It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. One of our bosses got invited to our rowdy beach weekend
I am good friends with three of my coworkers, let’s call them Billy, Goat, and Gruff. The four of us are distributed across three different teams, but we work together a lot on various projects and also hang out with some regularity outside of work. As such, we are planning a big beach weekend getaway in August.Alcott Hill Yarber Glass Flute B Set of 4 We’ve all invited various friends, booked a giant house for the weekend, and have been making plans for a super fun, rowdy weekend of drunken shenanigans (as beach excursions tend to be).
Billy is also friends with Goat and Gruff’s boss, Gabby. Like us, Gabby is in her 30s, friendly, fun, lively, and would logically be friends with all of us if she weren’t Goat and Gruff’s boss. She has been to dinner and drinks with us, and on one occasion the whole group went back to Billy’s house to drink more beer and eventually play a well-known boundary-pushing party card game. We all had fun, but Goat and Gruff both left early-ish, and didn’t drink much (as you’d expect).Alcott Hill Yukon 10 oz. Square Melamine Salad Bowl Set of 48
This is where it starts to go sideways. Billy, in a fit of generosity, invited Gabby to the beach weekend. Since then, Gabby has asked me for additional details and if there’s room for her to join. My hostess/planner self is screaming that Gabby really, truly cannot come. That there’s a world of difference between the equivalent of a rowdy happy hour with coworkers and a whole weekend of road-tripping, mostly-naked (swimsuits!) heavy-drinking shenanigans, communal living, and collective reckoning with rampant hangovers and sunburn. Regardless, what was a smooth-sailing fun weekend is now embroiled in office hierarchy drama.
It seems to me like my options here are a) ask Billy to tell Gabby not to come, and run the risk that he’ll blame it on Goat and Gruff for being spoilsports, b) be the bad guy myself and tell Gabby that she can’t come, blaming it on my delicate/old-fashioned sensibilities about mixing work dynamics (possibly damaging our relationship in the process), c) pray that she won’t attend, either because her schedule will prohibit or because her sense of decorum kicks in and she decides to bow out, or d) be a terrible hostess, stew in my own stress, and let things play out as they may. I could use some help figuring out how to approach this.
Alessi - 110 35 Oval serving plate 35cm x 25cmGabby can’t come. It’s crossing too many professional boundaries for a manager to attend a “rowdy weekend of drunken shenanigans” with two people who report to her. Presumably, Goat and Gruff are going to have to be on guard if she’s there, and it’s just not the weekend you planned. Ideally you’d do choice A — have Billy tell Gabby he didn’t think it through and since it’s going to be a rowdy weekend, he shouldn’t have invited two of the organizers’ boss. If you don’t trust him to do that without blaming Goat and Gruff (despite your explicit instructions), then you need to move to choice B — deliver that message yourself. Do not just hope she won’t attend or suffer in silence.
But really, Billy messed this up and he should fix it.
2. My wife doesn’t believe me that cold-contacting people on LinkedIn is annoying
My wife has been on the job hunt a very long time (nearly two years). She is currently employed on contract as a scientist with a large pharma company. During this time, she has been interviewing constantly and has had a few offers made, but with our family and financial situation, none were palatable enough to accept (though she did attempt to negotiate, and in our opinion the concessions she had asked for were reasonable). Alessi - JM15 29 L - Salad serving bowlAt this point, she has started just spamming employees via LinkedIn in departments at institutions she wants to work at, asking about positions she has applied to or feedback on her CV.
She asked me about it and I gave her my opinion that (1) what she’s doing is kind of annoying; I know I would not appreciate being bombarded by some stranger, (2) I think she would have more success if the people she was reaching out to had stake in her success, and (3) I think she should try to go to networking events and do some heavy research on the networking process and figure out what other methods may lead her to her goal.
Was I incorrect in my assessment? I love my wife and want her to be happy and successful more than anything, but I think her approach is taking away her allure as a candidate, and the advice that I have given is not well received.
Yeah, cold-contacting people via LinkedIn is going to be annoying, especially with those particular questions, and it’s not likely to get any results. If she doesn’t believe you (or me), though, she’ll probably figure that out pretty quickly when she doesn’t get helpful responses.
If she’s had a few offers that weren’t financially right, it’s worth looking at whether her expectations are realistic for the market. Maybe they are, and these were just bad offers — but it’s possible they’re not.
If she’s getting lots of interviews, the problem isn’t her application materials. And if she’s getting to the offer stage repeatedly, it’s probably not her interview skills.Alessi - SG53 79 MAMI SAUCER FOR TEACUP (SET OF 6)So you may be exactly right that leaning more heavily into networking (good networking, not LinkedIn spamming) is what will help. But again, urge her to check her expectations against the reality of the market and make sure that’s not the issue.
