is feasible but my inclination would be to possibly have part of the fee as an upfront deposit that is nonrefundable past a certain point, and then maybe a rush fee for last minute bookings as well

      1. lunchtime caller*

        yes the deposit is where I fall as well; I think that more clearly addresses the fact that you have to reserve part of your (usually filled with fulltime work) schedule for this event. It should be enough that you don’t feel like you essentially lost money to save the space for them, but not so much that they’re totally ruined if their own funding falls through,

      2. overeducated*

        yes, if this is personal services then i think deposit/cancellation fee is the way to go, sounds like “short notice” is less the issue than lack of confirmation.

    6. Quinalla*

      I see no issue with an expedite or short notice booking fee as long as you WANT that which is sounds like you do. Also would be fine to say bookings must be 7 days in advance, etc. I do consulting and when folks ask us for rush items and we want to do it, we will sometimes say sure but need to charge extra as folks will be working overtime. When people want a rush job or to book late, the time factor is nearly always more important than the $$ at that point. Just communicate it professionally and in a of course this is reasonable kind of way.

    7. The Ginger Ginger*

      Perhaps this is a situation where going forward, you could ask unconfirmed work to pay a “retention” fee so you hold the spot open for them. If they go on to have you perform the work, you could count that retention fee toward their full booking amount, but if they “cancel” that fee is a loss to them. So you get (for example- shot in the dark here) 25% of final booking value up front to hold the spot for them. It should also be something they pay up front – so at the end, they’d pay the remaining 75% of the booking.

      If they don’t want to pay to retain the spot, there’s no guarantee you hold the spot for them, but they could reach out if they confirm it closer to go time to see if you’re open. If you are, you could still accept the work – but perhaps now they’re in the expedited fee window. It would encourage people to solidly book as soon as they can, but provide flexibility to tentatively plan, without spending extra money if they do come through with the work. But if they’re not willing to put money up front to retain (maybe it’s too tentative to risk), they still have the chance to work with you IF you’re available – but the rush job has it’s own fees attached.

    8. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I would set both the cancellation fee/rush fee at whatever level makes it worth you taking whatever time off work you need to take to make it happen.

    9. An Australian In London*

      You say they’re your usual client. One pricing model I have sometimes used in similar situations is to charge as normal. If this particular booking falls through you allow them to apply (say) 75% of what they paid to their next booking with you, to be used within (say) six months.

    10. Skates*

      I have nothing to add to this except that in 5th grade we had “yearbooks” that listed what everyone wanted to be when they grew up and I wrote “Clown/Lawyer”. I know you’re probably not really a party clown as a side gig but if you are, you’re living little me’s dream

  2. Radish Husband*

    I’m in the middle of a job hunt. I left my previous job as a middle manager of things rather than people at the end of April due to several reorganizations that led me to have an intolerably bad “grand-boss” who completely ruined the culture within months. My direct manager was excellent, but not strong enough to shield me from their manager’s terrible style as well as other issues up the corporate chain. This is a perfect example of “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”.

    I have been saying my reason for leaving was “departmental reorganizations moving teams teams offshore reduced the need for multiple [people in my role]” so I left voluntarily. Although I did leave voluntarily, but it was because I was put on a PIP and took their “leave now and you get 4 weeks of severance and are on the ‘re-hireable’ list”. The PIP was actually strategic between my manager and me to get me some severance. We had tried finding other positions in other departments, getting me laid off (more severance) etc. but my grand-boss was having none of it.

    I don’t mention the PIP on interviews, but am up front about leaving because of the reorganizations as well as the new managers up the chain whose style of management wasn’t compatible with my integrity. My wife says this comes off as negative and could be misconstrued against me. What’s a better way of presenting this situation truthfully without having it reflect poorly on me?

    1. Kesnit*

      Why mention the manager? You were subject to a reorganization and your new job no longer fit your skills/interests/background/career goals/etc.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      I think you’re fine to say that there were multiple re-orgs and new leadership, whose strategic objectives you didn’t feel were going to work out well / didn’t leave room for you to pursue your own career goals / etc. You could go as far as saying that you didn’t have confidence in the new leadership. Just have an example of why that was, in case anyone asks – eg. they didn’t understand the regulatory environment and were asking you to do something specific that is against regulations. It’s okay to be factual about your reasons for leaving, but err on the side of diplomatic.

      I would leave the PIP out of the discussion – just offer for your former manager to be a reference, if they are willing to do that.

      1. Radish Husband*

        I definitely don’t mention the PIP. It was actually my choice to initiate it for strategic reasons, but I know there’s no way a PIP is a good thing to mention. So basically “I left because…” is the answer. Thank you!

    3. Midwest Manager*

      I have had candidates tell me something like what you are saying, and it doesn’t phase me. The key here is to not be overly descriptive – don’t go into a 10-min narrative about how the reorg screwed you, or other grisly details. I recommend a simple approach:

      “I left because my prior company reorganized several times in a row. The new structure changed my place/position in the org significantly and I decided to seek out other opportunities.” They probably won’t, but if they do ask why you didn’t stick it out until you had another position, it’s fair to say “I have been fortunate enough to take some time between positions to focus on what I’d like to do next. This position really intrigues me because… ”

      Do you have in writing that you remain eligible to rehire? Are you using your good manager as the reference? If these answers are “yes” then you should be fine.

      1. Radish Husband*

        Thank you! This is a terrific answer and covers the time between positions perfectly. I am very fortunate that I had the ability to leave and enough of a financial cushion to be able to seek out what’s best for me. Your segue is perfect.

        And I do have the rehire in writing (not that I can see myself ever working there again, but I know that might be something they get asked during verification. And my direct manager absolutely said they would be a reference.

        Actually, they are also looking to leave, so we’re in touch via private emails and I send them job listings from time to time.

    4. used to be a tester*

      “compatible with my integrity” sounds a little holier-than-thou to me. I think a simple “there were changes in senior management that significantly affected my role” is more of a statement of fact.

      1. Radish Husband*

        You’re right, and I wouldn’t use that phrase during an interview. Thank you for the clarity on opinions and being “holier-than-thou” and a simple statement of fact.

        1. Another Use of the Identify Spell*

          I do want to thank you for that phrase though. Describing a conflict as “style of management wasn’t compatible with my integrity” is actually a gentle way to phrase what I went through at a former job. (Health risks to humans and other living beings, pre-Covid. Our ethics committee chair was fired not long after me.) For some people, it will confirm the rumors about the place without anyone being specific. For others, I may have to give an example, but it will be a much easier lead-in than anything I’ve come up with before.

      2. Kay*

        yeah – unless you are in a regulatory industry and are looking to avoid people asking to you look the other way, this is not a necessary thing to say at all. The restructuring is already the perfect excuse – why muddy the waters?

    5. Kes*

      I think to me the thing is to stick to facts and avoid more subjective comments (because they have no way to know who is actually in the right), and also avoid being too negative and focus more on what you do want.
      So mentioning several reorgs is fine because that’s a fact (which speaks to a lot of change and instability that is understandably not desirable), but I would leave out negative comments about the management and just go straight to talking about what you are looking for

      1. Radish Husband*

        Thank you. I appreciate the comment and will focus on facts over anything subjective.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Makes sense. The message is that there were several re-orgs and your position, where it landed, didn’t really fit what you wanted.

    6. Glazed Donut*

      I quit my job last year because I was so incompatible with my skip-level boss’s values/integrity/management style.
      When interviewing, I sometimes brought it up myself (“I left to spend time with family and find a better fit”). Then, I stopped brining it up all together in interviews – and VERY FEW people asked why I left or why I wasn’t currently working.
      I think you can work on an answer — simply saying that the latest re-org didn’t match your needs in a job — but also don’t feel the need to bring it up yourself. I ended up with two job offers after I stopped overthinking it and bringing it up myself!

      1. Mifepristone for the Win!*

        “and VERY FEW people asked why I left or why I wasn’t currently working.” I’m finding this, too. Very few are asking anymore. I’m interviewing with someone, next week, who hasn’t stayed at a job longer than 2 years (which is kind of typical for non-profit fundraising). I won’t hold that against her and she probably won’t for me either. And there’s interview questions that I’ve been asked that can ascertain these things like, “Please share a time when you experienced great stress or transition at work and how did you manage it?” I say, “Well I’m sitting in front of you today because…” (LOL)

    7. Travis*

      100% say that the job wasn’t a good fit after the re-organization. You can say things like “my new manager and I had incompatible styles of management and we weren’t a good fit” instead of “my boss was a jerk.”

      It’s best to stick to neutral phrasing like “incompatible” rather than terms with moral valence like “integrity.” When people don’t know you they’ll wonder if you were the problem.

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      You don’t need to represent the entirety of the situation in order to still be truthful, especially to people who don’t know you and have no way of judging whether you were a drama queen or whether the situation was worse than even you realized, so it’s going to put them on guard and potentially harm you without giving you any potential positive gains.

      So, leave it out. It helps nothing and would make me worry if you were going to bring drama, even though I’ve personally had experience with awful bosses that I had to leave as well. It’s not a lack of belief in awful bosses/environments; it’s insufficient knowledge about your judgment and personality.

      I’m glad you’re out of there!

  3. my cat is prettier than me*

    Part of my job is to do expense reports for our COO. Yesterday he gave me a receipt for Wednesday’s dinner- it was for a Hooters knockoff restaurant. Am I wrong to be a little weirded out by this? It just seems strange to me to use the company card to go to a restaurant like that. My boss (head of HR) didn’t explicitly say he found it weird, but he made a face when I told him.

    Obviously there’s no action to take here, I just wanted to know if I’m off base.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      It would bother me, too. I don’t think breastaurants and business meetings should mix.

        1. Double A*

          Ehhh it’s definitely a little gross but maybe he was just really in the mood for wings or something and that was the closest option. Some places there are really limited options for where you can eat nearby.

            1. Maggie*

              If it’s just a regular meal why wouldn’t he expensive it? It’s just food. And it’s not like it’s a strip club either. I agree it’s weird but I don’t think it’s wrong to expense the food

              1. BubbleTea*

                Perhaps the rules are different over there but just regular meals aren’t a legitimate business expense for self-employed people or company directors. Not sure about C-suite executives though.

                1. Bitte Meddler*

                  They are legitimate business expenses if you’re traveling for business.

                  I frequently travel for work and my trips are 1 or 2 overnights. I expense all meals from the moment I enter my home airport until I return and leave that airport.

                2. JB*

                  There’s a difference between taxable expenses (i.e. count against your income when calculating taxes) vs. what a company might be willing to treat as a business expense (i.e. what they choose to pay for on behalf of various employees).

            2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

              I would assume there was travel involved or similar.

              I used to travel regularly for business to a location where my options were to eat in the hotel dining room for the 90 bazillionth time or eat at the casino. If there had been a Hooters, I would have been grateful to have a 3rd option, would have definitely gone and expensed it. (cis-het-female)

              1. Just a name*

                Concur with this. One of my former female workers loved the wings at Hooters and would definitely pick them over the other choices.

            3. RagingADHD*

              If he’s traveling, all his meals are properly expensable. If he’s in his home base eating alone, none of them are. What restaurant he chooses is irrelevant.

        2. Pokemon Go To The Polls*

          I suppose it’s possible that wherever he was that was the only reasonable option – like it was the in parking lot of his hotel and he couldn’t bear to get in a car to go elsewhere and there were no other choices right there.
          It’s a little weird but there have definitely been times travelling I’ve ended up at places that were kind of awful but it was what it was.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I remember one family trip where we were traffic delayed. By the time we reaced the hotel, the only restaurant choices were Hooters and placed in the mall that shut for the night 30 minutes earlier.

            (I focused on men’s Olympic diving on the big TV. My husband …didn’t, and we teased each other for months.)

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Thank you for the gift of the word “breastaurants”. Not to diss anyone who has the physique to work in such a place and needed the job, but this made me laugh out loud for real.

    2. SubContractor Woes*

      It’s a bit gross but when I was an assistant like this, my role was just “is it permitted/is it not permitted” (sorry boss, this rounds of drinks for everyone at the bar are not eligible for reimbursement – and neither are these room charges on your hotel bill you tried to slip past me) and nothing else. (My boss was definitely trying to get away with something because my boss immediately knew to dig deeper when I, as a brand new assistant in my 20s, first submitted his expense report; I assume she and he had been through it all before.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I worked on some expense reports like that! (yes, corporate chief counsel, looking at you. No, you cannot get per diem for the whole day *and* receipted meals for the same day).

    3. Angstrom*

      It is reasonable to think it is unprofessional. At the same time, eating and entertaining at that type of restaurant is normal in some industries.

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        He wasn’t entertaining anyone, he was by himself. I don’t believe it’s the norm in our industry (batteries), but I could be wrong.

        1. Tio*

          If he followed the official policies (he was justified in expensing a lunch, which I assume he was, and met the dollar limits and whatnot) it’s actually more reasonable to me that he was alone. It’s a choice, for sure, but he wasn’t dragging anyone else into it.

        2. ursula*

          first of all: nooooooooooooooo
          second of all: this made me laugh out loud. why is “batteries” the perfect industry for this to have been

          I don’t have any advice, but yeah your boss is being gross

        3. M2*

          Who cares? As long as it’s a legitimate expense and wasn’t buying something super expensive (I heard a story of someone ordering a 2000 bottle of wine… at a large non profit) it is in the mind your own business category.

          I am a woman and I don’t know any knockoff Hooters. I wouldn’t eat there but how do you always know it’s like that?

          Also if you go around telling people about this that is a bigger problem to me than the restaurant. Telling or asking your boss if fine but gossiping about it wouldn’t be a good idea.

          1. Tio*

            The main knockoff I can think of is called Tilted Kilt. The server uniform (at least used to, haven’t been in a while) was kilt skirts that were pretty short. Definitely not a choice I’d make for a professional expense, but technically legitimate.

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

              OHH maybe he didn’t know that it was a knock off hotters? I’ve never heard of the Tilted Kilt and I would totally go to one just based off the name, thinking it was irish/scottish pub style food.

              1. Nightengale*

                I believe I ate at one once expecting pub style food and it in fact did have that food. I think I had a pretty good Shepard’s Pie. Served by people not wearing very much, in a tartan theme.

          2. my cat is prettier than me*

            I haven’t talked to anyone else about it, I know that would be unprofessional. The restaurant is called Twin Peaks (I just looked it up to make sure it’s a chain so I wouldn’t dox myself). I have a friend who used to work there, and it’s very much about the boobs.

            1. House On The Rock*

              I’ve always wondered if there is some intersection with David Lynch fandom and/or people who don’t get what the place is before they go there. For a lot of us Gen Xers, we really think of the show first and not the obvious double entendre of the name!

              But, to answer your question, I’d find it much ickier if he went there with others for a business related meal. That would feel super Old Boys Club and less appropriate. Going alone while traveling strikes me as “it was the closest thing to the hotel and the menu looked reasonable”.

              I say this as someone who once had the misfortune of staying in a Trump hotel in Atlantic City in the early 2000s and their only restaurant was a Hooters, so we ate there!

              1. VacayAnon*

                Indeed. Years ago my boyfriend at the time and I (cishet woman) went for lunch to a Twin Peaks while on vacation. We were tired from walking and starving and it was the only “not fast food” place around. We thought it might be a weird David Lynch fan thing. It wasn’t until we sat down and ordered that it dawned on us that 1) all of the visible restaurant staff were young women, 2) the staff uniforms were somewhat risqué, and 3) I seemed to be the only non-staff woman in the place. We stayed and ate, since we’d already ordered. But it was an interesting lunch for sure.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      The boss has noted the expense and is having his own opinions of it. As head of HR, he can decide whether policies need to be updated, or whether a discreet word to the COO will be sufficient or necessary.

      It’s not a good look, but if the expense is otherwise meeting the criteria you use to process it, I’d move on.

    5. londonedit*

      I agree that there’s no action to take, but I think an ‘Ewww, gross’ reaction is entirely understandable. I guess it’s just something you now know about him.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I mean, no, you’re not off base, you can be weirded out by whatever, but it won’t really make a difference, so…

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      I would also feel weird about this, and unless he had been traveling somewhere with no other food options, it would color my opinion of him.

      On another note, Hooters already seems pretty low-rent to me. A knockoff sounds pretty awful just from a dining experience.

    8. Insert Pun Here*

      I once stayed in a hotel (not for work) that was sort of in the middle of nowhere and the only walkable restaurant was a Hooters! I really had to wonder who thought that was a good idea.

    9. WellRed*

      Eh, not the best judgment but I really can’t be bothered. Maybe he likes the onion rings;)

    10. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I’d just mentally write it off as probably for a different reason–it was nearby, he likes their wings, whatever, barring other problematic behavior.

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

      Eh. I wouldn’t really be weirded out by it myself — even Hooters is considered a family restaurant and they are mostly known for their chicken wings these days — as long as the receipt is for food and doesn’t run over the allowed amount for one meal. Sometimes restaurant choices are limited when traveling and that might have been the only place within IDK 5 miles of the hotel.

    12. lunchtime caller*

      I’d definitely get a chuckle out of it if someone told me this at drinks, so I don’t think you’re wrong to be a little weirded out! I’m sure EAs of days gone by have seen much wilder “entertaining” expenses come through, though.

    13. Pretty as a Princess*

      As long as the expense is compliant with the company’s policies then it doesn’t really matter, IMO. The policy says what’s allowed to be covered and where you can use company cards (some places require you to use a company card for any business travel, too) and that means that the only judgment to apply here is “did this receipt follow the rules.” I mean, you find that kind of place distasteful personally and it’s your right to do so, but

      As a traveler: I have traveled a lot to places where something like a Hooters might be the only place open by the time I have taken two flights and then driven 3 hours from a tiny regional airport – and have had some really fantastic hamburgers at more than one of them and gone back again because of it! (I’m a woman, too!) As a traveler for the business, I don’t need to be worrying about whether to justify where I eat to anyone in the expense processing chain or what they think of where I dine as long as I am complying with the applicable policies. You may find the idea of said place distasteful, which is absolutely your right, but I would not jump to being weirded out by the use of the company card to pay for a dinner by himself.

      1. Angstrom*

        Ah, yes…. You book the only hotel near the customer’s facility, and arrive to find that it’s adjacent to an industrial park in East Nowhere. The last thing you want to do is drive more, so you take what you find.

      2. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

        I have eaten at so many Chili’s, Outbacks, and PF Changs simply because they were the only things open late near the convention center complex that were reliably quick, and I just needed to eat something before I fell asleep in my appetizer. So much so that a friend once teased me for having in-depth opinions about Chilis appetizers.

        1. WellRed*

          I was commiserating with a coworker yesterday about the decline in food at an annual event. My only decent meal came from Olive Garden on my own time.

        2. Anax*

          I’m now picturing Palamedes scrawling restaurant reviews all over the walls. Honestly… that man WOULD.

        3. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, in my job I feel like the hotel inspector from Fawlty Towers. After only six months of traveling regularly (and multiple short hops over the last three weeks, including one of my own choosing), I can make a tier list of every meal I’ve had to date. The pizza in Wocca’s Ing was the worst tasting, the pizza in Redd’s Ing actually gave me the runs, and I really hope I don’t have to travel to Dork’s Ing because…yeah, unfortunate Saxon guy drew the short straw there when names were given out.

          The only political thing I’ve had to deal with is the pro-Brexit Wetherspoons but that’s kind of a moot point now so whatever, and their pizza is awesome. (The reason I eat so much pizza is that it’s quick to come out, not going to make me feel bloated like a burger and I can eat it in my fingers. It also travels well back to the room if I’m so inclined.)

      3. my cat is prettier than me*

        He was technically travelling, but in his own car. The restaurant is near our office, which is in an area that is absolutely saturated in chain restaurants.

    14. Stuart Foote*

      I personally wouldn’t go to that kind of restaurant, but since covid a lot of places close earlier than in the past so it could have been the only nearby place that was open, or he could have been unaware of what kind of restaurant it is (Twin Peaks, for example, is not nearly as well known as Hooters). It seems like there are enough possible non-weird explanations to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        lol, it was Twin Peaks. I had to make sure it was a chain so I wouldn’t dox myself.

    15. Tuckerman*

      I had a (female) colleague who regularly got takeout from there while traveling for work. Something about how they could consistently accommodate a consistent food allergy or intolerance.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        I know this wasn’t a Hooters but I’ve never had a better hotdog in my life than at Hooters.

      2. Another Use of the Identify Spell*

        That’s interesting that they’re good about allergies/intolerances. I might have to pose this question to my boss bc I (cis gal) do travel to some fairly restaurant-scarce areas and sometimes just have to hope for the best with food in general, before even getting into things like cross-contamination. If the receipt clearly says TO GO that might clarify things enough to make it acceptable.

    16. saskia*

      Is the expense against company policy? If yes, tell him. If not, do the report and move on.

    17. Whoopsie*

      If this is a case of that regularly being where they choose to eat, yeah, I’d probably find it gross. On the other hand, I’ve had male and female colleagues across multiple workplaces talk about being so wiped/hungry that it wasn’t until they were midway through their meal that they realized where they were (not Hooters, but other chains).

    18. Nola*

      Honestly I‘d be more grossed out/offended by a receipt for ChikFilA.

      But that‘s just me…

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        He also had me order him ChickFilA last week! I’m queer, but he doesn’t know that.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I promise, this man really isn’t eating his food *at* you, any more than your coworkers in the breakroom who bring lunches that nosy Betty thinks are too gross, or too fattening, or too “healthy” are eating their food at her.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            You understand there is substantial difference between asking a queer person to order ChikFilA and someone else who is just has different tastes in food itself, right? Sure he doesn’t know she’s queer, but ordering from there for work is still a statement.

            1. Rebecca*

              I’m straight, and I still internally judge the bejeezus out of people who order from ChickFilA, whether for work or personal. I would have a hard time placing that order for somebody (I’d do it, but I’d have a hard time with it).

    19. Jenna Webster*

      Sometimes, it’s just the nearest place and it’s just easier. I ended up at Hooters with a whole group of women at a library conference because every other restaurant was full. That said, it isn’t like he expensed a strip club, either. Kind of questionable judgement if he had other readily available options, but sometimes it is just about the food. I actually feel better about it that he went alone rather than taking clients or coworkers there.

    20. MJ*

      Uggh. I once had a boss give me an expense report with a receipt for a local gentleman’s club. I asked what he wanted it coded as, and was treated to a long story about how the client he was entertaining wanted a lap dance and he had no choice…

      All I had wanted to know was whether to post it to meals or entertainment! (It could have been either and they were separate categories at that company.) My 20-something year old self really, really didn’t want to know the details.

    21. Semi-retired admin*

      Ugh, yeah, it’s definitely icky. I had a boss many years ago who would meet with the president of the board of directors at Hooters for very long lunch meetings. We referred to it at the “east office”.

    22. RagingADHD*

      You’re entitled to feel however you feel, but IMO as a former admin, you’re wasting perfectly good energy on something that has nothing to do with you and isn’t really your business.

      You have no way of knowing whether it was just the closest thing to the hotel, or whether he got takeout, or sat there and read a book / watched a game on TV, or what. I am no fan of Hooters et al, but if I were really tired and hungry from traveling, I wouldn’t go an extra block for dinner if I didn’t have to. It’s food.

      If you’re in a position that handles confidential information like expense reports, you have to learn to separate your work from your personal opinions, because you are going to see a whole bunch of things that you have no control over and about which your personal opinion doesn’t matter.

    23. Observer*

      My boss (head of HR) didn’t explicitly say he found it weird, but he made a face when I told him.

      I think that gives you your answer.

      Definitely ON base. Your COO was not showing the best judgement here, I think.

    24. H.C.*

      If the restaurant was Twin Peaks, fwiw, not having dined there I spent almost a decade assuming it’s a reference to the SF neighborhood or the TV series w/o realizing said mountains on its logo meant something else.

      Just throwing it out there as a possible “honest mistake” and too late to change meal plans once seated.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Yeah this was a mistake I made. When inside and sat down before I realized it was a Hooters knock-off.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Particularly since the OP said they didn’t even know what it was until they looked it up.

    25. BikeWalkBarb*

      This to me is a perfect description of why you should have per diem, not receipts-based reimbursement. I’m in a public agency and I get told what the per diem rates are for the city I’m traveling to. No reason someone should be asked to review whether I went vegan or Thai or whatever, just tell me how much I have to spend and I’ll decide where to eat.

      1. Another Use of the Identify Spell*

        But you are depriving the micromanagers of their bean counting! They can’t get upset that you went 40 cents over the lunch allowance once, even though you were well under on all other meals across several days!

    26. ConvenienceWins*

      I am a female who will eat at the most convenient location that has food I can eat when traveling, especially for business.

      Unless I’m with someone who wants to go somewhere else and will ensure transportation/logistics are in place or there’s some place I’m dying to try that I feel is worth extra effort, my goal is to get fuel with as little fuss as possible. If that means the hotel bar, it means the hotel bar. If that means the Hooters next door it means the Hooters next door. FWIW, I have eaten at a Hooters by myself when traveling (not for business). I believe I was in my late 20s or very early 30s. And there were families with little kids in there. It wasn’t as racy as I expected, and mostly felt like a random chain restaurant.

  4. Richard Hershberger*

    I find myself in job hunt mode. It is all very civilized. My boss of fifteen years is retiring, while I want to work another five to ten years. I am not being kicked into the street immediately, and he is happy to give me a great reference, but the process has to get to that point. Then there is the issue that I have great experience, which is another way of saying I am no longer young. We will see how that plays out.

    My immediate question is about Indeed. Within a day or two of my applying for anything through them, I get an email wanting me to click again to send a message to the employer that yes, I really am interested. This seems to me like a terrible idea: a form of “gumption” cheapened to the point of meaninglessness. But I am, as aforementioned, not young. So what do you whippersnappers think?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Seems entirely pointless to me. I’m not exactly a whippersnapper (Xennial, here), but I AM a hiring manager.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m not convinced that an automated gumption email from a third party counts as effective job seeking, but it sure was easy for Indeed to put together on their website so it looks like they’re providing value.

      I regularly recommend that one use Indeed and other job boards as sources to learn what websites to visit, and then manage your own applications and follow up. You miss out by staying in the Indeed bubble and not going to the company site to do research about other positions you might like better, or learn something else about the company that would help you do a better resume. And why would I let Indeed forward a resume if I could do it myself?

      Disclaimer: I am no whippersnapper.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Disclaimer: not a whippersnapper, don’t use Indeed personally but my spouse sometimes does for his business.

        Considering the fight that was recently had in-office about billing “per click” on an ad by Indeed? I find what Richard Hershberger described above to be really shady on the part of Indeed. (As in, the company was billed by Indeed per click on the ad, not by applicant, not a set rate, not a monthly fee. Per click on ad.)

        Outside of that context, it seems like Indeed is trying to look like they’re providing or adding value, but they’re still going about it in a lousy way.

        1. Once too Often*

          My experience with Indeed is limited because it has been uniformly poor. I’d prefer to use it for research, if that’s useful, but avoid applying thru them. Might any of the baseball organizations be interested, given your expertise?

    3. ecnaseener*

      This whippersnapper recommends applying directly through the company’s website where possible to avoid all of indeed’s junk and make sure you’re not missing anything from the original posting. But now that you’ve applied – personally I would ignore those reminders, doesn’t seem like there’s any benefit to sending the follow ups. Admittedly, little risk to sending them, if they’re used to getting them from all their indeed applicants.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        These typically are small-to-medium sized law firms. Their websites typically don’t have a “jobs” section. Would it make sense to approach them directly, or would this just annoy them by not following the procedure they have established? Serious question.

        1. ecnaseener*

          If they don’t have a posting on their website, then yeah just use indeed. I don’t know law firm culture but in general I’d say no don’t approach directly unsolicited.

        2. ampersand*

          You might try another job search platform to see if they’ve posted the job in more than one place (LinkedIn maybe?). I agree with what others have said about Indeed trying to maximize clicks…that sounds right. So if you’re annoyed enough by this (I am just hearing about it!) it might be worth seeing if you can apply via another job site.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I find the Indeed interface not too awful. I am willing to cheerfully ignore the extraneous nonsense. I was mostly checking in that I was right about this being nonsense.

    4. Ama*

      It may have changed (I haven’t used Indeed as a hiring manager in a couple years), but I don’t know that those messages even really get to the hiring manager — or if they do they are in a daily email where they say “6 candidates are waiting for your review” or something.

      This seems like Indeed trying to goose their engagement numbers by making people interact with the site more than is actually necessary.

      1. Panicked*

        I handle all hiring for my org. We get this message “Hi, I recently submitted my application. Please let me know if you need anything else from me at this point. Thank you!”

        I can confirm that it does not factor into any decision to further the applicant or not, at least for me.

    5. RosyGlasses*

      Not a whippersnapper, 40 something former HR Director.

      This is something that Indeed does to make themselves look valuable both to job seekers (as a purchaser now of Glassdoor) and so they can have a paid platform for hiring teams. I don’t know if it mattered to me much if I got a push notification – if anything, it would just be another email to read while I’m trying to sort through resumes.

      My three cents :-)

      1. Another Use of the Identify Spell*

        I was wondering if it was to filter for real humans submitting for things they are actually interested in, as opposed to a bot spamming lots of openings or a real person throwing a huge number of applications out at once in hope that a couple actually work. Clickbait for the unemployed seems even worse, regardless of who winds up paying for it.

    6. Student*

      In my experience, most employers on Indeed don’t allow messaging, and the ones that do, don’t respond. I have gotten a couple of interviews by following up with a message or phone call to a recruiter, and they were bad interviews, so it’s not a strategy I use anymore (and also because it’s not recommended on this site).

    7. Yes And*

      Gen X hiring manager who has posted jobs on Indeed. Sometimes I do get a content-free follow-up email from Indeed applicants (probably prompted in this way), and I find them annoying. My recruitment inbox is cluttered enough already without these pointless extra emails. I’ve never discounted someone’s application on account of those follow-ups, but I’ve certainly never advanced someone because of them.

    8. Hillary*

      Regarding indeed, meh. I don’t think it will hurt but also isn’t going to be helpful.

      Please ignore if this is unwanted advice. ;-)

      Has your boss made it known to his network that you’re not retiring with him? I (as a corporate client) actually said to one of our attorneys that when the time came our legal team would love to talk to his paralegals because they were both awesome at their jobs. If they were available we would have tried to create positions for them.

      Turns out they’re staying with the person who’s taking over the practice.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Yes, he is working his network. I am loath, however, to rely solely on this.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m about your age (I estimate) and am a hiring manager and HATE that Indeed button. Your gut read is 100% accurate.

    10. Jazz and Manhattans*

      This is why I apply directly to the company as 1) I know they got my application, 2) it was loaded incorrectly 3) I know it’s a real job and 4) no 3rd party shenanigans.

    11. RagingADHD*

      I always clicked yes on those because I assumed that Indeed would suppress my application if I didn’t participate in their rigamarole.

      It’s nice to learn here that the hiring managers receive the applications regardless.

    12. Dancing Otter*

      Another possible resource –
      I know that my state CPA society has a page on their website for hiring / seeking employment. Does the legal profession (state or local bar association or more specialized) have something similar?

    13. Roland*

      Nope, don’t do it. Indeed’s goal here isn’t “get Richard a job”, it’s “make Richard think Indeed is a great product that Provides ValueTM so that he’ll keep using it and maybe pay for premium features”.

    14. learnedthehardway*

      Are you sure that it is Indeed sending you this message or is it that a recruiter has said they are interested in your candidacy? I use Indeed all the time, and I have never had candidates unsolicitedly (coined a new word, there) reiterate their interest via the platform. However, I HAVE reached out to candidates via the Indeed platform, who have applied to my roles and have never heard back from them. I’ve always assumed they had found other roles or decided the role I was working on wasn’t of interest, but now I’m wondering if they thought they were being asked to confirm their interest, like you were.

      At any rate, if you’re interested, it wouldn’t hurt to click yes, if Indeed is asking you to confirm your interest.

      1. Student*

        I have had employers reach out through the Indeed messaging system to setup interviews and it’s really clear that these are individual messages, not an automated response from Indeed. I think your assumption that applicants are no longer interested, for whatever reason, is the most accurate.

    15. TryEverythingButIndeedWorks*

      This us very dependent on the companies and is not inherent to Indeed (unless they changed it very recently). FWIW, while I’m a big proponent of using all available avenues if job hunting, Indeed has far and away been my most successful avenue of finding work for well over a decade. We also found most of the good candidates for the last position we hired at my job via Indeed (we had two other options/avenues).

      I guess I’m suggesting you try other things too but not give up on Indeed.

  5. HR Lady*

    I’ve recently started a new role, deliberately transitioning from a hyper corporate environment that was very fixed on compensation etc to a much smaller firm that focuses strongly on social justice (not a charity). Thus far it’s going pretty great! Lovely team, so refreshing to work in this environment, the job itself is exactly the kind of work that makes me get out of bed in the morning. If you’d asked me to describe the role that I wanted to take my career in I am not sure I could have done better than where I have ended up.

    HOWEVER. I am afraid that years in the hyper corporate world has broken my brain. I’ve come over to this role for basically the same salary that I was on but with deliberately walking away from a promotion/salary uplift and bonus dangled over my head. The thing is though, just for my salary alone I am on money that means I live a mega comfortable lifestyle! It is so so much higher than what I dreamed of only ten years ago! And yet a nasty little bit of my brain, probably prompted by literally years of arguments over salary and bonuses in my last job, is going “look at you, you’ve thrown away your future earning potential, you’ll never get back to those kinds of salaries again, you’ll never be able to afford that terrace house you’re dreaming of” – I literally own a flat! I live in London! I’ve won the housing lottery! Shut up, brain!

    To anyone else who has made this kind of change – I am hoping this goes away by itself but if not, any suggestions about how to shut that bit of my brain up?

    1. Mopsy*

      I would say that the new work lifestyle you’ve gained at this new job has value as well. Feeling so much purpose that you look forward to getting out of bed is no small matter, and is really hard to come by! Just because it doesn’t have literal monetary value, doesn’t mean you can give yourself a mental equivalent. You could say it’s priceless :)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree. I think Sunk Cost Fallacy really takes up residence in our brains, and it’s as stubborn as rust stains on enamel–because it’s always equivocating “what you put yourself through” with “giving up” if you don’t torture yourself right up until the retirement lunch.

        Basically this goblin likes to make you think that “choosing not to suffer” is the equivalent of “big giant quitter baby.” When of course, it is the opposite.

    2. ILoveLllamas*

      I dumped the rat race several years ago and forfeited high potential compensation for the luxury of a 40-hr work week with much lower stress. My compensation pays all my bills and allows me the luxury of saving a substantive portion of my salary. I know that I could make more $$, but with more $$ comes more work. :-) Plus I am only a handful of years from retirement.

      When I made this transition, I battled with FOMO and the urge to climb the corporate ladder even though my previous attempts didn’t yield big results or happiness. It took me some time to come to grips that I needed to define success in MY terms, not perceived society’s terms. For me, this meant I stopped social media including LinkedIn, I journaled and slowly I learned that I only needed to “work to live” not “live to work” (which had been drilled into me for my career).

      Fast forward 6 years and I am much more content. I am still off most social media. I live in a modest apartment that I love and I have created a lifestyle that makes me very happy. All this to say, please don’t let outside perceptions drive your happiness. Good luck!

    3. not nice, don't care*

      Due to health related issues, I’ve walked away from a few high-paying, high prestige jobs/opportunities.
      I have no problem with regrets, knowing how awful the effects of those jobs would be on me, and that the higher pay doesn’t buy relief from that.
      I look back at all the time I have been able to spend outside of work, running a small farm, hiking, camping, active social life, etc. Had I stayed on the high octane paths I’d probably be dead from stroke/heart attack.

