open thread – June 28, 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.

{ 1,178 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Peach*

    I officially got tenure this week! It’s been over a year since the formal process started, and several more years of working towards this at my university. I keep my job and I get a raise! Yay!

    I’d like to celebrate or mark the occasion, but I’m not quite sure how. I’d like it to be something bigger than eating in a restaurant but (much) cheaper than a significant vacation. I have a strong tendency to downplay anything I achieve, and I’d like to break that habit here.

    So what suggestions do y’all have for celebrating a significant promotion?

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      congratulations!! no advice because my promotion came in while I was on my trying to leave for the one month old and we celebrated by getting fancy coffee!

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        that should say maternity leave. but definitely take some time to celebrate this. getting tenure is huge! you’ve worked so hard for years.

      2. IT Manager*

        Jewelry or a fancy pen so you can see it often and celebrate a tiny bit each time.


    2. MsM*

      Congrats! Weekend trip? Fancier restaurant than you’d typically treat yourself to? Some nice new wardrobe staples or accessories?

      1. Username here*

        I vote for weekend trip or something like a one or two night stay in a nearby city (or even downtown in your city if you’re in the burbs) in a slightly fancier hotel. Something that takes you out of your day to day element, but with limited travel costs (hotel, maybe a nice dinner only).

    3. Ricotta*

      An upgrade to something you use for the job, so you can see it and appreciate it frequently. A nice briefcase or bag, for example.

      1. Indigo*

        Seconded! If you work from home, consider upgrading your office chair or something fun for your home office (art? a fridge for snacks?)

        1. Please remove your circus from my monkeys*

          I was going to say art, or something nice/fun for the home.

        2. RW*

          When I paid off my student loan, I used the first paycheck afterwards to buy a painting for my office! I’d been admiring one in a local cafe and realised it was almost exactly the amount going to the loan each paycheck, so it felt like a very natural way to celebrate

      2. Joielle*

        Yes! The last time I got a big promotion I bought a gorgeous leather monogrammed work bag that was not crazy expensive, but more than I would ordinarily spend. I’ve been using it every day for two years and it still looks brand new (Cuyana, if anyone’s wondering.)

        1. Raia*

          I assume your job is onsite, but I do this for work from home as well! I’ve gotten myself an office chair, standing desk, monitor, keyboards, mice, etc as self gifts for promoting and being willing to learn a new job again.

    4. 3-Foot Tall Inflatable Rainbow Unicorn*

      Buy a Thing. It doesn’t matter what Thing; just whatever you said you’d get “someday” or have been kind of wanting, or thought was pretty. Buy the Thing as your reward.

      1. Sponsored by Vitamix (I wish they gave me one for this comment)*

        Exactly! I bought myself a Vitamix when I got I job that I had been working hard for. I had never been able to justify purchasing one. 15 years later, I still love my Vitamix.

        1. 20 Points for the Copier*

          Me, too! I won a work related award that came with a small cash prize. Eating salad dressing made with that Vitamix as I type this.

        2. Pine Tree*

          When I landed a job with a significant raise, I bought myself a Miele vacuum. That’s when I truly knew I was an adult – I was so excited about my vacuum!

          1. Sponsored by Vitamix (I wish they gave me one for this comment)*

            That is super funny because I was thinking of a Miele or Sebo vacuum as my reward for getting my new job. And I was thinking the same thing…wow, I guess that means I am an adult.

      2. Alternative Person*


        I got myself some rare games and a nice figurine after my last big achievement.

    5. Scientist12*

      Staycation? I bet that whole process was hard work. Take a week off and sleep in, watch movies, check out local spots (or maybe a nice restaurant a further drive away).

    6. Amber Rose*

      I often go places like the zoo or aquariums or amusement parks. Does your city have popular attractions?

    7. Tippy*

      High end mani-pedi or massage? Anything you don’t treat yourself to often that you like (for me it’s fancy make-up palettes or perfume).

      1. SansaStark*

        That’s what I was coming here to recommend, too. After receiving a significant promotion, I bought myself a “stackable” sapphire ring; the first piece of real jewelry that I purchased for myself. I plan to add to it for other notable/significant achievements. I love wearing something daily that reminds me of how hard I’ve worked for the things I have now. Also sparkles :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I love stack rings. I have my wedding ring, my substitute e-ring, and a silver band with paw prints and angel wings (for puppies current and past) all stacked together. :)

    8. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Is there anything special you could buy for yourself? A piece of jewelry or an item you’ve always wanted but never wanted to spend the money to get it for yourself? Like a Hermes scarf or a Coach tote bag? I’d get something that I would see often and would remind me to feel proud of my accomplishment.

      1. londonedit*

        Once, a few years ago, a book I worked very closely on ended up on the bestseller lists. It was hugely exciting and I wanted to do something to celebrate, so I bought myself a silver bracelet I’d had my eye on for ages. It was a bit of a splurge but nothing bank-breaking, and it was something I could (and still do) wear to physically remind me of my achievement. Definitely agree with buying something nice that you can use or wear to remind yourself of how well you’ve done.

      2. Chicago Anon*

        I have assorted friends who have “tenure boots” or “tenure ring/necklace/scarf.”

    9. anonymous academic*

      Tattoo? Day trip? Consumable (fancy food / drink) you otherwise wouldn’t get?

    10. call me wheels*

      Spa day? The hotels by me do like you can go as a pair and get a massage and hang out by the pool and get a drink and a lunch included which seems pretty fancy to me although I guess maybe not more so than a restuarant meal… or go see a show or a concert is pretty big I think! Congrats however you celebrate :]

    11. Sloanicota*

      If it was me, I’d make it a social event. No amount of individual purchase power would make me feel as much of an occasion as having people around to celebrate with me – plus it’s not as rude to say “come have a cookout to celebrate Peach’s tenure” as to say “I did a thing, please clap.” It could be a cookout hosted by someone else if you aren’t one for entertaining (plus then at least one person will for sure be there).

      1. Runcible Wintergreen*

        Seconding this. I think you’d be surprised at how many people really do want to have fun and celebrate stuff with their friends, regardless of what it is. If it’s convenient and less than $20, people will come out.
        I love a happy hour/afternoon hangout – if you don’t have a budget to host fully you could just buy a few appetizers/snacks and everyone buys their own beverage of choice. A brewery is great because they often let you bring your own food. If you want a fully non alcoholic option, a picnic/park hangout or ice cream happy hour would also be fun to get people together.

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        I was thinking the same thing. One of my best friends threw a tenure party and it was a blast. (Same friend just had her retirement party so this was a while ago–many of the same people at both.)

      3. Former academic*

        I threw a “can’t get fired” party that was a big blast. Tried for a mildly-debaucherous theme, complete with a mug shot photobooth and tequila bar setup.

      4. prof de prof*

        Another vote for “host a party with friends and colleagues.” In academia we often do a terrible job celebrating each others’ successes, and particularly if you have a good relationship with your colleagues, they will want to toast you. (Also: if you’re up for it, consider taking charge of celebrating the next person to get tenure. Backyard BBQ, cocktail hour, even just a passed bottle of champagne at a faculty meeting.)

    12. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Celebratory cake? Staycation at a hotel with a pool for a pool day? Buy something you’ve wanted to buy but haven’t yet for whatever reason? Spa day? High tea at a fancy hotel with friends? Go to a game/concert/play/event? Double feature movie day at the local cinema?

    13. alligator allegory*

      I’d celebrate with nice jewelry – ruby earrings, sapphire necklace etc. The price is between dinner & vacation, and you can feel good about it *every* time you put the jewelry on, for the rest of your life.

    14. chocolate muffins*

      YAY!!!! Congratulations!!! I got so excited to see this as the very first post here. I don’t have immediate thoughts on a way to celebrate – might come back with some – but didn’t want to miss the chance to leave some happy happy joy joy energy here for you.

    15. Ally McBeal*

      Congrats! I know you’ve worked so hard to achieve tenure.

      Could you do a day trip to a city or beach or something along those lines? Going out to eat at a fancy restaurant in a new city feels more special than going to your tried-and-true standby at home… or bring a couple friends to the beach with some beverages and snacks and have a beach party.

    16. GoodAQI*

      Congratulations! Plant something (perennial) in your garden, if you have one! I was gifted what I called the “tenure shrub” upon earning tenure, and it’s still growing in my garden, reminding me every year of the fantastic effort and achievement that goes into this process. Tenure was nearly 20 years ago for me, and the shrub is still a happy reminder. In addition, do everything else you want, to celebrate over the next many years — lots of good suggestions so far!

      1. Broadway Duchess*

        This is such a good idea. I’m up for a promotion and if I get it, I’m adopting this immediately! Like the jewelry piece someone mentioned, I’d smile every time I saw my version of the tenure bush.

    17. Dr. Doll*

      One of my colleagues treated herself to a pair of Fluevog boots that she’d been coveting for years.

      Of course, another colleague said, “Yes, we’re going out to dinner and then it’s on to working toward promotion to full.” Gee, so fun.

    18. CubeFarmer*


      Like you, I tend to want to keep things simple and small (why?) and not splash out. But tenure is a big deal. Maybe a nice work tote? Something spiffy for your desk?

    19. Distractinator*

      Love the other ideas, and if you plan some kind of social even with drinks you should know that TENURE is a brand of vodka that, while not remarkable as a beverage, adds the perfect aesthetic touch.

    20. AnonAdmin*


      Buy that one cool thing you’ve always wanted for your office but couldn’t justify – a new work bag, an office refrigerator, maybe a really nice plant, some artwork.

    21. Hyaline*

      If you enjoy restaurant experiences, do you have any farm to table or chef’s table night or anything like that near you? There are a couple places near us that have chef’s nights with multi-course meals and wine pairings that would feel more “special” than just dinner out, and a farm that does super elaborate, fancy farm to table meals.

      Maybe tickets to a concert, ballet, opera, or sporting event you usually wouldn’t treat yourself to?

      I also like using work achievements as an excuse to buy a new laptop bag or purse. To be fair, this is because I usually hold onto these items until they are ratty beyond belief, but the sentiment is there.

    22. birder in the backyard*

      That’s such a huge deal! When my partner made tenure, we went off birth control to have a baby.

    23. Meep*

      A night or two at a local spa and resort, maybe? That way you can pamper yourself without breaking the bank.

      Congrats, regardless!

    24. Academic*

      Congrats! What I really wanted to do when I got tenure and had planned on was a cleanout of my office and home office, and bonfire party. I didn’t get to do this as my promotion and tenure came through during pandemic lockdown. I did fancy takeout but wish I’d bought A Thing as someone has suggested.

    25. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Congratulations!!! That’s wonderful.

      When I got a big promotion I treated myself to a paid of Fluevog shoes that I get a lot of use from (they’re funky but not one of the really crazy pairs) and went to Portland for the weekend. I live in Vancouver, Canada, so I took the train down, and it was a lovely experience.

      If you have a “someday when I have tome, money I want to…” item, now’s the time!

    26. Festively Dressed Earl*

      A non-meal outing with friends!

      Partner got a perfect review and hefty raise last month. I looked around for something that would be a fun ‘date night’ and discovered an adults-only evening event at our local science center. Not a dinner, nothing requiring vacation time, and we treated 3 of our friends to tickets in order to make a small party. It was a blast!

    27. Goldenrod*

      Yay! Congrats!

      I recommend karaoke! There’s a place near where I live where you can rent a private room to sing and invite a bunch of friends.

    28. Tradd*

      Yay! I once celebrated a big work thing by buying an iPad I’d wanted for a long time. This was a while back.

    29. Bagpuss*

      what about a good quality print, or a piece of original art from an artist you like?
      I did that when I had a major promotion at work – I bought a signed, limited edition print from an artist I like, and I still get pleasure from seeing it on my wall, over 15 years later.
      (at the time, the cost was a little over a weeks pay, but of course you could tailor your budget!)

    30. MassMatt*

      Dinner and a show? 3 day weekend, maybe to an inn or spa within a couple hours drive? Day trip to a casino? A nice item of clothing? Fine alcohol (if you drink)? Buy a nice picture or item of bric-a-brac to commemorate? Go to a glaze-your-own pottery studio and paint a vase or serving platter? Nice wine and cheese for said serving platter? Splurge on some nice desk/writing materials, such as a desk blotter, fountain pen, or folio? Day trip to an amusement park? Throw a small party for your friends and family?

      Have fun with it!

    31. Falling Diphthong*

      Do you have an art district you could cruise around? A small art piece that really hummed for you would be a nice reminder whenever you look at it.

    32. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I’m in the camp of “buy a nice thing” especially a nice work thing, but if you want clutter-free, the last time I got a significant raise, I became a sustaining member of my local classical music station. It’s work related because that’s what I tune my radio to while I’m working. It’s only $5/month (the lowest tier, so very affordable) but I felt so grown up! There are nice perks even at this level and it feels good to know I’m contributing to something I benefit from daily. If you’re not into radio, then there’s stuff like adopting or sponsoring an animal at a zoo, an exhibit at a museum, etc; if you already have an activity you do, then upgrading your membership can be a nice luxury.

    33. DefinitiveAnn*

      Oh, congratulations, that is SUCH a big deal! No idea how to celebrate, but mad props from the Deep US South, Princess!

    34. just here for the scripts*

      Increase your contribution to you retirement account(s) with a portion of the raise (trust me, you won’t notice it much pre-tax and your future self will than you!).

      Then any of the “professional” or “home-related” things mentioned by others.

      Normally I’m a treat-yourself-spa type person, but I think for this, seeing something day-in/day out that reminds you of this accomplishment is better

    35. K Smith*

      Wow that is a HUGE accomplishment! I don’t have any suggestions, but as a fellow (former!) academic I just want to say congrats, and acknowledge what a tremendous amount of work that must have been. :)

    36. Morning Reading*

      Not specific to promotions, but I enjoy buying all new underwear to celebrate a major life change. Getting a new piece of furniture is nice too. Later you can look back and think, I’ve had that chair ever since… or, I last bought new underwear when I got promoted, eek, that was 10 years ago now!
      If buying things is not your jam, I recommend cutting or coloring your hair, or rearranging your furniture, or your art (at home or work.) a change in your environment to reflect your change.

    37. Princess Peach*

      Many excellent ideas! Thank you all for the congrats and the suggestions!
      I asked my coworkers what they did and got extreme answers – either nothing at all or two weeks in Hawaii. That apparently short-circuited my creativity.

    38. A Pocket Lawyer*

      I bought myself a really nice, dressy watch (secondhand) that I had wanted for a long time. I still think about that promotion when I put it on. It’s also the watch I wore at my wedding!

    39. Tulips*

      Congratulations! I got a raise today too, and I celebrated by buying myself flowers. I love the idea of jewelry or an appliance too — something that will remind you of your success every time you use it or wear it. But flowers are a good place to start while you’re deciding on a bigger purchase. :)

    40. AnonForThisOne*

      When I got my last big promotion I celebrated with a dinner. At a 3 Michelin Star restaurant.

      It was stupid expensive, which was why we hadn’t done it before, but it was amazing and felt really celebratory.

    41. Bibliovore*

      This is a huge deal. And congratulations. I know how hard you worked for this. An academic friend gave a small dinner party for about 8 close friends to celebrate. I did take a day off from work (as an academic there are no boundaries) took myself to my favorite bookstores, got a massage, bought expensive prepared food.

    42. JustAnotherFri*

      A concert, play, or any kind of live performance at a drivable distance big city? Bonus points if you can stay overnight at a nice hotel or splurge for really good seats.

    43. Doc McCracken*

      When I got my first big promotion circa 2006, I splurged on 2 things, a Dyson vaccum and I threw out all of my socks and bought all matching ones. For someone who grew up in poverty, throwing out those socks and replacing them with ones that I didn’t have to stress out about matching every laundry day was the height of luxury!

    44. Refugee from corporations*

      Congratulations and Best of Luck!

      As to a celebration idea “Username here” below has an excellent one.

  2. Amber Rose*

    4 weeks, 34 applications, 5 interviews, 3 rejections. It’s brutal and depressing. I really don’t want to go on EI, they’re already treating me like trash and my application isn’t even approved yet.

    My last video interview (yesterday) froze on me mid-word while I was making this awful grimace too. My next is actually in one hour.

    Anyway. I got accepted into a program at a well respected university (University of Alberta). Assuming I must work and school, and given that the classes have no scheduled times and it’s all “go at your own pace” what is an acceptable number of classes to take at once? I’m currently in two. Too many, too little? I don’t know how exams work yet but if those are also whenever I think there’s a solid chance I can blitz through a couple of these courses really fast.

    1. MsM*

      See how two goes, up it to three next term if you’re not feeling overwhelmed, and go from there.

      Good luck with the interview!

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I got my undergrad while I worked full time. I felt like two classes was perfect. Towards the end of my degree I was taking 3-4 each semester to try to just finish and it was brutal. Full time work and full time school was not for me.

    3. The Space Pope*

      Does the number of courses you take in any term or semester make a difference to your status as full or part-time student, and does that status make any difference to you?

      1. Goose In The Road*

        I just wrapped up a fully-online master’s program with asynchronous classes while working full time. I started with two/semester and that worked, but I was spending much of the weekends doing schoolwork. Summer semester was shorter and therefore faster-paced, and one class was more than enough. (I also ended up taking three classes in one semester while working, and holy moly, not an experience I would wish to repeat.)

        My recommendation is start with two for the first semester, then modify if it feels like not enough or too much.

        1. Bruce*

          This is all helpful advice, my son just finished his BA and is at a loss for what to do other than get an hourly job. Internships require that the applicant be a current student, so I’ve told him he may want to enroll in grad school part time so he can work and spend more time exploring what he wants to do for a career. He has done online classes before (2 years in lockdown!) so is familiar with how to pace himself for those…

      2. Amber Rose*

        That status isn’t relevant to the program I’m in since it’s continuing education. Not applicable for loans or anything. So it’s really just up to my own endurance lol.

        1. The Space Pope*

          Ah! Then I concur with the general advice here. Do two first and raise the bar to three (or don’t) depending on how that goes.

    4. Accounting Gal*

      I think it really depends on too many things specific to you, your personality, and your job – and also the type of program you’re in. I completed an MBA while working full time and having a baby – I took about 2 classes a semester, and that was plenty. Without the baby I could have pushed it to three but only in the interest of finishing faster – it would have been somewhat brutal. I think if you’re already feeling stressed I would stick with 2 classes and see how it goes first.

    5. Hillary*

      I did full time grad school (all in person) while working full time. I pulled it off but had no life.

      Two was straightforward, three was harder. Four left me grocery shopping on my lunch break and running out of clothes because I wasn’t home to do laundry.

    6. An Australian in London*

      One factor I’m not seeing mentioned is whether your future in any way depends on your grades.

      For example if you think there’s a chance that you’ll be applying for scholarships or ever do a PhD, grades matter a lot. For anything else… not so much. Since I completed my two Masters eight years ago no-one has ever asked about my individual subjects let alone my grades.

      I found A’s easy at only one unit while in fulltime work, and hard work at two units. At three I was no longer getting A’s which was upsetting until I was told grades didn’t matter if I wasn’t pursuing an academic future. I swallowed my pride and managed just fine with B’s and occasional C’s and it has never yet harmed my career.

    7. Bleepboop*

      Two is great! I did two per semester while in grad school and working full-time. Most of my classes were pretty easy and in theory I could’ve handled 3 some semesters, but then I had a couple of unexpectedly more difficult courses and was glad I stuck with two. If you have the option to take classes in the summer, do two then as well to speed up the degree. Good luck!

    8. Former academic*

      My old university had a guideline about having about 3 hours of assigned work for every credit hour. So a 3-credit class = 9 hours/week of work, on average. That might help with thinking about how much makes sense for you?

    9. KG*

      If you’re planning to work full-time, I think 2 is perfect. I did that when I took a college certificate program – it sped it up without being overwhelming.

    10. DoingGreat*

      4 weeks isn’t very long. 4 weeks would be super fast even in really good hiring environments. Having that many places to apply and that many interviews in 4 weeks is impressive.

      If you want to go to school, go to school. But if you’d rather have a new job, I’d take a lit of encouragement from how much interest you’re getting.

  3. Emmie*

    I need to give my manager a 360 review. She does a fantastic job. She’s available to answer questions. She’s smart. But I’m struggling to put that into words. What kind of positive feedback would you have for your manager? Any advice for me?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      The only time I had one of these, they gave us a framework for our feedback that helped focus the feedback.

      1) What should the manager start doing that they don’t already do?
      2) What should they continue doing that’s working?
      3) What should they stop doing that isn’t helpful/effective?

      Answering all three of these might be unhelpful if you have nothing but positive feedback, but they also might help with ideas about how your manager could be even better.

      1. EllenD*

        I think these are a really good starting point for thinking about feedback for anyone, whether manager, peer or staff. It’s important to include what you appreciate about their approach to their role and provide examples of why it was the right approach and what the outcome is.

    2. EmF*

      Those are already pretty great words. Can you elaborate with examples?

      “We were struggling to find a solution for X thing – my manager pulled together some resources she knew about and that helped us figure it out!”
      “Sometimes I have weird questions at weird times, and I’ve never felt like I was bothering her with them. This one time…”

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think some concrete examples would help. Then you can talk about how she did a good job managing in those cases.

    4. Tinamedte*

      Would it help to think about how the ways in which she is fantastic benefit you personally? And from that you might be inspired to see or remember qualities of hers that help your colleagues and/or your company (organisation, department) too. Just a way to get started!

    5. 3-Foot Tall Inflatable Rainbow Unicorn*

      “Manager gives me excellent support. I am particularly impressed by her quick and intelligent answers to my questions, which have really aided me with (process)(company requirements)(my tasking)(all of the above) this year.”

      Also – has your manager given you work you enjoy and helps you learn? Has your manager been gracious about life’s little bumps (sudden need to leave work due to illness/being late because of Reason/etc)?

    6. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      How would another person in her shoes, who isn’t as good as her, handle some of the situations she handles well? What’s the difference in what she does? Name that.

    7. BikeWalkBarb*

      Awesome that you have a great manager. Is she helping you grow professionally, if that’s your goal? In what ways is she supportive of your ability to do your job? Does she provide a space for you to process your growth in skills and abilities and also your challenges or barriers?

    8. learnedthehardway*

      In addition to how you feel your manager has benefited you from their leadership, training, etc. etc., think about what your manager is probably being evaluated on – eg. how effective their team is, does the team meet the metrics expected / quality expected, were there particular challenge that the manager made it possible for the team to overcome, etc.

      Say something like “Under Manager’s leadership, the team was able to hit / exceed targets”, or say “Because Manager was open to new ideas, we were able to change a process and the team became X% more efficient at widget making”.

      Ie. show the business impact of the manager’s performance.

    9. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I’m a manager who went through one and the qs from Caramel and Cheddar, and the suggestions of providing examples, are great. In case you want more, try to write to these questions
      -What are TWS’s leadership strengths?
      -How would you evaluate them in terms of leading [specifics of job, as distinct from managing people]? –Note this one isn’t “are they technically proficient” but “do they make it possible for the team to produce the level of work and type of work that they should be”
      -What is their relationship like leading individuals on the team (by using a broad question, you can respond about your relationship with your manager or the team as a whole)
      -Broadly, what’s something they could do to get better at their job?

      If your manager is as good as you say, she’ll welcome feedback even if some of it challenges her. Unlike a previous manager I had who had me do a 360 where they had clearly chosen the questions to elicit specific answers. None of my negative feedback fit in the framework provided. Cue giant eye roll.

    10. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      One more, Emmie — how is your manager at helping you be the best version of your work self you can be? Are you getting better, receiving feedback, feeling challenged and supported in any future goals? Is she giving you specific things to strive for?

    11. Emmie*

      I cannot thank all of you enough. This is one of the many reasons I love AAM. All of you helped me give my manager a more articulate review that will accurately reflect how amazing she is. I appreciated the examples, the questions, the links and the thought-provoking questions. Thank you to infinity and beyond.

  4. Ingrid*

    Day and night shifts
    To build from the last post Sloanicota suggested we make a thread here about advice and tips making life easier when you are two or more people living together but working and sleeping at different times.
    What has worked for you?

    1. not nice, don't care*

      It didn’t work for my household. My partner worked 911 dispatch for a decade. It was brutal on both of us for different reasons. I wish I had some advice on how to make it work, but what happened to me is that my sleep (always precarious) was destroyed and chronic health problems greatly intensified. I have some underlying issues that make shift work (and living with a shift worker) a problem right out the gate, so I actually was ready to end the marriage rather than suffer further declines in my health.
      We decided to deal with the financial complications and my spouse no longer works late/overnight shifts.
      I hope you get some good suggestions from people who have made it work.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I grew up in a household like this! We had to be very quiet getting ready in the morning, so night shift parent could sleep. (I still prefer mornings to be quiet.)

      And we always fixed a plate for them at dinner. It went in the fridge to heat up later.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        What did the night shift parent do to contribute to household / family duties? It sounds like this morning’s LW is doing everything and the night shift partner nothing, which is adding to the stress and burnout.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Daytime childcare, grocery shopping, field trip chaperone, vacuuming. We all did different chores around the house.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’m fortunate that I only had to live this way for six months, which is very different from it being a permanent lifestyle. I actually moved my bedroom to the basement so I could come and go without waking up the rest of the house (the basement had its own walkout). My partner and I sort of both kept a ‘third shift’ type schedule so that we did have overlapping time, otherwise it would have been possible to literally never see each other ever, which wouldn’t have been satisfactory even for a concrete period. We prioritized the meal we had in common. Unlike the letter writer this morning, neither of us was totally let off the hook to contribute because of the weird schedule, which was important.

    4. Fun Shirt Friday*

      Ear plugs when sleeping during the day. When one person cooks, make enough for both, so the other person has something. Clearly communicate chores/expectations, and also be flexible about that stuff. Just generally be thoughtful about noise. All that said, it’s still not great and it’s not going to work for some people, for various reasons.

    5. Princess Peach*

      Blackout curtains for the day sleeper, something to cover sound (fan, music, white noise machine) for both people, and ideally, make sure the bed isn’t sharing a wall with the kitchen or a noisemaker like the TV.

      Schedule noisy chores like vacuuming, and make sure to respect both people’s sleeping schedules. Pets will learn pretty quick, but kids are a lot more difficult from what I’ve seen with friends. Try to do the mundane life things like bills & dishes on your own time so you can enjoy being awake & home together.

      Also, it’s okay if it doesn’t work out. My partner and I lived this way for a few years, and he eventually got very frustrated missing out on social events, having to schedule medical appointments that required him to stay up too late, etc. He switched jobs to work days again. It paid less, but he was much better off. I switched jobs to make up for the pay cut.

      Meanwhile, my in-laws have happily maintained opposite sleeping schedules for 30 years. They have separate bedrooms on the opposite side of their house and are good at entertaining themselves when the other one is sleeping or working.

    6. IT_rocks*

      My spouse and I had about an hour of overlap most days so we scheduled intimate time, time to work on house chores together, errands, etc. It was so easy for us to forget we were a family and become roommates instead of partners without the schedule.

    7. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Different bedrooms if your sleep schedules are that different. Some people may balk at the idea, but it can be actually really nice to have separate bedrooms if you have the space for it. You can have exactly the bedding set up that you want, the mattress firmness/softness you want, etc. Whoever sleeps during the day should have the room furthest from the living room/kitchen/louder areas of the house, and they should have blackout curtains over the windows.

      Make a point to have at least one meal together most days; it might be breakfast for you and dinner for them, but you can still eat together.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        I’d be tempted to have separate bedrooms even if my partner didn’t do shifts; I find it hard enough to fall asleep in a quiet room on my own. You can always spend some nights in one bed or cuddle for a bit then go back to your own room, but there’d be so much less disruption. But if that’s not possible, you can get mattresses that dampen the movement from the other person to stop your sleep being as disruptive.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This is what I was gonna say. My husband and I both work variants of bankers hours (I work 7-3:30 and he works 10-6, but both decidedly first shift and we both work from home). But we have separate bedrooms because I am an early-to-bed-early-to-rise super light sleeper who wants a mattress made out of concrete and six layers of blankets while he is a night-owl-late-riser who wants to sleep on a marshmallow, can’t come to bed without making 30 minutes of ruckus first, snores (sometimes despite his CPAP), thrashes, steals all my covers AND THEN THROWS THEM OFF THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BED YOU JERK because it’s too hot for him if the temperature is above 62 :P So his bedroom is in the basement where it’s 10 degrees colder than the second floor where my bedroom is. I can still hear him snoring from my office, but if I’m already awake, the snorting doesn’t bother me, whereas he would EVERY NIGHT wake me up coming to bed, then it would take me two hours to get back to sleep.

      3. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        when I have done night rotations (thankfully never for longer than a month or two at a time), we made a point of trying to have that meal (breakfast for me, dinner for him) as it was a nice way to connect a little. It made it harder for my husband to ever do anything after work during those times, but it was very lonely for me if I didn’t that slice of interaction.

        I think it is also much, much easier when it is something that both partners have done / have needed to do. My husband isn’t in medicine, but he has also had jobs with occasional nights/weekends/late hours, and I think it made us both much more flexible with each other.

        1. RW*

          Yeah, I’ve done night shifts with family and in flats but not with a partner. I found it worked because it was a true night shift (11-7 one job, 10-8 the other) and I preferred to sleep immediately after my shift; that meant I was arriving home as my flatmates/family were getting ready for work, saying a sleepy hello and falling into bed, and when they got home from work I’d be waking up, around for a meal and a chat and then heading out for work as they got ready for bed. I also had to make a point of scheduling social things when I was on nights as I got very lonely without it too!
          I don’t think I could cope with an evening job long-term, though (say an 8pm-4am or similar). Not being able to overlap for dinner would put way too much stress on things for me.

          1. RW*

            This schedule also means sleeping works out even if you don’t have separate rooms which is nice! Maybe you wake someone up but probably only when they’re about due to wake up anyway…

      4. Brillig*

        It’s a small thing in addition to everyone else’s suggestions, but having a partner who was willing to adjust their preferred time of day for various foods was wonderful. Having meatloaf or salads together at 7am when I got home for “dinner” and scrambled eggs for 8pm “breakfast” was a real adjustment on their part but it made me feel so appreciated and connected to normal life in our all-too-brief weekday overlap.

      5. Bruce*

        As we’ve gotten older our sleep is disturbed enough that we both need separate bedrooms even though we are both day people. It is hard enough to sleep without worrying about waking your partner with tossing and turning. If people have the room to do this it can be worth trying, it does not reflect on the closeness of the marriage.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. Both my husband and I are restless sleepers. I’m certain our marriage would’ve ended if he hadn’t agreed to sleep in separate rooms. Both of us are early birds, I’m usually working by 7 when I WFH.

    8. Annie*

      Here we go!

      -Get enough sound- and light-blocking devices to go around: headphones, earplugs, sleep masks, blackout curtains, white noise devices, extra pillows and blankets, door skirts, etc.

      -Have an actual plan for household chores. Which ones can be done quietly enough to not disturb a sleeper? Which ones need to wait until everyone is awake?

      -Make the limited time everyone can be awake and home at the same time Sacrosanct Family Time. This can include group activities or even the aforementioned group chores that can’t get done while someone is asleep.

    9. Just me*

      My husband works swing shift at a factory, I work days from home. It works really well for us. I get time alone in my office to work, it doesn’t disturb them in any way. Then they get up, we spend time together during my lunch, then they get ready and go to work later. I spend the rest of the afternoon/evening alone at home, and they come in while I’m sleeping. They do things they need to do in the middle of the night but it never bothers me. We spend weekends together from later morning/early afternoon onward. We all get alone time and together time.

    10. An Australian in London*

      I’ve made it work with a large house with dedicated work/office room far away and around multiple corners from the bedroom. Even so it was necessary to close multiple doors for meetings and phone calls.

      It was also important for relationship maintenance to schedule together time when both were awake, even if at different times in our personal clocks.

      I also deliberately chose to eat dinner meals in what my body said was breakfast time so as to have a shared meal. Plus it gave me an excuse to have breakfast for dinner. :)

    11. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      My partner was on second-shift (3 pm – 2 am) four nights a week for a year, while I work 8-6. It worked ok for us, but we don’t have kids. Here’s what worked:
      – Separate bedrooms, with blackout curtains and some kind of white noise (we used fans). I am generally a quiet person and a heavy sleeper, while he’s a light sleeper and…not so quiet of a person, so we’re naturally compatible around noise. The garage door was the biggest issue – if I had to leave before he’d be awake in the morning, I moved my car into the driveway the night before, and he parked in the street. I kept grab-and-go things to eat first thing in the morning, like bananas or yogurt, so I wouldn’t have to bang stuff around in the kitchen if I was hungry when I woke up.
      – I worked from home as much as possible so if he woke up at, say, 11 am, even if I was working, we could still spend some time together. I’d flex my work schedule so I could have breakfast with him, and we’d try to take a 20-minute walk together before he left for work.
      – We were luckily off on one or two of the same days a week. I really tried to stay up later those nights to spend time with him on his schedule – not 2 am, but I’d make a concerted effort to make it to midnight. He really tried to get up earlier on the days he was off. Neither of us was 100% but the effort really mattered.
      – We both had Saturdays off and he had Fridays, so we had a recurring Friday evening activity and a recurring Saturday at noon activity. This worked within both of our sleep schedules to give us time together. We were intentional about weekends being time to enjoy each others’ company, not time for chores or errands.
      – We just dealt with chores as we saw the need. But we’ve always had an intuitively equitable division of labor. We also have a small and low-maintenance living space and our pets are super easy; we each do maybe an hour or two of housework a week and we’re fine.
      – I’m a lot more social than he is, so it worked well for me to have weekday evenings free to spend time with friends. On his days off he was my priority.

      We are also both super low-maintenance people – he came from living in an RV on a crowded property with no reliable access to running water, and I came from group houses with awful roommates and slum-lord landlords. So things like noise, different schedules, etc. have been part of our lives for a long time and we had independently figured out how to live with the inconveniences before we started navigating them together.

    12. learnedthehardway*

      When I was studying and working and had a new baby, one of the things that was most helpful to me was earplugs. I could sleep while my husband and MIL took care of our infant, rather than waking up all the time. Even though I KNEW MIL (especially) could handle things just fine, my mamma bear instinct would have me launched out of bed upon hearing my baby crying, otherwise.

      So, I think whoever is resting should do everything they can to block out the noise of the other person working – earplugs, sleep mask, blackout curtains/blinds, white noise, even (if they exist) something that prevents them from feeling vibrations from the other person walking around. Obviously, the working person should try to be quiet and should use headphones, as well.

      1. Seccatrice*

        We’re not on completely different shifts, but different enough that is was always hard finding a time to do noisy chores like vacuuming: Whenever one of us was awake and had time, the other one would be asleep. So we eventually hired a cleaner to come for a couple of hours every other week and timed her hours so one of us had just left for work and one was about to return. Money well spent because it meant we got to live in a clean, tidy home rather than constantly feeling annoyed about seeing that e.g. the floor needed hoovering but not being able to do it without waking each other up.