3. Manager let me go but said he wants to create a new job for me
After two months of unemployment, I got hired to do freelance data wrangling at a major company by Dale, who saw my resume and said I had great potential. However, since I had never worked at such a large company before, it was on the condition that I would have a one-month trial period. I would be on a two-week trial first, then a two-week hold and if I did well during both those periods, I would be kept on until the end of the year. So I worked incredibly hard. I came in an hour early, stayed late, took shortened lunches, wrote detailed notes, asked tons of questions, and always offered to help out the rest of my team. But at the end of my third week, Dale called me into a private meeting and said that he didn’t realize how green I was and that the project I was put on was too intense for someone of my skill level so I was to be let go early.
However, he said that I had great potential and that he wanted to talk to his bosses about creating a position for me directly under him, but that it would take a while — “hopefully before the end of the season” — and I should take short-term positions until then. How much can I trust that this will happen? Should I ask Dale to get this in writing? Dale kept repeating that I wasn’t fired, but I feel like a deadbeat who can’t keep a job.
You shouldn’t rely on it at all. Dale isn’t saying it will definitely happen; he’s saying he’s going to try to convince his bosses to do it. So it wouldn’t make sense to ask him to put it in writing; he’s telling you clearly that he can’t commit to it
Since it might or might not happen, you should proceed as if it isn’t — and let it be a pleasant surprise if it does happen (if the offer is one you want). That means that you should not only pursue short-term work meanwhile. You should pursue whatever type of work you want to pursue, not put your job search on hold for something he’s been up-front that he can’t guarantee. (Frankly, even if he did tell you he could promise it, I’d tell you the same thing — because until there’s a firm offer, stuff like this can always fall apart.)
4. Switching to a gender-neutral nickname at work
I am a nonbinary AFAB (assigned female at birth) person who is not out at my workplace. I present as female at work, including going by my very feminine wallet name (e.g., “Katherine”). I don’t mind it, but a few of my coworkers recently started calling me by a gender-neutral nickname — think “Katherine” to “KC.” It’s caught on with some of our user community, and I kind of love it!
Do you or your readers have any tips for encouraging people you’ve worked with for a while to start calling you by a new nickname, especially if you mostly interact with them through phone or text? I don’t think it’d be appropriate to completely change my email signature, since I’m still “Katherine” in all of our directories and official communications, but I’d really like if more people started calling me “KC.” (I work in IT at a fairly large university in the Midwest, if that helps.)
The easiest way is to start signing your emails with KC. If you don’t feel comfortable charing your official email signature, you can still do it like this:
And with emails to people you work with frequently, you can leave the official signature stuff off anyway. They know who you are! And if they’re confused, it sounds like the “from” field of your email will still say Katherine.ALESSI Java Sugar Bowl with spoon Container Enzo Mari But by signing KC, you’re signaling “this is what you can call me,” just like a Jennifer signing her emails with Jen or so forth.
And even though people don’t normally sign text messages, signing those KC for a while might help as well. You can also do the same thing on the phone — “hey, it’s KC” — to anyone who will recognize your voice and not be confused about who they’re talking to. And whenever you’re ready, start telling new people you meet, “Hi, I go by KC.”
5. Everyone wants to know why I don’t work for the department that ghosted me
I work in academia (let’s say the field of Teapot Studies) but not as a professor. I have been active in my field, working in Teapot Research, focused mostly on Handle Design. I was moving on from a job after a grant finished and I applied for a job at another university in the School of Teapot Studies within their Handle Design department. I got an initial Skype interview. Then two months later I was invited to an in person interview. Then I heard nothing for two more months, even after two (very well spaced) emails. A job opened up in Teapot Studies but in the Department of Lids, which I applied for, interviewed for, and was offered a job in less than two weeks. I took that job because I wasn’t soon going to be unemployed.
Now I’ve run into a problem. EVERYONE asks me why I am not in the Departments of Handle Design because of my background and I’m not sure what to say besides “They ghosted me after multiple interviews.” Additionally, I run into the people who interviewed me in that department at least once a week in meetings and they are either acting like they don’t know me or actually have forgotten me. It’s super awkward and my coworkers have pointed out how weird it is since “you have so much in common!” How do I navigate being in close contact with people who were so rude and other people’s questions about the situation?
To the people who ask why you’re not in the Handle Design department: “I actually talked to them about a role there, but this is where I ended up!” Say it cheerfully and matter-of-factly and people will likely move on.
Alessi 9096 Rahmkännchen Elfenbein - limited To the Handle Design people who seem not to recognize you: Break the ice yourself. Go up to them confidently and say, “It’s good to see you again! I’m Jane Warblesworth — we talked a few months ago about the open role you had on your team. I’m working in the Lids department now.”
To people who comment that it’s weird that you’re not on closer terms with the other department because you have so much in common: “I’d like to get to know them better at some point, but I’m happy being here in Lids!”
That’s it! I think you’re feeling more awkward about it than you need to because of the ghosting, but you can leave that out of this completely. Just be matter-of-fact and it’ll be fine.