    4. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Everytime one of those thoughts poke up, remind yourself of the reasons you made the change.

      I could be making so much more! BUT have my soul sucked out of my body by corporate BS

      I won’t get a Christmas bonus, but I have saved so much money on takeaway because I get home at a reasonable hour.

      If I have to return to the corporate world my level will be lower than if I had just stayed, BUT I will have spent 10 years doing something I find meaningful.

    5. An Australian In London*

      I have had wealthy rat-race 70+ hour periods of work. When I am there, I long for downtime, for room in my head to think, for time enough to maintain relationships and hobbies. And sleeping in.

      I have had long periods of occasional freelance work every few months where I am constantly broke. When I am there, I long for financial security, to feel like I’m making great use of my skills and experience, to be progressing in my career, to be achieving something with impact on real people.

      I am somewhere in the middle right now, where I make perhaps two thirds of what I earned at my peak income, but work 40-hour weeks and have time enough for side projects and mentoring a couple of great millennials I wish I could hire myself.

      I balance all this by putting a price on what I’d need to be paid to work like that again… and what I’d pay for some rest if I were ever to work like that again. In your shoes I would think of it like a pension or social security: that I had paid into a lifetime fund which I was now drawing down on.

      Well done you for having a paid off home in London! :)

    6. Householder*

      You’re brain is lying to you. It isn’t corporate influence necessarily, it’s capitalist consumer culture, where you’re conditioned from the time you’re a toddler to believe that the kid with the most toys is the coolest kid on the playground.

      The one who dies with the most stuff doesn’t win, they just die anyway buried under a mountain of stuff. Meanwhile, the things that would have actually given them a sense of meaning and purpose, like working for a cause they really believe in, or actually taking time to experience life, get ignored in the pursuit of more stuff.

      If you buy into the myth that your self worth is based on maximizing your earning potential, you will never reach the magical amount of money or power or influence that equates to “happy” because there isn’t one.

    7. Bitte Meddler*

      I left the Competitive Corporate Climb last October. My new job is still in a fairly large company, but one with a more laidback style, and my position doesn’t have a clear ladder up to the next levels.

      BUT… I got a 35% raise in salary when I took this role which, for me, means I can now max out my yearly 401K contributions, plus give to my own IRA, plus sock money away in CDs, plus do things like buy my next-door neighbor a new fridge when hers died… and still have more than enough money left over to live exactly how I want to live.

      I also work from home, with the option to go to a WeWork space if I want to talk to anyone in person besides my cats (I rarely do).

      I’m in regular contact with my old co-workers and most of our work conversations center around how stressed they are, how horrible traffic is, how much the CEO there is a pompous glassbowl, how that one guy in Tax *still* comes in even when he’s so sick he’s covered in a clammy sweat and infects everyone else, etc.

      Being reminded of How It Used To Be helps shut up that part of my brain that says I’m a loser if I’m not on the hamster wheel with everyone else.

    8. Storm in a teacup*

      Taking this step is not the end of the chain of your earnings necessarily, although it may feel so. You could always go back to a in the future if you decide to do so. The important thing is you’ve followed your heart and are trying something new. As you continue to appreciate your job and make the most of the better life balance you’ve achieved, you may find that the corporate voice gets drowned out.
      Funnily enough I have done the opposite journey and gone from a soul-rewarding role for the big corporate gig because I wanted to be financially comfortable without leaving London as it’s my hometown (before that stupid lettuce came and put a spanner in the works).
      It has meant I’ve been able to move out of my zone 3 flat into a terrace in zone 5 – the horror I’m in a suburb at the end of the line is outweighed by the fact it’s mine :) and the bank’s of course!
      Property porn on zoopla (usually after watching Kirstie and Phil) means I know if I want to go back to a similar role to my old one in the future I can do so if I sell and downsize. Maybe that terrace can still be yours – zone 5 is technically London and not too shabby.

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        I should add that if I ever get nostalgic for my old role, I speak to old colleagues and their complaints remind me exactly why I left and it wasn’t actually about the money.
        That workmate who always irritated you with their moaning? Invaluable when you need a reminder of why you’re glad you’ve gone elsewhere!

        1. Another Use of the Identify Spell*

          This. Remind yourself how much you are saving on coping mechanisms you no longer need and the likely future costs of the stress you would still be under. You could well be avoiding any number of mental and physical health issues by letting go of that stressful life and living a happy, fulfilling one with great people instead.

          OP, if you really find you can’t stop this from stealing joy from your admittedly amazing life, it would be worth the effort and money to find a therapist to help you root out this one last rat that’s stealing from your banquet of life.

    9. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Get yourself an ear worm! Listen to something like Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’ three or four times, that should embed it in your brain. Then whenever you start to doubt your excellent life affirming move, let ‘Happy’ play in your mind and bounce you into a more pleasing state of mind. Well done on the change!

    10. Project Maniac-ger*

      I work at a nonprofit. I know I could get paid double my current salary if I moved to industry.

      You can’t take the money with you when you die, so live an enjoyable life while you’re still here.

      Frame your potential in ways other than dollars. It sounds like you’re going into a job that allows you to do that. “I’ll help 1000 people this year fight Tuberculosis” instead of “I will increase my salary by 30% this year.”

    11. Cedrus Libani*

      I like the concept of “career capital”. You earn it by being good at something that people value, and you spend it…however you like. It’s truly up to you. If you can negotiate it, you can have it.

      The more capital you have, the higher you climb up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and the more you get to think in terms of optimizing your life. Want the highest salary possible? The most interesting work? The ability to peace out at 4 pm and hang out with your kids?

      Just like actual money, you have to find the balance between earning more right now, investing in things that might pay off later, and enjoying what you’ve got already. There is no right answer, and your personal sweet spot will change over time.

  6. ATS versus design*

    Does anyone here have tangible behind-the-scenes knowledge of ATS and the way they work?

    Everything I read suggests plain boring resume templates are best to get through automated systems, but as a senior employee in design, I worry that they are forcing me to shoot myself in the foot.

    I’ve developed a few clean layouts that showcase my skills (without being over the top, they’re still appropriate for the venue) but they score awful on those ATS raters. Yet, I hear nothing when I use the “right” templates, and I suspect it’s because they’re so hideous.


    1. SubContractor Woes*

      Is it possible to link to something well designed in your “clean” version?

    2. Kes*

      I think for a design resume, I would assume someone may actually look at it to judge the design and make sure it looks reasonable from that perspective (without going over the top, since it still needs to be functional), and as far as ATSs go I would just make sure you have relevant keywords in your resume and not worry too much further.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think the right place to show your design skills is in your portfolio, not your resume.

      1. Procedure Publisher*

        This is what I’ve seen from people who recruit. Your resume is a marketing document. It should be easy to read.

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

      If the prospective employer is using an ATS I doubt your beautiful designed resume would even be seen by a hiring manager until the interview stage anyway, and the screener in HR isn’t likely to pass a well-designed resume along if it doesn’t pass the ATS.

      If your plain boring template includes a link to an online portfolio with your designed resume available as a download that might be a solution. Certainly provide your nicer resume if you get to the stage of emailing/meeting a human.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      ATS will look at content/text. If you need to go through an ATS, your resume needs information that the system will find in the predicted spot.

      I’d use a portfolio to demonstrate design above and beyond a clean, relevant resume format.

    6. Banana Pyjamas*

      If Uncle Google is correct, ATS read your resume as plain text, and worse some even print it as plain text. This can cause a perfectly good resume to be jumbled and out of order. When you make changes to your resume, save it as a plain text file, and read through the plain text to make sure everything is in order/under the correct header. I was surprised how mangled mine was as plain text.

    7. MissGirl*

      Similar situation. No matter what version of mine I posted, something got a bit mangled. I don’t think there’s anything perfectly friendly. I kept it in a PDF that was readable and called it good. I got plenty of interview requests and compliments on my resume.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      I use a wide range of ATSes from the recruiter side of things. Most modern systems will allow you to upload your resume in whatever format you want – PDF or Word – so you can have all the formatting and fonts you want for that. As long as the database has the option to upload your own document, you should be okay. Older ATS will spit your resume out in a non-formatted way and may scramble the content, but modern ones let the recruiter download your resume in PDF or Word. Users of the older ATSs will know what is happening and will make allowances – they’ll just ask you to email them a good copy of your resume if they want to move forward with you.

      Whether or not the ATS will accurately scrape your information into its database fields is another matter, though. Some will be baffled if there is too much formatting / design elements. However, as long as your resume gives your title, company, employment dates, and some bullet points, most ATS will manage to capture that.

    9. SBT*

      Former recruiter here, current consultant who works with clients who have all sorts of ATSes. The majority of companies are not using ATS systems to read your resume and auto-reject you. There is a human whose reading and rejecting. What the ATS will do though is sometimes “auto-populate” the fields they’re requesting (why oh why must you repeat your resume and type it all in?!!?!), and a cleaner resume will help the system parse it better which means you won’t waste as much time cleaning up the mistakes the parsed resume caused in the fields.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      This is why I have matching versions of my resume, one that’s absolutely plain text, and one that’s very nicely formatted (in my opinion!) and in PDF so nobody messes it up.

  7. No Tribble At All*

    Had an impromptu performance review yesterday after I mentioned I hadn’t felt very productive the last month. Because I’ve been sick for 3 weeks and was working while sick. My supervisor said I’m doing alright, but I’m not taking enough initiative for my role (senior level). I genuinely don’t mean to be a smartass, but how do I make myself take more initiative? I have a 7-month-old baby, and taking care of him + moving is sapping all my extra brainpower. I talked to my husband and he encouraged me to prioritize work a bit more for the next few weeks rather than household stuff, and he’ll take on more household stuff, but he’s also been sick & also has a big project ramping up at work. I feel like I’m barely at a jogging pace again and my boss is asking me to train for a marathon.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I think your manager should understand that there are periods in people’s lives when they aren’t going to do the above and beyond thing, and 7 month old + moving + sick is one of them. I know that doesn’t help you, but they’re being unreasonable.

    2. hobbydragon*

      Can you pay for a house cleaner/movers? I would say offload anything besides work and baby for as long as you can afford to and see if that helps. I also felt like I was struggling at work and then we started ours in daycare (rather than grandparents at home) and I found a cleaner to come in every 2 weeks. and even though I still pump every 2 hours and do daycare pickup way earlier than the official end of my workday, I feel much more on top of work, to the point where I’ve finished a few things that had been on my list since I came back from maternity leave. Babies are only little once and I’m thankful my boss doesn’t seem to mind that I feel like I’m struggling from being constantly sick too.

    3. Morgan Proctor*

      I mean, you really undermined yourself by telling your boss you’ve been unproductive. You might have brought that whole conversation on yourself by saying that. I’d just ignore him and do your work and then go home. “Take initiative” is an empty phrase.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        This, but also the working through a three-week sickness! I know sick day culture at too many employers means never taking your days, but if you work while you’re sick, of course you’re not going to be producing your best work! Take time off to rest so that when you do return to work, you can bounce back more easily. “Taking initiative” isn’t necessarily an empty phrase if the boss has examples of what that means, but you’re certainly not going to feel up to taking initiative on things if you’re not well.

      2. dude, who moved my cheese?*

        This is so dependent on who your boss is, though. I’ve had the same conversation with my boss before – moving, early pandemic, death of a close relative, terminal illness of another close relative – and her response was that it’s completely understandable under the circumstances, it’s not reflective of my work all the time, and my current work had been fine. The takeaway should be, you’ve learned your boss is not very understanding. I think it kind of sucks to get advice that’s just “well, you never should have said that in the first place, so there”

      3. Zweisatz*

        I would take it as info how to communicate with your boss (purposefully highlight things you’ve achieved and keep things you’re struggling with close to your chest/see how you can spin them positively).

    4. lunchtime caller*

      Be honest with yourself about your priorities. If your job is currently behind your family and health issues mean you don’t have the bandwidth for multiple big priorities, just accept that with your eyes wide open. I think it would be a little much to want your job to still give you an A+ rating if that’s the (understandable) choice you’re making though. Of course it’s great when jobs give us grace, but part of that is not asking for them to review your job performance when you know full well it’s below your best! You’ll hopefully live a long life, so I’m sure work will cycle back to the top of your list eventually.

    5. Friday Person*

      Is it possible to find something relatively painless area of your work where you can add something extra without too much effort and just really highlight it as your “initiative” for the next couple of weeks? Obviously if your supervisor’s reaction was a more systemic concern this may not be enough, but if that comment was mostly in reaction to you expressing concerns about your own work, it might be enough to check the box of your taking that under advisement (and you can always do something bigger down the road when life isn’t throwing this much else at you).

    6. HowDoesSheDoItAll?*

      Of course, they said you need more initiative. That’s what bosses say when you’re already doing great work and they can’t think of any other feedback to give.

      I’ve been there, and working full-time with kids under 5 is rough. Honestly, I’ve just had to accept that I’m not as productive as a used to be at work, before I had kids. I can’t keep up with my colleagues who aren’t primary caregivers and can devote more energy to their work. And that’s OK! In the grand scheme of life, work doesn’t matter. Spending time with your family matters.

      Life is seasonal, and you likely will have more energy in the future to do great things at home and at work. But you’re a new parent. Focus on what you need, not on what your employer wants.

      1. Reebee*

        Yeah that sounds nice, but isn’t practical. OP wrote, “after I mentioned I hadn’t felt very productive the last month. Because I’ve been sick for 3 weeks and was working while sick. My supervisor said I’m doing alright, but I’m not taking enough initiative for my role (senior level).”

        I don’t see how that translates into “great work” and a jab at the boss comment.

        @OP: Do your best. It’s all anyone can ask of you.

    7. justmyimagination*

      It doesn’t sound like your boss was going to give you feedback until you opened the door for it. So it doesn’t sound like it was feedback they thought you needed to act on urgently.

      I’d get yourself healthy and then try to find small ways to show initiative. For example, are there junior staff you could maybe train on more niche topics in your industry, if there’s a process that’s cumbersome you could suggest ways to improve it, a really troublesome department you could work to strengthen relationships with through 1:1s or some other type of meeting, some advanced training or certificate that you could use work time to complete.

    8. Midwest Manager*

      As long as you are doing the work assigned to you, not missing deadlines, or creating unnecessary work for others, it sounds like you’re doing fine. You’re not lighting the world on fire, but you have a LOT going on. You could explain to your supervisor that you have a lot going on in your personal life that will mean you have less to bring to work – but that you expect this to resolve in a month.

      It’s ok to bring average to the table at work sometimes. Heck, many people only bring average every day – and that’s OK too. Your habit might be to bring more than average, but unless there are clear work failures going on, you shouldn’t be penalized for it. Be honest with your boss and give yourself permission to be OK with average performance for a while.

    9. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Do you feel confident you’re aligned with your boss on what “take more initiative” means?

      Perhaps your boss is asking for something you don’t feel like you can give in this moment, but it also might be a lot more minor than that. For example, do they want you to be more assertive when following up with people to deliver their pieces of projects (in which case, like a couple nudge emails might be all you need to do)? Or spend more time actively looking for things that could go wrong in your realm and finding ways to get ahead of them – again, a pretty small lift? Or, are you supposed to be bringing brand-new innovations to your work area every few weeks – a much larger lift?

      I frequently see managers say “initiative” when they really mean “ownership” – and the latter gives you openings to proactively ask for help or resources so you don’t have to carry all the weight when juggling illness and family. If your boss is generally pretty reasonable, it could be worth revisiting this. If your boss is not so reasonable, well, your mileage may vary.

    10. Working parent*

      I’m mid-career to senior in academia. My partner is in engineering. We have kids and our goal was to survive and stay on career track during the early kid years, not to lean in as much as possible, which is what it sounds like might help you. I did a lot of keeping my head down and maximizing my presence with high impact engagement (for example: jump into brainstorming with enthusiasm and humility if that has a good chance of being read as initiative; prep well for a big meeting and jump in early with something on point—even just a smart-enough question—if at all possible. Then try to distinguish as clearly as possible between “above and beyond” and “initiative required at senior level.” You don’t need the former. Finally: senior level work with a newborn is very difficult, and maybe people will hate this: part of it is performance. Unless you have amazing credibility or you’re sure it’s a norm of the job (which it is in mine but not my partner’s), I would never simply advertise not feeling productive. Instead, try things like: “it’s been a tough month as I’ve been under the weather, but I have done x and y and am exploring z” or whatever.

    11. wowzers*

      Does your supervisor know you’ve been working while sick? If they don’t, then depending on your workplace it could be important to make them aware. To me, 3 weeks/a month of not being as productive does start to verge on concerning, but doesn’t merit an impromptu performance review. I’d ask more about why my supervisor took the chance to do one based on my own comments. If they have strong concerns about your performance, than maybe that in itself could be a motivator.

      My own experience as a working parent has been that in general, if there’s going to be a long period where I’m not doing my best at work because of my family commitments/physical health, I usually take some amount of PTO, so that whatever I produce is more in line with the hours worked or it’s more justifiable to prioritize. Pre-kids I could juggle a lot more, but having kids really made it more difficult for me to go full-steam on all fronts. If kids are sick/I’m sick or we have something big going on, I have found out the hard way I won’t be able to catch up at night or on the weekends. I know not all jobs let you take PTO in this way or you may not have enough.

  8. Schrodinger's something*

    Weird situation, no longer sure how to think about and maybe just looking for commiseration. I interviewed for a position back in March, and while I was interviewing was told that they likely wanted to hire two people from the search. It would be a really cool opportunity that would be a great step for me on a lot of axes, so I was excited. I heard back that they’d hired one person and wanted to hire me as the second, but needed to get it through HR. It’s a big university with complicated bureaucracy, so I expected it to take a while. But it’s been more than three months now, and my contact continues to update me regularly that they’re trying to get it through. I’m stable where I am and don’t particularly mind waiting on this as a cool potentiality, but I guess it just seems weird to me that it’s taking so long and yet they have neither made any progress nor given up? In academia, I’m used to being ghosted, I guess, but my contact here is being very professional and keeps apologizing for the delay. Maybe that’s the weirdest part to me – I wouldn’t think twice about applying for an academic job and hearing crickets for months, but these folks are very communicative!

    1. dear liza dear liza*

      I’m also in academia and agree, this is an unusually long time to be kept on the hook! Even if we can assume that this is all in good faith and that your contact is doing what they can to move forward, we know that doesn’t guarantee a job offer in the end. No wonder you’re frustrated. Maybe the key is to embrace the “forget about it until you get the offer letter” philosophy, and treat the updates as interesting gossip?

      But yeah, super frustrating on your end. Boooo!

    2. Ama*

      Person who worked in or adjacent to academia here — I think it’s a good sign that they are continuing to communicate, it means they are trying not to lose you. HR at universities can be ridiculously slow and bureaucratic even if they are functional and often they aren’t super functional. (I will never forget when I worked at a grad school and we were trying to finalize a faculty hire — my boss called HR because they’d been sitting on the offer letter for weeks, and found out it was our HR rep’s last day in the office before maternity leave. First time we’d heard about it and no one had made any plans for who was going to cover her work in her absence.)

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        No academia experience, but this has all the hallmarks of a hiring manager who wants to hire you, and a slow funding/approval process outside of their control. That doesn’t mean there will be an offer (or there won’t), but if it helps, there is probably at least one person who is hoping this goes through nearly as much as you do.

      2. Anon for this*

        I work in higher ed and it now takes us 6-9 months to go through the whole approval process to hire into an existing position when someone leaves. Sometimes more. In the meantime, taking up the slack burns everyone else out, so we get approval to hire one person and two more have left. We have a new VC and her new policies are death by a thousand cuts for those of us actually doing the work. I’m also seeing some really dire stuff on the horizon for our ability to take PTO based on the test balloons she’s floating. The benefits and flexibility used to be the counter for the low pay, but our benefits have become significantly less beneficial and we’re losing flexibility, sometimes by the week. Sorry for the rant, I’m so frustrated about this. I’m looking and I’ve been getting interviews but nothing has been exactly the right fit yet.

        Anyway, I agree that it’s a good sign they’re still communicating. There are sometimes a lot of hoops to jump through on the committee side in higher ed and I’d assume they’re trying to get it done based on that.

    3. hazel herds cats*

      TL;DR While it’s never a done deal until you have the offer letter in hand, it’s all good.

      Decades ago, I got my tenure track position in a very similar way. The department offered another candidate the position because they believed she was more likely to stay. My Dean, wiser, got a second tenure track position approved. The other candidate ended up turning down the position. I not only stayed but was tenured. I did eventually end up returning to industry, but that’s a story for another day.

      Universities move at the speed of molasses in general. Also, if you are in the US, most university administrations have been a bit, well, distracted, these past few months. They are staying in contact with you because they really, really want you (it took my Dean months to get the second tenure track position approved, something I later grew to understand was lightning speed for a tenure track spot). The delay means nothing, especially at this point in the academic year, and even more with the turmoil in academe.

    4. not nice, don't care*

      Same thing happened to my spouse in March. Checked in a few weeks after the interview and was told there was some HR thing with the hiring process and they’d be following up soon.
      It’s June. We assume the job went away with the recent hiring freeze, or they hired someone else and never did the customary rejection emails.

    5. MCL*

      I work in academia (huge state university) and sometimes it literally does take this long. At my institution things just grind super slowly, and now is a particularly rough time. All hires need to get routed through my department’s college, whose HR is experiencing a ton of turnover and are short staffed anyway. Things are taking so. long. There’s not much we can do but regularly reach out to applicants and tell them things are still active. And that’s not counting all the other stuff like interview committees just being slow to do stuff, negotiations with other candidates being protracted, etc. Anyway, point being is that sometimes a unit or department is all in on a hire but they are beholden to other forces that make things take forever. Happily you’re in the best situation – you can wait it out. Good luck, but in the mean time keep applying to other positions.

    6. Hyaline*

      It might be an annual budget situation—I’ve waited until mid to late June on a contract proposed in March because it had to trundle through the entire university budget bureaucracy culminating in an agreement on the annual budget.

      1. Reebee*

        Yep. A new fiscal year is about to begin, and, OP, very likely they’re waiting to see how your new role will be funded and from where.

    7. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Academia is insane sometimes. I applied for my job in August, finally got a call in October, got an Interview in November and then finally started in January. And my job is 100% not tied into the term, so starting anytime works.

    8. Campbell Murphy*

      This happened to me, also in academia. I interviewed for a position in September, did multiple interviews, actually, and then everything stalled. They were also super communicative so I never felt like I was being given the run around—and luckily I had a super stable job, so it wasn’t stressing me out—but it was hard to know if anything would actually happen. It turns out that they hadn’t gotten expected funding for the position and were waiting to hear about other funding. Then an unexpected funding avenue opened up and they approached me about another position, which I ended up taking.

      Good luck! The waiting can be so hard.

  9. I love ice cream sundaes*

    Does anyone have more than one stream of passive income? How is it it managing multiple situations at once?

    Obvious this isn’t happening all at once. I have a passive income I kind of fell into when a former employer needed help with a detailed but only 3 hour a month job. It lead to a few other clients where I usually end up working 10 hours a month in total. I’d like to take on a few more clients maybe end up with 20 hours a month.

    I have a creative hobby that is suddenly getting some traction in the art world. I’d love to build this up a little more and waaaay down the road split the creative hobby into two companies.

    I’ve always paced myself but I have for years worked on organizing my dream company I’d like to start. Obviously I’d start small.

    On to of this I have a 9-5 job, family, friends, etc. I do these side gigs to add more to long term financial goals and to fluff up the travel fund. And yes I keep track of everything for tax / business purposes. I don’t think burning out is an issue as I do everything slowly…. And set up most things to where I can take a long term break if needed. I’d like all these side income to be a steady stream of passive income.

    I’m just curious to others experiences.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m not trying to be pedantic, but side gigs are not “passive income” – passive income is when you don’t really have to *do* anything, for instance real estate or partnership in a business you don’t actively work at.

        1. Tio*

          Yeah, honestly when you said passive income I was expecting a much different question/description when I continued on.

          For the side gigs, if you’re intending to ramp the others up, you’re going to need to plan on what to ramp down. You’re not worried about burnout now but eventually, you only have so many hours in a week – you’re currently looking at 40 hours for your 9-5, plus 20 for your freelance ramp up. You also want to make two art companies and a third dream business. A week is 168 hours. Assuming you sleep 7 hours a day that’s 49 hours a week + 60 hours you’re already working in the main job and freelance. You now have 59 hours left in your entire week to fit in 3 new companies, friends, family, and relaxation. And that’s not including your desire to travel, which for all but the 9-5 you will likely either be working or unpaid. And if you’re running companies, you’ll most likely be working. Same for if you get sick.

          Also keep in mind that when you are running a company, particularly when the company is new and the margins are generally paper thin (if existent) you’re doing ALL the work – bookkeping, payroll, shipping, marketing, etc.

          Basically what I’m saying is you almost certainly can’t do all of the things you want at once. If anything, pick one company, and ramp it up until you can quit your 9-5. Then you can look at your schedule and figure out what else you want to trade off and ramp up.

          1. Ama*

            Yes, this. I have been in the process of transitioning from my 9 to 5 to my freelancing side gig (my last day at the 9 to 5 is actually today). For the last 18 months or so I’ve been doing between 4 to 10 hours of work a week on the side gig, recently it ticked up a bit and I’m regularly doing 10 to 12 — which means I work a few hours almost every evening and at least one weekend day. I love my freelance work, but it can still get tiring especially if the 9 to 5 is particularly busy.

            The last two weeks, for example, have actually been really hard because I’ve been training my replacement at the 9 to 5 and have been pretty worn out at the end of the day — but I’ve had enough freelance work that I need to do a couple hours every night. But since I know it’s a finite amount of time I’ve been able to get through it, if this was going to be my regular amount of work for months I definitely would not be able to.

    2. JB*

      I juggle a couple of pen names as an author (with different monetization strategies – novels under one name, short stories available on a subscription basis under the other, and I’m working on launching a third pen name which will likely be a hybrid of novel and subscription) on top of my day job.

      The number one thing to be aware of, IMO, is that it makes EVERYTHING more complicated. What feels very manageable right now might suddenly tip into overwhelming as soon as you hit any stumbling block.

      For example: let’s say you or a loved one unexpectedly ends up in the hospital. If you only have a day job, they’re the only people you need to worry about contacting and keeping updated. But the more side gigs you add, the more administrative stuff you will need to manage. And once you’re ready to work again, that’s more schedules you’ll need to figure out, more work backlogs you’ll need to untangle.

      And if you’re pulling from the same pool of time and energy for all your side-gigs (“I work on this stuff after work, when I have time”) then if one side-gig has some kind of hold-up or snafu that takes a lot of time and energy to untangle, that can spill out and impact your other gigs, when it starts stealing away your time and energy.

      Obviously there’s no way to be 100% prepared for the unexpected, but ideally I suggest that you plan as if these things might happen, and set up your businesses, schedules, etc. to make your side-gigs as catastrophe-proof as possible. What that means will depend on you and your businesses and working habits, but generally speaking, income sources that rely on clients take a lot more time and energy in a crisis than many other income streams; if your new companies are going to mean more clients, you might want to take steps like limiting how many clients you take, incentivizing clients with flexible or longer delivery times vs. last-minute rush clients, etc.

      Basically, look at everything on your plate and ask yourself “how much of this could really make me tear my hair out if I got stuck between a rock and a hard place, vs. how much would I be able to easily hit pause on if I really needed to” and make sure you are comfortable with that balance.

  10. Erica*

    We are in the process of building a new office and have recently learned that it is the expectation that everyone (150 people) move their own equipment (monitors, docks, keyboard, etc.) to the new office on the same day. It just seems less risky and cheaper to hire someone to do this over the weekend? Am I overreacting thinking this is a ridiculous ask?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Perhaps a small conversation in which you imagine 150 people juggling flimsy cardboard boxes full of random technology slogging through the parking lot and all trying to hold the doors open for each other at 9:00 on the first day would be in order.

    2. Goth Manager Lady*

      Your company should hire movers. Every office move I’ve handed (I lead IT operations) we hire movers and close the building a day or two while everything is moved and set up. Employees are responsible for packing their desks, but not for moving things to the new office.

    3. I love ice cream sundaes*

      That seems odd to me. A- they are spending so much money onnthe office, moving everything should have been built into the risk. B. Who assumes a liability? Like if a monitor is dropped or something is not set up correctly in new location. I’d bring it up to my boss

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Even the cheapest company I worked for has movers come in. (Less risk of injury to people or equipment. And insurance could cover any accidents.)

      Also, not everyone is physically capable of doing this. How will they handle that?

      I do kind of love that they are willing to lose a day (or more!) of productivity to save money, but at best it will be a wash (penny wise and pound foolish). And think of the chaos!

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

        Besides people may not be able to lift and carry the equipment, theres bound to be at least one person who doesn’t have a car or something. What are they supposed to do?

        also, what happens if an employee is transporting their equipment to the new location and they get hit by a car. Who’s covering the expense?

        1. Anax*

          And if any furniture isn’t included, it might not fit in a standard car! I’m thinking of office chairs specifically – mine just *barely* fit in my partner’s Kia Soul, and that’s a pretty good-sized car.

        2. 1LFTW*

          I was gonna say, it seems like a recipe for a collision is inevitable with a bunch of people navigating the parking lot, looking for loading zones, and trying to haul their stuff in and out of trunks and passenger compartments.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Noooooo hire movers. I work for a smallish nonprofit and even we would budget for movers for this. IT would be there to help us set everything up again, but not to do most of the moving.

    6. Junior Dev (now mid level)*

      Seems like a great way for someone to be injured lifting things when they normally don’t do that.

      1. Tio*

        That’s a very good point. I am definitely not cleared to be carting that much nonsense around!

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      I would give people a choice and a longer time window if possible. Asking people to move their stuff isn’t insane but people doing it all at the same time is, that’s gonna be alot of angry people waiting for the elevator and then at the curb with their car.

      I moved mine but it was in NYC and I found it easier to take a taxi with my stuff rather than put it in ten layers of bubble wrap to be moved with the furniture, which felt a bit like overkill

    8. anotherfan*

      When we moved offices, the company provided bins for us to put our stuff in and hired a professional company to move the big stuff but they recommended taking anything absolutely necessary on your own. Not sure if that helps. For what it’s worth, we’re still looking for several boxes of stuff that never showed up, including the plaques from the wall, the framed stuff, some of the cups and whatnot from the kitchen and some of our physical files.

      1. Polaris*

        …and you just confirmed why I’m moving my “personal office items” myself when we finally move, rather than boxing them up and hoping that they all arrive!

        I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve never witnessed a reasonable office move.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      I dunno. If my company suggested that, Is laugh and say “whatever.” But I am an able bodied, middle aged, cis dude who owns a car. Can everyone do it? No. Will people negotiate help between work friends? Probably. Is it the hill I want to spend my political capital on? No.

      1. Erica*

        Yeah that’s kind of where I am at, however, this is on top of a bunch of other ridiculous decisions, so it’s kind of just pushing me over the edge.

    10. Ashley*

      The worker’s comp claim is bad enough, but I could see accidental damage from all of this as well. I mean grabbing my mouse and keyboard sure, but my monitor setup would be a pain to transport. Plus I am truly amazed how many people don’t know how to unplug and plug things back in…

      1. Samwise*

        Well, but often it’s not just unplug, then plug back in. I’ve got a crapton of cables and cords, monitors plural, keyboard, mouse, camera, light, speakers (which I can unplug/plug but its slow). I have a dock but speaking from experience with that damn thing, just plugging it back in will not guarantee to get me properly hooked up and then I’m calling IT help anyway.

        So even though I’m capable, asking me to take apart my gear, schlep it, and reconnect it, is not a good use of my time. I could be actually working while my stuff is moved. And the movers and IT folks will get it all done faster and better.

    11. Rick Tq*

      Yes, it totally short-sighted. You can expect to have at least a couple of monitors dropped and broken, especially if you don’t have the correct boxes to protect them on the way, and I won’t get into the physical risk of vehicle break-ins in transit.

      I can see people moving the small stuff (keyboard/mouse) but professional movers should take care of the PCs, monitors, and docking stations.

      Finally, the odds aren’t great your IT group will have the whole network up and running on Day One, there are always last-minute issues.

      Staging the relocation with professional movers doing the heavy lifting is a much better plan IMO.

        1. I Have RBF*

          BTDT, in IT. Movers did their thing on Friday, we spent the weekend getting everything, including the office network, back up.

    12. Saving PDFs Not Lives*

      This seems like a ridiculous ask to me! My office recently moved within our building. We’re smaller than 150 employees, but we did not ask anyone to move their own stuff. We hired movers for furniture, and they also packed up storage closets and supplies in reusable bins. Our IT staff packed and unpacked all our IT equipment too. Employees were responsible for packing up their own desks (pens, paper weights, printed materials) and labeling the bins of their belongings, but beyond that, moving was left to the professionals.

      Do you think this decision was made to save money? Has anyone considered the cost of replacing a bunch of monitors, computers, etc? Our monitors alone are very expensive, heavy, and fragile. This plan seems like a recipe for broken equipment, and probably some employee injuries to boot!

      1. Erica*

        This was clearly not thought through and I don’t think anyone wants to push back. It will certainly be interesting…

        1. Observer*

          Please come back and update us.

          This is definitely going to be interesting, and not it a good way.

          See if you can get into the mindset of “I’m bringing popcorn.”

          1. Erica*

            I’ll try to remember – it’s not until September. Maybe they’ll come to their senses before then.

        2. Saving PDFs Not Lives*

          Interesting is one word for it… I’m also hoping you’ll come back with an update, because I think this is going to be a dumpster fire.

        3. BikeWalkBarb*

          It isn’t pushing back if you ask in all sincerity “So I’ll be covered by the company insurance while I’m using my personal vehicle for work purposes, right? Along with everyone else of course.”

          And “What are the plans for people whose job descriptions didn’t have ‘ability to lift 50 pounds’ as a required qualification, and those with accommodations for a disability that would prevent them from doing this?”

          Reasonable questions with factual answers they haven’t thought about.

    13. Unkempt Flatware*

      It is a very ridiculous ask and one that I wouldn’t even consider doing. The risk of damage, theft, losing something, etc. is just way too high.

    14. Admin of Sys*

      If you’re switching buildings, you should have movers. If you’re staying in the same building but changing locations, moving your own equipment is pretty standard (but then I’m in IT, so there’s a little bit of a ‘don’t you dare touch my machine’ attitudes). But if you have to put things into a car or take them down stairs, there should be insured professionals boxing things up and moving them for you. (Whether you have to reconnect them or have IT do it is dependent on your IT department)

    15. soontoberetired*

      they need to stagger the move, and have professionals move the equipment. I’ve moved buildings, and that’s what happened and it was smooth. I also work for a place which won’tlet us set up our own computer equipment so they aren’t going to have us move it.

      Staggered moves are way better.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      That seems to be asking for a lot of workman’s comp payouts at the very least. Penny wise, pound foolish is my stance.

    17. I Have RBF*

      Everywhere I’ve worked wanted either professional movers and/or IT to handle moving and re-connecting IT gear. I have been, in fact, one of the IT people in on a weekend connecting stuff up. As an IT person, the idea of non-IT packing, moving and reconnecting IT gear makes me twitch.

    18. Rainy*

      I think my question would be, if it’s far away how are you supposed to get there, and even if it isn’t, how many elevators are there, because 150 people making multiple trips with equipment etc and only 2 elevators is a recipe for disaster.

      1. Erica*

        So our current building only has a slow ass kind of emergency use only elevator and we have 3 floors. The new building only has one.

