open thread – June 21, 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.

{ 1,089 comments… read them below }

  1. Ella Minnow Pea*

    Just seeking a little encouragement today. My current workplace has become a black hole of stress, low morale, micromanagement, cost cutting, and burnout due to a major change in upper management. It’s time to get out, and I’m actively job hunting, but I’m in a niche industry with limited openings (made harder since I am at a senior level). For those who have been there, any tips on how to survive and keep my sanity until I can make the leap?

    1. Brunelleschi*

      You’re foung all the right stuff slready. Consider starting a new hobby that takes research and mind engagement so you think less about work when you’re not at work. A puppy or kitten will do the same but up the chomp factor. Good luck.

      1. Melissa*

        For me, when the stress and anxiety of a toxic workplace hit, I was too fatigued to cope with my normal hobby. So I switched to a new one, and now I schedule an hour every night with an audiobook and crochet practice. And at work, if the morning is awful, I spend my lunch period in my car with a sandwich and a ball of yarn.

        It really does help, so if the first attempt is too much, keep trying until you find one that takes minimal start-up prep, and soothes your brain.

    2. Sometimes I Wonder*

      Ella – you deserve better, and I admire you for realizing it and taking action. It may take a while, but you can whisper to yourself whenver it’s really bad at work that you are not putting up with it, you are working on improving your circumstances.

      What really worked for me was keeping in mind how bad it was. This gave me a ton of confidence during interviews, and I was genuinely interviewing *them* to make sure I wanted to work there.

      I hope you find a challenging position that is a great fit for you!

    3. ScruffyInternHerder*

      When I was looking to switch jobs (several years ago now), but figured out it was going to be a bit longer than I’d anticipated, I coped by mentally writing a memoir of the ridiculous behavior I was witnessing.

      1. Tree*

        I cope by mentally writing a really bad reality show. It helps me to se the dysfunction as temporary and amusing and to detach from it. Not a great long term coping skill, but it works in the short term while looking for a new job.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I did that one day at work when everything was going on, from the coffee machine malfunctioning to the main printer emitting gibberish. I said out loud, “are we on the set of Please Shoot Me today?”

      2. Goldenrod*

        “I coped by mentally writing a memoir of the ridiculous behavior I was witnessing.”

        I did this too, except I took it one step further and actually wrote it all down! Highly recommend. My book (which I desktop printed with illustrated cover and everything) really helped me feel ownership over the narrative, which helped me a LOT because my office was full of gaslighting.

        I started it while I still worked there…then I took a break and finished the story once I started a new job. Satisfying! I also recommend trying to make it funny because that will help you laugh at the bad situation while you are still in it. And it helped me let it go afterwards too.

      3. I Have RBF*

        One thing a bunch of us did at a really dysfunctional workplace was work on a joint horror story about how a thing was lurking in a drainage area and causing all sorts of bizarre happenings and emotions. We never wrote it down, but nearly 30 years later, if I meet up with a former coworker from that place, we recognize the story.

        I did the same type of thing, writing a “airport” or “towering inferno” type of saga in my head about a dysfunctional manufacturer, with all the drama and crap that was going on there, including the union busting and intimidation.

        Some day I may file the serial numbers off, change names, and actually write those stories down. Both would be at least novel length.

          1. Pennyworth*

            Ugh – mysterious drainage monster reminds me of part of a horror story I once read in a magazine where a long finger started to appear from bathroom drains, just feeling around. I never found out what happened and it still creeps me out.

    4. Midwest Manager too!*

      Give yourself permission to not give 100%. Burnout and a toxic environment is draining, and it’s OK to not be OK.

      Another small thing that has helped me when I was in a similar situation was that I started taking home some of my personal items (8 yrs of accumulation…). It was pretty liberating to think that if everything went sideways that I could easily rage quit and not have to come back for my kids’ photos or favorite mug.

      Virtual internet hugs if you want them. It’s a tough place to be. You will make it to the other side. As my grandpa used to say “This may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.” Positive vibes sent your way.

    5. Cubicles & Chimeras*

      It’s hard to do, but disengage with work as much as you can. You have seen how terrible it is, but you’re likely still emotionally invested because you knew how good it was/feel strongly about the coworkers you like. You need to hit a level of F#*$ it. You then find the ability to do the bare minimum to tread water at the place, while you invest emotionally in the things that are more important.
      Otherwise:
      Hard line between end of work day and your personal life – which it is easy to not check your email but hard to not think about all the crap going on at work. Find a new hobby, read a good book, take a long walk in nature and remember life is more than just a work hamster wheel of death. Watch a lot of comedy, the laughing helps.

      Carve out regular time daily at work to step away for 15/30 mins to take a break, take a walk, enjoy a cup of coffee, talk to your favorite coworker. It acts as a pressure release valve and helps regulate your emotions a little more. Take your lunch breaks, don’t work through them, and ensure you don’t take them at the desk.

      Spend only part of your time complaining about how bad work is with your coworkers. It’s good to commiserate but it doesn’t help to wallow. The rest of the time, find another subject to talk about – whatever you’re binging on TV for example.

      Volunteer! Not daily, because you need the decompression from work, but find something that needs a few hour volunteers for a Saturday and take a moment to give back to the community. It makes you feel better, you’re generally fully removed from any non-profit drama, and you get to do something different for a few hours. (Bonus, find a place with animals or small children to volunteer at.) ((Also, homeless youth shelters love to have someone come and cook and eat with the kids.))

      And when all else fails, find your zen phrase. My grandma lived and died by “This too shall pass” which I hate. I like one of the Jedi Code variants:
      Emotion, yet peace.
      Ignorance, yet knowledge.
      Passion, yet serenity.
      Chaos, yet harmony.
      Death, yet the Force.

      1. I Have RBF*

        My spouse is currently dying of cancer. My zen phrase is “Whatever we have, we will enjoy, and it will be enough.”

        1. HungryLawyer*

          Love that zen phrase! And I hope your spouse’s transition is as peaceful as possible for you both.

    6. Forest Hag*

      I’m right there with you, and I have to just distance myself from it and try to view it in terms of what I have – a paycheck and health insurance. Do the minimum needed to keep those, don’t try any harder than that. Take frequent PTO days if you can. I hope you find a better job soon!

      1. BellaStella*

        I will second this and add another few things: can you find a free counselling service maybe at a local university to get maybe every two weeks a session for little money with a counsellor to work thru the anger and get advice? Also if you can do your hours and take a good lunch break out of office or go for a walk that will be good during work days, then on the weekends do something fun, go into nature if possible, or find a way to move your body and get out the yayas. It will help. I am in the same boat, and walking in nature is my outlet.

        1. Forest Hag*

          Walks and crochet help me. Crochet has been great for a few reasons – it gives my brain a break, it’s something to do with my hands and is very tactile, and I get the happy chemical hits from watching something literally progress before my eyes. It’s a great stress relief for a knowledge worker. Though I will say some projects are just as frustrating but that’s mostly due to the yarn type and thinking I can use a smaller hook than I actually need. :D

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      I am right there with you and this is making it feel even worse:

      1) I need to move and also am willing to move for work but even the “well-paying” mid-level roles barely pay enough to afford renting paycheck to paycheck when 10 years ago they’d be enough to comfortably afford a house. Yet requirements have actually gone up
      2) Many jobs seem to be combining too many jobs into one or asking for too many computer programs into a job just as a screening method. I saw one that was my same exact job and as a SQL developer but can’t apply because they also want MS Access. Dealing with same vendors, contract type, laws, contracts, SQL database. Yet I am not qualified because I am not an Access expert. Yet who uses Access? No job I’ve ever known. Everyone in my industry uses SQL + some python.

      The only advice I was given was to let others around me fail. Part of my burnout is that I was trying to prevent all of these errors around me, covering up how bad some coworkers were

      1. No name*

        lie about the MS Access to get past HR and confirm when you actually talk to the people who know what they’re doing that it’s not a large part of the job. same as you’d have to do for a job that requires 10years experience with a program that only came out a year ago

    8. Ella Minnow Pea*

      Thank you everyone for the good vibes. And for those in the same situation, right back at you.

    9. Purple Cat*

      Quiet quit!
      And if you’re anything like me it’s much easier said than done.
      But for me, it is constantly reminding myself that I can’t care more than leadership does about saving the company AND even though I’m somewhat senior, I can’t force change on other departments. So, I’ve identified my lane VERY clearly and I stay in it. I’m very frank with my boss and we both know I should “do more” but it’s fighting an uphill battle so it’s not fair to truly expect it of me right now.

      Outside of strict guardrails at work – I recently took back up jigsaw puzzles! There is something very soothing (even when they are hard – WHY so much sky?!?) about forcing through a solution all by myself. It’s something I can work hard at and complete, all by myself.

      1. not nice, don't care*

        Highly recommend jigsaw puzzles. The combination of mental/visual and physically handling the pieces helps me get in to a different frame of mind. It’s very meditative for me.

        1. I Have RBF*

          My favorite stress buster game is “Number Crunch”. It’s something I can play a few round of in the bathroom, it doesn’t require complex reasoning, but it does need enough mental focus that it drowns out other crap ricocheting around in my head.

          (No, I don’t work for them, I just enjoy a game that doesn’t require involvement from anyone else, but is still challenging without being too difficult.)

    10. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I can’t add to the great advice here already (my advice would be detach from everything you can, both task wise and emotionally).

      But mostly I had to say I love your username and the book itself!

      1. Csevet Aisava*

        Reading your namesake book right now! It’s been my favorite but for the last five years or so.

    11. Throwaway Account*

      I used Alison’s advice to observe like you are at the theater. Get out the mental popcorn and watch the “show.” It is NOT easy to do that but I kept it in my mind and over time I was able to start to become detached and do it for longer and longer periods.

      Sending lots of encouragement!

      1. Goldenrod*

        When my friend had a terrible boss, I suggested she “visualize a clown” whenever her boss was lecturing her, and she said it really helped!

    12. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      In the same vein as writing a reality show, you can also turn it into a game of Anthropologist, where you’re observing the behavior of the local fauna as research. Bonus points if you can narrate it to yourself in Richard Attenborough’s voice.

    13. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Can you “quiet quit” – do the minimal amount needed to stay under the radar while still getting the necessary work done? Leave for the day when it’s time, and keep yourself busy with non-work activities to keep your mind off work as much as possible.

    14. Agnes Grey*

      Oh, this one really hits home. I’m not senior in terms of hierarchy (just time at the organization) and not actively looking to leave – yet – but otherwise this is exactly what’s happening in my workplace. I appreciate how well you articulated it, and all of the other commenters’ wonderful suggestions. Hang in there – I know you’ll find something better, someplace where you’ll be valued as you deserve. And in the meantime you have my heartfelt sympathy!

    15. TG*

      Use your time off to destress when you can. Don’t think about work beyond work hours. Don’t ruminate and try not to let others bad energy rub off or impact on you. Take breaks throughout the day. When I am stressed I’ll also treat myself to a Starbucks run or a message. Watch funny videos – laughter always makes me feel so much better! Hang in there!

  2. Performance punishment*

    Just giving a shout out to the leadership at my job for the terrible job they’re doing holding the low performer on my team accountable. Burying the PIP, promoting to a new role created just for them, and continuing to ignore the serious performance issues and resulting loss of business.
    Thanks guys for making it clear you can’t be trusted to lead with any integrity.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Hoo boy. Sounds like what my employer did with a *hated* executive. Though it was a lateral move so they created a whole new department for him.

      1. English Rose*

        I’ve seen those lateral moves a few times – people can’t see/are scared to deal with reality.

    2. Bast*

      I worked somewhere that “didn’t fire people” (at least, until it got to be really bad, such as no calling, no showing for almost an entire week) and the excuse that was always given was that it was “too much paperwork” to fire people. They’d bend over backwards to just take tasks away from someone and overburden everyone else, create a new, special job just for them, reassign things, make excuses etc, etc for the low performers, and the consequences were far reaching, including loss of good employees, loss of revenue, etc. Do places like this really not realize that the extra paperwork created by firing someone is significantly more short term problem than years and years of mismanaged files, and the resulting hundreds of thousands of dollars lost? I’m baffled, because from a business perspective it makes NO sense. I mean, maybe if this is one of the “it’s the CEO’s nephew” kind of deals I get it slightly, but it’s still a poor business decision.

      1. Corvus Corvidae*

        Ugh, my company is like this too. They won’t fire people, they just put them at the top of the layoff list.

        We had one short-tempered employee get into multiple screaming matches with other departments. They didn’t get fired, everyone else was told to treat them with kid gloves, and they were the first on the chopping block when layoffs happened.

        We had another employee who constantly made mistakes in their role. This is someone who had been with the company in this same role for literal decades, and in that time the company spent a staggering amount of time and money cleaning up after those mistakes. But it was the same deal: no firing, no (to my knowledge) PIP, and they eventually retired on their own terms.

        Nobody *enjoys* seeing someone get fired, but the “no consequences until/unless it’s convenient for us” attitude has really tanked morale and the overall work ethic here.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          We had someone like that where I work. She had been there more than 20 years, and was borderline incompetent when I knew her. She retired after I’d been there two years.
          The problem seems to be that she was so checked out, she didn’t wasn’t aware of the work. I heard my colleagues saying she used to be good and they didn’t know what had happened. Our call volume dropped by a third after she left because she didn’t return calls, so people kept calling.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        The amount of work people will put in to avoid one task is truly astounding.

      3. Alternative Person*

        I don’t get it at all. And I didn’t even think that person at my last job needed to be fired (in the very immediate short term, at least), just held accountable. But that place had some very telling patterns in who was given chances and who got the short end of the stick.

      4. BigLawEx*

        The place that I worked had entire full-time employees who didn’t show for MONTHS and they didn’t fire them. It was mind-boggling.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      Yup. Mine got promoted too! What gives? Are companies in the business of losing business? No matter how many examples we’ve given of their mess-ups, the main higher-up says it’s a “personality conflict.” It’s taken a huge toll on said higher-ups reputation BTW but he seems oblivious. Which woke me up to how abysmal some peoples’ judgment and intuition (intuition in the sense of, I feel something is off so let me go fact-finding, not judging people based on feelings).

      1. BellaStella*

        THIS IS SUCH BS. Our own missing stair also got promoted last year and guess what, looks like we are gonna lose a donor, too because of his blazing incompetence. OH WELL.

        1. Busy Middle Manager*

          VP told us to grow up when we complained. As if us repeating what we see with our own eyes is the issue. Wish job market was as strong as media keeps saying, none of us can even find things to apply to

    4. Choggy*

      Glad to hear/hate to hear this happens in other companies. So glad this will be in my rear view soon.

  3. Tradd*

    Topic of debate amongst friends: full-time, salaried, non-exempt (not eligible for OT) employees who are required to punch in/out at work. I’ve always done this. Maybe it’s just something for my industry (international transportation), but I’ve been doing it for ages. Friends think it’s super weird and that if I’m being treated as an hourly employee by being made to punch in/out, then I should be paid hourly. Everyone from managers on down have to punch in/out.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I can’t speak to the industry, but I’ve never had a salaried job where I had to clock in and out. Even my “professional” hourly jobs were based on timesheets and not a physical in/out clock. So it does seem odd …. but again, I don’t know anything about the industry, so maybe it’s a norm for them.

      1. Tradd*

        It’s not a physical clock, but software, part of the website/app that handles payroll/stuff.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Ah, fair enough, but even so. My timesheets were just pieces of paper I wrote my hours down on, lol, but I am old.

      2. Can't Sit Still*

        It’s the non-exempt part that requires a time card. It proves that they haven’t mis-classified employees as exempt, when they are actually non-exempt. It can be treble damage wage claim for mis-classification like that.

      3. Midwesterner*

        When my federal government employer required us to sign in and take leave when we were a minute late, the FLRB ruled that we were thus non-exempt and we all got retroactive overtime with interest.

      4. a good mouse*

        I never had to punch in at the start of the day and punch out at the end, but I did need to account for all my hours in a day because they charge them to projects, as detailed as possible. My sister is a lawyer and she has to clock her time on a project down to the precision of 6 minute chunks. I think she has a sidebar on her computer she clicks when she’s starting on a project and pauses when she changes tasks or takes a break, etc.

        1. a good mouse*

          But having a micromanager as a boss who is tracking your timesheet and complaining about everything from charging too much time to projects to having too much time not charged to projects (while not doing anything to make those two things balance) definitely made it feel like I was punching in and out when I was salaried. The day I left for a job that doesn’t use timesheets was such a happy day.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      If you’re salaried non-exempt, they have to track your overtime. They don’t have to make you use a timeclock, but it is a CYA move on their part. It doesn’t matter if you clock out “early”, since you’re salaried, your pay isn’t (or shouldn’t be) docked, but you do need to be paid for any overtime.

      Basically, your friends want you to take a pay cut. I hope they’re just confused!

    3. old curmudgeon*

      That’s pretty typical in a lot of industries. I’m in government accounting and make way more than the cutoff for FLSA-exempt status, but I still punch in/out for every minute of my day. Both my kids work for software companies, both of them make more than I do, and they have to record their time daily to whatever projects they work on so the customers can be billed.

      Part of the rationale I’ve always heard is that if there is ever a time when the law changes and employers have to go back and pay OT or night/weekend differentials to previously exempt employees, they wouldn’t be able to do so without punch in/out times. It is also important in industries that are required to document that they maintain 24/7 coverage.

      So it’s not really all that unusual, just a case of your friends working in different industries.

    4. Tio*

      I’ve worked at both types. One I had to clock in and more where I don’t. I think the clock in ones are mostly just trying to ensure you’re working enough hours, but who knows. It does seem kind of pointless.

      1. Melissa*

        It’s pointless at my office. In my department, those of us who could work from home during shut-down were eventually allowed a 3 day office, 2 day WFH. We have to clock in/out on office days, but on wfh days, our supervisors just enter a standard 8 hour day based on our schedules.

        So….HR trusts us 40% of the time?…

    5. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I think it’s super weird. I’ve never punched in or out for a salaried job, whether on a clock or an app or whatever. Closest thing was tracking time on different projects a couple jobs ago, and even that was percentages (they cared about FTEs, not billable hours).

    6. BikeWalkBarb*

      I think you mean you’re exempt if you’re not eligible for overtime. It does seem odd to me. I’m salaried exempt working in a state transportation agency and we do timesheets. People who are charging their time to specific projects have to track their hours so the time is covered by the right project budget but other than that we don’t have a clock system for exempt.

    7. Bast*

      I’m salaried and have never been asked to clock in or out. Even the real micro-managing type place did not make you clock in or out unless it became an issue ie: there were serious questions about whether you were getting your hours in, because even as a salaried employee, you were expected to do a minimum of a solid 40 hours per week.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        We keep track of our salaried employees’ hours in our time keeping system so that we can keep track of their time off. We don’t actually make them punch in/out, but we’re keeping track. It’s easier than trying to do it manually.

        1. Tradd*

          Frankly, I think that’s a large part of why we have to punch in/out. Time off is based on X days per X hours worked.

      2. Melissa*

        When we adopted the time card software, it didn’t find anyone over reporting their time. What it did achieve was turning a department full of long term high performing workers into clock watchers.

        We used to be flexible, knowing if we went into a little overtime, that we’d just leave early the next day, because what was important was finishing the project/task. Overtime was never allowed, but we preferred to work until we were finished, or at a point where it would be easier to pick back up tomorrow.

        Now? Everyone in my cubicle area has an alarm (cellphone, app, etc) that we set for 10 minutes before end of shift, giving us time to set up for the next day.

        The lowered output has been noticed, but they can’t find a reason why it’s happening…

    8. Alex*

      I don’t even punch in/out at my hourly job–I do fill out a timesheet but it is on the honor system! This is the way that all of my office based jobs have been (different when I worked retail).

    9. Susan Calvin*

      Agreeing somewhat with ThatGirl, if they’re really tracking by specific start/end times that’s a *little* weird, but tracking in general what you spend time on and how much is extremely normal to me. Granted, for me personally, it’s almost always been about billing time to customers, but even in other departments where that didn’t apply, tracking by project/workstream etc was common.

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        Agreed, my first thought was “Is this person’s time charged to different customer accounts or government contracts?”

        I am salaried and exempt, as is very technical person in my organization. We still have to do time reporting because we work on contracts and our work needs to be charged to clients accordingly.

    10. YrLocalLibrarian*

      ED at a small nonprofit with primarily in person services. I and the other exempt employees all use the same timekeeping software as our hourly employees. It makes it easier for folks to see if I’m working remote, etc. and for me to see how many extra hours I’m working.

    11. Dust Bunny*

      I’m hourly but the salaried employees at my job used to have to fill out timesheets, yes. I don’t know if they still do; we’ve upgraded systems several times since I started. Nobody seemed to think it was that weird, though.

    12. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      I’m salaried/exempt and don’t have to clock in/out but I do have to keep a timesheet. I earn comp time for my overtime but our executive level staff don’t get that and they also do timesheets. It’s still helpful to see how many hours folks are working as additional information to evaluate workload and distribution of FTEs etc

    13. Lost academic*

      I suppose it’s important to know why you’re punching in and out. I can see reasons for safety and security and tracking that would require it.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I can see them making an argument for knowing who is/isn’t in the office in case there’s an emergency (eg fire, tornado warning, etc.) but that always struck me as a flimsy surveillance excuse because they’re never asking you to clock out/in if you step out for coffee/lunch/a walk, whatever.

        1. Anax*

          Actually, that argument was the one used at a couple of my previous jobs, and they absolutely DID ask us to clock in/out if we were physically out of the office for more than about 10 minutes.

          Pointedly, it didn’t matter WHY you were out – if you were having a meeting in the building next door, that was obviously work, but you were physically away, so you made a note in the book. Ditto if you were getting lunch, going for a walk, etc.

          Importantly, punching in and out was totally decoupled from the number of hours worked – a lot of people flexed their time and worked an hour or two after their kids went to bed, worked longer one day and shorter periods another day, had occasional off-site work duties, etc. I suppose someone could have used it for surveillance, but it would have been confusing at best and impossible at worst.

          I think that’s the key thing – it really was ONLY effective to know who was physically present at that time, and the information necessary for “butts in seats” enforcement was deprioritized and often entirely unavailable. They really did just want to know if we were on-site in case of emergency.

          (Possibly relevant, this was in Wisconsin, and tornado warnings can be a bit sudden. I suspect that this policy was set because of a bad evacuation experience in the past.)

    14. Dreaming Koala*

      Is this in the USA?
      In (western) Europe often you need to write down your hours even if you are paid independent of the hours worked. This is done for multiple reasons: customers receive bills depending on hours your worked for them, if you have >40 hours per week you can compensate by taking time off, in some cases if you have too many additional hours the company is obliged by law to pay those hours out. Starting from certain amount of additional hours, they are simply not permitted by law.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this is the reason why my hours are tracked with an app, and I’m in Finland.

      2. amoeba*

        We have this in Europe as well, and I love it. We don’t get overtime pay, but we have flex time over the whole year – so, you track your hours and when you’re in the plus, you can take additional time of, even whole (multiple) days. Or just work shorter hours for a while.

        I have friends who have “trust-based work time” and honestly, in the most cases that just means unpaid overtime.

    15. Friday Hopeful*

      We do this at my small office too (I am the exempt one) and it was my idea because one of the non-exempt people was padding hours on her time sheet, coming in whenever they wanted, etc. I suggested we use a clock, and because it was obvious that we would be singling out this one person, we all punch in and out. However only the people who are supposed to be accountable for their hours have their cards/hours added up. So unless they are scrutinizing your card, its only going to get used maybe theoretically for auditing purposes (if there is ever an employment audit).

      1. Miss Libby*

        You created an entire process and extra work for your whole team instead of disciplining the one person committing wage theft?

        1. Annie*

          That seems excessive. I hated time sheets and tracking. I couldn’t be happier when I went to salary exempt and didn’t have to deal with that anymore.

        2. GythaOgden*

          It can also help to discourage it from happening again — extra security measures can safeguard against future fraud as well as current fraud.

    16. Art3mis*

      I’ve had salaried jobs and had to record my time, but not punch a clock. I’m currently hourly and also have to put in my in/out time, but still I’m not “punching a clock” as in if I’m late, it’s obvious because of the time I punch in/out. So I guess it depends on if you are really punching a clock or just recording your hours.

      1. Tradd*

        We’re punching a “clock” in software that’s part of our HR/payroll software package.

    17. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      A lot of the time, it’s easiest to set up that kind of thing for the most restrictive job category and just make everyone do it.

      If you work for a hospital system in their marketing/PR department, you’re assigned a shift code, and you have to fill that field out whenever you submit paperwork. Because it’s easier to give everyone a shift code rather than having software that figures out that backoffice people can leave the field blank, but nurses have to fill it in.

      International transportation = all kinds of laws, regulations, union deals, etc about consecutive hours worked, rest breaks, etc. for a huge number of employees. So it’s both easier to manager, and fairer, if everybody punches in and out.

      1. 1LFTW*

        This. “International transportation” sounds like a highly regulated sector. Clocking in and out may be a way of documenting who’s on the premises doing work at any particular time in case something goes wrong or goes missing.

    18. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m salaried/exempt, but I clock in/out on a web-based time card for billing purposes. Sometimes I do fee-for-service work and sometimes I do FTE work. We have to guarantee a certain number of work hours per week to our FTE clients, so we keep track of this.

    19. Hyaline*

      I can see this being helpful outside of payroll for data purposes (how many hours are being worked per week, averages across weeks/months/number of employees) or for security purposes (a log of who is in the building at any given time) or even liability (did an incident occur while someone was on the clock) but I can also see how it feels weird especially if no other purposes have been defined or explained for the practice.

    20. ecnaseener*

      I used to have to punch in, but not out. They changed it a few years ago to no longer require exempt employees to clock in. Not sure if that change was brought on by remote work, perhaps before the change they wanted to track who was in the building for safety reasons? just a guess.

      Anyway, I didn’t mind it or find it demeaning. Nobody cared at what time of day you punched in, just that you did at some point so it wouldn’t register as an absence.

    21. Anon for This*

      Speculating here, but in transportation there are often limits to how many hours people can work (drivers, flight crews, etc.) Could it be that the system is designed to track that, but rather than have multiple timekeeping systems that one is used for everyone?

    22. Learn ALL the things?*

      I’m in government, and I’ve never had to log in on a time clock or time clock software as a nonexempt employee, but I have always had to submit some kind of time card to indicate that I did work an 80 hour pay period. As an exempt worker, my 80 hours can be distributed in creative ways when necessary, but it should still be 80 hours. But I’ve always assumed that’s because it’s government work and tax payers can get cranky about the idea of government workers not working a full 40 hour week.

    23. Throwaway Account*

      at my last library system, we had to punch in and out AND we had to work exactly 40 hours. If we worked 39.5, we had to use 30 minutes of PTO.

      Even managers had to punch in, but not punch out.

      It was a weird system. I’ve not had to do that at any other job that was not paid hourly.

    24. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      we don’t have to clock in and out – our timecards say 8a-4:30p (including a 30 minute unpaid lunch) every weekday unless we have PTO, regardless of what our actual schedule is, so I’m not sure what the point really is, but it requires nothing of me, so. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    25. Charlotte Lucas*

      My jobs for the past couple decades have been funded in part by federal money. Non-management staff has to do this (and indicate program/project funding for the time). It’s less about checking up on employees and more about reporting to the feds.

      In my current role, management will sometimes use it to check that people aren’t overloaded. They believe in work-life balance.

    26. Beth*

      I’ve had salaried jobs where we tracked hours (reported on a weekly basis, based on our best estimates, I was never questioned or challenged on anything I submitted), but not where I had to actually punch in/out. I’d find that weird and feel like my employer didn’t trust me very much. But you’re right that industry norms are a thing – if you’ve seen it across companies in your industry, maybe that’s just how it is!

    27. Garlic Microwaver*

      I punch in but not out. It’s a way for payroll to take attendance and keep the PTO balance accurate. Punching out is weird.

    28. ?*

      I’ve had to do this working in education. We’re exempt but it’s still a coverage based job—even if you’re not a teacher, you probably have an arrival duty or a desk to cover. Some people could have a more flexible schedule but then other people would be upset they don’t have to clock in. If your field requires being very timely I could see it making sense.

    29. Dittany*

      I could see that being useful as a way to track when people are actually on, and also to see if people are working crazy long hours. If everyone is regularly working 80+ hours a week, that’s a sign that you need to find room in the budget for a few new employees and also make sure people aren’t burning out. (Or, conversely, if someone isn’t working very many hours, see if they need something to do.)

    30. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I was a salaried professional and I had to badge in/out for security (engineering R&D) which automatically recorded times.
      I loved this system, because every minute I worked over was added to my comp account from which I could take comp days or just flex.

    31. Maotseduck*

      I’ve only been exempt at one job, and I had to do a timecard. They tracked OT for comp time, but I think it was partly because it was a Fire Department (I was in IT) and the large majority of the workforce has to punch the clock so they made everyone to make payroll more consistent.

    32. Clisby*

      I’m retired now, but never had punch in/out at work. When I was a computer programmer, I had to submit timecards, but that was more to track how much time I had spent on different tasks (they’d have different project codes). It had nothing to do with my pay.

    33. ImWithThem*

      My current job is the first non-hourly, non-overtime job I’ve ever had when I’m expected to track all of my time. It’s weird and bizarre and infantilizing.

    34. Annie*

      I think it may be industry specific, and if you’re on-site for your job (which it sounds like the case). I hate punching in/out, and think it’s sort of ridiculous for salary exempt, because I know there are times when I may be away from my desk during the day but then work late at night. As long as I’m getting my work done.
      But I do understand that if there is a large hourly non-exempt population (like a manufacturing floor), it makes it easier to track people who are at work and also doesn’t show extra “favoritism” to those salary employees. I worked at a manufacturing plant and for awhile I did punch in and out, although my pay was not based on that at all, it was just tracking that I was in the plant. Then they eliminated that completely for me.

    35. Corvus Corvidae*

      I’ve only had one exempt job where I had to punch in and out. The CEO was trying to get rid of our flexible start times and make everyone come in at 8:00 AM on the dot. They only used the time clock to see who was coming in at 8:01 or later so they could send a nasty email about it.

    36. RussianInTexas*

      Salaried exempt, have to punch in and out, sign out for lunch and sign back in. We also work 8-5, unless you have another scheduled agreed on, meaning you work 8 hours per day, minimum, every day, starting at the same time. There is no flexibility unless you aske for an appointment time or something. Most have to work standard business hours because we deal with the outside clients.
      Weirdly my previous work place had me as hourly non-exempt, and I only ever touched my timesheet if I needed to mark any PTO time.

      1. Tradd*

        Yup on all of that – on site, strict 8-5, dealing with customers, but all email/phone.

    37. Cabbagepants*

      My spouse has to do this. He’s a contractor working for our state. my guess is the state has some contact with the contractor for x hrs of manpower per week.

    38. PotatoRock*

      My security badge doubles as “in office” time tracking, it is kind of annoying but feels fairly typical in big companies. Salaried, exempt, etc. My particular company rubs people the wrong way because if you are in office for a second less than 40 hrs a week, you have to go write an explanatory note (like you went to appointment but filled in the time working from home) but I think most reasonable companies are just watching to make sure your average doesn’t go way low for a long period of time. Honestly I also know some people who hate badge tracking because it’s generally a sign the org has decided to actually enforce X days per week in office.

    39. The Linen Porter*

      We have this, and everyone punches in – basically who is ”in the building” and needs to be accounted for (fire drills etc.) Also security knows theres say 5 people in the building after hours, so they don’t panic when they see a shadow on camera…

    40. ToS*

      Is it a safety issue so they know who is where if something goes into an emergency?

      What makes a job exempt is actual job duties, not a time punch.

    41. Leira*

      At my last job, I had to clock in and out even though I was salaried/exempt and no one cared how much overtime I was working or how often I didn’t get a lunch break. It was “fun” to see what those things looked like over time…there’s a reason it’s not my current job. Clocking in and out isn’t it, though.

  4. Kitten*

    After reading the letter and comments this week about the manager who didn’t like their employee’s personality, it got me thinking. Every company I worked at where “personality” was emphasized also had terrible communication (like talking in circles instead of answering questions), not solution oriented, blatant favoritism, oversharing and it was more important to talk about how busy you were instead of doing your job. Have others found this to be true?

    Versus places that didn’t, where there were standards and expectations, clear communication, accountability, etc.

    I need to figure out how to screen for this in the future, as I currently work in a “personality” company

    1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      One thing I have found at “personality” companies is that management usually doesn’t have the base expectation of, “the best teams have lots of diversity.”

      Obviously the ideal is people from different backgrounds, abilities, race and ethnicity but what plenty of people forget is that it also means diversity of opinions, work styles, introversion vs extroversion, grinders vs people who work in bursts, etc etc etc. Personality is often code for “their personality is similar to mine” and at the end of the day, groups that are made up on a bunch of like people aren’t as effective as ones that suit different people to different purposes.

      In an interview, you can ask questions about what their approach to building a team is, how to they know when the team is performing well, what are some of the different strengths demonstrated by different team members, to see if they are on that wavelength.

      1. English Rose*

        You’re spot on with “their personality is similar to mine”, and description of true diversity is a great one.

      2. dnodpgap*

        This is my new manager and it’s killing our morale. They had a team of more junior people when they love to coddle and spend lots of time discussing personal issues. Our team is all senior folks who are pretty introverted and don’t spend a lot of time talking about non-work topics. They complain incessantly that they don’t know how to manage us. That they don’t know how to connect with us. I’m starting to think I can’t be successful under this manager.

    2. Midwest Manager too!*

      One way to screen this is to ask in the interview (or later phase, your choice) is what they envision for training and onboarding of the new hire – timeline, structure, anything they can share. If they have a clear plan, they’re good at communicating. If they waffle and say something pithy it’s a good sign they are expecting to throw the hire into a snake pit and see if they make it out.

    3. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I was about to suggest using “describe a time when…” questions to suss out the candidates’ communication style and potential pitfalls, then I realized you meant from the employee side! But, as a candidate, you can still use those types of questions in an interview, and pay close attention to how the interviewers communicate. People who play coy or talk in circles a lot, will often do it while they’re interviewing you. Unfortunately a lot of times you need a lot more context to tell if it’s problematic behavior, and you get that context in the job—but you can be in the lookout for clues.

      1. pally*

        I was thinking:

        How does communication work in the company? If management cannot explain exactly how folks get the information they need to do their jobs, or how communications from upper management get to the rank and file, that would be a problem.

        Does management value and support communication interactions? That would include employee(s) to employee(s), manager to employee, employee to manager(s). “OH, we have Slack” doesn’t cut it.

        Are each of these avenues of communication important to management? If so, can they cite actions or policies towards this?

        So very much can go wrong due to miscommunications. What do they do to minimize this?

