open thread – July 5, 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.

{ 705 comments… read them below }

  1. helping partner*

    So my partner is looking to leave their FT bookstore job and I wanted to try to get some job hunting advice for them. The bookstore itself is a bit niche but is part of an international chain. Not the actual focus, but it’s like if they worked at a bookstore that was primarily centered on Canadian-themed topics or a shop that only sold cookbooks (and adjacent products).

    They’re primarily a bookbuyer but they also juggle a lot of other duties (cashier, cleaning, social media, data entry, promo displays, customer orders, book processing). They like their job a lot (has been in it for ~5 years), but the environment and management are dysfunctional, and she’s starting to see the writing on the wall.

    So I was wondering beyond just retail in general, what kind of jobs could they look for. They would like to stay in bookstores, but those jobs are hard to find, especially at FT with benefits. This is also their first FT job, so they don’t have much experience in looking towards different fields. So if they did need to change fields/industries, what might be worth looking into?

    1. londonedit*

      I work in book publishing and I know the company I work for has definitely hired people with previous experience in bookselling or bookbuying – particularly in Sales or Rights, but I think there are definitely transferrable skills there. Publishers really like the experience someone can bring from the ‘other side’, knowing about what sells and what people are looking for. Not that publishing pays very well either, but it might be worth a thought.

      1. Scholarly Publisher*

        Seconding this. For several years most of the people in our marketing department were former bookstore employees.

      2. Jojo*

        This was going to be my suggestion. I have a good friend who ran a bookstore for a few years and now works in sales at a publishing house.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Which parts of the job do they like best? It sounds like they’re wearing a lot of hats right now, which is something they could still do at other types of small businesses. If there’s something they’d like to focus on going forward, though, that might help steer them in the right direction to start with, eg if they love the promo stuff vs the customer service stuff.

    3. former bookstore employee*

      My friend who worked as a book buyer for a bookstore ended up doing sales for a large publishing house, if they’re looking for a corporate job. Their niche, children’s books, helped them land the job selling that specific niche because they knew the genre so well, so the niche could help them. As a former bookseller myself, I now work in a publishing house doing publicity because I helped run a lot of events. In my experience, if a job involves direct contact with a bookstore – like planning book tours or sales – a book publisher will love bookstore experience!

    4. migrating coconuts*

      Those skills fit the library world. Maybe not an actual librarian, most places require the advanced degree, but we have positions where social media, displays, processing etc are handled by other staff. In a smaller library, the position could do all of those things with other duties thrown in. It is hard to find full time with benefits, but once you get your foot in the door, I have always found they prefer to hire/promote internally.

    5. Former Bookseller*

      I worked as a bookseller for ten years. Personally, my educational background is in the arts, so I spun the bookstore customer service and the arts education into managing a front-facing department in an arts non-profit. My fellow bookseller colleagues have gone on to:

      –library work (this person does have a library science degree, although I think our library systems don’t always require it for things like event coordination)
      –university administration
      –non-profit marketing/communications
      –office management
      –publisher’s regional sales rep
      –oddly, more than one went into theology and became a faith leader, but I think that was due more to concurrent interest than bookstore experience

      If any of those sound interesting, I can try to provide more information on the path taken to get there.

    6. Autumn*

      Just off the top of my head I can name 4 co-workers (plus myself) who started off in bookstores and ended up in libraries. It is a path. Libraries aren’t cushy and there’s dysfunction everywhere, but I found it really great to stop trying to sell all the time. The knowledge of how to keep a store running transfers really well to keeping a branch running.

      1. Ano no my*

        Considering being a purchasing agent. I would suspect any industry would be happy to have someone with experience with the logistics of buying (sourcing, logistics, delays, adapting to demand, etc) even in a different context like manufacturing, or retail for a different product.

    7. JudgeM*

      Maybe e-commerce? It’s retail but not traditional retail. If she has a university degree, Walmart, Amazon or Target have buyer type roles

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

      Expand the search of bookstore jobs to employers that aren’t technically bookstores themselves, but have a “bookstore” in-house. Are there any colleges/universities around you? They might be able to find a similar position at a campus store.

    9. Anax*

      This might be too far afield for your partner, but – analyst/project manager positions might be worth looking into, if they enjoy having one ‘main’ job, but wearing a lot of hats as well.

      As an example, my day might involve…
      – Four hours writing up project requirements and details, based on meetings with stakeholders yesterday and reading through their written requirements. Translating everyone’s wants and needs into an actionable series of steps. (Say, “we want more defined metrics!” “… ok, so how about a report which is automatically published weekly that shows you metrics X, Y, and Z?” … and then writing up the details of what that report should look like.)
      – One hour doing QA on a project in progress – say, checking on that report to make sure it actually looks good, the data looks correct, and it answers the question the stakeholder wanted answered.
      – 30 minute meeting with stakeholders to demonstrate work in progress – say, showing off that report and asking for feedback.
      – 30 minute meeting with stakeholders to talk about a new project, which I’ll be writing up requirements for in the next few days.
      – One hour working on odds and ends, like answering emailed questions, putting together a quick graph for my manager’s meeting, checking in on coworkers to make sure projects are moving along on schedule, or reading industry news.

      The reason I thought this might appeal is that there’s time working alone, deeply focused on an individual task you’re particularly good at – but there’s also a lot of variety and flexibility required, and a decent amount of interaction with people, as you can see.

      It might be a bit of a jump from a resume perspective – a good cover letter would be important to draw connections between the new job’s duties and the current one – but if those are parts of the job she enjoys, it might be worth considering.

      (For an even more niche take – governments also publish a lot of printed material, and while those publishing offices don’t get a lot of … well, press… they might be worth considering in addition to traditional book publishers if you’re in an appropriate location.)

    10. librarian*

      Library work would be great! To me they sound like they would be perfect for a job in collection services (basically buying/maintaining the library’s collection), but in most places those jobs would require a Masters in Library Science. However, public libraries often love promoting internally. For example, I began as a Full Time Library Assistant, which required only a BA and included benefits, and after six months of hard work was promoted to an Associate Librarian position without having had to achieve the certification yet. Jobs such as library assistants (or whatever they are called where you’re from) are really fun introductory roles in libraries where you really get to do a little bit of everything and see if it’s a field you would like to pursue.

      Sidenote: I had been promoted twice by the time I reached 2 years of employment with the library, the second time to a management position :) Libraries are great!!

    11. helping partner*

      Apologies for not replying to everyone but I just wanted to say thank you! These are all really good suggestions and will help give them pointers on other avenues to job hunt for.

  2. Tradd*

    So I’m the customs broker that has posted a number of times about the issues surrounding attempts to find an entry writer for my department. Well, another strike out. We interviewed a 30ish guy. Had 5 years industry experience with direct experience at what we do, not just something adjacent. We were very clear this was not a remote job and WFH would never be possible. We had him sign a document that outlined this, as well as working hours. He was able to answer every job specific question I threw at him. He was alert and there was no derp showing. His references checked out and he was hired. At 8 am on day he was supposed to start, he emails that he won’t be taking the job after all as he wanted remote. He was sort of begging. Mind you, NONE of the positions posted locally are remote,per my check a few weeks ago. It’s all in office and this seems to be a thing for international transportation.

    Anyway, a couple of weeks later, we get a call from this guy. He wanted to know if the position had been filled. He was kind of begging. He had been unable to find anything in our industry that was remote and he wanted us to reconsider him. We declined as we just didn’t trust him now.

    On a related note, I finally found out why company owners hate WFH. They apparently did a study during the pandemic when people were WFH and productivity was 30% less than they were in the office. So no regular job weekday WFH period. Ever. Again, I have the capability only because I have to do emergency stuff outside of regular business hours.

    1. WellRed*

      They did a study during the pandemic while people were stressed, afraid and dealing with homeschooling and child care issues while also trying to figure out a new way of working?

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        And when it wasn’t necessarily possible for people to do all parts of their job either because some parts had to be done in-office and they could now only do the work from home parts or because companies they needed to work with were closed completely or various services were unavailable?

        I can think of a whole load of reasons why productivity would fall during the pandemic that are in no way related to the fact people were then working from home. I mean the latter could be a factor for all I know, but I don’t think there is enough evidence to make any assumptions. The owners seem to be assuming corrolation = causation.

        1. Bananapantsfeelings*

          We found huge leaps in productivity even with Covid. We closed 60 offices as a result. Even the most anti-WFH leaders had to face the fact that it’s more efficient.

          We went back to hybrid because C-levels wanted it, and other companies were doing it. But it was never about efficiency – in person is significantly less efficient for the company, before even considering the 1-2 hours added to workers’ days thanks to commuting.

    2. Jessica*

      To your last paragraph, it is ridiculous to draw conclusions about WFH from a study done during the pandemic when people were
      — trying to WFH suddenly and of necessity whether their jobs were suited for it or not, whether their home work environment was suited for it or not, and without planning or experience
      — living through a time of global calamity and terror, trying to keep their families alive
      — in MANY cases, having to care for young children at home or try to help them attend remote school
      Pandemic WFH was not normal WFH.

      1. Tradd*

        I know that, you know that. Owner won’t admit that and I didn’t even bring that point up. It’s not a fight worth having. I’m fine going into the office.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I was going to say, that sounds like a really convenient study for the owners! Thank you for providing these.

          1. Medical Library*

            So he went in with a bias and confirmed his own bias with his results. His “findings” in his “study” (ha!) mean absolutely zero.

          2. JSPA*

            As someone who’s designed studies (the sort needing review and formal institutional approval) that… seems a near- impossible situation in which to do a reliable study.

          3. Trout 'Waver*

            If the owner can objectively measure output of workers who are WFH, why can’t he just give them the level of work output needed, measure that, and manage accordingly?

            1. Tradd*

              Can we please just concentrate on what the candidate did? I keep being told “conform to the market.” Well, the market is in office.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Why are you carrying water for an incompetent boss?

                I mean, he can declare the position is in-office and that’s fine. But it’s not fine suggesting the reason is that people who WFH are 30% less efficient. That’s just bull.

                Also, your logic that the market is in-office is ridiculous. The postings that are up are the ones not getting filled. You’re not seeing the ones getting filled quickly and taken down. It’s classic survivorship bias. As evidenced by your own posting, which has been up for a very long time. It’s just like if you try to buy a lawnmower on facebook. The ones listed for $250 sit for weeks. And the ones listed for $150 sell in less than hour. If you just took a snapshot of listings and assumed the average cost of the posted listings was the market, you’d be very, very wrong.

                1. Tradd*

                  I monitor the postings damn near weekly and I also have alerts set up for a variety of job boards.

                  The WFH study shit happened way before I started here. I wasn’t around for it. I don’t particularly care about it. Was just interesting to find out why the guy was so anti-WFH.

                  The recruiter we work for tells me she’s always getting people asking about WFH, but tells me she never gets one that is WFH as they don’t exist. Why do you think I’m lying?

                2. Great Frogs of Literature*

                  “No WFH” is a constraint of this job. Whether the boss is being reasonable or not, that’s the way the boss wants it. Tradd is in a much better position to judge whether fighting that battle is wise, and Tradd says it’s not.

                3. Tio*

                  They’re not carrying water for them. They don’t even agree. But as Allison says “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.” I’m betting if you came in with 30 different studies showing their boss that they were demonstrably wrong, they’d do it anyway. As said above, the bosses went in looking for the answer they wanted. So every comment here about “They should allow WFH” when this comes up is a waste of everyone’s time.

                  I do think Tradd, you shouldn’t bother responding to the wfh comments anymore though. No point arguing when the thread isn’t being read.

              2. lost academic*

                I think you’re conflating your workplace with the market and thus confusing the recommendations. The market can be a lot more than ‘this exact role with this exact type of employer’ (or not) – but if you can’t find ANY candidates who will accept a fully office based job, then the market of your potential candidates is telling you that your company’s practices are part of the problem. I won’t argue at all that you can do anything about your employer’s refusal to allow any amount of remote work, but just because you are personally fine with it doesn’t mean it’s good overall. You mentioned elsewhere that the role in the industry is office based. That’s great, but that’s also a conflation – the people on the market are leaving or looking for a reason and they keep telling you and the recruiter that the wfh option is a big interest.

                The candidate gambled and did not succeed, end of story. They may or may not have had a good idea of how they’d be able to get a wfh position, particularly since they reached back out, but it sounds like both your company and the applicant are in a bit of a bind. I don’t disagree that someone who agreed until minutes before starting that they’d come in has trust issues and I’d be done talking to them too, but there’s more perhaps to be learned from the situation outside of just the immediate.

                You mentioned twice in two situations that the candidate was “kind of begging” and the first time it doesn’t make any sense, and not a ton the second time. It suggests, without other information, that there’s something else going on with you that’s coloring the situation – just an observation there. If you had more power over hiring I’d recommend looking into that more but you don’t. I would just waste less energy on the remote work/hiring problem if you can’t or won’t try and adjust that with the owners.

                1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

                  I really wondered what was going on with the two references to “begging”.

          4. Ellis Bell*

            Are they an intelligent and capable boss outside of the issue of studies? Because…wow. I was sceptical the minute I heard “a study” referred to without context, but the guy did his own?!! And told people this, expecting the findings to be believable?!! For motivational purposes or what?

            1. Tradd*

              In office is standard for my industry. The candidates wanting remote aren’t going to find it because it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter about my company’s owners stupid ideas.

              1. Ellis Bell*

                I’m extremely glad your overall experience of your boss is less concerning than this snippet.

            2. Tradd*

              Guy can be a jerk at times, but frankly I’ve worked for much more toxic people before. Importantly, I’m left alone and not micromanaged. That’s worth a ton. I’m also paid quite well.

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        I don’t have skin in this game because I work hybrid by choice because I don’t want to be home every day, and my job will never got fully in office because it’s too expensive to live near the office. But this one topic has attracted way too many “the issue is settled” stances which is just wildly cavalier and unscientific and dismissive of teams struggling with aspects of remote work.

        I notice the same one study keeps getting references but if you google the topic you find a mixed back, another set of studies also highlighted in Forbes titled “Working From Home Leads To Decreased Productivity” says there is a decrease in productivity of 10% – 20%.

        Before everyone jumps on to say they are more productive, think about what it means. If you’re doing messy tickets like we do, that means you do 9 tickets in a two week period instead of 10. That sort of drop in productivity is not noticeable enough because there are usually so many moving parts to any given project that someone may not even notice they are not as productive.

        Not being as productive being lazy. I think that’s the misconception in all of these discussions. It can mean a project got put on hold because you’re now waiting extra long for approval emails. It can mean lower level staff never spoke up to automate a process so keep doing it by hand, and higher ups never knew they were doing it the long way until the person quit. It can mean you take an extra two hours to code something because you’re mentally zoning out and don’t even realize it until you have a hybrid day and someone asks you what you’re staring at :-).

        1. amethyst*

          Yes, this. Not to mention that productivity in some fields isn’t measured simply in how many widgets you produce or tickets you resolve. I work in a creative field that thrives on people working together for at least part of the week. Working a hybrid schedule is totally possible, but our industry in general found over the last few years that working 100% remotely is difficult for the kind of work that we do and actually slows things down in the long run. Individually people might feel and say that they are more productive, but that’s not true as a unit, and our work is highly collaborative.

          We still have lots of people in the field who have left because we require time in the office. In the last year, several of them have attempted to return because they found out that the entire market is like that, and they were the ones with mismatched expectations.

    3. Industry Behemoth*

      Trade, didn’t you tell us previously that your company had an experience with other employees who lied about being sick, in order to continue WFH?

      If those employees were also neglecting their jobs, then that’s a valid issue. If your employer is just being stubborn, then they’re being stubborn.

      1. Tradd*

        That person WAS sick, but milked it to keep WFH longer. That was another employee who had WFH ability only for stuff outside of regular office hours. The WFH dislike of owners dates well before that, which only happened late last year. Only a few desk level employees have the capability to WFH, due to stuff outside of office hours.

        The owners are being stubborn.

        1. A Significant Tree*

          That sounds so frustrating! I have definitely worked with, and for, people who believe their own opinions are the only correct ones. But owners are owners and if they say no WFH, that’s all there is to it.

          It’s just amazing that someone will go through the motions to both verbally agree to and then sign a document attesting to their agreement that no WFH is possible, and then pull this silliness. I assume he thought he’d have more options or more leverage after he was offered the job, but not against the flat No he was already given. There’s just nothing else you can do to make candidates believe it’s non-negotiable.

          1. Tradd*

            THIS is the reason for my post. Not what owners think about WFH. But what the candidate pulled.

            1. Bananapantsfeelings*

              Except that you have an unreasonable boss problem, that you’re internalizing and presenting as a flaky candidate problem.

              Your boss is letting great candidates go, and the position go unfilled, because he’s stubborn and unreasonable.

              Why on earth are you blaming anything on the candidates?

              So, since you have a boss problem, and his unreasonable orders mean this position can’t be filled… what are you going to do about it? Can you keep just doing two jobs forever? What’s your plan to deal with the actual problem you have?

          2. Industry Behemoth*

            Yes. Especially since in-office is the expectation of the industry, not just of Tradd’s employer (reasons aside).

            This sounds like people trying to create remote jobs, if or when they can’t find them. Ultimately, that’s the employer’s call.

          3. Tradd*

            Significant Tree -yes, that seems to be the crux of the situation. We started having people sign the document confirming in office, hours worked, etc., after people kept asking about WFH when it was clearly stated no WFH.

    4. Stuart Foote*

      I am extremely skeptical of that study (if it even exists). 30% is a huge, huge drop and it runs counter to my personal experience and the experience of every person I have talked to about productivity during the pandemic. Granted those are anecdotal, but I think that personal experience can give you an idea of the wider situation.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        I google these studies since I find it fascinating that people keep declaring the issue settled. I left a longer comment elsewhere but wanted to add here, 30% drop is not actually that noticeable in some soft skill or “knowledge based” jobs. For example, Director of Strategy. There are jobs where you can sort of coast without doing as much as you used to (for burst of time anyways) and no one notices because it’s so hard to quantify what the baseline is. Or for example, I worked with a Risk Manager who’d go through periods of just saying “no” to everything under the guise of preventing risk. This was the high level corporate way of doing little work.

        and these are precisely the jobs that can easily be done remotely.

      2. amethyst*

        Anecdotal is good for illustrating or filling in details, but not good for estimating the prevalence of something across a population. Or for attempting to counter a controlled study.

        Most people are skeptical because they want to keep working from home. Personally I found that my productivity went through ups and downs and it depended entirely on what I was doing and what my set up looked like.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m sorry you are experiencing all this frustration and flakey applicants. Meanwhile, I -wish- I could find a 100% in-office job in my area (tech writer in a large tech-centric city.) It sounds Stockholm-syndrome-esque, but I do prefer the nice thick line between with and home life.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Me too, it feels claustrophobic to be WFH constantly. Especially if you live in a smaller space or high density area, I don’t really have anywhere private to go outside. Alot of older people in my area now have a routine of walking around lunchtime so just stepping outside for air turns into 10 minutes of small talk:-). Not to mention heating and cooling costs, sometimes I go to the office just to cool down at this point

      2. Writer Seeks $$$*

        If you feel comfortable sharing, where is the office located? More generally is it a suburb without solid public transit? my impression has been that so many people want to get paid for their work that I’m surprised you haven’t found someone willing to do it in office.

        1. Tradd*

          I’m just going to say a suburb of a relatively large metro area. There is no public transit here. You have to drive.

      3. amethyst*

        It’s not Stockholm-syndrome-esque. We worked at offices for decades, and then we worked from home for 2-3 years and people are acting like it’s madness to like going into the office.

        I work a hybrid schedule and I like both. I like having some days I can skip the commute and work at home in my pajamas, and I like having days where I can get dressed up and go in and interact with real humans in person. I do not miss back to back video calls all day long, and I love the separation of the commute. I actually find that these days I am a little less productive at home, although it depends on how we’re defining productivity and what I have on my plate that particular week.

    6. anonymous anteater*

      While that study is obviously bogus, in your shoes I would also not take back the guy who tried to bait and switch you, and left you hanging on his first day. If he had randomly just landed a remote gig at the last minute, I would kind of understand him. But he bailed on you while not having anything lined up, which to me conveys he was hoping you would give in due to his manufactured emergency. That’s not a colleague you want to have.

    7. Warrior Princess Xena*

      The ridiculousness of your owner aside, any person who:
      * is informed verbally and in writing that WFH won’t be happening
      * reads and signs a form saying that they understand WFH is not a thing
      * flakes on you at the last second (widely understood as rude in hiring) because actually they want to WFH

      Does not sound like someone who would fit as a customs broker. Isn’t the vast majority of the job reading, understanding, and signing regulatory paperwork?

      Sorry you’re having such a bad experience with flakes!

      1. Tradd*

        There are a lot of other things that go into it. Have to have a ton of attention to detail.

    8. JustaTech*

      That is some class A gumption right there. Do you think the candidate knew how much trouble you’d had filling the role and that’s why he thought he could get an in-person job changed to WFH?

      As for the anti-WFH owner, you have my sympathy. We have a high position at work that we can not fill because On High insists that it must be in-person even though there’s no lab work for that position. The perfect candidate says she’s interested but will not uproot her family (totally reasonable), and we can’t pay enough to get anyone to move to my absurd cost of living city. (We’ve had 2 candidates accept the position and then look at the housing market and nope right out.)

      Better luck on your next candidate!

    9. Ellis Bell*

      I kind of wonder at how he could possibly have thought the bait and switch would be successful. There is wishful thinking, and then there’s just ignoring the fact that dishonesty and pretence is a huge deal breaker. You said he was “begging”; perhaps he is so desperate for WFH that he was willing to take the risk of this ploy not working out. But I would say, due to the dishonesty factor, he never had a chance of getting his way here.

      1. HoundMom*

        I totally get wanting WFH but Tradd you have done all you can to be transparent and upfront. Why would someone think that they — as an unknown worker — get such a significant requirement of the job waived? I think you have mentioned another candidate who at least came to the office a few times and then tried to get WFH. That seems more logical than this latest candidate. I am sorry — this has to be so frustrating for you.

      2. Clisby*

        Yep – and why in the world would they waive this policy for someone they don’t even know? I mean, if they happened to have a 10-year stellar employee who for whatever reason needed WFH for awhile, maybe – but an unknown-quantity employee? Can’t imagine what the guy was thinking.

          1. Clisby*

            To me, “should” doesn’t really come into it. It just makes no sense to have a firm policy that you quickly waive at the request of someone who is, essentially, a stranger. If you’re going to cave that easily, you can’t care much about the policy, so why have it in the first place?

            I worked remotely for 17-18 years before retiring, but I had worked on-site for almost 9 years. I already knew most of the people I would work with; I was familiar with the legacy (IBM mainframe) systems that were vital to keeping this company going; and they recruited me. I had moved to Atlanta when my husband got a much better job; when I asked a couple of my former managers if they’d give me a reference once I was ready to job-search, they said “Sure.” Two days later they called back and asked if I wanted to come on board as a part-time contractor, telecommuting. We had a < 2 year old child, so I would have been crazy to turn this down. (And since this has come up before on AAM, I was a legal contractor. I worked for a contracting company that handled all the tax paperwork – paying the employee share of Medicare/SS taxes, withholding federal and state income taxes, sending me a W2, etc.)

    10. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Yeah, you made the right call. If the guy really wanted a remote position, he shouldn’t have accepted a job at your company that said “in person; no, seriously, in person; sign here to confirm you understand that this is in person”.

      You didn’t bait-and-switch him. You made it clear from the start that this was an in-office job. If he bailed at the last minute because it wasn’t remote work, what level of attention to detail is he going to bring to the actual job?

      1. anonymous anteater*

        oh I see. I was thinking he did it on purpose, but there is the possibility he didn’t pay attention!? The conclusion is the same, I guess – don’t hire!

        1. Tradd*

          There is no freaking way he didn’t pay attention. It was brought up multiple times during phone screen, two in person interviews, when he accepted job.

          1. Not Totally Subclinical*

            “The policy says X, but I don’t like it, so I’m going to see if I can force it to change by doing something different” is not a trait you want in a customs broker.

    11. Jessica*

      Tradd, sorry we all derailed onto the WFH thing. (It wasn’t clear that “company owners” meant YOUR company; it sounded like a generalization, and you sounded like you were buying it.) Back to the point of your post–

      I would be inclined to do what you did and cross this guy off after he bait-and-switched you. I think there’s probably more of that going on from the employer side (advertising jobs as remote and they turn out not to be), but this is also a thing and it’s infuriating. If everybody would be honest, then the market would reach some kind of equilibrium (although possibly one that would be needlessly biased against disabled workers).

      If you hired this guy, whatever reasons he had for wanting remote work (and he clearly felt pretty strongly about it) wouldn’t magically disappear. He might just work for you for a while, learn the job, make himself more valuable, and THEN renew his demand to be remote, after you’ve sunk more resources into him. You’ve been honest with your job candidates, so you deserve to look for one that’s honest with you. (Not saying people need to tell employers their future plans or a lot of other stuff, but yes, do tell me if you’re willing to show up here at this office in two weeks or not. That doesn’t seem unreasonable.)

      1. Tradd*

        Thanks! Yes, it has been incredibly frustrating. The bait and switch really pisses me off. I really don’t get why people who want WFH accept a job they’ve been told is in office and expect it will suddenly turn into WFH? We’ve been honest with candidates. The reverse would be very nice. Why even waste our time interviewing?

        1. Rain*

          I’m 100% frustrated on your behalf. Both for the stunt that guy pulled, and for how so many people here wanted to quarrel with you about your boss.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Even if Tradd had ‘bought it’, from the perspective of someone who used to be in-person obligate, there are reasons why people should touch base in an office once every so often, particularly if they’re in fields with a lot of in-person workers like in the lab work example.

        The working world is way more complex than what it’s made out to be here and since this is industry-wide, Tradd need make no apologies for understanding why there might be reasons for people to be in the office, at least occasionally. Fully remote jobs are harder to find now because there’s a lot of fields with elements that need to be done in person, and there’s a whole lot of people who get ignored in this discussion, from management who see the bigger picture WRT how business works to the people who are ‘supervised’ by remote workers yet can’t work remote themselves.

        It’s a discussion which badly needs the nuance that it’s not getting and I wish people would be a bit more curious about alternative perspectives on this because there are way, way more reasons than just management tyranny.

        1. Tradd*

          I find it easier to do certain things in the office. There are customers with situations it’s very helpful to be able to talk with my other customs department person (entry writer) in person. He has strengths in areas I don’t. And the reverse. There are just times when it’s more productive to talk face to face to solve issues and brainstorm. I also pass along a lot of knowledge to import transportation side people. This is much easier face to face than on the phone, which how it works with the coworkers who are in an office an hour away and I never see. I did this job with another broker (fully remote, very small) for 8 months in 2020-21. I loved being home during the worst of the plague, but there were other issues that made that WFH position not a positive experience (had to do with the boss/software).

      3. Tradd*

        In talking about the whole situation with my company with other people, they find out I have the ability to WFH – for stuff outside of office hours – and they just flip. Think the new people should have it then. They don’t seem to comprehend “outside of office hours.” I occasionally will bring some files home with me on a weekend to get a head start on the week. No one cares. If I dared to call in on a weekday and say I was working from home, I would get written up. There’s a policy – courtesy of the guy who was milking WFH while he was sick – that if you WFH (regular weekdays) without prior written approval, you will get docked 50% of your pay. When I was sick with covid at the beginning of the year, I took two sick days and then worked from home. The import manager (she is no longer there) ran interference with HR for me and she told me they were giving her massive pushback for me WFH. If I was sick, I should be taking sick days, they told her. This was just after the other person milked being sick to WFH longer. You think HR would have understood, since covid, that you can be required to be home, but well enough to work. I also didn’t want my desk to be a mess when I got back. There’s also one other person in the dept and I didn’t want him to be overloaded when I could be doing something from home. I wasn’t feeling 100% so I didn’t do as much as I ordinarily would, but I at least relieved the pressure from coworker and my desk wasn’t a mess when I got back.

        I happen to have written permission from both owners to WFH when I’m sick or the roads are bad (winter). I have the longest commute in the office (45 min).

        1. Bananapantsfeelings*

          You have to know how utterly bonkers and insane your company’s WFH policy is.

          No, you’ve clearly normalized it, but it’s utterly insane.

          1. Tradd*

            The pay docking is bats and can’t be legal. It is stupid. Very few of us have the ability to work from home, as in being set up with VPN and Remote Desktop on our personal computers. So it doesn’t affect very many.

            1. Project Maniac-ger*

              Okay super glad you realize that policy is very illegal, Tradd. I’m sorry that the wfh situation is much more dramatic than it needs to be, both to your bosses and to your applicants.

          2. GythaOgden*

            Hey, let’s not pile on here. It’s clear that Tradd is angry about this from the way they posted, and telling off someone with little choice in the matter that they’re normalising something horrendously illegal in that way is not really in the spirit of the site rules or conducive to a realistic discussion about the needs of a specific field — real or perceived.

            1. Tradd*

              Thank you. I’m pretty spicy about the whole situation. I met a group of friends for coffee today and filled them in on the situation when someone asked for an update. Someone I thought was a friend told me I’m a failure because I’ve not changed the WFH policy at my company and that the company is going to quickly fail because of it. This is someone who is a senior manager at his company in a totally different industry. I’m essentially middle management in a small, privately owned company. WFH policy isn’t going to change because I want it to. I told the friend this. He works at a huge company. I got no answer when I told him if middle management would have any say in changing WFH policy at his company.

              I’d live a hybrid schedule, but it ain’t gonna happen unless something drastically changed. I’m paid well and I’m not micromanaged. Compared with the extremely toxic two previous jobs, current place is much better.

    12. Fritz veteran*

      I thought that the entire customs brokerage field had consolidated under a few big firms (former CB from back in the dark/paper ages). How can a small shop survive? FWIW, though I can’t imagine doing that job as WFH… the idea of relying on a (very) small sample in-house study to prove WFH is inherently less productive is ridiculous.

      1. Tradd*

        I did it for 8 months WFH with a totally different company during the plague (2020-21). Since it’s now fully electronic with CBP, they don’t need any paper. Bonds are all electronic, even single entry bonds. Docs are uploaded to CBP’s system or in a few cases, sent via email. ACE is much different than ACS.

    13. Candidates do surprising things*

      Had a candidate pull something similar but it was for a job working overseas! The candidate went through the whole interview process, accepted the job and then insisted they could do it working remotely from their home country (there was a satellite office there) and didn’t need to relocate. Their offer was pulled immediately and they were rejected. 6 months later they had the brass neck to come back and apply for another job and pretend the previous offer had been pulled due to budget cuts when they were talking to the hiring manager.

    14. Bananapantsfeelings*

      That’s complete nonsense, WFH is definitely not less efficient. My mega-corp’s leadership was astounded to find that productivity skyrocketed in every single department.

      1. Tradd*

        While you can likely say WFH is more productive, it’s not going to be that case for everyone. Some people might find WFH has too many distractions or maybe they need people around them to keep them accountable.

  3. Betty*

    My boss loves small talk. During team meetings (of me and 2 other teammates), we spend 10-15 minutes of the meeting making small talk. This happens during both 30-minute and hour long meetings. My boss and the 2 other teammates will chat about all their plans, family, sickness, etc. I usually drop in something boring like, oh the weather was so hot yesterday or I finally hung up my curtains, but the 3 of them all oversharing is starting to drain on me. I don’t mind talking about superficial personal things for a minute or 2, but over 10 minutes is such overkill. 1 of the teammates complains every meeting about multiple work related and my boss just laughs.

    I also want to mention, this is not an environment where I can ask him if we can cut the small talk shorter. I’ll be labelled (or I probably already am) as too serious. It’s very much a personality > skills and performance place.

    This isn’t going to change, but does anyone who has dealt with this have any coping recommendations?

    1. WellRed*

      I feel ya. We have a weekly meeting that makes no sense and just consists of everyone rattling off their to do list because there’s not a ton of need for collaboration (different teams and departments). My boss helped me reframe it as it’s part of the job, yes it sucks, but if the meeting wastes time then so be it. It’s not easy abd I still wanted to scratch my eyes out occasionally.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      No advice, but I hate this for you. I assume there’s no way that you can take over chairing the meeting so that it starts within five minutes or can arrive late to skip all the chit chat? Can you bring something else to work on while they talk?