            1. Digital Hubbub*

              Oh yes! You may get somewhere by asking helpfully what level of productivity hit they’re allowing for the move – day of, then up to a week after with setup problems, breakage and replacement costs, expected delays to project/service levels etc. If they haven’t thought it out, that might get somebody’s attention.
              (source: done office moves – total chaos for days…)

    19. Anax*

      Honestly, I’ve seen more of this with hybrid work specifically – a surprising amount of “sure, just come to the office and pick up the monitor and computer you’ll use at home.”

      As someone who uses a wheelchair: WILDLY awkward, because I can’t carry a monitor without free hands, and I had to keep reminding people (over and over) that I would need someone to carry it for me.

      It’s ridiculous, and the company should DEFINITELY hire movers, but I’m not entirely surprised.

      (Oh, and tip if you’re in a position for it – I would definitely recommend a roll of painter’s tape and a pen to label every piece of equipment. Monitors and keyboards will probably get swapped around in the confusion, and when I’ve done office moves, it’s super helpful to know whose equipment is whose. You’ll need it if you hire movers, but it’s handy either way.)

    20. DisabilityDisregarded*

      Not just ridiculous, but guaranteed to force disabled employees who otherwise have no trouble doing their job to out their disability. Ick.

    21. Anonymous cat*

      I think “possible back injury” are the magic words to prevent DIY moves. No one wants to pay for those. (Or have one)

  11. Mothy*

    I’m currently at my first professional job post-college, and I’ve been really struggling.

    How do I know whether I hate my job or I just hate working/post-college life in general? I’m working at a fairly small, dysfunctional non-profit. There are only two admin staff: me and my boss. Our providers are based at job sites rather than the office, so I am often incredibly lonely, especially because my boss and I have very different hours, so I am often the only person in the office. My boss and I also have really different, often conflicting communication styles, but I can’t guarantee that would be any different in a different job. On the other hand, I feel like there hasn’t been anything truly “egregious” that I can use as a reason for leaving. I hate and dread coming into work every day, but I am very worried that I’ll change jobs and then find that I hate my next job just as much.

    My other question is about how to leave during a probation period. I am not allowed to take time off for the first three months of my employment, which will make interviewing difficult. If I do decide to leave, I want to do so as soon as possible so that I can just leave this current job off my resume entirely without having any gap. Do I fake being sick? Try to arrange virtual interviews to take place exclusively over my lunch break?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      How do you know whether it’s the job or working life in general? Well, the job you describe doesn’t sound fantastic. Most jobs aren’t that lonely (hell, I work from home 99% of the time and I’m not that lonely because I have contact over email and Slack with my coworkers, and I really like them). As far as conflicting communication styles go, well, this can be an issue, but it’s not necessarily an insurmountable one. I’d recommend looking into some professional development on communication, focused on communicating with people whose style is different from yours. There ARE things you can do to make it better. And I think that the more time you spend in the workplace, the more you get used to being able to cope with that kind of thing and adapt to it. If you do look into some educational offerings like that, it will prove helpful in whatever job you land in!

      But it sounds like you also have several other things that are making you unhappy: the loneliness and the dysfunction, specifically, both of which are pretty big. How miserable would you be if you stuck it out for a year? A year in your first admin job out of college is long enough not to seem like job-hopping if you move on then. By that time, you’ll have an easier time taking time off for interviewing, and you’ll also have given it enough of a chance that you’ll know if things are going to get better or not.

      1. stelms_elms*

        I think this is just a bad fit. You mentioned it was the first job you interviewed for, but saw some red flags. Not working when you need to work is scary, so I totally get that. Take the knowledge you gained when looking for your next job.

        One of my first jobs was for a non-profit, and it was just me and the Executive Director. It was oh so very quiet in that office because we didn’t have clients that came in. We would have volunteers come in occasionally, but otherwise, it was the two of us. If you have an extroverted personality, this is probably not the fit for you.

        Definitely look for something else (and honestly, use sick time if you need to-I think not being able to take any time off until three months in is a bit wacky). Know that most jobs are just jobs and you’ll get your fulfillment elsewhere. My generation was taught to find our passion and pursue that for a job. I felt bad for a long time because I didn’t know what that was. Try to find a place where the people seem kind, and there aren’t a bunch of red flags waving in the wind right off the bat.

        Good luck!

    2. Ashley*

      There is nothing to say you won’t hate your next job, working can suck. However, working in isolated conditions especially as a newbie and with a boss you are struggling to communicate with I don’t think is going to set you up for long term success.
      As much as possible try and schedule the interview early or late. If they are virtual and you can take them in your car off site at lunch time. (Don’t be tempted to do it in the office because any number of people could unexpectedly show up that day.) The more senior you are the more people will work with you, but remember you are interviewing the company. If they aren’t willing to be a little flexible with you for an interview, consider how they maybe with flexibility if you were an employee.
      There are definite levels or dread… try to find the least dreadful one you can.

      1. Mothy*

        To be honest, the idea of me being able to interview the company is one of the things I’m potentially most excited about. When I was job searching in my last semester of college, I basically just took the first offer I got despite there being some red flags already in the hiring process. I like that I’m now in a position where I can be choosier about which opportunities I apply for and accept.

    3. Seashell*

      If you’re anywhere near the three months, I would try to stick it out that long before job hunting, if possible. If that doesn’t work, faking sickness is an option, as are doctor’s appointments, very early or very late interviews, and, depending how you get to work, “my car broke down and I have to take it to the mechanic.” Those were what I used when I tried to get out of my first full-time job that I hated. I started applying to other jobs about 6 months in and finally got another job after about a year there.

      The next job wasn’t anything I was dying to go to every day, but it also didn’t make me feel like a car accident on the way to work might be preferable to actually going, so that was an improvement.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      This sounds like a bad fit at best.

      I love being alone at my office, but not everyone does. My current boss and I have very similar communication styles but the person who was in charge when I was hired and I did not, and it made things bumpy. But those aren’t things that are inherent to every job–some jobs will be less solitary and some bosses will more nearly share your communication style. But you won’t find them if you don’t look.

      As to whether or not all jobs are dysfunctional? I work for a smallish (35-40 people) nonprofit that is decidedly not dysfunctional, but we work with some very big medical schools and healthcare systems and cannot afford to be dysfunctional. Not all places have that incentive to keep themselves in line.

    5. Good toast*

      My sense is that you hate *this job*, not jobs in general. Jobs differ hugely, and not all jobs are like what you’ve described here (at all).
      I usually would not advocate lying at work, but if you want to go then you will need to be able to go for interviews, and the fact that you have no days off during probation doesn’t seem very fair, so I would cautiously say yes, pretend you’re sick if you really need to.
      Bear in mind that job hunts can take some time, so you might be out of your probationary period before you have any/many interviews.
      In the meantime time, get as much “useful the resume” experience as you can in this job. And maybe a plant for your desk to keep you company :)
      Good luck! You will get out of there!

      1. Mothy*

        Yes, I’m definitely excited to take more time with a job hunt this time. When I was looking for jobs before graduating, I felt like I needed to just take the first “kinda-okay” offer that I got, so I ended up in this job. There are also so many things I’ve learned about myself and my work environment needs after only a month here, and I think that will make me much more effective in searching for my next job.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I think it’s important to remind yourself of something: You don’t have to “earn” a reason to leave. The place doesn’t have to be on fire or filled with angry Gila monsters for you to be allowed to go y’know, I’m gonna bounce.

          I find a lot of people are really worried about “job-hopping,” and yes, if your reasoning was “I don’t like the paint color on the walls” or “I hate not being able to leave every Friday to go to happy hour” I would say you would have to work on expectations for employment as a concept. But this isn’t a good fit for you, and it’s not going to get better.

          Remember a time you bought something like shoes or jeans that just did not fit right? And you kept “giving them a chance” and trying to “break them in,” and you got blisters and chafing every single time? You didn’t do anything wrong or have to pay for picking out those shoes or jeans. They were not right for you and they were never going to be. No committee is waiting to pounce on you for deciding to leave. You’re allowed to not dread going to work in the equivalent of pinched, blistering pumps.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      I do think your first job will be the first because you need to be so reliant on other people, things generally get better over your career once you get a voice and more experience and technical skills and can initiate projects and have a network to talk to, etc.

      On the other hand, being lonely is a real issue. Deal with that to. Just talking to no one except via interruptions via chat with faux emergencies = recipe for unhappiness.

    7. Double A*

      Part of early job experience is learning about what kind of environments don’t work for you; while this job doesn’t sound unusual, there are also a ton of different types of set ups for you. It’s completely reasonable to realize that you like a more interactive office and you don’t like working alone. It’s okay to realize what kind of communication styles do and don’t work for you.

      Just because this job set up might work for someone (although who likes dysfunction? That’s not inherent to all workplaces) doesn’t mean it’s working for YOU and it’s totally okay to job hunt! More short-term jobs in the first years after college is fine/normal. Take advantage of being in this period to jump ship early. And yeah, I’d just call in sick if you have an interview.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        +1. Part of changing jobs is being able to learn more about your own preferences and what is a definite red flag for you.
        After working fully remotely for a few years, I wanted to return to the office and work in person because I didn’t like the isolation of working at home (sitting in one space ALL DAY was just not it for me). That’s my preference, and there are tons of people who would love what I don’t love! By experiencing new environments, you’re learning what you like.
        Although – not even being there for three months does make me wonder if you could try some things to make this job more bearable. Can you try to work out a compromise with communication? Maybe try some things on your end to make it better (“Boss, would it be possible for you to send the…?”)? You’ll likely need skills like that in any job, so it’s worth it to try and develop them where you are now, even if you do leave within the next few months or a year.

    8. theletter*

      loniless can be a reason for leaving a job. There’s lots of workplaces where collaboration is key, meetings are a regular part of the work, and there’s lots of organized social activities. There’s lots of people who consider ‘ability to work on a team’ as a deal-breaker.

      As far as getting out of work, I find ’emergency dentist appointment’ usually does the trick. Most people don’t want more detail.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Yes! You don’t need a “good enough” reason to leave a job. “I’m bored” is a good enough reason. “I’m lonely” is a good enough reason. “I don’t like my boss”/”I don’t really get along with my boss”/”My boss doesn’t like me” is a good enough reason (that last is a VERY GOOD reason — they won’t advocate for you if they don’t like you). “I’m just kind of meh on this job” is a good enough reason.

        “I hate and dread coming to work every morning” is a good enough reason.

        Also, interviewing can take a while, so it’s very possible that even if you start applying now, many of the interviews will happen after your probation ends. (And if not, use the tips supplied in the thread.)

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          I WILL recommend being choosy enough to not jump into a new job you’re pretty sure you won’t like, just to get out of this one. (Though if it’s comparable and actually offers you time off, that wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing.)

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            THIS. I did the opposite at my last job change. I ended up with a boss who hated me. It was clear by (and actually before) 3 months that this wouldn’t work out. It’s important to be SOMEWHAT choosy. IME, if you’re TOO choosy in the current job market, you won’t get a job.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      Well, did you have any part-time jobs during college or before? If you didn’t hate them, you probably don’t hate working in general.

      And even if this really is your first ever job at all, I still wouldn’t jump from hating one job to hating working in general, especially if your current job is dysfunctional. Most people hate working in dysfunctional environments.

    10. Goldenrod*

      “On the other hand, I feel like there hasn’t been anything truly “egregious” that I can use as a reason for leaving.”

      I think it would sound fine – and even positive – to say to future employers that you felt under stimulated at this job, and that you are seeking a more lively, dynamic, collaborative environment.

      You might also hate the next job, but you have nothing to lose by trying! Good luck!!

    11. Slytherin Bookworm*

      As someone who has been in the same boat regarding the dread you have going into work each day, that dread only got worse for me the longer I stayed in the role. I stayed because, like you, there were no horrible things happening where I just *had* to get out, but once I started not sleeping on Sundays because of how much I was dreading the work week and routinely getting nauseous from work-related anxiety, I knew it was unsustainable. Once I changed jobs to something I didn’t hate (even though I didn’t love it either), my work life improved so much.

      I have also job hunted during my probation period with the same “no time off” stipulation. I specifically requested initial interviews be done before/after work hours if they were in person, or at lunch if it was possible to do a video interview. My boss required at least two weeks’ notice of any appointments that happened during business hours, so I used that as the reason I was so specific with my time request. Every company I interviewed with was very understanding about it and worked with me.

      I wish you the best of luck figuring out what the best course of action is for you to navigate this situation!

    12. learnedthehardway*

      It’s the job, it’s almost certainly not you.

      The organization is dysfunctional, and you and your manager have wildly different communications styles, and different schedules. You’re alone a lot and clearly need to be in a team environment.

      Look at what you have learned about what you need in a work environment – a team oriented workplace where you work WITH people, good communication and rapport with your manager, an organization that works effectively. That’s all VERY normal to need in a role.

      I would continue to apply for roles and ramp your job search up into high gear. Can you work from home? If so, you can do video interviews quite easily. A lot of initial interviews are by video now – it’s more convenient for everyone. If/when you get asked for in person interviews, see if you can do interviews after work hours or early in the morning. If that’s not possible, ask for lunch hour interview slots. If that’s not possible, then book time off for an appointment.

    13. ElastiGirl*

      Leaving college can be a true emotional shock. We focus on the bright golden world of opportunity on the other side of commencement, and typically neglect the fact that you’re leaving the only “professional” world you’ve ever known.

      I’m a college professor. I once had a graduating senior melt down as we were having coffee. He started ranting, “I’m losing everything! I’m losing my friends, I’m losing my professors, I’m losing my place to live, I’m losing my improv group, I’m losing my sense of what people expect, I’m losing my job, I’m losing my social status, I’m losing my roommates, I’m losing knowing what’s coming next, I’m losing everything!”

      And he was right.

      Maybe you hate post-school working life. But maybe it’s just so unfamiliar that you’re dealing with more than you’re aware of.

      You’re getting good advice here. Be gentle on yourself.

  12. Insert Pun Here*

    For those who have moved a large distance (geographically) for a job: what aspect(s) of that new job made it worth it for you?

    1. Sweet Clementine*

      I have done this.
      For job 1, coming out of grad school in a tough market (COVID) meant that I had to be open to different locations aside from my large midwestern city (city A) to get a job, so I was mentally prepared. When I got a job in city B, the money was so much better that I couldn’t turn it down. I had to start over completely anew socially (I knew only one person in city B when I moved there), and moved far away from family (about 3 hours drive from city A, a day long flight from city B).

      Some factors about city B did make the decision easier. I wanted to be somewhere warm, and in a city with some public transport, which was true for city B. Also, I was single and had no pets, so it was a reasonably easy decision to make.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I have not personally done this but my dad moved us most of the way across the US for a job that basically doubled his pay and had better benefits (from teaching college to corporate). It was probably the one time he could have made a decisions without consulting my mother and gotten away with it. It was far from extended family but in an area that we didn’t mind living, too.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        My siblings have made moves of varying distances. One of them has stayed in an OK-ish job in large part because the opportunities in that area for Spouse are significantly better than they would be anywhere else. Sibling is overworked but doesn’t hate the job and the geographical area isn’t ideal but has enough good points (low COL, lots of nature) that it’s doable.

    3. Princess Peach*

      IMO, you can be happy with your job, be happy with your geography, or be close to family. If you’re lucky, you can pick two, but it’s very rare to get all three.

      I like my job, meaning I find it generally fulfilling, it pays enough, and the day-to-day experience is pretty good. I like my geography, meaning I am happy with the weather / biome, the population density, and the entertainment options.

      My family & friends are spread all over the place anyway, so it made moving away from my hometown easier. It took some time, but I’ve made friends and a solid personal life here, so moving again (to be closer to family or something) would feel like a major and unpleasant disruption.

    4. ursula*

      I did this 2 years ago. The job was a step up for me professionally, although one I probably could also have made locally within the next year or so if I hadn’t taken this job. But I moved from an area that is both prohibitively expensive and where the work culture is very intense, to a place with a lower cost of living and where the work-life balance is better. (Think: moving from NYC to a small city in the Midwest.) The equivalent of my job in Oldplace is min 60 hrs/week. I usually work 35-40. I make less than I would in Oldplace but it goes farther (we bought a house!). The org has a small, strong team with no big HR issues. It’s got new and different challenges than the track I used to be on, and I like that. I have a lot of leeway to make a big impact on my organization and it feels meaningful. I’m learning a lot. But this is very reflective of what’s important to *me* in a job – work-life balance, flexibility, autonomy, impact, work environment. To anyone else considering a dramatic move for a job – it *is* hard to get started somewhere new, to make new friends etc, esp the older you get. So I would suggest getting really clear with what is most important to you in your work and the role you want it to play in your life, and only pursue opportunities that get you closer to those few key things. Good luck!

    5. talos*

      Honestly, I wanted to move anyway (weather, friends scattering anyway, moving to “the big city”) so I just appreciated jobs that did relocation benefits.

    6. AnonyNurse*

      Moving from one city to another city has been worth it for me a couple times. I like cities, I like exploring them, I like the “new place shine.” On the other hand, I once moved to an extremely remote place for a job that I did actually love but just hated living in that town. I’m super introverted, and that works well in cities, but is hard in a small rural town, where everyone is up in your business or perceives you as being standoffish. The things that I love (live music, sports) were hours away by plane. I did love the job and am so glad that I got to do it — but I only lasted exactly 54 weeks before transferring to a city.

      Now there are more people who live on my city block than lived in that rural town. And I’m much more content.

    7. Rara Avis*

      I’ve done it 3 times: New England to California to Florida to California. The first two times it was finding a job, any job, in my very niche field. The last time was a deliberate move back to my husband’s aging parents. I actually took a job that wasn’t exactly what I wanted, struggled through the first year, got back to doing my wheelhouse stuff, and have been there 23 years. The moves were adventures — we enjoyed exploring the new area.

    8. Laura*

      We moved ~500 miles for my spouse’s job (with the note that we are both lab scientists and in-person jobs are the norm so I had to job search too). His new job was a big pay bump and better benefits plus they paid to move us but one of the big advantages was that we moved from an area where there were only 1-2 companies that might hire us to a biotech/pharma hub. If we need/want to change jobs in the future, we should be able to stay put geographically for the foreseeable future. Other things that were important to us (local politics, schools) were the same or better in the new state. Housing is much more expensive here, but our higher salaries make up for it.

    9. anotherfan*

      I’ve moved three times distances from 150 to 500 miles and they were all to move up in my profession. Back in the day, the only way you could make more money was to go to a bigger paper, so that’s why I made the moves. I’ve enjoyed the change, going from small town Ohio to a college town in Michigan to the NYC metro area. Each move came with social changes and opportunities for growth, from community theater to college courses just for the fun of it to connecting to other people while my kids were young and growing.

    10. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      Long story short, most of my moves were to get away from or closer to family (US very large city, small city 3-hr away, and medium city 8-hr drive away), with a 3-year stint for dream location in Germany. If jobs hadn’t been toxic there, I would have stayed a decade or so.
      As a female software developer 1986-2015, most (maybe all?) of my jobs were quite toxic and I moved jobs and/or locations every couple of years. Transitioning to software quality for a US government contractor was a somewhat better fit, as I could stay with the same company and refrain from wandering because I was supporting different programs with new people and products. Eventually retiring in city 8-hrs from family, with much lower COL. 6 moves total – all paid for by the company I was to work for. Interviewing always (except Germany) included a trip to the company location and included a few extra days to see if the city was a good fit.
      Don’t know if this helps you, but it helped me because I hadn’t seriously thought about how toxic my jobs were for my entire career.

    11. Wolf*

      I moved across Germany, because my home state didn’t have any jobs in my field.

      I still miss my hometown. A lot. But it was either moving or being unemployed, and the move gave me a 25% raise compared to the previous job.

  13. Tradd*

    I’m a customs broker and others in previous Friday open threads have asked me how you get into this job. I’ve known been a licensed broker for 11 years. I had been in international transportation for nearly 20 years before I was asked to get my broker’s license. My company at that time was merging with another, whose culture was that import people did A-Z, both transportation side as well as the customs side. You can do clearances without having the broker’s license. Those people are called entry writers. You need a great attention to detail. Customs brokers in the US are licensed by CBP (US Customs & Border Protection). The exam is 4 hours, given twice a year, spring and fall. Pass rate can be very low. The 10% pass rate when I passed in October 2013 – 103 people out of 1300 nationwide – was high. You need excellent study habits and personal discipline to study for at least 6 months. You will have no life outside of work, study, sleeping. Most people do not pass on their first try. I know people who tried 6 times and didn’t pass. A lot of people who take the exam are not in transportation/clearances already. They work in trade compliance for importers. I think they’re at a disadvantage, personally, with the exam. While you are tested on things like free trade agreements, government regulations, etc., there can be a lot of questions about entry procedures that those who are not doing entries can have extreme difficulty with. Classification (determining which HS code applies to a specific item) is probably the most difficult part of the exam. I got a 68% on my first try. Classification was my downfall. The next 6 months on the job, I was given first crack at all classification requests. The next time I took the exam, I got an 85% (75% is passing).

    The sticking point for some people I’ve talked to who want to get their broker’s license is that you MUST be a US citizen. You can’t even take the exam if you’re not a US citizen. You can’t work for the federal government either. I know someone who was retiring military who was only allowed to take the exam while still in the military because he had a definite retirement date a few months in the future. I’ve had people get very upset when I told them they couldn’t take the exam as they weren’t a US citizen. It’s a US Customs regulation. No way around it.

    You also have to have a good credit record. As a licensed broker, you’re responsible for making sure duties are paid daily to CBP. They have the attitude that if you don’t have a good personal credit history, you’re not going to be good with duty payments. I know people who’ve had things like medical bills that went to collection on their credit history from not having insurance at a particular time, and they had to provide receipts and records to CBP as part of the background investigation after they had passed the exam and applied for their license. You need a clean criminal record, as well. You can’t even work for a corporate broker if you have a felony of any sort (they can apply for an exemption, but that’s a lot of trouble).

    You can search on CBP’s website for “brokers” for more info. Ask if you have any questions. A broker’s license is valuable financially. When I got mine, I got an immediate $10K raise.

    1. Tio*

      So fun fact, everyone I talk to think it’s actually a benefit to not be doing entries before you take the exam – you don’t have any bad habits to unlearn. I was in export docs when I took it (April 2014) and had never seen a 7501 or 3461 (specific customs forms for the non-brokers) and I did actually pass on my first try, although many amazing people I know did not!

      My company did try to not give me a raise when I got my license but my manager raised heck because he knew he’d lose me immediately. I got a $15k raise because of him, but that should have been standard – if you don’t get something like that, know you are being underpaid!

      Unlike Tradd, I actually moved to the importer side a few years ago, and it’s been a really interesting ride. I do most of the pre review of our products now to ensure they have all their license and certifications in place, and manage our brokers’ performance and KPIs. I know others who’ve moved to consult with trade lawyers, specialize in certain certification programs, and more! You have a lot of options here!

      1. Tradd*

        I first took the exam April of 2012 (I passed in October 2012, not 2013 as I put in post). Only 8 people in the entire country passed. Highest passing grade was 82%. I refer to that as the “bloodbath.” LOL

        Tio, I know a lot of people who say that with no experience you have no bad habits to get in the way with the exam, but I’ve seen it to be just the opposite.

        I think you need to have a very active sense of curiosity to do well in this job. I always want to know what people are bringing in. You also really need to keep up with industry publications, new CBP regulations, etc. If you hate to read, this would be a bad job for you! And really, if you hate to read or don’t do it well, you’ll have a difficult time with studying for the exam. Tons of gov’t regulations to read (19 CFR).

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I’m a book worm, but trying to make sense out of laws and regulations call for a different brain than mine. I greatly respect all those involved in exporting and importing, and shipping, especially hazardous materials and food.

            1. Tio*

              This is kinda port specific!

              My port area is great about broker outreach. And our Fish & Wildlife (FWS) team is amazing. However, even our FWS division knows that the NY FWS team is THE WORST to deal with and will joke with us about it.

              Certain officers or divisions tend to get a bit of a god complex with the amount of power they have. And it doesn’t help that despite overhead regulations certain procedures are handled differently by each port. For example, before I moved, we had a client hit with a recent stop entry order (Tradd: UFPLA) and they had containers held in 6 different ports. I swear every single port had a different checklist and order of operations, not to mention contacts and response time!

              1. Tradd*

                Yes! CBP and FDA treat each port like it’s a little fiefdom! Petty dictators.

                Agriculture officers are pretty awesome, from the ones I’ve dealt with.

                I’ve seen the same FDA officer handle exact same entries differently, just a few days apart. It’s incredibly frustrating.

                In some CBP ports, the uniformed officers are nasty characters and start yelling as soon as they pick up the phone. These days, a lot of times, they don’t pick up the phone. They want you to email, but sometimes getting the correct email address is a huge challenge.

                1. goddessoftransitory*

                  Ooh, you both should do a dual interview with Allison and we get to read it!

      1. Tradd*

        It really depends on how much experience you have, education, etc., as well as location. I was making around $65K when laid off 4 years ago due to covid, from a company I’d been at for over a decade. I am now making significantly more. I also qualify the national operating permit for my company (small freight forwarder). An individually licensed broker has to qualify the national corporate permit. That means I answer to CBP. The corporate license qualifiers will make more due to the responsibility.

        What also impacts my salary is that I can do the transportation side as well. That is rare in a broker. When I started at current place three years ago, they were floored I could do both sides. That is NOT common. I’ve come across some brokers over the years that couldn’t even be bothered to trace their own shipments online (easily available info). They would call me to ask me to trace for them. Ugh. I hate lazy brokers.

        1. Tradd*

          I’ve been in the international transportation industry as a whole for over three decades. I’ve been doing the brokerage side sine 2010ish, licensed broker for 11 years. Once in a while I have to pull out the “I know your job inside and out” to import people (at other forwarders) who try to tell me how to do my job.

      2. Tio*

        My career:
        Export docs, entry level first job in the industry: $30k (2012) (+$1k in raises over 2 years)
        Received license, became broker and entry writer: $45k (2014)
        Promotion to supervisor: $65k (2016)
        Promotion to management: $86k (2019)
        I cannot tell you what I make now specifically since I am now in management and not covered by the NLRA, as well as it is my current employer, but I was hired on in the six figures. The figures above came across three separate companies.

        1. Tio*

          Also, your salary will vary depending on where you work. Most of us work in large port towns, which is where the forwarding industry tends to gather. However, if you move to the importer side or one of the other career options, you may be able to move somewhere else.

        2. Tradd*

          Yeah, I’m also not going to share exactly what I make now either, but I can tell you that I never, ever expected to make this much! It’s so nice!

        3. Tradd*

          At my first job in this industry, handling documentation at a freight forwarder in 1993, I made about $23K! But that was 1993!

    2. Tradd*

      Oh, another thing I forgot to mention: at least in my area, freight forwarding jobs (including brokers) are still overwhelmingly in the office (I’ve posted before about candidates coming for interviews expecting an in-office posted job to magically become remote). The only industry people I know who WFH are long-standing employees who have special arrangements with their employers. I recently went through all postings in my area I could find online. All in the office.

  14. LC*

    Just a rant: I’m a teacher and I applied for and received a summer school job offer on May 9. I made plans with this schedule and income in mind. I booked a vacation and turned down a bunch of paid workshops because they conflicted with the schedule and auto-declined every other summer school position I applied to. Two days ago I got an email saying this job offer was sent to me in error. They had over a month to fix it. I spoke with the union and they said it may be tough to fight back on because our contract doesn’t cover summer school. Now I’m waiting for a reply seeking clarification from HR. Gahhh.

    1. Skates*

      I also teach (at the college level) and depend SO MUCH on extra-contractual work to plan (and afford) my life and this is such a nightmare!! I hope the union pushes for you. Solidarity!

    2. I Can't Even*

      I’m sorry that sucks. I would just keep this in mind anytime they ask for anything during the regular school year.

      1. LC*

        I already work to rule. The annoying thing is summer school jobs are competitive so there doesn’t really seem to be any consequence for this BS

    3. Double A*

      WHAT this is outrageous!! You might qualify for unemployment? And if you inquire about that, they might change their mind because they don’t want to have an unemployment claim field.

      1. [insert witty username here]*

        Oooo good suggestion. Especially if they can prove turning down the paid workshops and such.

        LC – that SUPER sucks and I’m so sorry you have to deal with this! Search for this post on the site: my-job-offer-was-rescinded-after-i-already-quit-my-old-job
        In the second to last paragraph, she mentions “detrimental reliance” – maybe you could cite that in your unemployment filing?

    4. CowWhisperer*

      That’s absolutely crazy!

      Is your district always this scatterbrained or is this a one-off?

      If it’s a habit, hiring season starts now.

    5. hazel herds cats*

      I think the key is to raise this same question in the same way wherever other educators who will be staffing that summer school in future summers will see it. Educator forums on the web, Facebook, Bluesky, wherever.

      It’s one thing for the admins of that program to fix their “error” at your expense, and another thing entirely for them to destroy any trust their talent pool has in them as an employer. After all, will you apply to them again in future summers? Heck, you might reach out to some local TV reporters to see if anyone is interested in doing a story.

    6. MCL*

      UGH I’m so sorry. I accepted a summer camp counselor position the summer after I graduated undergrad, and turned down other work and made plans accordingly. Then they came back and said “job offer made in error” and it was too late to get work at my other options (I tried). The camp was owned by a college and I contacted that HR team to complain/beg for them to reconsider and the decision got reversed… but I kind of wonder in retrospect if it started me off on the wrong foot with the camp director. But this totally sucks and I’m so sorry. I have no advice just commiseration and I hope you can still work things out.

  15. Carrots*

    I work in a toxic environment and my boss likes to put on a show sometimes (ie: Raises voice and calls you into a meeting to make it look like they’re solving problems, but it’s for show/you’re not really “in trouble”.) My manager Fergus gets moody and then likes getting me in trouble/uses me as his punching bag.

    Today I was called into my boss’s office. My manager “Fergus” was in there and said that there were still obsolete teapots listed in the database. He didn’t specify which teapots, so boss asked him for a listing. Boss was all “We need to discuss procedures and make sure to have something in place so that this doesn’t happen again.”

    Fergus and I were talking about work earlier in the week, so I’m a little confused as to why he went directly to boss and not me. Also, the teapots were still in there because we’re still collecting some leftover ones and we need to have the inventory accounted for, otherwise the data is deleted.

    I tried explaining this, but boss and Fergus ignored me/talked over me.

    How do you not let situations like this get you down? I’m trying to get out, but until then I have to put up with stuff like this and it’s really wearing me out.

    1. Aliea*

      I hate to say this, but it seems like a work environment problem. Job searching isn’t easy but it’s the only thing that will fix this issue. This whole situation would be considered wildly unprofessional in my current workplace, even though my field is considered “high pressure”

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

      That’s nuts! I don’t know anyone who likes being used as a punching bag for any reason, but certainly not as a prop in stupid little office theatrics.

      These kind of power plays not only grate on my nerves, but yes, they get me down and my mind will run over scenarios of “if I only said this” for way too long. The reality is probably that there is nothing you could have said or done that would have made a difference. Your feelings are valid, they’re jerks, and “toxic” is a very apt description. In short, it’s them, not you. Sometimes venting is all you can do. Hopefully, you won’t have to put up with these shenanigans much longer.

    3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I’ve gotten a thicker skin as I have gotten older. I think about how ridiculous they are and try and internally laugh at them.

      Don’t get me wrong, I still would be looking to get the heck out of dodge, but it helps in the meantime.

      Or catalog it Reason #54687 I am leaving as soon as I can.

      Designate X minutes to job hunting that day everytime something like this happens. It is easy to put off job hunting because you looked last week and next thing you know last week was really 4 weeks ago.

  16. Caster*

    I’m applying internally to temporarily take over my manager’s position while he’s on secondment elsewhere.

    These opportunities are like gold dust. They’ve already told us that the role is only available in our team, which means a maximum of three people are eligible to apply. Due to various circumstances, the third person is unlikely to apply. It’s basically a straight fight between me and one other person.

    I’m trying to write up the cover letter they’ve asked for and all my colleague’s good (and bad) points keep coming into my head and I feel like I’m writing this in response to the guy I know I’m up against rather than focussing on myself.

    Any words of encouragement or cool things people did that meant they aced their internal applications? This is the first time I’m doing this and it’s so weird knowing who the other candidates are.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Can you focus on the plans you would have to keep the team moving forward? Maybe there’s something you’d like to implement while you’re short-handed or whatever? The other person might be just fine too, but what are you offering as value?

      1. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

        Try not to have the message be, “I’m better than them”. That honestly doesn’t seem professional. Have it be, “I’m reliable, my manager likes me, and I can groom llamas with cutting edge precision.”
        I once got this advice, if you want more hours, sob, if you want a promotion, brag.
        Good luck!

        1. learnedthehardway*

          This is VERY good advice. The 2nd line manager and your own manager are not looking for someone to change the world, if it is an interim position. They want someone who can maintain the status quo and carry on, direct the team on a daily basis, and keep things moving. If there are projects on the go or that are scheduled, they want someone to get them finished / started on time. They don’t want someone who is going to re-envision the strategy / department or make huge changes.

          Focus on your qualifications and strengths, how you are performing in your role today, and how you are aligned with the existing strategy, are someone your current manager relies upon, etc. etc. If your competition has an obvious weakness, highlight your competency in that particular area. But place most of your focus on how you meet/exceed the job requirements and on your great performance metrics, and on how you are ready to take on the team leadership (eg. do you coach junior employees the work skills your dept does, onboard new employees to the team, have you presented to managers, do you understand the objectives of the department?)

    2. Tio*

      You can use their weaknesses but not directly. I.e. if they’re not great at llama haircuts, show how you can do an awesome perm.

      Also, think more about what you know your boss does, and focus on how well you do those things.

  17. BellaStella*

    For those of you searching for new work, best of luck! This week I applied for two more roles, and received one rejection from an April application. I have 5 jobs open in 5 tabs on my laptop to do this weekend. Sending good vibes to all of us.

    1. Mairzy Doats*

      I just did a first-round interview this week, and am in a holding pattern until Monday (or maybe today) to hear if I move into the final round. This could mean a promotion and raise, so after two years of looking, I’m hoping this one pans out.

      Good luck to us all!

  18. Skates*

    So I’m wrapping up week 1 of 8 of my grant-supported writing project I have mentioned in these threads recently and it’s going well! My goal has been to average 1,000 words a day more or less, so I end the summer with between 40-50,000 words (the actual book will likely end up closer to 70K but that will be the next phase). As of quitting time yesterday, I was at 6,498. Yay!

    Today, however, I need to read instead of write: a 200 page book I read probably 7 years ago and wrote extensively about but has been replaced in my brain storage (probably by something dumb like the names of everyone on this season of Top Chef). I’m thinking of the Thursday LW and their struggles with procrastination as I type this with the book open to page one right next to me. Like them, I never fail to produce high quality work in the timeframe given, but man do I do everything else I can first -_-

    1. Jess R.*

      Well done with your 6.5k words!!

      YMMV of course, but something I find helpful when I need to read for a class/etc. and I’m avoiding it is to make it cozy. Get coffee or tea or some other beverage of your choice. Put your phone in another room. Sit on the couch or your best chair. Wear the comfiest pants you have. Instead of “rewarding” yourself after doing the task, pair the good thing with the task.

      Alternately: Imagine yourself into a movie study montage or an Instagram/studyblr post. You know, the ones with plants and #aesthetic furniture and soft highlighters and a ~casual~ throw blanket over the chair.

      1. Fernie*

        Soooo, Skates, what’s the first word there on page one?

        (See what I did there? Broke the task into small manageable steps!)