    4. RagingADHD*

      Watch for overemphasizing culture and culture fit, particularly if they are hyping up how great their culture is in vague or woo-woo ways. Healthy company culture markers are concrete things like ample PTO, clearly stated core hours, paid time for things like volunteering or self-selected cultural holidays, a clear structure for feedback (upstream and downstream), easy access to accommodations, a commitment to DEI that has funding, personnel, and training devoted to it, etc.

      Also look for an emphasis on skills or strengths and growth mindset rather than emphasis on “gifts” or innate qualities. Everyone has natural aptitude at some things that makes it easier for them to acquire certain skills, but attributing people’s work abilities to “personality” is lazy thinking in hiring. People with any kind of innate temperament can learn how to establish rapport, for example.

    5. English Rose*

      I wonder if anyone has scripts for questions that essentially mean “You won’t make me join in with the Friday evening karaoke sessions will you?”
      I’ve always found it difficult to gauge ahead of time how social different teams are, and how much is expected/enforced around ‘joining in’ and how much is genuinely optional.

      1. NaoNao*

        “What type of person thrives in your culture, and what type has tended to struggle?” this is the single best “sideways” culture and personality question I’ve found. Even the overall reaction to the question (long pause, quippy answers, hostility, confusion, etc) tends to give you insight even before they start in on the actual answer.

        Also you can ask “what is the single deal breaker or maker in this role? In terms of trait, education, experience, skill…” and listen carefully!

    6. Justin*

      In a way, I love my colleagues’ personalities because we do not hire FOR that but for diversity and expertise and so on.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I think a lot of managers who seek to vibe on personality, genuinely just don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing as managers. That also ties into getting the unproductive communication from them, and just looking busy for them instead of knowing that they understand your output. In these companies people aren’t trained to be managers and they don’t get great feedback from their own manager so they rely on just looking the part: 1) vague brainstorming that never goes anywhere to look like they’re in charge, 2) making sure people look busy, so that even if people aren’t doing their jobs it won’t be obvious to people that you’re not managing them and 3) Getting a buddy buddy vibe going on the basis of similar personalities, because they hope if their employees like them it means they’re a good manager (or that at the very least it will appear that way to others). I think if you ask probing questions about someone’s management style and how they manage tricky situations it will probably reveal the culture you’re talking about.

    8. Delta Delta*

      I worked somewhere where “personality” was emphasized for a few folks but not for all. One guy very openly talked about his ADHD and how he had the inability to organize his desk/files/paperwork/life. The problem is that we’re lawyers, and his inability to organize his paperwork meant certain important things went un-filed or missed. Like one client who had an arrest warrant issue because Mr. Messy didn’t send a notice because it was buried in a stack of paperwork. But the boss didn’t do anything to work with him to help him improve the situation and instead said basically, eh, it’s his personality that he’s disorganized.

      I don’t work there anymore.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      I find that “personality” often means “agree with me always and don’t cause me any trouble.”

      In other words, I don’t want to curtail mine or others’ behaviors or work habits at all, so I’ll definitely decide it’s your “personality” when any kind of hard decision needs to be made.

      1. Doc McCracken*

        As someone with ADHD who wasn’t diagnosed until my 40’s, this makes me so sad for your coworker, your clients, and everyone at your firm. Some basic levels of support and coaching would make everyone’s lives, especially your coworker’s, better.

    10. JPalmer*

      I feel focusing on personality is partially hiding what they aren’t focusing on.

      In life and work you’ll constantly need to work together to solve problems. By focusing on ‘personality’, they’re hiding the ‘We need to focus on compromise and communication to work past issues’

      Working across diverse boundaries (discipline domains, cultural experience, age differences), folks learn to seek out and resolve misunderstandings before they become worse problems.

      I find folks who thrive in diverse environments are often better trained to be cooperative than mono-culture personality environments.

      As for a way to screen for it, asking about what the diversity on the team is like, casually looking around when you’re on-site interviewing, looking at the team members on the website. When I see techy all white-guys, that’s usually a bit of a warning sign.

      You can ask questions about what their cooperation/interdisciplinary behaviors processes are like.

    11. Alternative Person*

      It was definitely a thing at my last job. I wasn’t popular because I didn’t socialize with the ‘in-group’ at my last job and this was considered a considerable negative even though I did socialize with people individually. (Didn’t help I was juggling an overloaded schedule and a very intense study programme at the time).

      When a new manager came in who leaned on personality and personability to try and cover up their massive short comings things just got worse for me. They and their manager seemed quite offended when asked for the minimum of accountability and actual concrete work.

    12. 1LFTW*

      Other replies offer some good ideas for questions to ask during the interview stage. I’m just gonna add my voice to the chorus of people saying, yeah, orgs that focus on “personality” tend to have terrible communication (as well as all the other problems you’ve mentioned). I think there’s a sort of laziness involved; if everyone shares my “personality”, I don’t have to make the effort, and if I don’t make the effort, I never get good at communicating with people whose personalities differ from mine. Everyone just vibes, you know?

      Until the inevitable communication breakdown, which leads to scapegoating, which leads to factionalism… ugh.

  5. Mimmy*

    How do you apply for your own position / promotion?

    For the past several years, I have been an hourly employee at a state-run training center (part of a larger state agency) with a focus on teaching a specific skill (I’m being intentionally vague to preserve anonymity). My supervisor has been working to promote me, which would entail an increase in hours and responsibilities. It wouldn’t be full-time, but it’d give me an opportunity to finally use more skills and hopefully expand upon them.

    Even though the intention is to promote me, my supervisor is required to have the position posted at least internally and I have to apply, which seems fairly common in government and large companies.

    Resumes and cover letters go to our agency’s HR department, who then sends all appropriate candidates to the hiring manager (in this case, my supervisor) who sets up interviews. What is the best way to craft my cover letter? My supervisor and I tossed around some ideas of additional responsibilities, but it probably won’t be solidified until everything is official.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      When I’ve done this, I’ve erred slightly on the formal slide (still a cover letter and resume that could be read by a lot of people!), but leaned into my familiarity with the role, the organization’s goals, and what I was excited to do in the position.

    2. old curmudgeon*

      I work for a state government that does the same thing, and the single BEST advice I can give you is to pretend that you’ve never met anyone involved in the position before in your life, and write that cover letter/resume as if you’re applying to a brand-new job.

      Be sure to do the same thing at the interview. Yes, your supervisor already knows what you know, but in my state, by statute, the interview panel can ONLY decide based on what is actually said by the candidate. Any prior knowledge that any of the interview panel has about you cannot be considered in the decision if you didn’t discuss it in the interview.

      It’s hard to do, I know, and it takes a mindset change to treat an interview with someone you’ve known for years as if it’s the first time you’ve ever met, selling them on the skills they already know you have, but that is the BEST way for an employee in my state to land the job in the situation you describe.

      Good luck!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! The system should be set up to avoid cronyism.

        The other thing is to go through the position description and highlight everything that matches in your resume. If you’re missing something, include it if you have relevant experience. And if you have a trusted person who’s gone through this process, ask them to read your resume and cover letter.

        Most importantly, follow the instructions for your application materials to the letter.

        Good luck!

      2. Just Thinkin' Here*

        Agree on this advice. I’ve seen cases where the ‘sure win’ candidate did a lousy job interviewing and the hiring committee went with another candidate. You have to write your resume and interview as if you had not been previously working on this team. Most government hiring committees can only judge based on what’s in front of them and can’t take into account past experience not presented to the hiring committee.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      In my experience this type of setup means you would be considered for the job automatically as one of the internal candidates, so I wouldn’t be too stressed out about “making it through” the HR screen.

      Good cover letters explain your skill set add context not in your resume and offer a sense of why you’re interested in the company. I understand that you want it to be the best possible cover letter and you should definitely take it seriously, but do try to take some of the extra stress out of it by remembering that your boss already thinks you are qualified and writing a letter that conveys that message of “I’d be a great fit for the job” to anyone else reading.

      1. Beka Cooper*

        Agreed, I was on the hiring committee to hire another one of my position (there were 4 of us) in an office in a higher ed institution. We were required to interview any internal candidates, but there was one who did a really sloppy and incomplete job on their resume, so we didn’t include them in the interview lineup. HR got back to us and asked for justification, and when we said the resume didn’t show attention to detail, which was a requirement of the job, HR accepted that rationale.

        So–yes, there’s a chance you’re automatically going to be selected for an interview because you’re an internal candidate, AND you should still act as if it’s a brand new job at a brand new company when you prepare your application.

        I just interviewed for two different positions within the same department where I work, with about 2 weeks between the interview for the first position and the interview for the second position. It felt really strange to be going through the whole process again, with basically all the same people, but they are required to do the interviews the same for each candidate.

    4. GigglyPuff*

      First time I applied for a promotion at my govt job, I totally bombed the interview cause I didn’t know how to treat it.

      Best advice, act like it’s an external job. Did that the next couple times and got the jobs. It feels weird when talking to your boss about stuff they already know, but with govt hiring that’s the best approach.

    5. Mouse*

      I think there are two things to consider:-
      1) making sure (if possible) that your supervisor lets HR know he’s asked you to apply and that your application should be one of the ones chosen. Don’t risk getting lost in the shuffle.

      2) look at what they say in the job spec when it gets published (which I’m assuming they will have to do if they are opening this up to other candidates). Then if they mention specifically what the other responsibilities are you can talk about how your current achievements support taking those on. Or, if nothing specific is mentioned, you can talk about how “in conversations with Fergus, he mentioned the department might be looking to do x,y,z. With my experience in a,b,c, I could ….” I don’t think you need to shy away from the fact you already work there and may have some insight/ideas others don’t.

      My one caveat is that I’m assuming you’re in the US and I’m not, so there may be culteral aspects to applying for US government work that I’m missing. But generally, I would say approach it like any other job, but don’t leave the fact you currently work there to be the elephant in the room.

    6. anonymous anteater*

      Treat it like a regular job application, in the sense that you don’t take anything for granted. Provide all the materials they ask for (for example, don’t think you can skip cover letter or something just because they already know you), use a formal/professional tone in writing and in the interview, and if you can, take a step back, really analyze the new job and ask questions to fully understand how it will be different from your current one and if you need more information or more support.

      BUT: you have a huge advantage in convincing the hiring panel, which is that you can check the two boxes that are super important. 1. Will this person do a good job? Give examples of all the tasks you have been performing, and evidence that you have been doing it well (feedback, test scores, throughput, what have you). 2. Does this person understand the job description, and will they like it enough to come to work somewhat motivated, and stick around? Again, you can clearly show that you’ve already been performing large parts of this job so you get it, and mention which ones you really enjoy, or find gratifying, or make you feel impactful. If any of those favorite parts align with what you will do more after the promotion, that is ideal.

    7. Pretty as a Princess*

      Treat it like any other job interview/resume. The only thing that would be different is that where there is internally-specific language or technical jargon, you can use that instead of something less specific/more general.

      I am often asked to help my colleagues on different teams when they interview candidates for various types of positions, as my team works with many other teams. The difference between internal candidates who treat the job like any other job they need to earn, vs those who treat the process informally (“I know everyone anyway” etc) is night and day. And, your direct supervisor may ultimately not be the only, or highest ranking, voice in the process.

    8. Policy Wonk*

      I’m a fed, so the rules may be different, but most feds know someone who didn’t make it through the screening to be considered/interviewed for the job they had been doing for months. As others have said, act like you are an outsider and make sure you check every box and address every required skill. Use the exact words from the announcement – our HR people know their jobs very well, but they don’t know my team’s jobs at all so can be fooled by someone who uses all the right buzzwords, but doesn’t really have the experience. And take the interview seriously. Again, can tell stories about people who thought the job was theirs, so didn’t interview well and ended up passed over. Good luck!

    9. Charlotte Lucas*

      I helped screen applicant cover letters and resumes not that long ago. A few people put in tables with requirements on one side and brief summaries of how they met them on the other. It was very helpful.

      1. detaill-orieted*

        Had to do this recently, and it’s hard not to feel pointless about the cover letter. I got great mileage out of “Over the past n years at X, I’ve been proud to contribute to our important work in . . . By . . . . Particularly . My have grown over my time at X, and as a I would look forward to .

    10. JPalmer*

      For this, I’d probably focus on that you’ve been working the position for X time and you have a mastery over the internal systems already. Like you have a big leg up on any competitors vying for the position. They’d need to spend 1-3+ months getting up to speed. You won’t have that. That’s a big value gain for a business. They want someone who is going to be up to 25% more productive in the first year.

      You’re also way more of a known quantity. They don’t need to take a risk on the 5% chance (random number) of hiring someone who isn’t a good fit for the team or doesn’t have the skills. There is going to be way more confidence in hiring you if they like you.

      For cover/resume, just have a slight lean towards “Worked for past 9 months with “, “Trained >200 clients for our program in past year”. Things that say you have brought the school/business success in the past to trigger their “Of course we should promote Mimmy” practicality.

      Oh and other note: Don’t rest on your laurels like it’s a done deal and a formality cause you’ll come off cocky. That would tank your chances.

      There is also a bit of management calculus here of ‘If we don’t promote Mimmy, is she going to jump ship’, where then they may fill one position, but they’ll soon have another they need to fill and at a cost of institutional knowledge. You can indirectly hint at this by saying things “I’m ready for a new challenge”. You aren’t threatening, but conveying that if you never move upward or get new challenges, you might change companies eventually.

    11. Random Academic Cog*

      Make sure you add ALL of your prior experience in the application system. This is a common mistake for a lot of government and academic roles. That can massively impact the pay approved by HR.

      And I agree with everyone saying to treat it like any other interview. I know it sucks, but people bomb the interviews because they don’t think they have to treat it seriously and it’s a huge problem for the selection committee if they already had someone in mind for the position.

      Good luck!

  6. Mouse*

    I recently accepted a job that is more than three times my current salary. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and would love some tips on managing a huge jump in income!

    Also, the new job is one where appearances do matter–not a lot, but it’s going to be important for me to look polished and put together. I’m a woman in my early 30s, but this is not an area where I’ve spent a lot of time and money in the past. I’m thinking of setting up regular nail appointments, getting my eyebrows waxed, and starting up an actual skincare routine beyond washing my face with hand soap, but there are so many products and services out there! What do you all do regularly to help yourself feel put together?

    1. Katydid*

      I have a job where I mostly work from home but there are times where I have to travel to conferences or meetings and need to up the professional look. Getting my nails done helps, I just discovered thr Olive and June nail polish kits and they have them at Walgreens. They stay nice much longer than other polish I’ve tried. As for skincare, tinted sunscreen is my go to since the pandemic because I can’t handle full makeup face anymore. And when I lived in a bigger city, thrifting for professional blouses and jackets was the best!

      1. NameRequired*

        You could also go to a store like Nordstroms where the customer service people are actually there to help and they do other stuff like hem pants, tell someone who works there that you need a new basics for your new job but don’t know where to start and let them help you! Decent quality clothing that fits well makes a huge difference.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I am generally a no-makeup person, but when I want to go for polish, it’s wax or thread brows, mascara, tinted moisturizer, and a lip shade I love but isn’t too bold (Clinique’s Black Honey, for the record). Nails, I just go for short and tidy because I am the person who ruins a manicure before I leave the salon EVERY time and I think chipped nails look worse than unpolished. If you do a fair bit on Zoom and don’t wear a headset, earrings can go a long way too.

      1. Panicked*

        Black Honey is my holy grail. I’ve used it since high school and it’s still just perfection!

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Black Honey is AWESOME.

        I am blessed with naturally lovely fingernails, which is good because I hate having my hands touched, so I would probably go for a neat trim and file, and the conventional polish color of your choice, or at least a buff. I chip nail polish no matter who does it or how well it’s prepped, so I don’t pay for manicures, and if I had to keep them looking nice I’d go for a neutral that didn’t show damage so much.

        1. A Significant Tree*

          Also a Black Honey fan! Otherwise minimal makeup, which for me is tinted sunscreen, eyeliner, and a light coat of lipstick. I used to use mascara but my eyes water too much these days and waterproof mascara isn’t worth the removal effort to me.

          I haven’t found manicures to be worth it for me – I can do a decent job keeping them looking good and healthy, and buffing goes a long way to making them look great without polish (which I also tend to ruin immediately).

          I think hair is an important part of looking put together – however you wear it or style it, it should look deliberate rather than slapdash. Depending on your style, you might want to do regular salon visits for upkeep. If you color, you might make sure your roots don’t grow out too much if you’re in a work culture where people Notice These Things. (These are all just suggestions from someone who cuts her own hair maybe once or twice a year and waits for 1+ inches of roots before coloring!)

          Accessories too – these bring your outfit up a level. Statement necklace, scarf, or earrings are usually the easiest to manage. I love bracelets but I would constantly play with them so that’s not helpful when trying to look polished. A statement watch though can be a nice touch.

          And congratulations!

        2. MCL*

          If I spring for a manicure I always do a shellac, which lasts 2-3 weeks for me. I’m rough on my nails but shellacs hold up! I don’t do them regularly because they’re more expensive and also the UV lights they use to cure shellac isn’t great for skin cancer risks. I maybe do 2-3 per year and take off the polish at home once it’s coming off.

    3. my cat is prettier than me*

      I don’t paint my nails often, but I make sure they’re clean with no raggedy edges. I get my brows waxed every so often, but I mainly do upkeep myself. As for a skincare routine, you really don’t need much. I use face wash (antiacne in the summer, moisturizing in the winter), zit cream, and moisturizer. If my skin is really bad, I’ll put on some foundation or tinted moisturizer. You definitely don’t need to spend a lot of money. If you do, I think it’s better to invest in skincare products rather than makeup. Hair is my weak point because I hate styling it, but getting rid of dead ends goes a long way. I hope this helps!

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Congratulations on the new job and huge salary increase!

      On managing a huge jump in income: assuming you’re in the US, set up automatic retirement deductions to your employers 401(k) or 403(b) plan. Also, if you have an IRA (individual retirement account), you may be able to set up direct deposit into your IRA. I recommend this because for me the easiest way to save money is to do it automatically. I only have to think about when I am setting up the amounts I want to go into my 401(k) and IRA. After that, I just budget with the money that it deposited into my regular checking/savings accounts.

      Beyond retirement accounts, I think it’s a good idea to:

      1) adjust your budget to account for spending more money on looking put-together based on advice from other commenters (this money could be for buying new clothes, tailoring, nail appointments, etc.)

      2) pay down any debt you may have, especially debt with high interest rates

      3) think about your financial/life goals and how you can use this salary increase to achieve them (for example, if you want to save up to buy a house or a new car or XYZ, the new salary could speed those plans along)

      1. Peanut*

        Personally I would focus on building up a healthy emergency savings account too. Your overall budget will go up so you may need more to cover things if you lose your job l.

        And anything extra I’d put into some recurring services like cleaning or lawn care to free up my time.

        (oh and id probably up my charitable giving).

    5. old curmudgeon*

      The thrifting suggestion is a good one – check out Goodwill and St. Vinny’s, and if your city has other resale shops, check those as well.

      As for how to handle the sudden increase in pay, the best suggestion I can make is to imagine to yourself that you’re still making as much as your last job, and to put as much as you possibly can into savings and retirement accounts. Think of it as giving your future self a raise; the money you tuck away today will pay you back bigtime in the future.

      Afraid I can’t comment on the hair/makeup/nails part; I keep my hair scraped back in a bun, and I’ve never worn makeup or nail polish, though none of that has appeared to hamper my career in any way.

    6. WellRed*

      Regular hair trims. Shaggy is not a polished look. I also recommend a “work uniform” or “capsule wardrobe.” Congratulations!

    7. TooTiredToThink*

      I’ve only gotten my 2nd manicure ever (the first one destroyed my nails and I was scared to ever go back). I realized a friend of mine got her nails done and I liked them so I asked – she just keeps her natural nail length and gets dip done. My nails are short but they look cute now. I live in the DC metro area and it cost me $45 before the tip. Everything else (especially adding tips to the nails, etc…) just seemed overwhelming.

      As for eyebrow waxing – I also do that (rarely), but depending on your preferences, you might look for a threading place – they use a different technique that you might like better.

      Check Facebook to see if you have a local women’s social group – we have a couple of them and they have been a wealth of information for recommendations.

    8. BikeWalkBarb*

      After reading the blog Unflattering by Dacy Gillespie for a while, I signed up for a course she teaches in identifying your personal style. She’s specifically focused on style for bodies of any size or shape, recognizing where your style assumptions may have come from thanks to your family and societal messages–a quasi-therapeutic approach to unpacking the things in our heads related to clothing and fashion. I’m in an asynchronous course that is a cohort and it’s really supportive and wonderful. She also has a downloadable DIY workbook to go through the questions and do some exercises to help you tease out the things you really like and feel good wearing. if you have questions about whether your clothing is where you want it to be she would be a great resource. She also does individual consulting for anybody who’s interested in that. Her company is called Mindful Closet and the course I’m in is called Making Space.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I’ve only come to Davy lately but am really appreciating her blog and the way it is making me think about my clothes in a new way.

    9. Midwest Manager too!*

      Congrats on the new job and income!

      I recommend with the new income level that you don’t make any major changes to your expenses for at least a few months to a year. Keep your previous income going to your checking, and anything extra send to savings (or investments, or pay off debt). Do not make any new financial commitments unless they’re strictly necessary (e.g. your car dies, major medical expense, etc.).

      Once you’ve built up an emergency fund worth 3-6 months of savings, then you can start considering that extra income for lifestyle changes.

      Good luck! I hope this new gig leads to even bigger and better things!

      1. ursula*

        This is very good advice and I strongly agree. The one exception I would suggest is giving yourself a small, one-time, predetermined bit of budget for up-front costs related to your professional transition. For example, do you need to buy some nicer work clothes? Replace shabby shoes with nice professional ones with good support? A few blazers that you feel great in? IME, good quality wardrobe updates (not too trendy, focused on good fit and materials) will last a lot longer and have a bigger impact than a lot of other “levelling up” type things. Deciding in advance on a budget for this will also help you avoid feeling like you need to manifest an entire new wardrobe at once, which you don’t need to do. Congrats on the new job!

      2. sux*

        I mostly agree, but I’d stick to the lower budget (minimize lifestyle changes) for as long as you can -5,10 years, if possible. Living way below your means, socking money away, learning about investments (after paying off debt) will serve you well. Having extra savings due to lay-off or putting more towards major purchases (less future debt) will also serve you well.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Extra savings are literal lifesavers. Our apartment is currently filled with dehumidifiers and fans due to the unit above’s water heater failure, and knowing I have enough to rent in another building at short notice (I’ll be filing my renter’s insurance claim and such as well, of course) without having to wait on being released from my current lease is helping me not just run into the street shrieking.

          You never know when life is going to take a crap in your breakfast and being able to do SOMETHING about it can make all the difference in the world.

          1. sux*

            I got laid off last year, and was very surprised to find that it took 12 months to find a job. I’m glad to not worry too terribly about finances. Also, being a 60-yr old woman in tech sux

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Paying off debt is a the first big thing I would do after setting into the job and organizing finances/savings. But you want to organize your debts as well.

        First up would be anything you’re behind on, then stuff like credit cards and student loans–I would work with a financial advisor, maybe at your bank, to set up payment schedules and get those down as soon as realistically possible because of the high interest rates and impact on credit scores. Then longer term things like car and mortgage payments. Again, working out a payment schedule so you know X is going to those every month will be huge in helping you think about your new, higher budget.

        And don’t neglect savings and investments. Even a bank savings account is better than nothing and the money will be available for other investment opportunities.

    10. HonorBox*

      I can’t speak to the appearance part, other than to say do what feels right to you. If you feel comfortable and professional, you’re going to show that.

      Regarding the jump in income: Spend a good amount of time “living” on your former salary or just slightly above. Let the rest of the income be gravy. Set up an automatic transfer to savings, which will give you opportunity to splurge when you want or need to.

    11. see you anon*

      Start simple, and build from there. You can drop a lot of money on skincare, especially with it being such a big fashion/style trend (vs. the makeup-leaning trends of the past). I buy a slightly nicer drugstore brand of facewash and moisturizers, with a focus on working for my sensitive skin, and having SPF (I burn easily). I also buy my makeup at the drug store. If you’re looking for inspiration, look through Pinterest, or social media, or good ol’ magazines (hard copy or online), make note of what you like, and start from there. I like a bold lip, so that’s where I play with colour. Otherwise I keep it relatively simple with a brow pencil, concealer, and maybe mascara.

      Also consider how these things will factor into your life. Makeup: are you in a space that has temperature control, or are you outside and risk your makeup getting wrecked? Nails: love the look of a stiletto nail? Will it impede your ability to do your job/life, or are you willing to make it work? Things to consider. If you want something longer-lasting for a mani/pedi, I’ve splurged on gel nails and was happy with the results. My day to day for nails has been investing in a nice manicure set (clippers, cuticle nipper, etc.), a multi-grit file, and nice hand cream + cuticle cream.

    12. KOALA*

      Can’t speak much to the appearances, I just started an Ipsy subscription to learn about and try out skincare products. Maybe trying the skincare/clothing subscription services could be a start. However regarding the jump in income my suggestions would be:

      Fund any 401k or similar program to the company match if offered
      Fully fund Roth/Traditional IRA

      Determine how much it would take to get to a 3 and 6 month emergency fund and accelerate funding to 6 months as quickly as you can.

      If you have any debt pay that off as quickly as possible-potentially by pretending you are only making 2 times your previous salary and using everything above that to pay down debt/save.

      Make a list of things that you need and want including vacations you want to take/experiences you want to have, repairs/upgrades needed over the next couple years. Work out a rough budget for what that would cost and then split that into a monthly payment to a separate savings.

      Speak with a financial advisor, your financial institution may have one you can start with just to work up an initial financial plan.
      Prepare estate documentation(Will, POA etc) just to feel prepared.

      1. Betty*

        One piece of advice for choosing a financial advisor: you want someone who is fee-for-service (this can either be “I charge X for a consultation” or “I charge X% for assets I manage”). Anyone else is fundamentally a salesperson. You also want to see that they’re a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Public Accountant, or a Chartered Financial Analyst, depending on their exact role.

        And at a minimum, make sure you’re funding your retirement account up to the maximum of an employer match, if not to the legal limit.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Check out the website Get Your Shit Together, as well. It was created by a woman who lost her husband suddenly and had no idea what to do or where to find important papers. It’s great for figuring out wills, what insurance you need, and so on.

    13. WantonSeedStitch*

      Get a haircut that is easy to make it look neat and polished without a lot of time or effort. Keeping your nails well shaped and filed but unpolished will be less work than trying to make sure your polish always looks nice. Find a simple makeup routine that focuses on the frame of brows, lashes, and lips to add definition and polish quickly.

      Skincare is always a good idea! I love a two-step cleansing routine: first an emulsifying cleansing oil or balm to remove makeup and sunscreen (I am a fan of Banila Clean It Zero), then a low-pH foaming cleanser (CosRx makes a great one that’s inexpensive) to gently cleanse without stripping the skin. A great gentle moisturizer is CosRx Snail 92 All In One Cream, but any moisturizer that works well on your skin is fine. Follow with a high SPF sunscreen. That’s a good start. There are other steps you can add in at some point, but it’s good to start slow.

    14. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      Admittedly I am older and now retired, but always worked in a conservative industry (think law). So here’s what I did: Regular nails (doesn’t matter if you do fakes or just straight polish, but it’s easier and quicker to polish, not to mention better for your nails). You don’t mention hair, so ignore this part if you like; I found it well worthwhile to say to the stylist that you want to spend no more than x minutes on hair daily — this gets you a style that doesn’t slow you down and pretty much always looks good. Eyebrows are definitely A Thing these days. As for what to do for skin: despite what every cosmetic company wants you to think, a huge amount of how you look is genes plus sun exposure. One of the most gorgeous women I ever knew used Ivory soap on a Buf-Puf plus Nivea for years. Clean face, easy makeup (so you don’t need a makeover at lunchtime!), always wear sunscreen. And because I’m non compos mentis first thing in the morning, my work wardrobe was simple pieces that were all in the same color family, so I could pretty much pick one from each category and they all looked good together. Congratulations on the great new job!

      1. Stacy Fakename*

        Cosigned the recommendation to ask the stylist for low maintenance hair cut/styling. And talk about what that means! I have a bob and absolutely loathe blow drying my hair, and my stylist cuts in in a way that air drying is all I need to do. Obviously hair texture and cut mileage may vary.

    15. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Congratulations on the new job!

      I recommend you create a budget for your new income. There’s lots of budgeting advice out there, so I won’t go too into depth unless requested. What I do recommend is that for the next few months you track your outflows very closely and make as few major changes to your lifestyle as possible. What you want to avoid is the problem of lifestyle creep, where your expenses just increase with your income so that you don’t actually end up better off. The best way I’ve found to do that is to first get a really good understanding of what you’re actually spending money on. Then if you want to “step up” any part of your lifestyle – more expensive housing, going out more, etc – you should do it knowingly and actively, and adjust your budget to reflect that.

      Prioritize your savings and retirement! If your work offers an HSA account, max that thing out. HSA funds compound tax-free, and while they can only be used for medical items, you are likely to have more medical needs after you retire than when you are younger and healthier. Expenses that can be paid out from an HSA are ones that don’t eat into your retirement funds. FSA accounts are however basically useless and I do not recommend them.

    16. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’ve been a senior finance exec for a long time, but I hate all the “maintenance.” I have to look professional and pulled together, but I basically just want to do the same thing every day. My routine takes about 3 minutes, 6 if I blowdry my hair.
      I do not put polish on my nails because it’s too much work. I just keep them clean and nicely filed. I use the blue cuticle stuff about once a week and that really helps.
      I do keep my long hair neat and usually in a ponytail or really nice hair clip
      I use Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer, a little bit of eyeliner pencil, a sweep of Bobby Brown eye shadow pencil, a bit of mascara and a bit of blush. And lip gloss because my lips are always dry
      My work “uniform” (if in person) is a nice cardigan/sweater jacket, sleeveless shell or turtleneck or a sleeveless dress, or skirt, or black or blue pants.
      Finance advice:
      Set up a direct deposit to a savings account (or two) so you can sock some of that extra money away. If you do a couple of savings accounts, one can be for an emergency fund (aim for six months of expenses), one could be for something specific like a house. Make a plan to pay down any debt you may have. If you have a mortgage, first check to see if you have a prepayment penalty.
      Also, max out your 401(k) contribution.
      Congrats and good luck with your new role!

    17. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Congratulations on the new job and income! I got really into skincare about 10 years ago and it can be really overwhelming to get started! I found the advice and products on Paulaschoicedotcom to be helpful. It’s s step up from drugstore stuff but not outrageously priced, and there’s a lot of good advice. As for nails, I can’t be bothered with polish (I’m so hard on my nails) but I found Dior’s nail glow and Londontown’s illuminating nail concealer made my nails look instantly more “done” (in conjunction with trimming and shaping my nails regularly).

    18. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Oh hi, past me! Congratulations, it’s very nice here in the land of decent salaries.

      re income: assuming you haven’t been living on credit cards, I’d say to change as little as possible for a few months, and pay attention to the moments of friction in your life, things that could be solved by throwing money at them (do you hate spending your Sunday mornings cleaning the entire house? do you eat a lot of frozen meals/takeout because meal planning is annoying and you’re wiped after work? would your kids benefit from a specific afterschool program instead of generic daycare? is your lawn an overgrown mess and you hate it? that kitchen appliance that mostly works but makes a racket or is uncomfortable to use, the scratchy blanket, the rush to get the recycling out in time for pickup), and gradually introduce ways to reclaim your time and energy. But if you haven’t been living hand-to-mouth, you don’t need to get on the hedonic treadmill! Sock that money into savings & investments. Things you can and should do immediately are max out your tax-advantaged savings, like your 401k contributions, IRA contributions, and FSA/HSA accounts. And keep in mind your taxes will go up — not as much as you probably fear, but best to do the calculations ahead of time so you’re not shocked next April. (And of course, consider if you can share the wealth by upping your charitable donations! Your local food bank wants money way more than they want cans, they can buy things wholesale you can’t, for example, and there are so many people in need.)

      For looking polished: hair, brows, lashes, lips. Figure out a simple routine (mine is a double cleanse, moisturizer, sun screen, brow gel, mascara, lipstick. I have curly hair so my hair routine is very individualized, but a regular cut is essential, because raggedy ends will betray you every time) and stick to it. If you like manicures, that’s fine, but I think trimmed short, unpolished, and clean nails are better than nails with chipped polish, and polish chips instantly on me. Clothes should be well-tailored and in good shape; corporette.com has a lot of tips for upgrading your wardrobe, although they are very into “spend the money” and I’ve stopped reading them because my wardrobe is basically complete and I need to repair stuff rather than purchasing more.

    19. H.Regalis*

      BEAUTY APPOINTMENTS. I cannot make myself do shit at home, but having regular appointments for hair, skin, nails, waxing, eyelashes, etc. totally works for me. My personal recommendation is to pay someone else to do things, and get things done that are semi-permanent (like eyelash extensions) so you don’t have to get up early and do a bunch of beauty shit every goddamn day.

      As for suddenly having way more money: If you have debt, make three money piles: Bills, debt, and savings. Put 1/3 in each. If you don’t have debt, make two money piles: Put half in each pile. Since you can probably afford it now, pay someone else to make and handle your investments. It’s tough not to go wild and buy a bunch of stuff, but it really, really helps to have rainy day/fuck-you money.

    20. English Rose*

      Congratulations! I think you’re along the right lines. “Polished” is definitely the aim.
      On skincare, you don’t need to spend a fortune but a good mid-range moisturiser with sun protection will help. I don’t personally use foundation but I do use a light weight concealer under the eyes and to lift those nose to mouth creases. Then I blot with light weight powder. That’s probably a bit old-fashioned now (powder) but one thing that really helps with a polished look is not having a shiny nose. You can also get mattifying serums which work on cutting back shine (I have a bald male friend who uses one on his head!).

      What others have said about a capsule wardrobe. If you want inspiration for a classic polished look, for explanations of why it works, search “Audrey Coyne” on YouTube.

    21. Antilles*

      For the income, here’s one big suggestion I would have:
      Arrange it so that a decent portion of that salary goes straight into your savings or retirement account, completely automatically. 401K or IRA through the company, setting it up for your bank to go into a separate linked account, whatever. Ideally, it’d be in a way that happens before you even see the check hit your bank account.
      Why? Because if that savings mechanism happens automatically, you will never miss it. Especially with the size of your increase (tripling!), you can probably bank a decent bit of the extra money but still walk away with much more money in your pocket every month.

    22. M2*

      I would do what feels right for you.

      Second the capsule wardrobe. Get a few really nice pieces that can mix with more inexpensive or mid range ones. I also recommend getting stuff tailored if you need. Makes things look more expensive and polished.

      You can do your own nails or get them done every x weeks professionally and keep them up on your own.

      I am awful at makeup so went to a makeup store and told them I needed an easy makeup situation and a more night/ evening look. They went over everything with me and made it simple. I bought what they gave me and go back in the summer for a slightly darker shade (or mix the shades). I usually just wear a tinted moisturizer, some blush or bronzer, and mascara but have more if needed. Get the right brushes for everything too.