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Suggest they circulate an agenda before the meetings. That sometimes pulls people back on track sooner.

      And just mentally reframe it as knowing there will be 10min social then the meeting in your mind, then its not wow this meeting started 10min late but hey we started on time, if that makes sense.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      Some mental reframing is due. Many advice column letter situations are situations because people are afraid to talk to each other and call each other out. So it’s actually “work” to put a few minutes into getting to know people at this level so that when they do something stupid, it’s not a “thing” to tell them to knock it off.

      The second step of mentally reframing this is to sit there thinking about the subtext of the conversations. Why is the person saying what they are saying? That will help you understand their motivations and help you work with them in the future. I think some of us enjoy these discussions of the travails of middle age that sound simple from the outside (hanging curtains) that turn into sitcom level things because 100 steps get involved (ladder broke, realized curtain rods you need are super expensive, every store that said they were in stock online is actually out of them, then realize there is nowhere to nail them in on one side, curtains you bought end up being two feet two short, etc). So it ends up not being mindless chatter but an actual huge relief and goal to finish.

      What you can work on is the performance < personality environment. That is not good. But you don't need to get rid of chatter to do that. You can add that agenda or a tracking system or concrete bullet points in addition to the small talk.

      1. Plate of Wings*

        I agree about the work value of this kind of chatter. I want my colleague relationships to be warm, collaborative, and smooth, and this is a big way that I get there! I like it, and of course it saves my employer money because work keeps moving when relationships are good.

        Maybe OP feels like the team has reached saturation and the work relationships are already as warm, collaborative, and smooth as they’re going to get! And maybe that’s true, but for me at least the ritual continues.

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      Make a list of low attention tasks you can accomplish while the small talk is flowing — at least your time will be well-spent.

    6. Venus*

      I have this issue in a weekly meeting. I bring a few pages that need editing or a little notepad and make notes about work. I look up half the time so I appear to be paying more attention than I am.

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      Yeah, that’s frustrating. But you could try reframing it as a work task. Part of your job is to sit through 10-15 minutes of small talk at each meeting. They pay you to do it.

      Or reframe it this way: Divide your hourly pay by 5. Probably in the $5-10 range, right? That’s the price of a fancy coffee from the local coffee shop. It might be more bearable if you frame it as they’re buying you a drink in exchange for the small talk.

    8. Silent Eyes*

      I agree with you, but keep reminding yourself you are getting paid to make chitchat. If the time impacts your work maybe you could try to opt out of some of the meetings for that reason

    9. Water Lily*

      I totally get it. I’ll say two things:
      In 1:1 with my direct reports, I allow a good bit of small talk because I feel like I’m relationship-building. Also, I feel like we bring our whole selves to work, so if they mention troubles (sick kid, spouse is travelling, big house repair), I know that might have an effect on their performance or focus.

      The small talk I really hate is when I can’t join in the conversation. Is it about basketball? I’m a football fan. Is it about cats? I have dogs. So I agree with the reframing approach others mention, and I’ll just add that for me, small talk is easier when it is something I can really get into.

    10. Anon for this*

      Ugh! My boss does this. Plus an ice breaker! It is REALLY important to him. Never mind that we have a packed agenda (which he promulgates) for every meeting and rarely get to cover everything. He also really really likes in person time, even though the whole company is remote. He makes the management team fly in once a month to meet in person, with a big dinner the night before (and maybe something else like a baseball game) and then an all day meeting. I’m just so over all that stuff. All these “team” events are just hell for me. Can’t we build bonds by accomplishing great things at work together?

      1. BellaStella*

        I feel you. I refer to things like this not as team building but as being the boss’s emotional support employees. Hence this is why I work at home most days. I too am over it as nothing productive comes out of these meetings /fun events

    11. River*

      Are you expected to share at least something during those meetings? It’s harder when you’re in a smaller meeting because your noticed that much more. I would’ve said if you were in a bigger meeting, it’s easier to stay reserved. A lot of meetings in many places at some point either get sidetracked to a non-relevant topic or there will actually be an ice-breaker session. I don’t think finding a new job would be the right answer here, in fact I think finding a new job because of unwarranted small talk would be a bit of an extreme move. If I were in this situation, I would just stick it out. Hopefully these meetings aren’t too often and I hope you find SOME coping mechanism.

    12. amethyst*

      I am usually the person who gets the meeting started, because I hate small talk. It works because of my job, but I’ve also cultivated a personality that radiates “love you, but also want this meeting to end on time and for us to be productive.” I allow 5 min of small talk and then start off with a bright sunny smile and a “Thanks everyone for being here today! Our agenda today…”

      That said, in the uncommon situation where I cannot embody Queen of Order and ROB, I tend to just dissociate until everyone is done. I use the 10 minutes to do light to-dos during which I can halfway pay attention to see when everyone is done. And I remind myself that other people need that kind of connection to feel seen and heard by each other, so it’s an important part of the meeting that shouldn’t be totally brushed aside. Sometimes I actually believe myself.

  4. Strict Extension*

    How do you handle the “missing stair” of jobs in your community?

    There is a position in my field and city that looks on the surface like a great opportunity, but so far has turned out to be invariably regretful for those who take it. It’s a rare full-time position with a nice title working at an organization that has a decent amount of prestige and exciting, high-profile projects. The problem is that the only other full-time employee is the founder and head of the organization, and she is terrible to work for. She has extremely high, exacting standards that shift with the wind, needs a lot of calming before and during any event (and events are basically the purpose of the organization), and has a tendency to lash out about anything that is even perceived to be going slightly wrong, with this role taking the brunt of the blame. Extremely strong people whom I’ve worked alongside in high-pressure situations as they laughed off difficulties have been reduced to tears by her belittling. One month per year is the organization’s busy season, when all the planning for the rest of the year culminates. Not one person has made it through more than one of those busy months. Some tap out before that, after one of the smaller events that ramp up to the busy month. The organization has existed for about eight years, and I personally know eight people who have held the role, all quitting for the same reason. There are some gaps in that, though, that tell me there might be more. The most recent was hired no earlier than mid-May.

    The way this role is privately discussed in the community (this field is one of those “everyone knows everyone” deals) always leaves me thinking that surely everyone knows by now, but then they announce the new hire and I wonder how it is that no one told them. Maybe they think it will be different for them, but I question how they can if they actually know the full history.

    Lately I’ve been wondering what my responsibility is as someone who sees what is happening, but doesn’t know what specific people might be involved until they are already committed. Do I reach out to people I learn are no longer in the role? The reasons for their departure are widely assumed, but never publicized. Do I say anything to newly hired folks? I find myself wanting to tell them that nothing that happens is their fault, but it seems like it would be cruel to put that in their heads about the new job they might be excited about. But is it more cruel to potentially let them be blindsided? So far, everyone hired since I found out about the issues here has been at the level of friendly acquaintance (mutual friends, act like friends when together, but don’t seek each other out for socializing).

    Potential complicating factors: I and many of the people more directly affected very much believe in the mission of this organization and think they do good work that we would not like to see go away. Some of the people who have held the nightmare role have even told me that they would want to go back to work for them in a contract position, as long as they weren’t office staff. Personally, I have a professionally friendly relationship with the org head, specifically because I have dodged all her attempts to get me on staff. I have volunteered to help with events, and ideally I would like to continue. There is a board, but they are hand-picked by the org head and not closely connected to the community that is regularly being tapped for this staff position.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think it’s not necessarily the case that no one told the people taking these roles, but that they’re taking them in spite of what they’ve been told. I had an ex-colleague interview for a position with a similar sounding boss and I told her straight up what the boss like, but she was out of work and desperately needed something.

      I think “missing stairs” like this can’t be changed, and really the only person who could probably bring it to their attention would be a peer at a similar level if they knew about the issues and had a window to bring it up (eg the missing stair complaining about how hard it is to keep staff). I don’t think you have any responsibility towards the new hires once they’re in the job, though you can certainly say something to people you know who are thinking of applying for that job.

      Honestly, at the end of the day my approach is always: this isn’t my problem to fix and it’s possible that the new hire will have a different relationship with Missing Stair than their previous staff did. Is that likely? No. But can it happen? We’ve seen enough letters on this site about bad managers and their equally bad partner-in-crime staff, so sometimes a match made in hell *does* happen.

    2. Friday Person*

      I don’t think you have any concrete responsibility to do something here, particularly since you’re not directly affiliated with the company.

      If you’d feel better doing something, I wonder if you could make any headway by finding a safe/friendly audience at a happy hour or other casual community event and saying a diplomatically-worded version of this post (I’m such a fan of the work Org does, but that particular role seems like it must be uniquely challenging for a lot of people, I wish I felt more confident that people applying knew that upfront, etc), which might at least get enough people thinking along the same lines that it’s more likely a potential applicant in the community mentions it to someone who says at least something, and they’ll go into the process a little forewarned. And yes, this is a gossip-based solution that has at least some potential to ricochet back, but I assume you have a better sense than any of us commenters about how that would likely play out in your field.

      That said: even with warning, some people are still going to decide that they can handle it, benefits outweigh the negatives, etc and take the job!

    3. A Significant Tree*

      If it’s really that small an organization (1-2 full time people), yet has so attractive a mission that it continues to get new applicants year after year, I’m surprised no one has banded together to set up a separate, more functional organization to support the mission. I think the only way to get rid of the missing stair who is also the top of the chain, is to form a different chain. Otherwise I suppose eventually they may run out of warm bodies to fill the role when everyone gets wise and decides not to even try to make it work.

      1. Strict Extension*

        To address the question of alternate organizations to do the work through a metaphor, that would be an ideal solution if the work was something like feeding the unhoused or domestic violence prevention where almost everyone in the field just wants more people working on the thing, but in this case, it’s like if the field was niche local magazine publishing. Let’s say the organization in question publishes a monthly on the local punk rock scene and the org head is not only passionate and knowledgeable about the local punk rock scene, but has national connections to punk rock movers and shakers. People love that there is an organization highlighting and publicizing the artists in that scene, bringing national prominence to the work being done in this city, and giving work to the writers covering them, and it’s universally acknowledge that the magazine itself is an excellent quality publication. It’s just that no one wants to work in the office with the publisher. Most readers are fans of the music, not working in the scene, and don’t know anything about any of the issues. Anyone else trying to start a local punk rock magazine would be seen as directly challenging the current organization’s publication, people would be expected to take sides, and it would all be very High Drama without the main audience understanding why its happening at all.

        1. A Significant Tree*

          Ahh, that makes a lot of sense, thanks! In that case, it kind of sounds like a Miranda Priestly situation for the rotating slate of employees – they expect a short painful tenure but the experience/exposure might be its own reward?

    4. JSPA*

      1. It may be worth it to some of them to have it on their resume

      2. Some people determinedly believe, as an article of faith, that they can charm, soothe, manifest, out-dazzle or just outlast any challenge. Finding out that this isn’t so? That’s a worthwhile lesson that they’ll be learning the hard way, sooner or later. (Sooner is probably better.)

      3. Some people have had bosses just as bad, but those terrible bosses were also scammers, harassers, or otherwise even more dangerous to their happiness, health and careers. They may need the paycheck, and be going in with their eyes open.

      Unless multiple people are cutting you dead (socially) after their stint in the job, and you hear through the grapevine that they blame you for not disclosing more… you’re fine.

      You don’t have to pretend to be unable to work with this person tangentially as some sort of coded signal (?) to any and all of terror-boss’ prospective employees, just because they’re a terror to work for directly!

    5. Lyra Belacqua*

      I took a job like this—and I did know the boss’s reputation! I just 1) felt like I was stagnating in my current role and thought it would be worth a short stint for the opportunities to work on certain projects, 2) knew I’d worked well with bosses others have found difficult, and thought this boss clearly couldn’t be *as bad* as people warned, 3) knew most of the people in the industry I respected had done a stint at this company (in retrospect, yes, turnover had something to do with this!), 4) believed the work was important. I’m not sure anything could have convinced me not to take the job except for a trusted friend or mentor telling me not to. I get why this is so painful—and if someone asks you about the job directly, you should absolutely tell them what to expect—but people have to make their own mistakes sometimes.

    6. RagingADHD*

      If you know someone who is applying, warn them off. If you have any influence with the horrible leader, or if they come to you complaining about their high turnover, give them some very pointed constructive feedback about the reasons why they can’t keep anyone in the role.

      If you don’t know where they are getting their new hires, and the leader isn’t inclined to talk to you about their hiring woes or listen to your advice, then you are not in fact closely involved enough in this process to have any responsibility or ability to make change.

      This isn’t your circus or your monkeys.

    7. Plate of Wings*

      Agree with other comments that you have no responsibility here, no question. That sounds dreadful though, especially for those who get into the role really not knowing because they’re new to the area or something.

      I think reaching out to people who recently left the role is a good move though. You obviously care about the people working in your community, and it sounds like you have standing to be encouraging and supportive, even you don’t materialize official support for them.

      It doesn’t sound like people will publicly see you as this org head’s BFF or anything just because you’re friendly, but maybe making more of these personal connections would keep things that way.

      I personally wouldn’t make contact with someone who just started the role… I figure they are better off finding out what the deal is by living it.

      But people who recently left? It could be a good opening, and of course you can always end the contact with “I hope you find a better fit soon!” if they start venting or being vitriolic.

      I think it’s great that you’re thinking about your field and community like this, no matter what happens. It’s good to have conscientious people in established positions.

  5. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    I’ve been seeing stuff pop up about the “personality hire” on social media, and I would love to talk stories about best/worst personality hires in your office! I am starting to suspect that my manager may be a personality hire, but a *very* effective one. He definitely does a lot of managing up and smoothing things out for our team. But coming out of academia, personality hires weren’t really a thing (at least in my experience) so I’m catching up on this niche of corporate culture.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I got through a probation period I shouldn’t have passed once because I am social and friendly. As an introvert with a work persona that was really funny to me. I was in academia at the time and they placed more value on that I was friendly, easy to work with, willing to be approached with questions than my actual ability to do my job. Academia is full of anti-social, “get out of my way”, “how dare you take up my precious research time with questions” personalities, so just being willing to say “good morning, how was your weekend” apparently cleared the bar as easy to work with!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        With so many of us still feeling half feral after the pandemic isolation, having a work persona you can clap on top of your actual persona is often a good thing.

      2. AFac*

        Academia personality hires are there, they’re just different. They show off for university Deans and Presidents, talk a big game for donors and funding agencies, then take their colleagues and students out at the knees if it means the opportunity to advance or claim a project. Failure is never their fault, but they claim all the credit in every success.

        Even accounting for the ‘anti-social’ stereotype of academics, these folk are particularly cutthroat.

      3. Hroethvitnir*

        There are so many mediocre employees who are also jerks in academia that I find it hard to fault them.

        I also don’t think having a work persona is particularly introvert-specific, though I can appreciate this situation in particular would feel funny as a contrast to how you prefer to spend your personal time.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      Can’t say I’ve heard about this, though I think I can guess the gist of it. I work on fundraising and when I started my current job we definitely had a gift officer who was very charismatic and charming when it came to talking to donors, but also had no idea of how to actually cultivate large gifts from them. The result is he would over promise things or give folks opportunities that weren’t in line with what they were actually giving. It wasn’t until he left for another position that our boss (who was very new) was able to show that he wasn’t as affective in the position as everyone thought he was.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Chidi would not be a personality hire, much as I love him.

      Jason almost could be? Like there are roles where his combination of well-intentioned and sweetly naive would make customers want to look out for him.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Just don’t let Jason work with Georgie from Young Sheldon. They would feed on each other, and not in a good way.

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

      I think my former grand boss was a personality hire and she lasted 3 years before moving on to a new opportunity. As one would expect, it became obvious over time that she knew buzz words to talk about the work we do, but not at all how to do the work. That’s not always necessary for a lot of top management positions… to know how specifically to do the work… but knowing SOMETHING about it would be important so that she can plan our goals, evaluate our performance, and help with work flows etc.

      Odd to me is that in your experience academia doesn’t have personality hires. I’ve been in higher ed for over 17 years — I think 30% of admin and tenured faculty are personality hires. They coast up the ranks by being popular rather than effective.

      1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        Well, I think being on the faculty/tenure track side of things I saw much more “academic nepotism” than personality hires, but I also left pretty quickly so I probably just didn’t get to see the full effects.

    5. Elsewise*

      I was working at a very dysfunctional office, and the director ran into someone in the elevator on his way up to an interview and decided on the spot to hire him. He was a nightmare. Refused to do his work, saw it all as beneath him, homophobic, misogynist, made body-shaming comments about his own manager (!!), spent much of his time evangelizing his religion or weight-loss journey. Eventually went on a PIP (we all knew because he told everyone how unfair it was), and was on his last warning when he joked that he was going to blow up the building. He was fired. He later sued the company for racial discrimination.

      Years later, I was in management in that place, and one of my hires complained at a happy hour that she didn’t like her job, and was fired when the person she complained to reported it. After that, the director insisted that he personally review all of my potential hires, because he didn’t trust my judgment.

      1. Narwhals are real*

        The person she complained to reported it? What a narc! I’d be side-eyeing that co-worker. If you can’t complain a bit about your job at happy hour, when can you?

    6. Jane Bingley*

      Our team’s admin assistant is definitely a personality hire and a great choice. My boss and I (it’s a team of 3) realized that we had a major gap between the two of us, neither are good at maintaining relationships. I’m very task/detail focused and my boss is good at meeting with people but terrible at keeping track of who he should be talking to. So we hired an admin assistant who’s an incredibly relational person and just set her loose on all the relationships we suck at maintaining. She’s an absolute lifesaver and we’re so grateful for the ways she makes us remember to be good at relationships, both within our organization and outside of it.

      1. Plate of Wings*

        I love this story! I’ve been in your AA’s position for a small team by being the social one maintaining relationships for all of us, and I would gladly do it again in a future job. I’m in a senior level technical role at a small company (probably would be mid-level somewhere bigger) and I understand why my colleagues have relationship management dead last on their todo lists.

        It feels so good to be able to help out a team or boss because their blind spot happens to be something you can do. This is the real meaning of “culture fit”: she has something that has a perfect “fit” not a “match”. If she’s even 5% like me, it’s rewarding that you two recognize it and arrange the work in response to strengths, likes, and dislikes.

    7. Chaordic One*

      We had one of these at my bad old job in an academia-related nonprofit. She was charming, intelligent, good at her job (schmoozing, building relationships with feeder institutions who could send funding and users to our institution). She had previously worked in an unrelated field and held an advanced degree in that field, and she made a point of telling everyone about her advanced degree and her work in the unrelated field which she had left behind to work in the noble nonproft. She was very good at managing up when it came to benefiting herself. She was not malicious to those who worked under her, just kind of oblivious or maybe she just didn’t care. She was the best at her job and no one ever worked harder or accomplished more. And she was always happy to tell you so.

      I kind of considered her to be an obnoxious extraverted big mouth. I had to sit next to her cubicle and overheard many of her phone calls. She was one of those people who, in the process of building relationships, felt the need to share all the aspects of her personal life including things that most people would consider private and would not share. (Childbirth stories, for example, among other things).

      She seemed to have the higher-ups wrapped around her little finger. Every idea she had was the most wonderful and original idea that had ever occurred, even if was the same idea that someone had previously suggested only to have it dismissed. It was always O.K. for her to be late or to leave early or to work from home. (This was pre-COVID.) Eventually she left for a similar, but higher-level position, at a for profit organization where she didn’t last very long. I rather enjoyed hearing about it. She was later heard to say that she had become somewhat spoiled at the nonprofit. She did eventually find another similar job at another nonprofit and she seems to doing well. Of course she came back to visit regularly and was awarded some short-term consultant projects with the nonprofit.

    8. Jaydee*

      I mean, I don’t think it works out for someone to be hired strictly for their personality without at least a minimum amount of skills for the job. But there are definitely positions where personality *is* a major job skill.

      One of my first summer jobs was working in a garden/landscaping store. I had no prior retail experience and knew a little bit but not much about gardening and plants. The store manager admitted he hired me for my personality. He could teach me to run a cash register, and he knew I’d eventually pick up on things like which herbicide works best for controlling creeping Charlie and what plants work well in heavily shaded areas (and in the meantime I could ask more experienced coworkers if I didn’t know the answer to something). He wasn’t looking for a master gardener with decades of retail experience. He was looking for someone who would show up on time, be nice to customers, do what was asked of them without complaining, etc.

    9. Angstrom*

      Sometimes what seems like personality may be a cultivated skill. Those “soft” skills are not innate — they can be developed.
      Someone who can smooth ruffled feathers, build consensus, deal with difficult people and otherwise keep things running smoothly can be a huge asset even if their task-oriented skills are less than stellar.

    10. Filosofickle*

      In my last role I was hired for skill, but ultimately it was my personality that kept me on the team through layoffs when the type of work changed dramatically and I was out of my depth. They still loved me, though. I was praised most often for inspiring collaboration with other groups, building trust and relationships with clients, and being a persuasive storyteller/presenter — while those aren’t hard skills, they do matter!

    11. RagingADHD*

      If a role requires advanced soft skills, then I don’t think having great soft skills that make you very effective in the job is a “personality hire.”

      My understanding of a “personality hire” is that the person is cheery and positive around the office but doesn’t necessarily have any relevant skills for the job. But I could be wrong about the way it’s used.

      If the “personality hire” label is just a way of making a blanket claim that technical skills are valuable and soft skills are extraneous, then that’s just ignorant and dismissive, because soft skills aren’t just a personality trait. They are difficult and very useful in a lot of different work situations.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        In some respects, Eisenhower could be called ‘a personality hire’. He claimed to have studied dramatics under MacArthur, and was able to keep Montgomery and Patton from killing each other. This is an excellent skill for a staff full of prima donnas (successful generals are rarely as team oriented as say, Omar Bradley and are more likely to resent the presence of other successful generals in close proximity (cough, Sulla, Marius etc.).

    12. Cedrus Libani*

      There was a professor like that in the niche academic field I went to school for. (One of those sub-fields that is genuinely fascinating to both experts and general audiences, it generates lots of press releases every time it farts, but there are like three jobs out in the real world. And I didn’t get one of those, so…I groom llamas now.)

      While I was in school, the US government funded a research consortium. Basically, a bunch of big names (with bigger egos) from the biggest-name schools in the country were to get together, decide on priorities, and agree on how to parcel out the research budget. If you think that sounds like the worst idea you’ve heard in a while, you’re not wrong. By all rights, those meetings should have devolved into the most profoundly futile tail-chasing expedition in the history of academic meetings. But…they didn’t.

      This guy was a freshly minted junior professor, definitely not in charge. But every time the meeting was about to veer off the rails, he would step up and refocus discussion on a common agenda. Yes, it looked a lot like his own research agenda, but he could articulate it so clearly that people just took it as self-evidently correct. It was a master class in framing: you agree with each other, and the core insight you’re both getting at is…

      By the end of that first meeting, he WAS in charge. And by the time he was ready to go up for tenure, he was outright fought over; all those big-name schools wanted to recruit him.

      Funny thing is, he didn’t (and still doesn’t) publish much. Think pieces, yes and lots of them, but I mean research articles. He’s a visionary, not much interested in the kinds of problems that can be solved within a couple of years and then written up, which is what you’re supposed to do when you have PhD students who want to graduate before they retire.

      That said, despite this moderate ongoing hazard to the PhD students at his elite university, I’m pretty sure I agree with the “hire”. First, he’s a thought leader; he’s one of the main spokespeople for the field, and those press releases make the school look good. Second, he’s an actual thought leader, leading the field; he’s both willing and able to perform that role, while most academics can’t, won’t, and/or shouldn’t even try. That’s legit. He makes the people around him better.

    13. amethyst*

      I dislike the concept, but, this is part of a much longer rant with some historical context.

      I have a pet theory (that I actually gave a keynote about one time, lol) that as tech began to rise, people began to overfocus on so-called “hard skills.” When the awkward loner software engineer is your patron saint, the race becomes to learn math, statistics, coding, engineering, etc. Concomitantly, people began to denigrate the social sciences and humanities.

      Now, a few decades in – when shockingly we find that misanthropic boy-kings make misanthropic choices with their powerful technology – we’ve invented the concept of a “personality hire,” a person who is hired because they possess soft skills. They are charismatic! They have empathy! They know how to communicate with everyone! They just give off good ~vibes~!

      But those ARE skills. Being able to identify when the office needs some connective tissue, how to defuse sticky situations, smooth client interactions, manage up, change culture – those are actual skills. “Personality hires” got hired because they have the communication skills and the empathy and adaptability to make working collaboratively easier and more fun. And in the past, we didn’t make that a meme; it was just…normal to hire someone because they were pleasant to be around.

      1. Paint N Drip*

        I fully agree with you!! And I also think there is an anti-feminist flavor to both the focus on hard skills and the fresh rebrand of ‘personality hire’ – soft skills and softness and femaleness are valuable and cool and NEEDED in all industries

  6. Anon4This*

    Hey all, I’m interviewing for a position that I’m super excited about and think I have a strong chance of getting. The only thing that concerns me is that this position would act as the HR person (handling benefits, hiring paperwork, etc.). It’s for a tiny company (4 full time staff, 3 part time) so it would be a light load, and I’ve previously worked part time with the company and know everyone there, so I don’t have any concerns about the other aspect of HR duties. That said, does anyone have any resources/small training suggestions to better orient myself with that aspect of the job?

    1. Yes And*

      I’ve found SHRM to be extremely helpful. They have searchable documentation on their website, and if what you’re looking for isn’t there, you can email a question and an expert will get back to you relatively quickly. Membership is currently $264/year, and if your company doesn’t have a trained HR professional on staff, they should pay for your membership.

      The only other thing I’d say is not to underestimate what goes into actually doing HR properly. I had HR thrust upon me when my small company reorganized to put HR under me, and then the HR person left, leaving me to cover until we could hire someone. I had to learn on the job fast, and even the everyday transactional stuff was more complicated than I’d expected. If the HR person’s grand-predecessor hadn’t left a detailed manual, I’m sure major balls would have been dropped. That’s not to warn you off of taking the job, but I’d recommend you ask what resources and support the company currently has available for HR, and what the expectations of the role are.

      1. Anon4This*

        Thank you for the help! Thankfully, the person leaving the position will be staying on for a bit in a training capacity, so that should help.

    2. DivergentStitches*

      I take courses in my spare time at Udemy and a quick search over there shows quite a few HR-related courses, although those are mostly for studying for the PHR or SHRM-CP exam.

      I took the PHR myself back in 2014 and had the certification for 4 years before letting it expire because I wasn’t able to break out of recruiting like I’d hoped to, and now I work in benefits tech. It cost quite a bit to study and take the PHR exam but if you were to get the position I think it would be worth it (and your org might pay for it).

      It couldn’t hurt to take a PHR or SHRM-CP exam study course, at least you’d learn the fundamentals.

      You can also look and see if there’s a SHRM chapter in your area. You could join for a few months and attend some of their events, network and meet some other HR folks, who might be able to point you towards local training opportunities.

      1. Yes And*

        I’m a fan of SHRM (see my comment above), but I studied for the SHRM-CP (and passed it), and I didn’t find it at all helpful for the kind of guidance Anon4This is asking for. The SHRM-CP materials had a lot to say about change management strategies and mediating disputes and that sort of thing. They had nothing on how to fill out a 5500, or what to look for when shopping for health insurance, or how to help an employee filing for short-term disability. (SHRM has that kind of guidance available, but it’s not in the exam prep.)

    3. Rosyglasses*

      Try to join some online slack resource groups. HR Advisory (group sponsored by Bennie) and Resources for Humans (sponsored by Lattice) are two good ones – and are really helpful for asking questions you won’t know that you’ll have until you have them.

      Lattice and BambooHR put on free virtual all day conferences once a year that often have really great information. Littler (law firm) often has free webinars on legal changes to employment law, which inevitably will impact you and you can make sure you are in compliance (although many laws federally start at 10-15 EEs and wouldn’t impact you.)

      Your local SHRM chapter likely has some great training and networking opportunities to connect with mentors that you can go to with questions as well – generally you’ll pay the national SHRM your membership, and then your local SHRM chapter will have a membership fee, but I have found much more benefit out of my local SHRM than I did nationally tbh.

      Pryor (dot) com has a solid looking HR 101 course (and several of the classes I’ve been to over the years were pretty decent at covering specifics).

      Good luck on the job offer!!

    4. Anon for this one*

      The thing about working for a tiny company is that you need to make sure you understand which laws apply to you and which don’t. Many, but not all, of the Federal regulations are for companies with at least 15 staff. Maybe reach out to your local small business association and see if they have resources and/or contacts you can connect with.

    5. KDWho*

      I agree with the suggestions from Yes And and Rosyglasses. I find mailing lists from health insurance brokers and employment law firms helpful and informative. Look into the Cammayo’s Compliance Talk podcast by Bolton & Co insurance brokers as well. I’ll also add when I found myself suddenly in HR about 15 years ago (I was office manager for a 40-person company, and one day my boss said to me “you do HR now”), I asked if we had the budget for an HR consultant I could call on occasionally for guidance if we were in a high-stakes situation. That consultant became a mentor to me and the reason I stuck with my HR career.
      Knowing the org and the people is half the battle, you’ll be starting from a great place – you’ve got this!

  7. To-Do List Fan*

    I am in search of a to-do list program/app.

    I have an idea of what I would like the program to do, but I am having a difficult time determining which of the many programs out there will do what I’m envisioning, since most programs just use generic descriptors like “take control of your life!” and “harness the power of productivity!” etc.

    I’m hoping someone who already uses a program like this and knows what it does will be able to recommend it to me.

    This ideal program would be able to generate a daily to-do list based on an overall list of tasks. However, in the list, I could set when I wanted each task to appear–some could be set to appear daily, some weekly, etc. For example:

    (I’m using personal life examples because those are easier to make anonymous, but I’d be using this at work and home.)

    set “make the bed” to appear daily
    set “take out the trash” to appear once a week on Mondays
    set “pay credit card bill” to appear monthly on x date
    set “buy x a birthday present” to appear once a year

    As new tasks come up, I could add them to the overall list and they would appear on subsequent daily lists. For example, if I buy a new air purifier and it needs a new filter every three months, I could add “change air purifier filter” to the task list and set it to appear every three months.

    Does anyone know if a program like this exists? Thank you for the help.

    1. Kate B.*

      Todoist does this, with a level of specificity that puts it above other tools I’ve personally used–you can indicate both “change air purifier filter every three months, meaning the first days of January, April, July, and October,” or “whenever I check off ‘change air purifier filter,’ schedule it again for three months later” (which is what I more often want for chores).

      If you try it out, the first is “every three months” and the second is “every! three months” in their syntax.

      1. RR*

        seconding Todoist. There’s a free version that’s fairly useful as is, and the pro version is even better. It’s the only app I actually pay for

      2. To-Do List Fan*

        That sounds perfect. I like the flexibility of tying a task to a specific calendar date or just setting it “from when last done.” Thank you!

        1. Finchstan*

          I was about to say the exact same thing! “it’s gonna sound weird but there’s this bird that’s the opposite of the Duolingo owl in every way but still somehow draws you in to convince you to care for it lest you let it down…”

          1. Tio*

            I have started to see ads for that and have been curious about it! Nice to hear it’s pretty good

      1. Local Garbage Committee*

        I used the free trial of Finch earlier this year for like routine self care stuff after my second child was born but quickly became overwhelmed at the prospect of caring for another creature (lol) It’s a cool idea and I think it could have been effective for me if I was in a different headspace. Definitely worth the free trial week!

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I don’t think I’d use Finch for work stuff, but it’s pretty good for home tasks. It definitely encourages me to do my daily cleaning up so I don’t let my bird down.

    2. Isashani*

      if you don’t find anything better, use google agenda. it won’t look pretty but you have the option to put something “recurring” on your schedule (every day, the first monday of every month until november 5 etc. ). you can either display it on a time slot or use the “full day” option.

      create a specific gmail address for the “list agenda” if you want to be able to toggle it on/off on your devices, and not pollute any other agenda you’re using.

      have you asked chatgpt ? identifying potentially useful tools is one of the things they’re decent at.