  19. RussianInTexas*

    This is re: employee won’t eat letter from earlier this week.
    I noticed a few comments along the lines that as long as she joins others at the group lunch, everything is ok, even if she is not eating, implying that not joining people at lunch would be bad.
    Why should an employee not joining others at lunch be a problem? Why should an employee even eat lunch at the same time (barring jobs with a specific lunch break time in the shift)?
    My previous job had an informal lunch group of my colleagues. I never joined. I eat lunch later, and I much prefer to read a book vs talking to colleagues, and I specifically would pick time when there were as few people in the breakroom as possible. I already talk to them during the actual work hours. I don’t really need to talk to them during lunch as well. I never had any issues working with them even though I never ate lunch with them.
    I understand the office culture aspect of it, but for me it’s a thing worth buckling. And no, I am not an antisocial person, nor a super introvert. I just simply do not want to eat lunch with my colleagues daily.
    Basically the comments surprised me.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think for some people, at least, it was an indication that the employee felt like she was free to take a break and get away from her desk even though she wasn’t eating, which means she wasn’t avoiding eating lunch because she didn’t feel she had the time or freedom to do so.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        And that choosing not to eat isn’t because she doesn’t get along with her coworkers, or that she is so overworked that she doesn’t have time to take a break during the day.

        Friction between her and another employee or too heavy a workload would be reasonable things to suspect, so the LW was just making sure people knew those weren’t the case.

      2. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        yes. The LW was concerned in part that the employee didn’t feel that they could take breaks because of the high pressure job. however hearing that the employee was taking breaks just not eating made it seem like that wasn’t an issue

        1. Girasol*

          There are companies that have an official lunch hour but “good employees usually eat at their desks if they eat at all.” In other words, employees who take a break for lunch are shamed and have to worry about being on the layoff list. OP seemed concerned that the new employee might not understand that OP’s company isn’t like that. The concern seemed to be a kindly one.

      3. Roland*

        That was my take. Not “if she’s joining in that’s good (and if she weren’t joining in she would be Unprofessional)”, but rather “if she’s joining in that’s good evidence that the thing you are worried about isn’t true”.

    2. WellRed*

      For the purpose of that specific letter, I read it as trying to make clear that the employee wasn’t feeling excluded because they didn’t want to eat.

    3. Morgan Proctor*

      I don’t think most people eat lunch with colleagues daily. I wouldn’t want to do that, either. I think a lot of people here just parrot what others say that sounds “professional” or “correct” and doesn’t actually reflect reality.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Nobody in my department ever eats with each other. Ever. We all get along fine otherwise, we just tend to eat at different times and I think we all like the headspace.

    4. RosyGlasses*

      I think part of it is the connection aspect of work and sometimes in order to understand where someone is coming from, it can help to have non-work related conversations to feel someone’s vibe, understand perspectives, build connection. It doesn’t mean everyone has to be friends or social buddies, but it can build comaraderie that gives additional grace when someone has a bad day or makes a mistake.

      But I hear you – and many times I like to have that time as my own downtime, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      Depends on the field, I know in my jobs, there have been huge amounts of information sharing that happens constantly. There is just too much random information to put into a training, it comes up in ad hoc situations or vents at lunch. It is also trust building. If you hear your coworker talk about their personal life, it gives you more data points on what grinds their gears, what they exaggerate, what they tell the truth on, what drives them, etc. You can then apply said soft skill-knowledge to working with them.

      also many of us make friends through jobs so there is that.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        The three co-workers I ate lunch with almost every day are still all friends, even though it was many years ago. We stay in touch via FB and communicate with each other at least a few times each week.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      I thought people meant that so long as she didn’t work without a break, it was OK, not that she had to join colleagues. I took the comments to mean that if she was refusing to take her break, the LW could talk to her, as she might have previously worked in jobs where there was pressure to work through lunch and the LW should tell her that wasn’t the case there.

  20. New Kid on the Block*

    I’m starting a new job in two weeks and SO nervous. Any help is appreciated!

    All these factors are adding up for me that is really kicking my imposter syndrome into high gear.
    – it’s a brand new role with a lot of expectations and hopes for the person to do a bunch of things. I don’t even think they’re all realistic to accomplish in the first year! Is it fair to ask my new boss what she realistically expects and what supports she might have in place? (For example, they said they’d like this role to do some DEI work, which is not in the job description. I also know DEI people burn out hard from lack of support.) What should I think about going into a brand new role?
    – It’s *my* first leadership type role. I won’t be supervising anyone but I will be leading projects and teams. Part of me is paranoid I exaggerated something to get this role because I have never done leadership! Are there any tips about this?
    – One of my coworkers (an older man) thought I was the intern. This made me so self conscious. I don’t look super young (I have gray hairs!) but I wondered, am I carrying myself a certain way? Am I too friendly? Is it because I wore colorful earrings? My personality is very warm and engaging, which is part of why I think I was chosen for many of the roles I do (client facing) but being a leader, should I be more stoic? Smile less?

    I think I’m going to get an ulcer before I even start :’(

    1. Jess R.*

      Breathe! You’re going to be just fine.

      I would wait to feel things out before you ask your boss if their expectations are reasonable. Get the lay of the land. Get a sense for yourself about what on that list feels most reasonable and what feels most pie-in-the-sky. Get a few small things handled so you’ve got a record of competence before you ask.

      There will always be old men who think younger women and women-adjacent folks are “the intern” or “the secretary.” Do not tamp down your personality for them. Being warm and engaging and friendly is a good thing, not a young thing.

      You’re going to be just fine. You are not defined by your job. You are capable, and you were hired for a reason. Breathe.

    2. ferrina*

      This is an exciting and terrifying position to be in.

      Some things that have helped me:
      – Part of your expertise is the ability to plan and prioritize. Yes, there are too many goals for your first year. But you know how much lift each goal will take. You can map that out and give a picture of what can realistically be done and by when. That is part of the value in hiring experts- they give you realistic expectations. So tell your boss what is realistic and what you think your priorities should be (you are also an expert on understanding how the goals interconnect and what the impact tends to be, so it can really help to advise your boss on priorities. They can always tell you “actually, this should be a higher priority because [reasons]”

      -Part of leadership is expertise; part of leadership is vision; part of leadership is communication. Expertise is often the smallest impact. If you have a vision and can clearly communicate that vision, you’re already ahead of many ‘leaders’ I’ve worked with.

      -For the people that think you are young- just be an expert and be confident. If you feel like you need to prove your age, reference something from back in the day. “Oh man, this brings me back to college, before texting was a thing and you just had to stand next to a wall phone waiting for the person to call.” I look about a decade younger than I am (it’s really annoying), and when I get the sense someone is dissmissing me due to my “age”, I make some sort of reference that shows my age- maybe casual reference to looking things up in an encyclopedia back in the day, or how I will be eternally grateful to Mavis Beacon for teaching me typing, or such. Usually this gets a surprised and appraising look, followed by a slight attitude change. (Note: this will NOT work if you are being condescended to for more than just your age- for example, if there is a gender or racial element. Then the best course is to not waste time “proving” yourself to that person, because whatever you do will not be enough and will just make them think that you should have to prove yourself to them)

      -Finally, they are just going to be grateful that you are there and you are making a difference. New roles are created when there is a dire need. You are helping them fill that need, and they will probably be ecstatic that you are there. There is a small chance that they will expect you to bring them the moon- in that case, know that it is not you, and whoever they would have hired wouldn’t meet their expectations.

      You’ve got this!

    3. libraryleader*

      Sounds to me like you are going to kick ass. It’s the folks who don’t suffer from imposter syndrome from time to time that are poor leaders. The line about faking it until you make it is true for a reason. Let older men think you’re young, but it’s all about your perspective. You can use a cheery, positive energy that keeps you “young” like that to your advantage. And the reality is you will likely be there longer than he will be, and can make good changes for the good of your company.

      Since it’s a new role, yes–schedule that 1:1 with your boss and ask about realistic expectations. Why was this role created? What’s the #1, #2, and #3 priorities for me the first 3 months, first year? Depending on the role, you can send periodic updates to your boss/folks you report to or colleagues on teams on your progress or what you’re working on. And if you feel uncomfortable when someone asks you to do X/DEI project because it’s not in your job description, be firm and develop boundaries about that. “I know this is important, but I’m going to focusing on X projects for this role.”

      Being a leader is often so much more about soft skills than decades of experience in X field, I’ve learned. Communication, advocating for junior members when you can, and empathy go a long way. You don’t need to have “done” leadership before. You got this!

    4. T. Wanderer*

      -It would definitely be reasonable to ask what is the realistic expectation for the first [month, year, whatever]. Personally, anything you’ve heard they would “like the role to do” instead of “need the role to focus on” would be a stretch goal, and I wouldn’t even think about it for the first few months to year, depending on how quickly I adapted.
      -For leading projects: The most important thing for me when I was starting project/team leading was organization, and making sure my team members and I are on the same page. For me, that looks like a shared task list we both update, a personal “what is coming up” schedule, and weekly checkin meetings — that might be too much or too little for your particular role and industry, but especially at the beginning you want to have everything planned and written down.
      -For your coworker: Put it out of your mind! Assume he made a mistake, as everyone does sometimes, and is now very embarrassed about it. Maybe you were in the place he thought the intern would be! Maybe he did see bright earrings and think “young”, and now he’s been corrected! It’s not your problem to change what’s been working for you (and it clearly has been).

    5. Pretty as a Princess*

      Congratulations on your new position!

      I would recommend getting the lay of the land and taking a little time to understand the scope of what all is really being asked for, but when you talk to your boss, don’t talk about “wht are your realistic expectations” but rather “what are the priorities”. They may not even expect all those things to be done in a first year! (I know when I post a PD, I’m working you in to things and I do not expect you to actually do ALL of the things right at the start.)

      “This is a pretty big job jar, and my read on what’s necessary is X, Y, and Z. Can we talk about how you want to prioritze across these main thrusts?”

    6. Stuart Foote*

      I always remind myself that most people are generally figuring it out as they go along too, so they aren’t any more of an imposter than I am. Everyone has to have a first leadership role, and in my experience the ones that change their personalities tend to do worst and the ones that are just themselves do best.

      A couple years ago I was in a similar boat with starting a new job and being extremely stressed, but everything went well so it was really a lot of wasted stress.

    7. Fernie*

      You’ll do great! Some advice I gleaned about the First 90 Days is, after the first 30 days you should meet the key people. After the first 60 days you should be familiar with the processes. And by the end of 90 days you should be able to make one suggestion to improve one process. Asking your boss to help you prioritize is also very good.

    8. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Congrats on the new role! A few things might help:
      – Once you’ve been there for about a week, try drafting some 45/90 day benchmarks and sharing them with your manager. This will help you have the expectations conversation without making them do all the work of spelling it out for you. (They totally should do this on their end! But if they aren’t going to, you still need to know what’s in their head about it, and this is a way to get very clear on the specifics very quickly while impressing them with your managing-up skills.)
      – Try reframing “leadership” as “getting work done through others,” if you feel like “leadership” puts pressure on you. Focus on the nuts and bolts tasks of your role and you’ll probably find you’re already pretty good at this stuff; that’s why they hired you after all! This will also help you identify what’s in your sphere of control and what isn’t, which will serve you well as a project and people manager throughout your career. The DEI example is a good one – you will certainly not be able to single handedly improve your company on DEI. This is a recipe for burnout and real systemic change requires active and strong commitment from the top executives and managers. You CAN make sure the processes you use with your teams are equitable and inclusive, while having input where appropriate in the bigger picture.
      – The above may also help with you coming across as young – stay focused on the tasks you can do to move work forward through your team, be very good at those tasks, own your level of authority but don’t be naive about the limits of that authority, stay out of drama but don’t ignore conflict, and people will take their cues from you. Smile as much as you want and don’t try to twist yourself into some “leadership” prototype; authenticity is trust-building. “professional maturity” is the vibe you’re going for here, but you can still be warm and friendly while being professionally mature.

      This advice comes to you from a very-young-looking woman who ended up in my first people-management role at age 23, when I was routinely mistaken for 16 – I’m now in my mid-30’s and look maybe 22 but have a professional reputation for gravitas and no one would dare mistake me for an intern.

    9. Sassy SAAS*

      You’ve got this!! One thing that has helped me in situations like this is to remember that mediocre people have been in leadership roles for AGES and have never questioned their abilities! I’m sure you’ve had or met bosses or managers like that… people who you think, “how did this person ever get into a leadership position?!”. Well, if they can get into that role while being less qualified than you, you’re going to crush it. I used to work with a snake-oil salesman type… talked his way into a job, and 6months later he was fired because he couldn’t live up to his talk, but that guy STILL thinks he’s more skilled than almost anyone he meets. Now I channel his unwavering (and unfounded) confidence that he had/has in himself to give myself a little boost.

      The fact that you’re already considering how to be a good leader means you definitely will be one. Bad leaders don’t think “how can I be better?”.

      And… fake it till you make it!! You got hired because you DESERVE to be in that role, and don’t forget that! You might have to outwardly fake some of that confidence (I know still I do sometimes, and I’ve been in my role 3 yrs now), but the rest will fall into place. Don’t worry about changing your personality for an older guy who thought you were the intern either. BE YOU! That’s who they hired.

      You’re gunna do great!

    10. BikeWalkBarb*

      “They’d like this role to do some DEI work, which is not in the job description” is either a yellow flag or a red flag. It immediately made me wonder if you’re a person of color and are going to be an only or one of very few, with all the DEI expectations placed on those staff because of their identities.

      Other comments about asking in terms of priorities, not realistic expectations, are good ones. Getting a sense of what they think your first 30-60-90 days should prioritize is great.

      I’d add the DEI comment specifically to this. “You mentioned DEI work, which wasn’t in the job description. I appreciate the commitment to that. However, [I’m not a DEI trainer/I’d expect to incorporate DEI principles into the main tasks because that expresses our values/whatever you can say that means ‘I believe in this but I’m not doing a second job for free’]. I need to understand more about the expectations there and whether this really points to a need to rework my position description and think about the overall priorities with that work in mind. I’m excited about the opportunities to shape the position and as I settle in I’d like to revisit the priorities so I stay on track.”

      Others likely have great scripts if this leads to a moment in which your boss freezes and their expression says “Oh excrement, I just asked a person of color to do all the work white people need to be doing.” (which would at least bring points for self-awareness after the fact)

      If you’re white (like me) and this is a really exciting element of the position you might want to lean more into “I want to do this, just need to make sure we make room for it in my work plan going in and that I have resources needed for whatever you think ‘doing DEI work’ consists of”.

      Keep smiling and wearing bright earrings! You’re bringing your own unique energy to this and you get to shape it around who you are and your strengths. Only you can do it the way you’ll do it.

  21. Mimmy*

    Does anyone else have difficulty with long or multi-part interview questions?

    I had two interviews yesterday and really struggled. I’ve had these questions before but yesterday is when it really dawned on me that one of the reasons I don’t interview well is because of the complex questions (the other reason being I am horrible about practicing, but that’s another post for another day…).

    This is why I wish more employers would provide at least some of these questions ahead of time! Sure, I could prepare for the common questions, but thinking on the spot for the more nuanced questions is very difficult for me. Plus, I have a hard time remembering all parts of a longer question and/or understanding the core of what they’re looking for in my answers. I always feel bad asking for a repeat or clarification.

    I had one virtual interview last year where they posted each question in the chat and gave me time to read and process it before answering. I loved that. One of my interviews yesterday (virtual) was only allotted for 30 minutes and had 13 questions. I was starting to feel rushed, especially when we had under 10 minutes with several questions still to go plus my own questions.

    For those of you with similar difficulty, do you ask for questions ahead of time? Are there other accommodations I could ask for? Again, though, I think a Universal Design approach to interviewing would be to build in some of the strategies I described above.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      The state agencies I apply for generally supply questions ahead of time, which I love. But I also find it helpful to keep a notepad handy and write down follow-up questions , as that helps me think them through and jot things down.

    2. Nesprin*

      Bring a note pad: interviewer ask long complex question, you take notes, ask “let me see if I’ve understood your question- A, B and C. Is that correct?”, “ok, so starting with A”

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        This. While they’re asking the question, I’ll be writing it down. If necessary, I’ll say that I’m writing it down to make sure I cover all parts of the question in my answer. At the end, I’ll ask if there’s any parts of the question I missed or they want more detail about.

      2. Mimmy*

        Actually… for the in-person interview, they had a notepad where I was to sit “in case you want to take notes”. I was assuming they meant for when they describe the position and next steps because those are the things I usually jot down. After reading yours and Grumpy Elder Millennial’s response, I was like, “Duh!!!” *insert facepalm emoji*

        I didn’t think you could take notes while they’re asking questions. Lesson learned!!

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      So a clarification for me if you don’t mind. Is the question actually long, or are they providing you with a lot of background info and context before they ask the question? Because how you hear and mentally process info like this can be different for those two scenarios.

      Also, if it’s a “here’s a brain dump, now tell us if we should do option A or B” question, take notes! And these don’t have to be verbatim short-hand things – block diagrams may be better. “Our parent company is Llamatronics Inc, but 60% of our budget comes from a joint agreement with Teapots of the North, so they have a lot of say in our operations.” That’s 3 boxes, a couple of connecting lines, and a “60%” next to one of the lines.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      If it makes you feel any better, 30 minutes for 13 questions is absolutely not a well-designed interview. In a half-hour interview, most interviewers in my workplace will ask maybe three behavioral questions (“tell me about a time when…”) and the usual “what interests you in the position/the employer?” and will leave time for the candidate to ask questions as well. When I’m the hiring manager, I get 45 minutes, and I usually ask only one more question than that.

      Something you could to do prepare for interviews: make a list of desirable characteristics for a person applying for the roles you want (good communicator, skilled at collaboration, attentive to detail, adaptability) and come up with an anecdote from your work history that shows how you display that characteristic. Practice telling those stories in front of a mirror until you feel really comfortable relating them. That way, when you hear a question that is getting at that characteristic (“what do you do when you have more work on your plate than you can handle?”) you have a story ready to whip out, and you don’t have to come up with something on the spot.

      1. Anon Just for This*

        I work in government, so my experience probably isn’t the norm. But agreed. Our interviews are an hour and include 10 minutes to present an interview assignment, then 3 – 5 questions (which might have more than one part).

      2. Mimmy*

        Thank you so much for the validation! With such a tight timeframe, you risk giving answers that aren’t as thorough as they could be because you’re rushing to stay on time.

        I ended up withdrawing from consideration for other reasons, but the structure of this interview was already a bit of a yellow flag for me.

  22. Junior Dev (now mid level)*

    I’m struggling with feeling overwhelmed in general; I’ll keep my question focused on work. Basically I have a 100% remote job and I have the flexibility to do errands during the work day, I’m thinking I’ll take some time today to deal with life admin around my car, and will probably have similar chores to do at some point in the coming months. My manager doesn’t really know much about what I work on and we haven’t talked about goals for professional development except that I want to work on projects in a different programming language at some point. He always just says keep up the good work etc. I don’t think he wanted to be a manager but he got promoted to one while still being responsible for all the same technical work.

    I feel anxious about taking time during the day even though absolutely no one has called me out on it. I have no way to measure whether I’m getting my work done on time individually. We have points and release goals for stories but they are very rough estimates and often something will take way longer than expected and that’s seen as normal.

    I realize this is a dream scenario for some but I’ve been fired for not getting enough done in the past, and would like tips on how I should personally track my own performance and keep myself accountable when basically no one else is doing it for me.

    1. ferrina*

      Set goals for yourself, and get vague sign off from your boss. This can just be “Hey boss, in the next two weeks, I’m going to do X and Y, and if I have extra time, I’m going to chip away at Z. The goal is for Z to be done by August.”
      Your boss will probably nod and say “that’s nice”, but now you have something that you have committed to.

      For longer term projects, you can map out what milestones need to be hit by when. If you are 1 or 2 milestones ahead, then feel no guilt about taking time. If you are right now time, don’t take a lot of time, but no harm in a quick trip to the grocery store. If you are behind, then you need to work your full hours (that’s one way to help figure out when to take time).

    2. Bean*

      What I used to do in a job with very little accountability was create my own paper trail. At the end of every day I’d take 10 minutes in a word document and write:
      – accomplished today
      – next step / waiting on

      for every project/work stream. It created a good record of what I’d done (in case anyone asked) and gave me a road map for what to do when I opened my laptop the next day.

      You could keep this doc private to you, or post a daily update in each of your assigned tasks if you want visibility by your team.

      And try to let go of the anxiety about being fired – I know it’s not easy and it’s natural to worry, but you might genuinely be in a place where you’re accomplishing enough. If you’re concerned about accomplishing enough, you can have an informal conversation with your manager / whoever assigns you work / your coworkers with similar jobs. How much does your manager expect? Do they have concerns about your output? How long does it take your colleagues to complete similar tasks? Etc. Over time, you’ll calibrate to this workplace’s expectations.

    3. HowDoesSheDoItAll?*

      I know this gets covered a lot on AAM, but how do I be “respectful” to my work colleagues who drive me bananas? They are nice people, just super talkative and annoying to work with.

      I try to just keep quiet at my desk, take a lot of deep calming breaths and ignore them — mostly physically distance myself, wear headphones and not create any drama by gossiping or complaining. But I know that comes across as passive aggressive.

      Any advice on how to deal with all the office annoyances without coming across as the office grump? It’s really making me dread coming to the office every day. (Hybrid isn’t an option at my workplace, unfortunately.)

      1. Junior Dev (now mid level)*

        I don’t think you meant to post this in response to my question

    4. hazel herds cats*

      I agree with setting goals for yourself. Once you are comfortable with the process, start sharing those goals (and progress/outcomes) with your manager.

      The following is a detailed description of one approach that works with managers like yours.

      Create a Google doc (or some other shared doc) for your 1:1s with your manager. It’s critical that your manager have edit access to the doc, even if they never use it. Make an entry for each 1:1. Enter any agenda items for a meeting you might want to discuss before the meeting (preferably at least a day before). If you do add agenda items, send an email to your manager a day before the meeting with the agenda items and a reminder that you have added them to the doc. During the meeting, and additional items for other topics that come up. Take notes as you go on the various items. A day after the meeting (to give your manager time to reflect and add anything to the doc), send an email summarizing the meeting and referring back to the doc for more info. The summary should always include an overall assessment of how you are doing.

      You say your manager says you are doing “fine”. Push back on that. Tell them fine isn’t your goal (look! A goal!) Tell them that you want to be doing “great”, but that as a first step you would like to know what you need to do to move from “fine” to “well”. Your manager may stutter and argue that it’s semantics, but it isn’t semantics at all! If they say that there isn’t a difference between “fine” and “well” then you say, OK, what do I need to do to be doing “great”. If they try to duck or tell you that you need to figure it out for yourself, don’t buy that. It’s their job! Telling you what you need to do to progress professionally is part of their job. If they won’t do it themselves, engage them in a discussion of where else you can get that info.

      See how the whole thing goes. It’s a useful exercise to go through, and I used the shared doc (although not the emails) with great managers before moving into management myself, but ultimately if you have to put this much work into managing your manager, you don’t want to stay there. Could be an internal transfer, could be an external one.

    5. Anax*

      I love pomodoros for this – my background is also as a software developer, and most of us just literally can’t code for eight hours per day. Even with an hour or two of ‘less intellectual’ work like checking email, I always ended up with some time where I was on the clock, but too mentally worn out to actually get more work done.

      For me, a ‘good’ workday looks like 8-10 pomodoros, each 30 minutes long. Anything more and I’ll probably have a drop in productivity the next day. And for me, meetings count in that 8-10 pomodoro block – they take the same kind of mental energy that figuring out code does. In previous AAM discussions, somewhere around 8-12 pomodoros per day has been pretty ‘normal’ for intellectual work; that’s just where most people’s brains tap out.

      You’ll note that’s about 4-5 hours of actual ‘work’, plus maybe an hour of email checking or chatting with people. You’re going to have a couple hours of downtime during a typical shift – at the office, you’d be playing on your phone or taking a walk around the building instead of doing laundry and errands, but you would have the same sort of downtime. That’s normal.

      As long as you’re tracking your time and keeping a steady pace, you can be sure that you’re not slacking off – you’re keeping a normal, sustainable pace for your line of work.

      I agree with other commenters to keep your boss in the loop on what you’re working on as well – I like doing a weekly status email.

      But honestly, I’m going to put in a plug for a physical, paper bullet journal if you’re not seriously opposed to it. Objective data is my favorite way to combat impostor syndrome – and with a paper journal, I can look back and see what I was doing months or even years ago, even at previous jobs, and realize I’m pretty much keeping the same pace I usually do. I’m just having anxiety or a particularly frazzled month.

      And if it’s a paper journal, I won’t try to fudge the numbers to make myself look better – no one else will ever see it, so I can be sure I wrote things down accurately – even my ‘off days’, like ‘spent 6 hours trying to find a semi-colon, I feel dumb now’, which I would personally find too embarrassing to write where someone might see it. Learned that one the hard way!

      (Searching for weekly bujo spreads will get you a lot of examples, which don’t need to be complicated or pretty. I just track my pomodoros, how I’m feeling health-wise from 1-5, my meeting schedule, and the top 3-ish priorities I’m working on that day.)

    6. kalli*

      I work 100% remotely and after a few months I figured out kind of how fast I am normally, so I use that as a benchmark, rather than deadlines. My direct boss is super great about telling me priorities if she sends me a task (FIRST THING TODAY is a subject line, ‘when you have extra time’ is a PS as well) but other than that, I just send an email at the end of each shift being like ‘these are my stats today, this is what else I did, here’s an update on ongoing stuff’.

      Theoretically I work 4hr shifts but I budget 5 hours and sometimes step out to make a meal for my dad or pop in some washing while the washer is free, run out to collect a script before the chemist closes, and I make that time up at the end so I still do my 4 hours even if it takes 5., and I have an hour’s worth of breaks instead of just my scheduled 15 minutes.

      I’d say by now you’d be able to put yourself in the same boat – don’t look at the goals and estimated deadlines, but whether the tasks you’re doing are taking the same amount of time as they usually do, if they take longer for a reason that you have and explain that reason if you need to, and if you step away for something, just make sure those timeframes don’t blow out – if a task usually takes you 45 minutes, and you do 30 mins then step away to do life admin for 30 mins, when you come back that task should be done in another 15-20 minutes, and you make up that half an hour either by doing something else faster than usual or making up the time by finishing later, starting earlier, or keeping your usual daily ‘this is what I got done’ on track another way.

  23. Twinkle Twinkle*

    Any advice on how to manage being on LinkedIn when you have gone out of your way to have no social media presence ? I need to get LinkedIn for my job which I’ve avoided doing for the past 2.5 yrs but as I’m growing within the company and industry I don’t think I can keep pushing it off. I don’t like having my personal information out there, would it look weird if I only list my first name with last name initial?

    1. ferrina*

      Why do you want/need to be on LinkedIn?

      For most people, the point of being on LinkedIn is to make yourself searchable and make yourself searchable and be able to list your full job history, and maybe see what your connections are up to. Removing your last name completely removes the searchability. It also won’t be clear to anyone that doesn’t know you very, very well that this is indeed you and that you are a professional. I would be confused and immediately assume that LinkedIn wasn’t very important to you and/or that you are not social media savvy (if I could tell that it was even you). But if you’re only on LinkedIn to access LinkedIn Learning, then that might be fine with you.

      1. Twinkle Twinkle*

        Thanks for the feedback, gives me something to think about…Part of my job (client services) implicitly relies on networking. Then there’s the fact that in addition to attending very important industry events, I’m starting to be asked to speak at some of these (as well as being interview for podcasts) so my company wants me to post about all these stuff. I dont care to have LinkedIn for job search, I’m sure it helps but I’ve managed to do well without it thus far.

        1. ferrina*

          Ooh, yeah. Then you’ll need your full name on there. You will want your professional persona to be searchable. You can post your appearances on there- make posts before the event about “I’ll be at Event! Looking forward to seeing everyone!” and after the event with a cool summary or picture of you with some people that you connected with. If you give a presentation, you can list that under your job accomplishments on your page.

          If your company has a social media or marketing team, they probably have a marketing toolbox to help you get started.

          1. Tio*

            One thought: How unreasonable would it be to use a different professional name? I’ve seen a couple people do this, but it’svery industry dependant.

            But yeah, if you’re doing interviews and need networking, your name is going to be out there. Just think very thoroughly about what kind of information you want out there. Maybe list your company name but not the branch you work in (if that’s feasible) or just give a general area?

            1. ferrina*

              You can definitely use a different professional name than your personal/legal name!

              The key is that you need to use your professional name in all your professional endeavors. I had a boss that professionally used a different first and last name than her legal name. If her name was Camelia Waddlesworth, she went by Cami Smith at work. It was a couple years before I knew that wasn’t her legal name (and I only learned it because I was looped in on some HR work where the legal name actually did make a difference). I also have a relative that uses a different last name for her hobby work (it’s an industry that she does as a hobby, but she’s made a minor name for herself). Anytime she’s doing her hobby, she introduces herself by that name; she uses her legal name for her full-time work in a totally different industry. I also know people that use their middle name personally and first name professionally, and vice versa. As long as you’re consistent, it’s fine.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Well, the whole point of LinkedIn is to have people know who you are and your work.

      That said, there are privacy settings where your whole name is only revealed to people you’ve “connected” with, and other ways to hide things from the general public.

    3. Ashley*

      If you are doing this for your role in your company maybe. I think being weird can be ok depending on why you avoid social media. Do you do it because it sucks and you tend to be more private or have you had to deal with stalker situations in the past. Be mindful of what email you list because that might give away your name.
      I do suggest a profile pic of a company logo or something from local(ish) geography if you want to avoid doing a head shot.

      1. Twinkle Twinkle*

        I tend to be more private, don’t like putting my personal information out there. Partly because I did have an ex (not a stalker) find me years later by googling my name and my email came up on a company site. And partly because I saw a college roommate’s reputation get destroyed from a picture taken out of context (she was posing holding a cake shaped like a penis) after she accused a guy of sexually assaulting her.
        While I don’t have anything to worry about regarding possible content and I know that LinkedIn is more of a professional site, these things (amongst others) have completely turned me off from having a social media presence.

        1. Privacy fan*

          I also hate linkedin. I use my firstname lastinitual. I used to use my full name but someone tagged me and my full name showed up in the tag, so I changed my display name to just have the ladt initial.

          I don’t have a photo, I do use an avatar, I paid an illustrator to make one that kinda looks like me so I’m semi recognizable I’m real life if I meet someone, but no photos. I’m in IT and have seen others do this. More conservative industries may frown on this.

          I have my profile locked down to be hidden from search results, made a specific email address that I don’t use for anything else. I learned this back when linkedin used to actively spam your contacts. I never allowed it, but others did and it was awful. I don’t use my work email either.

          The data is even worse now that Microsoft owns LinkedIn and is putting AI into everything. It makes ID theft so much easier.

          If possible, don’t ever connect other apps to linkedin like Microsoft office, etc.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It might help if you don’t think of LinkedIn as “social media” a la Facebook, Twitter, etc.

      LinkedIn is a focused, niche site, not a general “here’s what I’m up to” thing. And many many people do nothing on LinkedIn except browse and make connections, which immediately go off to email, not the site itself. If you were on a message board for one of your personal interests or a professional society, it would be the same kind of thing.

      I assume that when you say you need it for your job, that means you interact with people outside your company — customers, potential customers, suppliers, PR/advertising, etc. Then people are going to need your last name — it’s a virtual business card.

      1. English Rose*

        ‘…don’t think of LinkedIn as “social media” a la Facebook…’

        But it depends how you use LinkedIn. It’s the only social network I’m on, and I find it really valuable. To me it is more along the lines the classic social media channels such as Facebook (which I find horrible).

        When you connect with and follow the right people, perhaps join some groups, you’ll find a lot of interesting conversations happening, information sharing, even (gasp) some humorous exchanges.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      It sounds like this is specifically for this job, so treat it fully as work thing,

      Only list your current employer on it, and then post whatever articles are needed for your job.
      Use a dummy email to create it instead of you main one.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      A lot of people do only list their first name and last initial – you should be fine with that.

      You’ll be harder to find for contacts who might want to connect with you, but if your first name and company are fairly distinctive, they’ll be able to find Hermoine from Llamas Plus Inc. If you’re Joe from Xerox, though, that might be a lot of people for contacts to sift through to find you.

  24. Poppy*

    Update from a question I asked a few weeks ago about how often is it reasonable to expect an office chair to be replaced.
    thanks to comments, I realized it is reasonable to ask for a chair to be replaced after 10+ years (I’ve been here 10 years but the chair was not new to me so I don’t really know how old it is.)
    I went on vacation before I could ask my supervisor about getting a new chair. We happened to walk in from the parking lot together the day I returned and she said, you’ll see a new chair in your office. I had to look over a file while you were gone and that chair was awful. So I asked maintenance to throw it out and order you a new one.
    Happy ending and I think I should trust myself more about making requests.

    1. AnonyNurse*

      That’s so great that your boss to the initiative! Hope you’re feeling less achy in ways you didn’t even realize you were aching!

  25. Ahhhhhh*

    How do I make it clear to my boss I don’t want to be friends with her when I’m already visibly friends with at least one coworker?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      How is she trying to make you her friend?

      I think you could very tactfully point out issues of perceived favoritism and/or not being comfortable with that kind of relationship with a superior.

      1. Anon Just for This*

        And potentially using language like “I know you wouldn’t want to give the impression of favouritism.” Sometimes, if you speak as though OF COURSE the person will be reasonable, you kinda force them to be.

    2. BellaStella*

      Good question, and I am not sure, but depends on how she is approaching you and how you react. Is she inviting you to lunch on Sundays, to go to a bar, or to hangouts after work etc? Or are there invites for work day things like lunch? Be polite in general when turning her down if it is for after work things and if it is for stuff on your time, you can always say, ‘sorry I am booked/have to wash my hair/have dinner plans’ etc. If it is to have lunch and hang out at work, why not go once?

      In my case my grandboss has the entire team in a whatsapp group that is 90% work stuff and she is always trying to get us to ‘ do fun things’ and is very fake about a lot of stuff. Most of the team has this chat on archive/mute, and mutes her tool, except for her favourite and a few others who comment now and then, especially when they are new in the team. Most of us are not her friend for a lot of reasons but we have to maintain the facade a bit.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      I say by continuing to shut her out while remaining professional and polite while working with her. I had a boss like this. I simply decided that she needed to take the hints and it was her responsibility to adjust to the canter of the relationship rather than have it be my responsibility to teach her norms.

    4. The teapots are on fire*

      Tell her you’ve always been taught it’s not proper to have a personal friendship with your boss.

  26. Margaret Cavendish*

    Thought experiment: How would you design a hybrid office schedule, if you could? Assume that it’s both feasible for your business and also a requirement – so we’re not debating the pros and cons of hybrid work vs fully in-office vs fully remote. In this scenario the hybrid is a given.

    This has been on my mind lately, because I think the most common scenario of X days per week still isn’t flexible enough. My calendar has a lot of variability from week to week, but month to month is a lot more stable.

    So if I were in charge of everything, I would start with a requirement to be in the office X days per month, rather than per week. 12 days/ month achieves roughly the same number of in-office days as 3/week, but it allows for flexibility for the weeks where you’ve already done your WFH days and then your kid gets sick or you have a plumbing emergency or whatever. (True story, I once had a yeast infection in a week where I had already used up my WFH days – and my boss was away, so I had to explain it to her boss, who happens to be the CFO. I’m sure she was delighted.) A monthly schedule would have allowed me to make up that in-office day in another week, without discussing it with anyone.

    For even more flexibility, while still keeping with the spirit of the rule, I also wouldn’t insist on full compliance within a calendar month. Because the same scenario applies – you could still have a situation where you need a WFH day after you’ve already used them up for the time period. So I would try either 12 days in a rolling 4-week period, or an average of 12 days/month over 6 calendar months.

    This is entirely hypothetical, because I’m certainly not in charge of that aspect of my workplace! So there are no right or wrong answers here – I’m just interested in what other people think.