    13. DannyG*

      As I posted on the earlier thread I’ve been on both sides of this situation: my late wife spent 25 years working mostly overnights in ICU while I worked days or bridge shifts (1p -1A). The first thing to note is whether the shift is 8 hours vs 12 hours. The former still gives you several hours of useful time while the latter leaves little time to do anything but eat, toss a load into the washer, then get up and do it all over again. The big thing is to make sure the day sleeper gets the environment he/she needs. Temperature, sound environment, etc. I endeavored to make sure that I didn’t have a reason to go into the bedroom when my late wife was asleep and didn’t do anything noise generating during that time. 12 hour shifts became standard for hospital work between 1990 and 2000. She worked a 2 on 2 off cycle which added up to 7 nights per fortnight while I worked 7 on 7 off. The pattern matters as flipping from night shift to days takes 2 days, so she stayed on the same sleep schedule even when off. I did most of the cooking/shopping as those activities fit better with my schedule. The rest of the house work was catch as can and usually only on days we were off together. Fast forward to 2020 and I took a position at an inner city hospital working what was supposed to be 7 on 7 off overnights but ended up being more like 10 days per fortnight due to staff shortages. Remarried at this point my wife is retired so that changed the dynamics: sleep for me was in a totally blacked out room, fan & AC, plus Mozart on my phone. She took care of shopping & cooking as well as working on her art & craft projects. We froze a lot of meals for the weeks that she was back home so all I had to do was nuke and go. The takeaway is that overnights are not easy, day sleep is not natural for most people, don’t expect the night shifter to flip over to days unless they have a full week to adjust, and each partner does whatever it’s necessary to keep the household together.

  5. Ricotta*

    Anyone else seeing proof of these “fake job postings” that business journalism is currently obsessed with?

    Out of curiosity regarding the topic, I’ve kept track of two specific roles I interviewed for last year. Both are in small enough companies that they’re definitely not doing multiple hires. Both are still being re-posted over and over, making it 13 and 16 months in a row. At this point, I have to believe they’re just not bothering to hire. With all the tech layoffs, they clearly have their pick of quality candidates. (I’m average as hell, and I could have easily done either of them.)

    1. Sloanicota*

      I’m amused how there’s apparently both fake job postings, and fake job applicants (AI bots, according to my friend in hiring). Maybe the fake applicants will flood the fake jobs and break the internet.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Fighting Stupid with Stupid…

        I’ve seen “fake listings” that usually boil down to organizations that won’t get their act together and/or won’t be honest with themselves.

        I’ve seen “fake applications” that usually boil down to a real person delegating the drudgery and/or long odds to automation–something I would think employers would prize, but rarely do so.

        The job market is limping along broken; I’m rooting for AI to utterly wreck it to the point where something functional has to arise to meet the needs and demands of both sides.

        1. Hiretheoldfolks*

          Actually, was told by a friend who works at a local company I want to get in with, that they are advertising jobs that don’t exist to ‘collect resumes’. So there’s that. Id consider that a fake job posting.

          1. Bingo Bongo*

            I believe it’s mostly third party recruiters doing that. There’s not much incentive for employers to do it.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        And eventually we’ll be back to dropping printed resumes off in person, to stem the flood. When ChatGPT first hit the news, I predicted that online dating/hookup sites would soon devolve into nothing but bots catfishing each other – it appears that online job postings have the same weaknesses.

        1. Bruce*

          I read the Clarkesworld sci-fi magazine, they had a short story about AI enabled dating, in a near future where AI is the intermediary in family communications as well as dating… the protagonist has chats with Real-Sis, Bot-Sis, Bot-Mom and is estranged from her Real-Mom. Her Date-Bot has dozens of chats with the guy’s Date-Bot and she is paging through them to try to figure out if she really wants to go on a date with him… I guess this is getting into spoilers though…

        2. Academic*

          I’m an English professor getting email ads for AI systems to provide feedback tk my students. Bots grading bots!

        3. Student*

          I actually saw a posting that required the application to be dropped off in person. That’s definitely a good way to weed out the “spray and pray” applications!

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            It makes sense in one level, but it sucks if you’re applying because you want to move to that area. I’m not sure what the equivalent would be – out of area candidates, please click this zoom link to submit? Also, it would enhance this risk of conscious & unconscious bias, wouldn’t it?

            Life is hard some days.

      3. Bananapantsfeelings*

        Also, US unemployment requires people to do job searches for every week they claim, even if the perfect match job just isn’t posted – that means that some people are just applying to jobs to meet that need.

    2. Student*

      I don’t know if it’s proof that the postings are fake, but I definitely see jobs reposted, including ones that I’ve interviewed for. Could be that the company has unrealistic expectations for hiring or can’t keep someone in the role. One posting for an overnight hotel desk clerk paying minimum wage wrote in a subsequent posting, in all caps, that they wanted someone who was going to stay in the position long-term. Yeah, good luck with that.

      1. Siege*

        We have a job posting open that is absolutely not fake but we’ve had to repost it three times (and counting). The first time, we had three candidates to interview and about ten candidates that were clearly just applying for anything. Two of the candidates dropped out day of (one bothered to let us know and the other just ghosted us) and the person we did interview took a job they were interviewing for simultaneously with our parent organization. We did know they were applying for it, so I can’t be mad.

        The second time, we had another 7 trash applications, including a reapplication from someone we rejected the first time, and one candidate to interview who was not a good candidate after all.

        We’ve ended up reposting it again. But it’s definitely a weird job – if everyone else in our industry has Llama Groomers and Llama Herders, with two very distinct skillsets, we’re looking for someone who can do Llama Grooming and Llama Herding on about an equal split. This is not, like, “5% of the time, you will be Herding Llamas,” it’s “every year you will spend half your time Herding Llamas”. And the problem with that is that Llama Herders don’t typically like Llama Grooming, and vice versa. So I hope applicants think it’s a real job, despite reposting, but it’s definitely not doing itself any favors by being a split job.

        1. linger*

          Maybe time to reconsider whether it needs to be a single split-duties position rather than two part-time positions?

          1. Siege*

            If only I was the president of the organization to make that decision! And neither job is part time. The territories are smaller instead.

        2. My Useless Two Cents*

          Yeah, I think this is happening more and more. At least I’ve see it more over the last 20 years, companies have been combining disparate (or sometimes opposing) job skills into one position, then not settling for anything but the unicorn they are seeking.

          Ex. My job is very detail oriented, requiring a LOT of focus or details get missed or done wrong. (I literally get corrections back where the only change is that I only have one space between a date and my initials and there needs to be two, in the footer of a document only seen internally) Owner kept trying to add customer service/sales duties to my tasks!
          It seems to me (after years in the job, and seeing numerous co-workers come and go with varying degrees of success) that people as extremely detail oriented as this job entails do not have the personality for success is customer service/sales. After 15 YEARS, I think the owner is finally starting to get that and finally job searching for two people (one to fill an opening in my position, and one as more of a customer service rep position)

          1. Zephy*

            I wonder if it’s a case of “these 2-3 different jobs all got reorg’d into being this one person’s responsibility, and now they’re leaving, so all we can conceive of is filling the Greg-shaped hole and we don’t remember that Greg was himself also filling Susan- and Alex-shaped holes.”

      2. Former preschool teacher*

        I saw an absolutely unhinged job posting yesterday from a daycare I used to work at. They were toxic when I worked there, the owner has passed it on to their child, and while they have increased the pay to keep up with the times, it’s still actually low. On Indeed, it has the little “urgently hiring” flag, and they are hiring multiple candidates. At a location that has no more than 10 teachers tops. So yeah, some of these positions just get reposted because of turnover…or maybe they have trouble getting people in the first place because their job ads are so full of red flags, lol.

        I’ll post the description, but some notes: they say 50% discount on childcare, but when I worked there, they’d just lowered it to 10% because two teachers had babies at the same time, followed by a third one, and they “couldn’t afford” the discount. The next two pregnant employees quit before/after maternity leave (unpaid of course). Employees whose children attended daycare still got shamed by the employer for having to go home with their sick kid if the kid was sent home by the daycare, per state licensing requirements. They guilted them for their partners not taking the child instead.

        They brag about paying for professional development that’s required to work there. When I was there I frequently had to pay.

        When people were sick or out for other reasons, we often got texted at the last minute to come in earlier or stay later, and when low on staff we were not allowed to leave the building during the one-hour lunch. Oh yeah and they’d shorten it to a half hour sometimes. One person was without a car for a long time because she simply couldn’t get to the DMV at any time it was open because of the length of the shifts and being trapped there during lunch.

        The posting:
        Preschool Teacher- Join our family!

        [Redacted] Day Care Center is a NECPA & 4 Star Parent aware child care center and has been nurturing and educating children since 1969. Our desire is for all children to learn, play, and grow in a safe and loving environment. Our core values are Children First, Trusting Relationships, Growth & Fun. WE have a tight-knit team of early childhood professionals, and we want to hire YOU to join our team, if you love children are looking to join a FAMILY not just a job!

        [Redacted] Day Care Center has a preschool teacher position available for the right person. We are looking for an experienced preschool teacher to work 7:45-4:45 with an hour break.

        The ideal candidate will be dependable, hard-working, creative, positive, a team player and most importantly, love children.

        You must be able to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, “Wheels on the Bus” and any other songs requested by the children. Your tune is not important, your performance is everything!

        You must be able to identify and remember the names of 14 children, parents, grandparents, blankets, coats, socks, hair bows and any other item that has ever walked in your classroom instantly and know the location. don’t worry we know this is not something you will be able to do on day one, day two however is another story.

        You must also be prepared to laugh, love and learn more about children than you ever have. This is by far one of the most joyous places to work, but you must be prepared to accept the challenges and benefits this job has to offer. Yes, you will have many days where go you home utterly exhausted, but you can’t wait to go the next day and try that amazing Pinterest project you found. If you are ready to join a winning team where we laugh, have fun, and kick drama out the door, come see us! We can’t wait to meet you.

        Just in case you need more information…. Yes, you must pass a background check. You must take an online SUID, AHT and child development course, get your Pediatric CPR and First Aid within 90 days (if you don’t have it already) And guess what, we pay for it! We do provide a class schedule; however, we allow you the creative freedoms to add activities you deem necessary. We want you to the leader in your classroom!

        Our benefits & Perks include:
        PTO- 1 hr per 30 hrs worked (1st year); front loaded 48 (2nd year); front load 80 hrs (3 yr +)
        8 paid holidays
        Paid annual training to include 2 full day trainings (16 hrs) per year
        SBMA Health coverage (paid by [Redacted]) (meets Obama Care requirements)
        Colonial Life- additional coverage for dental, vision, etc)
        Paid CPR & First Aid
        50% child care
        Free meals
        All supplies and materials provided for the classrooms
        Holiday Parties
        Private Facebook Community

        Other important info:
        Must be able to follow the implement the in house curriculum
        Employ a variety of educational techniques (storytelling, educational play, media etc.) to educate children.
        Observe each child to help them improve their social competencies and build self-esteem
        Must have a professional, positive attitude

        Classroom duties include but are not limited to helping children with eating, toileting, cleaning, keeping a clean and safe classroom, following a daily schedule and routine, keeping appropriate logs and making sure everything is in compliance with licensing, Parent Aware, NECPA and [Redacted] standards.

        Must be able to stand for long periods of time, frequent walking, sitting on the floor and playing with children, being able to lift up to a 40 lb child in an emergency situation.

        Must love hugs, children, a fun environment, and have a strong work ethic.

        Skills Needed:

        Proven experience as a Preschool Teacher

        Excellent understanding of the principles of child development and preschool educational methods

        Familiarity with safety and sanitation guidelines for classrooms

        Excellent communication and instructional skills

        Ability to act as mediators between children

        Cool-tempered, friendly and reliable

        Balance between a creative mind and a practical acumen

        Certification in child CPR & First aid (or willing to obtain)

        CDA, degree in education or relevant filed

        Does this sound like the right place for you? Apply today online or in person at [Redacted]

        P.S. Negative & lazy people, gossipers, and whiners need not apply.

        Cover letter and resume may be forwarded to [Redacted]

        [Redacted] recognizes legally protected classes for employees, and all employment actions will be made without regard to an employee’s race, color, creed, religion, age, gender (including sexual orientation/preferences), national origin, pregnancy disability or veteran’s status.

        Job Type: Full-time
        Pay: $17.00 – $18.00 per hour
        Expected hours: 40 per week

        1. Joe Momma*

          50% childcare

          haha so their own child will only be cared for 50% of the time? (I know what they mean but they didn’t say discount so)

        2. CubeFarmer*

          Good grief. I’ll bet these are also people saying, “Nobody wants to work anymore!”

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      There has always been loads of proof all over facebook, Reddit, youtube, etc. but everyone gets dismissed as “anecdotal” but the thing is, when thousands and thousands of anecdotes suddenly appear, it should be seen as a trend. IME this has been going on for a decade or so actually but is only getting noticed now because it’s gotten out of hand and bleeding into both very technical roles and more basic jobs that have no reason not to hire.

      Personally I was unemployed for many months in 2014 and you’d see the same job posted and reposted but no one ever hired on linkedin and no rejection after you applied. Then when I got annoyed with my then-new job in 2016 and 2018 and would look, it would be the same jobs reposted every 30 days.

      I think the issue is 60% “fake” job and 40% “waiting for a unicorn so the job is essentially not real.”

      As an example, I saw a job in my industry that was indeed niche. I know the laws governing sale and transport of some products for seven states, know how to write contracts for them, know the usual issues with shipping them, know the typical weird complaints customers and resellers have. I’ve coded issues and reports and created dashboard to summarize these issues. So I see the exact job posted at a competitor in an area I want to live in. Literally my same job. Have not heard back. IME that is not a real job if someone like me is not even interviewed (or auto-rejected).

      If someone is looking for someone with “ten years transacted in cherry glass jars with the accompanying paper work, in Alabama and Tennessee and experience making Tableau dashboard for said sales and experience interpreting broken glass disputes in Kentucky courts” and I have that and you don’t even interview me – then you had someone else in mind and the job is fake. Sorry!

    4. Dueling Scents*

      Yes. A friend of mine warned me not to apply to the analyst role at her company when I was looking for work.

      They just did a ton of layoffs and apparently have posted a lot of roles. It was explicitly to be a fake posting, but basically the gist is they will lose the role I. their team and not get it back if they don’t keep the posting up but they are not actually allowed to move forward right now so they have reposted the toke 5 months in a row. They only plan to look at the last 3 weeks of applicants once they can actually hire because they already have over 2,000 applications.

    5. not so great not so frozen north*

      Not sure about how it is in the States but in Canada there’s been a staggering increase in temporary foreign workers, and one of the hoops employers have to jump through is proving there’s nobody currently in the country available to do the work. So I have questions.

      (Also no shade on TFWs: you have to do what you can to support yourself and your family – I’m just not a fan of the exploitative nature of the employment – being dependent on your employer/job to remain in the country is not a great situation for equitable and just employment practices.)

    6. Stuart Foote*

      I remember once I interviewed for an internal promotion, didn’t get it, but the job posting stayed on LinkedIn for weeks (and LinkedIn kept sending me emails suggesting I apply for it which was frustrating). I asked our HR person about it and she didn’t know it was still up, so I guess they paid LinkedIn to promote it for a certain amount of time. They ended up not filling that specific role but rather shuffled people around, so technically it was “fake” in that that specific role was never filled.

      1. Bingo Bongo*

        I believe LinkedIn can also cull from other job boards. I reported a job as closed once because when I followed the apply link, the company’s website said the position was no longer available, and LinkedIn responded that the job was not hosted on their site.

    7. Tree*

      I work for a small financial services firm and we have an open position on the team. There is no sense of urgency from either the manager or HR person. They posted it on LinkedIn once three months and that was it. If the HR person knew how to auto renew the posting, they would just repost it over and over again. They barely respond to anyone who applies. They just aren’t bothering to hire. My workload isn’t crazy, so I don’t really care, but I’ve had former colleagues who applied reach out and ask what was going on.

    8. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      My son applied for a job with a well known chain restaurant and within minutes had a text scheduling an interview. After scheduling the interview he got a text to fill out “pre-interview” online info from a legit site, but since the requested info included information like SSN I told him no, he needed to get the job and then verify the portal with a person.

      He showed up at the interview and they were not hiring at that location and had no idea what he was talking about.

    9. strawberry lemonade*

      Sure, anecdotally, I worked for a small software company that kept technical job postings open most of the time. It was a hangover from years ago, when the founders wanted to make it look like they were a serious, established enterprise software provider.

    10. CubeFarmer*

      I applied for a job earlier this year, interview three times, and then decided to take another offer. This position was vacated in late September 2023, the opening was posted mid-March, and is still not filled. At this point, I don’t believe that they’re serious about filling it. The nine-month gap would also give me pause (if I were still interested in the position.)

    11. AnonForThisOne*

      At my last job we had jobs that kept being reposted…over and over. And over.

      It’s not, at least in this case, that it’s a fake job it’s that you can’t get alignment on what people are looking for and someone likes a candidate and someone else doesn’t (ruling them out over a shirt they are wearing on LinkedIn) and then you have to start over because it took so long to get alignment to not move forward that everyone who applied to the initial position is celebrating their 90 days at the new job they accepted after applying with the company.

      Are there fake jobs out there? Sure. But I think it’s more that company hiring is often done by a cabal of idiots.

    12. Cat Executive Officer*

      I’ve been actively job hunting for the past year and I have lost count of how many of the same jobs I keep seeing reposted over and over again. I think some are fake, and others are the employers taking forever to fill a role.

    13. alligator allegory*

      Posting job ads that companies can’t or won’t hire for is nothing new – y old company was doing that 20 years ago. Sometimes it’s resume collection (aka fishing expeditions), sometimes it’s trying to prove to investors that the “company is growing”, sometimes they fully intended to hire someone in March, but that manager left, and that dept is chaos, and HR has other things to worry about.

  6. Anonymous Annabelle*

    Does anyone feel like there has been a shift in recent years of office politics > technical skills, or that they worked in places early in their career that put technical skills as the #1 front but now it’s more of a challenge because workplace politics have gotten worse? I work in marketing and have been at both agencies and in-house for reference.

    I graduated college in 2010, and the jobs I worked at from 2010 – 2015 seemed so much more professional. I was expected to act professional, and get my work done by the deadlines. If policies and deadlines weren’t met, you could get in trouble. There was a layer of accountability that I don’t see as much anymore. My bosses during this time could be bullies sometimes, but they would be quick to criticize and give me the most work. At this time I had poor boundaries and was always worried about getting fired (my anxiety) so I worked hard to do what my bosses wanted, mostly in fear of not wanting to get in trouble. While I had work friends and socialized a bit, I mostly kept my head down and worked, because I was also so busy and had so many deadlines. 

    Then from 2015 to now, the places I’ve worked at have been way more office politic-y. This includes (both ways from reports/superiors): schmoozing, overt flirting, blatantly not working and complaining about work/meetings. I can be clueless and I think in my younger years I didn’t realize how to actually do this, and frankly I still don’t. I was always friendly and professional while focusing on my work throughout my career, so to watch the younger folks come in and complain about work or flirting with their boss is getting hard to watch. Are there some unwritten rules about this stuff that everyone else knows?

    I know that was kind of all over the place, I hope that made sense. I just feel like I’m screwed because I don’t know how to do this because I’ve worked so hard on my technical skills. I’m friendly to coworkers, but I’m more introverted so I’m not bubbly or flirty.

    1. Excel Gardener*

      Maybe you’re at less dysfunctional workplaces, but I also think as you move up in seniority you see more of the office politics. Managers often (correctly!) shield junior employees from office politics entirely.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think it could be a combination of both. I’ve seen it differ even at different divisions in the same organization.

      2. Tio*

        I’ve been in management for a while, and some offices have terribly messy politics, and some have “Kevin’s always professional but very set in his ways and hard to sell change to” kind of politics. It’s really more about the job and how much power specific people have. I’ve also found that in larger companies, they tend to have more specific, strict policies to keep people in line, but there are always people who are very rigid about This One Thing I Control.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      “schmoozing, overt flirting, blatantly not working and complaining about work/meetings”

      I wouldn’t describe that as office politic-y, so much as just unprofessional behaviour? When I think about office politics, I think about how you can’t ask Director A for help with Task Y because of the run-in they had with VP #4 or any combination of things where you’re navigating a lot of weird interpersonal minefields.

      Your colleagues just sound like they don’t know how to act in a workplace, which is definitely annoying, but in my own workplaces that doesn’t feel like a shift. But I don’t work in your field, so maybe that field has had a marked increase in this kind of thing for reasons unknown.

    3. Choggy*

      I’ve could have written what you wrote because I feel the same so hard! I am glad to be retiring soon because I really can’t take anymore of being the path of least resistance and one of the very few who takes any ownership. I don’t join in any social events any longer because invariably someone will ask me about a work issue and expect me to answer.

      I’ve seen others who were in the same boat stop caring as much (myself included) with no one taking up the slack. I squarely blame management because they just ignore the issue if things are getting done.

      My company is being sold, and I have a feeling there will be layoffs. I would stay if I knew I’d be one of those being laid off so I could get a severance package but know they would want me to stay based on my experience, knowledge and work ethic. No thanks!

    4. municipal worker*

      Growth mindset! You don’t need to be bubbly or flirty, but you do need to be shrewd about getting along with others. No matter what your job is, climbing the career ladder means less of doing your own work well and more of working with others well, whether that be through mentoring greener colleagues, advising on the direction of your organization, or actually leading a team or project. You say you don’t know how, but you can learn.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think this has been an overall culture change, but a change in your perspective and the literal companies or teams where you’re working.

      The job I have now has a lot more friendly chitchat but less schmoozing, and appears to value technical skills (or quantifiable versions of soft skills) more highly than my job last year, and some places I worked prior to 2014. Other places I worked in the the past that were very small didn’t have much going on in the way of politics because there wasn’t anybody to politic with, just me and my boss!

      I don’t think the places I used to work have probably changed much, I’m just here instead of there.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      I do not think you can generalize this. It depends on the office. You may be in bad offices because “schmoozing, overt flirting, blatantly not working and complaining about work/meetings” are not office politics. They’re all pretty unprofessional.

      More junior roles are more likely to focus on technical skill. As you move up, it becomes less about your individual technical skill and more about working with and within a team.

    7. An Australian in London*

      Seconding what’s been said, politics becomes both more visible and more important as we become more senior in our careers.

      Something that helped me a lot with this was being told that it is seldom (never?) possible for an organisation to say yes to every good idea because there aren’t enough resources to do that. That means decisions have to be made about how to allocate finite resources. Politics (at least in the workplace) is the art and science of influencing those decisions. And like politics in governments, all we achieve by not being involved is that those decisions are made without our input.

  7. Indigo*

    My cousin quit his corporate job 10 years ago to become a full time artist. He has been very successful with his art and has also amassed an enormous following on social media which has led to very lucrative sponsorships. In short, he’s living his dream and getting paid handsomely to do it, and I couldn’t be happier for him!
    The problem is he talks constantly about “breaking free from corporate” to live your dreams. I actually love my corporate job. I’m paid well with great benefits and have great work life balance, plus I find my work really fulfilling. Does anyone have a script to respond to the “break free from corporate” speech that doesn’t invalidate his own choices? I’m really happy for him, but I wish he’d respect my decision to stay at a “boring” job the way I respect his decision to walk away from one.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      Maybe lean into it? “I love that for you! I adore my Boring Job and I’m really happy with it, but I know it’s not for everyone!” (And for me the internal monologue after that is “just like working “for yourself” sounds super stressful to me and sooooo not for everyone!” but I generally keep that part in my own head :-) )

      1. Ginger Baker*

        Oh, sorry, meant to add my key bit: the immediate subject change. Captain Awkward has a lot of great posts on this and basically it boils down to “mild reply, Subject Change with a cheerful tone” and it’s great.

    2. Managing While Female*

      Clarifying question: is he saying he’s glad that he “broke free” from corporate or is he directly encouraging you to do the same?

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree, is he really saying this at you / to you directly? If so, yes you should respond. If you’re just annoyed by hearing him express this, well, it’s his truth so there’s probably nothing you really need to do except be satisfied with your own truth.

      2. Indigo*

        He’s encouraging everyone to do the same. Any mention of work is met with comments about how our lives would be so much better if we just quit our jobs to chase our dreams.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Then who will, for example, stock the shelves at the grocery store?

          We need artists. But we also need the people who help keep the wheels of society turning.

        2. Siege*

          “My dream is to not have to pursue enough work to keep me financially successful, so I’m following your advice! Have you tried the bean dip?”

        3. AcademiaNut*

          “Fergus, I like my job. I enjoy the work and environment, get paid the same amount each week, and get benefits, vacation, and UI if I get laid off. Not everyone enjoys constantly hustling to make money, or has a dream that can support them. I would find your life incredibly stressful and unpleasant.”

          I have a friend who is the entrepreneurial type and makes a decent living in a non standard way. He loves it, hates being in a hierarchy and would be miserable in an office job, but had some trouble understanding that a lot of people would find his lifestyle stressful and would genuinely prefer a steady job and house in the suburbs to his more bohemian ways.

          Also, most people who quit their jobs to follow their dreams either have someone else to support them financially, or quickly end up broke and needing to go back to work. Most creative types have day jobs while they write/paint/compose/play, because eating and paying rent is necessary.

        4. Joielle*

          Maybe “My dream is getting a steady paycheck, great benefits, and doing fulfilling work, so I’m doing it already!”

          My mom can be like this – not in the sense of encouraging me to go into the arts (god forbid), but if I say anything negative about my job she just jumps to “they don’t value you enough! you should be running that place! they should be paying you more!” and like, thanks, but now I’m having to defend my job that I overall really like but just wanted to complain about for a minute. So I just don’t say anything negative to her anymore. It means that we don’t have a close relationship, but it does preserve my sanity, so.

        5. Ellis Bell*

          I’d possibly go with something short, sweet and with no handle for further discussion: “I love my job!”, “Thanks, but no thanks!”, “Hmm, I’ll think about it!” (you’ll think about not that, so it’s true!), “Nope!”, “Nah, I’m a complete corporate fan, but you do you.” Or, depending on how entrenched and clueless this is… I might go with leaning into some awkwardness and not letting him get clean away with unsolicited advice: “I’m sure it’s unintentional, but you’re looking down on what I do.” “I know it’s not the type of job that’s important to you, but it is important to me.” “Is it okay if I carry on talking about my choices, now?” “We’re all super happy for you, but we were talking about me.” “No, I was talking about (summary), I wasn’t talking about quitting my job”.

        6. goddessoftransitory*

          Well, I dream of raising unicorns on my own private ranch made of chocolate, but I’m guessing that’s not going to be terribly lucrative.

        7. Academic*

          I think the “Boring Corporate Job works for me” + subject change works, but if I’m understanding correctly, it sounds like part of the challenge here is that you want to be able to say realistic things about your job rather than having to be totally positive or pushed into artistic freedom. In this situation, I think you have to decide if the relationship is the sort that you need to be able to really talk about your job in. If so, a frank naming it could be worth a try once or twice: “I notice that when I mention anything less than perfect about my career, I notice that you encourage me to take the path that’s worked so well for you. While I’m glad it’s been good for you, I am over-allsatisfied with Boring Corporate Job. I just want to be able to chat with you about it, even the challenges.” This might not work, because I think the problem is less the career priority differences and more that he’s not interested in the same kind of open conversation that you are. It could be feasible to avoid talking about work.

      3. Red shoes*

        He hasn’t a clue! Even though he’s made it big, that is so, so rare. I am an arts person (an artist and an arts administration person in social care / health settings) and I’ve known hundreds of arts people… Most of us mid-career people are enraged that even though we excel in what we do, we only just about make enough to live on.

        Your cousin is amazingly lucky, and it’s a pity he’s not aware of that. I hope people don’t take his advice. It is heartbreaking to be sold a dream, to think “I’m talented and hard working so it will work for me!” and graaaaaadually realise that the arts are full of hard working and talented people and there just isn’t enough work/opportunity for you all, so lots of you will leave for other careers, a tiny minority will do very well financially, and then lots of you will always just about have enough money for food and rent. The amount of younger artists who basically have a nervous breakdown a few years after leaving their arts training… because their training provider sold them a dream that didn’t work out.

    3. Tio*

      “I’ve actually found that the corporate environment suits me really way, in a way that an artistic lifestyle probably wouldn’t. I don’t think there’s any one-size-fits-all advice, but I’m so glad we’ve both found the environments that we enjoy most!”

    4. MsM*

      “I’m happy on my current path, but I appreciate you looking out for me.”

      Assuming you even need to respond at all. If he’s just talking in general terms about how great he thinks being your own boss is, he’s probably not really aiming it at you and you can just make noncommittal noises. If he’s definitely trying to offer unsolicited job advice, let him know your situations are different, and you’re happy he’s happy, but you need him to trust that you’re happy too and you know what to do if the time ever comes that you’re not.

    5. A large cage of birds*

      I’d just say something like “Yeah, it’s not for everyone! I’m glad you’re in a better place” No shade to you, no shade to him. Just different preferences.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      The problem is he talks constantly about “breaking free from corporate” to live your dreams. I actually love my corporate job.

      “Working for corporate is my dream”?

      This reminds me of all the LinkedIn influencers who are like “Don’t be a sucker working a 9-5. Be an entrepreneur! Start your own business.” I’m like A) Most new business fail B) Not everyone’s cut out to be an entrepreneur C) Not everyone even wants to be an entrepreneur D) Who’s going to work for all these new business starters if everyone’s starting their own businesses?

      1. Elsewise*

        I like working 9-5, because everyone I know who’s started their own businesses, even the ones who are super successful, works WAY MORE. The only “entrepreneurs” I know of who work less have been sucked into MLMs and aren’t making any money.

        1. Tio*


          My mom ran her own business. Thank fully, I learned a lot about what it would be like from her. If I quit my job to follow my passion, it would be baking. You know what I hate in life? Waking up early and doing tedious admin. Running a bakery or even working at one would require me to wake up early. Doing my own business would be a flood of admin tasks until I could afford to pay someone else to do it – if I ever could. And I would be stuck baking the same things over and over because you need to hit a certain profitability. It would suck all the joy out of it for me, I know it. So I have a nice 9-5 job I enjoy and spend my free time and money on baking as a hobby.

          1. Be Gneiss*

            This is so true. I love the things I do outside of work because they aren’t work. I can decide to hyperfocus on something, or let it slide for months, and I still get paid because it’s not my actual job. I can’t imagine anything that would suck the joy out of my hobbies like having them be the source of my income.

            1. Chauncy Gardener*

              Exactly. I love to cook and bake and I know the minute I would have to do it for someone other than the people I love, it wouldn’t be fun anymore.

      2. ElastiGirl*

        This! I spent decades as a freelancer/entrepreneur in the arts and just a few years ago started a full time position as a professor teaching my craft.

        Omg! The joy of a regular paycheck is not to be believed! Every month someone puts thousands of dollars in my bank account that I didn’t have to hustle for, didn’t have to invoice for, didn’t have to wait months to receive! I don’t have to work on spec anymore, don’t have to worry about money coming too late for the bills.

        People actually live like this? For their whole careers? They’re paying me to do something I love, something I’m insanely good at? Every month, like clockwork? Sign me up for the corporate (higher education) world!

        1. IT Manager*

          I love this. Exactly how I feel … my parents have their own small business so I also feel pretty lucky to NOT be doing all that admin/hustle/stress that I saw up close for years.

      3. I spend more time thinking of a name than writing the comment.*

        “Who’s going to work for all these new business starters if everyone’s starting their own businesses?” Love this.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Ironically this guy is probably mega talented at corporate/executive type work if he’s running his own business this well (and it’s a business.)

    7. londonedit*

      Ugh, this can be a tough one. I understand what he and others are trying to say, but the ‘who wants to sit at a desk 9-5, I could never be a slave to The Man like that’ stuff can grate. Yes I have a desk job but I’m doing something I enjoy, I’m good at it, I have a good work/life balance and I can pay the bills! Not all desk jobs involve being chained to a computer 24/7 in some corporate hellscape. Probably not many of them do, in fact! There’s a similar phenomenon when people move out of London – they invariably like to spend a bit of time talking a lot about how glad they are to escape the hell of the city, how it’s so awful, etc etc etc. It used to annoy me but now I figure it’s just part of their way of processing a big life change.

      Anyway, I’d probably suggest keeping it light and breezy and just saying ‘Actually I’m really enjoying the project I’m working on at the moment, I have so much freedom to make my own choices’ or ‘It might not be for everyone, but I really enjoy my job’ or ‘I could never make a living from art, but I love the work I do so I’m happy’ or something like that.

      1. Deuce of Gears*

        I ditto keeping it light and breezy, unless (as mentioned upthread) Friend is actively trying to encourage OP to follow suit!

        Also, I have to say, as a full-time novelist, I spend WAY more time chained to my desk than I ever did at my desk jobs; my work-life balance was better at the desk jobs, too, but that one’s self-inflicted. :p

          1. Great Frogs of Literature*

            But yes, I have sometimes idly wondered, “Even if my writing hobby became a thing that I could feasibly make a go at full-time, would I even want that? Would I miss the structure and interaction of an office job too much? Would writing become UGH WORK in a way that would take the fun out of something I love?”

            And I don’t even need to think about becoming a solopreneur. That sounds AWFUL. I don’t like having to go out and find work for myself even within the bounds of my corporate job. Having to do that, with external clients, for literally everything, would be my worst nightmare, even before having to do accounting at that level and not having real time off.

      2. Aphrodite*

        I used to use writing as my “job/” Dear god, your post brought back those memories. And I do NOT miss them. Hustling, selling, marketing invoicing, etc. Plus the never-ending worry of where the next money was going to come from.

        I’ve now been an admin assistant in higher education for 20 years. Like someone else here said, the regular pay, the (unbelievable) medical and dental and vision benefits, the pension plan, the holidays, the vacation and sick time, the never thinking about doing anything but my job. It’s not glamorous, it can definitely be dull, the politics can be horrendous–but it is stable, strongly unionized, relatively well paid and I go home each day at 4:00 to my life free of any worry. I’d never go back to the “freedom” of freelancing. I have far more freedom in my job now than I ever had while I was freelancing.

    8. ThatGirl*

      I’ve had friends who’ve left corporate jobs to freelance full-time, and I’m thrilled for them! But yeah, I like the structure and having coworkers and benefits and all that jazz. So I would say something like “I’m so glad this is working for you; my corporate job is working for me. It takes all kinds.”

      Also, just a thought – try not to take it too personally unless he’s saying personal things to you. He’s very much speaking for himself and possibly trying to justify his own life decisions.

    9. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Unless he’s actively telling *you* to break free from corporate, then I’d probably just give a noncommittal “Glad it’s working out for you, you seem so happy!” response.