      1. To-Do List Fan*

        Thank you! This may be a great option for work, since we are a Google suite-based org.

        1. RC*

          That’s what I, clunkily, use (and you can get some of the features above e.g. set a recurring series and if you change your air filter a week later than indicated, you can update the whole series and it’ll reschedule the subsequent events too)— but I might try some of these others people are mentioning!

    3. Flower necklace*

      I use Microsoft To Do. It has the ability to set an alarm (so, for example, it can send you a notification at 5 p.m. to take out the trash) that doesn’t always work, but for simple, recurring tasks it’s good.

      1. JustaTech*

        I also like Microsoft To Do. My husband installed it on my phone when our baby was born so that we could have a shared to-do list for allllllll the baby and house stuff, and it’s been great.
        My only complaints are that on my elderly iPhone it crashes a lot, and that it’s only an app so it can’t force me to look at my to-do list (which would be horribly intrusive most of the time and is really just a me problem that can’t be solved by an app).

        Oh, and I do wish that it was easier to put tasks on the “My Day” list for tomorrow rather than today. The “My Day” list is any scheduled tasks for that day, and anything you add that day, but it doesn’t carry over to the next day. I understand why that is, and it’s good, but sometimes I want to make my to-do list in the evening for the next day. If I really need to do that I’ll make the list and give everything a “due date” of the next day so it shows up.

        So yes, To-Do List Fan, it absolutely lets you make reoccuring tasks like “change the air filter” that will sit quietly in the background and then pop up every 3 months or whatever. It also connects to your Microsoft account, so it will show up on your desktop if you use Windows, as well as in the phone app.

      2. To-Do List Fan*

        Thank you for the recommendation–I’m adding that to my list to check out.

    4. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      Does a program like that exist? Oh yes. This sort of thing is called a task manager. I was looking at one for work in 2015 and reviewed 130. (I had three distinct criteria so it went quickly.)

      My impression is that everybody thinks they can do a better one for their needs so they write one and then try to sell it to other people.

      1. To-Do List Fan*

        I am in awe of you looking through 130 different programs! I only looked at about a dozen before I was like “ok, this is not working, I need to ask people who have already used these.”

        1. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

          Thanks, but it wasn’t that bad. And besides, it was for work, so it’s not like it was taking up my free time. When I needed to present on the project, I exported every title, separated by bullets, as a single paragraph and sized it to fit a PowerPoint slide. “I evaluated some task managers…”

    5. Friyay*

      Oooh I love Todoist for this. You can also set tasks for “every workday” and other recurrences. I used the free version for a while, then switched to the paid version when I wanted to use it to collaborate with my co-worker. It’s literally the only app I pay for. (It’s also available as a browser and a desktop app as well!)

      1. To-Do List Fan*

        Thank you for the recommendation! From what I can see on their website this is exactly what I was looking for.

      2. Emmy*

        What is the difference between the free and the paid-for? In AppStore it looks like only the first month is free and then you have to pay if you want to continue using it.

    6. curly sue*

      I’ve recently started using Sweepy, which does this. It divides tasks up by rooms, but you can make your own rooms if you need to – I added ‘main floor’ for things like sweeping, for example, as we have an open plan, and it didn’t make sense to divide ‘sweep floors’ by room. I could easily see adding tasks like paying bills, etc, to a ‘Home Office’ room or even just a ‘Household’ room.

      It comes with the ability to set tasks by frequency, though I have found that its daily task list planning is a little opaque in how it decides what to give each person to do each day. I’m using it to coordinate chores among a four-person household, however, so a slightly different use case.

    7. Pharmgirl*

      I use TickTick for this – you can set any custom frequency, and also and it repeat on that friendly (every Monday) or x days after completion (every ten days).

    8. A Girl Named Fred*

      I currently use Notion, specifically the “Ultimate Tasks” template by Thomas Frank (which I think was a free download when I first started with it a few months back.) It’s not quite automated, in that I can’t just check off one of my recurring tasks and it auto-moves to the next due date, but I can set the first due date and say “recur every 90 days” and it’ll calculate the next due date so that when I’m done with it I just move it to what it says is the next due date.

      I like that I can see my tasks in a calendar, or in a Today/Tomorrow/Next 7 Days view, plus things can be separated out into projects if that’s useful. And the best part is the Daily Tasks “scratch pad” so that if I have a small one-off thing to do on a day I can just throw it in there instead of cluttering my list of “bigger” tasks. Then at the end of the day or start of the next, I archive that list and start the next one.

      Like I said, it’s not totally automated so it may not be what you’re looking for, but so far it’s the to do list that I’ve stuck with the longest (which is saying something for me lol.)

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

      I use “Chore Checklist” by dotnetideas on my phone. I like the (optional) feature to hide a task once I complete it for the time window I set up, and then it will uncheck and reappear for the next window… for example, if I have a monthly task, I check it off for July and it hides, and August it reappears on the Monthly Chores list again. I can set the task to calculate due date by a calendar day (ie, every month on the first) or calculate due date by number of days (every 30 days, or every 2 weeks) and I can subset that to calculate from either the previous completion date or the previous due date. The tasks are color coded too — orange = due soon, green = due today, red = overdue. The paid version (I use the free one) seems to have a bunch of other features that I don’t need… sync to a calendar or send the list to others, and create reports.

    10. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Habitica is a gamified version of this, but you can ignore those parts pretty easily if you want. I found their setup for recurring tasks to be easy to use. They also have a nice feature where you can break a task into multiple sub tasks – ie, “clean room” can be broken down into “sweep floor, tidy bookshelves, make the bed” etc.

      1. To-Do List Fan*

        I am definitely someone who needs tasks broken down into the smallest parts possible, so this sounds like a great option. Thanks!

    11. Anax*

      Good luck! If I remember correctly, Tody also can work this way, and might be worth a glance.

      I’ve tried a lot of these suggestions but I always come back to paper bullet-journaling; disappointing the cute bird or coming back to angry red uncompleted tasks is just too stressful, lol.

      (Relevant, my problem is more -overworking- than undermotivation or forgetting things. Chronic fatigue is frustrating!)

    12. amethyst*

      I think most task list apps will do what you want. I use Microsoft’s To Do app, and they have a My Day list; you can choose how and when different tasks on different lists show in My Day. It also integrates with Teams and Outlook if you use those.

  8. Anon this time*

    I have a golden opportunity to talk to people who work at the place where I’m hoping to be hired. They would be my coworkers if I get the position. What have you asked if you had this chance in the past? Anything you wish you had asked? Anything you wish you hadn’t asked?

    1. Excited&AlwaysAnxious*

      I had this opportunity with the job I start later this month .
      I asked about work/life balance and if they ever get contacted outside of office hours (like vacations). I also asked about the general vibe of the office. One of my former coworkers already works there so it was nice to have an inside scoop.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      What’s the pace of work like here?
      How are new assignments given out?
      Do people generally all work the same 8-6 hours or is there actual flexibility?
      Do people work on their vacations?
      What’s something you wished you had known when you started working here?
      Are there internal docs for acronyms and other common knowledge?

    3. HonorBox*

      I’d want to ask some specific questions that would give you a sense of the workplace culture. Things like – how do people interact with members of their team and with members of other teams. What kind of things do you like about the workplace? What things would you like to see change? Are there any challenges they regularly face, and how does management help with those challenges?

    4. Kathenus*

      Similar to one from HonorBox – one of my favorite questions is what they like most about the company/department/role and what they would change if they could.

    5. Fierce Jindo*

      I’m in academia, so YMMV, but at interviews I pay attention to how the worst-dressed women are dressed. I want to be in a place where women can dress very casually (sometimes everyone can, sometimes no one can, and sometimes only men can).

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

      How is the on-boarding process for this job/department? Who does the on-boarding — direct manager, coworker, HR — (or do you figure it all out on your own)?

      Are the service departments (IT, Facilities, Payroll, HR) easy to navigate — ie. what are the processes? ticket system? mostly self-service?

      Do the potential coworkers feel like they have everything they need to be successful in their jobs? (both physical space and materials, and intangible support from management or other departments).

      I wouldn’t ask about personalities or gossip-level things like who is difficult to work with, or who do you have to kiss up to. But if they start gossiping…that might say something about them.

    7. Water Lily*

      If you know the actual job you are going to interview for, it might be helpful to know the job behind the job. So if I was interviewing to be a llama groomer, and the job description was to groom llamas, I’d want to know what they are really looking for. So I’d ask a lot of questions until someone said something like, “well, yeah, there’s a lot of good llama groomers out there, but this is really about getting repeat customers. So can you build a relationship with the llama owner so they come back and ask for you.” Ah ha. Now you know how you’ll set yourself apart in an interview.

      Also, ask what the difference is between a good and a great at [whatever the job is]. I would ask, “So tell me what you think the difference is between a good llama groomer and a great one?”

    8. Honor Harrington*

      Most important question to me- how are decisions made?

      That will tell you if it’s a meeting culture, if there’s a micromanager, if the processes are painfully detailed, what sort of QnA there is, and what level of transparency is acceptable. if you dig in, it will tell you how disagreements are handled, how mistakes are dealt with, and whether the organizational model actually works.

    9. Potato Potato*

      I’d probably want to either look around or ask about the diversity in the team. (I’m in tech, which skews very male and white/asian).

    10. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Ask about why the position is open (did somebody leave, new position and everyone is burnt out, lots of turnover). Also, I recommend asking what they like in a coworker – it’s not always the same as the hiring manager, and a good fit is important in both (note: it sucks if the manager wants somebody who does X and the coworkers hate people who do X, but it’s still better to know ahead of time).

  9. Excited&AlwaysAnxious*

    I’m starting a new job on July 22nd. I’ve already completed the pre-employment background check and drug test and I know the employer has the results (nothing should be an issue with results). Is it okay to reach out and make sure we’re all set and if so, when is a good time? I was hoping they would just confirm with me this week since they got the results over a week ago haven’t heard anything.

    1. anonymous academic*

      Not all employers will bother giving the thumbs-up when they receive the results; it’s sometimes a no-news-is-good-news scenario.

      If you want the thumbs up, though, no harm in asking –– go ahead and politely email either HR (if you have a contact there) or your hiring manager and say what you said here: now that you have the results, I want to double-check that we’re good to go for a start date of 22 July, anything else you need from me?

      I’d wait until at least Mon/Tues/Wed –– there’s a lot of people taking a long weekend today.

    2. Isashani*

      unless you are spectacularly rude, you won’t lose out on a job because you asked for an update. if they’re snarky, it’s an orange flag.

      ask away^^

    3. HonorBox*

      Seconding @anonymous academic in that I’d wait until early next week. But then you can just check in and confirm that everything is set for the 22nd. You could cover yourself with an inquiry about anything you need to bring or be prepared for the first day of work.

    4. Anon for this one*

      I’ll often advise people not to hand in their resignation until they get the all clear on the background checks just in case something unexpected pops ups. So it certainly shouldn’t hurt to check in and use that as the excuse.

      Believe it or not, I’ve seen a number of people discover suspended driver’s licenses, warrants for failure to appear for a traffic ticket, etc. through this process.

      1. Love to WFH*

        I knew someone who failed the drug test. It was complete nonsense — a test error — but it was a mess.

    5. Plate of Wings*

      I was hired at a “no news is good news” place and two weeks after the check (a week before my start date) I emailed to ask for confirmation of passing! I didn’t know it was a “no news is good news” place, and I also just wanted to be sure that the process was done. I knew I would have no issues unless there was an error, but errors do happen.

      I didn’t wait to give notice until after passing, like Allison suggests. I knew about her advice back then, but it was presented to me as a formality and it was implied that everyone gave their notice before the check. That was a few years ago, but I think I would cave to pressure today as well.

  10. Anon this time*

    Posting one more time in case I reach other people: if you’re a US federal contractor, what’s your advice for someone considering a position classified as such? I’ve never worked as a contractor or for the US federal government.

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m a contractor with the US Gov’t. There’s lots of types of contractors, so I don’t know if we are the same kind. I have a publicly-held employer who issues my paychecks, and that employer has a contract to provide our services. I’m embedded in a government office just like a regular employee in any office.
      There are things I hate. Different companies have contracts for different roles, and the project managers are all government. So administrative support is provided by one contracting company, logistics support by another, etc.
      One thing I hate about it is that any support I need, I can’t just get the support. I have to go through the government manager, and they give the task to the other person. So if I need support from, say, a supply chain specialist, I have to go to the government manager and get him to task the supply chain person. I can’t just go ask them myself. It’s pretty maddening.
      The other thing I hate is when I have a problem with someone, their manager works for an entirely different company. If someone is just refusing to do a task (which just happened) or when someone was being kind of a bully to me about something, the chain of accountability is not there.
      Other than that, I make a better salary than I could ever hope to make as a direct hire at a typical company. I don’t know how universal that is, however.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Not currently a contractor, but I’ve done it for more than half my career.

      A lot depends on the agency, the type of work, the type of contract. You may find yourself working in a federal office building, sitting right next to civil servants, doing some of the same stuff they do. Or you could find yourself working in a random commercial office building, next to a bunch of other employees of the same contracting company, only rarely interacting with your government customer.

      If you are on-site and somewhat integrated into the federal workforce, just be advised that there are things that are strictly verboten for you — actual work things and cultural things — and it may take some time for you to come up to speed on that.

      And of course if this contracting is for the Department of Defense, one of the intelligence agencies, or one of the law-enforcement agencies, there are additional cultural wrinkles there.

      In general, the bigger your employer, and the farther you are from actually being integrated into the federal workforce, the more like a regular job it will be. You are maintaining a specialized teapots database; it’s just that the people who use the teapots are part of a government bureaucracy.

      1. Retireenuw*

        My DH Work as a contractor for the feds for several years. You had to pass a background check the way full-time employees did, and until that was set, he was allowed to work, but he had to sign in and sign out every day for months and months.

        in most respects, he was treated like any full-time employee of the government, including great health, benefits, and retirement plan. Only difference was he was not invited to field trips to some of the sites. Other employees went to that required. A special military clearance he did not have.

        Are there specific questions you have? I’m happy to try to answer them.

  11. Quit before you're Quitted*

    The world of non-profit: The guy just up and quit!

    I’m on contract with previous employer to train a coworker on my role. The Director didn’t want me to train anyone; they only allowed a 30-min review of my tasks with a team. I had no idea who did the work after I left.

    Last week it was coming to a head when the guy kept saying, “I don’t know”, “I wasn’t shown that”, “The Director set that up”. The guy took no initiative to learn the work, despite there being very well written support docs to do so. The undervibe was that his original role was cancelled and he was kind of forced to take my old role in order to stay employed. That was probably a mindf- for him and he wasn’t quite in the mood to learn yet and then I come in to train him. He said, “No one asked me what I needed,” but it was clear he wasn’t suited for the role, yet they tried to give him a chance. When he was asked to rate himself against the tasks on the job description, he gave himself 7/8 of 10 on most tasks, but when I tested/asked him about it, it was clear he didn’t know much. They also took 1-hour lunches at home every day so really they were only getting 3-hour trainings.

    Last week, they came in, quit and left. So now the org doesn’t have anyone to do this critical financial work. They’re bringing in a temp to do the basics, and I’ll use my remaining contract to train them.

    1. Untrained and Unmotivated*

      I feel like you could be describing me here, though I haven’t quit (yet), and my nonprofit didn’t keep my predecessor around at all for training me. In fact, I have had basically no training whatsoever, and my predecessor did not leave a lot of documentation. I am at a point where I know I am not doing good work (though I perhaps have a bit more self awareness than this guy, I would not rate myself 7/10), but I just can’t find the motivation to try much harder than I currently am due to the overall dysfunction of the nonprofit.

      1. Quit before you're Quitted*

        I can appreciate the position you’re in. I was fully prepared to train both the Director and remaining staff member (who was in a different position at the time) on how to do the basics of my work. I kept allocating time on the calendar and they kept punting it. So finally they set a 30-min meeting for the team (plus a few other staff members) so I could update on past, current, and future activities. That was it. I worked on the training and transition docs until my last day, 4:30 p.m.

        You just have to keep asking questions, document questions you’ve asked and responses you’ve received (so when you’re told you’re not right you can show was you were told) and then the challenges you’re having. This is the time you have to choose to rise or roll. Rise to the challenge, figure it out with duct tape and intuition and make it happen or roll out when you feel prepared/it’s appropriate.

        This guy was 25, we were his 2nd job. He was wholly unqualified for that role, and the role he assumed. He fell flat and chose to roll when he could have risen. It’s unfortunate as his first job with another org was eliminated, as well, and he doesn’t have much on his resume to show for either.

    2. A Significant Tree*

      Your Director is the problem here. I can understand why the guy quit – he got bait and switched to something he (also) wasn’t qualified for or interested in. I have to think that he’s not getting any kind of support outside of your training, and maybe even being indirectly discouraged by the Director (and coworker?) from caring about the training. If they don’t care if the job is done well, or done at all, why should he?

      I completely agree with you that they need someone in the role who wants to rise, to be there and ask questions and take the training seriously. But given the Director’s lack of investment in giving this role the attention and support it needs, it’s unlikely you would get that even if they were hiring rather than just sticking a temp with the work.

      1. Quit before you're Quitted*

        Plot twist – FORMER Director. They quit 6-mos after their hire and 2.5 mos after I left. They’ve been gone about 4 weeks. They were that good :)

        This Director wasn’t the right person for this role either. They hired ‘the guy’ who wasn’t right for their role either. I knew from the start this Director wasn’t the right person but I was told to give them grace. I did and they kept f-ing off.

        I’m happily seeking a new role.

  12. Busy Middle Manager*

    The situation of someone doing a higher level role without the compensation or title is often discussed. But has anyone experienced the opposite?

    We had another strange meeting with my coworker who was promoted. He’s supposed to be the one you go to, amongst other things, when you have a new product idea. The entire conversation was deflection and still talking like he was two levels lower.

    Everything is too hard, too much work, too much competition, need to go other people for approval (which shouldn’t be true anymore). He didn’t want to start any new projects or take ownership of anything.

    It’s so frustrating because we used to go to the person formerly in that role for a variety of high level issues. It seems that instead of stepping up to fill the role, my colleague is going to diminish what the role is. But we have no one else to go to when stuff goes wrong. I tried to discuss with the highest level and they oddly said it was a personality conflict, which felt like a deflection because a diverse range of people have the same experience.

    1. PotatoRock*

      I’d treat this like any other “colleague/other team/anyone else you work with but don’t have authority over” situation – add a little extra documentation (like a meeting recap email) and then just pass off the output to your boss.

      Eg. “Boss, an update on the XYZ idea – I spoke with ‘Bill’ about it, he says it would be too hard to get approval for, so I’m planning on letting it rest there – sound good?”

      1. Water Lily*

        This is brilliant. Came here to say this, but PotatoRock has said it much better.

    2. Purple squirrel*

      I had a teammate like that. Our company has multiple levels for each official job type and this person was at the top level for their job type. According to the official level classification, people at that top level were expected to be internal leaders, take initiative, think and act strategically, coach others, and basically be the resident expert.

      My teammate… was none of that. They had been promoted to the highest level by a previous manager for reasons unknown (probably internal politics). They did not coach, nor lead, nor take initiative, nor think creatively/strategically. They were amazing at the purely transactional stuff – give them specific direction and they’d do fantastic, diligent work. Give them the freedom to shape the project from scratch and think creatively, and it was like watching a toddler refusing mashed carrots.

      Their other managers apparently were fine with that but our team’s manager was not; my teammate got a poor performance review and minimal raise based on their lack of initiative and all the rest of that. Said teammate spent a lot of time complaining about it to me. I complied with standard AAM procedure in my responses, of course. “Oh that sounds tough. So I had a question about the report on llama trainer qualifications…”

      My over-promoted teammate moved to another team where they’re expected to be an amazing transactional person, so they’re happy. My manager stopped banging his head against the wall. I don’t have to keep coming up with deflection topics. A win all around!

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Thank you all for responses. I am glad I am not alone. It makes you feel crazy when you deal with weird dynamics every day and everyone is pretending it’s completely normal.

        I am glad your management acted. It’s opposite here, lower and level workers comment on it but upper management doesn’t seem to care. It’s led to questions and discussions on why that is, and people filled in the gap with theories like “this happened at my last company and six months later we got bought out, then it made sense why no one cared.” And I don’t have ammo to shut that down because it’s, well, true and relevant

  13. ecnaseener*

    I’m starting a new job next week, and anticipating a fairly steep learning curve. Any tips for keeping it all straight and not getting too overwhelmed? So far I’m planning on:

    1. Saving copies of my to-do list at the end of every day so I can refer back to them. (I have a to-do list template that works well for me.)

    2. Saving dated notes somewhere searchable, not just a bunch of flagged emails or topic-specific word docs. I could make a daily notes template with sections for instructions/reference info, questions I have, feedback received, and misc.

    Would love any suggestions on these (like other sections for the daily notes) or other techniques / guiding principles. It’s fully remote in case that’s relevant. TIA!

    1. HonorBox*

      Give yourself some grace, too. Your two ideas are great, but also remind yourself that you don’t need to be running full speed right away, either. You have some time to get up to speed. Given that you’re fully remote, too, there may (I’m assuming here) be some opportunity for you to get up from your desk and get a bit of fresh air. You can also try to block some time on your calendar to do some daily review of your notes. Not just at the beginning or end of the day, but a couple of times during the day too. But definitely give yourself grace.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Thanks, I’ll try! I know I’m going to be overwhelmed at first and I can’t avoid that entirely, I’m just trying to set myself up for success at keeping my head above water.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I work similarly and the system I have is to have two OneNote notebooks where I put everything.

      The first is literally just a giant ToDo List, divided by month and then week (my work isn’t quite daily, so I don’t have daily tasks to track). This helps me keep track of what I’ve already done but also provides a good history of my work for performance review time. I do a monthly summary page at the end of each month so I don’t have to trawl through 52 separate weekly pages if I want to know how I spent the year.

      The second is actually my job manual. My job didn’t have one before me, so I’ve been creating it as a I go over the last few years. It has things about how to do my actual job, but also notes to myself to help me remind me who to talk to about X, how to do task Y that isn’t part of my day-to-day job, etc. For this one, I make sure to add a little note at the top of the page that has a “last updated” date because the page creation date only shows when the page was first created, which could have been years earlier.

      My hope is that between the two of these docs, someone will be able to figure out my job if I win the lottery.

    3. Night Blooming Cereus*

      Do you have OneNote? I love the way OneNote allows you to organize things, and I have all those dated notes and to-do lists in a OneNote notebook.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I assume I will have onenote, and I might use it for the notes. My task list is in excel though.

        1. Night Blooming Cereus*

          The beauty of OneNote is that you can embed other files in it. So the Excel task list can go into OneNote, and then you have everything in the same place.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        Outlook also has a “Send to OneNote” feature, so if you get emails relevant to a particular project, you can just send them to that page in OneNote. I use this all the time to keep track of things. It’s so much easier just glancing through there and finding someone’s response, rather than digging through folders in Outlook.

    4. EllenD*

      I’d suggest keeping a contacts list internal & external – my preferred format is a spreadsheet that can be shared with your successor – as you go along. I also built up a list of acronyms people used – even if same sector different organisations have different abbreviations for things, or divisions.

      1. EllenD*

        Also get a list of useful contacts – for organisation admin eg HR, payroll, IT helpdesk, etc.

    5. Water Lily*

      When I started my job about 2 years ago, my boss did a very nice thing for me. Her approach was this: Get good at this one thing, then we’ll add something else. So for my first 6 months, it was like: get good at the weekly report. Now get good at billing. Now get good at approvals. Now get good at schedules. So if you can, make yourself a syllabus and take it a week or a month at a time.

      Also, be nice to yourself! As a manager who has on-boarded new people myself, I know that people sometimes only learn something when they make a mistake. And I give them that grace and I hope they give it to themselves.

    6. Anax*

      The biggest advice I can give is to sleep. Plan to sleep an extra hour per night. Nap during lunch if you need to. Sleep and rest are what let your brain assimilate all that new information.

      It’s like filling a suitcase for a long trip. At a certain point, shoving more clothes in just isn’t going to help; you need to sit on the suitcase for a few minutes, play on your phone, and wait for it to compress down enough to fit another shirt in.

      It might also be worth considering a weekly or monthly to-do list, or even an “eventually, when I have time” list. I keep a list of my top 3-5 priorities for this week – it helps me not mistake the forest for the trees, and focus so much on daily minutia that I miss something important but longer-term.

      (The ‘eventually’ list includes things like ‘someone mentioned this forum might be good to look at at some point’, or ‘someone mentioned that this database is a pain – could I do anything about that?’, which might not happen for a year – but if I ever do have downtime, especially once I’m acclimated, I like to know what potential pain points or things to research might be.)

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I started with goals for the year, ‘have all ugly corners of the house cleaned out, find someone else to do this organizational job next year, have first draft of manuscript completed, etc.’

        Then the monthly goals that follow on the yearly ones, plus the new ones which pop up like mushrooms. Then the weekly goals, and the daily ones. It sounds like a lot of work, but otherwise I would sloth and then panic, neither one of which is really helpful.

        1. Anax*

          Yup. I do daily, weekly, monthly, and a yearly retrospective. I’m disabled and tend to overwork myself, so my longer-term ones are more a way to track and remember that I really did get things done, I wasn’t just treading water all year and I don’t need to start panic-cleaning everything in sight.

    7. Rain*

      If you’re being trained on anything over video chat. like to Zoom or Teams, ask if you can record it. It can be extremely helpful to be able to refer back to an actual video of people doing something that now you are trying to do.

    8. Note Taker*

      Another great option is tasks in outlook. You can write detailed instructions including screenshots on how to do every recurring aspect of your job and just set the recurrence and reference and clear the tasks as necessary.

      I also love OneNote and use a combination of both things. Another OneNote feature that hasn’t been mentioned is meetings. I have an entire notebook just for meetings and a section for each recurring meeting I have and one for miscellaneous meetings. You can import your meeting information from outlook. It will include all the details in the outlook invite (agenda, attachments, a checklist of people invited) and then give you space to take notes. Not only is a great for reference, but if you need to send out notes on the meeting for any reason, you can just click “email page” and it will draft an email for you with your notes with all the meeting invitees already in the to line.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I don’t recommend using tasks in Outlook. I tried that once and the reminders didn’t pop up when they were supposed to. I put reminders as appointments in outlook and that works pretty well.

    9. DJ Abbott*

      What works for me is keeping notes in a paper notebook.
      I’ve taken notes on paper since high school – long before computers and devices – and it works well. All I have to do is flip the pages, not open a program or login or any of that.
      I was given a new notebook for my job when I started, and I took notes in a different color pen, with the heading underlined, of every task I learned. Then when I have to do the task again, I just flip through the notebook till I find it. I have sticky note flags on a couple of them. This has been especially useful for things I only do once or twice a year.

    10. KarenInKansas*

      I started a new job about 6 months ago, so I am still in this process! I second, third, and fourth all of the suggestions about using OneNote. I keep running notes of activities. I have another section for every meeting. Even if I take paper notes at a meeting, I transfer them to OneNote. The best thing about it is that it is searchable, and things that I don’t remember happening in the first few months are at my fingertips when I need them. Something nobody has mentioned is that everybody I talked to during my first month or so, I asked them for their “words of wisdom” and I wrote them all down in one section. I have found these to be invaluable. Good luck, I think you’ll do great because you are doing a good job of prepping!

  14. Currently Looking*

    I was let go from my last job a few weeks ago and am in the midst of job hunting. I applied for a position where I have the niche experience the company is looking for, but a question on the application gave me pause and I wanted to get other’s opinion.

    One of the questions on the application stated they prized “career stability” and if the applicant had 3 or more jobs in the past 5 years, to please explain why. This left a bad taste in my mouth for a few reasons:

    1) There was a whole pandemic within those 5 years where thousands of people lost their jobs (myself included).

    2) There are industries that have been through a lot of upheaval the last few years (I’m specifically thinking of tech, but I know there are others).

    3) It’s becoming more and more common for people to change jobs every few years because it’s the only way to get a significant pay increase.

    I did end up applying because I do have the niche experience they’re looking for and the company had fairly good reviews on Glassdoor. I just wanted to get a temperature check to see if I’m off base to feel about the question the way I do. I should add, I do fall into the category of having 3 jobs in five years, so that might color my perspective.

    1. anonymous academic*

      It’s a weird question, sure, but it doesn’t necessarily say anything about what the company would be like to work for –– sometimes weird questions get added to the list by a random person in HR, or an exec, and depending on the structure, size, and workflow of the company, you may never have anything to do with that person. Vibes from interviews are much more reliable than a single question –– see what you get if they move ahead with your application, and good luck!

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Right. And they could have added that question in 2012, and then never realized that it ought to be revised.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking for an explanation — that indicates to me that they’re well aware of the possible explanations you listed, otherwise they wouldn’t bother asking, they’d just hold it against you.

    3. HonorBox*

      I recently interviewed someone who had A LOT of jobs in a fairly short period of time. But during the interview, they shared specifics about the job changes, on their own, and was able to shed some light on the reasons for the changes (family moves, school, etc.). I don’t love the question on the application, but the context can help when someone might pass over a resume that had several jobs in a shorter period of time.

      1. Currently Looking*

        That’s where I think I’m falling as well. Don’t love the question, but at least I’m given the opportunity to explain my recent work history.

    4. Kathenus*

      I can see this from both sides. I have periods in my career where I could definitely have been considered a job-hopper, along with several long-term positions. I always expected to be asked about this, and had a truthful answer ready. I realized in some cases portions of my career path might work against me, but it was my reality, so I just focused on having an honest but what I thought was appropriate reason for each.

      As a hiring manager, I don’t like calling out the specific – three jobs in 5 years – like that. But a frequent interview question I use that I find really helpful is asking people to briefly describe their career path, including the reasons for taking and leaving positions.

    5. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

      I don’t care for that question at all. I’m reminded of the time that I applied somewhere and was told that they wouldn’t hire me because they never hired someone who had worked for a previous company for over five years (I had worked for a previous company for over eleven years), because they figured that such a person would be set in their ways and impossible to train. Sometimes you just can’t win!

      1. Lady Lessa*

        While it doesn’t fit with your case, I have some opposite experience. My previous employer bought a competitor and brought in some of their folks, including a woman who became my boss. Some people didn’t accept offers because of the history between the two companies. But, the new ones changed the culture in the buying company rather than being changed. Not a good situation, I was almost glad to be put on a PIP and terminated. Later I found a much better job still doing what I enjoy.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Bit of a tangent, but this is exactly why people can’t make any assumptions about whether or not they did a “good” interview. We see a lot of posts and comments here about how “I did a great interview and didn’t get the job. How can this be?” but there is really no way of knowing whether you did well in the interview or not, because you don’t know what the employer is looking for.

        I would definitely think eleven years experience in the area was ideal answer but clearly for that employer, it wasn’t. I went to an interview once where the principal said he wouldn’t hire anybody with experience teaching at college level because the school he was head of had a lot of students with learning disabilities and/or behavioural problems and he thought people who were used to teaching motivated intelligent adults with an interest in the subject (as they had chosen to study it) would struggle with 14 year olds who were only in school because they were legally required to be, who were possibly planning to leave once they hit 16 and who were possibly reading at a 7 or 8 year old level.

        Sorry to hear that happened to you, by the way. It sounds pretty ridiculous.

    6. Ricotta*

      Not hugely common as a reason, but: I worked at a company that was veteran-owned and leadership preferred to hire military/veterans/military spouses, so they asked this sort of screening question (moving from base to base makes for a lot of job hopping).

      (If your question is “Why not just say that’s their goal?” the answer is “Because people lie.”)

    7. Decidedly Me*

      While it’s becoming more common for people to change jobs every few years, it’s reasonable for a company to not want to hire those people. Some jobs take a long time to get fully trained on, greatly benefit from historical knowledge that comes from spending longer in a role, etc. If you need that and have someone that is going to leave in a year or two, it’s not the best investment. Now, anyone could do this anyway, but you’re better off starting with people that don’t have a pattern of it already.