      Skincare is tricky. I would go and ask for samples and try them out. Or look online many people have mix and match special. I also get a facial or hydra facial a couple times a year but that adds up. A family member gave me Vinter’s Daughter set which I love and would never buy for myself because it’s expensive but it has helped my skin a lot.

      Also, I wouldn’t overspend. I have seen people with new fancy jobs suddenly up their spending habits so much that they aren’t saving anything it then they get let go and have to curb their spending a ton. When I got a huge bump in income I didn’t increase spending other than buying a couple nice outfits for work and a pair of comfortable work shoes. I saved and invested and bought a house, travel, and invest for my retirement and my kids college funds. Don’t start living a high life because it can soon end and things can change. Not saying don’t enjoy it or do some fun things but I would not rent or buy a place that is triple or double what you pay now or get an Audi if you have a Honda type thing.

      Congrats and good luck!

      1. Nonsense*

        Seconding getting clothes tailored! It makes such a huge difference to wear clothes that actually fit your body, both in terms of confidence and appearance. The professional women in my life also recommend investing 1-2% of your income back into yourself every year – clothes, makeup, training, etc. Almost treat it as a budget item.

    23. Hyaline*

      Find an easy to maintain hairstyle that looks polished. It’s unfair and borderline discriminatory, but many people have a natural hair texture that needs some attention to look polished—my curly-wavy hair included, and it’s frustrating that I can pretty much never “wash and wear” my hair if I want to look put together. Some places won’t care! but if your workplace expects polish, air dried wavy hair, or hair in a ratty ponytail, or a messy claw clip, or coming in with wet hair, etc, probably isn’t in the cards. That doesn’t have to mean daily blowouts or whatever, but pay attention to what people with similar hair length and texture to you do and whether it registers as polished.

    24. Manchmal*

      I’m not a polished person, I don’t wear make up, but I try to make up for that by having a skincare routine that makes my skin look it’s best. I feel like the minimum you’d want for almost any skin type is vitamin c serum, a retinol, moisturizer and sunscreen. I also do niacinimide (but probably won’t keep doing it after I run out) and a peptide serum (which I will keep doing), as well as glycolic acid some evenings. I love the company Maelove but people also love The Ordinary.

      1. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        I love The Ordinary! Very nice stuff at very reasonable prices. I love their rosehip oil in particular.

    25. cowtools*

      I’m traveling internationally for work soon, and my supervisor will be booking our flights. I’m transgender and the name I use is not my legal name. Additionally, my legal sex isn’t what people would expect. I’m pretty sure my supervisor knows I’m trans, but I realized I need to give her my legal name and sex for the plane ticket. It is what it is, but I’m feeling a bit awkward about it. I realize I may have to navigate this situation more commonly in the future as I travel more with others making travel arrangements. Has anyone else dealt with this? How have you approached it?

    26. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Congratulations!! On the huge jump in income (and having not read other comments yet):
      Step 1, if you have outstanding debt that is unsecured (credit cards etc) or otherwise a stressor to you, set aside a chunk of your increase to knock that out ASAP.

      Step 2, pay yourself first! Set aside a chunk of your increase to savings, ideally both short-term savings for something nice – a vacation, new computer, hobby materials, whatever floats your boat – and also long-term savings like an emergency fund, saving for a new car or a down payment on a house or whatever. Automate this if you can – I have my savings allotments auto-transferred out of my account the same day my direct deposit hits – and even consider putting your savings in a different bank that isn’t the one you look at regularly. If you’re an out-of-sight-out-of-mind person, lean into that and just let your savings grow in the dark. (I also auto-transfer my mortgage-and-bills money out to a separate checking account same-day, so that what’s in my main checking account is only ever my self-allowed spending money.)

      Step 3, consider – what areas of your budget do you want to stay the same, vs where are you willing to splurge a little bit more? It’s really easy for an increase in income to get gobbled up without thinking about it, but if you consciously go “I’m not going to increase my grocery budget, but I am willing to splurge on takeout 2x weekly,” or you want to start going to a gym instead of working out to YouTube videos, or whatever, being deliberate about the changes you’re making can help keep them from snowballing on you when you’re not looking. :)

    27. Untamed Shrew*

      Congrats! You must be so excited!

      Someone above mentioned going to Nordstrom’s, and I completely second this. It can be pricey, but it’s worth it. Someone there will work with you — beyond just ringing you up — and help you find things that fit well that are flattering. Back in the day, alterations were free, but I don’t know if that’s still the case. A few really nice, versatile, high-quality things can make a great foundation wardrobe, and then you can supplement with less expensive things. As a bonus, I believe the annual anniversary sale is going on at Nordstrom’s right now, so you might be able to find some great deals. I’ve found great stuff at Nordstrom Rack too at decent prices. And hit places like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. They’re hit and miss, but sometimes you can score some great stuff. And Poshmark is a good option too.

      You could even make an appointment with one of their personal shoppers. Last summer, my brother and I took my mother on a cruise to Norway, which was super high-end and included a black-tie dinner. I went to Nordstrom’s to look for a dress. I was looking by myself, and flipped past what I thought was an absolutely ridiculous looking dress. Then one of the personal shoppers helped me pick out some things to try on, including that. When I put it on, it was just gorgeous and I ended up buying it. So they really do know what they’re talking about.

      I love getting my nails done, and I get a dip powder manicure about every 3-4 weeks. It rarely ever chips off and I’ve had a nail break maybe once, but that was because I’d been busy and had waited way too long to go get a rebase. Including a pedicure, it takes about an hour and a half.

      If you’re not a makeup person, I’d recommend going to Ulta or Sephora and asking someone there to work with you to pick out some products for a quick, simple makeup routine. Same for skincare. I like Ulta and Sephora because there’s a wide range of brands, from high-end to budget friendly.

      Good luck!

    28. Everything Bagel*

      There are so many great suggestions here for you! I’d like to add though that you should be careful about overdoing everything all at once, especially your skin care. You don’t necessarily need to go to Sephora and buy the most expensive cleanser, toner, and everything else they have there. A gentle cleanser and a moisturizer from the drugstore may be all you need. I personally like Cera Ve products, but there’s plenty of others. Many years ago I got into trying all kinds of new stuff from Sephora, and I completely messed up my face for a while! It’s like every week I was trying a new sample and I also didn’t realize at the time that I have rosacea, so my skin needed a while to calm down after that.

      I suggest you do what you’re comfortable doing and have time for each day as far as hair, makeup, and nails. You don’t have to walk in with a whole new hairstyle and full face of makeup that’s going to take you a lot of additional time to do every morning.

      Congratulations on your new job!

    29. Grandma to three cats*

      Congratulations!! Lots of good advice about savings. I’m here to suggest you give yourself permission to have some fun. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Don’t wait to travel in retirement or put off visits to people and places you love. Bad stuff happens and regrets suck. Don’t blow all your new salary of course – but do enjoy your “now.”

    30. Nomic*

      Congrats on the jump in income!!

      I want to second those below who say, “SET UP SAVINGS/RETIREMENT NOW”. Your spending will absolutely increase to match your income, so the best way to manage that is to hide it before you see it. If you’ve had to skimp on retirement, you can put a lot of money into a Roth 401(k) and/or an IRA. You may also want some of you money to go to you “business expense” account — new clothing until you have a good wardrobe, nails, makeup, etc.

      I’m male, so I don’t know women’s fashion. If men are reading this and looking for ideas, I suggest @dieworkwear on twitter; he has great fashion sense. Going to a Nordstrom’s and just say, “help! Here’s my budget, I need 5 basic suits with accessories” can be magic if you find a good salesclerk.

    31. Just Thinkin' Here*

      I wouldn’t worry about nail salon appointments or waxing your eyebrows. Facial cleansers at the drug store work nicer than hand soap. That said, if you need to create a new wardrobe, don’t feel ashamed to go to a thrift shop like Goodwill, etc, to build the basics. Alot of these places got good clothing in during COVID closet clearing and lots of stuff with tags still on.

      Many people fall into the trap of immediately ‘spending their raises’ by increasing their expenses to match the raise. Keep in mind when your salary jumps, so does your tax bracket, social security, medicare, and state tax withholdings. Make sure to set up your retirement savings to max the matches so you get into a regular routine of saving. Otherwise, enjoy your new income level!

    32. lemon*

      A lot of other folks have already give some great style tips, so I just wanted to add: don’t forget about a good, quality work bag and decent shoes. These are things I overlooked when I was in a similar situation and trying to look a bit more polished and got the hair and makeup down, but then didn’t realize how my basic business backpack didn’t feel quite right anymore. They don’t have to be luxury, but quality leather shoes and a bag can help quickly elevate your look.

    33. trick*

      Kur illuminating nail concealer by Londontown is a FANTASTIC and easy manicure hack. Goes on easy without a lot of coordination needed, and really lasts. Slight imperfections are not noticeable, and it really elevates your look. I got it off a Buzzfeed list “change your life” type list and it’s worth the hype.

    34. theletter*

      I believe a lot of makeup stores will do makeovers that are basically meant to help you find products and get advice – but they will try to upsell you! That is kindof the point hahahha.

      With wardrobe, there’s a lot of deals out there on the second hand market, but buying new is faster and easier. 3 pants, 2 skirts, 5 shirts, and one pair of shoes should be enough to get you started. Don’t forget to shop in your closet! And toss or repair anything torn or worn out.

      If you want to splurge on something to congratulate yourself, (of course!) splurge on a new pair of shoes. Find something you could wear regularly that will last.

      After that, set goals and start saving for them. Don’t forget your retirement accounts and emergency funds.

    35. panthers*

      Congratulations on the new job!

      When I wanted to update my makeup earlier this year, I spent some time on Youtube, checking out makeup tutorials. I also hit up my local Ulta and gave them my spiel: I was starting a new job, I hadn’t really changed my makeup routine in years (I’m now 40 but was still still doing some things like it was still 2004), I’ve never really gotten the hang of liquid eyeliner so let’s not jump to that yet, etc. The sales people were really helpful and nice, not judgey at all or anything like that. I wound up getting some Clinique foundation that I love which is kind of funny because my mom has used that for years. But again, the Clinique sales person was really helpful in trying on different shades so I could see how each one looked on me and more importantly, how they felt (light coverage vs. full coverage, for example).
      And if you already know you don’t want to deal with foundation, you can also tell the Ulta or Sephora people that too and they could recommend something else. Plus, the stores have areas set up where you can try out product which is great, especially for stuff like lipstick and eyeshadow.

      Other random tips from someone who’s always had sensitive, combination skin (i.e. dry in some areas, oily in others). You and your dermatologist know best but I’d maybe consider washing your face with a cleanser that is meant for faces, instead of just plain old hand soap? Again, YMMV but reading that part of your question made my whole face squeak in dry, flaky pain.

      Anyway, congratulations again and I hope your first week flies by!! You got this!

    36. Dandylions*

      Don’t pink tax yourself. No need to get eyebrows, nails, etc. done if you don’t want to.

      I’m a woman who is obese (40+ BMI), with short hair I get done at great clips every 1.5 months or so and never do my nails or any waxing. I don’t wear any make-up and I shave my neck/chin every other day (PCOS). I wear blouses and pants suits from Torrid/Lane Bryant. FWIW I frequently get compliments on my professional polish.

      By all means if nail care makes you happy please do it! But I would not set that as an expectation.
      .

    37. CupcakeCounter*

      Income jump – don’t change much about your lifestyle right away. Max out your 401K and IRA contributions to set yourself up for the best future possible then focus on paying down/off any debt you may have. That, plus taxes, will eat into a good chuck of that increase. Once that is set up, be sure to treat yourself a little bit.

      Start with a capsule wardrobe of some high quality basics, focusing on fit, feel, and the ability to mix and match. I like White House Black Market since they carry tall, curvy, and petite so most people can find something that fits well. Ann Taylor Loft is also a good bet. Stick to neutral colors at first (black, gray, navy, khaki/cream) then you can add in pops of color with accessories or more economical and/or trendy tops (a bright colored shell/tank under a white or gray cardigan and black pants is a staple for me).

      As for the rest – I’m a nail junkie but short and clean is always professional. Otherwise stick to nude colors that don’t show wear like a bold color would. If you decide you like mani/pedi and go for them regularly, go for it. I do the dip powder nails and those can last for several weeks (currently over 3 weeks since my last and other than the grow out you can see at the base they are still in perfect shape).
      Skin care can be hard because a new routine can cause things to go wacky at the beginning. I use Cetaphil face wash morning and night, Thayer’s Rose Water Witch Hazel toner, and Aveeno moisturizer (with sunscreen for day, the oat gel at night). I’ve recommended this routine to several people and most have success since everything is fairly gentle. I also mix tinted moisturizer with my daytime look instead of foundation (hate that stuff).
      Go minimal with make up if you aren’t used to it. Mascara is a must for me as I just look tired without it. I also like a sheer, tinted lip balm instead of lipstick. Thrive Causmetics has some great products – I love the brilliant eye brighteners and lip products. Their rose gold brilliant eye brightener shade is damn near perfect IMO but I’m not a fan of their mascara. For that I use the Cover Girl clean stuff.
      Hair – this can ruin an otherwise fabulous outfit. If long enough, I think a low ponytail is extremely polished looking for all hair textures. Half-back with a barrette as well. If shorter, then I would go with down most of the time.

    38. Who_Is_Dat_Is*

      If you need some help polishing your clothes as well, I’ve had a TERRIBLE time making myself feel polished and pout together over the years.

      For me, a subscription to Stitchfix helped a LOT. Cute pieces tailored to your likes delivered monthly or quarterly. I did this for about a year and now my closet has cute basic pieces that can be mixed and matched and I didn’t have to start 100% on my own!

    39. hallyu casualty*

      Folks on this thread have given great advice that I won’t rehash, especially about the savings/wardrobe part, but I just wanted to add: I got into Korean skincare over the pandemic and it has DRAMATICALLY changed my relationship to my skin/makeup. Don’t focus on products, focus on ingredients, and learn a little bit about the underlying science if you can.
      It doesn’t have to be super expensive–you don’t need the $200 stuff, just experiment a little at a time, and learn how your skin reacts to different ingredients.
      I would say the only truly mandatory skincare items are cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Everything else is fun but optional.
      Also, your skin is the largest organ in your body, and sun damage is no joke, especially if you have more melanin-rich skin*. It’s not just about appearances, although that’s a convenient side benefit! For me, as someone who doesn’t typically wear makeup unless I’m meeting with clients, it really is primarily about protecting my skin barrier, preventing skin cancer, and having a soothing bedtime ritual where I make my face smell nice and feel soft. As a distant fourth benefit, it’s much less noticeable/dramatic when I don’t wear makeup nowadays.
      I’m not at all being paid to say this, I swear, but if you need specific recs to start with: my go-to cleanser & moisturizer are both from Cerave. They’re inexpensive and often found in drugstores, but as you can see from just about any Holy Grail listing on Reddit, they’ve got a stellar ingredients lineup and are effective for most skin types.

      *Even though people with a bit more melanin should theoretically be at a slightly lower risk for skin cancer, our numbers are pretty dire because we often have intra-community myths about not needing sunscreen. We do!! We really still do!!! It can be tough to find an affordable, effective sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast on us, but it’s worth the effort.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I would say that I have never ever, as in absolutely never wore a daily sunscreen. As in never. Neither my makeup nor my moisturizer have it either. I am very pale, 45 years old, and live in the South.
        I had a dermatology cancer screening couple months ago and was applauded for the minimal sun damage skin. I spend minimal time outside in the sun except for walking back and forth to the car, and never needed sunscreen for it.
        I will wear sunscreen at the pool or at the beach or if I do find myself spending more than 15 minutes outside in the sun.
        So it’s really lifestyle dependent.

        1. amoeba*

          Well, I mean, you were lucky then. Just as the (many) chain-smokers who live to 90 are. Because smoking still causes cancer, and so does not using sunscreen. Recommending others to do the same is still bad advice.

    40. Hillary*

      Congrats! The most important thing for looking polished is clothing that you feel good in. It should fit well and be in fabrics you like. When someone feels good they project confidence.

      Someone mentioned accessories – people absolutely judge women by their handbags and shoes. Shoes are weird these days, some places it’s about cool sneakers, other places it’s specific brands, or it’s the pre-pandemic classics. If you have something conservative I’d hold off on investing there until you see what people there wear.

      Skin care & makeup is about what you want to maintain. My routine has grown over time, right now it involves a morning cleaner, serums, eye moisturizer, and regular moisturizer. Then a different night cleanser and overnight moisturizer. Makeup is bb cream, eyeshadow, and neutral lipstick most of the time.

      Nails always make a difference for me. I did gel for years before the pandemic – I didn’t go back to it because appearance expectations changed and then I left the company. Waxing is generally easier and eventually looks/works better if you do it on a schedule.

      Having a look for your hair can help a lot. Not necessarily conservative, mine is pink with an undercut that verges on a fauxhawk, but looking styled & intentional. There’s a huge difference between long hair that’s regularly trimmed or isn’t. In one of my business groups recently a gal talked about how her look included buns, another said her hats & fun hatbands are part of her personal brand.

    41. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Income jump – start by doing nothing! Start by just socking away the difference – in most cases you probably need to bolster your emergency fund anyway.

      Do not change your way of living, live on the budget you have always lived on. Especially do not change where you live or buy a car or anything major.

      Dont over shop or over spend for new clothes etc. – Buy just enough to get you started if you need more professional looking clothes and especially at the beginning look for resale or discount shops. Quite often if you are making a style change like this you do not get it quite right (either matching the corporation style or finding your own style) so don’t build too big a wardrobe right away. Start with the basics and figure it out from there.

      Take a few months to really see what is necessary in terms of polish and how much that costs you. Add a small amount for wardrobe improvements.

      Pay off debt aggressively, contribute to retirement aggressively, get your emergency fund in order.

      Sit on the new income for 4-6 months and let it feel normal and then you can make some rational decisions on what you really want for the future. Let the excitement die down. Financial security is the best feeling.

    42. Anax*

      This isn’t strictly physical appearance, but… bullet journaling. I keep a notebook with meeting notes, daily agendas, and anything else I need to know. I’m less likely to be caught off-guard and scrambling for an answer, even when I’m tired and frazzled, and that’s made me seem more polished and competent at work.

      Fifteen minutes in the morning, and I can just *answer* “what were you doing last week”, or “do you remember that meeting two months ago?”, or “who worked with you on the XYZ project?” Which means that as someone who doesn’t think fast on their feet, I get to be “the person who remembers everything”, instead of “that person who blushes and panics when you ask questions.”

      Also, if you’re going to be on video calls – learn how to set up the camera at a flattering angle. It’s simple but makes a huge difference – you look much more polished when you’re centered in the frame, rather than at a weird angle, having the camera pointed up your nose, or with half your head out-of-frame.

      (And learn whether you need to use headphones or a headset – many microphones will try to filter out background noise, which includes the noise coming out of your speakers – and that noise-cancelling may also cancel out your voice when you speak. I always feel better when I’ve tested my video and audio before important calls.)

    43. EngineerGal*

      Second all the comments re maxing retirement investments.

      In addition I recommend setting up direct deposit of a decent part of your paycheck into a savings account at a separate institution from your normal account-credit union is perfect.

      It should be a bit inconvenient to get money out-that’s why a different institution so you can’t just go in your phone and transfer money out of savings. You are not used to this paycheck so you won’t miss it-and the money in your savings will mount up.

      It’s playing a little trick on yourself but I swear it works.

  7. ThatGirl*

    I’m sorta curious how people feel about company stock being part of your benefits/compensation.

    My previously privately-owned company merged with (was acquired by) a public company two years ago. As part of that merger, every employee got a stock grant (RSU) that will be vesting in July. In addition, our company 401K match is paid in company stock, and we have an Employee Stock Purchase Plan that is optional. It’s painted as a benefit, but they collect your money every quarter and then you get stock at the end of that? Seems like a free loan?

    It’s a pretty large and stable company, so it’s not that I’m worried about losing huge amounts of money, but it feels a little shady to me, like there’s gotta be some benefit to the company to have employee money/compensation tied up in stock. Am I missing something? Any thoughts?

    1. DistantAudacity*

      For the ESPP it’s more like a cheap(er) investment – check the purchasing terms: your benefit may be the option to buy the shares at a below-market cost.

      The way it is (and can) be set up varies depending on your location, but in my case the stocks were 1) purchased at 15% below market rate and 2) the payroll held back was pre-tax money further reducing the “actual” cost to me. In my case it has worked out as a very nice long-term invesment. Note that I did have to pay income tax on the 15% reduced rate benefit (all reported in to and calculated automatically by my location’s Revenue Services).

      Also, I could withdraw right up until a couple of days before the stocks were bought (and get the money paid out instead) if I changed my mind for whatever reason.

      Assess all investmet risks appropriately, of course!

      1. DistantAudacity*

        It’s not necessarily shady, but do be wary of having too many eggs in one basket: job + a lot of stock etc, so you do need to watch that.

        Can you buy the ESPP, and then immediatly sell, for instance?

        We don’t have the 401k in my location, so I don’t know the norms there.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yes, the ESPP buys the shares at a discount, and you can immediately sell them at the end of the quarter. The money for them is post-tax though. And we have a nice variety of other investments, so I’m just wary of having too much money in one company’s stock, yknow?

        We have a financial guy who I definitely run things through, I’m more curious about personal experiences/anecdotes.

    2. TPS Reporter*

      well giving you stock is a cheaper way for the employer to incentivize you and gives you a sense of ownership in the company. my partner made a lot in a previous job with a large stable company via RSUs. He was also super careful to sell at the right times, in conversation with a financial advisor.

      This is a pretty good description of the implications and things to think about: https://www.bamboohr.com/blog/employee-stock-options

    3. Decidedly Me*

      The idea is if you own stock, you’re more vested in the helping the company succeed. After the IPO, stock trading benefits the investors, so purchasing of stocks isn’t loaning money back to the company.

      My partner has had stock grants at both his former and current company. The stock from his prior job has gone up 2000% and at his current job, it’s worth something like 4-10x his annual compensation at this point. So, he’s made off really, really well.

      For me, I have options at my current company and they’re honestly not worth much as the company isn’t doing well and many of my options were granted when they were doing a lot better. Even so, I wouldn’t be against stock as part of compensation in the future.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I get the idea, though I have very little to do with the company’s success or failure :)

        Based on the last two years, I’m unlikely to get rich from stock :) My RSUs are worth about $2/share more than they were two years ago and the company mostly seems to grow via acquisitions.

    4. RagingADHD*

      This is not shady. The only uncommon thing is that they gave RSUs to all employee instead of only to the Board of Directors and the C-Suite. If it’s a well-established, stable company, that’s a sweet deal.

      They are making the employees owners of the company. This benefits both employer and employee by aligning their interests, and incentivizes employee retention because stocks perform best when you hold them long term. My inlaws are living the life of Riley in retirement because my FIL accumulated 40 years of Ford stock.

    5. Rick Tq*

      Not shady but your retirement account performance now tied to the fate of the company. It also means they have a pool of employee-held stock to fend off corporate raiders.

      Having so much of your retirement account in ONE asset will give an investment advisor fits, they normally want much more diversity.

      When I started in aerospace we had the same thing: 401k match was in company stock. It was the beginning of one of the regular downturns so company stock dropped. Because they lost so much accrued value an entire cohort of senior employees delayed their retirements by about 5 years in response to wait for the stock to come back up.

    6. Lady_Lessa*

      In your situation, with a decent amount of your 401K being company stock, I would avoid, if possible. Look into the Enron scandal for insight.

      My situation is different, I have decently large IRA’s elsewhere, and my financial advisor said that his company had “buy” on conglomerate stock, so I am buying some every paycheck.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I don’t think this place is Enron, but it’s not Apple or something either. Unlikely to totally tank or skyrocket.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I just tend to be very wary about too many eggs in the same basket. (That was something I learned from my parents, with CD’s at different banks when I was growing up). And I still follow it.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I agree, which is why I’m kinda wary of doing much more than the 401K long-term. But again, curious for other opinions/experiences.

        2. Nomic*

          I would go with it, but if you can realize profit on the stock, sell it and diversify. No one thought Enron was Enron until it was too late.

          1. I Have RBF*

            This.

            I don’t have just one company’s stock, and none of those are part of my 401(k). My 401(k)/403(b) holding are in mutual funds like Fidelity. I hold stocks in an industry I have never worked in that pay dividends.

            My philosophy on diversification is that if I sell off stock in my industry, I buy outside of my industry. The industries I target are long term, stable, unlikely to go away in the next decade, deal with stuff everyone needs or buys, and pay dividends. I can cope with the stock staying the same general price for years if they pay dividends every quarter.

            Note: Not a financial advisor, much less your financial advisor.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Just to clarify, the bulk of my 401k is in a diversified portfolio and so are our other investments – the company match is like 8% of the total right now.

      2. Kay*

        Yeah – the 401k being company stock only is BS – the rest is fine, although it also depends on the discount and the matching figures. My husband’s old company gave a pretty significant discount and match on stock – we regularly maxed that benefit and did very well. His new company has such a weak benefit that we don’t even bother.

        1. Rick Tq*

          You might want to rethink participating in your husband’s current 401k, the long term tax free growth is the important feature (as long as it has decent investment options).

          My current company only matches $1,000 so I just look at that as nice growth for that year, but after many years I have a significant amount for my retirement.

    7. Katie*

      At my company at least, it’s not really a free loan. Stock options are only purchased at certain times but the employee is only charged (at a 10% discount) the lesser of the rates at the beginning of the purchase program and the purchase time.

      So let’s say I put in $1000. If the purchase price was $10 at the beginning of the period and $20 at the end, I am getting 111 shares for 9/share (1000/(10-10% discount)). My stock value is 2200!

    8. Busy Middle Manager*

      How is it a free loan if it’s the company match, not your portion?

      To answer your question, it depends on the stock and if you feel it’s over or undervalued. Right now for example, I wouldn’t consider NVDA or some chip stocks a bargain since if history repeats at all, they will crash soon (like clockwork and people will pretend it never happened before) but if it was a JNJ or utility, I’d be backing up the truck now since they’re currently cheap.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Those are two different things – the 401K is matched in company stock. There is also an ESPP where $X is withheld from your paycheck each pay period, and then every quarter that money is used to buy stock on your behalf – the idea being it’s at a discount and you can immediately sell or hold on to if you want. With the ESPP, it could arguably be seen as a float/loan to the company.

        (The 401k is also arguably shady accounting since it’s per quarter and not per paycheck, but whatever.)

        1. Rick Tq*

          The company probably does quarterly distributions to match the dividend schedule.

          It doesn’t hurt that it simplifies tracking the purchases to determine capital gains when you eventually sell.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I would consider it a nice extra, but unless you’re at a C-suite level I would not want it to count as a significant part of my income. Having a significant amount of savings/income from something that is so volatile by definition would make me uncomfortable. For the 401k match, is there any way you can arrange a regular sale of the stock/transfer into your preferred fund?

      Beyond that though, it’s not a free loan. Most such plans have pretty stringently enforce regulations regarding timely remittance of any purchased options. It’s mostly there to encourage employee loyalty and it’s less expensive for the employer (on paper) since they’re able to record it at less than you’re likely about to sell it for (this isn’t using any illegal/quasi-legal shenanigans – just regular fair value accounting).

    10. Admin of Sys*

      It can be a windfall or it can lose you the money, since it’s tied to the stocks performance. I know someone who got stock options and then they had a reverse split because the company went bankrupt. On the other hand, nvidia is apparently losing engineers because folks are retiring early since their stock is doing so well.
      Honestly, I define it as if it was a voluntary investment. Say you were given the bonus in cash. Would you use that cash to buy the stock at the discount they’re offering? If not, then don’t take the stock option.
      I do find mandatory stock options a little bit sketchy since it’s manufacturing stock sales to people who may not have otherwise voluntarily bought stock.

    11. Trout 'Waver*

      If you can buy it below market value, do so and sell it when it vests. Free money.

      Don’t hold a large portion of your retirement in company stock because there’s a lot of overlap between things that could cause you to lose your job and things that could cause your company stock to go down. It’s a nightmare for diversification.

      If you have questions and want professional help, make sure to find a fee-for-service advisor with a fiduciary responsibility. They don’t get paid commission and are required to look out for your best interests.

    12. TheBunny*

      It’s a great perk…but as one candidate I was working with at a start up said “If I can’t cash it, I don’t count it.”

    13. Just Thinkin' Here*

      No concerns generally with the RSU and ESOP, providing they are withholding enough taxes. I’ve experienced where the tax withholding rate was too low by default (20% or so) and needed to make a quarterly tax payment to make up for the delta to my income level.

      I’d be more concerned about all 401K matching being made in company stock. Having that much concentration in your employer’s stock is not a good idea overtime – ask anyone who had an Enron retirement plan. I would sell the matching funds when it’s first available and then redistribute into the other investments (assuming they are broad market mutual funds or ETFs).

    14. Dandylions*

      This is a good benefit. I worked for major US Bank a long time ago and they gave everyone the option to buy their stock at a discount in the retirement account.

      I made not only the 15% discount on the stock but also the increased value of about 17% when I sold my shares to rollover my 401K I to an IRA.

    15. I Have RBF*

      So, I’ve had several jobs where they award RSUs. This is how I handle it, YMMV.

      1) I do not consider RSUs to be actual money until they vest, and even then don’t count them as spendable.
      2) I do my best to keep track of the cost at each vesting event, because I’ll need it when I sell.
      3) Make sure you get all the info when the sell shares for taxes (on the grant)
      4) Unless your company is circling the drain, do not sell them. Yes, I know how some people say to sell RSUs immediately, but that is taxed at a higher rate.
      5) I mentally do not count my stock holdings as liquid assets. I consider the stock market to be a form of slow gambling, so I never count that money until I sell.
      6) If your company is on a good trajectory, enroll in the ESPP, but don’t put a lot into it.
      7) If your company does dividends, enroll in a DRIP (dividend re-investment plan.)

      My current company does RSUs. I only look at it about once a quarter.

      RSUs are like a bonus – they aren’t real until they vest, and the value is always a crapshoot. I like them – they are a really nice long term savings vehicle if your company is a solid concern. If not, you will still want to wait until you are working elsewhere to sell them because of blackout periods, etc.

      If the company is a drain circler, get out, sell your shares and plough them back in to a more diverse portfolio. I sold one company’s stock and bought railroad stock that pays dividends.

      Please note: I am not a financial advisor, much less your financial advisor. If you need real financial advice, find yourself a fiduciary financial advisor. These are just based on my opinions and experience, so YMMV, always.

      1. ThatGirl*

        They will be taxed upon acceptance, regardless of whether I sell or not. But that’ll come out of the shares. They’ll be subject to capital gains taxes if I hold them and sell later at a gain.

        1. Dandylions*

          That is not normal. Taxis due upon selling, not purchasing. It sounds like the company is selling their stock to you AND having you pay THEIR capital gains tax. That is strange.

          Unless they are selling you the stocks I to a Roth IRA. What brokerage account are they selling you the stocks into? Do you have a day?

          1. Dandylions*

            Wow I don’t know why I always get so many typos on this site. That’s supposed to ask what brokerage account are they selling your stocks into and do you have a say….

    16. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      If you are allowed to sell the stock, then you absolutely should participate. There are some companies that have multi year vesting, but usually you do not put in money. That is usually more for “matching” programs

      We have taken advantage of ESPP and RSU in several jobs. One job was for a 500 company and we still own that stock even though I haven’t worked there in 20 years.

      Others have been more volatile companies and I sell the day it is available and take the profit and run. Sometimes it is the 15% and sometimes it is much more. Generally it is the lower of 15% off the first or last day of the purchase period so changes during the purchase period are risk free.

      Read the fine print, but these are generally great perks if you use them wisely. They create some tax quirks so be aware.

  8. px*

    I recently applied for a job where one of the application questions was whether I was registered with selective service (I’m in the United States). I’ve never run into this before and I’m wondering if anyone else has? Is it a common question? It seemed kind of weird, and I can’t imagine how it would be relevant to anything about the position.

    The job wasn’t with the government or anything related to it – the organization gets some public funding but most of the places I’ve applied for do and again, this is the only place that asked.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Male US citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to be registered. I wonder if this isn’t a backdoor way of asking about age?

      1. Elsewise*

        Or gender? Or citizenship? I’m a woman, so I never registered (and we can talk about the politics of that and the draft in general all day). Is it a “registered for selective service, if required”, or are they trying to find a way to limit their candidate pool?

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          I don’t know if its still the case, but I’m a man in the US and I was ineligible for student loans or other forms of government aid if I wasn’t registered immediately when I turned 18. Maybe it’s a requirement for government money if they do federal contracts?

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Just curious. Is that the case if you’re also registered as a conscientious objector?

      2. Person Person*

        You don’t get unregistered at 25. The only thing that this question would tell you age wise is if they’re over 18.

      3. RagingADHD*

        It wouldn’t work as a proxy for age, because whether or not you registered during your window follows you the rest of your life, unless you get an exemption after the fact due to extenuating circumstances.

        Wouldn’t work for gender, either, since there are exemptions and there are plenty of people who should register but don’t.

        It’s probably exactly what it says – screening for people who didn’t register when required.

    2. Scriveaaa*

      Was it for something w/ the government? Anything that requires security clearance often requires that they ask this question.

    3. Scott*

      Federal employee here. Are you sure the company does not have any government contracts? SSS requires almost all male citizens to register and any government or government contractor job will require you to answer this question.

      1. px*

        That would make sense, thank you! It was for a public university – the position I’m applying for was just an admin thing, working with students, but apparently they have a lot of research activity. I did a quick search and at least some of it is aerospace related which I can see coming with govt contracts.

        1. Aqyaphor*

          Public university or govt contracts or such: automatic question on the application. Doesn’t matter what job you’re applying for there.

          It’s not some weird conspiracy or hidden agenda. If they really wanted to guess your age or gender, they could get it from other clues in your application or even when they interview you.

          LMGTFY is so sad right now that no one visits them anymore.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If they receive any money for training from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, they have to screen participants for eligibility. It is also technically a felony to fail to register if required to do so.

    5. IEanon*

      I work in higher ed and have always had a question about the selective service on job applications. If you’re applying for a public sector job, I think it’s required to ask about whether or not you’ve completed the registration (if applicable).

    6. Kesnit*

      I’ve worked in government jobs pretty much my entire adult life. That question has been on every application.

    7. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I did a lot of government work when I was young, including security stuff. I think I recall having to check that box off on the security clearance form. But I would find it odd if a company not even tangentially related to the Pentagon asked that.

      Maybe dig a little deeper into where exactly that public funding comes from. Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs?