      If he *is* actively telling you that and you do feel compelled to offer a reason, there’s always “oh I could never work for myself / my benefits are too good / I stop enjoying my hobbies when I turn them into money makers” etc.

    10. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      “My job pays for the things I want to live my dreams.” “I like my work being separate from my dreams.” “I don’t want my dreams to be tarnished by what it would take to make them my work.” followed by “working the way I am is good for me, but I’m also really glad what you’re doing is working for you.”

      Different strokes for different folks.

    11. RagingADHD*

      “I’m happy that you’re happy. I wish you could see that I am also happy with my life choices and respect that. My life is not this way by accident. I don’t want the same things you do, because you and I are not the same person.”

      Then you change the subject.

    12. Generic Name*

      “I’m sorry you had such a rough time at your company. I happen to love my job. How ’bout them [local sports team]?”

    13. Csethiro Ceredin*

      That does sound annoying!

      I have a friend who HATES the idea of office work, and for a while she constantly asked me how I can stand being inside all day, “just sitting.” A few repetitions of *shrug* “I like my job… guess we’re just different that way!” worked, but of course it depends how committed your cousin is to his mindset.

    14. theletter*

      I think I just saw a meme about this, from a celebrity interview on a late night show. It was something like ‘Don’t ask a lottery winner for wealth growth advice. From their perspective, powerball is a great investment!’

      You could say to your cousin that while they’ve won the ‘artist lottery,’ you feel like you’ve done pretty well in the ‘corporate lottery.’ You get paid well to do something entertaining and fulfilling, with no existential business responsibility beyond the scope of your duties.

      I think artists sometimes forget that not everyone is clawing for a chance to create murals, write novels, open a restaurant or make video games. Some people like excel sheets, making nerdy friends, and helping people.

      1. Red shoes*

        I will just stick up, if I may, for all the artists who do love helping people, and that’s why they become (and stay) artists. There are arts profession that are all about activism or helping people. (In the UK this kind of work is sometimes called Socially Engaged Art, and it’s a whole set of industries.)
        But yes, I agree that lots of artists think their path is the glorious and lucky and noble one, and it’s nonsense.

    15. BikeWalkBarb*

      Your last line is perfect, especially since you say he’s doing this to lots of people so he’s actively disrespecting their work: “I’m really happy for you, and I wish you’d respect my decision to stay at a “boring” job the way I respect your decision to walk away from one.” That’s clear and firm as a wake-up call that he’s repeating himself in a way that’s dismissive of your own agency and choices.

    16. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      How is he breaking free from corporate by relying on sponsorships, which (I presume) could be from corporate sponsors?

    17. Snookidyboo*

      Well. Good for him but that’s not quite the reality of being a full time artist. I have a degree in art. I spent ten odd years building my ‘brand’ before finally getting burnt out and stopped for the two/three years of the pandemic.

      I work at a library now and don’t think I’ll ever go back to trying to be a full time artist.

      Things that made me quit art:

      -The time is takes to become self sufficient. You are, essentially, running a business. You are looking at 80+ hours a week of promoting yourself, churning out art, figuring out costs, running the social media aspect, running whatever online store you have etc. etc. etc.

      – The attitude towards artists is vile. America sneers at artists and anything to do with a creative field. When I told people I was an artist it was like I said I was a drug dealer. The amount of times I got that supercilious smirk combined with ‘You can make money off of that!?’ got real tiring, real fast

      – The entitlement of buyers was astonishing. Many people think that artists should do art for free or for ‘exposure’ and balk at paying anything. The term ‘everyone loves art, until they have to pay for it’ comes to mind.

      – The competitive nature of being an artist on social media is insane. Your cousin won the lottery. Literally. But it’s also very fickle and not something that’s reliable.

      – Finally, monetizing something that was essentially a hobby, a creative outlet that brought me much joy, killed the joy. I ended up creating pieces that were crap because I was so stressed, so stretched thin at creating ALL THE TIME that it became soulless.

      In the end I’m so much happier with a stable job and doing art whenever I feel like and making whatever I want without worrying about whether or not it will capture interest or sell.

  8. ursula*

    Congrats! That is a hard-won achievement.

    Could you throw a slightly more lavish than usual party? I’ve always wanted to do that for a personal milestone. Not wedding-scale or anything, but maybe getting some nice catering in and serving some fancier than usual drinks? Surround yourself with the community that supports you and loves you, and simultaneously celebrate and say thanks?

    Or, is there a Thing you have always wanted but could never quite justify the cost? We bought my partner a beautiful leather armchair when he hit a similar professional milestone. It was something he didn’t strictly need, but had always wanted, and it’s gorgeous and he uses it all the time. Maybe there’s something related to your home, or a hobby? Or something that will make your professional life easier? Congrats again!

    1. ursula*

      Ah jeez, this was supposed to be for Princess Peach above, in the very first comment. Nesting fail!

  9. Wait and see?*

    My husband badly injured himself, doing something immature and irresponsible (an issue we had already had multiple fights about). My job is at a critical point where I really need to knuckle under and keep my nose to the grindstone to make sure I’m safe–rolling layoffs are happening over the next year, and our metrics are being closely scrutinized. Instead, I now need to use a ton of PTO to take him to doctor’s appointments and physical therapy. This is the worst possible time for this, and I’m absolutely incandescent with rage. I’m probably going to lose my job because he’s such a selfish ass.

    Logically I should probably start looking for a new job, but thanks to him I don’t really have the time, nor could I onboard while constantly needing a few hours off every couple of days. Plus, I can’t afford a break in insurance coverage, since he’s wracking up thousands of dollars in medical bills. It feels like my only option is to wait and see, which is very much not a solution my Type-A personality jives with. Any thoughts from an outsider’s perspective?

    1. MsM*

      Honestly, this sounds like more of a job for counseling than career advice. (If your current plan won’t cover that, consider it incentive to find something with better benefits.)

    2. Dovasary Balitang*

      Re: the job, definitely wait and see. You might be imagining the worst possible scenario due to the understandable stress you’re under.

      Re: the husband… Well, I have nothing nice to say here.

      I hope things get better for you soon.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Aww I’m sorry. Do you truly have to give up your time in this way? What would he do if he wasn’t married to you? This seems like a good time to lean on your village for support (particularly if he does it). Can he take ubers? Can he ask friends? Can he figure out his own solution and not make it your problem?

    4. Those Debates--- whoa!*

      Corrected this for you, “Logically I should probably start looking for a new Husband” or none at all. Your choice.

      Get him an Uber app so he can get himself to appointments and PT.

      Put your life vest on so you can keep income and healthcare to buffer against his immature and irresponsible personality. Is he not working because nothing you’ve said indicates that he’s losing time at work or applying this to his healthcare plan?

    5. EMP*

      Can you apply for intermittent FMLA? It doesn’t protect against layoffs but would be a paper trail against criticism for taking PTO during a critical time if that comes up later.

      1. Seal*

        Seconding this – that’s what FMLA is for.

        Also, I hope you’re keeping your boss in the loop about what’s going on, to the extent you’re comfortable doing so. Unexpected life events happen, always at the worst possible time, and any reasonable boss understands this.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s what I was going to suggest, if you haven’t already done.

      3. Aging Goth*

        Another vote for FMLA. It sounds like your main work concern is that you’ll be perceived as not dedicated “enough” to avoid being laid off, this might guard against that. Cynically speaking, the company might think twice about the potential optics or ramifications of laying off someone on FMLA. Practically, it will also give you the backing you need to take the time off.

    6. Tio*

      Can you call on any friends or family to take him places? What about Uber?

      My mom lives alone and she has had knee surgery twice. The first time I took an accommodation and worked from her house for three weeks and drove her to stuff. The second time, she wanted to do it so soon after the first knee (6 months) that I couldn’t do that again. We arranged for her neighbor and her friend to help, and when friend turned out to be basically useless, called in a person.

      I know money is going to be tight right now but if you can beg or bribe anyone to help out that’s what I would do. Uber, paying a friend or family to drive him, trading driving duties for babysitting a friend’s kid (I would personally hate this but you do what you gotta), etc. Any of this is likely to cost less, long term, than losing your job and healthcare.

      Also – make his dumb @$$ make the arrangements. This is his fault and should be mostly his problem.

      1. Regret Nothing Saved the Receipts*

        WOOT – Also – make his dumb @$$ make the arrangements. This is his fault and should be mostly his problem.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Thirding this.

          And I’m so very sorry about this. I’m sure it’s making you rethink many aspects of your life right now. Try to breathe and take care of yourself. Please don’t put yourself on the back burner for him.

      2. Midwest Manager too!*

        Seconding making him make his own arrangements. Not your responsibility to manage his appointments for him. He’s an adult and should act like it. He sets the appointments, gets himself there and back (Uber, friend, relative, etc.). If for some reason he can’t scrape together transportation, ONLY THEN should he ask you to take him.

        He made the mistake that got him injured, he needs to take the lead on getting himself back to independence.

    7. WellRed*

      Can you enlist help to bring him to his appointments, even part if the time? But also, if you think your job is at risk, start looking. If you lose your job because of family stuff like this,the bigger problem is the job, selfish ass behavior not withstanding.

    8. Tippy*

      I’m assuming you’ve considered ride share/taxi’s but have you looked into seeing if your area offers any medical transit for those needing it? I know here there is a local agency (non-profit but partially funded by public funds) that will take people who currently aren’t able to drive to their medical appoints/PT.

      1. Festively Dressed Earl*

        ^^^This.^^^ You may even have insurance coverage for medical appointment transportation if your group policy is good.

        The anger at your husband’s irresponsible habits is a separate issue. I know you’re working hard and probably doing extra hours now, but it’d be a great idea to seek out a telehealth therapist as soon as you get a chance, just to help you get a clear view of both your spouse and your workplace.

    9. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Is there someone else who can take him to appointments? Can he take Uber or some other service? I understand that he is your husband and you feel responsible but why should you be more responsible for his health than he is?

    10. FashionablyEvil*

      Is there a safe place for you to let off some of this anger? (I would also be incandescent with rage.) I find I have to let the anger burn out a bit before I can come up with a productive solution.

    11. Friday Hopeful*

      If he can’t Uber, then perhaps you can hire someone off a website like care .com to drive him?

    12. Householder*

      Realistically, if your job is going to be in jeopardy just because you need to use some PTO, then your job was already in jeopardy.

      It’s reasonable to expect your husband to take ownership for his actions, and help alleviate the aftermath, but spending time and mental energy affixing blame is counterproductive, and will only cause additional stress at a time when you most need to operate as a team. Try to set the emotions aside, since they’ll only cloud your judgment and not accomplish anything positive. Deal with the situation actually in front of you.

      1. AAM commenters are awesome*

        This really resonates with me. Imagining you’ll lose your job bc of husband might be misplaced and counterproductive. Sure, you’re allowed to be mad, but then shift to solutions mode.

      2. Meep*

        Honestly, I read it more as her husband keeps derailing her career every chance he gets (whether he means to or not) and she is fed up with it and she is sick of it so she is fearful her job is also sick of it. No one gets angry to the point of “rage” unless they a) have serious anger management issues or b) are constantly responsible for picking up after the other party.

        I would definitely kick him into the metaphorical pool and let him sink or swim when it comes to his own appointments. She can control her job performance. She cannot control how her manchild of a husband behaves.

    13. Double A*

      As someone with a husband who has injured himself due to ignoring signal from his body to stop or to be more careful…I feel you. He’s not been as explicitly stupid as it sounds like your husband has and I still find it hard to be there for him when he hurts himself.

      If his brain is not damaged, then I completely agree with making him make the arrangements to the greatest extent possible. And applying for intermittent FMLA is a great idea.

      Also, if your job has an EAP you might look into what they offer, sometimes they offer surprising services. And if you have time, connecting with a therapist short term is also an option.

    14. Hyaline*

      Realistic scenario check question to ask yourself: Are you catastrophizing the layoff situation and how precarious your position is? You may well have represented it 100% accurately here and have good reason to feel you need to have your nose to the grindstone. Or, you might be a stressed out Type A achiever who wants a clearcut path and step by step solutions and that is not the situation you’re living in, so you’re imagining worst case but unlikely scenarios as very likely scenarios. If you can’t honestly answer “Yes, from every realistic data point I have, I am very likely to be laid off” but instead find yourself answering with a lot of “mights” “coulds” “but it seems like” “well it’s possible” I’d try to reframe the situation.

      Pragmatically, yeah, maybe it would at least give you some respite if he finds his own way to PT unless he’s completely incapacitated. Uber, call a friend, take public transportation. Even if you cut it down to “I’ll get you to half of your appointments, but you’re on the hook for the rest.” If he does feel any responsibility for the bad decisions that led him to his injury, he should show some remorse by being very amenable to putting as little burden on you as possible.

    15. Meep*

      Honestly, I think you need to just stop coddling him. The resentment is going to build up if you continue this way and it is already stressing you out and making you fearful for both your financial securities. He can shuttle himself via an Uber or medical transport. Yes, it is more financial debt, but you need to remove the mental debt he is collecting.

      And then once you get over this hurdle consider counseling and if divorce is necessary.

    16. Clementine*

      I am really sorry you are in this predicament. I would get as much outside help as you can, because it will be cheaper than losing your job. And have him call on all his friends and relatives, as it’s his fault he is in this situation. But honestly, leaving us perfectly valid, and don’t feel guilty if you do.

    17. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      A few thoughts:

      * If you’re eligible (depends on how long you’ve been at your current job, and on the size of the company) look into intermittent FMLA. It wouldn’t protect against layoffs but it could be a good piece of documentation that you have solid reason for your absences.

      * Are there other alternatives, even for some of the time, for getting him to and from appointments? Uber/Lyft, local friends or family, or any transportation provided by the hospital? I know that for some kinds of recurring appointments the hospital near me has a network of volunteers to provide rides to and from treatment, and it may be worth looking into. Even if you could split things up – he takes Lyft once a week, various friends alternate for another day a week, etc – so that you’re only responsible once a week instead of “every couple of days” it seems like it would help.

    18. Person from the Resume*

      I now need to use a ton of PTO to take him to doctor’s appointments and physical therapy.

      You don’t. Single people get injured/have surgery and rely on their community to assist.

      I know this because I’m single, I have single friends. We take care of each other, drop off food, feed cats, walk dogs, drive them to appointment. They also take rideshares to appointments.

      Tell you husband what you can or can’t do and tell him he’s got to figure out the other appointments. Tell him which times work best for you, but if you’re trying to keep metrics up then maybe you can’t bring him at all. Unless he’s brain damaged, he can figure it out on his own. If he can’t manage his own care, well, you’ve got bigger troubles but FMLA.

      1. Frieda*

        I had two major surgeries (six weeks off from driving for each, about six months apart) when my kids were too young to drive and I was recently divorced. My ex husband did not do one iota more than he would have otherwise (picked up the kids for his parenting time and dropped them back afterwards – that’s it.) I relied on friends, some co-workers, my pastor/church community, my kids’ friends’ parents for some school drop-off and pickup, and paid nursing care. I was on strong painkillers for a couple of weeks each time. We all survived, and no one missed school or any other major events.

        Not that this should be your comparison case study, but your spouse can step up and take responsibility for at least some of his own care. Do not endanger your own livelihood because of his bad choices.

        1. Awkwardness*

          I think this is quite a good reference point. If you are used to always take care of your spouse, you might forget that this is not 100% non-negotiable default.
          What if OP was on extended business travel, talking car of their parents at the other end of the country or sick/injured themself? OP would not be physically available and husband would need to figure out the next steps too.

    19. Accounting Gal*

      Wow, this is tough. I would ask him how he would handle getting to these appointments if he was single and lived alone – and then have him follow through with that. You need to focus on maintaining your income since his sounds like it is now in jeopardy.

      And logistics of this aside, couples counseling might be a great idea for y’all.

    20. anon for this*

      Serious question, without any snark, asking as neutrally as I can:

      Is it possible that rather than looking for a way to exit this job you should be looking for an exit from this marriage?

    21. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’ve no patience with wilful stupidity, so I’d be very hard-hearted and say “you broke it; you fix it”

      Unless he’s been left tetraplegic or brain-damaged, he can use the phone to book transport or ask friends himself, so stop doing anything he can manage himself, even if it takes him a lot of time & effort.

      You keeping your job & your career is in fact the most important thing you can do for him as it sounds like he’ll be racking up high medical bills for quite some time.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. Also if this injury happened while he was doing Jackass stuff with his friends, those friends have a responsibility to help unless they would make it worse.

    22. alligator allegory*

      If he has that many medical needs, he needs to figure out how to use the bus for disabled or a taxi or uber. If he were not married he would have to, and you shouldn’t set yourself on fire to keep him warm, if he chose to discard all his clothes, so to speak.
      It’s his problem to solve. Let him.

    23. M2*

      See a counselor. Do you have a support group? Can he ask friends or fee an Uber to appointments? Could you ask a friend to make a meal train or something to help out?

      If he used equipment for this such as a bike or motorcycle sell the item or use the insurance money to pay for the rides and medical care costs. Tell your husband it is a no brainer.

    24. TheBunny*

      Honestly? I’d tell him he’s in charge of getting himself to his appointments.

      Idiot behavior aside, you have a really legit reason for not feeling like now is the time to look unreliable at work.

      You’d be concerned about job performance if the accident hadn’t happened. Separate the 2 issues. One is your work the other are his appointments. To succeed at your work you need to be there. You can’t do this and take him to his appointments. He was big enough to hurt himself, he can get to appointments. Single people do it all the time.

    25. Dancing Otter*

      Re the physical therapy, when I had knee surgery, living alone, the therapist came to my home. Same thing for my aunt – she didn’t ever drive, and the therapist went to her house.

    26. TG*

      First off you’re coming across as very angry towards your husband so I’d look at that and see what you can do to try to lessen that. He might have done something immature but he’s hurt and I’d hope he’d support you lovingly if you were injured….idk you come off as you said, with a lot of rage.
      Next no job no matter how hard you work is more important than the health and well being of your family and they could give a rats behind how hard you work – they’ll lay you off if it helps their bottom line.

  10. Matilda*

    I put in a request for one day off during a holiday weekend. I overheard my boss and manager talking about it. My boss said that she “can’t let everyone have off” (Only 1 other person is out; the rest of the team is in the office.) My manager said something snarky (I couldn’t hear what) and my boss was all “Don’t do that!” and laughed. They continued talking about me.

    My boss approved my time off (3 days after I entered it into the system).

    Why the drama? Why the trash talk? Has anyone else experienced this? What did you do?

    1. Tio*

      Some people are drama llamas.

      I’ve had thoughts like this before. To be fair, your request got approved but maybe a couple other people asked after you and that’s what the stress was coming from. I can also imagine that something snarky you couldn’t hear could be anything from “Maybe I’ll take off and make it your problem, boss,” or “maybe I’ll just deny everyone”. What were they saying about you afterward? Was it negative? Otherwise, this is VERY poor judgement to do somewhere they could be overheard (!! Come on people!) But they probably didn’t intend for it to be dramatic i that they didn’t intend to be overheard while blowing off steam.

      But if they were saying a bunch of other negative things about you afterward I would be more concerned

    2. municipal worker*

      Forget that you overheard it.

      Frame it less as complaining about your request specifically and more as just two colleagues agreeing that approving leave requests is one of the less pleasant parts of their job. Leaders need to blow off steam just like anyone else.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        Honestly, this.

        Scheduling is The Worst and supervisors blow off steam sometimes. Not ideal to do it where others can hear but sometimes it happens. There are also other plausible explanations, including Tio’s idea that it could have been due to others asking right after you, or maybe that long weekend is fine but it reminded them a different long weekend has extra requests; who knows?

        In general I support the Most Generous Explanation in these types of office scenarios. It’s easy to spiral if you see two people talking and you’re convinced they are discussing the thing that just happened but the truth is, you really have no idea. Even if it is just for your own peace of mind, assuming it’s about something unrelated can make a big difference to stress levels.

    3. Square Root of Minus One*

      Our big boss (n+2, for me) does that so often… Signs off leave without discussion but will talk a lot about how inconvenient it is later.
      Annoying, but I ignore it. The character is lots of talk and little action in general. I filed that under “useful data points” though, and I put in my leave as early as I can.

      1. Meep*

        My former toxic manager approved my PTO MONTHS in advance, once. At the time she even made a comment about how she should take that week off herself. (She frequently took time off when I was off to hide the fact I was doing her work. The joys of being 22 and not realizing it!) Two days before I was set to fly out, she whined about how I need to plan MY vacation better because we both couldn’t be out, but how she was generously letting me go just this once. Her boss had noticed the frequency of us being out at the same time and made a comment. /eyeroll

        Her being fired was honestly a god-send.

        1. Raia*

          Thank goodness she got her just desserts, what a ride of a story! I’m sure there’s much more where that came from that could make one of the story lists.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        I see you’ve met my old boss. She used to bang on and on about how big a hassle it would be to have X out on leave in the hope that X would crack and cancel it, in one case actually rescinded someone’s when it wasn’t really necessary. With hindsight, I maybe should have ignored her instead of cancelling the day I once did (I’d booked first, my coworker’s mother in law then surprised her with a cruise booked for the whole family which that leave fell in the middle of. Since one of my booked days I was technically available to cancel it, Umbridge made such a song and dance that I felt I had to.)

        Thankfully, she’s now gone, and the guy we have now will always try and honour existing leave requests, and he uses his words rather than this hints rubbish.

    4. Meep*

      I honestly do not know what managers expect when Fourth of the July is on Thursday. There are two solutions if it is such a big deal – offer them the opportunity to take Friday off and work Thursday or just accept it. No one is going to be productive Friday July 5th anyway.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Whatever the snarky comment was, I’m guessing it was nothing to do with you specifically — probably just a dumb joke like “we should make them fight to the death for the day off” or “if we don’t want people to use vacation time we better give them less” etc.

      1. Hillary*

        This. Chances are the snark was a joke related to their shared past. It might have been remember that time everyone asked for the same day off or that you were early and now everyone’s going to request the day.

    6. TheBunny*

      What would I do?

      And sorry if this sounds harsh.

      I’d stop listening in doorways. You don’t know what they were discussing. You don’t know what was said that you couldn’t hear. You don’t know if they were talking about you or saying “Matlida doesn’t why does Nancy?”

      There’s a cliche about eavesdropping means you won’t hear good things about yourself.

      1. Matilda*

        They were talking very loudly and I overheard what they were saying. I wasn’t going out of my way to listen/eavesdrop.

  11. Mystic*

    Kinda a weird question. I’m supposed to bring ideas to my boss about developing/working on my own professionalism and being the boss. I’m, having the worst time coming up with ideas! so far, all I’ve got is working on my judgment calls, but I don’t know what else. any suggestions to help

    1. WellRed*

      Bosses don’t usually ask people to improve y to heir professionalism with reason. Do you really have no sense of what might have triggered this? Do you arrive in time? Dress appropriately for the job and office? Interact with clients colleagues and customers pleasantly (or do you play on your phone or make inappropriate jokes)? Do you seek help when needed and take feedback well or do you get defensive or waste too much trying to google answers?

      1. WellRed*

        Now I’m reading your question again and wondering if I misunderstood and you are being groomed for a higher role?

    2. Van Wilder*

      This is a weird ask. Do you think your boss has concerns about your professionalism but isn’t outright saying them? Is it your clothing? Any drama with your coworkers?

      If it’s really just about professional development and getting to the next level…

      Maybe, a plan to work on presenting/public speaking? Be proactive about taking ownership of certain projects/taking things off your boss’s plate? Finding opportunities to set the tone with your coworkers and position yourself as a leader?

      Sorry hard to say without knowing you, just brainstorming.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Delegation, setting expectations, and communication are all things I’d put on that list.

    4. Ghee Buttersnaps*

      More context needed…are you currently in a leadership position and your boss is noticing issues that need correcting? Or, are you in a non-leadership role but are being considered for one in the near future? Has our boss given you any indication of what specifically they’re looking for you to address?

      1. Mystic*

        maybe communication is something to work on for me!
        I just got a full supervisor position and she said we’d start on weekly professional development

    5. JustMyImagination*

      Something about giving clear and constructive feedback? It could be on projects, presentations, reports, etc.

    6. Kay*

      Can you add some details? Are you already a boss? Are they looking to move you into a management role, and if so, is this role a more visible one? Are you planning to simply stay in your current role and this is about improving the current situation?

      A few topics that stand out as potentials – dress/attire, gossip/language use/use of time, polishing your image, gaining new skills. It is hard to say without knowing more about the why here. Do they want to move you into a public speaking role, do you make poor judgement calls and handle the aftermath badly, etc?

    7. Distractinator*

      I’m going to assume they don’t mean that you’ve got problems to be fixed but that they’re working on moving you up in seniority, so career development not performance improvement. I could tell you what that means for my job, but to turn that more specific for you – identify one or two high performers of your role or the role right above yours, and base your response around what this means in your workplace.
      First, what are the signs that they’re really good – networks across other teams? seen as the go-to expert is a specific thing? in charge of a thing without much management oversight? Primary author/presenter to customers?
      Then consider what are the skills or situations that make this happen – good at summarizing information? good at defusing arguments? strategic planning? crisis problem-solving? history of diverse assignments creating broad relationships?
      Then think about where you’re at professionally, what skills you see a path to developing yourself and where that could put you, and build a development proposal around what sounds both feasible and appealing.
      Example: maybe you admire the person with new ideas bringing in grants/customers but you don’t want to be a people-manager. So you want to work on strategic thinking more than project leadership. So you identify people to work with and types of meetings you want to be invited to, or skills you think you’ll need, or trainings you want to take, to move down that path. And that’s what you’re write up for your boss

    8. Goddess47*

      Some good questions above but think about project management skills. They can help you both with work and being a boss… if there’s a Project Management group in your area, that may be worth looking into. Even if you’re not doing project management, there will be other entry-level professionals that you can bounce questions off of and exchange ideas.

      Good luck!

    9. theletter*

      you might want to look at The Missing 33%, and do a scan for any books/readings that are big in your industry.

      Professionalism can also be a code for ‘putting other people at ease.’ This often has a lot to do with general preparedness, confidence, and strategies for turning confrontations into collaborations and crisis into opportunities.

      Sometimes people say ‘professionalism,’ when they really mean ‘project management’, which is vibrant and expansive field. There’s lots of resources and professional organizations with a core focus on project management in general and in specific industries. It’s one of those things that actually fun and useful for all manner of things – trips and parties always benefit from project management.

    10. Midwest Manager too!*

      My mind jumped to leadership training. LinkedIn Learning has some great courses on effective leadership and managing difficult conversations. Also you could focus on practicing delegation, time management skills, Creative problem solving, decisiveness (make a decision and stick to it, own your mistakes).

    11. BikeWalkBarb*

      Others have given great advice on self presentation and other elements of how you show up and whether it aligns with others at your same level (which pains me to write because it sets aside all individualism, culture, neurodiversity, and comfort, but if that’s the kind of org you’re in, you can decide if that advice resonates). A couple of additional thoughts–

      Think about what kind of workplace culture you’re fostering and whether it fits your organization’s culture. Is there a mismatch? For example, I’m a director with a very low power differential approach, managing a division within a very hierarchical organization where many subscribe to a very high power differential. My team is empowered and speaks up in ways that people in some parts of the organization don’t feel free to. Fortunately that isn’t a problem for my boss but if they were into rigid hierarchy and saw that I wasn’t imposing that on the people who work with me they might think of it as a lack of professionalism. (“Not bossy enough”)

      Are you creating a feedback practice with those who report to you? Not just when it stings, and not one-way–inviting feedback in your 1/1s on what they want you to keep doing, what they’d appreciate more of, and you reflecting on what you would change and letting them know what you’re working on. I often recommend Management Center dot org for their resources on managing people and their feedback info is especially good; I just shared it as background reading for a team retreat and people commented on how good the materials are. Giving feedback is an important element of being a boss that people avoid because they don’t like being “mean”, which is their experience of feedback. Saying you’re working to improve your feedback and evaluation skills and making this a regular element in how your team functions is an awesome answer for your boss to hear.

    12. An Australian in London*

      Advice I read (from someone in Product Management):

      Copy wildly successful people even if they’re not in your field.

      Whom do you know – anywhere! In any job! Even in books and films! – that stand out to you as superbly professional and/or bosses?

      Can you find a few things they do in common? Things that others wouldn’t recognise in you today? (Emphasising that this is less about what you actually do and more about how you are perceived by others.)

    13. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Peer relationships. Whether you’re front-line staff or senior management, getting along with the other people who do your same job is a crucial skill. What are your relationships like already? Can you get what you need from colleagues when collaborating? Who can you ask for favors or advice? And what are you doing personally to make sure that the same is true for them?

  12. limboooo*

    I’m currently in an in-office freelance to full-time IT role. I’ve been coming in 2-4x a week since the beginning of June. They say they definitely want to hire me full-time but there’s no set date for when they’ll make the offer. In the meantime I’m kicking butt and they seem happy with me. How do I re-raise the question of a full-time offer in a constructive way? It’s been more than a month. I like this job and want to work with them full-time, but I don’t want to be strung along for months on end. I don’t want to be pushy but I also need health insurance. :/

    1. Kay*

      Have you been going in since before June? If not it hasn’t quite been a month, and I wouldn’t say anything until it had been. On the other hand, if you had been coming in more sporadically before then, I would be slightly more annoyed, although I would probably ask in the beginning of July.

      I’m hoping you are still actively job searching through all this and have a situation where you have to make a choice!

    2. CubeFarmer*

      I’d start looking at other jobs to use as potential leverage for them to make the informal offer official. Even if you don’t want the job, perhaps just knowing that you’re testing the waters will make them jump.

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        Or it could make them move on to the next person.

        I agree the OP should continue looking for other jobs – but I would not try to advertise or use it as leverage. What happens if they say “well, we’re not ready yet because we have to wait for this quarter’s budget & expense data – we can’t meet your timeline so we might as well part ways.” They should just do it, and see what pops first.

        When we hire temporary IT associates they are usually temporary for a couple months. This encompasses time to get performance feedback on different kinds of tasks, reviewing department stats at that headcount, etc.

        1. Kay*

          Agreed – the only time I would mention it would be if they had an offer from another company in hand.

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, which means keep looking for other positions. Don’t be ostentatious about it in the hopes that your current job will notice and hurry up, but don’t worry about hiding it, either. There’s a strong possibility that another great IT position is waiting for you, and it’d be a shame for you to miss that chance while this company gets its act together. Yeah, casually check in with the decision maker at your current gig every other week or so (“Any timeline for a permanent position yet?” in person or in chat) but don’t tie yourself down mentally.

    4. Tex*

      I was in a similar position. Just ask them if there is a timeline for transition to full time employee. Treat this as a probationary period, so a timeline of 30-90 days is normal.

    5. TG*

      A month is not that long – I’d wait a little more time and then maybe ask for a date for th final decision. Don’t say you need insurance – just say I’d love to find out more about going full time
      And what benefits are available when I transition.

  13. Nicosloany*

    My boss has announced she’s leaving :( Her tenure has been short. This place is a well intentioned dumpster fire. She has more experience than me and wasn’t able to be very successful at righting the ship. She has asked me if I want her to recommend me as her replacement and I don’t know what to say. Interestingly, every woman I’ve talked to has said, “ugh, no, you don’t need the headache, you’re not enthusiastic about this organization, stay in your own lane” and every guy has said, “any time you get the chance to be the boss just take it and you can figure out everything else later.” I’m female and I admit I side with the ladies but the guys have my attention. I’m just not sure how to even think about this. Is being an interim or short term boss even meaningful on a resume?

    1. MsM*

      How many of these guys have actually been the boss of a well-intentioned dumpster fire? Because I’m inclined to agree that if your gut is telling you the risks outweigh the benefits, you should trust it.

      1. Nicosloany*

        I suspect these guys wouldn’t mind the dumpster blowing up around them as long as they get to say they were the boss, while all the women (and I) would feel awful that everything went bad “on our watch.” But if the whole thing shutters down during my tenure I don’t think that’s a huge resume boost they’re assuming it is? But maybe I’m wrong.

        1. Siege*

          I mean, yes and no – you could frame it as “I was brought into the X role with full awareness of the issues such as Y and Z facing the team. Unfortunately, those were matched by other issues internally I had less ability to address, and the sum of all of it was to close the business before I had a chance to address Y and Z fully. My plan for that had been to do A, B, and C.”

        2. Great Frogs of Literature*

          As a woman who was promoted to manage a bit of a dumpster fire (some inevitable outcomes of upper management decisions, some things beyond our control), here’s my multiple cents:

          – It’s important to learn how to disengage and not care too personally. We’d been seven people and went to three plus me, and we could not do the same amount of work. I had to learn to be okay with that.
          – Having a good manager (and one who had my back) was HUGE. I would not do it with a boss I trusted less.
          – It was still a lot of work. I should’ve asked for more money initially, and while I think the experience I gained is valuable, both to my job here and my future prospects, I don’t think it really paid off in terms of immediate career progression at this company. (Not saying that it was necessarily a bad decision, but I worked my butt off and didn’t get a great raise the next year, and there’s been some other weird politics reorgs since. I think a lot of my coworkers are impressed with the job I did, though.)
          – It’s worth noting that it did result in another opportunity to climb the career ladder, for a pay increase (but not a big enough one) and moving to a boss I didn’t like as well, and I concluded it wasn’t worth it.

          TL;DR: It will definitely be a headache. You have good reasons for not taking it. Are any of the potential benefits sufficiently worth it to you personally?
          Also: Will taking this promotion make you feel tied to this dumpster fire in a way that means you won’t be willing to move on when you should? (which sounds like sooner rather than later)

        3. Parenthesis Guy*

          Depending on how large your work environment is, few people will know that everything shut down. Especially five years later.

    2. EMP*

      This sounds very glass cliff to me and I wouldn’t do it unless you can see some very clear opportunities there to gain real experience that you want.

        1. linger*

          Extension of “glass ceiling” blocking women moving up.
          A “glass cliff” implies it is possible (or even preferred) for a woman to get into a higher position … but it’s one where success is virtually impossible.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This. I wouldn’t take the role (and I’m a woman). Yes, it would be nice to get the experience on your resume but it’s far more likely that you’re being set up for failure (because you don’t have the tools to put out the dumpster fire) and potentially putting your own reputation and even job security on the line for minimal benefit.

      1. Nicosloany*

        Lol I literally did ask her to take me with her. She said she’d love that but obviously that’s no promise and there might not be a fit.

    3. Msd*

      I’m going to side with the guys. If it’s a promotion then the title and experience may help you get a better job when you leave the dumpster fire.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I have a friend who just did this at our company. (Like, his last day was literally Wednesday of this week.) His life was hell for a year and a half, he’s relatively young, and he did learn the things he needed to learn for a job that was a 33% pay increase.

        I wouldn’t want to do that because I’m older, I’ve worked jobs where my life was hell for years and got nothing to show for it, and at this point, I just don’t feel like it. So it really depends on how you view the bigger picture.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I think this is the only reason to contemplate taking the role: will you gain enough tangible experience, assets, whatever, over a specific period, to make it worth it?