    1. AnonyNurse*

      I wouldn’t require full days in-office. If there’s a meeting folks need to come in for, or they are in the area of the office for some other thing (dentist appt, whatever), they pop in and do what needs to be done. This can also allow commuting at less busy times — start working from home, head in for an 11am meeting, head home at 2, resume working. Make the hybrid expectation be event-based/need-based not time-specific, which likely doesn’t add value.

      1. ThatGirl*

        While I think this is a solid idea, I live really close to my office and I STILL wouldn’t want to go in just for a couple hours; if I’m in office mode I might as well stay there at least 7 hours. I would say just general flexibility is better.

        1. Bitte Meddler*

          I would think that in AnonyNurse’s scenario, the folks who want to stay in the office the full day could do so.

          The flexibility comes in not punishing (however subtly) the people who show up for the 11:00 AM meeting, spend a few hours collaborating / doing relationship building, and then head home.

    2. Annika Hansen*

      I would base it off reasons to be in the office. I am hybrid. I don’t have a set number of the days that I must be in the office. Rather, it’s that I must be in the office for this kind of meeting/function. This month I will be probably be in the office once. Last month I was in 4 times. I may have a month that I am not in.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        Completely agree. I have no problem going to the office (or another worksite) if there’s a specific need, like a meeting or event where in-person presence makes things easier. I would resent a blanket “be here on XYZ days every week” when I don’t have anyone to meet with in person. Right now I’m averaging 4-5 days in office per month solely on the basis of attending meetings and 0 days just because.

        1. Bitte Meddler*

          At my last job, we went from 3 days a week in-office to 4 because the CEO wanted more collaboration and team work. Which was hilarious because we’d all drive an hour to the office, sit in our cubes, boot up our computers, and then have video Teams meetings instead of in-person ones because Teams is more conducive to collaboration and team work for the kind of work we were doing.

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      I think it depends on what the goal is for in-office time. Is it to attend meetings? Is it for groups (think creative design groups) who need in person brain storming? etc. And also what facilities are available?

      I don’t mind monthly requirements vs weekly, but if you need to be in office as a creative team to collab, then everyone needs to be there on the same days, so you can’t give flexibility on those days to that team. Same thing if you want in office days for a sort of working session for devs and qas together or something.

      If your office is only hot desking, then you’re going to want to make sure you don’t have the creative team and the dev/qas in the office on the same day because then there may not be enough seats/large meeting rooms.

      I do think any in office days should fall on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays. Mondays and Fridays should never be required unless there are extenuating needs occasionally.

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        And also, if the goal is meetings, but everyone isn’t in the office on the same day, you’re attending zoom meetings at the office instead of attending zoom meetings from home which feels really demoralizing.

      2. Roland*

        > I don’t mind monthly requirements vs weekly, but if you need to be in office as a creative team to collab, then everyone needs to be there on the same days, so you can’t give flexibility on those days to that team.

        Yup. General “just come in X days a week” policies have never made any sense to me. The main value of being in the office is being in the office with other people in it. Arbitrary quotas are not achieving whatever it is they’re trying to achieve imo, be they weekly or monthly.

    4. Too Many Tabs Open*

      We’re hybrid with set days of the week where everyone’s expected to be in-office. On the other days, most people work from home; a few people who have short commutes or poor WFH setups still come into the office, but most of us don’t.

      If you have an illness or home emergency on an in-office day, you can WFH and aren’t expected to make up the in-office time, because what would be the point of your coming into the office on a day when most folks aren’t here? (That said, if you were always working remotely on office days and hadn’t made a separate arrangement for that, it’d be noticed fairly soon and your manager would say “um, no.”)

      I like this system because when I’m in the office, I never have the “I drove 45 minutes to talk to my team over Zoom” blues. Everyone’s here at the same time.

      And then the other two days of the week I can roll out of bed and sit down at the computer in my pajamas and do the tasks that require no one interrupting me.

      1. Tio*

        Our company uses pretty much the same guidelines. The main goal is for the same teams to be in office on the same days. So I’m echoing: What is the main goal for in office time?

        Our buying teams come in as well, but their days are set on their main sample receipt days because they need to evaluate their physical products.

    5. dark purple blues*

      First question you have to ask: what are you trying to accomplish with hybrid? Are you trying to have coverage in the office? Are there parts of jobs that can *only* be done in the office, but are otherwise at individual’s discretion? Are you trying to have in-person meetings? Whether or not people have to co-ordinate with others is going to drive a lot of the policy.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I think the situation at my work is perfect: the policy is set by team managers, and on my team the associate gets to choose, and as long as they are onsite when necessary for specific tasks, and as long as they communicate with the team, it’s fine.

      I’m on a team of 4. Two are primarily remote with in-person days as needed (works out to maybe 2 a month on average). I’m primarily onsite with WFH days as needed (about 4-5 a month). Our manager usually does a regular schedule of 2-3 days a week onsite.

      I think if you’re making up a scenario from scratch, it’s very odd to create arbitrary complications like minimum days and rolling periods, with no apparent purpose. Why not just make up a scenario where you hire people who are good workers and trust them?

    7. kalli*

      Event based but also – if you know in advance you’re WFH or coming in, put it in your calendar so people know where you are.

      That latter kind of fixes a lot of issues before they happen.

      (and also don’t have a half day hair appointment while WFH, but that’s another story).

  27. So they all cheap ass-rolled over and one fell out*

    Does anyone remember the Amy and Brooke “We love the negative glassdoor reviews” update? I found the infamous blog post at the time. This week I revisited the post, or rather tried to, as their website is no longer in existence. Hopefully because their business crashed and burned, but I don’t know for sure.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Me too! Searching only yields a bunch of ads for services that claim to get rid of negative reviews fast.

      2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        try this search
        My former coworkers hired me to work for them … but it was a bait and switch, they fired me, and I’m ashamed

  28. Boss Lady*

    One of my employees has a habit of demanding to know what I’m working on/what was talked about in meetings I was in with our stakeholders. A lot of it is, frankly, not her business – her scope of work is very narrow, and she’s great at what she does, but she has a tendency to want to be involved in everything (even stuff not within her scope of work) and I don’t like this habit. I don’t think I’ve been communicating about it very well, though, does anyone have any suggested language to tell her to stop? Thanks!

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I mean, straight-up tell her she has to stop. “This is beyond your purview and you need to stop pushing.”

          I find “that isn’t anything you need to worry about” somehow direct but very soft–technically it does tell her that she needs to back off but doesn’t convey that, no, she needs to stop.

        2. TheMonkey*

          Flat out tell her. You’re her boss!

          “That’s not something you need to worry about. If anything comes of these meetings that will affect your work, I’ll let you know. Until then, I need you to stop asking about them and stay focused on your own work. Is that something we can agree on?”

          Wait for her to say yes.

          Then the next time she does it, say “Remember when we talked about focusing on your own work and trusting me to tell you when these meetings would affect your work?”

          And after that “I’ve told you several times that these meetings are not in the scope of your work and to stop asking about them. What is going on that you feel the need to keep asking?”

        3. Tio*

          You might want to sit her down, name the pattern, and tell her directly – no softening – that you can’t share a lot of what’s said in those meetings, but anything you can and think it is important for her to know, you will. Until then, she has to stop asking, period.

          1. Anon Just for This*

            I like this. Especially since part of the pattern is that she won’t respect your no.

        4. Admin of Sys*

          I’d avoid that phrasing actually – if she is worried, telling her she doesn’t need to be doesn’t really help. And if she’s just curious / trying to show initiative / whatever, it also wouldn’t necessarily ‘apply to her’ in her view.

          I’d use the phrasing you mentioned “The meeting is in regards to something out of your scope of work. If anything happens that does relate to your responsibilities, I’ll pass it along”.

          That said, she may be feeling limited with their ‘narrow’ scope of her work, and that may be something to address. Or at least acknowledge? Though if you point out the scope of her duties is limited and she’s been poking you for details because she’s bored, then telling her point blank her job is unlikely to expand in any way may mean she starts looking for other things.

          1. Windemere*

            I like this phrasing. Personally the “…you don’t have to worry about” is a pet peeve- I often reply with “ I assure you I’m not worried”.

        5. Caramel & Cheddar*

          You have every right to shut her down like the other replies have said, but this is probably also an opportunity to ask why she’s so stubbornly curious about it, i.e. “I’ve mentioned before that you don’t need to worry about what’s said in these meetings. Is there a reason you keep asking?”

          At best, maybe she *does* have a real reason to be asking that you may not have considered, but if she doesn’t, which seems more likely, you can at least continue to shut it down after having given the opportunity for her to share why she’s so interested.

        6. learnedthehardway*

          I would have a direct conversation with her that the management meetings deal with confidential information and business strategy. The information and topics discussed are not for general knowledge until/unless the leadership team agrees that something needs to be announced. Your job as manager is to inform the team of what they need to know in order to perform their roles. If there is something that she needs to know, you will inform her and the rest of the team. Please stop asking because you don’t want to have to embarrass her by telling her it is not her business.

    1. Kazul's Chief Cook and Librarian*

      “Various topics, but nothing concerning (her scope).” Then if she presses, “is there something going on with that group that’s impacting (her scope)?”

      That said, is she perhaps asking because your organization isn’t good at determining who needs what information? Is she wanting to branch out beyond her current scope? She very well could just be nosy, but there’s the possibility that she has a reason other than blanket curiosity that — especially if she’s an otherwise great employee — it would be worth reflecting on.

      1. Anon Just for This*

        Good points. Turning the question back on her will make this a lot less satisfying if she’s just nosy and could give you useful information if there’s something going on. Other examples:

        “Where is this interest in the meetings coming from?”
        “Is there information you’re not getting that you need to do [task]?”

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      “I appreciate that you’re interested, but these things aren’t in your purview. Going forward, I need to see you focusing your time and energy on your own responsibilities. Do you think you can do that?”

    3. Ashley*

      Have you tried the “why do you ask”, with a slightly confused look / tone? Use this as a way to have a conversation that your role will require you to do things that don’t overlap with what her role is, etc. Then you can start addressing the pattern if she keeps it up.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      Industry specific probably, a few of the other comments would be really rude in my industry that has a lot of processes and moving parts and technical aspects and people regularly ramble on about what was said on a call.

      I’m also wondering why its inappropriate for employee to want to branch out from doing one area of things (unless that area is big).

      IMO I would give half answers like “discussing growing sales” or “HR issues” or “fixing regulatory reports” nothing wrong with letting them know vaguely what you do all day!

      I wouldn’t say it’s none of their business like others suggest, at least not in my industry, where we need people to keep investigating and learning and asking questions. Can’t have that sort of environment without someone ocassionally overstepping

    5. ferrina*

      Yikes. If this was an occassional thing, I’d try to brush past it with a casual “oh, this and that. Excuse me, I need to take care of something really quick./ Can you give me an update on [Unrelated thing]?”

      Since you said she’s giving you pushback….
      – Loop in your boss to sign off on your messaging. You don’t want to tell her to shut up and sit down, but you want to draw boundaries on how much information she is entitled to (i.e., what impacts her and her work, not every single thing you are doing).
      – Next, sit down with her. Call out the pattern. Explain that: “I don’t know if you realize this, but you’ve been asking me a lot about what happened in each meeting I’m in. What is behind this?” [If she brings up a legit concern, address this. If she just wants to double check, say:]
      As part of my job, I will be in a lot of conversations where I’m not able to share details, either because of confidentiality, or because details aren’t finalized yet and it muddies the communications. For this reason, I won’t give you a rundown of every single conversation that you have. Of course, I will share any information that impacts you, and I’ll bring you in as it makes sense to utilize your expertise. Do you have any questions?”

      After that, whenever she asks “what did you talk about?”, say “Are you asking because there is something specific that you want to know, or are you just double checking that there’s nothing relevant to your projects?”

      Usually this particular issue goes hand-in-hand with other issues. Good luck.

      1. Boss Lady*

        thank you, this is really helpful! And yes, there are other issues – but I haven’t been able to address those per my leadership because she is a subject matter expert in a hard-to-find area.

    6. Anonymous for this one*

      Speaking as someone who frequently finds myself fighting the urge to be your employee in this scenario, things I personally would appreciate:
      -A conversation about how she feels about the scope of her work (both whether she’d like to expand at all, and whether she has any concerns about things she’s been left out of the loop on that she feels she should have had visibility on)
      -A reassurance that you WILL advocate to make sure she’s included in anything that does fall into her scope of work
      -To the extent this is doable for you, occasional big picture updates — it can be really frustrating to be effectively siloed in a larger organization and not have a good way of understanding where your role fits into broader priorities and work, even if not all of it is strictly related to your job

      Maybe she’s just prying, in which case this won’t do much, but if the behavior is motivated by larger concerns/unhappiness, this might both curtail and make it easier to push back on overly specific questions.

      1. No creative name yet*

        Yes to all of this. I’ve been in your employee’s shoes; in my case it was both that my boss would attend meetings that would give context that would have been helpful for me to know, but never did a great job of explaining it (I think if you’re filled in on everything it’s hard to understand what information trickles down), and that I wanted to progress, which would require gaining broader info. Even if it’s not feasible to read her in, or if likelihood of progressing isn’t high, it still can be helpful to understand where the interest is coming from and if there are any gaps in your communication that can be addressed. And, such a conversation would also help the employee understand your reasoning.

      2. Agnes Grey*

        100% all of this. I’ve been that employee. In part because my manager did not understand what might affect my work, which I’m sure is not true in LW’s case. But also because I have curious brain, in both senses of the word! It helps me to be able to pull in a lot of information – it might not always be relevant at the time, but may end up being helpful down the road.

    7. Glazed Donut*

      I’d dig into why she’s so nosy. Does she think she’s been left out of important discussions before? Is she trying to set herself up to be at your level in a certain amount of time? Is she having trouble understanding her role within the organization?
      I think you can get at this from a separate conversation that doesn’t begin with “stop asking what I’m doing; you don’t need to know.” Listening to why she wants to know may help you answer her prying questions later in a way that is satisfying to both of you.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        It’s worth considering whether there have been instances where she (or others) have been left out of the loop about important information. If yes, this makes a lot more sense. Especially if the consequences have fallen on her.

        Obviously, this may not be the case. Just something worth thinking about and potentially discussing with her.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      She may be trying to “seem interested” in the scope of the business and lay the groundwork for expanding her duties/role without realizing how she’s coming across? Or she’s just nosy and pushy.

      If you think it may be the former, at her next review bring up the question: is she satisfied with her role as is or does she feel like she could take on more, or similar phrasing. If she has ideas or even lights up at the notion, the next step would be working with her on spreading her net too wide/seeming too eager to know stuff that isn’t in her purview.

      If not, it’s time for a structured outline of her specific duties and goals.

    9. Meh*

      Are you 100% sure you are telling her what she needs to know ? In terms of scope, impact and details ? I’m one of those people who can find 5 possible approaches to do a task/solve a problem and the best one to choose depends entirely on the details my manager thinks I don’t need.

      More than once we have had the conversation “If you had told me that, I would have chosen a different approach”. “I didn’t think it mattered” “It does.”
      But nothing changes. So Ive completely disengaged from the situation and shut down my brain. If he wants me to do something, he has to be exact in his request. If he needs information from me, he needs to ask and I only answer what was asked – nothing more.
      Am I looking for a new job ? YUP !

  29. Mimmy*

    Insert Pun Here’s question upthread about moving far for a job made me think of a second question: What is a reasonable timeframe between a job offer and allowing the person time to move? Is it common for that timeframe to be short?

    One of the jobs I interviewed for yesterday would entail a move almost across the country (two time zones away). The hiring manager hopes to make their selection early next week and hopes to have the person start sometime next month. I know there are people who conduct a geographically wide job search without any real concrete plans. However, I talked it over with my husband and we think their timeframe is too tight for us.


    1. WellRed*

      Their timeframe doesn’t have to be set in stone. If you’re their pick they should be able to work with your timeframe (within reason).

    2. I Can't Even*

      Do they help with the move? Offer transition housing? This may make it more manageable?

    3. Princess Peach*

      I had six weeks for a 1500 mile move. It was doable, but much less would have been rough.

      I gave about four weeks notice to my job, spent a week just packing and prepping, spent three days getting myself, my stuff, and my pets across the country, and two days trying to set up my new life before starting work. My new boss was pretty accommodating when I needed time off to deal with all the logistics of living in a new place, which was helpful.

      My partner stayed behind for another month or so to fully wrap up our lives in the old city. He stayed with family so as not to require too much stuff that would need to be moved. That also let him keep his job and income while I was not working and then waiting for my first paycheck. Once I was more settled, he quit, flew to the new city, and then started job hunting.

    4. SnowyRose*

      It really depends on business needs. I have a new manager starting soon, and it will be about 2 months between offer and start. That said, this time of year is generally a little slower. I’m getting ready to post another position and won’t be offering a similar extended time period between offer and start.

      What can affect the decision is how concrete your plans are to move. Someone who already scoped out the area and has a concrete plan in place will get more grace. Someone who hasn’t really thought about what moving entails or scoped our the region won’t.

    5. Long distance mover*

      I’ve checked our calendar for the timeline of our move when my husband got his job. August 1, 2017: fly in to interview in person. August 14: turn in resignation letter. Sept 4: first day.

      The company paid for our move. My husband drove with a carload of what he needed and the company put him up in a long-term hotel for two months. During those two months, I fixed up the house, put it on the market, and job hunted. My new job started in early November and we went under contract to buy a house Oct 26. The moving company came at the end of October and stored our belongings until we closed on the house December 8 and delivered our goods that day. We paid for the final month of lodging ourselves, as the company only paid for 60 days. When I moved, he drove back home and we each drove to the new city (11 hours away) with a carload of things I needed for the month, and things that were too fragile etc to be entrusted to the movers. And the cats. (The old house didn’t sell until March, but that’s a different story.)

      It was a difficult time, but the new company had an excellent reason for needing him to start so quickly, and we managed. I hope this helps!

    6. Laura*

      When we did our big move (~500 miles) my husband got the offer mid-April with a June start date but they let him work remotely for the first month. They paid relocation as well (just gave us a lump sum, did not coordinate anything). He headed up to our rental in new location at the end of June with minimal items (air mattress, folding table and chair, clothes). I stayed behind with kids & dog and got the house packed and sold and moved up at the end of July. He did drive back down the last week before we had to be out of the house to help with last minute packing. It was ROUGH and I was exhausted every day (this was during covid so virtual school for my older son and no daycare for the younger one).

    7. Roland*

      It depends on so many factors. I once set a start date 3.5 months in the future just because I wanted a break, and I once set a start date 5 weeks out that included a whole international move in between accepting and starting.

      Does it work for you? If not, do you think you could negotiate more? Wanting to start someone in a month is different from refusing to hire someone who’d prefer 2-3 months. I wouldn’t worry as much about whether or not they’re being reasonable as much as if it’s workable for you specifically. (Written tone is hard so apologies if that comes off patronizing, I don’t mean it like that at all and I would likely have some similar thoughts in your position.)

    8. NeverEnoughTime*

      I’ve never had more than a week. My first time – a 230 mile move from one end of a state to another – I had 4 days over New Years (I had to be willing to start working fulltime (70-80+ hours/week) on Jan 2 if I wanted the job. My old lease ran through Feb, so I took an 8 hour each way greyhound bus trip for three weekends to pack, then my dad drove cross country to help me actually move in February, then I had a mover to finish packing what I hadn’t been able to do and to actually move the boxes/furniture.

      I had about 12 days when I moved from the Southwest to New England. That one was rough.

  30. Yes, really*

    How do you deal with an exceptionally negative client?

    I recently inherited a new internal client – lets call him Jim. Jim literally complains about everything. He is never satisfied and has unreasonable expectations when it comes to workloads. He also doesnt understand/respect our internal QA processes. He is also constantly submitting new projects (several a week), which simultaneously complaining that our staff is “too slow.” We have a small staff and we have other internal clients to balance as well.

    Jim is well known for being a PITA across the organization. Even leadership is aware that he is a PITA. Jim is only tolerated because he is a SME for a very narrow field.

    I am working on setting boundaries and reasonable expectations (“we can do this, but not that” or “if this is prioritized, something else will need to drop”), but does anyone have any advice?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If his multiple requests per week is disruptive (assuming that other clients do things differently), especially if the workload needs to be balanced each time, I’d batch them. “Thanks Jim, is this it for this week or will you have more? We’re trying to streamline our processes so things can move more quickly. If you’ve got a couple more, we’ll assign them all at once for efficiency.”

      And if there’s a visual system for seeing what’s in the pipeline, you can always handwave to it and say “we’re going to get you in here, as we’ve got these other projects as well.”

      You can apologize for inconvenience, but don’t apologize for not meeting his own personal timeline. You own the timeline, and there’s ways to be prioritized that aren’t being a grump.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Leadership is aware that he’s a PITA . . . but are they willing to do anything about it?

      They need to step in and reset his expectations. You have a Jim problem but you have a bigger leadership problem if they’re not dealing with him.

    3. Rick Tq*

      It sounds like your org needs to put a filter between Jim and your group, like having your manager be responsible for approving and forwarding any of his requests in the future. His manager is another option so both managers see what work Jim is generating. Having your manager do any approvals ensures that Jim’s requests fit into your existing workload and schedules without delaying other projects.

    4. Bobina*

      We have a similar broken stair in my company. Let people you work with, your team members/staff etc know that *he* is the problem not them. If he has to interact with junior team members, try and be there and act as a buffer (or just keep him away from them quite frankly). If he demands something, they can say no or deflect and defer to you.

      Definitely work on setting boundaries (I need to get better at this with mine!) and learn effective diffusing/distracting tactics (for example one I learned from my boss this week, my broken stair likes to complain about things that *might* happen – so one tactic is to say *if/when* it happens, we are happy to change/fix/resolve things etc. Until then, nothing changes)

    5. House On The Rock*

      Since it’s understood he’s an issue, first ignore any negativity, questioning of your processes, etc. Grey rock that as much as you can – either simply don’t respond to criticism or respond with “got it” or “noted” and move on. In terms of the new projects, keep pointing back to your triage and prioritization process and do not deviate from that. I manage a group whose skills are in high demand but who don’t have a lot of bandwidth. Whenever new requests come in, I have a standard response that outlines how we evaluate potential work along with general timing for my getting back to the requestor. If they press for something sooner, I reference the process.

      Also, I know it’s hard, but don’t let yourself get riled up by this guy. Those types of negative, know it all customers thrive on knowing they are causing disruption. Always responding quickly and clearly without committing to anything is something he might not know how to handle.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Fair points. It may also help to realize that you don’t have to argue with him about things or defend any policies. If he wants to start complaining, you can tell him you understand and will pass that information on to [someone with more power, who gets paid more than you].

        Heck, if you want to share the pain around with senior leadership, you could just note that X is something that Jane, the VP, needs to decide.

    6. MillennialMeanager*

      If your company is as small as you say it is your COO, VP and/or the owner need to get involved and set the record straight with this client. This is not the job of a middle manager’s to take care of. This is C-Suite and higher—as it ultimately affects the bottom line.

    7. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Are you able to shut down the complaining, rather than letting him spiral? Like by doing a noncommittal expression of sympathy + topic shift.

      “Yeah, I can see how that’s frustrating. Anyway, we have to decide between the blue and green designs. Which one do you like”

      “I know, there’s never enough time in the day. Should the project focus on llamas or should it include alpacas, too?”

      “Yup, Wakeen is working on that issue right now. Before I forget, if you want to include the flock of mechanical birds, we either have reduce the size of the lake portion or extend the deadline. Which option do you want to pursue?”

      1. Yes, really*

        Thanks to everyone who provided advice! This is great. I really appreciate the guidance!

    8. learnedthehardway*

      I would work with your own manager on this and get their support for more firmly setting boundaries with Jim.

      Also, perhaps set out requirements for projects that your team takes on – that will allow you to better manage the workload and priorities. Eg. requests will be responded to within X business days, requests must be properly scoped and have a budget assigned – – whatever makes sense.

    9. Brevity*

      Has anyone ever asked him why he has the expectations he has?

      If he has no response, or a lame one, that might shake part of the negativity loose. I’m not expecting miracles, mind you; but I can’t help thinking that, if all he can come up with is, “Well, if all you’re doing is ……” you can respond with something reasonable but firm, like, “No, that’s not all we’re doing, we also do this-and-this; plus, blank task always takes x amount of time.”

      Of course, he might just grumble that it still should be the way he wants, in which case you can reassure yourself that you’re just working with a grump, so it’s not you and never will be.

  31. Typing All The Time*

    Hi everyone. How do handle ex-colleagues who have tried or even succeeded in negatively impacting your reputation?

    I’ve been in the working world (media) for over two decades now and I tend to believe that I’m a reliable, friendly and competent worker. I like to focus more on work than socializing and I tend to be stressed or anxious at times on the job. I also find of seen as meek, and I’ve dealt with bullies on the job. One had gone even as far as to contact my new employer about me, because I was hired for the job that she applied for.

    I’ve also dealt with people saying I’m awful because I wouldn’t share all my developed over time business contacts. In one instance, I landed a great opportunity that another ex-friend colleague slammed me for and kicked me out on her (mostly friend based) professional development group.

    I still feel these scars at times, even as I’ve sought counseling and kept plugging on at work. How would go get past this and even what to do to prevent this from happening onward?

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      People are going to say what they’re going to say. Their behavior always says more about them than it does about you, and you have virtually no control over the thoughts and actions of others.

      The best way to deal with this kind of crap, in my experience, is to let the quality of your work and the quality of your character speak for themselves. Other people’s pettiness and immaturity can’t touch that.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Unfortunately, “fighting back” usually doesn’t help in these situations, even if you want to. Go for nonchalance if anyone asks.

    2. I Can't Even*

      Don’t engage with these people, if you are mostly reliable and good people will see that.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      An unsuccessful candidate who is slamming the successful candidate is going to be as transparent as glass. No one is going to pay any attention except to put a mark against the name of the slanderer. Most mean people are this stupid. They think they’re Machiavellian, but really they’re as logistically stupid and clumsy as they are emotionally.

    4. What's the score*

      I’m sorry. This kind of thing has happened to me too. There are a few people (bullies, who work together) who have occasionally gone out of their way to bad mouth me in the industry. They tell lies too, so it’s totally out of control for me. There are others who are positive about me but it’s still hard.
      I will say that by a certain age, a lot of people will have racked up a couple of “enemies”, and if you’re a reasonable fairly professional person it’s not your fault!

    5. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      It sounds like you’ve been pretty successful in your work, though. You’ve been getting great opportunities and have a network of business contacts that people want to tap into.

      And I think you’ve taken the right approach on this so far. Keep doing good work, don’t feed the drama, and get counseling when there’s something to work through.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      Recognize that while these people might be trying to retaliate because you got something they wanted, their attempts to damage your reputation really only have damaged theirs and made them look petty and unprofessional.

      In the case where you got the job but another candidate contacted the hiring manager to complain about you??!??? The hiring manager will have considered the source and the source’s OBVIOUS bias, as well as their own interactions with you and what your references said about you. The hiring manager will have breathed a sigh of relief that they dodged a bullet and didn’t hire the other candidate. They will determine to themselves that they would never hire that other person, because who needs that kind of sour grapes and drama llamaesque behaviour on their team?

      Your business contacts DO NOT want to be pestered by random people. You developed those contacts and that was based on value exchanged. Other people cannot piggyback on them – they didn’t build the relationships. Being protective of your relationships with people is a good thing – your business contacts will appreciate it.

      As for the ex-friend, they were never a friend – they are a selfish, petty person who wanted to use your hard work and relationship building to benefit themselves. They haven’t considered that you had every right to that opportunity, or the very real possibility that they would not have landed it, whether you informed them of the opportunity or not. They don’t deserve your friendship. I would build your own professional development network – it’s pretty well guaranteed that someone like that will alienate other people, too.

    7. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      It happened to me too. It’s difficult, so I’m glad to hear you’ve already sought out counseling. Talking out all of your fears, even the ridiculous ones, really helps.

      The way it seems to shake out, things still work in your favor. In reasonable workplaces, anyone who calls your boss to badmouth you will be seen as an arrogant bazoonut. Especially if its before you even started. I mean, they interviewed you and made their choice for a reason. Where does Captain Bazoo get off, telling them that he knows better than they do? Also, people who consistently lie become known for lying. They can certainly still rise in the ranks, but a VP known for lying won’t be trusted. And likely will get a letter to AAM written about them.

      In unreasonable workplaces, where bosses and/or coworkers might listen to gossip and lies, well, it sucks, but you’ll probably find that out sooner rather than later, and work to leave. Within that particular workplace, you might never have the best reputation — who cares? They’re awful! Again, liars become known for lying, gossipers become known for spreading gossip. Time will be your friend is you are consistently honest and do good work.

  32. cabbagepants*

    This question is for people who work at non-profits or work with non-profits. tl;dr who in the org should I tell when there is a completely preventable communication issue that I see inconveniencing lots of members?

    My local YMCA is lovely in many ways but their online schedule is frequently incorrect. In particular, one-off closures (for special events, annual cleaning, staff training, etc) NEVER make it online. I’ve learned through experience that I have to call ahead literally every single time I go. I’ve gone when the posted hours on their own website says they are open, only to be turned away, more times than I can count. The attitude of the front desk staff is “Oh, we put up fliers warning of this closure a week ago. You should have known.” When pressed, they say “If you ever wonder, you can call ahead. Part of being a member is knowing to call ahead.”

    When I’ve escalated to the manager on duty, they have the same attitude. Special event is important and they posted fliers, so it’s my own fault I didn’t know.

    I HATE this. Whenever there are these ad-hoc closures, I see plenty of other people showing up to be turned away. It sucks to get your kids all dressed up and hyped up, only to not actually be able to go. For me, personally, now I just call ahead. But now I have my dander up that this organization is failing to adequately communicate stuff that they knew ahead of time. The public presence of this org is one of great community caring and involvement. Am I naive to think that someone in the org would care to correct this?

    (he local YMCA has around 10 locations across a city of a million people. It’s not some local mom-and-pop operation in a tiny town where everything is within a walk of everything else. On principle, I choose to believe that they are capable of keeping their online schedule up to date and just deciding it’s not important.

    My question is — who at a non-profit would care about this? Do I go to the board? Or… ???

    1. Typing All The Time*

      Does their website list the staff members or board of directors? Maybe email them directly? I would think, after a while, people would stop coming and/or even paying for memberships.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Is there a contact page on the website for web issues? It sounds like someone isn’t updating the site, possibly because they might not be told about these schedule changes. I’d start there, with examples, because it could be an easy fix behind the scenes. (And, yes, those of us who work on websites hate not being told about changes, because we have to answer questions about why we didn’t inform people about something we didn’t know about.)

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Should they care? Of course. This very much depends on the organization. I work for a nonprofit and we would definitely care about this. This place . . . doesn’t. But we also have multiple people who do things with our website and can either do it or can prod the person who should–your YMCA might not have that kind of support.

      Who you should go to depends on how their staff is allocated. It apparently needs to be someone higher up than the front desk staff. You can try the board but my experience has been that they’re often so out of touch with the actual organization that they’re not a lot of help.

    4. Museum Witch*

      Them being big is likely the problem. The larger an organization, the more silo-d the different jobs are. It is very very likely that the on-site staff you’re dealing with have absolutely nothing to do with online communications. Stuff like that typically comes from the head office team, and are shared across locations. So you want to find a head/admin office or other operational management contact. Honestly the “general inquiries” line for the whole YMCA network in your area is probably your best bet. They’ll be able to direct you to the right place.

      1. Agnes Grey*

        Exactly. Especially for website stuff – site updates may be handled centrally and require lead times that don’t allow for those kinds of ad hoc updates. I ran into this issue at my local UPS store not long ago and I could tell the branch staff were so frustrated because by it.

        If this is the situation, should the website just say “call your local branch to confirm hours”? Probably. Will it ever? Not likely.

    5. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I know this is annoying, but really – what is the issue with calling ahead? They’ve already told you unequivocally that that’s how they operate. You aren’t going to be able to change it, so you’re either going to have to find a new facility, or make it part of your routine to call ahead.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        It’s absurd when you have a website that could be updated, and it’s a waste of the community’s collective time when they show up and the place is closed. It’s unnecessarily bad customer service.

      2. Lady_Lessa*

        Another thing about having to call ahead is that you have to do it during business hours, not at your convenience. I can see checking either after they have closed or before they open, just to double check.

      3. Roland*

        Not OP but for me, the issue is that I’d like to be able to schedule things without them being up in the air until the day of or week of or whatever. Especially when kids are involved. Sure I can call and then not go, but then I’ve lost opportunities for other things I could have scheduled instead.

    6. Doctor is*

      Our YMCA has an executive director who reports to the Board. I think most Y’s work that way. I would start with them and escalate to the Board if needed. Totally reasonable to want an up to date schedule. You might see if they have a Facebook page that lists events/ closures in the meantime.

    7. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      You just…might not be able to change this. For whatever reason, it sounds like they’ve told you this is how they operate. That could be for totally silly reasons, or it could be for completely legitimate reasons – like, they may have one person who is supposed to spend 20% of their time managing the entire entity’s digital communications and…updating the website for one-off closures is not a priority.

      Nonprofit people have to get very comfortable saying “this thing that is important and our members genuinely care about simply can’t happen because we don’t have the people or money to do it, and it’s not AS important as the other 2,000 things we barely have resources or people to do.” That sucks, but complaining to their board isn’t going to magically free up the resources to fix it.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        That’s true but also it’d take less overall employee-human effort to update one line on the website than it does to put flyers up all over the building, and answer all the calls from people trying to figure it out. Like, yeah, if the members wanted a total website revamp…aint gonna happen. But it’s 2024, the notion of “you must telephone to know if we are open or not” is so out of touch with the rest of reality…unless a place has no website, the hours on their website should be correct. One-off closures are a banner than can be turned on/off with a click.

    8. Nancy*

      Do they have social media? An email mailing list? In my experience, most places use those methods to announce one-time closures over updating the website.

      1. Cabbagepants*

        It’s not about me personally. it’s about how crappy it is that they are literally posting incorrect information and no one seems to care, and blaming the people naive enough to believe them.

        1. L*

          Well, sure, but have you checked to see if there is a mailing list or social media page?

          There’s a restaurant in my town that has had staffing problems and closes at short notice. They post those closings on their facebook page.

            1. BikeWalkBarb*

              I understand why L is asking about whether you’re checking online sources other than their website. Depending on their content management system it can be clunky and hard to change site content, whereas a fast FB post can be easy and they can respond to individual follow-up questions where everyone can read the answers.

              Like this:

              Y: “We’re closed because the snowplow crew didn’t make it in time and the lot is an ice rink.”

              Member: “Do you know when you’ll be open again? I’m in the social dance class that meets 6-7pm.”

              Y: “We’re waiting to hear from them and we’ll post when we have some idea of the plowing schedule.”

              Y: “Good news! Plowing crew will be here at 1pm. To be on the safe side in case their schedule slips we’re planning to reopen at 3pm. Call to check if you have something that starts then just to be on the safe side. And maybe take the bus instead of driving!”

        2. I threw us into the flame*

          Yeah in an ideal world the website would be correct all the time. Bit we don’t live in an ideal world. You’re going to have to get used to either calling ahead the morning of or checking whatever channel they are using to post closure notices (like their Instagram or Facebook pages). Or finding a different Y location to patronize. It sucks a little but like, do you really want to be the person who keeps freaking out over this?

      2. Rara Avis*

        I also use a YMCA with multiple locations in a city of a million, and I concur — all changes etc. come through their app. The website is not usually updated to reflect closures or schedule changes. I’ve gotten into the habit of checking the app before I go for notifications and to make sure the class I want to take hasn’t been cancelled. The app tends to be extremely accurate. So it seems like they have decided to put their energy into keeping the app updated and letting the website be fairly static.

