It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My manager complains constantly

My manager complains … a LOT. Their voice is very loud in a small office, so pretty much every one can hear. Our team consists of only three people on site — me, my coworker, and our manager. My manager has no one but us subordinates to complain to, and my poor coworker has to listen to 98% of the rants because their office is closer and they have worked here longer. Sometimes my manager makes disparaging comments about other subordinates who work at different locations. I say sometimes, but it is oftentimes. The rants are mostly about how incompetent so and so is, how overworked they are, how corporate expects them to drop everything to do this and that, blah blah blah.

What is the most professional way to deal with them when they bring their rants into my office (it really only happens when my coworker has to day off)? The rants are daily, annoying as hell, and frankly, make me not want to come to work.

Your options are pretty limited, unfortunately, since this is your boss. But there are a few things you can try when they’re talking to directly to you that, in combination, might cut down on it:

* You’re busy — “that sounds frustrating, well, I should get back to X so I can finish it up today.” … “Sorry, I’ve got to make this call” (and then pick up the phone and actually make a call if possible) … etc.

* You’re on the move, about to head to the kitchen/bathroom/copier. Stand up and actually go to those places. If your bosss follows you back to your desk afterwards, as you get to your desk (or doorway if you have an office), stop and say something that signals the end of the conversation like, “That sounds really frustrating. Well, I better get back to it!” There’s something about reaching the end of the physical journal that reinforces the message.

* You’re relentlessly positive — “Oh, but I know Jean means well!” … “She’s so sweet though” … “He’s a good guy, I think.” … “I’m just glad we’ve got the work — better than the alternative!” .. etc. If you become an unsatisfying person to complain to, they may stop complaining to you.

The rest of the time: headphones.

2. Can I put tutoring friends and family on a resume?

My friend is finishing an MA soon and plans on applying to teach at small private schools. She’d be teaching in fields related to her MA, but the degree isn’t in education or anything (it’s along the lines of somebody with a degree in medieval English literature becoming a high school writing teacher). This is a pretty normal background for the schools she’s looking at, and she will have the requisite certification as well. But she really wants to convey on her resume that she does have relevant experience, at least at the entry level. She’s volunteered with a tutoring program for a while, but most of her experience is actually things like teaching younger family members various subjects (they’re homeschooled) or swapping tutoring with friends. She’s rarely had something like a volunteer supervisor or even concrete start and end dates. How can she best express this kind of experience on a resume?

Of course, she’ll be able to discuss it in cover letters and interviews as well, but I think she feels like her “relevant work experience” section looks rather thin without it.

I’d love to tell you there’s a way to do it, but that kind of experience with friends and family doesn’t really go on a resume. It’s similar to how you couldn’t put taking care of your own child on your resume when applying for child care work, or your work organizing family reunions when applying for event planning jobs. You don’t have the same accountability you’d have at a paid job (or a formal volunteer job), and an employer won’t be able to assess what kind of rigor your friend brought to it. She could also look as if she doesn’t recognize the ways that doing those things in a professional context are different from doing them with friends and family.

She could refer to that experience in her cover letter when talking about her interest in the work, but keep it off the actual resume.

3. How do I mend things with a job I ghosted eight years ago?

About eight years ago, I worked at a very small nonprofit as the on-site manager for a housing facility. I was part-time, working about 30 hours over a weekend once or twice a month. I was the only staff on shift during these times, so not showing up was a pretty big deal.

After working there for about a year and a half (at age 23) I had a pretty severe personal trauma — a friend overdosed in my living room the day before my shift. In my distraught state, I just couldn’t pull myself together enough to show up or even call in. The very sweet executive director called several times and sent the police to check on me. I confirmed with the police that I was okay. The next morning, still dealing with the trauma and deeply mortified for not showing up to my shift, I again skipped work. I was so embarrassed by my behavior that I never called or showed up to work again. I totally ghosted.

I continued to progress in my career at other local nonprofits without this blight coming up. For better or worse, I also include this job on my resume. Now, I was offered a position as the executive director of a closely aligned organization (literally down the road). The new organization is a housing facility serving people in recovery from addiction, and my journey here is a direct result of that day eight year ago when my friend died. Much of the reason I ghosted was because I didn’t know how or if to address what happened, given stigmas around drug use.

It is a matter of time before I run into my former ED or my name comes up in conversation with a mutual colleague. I am not worried about this impacting my career, but I am still deeply ashamed and a bit worried about an awkward encounter. Should I email her and apologize now, eight years later? What do I even say? Do I bring up the overdose, given its current professional relevance?

Yes, email her! Say you’ve always been mortified about how you left that job and explain what happened (if you’re comfortable sharing it — if not, you could just say you had a personal emergency, but telling the truth shouldn’t reflect badly on you, especially with the work you’re now doing). Then tell her about the job you’re doing now. It’s likely that she’ll be relieved to hear from you and to know what really happened, and happy you’re doing okay now. You’ll also probably feel much better yourself!

And if it helps, we all have deeply unprofessional things we did when we were young, most of them without as good of a reason as you had. Good lord, read these.

4. Should I dig in or get out?

I work at a nonprofit and I strongly dislike my job and organization. I’ve been here for two years and have been actively trying to get a new job elsewhere. A year ago, my boss approached me about a significant promotion. For reasons that sort of escape me, it never went through. Part of this was my fault; I didn’t push it because I wanted to get out and wasn’t sure how it would look to the places I was applying if I got this big promotion and then was trying to leave. But there were also organizational reasons it didn’t happen – it wasn’t a priority for my boss, etc.

At this point, I am doing the job I would have gotten the promotion to do. My responsibilities since COVID hit (and we laid off a number of people) have increased dramatically. As you can imagine, this has only increased my desire to leave — I’m overworked, underpaid, and resentful that more keeps coming to my plate with no recognition. At the same time, I’m having a really hard time finding a new position. Should I push for a raise and a promotion that reflects the work I’ve been doing for the last right months? Ask that less be put on my plate? Double down on applying elsewhere? Maybe all three?

Definitely double down on your job search since you want to get out, and it doesn’t sound like the promotion would change that.

But meanwhile, push for the raise and promotion that your boss originally floated — point out that you’re now doing the work of the promotion and would like to formalize it. Don’t worry that it will look odd to jobs you’re applying for; it’s not that weird to leave soon after a promotion, especially one that really just formalizes work you were already doing. And the alternative would be letting your job search lapse when you’re hoping to leave.

5. Mentioning academic honors in a professional bio

I’m wondering about conventions around mentioning graduation honors in your professional bio. I often speak or teach freelance and am asked to provide a professional bio. I graduated from a fancy college with magna cum laude honors. I include this in my resume when applying to jobs, and it seems clear that I should continue to do so. (I don’t include a GPA, and never have, since that would be redundant to the magna cum laude, but also unnecessary after a first job out of college.)

However, I’ve also been including “magna cum laude” in my professional bio when the convention of the institution to which I’m submitting a bio (university I’m speaking at, fellowship I’m in) is to include education information. For example, in a concluding sentence I will list, “[My name] holds a B.A. in [my major], magna cum laude, from [fancy Ivy league school].

Is it advisable to continue to include honors, when I am 15 years out from college? Or would that be seen as self-aggrandizing — even though the point of your professional bio is to share impressive accomplishments?

I probably wouldn’t. It makes sense to include it on your resume next to the degree, but 15 years out you’ve got other stuff that’ll be more relevant in a professional bio. (That said, it’s not a shocking faux pas if you choose to keep it.)

my boss complains constantly, mending things with a job I ghosted, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.