          Not just putting “I Was Boss!” on a resume, or getting a raise (unless it’s a big, life-altering amount of money.) If it can be thought of in terms of suffering for a goal, like training for an Iron Man, and LW is goal oriented in that way, it could be worth it. If it’s more “every day is worse than the day before, then you die,” God no.

        2. Alternative Person*

          Definitely a good perspective to consider.

          I applied and was rejected for what even at the time was suspected to be a poisoned chalice, but the fancy title would have put massive boosters on my career. It ended up going to someone who was a mess for several reasons (I moved on because of them), but if they can stick it out for long enough, that fancy title will carry them far.

    4. Ghee Buttersnaps*

      Based on what you’ve said here, and seen yourself, I’d “nope” outta that one. Also a woman.

    5. Householder*

      My question would be whether I could trust that whoever they brought in would make a more positive impact than I would.

      1. OP*

        That seems to be my dude friend consensus – if you don’t put yourself forward, realistically one of your peers will probably be your boss, or someone from the outside you may dislike

        1. A Significant Tree*

          Interestingly, our group lost our (excellent) manager and four of the six of us applied for the interim manager role. The four who applied = women, the two who didn’t = men. Our driving concern was not to be put under some random person who wouldn’t necessarily understand or advocate for our work. Fortunately, one of the four was selected so we’re all pretty relieved.

    6. HSE Compliance*

      A woman currently in charge of a dumpster fire – if you know you’re walking into chaos, and you trust that she would have done the right things to fix it and *still* wasn’t successful – I would not take it. I took this role because I had a plan of action that would address the issues I knew about that the previous staff had not even attempted to do (tbh, didn’t attempt much of anything really) and I couldn’t see my team suffer with nothing. I’ve been….. okay. Some of it has gone through. I’ve at least put us back in compliance and put the team into a good functioning structure. But it is a *migraine* of a headache and I have ended up sincerely hating the company I currently work for.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        IME compliance is generally terrible. It’s always upward battles to get higher levels in line with statute and/or administrative code followed by disgruntled staff stressed by the fact you’re taking them away from high workloads to retrain/make changes.

        1. HSE Compliance*

          I don’t find it awful – I went back to school for law just for it – but the previous manager allowed the program to get several years out of compliance. I have no idea how we weren’t cited for it. As in, every single policy and procedure I touched needed updates. The vast majority of my headaches were higher ups asking “but why the changes?” and wanting a full dissertation on how this puts us back in compliance. Once they understood, usually they were good to go. But having to explain continuously why it was so bad was…. exhausting, especially as I didn’t want to say “because the person you had here before literally gave no f*cks and did f*ck all, even the stuff you think they did was actually me, I have no idea how tf you all let it get to that point either” too directly. Mostly because I probably would have gotten a talking to for using the word f*ck as many times as I wanted to in the sentence.

          1. Banana Pyjamas*

            I feel this very deeply. Honestly, if you have at least half reasonable management it can be bearable. I have unfortunately worked for completely unreasonable people who I’ve had to report to appropriate authorities, and I couldn’t live with the stress of knowing I was a whistleblower.

            1. HSE Compliance*

              I have also reported to the authorities – it was incredibly stressful (see: previous manager of the department) and I was honestly downright angry that I was put into the situation. Right now my struggle is mostly with Corporate, who has yanked safety as a value forcibly. I can’t function under a structure like that. I went into HSE to make a difference, not to watch compliance be a “good to have” from the sidelines.

              (I give notice Monday!)

              1. Banana Pyjamas*

                I’m sorry you were put in that position, but I’m glad you’re able to move on.

    7. I spend more time thinking of a name than writing the comment.*

      Unless I’m misunderstanding “recommends,” say yes and kick the can down the road until you’ve had more time to think about it and can get better information. Presumably after the recommendation someone will follow up with you and you’ll have a chance to ask more questions that can help you decide whether to accept if offered the position.

    8. Ricotta*

      I’d need a better understanding of the situation to decide, but coming at this from the perspective of pure self-interest: if I could take the role and tolerate the dumpster fire long enough to use it as a resume builder, then jump laterally to another company, I would do it. Some lead/management levels are almost impossible to break into, so it might be worth the hassle. If you suspect that they’d just use you as a scapegoat and you couldn’t hang on long enough to make it look like a success, then no.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think I just worry it won’t even look like success on the resume. I doubt this org has a great rep but maybe some people don’t know that … Manager to Interim Director for six weeks before the whole place closed down doesn’t sound much better than Manager, looking for work – to me, at least.

    9. Accounting Gal*

      Is there a pay raise involved, and a title change? I would probably take it and then allow that to help my resume when I eventually leave the “well intentioned dumpster fire.”

    10. Person from the Resume*

      Do you think you can make things better? If the problem is above your position and you are unlikely to be able put out any of the fire, I recommend not taking it.

      I’m a woman. That just sounds stressful and thankless to me.

      Unless it might be promotion and then you look for a new job with higher title and salary, but how long do you have to stay to justify that?

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        This. See my comment upthread. And good pay can’t make up for unhealthy stress levels.

    11. Loreli*

      This might not apply to your situation, but here’s a cautionary tale:

      Are there jerky coworkers who would apply for the job and have a chance at getting it? That is, people who you’d hate to have as a boss? If so, take the job. It’s better to have a jerk report to you than have a jerk for a boss.

      This happened to me, my big mistake was not going for the manager’s job even after being asked, because I didn’t want to manage my jerky coworker. Very bad decision on my part. The jerky coworker got the manager job (upper management insisted on not bringing in an external candidate).

      A friend pointed out that my jerky coworker’s ego wouldn’t have stood for me as a manager and would likely have quit/got another job.

    12. Cetetera*

      I’m a guy – I’d probably do it assuming my wife was on board with me being under some added stress for a bit. “Well intentioned dumpster fire” would make me nervous that I’d dislike any boss who actually managed to stick around and if I’m worried about potentially leaving anyway, I might as well leave with the resume boost.

    13. Former Young Lady*

      Hi there! I recently survived a boss (female, FWIW) who was very much of the “take it and fake it ’til you make it” school. (Turned out, in 8 months of faking it, she mostly managed to BREAK it.)

      I’m going against the grain on this one, but reporting to that boss taught me a lot about how dumpster fires arise in the first place — and, surprise surprise, the Dunning-Kruger effect has a bunch to do with it. Inept boneheads assume they’re generational talents and they sell the heck out of themselves, while competent, conscientious people admit that they don’t know literally everything. The Zap Brannigans and Peggy Hills get promoted, and then they try to put out the fire with platitudes and gasoline. (Next time you’re scrolling YouTube, check out Martin Guttman’s TED Talk about incompetent leaders. It’s a nerdy delight!)

      All this is to say, if you can make a decent list of things that are perpetuating the dumpster fire, and ideas that might help contain it, you might be better for the role than any of the self-impressed buffoons who will inevitably apply too. I know you say your erstwhile boss was more experienced and couldn’t hack it, but you might have valuable firsthand knowledge of stuff she didn’t see from the balcony.

      1. Alternative Person*

        I see you met my last manager. She was so high on her own supply and that of the sycophants around her she was never going to listen to any voice of reason.

        The cycle of Inept boneheads is real. The stuff I found out after I left really made me question a lot about people I thought were, well, more sensible.

  14. it's a name*

    Apparently my department’s been doing a stealthy pay review. I’m one of the first ones they completed, and my boss let me know that next pay cycle I’m being bumped from near the bottom of my role’s pay band up to near the top. Heck of a nice surprise!

    1. Lana Kane*

      Congratulations! I had something similar happen to me a few years ago – I was at 14% under the standard, which was found after a salary market review. I was shocked they actually acted on it!

  15. call me wheels*

    Hi :) some might remember me commenting a few times lately about a video game job opportunity I’ve been applying for. Well just to say I have submitted my final written assessment for it (Paid assessement BTW!! I’ve never encountered that before!) and they’ve said they’ll let me know in a few weeks time (unlucky timing with some key people on vacation I believe) ^_^ here’s hoping!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      “Obviously we’ll pay you for work done during assessment” is such a green flag. Fingers firmly crossed for you!

  16. Excel Gardener*

    I have a question for folks who work in tech (programmers, data scientists, and similar roles) as someone looking to move my career in that direction. I’ve been exposed to two contradictory stereotypes about how much work-life balance tech jobs provide, in general. Obviously there will be lots of variation between employers, but I’m curious which is generally true.

    The first stereotype is that you have to be a workaholic to succeed in tech. You’re constantly being asked to meet tight if not outright unreasonable deadlines, and you’re expected also to keep up with and learn new technologies, packages, and so on outside of business hours. If you’re not constantly grinding and working on personal or open source projects in your off hours, within a few years your skills will be out of date.

    The second stereotype is that tech jobs are easy, once you have the skills to get one. There’s the stereotype of the programmer making $200k to do 2 hours of coding in the morning and sit in one meeting, and then spend the rest of the day watching YouTube. Bolstering this stereotype is things I’ve heard about places like Google, which have pool tables and guest speakers on topics unrelated to work, and where they encourage employees to spend some of their day working on personal projects.

    Tech workers, what has your experience been like? Has the poor job market increased the pressure and made the first stereotype more true?

    1. EMP*

      As you can probably imagine, the reality (or at least my reality) is way more nuanced than these stereotypes, although both are true in some respects
      – you do need to keep your skills sharp. I don’t (and never have) done programming in my off time, but I do make a real effort not to get pigeonholed into something on its way to obsolescence. There’s definitely a risk that you spend 5 years becoming an expert at a specific technology to the point where once that isn’t used, you have a hard time “breaking back in” because your skills are out of date, and IMO you want to be aware of this and find ways to work in your job to keep those skills sharp (and you may need to start looking at new jobs every few years if your workplace can’t move with the times)

      – There are big companies that have these “perks”, but they are at best golden chains and more often, IME, just covering up a workaholic culture or a weird tension between spending a lot of money on optics without making the actual jobs good. Granted, this was in my 20s, but just out of college I knew a lot of people who went to Google in its heyday of free lunch and pool tables, and they were the most workaholic people I knew. There was a culture of being always on, and always working, despite or maybe because of the perks (why go home? Just take a nap in our nap pod and keep working!). There are jobs where you can slack off and watch youtube but there’s desk jobs in any industry where you can slack off and watch youtube (though the average salary in tech may be higher).
      More recently, I’ve chatted with someone at google who was dealing with a lot of tension and dysfunction in their team. It sounded like generic (big) company issues – right hand isn’t clear what the left hand is doing, plenty of people on a team but unclear expectations which made the day to day stressful.

      So it’s like any other industry really, except with expectations of decent pay and good benefits.

      1. Great Frogs of Literature*

        I agree with all of this — especially that the jobs with game rooms and catered meals and what-have-you are a lure to make people stay at work all the time. (I’ll also note that the ratio of those jobs to jobs with only slightly better snacks and perks is not what the media would have you believe.)

        It’s possible to work in (and succeed at) tech without being a workaholic. That said, there are definitely places that have a culture of terrible work-life balance, so it’s a thing to watch out for.

        There have also been a LOT of layoffs in the tech sector recently — the job market is pretty brutal at the moment, and it’s a lot more difficult than it was to find a job a year or two ago, even for folks with experience. There’s also concern about people being replaced by cheaper international developers (which seems pretty legit to me) and about being replaced by AI (I think it will be less of a problem in the long run, but it’s a big bubble right now).

        TL;DR: Don’t go into tech for the giant ball pit and the drinking in the office. Go into it because you like the work, or at least are willing to do it for 40 or 50 hours a week in exchange for a pretty good salary.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think a lot of this will vary both on the type of company you’re with and the type of work you’re doing. Startups are notoriously lacking in work-life balance. For some, that’s part of the thrill, too. A more established company may have opportunities for an easier pace of life.

      That said, even at my own company, I find my “tech job” to be a lot easier than other people do. My understanding is that software engineers at my company work extremely long hours with tight deadlines (they get paid a whole lot more than I do, but I make a decent living). I work in a special area of IT where emergencies are considered very bad, so we have to be very deliberate about what changes we make and when, so working late or extremely long hours isn’t considered a good thing.

    3. juliebulie*

      Please don’t take anything about Google as representative of the tech field in general.

      Both stereotypes you describe are valid in some places, but most are somewhere in the middle (like not even near the extremes). And when it comes to keeping your skills up to date, if you can show that you’ve worked with a lot of different tools, it’s not as important to worry about those things you haven’t done yet because you’ve demonstrated that you can pick up skills fairly easily.

      I had a job where everyone (not me) learned Java on the job. No one had any prior experience with it. But they knew how to do coding generally and didn’t have a lot of trouble except for something called multi-threaded processes. (I was the tester!)

    4. Decidedly Me*

      Not me, but my partner. He’s type 1 to a point. He works long hours at times and has definitely had tight deadlines to meet. However, he genuinely loves what he does and does this to himself (how I’ll ever get him to retire, I have no idea…). He doesn’t work on personal/open-source projects outside of work, though, and I’ve never gotten the sense that that’s expected.

      At his company, I’d say it’s a mix of styles, but I’d be shocked if they kept on someone that was of your 2nd type. Most everyone is a hard worker, but there are those with better work/life boundaries and those that are workaholics. I don’t know everyone’s salaries, but I know how salary reviews happen, so I suspect the workaholics have a bit of a leg up there, if only slightly.

      Tight deadlines happen as I mentioned, but due to how the company works, those are self-imposed by the team rather than directives by the company. They’re a passionate group and frequently suffer from scope creep, so the few days before a release, I suspect a lot of people have some late nights as my partner does.

    5. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Still a junior dev, and I’ve only experienced two workplaces, so this might not be that informative. I’m a federal government contractor, which is also a factor in what I’ve experienced.

      My jobs have generally been 8-hour shifts during the week. Maybe staying a bit later during code deployment. We’re allowed to flex hours, so we can stay late one day if we need to leave early the next. If we can’t get our hours in during the week, we can come in during weekends, but that’s never been a requirement.

      One of my employers was very good about paying for any training resources you might want/need in order to get or maintain certifications and generally just keep up-to-date. There’s an expectation that you’re going to be relatively informed on new topics, etc., if nothing more because you’re a techie and they assume a certain level of personal interest. But it hasn’t actually been a requirement where I’ve worked.

      My experience has been of pretty decent work-life balance, with my main impediment being a commute. One job was mandatory in-office (we couldn’t work, otherwise) and the other was hybrid.

      During the day, I’m usually pretty busy, with occasional breaks to recharge, have a think about how I want to structure something, that kind of stuff. So it’s not videos all day but it’s not a total grind either.

      Because my particular industry requires security clearances, not everyone can just waltz into a job. And from what I’ve seen and heard of, it can be tough for companies who are looking to hire cleared devs to find applicants. So it’s a bit different from most of the industry, where there may be many applicants for fewer jobs.

    6. Nicki Name*

      The first stereotype is derived from tech startups, or at least what people think tech startups are like. Workplaces with terrible deadlines and 100-hour weeks may describe themselves as having a “startup culture”.

      The second… I guess working at a large, boring tech company may feel a bit like that to someone coming in from a “startup culture” company. Certainly there are places where you get enough time to do things, the pay is decent, and you have the flexibility to go to appointments during the day. When you hear about $200K salaries, though, keep in mind that Silicon Valley is an extremely high cost-of-living area.

      Google itself is reportedly a nightmare to work at. It’s got a very promotion-focused culture where the main way to move up is to “launch” something. No brownie points for improving things or fixing bugs (explains so much about Google’s products, right?). People don’t really get the time to do those personal projects, and Google has sunk so much money into its offices that it’s trying to force everyone back into them.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Yeah, and from what I’ve heard there’s a reason they have pool tables and drycleaners and cooked meals onsite, which is that you now live and play at work.

      2. TechJobs*

        Not necessarily. I’ve had that experience at startups and at large multinationals and everything in between.

        I’ve worked at dozens of companies in a few different tech roles. It does vary, but most places are closer to #1 than #2. They will often provide extra perks in exchange (free meals, free snacks, extra optional activities, fame rooms, etc.).

        Contracting is a good option if you want 40 hour weeks, but it usualky comes with limited/no benefitsand sometimes without the ability to take any time off except for emergencies (especially if your contract term is less than a year) and may mean semi-continuously looking for work.

        Both have pros and cons.

        Good luck!

    7. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Neither of those is true, in my experience.

      The first is more true at startups and within the tech field itself – but there are a ton of “tech jobs” that aren’t actually at tech companies, and those tend do have more relaxed work-life balances. (They also don’t pay as well as startups, but it’s still good pay.)

      The second – I’ve never encountered that “two hours of coding and then watching YouTube” stereotype so I don’t know how to comment on that part. I do know that part of what you say about Google etc. is a misconception – the pool tables, free food, etc (which have been dramatically scaled back in recent years) are all part of an attempt to keep people in the office for very long hours. They’d rather have someone in the office for 12 hours and working for 10 of them than in the office for 9 hours and working all nine. (And the “personal projects” at Google have been eliminated and had to be on something relevant – think of it as “developing prototypes that could potentially be implemented” rather than “work on whatever you want”).

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, given Google’s track record of whizzo ideas being developed, launched, and then crashing down around their head (Google Stadia, anyone?), I can see that actually being necessary to protect the brand from any more significant cock-ups.

    8. Girasol*

      I’ve had one of each. One thing about both, though, was the amount of off-hours work. If you are the only person who knows a certain technology, then when it breaks at 2:00 am, you have to jump out of bed and deal with it. If you’re lucky you might trade on-call duty every other week or once a month with other experts, but it still restricts normal life somewhat. You may be asked to restrict vacation and weekend travel or never to go anywhere where you can’t log in with a company laptop to troubleshoot. Also, many implementations and upgrades to equipment or applications must be done during off hours when users will be least affected, so there will be the occasional all-nighter.

    9. Brillig*

      I’ve worked both ends of the spectrum and would say that the difference in hours has less to do with the size of the company and more to do with the growth mindset. Startups are driven by shareholders or investors looking to maximize profit and they won’t hesitate to drain the life out of you to get it – but the same can be true of tiny companies hustling to survive where every project is make-or-break. I burned out badly on 80 hour weeks in both of the former. Now, I use those skills at a medium sized, privately owned company with just enough growth to give everyone a moderate raise every year and I couldn’t be happier. The pace is sustainable with very little overtime and the pay is fine. There’s less opportunity for promotion due to low turnover but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make in order to have s family and hobbies again.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      Not me, but my partner. He is a cyber security software architect in a giant NON-TECH company that is trying to pivot some of their services into more of the software based ones. He has 30 years of experience. Individual contributor at the managerial level.
      He works his full 40 hours per week usually, with a ton of meetings. But he takes all his very generous PTO, he almost never has to do any work on weekends or vacation. The pay isn’t quite the FAANG level, but the work environment is basically standard corporate, not the “crazy tech”.

    11. Raia*

      I’m data analytics mostly working in SQL. In the years of tech, corporate was the longest hours, but I was also young and felt the need to prove and grow my skills. Startup and ‘acquired startup’ jobs I knew what I was doing and stuck much closer to my 40 hrs a week, but I had to protect my time for sure. Plenty of other around me were pitching in for weekends and nights and not getting anything back for it.

    12. An Australian in London*

      I’ve worked in tech for 25+ years and I’ve been pretty close to both those extremes at times, but they are outliers.

      I agree with all the answers you’ve been given so far, and emphasise that “tech” is not just one job, in one location, in one industry.

      The job matters. Much of the hype outsiders associate with tech are coder/programmer/developer/software engineer jobs, on the product side. Even infrastructure/platform SWEs (in the same company, same location, same building) might be paid 70% of what a product SWE is paid. SWE-adjacent jobs might be paid only 70% of that.

      The location matters. Identical job titles in the same company will pay radically different salaries in two different cities, let alone countries. I’ve seen, for example, SDE 3 (Senior Developer) jobs in the same department of the same company offer well under half the salary for London compared to New York or San Francisco. I’ve seen total comp (salary + bonus + stock) in the USA be 3x what is offered in London. (No I’m not bitter. OK I’m bitter.)

      The company matters. Big Tech, aka FAANG aka MAAMA have a hiring policy of paying above 99.5% of the market. Some unicorns who are trying to hire their people have to offer even more. (For example Deliveroo in the UK has a policy of paying more than Microsoft/Apple/Amazon and matching Google.) I’ve never worked in Big Tech, and even though I’m literally world-class in what I do, I’m not paid even 20% of what I would earn if I made a lateral move into same-seniority SWE at Big Tech, and was paid as though I worked in the USA. (Total comp for Big Tech L8 can be USD$2M).

      That said… I guarantee none of those $2M SWEs go home at 5PM and have their weekends to themselves.

      So what about the other extreme? I have been on retainer as a freelancer where they paid me $3K/month in case they needed me. On average I did about ten hours a month for them, so that’s $300/hour. If I’d lived outside a city and had a home already paid off that would have been enough to be comfortable on. I did try to get more like that as I had visions of similar deals with ten clients; 15 days/month of work for $30K/month would’ve suited me nicely. But if there were ten clients who wanted that deal I couldn’t find them when I went looking.

      I did apply for and was hired in a job I took as a working holiday. Two steps more junior than I am, for about 60% of my salary. The intention was it would be a nice rest. I thought I could do what they needed in about 15-20 hours/week. It turned out to be more like 30 hours, and working 75% for 60% salary wasn’t a good deal. It was a good investment, though; it forced me to up my game in terms of working smarter, finding efficiencies and opportunities to automate, etc. After about six months, it was more like working 45% for 60% salary, and that was indeed a nice rest for a while. I stayed there a year and then went back to 100% for 100%.

    13. Brevity*

      As a sort of continuation of the original question, anyone here in data science in higher education? I know the pay wouldn’t be terribly high, of course; but I’m thinking that the work/life balance would be a whole lot better. Is that true in your experience?

    14. Roland*

      Senior software engineer. Really depends on the company/team and frankly on how good you are – some people just work a lot faster. At the 3 companies I’ve worked at (not FAANG but large and names you’d know), I almost never worked more than 40 hours in a week and unless I’m oncall, never outside 9-6 or so (9-5 when I wasn’t working across time zones).

      1. Roland*

        Oh, and all had between decent and almost-FAANG-level comp, standard good tech benefits, and various Extra perks – just with no expectation that those perks meant working 12 hour days.

    15. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Data Scientist here. It definitely varies, but not so much as what I hear from IT or “tech.” My job is more or less 9-5 type (there’s flexibility there, and maybe something comes up every once-and-again where I work extra/late). I know folks who take on more urgent stuff, and folks who are definitely coasting (and not having it catch up with them).

    16. fhqwhgads*

      My experience has been work exactly 40 hours, do two hours of meetings per day and coding the rest. They want you to keep up with new stuff but no indication you must do so outside of business hours. But they do want you to want to know the stuff new, not just learn it cuz they said so.

  17. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    Has anyone here retired early to take disability? (I’m in the US). How did you know it was time?

    1. PropJoe*

      My dad retired a few years early to take disability. He got to the point where he could deal with his health problems, or he could deal with his boss’s bullsh__, but not both, so he chose to deal with his health.

    2. Goddess47*

      My husband did it. He was self-employed contractor and had a heart-attack at one point. He mostly recovered and worked for a few more years but then realized he was beating his body up too much as well as other conditions (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis) coming to the surface.

      He had no problems getting disability (although I ended up doing a fair share of the paperwork for him) BUT he was also 59/60 at that point. I’ve heard lots of horror stories about younger folk who should easily get disability but end up having to get a lawyer and/or it taking years.

      If you can’t work, you can’t work. Be blunt on the forms (i.e. can no longer do X due to Y), fill out all the forms carefully, and do what you can.

      Good luck!

  18. Van Wilder*

    Tell me I’m not a bad coworker for thinking of leaving right before busy season…

    Long story short – the timeline for promotion that I had been told at my current job is not panning out. I’m looking at a minimum of two years (if ever) for the next promotion after being in my current role for six years. Or I can go to a competitor and get promoted tomorrow with a giant raise.

    I’m currently talking to four other companies and I’m hoping that I get an offer or two. My issue is that my industry’s busiest time is 8/15-9/15, with another pretty big deadline on 10/15. I told one of the other firms that I’m looking to leave before busy season, but if we can’t wrap it up in a month or so, will have to wait until after 9/15. (We once had a key team member leave on 9/1 with almost no notice and it left a bad taste in my mouth.)

    I feel like it’s better for me to leave before busy season, if possible, because (a) my family could use the extra money and (b) if I start somewhere new during busy season, I might not be as busy as I normally am, which would be nice for spending time with my family. But I feel like I’m abandoning my clients and teammates. I *could* stay through busy season. I’m comfortable here and the people are nice.


    1. ThatGirl*

      There’s almost never a “good” time to leave a job, for most industries. If you won the lottery or got hit by a bus, they would figure it out. You should do what’s right for you.

    2. Tio*

      You’re not a bad coworker for thinking of, or even leaving, before busy season.

      Give a proper notice period and leave when you get an offer. You can ask if they would delay if you get an offer, but if they say no, take the offer and leave your job. There’s a very good chance they are not going to wait 2 months for you to leave your job, when leaving is perfectly normal and acceptable.

      You are not abandoning people, you are doing a normal thing that everyone else does. The business will pull through, and your colleagues should not blame you. And tbh you should not be mad at this other person who left, they were also doing a normal thing. More notice would have been nice but there are loads of things that could have been going on behind the scenes you don’t know about.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      You’re never a bad coworker for leaving at any time that a job offer you want to accept comes through. I’ve always worked places with busy seasons, and definitely quit right in the middle of busy season two jobs ago. Was it deal for my colleagues? No. Was it ideal for me? Yes. Would the opportunity still have been there if I’d waited until my busy season was over? No.

      Do what you have to do for you and your family. If your employer cared about keeping you, they’d be doing more to keep you, not putting off your promotion for another two years.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Sure did.

          You can’t care more about your colleagues than your company does. If it’s busy season, oh well. It’s always going to busy season/the holidays/vacation month or whatever.

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      If you can get a better job, LEAVE. You’ve already been strung along about your promotion path–it’s their fault for not promoting you sooner. If it makes you feel better, maybe if you leave now with the lack of promotion the obvious reason, they won’t do that to the next person.

    5. Jessica*

      If your employer decided it was to their business advantage to lay you off, how much would they care about whether it was a convenient time for you and your family? Care exactly that much about their busy-season needs.
      And if you are thinking “but it’s my coworkers I care about,” resist. Leveraging our care for each other against us is the way management exploits us all. If your coworkers are overburdened during busy season it won’t be because you left, it’ll be because leadership chose not to staff adequately/make backup plans for the normal human possibilities of people leaving.

    6. Double A*

      Your job was willing to offer you a promotion only on their timeline without worrying how it affected you; why would you continue to delay that promotion because you’re worried how it will affect your current job? Give them standard notice and take whatever offer sounds best to you.

    7. CubeFarmer*

      You need to look out for number one. If it makes sense for you to leave “right before busy season” then do just that. Don’t worry about your teammates. They’ll cope.

    8. Householder*

      Your job is ultimately a business transaction. You need to leave when it makes sense for you, and there is no shame in that.

    9. Industry Behemoth*

      Do what’s right for you, and take the job whenever it’s offered.

      I knew someone who took on a 3-month project, then got an unexpected job offer halfway through. They had applied for the position over a year before, didn’t get it, and then it became available again.

      The firm wished them well, and had someone else finish out the project.

    10. Jayne*

      Do not, I repeat, do not set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. If your current place prioritized your growth, you would not be leaving. Do what is best for you, since you can be sure that the company will do the same. Guilt on leaving is designed to help them, not you.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, my last org (a small nonprofit with a very niche target audience) had an outreach campaign at one point where they sent candles to our key volunteers and had a message along the lines of “we will light ourselves on fire to keep you warm,” and wow, I did not love that. Luckily I wasn’t involved in outreach and didn’t have anything to do with volunteers but I felt bad for the staffers who were given this message from leadership that they had to, essentially, burn themselves (out) for our constituents.

        Also, Van Wilder, hiring often takes longer than you think it will, so it’s entirely possible that you won’t get a job offer until after the busy season anyway. I was worried about this for my new job, that they would make the offer while I was on vacation or during a big meeting week, which would make announcing my departure tricky, but they took at least two weeks longer to make me the offer than I was expecting and thus I was able to avoid awkwardness at my last job. Of course, I also left right before their biggest busy season but there was only one time of year (Feb-Apr) you could consider not busy (the rest of the seasons were moderately busy) and there was no way I was going to work around that when leaving.

        Good luck!

    11. ampersand*

      You need to do what’s right for you. I’ve also left a job right before the busy season—it may feel like you’re leaving your employer in a lurch, but it’s also their job to figure it out, not yours to prevent it from happening.

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      Sorry to be harsh but: If they thought (i.e. realized) you were that valuable, you’d be getting that promotion and raise now. Do what’s best for you and don’t give a second thought to your current employer.

      1. K Smith*

        Don’t forget that it’s on your company’s leadership to have a plan in place for adequate employee coverage. As Allison likes to point out, anyone can have an sudden, unexpected illness/bus accident/alien abduction. Good workplaces should have a plan in place (or at least be able to come up with a reasonable plan on short notice) if an employee is suddenly out of work. If a workplace is thrown into chaos by a single employee’s absence, that’s a much bigger issue.

      2. Van Wilder*

        Yeah, occasionally they tell people at my level “you’re not on a promotion track, please leave within three months.” And will also help them find a job at a client. I haven’t gotten that message yet officially but my last conversation felt like I was being channeled in that direction. I’m sure they will understand why I’m leaving, though it’s bad timing for my client teams.

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      Do what’s right for you.

      Abandoning means walking away without a care, not “well, it’s not the best timing.” If you were deliberately sabotaging your work, refusing to do tasks, or otherwise actively trying to make your coworkers’ lives harder, that’s abandonment.

      But you are simply improving your own circumstances and have put thought and caring into it. You aren’t planning to bail with no notice like your former colleague. Improve your life when the opportunity comes.

    14. Joe Momma*

      Just give a 2 week notice when you accept your preferred offer. Sometimes the timing isn’t ideal when leaving a job but your job is screwing you so you don’t owe them the full busy season

    15. Person from the Resume*

      Your busy season is only a month.

      Put you and your new job first. You can ask the new job upon offer if you can wait up to 4 weeks to start. Ask them! If they need you sooner, don’t give up the new job over it.

      But your busy season is only a month so you may be able to swing it to assuage your conscious. I know you say you’d want to stay because of your clients and teammates. Just remember if that was important to your bosses that the clients and teammates weren’t missing you during the bust season, they could have followed through with a promotion sooner.

  19. GranolaCrunch*

    If your employer has approved you taking FMLA to care for someone else, how much say do they have about how and where you do it? Say you take the person to a resort–can your employer object to the optics when you post photos on social media? Lots of rumors buzzing at my workplace this week and while I’m not inclined to judge, I’m curious about how this gets worked out on the employer’s end and I’m not seeing clear guidance online. (I do see things like you don’t have to stay home when recovering from surgery, say–you can be at a resort yourself while not yet cleared to return to work.)

    1. Van Wilder*

      I once took a cruise while recovering from surgery (and on leave from work) and it was great. But I made sure not to post anything about it that my coworkers could see.

      I don’t know the actual rules but I would think it’s not the company’s business but you can’t stop coworkers from being judgy about it. Or maybe you could if you explained it in person, idk.

    2. Ghee Buttersnaps*

      Your employer could possibly object, it’s hard to say for sure what they would do. I doubt they could actually take any adverse action against you though. Personally, I would not post anything on social media that would clue anyone into the situation. Or, block the post from anyone related to work.

    3. Tio*

      Honestly, being on medical leave and posting pictures from a resort seems like bad judgement to me. I don’t know that they could stop you, but they could possibly call into question the validity of your leave and ask for further documentation.

    4. Kay*

      There is big difference between what they can/should do and what will logically happen.

      Can people recover in a hotel room instead of at home? Of course. Are you going to be judged if you decide to post pictures hanging out at the resort pool while are taking time off work to care for someone? Probably. If nothing else the behavior is going to be judged because it is showing a lack of awareness of the optics.

    5. Nancy*

      You can set your social media accounts to private, limit the posts to people who aren’t coworkers, or don’t post any photos from the resort at all.

    6. Laura*

      I had surgery and went on a previously planned family vacation a week or two before my medical leave ended. I don’t feel like I did anything wrong going on the trip (since it was a family trip I had a lot of extra support with childcare and my family members did their best to make sure I got as much rest as possible), but I was very careful to keep it off social media and I didn’t mention it when I came back. It sucks that you have to think about the optics, but I do think that’s where we are currently, and even if your workplace doesn’t officially object it would look bad to most employers.

    7. Tradd*

      I NEVER friend current coworkers on social media, except for LinkedIn. Has saved me much trouble over the years.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        You and me both. My work does have a WhatsApp group too, but it’s moderated so zero drama.

    8. cactus lady*

      I went to Miami when I was recovering from surgery (a terrible decision in retrospect haha) and then I went to Hawaii when my mom died. I don’t see any issue with it, but I also purposely don’t have public social media and don’t add coworkers.

    9. Dueling Scents*

      If it was a hospice patient I would totally get it. Hospice makes the vacations happen!

      I personally don’t friend current coworkers for this very reason. Too much room for assumptions making an ass out of everyone.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This is a reason I’m not on social media, period. I don’t need to monitor/curate everybody’s life for no pay, nor do I need rando critique on mine!

    10. Hyaline*

      I don’t think they get any “say” per se but FLMA fraud is something that they can claim and investigate (using FMLA leave for non-FMLA purposes or misrepresenting the medical condition). Hypothetically, if they granted FLMA to care for a loved one to someone only to have that person take trips with their loved one, I suppose they could make accusations of fraud (claiming the person’s medical condition was misrepresented or that FMLA leave was being used for a vacation instead of caregiving). Would the employer be right? Probably not but what a headache. It might be completely understandable to, say, take the person you’re caring for on a low key trip or to a resort…but I would be very leery of the optics of doing so, especially if the employer tended to be rigid. You might end up being right but a) it might take a court case and b) it’s the kind of thing I just wouldn’t want to deal with.

    11. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      The problem here is having privacy settings on social media set such that anything is visible to your employer.

    12. Industry Behemoth*

      Google “Nathalie Blanchard” for a real-life example. She’s a Canadian who was on disability for depression, went to Florida on vacation and posted some pictures on Facebook.

      The insurance company saw the pictures, and cut off her benefits saying they were proof she was no longer disabled.

    13. Jayne*

      When I went out on FMLA to help out my father with transport to radiation treatments, the doctor’s office had to fill out form to certify that he was being treated and then file them directly with my employer. It was in Florida, so there were resorts around, but my focus was getting him across Orlando while crazed tourists (who couldn’t drive) went to the resorts.

      If your case was a medical tourism trip perhaps it might go over better, but still have questionable optics.