      I did a lot of hiring during the pandemic and interviewed many people that lost their jobs for pandemic related reasons, but even with that, I didn’t see a lot of people with 3+ jobs in 5 years that weren’t true job hoppers.

      I think the fact that they’re asking for reasons is a good sign, though. They could have just automatically filtered out candidates from a AI review of the resume dates instead and they aren’t.

      1. Currently Looking*

        I can see this perspective and you’re right, the company can have their own standards for various reasons. In my case, I have concrete reasons for why I left 2 of the 3 jobs (pandemic reasons being one of them). The more I think about it and based on the comments so far, it’s good they are giving space to explain job history instead of just auto-filtering it out.

    8. Jaydee*

      I think “3 jobs in the past 5 years” is a reasonable point at which to ask about the reason for that job history. Like you mentioned, there are plenty of valid reasons a person could have that many jobs in that short time period. But 3 jobs in the last 5 years is already less than 2 years per job, and now you’re applying for a 4th job? That’s objectively a lot of moving around in a short time and could be a sign of terrible luck or a sign of someone who keeps quitting or getting fired and maybe isn’t a stellar employee.

      I think the fact they’re asking rather than just tossing any resumes that have 3+ jobs in the last 5 years is a good thing. They clearly realize there are some “good” reasons why that might happen and are trying not to exclude the applicant who also “prizes career stability” and has just had 5 years of bad luck finding it.

    9. Samwise*

      I’m guessing it’s a standard question from the before times and no one has updated it. Quite possible that it’s boilerplate from above or from HR.

    10. RagingADHD*

      It seems reasonable that it’s something they want to discuss. There are plenty of valid reasons for instability, as you point out. And, as a corollary, there’s no reason to feel defensive about discussing those reasons.

      If there had been 3+ people cycling through the role in the last 5 years, isn’t that something you’d want to ask about? After all, the reason why a position is vacant is a top question any candidate should ask about for any job.

  15. BeeCees*

    Any Friday July 5 should be a day off. I work in Canada. All Americans would take the day off.

    1. Ricotta*

      Yeah I thought working today would be a great way to catch up on a few things, since all my US peers took PTO. Instead I’m putting out fires left and right because our EU and APAC vendors are still working!

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Agreed. My former employer gave both July 4 & 5 as holidays because they knew most of the staff was up all night recreating D-Day in their backyards and would be worthless the next day.

      This year, I am the only person in my department who is working today, but it’s from home and only four hours, so…

    3. Justin*

      I like not taking this day off because no one is on so I can work on stuff for a couple hours and nobody bothers me.

      1. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

        One of my coworkers took MTuW off this week and then didn’t take off Friday specifically so that she could use it to catch up on post-vacation catchup when the office was empty, which I thought was smart.

    4. JustaTech*

      There are 3 people on my floor today (including me), and I only know of two others in the rest of the building (shipping and reception).
      I’m in to prep for having to come in on Sunday (ugh, dang experiment) and because the VP would fuss if my entire department was out. So, not particularly productive, but I’m getting a little bit done.
      (Normally I would say I was in for the air conditioning, but I’m absolutely freezing while it’s like 85 outside and I hate it.)

    5. Elsewise*

      I’m American and the 4th is my least favorite holiday (not sorry), and I really wish I had today off. Still shaking off the sleepies from my anxiety meds, calming down a super nervous dog, and dealing with an asthma attack.

      1. Anax*

        Yeah, solidarity. We had anxious cats, and then I had an anxious partner who couldn’t find the black cat and was terrified that he’d escaped into the dangerously-hot garage on a 112F day. (He didn’t, he’s fine. He was under my dresser, which doesn’t LOOK like a space a thirteen-pound cat should be able to get under. We still didn’t get to sleep until 2am, so… oof.)

    6. Random Bystander*

      My son’s employer does summer hours (he works at a college in IT), so he doesn’t work Fridays all summer long (well, their academic summer–from finals at the end of spring semester to the start of fall semester)–so he gets the day off today. (He’s salary, so he’s not expected to put in extra hours on the other days unless the college gets hit with a zero day or something major like that.)

    7. RagingADHD*

      I thought today was going to be quiet, and then got slammed with a long list of stuff, and then had to deal with my coworker going behind me and screwing everything up in the name of “helping,” because apparently there was a short deadline nobody bothered to tell me about.

  16. Night Blooming Cereus*

    I’m in a weird place on my team, and I have more of a vent than a need for advice.
    I work in a strongly matrixed organization with cross-functional teams. In this environment, your program manager is more of a manager than your line manager. Sometimes you might be on a team with your manager, sometimes you are not. In either case, the program manager is the authority.
    Right now, I’m on the same team that my line manager is. We have non-overlapping tasks, and we both report to the program manager, who, again, is the only person with decision making authority.
    Except that my manager thinks he also has decision making authority, which causes conflict regularly with the PM. And because he thinks he has decision making authority, he keeps trying to act like the decision maker and lead on my task. Again, we have non-overlapping tasks. He has no reason to make decisions or drive action on my task, except that he acts with authority whether the PM has actually asked him to or not. And, well, he’s my boss.
    He’s driving me nuts. If it were any other person on the team, I would be able to assert that this is my task and I will lead it. But since he’s my boss, I can’t just tell him to stand down.
    Also, he’s not doing all of his own tasks. He only likes things where he can jump in and get a quick “win”, and he lets things that require ongoing monitoring slide. This is part of why he jumps in on my stuff–he sees something that needs to start happening on my task, and he jumps in to drive it, never mind my own plans to drive it.
    I’m going slowly bonkers here.
    I don’t need advice bc there is an end date to his ability to jump in, and it’s maybe 6 weeks out. I just need some sympathy to support me in playing nice for those 6 weeks.

    1. Goddess47*

      You can do it! Hang in there… it may feel like forever in the middle, but 6 weeks will fly by.

      And, worse case…. document, document, document. “Boss contacted me about step X on [date]” and “Boss send email about step Y on [date]”… whatever is relevant to *your* project. Share with PM as needed. Or burn when the project is over, if it makes you feel better.

      Good luck!

      1. Night Blooming Cereus*

        Thank you!

        It’s funny, as the end gets closer, it’s getting *harder* to take, not easier! I think as I am perceiving the end getting closer, my motivation to keep playing nice is slowly evaporating. I know I *need* to keep playing nice, so I’m working really hard at it! Serenity now!

        1. Rain*

          I always liken this feeling to how when you have to really go wee and you’re doing okay holding it in until you hit the washroom door and then it’s a race to see if you can get your trousers down before bladder gives up.

    2. Parenthesis Guy*

      If you’re right, then you should talk with your PM to have them give you support and not let your boss do this. They should escalate as necessary to help you out.

      Even if you’re wrong, you still should talk to your PM. But your PM might tell you that your boss has more decision making capabilities than you think he does.

    3. RedinSC*

      You can do this! You can make it 6 weeks.

      BUT dang, it will be an annoying 6 weeks. Hang in there.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You have all my sympathy. My coworker unilaterally decided that the work she knew I was handling today wasn’t moving fast enough, so she started changing everything – including making changes to my files and then saving them *with my initials on them* when I had not actually signed off on them at all!!!!!!!!


      It took every ounce of self control I had to be civil when I asked her to please not do that anymore. And then she had the gall to pretend she was correcting me about “the process.”

      I am debating whether or not to call her out for it in Monday’s team meeting with our manager. I wouldn’t even care if she just stepped in and took over. But gaslighting me and pretending I just don’t understand the process … I’m livid.

      1. Night Blooming Cereus*

        Oh noooo, I wouldn’t want anyone putting my imprimatur on anything I didn’t actually do myself

  17. Lemon Chiffon*

    Where do you go to look for remote job postings? I’m looking for administrative/clerical positions, and every job board I look at has an absolute sea of fake and fake remote positions listed. It’s super demoralizing, and I am starting to think I will never get another job.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Try And when using regular job postings, do your best to search on the job and then read for remote, rather than using it as a key word.

      1. Anax*

        Related: Some places don’t use the word “remote” – they use “telework” or another synonym. Some also will list locations – but then deep in the fine print will say that they’ll also consider remote candidates.

        It’s a pain in the neck, for sure.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      My go to is We Work Remotely. For any job I find (on any job board), I always go direct to the company site to apply, though.

    3. Zippity Doodah*

      Does Indeed not work? Especially if you clear the location field, so it’s not limited to those remote jobs which happen to be based out of your state. As recently as 2 years ago I got tons of hits searching for “remote secretary” nationwide, without the quotes.

      Pro tip, put the salary in the search bar. Like “remote secretary $50,000”. You’ll find jobs with the salary not listed in the ad text, but (I assume — anyone know?) the employer entered it somewhere and opted to have it hidden.

      1. Anax*

        Indeed does work… except that it’s flooded with scam listings, listings which aren’t actually remote, and bizarre and irrelevant listings. There are too many postings, not too few!

        I just did that search, and the top ten results for me were…
        – Sketchy contracting company that doesn’t disclose its clients
        – Not actually remote (hybrid, requires candidate move to a specific small town in New Jersey)
        – Not actually remote (requires candidate live in San Diego)
        – Actually remote! (But does require candidate to live in Idaho.)
        – Contract position where the contract is not finalized and the whole posting could change
        – Not actually remote (fully on-site), AND requires candidate be a current grad student.
        – Appears to be a terrifying cult (“Commitment to a healthier living environment and embracing the Sensei Way and philosophy espoused and science identified in Dr Agus’ teachings and writings”???)
        – Actually remote! But it’s a specialized IT position, nothing to do with secretarial work.
        – Actually remote! But does require significant travel.
        – Not actually remote (3+ days per week on-site, in Iowa)

        So… zero positions I could recommend to someone in my area looking for administrative work.

        Sorry, Lemon Chiffon; I’ve been there and it’s crazy-making. I had some luck with FlexJobs – but I’m in IT, and those sort of specialized positions have fewer weird scams and irrelevancies. I got my current position through networking, and my last one through hunting for state government jobs, and the one before that by driving down the street and checking the website for every business I saw there. Wish I had better advice. :(

        1. Non non non all the way home*

          I’m going to push back on your comment about one appearing to be “a cult”. I Googled and it looks like the company may be one run by David Agus who, according to his Wikipedia page, appears to be an internationally respected MD involved in researching alternatives for treating cancer. He’s worked with the National Institutes of Health, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, professor of Medicine at Cornell University Medical Center, and much more. He’s also multiple New York Times Bestselling author, host of a Paramount+ television series, has had PBS documentaries about his work.

          On the other hand, maybe his brother Bob (I’m making this part up and don’t know if he actually has a brother) set up a cult and is hiring remote admin assistants who he wants to bend to his will. I doubt the latter is the case, but just want to encourage that before we are quick to defame people and their companies as “cults”, “scams”, or other terms, let’s do some research.

  18. Cookies for Breakfast*

    I’m getting frustrated with something my boss keeps repeating, and I’m not sure how to respond in a professional way (so far, I’ve been trying to ignore it).

    Context: my team includes me, a peer, and Boss. Peer and I look after several projects each, within a subject matter that is very broad, with constant context switches. We’re supposed to be product experts, but there are areas of our remits we know very little about, because we don’t have the capacity to keep up with everything that calls for attention. For every one thing we focus on, there are at least two we’re not doing. Boss constantly throws new ideas at us that he thinks we should work on, but there’s zero resource to do that (our technical team is also very small).

    When we bring this up, Boss says that our business area is extremely well resourced, and two people in our role look like too many at the rate of growth he’s seeing. He brings the example of another business area, which also has two people, but works on an even bigger product. Firstly, each of us is doing two people’s jobs, and secondly, the other business area struggles too! In fact, they’re extremely challenging to work with on the “critical” joint projects we have, because neither of those two team members can give them any attention, so we don’t have counterparts to properly scope work with.

    When Boss says this, I have to make an effort not to hear “one of you is not needed here”, and remind myself this is an organisational problem. He sounds like he has forgotten what the role Peer and I have is like in practice: easy for him to talk as if our job was simple, because he doesn’t have to juggle any of our tasks. It’s also a sensitive topic, because I was recruited by a manager who then left, and I realise that I’m not the kind of person Boss would hire himself (Peer feels the same here). I don’t know if Boss realises this is how his words can come across. If you were me, would you try to address it or let it go?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d raise it at your 1:1 if you have them (in private, verbally).

      Hey Boss, just wanted to check in with what you expect from this role long term. You’ve made comments a couple times in my hearing about wanting to downsize department, and it’s made me a little concerned.

      Pause, wait and see what he says. If he double downs on it “yeah! Cause you don’t create enough output for 2 people!” go back over your job responsibilities, use hours/week ,

      Well I do XYZ about 10hours/week and ABC task 20hours/week and the remaining 10 I do list of stuff. Do you want me to prioritize these differently? Are their updates I could be providing you to make you more confident in our output? (You could also raise the coverage concerns, well we are vital to EFG project and if I go on vacation, George knows how to fix any immediate issues as well).

      If he’s blustering and walking it back then you’re fine (I didnt mean it like that, I never said that, I don’t think that). Just thank him for reassuring you and go on with your life.

      Either he really thinks it or he’s saying it to try and motivate you to work more. Don’t be a pushover but my money is on he doesn’t actually think it. It’s good to find out though, because if he really does think that you would be first in line for layoffs.

    2. Goddess47*

      If the 1:1 doesn’t give any hint of working, you kind of have two options:

      –if Peer is amenable, have them do the same time analysis and both of you meet with boss on what you both are doing, what is falling through the cracks, and what options you both see. Sometimes, it’s useful to push back together.

      –if that fails and you want to stay around, take the documentation and meet with your Grandboss. It needs to be a factual “this is a business problem” not “Boss is a jerk” discussion. Which may be hard but it’s what option you have left.

      Good luck!

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Firstly; solidarity on how frustrating this is. I deeply, deeply hate it when a boss doesn’t really understand your role and uses a wishful thinking machine to plan resources, and puts magically simplistic context around anything you do. Secondly, gather data on how you actually spend your time, even if this seems like it would be more time consuming. It’ll help you plan your own time better, see which things are the biggest time sucks etc. Armed with this data you can say: “Whenever we switch context or roles that costs us X hours of preparation and familiarising ourselves; would you rather we use that time on a project we already know or use up extra time on the new context?” or “BTeam are overstretched right now, which means the X hours of Project Y is entirely being carried out by myself and coworker – is that what you’d like us to prioritise?” When he say “two people in your role are too many…” just point to the packed timetable of previous weeks (calendar all your tasks for easy viewing) and say “That is worrying because it took two people for this number of projects, which were critical, to be done.”

    4. ronda*

      for some bosses…. I felt like if they were busy, they thought I was busy and if they were not busy they thought I wasn’t.

      I think bringing it up how others suggested is probably best way.

  19. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

    I was recently fired from a job I loved and was good at, because a colleague waged a campaign to get rid of me. This is not the first time she had targeted a colleague, and a previous colleague on her way out said to my boss “be very careful–‘Bunnicula’ always has to have an enemy.” My direct supervisor really liked me and was very pleased with my work, and was very frustrated with this colleague, but the Grand Bosses overruled her. I was a well-liked arts teacher in an elite private school. At graduation, so many families and kids were thanking me and handing me gifts and flowers that it became comical. I told every underclassman student that I was excited to see them in the fall. The next morning, I was called into the CFO’s office and fired for “failure to make strong relationships in the adult community.” They acknowledged that I was incredibly skilled otherwise.

    I had plenty of friendly colleagues in the adult community, and got along very well with my immediate team. I only work with this woman on one project a year. (She’s a middle school teacher, I was in the high school.)

    I’ve never been fired before. So not only am I mourning the loss of my favorite job ever (seriously, I loved the kids, loved my immediate colleagues, loved my direct supervisor, grew my program to a massive award-winning success), but now, at age 50, I have to start over again and face a massive pay cut. and all because I wasn’t “likable” enough to someone I rarely interact with. (Her attack on me overlapped with her divorce and the death of her toxic father, so I can’t even blame her–she needed an outlet for her rage and feelings of betrayal, and I was a good target.)

    I’m frustrated because the school is not going to tell the students why I left (I believe because it will bring a lot of angry parent complaints), so the kids are going to think I just up and left them without saying goodbye after “lying” to them that I’d see them next year.

    Should I be looking to retrain in a different area? Should I try to find another school (the hiring season is Jan-March)? Any positive stories of starting over?

    1. Ricotta*

      …yes you absolutely can blame her for destroying her livelihood because she used you to distract herself from Daddy Dearest dying (and from her spouse fleeing from her toxic a$$). What in the world! Get angry and fight back. Contact the people who spoke well of you, tell the truth about what went down, and clear your name. Lean on your good reputation for networking opportunities, instead of passively letting this beeyotch destroy you.

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        Thank you for your fiery and bolstering response! I’ve been prevented from speaking to old colleagues–if I do they’ll stop my severance and won’t give me a good reference–I’ll never understand why they allowed her to destroy my livelyhood.

        1. thisiska*

          Eventually people will find out that you’ve been let go – at the start of the new school year if not sooner. When they reach out to you to ask what happened, you can respond that you’re sad and surprised to not be at the school anymore, but unfortunately the agreement you signed to receive a severance package prevents you from talking about it further. They’ll read between the lines without you violating the terms of your agreement. If it was me, I’d want to defend my reputation and set the record straight so that the students and parents don’t feel misled by you in whatever way possible. So I don’t think I could say nothing at all, which is why I’d use a phrase like this to say it without directly saying it.

        2. ronda*

          you can talk to a lawyer about if the agreement is enforceable . outcomes if you do some of the things you want to do.

          never talking to old colleagues seems like crazy talk. but maybe it is limited to not talking about firing… which might be a little reasonable.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I’ve been targeted at my old job twice of someone wanting to fire me. They technically didn’t have any proof the first time of what I was accused of, so the second time (different people) they documented every single thing I did, nitpicked me and stressed me out to the point where I couldn’t stop making mistakes, and the only reason I didn’t get fired was that I managed to get a whole lot of medical stalling/leave until I found another job. The job caused me to become what qualified as disabled, which turned out to be a big help in getting hired elsewhere. Going into a totally different work environment (I worked in academia and even 22 years of service in that wasn’t good enough for other schools to even hire me as a clerk at the community college) REALLY really helped and they love me at my new job.

      You have my sympathies, big time. I hear a lot of ex-teacher stories along these lines, actually.

      I can’t speak for getting hired as a teacher, but I’d probably say to do both: try to find another school–preferably one where other “enemies” of Bunnicula’s have gone and understand what she does–and also look into working in a different field, and see what works out. I wish you all the luck in the world in recovering from this.

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        I’m so sorry you got targeted. It’s honestly hard for me to believe that anyone would ever do that to another person. Academia is so rough, I can only imagine what you went through! I guess that’s what I’m looking for above all–a place where I can work hard, make a positive difference, and be treated like a professional. I’m admittedly not great with cutesy adults, and that’s pretty much what the women in our department were like.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ask the boss who really liked you to help you network for your job search. Mention to your immediate team members too, Hey I’m looking for work, let me know if you hear of any openings. Connect with people on LinkedIn, get the little looking for work banner on your picture.

      Being fired isn’t the end of your career, even if it feels that way right now. Maybe this exit is going to lead you to a fantastic new opportunity.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I second all this advice. You have valuable connections; reach out to them. I don’t know if retraining is the answer unless you actually want to work in a different area/are having a lot of trouble finding work, but you may need to broaden your criteria for a year: is there substitute teaching, maternity leave, private tutoring, or similar work available to someone with your current credentials?

        On a personal note, I was fired from a job I’d been at for 7 years. I thought it was the end of the world. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to my career. You’re a wonderful teacher, and we’re all rooting for you.

        1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

          I appreciate your kindness so much, and I’m thrilled to hear that things turned out so well for you. I guess I’m really spooked by my age, and since they are paying me through December, I have time to think about adding skills that could broaden my range of capability. My big problem is that I’m not a certified teacher because my career has been in private schools where you don’t need an education degree–so subbing is largely out. I’m also lucky in that they will pay me through Dec.
          So much good advice here.

          1. To-Do List Fan*

            Regarding subbing: All of the public schools in my area dropped their education degree requirement for subs during the worst of the pandemic. Now they accept any college degree. And there are some positions, like library aides, that don’t require a college degree at all. Of course you know your own area best, and I don’t mean to question that, but it could be worth checking.

          2. not my usual self*

            Yeah, I was also going to comment that most subs are not certified teachers… this was the case pre-pandemic but people left the teaching profession in droves afterward, so they’re lucky to get folks with any degree at all as subs. And it’s also correct that there are other jobs in schools that don’t even require a degree. Education is in almost as big a mess as healthcare right now… coming from a person who currently works in public education, whose spouse used to work in healthcare.

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m frustrated because the school is not going to tell the students why I left (I believe because it will bring a lot of angry parent complaints), so the kids are going to think I just up and left them without saying goodbye after “lying” to them that I’d see them next year.
      Honestly, the kids probably won’t think this. It isn’t that unusual for teachers to leave unexpectedly and in my experience, kids don’t expect to be told stuff like that.

      Not that any of that is any excuse for the way you were treated, but just to say that from the kids’ point of view there are many possibilities from you getting sick to getting offered a better job unexpectedly. Things change fairly rapidly in schools. I once had a subbing job where every week I said goodbye to the kids and then got a call to say “oh, the teacher isn’t coming back next week actually; can you hang on for another week?” until I gave up saying goodbye to them at which point…she actually did return.

      And honestly, I think your grand bosses are almost as much to blame as the toxic coworker if they listened to somebody who didn’t even work in the same school as you over your immediate supervisor.

      I don’t know how hiring works in your country. Here, we would be about to head into the main hiring season, which…usually starts early August, but there would be subbing jobs, maternity leaves, etc arising at all points of the year. Given that you seem to love teaching, it seems like it would be a pity for you to leave the field altogether for something that a) isn’t even true and b) shouldn’t be relevant even if it were. I avoid parents as much as possible and one of my colleagues has even said to me that I’m a good teacher, so who cares about the fact I don’t do the politics stuff? And retraining would likely take a while anyway.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I agree; kids can smell this kind of bullcrap from miles away! They don’t expect to be told the truth by school leaders about staffing.

      2. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        Thanks for your response. And you’re right–the Grand Boss in charge of faculty does not like intelligent or uppity women, and I’m little bit of both. I think one of the problems was that I had grown my program so much we needed a second teacher and rather than accommodate that, it was easier to throw me out and get someone who would not draw too many participants.
        Due to my credentials, I’m only able to work in fee-charging secondary schools, which is why out calendar is weird.
        The only reason I mention the students is due to the kind of school this is, and I’ve got half a dozen I had already signed on to write their college recommendations. I know they will be fine, but well-liked teachers leaving is actually a big deal at this school because it is so rare.

        1. Tio*

          Honestly? If I found out about this on the down low, I am the kind of uppity woman who would go on a loud, obnoxious campaign in school board meetings and make A Polite Scene about where has my kid’s favorite teacher gone? I heard she’s not working, why has she left? Who made this call? Was there something you should be informing parents about? (because either there is, and tell them, or there isn’t, and that corners them)

          But I can’t, because I have no kids in your school district (because I have no kids)

        2. Amsonia*

          I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I’m rooting for you.

          This depends a lot on where you live, but are you sure you can’t do substitute teaching? Where I live, you’d need to be certified to teach full time in public schools, but subs don’t always even need a college Those with teaching experience make more money than those without. And subs are in huge demand, including long term subs.

        3. Irish Teacher.*

          I don’t know if this is any option for you, but my brother currently does online tuition. He advertises online and gets loads of students, to the point he was struggling to find time to schedule classes for them all.

          At least in Ireland, parents will pay about €30-€50 an hour for this.

        4. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

          “and I’ve got half a dozen I had already signed on to write their college recommendations.”
          Is there anything in your severance which keeps you from contacting these students and writing their college recommendations? The students would be devastated to lose you for their college applications. The colleges wouldn’t hold the recommendation as any less for them not having you as a teacher for their final year.

          1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

            I’m sorry, I just read below that your signed agreement included that you not contact colleagues, parents or students. So providing the students with the recommendations is not possible. Could you ask your lawyer to provide them to the students?

    5. A Girl Named Fred*

      I think it’s very kind of you to want to forgive the person who waged the campaign against you, but you’re also allowed to be upset about it if you want to be. Either way though, do you have contact info for any of those friendly adult colleagues, and do any of them happen to work in the same sphere you do? If so, it’s totally kosher to reach out to them with a message like, “Hi (name), it was so good to catch up at graduation last (date). I wanted to let you know that I was (let go/fired) just after that, so if you/your org see anything you think I might be a fit for, I’d love to hear about it! But regardless I hope we can stay in touch and that you have a great summer!”

      Unless you explicitly signed something saying you wouldn’t, it’s not wrong of you to communicate with the teammates and other colleagues you liked to say hey, this happened, any ideas of places I should start looking? That’s not saying “THIS TERRIBLE PERSON CAUSED ME GREAT HARM!”, it’s leaving that in the subtext while asking for the support you actually need.

      Best of luck to you – remember, this didn’t have anything to do with you, so try not to let it knock your confidence too much. Mourn what was lost, then come back an even stronger Ms. Frizzle!

      1. Rebecca*

        “I think it’s very kind of you to want to forgive the person who waged the campaign against you, but you’re also allowed to be upset about it if you want to be.”

        You can do both! I’m finding it very helpful to both acknowledge my feelings and work to hold compassion for others. Ms. Frizzle, maybe this approach will work for you as you process everything.

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          Agreed! I wasn’t trying to imply that it was one or the other, and I’m sorry if it came across that way. But yes, I’m someone who tends to hold grudges so I’m working on still acknowledging my feelings without letting go of compassion for others/also acknowledging that everybody’s got their own stuff going on.

          1. Aquatic*

            Also, you can forgive her without telling yourself that the depth of her distress made it okay to target you.

            1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

              I’m going to write that on an index card and place it on my bedside table. I needed this.

      2. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        I did indeed have to sign a letter promising not to contact any previous colleagues, parents or students–in exchange for payment through December.

        The hardest thing for me is to not blame myself–I have always been a bit of an oddball; probably why I was drawn to the unconventional thinking in the Arts. I do know that because I’m a little reserved and awkward in social settings and have no children (physically couldn’t, but it seems suspicious to many) I’m always a bit on the outside. In the past, I drew my confidence from being good at my job–so OF COURSE I get fired for not being “likable” enough.

        But thank you for your kind support–I need it!

        1. All the Colours*

          I’ve been in a similar boat to you, and honestly it has affected my self esteem for years afterwards. I have to remind myself again and again that there’s nothing wrong with me: I was well liked and successful for years before some new, awful coworkers found me problematic. Please remind yourself (again and again!) of how likeable all those parents and students found you, and about all the coworkers you’ve had who have praised your work, and liked you. Just because a certain type of person doesn’t warm to you does not mean there’s anything wrong with you at all. They are just, well, being a-holes. They’ve done you a terrible injustice but do not come away from this thinking, “there’s something wrong with me”, because I don’t see evidence for that!

          1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

            I’m so sorry that you know this boat, but you’ve clearly developed the good and necessary habit of reminding yourself what is true. You’re also taking the time to help a total stranger–it speaks to your kindness. Thank you!

        2. WellRed*

          Please don’t ever sign anything like this again without the advice of an employment lawyer.

    6. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      ‘fired for “failure to make strong relationships in the adult community.”’

      “Sorry I didn’t want to join your swingers’ club.”

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        Everything from your username to your response is an utter win.

        You are awesome, internet stranger. How lucky your people are!

    7. MagicEyes*

      I’m so sorry! I’m going through a similar-but not identical-experience of being forced out of a job I like due to one person (unfortunately that person happens to be my boss). I don’t think you need to change jobs if you really enjoy this one. If you’re worried it will happen again, this is an opportunity to learn the signs to look for and what you can do to have a different outcome. It sounds like you’re good at your job and people like you, so that’s worth holding on to.

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        I’m totally worried about this happening again! I legitimately thought this woman was my friend! I literally had no idea she was behind the attacks until my boss spilled the beans, thinking I already guessed the culprit. So for me, the signs are…that people are friendly and supportive? (She wrote several truly great colleague-evaluations after visiting my classes.) Oh dear!

        I guess I’m thinking about re-training because there’s no reason to hire expensive old me when schools can get a 20something for half the price–and they could not care less about the quality of the experience, because there are so many 20somethings that are great for their level of experience.

    8. Maestra*

      Not sure where you live, but it might be worth checking out Carney Sandoe. They are a headhunter for private/independent schools in the whole US. It is summer already, but you never know if some school is looking for someone just like you. At the school I work at, we’ve occasionally had openings pop up over the summer so you may not want to give up entirely on the idea of having a teaching job for next year.

      Good luck! I would hate to have said “See you next year!” to my students and never see them again.

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        Carney Sandoe has been very hit and miss for me over the years. My last 2 placement agents were terrible, but my first one was wonderful. I’m keeping an eye open on the NAIS site, though. The last time I was signed with CS&A but also checking the NAIS, I learned that there’s no really amazing school that isn’t on both.

        Seriously hoping you are a Latin teacher due to your username–I’ve never know one who wasn’t awesome!

    9. Ellis Bell*

      I think your colleague deserves a lifetime of Lego strewn floors and bare feet, but it’s not her fault you lost your job. Those grand bosses who decided to back a renegade employee’s vendetta instead of giving the students the best teaching – this is on them. Never forget that the fish always rots from the head; nowhere is this more true than in school environments. Sometimes when we have a good immediate supervisor, they protect us from the stormy conditions above them… for a while. This level of unfairness was always there, unless the leadership is a recent change. I’m sorry your school sucked at prioritising students and at retaining what is obviously a class act. I think you’ll definitely find another role where you are just as beloved. I hope the pay is just as good too even though that’s a bit more of a gamble in teaching. Use your network as much as you can.

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        You are 100% on point there. The attacking colleague had 18 years there, I had 5. I never had a chance.

    10. Rara Avis*

      I would job-hunt. My husband is an art teacher and he has had 5+ interviews (and 3 offers) this summer.

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        That’s great news about your husband!
        I am surely on the hunt–who knows what could open up in a week.

    11. M2*

      Speak to a lawyer about an age discrimination lawsuit. Document everything. Write everything down with dates/ time, etc. talk to a lawyer

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        I definitely did, because I have a friend who is a lawyer. It’s excellent advice!

    12. Put the Human Back in HR*

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. I just retired from my HR job in Higher Education. Sure, academia can be squirrely, but they tend to offer great benefits and sometimes market-competitive pay depending on the roles/supply/demand/etc. I saw many former teachers moving into the HR training and development space. They already had the teaching, organizational, content creation, etc., skills and they did great in their new roles. The trainers worked remotely during the pandemic and for a time afterward. Now, HR T&D offers some trainings/sessions in person, but they still provide a ton of remote trainings. I’ll be thinking of you. You have so much to offer. I hope you come back and let us know how you are doing.

      1. Ms. Frizzle Lost Her Sizzle*

        This is exactly the kind of thing I want to at least research. Thank you for the encouragement.

    13. Quetzal*

      I had the same thing happen to me — a terrible boss who just hated me as a person and pushed me out (I was able to avoid getting fired by the skin of my teeth). after I left she decided to go after the department admin instead, which if you know anything about academia was a huge mistake and ultimately lead to her downfall.

      I guess the best advice I can give you is just to be kind to yourself. working in that environment messed me up for at least 6 months. my next boss was great but I was terrified of her at first. it did get better with time. good luck finding a new job.

  20. Rook Thomas*

    Shout out top @Best of luck* for their advice last Friday. I had documented (as always) conversations, etc and then had a conversation with this team member and my manager together. I don’t know if it was truly productive, but it was an opportunity for this team member to be heard. But they did make accusations about things, so I just asked clarifying questions and then gave clarifying info.

    So, thank you @Best of luck*!