    8. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      If the ‘public funding’ is with federal funds, they can ask that question. If I recall correctly, in order to get college financial aid through any government program, you have to answer that question. I believe the law says that if a person does not register, they are not allowed to benefit from any federal training, federal jobs, or federal student aid.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      If they get public funding, pretty sure they are required to ask, as the registration is a legal requirement. While the question will generally identify gender (last time I applied for a job the only answers were “yes” or “no – I am not required to register”), it doesn’t have anything to do with age – you get asked no matter how old you are.

    10. Nancy*

      I have worked in academic settings for over 25 years and it has been a standard question for every job I’ve ever applied for.

  9. Three-Eyed Minion*

    A couple years ago, after washing my hand in our office bathroom, I noticed a package for a fake mustache in the trash (“real hair” it said). It was nowhere near Halloween or any other festive occasion. I never figured out whose it was… my coworkers and I speculated that maybe our ED had a mustache emergency?

    Anyways… has anyone else ever seen something so out-of-left field in their office trash?

    1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I’ve seen pieces of someone’s weave left on the floor of the break room.

    2. Panicked*

      I’ve had someone throw away half an onion in our work bathroom. The kitchen is right next door and I always wondered why they didn’t throw it away there…

      1. Who_Is_Dat_Is*

        I can see me doing that. Walking into the bathroom with an onion without even thinking about it only to realize… I don’t want this bathroom contaminated onion now!

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        I’d be willing to bet that was from someone cleaning out an old desk. We have a PM who keeps hot sauce and honey in his filing cabinet.

    3. English Rose*

      Pair of seamed fishnet stockings abandoned in the office reception trash. All kinds of speculation about who could have been wearing them and why they had to take them off!!

    4. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Not in the trash, but I once found several pieces of melted, grated marble cheese stuck to the wall next to the toilet and had questions.

    5. It's Not Even In Season*

      Not in the trash, but there’s been a butternut squash on a shelf in the bathroom for 2 weeks now…this is at a conservative Fortune 500 company.

      1. Three-Eyed Minion*

        If your company is anything like mine, there is a good chance that squash will get a promotion before you do. “Butternut Squash is such a go-getter. Its never at its desk, it must be a mover-and-shaker, going out and getting things done!”

    6. ick*

      Not the trash but someone put (used?) contact lenses all over the wall in the bathroom. There had to be like 30 or 40 of them.

  10. Audrey Puffins*

    I work in a really casual laidback salesy kind of office. Co-workers of a variety of ages, quite a lot in their 20s. Open plan, no drama, everyone gets on very well. However I do sometimes hear casual use of ableist slurs drifting across the office (mostly R-word, occasionally something more region-specific). Not all the time, maybe once or twice a week? Not often enough that I’m ever ready to hear it but often enough that I’m not comfortable writing it off as a rare slip and hoping it’ll stop on its own. I want to start speaking out about it when it happens, so it would be great if people had some thoughts or scripts on suitably breezy ways I could address it in the moment

    1. Tio*

      “Hey, that word has some bad connotations and it’s kind of unpleasant, can you please not use it in the office? Thank you”
      “Ooof, you may not know this, but a lot of people consider that word a slur, including me. I’m sure you didn’t realize, so I wanted to flag it for you so we can avoid hearing it here. Thank you!”

      1. Justme, The OG*

        A lot of people consider that a slur because it is. Why mince words about it?

        1. Frieda*

          The last time I noted to someone – politely but clearly – that the r-word is a slur, they said a. “It certainly wasn’t 30 years ago!” and b. that I’m an a**hole for bringing it up.

          Love that for them. I’m now just more matter-of-fact, as though of course everyone knows it’s a slur and they obviously just had a brief mental lapse back into the 1960s – not 30 years ago, please – when it was standard language.

          1. not my usual self*

            It was the word for a federally recognized disability category when I attended graduate school in 2005, which was less than 30 years ago. It was legally changed a few years after that (and myself and my cohort were really happy that we no longer had to use that word in our disability reports!). None of that means it was okay to use in a pejorative sense either in 1960 or in 2024, though.

        2. Richard*

          My cousin has a child with developmental disabilities and uses the r-word daily to describe traffic, wonky appliances, annoying policies, and anything else that seems bad to him. The idea that it is a slur is, unfortunately, not close to universal.

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      A couple strategies, one to the point and one wordy and softer:

      “That’s offensive/ableist, can you not?”

      “Please try not to use that word in front of me. I have good luck saying ____ instead.” (For instance, as a kid of the 1980s I was used to saying “lame”, and I switched to “pathetic”.)

      1. Purple Cat*

        I’m embarrassed to admit I never considered “lame” in the ableist context. Wow.

        1. linger*

          Also used as a technical term denoting someone socially isolated (from the story of the kid left behind by the Pied Piper of Hamlin). Which isn’t great either.

    3. HonorBox*

      “That’s a word that we shouldn’t be using in our regular conversations any longer. Could we curtail its use, please?

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      “Hey, that’s actually a slur and really not something we should have to hear at work. Can you find another word?”

    5. Stuart Foote*

      As someone with a relative who has an intellectual disability, I have noticed generally people don’t consider the R-word a slur at all and don’t care.

      I did mention this to my first boss out of college, who not only kept using the word but would look directly at me whenever he did. (It was a sales job where people have weird ideas about dominance).

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Yeah, unfortunately where I live the r-word is still a totally normal part of the vernacular.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I am solidly GenX and have always been taught that it’s a completely offensive word that should not be used.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            I don’t disagree, just stating that it’s sadly still pretty normal depending on where you are.

        1. Just a small town girl*

          I do think context (luck when it comes to birth, access to the wider world, etc.) matter when judging people for how late or early they learned a norm.

          I am a millennial come from very rural, very offline America. I had progressive parents for the area, and that meant they didn’t like to fly the confederate flag. I left town after high school, got a computer with internet access, and pursued a progressive career path, which exponentially increased my exposure to discourse and it was like trying to learn by jumping into the ocean your first time. I had SO MUCH to catch up on.

          I am sorry to say that I did not fully succeed in removing this word from my vocabulary until the mid-2010s, I remember it slipping out before I realized what I was saying as late as 2017 or so. I still know people who use it and don’t see any issue with it.

          Do your best until you know better, then do better – this is what I remind myself of when I cringe at how late I learned better on some things.

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      “Can we not use that word, please? Thanks!”

      I think not giving an explanation or justification works better, but ymmv.

    7. Jess R.*

      I’ve been in this situation at work, and my go-to was just “Hey, please don’t use that word.” People know why not, you know? They don’t need an explanation, and the shorter your script, the easier it is to say. If you want, you can add “around me” to the end, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

      1. Jess R.*

        Whoops, same as Trout ‘Waver! Didn’t see that before I posted. But I’m glad to offer agreement :D

      2. Mad Harry Crewe*

        +1 – short and sweet. You’re not trying to change anybody’s mind, you’re asking for a change in what goes on around you. Much more in your lane, and therefore more likely to succeed.

    8. Kay*

      I’ll often go with a quick/as I’m breezing by:

      “Oof – I thought that one got removed from polite society convos!”
      “Oh wow – good thing HR wasn’t here to hear that one!”

      Then if that doesn’t cut it:

      “Okay-I’ve been hearing that one far too often-can we not anymore please?”

    9. Dances with Light*

      Retired special education teacher here:

      I’m going to assume that “the R word” is “retarded”, a term that’s been replaced by “cognitively disabled” (probably because “retard” became a playground insult.) This is a relatively recent change; until a very few years ago, “retarded” was a valid medical term, no more inherently insulting than “diabetic” or “asthmatic”. Of course that’s no longer true, but many people still haven’t made the switch!

      So much depends on the context of this – did the person call some a “retard”? Or did they refer to “mentally retarded people” in a neutral context? Either way, they should update their terminology, of course, and it’s okay to advise them of that. But yes, the context DOES matter here because it can establish whether it was an absent-minded mistake or a deliberate, nasty insult.

      1. Florence Reece*

        I think it’s pretty clear what the context is from the comment, to be frank. The word comes up regularly but not enough for Audrey to anticipate it, so unlikely that they work in a related field or something. It’s a bunch of 20-somethings in a “salesy office” who — speaking as someone in their 30s who has known this word is not okay since I was a preteen — almost certainly know both of the contexts you use and know they’re both wrong. And there’s another region-specific ableist slur that also occurs with similar regularity. There’s maybe a 0.1% chance that they’re innocently referring to people with cognitive disabilities. There’s honestly probably a 0.1% chance that they’re ever innocently referring to asthmatic people either, because unless they work in healthcare why would that ever, ever come up on a regular basis?

        Do you think being a retired SpEd teacher means you’re allowed to cram as many instances of the slur as possible into your comment? Like you get a pass or something? You clearly know it’s an offensive word even in your absent-minded mistake example, and you know for sure it’s specifically offensive to the person you’re responding to. What was the intent here?

      2. Nah*

        I cannot imagine that OP is overheating someone use this term in good faith multiple times a week- what could they possibly be talking about that frequently to “neutrally” keep saying that?
        I too work with casual sales bros and I assure you they are not discussing something that would explain this/excuse it.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        I’m guessing they are using it as a general insult – “the r-worded photocopier is on the brink again,” sort of thing.

        I doubt people in her office are talking about intellectual disabilities on a weekly basis.

  11. I'm great at doing stuff*

    Hello AAM community. I am having a dental insurance issue that is tied to my job, and hoping anyone that works in or is familiar with insurance or HR policies can offer some advice.

    I work for a large private university in Massachusetts. Let’s call it Cheap Ass Uni, or CAU. I am staff, not faculty. We have pretty good medical benefits through Blue Cross Blue Shield.

    For dental insurance, there are two choices. CAU has its own dental clinic, and one of the dental insurance coverage possibilities is to only use their centers. It’s dirt cheap, but the wait times are abysmal, and it feels like being in a dental assembly line.

    The other option is a regular Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) dental coverage. You can still go to the CAU centers, but you also can go to other dentists as long as they are in the BCBS network. I will call it the “open” choice.

    I clearly remember choosing the open plan, so I would have other options. My husband remembers sitting with me and me choosing this as well.

    In the winter of 2024, a bothersome tooth abscessed, causing more pain than I have ever felt, (and I have kidney stones). Because it was the holidays, the CAU centers were closed. I found a dentist that is near where I live (not in the same city as CAU) and available. I logged on the BCBS and saw that this dentist was in the open plan network. So I went, and got antibiotics for the abscess.

    In March I got a root canal and crown at that dentist. I am responsible for 60% of major restorative work under the open plan after the deductible is met, so I paid the $2700 for that up front. I am long past the deductible being met.

    A couple weeks ago, I got a bill from the dentist for $2000. When I called the dentist, they said insurance will not pay a cent for the procedure. I called BCBS and they said while I have that open plan, I still have to go to CAU centers unless it’s an emergency. That is blatantly not what CAU’s website says, which says you have the choice to go to a dentist you choose in the BCBS network. Unfortunately the dentist adamantly said it was not an emergency.

    I contacted CAU’s HR about it, hoping they could help. They are insisting I have the CAU only plan, even though BCBS says I have the open one. I have been going back and forth with HR, and they said my paycheck reflects I have the CAU plan. I looked it up, and, unfortunately, they are right.

    But someone, likely CAU, made a massive error here. First, I am certain I did not sign up for the CAU only plan. HR said I should have known this from my paystubs, but when someone looks up their benefits, they typically do so by logging into the provider, not by looking at their pay stubs. I was also in pain and desperate. But again, BCBS says I have the open plan! I have provided HR with screenshots, but they have no answer for me.

    The other discrepancy is that the BCBS rep I talked to was completely in the wrong about what the open plan is.

    CAU refuses to take any responsibility or even give me an explanation of what happened, and HR is getting annoyed with me and saying things like “As we already said…” So I contacted our ombuds department, and am talking with one of them on Friday. The most they can probably do is mediate a discussion between me and HR.

    I did just talk with an ombudsman and my supervisor, who is also an HR employee. I am going to write up what happened and send it to them, who will then contact the head of HR. They might be able to help.

    Do I have any recourse here? I maxed out my credit card for the first $2700, and it will take at least 6 months to pay off the other $2000. I also just feel I should not have to pay for something that is not my fault. Thank you.

    1. Tio*

      I don’t have any advice on the internal issues – that sounds like a cluster and I doubt (but could always be wrong!) that anyone outside of your CAU can clear that up.

      But you should call the dentist and explain that your insurance provider is dealing with an internal snafu and this should have been covered, and they’re sorting it out internally, please give you a bit of time before they do any collection action as this should have been covered.

      If, worst case, everyone else refuses to pay for the second 2k and you end up having to, ask the dentist for a payment plan. A lot of them have plans like this now, and the worst they can say in this scenario is no.

      1. Pillow Fort Forever*

        Try to file a complaint with the insurance commissioner in MA (it’s easy to do in CA and MA has a lot of consumer protections as well). Good luck!!

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Do you have any confirmation emails about what benefits you enrolled in? or is there a system at work you can view them (not just the paystub)? I would also bring proof of the discrepancy between the website/CAU benefit description and what insurance is telling you it covers.

      1. Daryush*

        Yes, this.
        Also, I would never go back to that dentist ever again. They should be verifying coverage before seeing you so this issue doesn’t occur.

        1. Ripley*

          Yes, I thought the same thing! My dentist always sends an estimate to my provider and lets me know what my portion will be, so I can decide what I want to do. I’m surprised to here that’s not universal practice.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Agreed, especially if it’s a group office: their website may say “We take X insurance!” for the business but a specific dentist may be an exception and only takes Y.

          God, I hate how insurance is built to be a no-win maze.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Yes this. It’s very normal to get an email confirming your benefit elections. So if you picked open plan and your benefit elections confirmation agrees, and hr’s saying you didn’t, they’re basically admitting to a massive fuck up.

    3. Art3mis*

      Unless you have confirmation emails or something saying that you enrolled for the open plan, you may be out of luck. Sorry you’re dealing with this. :(

    4. M2*

      Sorry you’re dealing with this.

      Next time get everything in writing. Email the dentist with your actual dental plan and say I need to have this done. With this kind of insurance how much will it cost? Are you in network? Out of network? I would like your office to confirm with my insurance that it will all be covered. I did this when I had a baby because there was so much difference between in and out of network. My insurance covered a cost because I had proof in an email that something was covered in network and it actually wasn’t. Get stuff in writing!

      I would call the dentist and tell them it was an emergency and see if they are any other codes they could use where maybe the insurance will cover it. Insurance pays them less than you will. My doctor used a wrong code once and I got a huge bill. I called billing and said hey this is covered under my plan what code did you use for these tests? I also emailed my doctor and my doctor made billing change it.

      I would email HR and say at the next open enrollment you want to be under BCBS plan and ask them to make sure it goes through that way. Again do it in writing and via email.

      You might be out of luck. If you work at Tufts I heard alleged horror stories (from someone I knew who worked at the dental school) about their dental school and programs. If it’s BU I don’t know but I would much rather have a professional work on my teeth than a student.

      Ask the dentist for a payment plan or a discount since you are paying it directly. I would not go back to that particular dentist either if they aren’t willing to work with you. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!

    5. A Significant Tree*

      Wow, I am dealing with something eerily similar! BCBS told me I was covered, Provider told me I was covered, but then claims are universally denied despite multiple efforts to clear things up, and I just got hit with a $5000 bill of which zero was paid by insurance.

      While I still haven’t resolved my issue, here’s my suggestion: If you haven’t already, you should call BCBS and get the claim number(s) from your conversations with them. If you have dates/times that you talked to a customer service rep, that will help them look it up in the system. This is important because if they told you, on a recorded line (and they’re usually recorded) that you are covered, you may have more leverage than you think. Sources: a former Regence BCBS CSR who is trying to help me, and the last CSR I spoke to who was able to look up my previous convo with a different CSR and get me that claim number too.

      I was told by the BCBS CSR that if the Provider doesn’t file the claims as instructed, that I could submit the bill as a claim myself. I’ve since talked to the Provider’s billing agent and they are going to try the correct process (there’s some confusion involved so it’s not as straightforward as you’d expect), but if that fails I will be filing the bill myself.

      Also check your state’s laws about surprise medical bills, if your state has them.

      Finally, if you filled out paperwork with your selection and CAU filed it, it should still be on file with CAU. They should be able to provide this to you as evidence of what you selected, which would go a long way to showing that they incorrectly assigned you to CAU-only rather than BCBS plan.

    6. Garlic Microwaver*

      No help, but dental insurance has always been a coupon at best for me. I went through something similar with a root canal. I am sorry.

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Unfortunately, even the “best” dental insurance is usually poor at payment in the US. Very standard to get only 50% coverage on anything other than cleanings. Sigh.

    7. anonymous higher ed person*

      Ugh, sending solidarity. I’m dealing with a similar but slightly different version of this kind of bureaucracy. I’m seriously considering filing a complaint with my state Attorney General against the insurance company.

    8. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Yeah, been there with the HR thing for something different ‘we’re not supposed to be policing your paycheck to see if it’s right, you should be checking to see if the right amounts are being taken out’ will be their stance and they’ll hold to it. Interesting that you have the open plan though! I’d definitely find the documentation associate with what the plan covers and the sheet where you signed up for your benefits. And check all of your other benefits!

    9. arachophilia*

      Oof, we may work for the same CAU… And the CAU clinic isn’t always as cheap as it’s made out to be.

      1. I'm great at doing stuff*

        Eek, maybe.

        Thank you all so much, and best of luck to those of you in similar situations! Blue Cross seems to be part of the issue too. I am going to see what the HR head says, and the next step is likely the state insurance commission.

        1. Doc McCracken*

          As someone in healthcare, not a dentist, I can tell you that BCBS has been an absolute nightmare over the past year! They made multiple major companywide software change overs one right after another before the first one was actually working properly. Since Covid, all their claim reps work remote and are not well trained. They have also eliminated all pathways for providers to actually talk to a human being to ask questions about explain situations that may not fit into a neat box. In the past we joked about submitting a claim was like shaking a magic 8 ball, but now I would happily take the consistency of a Magic 8 Ball! They literally do not even know internally how their own company works. We tell patients that unless it is a Medcare Advantage Plan where the Federal Government dictates how coverage works, that we are taking a guess when estimating coverage. Definitely talk to your dentist to see if they can change coding, but understand that they are likely held to BCBS’s definition of an emergency and not one that makes logical sense. I’m going to add a link to a podcast that explains some of these big issues with insurance companies so you better understand the cluster ____ you are up against without the added mess of your HR department.

    10. Anon for this*

      Wait, I am going through something similar in MA too! In my situation, I get free pediatric dental insurance as a side benefit of my health insurance (totally useless to me). And I have useful adult dental insurance that I purchased through MA Health Connector. But dentists somehow refuse to acknowledge the adult insurance exists, they insist I only have pediatric.

      I had to have many conversations with my dental insurance company and MA health connector and just really insist that I have adult insurance (it helped that I had the insurance card and ID number to give them). I really had to push them to take the issue seriously but overall they were friendly and helpful and they said they’ve found and solved my problem. I haven’t had a chance to call the dentist yet to check.

      Good luck with your insurance problem!

      1. BigLawEx*

        You all make me wish I did class action. From too many years as an atty, I’ve seen all too often that there’s not an error…but some…um shall we say… malintent on some entity’s part.

        1. Doc McCracken*

          If you ever want to pursue it for funzies, I’ll help you empty BCBS’s coffers with every bit of information I have.

    11. Shirley You're Joking*

      Hi there. Employee benefits specialist here.

      Some thoughts on how to approach this..

      If you contribute toward the cost of your dental insurance, then your contributions are taken from your paycheck on a pre-tax basis and, because of that, the plan and your enrollment is highly regulated by an IRS code, Section 125. This is good news because it means that CAU must administer the dental plans compliantly with Section 125 and part of that compliance is having proof of your election. Whatever electronic enrollment system they are using must keep a record of your election. And these records need to be retained. So.

      Here’s what I would do:
      1. Going through the ombudsman, state that any health plan that takes pre-tax deductions from an employee’s paycheck must have a signed (electronic signature is fine) agreement that you elected the plan and agree to the deductions from your pay. These are the requirements under Section 125 of the IRS Code, which allows your employer to take your benefit deductions on a pre-tax basis.

      2. If HR cannot provide proof of what you elected, then there’s no evidence that you selected the lesser of the two dental insurances. In a situation where I might find a mistake in our data, I (as a benefits manager) would do what I could to make things right with the employee. If BCBS thinks you are enrolled, then I would have counted that as a great outcome. Your HR seems intent on focusing on what premium you’ve been paying instead of trying to figure out how BCBS could have thought you were enrolled if you weren’t. That just doesn’t happen.

      3. Since BCBS believes you are enrolled, they should be processing the claim according to the plan documents. Ask to see the Summary Plan Description (SPD) — that is usually a 50+ page document that details everything that is covered or excluded from the plan. Your employer is required to have that document posted in a place where you can find it and they are also required to email you once a year to let you know where it is.

      4. Even if the dental work isn’t covered by the plan, if the dentist is in-network, they should be offering you a lower rate for all your services. Is the amount you are being charged the same that the dentist would charge if you didn’t have any insurance? If can’t get the claim processed and paid by BCBS, I would try negotiating with the dentist. At the least, they shouldn’t charge you more than they would have accepted from the insurance carrier.

      5. There are multiple issues here and I’m not sure which is the one to focus on to get your claim covered as in-network by BCBS. What is the dentist saying about all of this? I’m surprised that they are not working with you to get the claim paid somehow. If you haven’t yet, you might try talking to the dentist rather than the billing person in the office. Maybe it’s not the dentist but someone in an administrative role who is refusing to resubmit the claim as emergency care.

      6. All claims have an appeal period. A heartfelt letter about what happened might actually get BCBS to pay the claim.

      I hope this turns out well for you. I know this is a frustrating thing.

  12. Dee Dee*

    I’ve been refreshing waiting for this thread!

    I applied for a job last Thursday. The next day, the Talent Acquisition person reached out to me, said they were impressed by my resume, and asked for my availability to discuss my experience and the role. That was mid-afternoon. I replied shortly after 4 with some times spread across three days this week.

    Since then, crickets.

    I sent another note Tuesday night asking if he needed availability going into next week. I still haven’t heard anything back. I’m wondering what I should do now.

    Additional complicating factor: I’m on vacation next week, in a different time zone. I am staying with family and could handle a Zoom/Teams interview (it’s a remote role) but it’s not ideal.

    I can’t imagine they went from interested to disinterested based on me offering my availability, and it’s possible that the TA person is out sick or whatever, but I’m still ruminating about whether my emails got lost, or if they changed their mind, or what’s going on.

    Any advice? Should I contact them again?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I would just wait at this point. They will get back to you when they get back to you. It sounds like they are not in a huge rush and you’ll need to give them new availability anyway, so you can mention the different time zone when that happens.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t think anything of it at this stage. It’s summer and a lot of people have started taking vacations, so scheduling can be a mess. Or perhaps they’re no longer interested. But either way, wait until next week to reach out. Also, you are completely allowed to say that you’re on vacation and therefore not available to talk but you can do the week of XXX at [day/time].

    3. Reebee*

      I wouldn’t contact them again. The standard advice on this site in these situations is that they know you’re interested in them, they’ll contact you again if they’re still interested in you, keep applying as though you didn’t get the job, and treat it as a happy surprise if you do.

      Also, it sucks when you’re waiting. I am sorry; been there many times and wishing you really good thoughts!

    4. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      I wouldn’t reach out again. They are probably just trying to get everyone’s schedules sorted out before they set up interviews. Enjoy your vacation and try not to think about it!

    5. Lost academic*

      They’re just not moving as fast as you think. remember everyone has a day job. it’s only been a week and if they couldn’t get back to you in that timeframe, it doesn’t really mean anything at all. just wait for them.

    6. Stoli*

      Do not contact them again. This is very common. My son was told the same and they contacted him four weeks later. GL.

    7. GythaOgden*

      Yeah, been here last year. They did get back to me but it took a few weeks to find availability. I did nudge after a while, but don’t badger them — you’re one of probably a number of different things they have on the bubble and if it’s just a scouting ‘what can I do for you?’ mission, it’s probably a much lower priority for them than mission critical stuff.

  13. Cabbagepants*

    Professional ways of saying “I’m not your assistant; do it yourself”?

    I’d rather not invoke management. It’s an ongoing problem and upper management has already communicated that this person and I are supposed to operate as equal partners; now I just need light scripts to enforce it.

    1. BellaStella*

      When asked …. try maybe the following, which have worked for me:
      1. Reply in written email to document them asking you every time, after saying in person, “sorry, I am on a deadline for X and this is part of our mutual work – good luck!”
      2. Reply again in email if they ask over whatsapp etc – ignore the whatsapp or text and say, “Sorry, hope you are having a good day, but…. per your request on text/whatsapp, I already did this task this week for my workflows, and am focusing now on X work, so good luck!”
      etc
      Be cheerful and document document document. then you have emails showing you keep gettng asked and then you can go to your manager and ask for support if needed say in a couple of months ….. “Manager, since June, Wakeen has asked me 8 times to do this stuff XYZ, and we are peers. Can you help me to understand why I keep getting asked by him for support when we are peers, and can you talk to him directly, please? Maybe if we had a team support admin we both could do more for the firm?”

      1. Midwest Manager too!*

        I caution using “good luck!” in those messages, it may come across as patronizing. But I do agree with the rest of this advice. Clear language about it being not your responsibility and documenting every time it happens.

      2. Pretty as a Princess*

        I wouldn’t apologize, because you don’t have anything to apologize for. “Hi, Jack. I’m working on XYZ so I can’t take on PDQ. The templates are in the llamafarm directory -hope that gets you where you need to go.”

    2. Angstrom*

      Try the matter-of-fact tone expressing that OF COURSE they’re going to do it themselves. “You need a presentation deck? The PowerPoint template is in the _____folder.” Then turn away and get back to your own task.

    3. To snark or not to snark*

      Try searching in AAM archives for this issue. I think I’ve seen some AAM good scripts before, and that this is a fairly common problem.
      From me: you want to be sure you are scrupulously professional in all written documentation so you look like the reasonable one. In person, you can try being a bit more snarky, with a blank stare and asking if they need to ask their manager for more training because this has been taught to them in the past. YMMV. The snark comes out for me because this person knows exactly what they are doing & I’d want to shut it down. But snark can come at a cost.

      1. cabbagepants*

        It’s not admin stuff. We are sharing a project with a lot of overlap in our duties (its own problem, but not one that I have the power to fix) and so he will directly ask me to do a thing that he wants done. The thing is broadly within my job purview, but also broadly within his, so he should just do it himself.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      If management has told them how it is, and they’re not complying, “light scripts” are not going to make a difference.
      You need to go back to management. I get that you don’t want to, but it’s not going to change without something firmer from management.
      (This is especially true if you’re a woman and a man is trying to make you his assistant! Men like that will not change unless forced to change by someone with authority.)

      1. cabbagepants*

        I disagree. Big Conversations can help reset expectations, but it is going to take repetition to reset a habit.

    5. Nesprin*

      I’d highly suggest making it management’s problem- it’s not your job to manage your coworker.

      “Oh if you need help on X, you should go talk to our mutual manager”
      “Oh, manager asked me to focus on Y today. They’re probably the best help if you’re stuck”

    6. ecnaseener*

      “Let’s each do our own [filing] for our own parts of the work so no one gets stuck with all of it. Thanks!”

    7. Reebee*

      “Professional ways of saying ‘I’m not your assistant; do it yourself'”?
      ————

      I don’t know, because I really like the direct approach in that line^^^!

    8. Ms. Norbury*

      You’ve already got some good scritps, Cabbagepants, but I’ll also suggest “Sorry, I’m pretty busy with my own work, so I can’t really help” said in a pleasant and sympathetic tone. Essentially, treat every instance as if they were asking you for a favor that you are simply too busy to do for them.

      1. Quadra*

        Agreed, I’ve successfully used “I’m focused on my own report/task/whatever” with good results before. Turning away after that really helps.

    9. NotRealAnonForThis*

      It is absolutely not the following statement:

      “I’m a very expensive secretary”

      I have exactly zero regrets about that one though.

    10. Ellis Bell*

      It depends on context but I like “I can’t help with that, sorry”, “I’m busy with (tasks from your actual job)” “Is everything ok? If you’re really struggling to cover everything you should speak to Manager”, “I can help with (example) sometimes, but (request) is more of a your job thing”, and “Is there a reason why you’re asking me? This is usually something you’d be expected to do for yourself”

    11. Unkempt Flatware*

      “Hi Joe. You’ll need to do that. I don’t do support work for peers.” There’s nothing at all rude or even brusque about this. Repeat ad nauseam.

    12. Hyaline*

      Might depend a bit on how and in what medium you’re being asked, but in general I think the firm but polite refuse and redirect is your best bet. “I won’t be able to do that because I’m focusing on X this week [implication: no, your needs do not supersede my workload or priorities]. You can find the resources in Y folder [implication: yes, you are supposed to handle that yourself.]” or “Sorry, but I can’t help you with that [implication: I would be doing you a favor, something I do not have to do and do not wish to do]; if you need the client file, it’s in the shared docs [implication: I am not doing anything more than referring you to the place you get your own work done].”

      It gets trickier if he’s “delegating” shared work in a crappy way–like if yes, you’re working on the Fishbowl Project together, and he’s taking all the higher order work and sending you to make copies, but you can’t exactly say “this is yours and that is mine.” In that case, maybe meetings early in the process of a new project or assignment (or addressing regular work) where you clearly delineate roles so if he tries to dump “alphabetize the guppy files” on you, you can clearly point to “We agreed that guppies are under your purview, remember? I’ll be handing the blowfish statuette research all afternoon.” If you get pushback here, I’d make a good faith effort and then involve your boss.

      But overall, scripts are a band-aid. I’d give it two weeks, tops, and if firm and consistent redirection doesn’t work, go back to your boss. YMMV, but I’d also start copying the boss on emails where you “decline to help” after a week or so, too.

      Is this person actually overworked to the point that they need help? You could add in “if you’re overloaded, you really need to talk to Mr. Peabody” into your script to reinforce “the solution to this problem is not dumping on me.”

      1. cabbagepants*

        I don’t think they’re overworked at all. I think expectations need to be reset. My organization hired too many Project Managers and not enough Engineers*. It’s literally 1:1. In a healthy org there’d be 3-5 engineers per PM and so engineers would do all the engineering tasks and PMs would do all the PM tasks, but as it is now, the PMs have a lot of time on their hands that they spend coming up with more things for us to do*. Management’s solution is to have Project Managers handle more of the day-to-day engineering tasks*, which they are generally qualified to do, on top of their PM core duties. I’d prefer to not quit this job and management has verbalized support for more shared responsibilities. Now I just need to break my PM of his habit.

        *These are all the real problem, but I don’t have the power to fix them.

  14. This is so petty, but it's so 'huh'?!*

    I just moved to a new city and kept my remote job with my company. In my new city, there are a few other people who are based here, including another woman who I don’t work with, but we’re in the same department.

    I joined a “20s/30s social women’s group” on Facebook, where it’s common to have people post an introduction about themselves to the group. I was browsing through past posts and events when I saw an older post from my coworker. In her introduction she posted that she was a “director of product marketing” at an [our very niche company vertical]…she’s a marketing manager….the position she listed is at a higher level than her actual title and it’s in a completely separate department from us. I think she does work with that team…but the title is not accurate and the date posted lines up with her working at our company…

    There is a 0% chance I will tell her or anyone else in our company about this, and why I’m bringing it up here. What on earth? 

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Sounds like she might be embarrassed about her job and thinks that people will be more impressed by her if she claims to have a higher role. Not that her role sounds like anything to be embarrassed about, but…people have weird hangups.

    2. Make it bold and make it red*

      I previously had a job where my coworker’s title was “publications officer” and I was “publications specialist.” We were both in-house graphic designers in higher ed. If I was introducing myself and what my job was, I would just say I’m a graphic designer/art director, because “publications specialist” holds zero meaning for anyone anywhere.

      Maybe it’s a case of using a title that more accurately reflects the work she actually does? It could also be a minor case of aspirational fluffing up her title, too. Either way, it’s harmless.

      1. Hyaline*

        This was my thought too–she picked a job title she felt would make sense to others unfamiliar with the field. And I agree…this is harmless, a quick “what I do for a living” for a social group, not a resume line.

        If her email signature at work had the wrong title, I’d feel differently, but to a bunch of internet strangers? Eh.

        1. This is so petty, but it's so 'huh'?!*

          I could see that, but the “Director” title is throwing me lol. Like saying she worked in product marketing wouldn’t make me bat an eye, but adding the director title is. Knowing her at the surface level, I’m leaning more towards the she wants to impress people route.

    3. H.Regalis*

      I ran into people in grad school who did this. I remember the first day we went around class and everyone had really fancy job titles (professional masters program, so we were all working in addition to school), and I felt like such a chump because I had a super low-level position. As the program went on, I found out that pretty much everyone had the same type of job I did, and just puffed it up to make it sound fancier and in some cases straight-up lied.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Oh, you’ve reminded me of one time when the school I was teaching in at the time had a speaker coming in to talk to some students. She had lunch with us and honestly, everything anybody said, she’d one up it. One of the student teachers was planning to work abroad for a year after qualifying. She knew a guy in Dubai who was begging her to go out and work for him but she wasn’t sure if she was going to take him up on it or not ’cause her boss was also pleading with her to take a promotion. Somebody enjoyed swimming as a hobby? Her daughter was such a brilliant swimmer that she is bound to make a professional career of it.

        And she did some substitute teaching herself (in itself pretty unlikely in Ireland, without a teaching qualification, but not actually impossible) and she was so good, the principal was convincing his teachers to take time off so he could hire her and he told her to go away and get a teaching qualification and he would give her a full-time job (this was primary teaching, apparently, so at least a year and a half’s post-graduate course or else a three year degree; there was no way he could have known he’d have a full-time vacancy in 2-3 years time. Teachers in Ireland are paid by the government, even most of those in private schools, and schools can’t just decide to take another teacher on, without government approval).

        Yeah, she had at least three people, in completely different industries, begging her to take jobs.

      2. This is so petty, but it's so 'huh'?!*

        But like, who does that? It makes the person so untrustworthy to me

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I’d say generally people who are very insecure/worried about what others think of them or who want to impress people and who feel people will think less of them if they don’t have an “impressive” job.

    4. Generic Name*

      Some people like to inflate their perceived importance. My old boss listed himself as a VP at a certain company, but when I went to the company website, he was listed as a geologist. I laughed (he was a real jackass).

      1. Lucy Librarian*

        In one of my classes in college there was a nontraditional student who kept bringing up she worked for the CIA. It was the DC area so maybe she did, but I felt like anyone who really did something for the CIA didn’t talk about it in their undergrad college lit class.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Ha! More common to be accused of working for the CIA and denying it than to go around announcing it.

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      When I was still working, I deflated my position at two different places. Both times, I had gotten a promotion to a new position because neither place could just give me a raise due to salary band restrictions. It was in the days of “XXXX Coordinator” when nobody knew what to call a position between the old one and the one a further step up that was already occupied. So, in informal settings when I was asked what I did, I used my old title that was much more descriptive of my actual work.