    14. spcepickle*

      I manage people who have gone on FMLA – The process is: the person’s Dr has to sign paperwork that the reason they need time off meets FMLA guidance. That paperwork is filed with HR. HR approves the paperwork. I get a notice from HR that person X is approved for this type (full time or intermittent), for these dates, this is the case number for their timesheet. I don’t get to know anything about why they are on FMLA or what is happening.

      But FMLA does not mean stay in your house being sad in bed. One of my team went on FMLA to full time care give for his new baby (month 8-12) came back super fit and kind of jacked. Nothing to say but welcome back.
      I know people who have asked their Dr for FMLA to take 12 weeks off because of burnout, traveled / vacationed for 12 weeks because that is what they needed to do for their mental health.

      There are no rules that say you can’t be a resort and I would go so far as to say it is not bad optics, if people need time off to deal with whatever Dr. approved reason they need to deal with, let them deal with it as they need.

      If people are jealous, well they need to focus on getting their needs met. Also remember in most states FMLA is unpaid, which is a no go for most people to just galivant around without a reason.

    15. question*

      Curious about a similar issue. FMLA to care for a sick child recovering from cancer treatment. Main treatment is done – still follow-ups and some preventative meds, recovering well, back in school full time, etc. Has the opportunity to take a trip with Make-A-Wish later in the year. Could FMLA be used for that? or should parents save vacation days? Not technically a trip “for treatment” but is a direct result of being in cancer treatment.

      1. Josephine Beth*

        We used to attend a camp for families of children with life-threatening diseases, and many families used FMLA to cover the time.

    16. TheBunny*

      More than you’d think. If you are on caregiver leave that necessitates that you are fully off work and not off an hour here or there, the person you are caring for really shouldn’t be in the shape to travel to a resort or be that far from a doctor should there be an emergency.

      This absolutely could result in the employer questioning the need for the leave as the FMLA laws do allow an employer to request recertification every 30 days for ongoing conditions or in less than 30 if the employer has reason to question the need.,employee's%20stated%20reason%20for%20the

    17. fhqwhgads*

      They can object to the optics of what you post on social media regardless of where you are or if you’re on FMLA so that’s sort of a red herring.

  20. Black belts*

    Hi! I start a new job on Monday and am going from being remote for the past 4 years to being back in person full time. I’ve already been grieving a bit for what I’m losing with WFH (goodbye time to do random errands), but the decision to take this job made the most sense for me right now.

    Are there any tips for making going back in person a smoother time? I’m honestly feeling out of sorts of having to interact with new coworkers in person, where before I could schedule a Zoom meeting intro and then retreat back into my room after so I’m not as overwhelmed. I’ll be in a role that’s expected to be more talkative too.

    I’ll be car commuting, have my own office (with a door!), and a 30 minute mandated lunch break.

    I guess I also wonder what do I do if I need to take a personal phone call (like if my doctor’s office calls), or if I need to decompress, can I shut my office door? And what about going to doctor’s appointments? Do people schedule that before or at the tail end of work? Should I expect asking people to go to lunch when I’m new?

    Whew. It’s been so long since I’ve been in person that I feel I’ve gotten rusty with these basic things.

    1. Van Wilder*

      Following since I may soon be in a similar boat.

      But yes, you can definitely close the door for personal calls.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      All of these questions are pretty job-dependent. Keep your eyes open when you start and see what other people do. You should definitely be able to close the door to take a personal call, but we have no way of knowing what the norms are for your office around appointments– you either follow your co-workers’ leads or ask your manager when you start.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Office culture can vary, so I would try to give it a few weeks to see what others do (or just ask around casually after you start) BUT…

      – yes in general you can shut your office door to take personal calls or just if you need some quiet. If you’re open to interruptions (or not) you may want a sign you can put up.

      – doctor’s appointments are probably best scheduled at the beginning or end of the day, but in my experience, people understand if you need to go at like, 1:30 instead or 3:30 because that’s when the only appointment was

    4. SansaStark*

      I’m hybrid WFH/in-office but I can really struggle with the back and forth, so I’ve tried to make going in as easy as possible on myself: I make my lunch the night before and always include some sort of afternoon treat (and morning treat honestly), I set my clothes out the night before and have some good podcasts for the commute that I’m genuinely looking forward to listening to.

      Everywhere I’ve ever worked has been mostly open-door, but people tend to close them for phone calls, webinars, things like that that either require privacy or could be annoying for someone else to have to hear.

      Things like dr appointments might be covered in your orientation – for example, at the last few places I’ve worked, they don’t make you use PTO for anything under 4 hours so most people schedule things early in the morning or later in the afternoon to take advantage of that policy. But definitely take a look around and see how other people handle being out of the office for an hour or two.

    5. Tio*

      Leave early your first couple weeks, in case you misjudge traffic or there’s a closure. Know who and how you contact if something like that does come up and it’s inevitable to be late. If you haven’t commuted in a while it’s easy to misjudge the amount of prep time you need before commute.

      Look over your wardrobe and at least mentally preselect some outfits for your first week so you’re not in decision paralysis in the morning. If any of it is stuff that you haven’t worn in a while, try it on and make sure it fits (I’m looking at you, blue flower print shirt that mysteriously shrunk).

      Make sure you have some things you can take/make for lunch the first week. Worst case you don’t eat them and go out instead, but until you know what’s available around you at least, good to have a backup. Pick things that aren’t very perishable for the first week, as people may take you out or ask you out.

      Practice your introductory speech. “Hi, I’m Black Belts, I joined to do Job, and I come from a background of Experience. I’m excited for Aspect of Job and look forward to getting to know you.” Also a couple personal trivia facts. “I like martial arts and have been practicing for x years, I have an Animal, etc” that you can throw in at will. And seriously, practice. Introduce yourself to the mirror, a pet, a partner, whatever. It makes it easier (for me, at least, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that.)

      MOST places won’t care if you shut your door quickly for personal calls, but that would depend on the culture a bit and how many/how long you’ve got your door closed for them and what kind of availability to the team they expect you to have. I would try to limit them in your first couple weeks if possible, just to set a good tone. The first couple weeks is when everyone will be paying the most attention and caring about what you do as they take a read on you.

      1. M2RB*

        This comment is stellar and covers most of what I did when I switched from a fully remote job to a different fully in-office job.

        Depending on your personal needs, you may need to pack a little office emergency kit: extra socks/stockings, deodorant, headache & allergy medications, safety pins, hair pins/ties, tampons & pads, band-aids & blister cushions, travel toothbrush & toothpaste & mouthwash & toothpicks & floss. All things that are easily accessible from your main stash when you are at home but may be harder or impossible to access from your new workplace.

        Be kind to yourself for the first few weeks of the transition. It can be challenging for an introvert to go from fully remote to fully in-person so give yourself some grace as you adjust. Be prepared for being exhausted from all the in-person interaction for the first couple of weeks. If possible, build decompression time in to your new schedule. Even if it’s a lie, tell yourself that people don’t expect you know everyone’s names right away (it’s a big change to go from names on a screen to a person in front of you with no name tag). Finding a way to make the commute tolerable is also key – my job is 25-35 minutes of driving, and podcasts and audiobooks are the only things keeping me sane.

      2. K Smith*

        I love the advice to practice your introductory speech! Totally using this.

        If all else fails, escape to your car for an alone break! More secluded then closing the door to your office :)

    6. EA*

      Ohhh I feel like Zoom meeting intros are so much more awkward than being able to just casually introduce yourself in person and chat for a few minutes! Also, you can absolutely return to your office with a transition like, “I’m going to catch up on some emails/prepare for a call/etc. right now, but it’s been great to meet you!”

      The rest of your questions are so office dependent – open or closed door culture, approach to flex time and sick time, etc. I would wait and feel it out for a few weeks. And for the first week, I would come prepared to eat alone but be open to the possibility of being invited to go to lunch.

      Highly recommend an audiobook or fun podcast for the commute – it’s the only thing I miss about my old (pretty awful) commute!

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Totally okay to close the door. If you’re needed by coworkers a lot, maybe post a notice: “Making Business Calls: Will Be Available in X Minutes/After X O:Clock” or similar?

    8. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Based on what I’ve heard from multiple people, expect to be exhausted after those first few days: being “on” in an office environment might once have been something you took for granted but it hits hard when it’s been a while. Whatever you can do to make that easier for yourself – early bedtime, a walk with a friend, extra help with childcare, etc – that will help set you up for success.

      And remember that it is a transition time and won’t always be like that!

    9. We’re Six*

      “ I guess I also wonder what do I do if I need to take a personal phone call (like if my doctor’s office calls), or if I need to decompress, can I shut my office door? And what about going to doctor’s appointments? Do people schedule that before or at the tail end of work? Should I expect asking people to go to lunch when I’m new?”

      I mean, how were you handling that stuff before you went remote????

  21. Mid-career*

    I’m staring down a “mid-career” plateau and would love advice on making the most of this time. I spent my 20s getting experience and a graduate degree in a fairly niche field. At age 30, I just landed a great “subject matter expert” job in the field. I’m relatively young related to my peers, and could see myself doing this role for the next 5-8 years or more — especially since I really value work-life balance and I’m not sure the promotion opportunities would be worth it for me since they tend to require substantially more work. But… now what? I’ve spent my entire career with very clear “next steps” and goals and I’m not sure how to calibrate into longer-term thinking. How did others approach their careers in their 30s? How can I keep from stagnating without giving signals that I’m looking to move up right away?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ugh I will be following the responses. I don’t know how anyone gets into management or if I would like that at all (possibly not) but that’s the only “next step” I see right now / only opportunity to make much more money. I probably have twenty years left in my career at least and it’s hard to picture staying at my current level all that time.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I was in management for about five years before getting out (about ten years ago), and while I didn’t love managing, I am now wondering if it was a mistake to get out because it often seems like the only way to more responsibility and, more importantly, more money.

    2. HSE Compliance*

      Mid 30’s SME here that got into similar roles pretty young – what I focused on was expanding my network base and getting involved in industry groups, local groups, etc. The intent was to become more well-rounded in adjacent topics.

      I started in air compliance, got more into toxics from air pollution, and from toxics got more into emergency planning. Now, my expertise base is fleshed out and I regularly get positive feedback on the broad planning/strategy/review I can do – if someone submits a project, I can also advise on chemical exposures and emergency planning best practices, along with risk evaluation and control, rather than “yes, you need (this permit)”. A recent project I required add’l testing on because I knew of an item in a NESHAP that would, in my opinion, if and when EPA reviewed it, would require testing in the future. I id’d the risk and had them spend a little extra now to verify likely future compliance rather than be surprised by it later.

      None of this is looking to move upwards and onwards (though I have for sure), it was focused on making sure I knew how my subject matter base interacted with adjacent bases.

    3. SansaStark*

      This happened to me a couple of years ago and I decided that I’d just enjoy the subject matter expert job for 2 years and just see how I felt after that because I almost didn’t know what to do with myself once I had landed the highest job I had ever dreamed of having….and then a new project I couldn’t possibly have foreseen opened up more doors, which led to another huge promotion. All of that to say, maybe it’s time to just enjoy your success and see what opportunities the next few years bring. I think flexibility and the ability to SEE opportunities are really important for identifying the next steps.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      30 is not mid-career unless you’re a runway model:-/. You don’t see any growth opportunities from a job you presumably got with 2-3 years experience, since you say you were in school in your 20s?

      When you do truly hit a mid-career plateau you can still focus on building skills within your role. Sometimes take on a difficult customer or try to learn a new computer program or whatever you need to do to feel like you’re making some sort of progress.

      Also focus on saving, getting your H.S.A., Roth IRA, and 401K funded; the point of mid-career is to stock-pile money for retirement. So I’ve been focusing on “when am I going to hit the next ten-thousand-dollar-increment in my account and how do I stay relevant and employed to accomplish that” instead of “let me shoe horn myself into the next promotion”

      Oh and at some point, you realize many promotions are sort of fake in the sense that it’s similar work with a fancy title and not truly a new job, so sometimes you care less about appearing to be progressing on the outside and more about the personal growth aspects

      1. Mid-Career?*

        I actually have 9+ years of experience! I graduated at 21 and did my master’s while working full-time. So I’m solidly maxed out as an individual contributor unless I branch into a senior advisor or manager role. Other than that your advice is well-received, thanks for sharing.

        1. Late 30s SME*

          I’m a late 30s SME who recently transitioned to management. A couple thoughts:

          – Even if you’re tapped out as an individual SME, your field will likely change and evolve, so there is probably always something new to learn. Some people find they really enjoy this point in their career: they’re efficient and competent and their work life balance is great. You might want to consider if that’s the best path for you. In my field, these people always get the coolest/high profile work too.

          – You could take a few easy years to focus on non work stuff, like family/friends/hobbies/home buying etc. Unlike school, work life doesn’t necessarily proceed linearly at a predefined pace. You get to set the goals and pace. You also don’t have to value promotions/money as the most important thing to achieve. I think US over the past few years glorified work and careers more than was necessary. And even people who are work focused usually want a life beyond work.

          – if you think management might be of interest, definitely try to seek out opportunities to try out management before you commit. It will build your resume and more critically let you see if you like managing. I found the transition from SME to manager tough. The skills that make someone a good SME can be counter productive in a manager and as a high performer, it was hard for me to manage people less proficient than myself at first.

      2. Cinnamon roll*

        Wait so what is considered “mid-career”? In my mind it was 30s because “retirement” age is 65.

        1. Mostly Managing*

          “Mid career” is the midpoint between about 25 (when most people are definitely into career related things and not in school/uni any more) and 65 when you retire.

          Which would put it mid-40s.

    5. Jules the First*

      When my direct reports ask this question, I offer three answers:
      1) when you think about the role you want in 6-8 years, what skills do you need to build and what areas do you need to be exposed to in order to be well-positioned for that role?
      2) what are the things that take someone in your role from good to outstanding? Can you work towards developing those skills and attributes?
      3) what are the things outside your career that you want to achieve? (Do you want a family? Buy a house? Travel the world? Retire early? Now is the time to think about all of that!)

  22. Alex*

    I’m a government lawyer balancing a high and fluctuating workload that involves working with AUSAs (our trial counsel) and another government agency (who isn’t technically “superior” to us but has the authority to reverse or approve certain administrative decisions). I also have to put out fires within my agency as they pop up, which are unpredictable and can take days at a time to handle.

    I prioritize hard court deadlines above everything else, but generally remain roughly three weeks behind on my administrative issues and questions that have no deadline. My boss and grandboss are aware that I have a massive caseload, I’m transparent about how slow I am on certain things, and they’re pleased with the quality of my work, but my peers are generally less than thrilled at my response time. I’ve tried promising things by certain dates, but even that doesn’t work since I can’t predict when other things pop up.

    I’m constantly pinged (within the ~3 week resolution time) on things from a handful of people with “Any updates on this?” or “just pushing this to the top of your inbox” type emails. I don’t want to be rude, but it’s starting to grate on my nerves, and those types of emails don’t make me respond any faster. Does anyone have any advice for handling this, or just less-than-rude phrases that I can use to essentially say “Don’t hold your breath on this, I’m swamped?”

    1. Hillary*

      Is it usually the same people? or different every time? Chances are decent they’re sending the email as much to remind themselves as you.

      If it’s a small group, especially if it’s other lawyers, tell them how big and unpredictable your caseload is. Maybe it will change their behavior, but probably not because people gonna people.

      Regardless who it is, you can respond with a breezy “yep, it’s in my backlog” to every inquiry.

      1. Hillary*

        if it’s the same internal people every time I’d be super tempted to do a kanban board in Notion or something and make it visible. But that would be counterproductive in most cultures.

        1. linger*

          I’d be sorely tempted to set an auto response along the lines of
          “As previously communicated, Alex is working through tasks in the order received and some delay is inevitable. Please be assured your task has not been forgotten, but reminder messages delay this process, and do risk your task getting accidentally resequenced as most recent and thus at the bottom of the queue.”

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      My default response in similar situations has been, “it’s on my list”, delivered in the most cheerful tone I can muster at that moment.

    3. WorkerDrone*

      Are people aware upfront of the ~3 week timeline? You say you’re transparent about how slow you are on certain things, is this just to your boss/grandboss or to the people who need the things from you?

      My first suggestion is to start responding to requests with some standard language such as, “Just wanted to confirm receipt of this, and let you know that you can expect to hear back from me on it in a few weeks – ideally by [date three weeks out].”

      If you’re already doing that, I would copy and past the time estimate you used in the original email – “You can expect to hear back from me on this around [date three weeks out]”.

    4. TPS Reporter*

      I have an outlook template saved for this type of response so it’s very quick and I don’t have to think about it. I say something like – this is in my queue. The anticipated turnaround is ___ days.

  23. Comms Manager*

    Right before the holidays, I got laid off from my job, which I’d had for over 2.5 years. I had already been applying for various reasons: feeling unsupported by my manager and employer, struggling to identify accomplishments with the client, lack of opportunity for advancement, and endless levels of dysfunction between the client and employer.

    After many applications, I was offered a role with a lower salary in April.

    For those of you who have taken “survival” or “for now” jobs, how have you explained it in interviews?

    1. EmF*

      “I took advantage of the opportunity to learn about telecomms/perfect my customer service skills/support myself while considering my long-term goals, which led me to apply for your company as I’m fascinated by (whatever thing it is the company you’re applying for does)”?

      1. OrdinaryJoe*

        Second to this … wanted to explore a different sector, skill set, type of job, whatever it is. Figured out you didn’t like it so are now coming ‘back’ to whatever. You could also say you examined your resume and found you were lacking in X and took a short-term job to expand or gain experience in X. I did that and it worked very well. People understand and aren’t concerned by someone wanting to explore or expand and pick up new skill sets.

    2. juliebulie*

      I just explain that I took the job because I’d rather work than not, and then I talk about things I learned, skills I picked up, and people I got to know. All things that I would not have experienced otherwise.

      I mean, it’s tempting to say that it was a miserable shithole, but that’s not the way to talk in an interview.

    3. SansaStark*

      I left a for-profit job so that was pretty easy to spin for non-profit interviews (wanting to get back into the non-profit sector), but I also focused on my desire to get back into Education which was something where I had some previous experience.

    4. Generic Name*

      I escaped an Evil Job for a minimum wage survival gig and even though it was incredibly boring and less than entry level, I leaned into the few achievements I made and things that sounded impressive with context (e.g., improved a process which cut costs, did admin support for X number of people). Hopefully you’ll still able to develop some things to talk about. Good Luck!

  24. Anon for this*

    Some good news! (Via some appalling stuff, but good ending!)

    When I took over the team I currently supervise, one team member was on secondment from our call center, finding out on a month-t0-month basis whether she’d still be doing the actual work she likes doing and getting the appropriate secondment pay. I managed to get this over to quarterly, but as a result of “restructuring” (collective groan) she wound up in a situation where she was on secondment, month-to-month, AND not getting the secondment pay. It was the best of three possible options ((a) worse pay, job she likes; b) worse pay, job she hates; c) layoff with minimal severance) but still something that sucked and gave me the ethical willies.

    ANYWAY. I got a new boss myself a couple of months back, who manages my team and another rapidly-growing team who (this is important) use the same pay scale as my team. In a meeting to learn about my team and what we do (yay, restructuring), I expressed how stressed my team member was, how she was managing to do efficient and effective work even despite feeling (rightfully!) betrayed and anxious at the financial strain and career uncertainty, and how many business and ethical concerns I had about the current situation.

    New Boss agreed the situation was awful. My team member is now still seconded to my team… but she’s permanent on New Boss’s other team, which means her pay is now back to where it should be, and even better, is now her base salary rather than “call center salary plus secondment bonus.” She probably will still wind up having to leave my team at some point, but there’s a waaaaay better landing place now.

    She’s thrilled. I’m thrilled. I feel like we were doing her a great wrong, and that’s been righted. I’m proud that I was able to advocate for her effectively, and very pleased that she told me that she never doubted I was on her side.

    My role as her supervisor is ending fairly soon (I was a parental leave replacement) and I’ve accomplished a bunch of things generally over my term, but I think this is the thing that makes me happiest. She’s not in the ideal place, but she’s in a better place than she was when I started.

  25. BuscuitsNBread*

    I know that applications/hiring process with the US federal government can take a while, but does anyone have any idea about the speed for municipal government? Of course, I’m sure it varies place to place but as a whole would you expect the hiring process to be the same as, or shorter than, the federal government?

    1. the lizard*

      I have two data points with two different cities:
      1. 2017, I forget how long it took to get to the interview stage but I don’t think it was excessive, maybe a few weeks? After my interview I believe it took about 1.5-2 months for them to call me and offer the job. By that point I had accepted another job.
      2. 2023, after I applied it was only a few days before they contacted me. After my interview they called me back within a week. I do think in this situation they were pretty desperate. The job had been reposted a couple times with no takers before I applied. The team is pretty small and they really did need another person.

      I’m sure it varies depending on your city, but just from what I’ve heard I’d expect federal government to take WAY longer than municipal government.

    2. Government worker*

      Shorter, definitely. But, like you said, it depends. I worked for a local government department that took 6 months to finally hire a role I was backfilling as a part-time person during the busiest season. But that was due to dysfunction, not the process itself. They had an active list and an internal candidate that wanted to transfer and could have hired within weeks of the person retiring but they just couldn’t get their act together.

    3. HSE Compliance*

      County gov’t #1 – process was about 3 weeks from being asked to apply (old coworker, I was state at the time) to hire.

      State #1 – process was about the same – 3 weeks.

      State #2 – process was closer to 5 weeks, which partially was because the admin that was supposed to send me my packet was termed for performance issues (failure to send things in a timely manner).

      County #2 – iirc 6 weeks but I needed a LE background check which took forever, considering how boring I am.

      Interviewed for City gov’t – process took about 8 weeks between application and interview/results (did not get hired); I got a very strong sense that there was an internal candidate that they needed to interview a certain # of people before they could hire, which may explain part of the timeline.

      I have applied to several federal positions and for some heard back 2+ years later. However, one agency got back to me in maybe 2 weeks. YMMV.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      Seems to me that would depend in part on the size of the municipal government. How big an HR team they have, how many open positions at any one time, do they have several closing at the same time so then they have a big wad of applications, do they do rolling review or wait until the closing date–lots of variables. Is it a new position or filling a vacancy created by someone retiring or leaving? It’s also going to depend on the sense of urgency the hiring manager feels and who’s involved in the screening process.

      I work in a state agency and have filled 7 newly created positions in the past 12 months. We staggered the postings to manage the workload. In our system HR does the first pass to review which ones meet minimum qualifications, then sends us a note that the list is ready for us. We did a batch review (with a search committee) after closing, moved quickly to first interview, written exercise for finalists, and then final interview because we were eager to get the new people in place. If I were filling one vacancy on a team that had pretty good coverage I might not have kept the pace up quite the same way. If that first list hadn’t given us enough qualified candidates we might have reopened the posting. (I’m happy to say that we got great applicants and hired our top choice for every single position. My team rocks!)

      The long drawn-out part of the process wouldn’t have shown to the applicants–it was writing the position description and getting the new positions created that took months and months.

    5. Banana Pyjamas*

      4 municipal jobs across 3 local units. The very first one they made an offer after a week, the rest made offers in the first interview. I have never had multiple interviews, and only done two phone screens. I was specifically asked to apply to three, including the first. I cold called one. Some municipalities do not allow cold-calls and only accept resumes through specific job postings, and don’t look at previously submitted materials.

      My friend is currently interviewing for a county in a major city, and they had a phone screen, and are currently in a second round interview with the person they would report to.

      Ultimately this varies wildly. Many local units are small and underfunded, so they often don’t have HR, and hiring for specific positions goes through specific people. Also, some places elected officials have massive latitude in hiring and HR is more for once you’re an employee rather than becoming an employee.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      In my (large US) city agency employer, the time between a noncompetitive job being posted and an offer made is unremarkable; it depends on the strength of the applicants and how quickly the hiring panel can coordinate interviews with at least three candidates. However, the time between accepting an offer and getting a start dates is MONTHS and really depends on the priority level of the position and the state of hiring freezes. For me…

      Role 1: external hire into a priority position, no hiring freeze – a shockingly fast 6 weeks between acceptance and start.

      Role 2: internal promotion during hiring freeze – I want to say 15 months between acceptance and administrative start (functional start was about 9 months).

      Role 3: internal lateral move with hiring thaw – 4 months between acceptance and start. Apparently this was on the fast side because there was no increase in my pay to approve.

      At the same time as my entry to role 3, an external hire saw a wait of about 8 months between acceptance and getting approved to start. It sucks, and really hurts our ability to hire who we want to hire because a lot of people just can’t wait that long, especially with no insight into approximately how long it’ll take.

    7. Currently Looking*

      For my first county job, it was all told about 3 months from application to start date. I learned after I started that there was frustration with HR regarding the hiring times. Apparently the county lost out on a number of candidates because they took other jobs while waiting for HR to get to their stuff together.

      This last time I applied for a local government job (for a role I didn’t end up getting), it was two weeks after the closing date for the phone interview and two weeks after that for the in-person interview. I never heard anything after the in-person interview and my application status changed to being placed on an eligible register which means they could pull my application for other positions. I think it was a month after the interview.

      Like others have said, it varies greatly.

  26. Samantha P*

    I (senior individual contributor level) was hired as a change agent over a year ago. However, the company doesn’t want to actually change. I don’t get the backing I need from my boss and grand-boss, and I need from another team I not getting because it’s headed by someone who is a missing stair, and he’s above me. Overall it’s a pretty sexist company and the decision makers are too afraid to make decisions or hold missing stairs accountable.

    In every meeting they ask the same questions and I tell them the same answers. They actually seem okay with this (from what I can tell, they are the types to not tell someone stuff when they mess up, etc.), with no one actually finding solutions. But the repeating everything every single meeting, multiple times a week, is starting to grate.

    Any advice for coping? Finding a new job isn’t an option right now. Thankfully I’m remote which makes it 99% better than if I was in an office with them.

    1. Msd*

      Is it possible to be in the office with them on some kind of regular schedule? Sometimes it’s harder for people to ignore you when they are face to face.

      1. Samantha P*

        There’s no office and we’re in different states. It’s not so much them ignoring me, as they don’t want to make decisions or hold other teams accountable. I forgot to mention that my grand-boss is also the boss of the missing staircase.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Is naming the pattern an option? You hired me for x but are not implementing any of my recommendations, is this how you envision success in this role?

      Otherwise I’d say start applying to other places, and in the meantime search for ‘your boss sucks and isn’t going to change’ on this site. And see if you can detach from outcomes – you can’t care more than they do – and instead treat this as an interesting social observation, you’re a scientist or anthropologist collecting info on this fascinating and contradictory species to go in your upcoming book.

      Sorry you’re in this situation.

      1. Samantha P*

        I’ve haven’t specific named the pattern, but when I tried getting clarification from them on what I need to do, and when I’ve tried communicating with the missing stair, I was told by my boss I seemed frustrated….

        Finding a job isn’t an option right now sadly

    3. Kay*

      As I consultant I saw this A LOT in certain industries. I found that framing it differently in my head helped, although your situation is a little different (showing accomplishments on a resume wasn’t something I was worried about). If they want to pay you to stare at a wall, you can accept that this is what you do for money.

      You could try changing the language/angle you use with them, just to mix it up for yourself, or maybe pick one smaller piece to change and see if that sticks.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      When I was in a job like this, I spent a lot of time building reports to quantify what I was talking about, which led me down many interesting rabbit holes, filled the time, and gave me more and more backup information for the next meetings.

      However you mention this being easier while WFH. Well, yes it can be easier to turn it off mentally when it’s remote. But if you can get an in-person meeting, I’d do it. People can ignore your presentation or zone out much less when you’re making eye to eye contact and they have to spend the rest of the day with you!

    5. pally*

      How much are you in charge of the process(es) you were hired to change? It would mean less decisions made by those above you and more decisions made by you.
      That might be a starting place.
      But I get that this might be hard to realize if boss and grand boss aren’t supportive of you in the first place.
      Otherwise, it will be the same ol’ thing you are experiencing now. Nothing changes, nothing improves, and no one cares.

      1. Samantha P*

        How much are you in charge of the process(es) you were hired to change? – I don’t have that authority. I think they are lazy and want to put the accountability on me, instead of the heads of the departments and themselves, who are higher than me.

        1. Tio*

          Start documenting the problems, solutions you suggested, and roadblocks to said solutions. Like:
          Problem: We keep running out of bananas
          Solution 1: Banana intake and outtake survey periodically to ensure we’ve correctly judged supply flow
          Roadblock: Would require a survey design and Jon has advised he is too busy to design survey. Have asked for alternate designers or outside assistance, Karl said that is not in the budget.

          Make basicalyl a checklist of what the problems are, laid out factually, and present them to your boss weekly/biweekly/during 1:1s whatever. make sure it’s frequent, written down, and note his responses on there as well. Make a trail to show concrete evidence of the issues both with your limited authority and, subtly, lack of buy in from upper management on granting that authority

  27. cactus lady*

    Good morning AAM friends! We are having an extreme heatwave next week and I am giving my team the option to work from home so they don’t have to be out of it. Four of my team members and myself all have commutes of at least an hour one way and it seems too risky to have someone have car trouble or get in an accident when it’s supposed to be 111 degrees out! I am not sure how my workplace will respond to this since no manager has ever done it before. Managers out there, how do you keep yourself and your team safe in extreme heat?

    1. EmF*

      Can you give them flexibility as well as WFH stuff? If their homes aren’t air-conditioned, being able to take a break in the middle of the day to go around the corner to an air-conditioned shop or movie theatre or something and then work in the evening when it’s cooler might be handy.

      1. cactus lady*

        This isn’t possible for our team, but thankfully everyone has ac (it is a requirement in our municipality – it’s been a hot place for years, but only recently has the heat gotten this extreme and for long periods of time).

    2. CherryBlossom*

      Here’s a few things my team’s done to keep us safe during our heat wave:

      -Offer remote work as much as possible! Depending to the nature of the work, this may be tricky, but if it’s an option, do it.
      -For those who do come in, get them ways to cool off. We have a mini ice machine, cold beverages, and small desk fans
      -Relaxing the dress code. Again, depends on the nature of the work, but encouraging lighter wear is helpful! (One of our normally buttoned-up execs is currently wearing a bright blue Hawaiian shirt, which is a fun novelty)

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Relaxing the dress code is key, for people going in to the office. Up to and including allowing shorts, if at all possible.

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      So awesome that you’re doing this. If you were my boss and you took this thoughtful and proactive approach to my well-being I’d buy you a box of popsicles and some ice cream sandwiches.

      Thinking about “safety” in another sense–organizational policy–

      Are you concerned about pushback since no one has done it? If you’re in a place that routinely gets this kind of heat (or will be getting it thanks to climate change when you didn’t used to) the organization should start thinking about this and providing support.

      Is WFH already a pretty accepted practice generally so they’ve thought through the potential workplace injury, ergonomics, and all the rest?

      Is your boss aware of this and on board? Do you practice a no-surprises approach in advance when you’re exercising your decision-making with something like this, or would you usually just inform during/after the fact as an FYI? (I like the leaf-branch-trunk-root approach to decisions for my team–read Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations, if this is new.)

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      We shut down for the day a couple years ago, during a heatwave/fire season climax. Four AC units in four different stores failed in two days, and having 550 degree pizza ovens running was simply not doable. That was only for one day, though.

    5. londonedit*

      We are weak and feeble here in Britain but since 2020 the company policy where I work is that if the forecast temperature is over 30C then you can work from home if you want to. We’re hybrid anyway so WFH is completely normal, and it makes perfect sense because people are commuting on public transport (no one drives to work in London) and the deep-level Tube lines don’t have air con. We do have some air con in the office, and some people prefer to suffer the commute so they can be cooler during the day, but personally I’d rather WFH so I can sit around working with wet hair wearing as little as possible!

      1. GythaOgden*

        Oh yeah! I was really thankful for WFH on Wednesday when I was still recovering from a nasty cold but it was still very hot. Being able to wear pyjama shorts and no tights (my legs put a Wookiee to shame and erupt in eczema when I try to shave them, so they’re normally covered up) and the flimsiest top I could find was really great, as was the proximity to the fridge full of coke zero that no-one else would think was fair game. I also have the advantage of curtains and a house angled such that I can move with the sun if necessary — stay on the west side of the house when the sun is in the east and move east when it’s moved west.

        My in-person job wasn’t that bad — it was in a north facing atrium, so we avoided the sun until about 4pm when we were packing up anyway — but travel was not very nice at all.

        I normally do get dressed properly for work but I now have a plan for hotter days when I need it.

  28. Shopping is my cardio*

    Question regarding referrals at work. I submitted a referral for someone to work in my department, exact same job as mine. I worked with this person for years and I know without a doubt that he can do the work, and do it well. He had 1 interview and was told he wasn’t picked for the next round of interviews. I was shocked that nobody approached me to ask questions. I have a very good relationship with my boss but she never ever brought it up to me (she knew he was my referral). Maybe he bombed the interview but I was so surprised that nobody asked for my input. Why take an unknown from the street when I could have given her so much insight about my referral. Am I off base here?

    1. Kay*

      If this was the final round I would be more surprised, but being as it was the first stages it sounds like they had candidates they liked better.

    2. Hyaline*

      I’d try not to take it too personally–maybe they have particular needs or vision for the role or department and were looking for skillsets they didn’t let you know about, or maybe they had candidates who just blew them away, or maybe they’re prioritizing transferring/promoting internal candidates, or maybe it’s blatant nepotism. Who knows? But for whatever reason they went with other candidates. I would take it that your positive referral as all the info they needed from you and let it go. (I can understand, FWIW, feeling a little hurt or even disrespected that your positive referral wasn’t considered more heavily in the process, but it’s possible they just…don’t really care that much. Which stings, but it’s not personal.)

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Your friend may have bombed the interview – and there are many ways I’ve seen this happen. A top performer applies for the next level up, but is jut bad at interviewing so doesn’t sell the panel. A great candidate thinks they have the inside track so doesn’t prepare, doesn’t put their best foot forward. I also think you are making an assumption when you suggest they are taking an unknown off the street. Last time was on a hiring panel I knew and had worked with every one of the applicants over my years in the field. The other panel members each knew at least some of the candidates.

    4. Tio*

      I had someone referred to me and they were a terrible fit. They were clearly trying to sort of misrepresent the experience they did have into something it wasn’t – they couldn’t answer any of the technical questions I asked. There is no questions I would have ever been able to come up with that would have made this a good fit, so there was no reason to ask their referral anything. For people who don’t make it past the first round, there’s usually something big enough that they don’t need to ask further questions.

      Also, the referral itself is you saying that you believe he can do the work and do it well and is reliable. They don’t need to ask you about it again, it’s already been said, essentially. What additional facts were you going to provide about them that they wouldn’t ask the candidate directly about? The only time I would ask someone about their referral is if it was coming down to a close call between them and one or more other candidates, then I might want some candid feedback about their strengths and weaknesses from you. But otherwise, everything else comes directly from my interactions with them.