    1. Best of luck*

      You’re welcome, and thanks for updating, Rook Thomas, I was wondering how it went! I certainly hope that your team member was able to take in the feedback and will improve in professionalism. I hope this isn’t the situation at your organization, but I would also recommend that you keep your ear to the ground for how they are treating their co-workers (or clients, etc). The person at my organization was mean and rude to people with less power than them. Like I said, I really hope this isn’t part of the issue here. It just all sounded very familiar.

      1. Best of luck*

        And I’m sorry if it’s not applicable advice here. I’m just saying (and if you’re a regular reader you already know!) that it’s worth considering that there might be other things going on.

  21. Ex-communication*

    I’m not sure how I should act in the presence of my abusive, narcissistic ex-manager. It’s almost inevitable that we will end up at the same event or meeting soon; we just narrowly missed each other at a recent reception, for example. This manager was horrible to me. This is a senior position at what felt like a dream company, but they were constantly belittling, berating, and ambushing me; taking credit for everything that went well and tossing me under the bus when anything didn’t; micromanaging everything I did, down to the wording of my emails; saddling me with pointless time-wasting tasks so that I would end up working 80 hours a week; hoarding information I need to do my job; demoting me; and more. I was forced out after being put on a fake, ambush PIP and left politely after negotiating an agreement that would give me good reviews. I struggled with my mental health as a result of the entire experience but eventually I found a similar job, where I am objectively and subjectively excelling.

    I have no desire to ever interact with this manager again. They are a condescending know-it-all who constantly belittled others in private conversations, and only see people as tools to advance their position. The advice here is generally to act politely in these situations and not “burn a bridge.” I’m not sure how to do that. I already ignored a text from them where they said “they were glad to see me in a new role” and “they gave me a good review” (like they were obliged to). I don’t want them to think we are friends, that I have any desire to interact with them unless absolutely required by my new hob, or that I got my job as a result of (and not despite) them. Am I burning a bridge if I just excuse myself immediately from any situation to avoid interacting with this person? What do I do if they insist on having a conversation with me in spite of that? What I really want to do is tell them that I finally don’t have to listen to anything they say anymore, and that I in no way approve of their actions or forgive them for how they treated me – but I know I probably shouldn’t.

    1. HonorBox*

      I think it is totally fair to attempt to fully avoid them if at all possible. That won’t always work, but if you find yourself in a group and ex manager slides up to that group to converse, find a reasonable time to excuse yourself to grab another drink, use the restroom, talk to contact across the room you’ve been trying to connect with. If it is 1:1, keep it very generic and find a reasonable time to excuse yourself.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Hmm. If you don’t mind burning a bridge with the ex-manager, I think the main thing I’d worry about is projecting professionalism to others. It sucks, but having an obvious (and justified!) emotional reaction to their presence or raising your voice to them will make them seem like the reasonable party; it’s right out of the abuser’s handbook to provoke a reaction and use that against you. I don’t think there’s a purpose in telling them that you don’t forgive them, since that just keeps you in communication with this awful person; write all the things you want to say to them on a piece of paper and never send it.

      That *doesn’t* mean you have to spend time with them, though. It’s fine if you’re breezily polite but need to excuse yourself to go to the bathroom; or chilly polite but see someone else you’ve been meaning to catch up with. The ultimate triumph here is probably forgetting that this person exists.

    3. Rick Tq*

      The Cut Direct seems to be appropriate here. Coldly acknowledge their presence then ignore them thereafter, and if the manager is clueless to try and start a conversation answer “No” and turn away.

    4. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Your ex-boss sounds awful and I wouldn’t want to talk to them either.

      If you have a trusted friend who will be at the events maybe you can ask them to come over and pull you away or wave you over if they see you’re getting stuck near/with them? Even if that doesn’t happen it might be reassuring to have someone in your corner.

    5. anotherfan*

      something similar to the cut direct suggestion — I was in a similar situation and just ignored them as if I didn’t know them, looked at them politely but didn’t offer a smile or head nod and then began talking to someone nearby. They were merely furniture to me.

      This was at the funeral of a coworker I’d known fairly well during the 25 years I’d been with the company, so it wasn’t a place to make waves. I was still smarting from what this person said to me during my layoff interview (that I just didn’t have the skills for the “new” direction the business was moving in) even though I got a job in that same business less than 2 months later in a leadership role so it was a major jump up. I just kept repeating to myself “living well is the best revenge.”

    6. The teapots are on fire*

      Just smile serenely as if you are too happy and important to be bothered with them, and swan off to talk to people who matter to you.

  22. Anon today*

    I’m resigning today. Doing a career zag again. Our workplace is a mess for a number of reasons that would identify me if I elaborated but I like my staff and dont want to screw them over. I’m giving extended notice as I am C level employee. How best to make sure I’m available for critical questions without being a door mat?

    1. HonorBox*

      Spend some time coming up with transition documentation. If people feel like they need “a minute of your time” you can weigh whether that’s a critical conversation to have or if you can defer to your transition documentation. I’d also try to set aside some specific time each day for your staff ONLY and use that time to help manage what you can with/for them.

    2. Goddess47*

      Make the offer to specific people, offline. “if YOU have a few questions, you can contact me” — just don’t make it a blanket statement. To the company, you can do a ‘if you have questions, I’m open to discussing a contract for limited support for $X an hour’…

      And at some point, if you are contacted, any question you are asked are answered by asking “Tell me what you’ve done/researched first…” to wean them off of you…

      Good luck!

    3. Put the Human Back in HR*

      I wrote on here about “rage-retiring.” It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I wasn’t a C-level employee; rather, I was an HR director. My best advice is to rethink that extended notice, wrap up everything you can, and ask them to waive the rest of the notice for your own wellbeing. I’ve seen C-level employees make that happen. I provided a detailed timeline for completing current projects through my notice period and also through calendar year 2025 to show upcoming requirements. I’ve always worked well over 40 hours per week. I decided I would continue that but not kill myself to get it all done. HonorBox is right about transition documents. I’ve always kept good documentation and detailed SOPs but did one last review. The best way to take care of critical questions without being a door mat is to forward as many questions as you can to your team. It’s good preparation for both requestors and the team. If the team members have questions, then you can help them and give them the tools to answer future questions. Goddess47’s suggestion of offering to answer questions after you leave to certain people and not everyone is excellent.

  23. Temporary ebike Enthusiast*

    Not sure if this is work-related enough for a Friday post, but I’ve been thinking about getting an ebike specifically to commute to work.

    Reasons to do it: It’s only about 6 miles, my office has storage rooms so I wouldn’t have to lock it up on the street, and it would mean our one car is available for my partner to use (if needed) on days I’m in office.

    Reasons not to do it: After my youth, I’ve only ridden a bike once in the past 20 years. I fell immediately in the street, hurt my arm, and gave up. I’m nervous about riding in traffic. I’m worried about showing up to work sweaty and gross. I’m worried this is an ADHD hyperfocus thing and in two weeks I won’t care about biking at all anymore.

    I guess I’m looking for reasons to go for it or not? Reassurances or tips to help when riding in traffic and getting to my office (which doesn’t have showers)? Stories about bike commuting?

    1. CTT*

      If you’ve not ridden a bike in such a long time, I think you should invest a good amount of time in practice runs – biking somewhere without traffic to build up your confidence and then some practice runs in traffic/mimicking your commute. Does your town have a bike share program? That would be a good way to get practice without making a big investment, and some of those have e-bikes.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you rent or borrow a bike from somewhere or someone for a week to give it a trial without spending 5k on an ebike? I’d practice riding a bike on bike paths, empty parking lots etc for awhile too before trying riding in traffic. Make sure you have a good helmet!

    3. Rick Tq*

      Try starting with a test run or two (or more) on a weekend to see how you do on the route specifically and on the bike in general. If your ride to work is more E than bike you probably won’t be sweaty except in the hottest part of the summer.

      + many on renting first so you don’t have a large sum invested in a tool you aren’t comfortable using.

    4. Janne*

      I commute by bike, but I live in the Netherlands where the majority of people commute by bike so I’m not special at all ;)
      I don’t have a car, so I bike in all kinds of weather. I always bring my rain jacket and rain pants, but mostly try to time my rides in between rain showers. My commute includes a huge bridge over a river, so the wind is my #1 enemy. I ride a really simple 3-gear city bike with 2 huge panniers on the back. The biggest things that I ever carried on it were a 3 meter ladder or 40 liters of potting soil.

      I don’t know how easy it is to rent or borrow a bike where you live, but that’s what I’d do first. Take it for a couple rides around the block to get back the feeling of riding a bike before you go into traffic.

      Then if that goes well, go and explore the route to your work. Maybe see if you can optimize a route for wide bike lanes and quieter traffic, if there’s any option for that. When I got a new job, I also cycled my new commuting route first on a day off just to explore. You can also time how long it takes you, so that you have an idea of what to expect (but traffic can change of course).

      For riding in traffic, I always make sure I’m wearing a bright jacket. Make sure you have a helmet that fits well. Don’t stick to the absolute edge of the road, because often that’s where there’s a lot of debris on the road and you could fall. So stay a nice distance from the edge of the road. Don’t wear earbuds with music in both ears: you need to be able to hear traffic.

      Consider panniers and a rack on your bike, so that you don’t have to wear a backpack and get your back sweaty. Depending on the weather and your sweatiness, freshing up with a wipe and a clean shirt might be nice when you get to work. Maybe also bring a comb and some hair product, because your helmet will mess up your hair.

      1. Anax*

        Also: Even if you’re renting or borrowing a bike, make sure to get a helmet! They only last a few years before they’re no longer safe to use.

        (I didn’t realize that until I got my first bike as an adult – my folks weren’t super aware of the standards there and only got new helmets when ours were outgrown.)

    5. RecoveringSWO*

      If I wear a backpack while e-biking, I can get sweaty. I use the basket in front of the handlebars for my town’s bikesharing bikes and that fixes the pre-work sweat issue, but it does make the bike harder to steer. If you buy your own bike, you should be able to set up storage over the rear bike wheel, which I imagine would impact handling less. Either way, I agree with the other recommendations to bike for a trial period before buying.

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      Good luck! I agree with the notes about practicing. (And if your office doesn’t have a shower, consider something like baby wipes for a quick “PTA” wipe down when you change.)

    7. myceliyum*

      I purchased one this year and I love it! I got a bike that came with lights wired to the battery and fenders/rack already installed, all of which has made it easier to use. I do not shower when I get to work, I bike in biking gear (chamois shorts/ chamois butt’r are important recommendations for comfort) with pannier bags on a rack (reduces the sweatiness you would get if you wore a backpack), and change to work clothes when I get there. I can do a quick clean up with a baby wipe if need be. My commute is longer so I only do it 2-3 times a week but the movement has been so good for my mood and energy. My bike has multiple levels of assist so I can have more of a boost on days when I’m tired, or push myself a little if I have a lot of zoomies to get out of my system. It’s so great to be able to bike– which brings me joy–when I’m at less than 100% energy.

      I am in a rural area with mixed attitudes towards bikes, so I plan my route carefully to maximize use of quieter roads, side paths, etc. I wear a high-vis vest and have a little rearview mirror that attaches to my handlebars, which help me feel reassured that I’m seeing cars and cars are seeing me. When there are no pedestrians I will ride on the sidewalk, but I always choose the side of the road where cars are in the same direction of travel as me– this is opposite the advice for pedestrians but it will reduce your risk of getting hit by someone making a right turn who isn’t checking for oncoming high speed traffic on the sidewalk. It may sometimes make sense to run stop signs IF there are no other vehicles at the intersection.

      One other thing to think about– ebikes are heavier, mine weights 50 lbs. So if there are stairs involved to access a storage room that might be a challenge.

    8. LivesinaShoe*

      Definitely do some dry runs on non-commute routes. If you work up enough confidence then try borrowing a bike. I commute about 30 minutes by a very vintage 10-speed, and I love it. I bring a work shirt in my backpack and spend the first ten minutes in a single bathroom cooling off. If I rode more than one day a week (I mostly WFH), I’d use the showers in the building again.

      Ebikes are REALLY expensive, so figuring out if you need one first would be wise.

      In my area the weather isn’t terrible, although in high rain/wind I’d take the bus, but DRIVERS are a real hazard. I ride defensively and wear lights and reflectors as much as possible.

      Also I’m shouting out to my town which just instituted a little free ferry that will either shorten my commute or at least make it about 95% more attractive and safe. Hooray! In an area that likes to talk progressive but routinely acts like cars are the only thing that uses the road, I’m thrilled.

      1. JustaTech*

        There are some less-expensive ebikes, and kits for converting a regular bike to an ebike for less than $500, but if you go that route be very, very sure that you read all the reviews and check the CSPC (in the US) for battery-fire related recalls.

        My husband ebikes to work on a less-expensive ebike and he loves it, but he’s not allowed to plug it in at his work’s bike room because it isn’t from the one brand that’s approved by the company because it’s been tested to not catch fire.

        I don’t ride to work because the hills and the drivers scare me a lot and I haven’t had time to work on getting over that yet.

        1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

          I bought my ANCHEER folding electric bike on Amazon in 2018 for $650. Comparable ones are about $100 less and go twice as far, as batteries have improved since then.
          I had planned to ride it to work, but just got too lazy to do it. I still use it periodically when I have to leave my motorhome for repairs, so it’s saved me several uber rides.

    9. Angstrom*

      I think riding in traffic is a bad idea if you are not comfortable on a bicycle. Safety in traffic requires full attention, and your bicycle skills should be at the “unconscious competence” level.

      I’d recommend looking to see if local bike clubs or other organizations offer adult learn-to-ride programs(our city recreation department does). Rent or borrow a bike, get some practice, and see how it goes.

    10. Peanut*

      i ride my regular bike to work a few times a week and it is a JOY. I’m getting a lot more exercise and that’s great for my health. But when I bike over the river in the morning and take it the view, it makes me so happy. And it’s a pleasure to have little human interactions with people on the bike path.

      (ps. maybe try tricycle for more stability/comfort?)

    11. sb51*

      I’m a confident, experienced cyclist, so I don’t have advice on getting to that point, but to address the ebike part: they are excellent for avoiding sweat, and they make a lot of traffic maneuvers a lot easier because you can speed up quicker. A mid-drive will be the easiest to maneuver and control the assist but they’re also the most expensive.

      Get nice wide tires for stability and fenders and lights; in my opinion more tire is better than suspension for rough roads. There are ones where you can comfortably put a foot on the ground and still be in a comfortable position; if that sounds appealing, ask about it.

      You probably have already seen these bits of advice if you’re coming off an ADHD research binge but hopefully it helps :).

    12. The teapots are on fire*

      A lot depends on the traffic where you live. I wouldn’t do it in the Bay Area where I live now, but routinely commuted by bike when I lived in Milwaukee. I found that baby wipes are good for wiping off fresh sweat.

  24. Tarantella*

    When building rapport with one’s boss or one’s coworker or supervisees, (presuming the workplace is unicorn levels of kind and wonderful), what is the boundary between empathy and oversharing?

    1. Yes And*

      I don’t think there is a set boundary – I think this is very personal. I’ve made it explicitly clear to my employees that I consider their PTO to be part of their compensation and they needn’t justify their using it, but that doesn’t stop them from TMI-ing me about their medical conditions. Like, just tell me you need to take a half a day for a medical appointment, I don’t need to hear about your urinary tract.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I flat out told my teams I’m squeamish, that’s why I’m in admin and not clinical :) It has cut way down on the details I get.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      The difference between being able to say “oof sorry that sucks” and having to step in and be involved or unable to walk away.

      “My cat died this weekend, things have just been really sad for me lately, anyway tell me about your weekend, did you get to enjoy the nice weather”
      “My cat died, 10 min monologue about the meaningfulness of the cat, the history, the way it died, I just don’t know how I’ll go on without Mr. Muffins, I just feel so hopeless and like nothing has any meaning anymore” – Now I gotta go look up the EAP information and make sure this isn’t like a depression self injury risk and make sure you aren’t totally checked out of daily functioning.

      The first one leaves room for the listener to either accept the subject change or gently ask if they want to tell more about their cat. The second one is basically trauma dumping, work isn’t the right outlet for that, and when it happens at work you have to assume they don’t have a safe place for it in their life.

      Some general limits, politics, religion, other controversial topics are usually oversharing. “I’m upset about recent politics so I spent my weekend volunteering” vs a 10 min diatribe on how politics is evil and the country is falling apart and people who think XYZ are horrible. No one wants to hear about your church’s sermon yesterday, even if it was extremely meaningful to you. But briefly mentioning your kid got confirmed/saved/baptized is fine, just make sure you don’t end up implying your non confirmed/saved/bapitized listeners are going to hell!

    3. H.Regalis*

      There isn’t one set rule that applies to all jobs, people, and situations. To some degree, it will always be a judgement call.

      For myself, what I usually do for small talk is what I’ve seen good cab drivers do: I’ll ask some basic, low-stakes stuff like how was your weekend/how’s your day going/how did your kid’s [whatever] turn out/did you have a good vacation/etc. If they give a normal-length answer, we’ll talk for a bit. If I get a one-word answer, I let it go. Some people don’t want to talk.

      Avoid stuff like politics, religion, sex, death, bodily fluids, anything deeply personal, etc.

      1. H.Regalis*

        A couple things I forgot:
        -Be genuinely interested in other people, or if you can’t, at least learn to convincingly fake it.
        -Don’t try to speedrun interpersonal relationships.

  25. Beth**

    Actual email exchange today with an external contact at work.

    Me: Do you know if we’ve received [doucument]? We need it before [client] can [do something they’ve already made a market announcement about].

    External contact: no, we haven’t seen it, but market announcement said [event] wasn’t happening until the second half of the year.

    Me: the second half of the year started on Monday.

    External contact has not replied.


    1. Elle*

      To be fair the second half of the year feels many weeks from now. I personally feel like it’s April.

      1. Everyone is different*

        I on the other hand have had a very hectic spring and fell like it must be September already.

        1. Jaydee*

          I feel like both. Some things happened that made what should have been a medium busy spring a semi-chaotic spring. Now it’s somehow July but I swear it was just May a couple weeks ago, and September will be here before I know it and I’m not ready!

      2. Rain*

        Linear time stopped working in March of 2020 and we are now on 2020 V4 as far as I’m concerned.

  26. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

    I don’t care for that question at all. I’m reminded of the time that I applied somewhere and was told that they wouldn’t hire me because they never hired someone who had worked for a previous company for over five years (I had worked for a previous company for over eleven years), because they figured that such a person would be set in their ways and impossible to train. Sometimes you just can’t win!

    1. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

      Nesting fail! This should have been a reply to Currently Looking.

  27. chelly*

    thank you everyone who replied last week. this week went much better, I also had a chat with a colleague that reassured me a lot. I ran into some problems again, but this time tried to reach out earlier. They were resolved faster, although not always because of the help. I also looked at the stories and tried estimating them myself before the planning to see if I would estimate them differently. I had two where I agreed with the estimate and two where I couldn’t estimate because I had no idea about it at all.

    I’m stuck currently with it support with something that isn’t at all my fault lol.
    anyway, how do I handle auditory issues? I already fairly regularly don’t understand native people in my native language because my brain scrambles it. the support guy spoke in English with an accent and bad audio quality which combined to me not understanding every second sentence he said. I was polite about it, but it was frustrating to me and I’m sure for him too. Is there something else I can do?

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      The last time I had a terrible connection with IT he started texting me instead. Much easier.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes, be very clear with the other person that you can not hear them (specify “hear” and not “understand”) and ask if you can use chat or text instead.
        “I’m sorry, there is some problem with the audio. I can only hear about half of what you are saying. Could you tell me again [in the chat/by text]?”
        Hopefully this will prevent the other person from just speaking louder.

  28. Cat Executive Officer*

    Would anyone recommend hiring a paid career coach? If so, how would you vet one?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Do as much as you can to clarify EXACTLY the type of support you’re looking for. Decide if you need industry-specific guidance, if you’re looking for a job search coach, if you’re looking for someone to help you figure out what to do next, if you’re looking for someone who will guide you through the ladders of your existing job.
      The people who can do one thing may not be able to be useful for others.

      And check with your local govt career center. They will have resources for free that might be exactly what you need.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I worked with one for a while a few years ago. I found some things helpful but also found that her process didn’t quite align with what I was looking for guidance on, and there didn’t seem to be a way to tailor it to my specific situation in the way I’d hoped.

      Many of the people I contacted offered a free consult call which was helpful. I’d suggest asking questions about their process, how they would help a person in your specific situation, and ideally, getting recommendations from your network if you can (that wasn’t possible for me but I think it would have helped)

    3. Stuart Foote*

      I would. I was skeptical, and didn’t think they would really do anything, but what I was doing wasn’t working and I decided to try it. My coach helped me massively, both with interviewing and with my resume. I got a good raise at my current job, and since then I’ve more than doubled my total compensation by getting another role. Obviously the career coach wasn’t entirely responsible for that, but she definitely helped. She also had another client reach out to me since we were both working in the same field, which led to him getting a job at my company.

      I just found my coach on google (which could have gone very badly!), but I would look for one whose goal doesn’t seem to be just to sign you up for as many sessions as humanly possible.

  29. Janne*

    I’ve applied to 2 jobs this week and for both of them my materials weren’t perfect… please tell me that they don’t have to reject me straight away because of that! :(

    First one: the professor who’s hiring for the PhD position mailed me about it only 4 days before the deadline (really impressed that he found me and asked if I wanted to apply), then I couldn’t get a letter of recommendation from the professor who supervised my Master’s thesis on such short notice. I’m planning on sending it as soon as I have it but the deadline was on Wednesday.

    Second one: I also applied for a PhD position with my former Master’s supervisor. I had to list 3 references, but only had 2 from the job that I had right after university. I haven’t told anyone at my current job that I’m job searching. Normally I can get a reference from my former Master’s supervisor but I don’t think that works when I apply for a job with him…

    For the second job I also had to send all my grades from my two Bachelor’s degrees and my Master’s. I found two official documents for one of the Bachelor’s degrees and none for the other Bachelor’s! Made a mess of my whole house by searching for them. I think that they made an administrative error before the graduation ceremony and gave me two of the same document. It’s nearly 8 years ago and I’ve never had to show those grades until now. Why do they even need them :’)

    1. Goddess47*

      Higher ed folk are weird about grades and transcripts…

      In the meantime, just have a set of transcripts sent to the job and get a set sent to yourself so you have them. Since you’re a in-the-last-10-years graduate, those transcripts are all electronic and will go out quickly. For most places it’s an online process and easy to do.

      Good luck!

      1. Janne*

        I’m in the Netherlands, there’s a central place I can download my diplomas, but for higher education they don’t give the grade lists, just a certificate that you got the degree. I had a look at my uni’s website and it says I can get a grade list for €72. Wow!

    2. Jessica*

      I’m in US higher ed so YMMV, but I wouldn’t expect situation #1 to be a problem at all. We totally understand that applicants can’t control how fast their references will do things. If you were a promising candidate and it was getting to be time that we really needed the missing LoR in order to move forward, we’d nudge you about it, but we wouldn’t judge you about it.

  30. JustaTech*

    This is somewhere between a “is this legal” and “is this bonkers” question.
    Last week our HR sent out an email about the 4th of July holiday that included this line

    “Hourly and salary employees must work the last scheduled workday before and the next scheduled workday after the holiday to receive the holiday pay. Employees who call out sick before or after the holiday or both without a valid reason will not be eligible for the holiday pay. ”

    Does that mean that if someone gets food poisoning at a 4th of July BBQ and calls out sick on the 5th they might not get paid for the 4th if whoever is in charge of deciding what a “valid reason” is thinks that they’re lying to get a 4 day weekend?
    The next line in the email talked about making sure to submit your vacation requests in advance, so I don’t think it applies to people who planned on using vacation time to take a longer holiday.

    But it seems very much like there’s this assumption that people are “faking” to get a longer holiday, and that the decision on if you get the holiday or if it’s taken out of your vacation will depend on if your supervisor (or maybe HR) believes your reason for calling in sick.

    I get that for our sites where we have scheduled shift work and need a minimum number of people to get the job done having a whole bunch of people call out at the last minute is a pain, but this just feels weird.

    Is it weird, or am I just showing my salaried bias?

    1. Yes And*

      I’m pretty sure it’s legal. Definitely not a management strategy I would endorse, but I’m not sure if it rises to the level of “bonkers.” I think it depends on how reasonable the company generally is about approving time off around holidays, especially when a holiday falls midweek. Do they have a fair process for determining who gets to take that extra day and who’s stuck working? If so, and if they’ve still had a problem with being understaffed on the day between the holiday and the weekend because of people calling out, then I’d say this policy is still not the best approach, but it’s not bonkers. On the other hand, if they’re not reasonable about that in-between day, then they need to look at root causes, not punish people for the symptom.

    2. YellowCarWash*

      It’s employment law, I believe. I think as a manager you can override it and chose to pay out the sick leave.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        It’s not law anywhere I know of. It’s company policy. But shifty companies like to treat their employee handbook as law and claim they can’t do anything because “it’s the law” all the time.

    3. PotatoRock*

      I think it’s /annoying/ but within the realm of “relatively normal bad ways US companies treat shift workers”

      With the caveat: I assume they are offering a higher rate of holiday pay (like 1.5x people’s normal hourly rate); and calling out the 3rd or the 5th loses you that bonus. If they are actually saying “we won’t pay you for the hours you worked on the 4th /at all/ if you don’t work the 5th”, that would be illegal

    4. HonorBox*

      I think it is probably pretty common, actually. There may actually be some history in play when considering the need for a minimum number of staff. It comes across as a little heavy-handed, but I think it is reasonable when, like this week, a one-day holiday falls in a place where that extra day looks particularly enticing.

      I’d be more curious about the decision making process if someone is actually sick and can’t come in. If they’re given a really hard time when they’re actually sick that’s where I have a problem with the policy. Someone who is food poisoned (probably) isn’t going to go to the doctor, so I would sure hope there’s a fair amount of understanding if someone does actually call out.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Agreed, I think I’ve seen this policy almost everywhere I’ve worked but how much it rankled depended on my supervisor. If I knew my supervisor to be a generally understanding and level-headed individual who knows my work and would take me at face value if I called in sick, I wouldn’t mind the policy. If I knew my supervisor to be generally UNreasonable and/or to actively mistrust me, I’d be nervous as hell and probably come in even if I did get sick.

        So to me at least, it’s one of those policies that makes sense but can be misapplied/misused by bad faith management and/or organizations.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      After spending 14 years working with someone whose daughter miraculously got pink eye on the Friday of every three day weekend, I can understand. As to your food poisoning example, I’d say it’s like the question of the likelihood of that compared to the likelihood of people having “bottle flu.”

      1. JustaTech*

        My personal feelings on food poisoning vs hangover are 1) I don’t care why you are throwing up, stay home, please! and 2) it’s one of those “pattern” things – if someone is calling out sick for a hangover all the time then it might be time to have a conversation about that specifically “you’re missing a lot of work, and it’s impacting your performance”, but I’ve seen people unexpectedly end up with a hangover from what they (and I) thought was a very moderate consumption of alcohol (or, on a memorable occasion, cheese. No alcohol, just cheese, but the same overall symptoms.).

        As for kids – well, my toddler regularly goes through periods where he gets sent home from school (and not allowed to go back the next day) because his diaper contents do not meet specifications (but he’s not actually sick – we think it’s some kind of mild and hard to figure out food intolerance, or maybe just too much fruit). I’d hate for my coworkers or boss to think I was lying about that! (It’s sooooo frustrating!)

    6. Diatryma*

      It seems perfectly normal to me. The confusion is sometimes around ‘holiday pay’ vs ‘holiday’– in my work’s case, if you had July 4th off, that is entered in the system as Holiday, and is part of your compensation so you don’t need to use PTO. If you take off July 5th, that retroactively turns July 4th from Holiday to ‘you need to take PTO for this day off’.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      It seems like a great way to make your conscientious employees feel paranoid, anxious and demoralised if they are unlucky enough to get sick, or if they have little kids who are always getting sick. I’m sure there are people who use rubbish excuses to milk time off, but those people should be spoken to alone if there’s real, provable concerns about lying (I’m thinking of a time a new employee called in sick just before announcing to social media he was off to Glastonbury). Group scoldings will either go over the head of the untrustworthy, or make them more careful with their lies.

    8. Semi-retired admin*

      A former employer had this policy across the board about holidays. It applied to both hourly and salaried employees. You could, if needed, get a doctor’s note to use PTO if you called in sick on the day before or after a holiday. There were other “restricted” days where the policy was also in effect.

    9. Rosyglasses*

      I’ve seen this a number of times – typically in manufacturing settings where there is a larger hourly workforce to manage and high levels of call-outs will negatively impact production; it is legal, and it essentially trying to make sure they can plan staffing appropriately for production/revenue goals.

    10. 653-CXK*

      This was pretty normal at ExJob, where Black Friday was the most popular day for people to take off.

      The rules – if you had Black Friday off the year before, you could not take it off again unless you had a good excuse to do so. Otherwise, your name was entered in a lottery – if your name came out, you could take that day off, or work the Sunday before Black Friday (the entire day) to take the day off. Also: the holiday AND Black Friday were deducted from your ET bank if you got the time off (but not if you worked the Sunday before). Teams were also required to have a skeleton crew of 20%.

      I think in all the years I was there, I took Black Friday off maybe twice (once because I was impaneled on a trial and the court wouldn’t let me work, and one completely voluntary); I chose to work that day (no traffic, no school kids, work on backlog, no lines in the cafeteria). I think the reason why upper management made it difficult to take that day off is that in my department, where we were a medical claims processing team, and provider had contracts dictating turn around times and errors. Last year, the people who were working could now have Black Friday off without penalty, as the company outsourced claims processing overseas and dismissed everyone.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of rigidity relative to holidays (I’m in a position related to claims, my mom worked as a hospice chaplain until her retirement, my daughter is a CNA in school for her RN but working in a hospital while studying). I think the most bonkers thing was this one department that had a “A Team” and “B Team” which divided the six company holidays (you get this group of three off, must work the other three) … and yes, the initial people in the department got to pick which team, but if Fergus left, the new hire was bound to whichever team Fergus had picked.

        For awhile, I worked under a grandboss who was seniority over all other considerations, so whoever was most senior would always get the most popular days off, and those who were “too junior” would never get those days off … which might work well in a setting where there was just a wee bit more turnover, but you had a whole raft of people with 20-25 years in the department, another group with 10-12 years … and I was looking as not having enough people “more junior” until I was 7-8 years on (and at that time, I was 3 years in), which seems pretty excessive for *never* getting the day before or after Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving being a holiday everyone got off). Thankfully, she was encouraged to move on, and the new boss had more of that rotating ‘these are our skeleton crew days; if you request the day off on a skeleton crew day, those will be approved on a first-come, first served basis until the max requests have been approved; next year, anyone who got that time off would be in a separate stack which would go under the stack of requests from anyone who did *not* get that day off … so no one was doomed to always work a given day that most everyone wanted unless they really didn’t want to take the time off, because you were pretty much guaranteed to at least get every other year (but every year was still possible).

  31. Yes And*

    I took my team out to lunch. We went to the same restaurant we always go to because it’s the restaurant in town with the most gluten-free options. An hour after we got back from lunch, the member of my team with the gluten intolerance excused herself for the rest of the day due to a violently upset stomach. Correlation is not causation blah blah blah, but it seems likely to me that their order labeled “gluten free” on the menu was not.

    Should I call the restaurant? I don’t want to make a big deal about getting a refund or anything, but if their kitchen is cross-contaminating, I think they ought to know, right? Complicating matters is that this was already a week ago. (I was racing to finish urgent tasks on the last day before a vacation. Now I’m starting to turn my mind to returning from vacation, and this question just occurred to me.)

    1. Garlic Microwaver*

      If it’s allergy or celiac, people need to question restaurants about cross contamination. You can’t have fries in a non GF fryer, pizza from regular oven, soy sauce, etc. It’s legit for some people while for others, the choice to go GF because it makes them feel better, does not warrant that level of scrutiny. Next time, call restaurant ahead and ask how items are cooked.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Leave it alone. Coworker who got sick is the one who can let them know, besides they might know other possible point of contagion (oh snap I shouldn’t have accepted that gum from Jenny, she’s always got cracker crumbs everywhere in her purse).