  15. BellaStella*

    Hello commentariat, for those searching for better jobs, good luck!!!

    I want to share a win. I have been looking for work for a couple of months now because of a not great situation where I am currently working. I have mentioned here a few times some of the chaos and took advice given here and by my friends and family was to look. I am continuing to apply and will do so as am unclear if the situation will improve in the next 6 months. (this week got another rejection and applied for 3 other roles).

    So …. here is the win….several of my women colleagues and I (also F) got substantial raises effective immediately. Not one woman on our team was promoted or given a raise in 5 years, tho we did hire a couple of women and one man after others left the team.

    After months of interactions that have gone south with this boss, finally upper managers are looking at this with HR. While the raise solves some issues and I am grateful (the raise was more than 10%, after several years of not even COLA raises, and yes, this is a non profit) and it is a step in the right direction. It does not fix the chaos as that will take time. I am hoping that soon there will be more positive news too but meantime, I will continue to search and save money!!

    So, to all currently looking, good luck and may the fortune of the solstice shine on you in the coming weeks.

  16. Agent #2*

    Salesperson I provide support for sends incoherent, typo-ridden emails to customers. More than once, a customer has had to say to them, “I don’t understand what you’ve written.” I can’t think of a way to pseudonym this but we have a customer named Jeremy; Salesperson routinely writes their name as Jermey. I am conflicted on whether or not this is something that should be escalated to Salesperson’s manager for possible coaching. I can’t imagine something as rude and unprofessional as routinely calling a customer [Germy], but maybe I’m taking it too seriously?

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I think it’s reasonable to say something to their manager–when you have multiple customers who can’t even understand what the salesperson has written and they are making typos in names that come across as insulting, I think you have an obligation to the customers and your organization.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I concur. It’s one thing to make an occasional typo but being non-understandable is something else. And people really do take it personally when their name is continually misspelled, believe me.

    2. HonorBox*

      It would be a kindness to the salesperson to say something to them about the misspelled name. Just address it quickly and casually. “Hey, Joe, I don’t know if you realize this, but you’re misspelling Jeremy’s name.”

      Regarding the lack of understanding, I think it would be helpful to say something to their manager. If you have those emails, it would help, too. That’ll show it is a pattern versus just a one-off situation.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      I agree it’s rude to misspell someone’s name, but you may want to triple-check the spelling of the customer’s name before bringing it up. Some people just have names with spellings off the beaten path. And it’s 100% something to mention to the salesperson you support first; have you done that already?

      The incomprehensible communication is a far bigger problem.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        I worked with a “Robn” at one point. I stopped noticing it after a while, but people were always after me about misspelling her name and I was like, “No, there is no I in her name!”

    4. Roland*

      I don’t think you need to worry about it looking or sounding like “germy”, it’s pretty clearly just a typo. You can still bring it up, but do it the same way you’d raise, say, Jaycob instead of Jacob if it were a regular occurance.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is salesperson writing this from their phone? That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

      1. Rick Tq*

        On the phone or voice to text plus badly updated autocurrupt could be the reason. He may have mis-corrected Jeremy to Jermy and now it doesn’t show as a typo…

      2. Agent #2*

        No. The typos they make are so weird and egregious, any phone with a reasonable autocorrect would change them. For example: cleint instead of client, hye instead of hey, etc.

        1. Rick Tq*

          It sounds like a bit of dyslexia and auto-correct turned off on their device(s).

          I hope the rep isn’t texting while he is driving….

    6. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m confused. Is the misspelling of the name the reason why clients don’t understand the emails? The Jermey/Jeremy thing is super innocuous so I’m wondering if there is another example of the incoherence you can tell us about. The incoherence would be a good reason to alert boss. The misspelling of Jermey isn’t.

    7. saf*

      I bet Jeremy is annoyed. My name has 2 common spellings. The correct spelling is in my signature block.

      Yet SO SO SO many people use the other spelling even after I point out the correct spelling to them.

      It’s disrespectful .

  17. Uptight Ursula*

    Do you think a boss socializing with a direct report is appropriate? I need a gut check.

    My boss is based out of our headquarters, along with my teammate, Brandon. Myself and another teammate are fully remote in other cities. My boss told me that he went golfing with Brandon and another coworker the other day. I’m not sure I find that appropriate, is this normal? The times I’ve socialized (aka gone to happy hour) with a boss was when they were no longer my boss and we worked at separate companies. There is a slight office culture that’s a bit old school boys club, so I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m not angry but I’m giving it a side-eye.

    1. Angstrom*

      No, it’s not a good look. People who golf with boss will be assumed to get preferential treatment, no matter how hard boss tries to be unbiased.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      As a single incident, not a problem. As a recurring thing where specific employees get special access to their boss (and golf is NOTORIOUS on this front), highly problematic.

    3. Abigail*

      I think people want things both ways: to be fully remote working in any city AND get all the same networking and soft skills opportunities as everybody else.

      Brandon is there. You are not.

      1. TheBunny*

        This.

        I once had a remote employee upset they didn’t get to participate in spontaneous office lunches… the ones where the boys says “is Friday get sandwiches for everyone here’s my card”…but when we said they were welcome to come in to the office the reply was that the drive was too far.

        You don’t get both.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      There is business socializing and social socializing. Golfing is classic business socializing. It can be problematic in many different ways, but it is well within business norms.

    5. HonorBox*

      Golf, every now and again, is probably not something that I’d be too worried about. Especially if it happens during time that would include regular work hours. If they’re regularly getting together on the weekend, that might be more concerning.

    6. Scriveaaa*

      This is fine and completely normal, especially since the boss is golfing with Brandon AND another coworker. It’s a benefit of being in-person and builds camaraderie in the company. You might be feeling extra weird about it because they’re men golfing. That activity definitely has an old boys club vibe. But it would be equally ok if they were all women and went out for happy hour together on a Friday.

    7. Friday Person*

      This sort of occasional outing would be completely within the range of normal/appropriate/expected in my industry. I can imagine situations where it could turn into an issue (for instance, if boss is regularly spending significant amounts of time with only a few workers and others are feeling left out, although the remote/in person split makes that tricky) but I’ve done happy hours or occasional social events with most of my managers without any problems arising.

    8. TheBunny*

      So here’s the thing…if you are fully remote you lose the access to things like this.

      If you were in person and not invited I would side eye, but you are remote. One of the perks you trade for being remote is the 1 on 1 access to the boss and these team building things.

      There’s nothing to side eye unless things like this happen when you are in office in person and aren’t invited.

    9. Nancy*

      Sounds like normal work socialization. If you were in the office and not invited that would be different.

    10. Reebee*

      My opinion is that no one who formally evaluates the performance of employees should be socializing with them, unless every single person that boss evaluates is present simultaneously alongside everyone else the boss evaluates.

        1. Florence Reece*

          Why not do away with the option of non-remote work? My team never sees each other and we’re all great pals with appropriate boundaries towards our leadership.

          (Because that’s not doable for some people and some industries. Obviously. But an equally unhelpful response as vice versa. ‘Oh you want to be treated fairly by your boss? Well I hate remote work so, too bad!’)

  18. No Tribble At All*

    I’m now almost a week behind on a major project. I had to get my supervisor to help me break it down into smaller tasks, and even now, some of these tasks seem hard for me to do. I’ve really struggled with abstract, innovative thinking since coming back from maternity leave (and being sick, and moving, and being sick again). So something like “come up with edge cases and test them” is much more difficult than it used to be. I’m tired. I just want someone to tell me what to do. I can implement tasks very well, I just can’t… create them. Any advice, oh commentariat of wisdom?

    I’m starting therapy again next week which should help. I’m so anxious about this project that it’s making it hard to work, and my boss told me to not get distracted with other small tasks in the meantime. But those tasks!! are the only things!! I can accomplish!!

    1. ferrina*

      Task 1: Write down the stages of the project.
      Task 2: Write down the tasks of the next stage.
      Task 3: Write down deadlines and dependencies of the tasks.
      Task 4: Start Task 1.

      Project planning can be it’s own task, and sometimes you can lean into that to get yourself to break up the tasks.
      Also- if you have AI tools, use them. You can ask AI to create a project plan for you. It’s often easier to edit pre-drafted materials than to draft them from scratch (one time I use AI to write a draft, then I completely rewrote the draft. It saved me at least 15 minutes that I would have spent staring at a blank screen).

      Good luck!! You sound exhausted. It gets better, but it’s very, very slow going. Sleep helps. Hope you can get some rest this weekend!

      1. PropJoe*

        Speaking of AI tools, there’s one I found recently and am starting to learn that may be able to help OP out.

        It’s called Goblin Tools and will be linked to in a reply to this comment.

        This won’t likely be a panacea, but it’s worth trying out to see if it helps.

          1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            Surprisingly, this broke down a somewhat niche work task for me pretty well. And you can specify the level of help you need with breaking it down with the pepper symbol, one being high level and I think it was 5 peppers means they give you every step imaginable. It can also attempt to estimate how long it will take you to do each step. It’s pretty cool.

      2. Le le lemon*

        I would also add: identify the obstacles that prevent you from moving forward. I’ve found I can “make the plan/do the plan” but obstacles have me stuck in circles.
        Unsure of what Draft 1 should look like? Get clarity from __.
        More info required? Ask ___
        Similarities to past work, but not your field of expertise? Look at case studies/work examples/etc.

        Also, give yourself some breathing space. You’ve given birth. You’ve had major life changes. You’re exhausted. It is normal to not be 100% work productive for a long time with a newborn! (Not that this changes your situation, but, a little self kindness may help).

    2. RagingADHD*

      Creativity is problem solving. The vaguer the problem, the harder it is to come up with creative solutions.

      Can you narrow down the definition of the problem and list all the constraints? Then list all of the resources at hand. That should help you see some options.

    3. Combinatorialist*

      So I had this problem coming back from maternity leave and spent a year with my therapist discussing strategies to optimize my natural working rhythms, etc. This was helpful but about a year post-partum, I switched back to my normal birth control from the one I was put on right after giving birth. It was like night and day different, overnight. I had a similar experience when I got B-12 deficient.

      So I would consider if there are any potential medical causes (beside the massive hormonal changes if you were the birthing partner) and perhaps have your doctor test for vitamin/hormonal imbalances. Both times, I felt a zillion times better after resolving a medical issue that I didn’t even know was there and had been plaguing me a while.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Definitely listen to this advice, OP. You’ve been through a huge biological change AND been ill twice in a short span of time. It’s time for a complete work up, blood tests and all.

        1. Ellie*

          Thirding this. In my case it was breastfeeding that was giving me post partum anxiety. I had no idea what was going on until my kid stopped nursing, my hormones reset and my project management skills returned. Fun times.

    4. EMP*

      It’s SO TOUGH working with a small baby (or being sick, or moving). You probably haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in months. Do you think your boss would be open to you being honest about the issue, and/or is there someone who can help with the creative part, like “I’m still ramping back up from my leave and I think having Sansa help with the test design while I focus on implementation would get this project completed in a timely manner”

      I really feel you, I’ve been sleep deprived for a year now and starting a new job it’s like my brain is running on fumes all the time. How did I used to think about anything??

    5. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      If you can at all swing it, take a day off. Sleep for like, twelve hours, and then do whatever exercise you genuinely enjoy, to the extent you can feasibly do it. From your description of your recent life, i’m guessing you… have not done those things (yaay American parental leave policies).

  19. Asdf*

    I’ve just started in a new job and have a boss in a different (neighbouring, culturally reasonably similar) country. The whole team is scattered in different countries and in practice I’ll be doing highly technical work for the local team using local systems that my boss will not know well.

    In the past, I have been happiest with very hands off bosses. This time that is unlikely to work for many reasons, including the complexity of the organization. So, do you have any good tips how to have a good productive relationship with my manager? We have weekly meetings scheduled already.

    1. Combinatorialist*

      Have an agenda for those weekly meetings so everyone sees them as valuable (and therefore less likely to be cancelled). Depending on style, I would send the boss the agenda ahead of time but would definitely include:
      – any significant progress from the past week
      – most important tasks for the upcoming week
      – any questions you have
      – any concerns on the horizon (possible missed deadlines, etc)
      – any upcoming events/tasks that will need your boss’s participation or input

    2. EMP*

      I think it’s fine to name that if you can aim for “providing info so both parties can function” and not “pushing your manager away”

    3. SunflowerGirl*

      I second Combinatorialist’s recommendations. Six months ago I started in a position that was brandnew to my employer, and my supervisor had very little clue what my job entailed (and admitted that he was lucky I do!). Anyway, in addition to coming with your own agenda, I found context questions to be VERY helpful in establishing a good relationship. For example, “I was reviewing our history with XYZtopic and had a question about thisorthat and how it fits into our mission.” Answering this question allowed him to be an expert (as he was!!) instead of me just coming in and reporting. Questions like that show that you are learning about the job and your employer and allows your supervisor to bring you in on things he might not think of doing on his own.

      1. Asdf*

        Thanks for your comments! I really like the idea of making sure that I ask for context. That’s very important to me in general and will be very helpful considering the complexity of the organization.

  20. Lonely Rolling Rock*

    First of all: thanks to Alison for this invaluable resource! I’m job-searching (been doing so for 6 weeks or so now) and this blog, specially the ‘need help finding a job? start here’ post, have really helped ground me on what’s important. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to get any interviews yet… So I’m posting here to ask the commentariat for some tips.

    I will spare you a lengthy backstory of why this is, but: 1. I am currently unemployed; 2. I recently finished an undergrad career I absolutely detested; 3. Am looking to go into IT / IT roles, remote-only, for various reasons (incl. health); 4. I’ve had a less-than-great employment history for things outside my control, and at this point in my life I can’t just go and get a job in retail or something like that.

    As such:

    + I’m looking at remote-only entriest of entry level roles. Things like Level 1 Help Desk and various forms of Customer Support / Customer Success / Customer Something-or-Other. I apply to the roles I feel fit me the best in terms of what I know / am learning / I have actual experience in. Even unemployed, I’d rather not spray-and-pray (but maybe I should?)

    + I clarify as much as I can in my cover letters about the employment gaps. I also clarify my desire to change careers and indulge my passion for technology. I emphasize transferable skills like working in fast-paced, high-pressure environments, being in public-facing customer service roles, working collaboratively with a very diverse range of personalities… I also note my self-learner streak, specially in IT-related matters: completing MOOCs, taking dives into official documentation, keep up with industry news, etc. I even have a cutesy Python project to show for it (even if it’s not exactly relevant to the role I’m applying, I think it’s fair to mention in passing in the cover letter or having it on the résumé as “neat thing I did as part of my learning journey”. Maybe I’m wrong?)

    + In my résumé, I put my mostly-irrelevant work experience (gotta have *something*, right?), but again emphasizing what would be most transferable / potentially relevant (ex. as a bullet point for my internship at a terrible little cafe: “Ensured all ingredient prep work was done in a meticulous but efficient manner in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment.” ; for an internship at a depressing pastry factory: “Known for punctuality, responsibility and patience, approaching often-menial work with care.” ; for the retail job I actually liked: “Satisfied customers with prompt service, responding to their queries in an amiable manner.”)

    Maybe I’m just not selling myself properly or misunderstood Alison’s advice; I’ve been fleshing out my Skills section more as I realize I’m leaving out perfectly fine skills (then again, it’s hard to tell — even before I read Alison’s advice I though simply noting “MS Office” was silly. But what about “computer networking fundamentals”? is it clear what this means?? Python? Sure. Do I put “(basics)” or leave it as-is??)

    And something I always mention in my cover letters is that I’ve long been doing informal “tech support” type things. Besides further emphasizing soft skills (dealing with people ranging from teenagers to peers my age to people my parents’ ages and everything in between *and* with wildly varying tech literacy levels), I’ve also done a bunch of things from “giving detailed instructions via Discord text chat to a friend on how to upgrade their motherboard firmware” (it went well btw), “setting up a brand-new computer with the person’s essential programs”, “file recovery” and “purging malware” to “help dad find out how to customize the tool Ribbon in IndustryProgram” and “help mom navigate a confusing-for-her Android app”. However, I’ve left it out of the résumé (except for any relevant skills) since… Well, it wasn’t really paid freelance work, nor volunteering in an org. I tried to find examples of where to place (and how to format) such an item and couldn’t find much useful info. (No, I am *not* going to put “the Doe household” as the organization or something.)

    So… that’s the gist of it. Any tips on what I might improve upon? (I do understand the market is just very bad right now, but still…)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you are career pivoting to remote IT from baking/culinary/retail it’s going to be hard. You’re competing against people who have more relevant skills and experience than you. Are there any courses or certificates you could do as a way to verify that you have the skills? Even a data bootcamp or something, just so they’re not only taking your word for it. Link your github if you have one.

      In your skills section I would add “Popular tech support for friends and family”. You want it in both the cover letter and the resume, because you don’t know what people will see first or at all.

      If at all possible, I’d look at non remote jobs too, the remote jobs are in high demand, and hybrid or in person will have less applicants to compete against.

      Starting in the more phone support “tell them to turn it off and on again” role and working your way up to actual coder jobs is a good plan. But if it’s not working maybe go wider with the type of job, admin type role where you also do computer work might be a good interim job while trying to break into the IT world. Plus it supports your resume claim of MS office etc.

      1. Lonely Rolling Rock*

        Done and done re: courses and a little GitHub repo. It’s not extremely impressive (though I am proud of it tbh. I made a thing, after all!), but I am working on more online MOOCs and little projects.

        And for “Popular tech support for friends and family” — I mentioned “in-person and remote technical support” in my skills, and mention (where it’s applicable) specific things such as “data recovery”, “hardware provisioning and setup”, etc. Maybe I can still drop a ref to the “family and friends” aspect…

        I’ve considered doing admin work too; I’ve applied for a few but no hits (…yet!)

        Guess I’ll just gonna keep trying my best.

    2. TheBunny*

      I wish you the best of luck.

      Remote roles are highly in demand. And, without any judgment, are usually super competitive and go to the people with stellar resumes when it’s someone hired from the outside.

      While I understand wanting to be remote, I’m thinking it will be a struggle to find a remote opening when you have a spotty history in one industry and are also looking to break into a new one.

    3. Mostly Managing*

      Are all the baking jobs before the undergrad? Because if they are (your timeline isn’t clear, but also I have no brain today!) then I would lump them into one “category” on your resume.
      Something like:
      2014-2018 Assorted Food Services jobs
      – fast paced, high pressure environments
      – customer service skills
      – etc.

      That makes it less obvious that there were multiple locations during the time before your undergrad, and also shows more clearly that you know these aren’t totally relevant to what you now want to do

      1. Mostly Managing*

        Replying to add – my own resume for a while had “Assorted Temp Positions” because I spent a couple of years working through a few different temp agencies. I loved that work, but 3 weeks here and 4 months there looks *terrible* on a resume!

      2. Lonely Rolling Rock*

        During; they were a few summer internships (at different places, just to clarify)

        Would you recommend lumping them?

    4. I Have RBF*

      I switched careers from chemistry to Linux sysadmin in the late 90s. I was also newly disabled (hence the need for the switch.)

      It took me over two years, a couple shitty, shitty temp jobs, and the industry being desperate for anyone to work in the area. I was also self taught. (Substitute Perl for Python in your example.)

      The first thing to go for is help desk. There are remote help desk jobs, but they can be hard to find. Don’t just look at tech companies, but adjacent industries that have a lot of computers, like pharma, genetics, or anything that requires slinging around big datasets. Scientists will always need people to reset their passwords, etc, because to them computers are tools, not their vocation.

      Good luck.

  21. Verity Kindle*

    AAM brains trust, I’d love some advice: I’m applying for a job that, on paper, I’m overqualified for. The reason that I’m going for it is because I came down with a chronic illness a few years ago and now I can’t do the work I used to because my capacity is reduced due to brain fog and such. This job is in an area I’d like to move into as a plan B for my career, and I think the tasks and hours are within my current capacity. My question is: how much of this do I explain in a cover letter, and how much should I leave to raise if I get an interview (or even later?)? Fwiw, I know the head of the organisation and she’s broadly aware of my situation, so I’m not starting from zero in trying to communicate this.

    1. ferrina*

      Don’t mention your health condition, but do say that you are looking for a change and that is why this job appeals to you. Say that you are looking for a better work-life balance, and this job appeals to you because you are excited for doing these types of tasks.

      You should almost always use a cover letter to say why this job appeals to you- you want to explain why this is a mutually beneficial relationship.

      1. HonorBox*

        This. The overqualification isn’t as concerning if there’s reason for it… better balance, looking for a change in focus. Using the cover letter to accentuate the strengths you bring for the job is a great starting point.

    2. what was my username??*

      Can you do the job with an accommodation? if so, don’t even mention it. You can bring up accommodations when they make an offer.

      In the cover letter, focus on the new challenges and knowledge it will bring and how you are very passionate about moving into that area of work.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      As you know the head of the org, can you ask her to mention you to the HM? She sounds a potentially very useful part of your network.

    4. Hyaline*

      “Better work-life balance” and “focusing on an area of the work I do best at” sound like good lines–and they’re true! Honestly, it would be a red flag for me if an interviewer pressed this point too much after an answer like “I’ve enjoyed my time as a llama wrangler but I’ve found that llama grooming is really what meshes my skillset and interests the best” or “I love working with llamas, but I’ve found that I have better work-life balance focusing on llama grooming. I was taking too many llamas home with me as a llama manager.”

    5. GythaOgden*

      First up, that sucks so badly. It’s so frustrating to go from healthy to not healthy — I was permanently disabled in an accident and while I was never an athlete by any stretch of the imagination (although I was seriously contemplating getting a bike only the week before the accident happened as I was less and less anxious about riding on the roads and my home town at least has some decent bike paths), it’s so frustrating not being able to do what you used to be able to do. While you can definitely adjust and assimilate the changes, it is often going to be very difficult and I’m sending you fist-bumps of solidarity.

      I’ve had to be candid when someone asked me point blank what an LSE graduate was doing sitting on reception, but I’m in a much different environment to you and could get away with admitting to autism and so on making it difficult to sustain a more demanding job. I was also looking to go up rather than down now that I’ve finally wrestled my condition into something that can handle full time focused work.

      So yeah, focus on the shift for personal work-life reasons. I know my company is very good about awareness of illness and other disabilities — public healthcare can’t really afford not to be! But maybe also looking at company culture would help in a proactive way, where they’d be actively helpful. In the UK at least there are quality marques which companies can earn based on their disability friendliness; maybe there’s a similar award that US companies can earn. We’re also allowed a small amount of legal affirmative action in hiring with regard to disability and although that’s not the case in the US, it does help to look at messaging around disability at work and engagement on corporate websites.

      Whatever happens, good luck. Let us know how you get on — this site is an immense knowledge bank and having a record of what people are doing and encountering is vital to helping others who are just passing through.

  22. Anon Today*

    I just found out that I have been annoying a few co-workers in a department where I work some of the time, and am getting a bad reputation for asking difficult questions and ‘disrupting the hierarcy’.

    I’m so upset – I have been here nearly a year, and I was so happy, and I thought it was the best job I had ever had. I thanked the person who let me know (quietly, informally, reassuring me that if I can get it sorted out I can still have a good career here) and I really am grateful she let me know. However, there were few specifics so it’s hard to know what to do – other than just keep my head down and my mouth shut in meetings, and don’t challenge questionable practice.

    Been crying as discreetly as possible ever since. Just such unhappy news.

    1. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

      Hmm… I see a couple of red flags
      1. You mentioned questionable practices. Are you a whistleblower? If so, read REAL hard the whistleblower protections wherever that required notices are.
      2.Who is your bad reputation with? If it’s just coworkers on your level, tough tanookies, they probably won’t like you, and if you stopped “disrupting the hierarchy” they’d not like you for “disrupting the work flow” or whatever paper thin excuse they have.
      3. This sounds toxic! If you feel like you can’t be yourself, and work is making you cry, something need to change.
      Good luck!

      1. Anon Today*

        I’m definitely not a whistleblower – we are legally compliant, just not (in my opinion) optimal. I know the ‘general department’ who are not pleased with me, but part of the problem is the lovely guessing game of which people out of a much larger group. The lady who told me about the issue couldn’t really give specifics. Her concern was that because we have worked together before and are known to be close, that she had heard anything negative was quite a bad sign. Which left me to hypothesise that maybe I have annoyed everyone and only three people talked about it! I hope that’s unlikely…

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          The lady who told me about the issue couldn’t really give specifics.

          Yeahhhhh, no–this is the kind of thing where you want some kind of specifics. I get she couldn’t assemble a dossier, but at least something beyond “somebody doesn’t like you for Reasons.”

    2. Angstrom*

      Sorry to hear that.
      When you ask the difficult questions, are you questioning the people or the data? Can you reframe the questions so they feel less personal to the people who might be offended?

      1. Anon Today*

        Thank you so much – I wonder whether the issue is that I have identified problems with structures or practices but that they are more intractable than I realised, given things I don’t yet know about the workplace. Certainly, I think I really need to shut up and listen for a while…

        1. GythaOgden*

          I think there’s a point where as long as you’re legally compliant, optimal practice might be something the company aspires to but can’t materialise just yet.

          Like, my dad is a retired civil engineer and is actually responsible for flood prevention in the village my parents live in because of this background. I mentioned a project we were doing at work about business continuity and ensuring that site specific plans were up to date. I said that we were classing each site by flood risk evaluation, and that one of our sites was on the second floor of another building so obviously we didn’t need a flood risk assessment for that…

          He suggested I talk to my boss about FRAs for all sites because even a second floor unit could be in danger due to waterlogged electricity. But FRAs are extensive projects in their own right (this was Christmas and we’re only now in a position to get them started) and not a part of the legal compliance regime for sites not basically situated on an actual riverbank. My boss thanked me for the input, but explained the difficulties of just ordering FRAs for buildings with a very low risk of flooding would be a difficult thing for people who need to focus their time and resources into the areas where it makes most impact.

          Likewise with our fire safety officer. He went into building compliance after being a firefighter and seeing the disaster at Grenfell Tower in 2017. He’s been very vocal on where the law falls short of absolute best practice, but is in post because he has to determine what parts of absolute best practice are feasible (particularly when applied to heritage listed buildings like one of our major sites) and which are too costly to be economical. If it were up to him everything would be coated in that elusive flame retardant substance demonstrated on a UK technology TV show but which never made it to market (NOT asbestos, some miracle substance), but it’s not.

          There’s an art to any enterprise of this nature where resources are finite and thus have to be applied carefully. Fixing something that isn’t immediately compliant is more important than bringing everything else up to optimal standard. Managing budgetary concerns may be above your pay-grade on this but being too stubborn about it without being able to work with the financials is going to rub other people up the wrong way.

          The best plan of action IME is to ask why something isn’t possible in a genuine spirit of enquiry. Sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good — spending a lot of money to get something up to code would be important. Sometimes yeah, there might be ways of improving the process but your approach has been too belligerent to be taken in the spirit in which it’s being offered; a bullish approach on a lot of different things all at once can stick in people’s minds in a negative way. Spending a lot of money bringing it up beyond code to best practice can be pushed down the agenda, and while one or two suggestions in the direction of achieving the gold standard are useful, I think you need to maybe ease off the gas pedal elsewhere and learn a bit more about budgeting and resource management.

    3. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry. Did this information just come from one person? The first thing to consider is the accuracy. Some things to consider:

      -Do you have a history of missing social cues? I ask because I am ADHD, and I inadvertently step on toes all the time. So for me, it would be believable. But if this is unusual for you, it might not be accurate.
      -What do you know about the coworker who told you? What are their motivations in telling you? Do they speak for the group, or just for themself? Even if they say that they speak for the group, that’s not necessarily true.
      -Is it bad that you’re disrupting? Some things are meant to be disrupted. What do you know about that department in general? Are they good people who are trying their best, or is there other stuff there? I’ve worked with departments who hid behind hierarchy as an excuse to be lazy- yeah, those people hated people that called them out, but the rest of us respected those who spoke the truth.

      Check in with mentors who know you well and can speak to a healthy workplace dynamics. There is more here than first appears- either about your behavior or about this department (fwiw, my money is on something being weird about the department. If your questions are relevant and respectful, then it’s weird to get mad that you asked something ‘difficult’. But there’s also a lot of nuance on that.)

      If you can, can you give examples of what kind of “difficult questions” you’ve been asking?

      1. Anon Today*

        I am from a very ND family – no diagnosis myself (girl) but many close relatives with ADHD, autism, dyslexia. I am fairly sure I am mildly socially tone-deaf and I generally compensate by being ‘nice’ – taking on extra work, being kind and enthusiastic – in the hopes this will make up for when I make mistakes. Not this time!

        The colleague who told me about the issue is someone I trust a lot – I worked closely with her in the past, and I truly believe she is trying to stop me getting myself into trouble. I do think she is someone who really values harmony – but maybe I need to learn to emulate that.

        I think my big error was that I thought things were being done wrong because people had got used to them, and that if problems were made clear, we could work together to fix them. I can see that being *incredibly* annoying to people who knew fine that the problems were there, but who also knew they were intractable. When I started in this role my manager told me that I was there to help support change and development – and I think maybe I interpreted that too literally. Or just noticed the wrong issues and focused in places where I wasn’t going to get anywhere.

        An example might be in quality control – I had been asked to assess some samples of work, and one in particular that I could show to be very poor quality was assessed as excellent. This is where I am pretty sure, in retrospect, I was wrong – I did push a little to try to get an answer on whether this was really where we wanted to put our standards, given these significant (and unambiguous) issues. I think I probably needed to recognise this was not going to be fixed and back off. I was just so shocked!

        Another example (god, I am blushing as I write) – a senior colleague had asked for comment on a planned methodology and I had suggested a different approach – but I also identified a problem with her initial idea. I think in retrospect I should have dropped it much earlier than I did.

        I checked in with someone I used to work with, who said that in her experience my questions were sometimes challenging, but always polite, professional and appropriate. I suspect the issue is both that challenging is not ok here, and also that I am making it worse by not correctly interpreting the signals to drop it and back off.

        It’s discouraging.

        1. ferrina*

          Ah! This actually is a good scenario (I know, it doesn’t feel like it). You have good intentions, they have good intentions, you’re just over-eager.

          Here’s the trick: assume lack of information and ask if anyone has had the same idea you are having. You have a shortage of information; these are intelligent people that have more information. Now intelligent people can miss things, but it’s more likely there’s more than you can see.

          So instead of saying: “We should change X”
          Say: “Are we able to change X?”

          Instead of saying: “I don’t think it works to do Y”
          Say: “Would it be possible to do Z? Or would that cause different problems?”

          Asking things like “Or would that cause other problems?” or “Is it possible to do X?” accounts for any lack of information that you may have and credits the intelligence of the other people in the room. I have used these questions sooooo many times and it instantly turns the tone collaborative.

          Finally- you get one chance to bring a thing up, no more than three things in a meeting. So if you get shut down, don’t try again. They will ask if they are interested. No more than three (or two or sometimes one) things per meetings can help make you be more picky on what you point out- unless your job is to find every mistake, you need to be more selective on what you point out. Everyone has a Critique-O-Meter and they can only take so many critiques before they get overwhelmed. And they won’t always show that they are overwhelmed. So until you know what that person’s Critique-O-Meter looks like, err on the side of less critiques.

          This is very, very fixable. And you seem like you are an empathetic, intelligent person who is dedicated to fixing it. It will take some time and experimentation, but you will figure out the right balance. You’ve got this!

            1. Annie*

              Yes, often it is looked at poorly if you soften your language as a female, but when you are a newer employee, it certainly helps.
              I’ve found that in many cases people who have worked at a location longer may have already tried X, Y and Z and when you come in and tell them that A, B, C are wrong and they should try X, Y, and Z, that is when people get annoyed with you. You think you have more information than them, and try to change something that’s already been thoroughly looked at.
              That doesn’t mean that you don’t ask questions or look for change, but definitely follow some of the statements that ferrina suggested.

                1. GythaOgden*

                  I think it’s really unhelpful to reach for gender here if you really want to absorb and use the feedback you’re getting. While it’s absolutely true that women are more often criticised for being louder than men are, it’s also contributing to a dangerous meme that everyone in a workplace should be shouting over everyone else. That’s not often the case — most of the time, to get things done, you need the civility and diplomacy that is coded as ‘female’ and hence regarded, even by feminists, as weak and demeaning. It’s not — it’s far, far easier to get things done in an imperfect situation when people are being respectful to others. You might have been overdoing the criticism and being too bullish in a misguided attempt to apply these particular lessons to a gendered environment, only to be caught off guard inasmuch as even the men in your workplace recognise the need for communicating in a less aggressive way and therefore having a justified criticism of your way of interjecting into conversations.

                  There are times when it’s necessary to plough through, but if you ignore basic niceties and collaborative needs just because it’s sometimes seen as gendered, you miss a lot more in terms of getting people on side in ways that don’t generally happen if you treat everyone as a nail to be hammered in. I’m also not comfortable with everything becoming so combative in the workplace simply because being nice is seen as too ‘feminine’; that in itself raises the temperature of the discussions and has the equally sexist impact that femininity is seen as weak and ‘masculine’ belligerence becomes a standard modus operandi; women still end up having to imitate men to get ahead rather than being seen as equal partners or as individuals beyond gender.

                  I was in a friendship group for a while with a loudmouth and every discussion became a heated argument because she ratcheted up the volume you had to attain to communicate anything. Once she left (moved away for work), the discussions became normal again, even though most of the party were men. It was really hard because it was so explosive an atmosphere, and my own way of trying to dissect an issue and focus on finding a solution was drowned out…and no one would gain anything but a sore throat!

                  I think we lose more than we gain in terms of collaboration and team cohesion if everyone is trying to shout louder than everyone else, and it can be really exhausting. Taking gender out of the equation should mean taking masculinity out of it as well as femininity and reframing collaboration in the workplace as a function of individual discussion and agreement rather than simply being about who can shout the loudest.

          1. GythaOgden*

            From someone in a similar position to OP, this is dynamite advice. I’m autistic and once I became a SME in the postal service on reception, I had to learn to bite my tongue and not push matters. The real test for me came with a big disruption to the post service and our capability to handle Royal Mail changes, and although it was heartbreaking for me to not be able to give the same service we had previously been able to, I had to let go and accept that it had hit the rest of the organisation just as hard and they weren’t being obstructive just for fun — it simply did entail a large scale re-evaluation of policy at a level far, far above my head. It wasn’t something that was going to be fixed in a week, and it was AAM that came to the rescue — I read a thread here, long since archived, that taught me how to let go of work issues that bothered me but would take time, energy, a lot of money and potential legal advice to sort out.

            I was in some danger of making it my hill to die on and I managed to change course before that happened — but a lot of these situations are ones where there’s no grand conspiracy, no web of deceit, no wild Machiavellian scheme…just a number of people trying to do a job with limited resources, time and energy.

            It’s hard but it is something you have to learn to negotiate.