    5. Art3mis*

      Every company I’ve been with has been different with referrals. One asked by default, if you knew that person and worked with them or if they were a friend or just an acquaintance, etc. Most though have never asked, but I’ve only ever, in 20+ years of working, have had one person hired by a referral of mine. If I know the manager and the person I’m referring well enough I’ll tell the manager about them, but I don’t think it always matters/helps. Basically what I’m saying is, it’s not you.

  29. OfficeHunt*

    I play a game in our office every August, where I hide objects (small plastic jewels, little animal figurines etc.) for our staff to hunt for. Folks can form teams to find these objects or go solo, with a big reward for the most points at the end. I distribute the 1pt/5pt items daily so there’s always fresh finds, but we also have one BIG POINTS item. Last year, I hid the BIG item in an office plant, and no one found it – and I’m at a loss where to hide this year’s BIG item. (I know the plants will be attacked this year). Anyone have any suggestions for good office hiding spots I might not have thought of yet? I’m not above writing riddles for people to solve. (I should mention, we don’t put anything in bathrooms or in personal offices/drawers/desks.)

    1. Kay*

      In the middle of a candy bowl? Attached to the ceiling? In the paper holder on a printer? In the stairwell?

    2. IT_rocks*

      Top of doors? Taped to overhead light switches? On the bulletin board? On someone’s desk calendar?

    3. Liz*

      In the ceiling if you’ve got those drop-down tiles?

      If you’ve got a kitchen, maybe there’s a dusty punch bowl / water pitcher at the back of a top cabinet you could put it inside of?

      1. Amateur Bog Witch*

        Seconding the drop-down tiles, if you have them. A departing colleague hid his no longer needed business cards in a few of those and we were finding them years later.

    4. ruthling*

      supply cabinet in a supply box nobody uses, behind a poster on a wall, plain sight in a group of similar items?

    5. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Taped behind the copier? In the supply closet next to stuff that is the same shape/color/size? Behind a calendar or clock? Taped under the conference room table? Under a rug/mat? Inside a coffee mug at the back of a shelf? Inside a file labeled with the name of the big points item?

    6. JustMyImagination*

      If you have an office fridge, in an ice cube tray in the freezer? People don’t really look in those.

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      A random supply cupboard that nobody uses. Or what about a mug, dish or piece of Tupperware waaaay at the back of a cupboard? Or any piece of office equipment that rarely gets used?
      This sounds like fun, I hope your colleagues enjoy it!

    8. ScruffyInternHerder*

      In the Autochef under Kale Smoothie? (Sorry, book reference)

      My credenza has a gap between the floor and the bottom drawer where if I felt so inclined, I could hide things by removing the drawer, but that sounds to be off-limits. Do you have any stray “arrangement of things”s in your reception area? Where you could tuck something?

    9. Hillary*

      taped to the bottom of a (clean) garbage can is a good one – no one ever looks there.

    10. BikeWalkBarb*

      How big is the big points item? My mom had great success hiding Easter eggs by resting them on top of the lamp finial (I had to check to make sure I used the right word–the top of the thing that holds the lampshade). Some of our lamps had a little ring there–great spot to rest a small item. Something like that for a hide in plain sight approach, where it’s against a busy background so it doesn’t contrast.

      Do you have coat racks so you could hang it on that behind a coat?

      In the paper recycling bin?

    11. Llellayena*

      The back section of a filing drawer (behind a bunch of files). In the mechanical or janitor’s closet, preferably on top of or behind something. If it’s flattish, behind a picture frame or sandwiched between books on a bookshelf. Inside an empty box of plastic utensils or coffee stirrers. Behind the toilet paper (if you stock your own). My office does an Easter egg hunt and I found one 9 months post-Easter in an empty tissue box.

    12. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Does your office have a dishwasher that doesn’t get much use? My husband hid a large present in there for me for months that I never found (we just hand wash dishes, there are just two of us).

    13. FLuff*

      In the copier – use the paper section no one every fills. One of those spaces that is not for paper

  30. Anonymous Educator*

    For folks who changed careers, what were acronyms or weird lingo that you had to get used to in your new industry?

    I switched from working in schools to working in a corporation, and when I started I had no idea what IC, OKR, or PKI stood for. I’m sure there were others…

    1. Shopping is my cardio*

      I work in the defense industry… I swear I needed a dictionary during my first year: R&O, PMO, PMER, iPMR, JCA, and on and on

    2. NB*

      Oh yes! I used to work in a field that covered both education and disability services.

      So. Many. Initialisms. So many that I created a glossary for myself and for my successor.

      IEP and 504Plan are just the beginning.

    3. Tio*

      My company has so many internal acronyms it makes me want to scream.

      But my industry in general is government regulated, which means alphabet soup. ABI, AMS, ACE, CATAIR, PUN, and that’s not even getting into the alphabet agencies we work with.

    4. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Many years ago, moved from the hospital environment to government contracting, where a lot of military lingo/acronyms were used. I was very confused for a while! One of the earliest acronyms I learned was FUBAR, so that was pretty cool, lol.

    5. periwinkle*

      My employer is the champion of acronyms. So, so many acronyms. It gets worse when Division A and Division B use the same acronym but it means different things.

      How bad is it? We have an acronym dictionary on our intranet. Some 3-letter acronyms have a dozen or more definitions… and none of them are relevant to the acronym-filled document you’re trying to translate.

      If a group changes its name, which is a frequent thing, we have to learn a new acronym. My original VP-led division changed – in a space of 7 years – from a 3-letter acronym to a 4-letter one when a new VP came in, then to a 2-letter one as requested by the VP who replaced that VP. This VP then reverted back to the original 3-letter acronym but with a different translation. That was probably the only thing they accomplished their entire tenure but hey…

    6. An Australian in London*


      I know of three expansions of that initialisation. Two are SFW.

    7. kalli*


      and that’s just pivoting in the same law area.

  31. chelly*

    I started working recently as a software engineer. It’s been intensely frustrating. We work with scrum and every work package we guess how much effort it takes. the first two weeks went very well and since then I have run into trouble again and again and again.
    Stories that were estimated to take half a day or a day have been taking me several days!
    Some of it is just my inexperience with the tools, I’m sure, but it’s a very unpleasant feeling to know that this should be done much faster. next week I will have the pleasure of again telling the team and the customer that in two weeks I haven’t even finished doing what should’ve taken me 1½ days and I don’t know how long it will take.
    I feel like I’m making the worst impression honestly.
    What can I even do about it?? I can’t magically fix software issues faster by wishing for it

    1. chelly*

      also I’m sitting at my desk panicking about it, when I was planning to drive to my parents for the weekend. hallelujah

    2. EMP*

      who is doing these estimates? If you just started as a software engineer, it’s totally reasonable that you won’t be able to estimate work time very accurately! I think that was even on my rubric for being promoted at around 8 years experience. Do you have a decent manager or a peer you can loop in to get better estimates?

      On the other hand, if someone else is saying “this should take half a day” but you’re not familiar enough with the code/tools to meet that deadline, have you asked for support on that front?

      tl;dr it’s not you and I hope the team/company culture is such that someone can help you out!

      1. chelly*

        they were previously done by another engineer in the project. for the few totally new stories I have also estimated.

        I have whenever I ran into a problem, tried solving it myself for a bit and either when it took too long or I ran out of ideas/options asked for help. is there some other support I can ask for?
        it’s a bit hard to proactively say I’m gonna need support for this because I always very naively feel that I don’t, that I know what I need to do and can easily work it out. then I start and realise, actually, I don’t know or even misunderstood the story and somehow I always run into the stupidest Google has never even heard of this problem problems on top of this.

        thank you for the encouragement. I’ve already discussed the issue with my team lead and broadly asked the team if we could possibly estimate stories assigned to me higher than for the others.

        1. Combinatorialist*

          When you do the estimates, try doubling them. Estimating is a notoriously difficult task and we tend to underestimate rather than overestimate. Start keeping a log of story, your best case estimate of how long it will take if everything goes perfectly, what you think is a realistic estimate, the worst case if you need a ton of support, and then how long it actually took. This will help hone your skills at estimating.

          1. Rick Tq*

            Go for the Scotty method of estimation: Take your estimate, double the number and bump the unit of time up one step… Yes, seriously.

            A 10 minute job could take 20 hours if you get stuck down a rabbit hole trying to chase down a heisen-bug..

        2. EMP*

          > is there some other support I can ask for?
          It’s hard to know exactly without being part of the team, but it might be something where you can time bound your “try solving it” phase to something relatively short, like maybe an hour or two. Just enough to have some real questions. Then ask someone more senior about the problem, describe what you think you’ve uncovered, ask how they’d solve it or if the solution you’re thinking of would work.

          I’m thinking of how things worked when I had someone on my team who wasn’t new to software but was very new to our specialty and she tended to go down rabbit holes, doing a lot of work but not getting what was necessary done. Things worked better when we could make a game plan in advance (“try looking at this function, checking what it’s returning when you do XYZ. If that looks good then try doing A, B, and C”) to direct her efforts

    3. EmF*

      You’re new. Things are expected to take longer when you’re new.

      Talk to your boss. “Hey, I’ve noticed that I’ve been estimating things based on how long I think they should take. That isn’t reflecting how long it actually IS taking me, while I learn the tools/solve problems I hadn’t anticipated that probably won’t come up when I’m more experienced/etc. I’m going to start padding my estimates for a while until I really have my feet under me.”

      I know it’s possible to paint my office in a couple of hours. I also know that it would take me all weekend. If someone asks me when they can use my office again, I’m going to tell them after the weekend, because they need realistic information to make plans with. Be up-front about it. Nobody’s going to blame you for taking longer to do things you’re new at doing. I’d be willing to bet someone might offer to help.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      Estimates may be wrong? I’m adjacent to this and describe most of my current role as a “coder.” I find most things take longer because 1) there are multiple ways to pull the same thing/make the same thing happen but the results from both or the three available sources are slightly different and I waste hours figuring out why, which is correct, and sometimes fixing one or two tables
      2) requirements aren’t usually complete. People don’t know what they don’t know when they ask for things. As a basic example, I was asked to make a report on “pull times when this particular bill issue happened.” But I already knew they were going to ask follow up questions like “when was the next following bill? Did the customer pay for the specific incorrect bill? Are they current overall? So I built those data points into the report I built

    5. Gamer Girl*

      Before you do anything else: talk to your scrum leader +/- manager and ask them what their expectations are, re: estimates. It may well be that they are seeing your relative accuracy as “they’re new, so we’ll round that up by X hours” or so on.

      Also, when estimating, think about every step. In your case, ask for advice during your stand ups about how long things should take as well! Make sure you’re going through your process (briefly!) for the tasks for the day and ask directly for input on if that’s the most efficient way/if you are forgetting steps/whether that will impact others’ work, etc etc.

      Also, if you need to track down information from other humans to complete the task, literally add that to your checklist and factor that in! Your scrum leader or lead should be able to help you, as well.

      At the end of the day, estimates are needed, but there’s usually a buffer factored in to account for new employees. With enough sprint’s worth of estimates, you’ll start to be able to look up similar tasks and see real time vs estimate to see how much buffer to build in as well.

      But seriously, as my scrum leader told me: “literally everyone gets estimates wrong, especially at first! Do not panic!”

    6. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Are you estimating your own story points, or does the team do that together? If you’re doing it, make sure you’re building in overhead, and allowing for being new. If the team is doing it, maybe you’ve just been getting stories involving a less familiar part of the codebase, or newer-to-you tools, lately, compared to the first sprint. Ask if you can take some time every week to generally familiarize yourself with the codebase – reading other people’s PRs is a great way to get started.

      1. Professional Project Manager*

        I am by no means a scrum master, but with agile in general there is an expectation of flexibility and that things may take longer than expected. I work in a hybrid environment and we have never had a project complete on time, and everyone is ok with it, as long as we communicate and meet our sucess criteria.
        Communication is key though especially in daily stand up or any other forum. There are also many time estimation techniques that might help. One that comes to mind is PERT, which factors in optimistic (O), pessimistic (P) and Most likely (M). The formula is (O+(4M)+P)/6. Hope this helps.

    7. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Agile is SUPPOSED to take into account how quickly the person assigned to the task can do the task. It sounds like that isn’t happening. Talk to your scrum master, they should be helping to sort this out. Of course, sometimes something is just harder than anticipated. But also, Agile is supposed to work around self-organizing teams. It should be ok to reach out and ask for help (“man, I cannot find this bug, any chance you can have a peak at it? I think I’ve been looking at it too long”).

  32. Rook Thomas*

    So, it’s yearly performance evaluation time at my organization (which coincides with our busiest time of the year) — any advice on how to have a conversation with someone who rated themselves “Exceeds Expectations” in all categories and became very angry when my ratings were the same, except for one? My org considers a “Meets Expectations” to be an A-grade and what we want. “Exceeds” is A+ outstanding, all the time, every interaction. This person has good communication sometimes, so-so communication other times. My manager approved the evaluation, so I didn’t go rogue in my rating on this. Reassuring the staff member that this was still an excellent review did not work — they are now still angry 2 days later and now are making accusations of inequity (i.e. they are held to a different standard that everyone else). Any thoughts? I’m stressed and could use other brains on this. Thanks!

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I mean, I think they are definitely demonstrating why they didn’t rate at Exceeds Expectations in communications!

      That said, I would first consider if there is a difference in standards and, if not, make it clear what the bar is for Exceeds Expectations in the future. You could also say something like, “Only 10% of staff are rated Exceeds” or whatever it is if that helps.

      1. Dog Child*

        Was about to comment the same!

        I think talking to them about where the improvements need to be and citing this reaction to be one of them. Being a little disappointed is fine but multiple days of visible anger and accusations of unfairness is ridiculous

    2. Hyaline*

      Sometimes just clarification of the rubric can be helpful…not quite the same, but for me, teaching new freshmen who are disappointed not to get A’s in a class where A=work that exceeds expectations and they’re turning in bare minimum demonstration of skill, usually just explaining the functional categories of the rubric helps. It sounds like this person may or may not be willing to listen, but if they learn that NO REALLY only a very few people are rated as truly exceptional, it could help? If you don’t have them already, maybe descriptive rubrics with “Exceeds looks like X++, Meets looks like X, Acceptable looks like X- and Needs Improvement looks like X- -” could be useful now/in the future.

      Or he may just be a big whiny baby who doesn’t have a realistic view of his skills and need to stew for a while. Is he young? New to the workforce? I experience a lot of college freshmen who…need a reality check. I imagine it’s the same with young-ish new hires. You may just need to let him wallow for a few days.

      1. Anon for This*

        This. New employees who have never received less than an A in school suddenly faced with the equivalent of an A- or B. The horror! At least I’ve never had someone’s mother call me to argue about it, as has happened to others.

    3. An Australian in London*

      Something I’ve run into, both as the IC and the manager: not understanding that expectations are scaled relative to the role.

      Me, as a freshly promoted Principal Consultant, rating myself Exceeds Expectations on multiple criteria. My manager gently explaining that the examples I gave were in fact the expectations of every Principal Consultant, and so I was in fact Meets not Exceeds on every point. It was a shock and younger me was grumpy for a bit but it made sense.

      1. Lucy Van Pelt*

        “Meets Ecpectations” is often interpreted as “I got a C”.

        It’s challenging to explain the difference between scales that use “expectations” and grades. If you have an employee who is known to be excellent at their job, and all their work in the past year has been excellent, by that scale they get a Meets Expectations” on their yearly evaluation. To the employee it sounds like this: we all know you’re great at your job, you’ve been great this year, so your grade is a C”

        It becomes more difficult when over time the employee gets better and better at their job, and the boss says “this is what we expect from someone with your history, so you get “Meets Expectations” on the yearly evaluation.

        Many workplaces tie raises into the scale, so minimum raises for these always excellent workers.

        This scale also means that a mediocre employee who improves so they now meet the average level would get “Exceeds” because they improved.

    4. Best of luck*

      I could have written this a (really unpleasant) year and a half ago. Rely on your own professionalism and don’t let yourself be intimidated by their tactics. Make sure you and your manager are on the same page about how to handle this unprofessional behavior and these accusations, you will need back-up, and probably for them to be another person in the room in any substantive meetings if possible. Do not get baited by the person into talking about other staff members’ performances – stay focused on the issue, which has become their overreaction instead of an evaluation reflecting a very normal need to improve in an area (as someone else said, this is an excellent example of failure in that area, as well as poor judgment, if that is one of your metrics). Start documenting now, you will need it for next year’s evaluation, if not sooner. Protect yourself and recognize that you are not the source of the disruption.

  33. Blues13*

    How do you deal with a loss of institutional memory in a very small nonprofit?

    I recently started at a very, very small nonprofit where I am one of two full-time administrative staff. There has been 100% turnover of the admin office in the last year. My boss only overlapped with my predecessor for about 6 months, and then he didn’t hire me for several months after that, which means that I didn’t get any training from my predecessor, and she lives on a different continent now and cannot be contacted.

    There are many basic things that my predecessor did that my boss has no idea how she did. I asked yesterday what our procedure is to process credit card donations, and he did not know. We have many accounts to which the passwords have been lost, and some have 2FA set up for old employees’ devices that we are now totally unable to access.

    Has anyone been able to come back from this level of institutional memory loss, and if so, how?

    1. Yes And*

      Re the accounts, most vendors have an account recovery process (either a button on the login page or a contact to call). These vendors serve businesses, and sometimes the individual person on a business account can change with little to no notice, and they have to have a process for continuity.

      The process question is harder. You may need to rebuild a lot from scratch, I’m afraid. This can be a blessing in disguise, though – a lot of small organizations (especially nonprofits) can get very entrenched into existing systems long after those systems have ceased to serve the organization or have become outdated. You have the opportunity to bring in modern tools and best practices that you might not have had otherwise. Just do your successor the favor that wasn’t done for you, and document as you go!

      1. Still Peeved*

        This is solid advice from Yes And.

        Another thing that might help, because the loss of institutional memory can feel overwhelming: Make a list of issues that need to be sorted today, issues that can be sorted tomorrow, and issues that can be sorted in a month. Pick three things from your “sorted today” list and tackle those. I found that this method helped me get the nonprofit I was hired to run organized pretty quickly.

    2. MsOctopus*

      Hey! This is so very familiar to me, and you have my sympathies! For my organization, unfortunately, the solution was to start from scratch for a lot of things—new accounts with new passwords, etc—and to develop a much more robust operations manual with different processes spelled out, located in a secure shared drive (owned by the organization, not an individual! We lost tons of files due to sloppy Google Drive usage when staff members moved on and sharing settings weren’t set up properly) It was a bunch of work initially, but then things ran much smoother moving forward. good luck!!

    3. CubeFarmer*

      Not a helpful comment, but loss of institutional memory (along with complete lack of acknowledgement that this was a problem,) led me to drop out of a selection process earlier this year.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      This tells you the kind of stuff you need to write down and keep for reference.

      But I think you’re stuck doing things the hard way. Contact the vendors about resetting passwords and how to bypass the 2FA or just do a hard reset and start from scratch on a wiped device.

      Google how process credit card donations and write down to the process you end up using.

    5. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      With regard to everyone’s very sage advice that you will likely have to start from scratch, look to your professional organization for guidance. Most nonprofits are affiliated with some kind of professional organization, and they will likely have lots of best practices, or “how to set up an office” info, that kind of thing. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

    6. Biscuit*

      As you go – whether you’re slowly figuring out how these processes used to work or developing new processes – take very detailed notes on how things work, and then make those notes into a manual so this type of knowledge isn’t lost in the future.

  34. Brenda*

    Community needs people doing different things just like the body needs different parts. Ever heard the saying “if we were all feet, how would we smell”?
    Society needs artists, and it’s great he can support himself doing his art. Society also needs products, like art supplies; services, like banks, art dealers, art web host sites; and government to keep everything fair(ish). It all needs to be run by folks who (hopefully) are good at their boring corporate work and keep the wheels on for everyone lucky enough to follow their arty dreams.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      “If we were all feet, how would we smell?”


      (Never heard the saying, so I don’t know if that’s supposed to be the response or not. Apologies if it is.)

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        It’s a verse from the Bible and the full thing goes, “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

        Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”

        Well, there’s more. The point is that we all have a role to play and no one role is more important than the others.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I mean, just ask my coworker who’s coping with a broken foot. It’s life-altering to have one part of your body not do its job.

  35. Chirpy*

    Complicating my anxiety/ stress/trouble job searching because I honestly am so burned out and have absolutely no idea what kind of job I’d be good at anymore, I really, really need to see a doctor because something is getting worse (could be something relatively common, could be cancer according to WebMD, so that’s not stressful at all…) Absolutely no one at work knows how to use our insurance. The person who should know is new and doesn’t, because she was never trained by the previous person, who absolutely blew my questions off for a full year. I’m relatively new to this city and the only time I’ve been to the doctor here it wasn’t covered and cost me thousands of dollars, which I can’t do again. The website seems to be entirely health tips like “eat more vegetables”. I already have completely untreated anxiety (I typically get blown off with “just lose weight” no matter what the issue is) and I just feel so stuck. We don’t have an employee handbook to consult on this. I just cannot find information, and it’s so frustrating.

    1. Liz*

      Can you contact the insurance company directly? There should be a number you can call on your insurance card, at the very least – there might also be an online portal you can log into, or a chatbot somewhere on the website.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this – insurance is so stressful and complicated even with good support!

      1. Chirpy*

        The thing I got blown off on for a full year was getting the insurance card! There should be a new one coming in a month, but I’d rather not wait that long. They also messed up my email, and it’s causing login problems. Plus the insurance changed at one point, so even if I can find an old paper copy it might not be relevant anymore. I’m just so sick and tired of everything going wrong.

        1. Double A*

          If you call the insurance company and give them your information they should be able to get your ID number (which is what you need on the card, really. Maybe the an number too) and answer your questions.

          You could also contact your state insurance commissioner.

    2. Em from CT*

      This is the kind of thing that could be really great to ask your friends’ help with. do you have that one friend who is great with bureaucracy, or the friend who is great at managing big problems and small chunks? Try calling them up and asking if they can help you figure out what’s going on or even make the calls for you.

      1. Chirpy*

        Not really. My friends all have lives, none of them really have time to sit down and do this, though they’re all sympathetic.

    3. WellRed*

      Employee handbooks aren’t typically helpful for insurance stuff anyway. Do you have the plan name and a phone number? Call them.

    4. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      If you know the name of the insurance company, you can usually try to log on as a new member using your social security number, and they will find your information.
      Even if the person at your company doesn’t know how to use the insurance, they should have a contact number for you – ask them for a member services phone number.

      1. Chirpy*

        She tried, and couldn’t find anything. We looked in the system because we have to basically redo our insurance selections every year and couldn’t find anything (and we couldn’t remove the bad email, although it let me add a second one).

        1. Doc McCracken*

          Hi! I’m going to give you some steps here. I am assuming you are US based.
          1. Look at the website you can’t log into and look for their member services number. If you cannot find that, call any toll free number listed and listen to the automated system. They almost always give you an option to transfer to member services or patient services.
          2. When you get a human on the phone, as for the exact name of your plan, you id number and group number. Write those down carefully and double check them with the person helping you.
          3. Ask if you need to establish with a primary care doctor. If yes, ask them to look up the closest one to you that is accepting new patients. You can ask them to search specifically for providers that are male or female only, have fully handicap accessible offices, offer telemed visits, or speak a specific language if any of those options matter to you.
          4. Verify all your information like mailing address and phone number are correct in their system.
          5. Ask them to physically mail you or email you a printable insurance id card. If not, don’t panic! You already have the info you need from the earlier step.
          6. Ask if this person can help you with accessing your member website. They will likely have to transfer you to a different department. If you’re overwhelmed, ask for the direct toll free number to that department and save that for anothet day when you’re up for it.
          7. Call the doctor that customer service gave you info for. Ask if they are accepting new patients. Ask them if they can verify your insurance benefits before your appointment. Explain in general terms what your health issue is. Good example is “I am having pain in my big toe. It hurts when I walk more than a few minutes. Please mention symptoms like a fever, drainage, or anything you feel is important they know. Good staff in a provider’s office will ask questions or transfer you to their nurse if they are unsure.
          8. Ask for new patient forms before your appointment so you can take your time filling them out. Also ask for general directions to the office. Some providers are in large offices and campuses. Ask about parking too.
          9. Go to your appointment. Plan extra time if you have not been to this office before to account for parking and navigating the campus.

          Hope this helps you!

    5. Abigail*

      If you have the name of the insurance provider you can use google to locate the member services and take it from there.

      It’s confusing to me how nobody at your organization even has the name of the insurance offered. How can this be so?

  36. Tradd*

    I’m the customs broker that posts a lot. This is a new issue we’ve had in the last few weeks. All importers we clear for must sign a power of attorney authorizing us to act on their behalf with CBP. The POA are required under customs regulations. Our forms are a PDF packet we email to customers. Customers in the past have always printed them out after typing all info and then signing. A few fill it out all by hand. I don’t care as long as it’s legible.

    Anyway, a number of new customers are not physically signing the POA or even doing a digital signature via Adobe Sign or the like. They are choosing a “fancy font,” a computer type font that looks sort of like cursive. They’re “signing” by typing their name in the fancy font. It’s not a legal signature. There is no digital cert. We are telling customers and our sales staff who interact with some customers that these typed fancy font signatures are not acceptable. Physical ink signature or digital signature only. I’d even accept a document that was signed on a tablet with a stylus (I often sign personal paperwork that way). The customers are losing their minds and can’t see why the typed signature is not accepted. I have no way of proving who signed it. I’m required by CBP regs to vet POA.

    This is a very new issue. I have been able to speak to higher-ups about it as they are out of the office. Is anyone else having this issue on legal documents?

    1. Shopping is my cardio*

      Don’t mess with POAs. I used to work for a freight forwarder and when shit hits the fan you want that POA signed in hand, correctly. Just blame it on CBP and tell customer to digitally sign it.

      1. Tradd*

        I am certainly blaming it on CBP! Don’t argue with the feds! LOL. Frankly, a lot of people I deal with are so tech illiterate that asking them to digitally sign would be a mess. Just easier for everyone for them to print it and physically sign it,

      2. Antilles*

        I agree. The answer is just to be sympathetic and point it back to the faceless bureaucracy of the CBP. I’m really sorry, but the agency we have to forward it to requires either digital signatures via AdobeSign or a scanned version of a physical signature. I don’t know why they don’t accepted typed signatures either, but unfortunately the rules are a bit out of date and we can’t really change them.

    2. HB*

      I also work in a field that requires signatures, though we don’t run into your specific problem because our requirements are so stringent that have access to programs that will allow us to send a document to a client who can sign it electronically via that program… but I’ve thought about this issue and I have some guesses as to what’s causing this.

      First and foremost, I don’t think it’s common to have a printer or scanner at home anymore. That means it’s actually really difficult for your customers to print the PDF, sign it, and send it back to you. Next, PDFs can be viewed in so many different programs that anytime I’m not on my work computer I’m surprised at how difficult it is to try to actually find/open something in Adobe Reader. Even then, I don’t think the free version of Adobe Reader allows you to sign electronically, and I don’t think it even has the little pen feature to draw a signature on it.

      Therefore I suspect that the customers who aren’t doing it aren’t actually capable of doing it quickly and easily. My recommendation would be to push for your workplace to get a program like DocuSign. Might be expensive, but it’s going to be a lot easier on your customers which means you get signatures back much faster.

      1. Tradd*

        I’ve asked multiple times about DocuSign. Nowhere so far.

        Most of my customers are businesses, not individuals. So they do have a printer/scanner.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I can’t vouch for DocuSign, but I’ll endorse wholeheartedly that the most likely cause is the fancy font being easier, and the solution being to make doing it right at worst comparable to the easy workaround.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            A snapshot with your phone’s camera makes it digital again, but getting the digital to physical in the first place if the assertion that printers are becoming less common is validated becomes the sticking point.

            Personally, I hate “sign with a stylus or mouse” on a tablet or PC. It never looks anything like my signature, but so goes the world and I’m drug along with it.

      3. Anon for This*

        That is actually what happens if you use the “Fill and Sign” feature on Adobe Acrobat – it looks as if you just typed your name in a fancy font. Tell your customers that if they are using Adobe you need them to digitally sign using the “Certificates” feature. Where I work we use the “fill and sign” for most things – I am guessing that is the same with your clients. We only use the digital signature for things that are legally binding.

        1. Formerly in HR*

          We need certain types of documents signed as PDF, but when we send them out (by email, though) we also send out the instructions for how they have to be signed in Adobe.
          Also, Adobe’s signing tool has three options – Type (which ends up with the name written in cursive), Draw (which allows using the cursor to sign at the best approximation of how one would sign using a pen) and Image (where a scanned signature can be appended).
          Also, if documents are sent as hard copy, can they be printed, signed then scanned/photographed using a tablet/phone app? I don’t know if that’s acceptable for CBP, but I was able to submit these kind of images as proof for signed documents with certain authorities.

    3. Jessica*

      Oh, gosh yes. I’ve been getting that for years, you tell people to sign and they type their name in a “cursive” font, and I’m like “aaarghhh, does SIGN mean type your name??” I’m fortunate that for me it’s all just internal and not legal/regulatory stuff.
      I would suggest proactively giving them instructions, like you need to sign this thing and you can do it X way or Y way, but Z way is not okay. See if you can anticipate the problem and eliminate the back and forth with them.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I haven’t seen a change, but it may be related to increased use of digital verification in other formats. I think a lot of people who just don’t know the difference are thinking they know what a “digital signature” is when they do not. There are a lot of websites and digital interfaces now where you can sign by typing your name, because the verification has already been done and the timestamp is embedded in the site. For example, when I do digital checkin at the doctor’s office I can sign by typing because I have just added all my other information and they have verified me as a patient.

      How clear are the instructions in the packet? Do you have a cover page on the POA form that says it must have an original ink signature or a digital certificate from a third party verification provider?

      1. Tradd*

        There are no instructions about signing. It’s never been an issue before. Guess we’ll have to add it!

    5. Kay*

      I’m just shocked a POA doesn’t need to be notarized!

      Maybe pull the POA and send as a separate document?

      1. Tradd*

        Nope, doesn’t need to be notarized. There are other docs in the same packet that also need to be signed, like bond application and CBP 4811 address notification form, but the POA is the one that has the legal weight that others don’t.

    6. Hyaline*

      I don’t have to work with this kind of thing–sounds so frustrating!–but given how many online forms (using DocuSign, etc) use the “fancy font” signature method for pretty official stuff, I’m not surprised people are confused. (I’ve signed, in the past few years, employment paperwork, real estate sale paperwork, and school enrollment paperwork this way.) I’d exercise patience, add extra language to instructions and pray they read them, maybe create some kind of step by step handout to send people, and assume they’re not being belligerent, just legit confused. (Tactics I use for working with college students, honestly.)

      1. Tradd*

        I already some pretty explicit instructions, complete with fields highlighted that you have to fill out, instructions to fill out EVERY FIELD. One the continuous bond form, I’ve pulled out and screen shotted one important filled in the middle. I tell people it must be completely filled out or it will be kicked back to them. A lot of people just skip over those important fields and get really pissy about incomplete form being returned to them. I’m going to be very blunt. I run into a ton of idiots daily. People can’t follow instructions. I have to use bullet points, words with as few syllables as possible, and act like they’re preschoolers with things as simple as possible. That’s still not enough for people. POA form mentions to put their complete business address. Some people only give me zip/postal code.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          My personal dream is to magically import tech knowledge into my brain and redesign my company’s website to “toddler friendly.” Unless it’s one question at a time, yes/no, and you can’t move on until you answer, people just randomly order stuff, then call me to fix it.

        2. Hyaline*

          It sounds like you’re stuck with the crummy situation of layering “actual thing people could be legitimately confused about” over an existing scaffold of “humans paying absolutely no attention.”

          From having to write a LOT of assignments that I think are crystal clear but students still eff them up completely, there’s a fine balance of accepting that people DO NOT READ with occasionally reorienting my clarity calibration to remind myself that what makes sense to me does not always make sense to first timers or outsiders. If you can, can you show your instructions and/or dummy forms to an outside friend or relative who CAN and DOES read and get feedback? If they tell you it’s clear, you know it’s that you’re dealing with ignoramuses who refuse to read basic directions. But hey, if they have some feedback to improve clarity, all the better!

        3. We’re Six*

          “ I’m going to be very blunt. I run into a ton of idiots daily. People can’t follow instructions. ”

          My sympathies!!! I think it’s a combination of “can’t follow directions” and WON’T follow directions, in my opinion. They just think they’re too special for those dang rules to apply to them (insert eye roll)

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Can you send them the package via DocuSign so there’s no option to sign it any other way?

      1. Tradd*

        Higher ups would have to get that instituted. My request has not happened at this time.

    8. CubeFarmer*

      “This is the procedure and documentation that is required by CBP. Your shipment will not clear customs until I get the signed copy of the form (either a version that you printed, signed, and scanned, or used a digital-signature application such as DocuSign.) Without completing this necessary step, I cannot process your shipment further.”

      I usually find that a short-and-sweet ultimatum like this works wonders. I have to comply with IRS money-laundering requirements and collect certain paperwork. I find that some of my low-capacity organizations struggle with compliance UNTIL I tell them the payment ain’t happening until they get me the correct materials required by IRS regulations. Lo and behold, I usually have what I need within 24 hours.

    9. Llellayena*

      Can you send them a “how-to” when you send them the forms? Something that states: This document cannot be signed using a calligraphic font and must be signed using a physical signature or password-locked digital signature. Options for providing the signature are: print out the form to sign physically and scan back to digital; use the Adobe or Bluebeam signature tool; apply a scanned copy of a handwritten signature and digitally lock the file from editing through Adobe/Bluebeam (assuming this would be allowed).

      Sometimes “digital signature” alone is not understood but “password-locked digital signature” might get the point across.

    10. Glomarization, Esq.*

      It is what it is. In one of my jurisdictions, the courts require wet signatures, in blue ink only. They will not take DocuSign. They will not take signatures in black or any other color. They will not take the signature that you store in Word and insert into your document as a picture.

      The only way to handle it with clients is to put in a cover letter a very short paragraph that throws the courts under the bus. I write in very heavily emphasized text that it’s not me, it’s the courts; the court will reject a paper that is not signed by hand in blue ink; and that if they don’t follow this rule we may blow a deadline, to their detriment.

    11. Astor*

      I’m not at my computer to look up an example, but but Adobe Acrobat gives this as one of the signature options and if I recall correctly it’s hard to tell at a glance that they used an appropriate feature.

      So it may help if you approach it that people aren’t necessarily doing it “wrong”, but rather “wrong for your needs”. I hope giving instructions that take that into account can get you better compliance! Its worked for me, but the relationships I deal with are much friendlier.