        1. Rara Avis*

          I also want to say that in choosing a YMCA, I knew I was opting for fewer bells and whistles for a lower price than a commercial gym.

        2. Nancy*

          That’s my experience with the different studios I go to; the websites have a static website they only update when something major changes. Everyone is encouraged to sign up for their mailing list and connect through social media. If this YMCA doesn’t do that, then I’d find it more odd than not updating their website, personally.

          If they are relying only on people calling, then yeah, that’s not efficient.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Well, my local YMCA’s website is hosted by a third party vendor which appears to have been contracted to the main org for the city. The individual branches have zero control over their own pages, and the website as a whole is only updated maybe 1-2 times a year when they have a major fundraising initiative or a big change like a new branch. From having worked in social media and digital communications for a different nonprofit, once you contract with a third party vendor, you can forget about real time updates. It’s prohibitively expensive.

      Class schedules, planned closings, outages, etc are communicated through a feed that is accessible in the app, or on social media, in the email newsletter, or through fliers at the location.

      If your Y operates like my Y, nobody in the administration nor on the board is going to do anything about the website because *they chose for it to work that way on purpose.* They’re just going to wonder why you insist that the only way you are willing to communicate is by checking a website that you already know is not updated regularly.

    10. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I usually see temporary changes and reminders like that on the Facebook page of organizations and public businesses, not on their website.

  33. NothappyinNY*

    Our company’s DEI efforts are struggling. Many of the people whom I think have Jewish names are not longer participating. We have tried to reach out, not working. No idea what to do

      1. RussianInTexas*

        That was my first thought.
        As a Jewish AND a Russian immigrant person, I am not going to join any program that specifically points I am either of these things.

      2. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

        That would absolutely be my guess, yes, if they all stopped being involved within the last six or so months.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Can you provide more context? What efforts have you been making? What are the goals of the program? What sort of reaching out has been tried? Has it been specifically tailored for Jewish team members, or just those that you suspect (?!) to be Jewish? The way you described this is odd and dismissive. It’s difficult to provide insight or advice based on your post.

    2. anon for this one*

      I have to ask, as someone who does not have a “Jewish name” – do you know that these people are actually Jewish? There are many Jews who do not have “Jewish names” (by which I assume you mean Eastern European / -steins and -bergs and Cohens?), and many people with Eastern European names who are not Jewish. If you’re worried that Jewish employees are dropping out of your DEI initiatives, start there to find out if it’s actually happening.

      As Jewish faculty at a college with an encampment, I can tell you that, from my perspective, our various DEI committees seem to be very committed to D, E, and I for everyone except the Jewish community on campus, and are not particularly willing to engage in discussions that include concepts like ‘model minorities,’ historical roots of antisemitism, or conditional whiteness. It has been made very clear to many of us where their priorities lie, and who is actually welcome.

      You (as a committee, plural ‘you’) will need to reflect on what your actions since October 7th have shown, to get any real insight here.

      1. Daryush*

        My read on the situation too. I would say, honestly, if it’s gotten to the point where certain demographic groups are avoiding your DEI group even when you reach out, the damage has been done and it’s time for your group to disband. It will take a long time, if ever, to regain trust.

      2. M2*

        This. I find many DEI programs and people in DEI to forget about the inclusion part of DEI! I find they have been forgotten Jews (and the fact they are indigenous people to Israel). I also find many DEI things very narrow. I am not Jewish but am an ally and have worked across the Middle East. Someone who I am close with who work in higher ed agrees and has seen it at their Ivy.

      3. Roland*

        Plus 100. Very well-said. There’s no point in “reaching out” if the space is still actively hostile. Of course I have no way to know that that’s the issue but I feel like it’s a 95% chance.

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m going to try to ask this from a neutral space. Why is it you think that people with Jewish last names would automatically want to participate? That’s an assumption on your part, isn’t it? For example, I have a very traditional Jewish last name and so far as I can tell, our family hasn’t been observant since the 1800s.

      1. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

        From the phrasing (“no longer participating”) I think it’s more that those folks were actively involved and then all stopped, and they want to figure out if someone/something drove them off. Not that they’re chasing them down out of nowhere. If I was in charge of a DEI initiative and a group of participants from a similar demographic all stopped being involved, I would definitely be concerned enough to look into it too.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        And I don’t have a Jewish last or first name (at least it wouldn’t be thought of as one by the people in the US), and yet I am very much ethnically Jewish, although completely non observant.
        Names don’t really tell you much.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      My first thoughts:
      Why do people with traditionally Jewish names have to keep the DEI program running? Do you even *know* if those people are Jewish or are you making assumptions?
      Why should the burden of DEI fall to them, or any other specific group?
      Does your DEI program actually do anything of value or is it a token program to say you have a program?
      What does “participation” mean, and is it a realistic expectation for busy employees?
      When employees drop out of participation, it’s generally because it’s not worth it to them. “Reaching out” isn’t going to change that.

      1. Punk*

        Because they all used to participate but pulled out at the same time, and it’s a pattern worth noting, and a potential problem to address if something happened to drive a whole ethnic demographic away at once.

          1. Anona-reena*

            It’s not exactly rocket surgery is it?
            Punk, since you seem to be asking in good faith, I’ll share that after October 7th many of the DEI activities and rhetoric at my institution (a large, public university) switched from what you’d generally expect to being explicitly in support of one side of the conflict and engaging in coded and not-so-coded antisemitism.

            I have no doubt that many Jews noped out of the work when they stopped feeling included, or actively excluded. I’m not Jewish, but I grew up in a heavily Jewish area and have many friends and relatives who are at least ethnically Jewish. I myself felt pretty excluded and unable to speak up – I can only imagine what they felt.

            1. Punk*

              I’m Jewish myself, but thanks for educating me, I guess. I think that Nothappy has good motivations and doesn’t want to just ignore a pattern she noticed that might indicate something insidious is going on at her company. She was correct to ask questions about it, and the responses here are really disheartening.

              1. Parakeet*

                Most of the responses here are pretty clearly from people indulging a convenient opportunity to grind their axe about how they feel bad that other progressive people are on the other side of an issue from them. As another Jew, who has experienced way more vicious hatred from the side that falsely claims to represent me and my interests, than I ever have in more than a decade in the movement for the “other side.” But that’s the Internet for ya

    5. Ellis Bell*

      Is it worth participating in? Why should they? Most inclusion attempts are often pretty dreadful and you don’t seem particularly impressed with it yourself.

    6. Fluff*

      For any DEI

      It might also be a safety and danger response. Reaching out may only exacerbate that.

      DEI started as a hopeful concept and may now morph into an easy way to find the “others.” States are outlawing DEI initiatives. Since work is my income, maybe I decide to blend in and keep my head down and avoid the othering at all costs. The risks of participation suddenly become more obvious and scarier. Especially a few months after 7. Oct.

      Is there someone you can ask privately? Where you have a good relationship? And were you can also respect their desire to not talk about it? That might be an idea.

    7. Girasol*

      My company held a discussion with minority employees about the climate in the company. Then they held a mandatory training session for majority employees to address issues that were raised. I was invited to the discussion group but avoided it. Even so my coworkers who had to attend that followup training were downright nasty about it for weeks afterward, blaming me for having to go to the class and for whatever they heard there, even though I had nothing to do with it. If you have prejudiced employees, your minority people may be reluctant to participate so they don’t stir up trouble. That’s a problem but it may not be your fault.

  34. Confused*

    I am wondering if this is a red flag: I was offered a mid-senior job by a large European corporate. They asked for references during the process, but now I’ve confirmed from my references that they weren’t contacted. I find it weird and it makes me think that the manager dropped the ball / is lazy / does not care much of recruiting well, but what do you think? Overall the process was very easy (two easy interviews, no tests etc.)

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Eh, sometimes they do things because they have to tick a box on a list. It’s possible that they’ve found contacting references to not be especially helpful, so they make sure to collect their information because that’s what they’re required to do.

      1. Confused*

        That’s a fair point. I guess I am wondering mostly because the organization seems to be extremely keen on ticking all the boxes. Everything else in the process was smooth except for the bureaucracy.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      They may do a quick contact later. At a previous job, I was offered the job and the manager contacted my (then) boss as a way to check a box – well after I had accepted the new job. A little out of order, yes, but I think he knew and trusted what I presented in the interview process in a small town.

    3. Bobina*

      Is the job in Europe or the US? And is HR in the US or some European country? Based on my experience, European reference checking is very different and varies by country – some places dont do it at all, some will just call up the companies listed on your resume and confirm dates of employment, others will call whoever you listed later in the process etc.

      Tl;dr – dont read too much into it – cultural work difference basically.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      I wouldn’t think too much of it. It’s possible they ask for references at a certain point in the process because it’s faster and easier at the end for the information to be available when/if they make an offer. Or, maybe they just want to see that you have appropriate references – someone who lists their current / past manager is probably pretty confident that they’ll get a good reference from them, vs someone who lists only a manager from 15 years ago.

      (Jumps up on soap box:

      I personally don’t think it is a good practice to waste references’ time by doing reference interviews before an offer is made – I feel very strongly about this, as I was in a situation once where my references got “fatigue” after being contacted by several companies while I was doing a job search. I hadn’t realized they were being contacted. After that, I refused to provide references until/unless an offer was on the table.

      Also, the reference discussion should confirm a hiring decision, not be instrumental in making the decision. The reference doesn’t know the company or the specifics of the role, may or may not be a good communicator, and may or may not be a reliable witness.)

      1. GythaOgden*

        The exception I’ve seen is checking teachers’ references. I’ve been a captive audience to my mum, a retired headmistress who went first into consulting and then took up an active position on a board of governors, explaining to people from a commercial background why they need to check teachers’ references before extending an offer (in 2021 so not that long ago). It’s done that way in this field primarily because they want to be sure of the applicant’s credibility and suitability before extending an offer. The others took a while to absorb why teaching — with its significant safeguarding and other security needs — needed references checked beforehand.

        But yeah, from that discussion (in a UK setting with no international component at all) it became clear to me where the disconnects come. I imagine that extending an offer to the right person in this situation (rather than offering and then finding a big skeleton in the closet) is more important than a perceived waste of time for the references, but that calculus varies with field and industry.

        1. Confused*

          Yeah, my expectation is/was that the references would’ve been contacted after they said that they’d like to hire me and we discussed the main conditions (salary, starting time and holidays). I was still going through a fair bit of bureaucracy with the HR, so I hadn’t seen the actual contract yet.

    5. TheyDontCheck*

      For some reason, it us very common for prospective employers to ask for references and never check them. Based on the feedback I’ve gotten, my references have been checked <10% of the time they were requested (late in the process). It's a bit strange, but that's been my experience over decades.

      Ax further data, I've had a few colleagues use me as a reference but I've never been contacted by any of those companies. Not once.

      1. Confused*

        Thanks, that’s very helpful. Before this, I’ve had only one job where they requested references (also contacted them), so I guess I am at 50% now.

  35. Kazul's Chief Cook and Librarian*

    TL;DR: how do I network at a conference

    I work in supply chain for a utility and am going to a conference for utilities at the end of the month — the conference is for the utilities to share best practices and such with each other, though there are a lot of vendors who attend as well. All of the welcome happy hours, etc. are sponsored by vendors, as this is an opportunity for them to make contacts with potential new customers. While I’ll be keeping an eye out of potential new vendors to support my utility, the main reason I’m going (and the justification I made to my boss to send me) is because I have zero contacts with any supply chain employees at other utilities. The conference has a supply chain track that is only for utility attendees, and I’ll be spending most of my time there but like…I don’t know how to even begin making connections that I can continue using after the conference.

    I’ve been in supply chain for over 15 years but people generally don’t send us to conferences unless it’s to find new vendors, so I feel like this — wanting to make connections with my peers at other utilities — requires a different approach. Any suggestions?

    1. TheMonkey*

      I’m not in your field and mine (academia) is all about conferences, so YMMV, take what you can and adapt to your circumstances…

      Talk to lots of people.

      The folks sitting next to you between conference sessions, presenters after their talks, people at the next table over to you at the happy hour, etc.

      I have a long-time collaborator now who was someone that I didn’t know at all because I asked her a question about her talk when I saw her at a post-event mixer-thing.

      It doesn’t have to be an aggressive, network-y, schmooze-y kind of conversation. Even a “did you see that talk on X this morning? I never knew that Y” kind of comments can get the ball rolling with strangers. You’re all undergoing a shared experience. Use that to start conversations!

      Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Once you’ve opened with a relevant exchange, you can always branch into “How did you get into [utility]?” “Have you been to [conference] before?” “Did you hear a bout [legislation or whatever] that’s going to impact how we do [thing]? How is your org tackling that one?”

      It’s different than going to a vendor and saying “I need a quote on widgets for 2025” so the framework is less rigid, but just talk. Don’t be afraid to hand out your contact info or to ask for contact info from folks that you connect with.

      1. Friday Person*

        All of this is excellent advice.

        I’d add: while you’re chatting, don’t be afraid of mentioning to people that you’re hoping to get to know other people in similar roles. They may be looking for the same thing!

      2. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

        People (in general) liking to talk about themselves is my secret weapon. In my experience, if you get someone started on a topic they’re invested in, and you pay attention (look at them and not the crowd or your phone, ask follow-up questions, generally appear engaged), they will find you charming and interesting even if you didn’t say very much.

        Then when the conversation ends, you can say something like, “it was great to chat with you, let me give you my business card,” and they will likely offer their contact info as well. Write down something about them on the back so you remember who it was. And now you have a potential contact!

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      Bring business cards!

      Pay attention to who asks questions in sessions – you can approach people after a talk and say “Hi, I’m Flash Gordon from the Electric Company. You asked about PDQ, and I’m interested in that as well. I’d love to connect further if you’re interested.”

      Also, make a point to go introduce yourself to speakers after sessions if you enjoyed their talk, etc. If the conferenec distributes presentations with contact info, you can email speakers afterward too. “Hi Jane, I attended your session on the rise in superhero-related infrastructure challenges. BuzzBuzz Co has similar problems ….”

      If you hear someone say where they are from that you have a connection with, that is always a good opening. “Hi Michy Mich! You don’t run in to too many other Wolverines working in Ohio utilities, it’s nice to meet you….”

      1. Tio*

        Yes! Especially if you’re from a big name company! I went to a conference earlier this eyar and now EVERYBODY is contacting me, lol.

        Also, keep track of where the people work. Local people are much easier to meet up with, and can help you expand. This doesn’t mean ignore non-locals, but they will probably be easier to keep in your orbit regularly than the people across the distance, who are also presumably making lots of contacts. Take notes on names and businesses, if you can, so you can remember them next time you end up in the same place. Seeing people at different events and remembering things about them is a great way to build a relationship – there are some people I only see at conferences and trade shows, but we see each other there a lot and have a decent connection

        1. Pretty as a Princess*

          Yes! I have a number of industry friends I have made this way! In my line of work it’s really cool because we can work on industrial organization committees together, etc. I’ve presented at conferences several times with people from other companies/orgs that I have met this way.

        2. Kazul's Chief Cook and Librarian*

          None of these people will be local to me unfortunately, because we all work for utilities and are in different states. I will keep the rest in mind, though!

    3. Donkey Hotey*

      At the last conference I went to, I started chatting with a woman who had an epic tattoo sleeve. That led to lunch at her table and meeting her coworkers. We exchanged business cards at the end.

    4. NaoNao*

      For best networking, think about what value you have to offer–connections, information, savings/deals, or whatever sets you apart from your competitors etc.

      I’d approach with a “bridge” from the conference topics to your individual value to your networking targets.

      “Hey, Target, I’m So and So from Such and Such. I saw you in the llama braiding seminar and I wanted to connect–my company offers expert braiding materials and think we might find value in a chat.”

    5. Spreadsheet Queen*

      I don’t know anything about this particular sort of conference, and I’m hardly a good networker (probably not even a mediocre one). But – if this conference has any small group activities, sign up for those! Whether they are smaller group sessions, or small group social activities. (The last conference I went to, you could sign up to go out to dinner, and you’d get placed in a group of 8 for tapas or Italian or BBQ or whatever. That was a GREAT way to get to know people because you were all together for 2 hours in a situation where you’re naturally going to chat.) If the conference is in a hotel and most people are staying at the same hotel, you’ll probably also have opportunities to get into conversations at the hotel bar or breakfast buffet with other attendees. Good luck!

    6. BikeWalkBarb*

      You may already know some of what I’m going to write–hoping some of it is helpful.

      I’m in a different industry (transportation) so the conference may not run quite the same, but every single conference I’ve been to in at least the last 5 years has had a conference app. It’s a place to share your contact information, post social posts during the conference, and connect. Not everyone uses it but it’s a starting point.

      Take full advantage of that if they have one. Put your bio up early, review bios of the other people attending, and reach out to anyone who looks like their job relates to what you want to connect with. Tell them you’re looking to connect with supply chain employees at other utilities and if they aren’t one themselves they may suggest someone to connect with.

      Your reason for wanting to connect is awesome–you’re not trying to sell them something–and they may have the same interest you do in connecting with others in similar positions.

      Conferences are all about hallway conversations. Watch for those who ask questions along the same lines as ones you have and catch up with them in the hallway afterwards. Everyone who’s at a conference for the first few times has the same experience of not knowing people and they’ll be happy someone is talking with them.

      Go to those happy hours and if there are informal groups getting together to go out for dinner tag along on those too. They may not all be the exact kind of contact you’re looking for but they know them. Over the course of the conference you’ll make “useful” and “unuseful” connections if you categorize them that way, but they’re all useful in building the network that gets you connections with the people who have similar interests.

      If they’re using social media with a hashtag, follow that and connect with the people who are posting points that connect to your interests.

      Think about being the new kid at school no one talked to on the playground and how happy they were when someone went over and said, “Hey, you wanna be on the other end of the teeter totter?” That’s you, the one with the teeter totter.

  36. Busy Middle Manager*

    I just logged off and walked away and can’t find the desire to go back. I feel like I might’ve hit my “time to move on” moment again but no one seems to be hiring. Add on top life stress, can barely afford my area and am losing the plot on what I’m even doing. Social contract feels broken.

    my not-even-that-bad-week included:

    Finding out coworker is taking my raw data files and forwarding to an outside party, unchanged. The whole point of getting them involved was so they can work the information and filter off items and add comments. I apologized for the miscommunication but went back and realized the data files have names like “lines to investigate” and some fields have “fill in here” as the comment

    Half hour discussion about whether we should change the length of a data field when the party receiving the data says it is mandatory, so basically a discussion on if mandatory really means you got to do it

    People wondering why I am “delayed” on a report, but no one internally realized it’s an extremely complicated data exercise because you need to compare unrelated lines to eachother (most lower level codes compare each record to itself, ex. Customer A to customer A, not customer A to customer C). But I got emailed it last minute because people tend not to know what they are asking me for. The code is so complicated that it barely runs but I’m expected to figure it out in the same time it takes a bookkeeper to do a few entries because no one knows what they are asking me for

    Even though it’s not even my job, realizing we’re calling people who are dead or literally can’t be customers anymore, to upsell. Calling many times too

    Junior colleague enlisted to help, dropping the ball again, they think training/guidance means I go through every possible step and line item with them, defeating the purpose of getting help.

    Am I crazy? Is this par for the course in corporate America? At risk of sounding dramatic, how do people find the mental strength to keep doing it?

    I’m also struggling to actually work because both home and our new-since-covid digs are loud. And my boss has no solution.

  37. Shreking Bawl*

    Not a question, just a win: I was able to get all three of my direct reports larger raises than they were initially offered. I live in California, where the minimum wage for fast food was just raised to $20 an hour. With a raise, one of my employees would have been making $20. So I told my boss that she was going to quit if we offered her that, because everywhere else would pay more. They gave her another $1.50 an hour, which is above what she was asking for and what I signaled they should do. Because she was getting more money, the two other employees I manage (who are both at a higher level than this first employee) were given more money to stay slightly above her. What would have been a $2000 raise a year for each became over $4000 each. Fight for your people! Sometimes it works, and even if it doesn’t, they’ll be glad you were in their corner!

  38. Justin*

    Update from last week: I was able to find who I think will be a fantastic intern. Turns out a lot of folks have summer jobs lined up that they didn’t like and my internship was more compelling to them.

  39. Jazz and Manhattans*

    Hi Worker Bees!

    I wfh home about half time and I’m thinking I need a new chair for my home office as I’ve been having back issues. Can everyone recommend what they use and like?

    1. KG*

      I’ve been working from home for 4 years – a few days a week initially then all but 2 days a month when I renegotiated with my boss. About a year ago, I realized that I spend at least as much time on my office chair as I do my bed, so I bought a good one. It may just be a Canadian brand – Gry Mattr + ergoCentric – I like that the chair comes in different sizes – it shows that the company understands that some who is 5′ needs a different chair than someone over 6′ . It also has 6 different places you can tweak the height, width, tilt, etc. I sometimes change the tilt during the day when I’ve been in one position too long.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Looks like Staples has them so perhaps ok in the US, I will check, thanks!

    2. Scott*

      I started a new position recently that is 90% WFH. Since I was no longer spending the money to commute, I bought a Herman Miller Aeron for my home office and I love it. You can get refurbished/reconditioned ones for less than half the price of new.
      FWIW, I have a Steelcase at my office that I inherited used over 12 years ago and it’s still great.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Two votes for the Herman Miller Aeron so I will check that out. What’s hard is that I’m just not sure if it’s my chair or not. I needed new sneakers and got those and that has helped a little. When I’m in the office I don’t think I notice the issue but it’s hard since I do so many different things when I’m onsite vs remote. I feel that the chair I have now is good quality and I’ve had it 4 years I think.

    3. BellyButton*

      I WFH full time and have for 10 years. I have had so many set ups, before I landed on the one that works best for me. I don’t have a traditional desk and chair. I find I hunch too much and stay tense in a desk chair and desk situation. So I bought a really nice chair and have size club chair (so my dog can sit next to me or I can sit criss- cross). I then got a desk that adjusts from sitting to standing and is on wheels. I can adjust it so that it fits over the arms of my chair, allowing me to pull it up close to me, and can be adjusted to the perfect height for me (I am taller than average). I can also stand it up, roll it outside if the weather is nice. It has given me so many more options than the regular office set up. I no longer get back and knee pain or hunch over. It has worked great and I made this switch about 7 years ago.

      1. aspirational yogurt*

        Bellybutton, if you don’t mind sharing, what brand of rolling adjustable stand-up desk do you have?
        I’m about to get one and have been frozen by indecision. Lol

        1. BellyButton*

          I looked and looked for one like the one I have and can’t find it. I got this one on Amazon, but they no longer have it.

          1. aspirational yogurt*

            Thanks for trying!
            @Jazz and Manhattans. I’m also WFH and have Hermann Miller chair. The mesh seat is nice and sturdy and it has good lumbar support. Be sure to try the sizes, if you can. At the time I obtained mine, there were basically S, M, & L to choose from.

    4. Blarg*

      I bought a desk-couch — it’s really part of a banquette set, like for dining. And I built my own desk with just a slab of butcher block from Home Depot and some legs I ordered on Etsy that I measured exactly to fit me & the desk-couch, which slides under the desk so nicely. It’s so nice to have it fit me, a fairly short person! And I can sit on my feet or sit cross-legged, which is how I prefer to sit, comfortably. I honestly can’t believe that desk-couches aren’t more of a thing!

    5. Annika Hansen*

      I have a Herman Miller Aeron. It is what I had at my office before working from home. A few years ago, most people in my office got new chairs. Our employer had a office chair “showcase” where people could find what works best for them. Most people chose the Herman Miller Aeron or the Steelcase Leap. My office chair was about 15 years old and still in excellent condition. The Herman Miller is expensive new, but it will last a long time. You can often find them used, too.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Thanks! I will put them on the list. They look somewhat similar to what I have now. The hard thing is that I would love to have someone do an ergo assessment on me but this is for my home office.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I have an AK Racing gaming chair I bought in the pandemic. There was another company they recommended, but I don’t recall the name.

          I ended up with the AK Racing one because the chair height that matched my height was not available at the other brand’s website.

          Definitely check the height/weight ratios if you go the gaming chair route.

          I like that it’s more adjustable than a regular office chair, and is comfortable since gamers are likely sitting longer than workers.

    6. Sassy SAAS*

      For a short-term or cheaper solution while scoping out chairs, a lumbar pillow for a normal office chair is a big help!

  40. Lunch Meat*

    I think my coworker is being discriminated against.

    I work in a nonprofit. We are getting a new ED at the end of the month and there’s a lot of people moving offices. “Emma” suggested to the new ED that “Jane” be moved to a different building and the new ED agreed, but there is an open office in our building currently being used for storage and the rest of us in the building work closely with Jane. Jane thinks Emma is threatened by Jane’s close relationships with the other coworkers who work in this building. Jane is the only non-white person on the leadership team and one of two out non-straight people in this building (the other is me) and it feels like she’s being segregated.

    Complicating factors are I like Jane and I don’t particularly like Emma, I already feel nervous about some of the changes new ED has made, and I only have hearsay as far as why the office move was suggested.

    I do have standing as part of HR to bring it up to the new ED who will be my grandboss. Does anyone have a good script for this?

      1. Lunch Meat*

        Not sure. If NewED told Jane why Emma had suggested it, Jane didn’t tell me. (Jane doesn’t want to spend her capital pushing back on this, but she said I could if I wanted to.)

        1. BellyButton*

          I would start with that. “I am curious why Jane was moved since her and Joe (and whoever else) have overlapping work that they often collaborate on”

    1. I Can't Even*

      She will want to bring it to HR and ensure that it is communicated in writing (e.g. follow up email to any meetings) and if it is not satisfactorily resolved or if there is retaliation she will then will want to make a EEOC complaint. If your state has FEPA she will have 300 days to make an official complaint and if it is not 180 days from the last instance of discrimination.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      “Given that Jane is the only non-white person on the leadership team, as well as one of two “out” non-straight employees here, the optics alone of segregating her to a separate building are really pretty bad. That, combined with how closely she needs to work with the rest of us who are all in this building, and how much more difficult that would be if she were moved, makes this seem really sub-optimal to me. If she actually needs to be moved from her current location at all, perhaps we could reclaim Office 123ABC, which we’re only using for storage right now, and make Office 456XYZ in the other building our new storage space instead.”

  41. Dee Dee*

    We got official word that come September we’re all required to be in-office three days a week. Two of those days, everyone company-wide are supposed to all be in at the same time. (Note that we downsized our office space, consolidating floors and locations.) The justifications are pretty nonsensical—just platitudes about culture and togetherness being good. My favourite was that they have to do this because there is no “one-size fits all option.” So… We’re trying to force one? I mean, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to compensation, either, but we seem okay there.

    Logistically, I don’t know this is going to work. Parking’s already nearly impossible to come by in the company lots, and expensive everywhere else. People would rent spots in nearby lots before (or use transit), but that was when they were using them every day, not 3x a week, which sorta disrupts the affordability. We also have to book desks and meeting rooms using an awful system that can literally take twenty minutes to load.

    Personally, I’m not at all happy about it. I really, really value the time I recovered from commuting as well as other benefits from working from home. (Better coffee! I can make a decent meal for lunch! I see my family more! I can exercise on my break and take a shower afterward!) Plus, I spend a lot of time on Zoom calls with people in offices in other cities anyway. Probably 90% of my meetings are exclusively with people who won’t be in the same building as me no matter what.

    I think that part of what irks me so much is that it is very typical of my very small-c conservative company to try to retreat back to “the way we’ve always done things” rather than try to embrace the new. This is but one example that I’m feeling particularly acutely right now.

    All this to say, I’m starting to job hunt and hopefully find something remote-friendly. It’s a bit terrifying. But I think I’ve been dissatisfied here for a while now. It probably is time for a change and maybe this is just the kicker.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      I’d go in three days a week the first few weeks then scale it back. That’s just me.

      The internet is vehemently against WFH so you’re only going to get agreement on that. FWIW I am in a HCOL liberal area and go into wework sometimes to get out of the house and it’s absolutely packed with young people working and meeting and talking and appearing to be having fun at times, so certainly not everyone is against some level of RTO. You should at least consider the RTO stance

      The slogans you mention: first off, I don’t view them as slogans. Have you ever worked on a fragmented team without open communication and the sharing of ideas because everyone is siloed? It is indeed a thing and it’s painful to work on, and yes, being next to eachother physically to overhear or see what other people are doing helps.

      This can be especially true with less experienced colleagues. Many are stuck in school mentality of me having to assign them work and explain everything to them and if I fail at that, it’s my fault as the “teacher.” Somehow we always get through multiple times the information when together physically than doing long chat messages or having them have to wait to schedule calls with me or wait for me to respond to long emails or chat chains that then other people chime in on with incomplete information

      Some jobs also do require collaboration. I don’t know why the internet thinks it’s an empty buzzword. Many jobs are not a series of individual tasks you can do alone in a dark room without ever getting feedback. There may also be performance issues in colleagues since WFH that you’re not aware of. Maybe this is the lazy way to stop people from disappearing during the day. Sometimes the variety helps people with brain fog who aren’t used to self-motivate at home. Other people don’t even have WFH spaces and are still at a small kitchen table, so there is that, especially in HCOL areas

      1. Andromeda*

        It sounds like OP has considered it but there are obvious, tangible, time-and-money-based cons. (My preferred work situation is hybrid, with some office time and some WFH time.) Especially since they say a lot of meetings wouldn’t even involve everyone there being in the office at the same time?

        OP, you might find that the company quickly realises the logistical issues with what they’re suggesting here and dials back the requirement, so you have more choice about what days you come in. Also maybe speak to your direct manager to hash out what happens if you can’t make it in for a day at short notice, like if you have a transport emergency or have electricians in or something. I’m not sure what your company culture is like but they might not enforce it all that strongly.

      2. RemoteWorks*

        It’s entirely possible to collaborate, be effective, and do all those things remotely, and it sounds like OP will be regardless since the people she works with are not in the same office.

    2. Insert Pun Here*

      I think after four years, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that RTO mandates aren’t “failing to embrace the new” but rather “we tried this and some aspect of it isn’t working/can’t be made to work.” I mean, many, many corporate initiatives don’t last even half that long before being discarded.

      With that said, you get to choose what’s most important to you, whether that’s WFH, pay, commute, summer Fridays, great health insurance, dogs in the office, whatever. It doesn’t matter if your company thinks it’s a stupid thing to prioritize. They don’t get a say either way about what you value or don’t.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      It sounds like moving on is definitely the right move for you. If you were otherwise happy with your job but in person work didn’t suit you, I could see that being quite a dilemma, but as it is, it sounds like you have nothing to lose by looking for a remote job.

      Yeah, those arguments sound like very poor ones. Either the work can be done from home or it can’t. The point of work isn’t to make friends; it’s to get a job done. Not that there is anything wrong with work friendships; they are great if you can make them, but you are not children and you don’t need your company deciding on how you should maintain your friendships. If productivity is down, they should be honest about it and say that. If not, there is no need to change things.

      But I don’t think you need to worry about that. How it will work is really the company’s problem. The only question for you is do you want to still work there or would you rather move on? And it seems like the latter is the answer.

      It’s always a hard decision to make because starting a new job is always a risk, but in this case, it sounds like there is a lot to gain. Best of luck.

    4. Anax*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with that; my last job did the same thing, and I’ve been seeing a lot of businesses doing similar initiatives for similarly iffy reasons. :(

      It was a dealbreaker for me – I’m disabled and *can’t* work in-office, and work wouldn’t accommodate that – but leaving without something else lined up was terrifying. (I did find a new gig after a couple of months, and it’s going great so far, so things are looking up.)

      Hope you’re able to find something fully remote again soon. I think that your reasons are definitely enough to make it worthwhile to look for a change.

  42. It’s Going.*

    My new boss is a talker. He calls me for multiple hour-long meetings per day, and our scheduled meetings frequently go an hour or more over. At first I tried to be understanding — he’s getting his feet in a new job, he’s getting to know his staff — but I rarely have opportunities to tell him about program specifics on those calls because he dominates the conversation so much. Yesterday we had a three hour meeting to go over an agenda — and while I’m try to not end every meeting with “OK I have another meeting! Bye!”, it seems to be the only reliable way to get off the phone.

    I mentioned it lightly to someone very senior who had worked with him previously — that he seemed very knowledgeable but that it was different going from being mostly on my own to having him call every day, and the senior person said “He talks more than anyone I know, I go into every meeting with him with an exit route planned.”

    Anyway should I do that? Are there good exit strategies besides “I have another meeting” ?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I would be so tempted to loudly announce that I have to go to the bathroom.

      Are these in-person meetings? Can you make sure they’re in conference rooms that are booked immediately after the meeting?

      Or just have urgent priorities to handle after the meeting.

      This would drive me bonkers.

    2. Sherm*

      Unless it’s a fairly brief call, I think you’d be fine with just saying “Okay, well I have to go, but thanks for updating me about the TPS reports, and I’ll be sure to use yellow ink per the new rules.” There would be a ton of reasons why you’d have to go — visiting to the bathroom, getting some water or food, doing a quick personal errand — and he’d have to be pretty unreasonable to not appreciate that.

    3. Panicked*

      I like to set expectations up front. “I have a hard stop at X time.” Fifteen minutes to go, I give a reminder. I give another reminder at 5 minutes. And then I leave. I do typically say that if there’s anything further to send me an email, but I’ve never gotten one!

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This. You don’t need to say WHY you have a hard stop, just say that you do! And if he pushes back, you can always say, “I really need to get some work done on X before my next meeting. Can we pick this up in email later?” Also, FWIW, while it’s theoretically possible that your boss may believe, and be correct, that this is a better use of your time than anything else you could be doing, it seems highly unlikely, which makes him a twit.

      2. BossDecides*

        This would work with most people, but a boss? Boss can reasonably expect to say this is moreimportant, stay. Boss gets to do stuff like that. And while I’ve had some easy going bosses, none of them would be very pleased if I tried this on them. At the very least I’d be expected to tell boss exactly why I had to go and give boss veto power over my actually going. It would have to be real, not an excuse.

    4. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

      Hmm… I’d try, “ Oh wow, time flies! I’d better pop off to go work on the llama grooming project. Can’t miss that deadline!”
      Or maybe, be honest. “Hey Bob! I really enjoy that your are supportive and on top of everything I do, but I sometimes struggle to get my work done when I spend so much time in these meetings. I would still love to chat with you, but maybe we can shorten these meetings?”

    5. ruthling*

      i work for a person like this. he is actually ok with being interrupted if you have something else do get on with. Would that work with this?

    6. Bobina*

      Lol. I love that person for you.

      Absolutely go in with an exit strategy. Also, even if its your boss, you’re allowed to have preferences. Like meeting agendas. And timeboxed slots for certain topics. And hard stops exactly 5 minutes after the meeting is scheduled to end.

      The hardest part is usually interrupting their flow to say you have to go/stop/etc but personally I’m finding this is just something that gets easier with practice!

  43. It's the Army's 249th Birthday*

    Your thoughts on the use of behavioral assessments in the hiring process. This question is from the candidate’s perspective, however, it’s open to the hiring entity/employer’s comments.

    I will have a 2nd (in-person) interview with a non-profit org next week. It’s been a very good process to date. HR sent an email stating they forgot to include that I was required to participate in a Predictive Index assessment. The assessment takes about 6 minutes to complete and will add to the interview process. Then another email followed with a link to the assessment.

    I didn’t know what this was, the brand. So, I researched the product, and then pros/cons of using assessments in the hiring process. Per my nature, as a learner and analyzer, I though, ‘Hey the employer should be explaining this to their candidates.’ I sent these questions to the HR, in a very professional manner, like “As every organization adopts different procedures and processes for its hiring processes, I’ve never participated in a behavior assessment. I have a few questions regarding this activity.”