        2. Anon for this*

          Just one thing I want to point out – you say you’re taking on extra work in an attempt to “make up” for your social mistakes. I have a friend who does this and it doesn’t work out well for her usually. So I’d encourage you to double-check:
          1. Is the extra work you are taking on actually appropriate? Or is it maybe tied into the disruption of hierarchy (for example, taking ownership of work from someone else, or working in a direction that distracts from the team’s goals and priorities)?
          2. When you feel you’ve messed up, do you try to fix your mistake, or do you “repay” with unrelated work (leaving the problem unfixed)?
          3. Do other people value the extra work as much as you do? Is it something you do because it is worthwhile for the team as a whole, or because it makes you personally feel better?

          1. Anon Today*

            Regrettably, I never voluntarily leave a problem unfixed. I can see how that could be really annoying to colleagues who want to ignore it and move on (or who know it to be unfixable and that there is no option but to move on).

      2. Ginger Cat Lady*

        This is so important. Consider the source, and consider they might not be correct. I have had someone tell me something similar, but it was NOT TRUE. There was a promotion becoming available, they thought I was the strongest competitor, and they tried to undermine my confidence. It *almost* worked. Thankfully another employee noticed the change in my mood, asked about it, and the truth came to light.

        1. Anon Today*

          Oh my goodness – I am so sorry that happened to you! I’m so glad your other coworker noticed and asked.

      3. Anon Today*

        Thank you so much Ferrina. I wrote a long response that has vanished! To summarise, while undiagnosed, I am from a very ND family, and am fairly sure that there is something of the sort going on with me. I do struggle with social cues, and I suspect I did miss signals to drop it (or to not raise it at all).

        I was told on hiring part of my job was to support change, but I suspect that requires more learning about the organisation and its structures than I really gave it before piping up, and that it could be *incredibly annoying* for an experienced co-worker to have someone raise an issue you have known about for years, and know to be intractable.

        So, for example, yes, there might be a big issue with quality control and assessment – but having me point that out in a meeting and ask questions determinedly about our standards might not be pleasant if you know that it’s a problem that can’t be fixed. Especially if I am insistent about explaining that it really is a big problem and miss cues to drop it and move on…

        For what it’s worth, the colleague who told me about the issue is someone I have known for years and who I trust. She won’t have enjoyed the conversation, and I don’t think it was motivated by anything except benevolence.

        1. Rick Tq*

          If you are coming in to ‘support change’ remember you need to understand why the current systems/processes/procedures are in place before you can start discussing changes. Unless the current situation is breaking laws or external regulations I’d suggest sitting back and watching for while.

          Think “Chesterton’s Fence”

          1. Tio*

            Exactly – Focus on learning what you’re doing right now and you might start to see some of the roadblocks yourself. But It’s also worth asking, specifically, “Why do we do it this way?” directly to people doing the processes, and finding out what they have to say.

            Even when you’re brought in to make change – and my most recent job I was brought in to basically create a new department – start with questions, not suggestions. You need time to do some discovery first.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          You got handed one thankless task, for sure. “Supporting change” usually means “straw man we duck behind to implement needed but unpopular changes.”

          There’s nothing wrong with assessing how you convey information or talk to your colleagues, but YOU ARE DOING YOUR JOB. They hired you to do this, and if something’s inherent/intractable they need to say so, not let you spend capital on banging your head against walls.

          1. GythaOgden*

            They’re not doing it well if they’re not bringing everyone with you or bulldozing their way through.

    4. Scriveaaa*

      I’m so sorry about this! The best thing you can do is go back to that person who told you and ask for specifics on how you can improve. Otherwise, you’ll never really know what went wrong and if you can meaningfully address it.

      1. Anon Today*

        That’s such good advice. I am not sure how much the person who told me really knows though – she explained that because she is known to be close with me, she is not really hearing specifics. I think that was one reason why she was so concerned – if she had heard anything, there must be a real issue.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      Sorry for the awkwardness you’re going through. Try to find the nugget of truth and work with that. I used to manage someone who’d start “why do we sell widgets” campaigns and get mad “no one takes feedback or listens to me around here” when I kept explaining that there are many steps of feedback he can give between zero and the type of feedback he wanted to give. It was a hard battle as a manager!

      Also he sometimes would make these grandiose comments but then I’d ask for a really detailed report on it and he’d push back and say the basic report was enough. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t. But even when it was, I needed to show he put more than 5 minutes into the idea before arranging an hour meeting on it.

      1. Anon Today*

        Thank you so much.

        I can absolutely see that kind of co-worker would be enraging – I think I’m not quite as bad as that (yet) but I definitely don’t want to tend in that direction…

    6. Tomato Fan*

      I’ve been on both sides of this (being the annoying person and the annoyed person), and my advice is to hold your questions but still ask them, especially in meetings with more than two people. I’d bring a notebook and write down everything that concerns me or that I have questions about. Then, I’d go to someone I think would know more (individually), and I would ask the questions in a way that makes it clear that I want to learn more.

      Examples:
      VP was talking about the quality control process, and I realized it wasn’t what I expected. Can you tell me about the quality control process here?

      Manager asked us to send her feedback on how the process should change – can you tell me more about the current process?

      Earlier, you mentioned that we do X instead of Y – can you tell me more about that?

      Basically, I would lead with curiosity instead of suggestions. Even if it seems really clear that a process is totally bananas, just ask about how the process works and how your conversation partner thinks it should work. Then you can think about how you think it should work and have a conversation about it, if you think they’d be receptive. If not, at least you’ll have learned more!

      In my experience, when I ask someone about the current state of a process, they often tell me about all of the problems they see and the plan to make it better (if one exists), so you may find out that your new ideas are ideas someone else is already trying to implement- that’s a great opportunity to ask about working together, and a way to avoid stepping on toes by bringing something up in a larger meeting.

      1. Anon Today*

        I think the issue I have is less suggestions and more overly pointed questions – which might actually be more annoying… Thank you!

        1. TheBunny*

          Yeah. If you only have pointed questions without answers you are going to start looking like someone who comes in, blows things up, looks at the mess, declares their work done, and leaves.

          No one wants that person around. Sometimes, for reasons that have been previously explored, things at work are done a certain way. If you are blowing this up without understanding why or understanding why it can’t change, that’s going to get annoying quickly.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Seagull management: flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything and flies out. Also steals people’s chips.

              1. GythaOgden*

                Nah, I was just corroborating TheBunny’s comments with a pithy example from several office humourists I know. (See also the bikeshed theory, where the most disagreement about a work project will come in the places most relevant to the needs of the colleagues involved rather than on the big ticket capital projects.)

                It can apply broader than management, though (e.g. one of the guys I serve was coming across that way as a compliance officer — but it turned out that he really wanted to be on the delivery frontlines so he could get things right first time and not be perceived as indulging in seagull management. He didn’t directly manage my boss, and is now one of her direct reports, but she still is a bit wary of his alter-ego. There’s an office joke that he’s Doctor Jeckyll on the delivery side and Mr Hyde on the compliance side, and while it’s all good-natured, he knows he has to tread carefully lest Mr Hyde come out and upset people who are otherwise just trying to do their jobs.

                If you do see yourself as potentially doing this, it’s wise to take care of how you appear to other people and take it on board. You seem to have a problem with the Mr Hyde side of you, so it’s wise to understand how you’re perceived by people you need to bring along with you into the changing practices.

    7. Msd*

      Is the person that told you this a coworker or your manager? If a coworker I would check in with your manager. I would say something like “I’m concerned that people may be upset with how I communicate and ask questions. For example when I asked x or did y. Do you have any concerns or suggestions?”
      It’s possible that the person who gave you this information is wrong or is only speaking about themselves. Can you also check with another coworker? One thing I found about myself that while I was really good at finding weak spots in projects and proposed solutions, I had to be careful about coming off as always negative. You have to acknowledge the good when pointing out the bad.

      1. Anon Today*

        The colleague who shared this is a senior colleague I worked closely with in the past, and someone I trust. I think that your point about coming off negative is me to a tee and definitely something that I will be working on moving forward – both in terms of including the good with the bad but also in terms of recognising where I don’t need to opine on either!

        1. Msd*

          Not sure if it’s the same for you but for me it’s hard not to ask questions or give my opinions. I actually have to sit in meetings (especially when senior folks are attending) and say over and over in my head “don’t say anything. No one is asking for your opinion. They know this already.” It’s REALLY hard but many times it’s actually not my place to say anything. Good luck.

          1. Msd*

            And I’d still check in with your manager. BTW my comment kind of showcased my issue. I gave my opinion without having read all the comments so I didn’t have all the facts about your situation. I was asking who had told you that you were annoying people and you had explained that already. Most people get annoyed when they have to justify or explain facts in evidence.

    8. A Significant Tree*

      This can be a common thing for newer employees, especially when they are coming into work cultures that are very established and people have worked there forever. Some are eager go-getters who are told “you’re the future!” and “you’ll help us change and get better” – that sounds great up until the change agent hits the cultural inertia. I’ve seen it both with new employees and with interns, although the prevailing response from the old guard is more gentle and typically it’s not held against them long-term unless they are truly obnoxious about it, which is rare.

      Also, I was this person in a couple of my jobs early in my career, and had to learn from experience to pace myself and really dig into how things worked before I could help with any changes. If you don’t know what you don’t know, you’re definitely not going to change hearts and minds! That meant not asking every question that occurred to me at the time, but asking one or two and going away to absorb the answers before pressing on later.

      We had a new employee who came in and immediately put people off by making the centerpiece of his introductory presentation (paraphrased) “What’s wrong with this company’s processes and how I suggest fixing them.” You just can’t do that in your first year(s) and expect your audience to go “oh wow, never thought of it that way, you’re right!” He had the foresight to ask for a mentor, and I offered. After I started mentoring him, he backed way down and became a better contributor because he took my advice to sit back, watch, and learn first. He also ended up leaving after two years because it just wasn’t an environment he enjoyed and that’s fair, he’s much happier in his new role which allows for a lot more change and individual impact.

      1. Anon Today*

        Thank you so much – this is really helpful. I hope I am not quite where your employee was (that’s some presentation!) but I do want to do my best to make sure I don’t tend in that direction.

    9. Aggretsuko*

      Some offices do NOT like when people speak up and ask questions. It may just be the work culture and that “keep your head down and your mouth shut” is what they do there. Those offices aren’t usually good ones. Or in this case, it may just be that department.

    10. EB*

      Just wanted to say–been there! In my case it is a lack of patience with inefficiency and people refusing to do their part of the job that really frustrates me. It also frustrates me when leadership says “you’ll be provided X” and we never hear about X again.
      I had a person who’d been in our office a long time tell me I should stop asking questions because management wouldn’t like it. Really I think it was a result od dysfunctional management that was later removed–there had been attitude, retaliation etc in the past. My coworker vastly overestimated how much I cared about what subpar management thought of me, though, especially when they had dropped the ball on issues that directly impacted my career.
      I have set a goal for myself sometimes to go a whole meeting without saying anything sometimes, or to wait until X other people have talked, so I don’t get too annoying, because I’m an ideas and process person. This is very tiring for folks sometimes, and it’s not always the right approach, especially when there’s a lot of people with much more tenure than you in the mix. There’s a lot of stuff I think could be changed for the better, but it’s not my job to change it all, I don’t have the skills or standing to change it all, and I don’t get paid to change it all. Repeat as needed :)

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      Can you trust this person? Because this has “shit-stirrer” written all over it from my seat. If you had absolutely no idea that this was “an issue” I’d side-eye this real hard.

    12. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi there, you said “When I started in this role my manager told me that I was there to help support change and development” – do you know if your manager told any of the other staff this? If not, they may indeed think you are ‘disrupting the hierarchy’! Do you think your manager could or would say something in a meeting to make this more clear eg “it’s part of Anon Today’s role to support change and development, so I encourage you to tell her if you have suggestions and ideas that she can collate for us as a team” (or whatever).
      Maybe the manager just said it as a throwaway line and didn’t mean anything by it, who knows. Is your manager approachable? Can you have a bit of a chat with them and ask how they would like you to do this? You could say that you don’t want to irritate your colleagues by asking questions unnecessarily etc. In the meantime, keep a low profile but also start a written record of your questions and ideas, you may be able to use these ideas later on – don’t stifle your brain’s input, just keep if for your own self until things are a bit clearer. Good luck!

  23. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

    So I’m looking for a new job. I’ve worked at a fast casual restaurant, think papa Llama’s or mcllamas. I’m considering a completely different field, like a receptionist at a fine teapot seller. Any advice on resume/interviews? I’m a high school graduate, but still a minor, and I’ve only worked at a taxable company for about 8 months. (I did some regular babysitting work before.)
    Thanks for all your help, AAM has been great.

    1. HonorBox*

      For your resume, highlight areas of your current role that translate well to other areas. Then for interviews, express your interest, show that you’ve done some research on the company, and highlight strengths.

      IMO, someone who has done regular work in food service is someone who can take to many environments because you’re customer-focused, have to pay attention to detail, and work on multiple “projects” at the same time.

      1. Elsewise*

        I absolutely agree with your last paragraph! Be sure to highlight those transferable skills in your cover letter as well; many people who have never done food service jobs may not see that immediately, so spell it out for them!

      2. M2*

        All of this. Also if you aren’t getting interviews or want to try different roles look into temping and agencies that put you at larger companies.

        We have hired temps to FT roles before and I have friends in higher education who have done the same. One temp who went to FT assistant then moved up to coordinator and is now a manager. They helped cover some night and online classes for certain trainings too (larger organizations or universities more likely to do this). If you can get into higher education sometimes they cover some costs of college courses so may be a good thing to look into as well.

        Good luck!

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          Sometimes you don’t even need to work in higher Ed directly, you just need to be in the university system. My aunt spent most of her career in low level admin in a university hospital, and the education benefits were available to her.

        2. Annie*

          yes, temp agencies are a great way to widen your areas of experience, and also get your foot in the door in different business that may lead to a FT job. This is especially true if your only experience has been the restaurant business, which doesn’t really transfer to office and professional jobs in terms of actual work experience.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        Agree! And talk about how organized you are, able to juggle multiple priorities (because heck yes you for sure know how to do that!), keep a calm head under pressure, deal with upset and/or unreasonable people.
        Good luck!

    2. ecnaseener*

      If you’re reading and following the advice on this site, you’re already probably ahead of most people your age!

      For receptionist jobs it will make a big difference if you come across as mature, articulate, and competent, so practice practice practice your interviewing.

      Be prepared to talk about how your experience transfers — how you approach a fast-paced customer-service environment, etc.

      One thing that likely won’t transfer very well is your experience with management, if you’ve had the stereotypical restaurant managers. A common interview question is along the lines of “how do you like to be managed,” so be ready for that. (It probably goes without saying if you’ve read this site, but food service tends to have a more…adversarial relationship with management than most office jobs. The hiring manager at any not-terrible office job will want to have a pleasant working relationship with you.)

    3. K Smith*

      I agree with everyone’s advice regarding how you should highlight the aspects of your food-service job that will be applicable to other fields. Like: direct customer service, problem solving, etc. I’m in field way, way far away from food service, but I appreciate seeing this in someone’s job history, knowing that this can be a TOUGH job, and can result in skills that transfer to pretty much any environment.

      Also – interview advice. Look up a list of common interview questions, if you haven’t already. And then practice answering them out loud! I find it helpful to first write out my answers, and then practice saying them out loud a couple times. You don’t have to “memorize” your answers, but I find it really helpful to have some general talking points in mind.

      Good luck! The fact that you’re asking these questions means that you’re ahead of the curve already – you’re going to do well :)

    4. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Allison answered a question a while back about how to put Starbucks experience on a resume for non-food service jobs. I don’t have the link handy but you should be able to turn it up with a search.

    5. Cats in hats*

      Just a heads up, a lot of places outside of food/retail (although a lot within as well) do require you to be at least 18 years old. Our online system won’t even show us your application if you indicate you are a minor.

    6. HM*

      I was an office manager for a medical practice for almost twice as long as you have been alive before I retired last year, and when I did retire, I turned over the reins to my assistant office manager, she is now in charge of the practice, and is incredible at her job. She was hired in 2021 at the age of 19 as a front desk receptionist with no prior medical office experience, her previous job was working at an ice cream parlor. Think Cold Stone Llamas. Part of the reason I hired her is because I came from a fast food background prior to working at the medical office, and I knew just how many of the skills she had were transferrable between the jobs. Ability to multitask, attention to detail, self-starter, dealing with the general public (particularly when they are “having a bad day”), etc.
      She was, in fact, the exact type of person I love to hire at our office: a mind like a sponge, tech-savvy, and a “tabula rasa”. I have a feeling you are the same, just from your post. ;)
      As a hiring manager, I really never focus too much on the resume of someone younger with not a lot of jobs under their belt, because there are so many other things that tell me what type of candidate you might be, that I think are ultimately more important:
      1. If you have a pre-screening phone interview scheduled, answer the phone at the time that is scheduled for.
      2. Research the website of the job you are applying for if they say they want to interview you, even if it is just a phone screen, so you at least know where they are located, if they offer you an in-person interview. While there are some places who don’t have a website (crazy, but true), most do, and it makes a big difference to me when I know the candidate already knows how to get to our office for an interview, or says they can find the address on-line, versus me having to give them directions to our office.
      3. Ask questions when being interviewed! Whether it is during a phone-screen or in-person interview. Just one or two will do it. I start backing away from a candidate in any interview when I ask them if they have any questions, and they say no. Really?! There is not one single thing you want to ask about anything? At all? This indicates to me a lack of engagement in the interview process. No matter how much I might have explained the responsibilities/salary/benefits/work place, just throw something out there to show me you really are interested in being hired. Unless you can tell the job is just not for you. :)
      4. Show up for an in-person interview at least 5 minutes before it is scheduled, and be dressed in appropriate clothes, based on the job. You can’t really go wrong with “business causal”, based on your gender. No jeans or gym/sneaker/athletic shoes is a good rule to follow.
      5. I would hope that your interviewers won’t be outrageous, and ask stupid/impossible questions, but you never know. Be prepared for anything, as much as you can. There is one question we always ask candidates:
      “How would you handle a patient who is clearly unhappy/angry on the phone/in person?”
      Pretty much applies to any receptionist job. The answer is that you de-escalate the situation, and handle it if you can, and if not, refer to someone who can. If there is no one who can handle it above you, you don’t want the job. Unless you are in charge, there should always be someone above to deal with BS that is above your pay grade.

  24. Seriously.. it's Friday!?*

    Topic: Returning to employer on contract.

    A beloved past co-worker asked me return to help them get current with a task as the new Director left and didn’t train the remaining staff member. I’m on contract and negotiated a higher rate they initially offered (my base pay + 15% was their initial offer). I arrived today and they really want me to train the remaining staff member, not just complete several tasks. I made them re-write the contract but I kept the negotiated rate they accepted because I’m going to get out of here fast and I didn’t want to have to delay work to get it through Finance.

    The remaining staff member who I am training (who hasn’t really done any of this work) rates themselves a 7- or 8- comfort level with all the donor. Really? The org wants the remaining staff member to have working knowledge such that they’re the reliable ‘go to’ person when the new VP arrives. My response, “It took me 2.9 yrs to get to where I was when I left. The remaining staff member will be aware of and know how to use the documents so they can attempt to do their job.”

    I left 3 mos ago and the Director was so arrogant she didn’t ask for any training, but I left everything in very useful and easy to follow training documents. She then didn’t train anyone to do my job when she left either. And the remaining staff member is asking me how to do things… refer to the docs! It’s like I’m being tortured by the Director all over again but they’re not even here!

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      The beauty of being a contractor is that you don’t need to care so much about this stuff as you did (or would) as an employee. It’s a simpler relationship: get in, do the job and get out – where ‘the job’ is whatever they reasonably request you to do. In this case they want you to bolster up the remaining staff member; even if she isn’t learning or won’t consult documentation – let it bounce off you and remember that that’s the difference from when you were staff.

  25. CherryBlossom*

    Did I mess up this uniquely uncomfortable situation?

    I was recently let go/fired from a job less than amicably (I was being bullied, and rather than address it, I was let go).

    I just got a new job, that happens to be very close to Old Job. As such, I kept running into Old Job coworkers. It was clear they were surprised and uncomfortable to see me with regularity. Think crossing the street to avoid me, whispering to each other if they had to walk past me, or just openly staring in shock.

    I thought about the optics (it probably seemed like I was a disgruntled former employee who was suspiciously skulking around). Since I got Old Job through an agency, I reached out to my contact to let her know that I was aware of the situation but it’s just a coincidence, and even offered to provide proof.

    She seemed to take it in stride at first, saying it wasn’t anything to worry about. But this morning I got an email saying that I was terminated from the agency, and that I was not to reach out to them again.

    Should I have handled this differently?Would it have been better to have said nothing at all? I just felt Like Old Job coworkers reactions were so extreme that I had to say something but now i’m not so sure.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It would have been better to have said nothing. It’s not unusual for offices to be located near each other, and acknowledging the weirdness the way you did just made it more visible. If they feel uncomfortable simply seeing you, that’s their issue. Sending the note you did likely came off as strange and defensive.

      But that’s all hindsight. Your best bet now is to just work on ignoring. These are simply people with whom you were once acquainted. Go about your business and don’t acknowledge them any more than is necessary.

    2. Tio*

      That’s… odd. TBH though, I wouldn’t have contacted the agency at all. You didn’t actually have anything to explain, so it comes off a little “doth protest too much” in the wrong light, and if OldJob is shining that wrong light, might be odd. Did you get the new job through that agency? If so, then I might be worried that someone was poisoning the well. If not, maybe they just decided to terminate you in their system since your interaction was done.

      That said, like how close are these jobs? Are they in the same business park or are they farther? If it’s in a business park like area and there’s one central area where people tend to go to food, people shouldn’t be that surprised to see you. If the new job is like a mile or two away, and you have other options – like going to a place a mile in the opposite direction where you’re unlikely to see people from OldJob for a while. You don’t have to, obviously, but this is a weird enough situation that if I were in your shoes and had an option like that, I would take it. If not, if you see your old coworkers again, just give them a smile and a wave then ignore them unless they come up to you.

      1. CherryBlossom*

        I’m in a major city, so it’s not a business park per sae, but in a neighborhood that’s entirely office. It’s about a block away, less than 5 minutes by walking, so I was seeing multiple people multiple times a day. Sometimes on the same commute (there’s one main bus line that stops by both locations), or the same post office and the like.

        I thought it might calm down after a few weeks, but I’m still getting the negative reactions, which is starting to get disconcerting. But I guess it’s out of my hands now.

    3. MsM*

      I feel like it might have been better to just say hi to the ones who didn’t go out of their way to avoid you and let them know where you were working now, unless you had a reason not to mention it directly.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      !!!!! Wow. Nothing different, you are the aggrieved party here. I lived in NYC for 10 years and you run into the same people all of the time despite it being huge, and I coincidentally got two jobs on the same block despite it being huge. This is normal and if I worked at the agency I think I’d laugh and say “sorry for the bad luck.” This is insane that they want to go no-contact like you’re an abusive parent! FWIW if I quit my current job, I’d see random coworkers at the local WeWork. Quitting a job doesn’t make you disappear.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I think reaching out to the agency was an odd move, particularly the part about offering proof. Why should the agency care in the first place? It probably did sound like you were stirring up drama that they didn’t want to get sucked into.

      The way to not look like you’re skulking is to not skulk. Just go to your new job and wave and smile if your old co-workers see you. They are the ones being weird.

    6. Pillow Fort Forever*

      Years ago I offered to leave a smallish org (it was a hellish place) and the owners agreed I should go (my big crime in their eyes were that I wasn’t political enough). I lived a few blocks away and would bump into the CEO and his wife (who also worked there) regularly. It made them VERY uncomfortable – think so frazzled they yelled at a Starbucks barista for putting their order too close to mine. At first I freaked out a bit – what the heck did they think I was going to do?! Then I came to enjoy it a bit. If I saw them I liked knowing I ruined their day and while they would likely be stewing about it for hours – I could just laugh it off. So while I don’t have great advice, know you aren’t alone in weird post employment run-ins and hopefully you’ll get to a place where you can see it as your secret power like I did!!

    7. WellRed*

      Your old coworkers are ridiculous and that agency stinks. But yeah, no need to have reached out.

    8. Doc McCracken*

      You don’t have to apologize for existing and going on with your working life. That’s why reaching out to the agency the way you did hits so odd. Any chance your old job had a narcissist in leadership? After getting let go by a textbook grandiose narcissist, I remember feeling like I had to justify being in my own neighborhood.

  26. JR17*

    In honor of just finishing Not In Love: If you read Ali Hazelwood’s books (which are all essentially workplace romances) – thoughts on the workplace angle??

    1. JR17*

      (And if this is more of a weekend thread post – workplace issues, but imaginary! – I’m happy to re-post there.)

  27. Hobbes was Right*

    I was laid off recently, after a long stint at a company. I made a lot of positive connections who reached out to me after learning that I was laid off.

    Can I ask a close work buddy about setting up a private going-away gathering for me, so I can say goodbye? Or would that be too awkward / desperate looking?

    1. PassThePeasPlease*

      I think it’s a great idea but why don’t you organize it yourself vs asking someone else to arrange? You can definitely ask them to help spread the word internally but I would rather have someone send me “I’m having drinks at XYZ on 7/1 and would love for it to be a informal send off with some folks from ABC Co. Can you help me spread the word with Sally, Nancy, Sue and anyone else you think might want to join?” vs having to figure out the logistics.

  28. Dee Dee*

    I’m looking for advice, commiseration, or I don’t know what on this situation.

    I lead a small team of three. One of those three employees was an internal hire. They’d been on a team I led in the past, but then I changed roles, and that team moved under another leader. Then another. The employee did not get along with the last leader at all and it cost them a lot in terms of their mental health. When they reported to me I saw her as a top performer; the new leader basically undermined them and belittled their work at every turn. When a role opened on my team, they applied and was (deservedly) the successful candidate.

    We had another internal change recently, where another team with a similar name to my team’s joined our part of the organization. They do very different work, but it caused some anxiety with this employee. When I reassured them, they said something to the effect of “As long as I keep reporting to you, I’m fine.”

    The employee has disclosed to me that they’re dealing with a number of mental health issues, some (certainly not all) of which are related to their experience with their last manager. They’re going on leave for it, and I’m trying to support them as best I can as they address this with their care team.

    The thing is, I’ve started actively searching for a new job. I feel awful that I’m abandoning this person again. They’re a great employee, and a wonderful person who has had to deal with a lot more than their fair share. I feel like me leaving would be just another part of the pile on.

    I’m not sure what I’m asking for here. Advice? Suggestions? I’m just dreading this situation where I leave and they come back from their leave to find everything’s changed again and it only makes things worse for them.

    1. MsM*

      Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do to manage this person’s trauma for them, and setting aside your own career needs for them is well outside the scope of reasonable expectations. Hopefully they’re using their leave to go to therapy and relearn how to react to change without assuming it’ll land them in the same situation as before, but when it is time for you to move on, let them know that they’re assured of a good reference from you if they decide they need to move on, too.

    2. PassThePeasPlease*

      I’m in a similar situation with an employee out on leave for mental health related reasons and myself currently looking for other opportunities within my company. I think the most you can do is set your employee up for success within the new team, get them additional training in anything that they need and then try to make your transition as seamless as possible (might take the support of your boss/higher ups). Know that them being out for extended time makes it difficult but you can’t put your life or job search on pause because of their situation.

      I would definitely try to communicate the change to them yourself if possible and offer whatever help with the transition seems feasible. I would also say you are happy to act as a reference for them going forward if you are comfortable with that.

    3. ferrina*

      Oof. First, connect with them outside of work. On LinkedIn or email or other- just some way for you to reach out if you change.

      Second, show your frustration. Not unprofessionally, but enough that a reasonable person would know that it’s possible/probable that you are looking. It sounds like she’s smart enough to read between lines.
      When you leave, make sure she knows that you will support her job search if she is also looking to leave.

  29. my cat is prettier than me*

    I’m taking a total of 6 days off in July (3 for a small surgery, and then 3 for a vacation) and I’m nervous about it. I have plenty of PTO (I hoard it), but I’m still worried something will go wrong or it will make me look bad.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      You are worried about taking *6 days* off from work? I wouldn’t worry in the slightest–make sure you have coverage for any time sensitive tasks, put up an out of office message, and head out the door.

      Seriously, though, if your company cannot survive without you for 6 days, they shouldn’t be in business.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Repeat over and over to yourself: if something goes wrong, that is Not Your Problem. It’s not July yet, so you have plenty of time to brief people on anything that might come up while you’re gone. So you do that, and you have done your job– now it’s up to them to do theirs (i.e. cover you for the 6 measly days you’re out).

      Look, I get it. You feel ownership over your role, you get things done, other people don’t have all the knowledge… well, ok, that’s fine. If they can’t figure it out, it will be there when you get back. I once went away for two weeks and came back to find that I had to do two extra weeks of reports because no one read the detailed instructions I left. Were there consequences? No, because my boss was on board, he made the call to wait, and people were willing to wait and no one was dying if they didn’t get the report when they expected it. And it took me 10 minutes to run those reports.

      It’s 6 days. They will manage. And if they can’t, that’s on them. Do other people take vacation? And you figure stuff out in their absence? Give your co-workers the same credit.

    3. dulcinea47*

      If anyone thinks you look bad b/c of it, you are working for a horrible place/person and should get out. Then use your vacation time and enjoy it, you’ve earned it and using it only makes you look like a human who doesn’t work 24/7.

    4. Celeste*

      Just sympathizing. I’m the same way – I hardly ever take more than a couple of days in a row because I’m afraid something will happen, and people will have to go through my stuff that I never have time to organize, and it will make me look bad. I always say I’ll get things in order and then take time off, but there’s never time, despite me not taking vacation.

      When I have taken time off it’s been fine though, and I think you’ll be fine too!

    5. Scriveaaa*

      Lol do you work in the US? We are notorious for not taking vacation. And then feeling guilty when we do. Prepare your team as much as humanely possible, and then sign off guilt-free when the time comes!

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        I do, haha. The longest I have ever taken off work was at my last job (8 days for my wedding and honeymoon), was lectured for it (even though I told them when I was hired 6 months earlier and the company had unlimited PTO), and was fired less than a month later, so I’m a bit traumatized. At my current job I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, and I was anxious every day. I can’t imagine ever taking off more than 5 days in a row again.

        1. FashionablyEvil*

          I can’t imagine ever taking off more than 5 days in a row again.

          This is worth digging into. Totally recognize that you had a horrible experience, but this is a recipe for burnout and misery.

          1. my cat is prettier than me*

            I honestly have always been this way. When I was in school, I refused to miss class. My parents eventually put their foot down when I was hospitalized with pneumonia after only staying home one day with the swine flu. I am in therapy, but it’s still so hard to get out of that mindset.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I am very glad to hear you’re in therapy. Ugh, those mindsets are the devil.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      It’s very normal for people to take 6 days off within a calendar month!

      I’m still worried something will go wrong

      I don’t know what your job responsibilities are, but can you have some people assigned as back-ups for the days that you’re gone? For example, you may be able to set up an out-of-office message along the lines of:

      I’ll be on vacation from July 15-July 17, 2024.
      For urgent questions about Project X, please contact Jane Smith.
      For urgent TPS report questions, please contact Fred Johnson.
      Otherwise, I will get back to you as soon as possible when I return.

      it will make me look bad

      How much time do other people at your company generally take off? Do they take all their PTO or do they hoard it, like you? Do people ever take week-long vacations (5 PTO days in a row)? If they do, I can’t imagine anyone thinking that taking 6 PTO days in a calendar month “looks bad.” After all, that’s just one more day than a very standard vacation.

      I hope the surgery goes well and that you enjoy your vacation!

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        Thank you! I’ve seen a couple of people from the finance team take a full week off. Part of my anxiety comes from the fact that I’m the Office Manager and I wear a lot of hats (an ever increasing number of hats frankly).

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          Only a week? In many places, people take 2 or 3 weeks for vacation, not counting short breaks of a week or less. You need a serious reset of what is normal. You don’t want to be one of those people in an AAM letter: “My colleague never takes time off” or worse, “My colleague retired but refuses to leave because they think they’re the only person on earth who could possibly do their job.” Please, don’t be them.

    7. HonorBox*

      I don’t know you, but I’m going to make an assumption about you, just based on the fact that you’re making this post. You’re thoughtful, you do your job well, and you’re the type of person who will put in additional effort before your time away to make sure everything you can do is done.

      With that in mind, I’d strongly encourage you to let that be enough. There are probably very few things that could happen that can’t be fixed, or that someone else couldn’t step in to help with. It is really, REALLY good for all of us to take some time away, and actually be away. You’ll need energy to get through the surgery… focus on that. And then when you’re on vacation, be on vacation.

    8. Elsewise*

      You’ve got plenty of good advice, but some commiseration here from someone in a similar position. I’ve gotten scolded for taking too much time off work before, and I was a child with an undiagnosed health condition that led to a doctor telling my mom “if she’s missing too much school for her imaginary issues, just stop keeping her home when she complains”. My current job really encourages time off, to a level that’s a little terrifying to me. I took a whole week off in April for a vacation, a day off in May to go to a wedding, and in July I’m taking ANOTHER week off for my partner’s surgery. It is absolutely shocking. The weirdest part? Not one person has complained.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Uh, that sounds like an extremely normal amount of time off? I wouldn’t blink at all if that was what one of my coworkers did.

    9. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      How about being okay with “looking bad”?

      Easier said than done, I know; but seriously. Okay, you’re the office manager. You take time off for a surgery, then vacation, for a total of six days. You come back and some total jerk makes a comment that it looks “bad” for you to take time off to care for yourself.

      WHO. CARES.

      WHO. BLOODY. EFFING. CARES.

      People can think what they think. It does not have to matter to you. It does not have to matter one little bit what some insecure shizznit jerk with nothing better to do than judge other people thinks of your actions. The only thing you need to feel for anyone like that is PITY.

    10. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

      Yikes. One of our best prep cooks went on vacation. 2 of us were minors and couldn’t use the machines and the rest were low key lazy. So stuff didn’t get done.
      When she came back, the manager joked she wasn’t allowed to go on vacation anymore, and I was thinking, what the heck, no!
      This is the manager that was bragplaining that he’s “let so much money go down the drain” by not using his sick leave and once, for a week he came in super sick but he put a mask on and slogged through it. That’s a super unhealthy mindset to have.

    11. Rara Avis*

      If it makes you feel any better, I have missed 21 days since January due to a major medical issue. My employer couldn’t find anyone to cover my specialty, so a number of things just … didn’t happen.

    12. Choggy*

      I can’t even begin to understand this. I take every single second of my PTO, it’s an absolute must and if you’ve been made to feel bad about taking time off, that’s on your company not you. You earned the time, you have a right to use it.

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      That’s the anxiety goblin, whose mission in life is to mess with your head.