    12. President Porpoise*

      As a customs compliance officer at a company that would be getting you those POA signatures if you were our broker, here’s some thoughts:
      – Make sure you are sending these to people who actually understand what it is you need and are empowered to sign, and yeah, as everyone else suggests, lean hard into the CBP requirements. If you’re not getting signature from your POC, elevate it as a compliance issue.
      – Make it really clear that the consequence for not getting that POA sign is that their freight will be delayed, because by law you cannot perform customs business on their behalf until it’s done. Throw in the the cost of additional storage, the hassle that is general order warehouses, etc. If you’re dealing with specialty commodities – refrigerated, ITAR, etc., make sure they know there are real life ramifications for not having the paperwork done and ready to go when the freight is on the plane/train/boat/truck.

      For most of us, the threat of delay is enough to kick our butts into gear if we’re the right person to get this stuff signed. No one wants to be the guy who delayed the freight long enough that we trigger contractual problems with clients, compliance problems with regulators, or lost/destroyed/auctioned goods.

    13. Industry Behemoth*

      The customer businesses may have scanners/printers in their offices. But that doesn’t mean the human signer is there, or will go there.

      It’s amazing what some people just don’t get. I actually hadto explain to someone that no, the UPS driver won’t seal up and stick the airbill on the box you left on your front step.

    14. Lynn*

      I used to be in charge of executing grant contracts and we have had this problem as well. I started putting in the instructions that we have to have a certified digital signature and what that looks like, which helped a bit. I also had the option to send people contracts through my employer’s DocuSign account which helped for the people who didn’t have their own electronic signature program available. But there were always a few people who either didn’t read or didn’t understand the instructions and we would have to tell them we couldn’t accept it as is.

    15. I DK*

      Is it possible to edit the .pdf file and replace ‘Signature’ with ‘Ink or Digital Signature Only’?

      1. Tradd*

        Maybe! I’m taking notes on all these suggestions and will sit down with them later to see what will work! Thanks!

  37. Bored in Paradise*

    I have pretty much a dream job – been there 10+ years, worked my way up from entry-level grunt to managing a team with a high level of autonomy, compensation is great, company management is good, the work I do is interesting, etc.

    The problem is I’m feeling both bored and a bit burnt out. I don’t work overtime, but the work I cram into 40 hours a week is high impact and high stress (as is feeling responsible for the success, well-being, and productivity of a team!)

    I want a break, or a change. But I’m hesitant to leave a good thing for a position that would almost certainly be worse, or have new problems that were equally stressful (and I know when I don’t have a busy [stressful] schedule I get bored.)

    Anyone faced this before? I’ve considered taking leave / unpaid sabbatical (something I could probably work out) but I worry it’d be a nice vacation and I’d just come back to the same thing.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*


      I don’t know what your PTO structure looks like, but if you have PTO to spare, plan a vacation where you will be truly offline/can’t be easily reached. And have backups designated to handle whatever you normally would in your absence. I’d say 2 weeks, if you can swing it. And, yeah, it might be the same when you get back, but you may feel more refreshed and able to tackle it. If you don’t, you reevaluate your next steps.

      I was fortunate that, when I had this, it was with incredibly supportive leadership and an awesome team, so even the worst days were not horrible, just stressful and busy. (Sounds like you are in a similar boat.)

      Good luck!

      1. Bored in Paradise*

        This is my first week back from a two week vacation… though it was a “vacation” to see family, so perhaps I need a REAL vacation!

        1. I need a vacation too*

          That doesn’t sound like a real vacation! LOL I also second Manic Pixie HR Girl’s point to take a longer vacation. I’ve seen a study that found that people who take a vacation less than 2 weeks report doing extra work before and after and that a vacation doesn’t result in a reduced work load unless it’s at least 3-4 weeks.

    2. Combinatorialist*

      What could you change about your job to address the problems you are having:
      – could you train a deputy?
      – propose a new exciting project that you do in the time the deputy is covering?
      – do you need to get rid of some tasks or add some new tasks?

      What would it take to make any of those changes happen? And also take a vacation.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        That was my thought too. It seems like the employer really values OP and should be open to getting them help, redistributing tasks, or even getting them involved in a new project or something and taking a routine task away.

        1. Bored in Paradise*

          This is making me realize the bulk of my headache / burnout is with one part of my role (managing capacity – somehow I have to try to keep a team perfectly staffed, not overworked so they burn out, not understaffed so we miss hitting our production goals) that I hate AND have limited control over. If I could figure out how to hand off some of that responsibility, it should help a lot.

    3. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Can you work on making your non-work time more interesting or exciting? Find some new activities that will change your focus.

  38. Anon for this*

    I posted a couple of months ago when I was upset about being passed over for a promotion in favor of an outside candidate and really appreciated everyone’s advice and commiseration. I spent a lot of time thinking about my career goals and decided to start looking around for another position more in line with what I want to do long term. I accepted an offer yesterday for a job with a much better title, more interesting work, and more money! It’s still conditional on background check but should be finalized within a week.

    I am super excited about the career move, and the petty part of me is looking forward to my boss (maybe, hopefully) learning the lesson that if you don’t promote your best people, they have other options and will leave.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      So pleased for you! Well done for taking a big step for your own good.

    2. CubeFarmer*

      Huge congrats! I’m glad that you were able to turn the disappointment into an opportunity.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Your old boss may now wish she’d looked at internal talent before going for shiny new outsiders.

  39. TM*

    Engaged/married people of Ask a Manager! How did you balance your full time job with wedding planning? It seems like every vendor is only open during business hours and I need to take time off for cake tastings, wedding dress alterations, etc. How did you make it all happen? Thank you!

    1. litprof*

      I got married a few months ago, and I handled this by doing as much as possible over email in the evenings and on weekends. For the things that required being in person, like a cake tasting, my husband and I happened to pick a bakery that was doing pick-up tastings (they had instituted this policy during Covid and kept it because it was convenient for people). So we ordered our cake flavors in advance and picked up the samples on a Saturday when the bakery was open.
      FWIW, I have a bit more flexibility than most people because I work in academia and work at home much of the time. As long as I get my work done, no one really cared or even noticed if I took an hour to zoom with a vendor or go to an alterations appointment. Do you have any flexibility in your role? If, for instance, you work from home one day a week, or take an hour for lunch at the same time every day, I recommend fitting as much into those times as possible. Nevertheless, I recognize that this is a challenge and I sympathize with the difficulty of finding the time and effort to plan a wedding on top of working and living your normal life! Good luck!

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Seconding email! In fact, sometimes it made what might have been a tough decision on a vendor, easier, if they didn’t have a web presence and/or insisted on phone calls. I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with long phone calls with vendors after working all day, and wanted things in writing so my (now) husband and I could digest on our own time.

        We also were able to do a lot of the in person things on Saturdays, which helped as well.

    2. Magnus Archivist*

      Lots of lunch break calls & Zoom meetings with vendors, plus a flexible workplace that let me leave early some days to run errands.
      (But also, a fiance who was fully committed to doing half the labor & so we split up who was finding and communicating with the photographer, the venue, etc etc.)

    3. juliebulie*

      I was maid of honor. The bride and I did as much during our lunch hours as we could. The bridal shop was open weekends, fortunately, so that is when we did alterations. (Someone, perhaps not the actual seamstress, did the actual fitting with pins.)

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      A lot of it depends on how much you trust your vendors, and just how big your wedding is.

      One of my good friends had an *amazing* wedding; when I was planning my own, I asked her how she decided on everything. She told me that aside from picking the foods off of a list the catering people had, she just told people her budget and that “she likes purple” and let them work with that.

      I wasn’t *quite* that hands-off, but definitely with flowers I was like “I like blue and I don’t like orchids.” I ended up with *gorgeous* flowers because they were free to be creative. I ordered my cake from a local bakery that I already knew I liked. I had a dress that was miraculously the correct length and laced up in the back so I didn’t need alterations (I also did not bother with the idea of trying to lose weight for the wedding; no one needs that extra stress!). If I’d needed alterations, I would’ve tried to schedule things at the end of the day or the beginning of the day so I didn’t miss too much work. For catering, we did a heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet since it was an early afternoon wedding, and pretty much just told the caterers to avoid the foods my fiance couldn’t eat and to make sure they had at least two vegetarian hors d’oeuvres. I told my photographer that aside from getting family pics to just take the photos she thought I would want (she took some GREAT candid shots of family that I love). I told the church organist to play whatever they liked for the incidental music before and after the wedding, and just do “Here Comes the Bride” when I came in.

      Basically, if you let go of some of the control over every single option and focus on one or two things you want/already know you like, you tend to end up with more time and better results, provided you’ve got a good venue with solid vendors working it. It’s surprisingly freeing to just trust the people you hire. Spend your time making sure you have solid vendors, and the rest tends to come together. Plus, you can fend off family that might want to butt in by telling them that the vendor already knows what you want.

    5. Pizza Rat*

      Honestly, hire a wedding coordinator. It’s worth the money. They’ll be in contact with vendors and scheduling things on your behalf during business hours. A coordinator will cut out the time-consuming vendor “sourcing” element and all you’ll have to do is choose which one. It sucks to reach out to tons of – for example – florists, and tell them about yourself, your fiance, and your wedding, and share your budget of $10k, only to find out that they only take on projects of $50k or more, or they’re not available on your date, or (worst of all!) they don’t respond to your outreach at all (shockingly so typical in my wedding planning experience). Coordinators know about (or they can spend their time finding) vendors who fit your criteria and bring you in only when your decision-making is needed.

      Also, this is based on an assumption that you’re female-presenting, and I know it’s going to sound terrible, but be really mindful of how much you’re talking about your wedding at work. If almost every discussion (personal AND professional) comes back to what is happening with wedding planning, it gets really old for your colleagues, really quickly. It’s a very exciting time – and I certainly don’t want to take away from that – but NO ONE at work is ever as excited about your wedding as you are. Furthermore, typically wedding excitement is much more visible among women than it is among men, which can sometimes lead to colleagues, rightly or wrongly, taking you less seriously. One of my former colleague was always talking about how she spent her last weekend (doing wedding stuff), what she was doing for the upcoming weekend (wedding stuff), the latest drama with her vendors, guests, wedding party, etc. – quite literally every conversation came back to her wedding. One of my other uncharitable colleagues said, behind her back, “When does she do her job? It seems like all she’s ever doing is planning her wedding.” I don’t think he was the only person who thought that; he was just the only person willing to voice it. We all breathed a sigh of relief once she was finally married, because it meant a break from all the wedding talk. I’m certainly not saying to NEVER mention it, but just be careful: behaviors that seemingly confirm unkind thoughts – shaped by internalized misogyny – can work against you as you build and maintain a strong professional reputation.


    6. Policy Wonk*

      I got married in my hometown, not the city where I live/work. That actually made it easier. I just planned a few days off, scheduled all of the appointments for those few days, went home and knocked it out. (Dress fittings were different, but the place I used has Saturday hours.) I’d recommend you try a “staycation” version of that. Schedule all the appointments for a couple of days, take those days off and get it done. Congrats and good luck!

    7. Tammy 2*

      This might not be possible for everyone, but I mostly used vendors who were close to my office. That made it easy to run errands at lunch or right after work. (Our venue was also pretty close to where I worked.)

      I also suggest sitting down with your intended and deciding which things are priorities for you and which things you’re more willing to handle with a phone call and basic direction, or things you can just order online, like invitations/favors. That’ll also help you prioritize your budget and weekend time for the things you want to do together. What we did, was, we both made a list on our own and then we compared. Anything we both had near the top automatically stayed near the top, but then we both got to have pet priorities (me-food, him- photographer).

    8. NoIceCavesHere*

      I got married last year with less than four months between engagement and wedding. A big key for us was choosing an all-in-one venue. This meant everything was a lot less customized than it otherwise would have been, but boy howdy was it convenient. It also meant that all the vendors were very used to working with couples’ schedules and the requirements were defined. All our meetings with the DJ and photographer were over Zoom. A lot of things were arranged over email. A lot of things were worksheets of standard choices we just had to choose from and send back in a PDF. The bakery had a standard tasting box everyone picked up any day of the week. I bought my dress from a large chain that was open on weekends. I took two afternoons off for coordination meetings at the venue and that was all that was needed. Emails/Zoom could generally be the evenings, and I’d use my lunch hour for phone calls. Even the florist was able to do our appointment on a weekend. I think the reality is that you’ll need to take some time off but often vendors can work with you on scheduling or doing things online.

  40. Potatohead*

    If your company is sending you on business trips, is it normal to not expense things like sitters? For me it was the cost of hiring a pet sitter to feed my cats, but the company also doesn’t pay for child sitters or day care in the event of business trips.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve never worked for a company that reimbursed for sitters (pet or children). I would find that to be a very unusual perk.

    2. IT_rocks*

      If you knew trips were a part of the job, then it should be your responsibility to have planned for those expenses as part of your negotiations.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      I have never heard of a company reimbursing for child care or pet care due to business travel.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Highly unusual – I would not expect child or pet care to be covered. I have seen cases where some funding is provided for care of very small children (ie, breastfeeding infants) on mandatory trips.

      What is typically covered: travel, including to the airport, food, drink and incidentals during the trip, hotel costs, laundry for longer trips (> a week), travel health insurance, medical expenses incurred during the trip, cost of visa paperwork and data SIM for international travel. A lot of employers won’t pay for alcoholic beverages as part of meals, but some will, if it comes in under the overall per diem.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Def read over policies before you travel, too. Ours explicitly says alcohol is fine (as long as you’re not getting toasted at 11 a.m.) but has general limits for each meal.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          I actually had to discuss a large bloody mary purchased at 10 a.m. with no other food at the airport with my skip-level boss at OldJob. Specifically, he was curious “why?”

          Answer: my morning flight got cancelled with no available flights until 10 PM. And our travel rep had said that I had to rebook for (fill in corporate reasons) rather than renting a vehicle one way and driving (which would have taken 4 hours).

          It was, for the record, covered as “brunch” after that conversation.

    5. BellaStella*

      ahahahah. I wish we could expense this stuff as my cat and house sitter is 40$ a day. My last work trip was 11 days. My rent is 1000$ a month so this cost of 440$ was A LOT. We also don”t cover child care either. We do get some support for travel that is to cover food and minor costs so I hoard that to cover the sitter.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree as someone who has to board a dog at $67 a day *and* pay for a cat sitter to come to the house … wish it was covered. It’s not.

    6. Potatohead*

      Good enough. This is still my first job where something like this would even be possible – negotiation wasn’t really an option for me when I got hired and I didn’t have any pets at the time anyways. To be honest, it’s not even a major burden; $45/day, which is roughly 1/4 of what I’d have for a day’s takehome pay, but this trip was only 3 days. I just wanted to get a sense of calibration for norms, and it sounds like that’s the standard.

      For that matter, I wasn’t able to expense the sitter but I did get to invoice the brand-new pair of safety-toed boots I had to buy to go on the trip, and will use again for future trips if they come up. So I arguably made a profit from a certain point of view.

    7. Jules the First*

      It is not normal and unfortunately this is because the tax man considers it a personal cost rather than an allowable business expense. It drives me mad that my (male) colleague can expense a dinner out in the city centre after a big meeting, but I have to pay out of pocket for the sitter and my cab home because those are “personal”, regardless of the fact that I couldn’t do my job without paying for them.

    8. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I’ve never heard of anyone anywhere I’ve worked attempting to expense something like that. They certainly wouldn’t have been reimbursed.

    9. Maggie*

      Yeah that’s not really a thing. I’ve never worked anywhere or heard of anyone working somewhere that covered those things.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’ve been in finance for decades and I’ve never seen these types of costs reimbursed.

  41. Back in the saddle?*

    I’ve been out of the work force since 2020. I would 1099 tech consulting for firms that had overflow work. Since 2020 firms only have work for their employees and/or have had layoffs. (I’ve been caregiving for a parent with ALZ and cancer but now free of that responsibility).

    Back in the day, I could apply for a job where I didn’t have 100% of the qualifications with a strong cover letter highlighting transferable skills and get an interview.

    Now, I feel like my applications won’t see a human because I don’t check all the boxes and it will get kicked out before a human even sees it.

    Applications can be a 30-60 min endeavor and I feel like it can be wasted time if I don’t meet all of the qualifications.

    The software I’m an expert in, is in its end of shelf life phase so no open positions to apply for. Many in my network have retired (I’m in my late 50’s) so I don’t have them to ask for advice as far as if I should do certifications to gain employment in other areas.

    Also worried about ageism. Help, any advice? TIA

    1. BeeCees*

      People still apply for and get jobs who don’t meet 100% of the qualifications.

      For the heavily regulated fields, knowledge specific to a software is a must and there’s no way around it. For other companies, many still value transferable skills. You need to talk to real people in the field to know what the desirable transferable skills nowadays are.

  42. chocolate muffins*

    Small joys at work thread! I am going to a conference next week in an exciting-to-me location where I have never been and that I am looking forward to exploring. What good things have been happening with you all?

    1. BikeWalkBarb*

      I get to do the same thing with a conference in Baltimore in mid-July. Got some great suggestions for places to see thanks to this space, in fact.

      I’ve been growing a team with lots of new positions being added and our final hire starts July 8. We’ve grown from 4 people in March 2022 to 6 people a year ago to 13 people now. For every single position we’ve hired our top candidate. It’s fabulous.

    2. periwinkle*

      Oh, I miss going to conferences. I didn’t get to see a lot, but it was possible to carve out a little sightseeing time. Must get back to Montreal someday, I fell in love with that city in between conference sessions…

      Small joy – my manager said that we could discuss returning to hybrid work. Hurray! My facility has dreadful parking and it would lovely to not deal with that 5 days a week. It’ll probably still be 4 days in, but having one stress-free morning per week of NOT searching for a space, ah, bliss.

    3. CubeFarmer*

      Summer Fridays start next week. We close our office on Fridays in July and August!

    4. Rara Avis*

      I’m at my professional conference, which I haven’t been able to attend in person since 2017, and it’s fantastic to be with my people again.

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      A “joy” is probably an exaggeration because it’s sort of a damn nuisance all ’round, but there is a nice part.

      I had to pull out of correcting this year because I tested positive for covid 5 days before the marking conference and the rule in Ireland remains that if you test positive you have to isolate for 5 days from a positive test (or from when symptoms start if you haven’t tested).

      I rang them and they said I would have to withdraw from correcting and that I would have to reapply for next year (if you correct, you are automatically reappointed). This was the office.

      But then the Chief Advising Examiner from my own subject rang and said she would put me down to be automatically reappointed for next year and that she was sorry to lose me for the year. She is the head of the exams in my subject nationally (I’m not sure other countries have an equivalent, but think something like somebody in the UK who was responsible for arranged the Maths GCSEs and A-levels for the entire country, though of course, Ireland is rather smaller scale), so it was pretty nice of her to ring me personally.

  43. HSE Compliance*

    Any tax people/those who have experienced this want to chime in?

    This is a very low stakes question. I am accepting a job offer today that includes a company car that I can use for personal use, I just have to keep track of miles for personal vs company. (I go basically nowhere so the % personal is going to be very low…)

    I looked up the methods to calculate the fringe benefit of this and it seems that the impact is going to be pretty low – I’m estimating <15% personal. Are there any items that I should be looking at elsewise? (Insurance, maintenance, gas are all covered.)

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you don’t already own a car, I’d say keep the incidental personal travel low, and if you decide to head out for a weekend road trip, get a rental.

      1. HSE Compliance*

        We already own two vehicles and would be selling one. Long trips we use my spouse’s vehicle anyway!

  44. It’s cold here*

    The comms team at my office is driving me nuts. For example, I asked multiple times over the course of a week to get an event I was hosting shares on FB, and after multiple promises it would get done….it didn’t. Or copy that gets shared publicly and I’ve asked to review first has glaring errors in it. Or content I’ve asked to get posted to our website takes weeks, typos don’t get fixed, etc.

    Everyone is VERY AWARE of these issues in our office, but nothing changes. I think leadership is hoping the manager will start managing the situation.

    I don’t know how much I should care about this. I hate that I can’t get my work shared timely and accurately. We are a nonprofit that produces work for the public about timely issues, so this matters. But should I care? Like…if a FB post doesn’t get shares on time, should I just be like “whatever I still get paid?” Or should I tell my manager that it’s really impacting my enjoyment of the job?

    1. juliebulie*

      It sounds as though there is more at stake than your enjoyment. Your manager probably doesn’t care about your enjoyment, but might like to hear your constructive criticism regarding prompt and accurate handling of the items you work on.

    2. Mzz*

      As someone on the comms side, how much heads up did you give them? How much else is already on their marketing/social calendar and their overall workload? How many other folks are sending them new requests? It’s odd if they didn’t tell you how quickly you could expect a turnaround, but IF you only told them the week of, that is the issue. Comms departments are notoriously given information last, and to do their job effectively they need to know what’s coming down the pike when. They can’t drop everything else for you.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      If you’ve got glaring errors, weeks waiting for things to happen and typos, it doesn’t sound like your company pays well for good comms people. It sometimes gets dumped onto inexperienced grads along with a million other things because”Oh they’re young, they know how Facebook works” rather than strong writers with experience in publicity and making deadlines.

  45. CollegeComms*

    I made it to the second round of interviews for a position I’m super excited for! I’ve read Alison’s advice on how to prep on a second interview but would love to hear if anyone has their own morsels they’d like to share :)

    For added context, it’s for a college communications position. From what I remember in my first interview, it’s some of the same people from the first but with more higher-ups in the communications department there as well. Any tips appreciated, thank you! :)

    1. ThatGirl*

      Make sure you jot down any questions that have arisen between the first and second interviews to ask. Also have some answers jotted down to the typical “tell me about a time when you…” questions.

      I like to ask people what their favorite thing about working at a place is, and what they think the biggest challenges are. It can be pretty revealing.

  46. Claymonics*

    I recently got invited to interview for a job I’m definately under-qualified for. The qualifications say master’s preferred (I just graduated with my bachelor’s) and ask for three years experience at a number of skills (I have a whole two months experience doing these things at internships). Also, this job is in Chicago and I currently live on the west coast.

    Nevertheless, I would really like this job! Any advice on how to approach this interview?

    1. Kaye*

      Be aware of your limitations, and share specific examples of how you’ve been a quick learner, have asked for help, have become proficient quickly in the past. Ask specifically what support is in place for success in the role. They’re aware of your level of experience and still invited you to interview – good luck!

    2. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Review the job description and prepare as much as you can to answer questions about your experience with each line of the job description, using examples from your past work, school, or internship experience. Use the AAM interview guide, and you’ll do well!
      And remember that every interview is good experience. Whether or not you get the job, you get the experience of being interviewed and of knowing what to look for in your next employer.
      Good luck and congratulations on being invited to interview.

    3. CubeFarmer*

      No matter what happens, consider this interview a good preparation for other interviews where you think you have a better shot.

      Be prepared with FileShare links to copies of your resume and/or portfolio.

  47. Jaid*

    Our facilities people finally fixed the ice machines in the building. It’d only been a couple of years smh.

    But good news, all the same!

  48. MigraineMonth*

    Just came back from vacation to several messages from a male colleague I don’t know asking me for help doing admin-type work that isn’t part of my job description. In the most Elizabethan language I’ve ever seen in a business email.

    I have shunted it to one of the numerous men in my department. I have zero regrets.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          “Greetings to one and all,

          In any event an inadvertent error, not of my making, occurred in the Alpaca program reporting. It seems that a Mr. Christopher Jefferson, a Llama Groomer was mistakenly included. Since this is strictly verboten, I am requesting that Mr. Christopher Jefferson be removed from the database pertaining to the Alpaca program.

          The removal of this individual from the Alpaca program will afford me the opportunity to add him to his proper place in the Llama program. A program which I just found out about today. Many thanks for all your efforts in this regard.


          1. knitting at the baseball game*

            That’s the kind of language my colleague got when he started using chatgpt to write his emails…

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      “Salutations Barry,

      None of this is appropriate to ask of me as I’m not in an administrative role.

      With Regards,


  49. Emperor Kuzco*

    How do y’all deal with not fitting in with coworkers/your department? I overheard a coworker talking negatively about me this week (saying I don’t know how to do anything) and twice this week alone people have brought up how great the former person in my position was (every couple weeks someone brings them up!). I’ve been here 5 months and I already want to leave, but I know Alison says not to job hop too frequently so I’m trying to hold out at least a year. My immediate boss doesn’t seem to have an issue with me but I still feel like crap knowing I’m not exactly wanted here. UGH.

    1. WellRed*

      Maybe they were just really fond of old coworker. Also, what’s the vibe in the office? Do you engage in small talk or participate in any activities if those are a thing or do you vibe across as standoffish or unapproachable. My reasoning: if they like you as a person , they should be more patient of you getting up to speed.

      1. Emperor Kuzco*

        That’s fair, I think they really liked the old coworker a lot. I generally don’t take it personally but in the context of the other coworker’s negative comment I guess I felt a little bit upset.

        And I appreciate your response, I am generally friendly and also say hi/goodbye but I think I need to engage in more small talk. The coworker who said the negative comment has been here a long time and is super gossipy, so it might just be that person doesn’t like me, and that’s fine. I’ll try and vibe with everyone else!

        1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

          Maybe the office gossip is the one who you should try to engage in conversation. Sometimes that one person can set the tone for everyone else in an office. Depending on the situation, you could even ask that person for advice about how to do a specific task better or faster. It’s annoying but sometimes office politics make a difference in how a new person is perceived.

  50. Trina*

    I’m leaving my job (youth librarian) in a month to be a SAHM for a few years, and I’m fighting some big-time “senioritis.” I only have a single program each week and obviously no long-term planning to do, and I’ve already (mostly) organized my stuff and written up a document of past ideas I’ve used in case my successor wants something to reference. Now I have no idea what to do with my off-desk time! Ideas?

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Honestly, so long as you aren’t letting things drop because you’ve kind of checked out, and you’re getting done the things you need to get done, I wouldn’t worry about it! Especially if this is a result of a current pregnancy! That said, I’d say it’s probably OK to ask some of your colleagues if they have any low stakes tasks that you can take off their plate – but only if you’re really bored.

    2. Rex Libris*

      You’ve probably already done so, but compile a document of every contact you can think of whom you’ve used for programming, especially those who have been able to fill in last minute when someone cancels.

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Brainstorm fantasy book displays (best children’s books with your state animal/bird/flower on the cover, biographies of people from your town or state, National Pie Day or your region’s best known food (e.g, garlic for Gilroy, CA or onions for Walla Walla, WA).

      Does your documentation of past ideas highlight things that really resonated or things you wish you had included?

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      Speaking as someone who came into a vacated librarian position and was assigned the last person’s computer… how are your digital files? Go ahead and delete anything personal or no longer relevant, and maybe organize what you have left into folders that could be useful for the next person: Displays, Programs, Collection Development? Clear out saved passwords and your browser cache. Maybe bookmark some sites you use frequently (email, timecard, desk schedule, ILL catalog, etc. are some of mine). At my last job in the private sector, IT wiped and cleaned (digitally and physically) laptops and desktops before handing them over to their new assignees, but that doesn’t necessarily happen in the library.

      And best wishes on your transition to home! I am taking baby bonding leave for the next couple months and have been having similar senioritis.

  51. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    So, here’s something: a friend mentioned that they recently had an AI-driven job screener. Apparently they were give questions to answer and had to record their responses via video and whatever AI program the company is using analyzed their eye movement, mannerisms, and vocal inflections. Does anyone know if this is something common? I’m about to have to start job hunting, and I have ADHD. I’m considered neurodivergent. Eye contact isn’t exactly my strong suit, especially when I know I’m just talking to a camera. I also have some anxiety-driven tics that most people likely wouldn’t even notice, but I imagine a freaking AI program might.

    I wish I know what they were even looking for. Because this kind of seems like something that companies are going to use and then realize in five years that they’ve been accidentally discriminating against people with things like autism and ADHD, people with anxiety or tics, and people who come from areas with common physical mannerisms that differ from whatever the status quo is for the program they’ve trained.

    Anyway, I’m hoping this isn’t actually the wave of the future and is just one kind of misguided company, but is this something y’all have heard of?

    1. RagingADHD*

      I have heard of this once before in an article. Never heard of or encountered it in real life. I don’t think it’s common, because it is clearly a gimmick and has no proven value.

    2. Raia*

      I haven’t heard of it but if I did know about it and I didn’t need the job, I’d just do eye-rolls the entire interview, cross-eyes, wear sunglasses, etc.

    3. Student*

      I read an article yesterday about regulations being developed to address this as discrimination, so it must be common enough. I’ve only done one “recorded video interview” and I never heard anything back. It didn’t occur to me at the time that there might not be a real person reviewing it. It definitely makes me think twice about doing them in the future.

    4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      This sort of thing could easily run into discrimination suits, given how poorly facial recognition in general performs on Black people and other people with dark skin. I also wonder how well it tracks eye movement for people with glasses.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      This frankly sounds like a 21st century version of phrenology and about as useful. But anything to have AI do a job that an actual human could be doing…

  52. Tyred*

    I am an academic librarian in NYC and I am so sick and tired of working at a desk. It makes me so depressed and hurts my body no matter what ergonomic adjustments I make. I have fantasies of finding a job that doesn’t require sitting in front of a screen all day, but I’m the primary breadwinner and health insurance haver. Any brilliant ideas for a pivot to something that would pay at least $70k?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Switch to preservation/conservation librarianship and you’ll get to do more physical moving around as you manipulate the materials.

      Or move out of academia for public?

      Which parts of the job do you like? Those are the transferable skills you’ll want to think about to find a new role.

      1. Tyred*

        Those are good ideas, thank you. In previous jobs I liked shelving books, shifting books, shelf-reading, searching for missing books, some light preservation/conservation tasks like making basic enclosures. I am good at but dislike things like sitting and having to interpret arcane cataloging rules, but I do like researching things generally in a more free-form way (like going down a Wikipedia rabbit hole). I like it when I receive clear directions from other people with concrete deliverables, rather than having to come up with projects/initiatives for myself. I like the opportunity for social interaction with coworkers and users but I don’t like jobs where there is always a high volume stream of emails from users.

    2. Academic Anon*

      Is there another specialty area that interests you within librarianship? Maybe there is an opening away from the desk, or has less desk time. My academic library has gone away from having librarians at the desk entirely, so I am on the opposite continuum from you.

      As someone else mentioned, archives can use your research skills, but you are moving more and can be creating exhibits.

  53. It’s me not you*

    Advice on having a difficult conversation: My lease is up for my client centered business pretty soon. I talked with my landlord about renewal, but they are going to increase the monthly rate.

    So I found a new place that will be much more affordable, just a slightly smaller place. It’ll still work for what I need working with clients in person.

    The issue is, I’ve been subletting one of my rooms (with my landlord’s permission) to a person who also works with clients for the last few years. They have returned to school to complete a degree they started years ago and told me they plan to start a new career when they graduate in eight months. So they will be leaving and no longer subletting in less than a year. They want to continue with their clients until they make the transition. This person is awesome and wonderful and I’m so happy to have worked with them and am excited about their new career.

    But I can’t take them with me to my new location bc of the space issue. It’s financially a bad idea to stay at my current space to pay more when they would be leaving before the new lease is up.

    How would you, respectfully, have this conversation with the sublet-er? I’m definitely going to do it in person. But I know it’s gonna be so awkward.

    1. Kay*

      Were they aware you were needing to renegotiate the lease? Do they have a lease?

      The obvious answer is to tell them as soon as possible, and do your best to be as accommodating as you can with whatever the circumstances are.

      Hello subletter, I wanted to let you know that the negotiations to renew the lease here didn’t go as planned and I am going to have to move by X date. Unfortunately the space I’ve found isn’t going to work to house both of us. You’ve been wonderful to work with and I’m so sorry things worked out this way. If there is anything I can do to help make this transition easier let me know.

      1. It’s me not you*

        Yes, they knew the lease was up and negotiations would be taking place. Their lease with me is the same timeframe as mine with the landlord. So there’s is also up. But I did say I’d try to accommodate them so they could continue to work while working on their degree. That’s why I feel badly. Rents are super high here, so it can be very hard to find a suitable place if you aren’t working full time.

        1. Kay*

          It sounds like this is something they should have at least seen coming, but I would talk to them! Maybe they would be willing to stay for the entirety of the lease (if we are talking 1 year periods, which I know commercial often is not) since graduating doesn’t mean an immediate job. Perhaps there is a way to accommodate them in the new space, just not as comfortably? (though you do say that isn’t an option, although maybe they have a creative idea or can downsize as well?)

          It isn’t going to be a fun conversation, but it isn’t a secret and the sooner you have it the better it will be for everyone.

        2. Cordelia*

          well, you said you’d try to accommodate them, and you have tried, but you can’t. That’s fine, they’ll accept that if they are a reasonable person. I don’t see why it needs to be awkward, they must know this was a possibility. It was a business arrangement, you are not evicting a family member from their home.

    2. Scott*

      I would think it should be a pretty easy sell. The owner of the building is raising the rent and you can’t afford to stay in the space. That’s factual and not controversial. There is nothing personal toward your sub-let; it’s just business.

    3. NaoNao*

      I’d give them the information without any emotion (meaning don’t pre-load by saying how awful it is and how sorry you are) as early as you can, give them your landlord’s number and list a couple ways you’re willing to help (i.e. act as a reference, put them in touch with your new place or a realtor, etc) but don’t put a blanket ‘call me if you need help’ type thing.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I like this advice. Also if you know of anyone else who rents their own space that might have room for a sublet, offering to contact them to see if the would be willing to work with your sub-letter.

  54. kalli*

    My boss went on leave without telling me she’d be gone for three weeks.

    My boss is also the one who does payroll, which is not monthly.

    I am not exactly comfortable with this scenario, especially when I’ve been getting called in to work more hours, which my boss has to authorise.

    What would you do?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Who is above your boss at the company? Not doing payroll on time is a BIG DEAL to state Labor Boards. They should know who is handling payroll and can authorize your overtime.

      If your Boss is the owner??? Don’t work the extra time regardless of demand.

      1. kalli*

        Thing is, usually if she’s gone we get a reminder to submit timesheets in advance – her just disappearing is super weird and I genuinely don’t know if maybe she delegated someone, or she’s “on leave” but coming in on payroll day for half an hour, has everything set so someone just has to press a button on pay day etc., and the partners genuinely don’t know how to use the accounting program! And they’re the only people above her, so.

        I emailed my union rep before I logged out and just was like ‘uh what? um? all good? btw you know how I said nobody tells me anything?’ but they don’t really have the power to do anything beyond going ‘oh, yeah, boss got a call, family emergency, guess we forgot to tell the wfh people but we got it!’ or ‘yeah no that’s weird I’ll call the organiser for you so we can deal with this’. I just don’t want to be at the drs with my dad on Monday and get a message like ‘why aren’t you here’ when dad’s appt is on Monday specifically because I don’t usually work Monday!

        I’m also not sure if I’m overreacting because I’ve been at jobs where my boss has walked out for two months with no contact and it’s been the beginning of the end.