    1. Why did the org decide to use this product?
    2. How will it be used? Comparing me to others or to the job (for this product it should be used against the job, not other candidates)
    3. Who was involved in determining the assessment parameters/measures (for this product, the ‘targeting’ measures)
    4. Are those evaluating the assessment trained to do so or had training to understand what they’re reading?
    5. Where will this assessment be stored and for how long
    6. Who will have access to this assessment for hiring and there after?
    7. Will I be provided a copy if one isn’t provided after I’ve completed the activity?

    Then HR responded saying the assessment was generated but it shouldn’t have been. And that it’s for final-round candidates. At least they didn’t cancel my 2nd interview ;)

    1. Peachtree*

      Did you email a HR department to say that you didn’t want your results from an assessment to be compared with other candidates …? I’m going to assume you don’t want this job

      1. It's the Army's 249th Birthday*

        I researched the product. It’s not to be used to compare candidates to one another. It’s used to compare candidates to the pre-determined job targets/attributes chosen by the employer. Thus the question, “Who was part of decided the job targets used to assess the job as well as the candidates?’ And yes, I sent these questions to HR but they said that I wasn’t supposed to have received the assessment link, they didn’t answer them. But I’ll send them again if I’m asked to take the assessment.

        “I’m going to assume you don’t want this job” Why would you assume that because I’m asking questions that they should have provided as a professional courtesy and in an effort of transparency? Employers are legally allowed to use assessments. However, there’s no inform notice requirement when candidates are asked to participate.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      So, I fully agree with you that when such tools are used, that should be communicated to candidates up front. I’m not a fan, but maybe there are others who have found them useful with some kind of jobs.

      However, I think your list of questions can be read as more aggressive than you intend. If the tool is in their process, the tool is in their process and you’re not likely to get far by interrogating them about their qualifications/bona fides to participate in their process.
      You wouldn’t email HR and ask who was in charge of putting together the interview questions for in-person interviews, or why there was a grandboss on the interview schedule, what are the credentials of the interviewers, or who was in charge of the job description, right? You wouldn’t ask them how long their will be storing your resume, or why they chose to use a specific platform for resume management.

      I would probably have asked: “How does XYZ co use the results, and are they retained for use in any other way after someone is hired? Will I be provided a copy of the results?” and let it go at that. I am right there with you about evaluating candidates against the criteria for the position and am very careful about that when my team does hiring. But at the end of the day, if they are using the tool to help in evaluating candidates, it’s still going to feed analysis of the individual candidates “against” each other indirectly anyway because those results are part of the total picture for each candidate.

      1. It's the Army's 249th Birthday*

        Interview questions aren’t tools, but a behavioral assessment with Private Personal Identification information is a tool that can be missed. The questions you posed are not analogous. This is a 3rd party vendor in which my information is sent outside of the organization, for processing and assessment, for use in the organization (and possibly utilized in an anonymized manner with the brand), and stored there and where else?

        How is it aggressive to ask questions? I didn’t say, ‘Unless you answer, I can’t continue with the process.” or ‘If you don’t answer these, I’ll report you to (where I don’t know).” It wasn’t aggressive, it was ‘This is something new that I don’t know about. Please inform me of this product, how it’s used, how my information will be used, and why you’re using it,” versus thinking I’m stupid and will follow any direction you give me because I’m desperate for a job because who’d doesn’t like taking advantage of candidates – they’ll do anything for a job – watch! Dance monkey dance!

        1. Margaret Cavendish*

          I’m with you – you absolutely have the right to know what your personal information is being used for, and the right to ask questions if you’re not sure.

          That said, there’s definitely a power differential here, so you’d have to weigh the risk of them suddenly deciding you’re no longer a viable candidate for this position. But you’re definitely not wrong to ask! Actually I wish more people would push back on stuff like this. There’s so much secrecy about the way our personal information is collected and used – especially in the private sector – and we could all benefit with more transparency.

          Good luck on your interview!

        2. Seashell*

          I think a long list of questions may rub people the wrong way, especially questioning why they chose their methods of assessing people. The person you’re emailing may have no idea.

          Some people are desperate for a job, and it doesn’t make them stupid to go along with the requested things from an employer so they can keep a roof over their heads and feed their family.

        3. RagingADHD*

          It’s a soft skills thing, because getting tone across on email is tricky. Asking a string of questions like this conveys a hectoring / badgering tone, even if it’s not what you intend. It comes across like an interrogation and triggers a defensive response. The mental image is like pointing your finger in someone’s face.

          When you’re dealing with HR at a potential employer, you want to come across more mildly and conversationally, more like, “I haven’t used this assessment before, and I have some questions about how it is weighted, as well as about data privacy. Could you point me to some resources about it?”

          Also…your final sentence sure sounds like you have a strong emotional reaction to the very idea of this assessment, and really have your hackles up about it. That’s not a productive mindset. Lots of employers implement woo-woo hiring processes because someone in leadership got sold a product. It doesn’t mean they think you’re stupid or desperate. It doesn’t mean they think anything about you at all. They’re trying to standardize the process and this is what they came up with.

          1. Fluff*

            RagingADHD, Higher Ed, MC, and all – You don’t know this but you are all my AAM mentors. I learn so much of the soft skills (totally alien world for me) for your assessments and scripts. It’s the Army – scripts, questions, change the point of view. Look at your questions like you are looking at a sculpture. Many many angles and lighting.

            It’s the Army – I completely hear you. I went through these for a major informatics job. I stopped the interview process because they 1. would not share the results with me; 2. were vague – it was recorded with a video. I withdrew because this major red flag. I worked through my questions with help from here. I withdrew. Not them withdrawing from me and I credit the commentariat.

            Think of your goal for EVERY comment or question:
            – do I want information about the specific aspect about the assessment?
            – Am I making a point with a question?
            – Am I “teaching’ the company with the professional version of the socratic method?

            Now address the feeling. This is HARD one:
            – what I am feeling when asking the question? “there, that should make them uncomfortable?” “I hope they think I am curious?”
            – Am I communicating my opinion hidden in a question?

            – Who is going to answer these? What do they know? If I were the person who gets your email- no problem at all because my brain works like this. Chances are, it is not the person who designed the tests or may have even chosen the test. Match the questions to the recipient and their goal.

            – Is there anything in my questions or statements which can hinder ANY of my goals with this email?

            If your feelings and goals match the main point “I want this job and interview” then hit send. Consider a pause and rewrite, if you sense any mismatch.

        4. fhqwhgads*

          I think it wasn’t clear from your initial post and listing of what you asked HR that part of your concern is the PII going to the vendor. None of your questions are out of line to me, but I can very easily see how not 100% reasonable humans would react like “why are you questioning me!” It’s a tone thing, which is sometimes hard to assess in writing. But if it had been more clear that your point is not just “you chose to use this thing, do you actually know how it works?” (which is kinda how your questions come across), it might’ve landed differently with HR. You know how a lot of Alison’s scripts recommend a tone of “well of course you wouldn’t want to do something inappropriate” or “of course you wouldn’t want to break the law”? If your goal here was for them to go “oh, uh, if we don’t know the answers to these things we’ve been asked, that’s a bad look for us, better fix it” you want that kind of “inviting them to realize it and want to save face” tone.

      2. WellRed*

        I think questions 1 &3 were aggressive and not likely to be relevant to your job search. It’s also just a lot. I would have stuck with 1 or 2 questions about how it impacts you the candidate and how it’s used in assessing you as a candidate.

    3. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      I have thoughts about behavioral assessments in the hiring process, but instead I’m going to respond to something you *didn’t* ask a about: What I thought when I encountered your response to the org you applied to using a behavioral assessment.
      Why did you decide to address your questions to HR, at this point in your application process, as opposed to seeking answers via other means or at another point in the process? What makes you think the org would be willing to go to extra effort to explain to an applicant why they chose a particular product, who determined its parameters, and how the evaluators are trained, if they did not provide that information as a matter of course? Do you think answering one applicant’s detailed questions would be a good use of the limited time the org has to spend on hiring-process-related interactions, or might they more efficiently allocate the same amount of time to, for instance, reviewing the assessment results of several candidates, or conducting an interview? Would the org’s answers to (or failure to answer) these questions cause you to advance/withdraw your candidacy or materially change your subsequent interactions with them in another way? If you would proceed regardless, what makes you consider it a good use of your time to submit those questions?

      If my response seems oddly off-topic or presumptuous to you — like, why am I questioning your choices when that’s not what you asked about? — that may give you some insight into how the interviewing org might have received your inquiry about their assessment, and why Peachtree assumed you didn’t want the job.

      It’s not that your questions are invalid. They’re reasonable things to wonder. But during your candidacy, and uninvited, is not the best time to broach them, unless the answers will change how you proceed. Because the social implications of your having broached them, and how you formulated them, could give more information than the 6-minute behavioral assessment — AND you’ve offered that highly illustrative information about your soft skills, prioritization, judgment, compliance vs independence, etc. freely to everyone, not just the (hopefully trained for bias reduction) decision-makers who’d read your assessment score.

      1. Tio*

        I’m falling here too. This is a lot of information to dig through and write up for one candidate. If they weren’t high on the list, it’s probably going to be a bit of a strike against them, and I also agree the HR person probably doesn’t necessarily know the answers, at least not that person. That’s a lot of information gathering and then writing practically a small essay back to a single candidate. Honestly? My initial reaction, if I was being made to use this assessment for hiring and got this pushback (because unless it is a small company the specific hiring manager almost certainly did not pick this tool) is that if there was anyone equally as strong it would be easier to just pick them. And that kinda sucks! But I bet it is a reaction a lot of managers will have, and not all of them will bother to push back on it.

        Probably what I think would have been a better course would be to look into what their “sorting categories” are – for example I’ll use DISC, because that’s the only one I know. Look at what categories shows as strengths and weaknesses, and then find ways your strong in each one, and if they bring up the assessment at all, talk about those strengths. In that interview, you could also gently but conversationally push back on the assessment itself, like “Interesting to hear that I’m an S. I don’t really find these to be terribly useful assessments, honestly. I think I have great strengths in (things). I do find that I have had issues with (other things) and I manage that by (processes).” Basically turning it into what’s your greatest strength/weakness questions and kind of sidestepping the whole assessment.

        Best of luck though. Let us know if you move to a final interview and they make you do it or not!

    4. Kay*

      I say this as someone who fully supports push back when warranted and hates these kinds of assessments – this email probably did not strengthen your candidacy.

      We can feel however we want about what a company does, but we also need to realize it is their choice to do so and while we can push back, it should be a nuanced approach as it is ultimately their call.

      I think something along the lines of “I have some concerns about X – can you tell me how this information is stored/used and how the company came to use this product?” is much more palatable, gets your point across, yet doesn’t scream – warning: trouble ahead.

    5. Starry Night*

      They are reasonable questions to have, but asking a list this long comes across as someone who makes everything more difficult than it has to be. This would take a good bit of time to answer and it’s not even questions about the job or company but about a 6-minute assessment! Questions 1,3, and 4 are especially problematic because they sound like you the candidate feel the company has to justify their hiring process to you. I would at most have asked questions 5 and 6in conversational tone without the numbered list, and only if the answers are a big deal to you and will affect whether or not you complete it.

    6. Prandex*

      I worked for a company that required the Prandex (the short name for the Predictive Index) and many years later interviewed at another company that wanted it.

      It is supposed to provide insight into how someone works and the management styles they thrive under. They will pile other data on top of that including suggesting types of jobs the person may be best suited for, but those are based on average characteristics/prandex results for people in those fields and are not meant to be more than potential guidance for someone who is early career or not sure of next steps.

      I found more characteristics accurate than not to varying degrees. It was an interesting test, consisting of selecting words you gravitate toward or think describe you. It would be interesting to see more details about the methodology they use to make the connections from those words to the test results.

      Be aware the test developers say folks should only take the test once in their lifetime, and this caused me some problems at company #2.

      In my experience, companies that want tests like this will not move folks forward without them, so it’s your choice to take them or (effectively) bow out. That is entirely your choice. Should they give you more info about how the test works and what happens to the data? Absolutely. Will asking HR for it be helpful? Likely not.

  44. MiddleAgedSME*

    My boss has recently said to me that she sees me as a potential replacement when she retires in 2-3 years. I’ve always been an individual contributor and never saw myself in a supervisory/managerial role. But I think it would be good to add to my education and experience, in case this does come to fruition. What training or experience do you feel would have been most helpful for you as you moved into a managerial role for the first time?

    1. Margaret Cavendish*

      I made this transition about 5 years ago, and I still feel very new at it sometimes!

      The hardest thing for me was the shift from being the individual contributor to the person who directs the individual contributors. It’s really hard to step away from that role, and let other people do the thing you were previously really good at! There’s not much you can do for training in that sense, it’s mostly just learning on the job and being really mindful about leading vs doing.

      The other thing was that my to-do list looks really different. A lot of the job is relationship building, which isn’t really something you can check off a list. As an individual contributor, I had a specific list of tasks – some of them took days or weeks to accomplish, but eventually they would all be done and checked off. As a manager, my job is a lot of meetings and information sharing – provide input into Project A, attend the meeting about Project B so I can share the status with Team C, and so on. Often at the end of the day I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything, because even though I was busy all day, there’s nothing specific I can say that I *did.* That takes some time to get used to as well, but it’s very satisfying to look back over six months or a year, and see how things have changed in the meantime!

      1. MiddleAgedSME*

        Yeah, I can see that the role of “managing instead of doing” would be a huge shift for me, which I see isn’t really a training thing, more of a mindset issue. Thanks for your thoughts!

    2. Blue Pen*

      IDK if this is quite what your asking or if it’s helpful to consider, but I think I would recommend seeking out opportunities where you can get a better sense of what leadership and directing others is like—whether that’s a volunteer position, leading a specific project, etc.—before you start laddering up into this potential opportunity.

      Before my current job as an individual contributor, I was a manager; and while I worked well with my direct report, the position made me realize that I don’t harbor great dreams of continuing in management. I felt like my projects or the initiatives I wanted to spearhead always either went on the back-burner or were given to someone else to launch for me to “oversee” instead of “do.” There was never anything that was mine, and I grew tired of that feeling.

      Again, this is just me, but if you can get a flavor of what management would be like to see if it’s actually for you, I would recommend it. You might find that it’s not what you envisioned or want for your career—or, more positively, it might be!

      1. MiddleAgedSME*

        Thanks for this thought– I actually realized that I do have a volunteer position that’s very much like this. I’m very frustrated by that position, but that might be because the time commitment is at least another half time job, but I’ll also think about whether it’s the actual work of the volunteer position, which may be an indication.

    3. Put the Human Back in HR*

      Congratulations, that’s a wonderful testimoney to your performance. I know it’s not your question but may I offer a caution? My boss had a similar conversation with me and that she was looking to retire in a couple of years, no more than four years. Some fifteen years later she retired. I encourage you to increase your education and skills but don’t do it for a possible job that may never materialize – do it for yourself and your future. You can always job search. Earlier in my career I used employer tuition assistance to get more education without taking on debt. I looked for professional development opportunities in my field. You could ask about taking on a direct report but be careful it’s not more work and responsibility and no more money. A job that doesn’t exist isn’t compensation today.

      1. MiddleAgedSME*

        Oh, yes, we’ve had a number of people say they’d only be there a few years and stay for a decade or more! I’m definitely not counting on this, and I’m not even sure I’d want it, but wanted to explore or be prepared for a possible move up if it did work out. Thanks for the wise caution!

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think the best thing you can do is to ask your manager what kinds of duties her role entails that yours does not, and what kinds of skills are necessary to perform those duties effectively. Specific to management, I would look at providing feedback to reports, both positive and negative. I feel like a lot of new managers get the willies about having to give critical feedback to reports, especially if those people have until recently been peers, and they either sugar-coat it too much or swing the other way and seem authoritarian.

      1. MiddleAgedSME*

        Yeah, feedback, especially negative feedback would be a current weak spot for me! Thats an area that would definitely be good for me to work on, even in my current role to be clear with colleagues and collaborators. Thanks for that thought!

    5. pally*

      Years ago I took classes in supervision at my local community college. These were helpful in that they imparted management theory (Theory X, Theory Y stuff), motivation, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, basics on hiring folks, how to manage (define the task, determine the training needed, impart training, etc.), what to do in certain situations (tasks not being completed, worker doesn’t have the skill to do the task).

      Theory is great, but not a substitute for experience. There will aways be a situation ‘they never told us about in school’.

  45. Justin*

    Second comment: I really hate hearing how employers treat applicants. I know you can’t respond to everyone, but if you’ve been on at least a phone screen, I think you owe people a timely message at the very least.

    My intern applicants told me how overjoyed they were I could give them a definite date by which they’d know one way or the other. That’s not possible with every job, but any hiring process I’m in charge of (there will be another one later this year), I will do anything possible in my power not to string people along. When I was applying, it caused me so much stress I had to re-enter therapy for it (and the job I was leaving).

    So I’m glad I am able to do this for people as much as possible.

    1. Skates*

      I got an auto-generated rejection from a job I applied to in 2021 this week!!! Thanks I guess????

      1. Justin*

        When I was applying to jobs before I got this one, a friend recruited me to apply for one, and I considered it even though it was a step down in salary, because I hated my last job so much. They responded to my application, then told me they’d be in touch. This must have been January of 2022.

        They sent me an email asking me a question for how I was referred in, like, March. Then they rejected me in May.

        In the time they were farting around, I applied for, had 3 interview rounds with, accepted (and gave notice) and started my current job.

    2. Elle Woods*

      Yes. Even if I don’t get a phone screen, getting an automated message telling me the company has filled the position is better than nothing.

      I interviewed for a job at a large multi-national financial services firm nearly seven years ago. Company brought me in on a Tuesday for an in-person interview, told me they’d let me know by the end of the following week, and then…crickets. I followed up with both the hiring manager and recruiter after about three weeks and they never got back to me. So I guess, technically, there’s still a chance?

      1. Justin*

        Oh man. So, a few years back, I applied for a job that would have been a sensible career move (or so I thought).

        I did well on the phone, and then I did well in person as they told me the next day I’d be coming back for a final round.

        Went to final round, it seemed to go well, but who knows.

        Complicating factors was I was about to have a son. So I was trying to figure out the timing of leave and so on. Like, when would it be possibly offered? Would I just ask to start after the baby and take leave later? But then I’d be a new employee, but then… but then…

        And then they just never responded to me, even when I waited and asked. And I was really disappointed.

        And then my son was born 3 weeks before lockdown. So there was the very distinct possibility if offered the position I would have either had the offer canceled or just struggled to step into a leadership role in a higher ed department that was having to shift to virtual.

        My job at the time was also bad, but that’s the only time people ghosting has worked out for me.

    3. Pretty as a Princess*

      It does make me sad too when I hear people have experiences where they get crap c0mms and are strung along.

      I’m grateful for our recruiting team being good about it – they really focus on good candidate comms and relationships. I always get stellar feedback from my candidates about their relationships with our recruiters even if we go another way or if the candidate decides it’s not the right time after receiving an offer. In a number of cases, our recruiters have build such great relationships with candidates that even if someone is not the final selection for a position with us for whatever reason, they wind up coming on board in another position a year or two later because the recruiters reached out when a better aligned position came up. The candidates are treated with such respect in our process that they don’t have qualms about entering it again for a different position.

      I have other beefs with how aspects of our recruiting business process is handled, but this aspect is absolutely stellar and I go out of my way to give feedback about it.

      We are about 600 people large and so it’s straightforward to manage building those great relationships. I know that it doesn’t scale directly, but I think it’s bonkers that lots of larger organizations aren’t at least prioritizing a positive communication experience for candidates and then measuring/evaluating those processes. I mean, I guess it says what the company values at the top – you can treat potential employees like potential future team members, or you can treat them like commodities.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I agree. IMO, if all the application was online (forms, upload resume, etc.) a standardized email is fine.
      If the company took my time for a phone call or interview, a personalized email is a good idea.
      I’m tired of spending 4+ hours in phone screens and interviews only to be told they don’t have the time to email unsuccessful candidates. I made hours of time for you, and you can’t take 5 minutes to not ghost me?

      1. Student*


        This. I even had one position where they called my references and asked for an enrollment verification signed by my college registrar, so it wasn’t just my time. I get that maybe they do this for all of their finalists, but I got crickets even after I followed up. It was embarrassing because other people were invested on my behalf and I had to tell them I just never heard back.

  46. KayDeeAye*

    My new supervisor is starting Monday. She’s far younger than I am, which is (honestly) not a problem for me. I’m rapidly becoming a senior citizen, so most of the people I work with and work for are younger than me.

    However, she has very, very little experience as a supervisor. Like, *shockingly* little. It’s even possible she has none, or has perhaps supervised nothing more than an intern or two, and that’s it. We are a 7-person team and we put out a LOT of stuff (publications, media relations, event promotion, etc.), and the thought of someone who has little or no management experience guiding our efforts is kind of scary, really.

    As an additional complication, our previous supervisor did have plenty of management experience, but she was also a temperamental, touchy, defensive, exacting, capricious control freak who made the rest of us dread having to interact with her because in addition to all these other qualities, she was often a mean little bully. We don’t want to lay all that on the new person, of course, but it definitely affects us to this day.

    So with that, does anybody have any advice? I realize I am asking a lot, but…does anyone? On the plus side, she’s certain to be more pleasant to work for than her predecessor!

    1. I Can't Even*

      Remember we all have to start somewhere. My advice is to let her know you are open to letting her know how things have traditionally been done or why things are happening on the team if she has any questions. Be supportive and hopefully she will be supportive back.

    2. Blue Pen*

      I get this; my direct supervisor is a couple years younger than me, so I can imagine this dynamic is magnified if they’re significantly younger and/or more inexperienced. IDK, I think it just really comes down to respect. That sounds simple, but be a good co-worker, pitch in if you sense they need some help, etc.—all things I’m sure you’re already doing!

      Also, in my experience, the age difference kind of melts away once you get into the groove of working with each other. It’s not your job to babysit this person, but I can pretty much guarantee that your kindness and teamwork-building will pay itself off in dividends in the long run.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      Ask her what she needs help with, and become her advocate.
      I managed a team of mostly-older people (I hired all of them myself!) and I appreciated people who shared specific things I did well and who gave me helpful, actionable feedback to help me grow. (“Jen used to share a calendar every week so we knew what was coming up” or “Is there a way I could share this draft with you 3 days before we send to comms for feedback?” as a way to introduce systems or ideas instead of waiting for her to see what she needs to do.)
      As you know, some people who have been in leadership positions for decades are not good at leading teams. Keep that in mind, and don’t hold her newness against her or else it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    4. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Think about how much supervision your team really needs. You might be better off with someone with limited experience because you can guide them in the way that you want to be supervised.

  47. Permanent tablet hand*

    As I embark on my job search I am wondering if I am missing something re: places to look for jobs. Specifically creative (visual/design) roles. Aside from the usual generic job sites, are there any more industry-specific places I should look? In the past I’ve browsed Coroflot and AIGA, but it’s been a few years and I don’t know if there are other better options nowadays. Good luck to anyone else looking!

    1. Mashed Potato*

      Idk your industry but sometimes I go on google map of the city im in or looking in, and type like generic terms for industry and poke their website for openings not listed on job boards

  48. Mashed Potato*

    I’ve been applying for jobs and also planning a vacation when summer dips off.
    My idea is companies take months to even get back to you, if im not ghosted. But in the off chance someone wants to start me soon, should I just delay start date 2-3 months from now until I’m back on vacation? (Basically starts October if Magic’s in the air, I’ll need to move and find apt if not live in hotel a bit)
    I also haven’t booked anything yet…

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I think you’ll be unlikely to find a job willing to delay a start date that long. How long is your vacation for? Unless a really long one – I would just explain at the offer stage that you have a preplanned vacation to work that time off into the offer.

    2. ecnaseener*

      If you were to get an offer soon, they might prefer you to start and then take an unpaid vacation or whatever rather than delay your start date so long. Just raise it at the offer stage and see how it goes. But yeah I bet by the time you start getting offers it’ll be much closer to your vacation dates (and you’ll hopefully have them firmed up and booked!)

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Broadly, your options are:

      1) Ask to delay the start date until after your vacation. If it’s a matter of a few weeks between the offer letter and the start date, the company might be OK with this. Most places won’t want to delay the start date by 1-2 months, though.

      2) Say you have a pre-planned vacation for [dates] and ask if you can take that time either paid or unpaid. (You might not be able to take the time paid depending on the company’s vacation accrual policy and how much vacation time the position comes with.) I think it’s fairly common for company’s to honor a new-hire’s pre-booked vacation plans with either paid or unpaid time off.

      3) Cancel the vacation, eat the costs of any deposits, and work during the time you planned to be on vacation. Not an attractive option, for obvious reasons, but still an option.

  49. Juicebox Hero*

    I work at my town’s municipal building. Since last summer we’ve been undergoing renovations. The whole police department was rebuilt, which was badly needed since it hadn’t been redone since the 70s and was pretty Barney Miller-ish.

    The front offices mainly got a cosmetic update – paint, flooring, new ceiling tiles, bathrooms spruced up, all installed by pros this time instead of being done half-assed. It’s a huge improvement.

    Yet at least once a week I get some dillweed who either says something like “my taxes better not go up because of this” (it was all planned years ago, and paid for with grants and budget surplus) or “They should be spending the money [their personal bugbear] instead of you.” Thanks for begruding us a little paint and carpeting, pissdrizzle.

    I just can’t with people anymore. I swear they’ve gotten worse since covid…

    1. Panicked*

      People vastly overestimate how much of “their hard-earned wages” go to projects like this. Like sure, I’ll give you your $.35 back if you really feel we should continue working in asbestos-filled, black mold-ridden offices.

    2. Reebee*

      Geez, I’m sorry. Jerks abound; no winning with them. I wish they could be their own experiment, stop paying taxes, and see where that gets them. They’d be the first to whine and cry about it. Also, it’s like they don’t realize you pay taxes, too.

      I’m happy for y’all. A little paint and carpeting does wonders for morale.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Ah yes, it’s the annoying part of any front facing government employee. Because you know we personally made these decisions on where to spend your approximately $.10 worth of taxes on this project.

      What I’ve found in 22 (often painful) years is that mostly – people just want to be heard. Usually looking like you are listening and sympathetic, will take care of it along with a standard answer like…

      “Thank you for your feedback. I’ll see it gets to the appropriate party”

      They don’t need to know the party in question is the trash can.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        I tend to ignore them and proceed cheerfully and efficiently with whatever they were doing in the first place. Drives them crazy.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        The appropriate party being me and my colleagues flipping off said trash can!

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      Oh these are the same snot-rags who think the American President controls gas prices or who think non-profit employees should be paid in thoughts and prayers.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Very much so r.e. “worse since COVID,” for sure.

      And frankly, even if my taxes were personally paying for this: that’s part of what taxes are FOR. I swear most people can’t even seem to grasp what a tax is, even in my state where you literally have to vote on every single one and justify every last penny or forget it. Taxes aren’t a big pot of moolah where you can dip a bucket in at will–every tax is designed to pay for something specific.

      I hate bad-faith arguments and grumbling about infrastructure. If you have proof of embezzlement, nepotism, or skullduggery, contact the authorities and press instead of bitching to a worker about how selfish they are for not wanting to work around black mold and exposed wiring on a Commodore 64. Otherwise go away and educate yourself.

    6. Rex Libris*

      Yep. I’m in public libraries, the original home of “My tax dollars pay your salary!” So many times I’ve wanted to say “The amount of your tax money that went to my salary was exhausted three minutes in.”

    7. Girasol*

      Some people have an exaggerated idea of their tax dollars. I saw an article in which a journalist asked people their opinions about an aid program. In the area where she was interviewing, people hated the way their tax dollars were being spent on lazy unemployed people. She dug deeper and discovered that most of the people she was interviewing were making too little to pay income tax, and some of them were enrolled in and dependent upon the aid program that they objected to. Sometimes folks with hard lives get angry and don’t think things through all the way.

  50. Formerly Ella Vader*

    In your jurisdiction, is there any legitimate way for employees on a temporary layoff to agree to do a few days’ work for the employer? In your jurisdiction, would the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage be active for this scenario?

    1. I Can't Even*

      If they do they will not get any unemployment so it is not in their interest to do so.

      1. Formerly Ella Vader*

        So it’s different than taking on other work while on layoff? In our jurisdiction, one just reports the income to the employment insurance office and there’s some clawback, but it doesn’t otherwise affect their eligibility.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Also in the UK being signed on even with savings in excess of the threshold at which they don’t pay you anything, you get state pension credits as if you were working, so it’s actually still in your interest to go through the system even if you’re not going to be actually getting any money.

        2. Cj*

          I’m in minnesota, and your unemployment gets reduced by 50% of what you earn. so you would still come out ahead by working a few days in a week.

          1. GythaOgden*

            That’s actually a good way of incentivising people to get back into some sort of work in general; IIRC here it’s only pound for pound. Good for them.

            1. WorkRules*

              Here you get the first 20% of your weekly payment for free, then it’s dollar-for-dollar. And if you earn money one week and not the next they’ll pause your money and make you tell them why/show it wasn’t your choice not to continue.

              Unemployment does not mesh up well to the modern working world…

    2. GythaOgden*

      Not sure about the comp situation, but the UK system is set up to manage people being temporarily employed and then unemployed again. The (rightly) much maligned Universal Credit system was designed to be a bit more flexible than the older style unemployment benefit, meaning that someone who took on temporary work didn’t have to sign off and then sign back on again, and (in theory) UC was supposed to top up the difference. Of course there were many more problems with it, but being able to be flexible with work opportunities that weren’t simply a permanent job was the main reason to transition away from the old system. (And honestly my experience with temping was such that it was a PITA to keep going backwards and forwards to the job centre every time I had a day in a temp position, get to the front of the representative to sign on again and suddenly get a call saying someone had a job for me that lasted two days or whatever and then it was back to square one. So I can see the advantage of a more flexible system that allowed you to stay on the books and just notify the job centre if you had done a few days’ work in the week and have the credit reflect that when it was paid out in one go. It also incentivised being able to take on temporary work when you could get it without too much rigmarole on either part.)

      From the government website, my understanding is that you can claim some money during a temporary lay-off as well, but having thankfully not needed to be on the dole since 2014 or having to be furloughed during COVID, my understanding is very limited.

  51. AnonThisWeekend*

    Gut check: Is it weird that HR is very friendly with one department in particular?

    I work at a small, but growing company and our HR person (officially there’s only one, though I work on HR tasks a lot too) seems very chummy with one department in particular. Let’s call them “Alex” and the department “Teapot Painting”.

    Here’s some examples…
    If I can’t find Alex in their office, there’s about an 80% they’re hanging out in Teapot Painting. The teapot painters joined Alex at a personal achievement celebration outside of work, they did bring some teapot painting skills to the celebration, but they didn’t all need to be there to provide their services. Recently the teapot painters threw a party at work for Alex, everyone was invited, but they’re the ones who organized it. When Alex needs to assemble a committee, they’ll often ask the teapot painters to join. I know Alex has also reached to the teapot painters to help solve other work problems that would clearly fall under my job description. If Alex is having a closed-door meeting in their office, there’s a really good chance it’s with a teapot painter. Since I’m HR adjacent, I know there aren’t (enough) performance concerns in that department to warrant that many one-on-one meetings with HR. Because of where my office is situated, Alex and teapot painters have had conversations in front of my open door that are very personal in nature (obviously I pretend I’ve never heard these).

    I know people have friendships at work, even close friendships sometimes, but in my mind if you’re HR, shouldn’t you have a higher standard for separating professional relationships from personal ones? You can be friendly, but you shouldn’t be this noticeably actual friends with another department? Or am I off-base? If it makes a difference to your thoughts, Alex and the Teapot Painters are all the same gender, though the teapot painters are younger.

    1. ferrina*

      Yes, HR can’t be seen as favoring one particular department. That includes having personal friendships. HR needs to be seen as neutral so that if there is a complaint or concern about someone in the company, HR is a neutral party.

      That said, unless you are HR’s manager, I don’t think there’s anything you can do about it. I would mention it on an anonymous employee survey (if the survey is truly anonymous), but that’s about it.

  52. Cricket1*

    Looking for some guidance. My 27 year old daughter is in a job that changed within three months of her getting the position. Basically, there was a consolidation and her boss was eliminated (along with others) and her second was put in her place. The original position was for a health-care role that was client facing and involved data use. The position now is that of an administrative assistant, scheduler and marketing person, a position she would NEVER had applied for as its not any of her strengths. She is a data analyst. She has a dual MBA/MSBA but this is her first professional job. To say that her boss is nightmare is an understatment. They send her emails saying “why can’t you follow simple directions” and “I am very disappointed in you not understanding this.” One of the issues is that she has ADHD/dyslexia and was diagnosed in elementary school. She has not disclosed this to the workplace. Should she? I’m on the fence about it because 1) her boss seems like a complete and utter jerk and 2) I am worried about retaliation. It does seem like he is creating a papertrail to fire her. But he also is doing the same to every other team member so while it’s not personal, it is purposeful.
    Would love to get some ideas on how we should handle this.

    1. Justin*

      If she discloses to HR that she has a disability, that can help.

      I was in the same position, being yelled at for neurodivergent traits, at my last job. I never told HR about the ADHD (because being yelled at is actually why I got evaluated), but I did say I had “sensory processing issues” and certain needs and they left me alone.

    2. ferrina*

      She needs a new job.

      This boss isn’t actually looking for answers or “why”. This boss is lashing out and blaming his direct reports. It wouldn’t matter if the direct reports were ADHD, dyslexic, neurotypical, etc. What matters is that boss can’t take responsibility for his own poor communication and the shifting roles.

      Your daughter should not bring up her diagnosis to her boss. That will make her a target. If she has a LOT of faith in HR, she could go directly to HR for accommodations. But the accommodation seems to be “get a better boss.” That’s a long, uphill struggle that is likely to still end in her not getting what she needs. I’m ADHD, and often we tend to blame ourselves because we think our neurospiciness makes us deserve this treatment. She doesn’t deserve this. She deserves a boss that treats her with respect, ideally at a job where she gets to do the thing that she was hired to do.

      Support her in her job search. She deserves better.

      1. Cricket1*

        NEW job is paramount! I am working closely with her to help. It’s more emotional support right now — it’s a lot and it has brought her back to some of the ways she felt in middle school. She works with a behavioral therapist who is wonderful at helping her sort through “her” issues and “others” issues.

        1. ferrina*

          You can tell her that this ADHDer is rooting for her! I’ve stayed in bad jobs for waaaaaay too long because I felt like it was somehow my fault (because when I was a kid, I was always in trouble due to ADHD symptoms- I was undiagnosed until adulthood). This is really common in the ADHD experience. But this isn’t her fault, what her boss is doing isn’t okay or normal, and she deserves much better. I’m glad she’s working with a therapist to help her!

          Good luck to her, and may the job hunt be swiftly successful!

    3. Margaret Cavendish*

      Absolutely do not disclose ADHD to a boss who emails things like that! Good grief, nobody should talk to anybody like this, ADHD or otherwise.

      Honestly, I think this falls into “your (daughter’s) boss sucks and isn’t going to change” territory. The job is completely different from what she was hired for, and the boss is a jerk – these aren’t things she can fix. So her best bet is to decide if she wants to stay in the job as it is right now, or dust off her resume and start searching again.

      Good luck to her, I imagine that must be really disappointing.

    4. Fluffy Fish*

      Biggest priority is she should look for a new job. Her job changing to a completely different one after 3 months is a valid reason to be looking and no employer is going to bat an eye and that.