      Unless you set fire to the place on your way out the door, or sabotaged all the company computers, you aren’t responsible for anything that goes wrong. You are allowed to use your PTO! It’s no different than spending the money they pay you.

    14. covering for multiple coworkers*

      I think it’s worth asking, what would happen if you weren’t there to do your job for a few days? You mentioned you’re an office manager, so I assume it’s unlikely to be a life or death situation, and presumably you can arrange for someone to cover anything time sensitive. At worst, some non-critical work waits a week or someone filling in for you doesn’t handle a time-sensitive situation quite right. That’s actually a benefit for you, because it makes you look important and competent! And everyone in a reasonable office knows that most people can’t step into another person’s role on a temporary basis and perform to the same level.

    15. Stacy's Mom*

      Yo…I’m in the middle of a major project that is slipping badly on schedule, I have a production cycle open, we are horribly short on resources, we are about to start losing a bunch more, and all things are about as awful as they get. I just got back from a week of vacation, followed by half a day for animal bereavement, and I’ll be taking more than half of July off. Because….if this place can’t do it without me being here 24/7, they can’t do it. My boss fully supports my scheduled time off and is strongly encouraging my entire team to make sure we take time off as the mental strain of all the work is really rough. Practice not taking on the weight of everything that happens. Spend time ensuring that the things you do are documented and there is someone trained to pick up when you are gone. Give people who depend on you for things the autonomy to act as needed. Do not carry the weight of the org on your shoulders. Above all, be kind to yourself if something does go wrong when you are gone. Something went wrong while I was gone, too. But my team knew what to do and they handled it while I remained OOF and blissfully unaware.

  30. EA*

    I am interested in moving with my family in the next two years. I work remotely for an East Coast-based employer but also might job search in this period. Recommendations and personal experiences with cities or suburbs that are good for working remotely – and that companies will allow to work remotely, I’ve heard CA is often out – that we should look at, that are family friendly, liberal/accepting area, and not too cold?

    1. ferrina*

      If you are looking to stay at your same job, look at states where they already have remote workers. Your company needs a business hub in each state where they have employees, and if they don’t have a hub then they probably won’t want to create one just for you.

      1. EA*

        I guess I want to explore places where I could potentially find remote work – not taking my current company into account necessarily, but thinking of places that would allow for remote work opportunities in general. But maybe that’s not the right way to look at it…

        1. ferrina*

          I would find the remote work first, then figure out the state. If you are open to multiple options, then make a list of those options. Figure out which states that company operates in. When you interview, be clear that you are looking to move to [STATE] or [STATE]. That way they can let you know early if there are any issues.

          Also- remote work tends to be competitive because it’s desirable. I have no idea if there’s a state that tends to attract more remote work- CA has more stringent employment laws/worker protection laws, which is why some businesses will avoid it (not necessarily because they are shady, but because the paper work is a headache).

    2. Friday Hopeful*

      Connecticut is a great place to live, has fairly liberal politics, a good cost of living. Not sure though if you want a place that gets snow in the winter. (and no, I don’t live in Connecticut but if I had to move, I’d probably go there).

    3. Generic Name*

      You’ve basically described the climate and culture of California. If you remove the “not too cold” requirement, that opens up more locations.

      1. Anax*

        Agreed. The greater Sacramento area might be a good one to look at – reasonably liberal area, MUCH more affordable than the Bay Area or SoCal, lots of government jobs which are hybrid/remote but require state residency.

        (Caveat on the last, state jobs are currently 2x per week in-office required – city/county jobs vary, and the state policy may change because people are QUITE upset, but who knows.)

        This being said – if you look at California, give the natural disaster risk maps a GOOD look. Flood, fire, earthquake – there are a lot of otherwise-nice residential areas which flood every winter or evacuate every wildfire season, and the greater Sacramento area in particular is a giant floodplain.

    4. Roland*

      Might be helpful to share your general field if you’re willing. Eg as a software engineer, it would never occur to me that a US company that’s generally open to remote wouldn’t hire in CA. That’s where tons of devs live. Maybe your field is concentrated in some areas too and those would be good bets.

      1. EA*

        My field is adjacent to international development and many employers are based in DC or NYC. Still pretty open to remote work in many desk-based jobs.

    5. Banana Pyjamas*

      I’m researching a similar move, so I’ll share some considerations.

      1) They have laws that require employers to list pay.
      2) They have laws that prohibit employers from asking about prior pay.
      3) They have laws that protect abortion care, or I can live in an adjacent state that does.
      4) I look at the Opportunity Atlas to see if children who grow up there generally have positive economic outcomes.
      5) I check HUD fair market rents for the area, and look how those compare to pay. When I had a pre approval for a mortgage, I would research how much housing stock was available in my price range, and what the typical condition of that housing stock was.
      6) Living in Trump Country has taught me I’m not cut out for it. I look at 2016 election results when I am researching where to move.
      7)Special Considerations, these might include public schools with promise programs, public schools with virtual programs, homeschool laws, access to certain medical specialties, proximity to level 1 nicu/picu. Maybe your current employer offers an exceptionally low price on insurance, and you should consider averages. Maybe some states have more stringent requirements for your professional certifications. Whatever makes your needs unique.

      1. EA*

        All good points to consider! People have suggested Florida to me as being a good fit for the beach and tax laws, but I’m not sure I could live with #6 on your list…

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          I don’t think I could do it. Broward County and Miami-Dade were huge losses for Trump in 2016 though.

          Best of luck in your search for home!

        2. Campbell Murphy*

          May I suggest small but mighty Delaware? Blue state (we’re about to elect the third Black woman to the US Senate and quite possibly the first openly transgender US MOC!), lower cost of living than PA, NJ, or NY, and accessible to Philly, DC, and NYC by train or car.

  31. Thanks for Listening*

    I wanted to thank everyone for their supportive comments on a post I made last week – I didn’t get back to the thread to reply before comments were closed. I appreciate the suggestions and lending an ear.

    Things at my job went from bad to worse this week, but I managed to get an interview today with a recruiter at a large tech company I’ve been wanting to work at for a while. I have several contacts there, and one of them referred me and even reached out to the recruiter and hiring managers on my behalf. I am hopeful, though trying not to get too ahead of myself.

    I’ve been reading AAM for many years and I always appreciate this community. I hope everyone has a good Friday and an excellent weekend!

  32. ItsHitFan*

    Guidance on what to write on a mid-year review: since the end-of-year review, there were massive layoffs resulting in severe overwork and stress related to job security in both the dept and company overall. And, our now tiny dept. is severely unappreciated for catching other depts. constant mistakes. Is there a way to say: I am just trying to keep my job and my head above water without using those words? (yes, I am looking; have been for 2+ years actually to no avail so no need to weigh on there. Thx.)

    1. ferrina*

      “Due to unforeseen company-wide events, there has been a significant shift in priorities. We are finding new needs, uncovering and filling gaps, and supporting other departments with the change. We are focused on rebalancing the workload based on these new priorities.”

  33. How do I seem less nervous?*

    Tips on appearing less nervous in interviews and presentations?

    I’ve tried some controlled breathing with limited success – sometimes it’s better (never great), and sometimes it’s not.

    The biggest problem is my voice. It’s kind of high and weak on a good day, and when I’m nervous it quivers, and once I hear that, I just get more stressed and feel more awkward and embarrassed, and it’s a spiral.

    1. NaoNao*

      Speak slowly–about half as slow as you think you’re speaking. Take pauses between sentences. It’s okay to be 100% silent at times! Many women (sorry if I’m assuming here!) are socialized to fill every single molecule of silence with reassuring conversation and conversely have noticed that people tend to jump in/interrupt/talk over them if they pause for half a second, but I’d go ahead and try the complete silence if you need a moment to just breathe/focus. Sitting up straight but not ramrod can help. I also find that when I really care and am excited and passionate about something my voice naturally has more projection and resonance so try to find an angle about the topic that makes you enthused.

    2. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Practice. Talk out loud at home, whenever you can. Read stuff out loud, from your phone or computer. Ask yourself interview questions, then reply, all out loud. If you’re up to it, record yourself on your phone, then watch and make notes, and do it again. The more you use your voice, the more comfortable you’ll get.

      1. Anon for this*

        YES. When I was in grad school, we had to give a 5 minute presentation one day and one of my professors pointed out that we could rehearse it 20 times in an hour. Such a good return on the time invested. When I had my last job interview, I spent all my spare hours rehearsing over the course of a couple days and I felt so confident going in (and I got the job!)

    3. EMP*

      Yeah, unfortunately you gotta practice. Partially to desensitize yourself to your voice (which, keep in mind, sounds different to yourself in your head than anyone listening) and partially to practice moving past the quiver. Start with stuffed animals and work up to presenting to friends/family.

    4. sorry I'm suggesting volunteering*

      I don’t know how actionable this is for you, but for me, volunteering as a docent at a local museum helped tremendously. It’s lower-pressure because there aren’t that many ways it’s likely to go wrong, but you get practice vocal projection with the same script so you don’t need to think too much about what you’re saying, and eventually you get better at speaking off-the-cuff. I was a truly awful public speaker before I started, and now I regularly get compliments on my presentation skills.

  34. SunshineandRoses*

    I need a reality check. My husband and I both think this is off base, but maybe it’s not?
    My husband is a mid-level individual contributor. He is the only one that knows how to do all of his role. He has several colleagues (in other departments and with the same grandboss) that can do parts of his job / could figure it out. He had a manager that used to do his role. That person is no longer there. His current manager doesn’t know how to do my husband’s role and is very new (think llama toy builder and delivery vs. llama product manager).
    The grandboss has told my husband that when he takes PTO, he has to find the coverage himself. (If no one picks up the work when my husband is off work then no llama’s will make it through the final stages of the production line, or get delivered to clients.)
    We think it’s bananapants that my husband should have to assign his work to colleagues that are the same level as him (or higher). We think the manager or grandboss should be sorting this out. (For what it’s worth, we’ve both been managers/leadership in the past and we wouldn’t expect a direct report to figure this out themselves.)
    What say you?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Next large group meeting raise it – Hey guys, I need backup coverage for tasks A, B, and C. Anyone interested in learning A or B or C send me an email and let’s setup a time to train. Or paste that in the slack channel etc.

      See what happens. If no one volunteers then that’s a data point for “I asked and no one answered your turn boss!”

    2. NaoNao*

      I don’t think it rises to the level of “bananapants” but in a corporate “computer job” I’ve never had to assign out work myself when I’m on PTO unless I wanted to for some reason. But then again having to assign coverage is a bit more of a retail/service/physical labor or other similar type of job (like the construction or engineering industries) so I can see both sides of this–most of those jobs where “coverage” is even a thing have the PTO-taker finding the coverage.

      1. SunshineandRoses*

        It is a corporate “computer job”, which is why it feels weird. And you’re right, in isolation it isn’t bananapants level. As an accumulation of other weird policies/requests it does feel that level, so it’s good to see it on its own!

      2. GythaOgden*

        Yup. Even at management level the people I serve as admin talk amongst themselves as to who will cover their work. It’s definitely up to the person going on leave to hand stuff off to their colleagues.

    3. EMP*

      Feels like lazy management but not bananapants. Manager should indeed by sorting this out but maybe your husband can proactively raise the issue by getting manager buy-in to train coworkers on tasks he’s currently the only one doing.

    4. Rick Tq*

      It is 100% Bananapants! Nobody at a reasonably managed company should be the only person able to do a job, no matter what level. Grandboss needs to light a rocket under HR to hire in another Llama inspector or get more people trained to cover the position.

      No, your husband shouldn’t be expected to arrange his own coverage.

    5. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I think it depends on industry and culture? At my last job (fintech), my team established a coverage plan standard (I was the people manager) and each person was responsible for laying out what needed coverage, what could wait, what the priorities of the tasks were, etc. In cases, where there were questions about coverage and such, that was raised up to me to help guide. Then the coverage plan was sent around to our team internally, cc:ing my boss and also sent to pertinent contacts/stakeholders as well. It helped us to have this standard, as I would not have been able to sort out on a task level, every individual’s work, as they had autonomy to work with their stakeholders and while we all performed the same function, each stakeholder area had concrete nuances.

    6. Expectations*

      usually these types of jobs don’t get done while the assigned person is out, meaning they have to do all the work they miss when they get back. So personally I’d consider the idea of having coverage a major win.

    7. Qwerty*

      Not terribly unusual in software, especially since he is the only one who can do the job. He isn’t assigning work, he’s *asking* for people to cover a critical part of his role. The change in level isn’t weird and its normal for a senior IC to cover for a mid-level IC (much easier than the other way around)

      However, normally this is something that people just do – “I’d like to take X off. I checked with Sally and she’s comfortable handling the TPS reports for Critical Customer while I’m gone”. The only times I know of someone being explicitly told to do it was when that person wasn’t successful in cross training and needed a push.

      How involved is the grandboss with your husband’s role? Did he have the conversation so the new manager wasn’t forced to (because having a single point of failure is a problem with old manager)? It feels weird that you would expect the grandboss to arrange coverage anytime an employee two levels down is out.

      The best way out of this is to cross train. Build up robust documentation. Try being gone for small bursts at first to flush out holes in documentation in training. Build good relationships so that people want to help out and/or demystify it so that it doesn’t seem foreign and scary

  35. Can't Sit Still*

    Over a decade ago, I worked at an incredibly toxic job – one that introduced me to Alison, in fact.

    I had become work friends with a colleague that I wrongly assumed could never possibly be my manager and overshared with her. One of the things I had shared was that my father had committed suicide by hanging. Well, sometime later, her position was eliminated and they created a job for her that included my being her direct report.

    Thereafter, any time thing got stressful, she would call me and threaten to kill herself by hanging. Since it was a stressful time, I was vulnerable to this, and would get incredibly upset. I tried everything – telling her I didn’t want to hear it, giving her the number to our EAP, talking to HR about (she’s just sharing her feelings!) Nothing stopped her. If I hung up on her, she would show up at my desk, sobbing. I completely lost it and ended up screaming at her one day and got suspended at the absolute busiest time of year. She had to do my job for the days of my suspension. Since I was suspended, no one could ask me any questions, so it was basically a paid vacation. No one thought that I was the one being punished and apparently, everyone enjoyed that Jane “had to actually do her job for once.”

    How could I have handled it appropriately? I was looking for another job, but it was deep in the recession, and there wasn’t much available. I was the only person in my friend group that had a full-time job with benefits at the time.

    1. WellRed*

      Omg! Well, it’s hard to prepare for that day when you realize you work with an absolute sociopath.

      1. AGD*

        This. You shouldn’t have had to wonder what an “appropriate” way might have been of handling this utter garbage.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      First, all the internet hugs to you for having to deal with what was essentially emotional terrorism. That sounds absolutely awful.

      Second, when someone makes a threat like this, the most appropriate solution it to treat it like it’s real; ie, call 911, say “so-and-so is telling me that they are threatening suicide”, and let the professionals take it from there. If they are being serious about it, then you’ve saved a life. If, as your former report sounds, they are being dramatic, the sort of attention they will get from the EMS is very rarely the sort that they want.

      Third, your HR should 100% made a stronger stand on this rather than waving it off until you snapped. Kudos for everyone for not taking your “punishment” seriously, as it sounds like your coworkers at least understood that you had been pushed well past the limits of what any reasonable person should bear.

      Other notes: you could probably have gotten a stronger case out of HR/your upper management by bringing their attention to the amount of time this was taking. Most managers are not trained on what to do if someone comes to them and says “Jane keeps calling me and threatening me with suicide”. Coming to them and saying “I’ve had to talk Jane through doing her job for x hours this month, long past the point when she should be able to do this solo” will lead to something different. That said, it probably wouldn’t have helped much in the moment, because it sounds like you’d still have been in charge of following through her performance coaching. And the emotional terrorism would just have continued. But sometimes that can be a way to reframe things from “this situation is so absurd I don’t know how to handle it” to “this is an absurd situation but at least I have a framework”.

      1. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

        +1 for reporting it.
        If it real, it needs to be addressed, if it isn’t, let somebody else tell her that lying about something as serious as suicidal thoughts is so bananapants, her skin is literally turning yellow. I am so sorry you had to go through that, and remember to keep close secrets close.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        +1000
        1. She is a sociopath
        2. Call 911 if someone ever does this again
        3. I hope she steps on legos in bare feet every day of her life forever

      3. Tio*

        One point – Can’t Sit Still is the direct report, not the threatener. I think this changes the tone a lot, because she actually had little to no power over this person.

        I agree what should have been done was going and pushing HR on it HARD. Tell them that you cannot work like this and that if this is threatened you will either report it to 911 or leave. If needed, see a therapist and invoke FMLA for mental health. That should make them take it seriously. And every single time it happens, call HR immediately and treat it like an emergency. They would not like the police being called but wouldn’t be able to argue with it, so that would immediately make “make her stop” a bigger thing than “get over it CSS”

        Sorry this happened to you. You have to be a special kinda messed up to do something so deliberate and honestly evil like this.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          I totally missed that! Thank you.

          I’d say point 2 still stands, but I’d agree. Contact HR every time it happens, tell them “my manager is threatening me.” Do this *after* calling 911.

          So utterly unacceptable.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      You already did, in that you did not punch her squarely in the face. That was unforgivable sociopathic level behavior.

      You did NOTHING wrong.

    4. Comma Queen*

      The part of me that loves a good cinema-worthy moment would have told HR that I was just “sharing my feelings” since they’re apparently okay with that.

      In reality, I think you did the best you could. You did the right thing by referring her to the EAP, bringing it to HR, and telling her to stop. Being a Gray Rock might have been the next option, but that’s a lot harder to do when you’re feeling vulnerable.

    5. Not Today Satan MIL*

      My mother in law has similar behavioral patterns, but hers are more subtle. Instead of threatening harm, she would intentionally put herself in dangerous situations with the perverse hope of getting hurt. After 20 years of my husband having limited contact with her, we had to step in to care for her and her affairs. (She developed multiple chronic health problems) Multiple mental health providers told us she has borderline personality disorder. Thank God my own therapist had treated bpd in inpatient settings. Her expertise proved invaluable. The book Stop Walking on Eggshells was very helpful as well. You called her bluff which is about all you can do with these people.

  36. Gloating (a bit)*

    About a year and a half ago, I left my shortest job ever- five months. The experience was horrible. It was a small nonprofit, and I was hired by the executive director to do fundraising, which had formerly been done by the deputy director. After she left, he decided he didn’t need to replace her and could do the work on his own, as long as someone else did fundraising. Well, it turns out, she was the one who made the place run. He missed my first three days of work to go on a trip that “sounded fun”, and instead of delaying my start date or assigning someone else to train me, he just… made his wife do it. She didn’t even work for the organization. He was absolutely terrible from the start, and only got worse. Of the eight-person staff, three staff members, all women, quit during that five-month period.

    After I left, a new board member called me and asked for an exit interview. She confided in me that several members of the board were concerned, but I knew that the majority of the board was good friends of his, so nothing would be done.

    Today, I opened up the paper and saw a very short article about a new ED at that organization! The organization’s blog post was all about the new guy (an internal hire who started after I did), the new deputy director (a woman who had really deserved the promotion but never gotten it), and the new board president (a woman I’d met who’d always seemed exasperated by our old ED). What happened to the old ED and board president? Well, they shared a single paragraph thanking them for their contributions over the years. Nothing else. I treated myself to an ice cream float to celebrate.

    1. Pine Tree*

      I’m so happy for you that you saw this satisfying article! I’ve worked at a few places where I’d love to see an article like this. Alas, I usually just hear from the grapevine how they suck in new and exciting ways.

      I hope you revel in this gloating! :)

  37. PassThePeasPlease*

    I feel like this is a topic that’s been addressed on AAM so will definitely do a search but wanted to see what’s worked for others in this situation. How do you handle never being done with your to-do list at work? And I’m not talking about during quieter times working on longer term project/process upgraded (sounds like a dream!) but instead there will always be urgent deliverables/projects on my plate and my job is to prioritize which ones need to be done NOW vs which I can let slide for a week before it then becomes urgent.

    I’m currently a department of 1 trying to juggle multiple projects and priorities but I have trouble staying on track with the most important ones so I tend to get behind on all of them. In my personal life I’m very much a list maker and rarely let things sit for too long but I’m struggling with coming to terms with the fact that that will never be possible in my work given the shifting priorities and sheer magnitude of work on my plate.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I struggle with this too. I like finishing a list not a perpetual list of doom!

      Kanban boards are helpful to me, I like moving stuff into the done column, it helps me feel like stuff is actually changing status. I use 4 columns, “upcoming”, “to start”, “in progress”, “waiting on something” instead of just 1 upcoming column which helps me stay on top of what is waiting on me vs someone else and what I should leave time for next week. I color code by project too so its easy to see if a particular project has fallen off the wayside.

    2. EngGirl*

      I lived that life for several years after my company kept downsizing my department. I found a few things helpful.

      1.) I started asking for help from my boss on priorities. I could usually do a rough prioritization on my own, but I’d work with her to fine tune it, “Hey boss, I think the top three things on my plate are A B and C. What order would you like those done in.” I also worked with her to work with other managers on who was allowed to reprioritize my workload because I’d get a lot of people coming to me saying their thing was the most important thing in the room. My boss did not work in the same office as I did, so we set up 2 people who had enough insight to be able to give me direction if there was a priority clash. We’d have a quick huddle every morning to make sure we were all on the same page.

      2.) I started to enforce timelines for people who needed me to work on their projects. If you need it Friday then I need it by Tuesday. If you give it to me Wednesday you’ll lose your time slot and I’ll have to reprioritize it with my other open projects. I usually tried to leave myself some buffer space each day in my planning because this type of thing was inevitable.

      3.) I set aside time each Friday to plot out the following week, and for some things I put appointments in my calendar as reminders to work on them. I had to do this because I would try to let my brain drain over the weekend and inevitably I’d come in on Monday and only remember 75% of the projects I needed to work on. I’d also leave myself sticky notes in obvious places like on my mouse.

    3. Anon for This*

      I think you do need to bring your list-making to work. I get that the priorities keep shifting, so use different highlighters or something to track the different levels of urgency. That’s what kept my sanity -I had my list and didn’t lose track of what needed to be done. When the list got too colorful I would start over with a fresh list, but I still got good feelings when I crossed something off. Also important – I started tracking hours worked and used it to pitch for some help. Didn’t help me, but helped the person who replaced me.

  38. Nicki Name*

    Fellow USians, how many of you got Juneteenth off this year?

    My data points so far are:

    * My previous employer made it a company holiday in 2020
    * My current one has it as a company holiday for US workers (probably added in 2020 or 2021)
    * It’s a federal holiday, so obviously most federal workers have it off
    * Also a government holiday for my state
    * AAM apparently didn’t get the day off :)

    1. a fever you can't sweat out*

      we did not get it off but we could’ve used our personal floating holiday for it.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Same.

        Privately owned corp. We get a total of ten paid holiday days per year, and that is not one of them. MLK Jr. and Presidents day are not included in that list, for a general context.

        We have one floating holiday, in addition to the above. This is all separate from PTO.

    2. ferrina*

      I got it off. We’re a for-profit org. This is our second year having Juneteenth as one of our annual holidays.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I did and I think this was the second year for it. My company swapped another holiday for it, though, so our number of holiday days stayed the same.

    4. Panicked*

      I work for a small private company and didn’t have the day off. That being said, my company only gives six holidays off a year, so it wasn’t unexpected.

      My husband works for the federal gov’t (military) and had both Juneteenth and the following day off.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Federal, state, and county courts, as well as municipal offices, in my U.S. jurisdiction were closed for Juneteenth. Our office was closed, so support staff had the day off; but a few of the lawyers came in to knock some work off our to-do lists on a day when maybe the phones wouldn’t be ringing so frequently.

    6. MsM*

      No, but we had a bunch of public activities focused on it, so it was definitely acknowledged and celebrated.

    7. Fed for Life*

      Fed employee here. I had it off. However Feds who work at National Park Service, Air Traffic Controllers, TSA agents, etc. still had to work.

    8. CSRoadWarrior*

      I did at my current employer, which I have been at for a little over two months now.

      My previous employer also did last year.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I did. I work in banking / finance.

      Last year I worked for a healthcare company and did not.

      Prior to that, I was freelancing. The last June that I had a regular employer was 2014, and Juneteenth was not on their radar.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I actually went to a doctor on Juneteenth. When I made the appointment months prior it did not even click for me. But they were open.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yes, primary and specialist healthcare stays open on a lot of bank holidays. There would be no way to get enough people seen if they didn’t.

          1. Nola*

            My PCP doctor is always open on Memorial Day and Labor Day. I think she may be open on Fourth of July too. And this year I saw a hand specialist on Memorial Day and bumped into a friend who was getting a mammogram at a different provider.

    10. Elsewise*

      Social justice nonprofit, and we had it off this year and last year! Not sure when it started, but I think probably 2021 or 2022 – before my time.

    11. Lady_Lessa*

      I know that the classical music station that I listen to while commuting, the hosts had the day off. (when they have a schedule day like that, the hosts prepare special hours of appropriate music that is played vs the live that they usually have) At least once, I heard the same person’s hour both going to and coming from work.

      I had to work, so not a holiday for us.

    12. Can't Sit Still*

      My employer added Juneteenth in 2020. Our office had a Juneteenth celebration on Tuesday and there was company-wide messaging about the holiday.

      Overall, it’s been handled well. It was announced in 2020 with the tone Alison always suggests: “Of course we’re celebrating Juneteenth and it will be observed on Date as a company holiday.” And that was that.

    13. Fed 4 Life*

      Fed employee here – most Federal offices were closed, however people who work at National Park Service sites, air traffic controllers, etc. still had to work.

    14. Tradd*

      I work in international transportation. We never get these type of federal holidays off, only the major ones that pretty much everyone gets (New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day, etc).

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Don’t you work a lot with government agencies? Does it make your job harder when they have the holiday off and you don’t?

    15. old curmudgeon*

      The state government in my state did not close for the holiday (I am a state employee). Our legislature is heavily anti-government-employee and screams bloody murder about any proposal to give state workers more of anything, including time off.

      The city in which I live did count it as a holiday, but did a poor job of communicating that to the community so a lot of folks put out trash cans for pickup on Wednesday.

    16. Juneteenth*

      Yes; I’m at a nonprofit museum in a major city. I’ve had it off since 2020(?) — from 2020 – 2022 I was a very small arts nonprofit.

    17. Galaxiid*

      We didn’t officially have it off, but we get one floating holiday per year. Last year we were encouraged to take it. This year it wasn’t mentioned in advance, and only the people in my department ended up taking the day off. Seemed like people in other departments were annoyed at us for that. Really disappointed in how it was handled this year.

    18. DisneyChannelThis*

      Academia/Clinical – We did not get it off. Sounds like we might get it next year tho!

    19. Dust Bunny*

      We did, as a paid holiday. I think we got it off last year, too, but I don’t quite remember. I think we traded it for The Holiday Formerly Known As Columbus Day.

      Nonprofit; not a federal employee. We’re in Texas, though, which is Juneteenth Ground Zero.

    20. Macca*

      We had the day off this year. I think this is the third year it’s been a holiday for us – a small-ish nonprofit.

    21. ecnaseener*

      I did. It was made one of our 7 holidays (replacing indigenous people’s day) last year. Hospital. (I’m not in patient care so I get the 7 holidays off.)

    22. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We got added a floating holiday when Juneteenth was made federal, but Juneteenth is not one of our official holidays. I took it off by coincidence – I just happened to have appointments that day, not specifically because of Juneteenth – and none of my team members requested it off.

    23. ThatGirl*

      My husband did, he works for a small liberal arts college.

      I did not, I work for a large publicly-owned manufacturing company.

    24. A. Noni Mouse*

      I did not get it off, but my daughter’s daycare was closed for it, so I took a floating holiday for the day.

    25. Aggretsuko*

      I did not. I had it off at the university but not as a state worker, which is just weird. I thought “federal holiday” meant most agencies were supposed to have it off?

    26. TheBunny*

      I was off at my current non profit role.

      It’s a holiday at a security company I was with previously as well as a tech start up.

    27. Mimmy*

      In New Jersey, Juneteenth is being observed today in a lot of places, including the state agency I work for.

    28. Buffy*

      Not off/no acknowledgement. My sister (same city but much larger company) did as did my brother in law (fully remote startup)

    29. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I did not – Office job for a medium size landscaping company. Rest of the benefits are pretty bare bones.

    30. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      my community College was off as was my husband’s small private liberal arts college

    31. MyJobIsToFindYouAJob*

      I both did not and did. My direct employer, which is a County, did not give us the day as a paid holiday, since it was not negotiated into our current union contract.
      The agency we are contracted to, which is a local non-profit, DID get the day off, so our office was closed.
      So basically we were closed to the public but still had to report for work. So we took the day for a CPR course and to catch up on files and such.
      Next year though, it will be in our contract and will be a standard holiday.

    32. Maotseduck*

      I work for municipal government in the South we don’t have it off but the City Manager has said we might in the future. It was brought up in a town hall we did. The city had a festival in one of our parks so they did acknowledge it.

    33. SunflowerGirl*

      State government employee here, got the state holiday of Juneteenth off. But no other businesses were closed.

    34. GotItOff*

      I’ve gotten it off since it became a federal holiday. Most people I know did not get it off.

    35. Policy Wonk*

      As I fed I got the day off. Spouse who works for a government contractor did not get the day off. But since their work is largely tied to their government contracts, spouse spent the day catching up on admin stuff, taking on-line training. Not much work without their government partners. Note: the company thinks their employees already get too many government holidays off and was talking about making people work on Labor Day (backed off after the uproar!). SMH

    36. KayDeeAye*

      I did not (non-profit). But some of our vendors (our printer, our out-of-house designers) did. So I expect we will…eventually.

    37. Grogu's Mom*

      I’ve gotten it off every year since it became a federal holiday (higher ed staff – and I believe every major university in my region also has it off). My husband (contractor at a federal agency) had it off. My kid’s daycare (located at the federal agency) was completely closed. Sometimes on less common holidays (day after Thanksgiving, Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day, etc.) they will have one small class open for the handful of kids whose parents are working, but they didn’t give us the option for Juneteenth so clearly assume that at least one parent will have it off. AAM should absolutely take the day off if she wants to!

    38. Anon for this*

      I did. It was a company holiday but (as always) we were allowed to work on it and take a different day off if we wanted. I thought about working for a few hours but it was too darn hot.

    39. Kay*

      I gave myself the day off since my husband’s company observed it (large publicly traded company in an industry… uh.. not known to view this holiday favorably).

    40. RussianInTexas*

      Not it.
      But we only have 5 paid holidays at work at all, not even paid Memorial day or Friday after Thanksgiving.
      Boyfriend works for a Fortune 500 company and they do not have it either, even though they are very generous in the time off in general. They got the President’s Day and Good Friday added beginning last year instead.

    41. Anax*

      I did not (large federal contracting company). My partner did (utility company).

      My previous job also had Juneteenth off, but as a bank, that’s not a big surprise.

    42. PotatoRock*

      Big corp, tech but not bay area – did not get it off. Company’s stingy on PTO overall though

    43. Random Bystander*

      I did not (they did have a 15 minute optional reflection meeting)–healthcare related position.

      Youngest son works for a college (state employee) and he did have it off.

    44. not my usual self*

      I’m always already off work at this time of year so it doesn’t apply to my workday calendar! So not sure how that would be counted.

    45. Chauncy Gardener*

      Small tech company. We get all federal holidays. But I’m the one who makes the list. ;)

    46. Not My Money*

      I work in film so the guilds got it as a recognized holiday in last year’s contracts (SAG, DGA, WGA). It’s not a holiday for any of the unions yet because those contracts don’t expire until the end of July/beginning of August: we fully expect it to be an official holiday next year. My show did not recognize it as a holiday for anyone not in a guild but another show in town gave everyone the day off paid.

      1. WGA Member*

        As a WGA member, I feel obliged to note that the guilds (SAG, WGA, DGA) are all unions as well.

    47. Richard*

      I’m a city employee and got it off this year and every year since it was made a federal holiday.

    48. Keep it Simple*

      Higher Ed, yes, got it off from when it was first announced. They’re terrified of being seen as “non inclusive/non diverse” so HR absolutely jumped up and down waving their arms that of course, everyone gets the day off!

  39. Lost in dreams*

    Career development in a tiny team in a big corporation:
    I work in a huge company as an individual contributor, and after some restructuring now report to a new boss. They have only me and another direct report, but we are in a matrix organization with various projects. The boss has received this position after an extremely long tenure with the company, they have never managed people before. They often talk in some situations as if we all going to stay in our current roles for the rest of our lives (“our roles are the best, the titles are not important, we have people who have been in the same role for 20 years and are happy”). When I attempt to do something for my development (courses, exchanges, visits), they often want the three of us do it together, and sometimes if it is not possible, it will be declined to do for anyone. Otherwise they are very laid-back, friendly and helpful.

    I want to develop my career and manage a team myself, and see that it is possible in my company to move up (regular promotion cycles), but now I am afraid to be stuck. How do I talk to my new boss about career growth to become a manager?

    1. Goddess47*

      Well, there is the thought that if you want to take management courses and your boss thinks they should take whatever you’re taking, then, well, make them do it! Find some ‘developing your employee’ courses or seminars, and ‘how to help your employee be the best person’ things and see if they can see that they aren’t doing that… even some ‘management 101’ seminars may have components you can use to spin the discussion.

      Even if you have to do the seminar together, use it as a discussion springboard… “Now Lucinda (your third person) is good a making llama coats shiny, and we aren’t. If we had the resources, what sorts of additional training should she get?”

      It’s a form of ‘managing upward’ — look it up. Lean into it.

      Good luck!

  40. Warrior Princess Xena*

    In the spirit of yesterday’s recruiter question: what’s the most absurd recruiter correspondence you’ve had? I’ll start. I received this message at 7 pm last night. Names edited for privacy, but all phrasing and punctuation is copied directly.

    “Hi WPX your background looks awesome for a Sr. Llama Groomer in BigCity with a Direct client. So I’m reaching out to connect. Kindly help me with your resume on LinkedIn”

    Then, at 6 am this morning (note that I have done nothing between these two messages except go to bed).

    “Thank you for connecting. My colleague Wakeen is working on this requirement he has sent you a job description on your email. Kindly reply your update resume on his email. Thank you“

    BigCity is also a place I’ve been specifically excluding, since the commute would be horrendous. Also, I started a new job last week.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Even though I made my resume private on every job board I’d posted it on, I continued to receive emails from recruiters about potential jobs in the US more than 2 years after I’d moved back to the UK and started a new job here. I didn’t even bother responding to any of those emails, since I’m sure they were either partially automated or done purely to boost recruiter metrics.

    2. Panicked*

      “We’re excited to present you with this role we feel would be directly in line with your experience and education! It’s a part-time entry level HR role paying $15/hr!”

      I have been in full-time HR for six years, have a M.S. degree in it, and make over double that hourly rate.