  55. Teach*

    Had to share an interview funny: my daughter just graduated from a competitive undergrad program in a STEM field. She is interviewing for one year research positions as a gap year option before starting grad school / doctoral program. The very lovely and accomplished woman interviewing her asked who her role models are for her career and my daughter blurted out “Stevie Nicks, 100%” before realizing she should have said something even remotely relevant to the STEM field. Luckily, the interviewer was also a fan and they had a good laugh .

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Hey, props to an early-20-something for even knowing who Stevie Nicks is!

      1. Teach*

        We saw her in concert together a few months ago! Singing “Landslide” with your grown daughter in an arena full of women led by Stevie Nicks herself – sublime.

  56. Third wheel*

    My manager hired someone for our team – without telling me there was even a role open. We are a team of two (and a half, if you count a detailee). I found out when someone in another department mentioned if X can take over a project I was working on, and I had to ask, “Who’s X?” I understand that staff members are not always involved in the hiring process itself, but it’s not normal to have zero awareness either, right? To make things worse, it also happens that the new person is going to take over the favorite part of my job (about which I of course was not consulted).

    At our next 1:1, I mentioned to my manager that I had heard about our new team member (they didn’t bring it up proactively), and calmly mentioned that it is “hard to plan my work without awareness of this kind of information.” My manager got visibly agitated and responded, “Well, I’m telling you now.” And when I pressed (just a little) on why this wasn’t communicated earlier and how to prevent similar situations in the future, the manager was dismissive and said it was “unexpected” and “happened quickly.” We don’t hire anyone without a recruiter screen, a hiring manager interview, and at least four additional interviews; it takes at least a week if you speedrun it. I can’t help but feel like I wasn’t informed because they think I don’t deserve to know or that I’m too unimportant to bother with.

    My manager treats me and others horribly – information hoarding, constant negative feedback, micromanagement, extremely emotional and reactive, zero concern about my interests or long-term happiness – and I don’t know if I can get over this latest incident.

    1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      This is extremely strange. Even the absolute worst manager I ever had (she was an extreme micromanager, gossipy and manipulative, and more than one person at my company basically has PTSD from working for her — myself included) pretended to involve us in the hiring process since the team was small and we all needed to work together well. She still just hired whoever she wanted, but she’d have those of us in the department conduct a panel interview for candidates.

      In situations where it wouldn’t make sense request my input, I was at least told a new person was being added to the team and what they were going to be taking on. That goes doubly for someone taking over some of my duties since I would presumably need to train them.

      Honestly, the way you describe your manager…it doesn’t sound like they should be managing people. I personally would probably be looking for something else if I were you because of the entire list of things you mentioned about your manager in particular.

    2. MsM*

      Yeah, time to job search. Or step the job search up. Either your manager doesn’t know how to manage, or you do need to be seriously concerned they’re auditioning a replacement and you will continue to be the last to know. Or both.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        I agree with the replacement interpretation, it sounds to me like you’re being replaced or pushed out and that’s why the information was kept from you. Even outside of this latest event, your manager sounds awful. Highly recommend you start actively searching for something better!

    3. Meh*

      Do you work in my dept / org ? I constantly peruse the internal job postings for our dept so I have a pulse on what’s going on.

      1. Third wheel*

        That wouldn’t have helped as this was a “stealth” hire – no internal or external posting. Based on a preexisting relationship.

    4. Jules the First*

      Heh. It could be worse! I once showed up at my first day of (super dysfunctional) new job, went through paperwork with my new boss, and then walked with him into a key Monday morning meeting where he introduced me to “John” as the new team lead. John very calmly chaired the meeting, walked me back to the team area, got me settled at a desk and showed me how to log in. While we were waiting for my PC to boot up, he looked very studiously at a spot on the desk and said quietly “I guess I didn’t get the promotion, then…” I picked my jaw up off the floor, took a deep breath and asked him to tell me about his career to this point. When he finished, I borrowed his notebook and gave him the number of a recruiter who had been filling a team lead position at another company which I’d turned down to take this one. I also texted her to say John would be in touch.

      It’s been ten years, and I am long since gone from that job, but John still sends me flowers on the anniversary of that conversation. He’s now a very senior exec at that company I referred him to.

    5. Spacewoman Spiff*

      This happened to me once and it felt horrible. I’m sorry it happened to you. I found out my boss was interviewing for a new role on my team when another project manager I had started worked with mentioned, clearly assuming I was in the know, that she was interviewing Bernard later that day. Then I found out my manager (who lived in another country!) had flown in to interview Bernard, without even mentioning it to me. Worst of all, Bernard—who had the same amount of experience as I did in our particular field, and no more education—was hired in at a level above me. Don’t do what I did, which was to be so upset that I just started crying when I tried to raise the issue with my manager. (I mean, it sounds like you have so far been managing this better than I was!)

      I really took this as a sign that I needed to get out from under my manager, and it sounds like you might be at a similar place. One of the tough things to deal with while I worked out my next steps were working closely with Bernard—to his credit, he also seemed aware of how strange it was to not have spoken with his closest future teammate before receiving an offer, and asked to speak with me before he accepted. But it was tough for me for his first six months, when I knew he was earning more than me, and I was the one telling him how to do things and how to navigate in our company. I had to compartmentalize my feelings a bit so I could work well with Bernard (which he deserved) and reserve my anger for my terrible manager. Anyway, this was long, but I commiserate and it is so abnormal for a manager to do this that I can’t believe (and am horrified) that someone else is having this experience.

  57. Dueling Scents*

    I have a team of analysts who have always gotten along great. However since “Renee” returned from maternity leave “Maria” has complained about Renee’s hair products saying she is allergic to the scent.

    We have a scent free office policy which both Renee and Maria adhere too. Neither uses perfumes and none of their products are strongly scented. FWIW I cannot smell Renee’s hair products at all and none of the other analysts can either so it is not strongly scented.

    Maria however gags whenever she first walks into a room with Renee and says that she is allergic to essential oil scents. She’s complained of getting headaches too and says the rosemary and tea tree smells on Renee are nauseating.

    Renee was apologetic at first, and let her know that unfortunately she is suffering from post-partum eczema which is impacting her scalp. She said she’s tried a lot of products and these are the only ones she’s found whose scent doesn’t impact her fragrance allergies and provides relief. She asked Maria to provide a list of scalp treatments and leave in scalp treatments that won’t trigger her scent allergies and whose ingredients don’t contain the term “fragrance” or “parfum/parfume” and she would gladly try those.

    At first Maria refused and said Renee should just find another product that doesn’t have essential oils but Renee pointed out her products don’t have the term “essential oil” anywhere yet still bother her so she would prefer Maria provide a list.

    A couple weeks went by with Maria complaining and asking Renee to switch products and Renee reiterating her willingness to try any product Maria offers up. Then Maria came in, plugged her nose, walked over to Renee, and slammed a piece of paper down on her desk and walked away. Renee then looked the product up and said this has “parfum” and “added fragrance” listed in the ingredients. It is probably going to trigger my scent allergies. Maria apparently went on a bit of a tirade at that point about how she KNEW looking up products was an empty promise and a waste of her time. Renee apparently agreed to try the product after that. Then the next day Maria went off when Renee was still wearing her old products. Renee claimed she had tried the product Maria suggested but it triggered her allergies. Maria did not believe her. So the next day Renee came in with a picture of her holding the bottle and the receipt with the purchase date highlighted she had bought it the day Maria gave her the product name.

    At this point the other analysts reached out to me about this. I spoke with Renee and Maria about professionalism and suggested that Maria do the research on products like Renee asked since she’s shown she is willing to try new products. Maria then accused me of favoring Renee and went to HR.

    I’m lost to be honest. I’ve worked with Maria for 4 years and she has never behaved this way. There haven’t been any major changes to their work that would make Maria feel slighted either. It’s a bizzare situation. HR was not much help either. They just offered to let Maria sit in a different part of the building. Maria refused and pointed out she needed to work with the other analysts (which is true) so relocating “put the burden in the victim”. She asked for Renee to be moved but Renee’s work intersects with the team even more then others. Plus HR and I did not like the optics of moving a new mom to be by herself because of a maternal health issue.

    Dose anyone here know how to address this? I’d appreciate any perspective on how this has been navigated in other offices.

    1. Rick Tq*

      I hate to suggest this but you might ask Renee to use NO products on her hair and see if Maria still ‘reacts to the scent’… If Maria continues to complain about something that doesn’t exist you will need to put Maria on a PIP or just terminate her outright.

      I hope Maria isn’t reacting to the fact that Renee is a mother now with these sudden ‘allergy’ complaints.

      1. Morgan Proctor*

        You absolutely cannot ask this of someone. You’re suggesting using Renee as some kind of test subject for someone acting irrationally. Renee isn’t the issue, Maria is. Hair is intensely personal to the point of having deep cultural significance. What you’re suggesting would be punishment to Renee, and reward for Maria.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Not only that but not treating the eczema involved here — which I have and can be brutal at times when it flares up — has a significant physical impact on Renee.

          Maria needs to stop acting like a jackass. She may well have a problem with scents, but she can’t act in this way about things, nor can you use Renee as a guinea pig to test Maria’s allergies. Since Maria is basically acting spitefully, she needs to be given a warning that, while she has issues that need to be accommodated, she cannot use this as an excuse to persecute Renee over it.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          It’s more like asking Renee to participate in a sting operation to catch Maria in a lie, which might take 2 days at most. (unless, of course, Maria does stop reacting, in which case, they did punish Renee and are right back where they started)

    2. WellRed*

      Maria is behaving abominably but I don’t think she should have to find alternative solutions for Renee either for the reason illustrated. If the scents are only triggering Maria it’s kind of on her to solve. Move? Wear a mask? Gagging is not an allergic reaction.

    3. tabloidtained*

      Feels like it’s time for a serious talk with Maria. She is not a “victim.” Renee is not attacking Maria with her hair products.

    4. Scott*

      Alison answered a question about a similar situation here some years ago. If Maria is requesting an accommodation for a medical condition, that requires an interactive process. Look up fragrance allergies at the Job Accommodation Network ( for suggestions on these.

    5. Antilles*

      The first thing you need to do is sit down with HR and Legal and make sure every step of this is documented. The performative gagging, her accusation of Renee lying about changing products, the incorrect accusations of favoritism, everything. Everything. You might have already done this, but if not, this has to be Step #1 because it feels like Maria is operating in bad faith.
      After that, then you should sit down with Maria and HR and ask for a clear indication of what reasonable accommodations she wants to suggest. Anything that’s unreasonable or problematic (and btw, “moving the new mom to an isolated location because of a maternity related condition” absolutely would be), you just shut down immediately. This discussion will either result in a workable solution or (more likely) indicate that there’s no workable solution here, in which case you and HR can start working on a legal way to get rid of Maria knowing that it’s not a resolvable issue.

    6. Nonn*

      Obviously this doesn’t address the interpersonal part, but practically speaking:
      -HEPA air purifiers by each of them (I use Levoit brand)
      -Maria wearing a mask that filters smells (e.g. containing an activated carbon filter)

    7. Allergies don’t excuse being a jerk*

      Maria is being unreasonable. As a person who has an severe allergy to cats, it is on ME to figure out a solution when working around people who have cat hair/dander on them. That means, I don’t ask people to change their clothes, get rid of their cats, or make rude comments about the fact that my eyes start tearing up as my throat begins to close when I’m too close.

      I, as should others who need accommodations, will work in a separate space…find other ways of communicating with that person or team if I can’t be in the office or even work from home if no safe alternative is available. My employer should help make this situation functional, but no one gets to be controlled.

      1. Morning Goods*

        I don’t agree with this. I am HR-adjacent, with some responsibility for people’s accomodations and wellbeing at work. It is appropriate to ask co-workers to make reasonable adjustments in order to accommodate allergies. Putting the responsibility just on the person with the allergies is disabling to them, and in some cases could be illegal.

    8. CommanderBanana*

      I’ve worked with Maria for 4 years and she has never behaved this way.

      I am not being sarcastic here – is Maria having some sort of mental health issue? This behavior – gagging at a coworker, plugging her nose, requiring photo evidence that someone has bought something she recommended – is so beyond the pale and sounds so out of character for her that I would honestly be concerned about mental health issues. The fact that she’s doing this after Renee has come back after having a baby is also making me wonder if Maria has some sort of issue with Renee now being a mother or having taken maternity.

      Right now, her treatment of Renee is horrible and bullying. If you do not put a stop to this, you are cruising for a lawsuit.

      I would put Maria on a PIP now, move her to a different location, and tell her that she’s more than welcome to take any steps that she thinks might help on her own, like wearing a mask or bringing in an air filter, but if she does one more gag or nose plug, she’s getting disciplined.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to make these exact points, but probably not as eloquently as CommanderBanana.
        I really wonder if Maria is extremely jealous or somehow has crossed over a mental line because Renee had a baby

    9. kalli*

      Moving Maria, the only person having trouble with this while Renee is complying with policy and has already tried alternative products, sounds like the only thing here that’s a way forward. It’s not burdening the victim because Renee isn’t having a medical condition at her – sometimes things just are and they’re not perfect. But you’d need to make sure she could still work with the team, which if HR suggested it, they must be willing to assist in making sure that can happen. This is going to depend on the kind of work the team do, but in general, digitising processes and ensuring facility for video calls, online project tracking and real-time communication can only help since it would also enable people to be able to work more flexibly. If HR can light a fire under IT for you etc. then it is an option and if Maria won’t consider it and can’t present another alternative that doesn’t involve Renee exacerbating her medical condition which, again, Renee is complying with policy so doesn’t really need to do anything here (and is more a victim than Maria), then yeah, interactive accommodation process then ‘we can’t accommodate this’ and either she moves or she works from home or she leaves.

  58. Claudia*

    I’m seeing more and more opt in/out boxes for AI review when submitting applications. Does anyone know how hiring teams are using these results in practice? I’m wondering how much it hurts the candidate to opt out. I’ve seen this kind of disclaimer in a couple resume submission screens in applicant tracking systems:

    “This employer may use an artificial intelligence algorithm to provide an initial comparison of an applicant’s education, experience, and skills against the education, experience and skill requirements in the job description. This analysis produces a Profile Relevancy score, which is intended to be one of many factors that a potential employer will review in making its interview decisions; there are no cut off scores and all applications are visible to employers. Read more about how these tools collect, store, and retain information and the results of the most recent impartial evaluations. The Profile Relevancy score for applicants who opt out will be listed as Not Available.”

    I don’t know what’s seen on the hiring side, but I’m just imaging that the hiring team gets a list of people with scores (who opted in) and then some marked with Not Available. Unless none of the people who opted in have great relevancy scores, I can’t imagine people dealing with a high volume of applicants will be motivated to look at those candidates marked Not Available. But I also have no idea if I’m understanding how this process works since I’m only on the applicant side!

  59. Anon For This One*

    How do you mentally dial yourself back once you’ve reached BEC with a colleague?

    This is a person at my work who is relatively new to the organisation, but very experienced in the field overall

    He’s showing up at my desk and demanding I drop everything and give him my full and immediate attention multiple times a day (big 3-4 minute wait OP from earlier this week energy) for the last couple of months

    As part of my role is to support my colleagues in his role, and as he is new to the company, I’ve been making myself available to him whenever he shows up.

    However, a lot of his questions are ones I’ve answered already, and often include things I’ve answered for him by email as well as verbally, so he could easily refer back to these.

    On top of that, a lot of the stuff he’s bringing over come from him assuming other people aren’t doing their job right, and he’s pretty consistently wrong about it.

    He also asks the same thing over and over again in the same conversation, especially when I’m telling him something he doesn’t want hear – from that his assumption about someone else making a mistake is inaccurate, to something as anodyne as “we don’t control those investments, they aren’t a portfolio we need to bookkeep or report on”.

    He called a meeting where he spent 45 minutes talking about wanting certain documents as excel files rather than pdf (a request he could literally have e-mailed to the account admin to ask for) and complaining that the custom report the account manager had agreed with the client didn’t display the information he saw on our standard reports.

    Earlier this month I was on a tight deadline for a key client that I’d been told, very clearly, by three different people who outrank both of us, took priority over everything.

    Colleague shows up at my desk, I explain that I’m on a hard deadline, can’t stop, and to send his query in an email. I tell him I’ll get to it as soon as I can, but this client will take priority until either its done, or I reach a point where I can’t get any further.

    (for context, there are multiple staff in both of our roles, and I’m not assigned to him specifically; he could have gone to other people on my team, or asked the other people in his role)

    He tries to debate and argue this with me, and I have to push back pretty hard, repeatedly, before he backs off.

    I’m annoyed by this, because I’ve put a lot of effort into accommodating him and the second I can’t immediately drop everything, he refused to give me any grace or consideration despite all the times I’ve extended it to him.

    Add to that the context of his frankly unseemly glee at repeatedly shitting on other people’s hard work *while being wrong about it because he can’t read a g-d report or a bank statement* and he’s reeeeallly grating on me right now.

    He also tells these weird Walter Mitty style obvious lies about coworkers from previous jobs – like a cleaner who thought she was a bookkeeper because she filled out a handover book at the end of each shift, or a guy who came for an interview then turned up two weeks later because he believed “if you don’t hear back in two weeks, it means you’re hired”

    Aside from how off-putting the simple act of lying is, the fact that they’re so blatantly fabricated is extra insulting, like not only did he expect me to listen to his blarting, but he couldn’t even be bothered to make then convincing or interesting?

    In context with how he keeps going after the quality of other people’s work in this job (wrongly, because he’s a dipshit who can’t balance a loan with three whole ledger entries on it), these stories about these mythical level idiots at his previous works feel super gross.

    Long post is long, but while I’ve already got actual, reasonable reasons to be fed up with this guy, my frustration with him is bleeding into full blown bitch eating crackers

    I’d come in one morning and turned on my laptop before sitting down or taking off my outerwear. I was just taking my seat when he popped up and asked “are you not staying?”

    Now obviously this is hardly the kind of high quality humour that would have me rolling in the aisles at any time, but coming from him, I wanted to force feed him my keyboard like he’s the guy from that one Magnus Archives episode.

    So, when you’ve got actual valid issues you need to address with someone, but they’re bad enough that its bleeding into everything, how do you mentally separate the actionable work related stuff from the more general I-think-you-suck-as-a-person stuff?

    1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      If I suspect my response is unreasonable, I run things through the “Would I react this way if (insert person I don’t have particularly strong feelings about one way or another) did or said the same thing?” (That actually used to help me in the OTHER direction, too. I had people I would feel pressured to do things for who I probably didn’t need to prioritize about everyone else, so I’d think “Would I do this for this other person in an equivalent position who I’m not prone to feel pressure to say yes to?” And if the answer was “No”, I knew I needed to reevaluate some things.)

      But, also…is there someone higher up you can talk to about this? You’ll want to separate out any extreme reactions you’re having, but approaching your boss to let them know your time and energy is being monopolized by this person could be helpful. You can frame it as, “How would you like me to handle this?” or possibly suggest some more intensive training for the guy than he seems to have received (it is always wild to me when someone who is clearly new to an org — and it sounds like an industry — comes in guns a’blazin’ about how wrong everyone around them is. I worked with someone like that at a retail job — I think he thought because he was in his 50s he was just automatically right about everything us dumb 20-somethings disagreed with him on even though we’d been there years and he had been there like a week. It is EXHAUSTING.).

      Maybe mentioning this issues as a problem you’re wanting your boss’ guidance on handling/prioritizing might help bring issues to light that others haven’t seen with this dude?

    2. Kay*

      In addition to flagging this with your boss – for all of the things you have already discussed with him/emailed, etc., I would use something along the lines of “So what is it about (previous advice) that isn’t working?”

      As in, so we talked about the TPS reports, lets go through this -when you went through all the steps to run them what happened? You did go through the steps to run them right? No, was your system down? Should we get IT involved for you? Oh you tried? So, you opened Excel, clicked on file, selected blah blah blah – and then what? Oh you didn’t do that? You couldn’t remember how to do that? Okay – should you grab a special notepad to write down all this super important stuff you need to remember?

      Obviously adjust the snark as necessary – but the point is to highlight the fact you have talked about this before and to make this a more painful process than you just humoring him, while being brutally helpful and ever so concerned.

    3. ferrina*

      Wow, this guy sounds painful.

      Two thoughts:
      1. Loop in your boss about what’s happening. You can position it as either “I had this weird experience- did I handle it right?” or as a workflow issue (since he is regularly interrupting your work). I suspect there is a lot more going on with this guy that is above your pay grade.

      2. Make yourself less enjoyable to talk to. Be slightly less competent. Ask questions that he’s already answered. Be mildly confused on what he’s saying and make him repeat himself. On the flip side, when he sends an email, respond to it promptly and helpfully. Train him that emailing will get him what he wants, while dropping by in person will be annoying.
      (don’t worry about your reputation being impacted- that is highly unlikely. Odds are the rest of the office already knows that you’re good at your job and this guy is a pain to deal with).

      I think the less that you deal with this guy, the better. Hopefully he’ll see himself out soon- I strongly suspect he’s got other performance issues. Good luck!

    4. Frustrated Mentor*

      Wow, this is so similar to what I’m currently experiencing. I really appreciate the tips in the replies.

  60. Justin*

    Can someone give me a bit of guidance on how to feel a bit less frustrated when colleagues work much more slowly?

    Backstory, briefly: I used to have pretty severe executive function issues. Procrastination until last minute, then bad work. I’m speaking of school, really. My parents threatened not to pay for college anymore (I KNOW THIS IS A PRIVILEGE, though I paid for my own Master’s and, uh, well, let’s just say I have plenty of debt anyway) and I just… had to figure it out. And I did. I created a lot of systems to flip things on their head and my eventual solution was basically to always do things immediately. Fast-forward 13 years, I enter a doctoral program, I’m finally allowed to do things my own way and I’m really crushing it. Not doing great at work until I get an ADHD Dx which made all this stuff make sense. Got a better job (where I’m open about my status) and I’m now really really fast at everything because I feel clarity, purpose, etc. But I don’t really have a fully off switch. I don’t overwork – I have a kid and such – I just fill my free time with projects, including books I’ve written, and so forth.

    So now, at work, I have colleagues who I have to spend so much time reminding to get things done, things I can’t just do myself (or else I just would), and I don’t yell or express anger, I just feel frustrated. Before you mention it, I have a few other colleagues with ADHD, and it’s not these people I’m referring. Just people – teams/departments, really – that have a much less urgent approach to work. I also work in a department with deadlines (it’s not really stressful, we just run public-facing programs) whereas some are much less time-based.

    I go to therapy, I do what I can to find empathy, but sometimes I simply need them (and I’m not their supervisor) to move a bit faster. I can’t really make them, so I’m asking you all how to find peace with this discrepancy. Because ultimately, a part of me resents the fact that teachers/bosses allowed me to flail for decades and I managed to figure it out before I got treatment and support (and add racism on top of that – I’m Black – and many of my colleagues haven’t experienced that for obvious reasons).

    So how do you suggest I get a bit less frustrated?


    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      For the things that aren’t time-based, I think in those cases, you have to just pivot to something else while you wait for others to get to them. The deadlines, well, you have reason to be frustrated, and letting them know you need things sooner isn’t a bad idea. Perhaps try to build in more time–instead of giving them the last-minute deadline, give them a slightly earlier deadline?

      Also, realize that just because you know some people you work with are out about having ADHD doesn’t mean other people might have it or some other issue you’re unaware of and just not be sharing that (or even be undiagnosed!). So try to have some compassion in considering that possibility.

      Finally, I think you might want to talk to someone about your frustration about teachers/bosses “letting you flail” before you got diagnosis/treatment, because while yes, ideally they’d have noticed or found ways to support you, they’re humans too, and they have/had their own problems and concerns. It can be hard to pick up on things when you’re wrangling dozens of children as a teacher (most of whom you might only see for a few hours a week in the case of jr. high/high school), or when you’re a boss who might not think it’s appropriate to tell someone you think they might have a mental illness like ADHD. It is easy to blame other people for missing something, and understandable to be upset about it not being figured out sooner, but it also sounds like holding onto that resentment isn’t helping you.

      1. Justin*

        The boss thing is because I asked for support when struggling and received punishment. And the teacher thing is because I am an educator myself and focus specifically on these things.

        But with all of that said, they didn’t know what they didn’t know. And my life worked out fine, just took a real long time.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Why do you need them to move faster? Are they missing deadlines, or causing you to miss deadlines? Or do you “need” them to move faster because that makes you feel better about your own work / keeps you interested / lets you check the thing off as “done” / furthers your ambitions for your own career?

      In other words, does the organization have a business need for them to work faster? Or are you expecting your colleagues to meet your personal needs?

      If the former, then you solve that problem by working with your manager to address the blocks / missed deadlines with their managers, and it should be clear that the delays are impacting the bottom line. That situation isn’t about you managing your own frustration – it’s about solving substantive workflow issues. That may be a whole project of its own, but it would certainly be worthwhile for the organization.

      If the latter, then we’re in a very different situation. I think in that case, it’s not empathy you need to work on, so much as separation and boundaries on yourself. In the same way that other drivers on the highway are not obligated to drive the speed you want to go, your coworkers are not obligated to meet your personal need to work at a certain pace. Whether that’s to feel like you are doing “enough,” keep you from getting bored, or provide you with dopamine hits by checking off your to-do list. Your problem is not their problem, and you need to stop blaming them for your problem.

      If you are frequently, intensely frustrated by other people not matching your pace when they have no objective reason to do so, I would respectfully suggest that your ADHD symptoms may not be as well controlled as you believe, because misdirected frustration is a big one.

      1. Justin*

        I’m talking about needing HR to meet a deadline they themselves set to process paperwork so someone can be onboarded, that sort of thing. Or a different team missing a goal that our team has to be the shot-messenger for.

        They are business needs, basically.

        1. Justin*

          But broadly speaking you are right and this sort of resentment is my last major hurdle in the current cycle of therapy. Until whatever the next thing is, lol.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Okay, then that’s a conversation with your manager about workflow issues and dynamics between teams. What kind of answers are you getting from them about how to move the ball forward, or how to manage expectations so that you’re not being the shot messenger?

          1. Justin*

            My manager agrees with me! And so does his manager! Our whole team has a sort of cynical “look the other teams drop the ball, idk” attitude.

            So basically I try not to care, but we are The Public Facing Team, and I guess getting messenger-shot is part of the job.

            I, at least, have accepted it’s not my fault.

    3. ferrina*

      Build a process for what you do when people are late. I’m ADHD and this really helped me when I was project managing and people wouldn’t turn their stuff in on time. When I had a process, it turned the experience from an emotional one into an intellectual one.

      1. Build buffer time. I constantly have two simultaneous timelines going- the Official Timeline and the Uh-Oh Timeline. The Official Timeline is the dates that I give everyone. The Uh-Oh Timeline is the secret timeline in my head where I start freaking out. The Uh-Oh Timeline is the drop-dead unchangeable timeline. The Official Timeline has some buffer time built in. So for example, I know that Bob won’t get me anything on time. So I tell Bob the deadline is Monday. Then I plan to bug Bob on Tuesday, knowing Bob will actually turn it in on Thursday. Saves me a lot of stress.

      2. Communicate deadlines. Make sure the timeline is clear and repeated. People forget things, so when you send an email, just add the date. There’s an art to reminding people without annoying them, and sometimes you’ll need to annoy people (but do this sparingly). When possible, ask for their input on deadlines, i.e., “Can you get this to me by Friday” instead of “I want this by Friday.” This works better because 1) it gives them an opportunity to alert you if there might be issues and 2) it creates buy in.

      3. Know what will happen when they don’t get things in on time. Have your own process for this. Mine usually starts with a gentle reminder from me, followed by a not-gentle reminder, followed by me escalating it to my boss. This is also where your buffer time comes in- when you build in buffer time, you don’t need to freak out when the deadline is missed, you just move to the first contingency.

      4. Escalate. At a certain point, you just need to loop your boss in. “Hey, I just can’t get what I need from Bob and I can’t move without it. I’ve tried X, Y, and Z. Is there something that you can do to get this? If not, how would you like me proceed?”

      4. Failure is always an option. You cannot control other people; you can only give them clear communication on what is needed and what will happen if it does not happen. I’ve found that when I tell people the consequence of their action, there’s a lot less late people. Again, use this only as needed- people that don’t need this reminder will be rightfully frustrated. But I like to add this in my Gentle Reminder phase- “Hey, I still need your report for the final presentation. If we don’t get your report soon, we won’t be able to include your department in the final presentation and this may impact budgeting.” Let people prioritize accordingly.
      It also gives you a CYA- you can clearly point to your communication, and exactly where things broke down. It doesn’t feel good, but it is always something that can happen. Mentally allow for it as an option and contingency plan as needed.

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        Just wanted to say that I always notice how detailed and helpful your responses are. :)

      2. Pine Tree*

        I’m just learning to accept #4 at my current job. After many years pulling my hair out trying to push other people to get their sh*t done, I’m now realizing that sometimes I can just….let it not happen. Of course you have to know when you can just let it not happen and when it really, actually does need to happen (reporting, compliance, etc.). But even having that distinction has let me back off on the other stuff, and only really worry about the REALLY HAS TO HAPPEN stuff.

        1. LearningToLetItGo*

          this. a colleague at work has been helping me come to this position. it’s hard because I really like this job and don’t want it to go away because the company fails, but ultimately I can’t control what I can’t control. Two of the things I can’t control are how and how well other people do their jobs.

    4. It's Me*

      Oooooh, I feel this. A few things that have helped me, though ymmv:

      1. Set and forget (within a system.) For me, because I like physical lists, I have a stenographer’s pad, which is built with a line down the middle. On the left are all my to-dos and things that are my responsibility. On the right is everything I’m waiting to receive from someone else with the due date I gave them. Once an item goes to the right, I can wipe it from my brain until that due date approaches. Until then, not my circus, not my clowns.

      2. Boundaries. As a polite, professional colleague, it is my responsibility to impart clear, concrete, pertinent information, including clearly outlined deadlines. It is also my responsibility to build in buffers on my end as appropriate. Unless I am a person’s assistant or otherwise explicitly tasked to do so, it is NOT my responsibility to hound a coworker for their piece prior to the deadline being hit. I said I needed a thing by July 1st. It is not July 1st. They are not late, so I should not be checking. If I actually needed a thing FROM them before July 1st in order to do my piece BY July 1st, that’s my fault for giving them *my* deadline instead of theirs!

      If we reach the day of the deadline and haven’t heard a peep, I’ll send a single reminder (because I’ve already built in my buffer, right? and if something came up truly last-minute and they need to give me the thing tomorrow instead, I’ve accounted for that.)

      3. Consequences. As part of the “not my circus, not my clowns” mentality, if the worst happens and someone else blows past my deadline, that’s when I start looping in reporting chains. Politely! Professionally! Not to get anyone in trouble but to say “Hey, I communicated this deadline for this reason and now we’ve passed it, which is causing XYZ consequences.” Because I’ve built my buffer, it’s not going to be a scramble on my end, even with the delay, but I’m also making sure I’m managing the impact on ME, not the work of the other person, and it’s also not my responsibility to reprimand them or make sure they change.

      4. Gratitude. Man, it’s nice not to have to be in control of everything. I don’t WANT to micromanage my coworkers. I don’t get paid for that! And devoting all my time and energy to rushing people to do their jobs takes away from *my actual job* and what *I* should be doing, so I don’t want to do that! I’ve got enough to do already! So I’m super grateful to be able to look at the mess of someone else’s workflow and count my lucky stars that I’m not their manager.

      Summary: A lot of practical mental and emotional disconnecting from things that are not my job to control or solve, minimizing impact on me, and keeping my hands out of other people’s pots.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah that’s the right idea. I try not to expect too much, but even though I can’t control it, it bothers me if it makes my end result less effective.

        Example: Last year I wrote a quiz. I’m not the expert. I sent it to everyone, gave a deadline for comments. Some people responded. They were not obligated to say anything, so, fine.

        I could have asked for comments again. But my thought was I would personally not want another reminder if action wasn’t required.

        So 4 months later I receive comments from one person, had to change the quiz at the last second, and then people thought it was worse. Sigh.

        I finalized

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I think this is a good example of what setting a deadline could help with.

          You designed this quiz and it seemed to be fine. One person getting back late shouldn’t have had standing to redesign the entire thing! So maybe in future the expectation of “I must have feedback by X Date” is spelled out initially, and if they miss the deadline, well, too bad. It isn’t a requirement to work everybody’s opinion in at their personal convenience.

          It’s like when people call in where I work seeking a season special that ended three days ago and act like I personally kicked their toddler when I say the stores don’t have those ingredients anymore. I mean, yeah, it’s too bad you were looking forward to this, but we can’t keep foraged and found mushrooms around all year on the off chance you feel like ordering them a week after that promo ended.

          1. Justin*

            Yeah I did set a deadline. The problem is she was (she has since left) such an expert I didn’t feel I could tell her “LOOK YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE” (but nicely).

            The real problem is my boss has an “everyone’s voice matters” policy, which is good, in theory, but in practice, gums up the works.

    5. RM*

      I was probably one of those slow people at my last job! The answer was that my department was incredibly understaffed, including unfilled leadership positions. The result was that it took longer to get everything done, and also that more tasks got lost in the deluge of work. The more work you have, the more important it is that everything be tracked/put on a list. But, the more work you have, the less time you have for executive functioning like putting everything on the list or calendar, putting the emails in the right folder, etc. Sitting and trying to estimate how long it would take to get to each person’s small task and letting them know that seemed like a giant time suck and I didn’t feel confident in any estimates I would have made. So a lot of times things weren’t done until the 2nd or 3rd reminder. It sucked and made me feel bad about myself, the work I was doing, etc. Ultimately I quit because it was so discouraging.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah, there’s one team I know is understaffed so I don’t stress about them.

        I think we all just have to do a lot of stuff that takes up time and collaborating with my team seems not that useful to everyone.

  61. Kesnit*

    I have been trying to hide the exact jobs I’m discussing, but cannot find a way to do it and make it make sense, so…

    I’m a state-level prosecutor, but spent over 6 years as a public defender before switching to “the dark side” last fall. The local PD office (which is not the one I worked in) hired 3 law school grads last year. Two passed the Bar July 2023 and the third, Fergus, passed February 2024. I had met Fergus before when he would sit in court with other attorneys, but had not seen him since he started practicing on his own until this week. (On his own is not exactly right, to be clear. The state agency that oversees public defenders and private attorneys who take court-appointed work requires that new attorneys conduct a certain number of felony cases under supervision of another attorney before doing felonies on their own. It takes 9-12 months to get through felony certification. So while Fergus is handling felonies, he is still going through certification.) I also know that Fergus interviewed with the office where I used to work and ruined his chances of being hired there when he drug the interview – scheduled for about 45 minutes – out for 3 hours. (I was still working there when he interviewed.) Law is a second career for Fergus. He was an investigative journalist prior to going to law school. He is a nice guy, but VERY high-strung.

    Yesterday, I had a preliminary hearing with Fergus. (Preliminary hearing – hearing in which a lower court judge determines if there is probable cause to go forward with a trial in higher court. They are standard i