    3. HonorBox*

      I think it is worth saying something. It was likely a mistake, but one that the restaurant would want to know about and correct for. Especially if you’re approaching this as a complaint or demand for refund, but rather just a heads-up, the restaurant management/ownership would probably appreciate knowing that something happened.

    4. Goddess47*

      Ask the team member if they would like you to say something.

      It may really be something else and you don’t want to talk to the restaurant if something else really did happen. Or, they may have ‘taken the risk’ and eaten something that they wanted but should not have had and then paid the consequences but did not want to admit it at the time.

      At the very least, before you go again, do a casual check-in. “Last time we went out, you were ill after. Do we need to look for another place to eat?” And leave it up to the team member.

      1. HonorBox*

        This is a really good suggestion. It may be that the team member was ill for another reason that they didn’t disclose or they did pick something that was risky. It may not be the restaurant at all.

      2. DrSalty*

        This. Ask the sick person if they think it was gluten from the restaurant before you do anything.

      3. ampersand*

        Seconding this advice–as a very gluten-intolerant person, I would appreciate this approach.

    5. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

      This is more a personal thing than a declaration of right or wrong, but I would feel very strange if someone else took it upon themselves to contact the restaurant on my behalf. I’m an adult and capable of handling my own health issues myself. It would feel, I don’t know, weirdly like having mom call my friends’ parents about what I ate at their house: appropriate for a minor child but weird for an adult.

      But that’s just me.

    6. Zephy*

      I think it’s been too long and you have too little evidence to say anything to the restaurant. If they prepare their GF menu items in the same kitchen using the same equipment as the rest of the menu, there’s always a chance of cross-contamination, and their menu probably even mentions that somewhere.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      As a gf person, I would be happy to have you check in with me about this before booking the restaurant again. Your employee will be able to give you important extra context like “I thought the pasta tasted different, but thought nothing of it” or “they didn’t use the allergy toothpick flags they usually use, and Tessa ordered the same thing as me, but with gluten”or “actually, Spouse has a stomach bug and I think I caught it”. FWIW I got glutened by one of my favourite places; it was hands down the best gf burger in town and they’d never let me down before, so when I got mildly sick I was tempted to give them a pass, but I knew the bun they gave me that day, was different to normal. When I had a chat with the chef the next day, he told me I really shouldn’t be using the app to order; I had to order at the bar in person and not accept anything without a flag. After I had this discussion I was happy to eat there again; places with lots of options are few and far between in my neck of the woods too.

    8. Knighthope*

      Could have been coincidental food poisoning, which should have been be investigated as soon as it was suspected.

  32. Garlic Microwaver*

    Last week’s post about girl boss/miracles blessed, and the commentariat… did not sit well with me on multiple levels. Am I alone?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I refuse to accept “girl boss” as a term until people equally use/market under “boy boss” as well.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I don’t think I’ve ever come across the term “girl boss” in “real life.” I think this site may be the only place I’ve come across it. And honestly, it always makes me think of this comic strip in one of those old kids’ comics, Boy Boss, which was about a kid who looked about 8 or 10, running a company and doing childish things like sucking a sweet while on business calls, so his clients could barely understand him. A “girl boss” seems to me like it should be something like Kirsty Thomas in the Babysitters’ Club, a preteen running a sort of play business.

        It really sounds to me like it’s implying the woman in question isn’t a real boss; she’s just playing at it and isn’t it cute that she’s trying. So yeah, I don’t like it.

        1. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

          I have primarily heard “girlboss” used by women who are deeply into MLMs or similar endeavors. It’s part of the jargon related to “I don’t work for The Man, I’m an entrepreneur AND I get to stay home with my kids.” Slap a #girlboss on there and you have a typical MLM Instagram post. In those cases it’s partially self-inflicted.

          1. ampersand*

            Same–that’s truly the only context I’ve seen it used in. I don’t love the term, but it does evoke a certain image.

            You could remove the word girlboss from that post and the issue would still be the same: quotes that are ostensibly motivational have been put up in the women’s restroom, but not the men’s, and the people they’re directed don’t like them and think they’re kind of condescending.

      1. Garlic Microwaver*

        Specifically, people taking issue with the word “miracle.” I think it was just a compounded reaction with everything else. Everything else, I could see climbing a hill to die on, I guess.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I think the issue there was very much in context. I don’t think that saying something like “it’ll be a miracle if we manage to please this client” is particularly problematic, but in the context of motivational posters with a “girl boss” theme, I doubt that was the way it was being used. The odds are it was being used in contexts like “Miracles happen when you just believe” or “you can work miracles” and in those cases, it’s…toxic positivity at best and most likely invoking either Christianity or new age religions and in a way that assumes everybody accepts the basic premises of one or other of those faiths.

          Yeah, we don’t know the context, but I think it unlikely a motivational poster is using it in a way that is meant to be hyperbolic like “it would take a miracle to get this project done on time.”

          1. Warrior Princess Xena*

            I agree that context matters.

            To me a lot of the “ick” comes from the fact that those aren’t Work Complements (leaving out the Girlboss). By this, I mean that when I go to work, I am happy to be Officially recognised (meaning either getting my boss/coworkers saying “good job” or getting some actual work perks) for the following things:

            * my computer skills
            * teamwork ability
            * capability of remembering where all the files are
            * client/soft skills
            * staying late to get the job done
            * etc

            Things I am not interested in being Officially praised for:
            * my looks
            * my clothes (as I do not work as either a designer or a model)
            * any physical aspect of myself, actually
            * my faith
            * my politics
            * etc

            Motivational posters like the ones described, to me, fall into the territory of Personal Compliment/motivation. I don’t want my boss at work telling me I’m blessed to be alive! I want my boss at work to tell me they appreciate my hard work on the Anderson file, here’s a bonus/gift card/good comment for your review this year.

            Also, from my experience the overlap between massively dysfunctional bosses and the ones who say “Miracles will happen” is pretty high. No, we all worked 12-hour days to make up for your total lack of planning. Way to not give us credit.

        2. Double A*

          I mean, I have seen someone comment here that we shouldn’t use the word “holiday” because it’s christian coded since it derives from “Holy day.”

          Some commenters here are very against denotation and descriptive linguistics or acknowledging that language both evolves and has historical and cultural context. It can be…annoying.

        3. JustaTech*

          That’s an excellent point.
          One part is the religious nature of the origin of the word/use of word, and hey, religion, it’s a Touchy Subject! People are always going to bring a lot more baggage to that kind of conversation (even if they don’t realize it).

          For me it was in combination with everything else. Somehow (again, for me personally, YMMV) seeing a phrase about a miracle in text on a poster has a very different feeling from a coworker saying “it will be a miracle if we get this report submitted on time” – just like someone responding to the news that Grumpy Boss is out today with “thank god” has a very different feeling from a poster thanking God.
          Some poster talking about how blessed we are for the miracle of work (or whatever) would press all my buttons at once – very much the additive effect.

          Which is to say that context is even more important in this case, and it’s hard to build sufficient context in the space of a comment, so it’s easy for everyone to get going in very different directions. (I noped out of those comment threads quickly because I could see that there was a lot of energy and I didn’t have anything useful to contribute.)

        4. Ellis Bell*

          I didn’t see anyone taking issues with the word “miracle”, they were only objecting to the word being used as inspiration art for just the female staff. It’s not like anyone is advocating for a total ban on the word being used in casual phrasing. I know some people think that words don’t matter, but if you don’t think the word matters then why is it framed and on the wall? I’m the kind of wordy person who finds it hard to tune out the meaningfulness of words, and the common practice of saying something you don’t even mean. Mean what you say, and say what you mean! In writing, if nowhere else. It was exasperating that people didn’t get that.

  33. YellowCarWash*

    What might be some reasons for not replacing a role? I left my old job 6 months ago (director level) and it’s not been advertised, no one has replaced me and they aren’t training anyone from within to move up. Was the job just not that important?

    1. dear liza dear liza*

      Maybe they have a hiring freeze? Maybe they have enough coverage for your old position so they can get other empty positions filled first? Maybe they are planning a re-org?

    2. HonorBox*

      There are myriad reasons they could be choosing not to replace the role, but I don’t think that the role wasn’t important.

    3. PotatoRock*

      Or they are in a budget crunch, or the person that role reports to is also leaving and they want the new leadership hire to pick their own team, or they realized the role was mis-scoped (maybe they need a more senior or more junior version), or the tasks of the role were important but it didn’t make sense to have them all concentrated in one person, or another role entirely was eliminated and the person in that role took on your previous duties, or maybe HR is just too swamped or incompetent to get it posted…

      Or sure, it’s possible your role was actually not important at all. But either way, there are bazillions of possible reasons and you are best served by not giving this any more mental energy

    4. Ryanna*

      It could be a lot of things: they decided to prioritise other things so didn’t need that role, they distributed that role’s tasks among other roles, they’re waiting on an upcoming reorganisation before deciding how to proceed, they couldn’t afford to replace the role, they’ve got someone in mind but are having to wait for them to be available (long notice period, gardening leave, who knows?), or yeah, maybe they just realised that role wasn’t contributing enough to be worth replacing. There’s really no way to know from outside.

    5. A Significant Tree*

      I was laid off from a senior-level niche role and my role wasn’t replaced for almost two years. It’s not that it wasn’t objectively important, but the senior manager at the time did not feel it mattered and he got credit for reducing expenses. (As an aside, by the time they did figure out exactly how important that role was, they were way behind the curve on hiring and 6 years later have not climbed out of the knowledge-deficit hole.)

    6. Anon on this one*

      After a recent reorg, my role is no longer necessary, but keeping me is due to my history with the company. If I were to leave, it would be the smartest decision not to backfill me. This is no way means that I did/do isn’t important, it’s just shifting structures and priorities.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I got the impression I was in that situation. In some ways I would have jumped at the chance of redundancy: there are legal safeguards here that would have allowed me time off to go to interviews, probably would have looked to redeploy me, and I’d have got a very nice pay out due to having had 8 years’ permanent employment there with the legal minimum being a week for every year served, never mind any extra that my org would have paid out. Honestly, I sometimes wondered whether it would have been more expensive to have made me redundant than it was to keep me on.

        I’m now kicking butt and taking names in a far better position, but it is one of those things where it’s felt to be more compassionate to keep someone on but actually less so in practice. That said, I was way underemployed (several times people had asked ‘what’s an LSE graduate doing sat on reception?’ and the time I could say ‘waiting for funding for my PhD’ was over very quickly) and it might not have been that way for most other people in my kind of role.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      Depends on your job but in general, the Federal Reserve has had rates high for almost two years, trying to get inflation down and they’ve said in many different ways that increasing unemployment is one way to do it. Some forward looking economic indicators like the ISM manufacturing index are in contraction, others like their services one are barely neutral. Past two quarters of GDP were lackluster too. We started the year off with predictions between 3.1 and 3.9% growth depending on the source. First two quarters look more like 1.5% – 1.9% depending on source (books aren’t closed yet, but revisions have been downwards) So businesses see stuff like that and are in no rush to add costs and people when the economy isn’t growing much and there is so much uncertainty. Your business may be doing fine but if you see other companies not growing, you also halt your additional efforts. No effort trying to market and sell to companies that are in austerity mode.

      Some roles are not necessary to have constantly. For example many companies go without Marketing for periods of time.

      Other roles are more automatable or delegateable than people realize. I know there is someone on my team, who, if he left, we would not replace him. I could automate some stuff, delegate other stuff, and stop the time consuming trend of him helping other departments. It’s not set in stone that we 100% need that person. He also does some sales support stuff but since sales have been winding down, if he left, there wouldn’t be much left to delegate, whereas he used to have alot in that bucket

    8. Cat Executive Officer*

      I got laid off from a job last year. Shortly after I left, another person got laid off and two senior level people quit. I recently saw on LinkedIn that they replaced all of those positions without advertising the jobs. It looks like the senior leadership just went out and found people on their own to place instead of going through the formal hiring process. But this process took longer than if they had openly advertised the position.

    9. YellowCarWash*

      Thank you all. I was in a hole and feeling down on myself. Thank you for sharing these other, very realistic and quite likely, reasons!

    10. Industry Behemoth*

      Late to the party, but my position at a PastEmployer was eliminated after I left. It was simply a convenient opportunity to cut staff overhead.

      I found out some time later that the company started going downhill after my departure (but not because of it). And then realized that some things I’d seen had been signs of poor company management. Ultimately to survive, they merged with a much larger firm in our industry.

    11. Caramel & Cheddar*

      In budget crunches, we often don’t rehire a role until the next quarter/fiscal. Doesn’t mean the work wasn’t valuable, just that we think we can redistribute the key parts amongst other people for the short term in order to save money. Other times, the position gets eliminated because we want to re-structure the team in some way so that half the duties go to Person X, 25% go to Person Y, and the other 25% go to New Role Z that also takes on some other duties that haven’t had a home for ages, etc.

      I would not take it as an indication that the job or (assuming this is your real issue) your performance in the role were not important.

    12. GythaOgden*

      I wasn’t replaced after I left my reception job. The building was described as the Marie Celeste by my immediate manager, and I agreed that there wasn’t remotely enough work even for one receptionist, let alone two, and the reason I was desperate to get out and thus interviewing for the promotion was because I was travelling four hours a day for a five hour shift twiddling my thumbs and answering single figures’ worth of calls. During the pandemic the offices emptied out and never got back up to capacity, so there was no real need for two people to be doing essentially half a job. They couldn’t have sold the job to anyone worth hiring for it.

      They are actually planning to ramp usage of that building back up. We took over an empty suite of offices in the spring as a base for a property management hub, and the two managers who are responsible for that patch oversee a range of local clinics, so they wanted somewhere reasonably central to work out of. A public physiotherapy clinic has opened up in the former boardrooms, but the upper floors are still ghost towns waiting for the tenant orgs to make more concrete plans. The building itself would work really well as an outpatient clinical site — it’s in the middle of a residential area with large numbers of houses in walking distance, so it wasn’t actually a good site for an office.

      Hopefully when they do get more use out of the building they will get a new receptionist in. My former colleague is eligible to draw her pension, so I suspect she may well do when she hits 70 next year. That might force their hand a bit, but we’ll have to wait and see.

      But yeah, for the love of all that’s holy, no-one would want to do what I was doing and I’m glad they’re not inflicting it on someone else!

  34. Tres bien*

    I teach part-time for a professional program. I have always offered to serve as a reference for the new graduates, and have done so for a handful. I don’t mind at all when they are applying for positions in our field. The reference questions are very relevant to what I’ve seen in the classroom and I’d be talking to other colleagues in the field. But in the past year or so, I’ve had a couple of past students list me as a reference for retail positions (think, Dollar Store, etc). I’m sympathetic to their plight- job hunting is hard! Getting references is hard!- but found myself struggling a bit with the lengthy questionnaires I’d be sent. And then when I read in AAM’s column that these reference check companies have extremely problematic privacy policies and are selling the data gathered, I got extra-ick. Would it be fair to tell my students that I won’t do these types of reference checks? If so, suggested wording?

    1. TX_Trucker*

      I also teach part time. I personally ignore the long reference questionnaires and just cut and paste my regular reference letter into the email. Most places have taken that.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Wait, they are sending lengthy questionnaires for THE DOLLAR STORE?!?

      Good lord. I fill out lengthy questionnaires as a reference, but that’s for my former coworker trying to apply with the police departments (as a better cop than what they’d have normally).

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Sorry, very late, but I have to say that doesn’t surprise me at all. When I was thinking of getting a second job in retail in the 2000s, they would give these lengthy personality questionnaires that took more than an hour to fill in, with the slowness of their systems. For a job that pays minimum wage. No one with better things to do was going to take the time for that. Corporate retail just loves lengthy questionnaires with no thought behind them.

  35. Coffee Ice Cream*

    Anyone have diplomatic responses to coworkers who are very insistent that I need to take my birthday off and celebrate my birthday?

    I just don’t care about my birthdays! I’m finding it hard to demure without sounding like some anti-aging curmudgeon.

    1. HonorBox*

      “I don’t have any specific plans, and all of my people are working too, so I’d prefer to save my time off for a different time.”

      “I have some things I’d like to make sure I get done, and to me it isn’t a big celebration day.”

      “I’m saving my time off for _________ (a trip, relatives visiting, other reason) so I’ll be at work that day.”

      1. Coffee Ice Cream*

        I pretty much have been saying your option #2 (I like it!) but it short-circuits my coworkers’ brains. “Not… a big… celebration? But you COULD celebrate!”

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      haha just take it off for the peace and quiet and the lack of having to hear people say sorry youre working your birthday

      1. Coffee Ice Cream*

        I’m never opposed to days off but I suspect they’ll still ask what I did to celebrate my birthday once I’m back!

    3. Friyay*

      Would it help to say,
      “Oh, I celebrated last weekend” (or this weekend) Whichever weekend is furthest away from the day you’re on. I’d be shocked if they remember to follow up…and if they do, you can say “Quiet but fun. About that TSP report…”)

      1. Double A*

        You can also say, “Oh I have plans this weekend!”

        Technically true. Don’t mention they’re not birthday plans.

        (I may be reading to many fairy books where they can’t lie and so speak cryptic technical truths.)

        1. Coffee Ice Cream*

          I think I’ve read those books! I think I’m allergic to lying though it would be easier in this case.

    4. Ginger Baker*

      I like the suggestions HonorBox has below, but also, there are some folks who for religious reasons celebrating birthdays is a Definite No and this gives this such an extra level of Ick. :/ Sorry you are dealing with this – hope the scripts suggested help you get some peace from the pestering!

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      “I’ll think about it!” You don’t have to say *what* you will think. Or “Thanks for the suggestion!” You don’t owe them an explanation. They don’t have to agree with you.

      Does your org celebrate birthdays in the office? Sounds like if they do, you’d rather they don’t.

        1. GythaOgden*

          My boss decided it would be a good idea to put it into the Team Charter for frontline colleagues. This is basically a statement of how the relationship between management and colleagues will be managed professionally and socially — but I had to write the policy according to AAM niceties such as being aware that contributions to presents should be voluntary and to remember that not everyone celebrates, whether for religious reasons or just because.

          I actually stay at work if I can because for so long, my birthday was during the school holidays and so I didn’t get the big fuss made about it that a lot of other kids did. Here in the UK though the convention is that the person celebrating brings in cake and sweets etc so it’s up to those who want to make a big deal and people who don’t want to don’t have to — but still, it’s nice of my boss to ensure frontline delivery colleagues, who don’t often get as much such recognition as office-based teams, get to have the option.

          (Oh, and your username is exactly how I like to take my coffee! Either as a frappucino, or literally as coffee flavour ice cream. As neurodivergent, caffeine can have more of a relaxing effect on me, and the milk and sugar has a mild analgesic effect. I found it helped with panic attacks as well.)

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Unless you have a company policy where everyone gets their birthday off as an extra bonus day of PTO, saying “Oh, I have other plans for my PTO!” is probably all you need here.

      1. Clisby*

        Agree. I DID have one job where your birthday was a day off, so of course I took it off. I didn’t have the option to take off a different day. (I never heard of Leap Year birthday problems, but while these bosses were not objectively good, I doubt they were that wacko.)

    7. Ellis Bell*

      They’re either just making conversation or it’s code for “we care about you” If it’s a conversation thing, they would probably be just as happy if you turned the conversation back to them; “Why do you like birthdays so much? What’s your best birthday been so far?” (let them talk) “Well, that honestly sounds great (for you)!” If it’s code for caring about you just say; “You know what’s actually got me thinking about taking some time off?” (Cue the massive subject change of your real priorities for time off).

      1. Coffee Ice Cream*

        Thanks, this is pretty much what I’ve been doing, but without that last part. I think it will help!

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had a couple years where not only was I working on my birthday (which is right before Christmas) but I was working both my jobs at the time, one of which was retail. People would go “You poor thing, working on your birthday!” And I said “How else would I get 300 people to wish me happy birthday over the course of four hours?” :P

      1. Coffee Ice Cream*

        I love this! Retail before Christmas sounds hard, but I love your response.

    9. Rain*

      I always go with “Oh, how kind of you to think of me! I have plans (later/this weekend/whatever), but I appreciate your well wishes!”

      And then move on. It doesn’t matter that they weren’t giving you well wishes – what matters is that you’re ending the conversation and moving on to something else. It actually works with lots of stuff.

  36. Justin*

    How do you all fix the problem of people not paying attention to something important until they absolutely need to use it, and then turning to you for questions you’ve answered, without coming off as a jerk?

    So, I’m in the process of upgrading our company’s LMS (think Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle), and it’ll actually make things easier for my colleagues who help run training programs. I’m the only educator on staff, but the system should be easy enough to use that anyone can figure it out. I’ll make plenty of FAQs, and they’ll have access to the LMS company’s IT if there’s a true tech issue.

    But every time I do a lot of work, I make presentations, create documents, and everyone is like, great! But if they don’t actually need to use the program at that very moment, they either don’t bother with it, or they forget until they need to use it, and then they ask me a lot of questions I’ve answered.

    I can get my boss to force everyone to take the training I design, but a lot of the struggles only come when they’re truly using it.

    So I guess I’m wondering how to force MYSELF to redirect people to documents/videos/materials that I know I’ve already shared instead of giving in to the urge to just answer because it’s slightly faster.

    Indeed it’s a broader question of how not to step in when my inner calculus is “this needs to happen ASAP but then they’ll never learn.”

    1. Justin*

      (To add to this I’ll be on parental leave for several months between October and May – not the whole time – so they really need to figure it out!)

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        They will figure it out when they have to. They come to you because it’s easier. If you’re not there, they won’t be able to do that.

        I’m one of them, to be honest. I’m a doc and I started a new job in February with an EMR I hadn’t used before. I work two days a week and I was off for a week right after my computer orientation. There are some tasks I do all the time and I mastered those quickly. The ones I only have to do now and then…sometimes I still find myself asking my coworkers to remind me how to do stuff. There isn’t easily accessible documentation and even if there were it would be easier and faster to text my colleagues.

        tl;dr – I doubt you can really fix this.

        1. Justin*

          lol maybe it’s a blessing, I’m just worried that the SYSTEM will be less used (the main thing they do that they shouldn’t do is email directly instead of using the system, and then the participants don’t use the system when they need to).

          I care more about the training than my colleagues in this sense. But you’re right, maybe it’s good for them to be dropped out of the bird’s nest. I think that they do not quite realize how much I do.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Congratulations in advance :). If you’re not already a father, then I think you will make a good one. If you are, you are probably a good one and your new little one will be as equally lucky as your other(s). Either way, I wish you and yours all the best.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      One of the things I do when I initially train people is be very explicit about the fact that yes, I’m available for help, but if they have questions that I know are answered in our help materials, I will re-direct them to those materials instead of answering the question. I usually frame this as a) them being able to get the answer faster than if I was away from my desk, and b) getting that answer in a way that provides extra tools (videos, screenshots, etc.).

      I know that it *feels* incredibly rude to essentially be like “Sorry, I’m not answering that, it’s in the FAQ!” but I find by letting them know in advance that this is my process, I have less guilt about enforcing that approach later on.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah, I fully agree and it was a timing issue, because I started building this system two years ago, so there WASN’T an FAQ at first and I really did have to answer questions. I have since made materials.

        So I’m just gonna make those materials ironclad.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I would suggest make them use the system as the training.

      You say right now you’re doing presentations? By that do you mean “I stand up there with a PowerPoint and they all take notes?” Can you instead put together some practice problems or dummy data in the systems and have training be doing those problems? If it’s things like Canvas, have them all set up a “class” page and make them do all the homework turn in links (just as an example here, this is the one I’m most familiar with and I used it as a student).

      If your coworkers retain info better when you teach them as they’re actually doing something with a system, I’d skip the initial step of the presentation and just have them do something.

      This doesn’t solve the problem of them coming to you with questions instead of using the FAQ, of course. I’d recommend redirecting them to the FAQ. If they still come to you, then I’d use the FAQ myself and send them a link/screenshot of the relevant bit. After the second or third offense, I’d go to them and borrow a relevant Allison script (can’t find one at the moment) to tell them the last few times they’ve asked you it’s all be easily FAQ-able problems, and that moving forwards you expect them to use the FAQ instead of coming to you. Then whenever they email, say “this should be in the FAQ – have you checked there?” And say nothing more. Don’t answer them/help them more than 2-3 times unless someone comes to you with “hey, I checked the FAQ and it says XYZ, but I’ve tried all the steps and it’s really not working. What do you recommend?”

      1. Justin*

        Yeah I did do that last time. but because it was new only a few people did it.. I’m gonna do it again this time (make them take a training in the system) and get the leadership on board with pushing them to complete it before my second kid is born. If they do that training they’ll be fine enough.

    4. JustaTech*

      As someone on the other end of this (“here’s a very complicated system that some people use every day but you’ll use once a year, good luck!”) the most important thing is to make sure the training/FAQs are really, really easy to find.

      I *really* don’t want to have to ask how to do something in System, so *knowing* that there is documentation that I can try first would be amazing. (It doesn’t matter how wonderful your training is if no one can find it or even knows that it exists.)

      Going on parental leave might be the best thing, as it will force people to understand that they can’t just ask you, and they need to actually learn it.

    5. Izbit*

      Roxanne Gay recommended this book — Cathy Moore’s “Map It: The Hands-On Guide to Strategic Training Design.” It really changed my thinking on training. The goal is not for people to know the training but to be able to find the info when they need it. Can you put a link to the FAQ directly in the tool? In your autoreply?

    6. RM*

      Can you put a link to the training materials in your OOO message during parental leave? “For X please contact person A, for Y please contact person B, and for questions on LMS, you may refer to [link to training folder on shared drive]”

    7. Love to WFH*

      Is your training interactive? If they’re actually using the tool in the training session it might hep.

    8. Erin*

      Our organization is training up ‘super users’ who are sprinkled around the office, division, etc to help cut down on questions when people start finally digging in and using a system. It’s probably human nature to go to the easiest source to answer questions so if you have people designated as ‘go-to’s it’ll help. If you use that as part of your training program, you might even get people who volunteer to get extra training, knowing they’ll be able to add that responsibility on their performance reviews.

    9. PX*

      I’m in a similar position to you as the single point of contact for a piece of software in my company and there are a couple of things I would recommend:
      – Make people go to a *public* place for questions. This has 2 benefits: it already starts to direct people to one place for information (where you can then link to other items) and it also makes public things like a) how much time you spend on support and b) people can (theoretically!) search there for answers without having to actually ask you
      – Be diligent about directing people there. In my case its a Slack channel, and while it felt awkward early on telling people more senior than me to go there with their questions, it actually trained them fairly quickly and was only a few weeks of awkwardness
      – Use that place as a resource for sharing information, training, PPTs etc. As others have said, once people know where to go (which isnt you) you have solved probably 80% of the battle. It also trains people to stop expecting immediate responses (good thing about using Slack in my case is you can set expected response times in the channel notes, as well as use emoji’s so people know if you havent seen it, its in progress etc –> aka manage expectations)
      – If you can get a few super users as well who can help while you’re out, thats great
      – For your specific case of being out for a longer period of time, I would focus my attention on making videos or preparing very basic how-to-guides (with all the screenshots) of things people might need to know how to do. If you can then sticky them or have a big flashing arrow point to them in whatever system you use so people know to start there, then even better

      Tl;dr – you answering questions doesnt actually help anyone (your or them) so think of this as a muscle you have to build. Its the same thing as saying no to people, it might not always feel good – but you dont grow as a person/leader by always saying yes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  37. Richard Hershberger*

    Some happy news. I mentioned several weeks back that I was job hunting. I now have two viable offers. The one I will be accepting was through a contact, but the other was simply send in my resume through a job site. The work for the first one will be more interesting. The money is slightly lower, but I will take more interesting over a couple thousand dollars. As I suspected, in the legal world experience counts for more than youth, at least for the sort of role I was looking for.

    1. Medical Library*

      Congratulations! Great that you had a couple of options, too, and chose the one you found more interesting.

    2. WestsideStory*

      Congratulations on the good news!

      I have noticed that with older employees, financial concerns can vary the closer they are to retirement….of the two jobs, does either of them offer 100% match on a 401K, or are they comparative in terms of how much you’d have to pay for the health insurance?

      The difference in non-wage compensation can be thousands (in the U.S. anyway).

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      One more round of Congratulations! from here. That’s great news. Enjoy your new position.

  38. HonorBox*

    As noted above… a Friday after the 4th should just be an extension of the 4th. Holy smokes is it slow today. I’m here because I didn’t want to use PTO or one of our three observance days, and I’ve been able to get through some filing and cleanup that I needed to do, but wow. I have received one non-spam email from anyone outside of the office…from a vendor in Spain.

    Maybe we’ll close early… fingers crossed.

    1. the cat's ass*

      saaaame. I’m here only 1/2 a day and the commute was a breeze, so counting my blessings, i guess!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I was confused for a few minutes when there was no one on the road and then I remembered….

        1. HonorBox*

          Same. There were almost no cars on the streets and very few in the parking lot.

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      I’m surprisingly busy (from the general public rather than coworkers, to be fair) so I’m a little annoyed since I was expecting a quiet day. I suppose that’s what I get for assuming!

      (My boyfriend works retail so he’s probably getting it even worse than I am today, so I’ll be thankful for the lack of emails anyway!)

    3. River*

      It’s been relatively slow here at the office too. It also doesn’t help that most of the staff have expressed that they’re tired. A bunch of us walked a block to go get coffee from a local coffee shop just to get through today. We haven’t had a lot of phone calls, however, someone did receive a very nasty customer interaction over the phone. So I guess that was our action for the day. We will be closed all weekend and then back at it again on Monday.

    4. *daha**

      I’m off without pay today. We’re in manufacturing and our processes really can’t start up, run a little, and shut down all in a 24 hour stretch, so I understand not being open. We’re allowed to use PTO , but employees in their first three years get 5 days sick/vacation combined.

    5. Rara Avis*

      None of my summer school students took a long weekend, which is cool. We only have 9 days together, and there are only 5 of them this year, so it would have been annoying.

    6. Tradd*

      Freight never stops moving so we were open. Most customers were closed. Got stuff done without phone going or tons of email.

    7. GythaOgden*

      I suspect there was a different kind of issue yesterday with people who were almost nodding off after election night here. I had a few hours sleep while nothing much happened, but was awake from 4am. I hit a wall around 5pm when I clocked off but was in bed by 6pm. I remember most of the times I’ve stayed up for election night it’s been a very long day the following Friday. Yesterday Did Not Disappoint in many more ways than just that one.

      Given what happens to my brain when it’s tired, I must say the sight of a prominent third party politician dancing to Sweet Caroline is now etched into my brain in a way that I wish it wasn’t, but even as public sector and therefore scrupulously neutral in terms of party politics my boss and I spent our 1:1 mattering away about it. I’m a tad concerned because our org is the product of the previous administration’s reorganisation, but I do believe we can make a clear case for why hospital facilities should be managed by a separate division than by local clinical trusts.

      Happy belated 4th to you all and here’s to another 250 of them.

  39. Green Goose*

    For people that work in tech, if you saw someone applying for an open role in your department and you saw someone’s resume that had work experience like this, would it be a red flag?
    Senior Llama Groomer Job at small nonprofit 9 years
    Llama Groomer Manager Job at well known tech company <1 year

    I'd like to stay in the tech space but I have a bad nepo-hire boss at my current employer so I want to leave to another place doing similar work just for a different boss.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      What part of this is worrying you, red flag wise? Is it that you were a manager for less than a year and then stepped into an individual contributor role for nearly a decade? Or something else?

      1. Green Goose*

        Oh man, I wrote a longer version of this initially and then thought it was too long but I took out my concerns.
        The reason I took two steps down in title is the pay was much higher but most of the people I know who came from nonprofits into tech took a 1-2 title step down. But yeah maybe that’s a red flag too?

        I was more concerned that it would seem like I couldn’t hack it in the tech space since I lasted so long at a nonprofit but then my first tech job I might leave in less than a year?