      She could consider requesting formal accommodations if there are things that could make her job easier – she shouldn’t have to disclose the health condition to HR but she likely will have to provide some doctors note affirming she has a condition and requires accommodations.

      But honestly, I would spend her energy on job searching.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Definitely don’t disclose to the boss. Maybe, maaaaybe consider disclosing to HR if she has specific accommodations to request that might actually help and that wouldn’t require the boss’s by-in. From what you’ve written here, I’m guessing there are no such accommodations.

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      If she can walk away, preferably when boss says the next shitty thing, that’s what I would encourage her to do. My mom was always a hardass about work. You never leave without lining up another job and you most certainly never leave a job without giving notice. But when I was exactly your daughter’s age, I was employed by someone who I still regard as the worst human being I have ever met. When I told my mom how I was being treated, she said, “as soon as she calls you [nasty name] again, you walk out and never go back”. This is now one of my favorite memories of my mom and it showed that to her, only my peace mattered.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      You disclose to get an accommodation which is a specific thing. Based on what you said an accommodation won’t be any help at all because boss is generally being a jerk and creating a paper trail to fire everyone.

    8. Part time lab tech*

      New job time. If it’s a larger organisation, talk to Grand boss/ HR about what other roles are around that cater to her strengths.
      If he’s doing it to everyone, can she find allies and be an ally to complete the tasks? Essentially work around the jerk. Basically, she’s not really experienced enough for it to be worth trying to outlast the boss so apply elsewhere.

  53. Anony for this*

    I’m hiding a diagnosis at work

    At the start of last month I began suffering from blinding disabling migraines. I’ve been trying to sort them out. My initial doctor (okay, the first one who took me seriously and didn’t say it was because I was just fat) thought it was due to some optic nerve issues and had some CT scans ordered.

    Long story short while nothing is for certain yet, after a lot more visits and labs it looks like no, it might actually be a brain tumor.

    I don’t want to tell my colleagues. I don’t want to tell my boss. Fuck. I didn’t want to tell my spouse but I did. (Haven’t told family outside of that tho)

    I prepare for the worst. Assuming this is the worst. What can I get away with saying that will get me the time I need without telling everyone everything? I’m already having to work amended office hours and I feel ready to fall apart sometimes just lying and saying headaches and eye issues.

    I’ve got intermittent fmla started for when we thought it was just migraines. Obviously that’s gonna be updated at some point when we (docs, not me – I don’t know shit here) figure out what we need to do moving forward. But how do I deal with the people.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Oh Im sorry.

      You can tell your boss some variation of that you are under evaluation for a potentially serious health problem. And that you really appreciate everyone’s understanding you’d like to your situation private and not discuss at work.

      1. Anony for this*

        Thank you. I’ll likely do that. He’s a new manager. I’m giving him a lot to learn to navigate I suppose.

    2. Panicked*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. That’s a lot to process and deal with! Medical issues already seem very invasive and exposing, so I completely understand the need to keep as much privacy as possible.

      I don’t have a great script, but when I had a concern I wanted to keep private, I said “I’m dealing with a medical issue that I’d rather keep private. I’d appreciate it if you’d just be ‘business as normal'” with me right now; that would help more than anything!” Maybe that could work?

      1. Anony for this*

        I work with all dudes. I feel like if I even mention that it’s a medical issue they’ll glom on. They’ve been kind intentioned but a bit overwhelming with headache concerns. But I might shorten your advice a bit. Thanks.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      First, I’m so sorry. That’s a terrible diagnosis to be wrangle.

      Second, you don’t have to tell anyone at work until you’re ready. You’ve got the FMLA set up already, and take all the time you need, including for mental health afternoons centered around ice cream and a park bench by a lake.

      Third, ask your doctors about referrals to a social worker/support group. It sounds like you need a safe space to process before you’re forced to manage everyone else’s feelings about your situation. They should have good ideas about how to navigate any relevant notifications.

      It can be helpful to have an ambassador for some of this information too — one trusted and balanced friend who can get the scoop, and who can run interference for you at work. And feel free to develop a canned answer to deflect health talk that you don’t want to have in the office. “I’m working with my doctors on a plan” or “Work is where I don’t have to think about health stuff, so let’s change topics.”

      1. Anony for this*

        The HMO’s care office has been trying to schedule support stuff of all sorts but. I just can’t right now. Partially I’m hoping if I don’t participate in anything I won’t jinx it and this will all turn out to be, I don’t know. A bean I stuck up my nose when I was three or something. But thanks for the reminder. When I have the capacity I’ll look at it.

        I might use your language. It just turns it off without being rude. Says I acknowledge you ask but I just don’t wanna talk.


    4. Colette*

      You’re not hiding it, you’re just not sharing information they don’t need to know. You are actually having headaches and eye issues; that is true. The root cause may be a brain tumor, but the symptoms are headaches and eye issues. So be clear with yourself that you are telling the truth.

      As far as telling your coworkers, I wouldn’t unless/until you have answers and know what the plan is. It’s not going to make anyone feel better, or give them information they can act on. And you don’t have to tell them now (or ever, if you don’t want to).

      I’m dealing with some health stuff, too, and all my coworkers know is that I have a lot of medical appointments.

      Tell people you’re dealing with headaches and eye issues and you’re working with your doctors to figure out what’s going on. That’s all you need to do at this point.

      1. Can't remember my username*

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. It sounds really tough.

        I just thought it might help to share that I need accommodations, and I don’t tell everyone the “why”, just the impacts. No-one other than occupational health etc need to know what’s actually going on, just what my restrictions and needs are. I have found that telling people what “my personal context” is covers everything I need. It was so helpful to realise that they absolutely do not need to know my medical details. They just need to know that, for example, I need a seat, I need breaks, walking meetings are a no go etc.
        And if anyone asks (and in my instance, you can see that something is up, so they really do ask) I give them a non answer and follow it with a question to move the conversation on- “oh nothing exciting, (brief pause) how is your project going?”.

        I hope your investigations are successful and you get the best possible outcome.

        1. AccommodationsRequireInformation*

          I am jealous. I’ve never gotten accommodations for anything without disclosing a whole ton of medical info. One rationale is so they can judge whether an accommodation is reasonable or know the parameters around what to counter suggest in discussions.

          I have also worked at (large) companies that get your paperwork to decide if you qualify for accommodations before they’ll engage, and they reserve the right to have their doctors review your medical info or otherwise be involved (I don’t know if they actually do; I’ve always gotten approved without much trouble).

    5. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Agreed with everybody else – figure out what you need and ask for that, with minimal surrounding information.

      What do you need?
      – Support in the form of specific actions from boss or colleagues
      – Support in the form of not asking about your health stuff
      – Business as usual
      – You don’t actually need anything to be different, you just just want to acknowledge that you’re not at the top of your game right now

      Why do you need it?
      – A potentially serious health issue
      – This migraine thing is turning into a bigger headache (pun unfortunately intended) than I expected, it’s going to be a while before it’s all sorted out
      – A very stressful personal situation

      To give a specific example, my head was super not in the game at work when I was going through a rough breakup and divorce. I told my boss and team lead (separately), “hey, I just wanted to let you know what’s up. I’ve got some stressful stuff going on outside of work and it’s taking a lot of my focus. I’m trying to keep it from impacting work and I don’t really need anything from you right now, but if you notice I’m not moving as fast as usual, that’s what’s going on.”

      I’m so sorry, this sounds incredibly scary. Seconding the folks who suggested a support group, therapy, or similar. If joining a Cancer Group for People With Cancer is too much (because hopefully you’re *not* a People With Cancer), maybe one-on-one therapy would be easier? All kinds of people go to therapy for support, it doesn’t mean you’re part of the scary group.

      Fingers crossed and best of luck to you.

    6. YouMayNeedToDiscloseInfo*

      Sorry. I had to disclose that I might have cancer when I found myself in that situation. It sucks, but otherwise it would have been a major problem.

  54. NaoNao*

    Have a work question:
    I’ll try to summarize here but it’s complex:

    I’m in a learning and dev position not leadership but mid-career. Our large (10,000+ employees) company is “all in” on various AI initiatives. I pitched a curriculum idea that is around AI (after quite a bit of research and careful construction and design) which was lauded and picked up and championed by our VP (and her leadership team). I did a dog and pony show of presentation of the idea/framework and a sneak peek of proof of concept at her behest and got a formal final approval to move forward. Typically people in my role are assigned work in a very standard, rote way so this is a touch outside the norm but not “not done” or out of line in any way.

    At a large all-hands meeting (like 100+ participants) recently a colleague (direct peer, same exact job title and duties, same reporting line) who I thought I was friendly with made a comment in the public group chat thread for the meeting about my work/idea being “duplicative”. I’ve presented this to hundreds of people at all levels in the company and done extensive research to ensure it’s not, but I had some stats ready for this concern and gave them to her. I also took it to private IM as I didn’t want to argue in a public forum. I was stung and angry about being “called out” like that on the group chat but tried to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    She doubled down and insisted it’s duplicate work in the private chat. I asked her for proof (basically) and I got a “well the conflicting courses aren’t published yet” and some vague “I’m sure it’s duplicate work” without any real elaboration. I’m not aware of her directly working on anything like this, and in fact she mentioned a third party completely outside of our team as the creator of the conflicting work. So far, additional extensive research and efforts haven’t turned up any sign of “duplicate work”.

    I went on PTO for a week and thought if I just politely ignored it/let it drop it would fizzle out. Nope. She set up a meeting to discuss and dragged someone in at 7AM for this (this is upcoming). It’s baffling and weird.

    I’m frankly beyond irritated and feel this is an over-reach, over-step, waste of time, etc. I’ve reached out to the third party she named to get more information but I could use some help managing this. I don’t want to validate her idea that I need permission or approval of any kind to continue (the meeting wording had phrasing like “exploring your idea” WTF. I’m in alpha testing about to publish in 2 weeks with VP final approval weeks ago?) or be put on the defensive “proving” that my work is not duplicate.

    Part of me is just baffled, like…who cares even if it IS duplicate? The company is huge, with thousands of projects. So what if there’s a slight overlap with a project that *she’s not even working on!*

    Any insights here? Any idea on how to manage/control this? I know that I can’t lose my cool and must be very faux-teamwork and faux-upbeat but I feel this is basically “mean girl” bullying of some kind I don’t quite understand.

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      You beat me to it: “who cares even if it IS duplicate”

      People often say to mentally “reframe” things here, which I don’t always agree will fix other problems, but is the perfect solution here.

      You need to ask, why is that a problem? This means multiple people who understand the company agree. There is a clear path forward. There are more hands on deck when work needs to get done. Also in a 10K person company, many things duplicate. Surely you have more than one person checking payroll or more than one person helping customers.

      I am curi0us though what is the AI and what is it going to do? How many people will it replace? Maybe they are coming from a place of fear. If you’re misusing the term AI like many others to mean “regular” automation or large language models, then they might be coming from an understandable place of frustration

    2. Margaret Cavendish*

      Can you just ignore her? The fact that you have VP approval suggests that you can – you don’t have to justify anything to her at this point (or ever, probably, but certainly not now.) Just because she asked, doesn’t mean you have to say yes!

      So I would start declining the meetings – including the 7am one you’ve already accepted. Sorry, too busy, something came up, etc. Then if she tries to reschedule, you can say won’t be able to meet on this, but is there something specific she needs? Put the onus on her to justify her requests, not on you to keep meeting them.

      Look at it this way. You already have VP approval to proceed with the project – is this the best use of your time, to go back over things you’ve already done with someone who isn’t even involved? Would your boss think it’s the best use of your time? Probably not – I’m not your boss obviously, but I would think the best use of your time at this point is to get on with the alpha testing. Good luck!

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        This is exactly what I would do. Just pretend she’s a little gnat buzzing around your head. I would absolutely decline the 7 am (!!) meeting without a reason why and continue to decline similar meetings. Just shrug in her face if she brings it up in person and walk away from her. Someone needs to make sure she has enough work to do. In my experience, people who dedicate this kind of time to things that don’t impact them are bad at their jobs.

    3. strawberry lemonade*

      Reject the meeting: “Thanks for your work on this so far! I won’t be able to make this meeting, but I’ll let you know if I need any help on this as it moves through the alpha and approval process.”

      You can also check with your manager if you trust them: “So-and-so mentioned that she thinks this project is duplicative, but I just haven’t been able to confirm that. Do you have any additional context on what she means here? I want to make sure I’m doing my due diligence.”

      I wouldn’t frame this as ‘mean girl’ bullying, it’s kind of reductive and ironically removes a lot of your power. My guess is that she has a project she’s lowkey working on and feels like you sniped it.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        I agree – decline the meeting. She had the opportunity to provide you with the Whys of Why does she think it’s duplicative and Why would it matter, and she didn’t. If it was a real concern for some reason, your colleague would already have raised this with your manager instead of calling your work “duplicative” in public without substantiation, and coercing you into defending your work to a peer. I would decline and say if it’s an issue, please discuss with Manager.

        And I also agree that you should let your manager know this is going on, in case there are any after effects of declining the meeting. Surely your manager knows this has been approved at the VP level and is moving forward.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      I’m with others; decline the meeting, and not with wording about the time not working for you because that just means she’ll try to reschedule. “This project is approved and as the lead on it I don’t have a need to meet with you to discuss.” Although if the person she brought in is higher up than your manager I’d go to your manager at this point in case declining it would have consequences. Describe what’s happening in neutral terms and as a distraction from doing the actual work that’s already been approved at a high level.

      She’s not your boss and she’s not involved in this project. If she wants to meet with you (on any topic) she can provide an agenda and rationale and you can then decide whether it’s worth your time.

      On the duplication, I’d say yay for duplication! That’s fundamental to how the scientific method works. While you’re not setting it up as an experiment for one of you to try to replicate or check the other person’s results (since this other person’s potentially duplicate work is is at this point fictional), if she raises that concern again you can say “We’ll learn from having multiple people testing this out”. In a company your size that doesn’t feel like a problem.

      You say she named someone else in the company, and then you say you did extensive research. Did you talk directly to this person? A conversation that makes the two of you a team exploring the question could be powerful. “Yes, I talked with the person you mentioned. Thanks so much for making that connection. We’ll take it from here to explore potential collaboration. (Maybe adding “My next presentation on that project will be in [time frame] or thereabouts and I’ll announce it in the group chat” or something along those lines–tells her you’re not going to engage on this topic for a while.)

      I’m reading professional jealousy and maybe fear into this, that you had an interesting idea that’s getting attention and she isn’t in the same place. I wouldn’t suggest that in any conversations but thinking of it that way may give you a genuine sense of a little sympathy that can replace the faux-teamwork with kindness and also firm boundaries. Her internal issues are not your circus, not your monkeys. She can work them out on her calendar time, not yours.

  55. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

    My coworkers are always talking about their “massive pain”. One describes their surgeries, and one always helpfully takes the time to show me exactly where it hurts(i.e. inside of arm, pinkie finger, hip) to help explain why she can’t wash dishes. I don’t want to hear about your gross surgeries! I’m glad you recovered, but you sound like my Aunt Marge!

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      “OK, you can’t wash dishes; what are you willing to do more of instead of your share of dishes?”

        1. Margaret Cavendish*

          Yeah, it’s amazing how fast the dishes got done in my house, when I gave the kids a choice between that and cat litter!

  56. Butters*

    Anyone have thoughts or experience with switching a full time position to part time? I have the option to do this and wanted to see if there was anything I was not thinking about that would make this not a good idea.

    Earlier this year I gave a long notice to my job with the intention of them hiring my replacement and me training them before leaving. I am an SME at my company and I had nothing lined up, I was going to take 6 months off to recover from burn out and then move on to something else. I am the only person at my company that does what I do and no one knows the work in depth at all (even my boss). They were not able to secure anyone for the position but offered me the option to stay on part time doing the same work, fully remote and with additional flexibility around vacation time (I travel a lot). I was able to reduce my workload overall pretty significantly on a permanent basis so I do think that my current workload will fit into a part time schedule. I am also willing to work more during busy times as needed. I’ll also probably work part time on another side project during one quarter of the year.

    I am going to ask for slightly more than half my current salary because I won’t be using my company’s benefits any longer and I would have received a raise this year if I wasn’t planning on leaving. But am I missing anything? Is there any reason to think this is not a good idea? I already thought a lot about the fact that I’ll be paid less to do what I am currently doing and I am fine with that because the flexibility and not needing to have my butt in a seat during specific times is worth a lot to me. But something in the back of my mind feels a little unsettled! Maybe I just need to come to terms with the loss of income which ultimately doesn’t matter (I’ve reduced spending significantly and stick to a strict budget).

    1. WellRed*

      I’d want to be clear on how exactly that’s supposed to work? I mean, assuming you’ve actually been working full time all this job, how is it now magically part time? How does the company define part time? Will you be able to push back when people used to your full time availability forget? Finally, can you still take a break (maybe not six months) to decompress?

    2. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Will you be paid hourly or salary? If hourly – I think this is extremely safe. Your work may fluctuate but your pay will fluctuate to match.

      If salary – my concern would be that the workload could creep up and not creep back down. I would want some very clear guardrails to make sure I’m not working more than X hours/period.

      On the other hand, you were ready to walk away. So the guardrails might just be you being really clear to yourself what amount of hours is acceptable and what’s the cutoff where you go through with your departure.

      Overall this sounds great, tbh.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      To be clear, you will still be on payroll as an employee, with your employer paying the SS and FICA, right? If not, you need to set your rate significantly higher to cover self-employment taxes. Also, make sure you really meet IRS/DOL definitions for 1099 non-employee treatment – a lot of companies either don’t know or don’t follow the rules.

      If you will be giving up paid holiday, vacation, and sick leave, be sure you calculate your current hourly rate on the hours you work, net of the PTO. The difference can be significant.

      As others have mentioned, beware of scope creep. I highly recommend going hourly, not salaried, or you will end up working more and more. Assuming you do get paid by the hour, make sure you and your supervisor (and the next level up) are agreed about what hours are expected. You don’t want to run into a situation where Boss says, “This needs to get done, however long it takes;” but grand-boss says, “You’re only budgeted for $X.”

    4. Girasol*

      You might want to get an agreement on vacation. I’m guessing that paid vacation goes away with your other benefits. Some companies consider requesting time off without pay as a bad thing, and occasionally they forget to make any approved arrangement for a part timer to take a week off.

    5. mreasy*

      Don’t do it unless you’re hourly and double your existing per hour wage to cover benefits & the less-concrete lack of stability.

  57. Mystic*

    I don’t remember if I told y’all or not.
    I’ve been in an acting supervisor position since Jan, failed to get the full position, but acting got extended… and I just got the full position! without needing to go through the whole interview process again.

    1. pally*

      Nicely done! Sometimes the system ends up working in one’s favor-even when initially it doesn’t seem like it will.

  58. Bobina*

    Work pettiness of the week?

    I’ll go first. On Monday, innocently browsing LinkedIn, I saw a (white, male) coworker had left a comment on a post advocating for increased salary transparency saying “Well if people dont even try to negotiate, that’s their fault”.

    On Tuesday, I, a Black woman in tech, decided to not be so helpful on a call with aforementioned coworker – because if you choose to be that oblivious about your white male privilege, I get to be petty about it.

    So instead of giving him more context on *why* his boss/team had been pissing people off and giving him suggestions on how they could work around and improve this in future (a thing I’ve done before and know he has appreciated) – I simply discussed what I needed him and his team to deliver, and left it there. No more helpful tips for you buddy! Learn to develop those soft skills and likability to get by like a lot of us marginalized folk have had to do!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I know this isn’t the point, but it’s a lot easier to negotiate if there’s increased salary transparency? You’re far more likely to know what’s a reasonable thing to ask for if you can see what jobs are actually paying.

  59. Yes And*

    I just got back an employee’s self assessment in advance of annual performance reviews, and… oof. It’s a litany of complaints about how overworked she is, about how unfairly the workload is balanced in our department, about how she can’t find any joy in her work anymore because she’s constantly in crisis mode. These are all valid complaints – she IS overworked, there ARE other members of the team with capacity.

    Here’s the part she left out: I’m constantly suggesting elements of her work portfolio she could pass off to someone else (me or someone down the chain), and she always had a reason why not. She’s too worried about quality control, or she doesn’t have time to train the person, or she likes that aspect of her job and doesn’t want to give it up. I’m also constantly asking her for suggestions of things she could pass off to lighten the load, and she never has any ideas.

    Other than this problem, she’s my star performer, and I really don’t want her to burn out. How do I address someone’s valid complaints when they won’t participate in the solution? Is there another way I could be thinking about this?

    1. ruthling*

      Does it turn out to be more work and less satisfying work (corrections, nagging, etc.) for her to turn things over to people who aren’t as good? If so, try getting the rest of the team up to speed. Or agree to take on the hand holding that would be needed for her to pass the thing on.

      If she really is your star performer, can you just look and take away the crappiest parts of her job so she doesn’t have a chance to push back on it?

    2. ferrina*

      Take this as an opportunity to make a strategy with her.

      “I read your self-review, and I absolutely agree with it. Let’s talk about a plan to fix this. My goal is to have your workload to a realistic level in three months. Let’s strategize what this would look like….”

      Don’t bring up that you’ve already talked about this- this will just make her defensive. You have an opportunity to get her buy-in, so really work with her as a collaborator and you as her ally.

    3. WellRed*

      I agree with the other suggestions but want to add some clothing radical: as her manager, you might need to … take some stuff off her plate. She can protest all she wants to but you’re the boss. Obviously, it’s better for her to have choice in the matter but she’s not doing that.

      1. pally*

        And, you can couch handing off tasks to others as a limited time experiment. Give it 90 days to see how things go. Then check in with all parties to see if things are working as they should (i.e. no unexpected ramifications occurred). Then make things permanent if all is working well.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Is there someone else (maybe you) who can train someone up to take on some of the work? Maybe if you take the training piece off her plate and get someone up and running, you can pass along some of the work pretty seamlessly. For the stuff where she’s too worried about quality control, you may need to just say, “Loretta, Steve is also really good at creating TPS reports. I’ve had no issues with his work in that area. I’m going to reassign the reporting on the XYZ project to him. I trust he’ll be able to handle it.”

    5. MillennialMeanager*

      Is she afraid that “giving away” her work will ultimately look poor on her part, like she can’t handle it?

      Or is it more of a fear of the quality of work if it’s assigned to someone else?

      At this point you need to tell her “hey star performer, this is going to hurt you in a long run if you don’t start passing off work. You’ll get burned out and then your own work will become poor. We can’t afford that. “

    6. Pinta Bean*

      I had a situation like this and offered several scenarios to redistribute various projects, or components of other projects, and the employee had a lot of reasons why they didn’t think any of those would be workable. Eventually I just did it. It didn’t solve all of the complaints, but it did give me a lot more ground to be able to redirect conversations, and to create a record of what I, as the manager, had done to assess their work load and make adjustments to it.

    7. Rex Libris*

      You’re the manager? “Hey star performer, I’m working on balancing the work loads more equitably so I need you to choose X number of projects that can be handed off to someone else.” Have a list to me by Friday. We’ll work out the logistics later.”

    8. RandomManager*

      “She’s too worried about quality control, or she doesn’t have time to train the person, or she likes that aspect of her job and doesn’t want to give it up.”

      Have you considered that… maybe she is right? Hear me out, as I’ve been in a similar situation. There was no one else qualified to do my work, and I didn’t have time to train them. And I sure as heck didn’t want my favorite aspects of the job removed.

      What I wanted was for my manager to make strategic decisions to drop entire projects, or find money to hire someone who was qualified. But my manager would do neither, and I was not willing to spend even more time fixing the crappy work I’d handed off to someone else.

      Now that I’m a manager, I only green-light projects when the entire team has both the time and correct complement of skills to get it done well. Mistakes tend to snowball and create low morale. And of course, I either ax or scale down projects when we don’t have time or qualifications to handle it.

  60. Amber Rose*

    I’ve had three promising interviews.

    Job 1 pays well, has average responsibility and would be a chance to learn a new industry. But, Glassdoor reviews say they keep losing contracts and have laid off 50+ people since November last year. Can I ask them about that?

    Job 2 pays awful, is an hour from home, and would be the most entry of entry level. But they would be willing to help with my education upgrades, are stable financially and I vibed well with the manager.

    Job 3 would involve building an entire department from scratch. In terms of the company, the responsibility and the pay, it’s the most appealing overall. Plus it’s a 10 minute drive. But I won’t know if they want to hire me for weeks, there will be at least one more interview, and the other two will be making offers next week if I’m picked.

    I don’t know what to do? Is it worth hoping for the better job?

    (Tiny update: I did apply for school! Wish me luck on acceptance.)

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I think you can ask about the Glassdoor reviews for Job 1 and I would if I were you.

      I would skip Job 2 personally.

      I would honestly try to hold out for Job 3 if feasible. Building out a department from scratch is hugely rewarding and a good resume builder.

      Good luck on your school application!

      1. Amber Rose*

        Tiny update to the tiny update: I was accepted!!! I’m going back to school. :D

        I really want job 3 I’m just worried I won’t get it and then I’m back at square zero, unemployed and scared.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I’d skip Job 2 as well: I’ve found that nine times out of ten any other “benefits” offered aren’t anywhere near their equivalent in salary if you compare the costs. Unless you get a personal trained dragon it’s not worth trying to “get your money’s worth” out of the extras.

    2. WellRed*

      Job 1. You can absolutely ask them about that! I’d also be very wary.
      Job 2. With awful pay and an hour commute (is that each way), you’ll actually being making even less and you won’t have time or energy for school. Cross it off.

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      Job 2 is absolutely not worth it.

      Job 1 would ONLY be worth it if you ask about the financial state and how stable the company and this position is and get a satisfying response. I’ve been in a sinking company and it is INCREDIBLY stressful and upsetting. Don’t sign on for that if you can avoid it.

      To me, Job 3 is the only one I’d really want of the 3, so I’d personally wait unless you really, really can’t stand where you are now.

  61. Leadership of Bees*

    Are there Ask a Manager-type sites geared toward healthcare workers, especially those that work in hospital settings? I’ve been thinking of retraining as a nurse or radiologic technologist but have no idea where to start looking to learn more about professional norms in this industry. Ironically the main nursing subreddit seems to be full of burned-out people trying to get out—not the most encouraging reading for someone hoping to get in!

    (I already know the grass isn’t greener, but it is, at least, different grass.)

    1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      Not an answer, but…
      My roommate recently finished coursework for CNA, and discovered that the positions which paid reasonably were not available to her because they all required multiple years of experience in addition to the certification. She’s over 55 and thought her knowledge from 20+ years as medical transcriptionist would get her a position in a doctors’ office. Twelve hour (plus) shifts in hospitals are just not available to her due to her health conditions and she just doesn’t have the strength to handle patient lifts.
      Good luck on your journey.

  62. beware the shoebill*

    So I’ve been job hunting for like a year and a half now. My current job is fine, no real complaints other than being bored to tears with no opportunity for advancement. I finally got an interview and then a second interview early this week! Very exciting. And of course my brain is getting ahead of itself and thinking, what if they make an offer? Not counting on it by any means, just exploring what I would need to do next as this is the closest I’ve gotten so far in my hunt.

    My first question: Does anyone have any advice for reconciling the fact that business is business with the fact that I would be leaving my coworkers, who are all great, in a pretty awful lurch timing-wise? I know the company itself doesn’t care about me or my wellbeing or career, but the company isn’t who I feel guilty about when I think of putting in my notice.

    Second question, my current role is on the same team I’ve spent my entire career with. That is to say, I have zero references who I do not currently work with. For hiring managers, how do you navigate that when hiring? OR folks who have been in that position, how did it work out?

    1. ecnaseener*

      For the first: I’m in my notice period right now, and the team is scrambling to figure out what to do about my work (the other person who did my type of work left recently and we’re in a hiring freeze) so I get it! I feel bad about it, no point in trying to force myself not to feel bad. But ultimately I’m doing what’s best for me, and my coworkers are capable of doing the same. It will be difficult for them for awhile, but that’s the way of things, work is difficult sometimes and I can’t let that overrule my own interests.

      I haven’t had to job hunt with literally zero references so I have limited advice there, but are there clients or professional contacts you could ask? (Side note: if other members of your team have been there for their entire careers too, that should make you feel better about leaving – they’ll have you to use as a reference so you’re doing them a favor in one way!)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      First question:

      Remind yourself that there’s never a ~good~ time to leave a job (with respect to leaving your unfinished work for your manager/coworkers in the short term). There are of course better and worse times to leave and it sounds like you’re in the “worse” category, but that’s just how things shake out sometimes. Your coworkers are, in your words, “all great” so they’re capable of handling a little crunch time after you leave. Remember that they won’t be in the lurch forever–the busy period will end, the team will hire someone new, etc.

      I agree with ecnaseener that there’s not much point in trying to force yourself to not feel bad. the above advice is just to help you dial back the feeling of guilt to a lower, manageable level.

      If it will help, you can also give a (brief) apology to your coworkers when you announce that you’re leaving. Something along the lines of “I’ve accepted a new job and my last day at [company] will be [date]. I feel terrible about the timing, I know June is our busy season.”

    3. Namename*

      When I had to deal with that as an applicant, I gave people that I worked with but weren’t in my department, and explained why. It seemed to go over fine. I do have a role that means I work with a ton of people outside my department, I know that might not work for everyone.

  63. Audiophile*

    I wanted to stop in and give a quick thank you to the commenters who responded to my question about a desk.

    While I haven’t picked a desk yet, the suggestions were helpful.

    I’m in the midst of apartment hunting, which is exciting and stressful. I’ve been bouncing around Airbnbs in my old hometown for a week, and thankfully, all the hosts have been lovely.

    Working remotely opens up a lot of options for where to live.

  64. it's a name*

    Any suggestions for paid resources to learn Python/R/SQL?

    Our team’s got a 400 USD per person budget for trainings, online courses, books, and the like, and we have to get as close as possible to using the whole budget for everyone, otherwise it might get pulled for this year and next year.

    I’ve tried trawling google and reddit for suggestions, but there’s so many differing opinions it’s getting overwhelming…and they mostly default to suggesting free options when using up money is part of the point here!

    1. tabloidtained*

      For Python, Python: The Comprehensive Guide and Automate the Boring Stuff with Python.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      Check out community colleges who have online courses for some of these things. They courses are typically less than $400 (at least the ones I’ve seen), have flexibility about when the person can review the materials, and an actual professor to respond to questions about assignments and the like. And you may be able to audit the course so the assignments become more like optional exercises vs graded requirements (and cost even less). I did this at my local community college for front end dev, and it was pretty great.

      plus with a college course there’s generally a set progression of classes that you could move through during the whole year.

      1. Anax*

        Overlapping with this – Coursera has some solid course offerings from accredited colleges too, which are online. That might be a good place to look.

        I’ve found some good material through Udemy, too – more hit-or-miss, but a lot of variety.

  65. Anonymous Gnome*

    Hello everyone – I know I’m late to the thread, so I understand if no one sees this.
    My (public) institution has set up a mandatory program–I’ll call it a Llama Simulation. Everyone pretends to be llamas so they can understand what it’s like to be a llama. A lot of people (including myself) are very uncomfortable with this. Some people have a past with llamas; others are llamas now; still others are opposed to the concept and gamification of llama life. I am in administration but have no power when it comes to this idea. This has been conceived and implemented by the institution’s director and board. Does anyone have an idea of how I (and my coworkers) can push back on this? TIA if you have any. We are at a loss.

    1. ferrina*

      This hypothetical with llamas is baffling and has me picturing Emperor’s New Groove meets The Office.

      This idea sounds inherently problematic. Ideally, someone with the board’s ear should gently mention how this will look if word of this gets public. You could also try pushing back as a group (Alison has advice on this).
      If you are going nuclear, call up a journalist. If this is what I’m imagining it is, this would be some devastating local news.
      If it goes forward, do the absolute minimum. Be sick that day. Show up and participate like a teenager in full Can’t Be Bothered mood (i.e., sit there with a blank face, answering in grunts or “I don’t know”). Or bring a book by a Llama activist/expert, and say “I really don’t know what it’s like, so any attempts on my part would just be by own uninformed assumptions. Instead, I’m using this time to better inform myself [point to book]”

      1. Anonymous Gnome*

        I like the idea of doing the minimum. I am not sure if we can get out of this. Thank you!

    2. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      I’m so far from an expert, but it looks to me like if the director and board are all in agreement then there is likely very little you can do that will work except be as disengaged as possible and hope their disappointment keeps them from repeating the exercise.

      Maybe if you have a union that would have enough group power. If you know someone on staff who is particularly close with or has a lot of influence over the director or some members of the board, they might be able to nudge them away from this. Elsewise, bad press??

    3. Angstrom*

      Interesting. The only similar thing I know of is automotive design engineers wearing pregnancy bellies, age-simulating prosthetics(dimished touch, vision, hearing, etc.) or “fat suits” to experience difficulties customers might have with their products.

      1. Chicago Anon*

        Blind llamas? Aged llamas? These are voluntary programs at my shop, for people (mostly in health care or engineering) who want to understand better what people with one or more disabilities experience, and how to help/design for them.

      2. Andromeda*

        I’ve seen interactive web videos online which try to demonstrate what it’s like to be autistic (and I think there are some that simulate vision loss or colourblindness), but “past with llamas/llamas now” doesn’t make sense in that context.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      It kinda depends on what llama is, honestly. If the point is to get head office employees to understand what it’s like to work on the front lines with the public, it makes some sense for the people who support and make decisions about llama life to try to better understand llama life.
      Can you be more specific about your objections? Is “llama life” a euphemism for a job role?

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I suspect that is related race, sex, gender, disability, class (immigrant, homeless, felon, poor, etc) differences kind of like Angstrom and Chicago Anon mention.

        Role playing a category of non-majority group person so they can understand what it’s like to live with this difference. It sounds very problematic to me.

        Approach as a group your concerns. If there is a chance that publicity of this getting out could be an issue definitely mention that as a con.

      2. Anonymous Gnome*

        I probably should have been more specific. We will be pretending to be llamas in poverty.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          OK, I think using the kind of language you use in your comment is a good way of talking about it. It’s better if you are able to get together with more people to do the pushback. I’m operating on the assumption that understanding poverty is important to your work–like, you work with a nonprofit that serves people in poverty. If that’s the case, you could, as an alternative, suggest bringing in a speaker who voluntarily, for money, speaks on their own experiences with poverty, and who can relate those experiences to the work your employer does.

        2. ferrina*

          I have seen this simulation done right. It’s not a full experience simulation, but more of a thought starter. The one that I saw was focused on social services- you had to stand in different lines to get social services, but you kept getting sent to different stations where you had to fillout Form A or Paperwork B before you could qualify for consideration for Item C (and then when you turned in Item C, they’d tell you that Form D wasn’t submitted and you need to go to Line Z to get that done). That was basically an exercise in the amount of red-tape that’s involved in welfare services, and it was eye-opening for anyone who had never had to do that before.

          There isn’t really a point to doing a ‘Poverty Simulation’ for people that have first-hand experience with poverty. That’s just ridiculous.

          1. Internship Admin*

            I’ve also seen it done right and it was really respectful with a thorough debrief. But it was also opt-in.

        3. Every heart is not a doorway*

          You could have just led with this and dropped the llama thing altogether if you actually wanted useful advice

    5. Blarg*

      I think following Alison’s general advice that she gives, which is pushing back as a group — it sounds like you have a group. And asking for clarity on what benefits they foresee from this? Assuming that no llamas are actually involved, it seems likely this is a substitute of actual representation and getting perspectives of marginalized people. And that should be your org’s goal. Not cos-playing disability or immigration status or whatever.

    6. The esteemed governor*

      I think you need to give a little more detail. Do the llamas have anything to do with your work? Is this is an hr type of training or something?

      It’s hard to know what the problem is or why you want to push back.