      I’m all for casting a wide net, but come on…

    3. Jules the First*

      I once had a recruiter reach out to me about “an exciting opportunity” in a “vibrant, dynamic team with great work life balance” that would be “a fantastic next step for your background and experience”. The role? A junior contributor on the team I oversee (ie I am this role’s grandboss…). In fairness she was mortified when she realised she was working from a 15 year old resume when I replied to let her know that I was pleased to see her being so positive about my team and their culture.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        LOL!

        But yes, a basic failure to do their homework because all they can see are dollar signs is a reason I feel free to ignore recruiters.

    4. EMP*

      I get regular calls from what purports to be a recruitment firm in the UK (I live and work in the US). At this point I assume it’s some kind of scam.

    5. A Significant Tree*

      LinkedIn is particularly bad about these – I get recruiter InMails every few days praising my profile and assuring me that they can help me grow my private clinical practice or asking me to join some other clinical practice…

      I don’t work, and never have worked, in the clinical space. I have zero qualifications and my listed work history pretty clearly shows an entirely different career path. I’d love to ask them what part of my amazing profile do they think is the most relevant, but why bother, it’s all spam.

    6. Prudence and Wakeen Snooter Theatre for the Performing Oats*

      I once got a message from a recruiter about a job that paid $15.00 an hour. Since I was actively searching, I wrote back thanking them for getting in touch, but I wasn’t interested in anything less than $20.00 an hour. The next day, the recruiter wrote back saying he had spoken with the employer and they would be willing to consider giving me… $15.00 an hour. Thanks?… but no thanks.

      1. I Have RBF*

        I get garbage postings for data entry, 6 month contract, on the opposite coast, in person, for $15/hour. I live in California, and I am a senior Linux sysadmin, making at least four times that. If I get two or more of those from the same agency, I mark all of their email as spam.

  41. Busy Middle Manager*

    Anyone else cringing because the bad yelp reviews about your job are oftentimes true? I am trying to job hunt but as many white collar workers are finding, no one is hiring. I am getting sick of internal people posting blanket responses like “we take feedback seriously” but I know they don’t and didn’t investigate the claim beyond the basics. For example, a few have said we’re harassing them with letters and phone calls, I checked, it’s true. In some cases it’s a system glitch that someone was put into the call rotation too many times. The person in charge of that thinks it’s normal to send dozens of letters and call someone 100X about simple account updates. How does one mentally comprehend the stupidity!

  42. a fever you can't sweat out*

    i wanted to provide an update on my ongoing work saga. well, i accepted the other offer and i’m definitely feeling it’s the right move. my current company didn’t counter and said they knew i had a hard few months. a lot of people are surprised, upset, sad, and angry at the company for letting me walk.

    regardless – the new company has been nothing but wonderful to me even before i’ve stepped foot in the door. so here’s to shaking off that imposter syndrome, sageing my workspace, and taking a leap of faith for something that seems to fit me perfectly. thanks to everyone who provided support and their thoughts here.

  43. LI Connection*

    I applied for a job last week and this week sent a connection request to the hiring manager on LinkedIn. I don’t have premium, so was only able to write a short note where I mentioned my application and excitement for the role. Today, she accepted the request. Now what do I do?! Do I just thank her for connecting? Express more about my interest/qualifications for the role? Do nothing?

    I would love the opportunity to interview for the role and I’m terrible at networking things. I don’t want to be annoying or pushy and was already nervous about sending the initial request, so I didn’t even think about what would come next!

    Any advice or experience here, from either the candidate or hiring manager side?

    1. Pretty as a Princess*

      I am a hiring manager and honestly I defer all such LI comms to our recruiter. If someone sends me a message on LI I just politely thank them for their interest and tell them to please be sure to submit their resume through our website, and that our recruiter will follow up appropriately with next steps. I don’t engage further.

      As a rule, I don’t engage with candidates outside of the recruiting process unless it’s because I am working with them in some other capacity (eg, we are in the same professional standards body, and interacting in that capacity). It can cause problems with the fairness (or perceived fairness) of the process, and it makes candidates difficult to track for our recruiting partners.

      What I would advise you to do with this connection is simply to follow the kinds of things this person posts – learn what they seem to care about, how they talk about their job, read some things they link to or recommend. Then when you get to a technical screen/manager screen/interview, you can think about how you can incorporate that.

    2. ferrina*

      Do nothing. You are interested and she knows you are interested. If she is also interested, she will reach out to you. Do not be the person that tries to force conversation so you can get the interview.

      Also- apply to other jobs. Don’t let this be your only opportunity, or you will be more likely to fixate (speaking from personal experience)

    3. Seven times*

      You’ve done enough! The hiring manager will have your name in their mind and there’s really not much more to do to influence them until they review your application materials.

  44. Great Beyond*

    I work in a toxic environment where the managers are told to “delegate” the workload (aka: “dump work on” on the rest of us) and then other coworkers sometimes also dump work on others. Is there a way to push back on this? It’s particularly frustrating because one manager claims that she is very busy and dumps work on others, but then is on the phone making personal calls and will go to lunch with another manager. We’re short-staffed and overwhelmed as it is- people are working on weekends and doing overtime. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    1. Reebee*

      Well, managers are supposed to delegate tasks. That’s a core tenet of management. That you see managers on a personal call or going to lunch with one another has nothing to do with it. If you feel your plate is too full then you talk with your manager about it; managing time on task on behalf of direct reports is another core tenet of management. If that doesn’t get you anywhere, think about how much more you can stand, and leave ASAP if necessary.

      As for co-workers assigning work to one another, that’s just weird. Have you tried declining on the grounds that your tasks are delegated to you by your manager, and only your manager?

    2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Any place where going to lunch is seen as a mortal sin by anyone is a crappy place and you need to leave. Everyone needs to leave.

  45. At a loss*

    This week, the mother of one of my employees found me on social media and messaged me about my employee’s workload (totally normal and incredibly flexible) and salary (above market value). The employee is over 40. Definitely a first for me.

      1. HonorBox*

        I’d say this, too, but if the relationship with the employee is strong.

        Either way, I’d reply to the message and let the mother know that conversations like these are with the employee only. Then block.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Why only if the relationship is strong? The employee deserves to know what his mother is doing. Doesn’t matter if you don’t have a strong relationship or not. Sure, your phrasing to the employee might change, but that doesn’t mean you don’t tell them.

      2. Antilles*

        Same. Given the age of the employee, I’m pretty sure that the mother sent it without the employee’s knowledge so they’d want to know. No need to have any further discussion about it, just basically “FYI so you know”.

      3. Elsewise*

        I want an update if you do talk to the employee! God I would be mortified if my mother did that.

    1. Celeste*

      Wow – I assume the employee would be mortified?
      I think I would just ignore the mother.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Yikes, when I started reading, I assumed the employee was a teenager. The parent would still be overstepping, but there would be some kind of logic to it, a parent adjusting (perhaps not ideally) to their child becoming independent.

      At over 40. Yi-i-ikes.

    3. English Rose*

      I can see a letter from the employee coming in to AAM soon asking how their mother’s behaviour might impact their continuing career…

    4. PropJoe*

      One upside to both of my parents being deceased is that unless someone hires a necromancer there’s zero chance of them overstepping like this.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Don’t discount the possibility of your boss using a ouija board or visiting a psychic ;D

        1. Pillow Fort Forever*

          Ooh I like this. Next parent that reaches out – “please only contact us via Ouija board. All other communication will be ignored”.

    5. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      I wonder if the employee is using work as an excuse not to do things for/with their mother. Doesn’t make it appropriate, but I could see the mother’s reasoning in that case.

      Unless the mother has always been flying that helicopter, I would also wonder about early onset dementia.

    6. Pillow Fort Forever*

      I had an employee in her 30s bring me a note from her mother after the EE missed a day of work. It was extra odd bc it was no biggie that she took a day off, we had unlimited time off, and were really casual about things like that.

    7. At a loss*

      Update: Employee is a very close with the mother. It would not surprise me if the employee knew mom messaged. But I did not tell the employee.

      The employee came to me in tears today about workload and salary. We had a productive conversation. I listened and helped were I could, but also reminded employee that our compensation is a base salary plus commission(sales), and we are the only company of our size in our area that pays a base plus commission(I’m on our industry’s statewide association board of directors, and I have polled the 39 other board members, all GMs or Owners). Much of our industry is straight commission. So employee does have some control over income. We have flexible working hours and employee leaves very early quite often, not a problem if everything is in order. But I also reminded employee that while I trust my employees to manage their own time, leaving in the middle of the day definitely leaves less time to manage the workload and make the sales. We’ll see. She was upfront about some personal life issues, and I’m happy to work around them. Employee is very good, and hopefully is just having a rough month.

  46. Bagworm*

    TL;DR It is taking me longer to do some tasks at work than it should and I am wondering if I should report all of my hours (I’m salaried, exempt) or if that will put my job at risk because they think I can’t really do the work.

    I have been struggling at work. I had a direct report leave in April 2023 and the organization decided not to replace him. Then, in December, the departure of another colleague meant I took on another program and two more direct reports. One of those direct reports left at the end of February and we haven’t found someone to fill that position yet. Recently, my boss and our HR director met with me to discuss “time management and organization”. They emphasized that this was supposed to be productive and not punitive and this was not disciplinary action. The first thing they asked me to do was list my routine tasks. Despite having an hour for the meeting, we did not even get through all of my routine tasks. Not even close.

    This is very clearly not a manageable workload and I am working with my boss to get that sorted out but even doing the tasks that I am getting done, I have noticed that I am taking longer and/or making more mistakes. For some time now, I’ve had memory issues and now it seems like I’m having some other processing issues (I don’t know all the correct language but I have a very hard time focusing and am constantly bouncing between tasks). I don’t have an actual ADHD diagnosis but I am taking Vyvanse and a friend who has ADHD has been helping me with some tools she uses to manage similar issues. I am working with my health care team to try and sort out if there is something at play here that needs treatment but so far it seems like it’s just related to stress and aging.

    To trying and make up for these issues, I have been putting in additional hours. There have been some weeks I have worked too much to be sustainable (last week was 69 hours) but most weeks it’s between 45 and 50 which I think is manageable for me as long as I am taking some time for self care and paying attention to physical signals about my stress levels.

    My question is, should I report all of my hours worked (I am salaried, exempt) as my boss has requested or should I just report eight hours each weekday (as is a common practice at my organization). I want them to know how much work is on my plate and to have the information to advocate for additional staff but I am also afraid they will think I just cannot do the work and I will be let go.

    Advice?

    Thank you!!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Your boss has requested you report all of your hours worked–do that!

      My guess is that reporting eight hours each workday is common practice at your organization because most people are doing ~8 hours worth of work per day, and they don’t want to bother with being more precise. But you’re in a different situation, and reporting all of your hours worked can help your boss know how to best help you (taking things off your plate, lobbying to hire a new person for the team, etc.).

      Have you had a follow-up meeting with your boss and HR director to continue listing out your routine tasks? Would it make sense for you to list out the rest of the tasks on your own, and then meet with your boss and HR director to go over them (and hopefully prioritizing tasks and discussing which/how much you can realistically do in a 40-45 hour work-week)?

    2. Elsewise*

      Report them all. The fact is, you CAN’T do the work in a reasonable time, and it sounds like no one can. If they let you go to hire someone else and listed your current tasks, they’d be laughed off the job board. It sounds like you have a good relationship with your boss and they want to help you, and the way to do that is by taking things off your plate!

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Your mind sounds like mine when I’ve worked more than about 40-45 hours a week — after that, it just quits working as effectively, and the work I do is substandard. If I work even more hours, the next morning I have to spend time fixing the things I messed up the day before, which adds to the time. Our brains need rest as well as our bodies. But when our brain is that tired, it doesn’t even think well enough to tell you it’s too tired and stressed.

      My advice is to tell them you’re going to work 8 hours, and these are the tasks you are going to do, these are the other tasks that won’t get done. If they’d like to switch any of those around, that’s fine, but not all the tasks are going to get done. (And if they let you go, then none of those tasks will get done.)

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, this sounds like a vicious cycle to me: you’re working the extra hours to try and get everything done, but the extra hours plus the knowledge even that’s not going to be enough to get everything done are making you too tired to focus. If you need to cut back even further to make sure the balls you’re able to keep in the air don’t get dropped, do that.

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Your boss.HR probably wants to know how many hours you’re actually working so that they have ammo to get you more help and to be able to take stuff off your plate! I mean, if it took a whole hour to go through your routine tasks in a meeting, they’ve got to know that you are working your ass off. But they probably can’t help you as easily without being able to say “look, Bagworm is doing 50-60 hour weeks and barely staying afloat; can we get a new hire to take some of this load off of them?”

      Common practices (reporting 8 hour days) are for common times/situations. That’s not what you’re in.

    5. Rick Tq*

      You are trying to do the work of HOW many people???? 3? 4? more? That isn’t reasonable or realistic in the short term, much less the long term.

      First thing is to report ALL your hours worked so any customers can be billed properly.

      Then you should start work hours you can manage and start letting tasks go uncompleted. Report to your management chain what you could accomplish and what had to be delayed.

      No body can do the work of 4 people, don’t worry about being let go.

  47. Midwest Manager too!*

    Hoping to poll the commentariat for a bit of advice… I’m probably overthinking this and being paranoid (and it’s OK to tell me that!).

    Last year, I had a direct report that I chose to terminate (MANY valid reasons for doing so!). Since their departure, they have been applying to other positions within my large organization. I’ve been around this place for a long time, and have a decent enough network and reputation that hiring managers are contacting me about this person to get the real story on what happened, sometimes even before interviewing them.

    They have advanced to finalist stage a few times, and I have been hearing some concerning things. Reference checkers are reaching out to other members of my team, and asking questions as if they supervised this employee. My team have been asking me how to respond, and I’ve coached them to make clear they were peers with the person and direct the checker to me if they want to speak with a supervisor.

    Here’s where it gets concerning:
    I have heard from reference checkers that this employee is spreading lies in my org about me and my management. They have said things like there’s a legal or HR grievance case pending, they weren’t allowed to give my information, they were bullied and belittled while working for me, and other similar things. Now, this person’s application and candidacy has enough red flags that so far nobody has made the same mistake I did. But my question is: Should I be concerned about the lies they are spreading to discredit me and my reputation? I plan to retire from this org, and that’s many years away.

    1. HonorBox*

      I think I’d talk to your management and HR about this. First, if someone is terminated, I’m wondering if there’s a way to flag them as ineligible for rehire. Second, if they’re sharing misinformation about you and about their termination, that’s something someone else should be aware of. If they’re saying there’s a legal / grievance case pending, that might also be a situation that makes them ineligible for rehire.

      1. MsM*

        I’m also wondering if the guidance to the team shouldn’t be more along the lines of “I’m not able to serve as a reference for this person,” especially if they didn’t offer to do so.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I don’t think you need to be concerned about your reputation since it sounds like it’s clear this applicant is lying about at least a few things, e.g. misrepresenting who their supervisor was, etc.

      I do wonder about your company’s broader HR processes, though. Your org sounds large, so I’m surprised there isn’t an “ineligible for rehire” ding on their file, or that their applications aren’t getting flagged much earlier in the process. I realise that being fired for one thing at a large company doesn’t necessarily make you bad at other jobs you could hold in the same org, but there has to be a way to deal with the candidate directly, especially if they’re getting to the final interview stage multiple times (!) despite all the red flags.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      No advice but when people say they want updates, I want an update on this one.

      Hasn’t someone higher up put together the two conflicting narratives “I really want to work there again” and “the company allowed me to get bullied ruthlessly and fired for it!”

      Surely someone is question this at some point?

      1. Midwest Manager too!*

        We’re quite decentralized in many aspects of our org. The person is applying in other divisions. Even if they applied in the same division, it might not get caught until the very end when division HR does their final checks before approving the hire.

        It’s pretty much that the index finger doesn’t know what the thumb is doing, much less the right and left hands. The internal networks are much quicker at sharing information than the official channels.

    4. Rick Tq*

      It sounds like his record should be updated to No Rehire, and your corporate lawyers may need to send him a Cease and Desist letter so he stops the libelous/slanderous statements.

  48. Hanging in There Kitten Poster*

    I was laid off yesterday.

    I figured it was coming and am not in a huge lurch but am sure y’all probably have good advice.

    I’ve been working in instructional design and am open to fields that call for similar skills but am unsure where to look. (Former academic, so there are still big gaps in my knowledge of what’s out there.)

    My to-do list so far is:
    – Having a lawyer look over the separation agreement but I don’t see any red flags
    – Letting my network know that I’m looking, including folks at my previous job
    – Applying for Unemployment
    – Meeting with my financial advisor
    – Going to therapy
    – Meeting with friends in similar circumstances to read and edit each other’s resumes
    – Polishing my LinkedIn profile
    – Adding a couple of samples to my online writing portfolio (there are currently 4 samples)
    – Digging deep into LinkedIn to job search (probably joining so I can see who’s viewed my profile)

    1. Nesprin*

      -Figuring out when your health benefits end + using them if they’re good to the end of the month.
      -Assessing how much COBRA will cost + setting papers somewhere you can find them. (FYI COBRA is retroactive, and wicked expensive, so don’t buy it now. If you need health coverage you can buy it then.)
      -Doing a thing you enjoy that you couldn’t do while working (e.g. go to a cafe at 11am with a good book)

    2. Pillow Fort Forever*

      Great list! I’d suggest trying to limit your job search hours (searching and applying) to a few hours at a set time most days. It helps to keep the search in its place and to give you time to enjoy a bit of time off regardless of the circumstances. I made it a point to hike with my dog every day – appreciating not having to be at work and of course getting out and exercising is always good. Best wishes to you in the search!!

    3. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I was also recently laid off and one thing about your list, it’s that if you got any severance at all, you must wait to apply for unemployment until the severance has ended. Another that you can add on to the networking bullet is to shore up who you want to be your references, reach out and align with their agreement to do so. I have a friend also in instructional design who went from a university setting to a federal agency, so if you want to continue instructional design as a career, there are several avenues out there! Good luck to you.

      1. I Have RBF*

        In California, if the severance is lump sum, you can apply for UI immediately. If it is doled out like salary, then you have to wait. Source: I have had it both ways.

    4. Not That Kind of Doctor*

      As far as new fields to explore, would you be interested in medical communications? There are agencies/divisions that specialize in sales training and/or CME materials. The downside is that the IME the client base (pharma) is almost uniformly full of bees.

      1. Hanging in There Kitten Poster*

        I have in fact worked with pharma companies as clients before! Thanks for the inspiration.

  49. JMR*

    My husband is job-hunting after layoffs earlier this year, and having a hell of a time. (We’re both in biotech, and the job market suuuuuucks.) He is in the later rounds of interviews for a position that is less than ideal for a number of reasons, not least of which is the salary – the role has a similar scope of responsibility as his former role and several other roles he’s applied for, but the salary is a good 30% less. If he were lucky enough to receive multiple offers, he’d obviously choose a different role. But if we’re forced to choose between a shitty salary and no salary….you know? I’d hate for him to turn this job down and then be out of work for months. So I’m tempted to think he should accept this role and continue to look. That way if other, better roles come up, he could interview for them, but at least he’d be employed in the meantime. Of course that could have him possibly leaving the role after only a few months if he’s lucky enough to lock down something better. Is this a terrible plan? Or is this their own problem for paying so far below market rate? (I realize I’m counting multiple chickens before they hatch here, but I’m trying to plan ahead as best I can.)

    1. Pillow Fort Forever*

      Sometimes in a crap job market you have to take what’s offered – benefits and some income are better than none. And if something better comes along – awesome!! If not, it’s better to be looking from a place of less (I don’t want to say desperation but it’s all that comes to mind). I did the same years ago – took a huge pay cut, appreciated the benefits, and pretty much hated the job. But it was better than nothing (as I often had to remind myself) and tided me over until a much better opportunity came along. Good luck to both of you!!

    2. Elsewise*

      No, I think your plan makes sense. Having a short-term job on your resume isn’t a candidacy-killer like some people say. Heck, even having multiple jobs like that doesn’t necessarily rule you out in most industries.

    3. RVA Cat*

      Sounds like a good reason for him to negotiate salary. Even a 25% cut is better than 30%. Plus if they put him on a probationary period, that’s yet another reason to continue looking.

      Chances are this employer has a reputation for paying below market so everyone will understand.

    4. sux*

      well, after being laid off and looking for a year, I’m moving my family cross-country for a company I don’t love, to a city I hate. Sometimes you just have to work.

    5. M2*

      He should take the job. Some money is better than no money. Who knows maybe he’ll live it or get promoted or have better benefits!

      My neighbor works in biotech. Was a top / head/ chief person in a huge department (a household name place) and had worked there almost 30 (years) straight out of PhD.

      Finally found another role but it was an almost 45% pay cut and huge demotion. They took it and kept hunting. Two years later they are still there, have a better job but still aren’t even close to the salary before. They told me now it’s more like 30% cut with promotion but they haven’t found anything else. They cut all their spending, no more lawn service, no eating out, got rid of one car, kids are told state schools for college or overseas (they are also German so can go to Germany for university for basically free). Their oldest wanted to go to a private university in the US and the parents said they can’t pay tuition for private universities. Change your spending now.

      I had another friend who moved from biotech to another sector 2 years ago and is really happy. He looked at tech and ended up at a multinational software company! Loves it and has more job security. He also makes more money so have your spouse diversify where they apply. Where else can they use their skills?

      Good luck!

    6. EMP*

      I’d take it if that’s the offer he gets. Maybe let the job search take a bit of a backburner for a short time (since it’s exhausting!) and then yeah, you can always keep looking.

    7. TheBunny*

      Take the job off offered.

      I don’t have specific advice on this scenario, but I do have it on leaving after a short tenure.

      I was at one position for 5 years. The next one for 6. The next one for 8 months.

      I was really concerned it was going to cause issue that I was leaving so quickly and no one seemed to even care as the market has changed, layoffs happen and sometimes jobs aren’t great.

      What I DID learn is it’s better to make the reason for leaving something you didn’t know going in.

      Let me explain. My short stint job was a start up. No one seemed particularly impressed that I was leaving because of a concern about funding and stability as working for a start up you should know funding is potentially an issue.

      I quickly learned less isn’t always more and got a much more positive reply when I clarified that the lack of stability that concerned me were the resignations of BOTH co-founders, which happened after I started and put a different spin on why I would be leaving. There’s a normal start up lack of stability and there’s the “both co-founders fled” lack of stability and recruiters and hiring managers see a real difference in those as one reflects me making a bad decision and one reflects my reaction to something I didn’t know was going to happen.

      So if he takes the job and then looks to leave due to low pay, people will question his judgment in taking the role… so spin it to “I took the job knowing the pay but not knowing this big other thing and it’s that reason I’m leaving.”

      In my experience explaining that you knew things going in but not ALL the things is a strong way around those hurdles

    8. fhqwhgads*

      That’s their own problem for paying so far below. They should expect this sort of thing to happen for as long as they do that.

  50. Moving away*

    I’m in a current working situation that I dont love, solely due to my boss who sucks and isn’t going anywhere. I have a pretty big financial incentive to stay here 18 more months (high salary and vested stocks AND we’re moving away in a little less than two years time).

    What are good strategies for just sucking it up for the next 18 months? I know I could quit but it would be a bad financial decision for my family and honestly it would help my job prospects in our future home if I had two years in this industry on my resume.

    I’ve just been wallowing in the fact that my boss sucks and want to focus on other things. Any good books or podcast recommendations for that?

    1. Pillow Fort Forever*

      Been there done this!

      First, keep a list of the reasons you are making the decision to stay in the position. Read them every morning and throughout the day as needed. Keeping in mind it’s a choice helps make it less awful.

      Play bad boss bingo. Make a little grid of his worst behaviors and mentally cross them off as he does them each day. I used to picture a bell ringing every time (and if you watched Breaking Bad think of the dinging from Hector Salamanca to make it extra fun).

      Hope this helps a bit!!

    2. Uhura*

      I’ve been in a similar situation. I tried to make every day as manageable as possible. I forced myself to take breaks every day, one in the middle of the morning – around 10am, went outside or just away from my desk for lunch, and then another break in the middle of the afternoon. Each break I made sure to spend it away from my desk so I was truly getting a break. It helped a little. And try to find ways to avoid having to deal directly with your boss – send emails instead of talking face to face.

      But 18 months is a long time, if you’ve only been there a few months, try to find something else and then leave this experience off your resume. Or try to find something remote, that way you can stay at the company even if you move. Hang in there!

      1. Moving away*

        We’re actually moving abroad so I’ll have to have at least four months of not working; tying up loose ends here and then settling in there so that makes me not too enthusiastic about finding a new job. But who knows, maybe I can find a place that has international offices and will be flexible about me taking time off as we transition? Not likely but I’ll definitely keep my eyes open!

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I had a coworker years ago who was in therapy because of our boss and and their therapist told them to put the boss in a “bubble” mentally and just keep them at arm’s length. I don’t know if that strategy helped, but I think about it from time to time when presented with people I cannot change who are making my life difficult.

    4. Tomato Fan*

      When I was in a similar situation, I’d “job hunt” for the city I knew I’d be moving to next. I figured out which local job boards to search and investigated some companies I might like to work for after moving. This helped me focus less on my awful job and more on what I knew was coming. It also made it easier to job hunt for real when we eventually moved.

      1. Moving away*

        I do this a bit. Sometimes I look at places for rent and just try to get excited about where we could live. But definitely want to get a better understanding of what’s available, what skills I should try to pick up in the next two years etc.

    5. Water Everywhere*

      Would a countdown chart help? Pretty basic I know but when I have a set end date to a less than ideal situation I get satisfaction in crossing off each day as it’s done, especially once the halfway point is passed. Eighteen months IS a lot of days but maybe having the visual of how many are crossed off and done can be a tiny bit of motivation to get through the rest.

  51. JustaTech*

    Question in two parts: does anyone have experience using an Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) system, and how do I work with a coworker who does not want to use our ELN?

    Background: Several years ago my biotech lab finally got an Electronic lab notebook system. Previously we had used paper lab books or binders and folders on the server to hold our protocols and data. This was spearheaded by a person on another team, but I was happy to give it a try and start using a system that didn’t rely on ballpoint pens. However, my team was in a slow period, so I didn’t end up using it very much for a while, and the person who spearheaded the whole thing left not long after.
    Then we got a new team with a new project that was initially told that they must *not* use the ELN. So they didn’t. Then that team got rolled into my team (5 people) and the whole “not allowed to use the ELN” thing went away, but we never got any direction from on high that we should use the ELN. So my team mate, Helen, decided the simplest thing was to have a giant Excel in Teams that we used as a protocol/ batch record.
    I was OK with this (writing a batch record is a huge amount of work, and we needed Excel to do calculation) but then I discovered that my brain can’t process instructions when they’re squished into an Excel sheet. Fine, that’s on me, I made a work around.

    Then our boss noticed that my team wasn’t using the ELN and got a little upset about it. “You can’t just store your data in Teams!” (I have no idea where our Teams/Sharepoint is backed up to, and we’ve been ransomwared before and getting our files back took a month each time.)
    So now we have a directive from on high to use the ELN. But the rest of my group wants to keep using the Excel. OK, fine, how about we use the Excel, but save the data to the ELN, and I’m going to put the instructions in the ELN because then I can actually *read* them.
    I though we’d agreed to this, but then Helen got really upset with me that I was duplicating effort and why did I want this and I shouldn’t waste time. (Helen’s boss, my peer was also concerned about having all the instructions in the ELN because it would be “too long”, but there’s no concern about space for text in an ELN.)
    The thing is that I am senior to Helen, by tenure and title, and I’m not asking her to do anything except save a few files to the ELN. I’m not changing her workflow at all.

    So, first question specifically about ELNs – do most people use them as a working document, or as an after-the-fact storage space?

    Second, is there some line of argument I’m missing to convince Helen that the ELN is not an attack on her, but is intended to be a more efficient way of storing data and instructions?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m in pharma, so recording real-time data in an ELN (or in a paper notebook, which we only use on the rare occasion when the ELN is down) is a requirement for us. So definitely a working document for us.

      Was the directive a requirement or a suggestion? If it’s a requirement, then that’s it. That’s all you need.

    2. Nesprin*

      I use a combination of a paper lab book + onenote/teams (for data + protocol storage) for my academic-ish lab. In my institution, teams is backed up and and has sufficient version control to be useful.

      It sounds like you have batch records, and possibly QC oversight, so what works for me won’t work for you.

      You need management to either declare to Helen+ her boss that the ELN is the only data storage portal and ensure that training happens, or convince management that teams/excel is acceptable + make sure it’s backed up + safe enough to be used.

    3. Sutemi*

      I’m in Biotech. ELN needs to have all the protocols and copies of raw data, or clear references to where they are stored if the data comes off a machine that is backed up elsewhere. We can use other programs for design of experiments or analysis and then paste in copies though since some ELN are clunky to use or don’t fit the right data type.
      Notebooks are supposed to be contemporaneous records to support patent filings, etc.

    4. JustaTech*

      I should clarify that we’re in development and doing client work, so no QC oversight and no internal IP (though I do use the ELN for other internal work that is our IP).

    5. Violet Newstead*

      If you are doing anything remotely cGMP work, using Excel or Teams/Sharepoint is not usually compliant. If you are doing research or PD work, it’s probably still is not best practice. ELNs are usually designed to be FDA 21 CFR part 11 compliant with backups, audit trails, signatures, etc. ELN entries and their associated metadata are often used to support regulatory filings, IP issues, and patent applications. And if the ELN has integration to a LIMS system, it can also really help with tracking data affected by equipment or reagent malfunctions, or just general inventory management.

      Transitioning to using an ELN if you are used to paper systems can be really annoying. It takes a while to set up templates and get used to doing thing contemporaneously in it, but in my experience putting in that work upfront is worth the effort.

      Sidenote: I’m a little suspicious of a project where you are told NOT to use the ELN. That sounds like it’s trying to skirt some IP agreements and the company doesn’t want a record.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh no, the reason for initially not using the ELN was much, much dumber than that – the team in charge of working with clients didn’t want to risk anything getting mixed up by getting their data in our systems, so we were supposed to do everything, including all document management, on PAPER!

        Like, I’m sorry, it’s 2023, I’m not mailing documents half way across the country for edits when we have Track Changes and email.

        People with actual brains prevailed and we used a separate system.

    6. JMR*

      This presumably varies by organization and function, but for research that isn’t done with clinical trial samples or under GMP guidelines, I’m fine with people using it as an after-the-fact storage system rather than updating it “live,” and most of my organization (mid-size biotech) operates that way. Scientists generally wait until the experiment is completed, then drag-and-drop their files (in Excel or Graphpad) into the ELN, and use the free text space to add protocol notes or other important details.

      In my experience, scientists tend to treat running experiments as their “main job” and all the housekeeping tasks like making stock solutions and updating their ELN as a side job that gets done in between real experiments, if time allows. The trick to getting scientists to comply with updating their ELN or performing other data entry is to make it clear that it is as much a part of their job as running experiments. I’ve started to require the scientists on my team to calendar a block of time every other week specifically for ELN entry, the same way they would calendar any meeting or recurring activity. I’ve found that this gets them to treat it as a job duty that must be done even if it sucks, same as a boring team meeting they’d rather skip. And the more time that passes between when the experiment is conducted and when the ELN entry is generated, the more likely they are to forget details, so having them do it regularly minimizes the risk of that happening.

  52. Bluebonnet*

    My coworker “Stacey” (with the strong personality) who thinks she knows more about my Myers Briggs character type than I do, didn’t give me full information and then told me off for not reading her mind.

    I complained to my boss about the more recent incident and he said I needed to set up a one on one with Stacey. I emailed her about setting up a one on one, listed what I respected about her, and listing my concerns with our work relationship.

    Stacey responded back and said her door is always open and she was sorry I felt like that. I emailed her back and asked if we could talk somewhere private with no interruptions.

    I’ll see what she says. Any tips for moving forward? I’m holding off for now, but when would it be time to loop on my boss, loop in hr and/or start a job search?

    1. RagingADHD*

      I am not a fan of blanket conversations to try to set / reset the relationship dynamic unless you’re actually like, living with or married to the person. It creates an artificial dynamic separate from the day to day experience, and makes having the conversation a whole job in itself. People say all kinds of things in the moment, just to get through the awkwardness – the more assertive or impulsive person will let their mouth write checks they have no intention of cashing, and the more reticent or conflict-averse person will agree to things they regret later. Usually, nothing is resolved.

      IME for most friendships and particularly working relationships, it’s more productive to address things on a case by case basis. For example, if Stacey tried to “tell you off”, you might just wait her out and then say her tone is uncalled for. Or ignore her rant completely and say that you’re working on the information you have, and suggest improvements to the procedure to ensure you get all the information you need.

      The thing is, if you aren’t prepared to assert yourself at individual moments, a one on one could turn into a pressure cooker situation. Do you know what you would want to say? It sounds like she is going to take the position that she doesn’t have a problem.

    2. Goddess47*

      Document, document, document. Even your one-on-one with Stacy.

      “In this session we discussed…” Take notes like your life depends on it.

      Then the next time Stacy doesn’t give you what you need, you have a chain of evidence to show for it.

      Hopefully, just knowing that you’re taking complete notes will keep her in line.

      But the very next time she leaves out information or tries to analyze you using the Myers-Briggs, go to your boss. Do not let it wait. And tell her that. You don’t have to be confrontational but you can be firm. “I do need to let you know that I’ve already looped Boss into our discussions and will keep them informed of our progress in working together.”

      Good luck!

    3. Pillow Fort Forever*

      The best thing I’ve learned via AAM is to not apply personal relationship standards to work relationships. The focus here is on what you need to do your job and how to be certain you are able to get it in a timely and reasonable manner.

      Skip the focus on the dynamics you have with her and how/what/when you get information from her. If she hampers this process or is uncooperative, then escalate, the whole time focusing on business need and not on her frustrating behavior. Good luck!!

  53. Josephine Beth*

    Those who are mid/late career, how do you think about your career trajectory going forward? For context, I started my career a bit late, mostly doing related jobs but not career-based while my children were young, and have now been in this field and career for about 20 years. I care deeply about the work, there’s good overall flexibility, the job I have now is a good fit for me…and yet I’m still mentally struggling with “what’s next”.

    I’m in a very small field (think education, but super specialized), and loved being an individual contributor and then a lead/specialist of a good-sized program. I’m now an assistant director of a small program – which is tied to the larger organization where I’ve been – and my supervisor plans to retire in 4-5 years, at which point it’s likely I would assume her role. On paper, that’s a brilliant plan, and part of me loves the idea. But…I also know the demands on her time, the ridiculous level of politics involved (internal and external), and the very limited/non-existent ability to do any of the individual contributor pieces I love so much. I’d also be one of only a few people in that role without a doctorate, which I’ve considered pursuing but feels somewhat silly to do at my age.

    I know it isn’t an imminent decision, life happens, etc., but for some reason this idea of “where is my career going” weighs really