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I think I misread it as you being currently in the Senior role since it was listed first, but from your other comments it sounds like you’re in the management role currently? Regardless, I don’t think Manager sounds like a step or two down from Senior Whatever because it’s clear that that’s an individual contributor role vs you now stepping into a Management role. I think it’s also common to have higher titles at smaller orgs than at much bigger companies where you might be one of several people doing a similar job.

          From what I understand of tech companies, there’s tons of movement within them and between them, so unless you’re looking for something new after three months, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m not following your example. Yes, a llama groomer applying for a tech job would be a red flag, but I didn’t think that’s what you’re asking.

      1. Green Goose*

        Yeah, sorry for asking in an unclear way! My original one was much longer and I was thinking it was too much of a novela so I over trimmed.
        In the nonprofit space job hopping was looked at so suspiciously when we were doing hiring but from what people at my tech company say, they don’t seem to think it’s as bad? But all my information is anecdotal and from a small sample. I’d really like to get a similar role elsewhere so I’d need to put my current experience on my resume but it’s so short.
        I’m getting ready to update my resume and worried how to spin this. I obviously can’t say anything bad about my manager but they are the only reason I want to leave.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, I’ll say the tech industry generally doesn’t mind job-hopping as much as some other industries. That said, my understanding is that job-hopping as a red flag refers to a pattern and not a single short stint. If you’re one place 9 years and another place 1 year, that isn’t job-hopping. If you’re one place 1 year, another place 2 years, another place 6 months, and then another place 1 year, that looks more like job-hopping.

          1. Donkey Hotey*

            Ah! This makes more sense. If this is your case, I’ve been there and no, one one year stint does not a job hopper make.

          2. Bananapantsfeelings*

            Agreed, the 9 years says you can stick around and succeed in role, and the under 1 year says that one company or manager wasn’t a good fit for some reason. I wouldn’t worry about that at all if I saw it.

    3. David*

      For me, no, the short stay isn’t a concern, but then again I read AAM so I’m well aware of all the legitimate reasons someone might stay at a job less than a year. In fact if anything the 9 year stay at your first job strikes me as more noteworthy, though still not in a bad way. Of course there are some hiring managers out there who would be more judgmental.

      Incidentally “llama grooming” would be a great way to represent experience tuning large language models :-p (but not on a resume, unfortunately)

  40. Derreen*

    I’ve been job-hunting for a while and about six months ago turned down a job offer – I was the first choice candidate but the level of the role was slightly beneath what I was looking for and a bit of a step down from my last position. Not wanting to burn my bridges or sound like a flake interviewing for a role I didn’t want, I gave the reason that their hybrid work options weren’t as flexible as I needed them to be due to a recent disability. We parted ways politely and that was that. Now they have advertised a similar role but at a higher level, essentially the next level up from the one they offered me, and I really want to apply for it. My two questions are 1) should I (and how do I) address the fact I turned down a role with them due to the hybrid work options (I was thinking to say my circumstances have changed and it’s no longer a factor), and 2) can I edit my resume to better match the seniority of this position or am I forever tied to the resume I submitted for the less senior vacancy? For context I did undersell myself a little in that resume at the time as I didn’t want to seem overqualified!

    1. ecnaseener*

      Saying your circumstances have changed sounds perfect. You don’t even have to say it’s no longer a factor at all, that might seem odd, but your circumstances have changed such that their system is now a good fit for you.

      Yes, you can definitely submit a new version of your resume tailored to this position. Very normal, especially when several months have gone by!

    2. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I’d say your reasoning to apply to the more senior role is sound and you can both say/do the things you’re thinking (circumstances DO change and yes, edit/update your resume, I am tweaking mine fairly often as I remember more key words that align with my experience for the ATSs and such). Why NOT throw your hat in the ring? I did something similar…applied for an AVP role 3 years back and had to turn it down due to seniority/salary levels, and the VP role just opened up, so I applied (and are crossing all appendages).

    3. WellRed*

      I’m confused. You turned down the previous offer for its hybrid options but now are fine with its hybrid options? I guess write a hell of a cover letter.

      1. Anonyosuggest*

        No, they turned down the offer because it was lower level than they wanted, but SAID it was due to the hybrid not being flexible enough. Now the higher level version is open and they do want that and are trying to cover for the not-exactly-the-real-reason they gave last time.

  41. Applicant*

    I’m job hunting right now and had this experience twice in a week. I applied for two jobs (both of which I was well-qualified for) that disclosed they used AI for initial screening. Both said it wasn’t required and gave you the option to opt out of it. Since they didn’t specify what application they use or its security parameters, I opted out. For both of them, I received a rejection within 24 hours.

    Is opting out of AI application review actually code for “your application won’t be reviewed at all”?

    1. David*

      It’d be a waste of their time to accept applications that they know they’re immediately going to reject without looking at them. And most job applications get rejected anyway on their merits, and often pretty quickly – even when you think you’re well qualified. (Alison has often written about that.) So I think given the evidence you have, it seems extremely unlikely that declining the AI review is what got your application rejected.

  42. AnonToday*

    What does it say about a company when they can’t seem to stop hiring jerks?

    I’ve been with my company for a few years now and it seems the executive team and staff are all kind, but we struggle filling upper management spots with people who aren’t asses. These folks range from unpleasant (big ego) to horrible (sexist remarks, screaming in another person’s face).

    We’ve had layoffs every six months or so, and a significant portion of people involved seem to be included for attitude/behavior as opposed to their position actually being eliminated.

    I’m at the staff level so I don’t think I can actually do anything, but just kind of wondering how or why this happens from an executive or upper management perspective. My previous boss was included in the last layoff for this issue, and the replacement has already shown similar behaviors. How does a company find itself in this situation, and what needs to be prioritized to get out of it?

    1. HonorBox*

      I’d love to see the interview process involve staff who will be managed by the person being interviewed. It wouldn’t add a ton of time to the process, but would add a great perspective. There may be behaviors that can be covered up when talking to other senior leaders or even HR, but staff may be able to recognize things that have added to this pattern.

      1. AnonToday*

        Thank you! Staff interviews are actually part of our hiring process, but come to think of it, leadership has never followed the staff recommendation and just gone with their own selection.

        People have been knocked out of the hiring process for being rude to administrative assistants, but seems like executives are still not catching everything. Particularly when it comes to concerns of staff.

        1. HonorBox*

          Depending on your relationships with folks in management, it might be worth a conversation with them. You could indicate that it has seemed that staff recommendations haven’t been weighed as heavily AND it is costing money when the wrong exec candidates are brought in and then need to be replaced.

    2. ruthling*

      I think some types of work attracts jerks (or maybe creates jerks?), especially at higher levels. It sounds like your company doesn’t do due diligence, like reference checks on higher level hires, and they may be in a situation where the likelihood of someone being a jerk is higher. do you have any power to discuss vetting procedures with someone who can make changes? For higher level positions, you could be asking to speak to someone who worked for them, as opposed to just supervisors or peers.

      1. AnonToday*

        Ha, this might be part of it. Before my previous two rude bosses came in, I remember another team remarking that they’d never met nice (professionals in my industry) before and was surprised our team was so collaborative.

        Love the idea about requiring a reference check from a previous employee. Alternatively, the field is extremely niche so it wouldn’t take too many degrees of separation to investigate this without formal reference checks too. Will definitely suggest this next time I’m on a hiring committee.

    3. ecnaseener*

      It means they don’t put enough/any effort into not hiring jerks. Whether because of incompetence or because they believe a talented jerk isn’t that big of a problem.

    4. Anon for this*

      I was sort of in the same boat (so not an exec perspective here, sorry!) but these were my suspicions:

      The same people were always doing the interviews, always men. And so they seemed to pick sexists pretty often… I think because they wouldn’t even be able to see if that person was sexist because they never saw them interact with a technical woman. Always good to have a diverse interview panel.

      Also, they wanted to keep costs low, so they would only hire people willing to take a pay cut. People willing to take the pay cut were more willing to be: people who had been fired (maybe for a good reason), people who were job hoppers (maybe due to personality/inability to manage stress/conflicts), or people who were desperate to escape a toxic situation (that had possibly warped their POV). Managers also seemed to be set up to fail with very little coaching or support of their own. And also to cut costs, we were understaffed and everyone was stressed. Leading to some people acting badly because of this. This seemed to warp even people who were initially good hires.

      It seemed like we needed to hire more people, coach everyone more, pay every one more, and have diverse interview panels.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Those people are really good at presenting a positive image when they want to. Glad-handers, schmoozers, brown-nosers, whatever you want to call them. But after they have power or authority, they show their true colors.

      You’d think that senior management would recognize this pattern – that they keep hiring jerks after being taken in by them. The fact that they haven’t connected the dots is the worrying thing.

    6. Flutterby*

      Ugh… replying in solidarity. Something similar is happening in a department that is adjacent to mine. The primary problem seems to be that every time they have to hire someone they feel like they’re under a time crunch and desperate, so they neglect doing due diligence and only selectively hear feedback from the less powerful people who are noting the red flags (i.e. they seem to only hear the neutral comments and gloss over the negative comments in the feedback).

      I’ve tried (repeatedly) pointing out the trend to them as well as pointing out specific bad practices, but we’re in totally different chains of command and no one over there has to listen to me (these terrible hires only faintly affect my work, but I’m willing to spend a bit of capital here because it makes the whole organization look terrible). A colleague has started asking the higher ups to repeat her feedback back to her, so we’ll see if that helps any.

      However, we’re currently in the final stages of hiring more people that everyone (except the higher ups) can see has disaster written all over them. If you find a way that might stop this cycle of nonsense, please share your wisdom!

    7. Angstrom*

      I can guess — they’re looking for: Assertive! Dynamic! A go-getter! A take-charge person! Speaks their mind! Fearless!
      Terms like that can easily be used to explain or excuse jerk behavior.

      1. ThatOtherClare*

        This can be addressed in the job posting itself. You want to make the toxic types go “Eww, no thanks”. Off the top of my head:

        “We’re looking for a humble person who embraces ‘leading from the trenches’, caring for their team and helping them grow and flourish. Mutual respect is a core value at XYZCo.”

        Combine that with some “Is this person a kind leader or just a micromanager?” checks during interviews and it may help.

  43. not a contractor*

    brainstorm for me, please: I am writing SOPs for how we answer requests from the public regarding what we do. Is there a good word for “someone who contacts us” that can encompass calling or emailing? Could use “caller” but we do get requests by email so it might be misleading. All options tried so far look bad or confusing.

    1. HonorBox*

      Could you word it in a way that you see in contracts where you put ( ) around the word you’ll use later in the SOP? Something like “someone who contacts us (contact)” and then use contact through the rest of the document.

      1. not a contractor*

        this is kind of my favorite, but I am not sure it will go forward. thanks!

    2. Ginger Baker*

      Requester? Constituent? Or change the language around to avoid it “When a question is received…”?

      1. SunflowerGirl*

        “Or change the language around to avoid it “When a question is received…”?”
        I recommend against using this type of passive voice construction in an SOP, where it’s necessary to know who is doing what.

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

      Not knowing what you’ve already tried and eliminated so — requestor, client, constituent, guest, contact — I don’t think you need to reference the “how,” just the person and the steps.

      Step 1: Requestor contacts us
      Step 2: Tier 1 CSR responds to Requestor to file intake form A: option 1, Tier 1 CSR is able to answer Requestor; option 2, Tier 1 CSR escalates intake form A to Tier 2 CSR who will follow up with Requestor…

      1. not a contractor*

        requestor isn’t bad, especially as compared to what we tried. thanks!

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Service user, MoP (member of the public), community members, clients, enquirers. A lot of descriptors also depends on the service provided i.e. patients, voters, parents, customers etc .. You’re also making me think of an old editor who used to say “there’s nothing wrong with the word ‘people’.

  44. Emperor Kuzco*

    I’m relatively new to AAM, how do I find out more about Alison’s cats!? Especially after the cute ‘catworks’ photo yesterday, I want to know their names and where they came from.

    1. Emperor Kuzco*

      I guess this isn’t technically work-related…though I am at work, thinking about cats.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I send a lot of cat memes to my team throughout the week. Cats are related to basically everything.

  45. Water Lily*

    How would you work with someone who is bored and has outgrown their position? I currently supervise an early-career employee who does a great job. But he’s bored and looking for new challenges. My response is, “Dude, I think you’re great at this job, but I can’t give you any more responsibility or promote you in any way that’s going to make you happier. I think you need to find a new job within the company or a new job with a different company.”

    He didn’t like that response and would prefer that I promote him within the role he has. That’s not totally up to me, and it’s just not realistic. At the end of the day, I need the llama groomer to be the llama groomer, you know?

    Any advice?

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

      If there isn’t any way to break the job into levels based on skill or experience — Junior/Senior Llama Groomer, Llama Groomer Specialist, Lead Llama Groomer, Tier 2 Llama Groomer, (old-fashioned but appropriate in some industries) Apprentice/Journeyman — then being honest with him about needing to move on is the best course of action. The only other suggestion to take the sting out of the reality would be to possibly get him career development opportunities like industry conferences, continuing education, special certification, networking referrals, etc.

    2. Six for the truth over solace in lies*

      What you said sounds plenty clear to me, which leads me to believe that the problem isn’t that he doesn’t understand, he just doesn’t want to accept it and is hoping either that asking repeatedly in different ways will eventually unlock the magic words, or that he can wear you down.

      I would just keep pleasantly but firmly repeat what you’ve said. You can’t *make* him accept it, so all you can do is remain clear.

      1. HonorBox*

        Just repeat “I would love to give you more, but this role is llama groomer, and I’m not able to give more responsibilities or promotion within that role. I appreciate your desire to do more and be promoted, but that’s unfortunately something I can’t provide.”

        And honestly, if it continues beyond one (maybe two) more conversation(s) in which you continue to say what you’ve said, you may need to be a bit more direct/harsh. He really needs to understand that pushing the issue is not only not going to lead to the outcome he wants, but shines a negative light on him because he’s not receiving what you’re saying.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      I am that employee. I originally came to my current company because I wanted to have more opportunities than at my old company, but I slowly grew to realize that despite how bored I am, the only opportunities open to me are to switch departments and work under a manager who is incredibly toxic. (For the record, group leads under him last an average of about two years before they get fired or quit.)

      So yeah, I’ve realized that I need to get out. It’s taken me a while to come to terms with that, because while I like the team I currently work with, I am bored with the work, and I don’t want to end up in another toxic situation like I did at my last job.

      In the long run, he just has to come to that realization on his own. You’ve told him exactly what the current situation is, and he just needs to come to terms with that.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I like the Captain Awkward approach of every time the request gets made, bat it back with “how are you going to do that?’ and “what is your plan for that?” and “I really wish you luck in finding what you need”. Instead of going down the path of how you can’t do it for him, just remind them who’s job it is … like don’t even refer to the possibility/impossibility of your doing it. He’s making it your problem to provide his next role.

    5. Meh*

      Its one thing to say “I can’t promote you”. It is another thing to say “I won’t help you with your career”. Especially for someone who is early career, it’s not obvious how to make that next step up.

      Is it possible for you to help him connect to other depts / orgs within your network ? Identify jobs for which his current background would be a asset ? Help him get credentials to move on to the next thing ? Offer to be a great reference ?

    6. Stuart Foote*

      I was that guy…I did a great job at my early career roles, but I didn’t get promoted just because typically people with two years of experience at an entry level job don’t suddenly get huge promotions. It is very frustrating, especially since getting another job is challenging too because, again, this guy’s resume doesn’t show much yet and even highlighting accomplishments is tough because the job is likely too junior to have any truly great accomplishments.

    7. JustaTech*

      If he was just bored, I would suggest some kind of classes or courses (LinkedIn Learning type stuff).
      But since he’s looking for a promotion (and isn’t hearing you when you say “not going to happen”) I’d suggest that he take on some kind of committee work that would get him some exposure to other teams in the company – and by committee work I’m thinking safety committee, social committee, that kind of stuff – so he has more awareness of what kinds of jobs are available in the company (and maybe what is actually involved in getting a promotion).

  46. Ali + Nino*

    I’m looking to rent a co-working space for at least part of my work week. Aside from cost, commute, and possibly somewhere to store my stuff, what are some other things I should look for?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Insurance. If the building burns down and takes all your stuff with it, you’ll need insurance to cover that. How much would that cost?

      Internet access. Do they provide it, or are you responsible for it? If they provide it, what happens if it goes out?

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      How noisy is it? Are their quiet focus areas and conference call areas? Or are you going to randomly have loud zoom calls from someone else?

      Is it mostly used by one company or lots of individuals? If a lot of people from same company you get some entitlement usually.

      Do they have a kettle? What’s the policy on bringing in snacks/food/drinks, is there a fridge?

      How many outlets do you need, how available are they? Gorgeous desks but no outlets is useless.

      How secure is the facility? If you need to run to bathroom is your stuff safe? Is it public access or member access? Ie can you wander in off the street, grab a laptop and walk out.

      How is parking/bus lines ? What will you do in bad weather?

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Noise/chatter level – in my experience, this can really vary over the course of the day, so you want to visit the space at different times before committing.
      Amenities (coffee, refrigerator, microwave).
      Check carefully for hidden fees on stuff like printing/copying.

  47. TheRift*

    Pre-amble: I am middle-aged and legitimately triggered psychologically, emotionally, and physically by yelling due to having deeply flawed, emotionally immature parents.
    I changed careers and now I work in healthcare with patients (12 hr overnight shifts 3x/week). One of the senior level techs displays pervasive abusive conduct towards the other techs. This behavior includes: antagonizing/starting fights/yelling, dismissing or laughing at reasonable questions from lower level staff who need help, saying “don’t start with me” or “I’m gonna beat your ass”, in response to reasonable questions, intentionally sabotaging lower level techs studies and/or hazing, and exaggerating and declaring she’s the victim when someone finally complains to management about it. Apparently, this has been a problem for well over a year. The previous crew of night techs all left after this woman was hired. I’m newish and still in training, but I’m ready to walk out the next time she yells in the office while patients are there. I’ve spoken to our manager and she responds like this is new information, which makes me distrustful of her. The other night techs don’t trust her at all. Recently, I stood up for myself and made it very clear that this woman isn’t to speak to me the way she has been, but here I am completely stressed and sick (can’t sleep and my neck and shoulders hurt) about having to work with her again. I’ve filed official complaints, and have moved the problem onto management’s shoulders per advice from this page regarding an “explosive co-worker”, but I’m not sure what to do when I’m in the moment with this person. When I’m fired up I cuss like a sailor, fumble my words, stutter, which is unprofessional. When this woman starts her BS in front of me again how can I best deflect it? Should I sing at her, tell her I don’t understand “jerk”, pretend I can’t hear her, walk away which means I’m not watching my patients? Part of me wants to just leave and not care about the consequences, but like I mentioned, I’m still a trainee. Finding a new job elsewhere may prove difficult. PLEASE ADVISE! The organization I work for is a well known teaching hospital. I can probably be moved to a different facility, but not yet as a trainee. When this woman isn’t on schedule the night crew gets on just fine without her. The abuser is good at training, but a new hire or day staff employee could also take over training. I’m so disappointed with my manager.

    1. HonorBox*

      1. Remove yourself from the line of fire when she gets fired up. That doesn’t mean leaving the room and leaving your patients, but move away, check on a patient, grab some supplies. Let her know by leaving her presence that you aren’t going to stand for the behavior.

      2. Do you have any sort of security cameras in place? Do they have audio? You could note the time that things happen and point your manager to those particular instances so she can see for herself what is happening.

      Because it is overnight, the manager may not realize just how bad this coworker is. If you can accomplish suggestion 1 and just avoid the confrontation altogether and provide care for patients (i.e. do your job the best way you know how) you may be able to get through the training period and request transfer. Don’t respond in kind to her, though. As awesome as it would feel, then management has two people “fighting” in front of patients.

      I’m also curious about patients… how are they reacting? That might be a way to get to management too. If multiple patients witness this behavior, and if they said something about it, it might be easier to take some corrective measures.

      1. TheRift*

        I can try to walk away, but last shift she followed me to the breakroom. If I hadn’t closed myself off in the bathroom she probably would have berated me in there. I spent a good amount of time in the bathroom. We only have recording equipment in the patients rooms. Most of her nonsense occurs in the control room where we monitor patients via camera and audio recording. The patient bathrooms are opposite our control room and the doors are often left open so they can hear us. I know because I can hear my co-workers when I’m in the hallway.

        1. ThatOtherClare*

          Perhaps when she starts you could go into the rooms with the patients? It would be a lot of leg work, but going from room to room means that they’re still being monitored and if she continues to rant, it’s being recorded. If you combine that with logging and eventually bulk reporting every single incident of her behaviour, your work will have to act. Workplaces that ignore consistent abuse rely on the fact that people aren’t documenting every single incident, because ironically it seems like a ridiculous amount of effort. But if you have times and room numbers for every incident and it’s multiple times a shift, every shift, for weeks, that’s going to add up to an unavoidable mountain of evidence satisfyingly quickly.

    2. Anon for this one*

      I’d suggest a couple things:

      1. Bring it to HR if you haven’t already. Not the same everywhere, but saying “I’m gonna beat your a**” is technically a violent threat.

      2. If your organization has a hotline for employees or patients to anonymously report incidents, consider doing this. Unfortunately many of the patients families are not there during the night so they won’t see this behavior and advocate for their loved ones. And, oftentimes patients are afraid of reporting while inpatient for fear of retaliation.

  48. Cochrane*

    Our sales team just got back from an annual industry conference that is held at the same small boutique hotel in a major Midwest city every year. As productive as the conference is, they all seem to dread the expense reimbursement process. This hotel doesn’t provide itemized bills to all corporate guests, often requiring days if not weeks of back-and-forth with the hotel management office to get an emailed PDF of the itemized charges to finally complete the reimbursement process.

    One of the sales reps “Jason”, shared his technique for getting quick reimbursement by taking last years PDF, firing up Adobe Acrobat to change the dates and amounts to add up to what was charged on the credit card with the hotel, and send that to the AP team to close the issue.

    Reactions to this story by my team have been mixed ranging from admiring a clever solution to a problem to (quoting one colleague directly) “why hasn’t he been fired yet?”. If “Jason” had stayed home and did this to cheat expense money from the firm, I would 1000% agree that would be a fireable offense, but since it’s substantiating an approved expense that he actually made, I don’t feel that it’s clearly a fraud.


    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      It’s fraud. It makes me question his integrity. HR/payroll now cannot trust any of his receipts. I would fire him, the breach in trust and lack of good moral judgement is too much.

    2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I would refuse to stay at that hotel or insist that the company pay up front. It is ridiculous to make people wait weeks for reimbursement for a known problem

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        This is where I land. The hotel is the problem, and Jason has come up with a solution that works, but is not terribly ethical.

        If this hotel doesn’t provide itemized bills, can they get this information on paper?

        1. Clisby*

          It sounds like the company is the problem. I went to various conferences during my working life, and my employer always arranged the hotel accommodations – it was their problem, not mine.

    3. NoTellMotel*

      I think that’s a little too far. It isn’t exactly like he’s stealing or anything, but he is submitting documents that are not official. I’d be really curious to know about AP team’s reaction when Jason’s reimbursement request comes weeks before others. Why did they get his and no one else’s for three weeks? It would be a kindness to Jason to tell him to knock it off, as he’s borderline committing fraud.

      Overall though, I think there’s something that needs fixing in how this hotel is approaching things. I travel some for work and have a fair amount of interaction with hotels for work, and requesting an itemized bill shouldn’t take weeks. I’d flag the issue to management. Let them know that people are frustrated because of the time it takes to get what they need for reimbursement. It might be that others within your industry are also as frustrated, and there should be a relatively easy fix to getting those itemized statements more quickly. If not at checkout, at the very least, immediately upon request. That seems like a poor setup, especially if they have a lot of corporate business. It takes their staff a whole lot of time to deal with something that could be a simple software fix.

      1. Cochrane*

        This is where I land too; Jason should lay off the arts and crafts, but nobody would think to do that in the first place if you got the right documentation up front and could get the expense reimbursement rolling on your way back to the airport. The AP is handled by an outsourced service provider who isn’t going to play Sherlock Holmes on what appears to be a travel reimbursement submitted in good order, so odds of that blowing back are slim.

        Overall , there are issues with this venue in other regards, so I wouldn’t be shocked if this situation just resolved itself with a change in hotel next year.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      Nope nope nope. You don’t cheat on your taxes and you don’t lie to your doctor and you don’t falsify expense reports, even if the information you use is true.

      I worked with someone who made up a hotel invoice when he had stayed with family instead. T&E got suspicious and tried to call the hotel for verification (it was allegedly in El Salvador, I think) and discovered that the hotel didn’t even exist. (This was before the internet was widely used – in 1997, I think.) He was fired.

      The irony was that I had traveled with the same company and had the chance to stay with friends instead of a hotel. I asked my boss if that would be OK and he not only said it was fine, he said to take them out to dinner or buy flowers or something and expense it.

      They didn’t care about the money – they cared about the lie.

    5. Angstrom*

      I assume that your expense process asks for the bill that the guest received from the hotel. If that is true, it is fraud.

      If your expense process asks for an accurate list of the charges, and that’s what he submits, it might not be fraud.

      How does he know the correct amounts to enter if he hasn’t received the itemized bill? If he’s making up the numbers, and not making that clear, it absolutely is fraud.

      The problem is the hotel. Any hotel with business clients should be able to generate an itemized bill.

    6. Rick Tq*

      Your accounting department needs to get off their high horse and accept the hotel’s invoices as complete. If this is an annual issue with this hotel Finance should accept the lack of itemized data as an exception and approve expenses immediately.

      A better solution is for ALL attendees demand the use of a company credit card for the duration of the event, so you have to provide documentation but not wait to get YOUR money reimbursed by the company for a business expense.

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

      First, he should knock off the fraudulent receipt — the amount might be the same, but clearly the AP is trusting that he’s submitting a legitimate bill, and he isn’t, so it is fraud.

      Second, what are all of the items that need to be accounted for on an itemized hotel bill? Are people charging food, sundries, or parking/valet to the room? If moving to a more professional hotel isn’t convenient, maybe the better way would be to pay separately for each item and have a receipt for those individually. A few extra minutes of inconvenience at the time, instead of weeks of back and forth with the hotel, and delayed reimbursement, later.

      1. Two Dog Night*

        Yup. When I’m traveling I don’t charge anything to the room—I always pay with a credit card. It’s a pain in the neck, but it makes filing expenses much, much easier.

    8. Irish Teacher.*

      Honestly, my main thought is that he’s putting himself at unnecessary risk. If the powers that be find out he’s been changing dates and amounts, it is quite possible they would think he is claiming more than he is entitled to.

      I think the risk of getting fired here is just too high.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Off the top of my head, the reason that your AP department might require itemised receipts is due to taxes and how much they actually reimburse you in order to cover any additional tax costs. The IRS has some weirdly nitpicky buckets.

      What Jason is doing is a bad idea. Yes, he’s not actively trying to defraud the company, but he could get fired very easily if he’s caught.

      But also – if you know it’s coming, and you know it’s a hassle every year, can you get ahead of the problem? Email hotel management/the conference itself and ask for them to do itemised bills up front? Or have someone at your company book the hotel rooms?

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. Our company has a direct travel booking website. While most hotels are paid up front in full, the smaller establishments require payment when you arrive and the company provides you with credit card details for their corporate account. Except…if a hotel is too small to take payment directly from the travel website, then they’re often too small to handle the corporate account, and I ended up in a bit of a pickle one evening as a result. I was tired, the hotelier was juggling an infant and the card reader, the reception was flakey and neither of us wanted or needed the hassle of having to get my corporate office involved, particularly since it was after 5 o’clock by that time. I asked for a receipt and was handed a scrap of till roll that was basically illegible.

        I ate the cost because I could but I now only book with chains even through the corporate website. On my own I’m free to choose but, while I like the atmosphere of smaller hotels, you often get more consistency with bigger ones.

        It’s still NOT good to try and cheat the system. At that point it’s not the hotel or the company that has the problem. If Jason hadn’t done what he did, then he’d have standing to complain and get a better resolution all round. The problem is, he went ahead and forged a bill from the previous year and now he has no more moral high ground to suggest that the company and hotel sort this out. It’s put him and the others of you on the trip in a very difficult position and it won’t be solved by claiming the hotel and company forced him to act that way — neither did the PDF trick for him.

        There seems to be an awful lot of people blaming the people who ‘made’ him do it — but he actually went ahead and cooked up that scheme and now I think he has to face the consequences of it.

  49. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    Just a rant at how much worse service/entry jobs are treating people now vs. when I was a teen. I have a high school and college student. When I was their age I worked fast food and got 40 hours a week and a regular schedule so that the summer between college years I took a second job and was getting 80 hours a week on a reliable schedule for 33% above minimum wage. That’s right Wendy’s was paying 33% above min for just a regular position, not assistant manager or anything and so did the cable company for routine low skill office work (answer phone and direct to the right department, sort mail, etc.)

    My college kid was told she would get 30 hrs a week, and is getting closer to 20 and they only schedule her for 3-4 hour shifts, so she is driving 90 minutes round and working 6 days a week to only get 20-25 hours. And sometimes if they are slow they tell her to go home early. And the hours are too irregular to get a second food service job.

    My high school kid got a job and was told he would start Sunday (5 days later) and he had to have restaurant shoes before he could start and they would get him onboarding stuff that week. Bought the shoes online. No onboarding. Next week, no onboarding because “the person who does that was sick” Next week “We are working on it.” Next week silence. Next week “We are reconsidering how we want to do staffing we will get back to you in 2-3 weeks” ($-35 and 5 weeks where he had stopped looking).

    Got another job, told he would start in 4 days and he had to have food service permit and jeans, which like many teens now, he did not own because they don’t fit well. And then they ghosted him ($-25 and hours and gas driving to thrift stores to buy jeans)

    He got a 3rd job that thankfully only needs all the things he has already bought and is supposed to start tomorrow. But also in the interview they said 30-40 hours a week and it is looking more like 16-20 of random shifts.

    I think of all the people who can not afford to drop $60-70 for jobs that don’t materialize.

    1. Not Totally Subclinical*

      And then the owners go and complain about how nobody wants to work.

    2. Filosofickle*

      Retail/food workers are getting absolutely screwed, above all in hours and shifts, and I believe a lot of people don’t realize how bad it is. It’s exhausting to cobble together enough hours across multiple gigs to eke out a living.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Washington state actually had to make a law requiring companies to provide schedules no later than two weeks ahead of time because minimum wage folks were basically unable to plan their time ever. Companies were literally giving people 12 hours notice of their schedules. Seriously. How hard can scheduling be to do? Really? You get a roster of people. You build in enough flexibility that if someone is sick everyone isn’t screwed and allow for some PTO days. I’m fully aware that scheduling is a significant duty but surely it’s also enough of a repeating one that it should be doable a month out or so!

    4. Wolf*

      > the summer between college years I took a second job and was getting 80 hours a week

      I know this was’t the main point of your post, but holy cow that sounds exhausting. I’m amazed you were able to do that, and at the same timesorry that you had to do that.

  50. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    We had huge amounts of drama at work this week – the biggest issue was finding out that a team member (who is already on a PIP) had let a very expensive mistake happen, and instead of owning up to it has spent 6 months covering his ass by lying through his teeth, including in official reports. His line manager was pissed but also elated because he hates this dude and is gleeful at getting to sh*can him. Our big boss got dragged into endless meetings over it all and came out of them looking like he’d been hit by a car. HR are going to meet with the ass-coverer on Monday and send him on his way.

    I don’t enjoy the drama – this guy is clearly in the wrong and is in a high enough position he had to know to own his mistakes, but he strikes me as quite an unsettled soul who hates the idea of people being mad at him so avoided it. Now he is losing his job, when he had the brains and skills to do it well, but kept getting in his own way.

    1. Rain*

      I don’t mean to be unsympathetic, but this is a case of someone firing themselves.

      Regardless of what his intentions were or how much he didn’t want people to be mad at him, he covered up a major mistake for 6 months. That’s just not something that you can accept from an employee.

      This isn’t a little knee-jerk lie that he then comes clean about the next time he’s asked – this is 6 months of deliberate falsification and if anything is a fireable offense, it’s that.

    2. GythaOgden*

      These things often act as a wake-up call.

      In the Red Dwarf episode featuring Ace Rimmer, Rimmer became Ace in the alternative timeline because he was kept down a year at school. The normal timeline Rimmer, unlikeable asshole that he is, was allowed to go up a year despite having failed it.

      The producers went on to receive a letter from a young guy who had seen the episode shortly after failing his A-level exams, which is a Big Deal as regards university entry in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland does it differently). He said that seeing the show run that episode made him feel much better about his failure — because he realized failing school exams wasn’t the end of the world and he’d have more chances to do what he wanted to if he took the failure in his stride and found an alternative route to success.

      I myself got sacked after an autistic meltdown (when your mind is pushing your body beyond the limits of its capability and your body pushes back and the result is akin to a Blue Screen of Death) that ended in me breaking the one piece of equipment that I needed to do my job. It made me realize how much I needed help and I had the luxury of decent incapacity benefit and supportive parents who helped me get that help. I made the most of that privilege and, while it took me another twenty years (like really, I got sacked at the end of 2004), I’m just now reaping the rewards of not giving up.

      So while the guy got himself fired, he will hopefully look back on this as the day he turned things around.

  51. Meh*

    I got a job offer that is a lateral step up in my org. I’m so excited !!!
    BUT now I need to tell my managers and sort out the transition. And that’s gonna be rough.

    1. Pretty as a Princess*

      Congratulations to you!

      Why do you feel it will be rough? Are your managers unsupportive? Do you think there will be pressure to straddle both roles?

      1. Meh*

        My managers are atrocious at staffing planning.

        I was one of 2 people in my role. One left 6mo ago. They never backfilled – they convinced her to be available “per diem”. Another person left and they didn’t transfer his last few responsibilities for 4 months. His role hasn’t been backfilled either.

        They were making plans assuming I would carry the bulk of our depts task through a transition. all pleas for backup or assistance have fallen on deaf ears.

        So the transition will be rough. And there are 2 dotted line managers who I will be sad to leave and whose work will be impacted.

        1. Rain*

          Sounds like they made themselves an awfully uncomfortable bed to lie in…

          But congratulations to you!

  52. Bullet Journaler Wannabe*

    Question for paper planner users who are government employees or otherwise subject to FOIA or open records acts: Should I assume anything work-related that I write on paper can be subject to an open records request, and therefore I should keep separate work and personal notebooks? Or does it depend on what I’m writing down?

    I’d be writing things like daily to-do list, notes from a meeting about tasks I should follow up on (not the actual meeting minutes), a list of accomplishments that I could refer to at annual evaluation time, etc.

    1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      I would keeps things separate just on general principle, yeah.

      1. Bullet Journaler Wannabe*

        Yeah, on the one hand separate notebooks would be clean, and on the other hand it means carrying around two notebooks, so.

        1. GythaOgden*

          The hassle of carrying round two devices or notebooks, for me at least, is less than that of separating work and pleasure in a pinch.

          I go a bit further and use one book for minutes and one for other notes/training. I am autistic and dyspraxic, though, so the more organised I can get stuff the easier time I have finding it — I can simply grab the right colour notebook if I can remember blue suede for minutes, fancy surreal artwork for training, black with the My Little Pony sticker for personal ramblings etc. I even have one notebook solely for counting out threads for cross-stitch patterns so I have the right threads on hand when I start a new canvas, and I can tell which that one is because all the pages are coming out from having been thumbed through too often!

          So for me, practically speaking, separate stuff works with my own neurological make-up rather than against it. Additionally, some of the minutes are for HR scribing, so I know which book I have to keep with me safely and which books are not the end of the world if they go missing, particularly because my job does involve a bit of travel every other week or so.

          I’m very grateful to whoever decided to go paperless in our org in general, because believe me it’s not only environmentally sound but cuts out 90% of potential office clutter for this neurologically challenged individual hereabouts, but for personal preference longhand is still something I do unless I actually really have to take contemporaneous electronic notes.

    2. noahwynn*

      My understanding (based on what I was taught during my short stint in a government job) was that FOIA only applies to official records not personal notes. Basically if we could keep or destroy the notebook without asking anyone, it wasn’t considered an official agency record and it was safe to assume it was not subjet to FOIA. A daily to do list in a planner was one example that they gave of personal notes. The only caution I remember was not to pass it along to other employees or it does become agency records.

      1. Bullet Journaler Wannabe*

        That makes sense as a distinction; I definitely wouldn’t be sharing the notebook with coworkers.

  53. Metzona*

    I’m the letter writer who asked about my boss bringing in her sick kids a few months ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a new job and the illness exposures keep happening. I can’t outright quit because I need the money (I’m going back to school).

    To make matters worse, now that the kids are out of school, my boss is bringing them in every single day. Today, they grabbed my kindle from my bag thinking it was an iPad for them to play with. I was lucky enough to be in between customers when I noticed them grab it so I was able to get it back before they did anything/broke it.

    I’ll be honest, every morning I have a shift, I wake up dreading whatever disaster is going to happen. Even on my days off, I have that sinking feeling from knowing I have to go back there. A part of it is workplace trauma from previous jobs, but this job is definitely an issue in itself. It’s gotten to the point where I’m so anxious that I become physically ill. I’m working on getting into a therapy program.

      1. Metzona*

        There are no lockers and there have been incidents of cars getting broken into near and in my workplace’s parking lot, so I would rather keep it with me.

    1. GythaOgden*

      Kindles are surprisingly fragile and they don’t mix with small kids. My sister’s nieces — they were toddlers, my own nephew was a six month old baby — swore blind they didn’t touch mine when we were all together as an extended family but a Kindle doesn’t get broken just sat on the shelf. Luckily Amazon has a generous return policy and I could get a new one. (That holiday was a carnival of the damned for my electronics. Between my netbook, iPod, Kindle and software I was using at the time to do my homework for my Master’s while on the trip, everything started breaking, starting with when I put a heavy case down too hard on the coat pocket in which my iPod was and ending with my sister working frantically on the last night of the trip to recover my netbook’s BIOS or something like that (I know how to use a computer but what goes on inside is a complete mystery).

      I can only suggest you don’t bring valuable stuff in for the duration of the time the kids are going to be in. (I read paper books a lot more because although I enjoyed my Kindle, the novelty wore off a bit.) Your boss might be interested to hear about the broken Kindle but other than that it’s protection mode until it gets sorted. You shouldn’t have to of course, and it will be worth collaborating with others who might also have had stuff broken, but I’d protect stuff like that from harm first.

  54. BellaStella*

    I would like to make a request for an addition to our policies in communication at work. How does this sound for a request?

    “Use of whatsapp, texting, etc without following up in a work approved communication channel (email) is not permitted. All work tasks discussed must be trackable from email and not from a thread on an employee’s personal or work phone. This is esp sensitive on personal phones due to several related company policies and in some cases, costs for phone use are many times not covered by project or other work funds.”

    1. Harriet J*

      Is your key concern to require the use of email to track communications or to prevent the use of personal phones? Or is it both?
      A simple statement is always best “All work communication must be via an approved channel.”
      If the issue is that people want to be reimbursed for their personal phones because they are using them for work communication, then investigate why are they using their phones. There may be a good reason and your staff may need a new approved channel that allows for easier “conversation”

      1. BellaStella*

        This is great, thank you. Mainly it is to be able to document the work as many people use whatsapp and it is a shitshow. Half the people have work phones and half do not. Yet there are loads of whatsapps. Is a mess. It would be better to hold people accountable too

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d flip it,

      “All work related communications must be done on work sponsored devices. If a personal phone is inadvertently used, please follow up with an email summarizing the communication. This is to maintain compliance with HIPAA/regulation blah blah number.”

      Id be careful on your messaging, as an outsider it seems likes trying to ban people from communicating with each other, I know one of my coworkers and I deliberately text each others personal cell to compare raises etc and avoid management being able to read it. It also sets you up for a lot of malicious compliance. Email, I texted Jen to ask if she heard if we were having a snow delay. Email, Jen texted me to see if coffee was being provided in the 9am meeting or if she should make some while still at home this morning. Etc.

    3. Rick Tq*

      It sounds good. You might get your Legal department to chime in how much of the content of a personal phone becomes subject to Discovery if it is used for business purposes.

    4. Pretty as a Princess*

      Your proposed language mixes up at least 3 policy objectives. What’s the problem you’re trying to solve? Or are you trying to solve more than one?

      My priority problem here would be the batcrackers cybersecurity risk of using unlicensed/unapproved tools to communicate/transmit internal data, and transmitting company data to and from unmanaged devices. None of this has anything to do with who is paying for the devices, and isn’t remediated by reminding people that they need to send an email. Your proposed language is SCREAMING that there is a compliance/privacy issue here to prioritize.

      The company also seems to have an issue with not having proper enterprise licensing & use policies for the tools you do need to manage your work. It seems that it’s not clear what kinds of tools are licensed and approved for which purposes. Why are people using whatsapp? Is there a reason people are circumventing the approved tool (email) to use a mashup of stuff? Do you really need a ticketing system of some sort and people are hacking stuff together?

      Company paid devices and who gets them and how to use them – you guessed it, separate policy that interacts with the others. That lays out who is allowed to use them and how they are compensated, what are the rules (eg company data only on company authorized & licensed apps). Maybe a rule is “no work data on personal devices” and the only people who move work data on phones are people who get paid an allowance to have managed tools installed on their device/have a company phone.

      And, as PP said – a lawyer should be reviewing these. There are so many potential compliance issues mashed in here (software licensing, data handling, potential regulatory compliance) that I wouldn’t be recommending language. I’d be higlighting the problems and risk and asking for policy changes to address those risks.

  55. Chirpy*

    My manager was so excited that he was finally able to give me a 3-day holiday weekend that I didn’t have the heart to point out it was last weekend…so I still couldn’t do anything holiday related. Meanwhile, my department head took one day of vacation today to get a five day weekend, again. And with the vacation she took last week, and our part-timer off, I’m working alone almost every day for over two weeks. (when I point this out, she dismisses me.)

    I hate my job so much.

      1. Chirpy*

        Also, if we call out on a holiday weekend, we don’t get paid for that holiday (as in, if the store is closed for a paid holiday, you get the day off with pay, but if I, say, called out on Black Friday I wouldn’t get that pay for Thanksgiving.)

  56. Sassy SAAS*

    Complaining… I’ve been at my software job for 3 years. I’m fully remote, and semi-client facing (zoom calls). I’ve had colorful hair for over 11 years. I interviewed for this job over a 6-month period during the pandemic with lavender and green hair, and was hired with said hair. They didn’t love it when they hired me, tried to say I needed to change it, but I stood my ground and “compromised” by going to one solid color: dark blue. Since then, it’s been blue or purple, everything from navy blue to neon blue, to purple with a green “shineline”. Now, 3 years later, I’ve changed my hair from blue to green and suddenly HR is calling me saying the company wants me to change it.

    I asked for our policy on professional appearance to understand what policy I’m violating. We don’t have any policies or guidelines on appearance, so I’m not breaking any policies. I asked if any of my clients have complained. They have not. I asked if the quality of my work is in question, or has changed in the weeks since I’ve changed my hair color. It has not. I checked my hiring paperwork from 3yrs ago. There’s no policies on appearance. HR confirmed that it’s purely an internal preference (so someone in leadership/C-suite). My manager and department head also both don’t care about my hair color, and refused to have this convo with me because there were no policies I’m breaking.

    I know hair color is not a protected class, but something like hair color, especially vivid colors like I do, is so closely tied to my personal identity that I could never go back to my “natural” brunette color. Especially not after over a decade! I’m not a brunette; if anything, I’m a blue-nette at this point! I did clearly state I would not be comfortable returning to my “natural” color, and that there was basically no world in which I would have brown hair again (but said nicely).

    I’ve told HR that I would like to see updates to company policies, have those updates shared with the entire company, and for written guidance on how this will be handled going forward. Since clearly it will be a policy for the whole employee-base and it certainly can’t be a policy targeting one specific employee, do all employees need to get approval to make drastic changes to their appearance? Is the company going to approve specific colors? If someone with long black hair gets a buzz cut and bleaches it, that’s still natural but is that an acceptable change? Where’s the line?

    I also take the stand point of, “Of course the company wants its employees to feel their best so they can do their best work. Since we both agree with that statement, I feel most comfortable with blue/green/purple hair”. And since HR always wants to promote mental wellbeing, of course they agree with this.

    HR said they would pay for me to re-dye my hair, and I said I would “compromise” by going back to blue (since I guess the c-suites could tolerate bright blue hair but green has crossed the line…) and would also likely need a day off to comply with whatever policies they want to put in place.

    So, all of that to say, corporate rules are really stupid sometimes, and it’s going to make me start polishing up my resume because it’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy to be focused on the color of my freaking hair in 2024.

    1. Meh*

      what’s wrong with them ? nothing better to do ?
      ugh – sorry you have to deal with that nonsense.

    2. ThatOtherClare*

      You may have already considered this idea and dismissed it, but is covering your hair at work out of the question? That way you could have unseen hair from 9-5 and green hair in all of your life outside of work. You could even go back to multicoloured hair again. HR may be willing to pay for a high quality blue wig in lieu of a re-dye. Consider it to be part of your ‘work uniform’, the same way most of us have to wear boring clothes or PPE when at work.

      Whether you go this route or not, I’d definitely recommend using hair chalk to add multiple colours to your hair for any upcoming interviews. That way you can filter for workplaces that will embrace your multicoloured hair and allow you to go back to your preferred look.

  57. Venti vanilla with foam*

    Why dont you block off your calendar when you are busy or out of the office?

    Genuine question. I have tried to schedule meetings lately with different folks on different teams. Without fail, I will schedule a call during normal business hours and someone gets upset about it. They might be on vacation that week, but their calendar isnt blocked, so I dont know about it. Or if they have to pick up their kid from camp during that time, but how would I know that?

    1. FLuff*

      Hm, For me it is the opposite. I block my schedule clearly and am routinely asked to “see if you can make it work.” Often when it is clearly PTO or similar. Then my overthink kicks in and I make a decision with every new request even though the decision was already made with me being on PTO or off (My job involves weekends and holidays so having a mid week day off is normal).

      I wish folks at my job were like you – I appreciate your efforts.

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

      I do block off my calendar about 75% of the time and then the other 25% I’ve just forgotten. The main reason is that our system to request/track leave (ADP) is a separate application than the Outlook calendar used for scheduling meetings. I have approval on my leave request, and it’s on my calendar for tracking payroll/PTO, but I have to manually add it to Outlook and I sometimes forget. I do not block off ALL times I’m not available on my calendar — that’s just too much.

      People should not be getting upset with you though. They just need to let you know that they can’t make your requested day/time and propose a new one.

    3. TX_Trucker*

      I always block my calendar. But in my experience, folks whose days are not typically full of meetings don’t.

    4. Angstrom*

      If it’s a “Argh! I forgot to pick up that perscription!” short unplanned out of office, I don’t block. If someone wants me in a meeting with no notice that’s their problem.
      If I plan to be out, I block.

    5. Pretty as a Princess*

      I have the opposite problem. Constantly declining meetings because someone schedules them on top of another meeting/PTO/whatever. So, I really appreciate people like you who make the effort!

  58. TheRift*

    I called the anonymous reporting hotline recently, but they’re going to know it’s me. We work in a room together with about a dozen stations. I would have to go outside and make sure I wasn’t followed to get away from her. If I did that my manager would see my tag logs and know I’m leaving the building.

  59. The Wizard Rincewind*

    Low stakes job interview etiquette question: if you’re on a video call as an interviewee, is it gauche to leave the call when the interview is over or should you wait for the interviewer to disconnect? To be clear, all of the “great talking, thanks so much for your time” chat is all out of the way and done.

    1. justcommenting*

      I’ve done a couple of video call interviews and I genuinely haven’t noticed either way. I actually think it’s more than fine to leave first, as sometimes the interviewers might still hang out in the call to debrief how they think the interview went.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I ended up having to leave if they don’t disconnect when this happened to me.

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      You should leave the call when it’s done. Sometimes the interviewers are staying on to discuss with each other and they’re waiting for the interviewee to clear out. They may feel it’s aggressive dismissing you (verbally or with a button). So once you’ve gone through a round of niceties and “thanks for your time” comments, just do everyone a kindness and log out.

      1. Kathenus*

        Cosigning what Sitting Pretty said, as a hiring manager we generally wait for the interviewee to disconnect so we can share first impressions.

  60. Snow Angels in the Zen Garden*

    I called in to work the first half of this week for mental illness reasons. Since this is still a new position, and I’ve already been physically ill this spring as well, this has meant I’m using my PTO faster than I’m earning it and am verging on excessive absenteeism, if I’m not there already. I would not be at all surprised if I’m put on a PIP or something and would find that perfectly reasonable. Obviously I should be working with my medical providers, but is there anything else I should be doing on the employer side to handle this?

  61. Zippity Doodah*

    Rant incoming: what is with businesses taking the trouble to call me back, but leaving no information in the voicemail? I call the dentist’s office and leave a message asking if they’re taking new patients, and they call back and leave a message saying “Hi, this is the office of Dr. Blah at [number], please call me back at your earliest convenience.” All of which I knew from the missed call, and without the information I requested.

    Why WHY can’t they just answer my question?! Especially if the answer is no. (We are not taking new patients / we don’t sell the thing you want / the person you want to talk to has left without a forwarding address.)

    And are there some magic words I should be saying while leaving my message, that might prompt them to do so?

    1. Aggretsuko*

      There may be some kind of privacy/confidentiality rules going on that mean they can’t just tell you what you wanted on voice mail. That’s my guess, anyway.

    2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Sometimes if you add – “the voicemail at this number is private and can be accessed only by me. I give permission for any confidential information to be left at this number”, they will.

      But they really shouldn’t unless they can verify it is you who called. Which is tough. How do they know that you are REALLY Zippity Doodah calling and not your nosy mother pretending to be you? It can help if you establish in person and in writing that a certain phone number is verified to be the one they can leave information at.

      I much prefer my doctors who have gone to portals for communication so we don’t have to play phone tag

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Doesn’t that make you so crazy!? You’re not even asking for private info. Are you or are you not accepting new patients? Should be easy enough.

    4. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Magic words: please leave me a detailed voicemail if I don’t answer, since I may not have access to the phone to return your call in a timely manner [and it’s important to me to be seen soon/schedule this appointment/whatever]

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Medical offices won’t. If you have other examples that aren’t medical, it may be they can’t answer your question without asking more questions. It may be the person tasked with calling back isn’t the same person who listened to the message. It may be they have an annoying policy.

    6. BryLiz*

      For our office it depends on which insurance the patient has. We have longer waits for some different insurances, we don’t take other insurances etc. It might not be as simple as yes/no.

  62. Rara Avis*

    A week ago my husband was offered a new job and verbally accepted in time to tell his old employer he wasn’t returning by their 6/28 deadline. (This is in education.) He had a week to fill out the paperwork and sign his contract. Within that week he had a call for an interview at another school where he had previously applied. He took the interview and had a next-day offer at a 20% higher salary. He’s also more excited about the assignment at the second school. This is the time to pull out all of Alison’s language about doing what’s best for family/career/etc., isn’t it? And not to feel guilty/unethical about interviewing after accepting an offer, because this is so late in the hiring system that schools are desperate and demanding very quick decisions?

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yep! As long as he tries to make this his one catch and release, he should be just fine. The old employer will be fine.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      If it’s any consolation, we had a teacher who applied for and accepted a deputy principal position elsewhere after the school year started. It was actually a bit amusing as we have this day when we bring in 5th and 6th class students from nearby primaries and show off our school to them in the hopes they will come to us for secondary school and this fell in her two weeks’ notice and I was thinking, she is meeting students who even if they come here, won’t do so until after she’s gone elsewhere.

      We also had a principal accept a principalship elsewhere about two weeks or so before the new school year was due to start. This was a bit of a nuisance, but…what was he to do? Turn down his dream job (which apparently it was; he had taught in that school previously and really loved it and was delighted at the chance to go back) just to avoid us having a few weeks of inconvenience? None of us would ask that of him and honestly, it was probably better for us in the long run as our deputy principal who has been teaching in our school since the ’80s and is a past pupil himself became principal.

      It’s not good for anybody if your husband takes a job that isn’t right for him. The school will find somebody else. They probably had other people shortlisted that they can go back to.

  63. RVA Cat*

    So the “bite me” discussion and misunderstandings made me think of a fun tangent – when industry jargon/acronyms overlap with NSFW slang.

    Apparently “DTF” also has a clean meaning for a type of tee shirt printing.

    1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Point of Sale systems. I will never not see the term POS without in my head calling it a Piece of S*. Especially since my first experience with one was a terrible system and really deserved the NSFW meaning.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I think everyone who’s ever worked with the things calls them a piece of s***.

        Not quite an overlap but we had SDT (secure data transfer) at one job I had and were constantly flipping the letters round.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I was surprised the first time a project manager invited us all to an F/U meeting. I accepted but when I saw him at coffee said I was surprised because I thought the project was going well.
      He did laugh :)

      1. RVA Cat*

        That’s hilarious!

        I forgot the local low-hanging fruit: Virginia’s standardized tests for public schools are called SOLs: Standards of Learning. We’re so used to it now but when they came out years ago I was laughing at the S*** Outta Luck exams.

    3. Potatohead*

      I know a few people in the psych/healthcare industry who are also active in their local kink scenes, who have mentioned how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy makes them blink for a moment.

  64. oingo*

    My boss is quite young and is very new to managing people. She’s been here a little over a year. She has a more laid-back approach, which I appreciate for a lot of reasons.
    However, she isn’t really managing our staff and is leaving it all to me. She just doesn’t pay attention to what they’re doing at all. I do, and I (gently!) give adjustments here and there.

    Our staff are undermining me as a result.

    For example, a clerk has asked me a few times “can I stay at the front on my break?” I have repeatedly said no and gave perfectly good justifications (I don’t want you visibly on your phone at the front, I don’t want you telling a patron “oh, I’m on my break,” I want to ensure you properly get a rest, etc.).
    This same clerk asked her the same question right in front of me. And my boss said “sure, it’s fine!” But I started saying, “uh, I don’t…” and then she said “Actually, if you could take it elsewhere, that’d be great.” (I did tell her after the fact that the clerk had been told this before.)

    A few months ago, I asked a clerk not to watch video on the work computers, then they started watching video on their phone. I asked her not to do that, either (part of their job is to watch the door). This clerk got very angry and started talking about looking for other jobs. A few days later, this same clerk made a point of asking my boss if it’s okay if she watched a webinar at work. I told my boss about this after and she said “well, we don’t want to assume.”

    Not too long ago, a shift lead (!) was breaking the dress code. The clerks started to follow suit almost immediately. Again, I didn’t understand why nothing was being said, so I sat down with my boss and asked what the deal was with the dress code. She then told me she’s fine with (thing clerks were doing). She sent an email and called it a ‘much needed change.’ Fair enough; in the grand scheme of things, we’re all going to die someday and so it doesn’t matter terribly if someone is wearing different pants.
    But it matters because I had been enforcing this dress code. And it also matters because someone with authority over them was bending the rules and they immediately started to follow—and that was never addressed.
    I think it’s fine and good to make changes to things. But our staff shouldn’t just be taking it upon themselves to make those changes, especially someone who is meant to be setting an example.

    So, yeah. And now, they’re making it very obvious when they’re not busy. Visibly on phones, etc. I could go on. But I feel like I can’t say anything.

    The result of all this is that 1) I have no freaking idea what to enforce or not enforce, and 2) we keep getting tasks added to our plates that we really can’t handle because it looks like we’re ‘not busy’—because the clerks are visibly ‘not busy’.

    I’ve mentioned to her that this is the reason that we’re getting this extra work. I mentioned we should have a conversation with the clerks and be more on top of them, and she agrees. But she hasn’t gotten around to it. Yet, she’s also not pushing back on the extra work, even if she doesn’t agree with a lot of it.

    My plan is to folllow up on this as follows:
    “So last week, we agreed that we need to speak to the clerks about keeping things professional, yeah? I think we should have that conversation with them this week. How would you like to approach this?
    “Also, as I’ve mentioned a few times, the clerks are going around me, and I think it’s in part because I’m usually the only one enforcing things. I’m not feeling very comfortable enforcing things as a result. Can I ask for your support in this?”

    What do you think?

    1. Loreli*

      Are you the supervisor of these people? If not, why are you “enforcing” things? You need to let this stuff go. When it becomes a problem for the boss or the boss’s higher-ups, the people with authority will do something about it. Or not. If the bosses don’t enforce anything, then you need to let the stuff roll off your back. If a coworker asks you stuff, say “you need to ask Boss that question.

      1. oingo*

        Apologies; I should have included this in the OP, but yes, I am the assistant manager and I am one of their supervisors. My boss is the other.
        I have no problem with her being above me in the chain of command, nor do I have a problem with people asking her stuff over me.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Looks like OP is being asked directly about whether a clerk can stay at the front during her break and OP had the authority to say no.

        So it does look like OP has some supervisory authority, it’s just that the clerks are doing an end run around her to their grandboss.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “is leaving it all to me”
      Is this official, e.g. you are a team lead or supervisor? If so, have that talk with her.
      If not and you have the same title as your coworkers, then MYOB and stop trying to supervise them.

      1. oingo*

        Yes, I am the assistant manager, so I am one of the supervisors of the team. My apologies for not including that in the original post.

    3. WellRed*

      This isn’t coworkers undermining you, it’s coworkers not listening to. Also, is this your job to enforce everything or can you just care less?

      1. oingo*

        I am the assistant manager. My apologies for not mentioning this in the original post.

        When I was trained, yes, this was in fact in my purview. Lately, though, that’s the approach I’ve been taking. Maybe it’s just me, right? And I’m not comfortable being the only one enforcing things, either. So I haven’t been saying anything.

        Except upper management is making decisions on how to allocate other departments’ workload based on how ‘not busy’ the clerks up front seem to be. Meaning, me and my boss, specifically, are being handed work from other departments, often work we cannot delegate. (I don’t think this makes sense, either, but that’s what’s happening.)
        And the clerks aren’t always paying attention to their work, comings and goings of the building, etc. like they’re meant to.
        And recently, a few of them have started to backtalk me when I ask them to do something.

        If not for all this, I wouldn’t care. Like I said, I don’t mind a more laid-back approach. But this is affecting my ability to do my job.

      2. oingo*

        I am the assistant manager, so it technically is my job to enforce things. My apologies for not mentioning this in the original post. (And for clarity, the shift lead is above the clerks, but reports to us both.)

        I agree that it is *not* my job to enforce everything all the time. That’s the issue.

        It’s a support role. I understand this. I’m happy to just support what my boss puts in place. But she has to put *some things* in place.
        We are a customer-facing department. So yes, basic things like paying attention to the doors/phones, keeping the place tidy, and not obviously watching video or staring at phones are fairly standard.

        And again, ideally, if she makes changes, she would communicate them to me so I don’t look like an authoritarian asshole.

        I am currently trying the caring-less approach. Believe me, I have asked myself many times if it was just me. Unfortunately, it is affecting things outside the bounds of my own skull. Like my workload, for example.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      If your title is not in any way supervisory of this team, and if you are not in some way a compliance officer, then none of this is really yours to worry about. It is up to your manager to enforce and correct, and if you continue to do so I have a feeling you will wear away at any relationships you may have with your clerk peers.
      I get that it can be incredibly infuriating when there’s a clear directive and you are a rule follower and want to follow the rules; however, if the person in charge decides it’s not that important, then it is not your role to reverse that decision.
      There could be plenty of reasons why your boss isn’t enforcing these policies – but if and until you are the manager, you really don’t have any position to do it yourself. If you feel strongly enough about it all, I’d suggest you look for a manager job in this line of work or an adjacent one; it may give you some perspective.

      1. oingo*

        I am the assistant manager. My title is in fact supervisory of this team. My apologies for not mentioning this explicitly in the OP.

        That’s the problem. I am meant to enforce and correct. I don’t particularly *like* that aspect of the job, but it is part of my job. My issue is that I’m the only one doing it.

        Again, I wouldn’t particularly care about some of these things in themselves. Like I said, I don’t particularly like enforcing and correcting. If that were taken off my plate tomorrow, great!
        We are a customer-facing department, however. And this is affecting our department’s workload, our reputation amongst other departments, the clerks’ performance, and my ability to effectively do my job.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Then you need to lay out clear rules in your next team meeting.
          Before this, explain to your boss the likely results you listed above of ignoring this behaviour. Discuss what to do and what powers you both have to enforce the rules e.g. PIPs, stopping raises, promotions.

          Does she still want to avoid conflict and ignore this? If so, you can’t really be stricter about rules than she is.

  65. Jaya*

    I’m struggling with the job hunt. My previous company let me go out of nowhere, not even with a written warning from HR and the reason didn’t make sense to me. Since then I’ve been sending out resumes en masse, doing one interview a week on average, and networking. This week I even sent in a video for an international position.

    It’s been a month and three weeks since that awful day. Thus far, despite getting advice from a trusted professional that networking is the best way to get a job, there hasn’t been much on that front apart from one editing gig. A lot of people who do want to help can’t and are very sweet about sending their best wishes and luck. Most of the interviews have led to rejections, despite two round twos and one of them requiring a twenty-minute presentation. My confidence is utterly shattered. Not helping is reading that people have been out of work for years at a time on LinkedIn and Glassdoor, as well as people talking about using AI instead of hiring people like me.

    Is there something I’m doing wrong? I’m tempted to make a post on LinkedIn rather than asking in private DMs, or research service jobs to take if they pay more than unemployment. While I know learning a new skill is a great idea, it’s hard to focus on any online courses or such right now and I don’t know what courses say on LinkedIn would update my MBA.

    1. WellRed*

      It’s been barely two months. You are getting an avg interview a week. That sounds good but maybe fir your field it’s not?

      1. Jaya*

        I’m not ungrateful, mind. The thing is that if I had known I was going to lose my job, I would have built up more emergency funds since I’m traveling for business reasons (I’m a writer and one convention is in Glasgow this year) and was relying on the paycheck to help with related expenses. And I was planning on making a move, which I now can’t do with no income.

        The other dilemma is if it’s worth picking up a retail or service job in the meantime to pay bills, if it pays more than Florida unemployment; thing is that last time I was laid off, I did a three-month contract and then it took four months to find a position.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I’m not sure how long it’s been since you last looked for a job – this job market is very different than what it was a year ago or longer.
      I think the average job hunt does take about a year, and it can be longer if you’re not currently working due to some hiring managers’ biases against unemployed people. I’ll echo WellRead- one interview a week is actually really good. Don’t beat yourself up over getting an interview and not getting a job; there are tons of qualified people looking for work right now and it’s likely that something you cannot control is what edged you out of the position. Even with networking, people can’t and won’t just create a job because you need one; they can only alert you to openings that exist. I think posting on LinkedIn about looking for a position is a fine next step (& include a call to people to like/share for reach) and isn’t desperate or a bad look, but you do what feels best for you.

      1. Jaya*

        Appreciate this comment a lot. I think I’ll draft a post for Monday, and try to budget for any career coaching in case it will provide assistance since I’ve used a career coach before.

        I was job hunting before, and it took two years to find this position. That’s why it hurts so much; I thought I was being careful and trying to specifically seek out a healthier environment. I still feel stabbed in the back.

    3. anonforthis*

      This might be cold comfort, but I’ve been having similar issues and it isn’t just you. I also know a couple of people in the same boat. It’s been 6 months for me and still no job offer. I’ve interviewed for over 25 jobs. Some of the jobs got canceled after 3 rounds of interviews.

      I have a theory that employers secretly colluded to lay off en masse and then freeze hiring to drive down wages. It’s working unfortunately. There are so many skilled unemployed people right now willing to take pay cuts because there aren’t enough jobs out there.

      1. anonforthis*

        I also want to add that I have also tried freelance/temp jobs and haven’t been able to get them. My network isn’t helping either. It’s not their fault – they really want to help but there are no jobs to refer to.

        1. Jaya*

          Hearing this does help. It feels like there is a recession in the works because of AI being peddled everywhere, and when the bubble bursts, no one wins.

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