It’s fast answer Friday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Changing your title on your resume
Is it ever ok to change your job title on a resume? My friend is up for a new position, but her title will be program assistant, since she’s had stints at other positions with the “assistant” title, she plans on listing this job on her resume and LinkedIn as “program associate.” She’s not trying to be disingenuous, but she doesn’t want her resume to look like she hasn’t advanced a bit. Plus, the ‘assistant” title at her new gig requires a Masters degree, something that potential employers in the long-run may not know and judge her negatively for.
I think I’m with changing titles when it comes to more accurately portraying your duties in a position, like my friend is doing here.
If she were saying she was a senior manager, then that would be especially wrong. What do you think future employers will think?
Nope, you can’t lie about your title — and that’s how employers will see it. And when they call to check references, it’s very likely to come out, and could potentially be a deal-breaker, since a lot of hiring managers will see it as integrity issue: If she’s lying about this aspect of her candidacy, what else might she be misrepresenting, and what might she bend the truth on in the future?
Plus, if she’s using it on LinkedIn, it’s likely that current coworkers or her boss will see it, and it will not reflect well on her.
(To be clear, if she had a really vague title that made no sense to the outside world, she could get away with using a clearer description, as long as it was accurate. But in this case, she just wants a more senior-sounding title. It’s a no-go.)
2. Can my employer share my resignation letter with coworkers?
I recently sent my resignation letter through our office email to the physicians and administrator who I was working for. When I returned 2 weeks later, I found out that the administrator had forwarded my letter to my coworkers. I feel this was a breach of confidentiality. Is that legal for him to do that? Our policy and procedure manual says nothing about sharing this type of information.
Yes, it’s legal. You don’t have many privacy rights at work, and your employer can certainly show your work-related emails (or even non-work-related emails, for that matter) with your coworkers. In this case, I imagine he did it in order to inform your coworkers that you’d be leaving — a very normal thing to communicate. I could see how you’d be upset if the letter contained personal information you didn’t want shared (outside the fact of your resignation itself), and certainly there are SOME resignation letters that it would be inappropriate to share with the whole office (angry ones, for instance), but even then, there’s nothing illegal about it.
3. Is being asked for references a good sign?
I just had a pretty good second interview (all thanks to your awesome e-book!), and at the end they asked for my references and had me fill out a background check form. I know I have stellar references and nothing should hold me back in the background check, so I find this pretty hopeful, but I don’t want to get too excited. Is it normal practice to asking this from all/several candidates? Do hiring managers typically plan on calling references for more than one candidate?
Unfortunately, you shouldn’t read anything into it. Many employers have all candidates who are still in the running after a certain stage in the process provide references and fill out a background check form. They might end up only checking the references and background on one final candidate, or sometimes they’ll do it for several, but there’s no way to know if you’re the top finalist or not.
4. Applying through LinkedIn vs directly with an employer
What is your opinion on applying through LinkedIn, or directly on an employer’s website, or both? I like applying through LinkedIn when it is an option because your profile is there if they want to view it, there is an image, etc., but I know some employers might prefer you send you resume directly to the HR, even though they have it listed on LinkedIn. What are you thoughts on this? Go ahead and send to both, or overkill?
Don’t do both, since that’s duplicative and potentially annoying. I’d apply directly with the company, so that you can send precisely the customized materials you want rather than just what’s in your LinkedIn profile, unless they’ve made it clear in some way that they favor LinkedIn.
5. Fired in retaliation for reporting manager’s policy violation
I was recently terminated for not completing my Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). As far as I can tell, I completed each task in the PIP, but I didn’t document the completion of the tasks. I didn’t know I was supposed to; the person who put me on the PIP never explained that part.
The fact that I was on a PIP in the first place is a problem. I had seven years of annual and mid-term reviews in which I either met or exceeded standards. Then I was placed under a new supervisor. This supervisor and I did not get along, and this was widely acknowledged within the organization, even by those within HR. The friction became worse when I was publicly insulted by this supervisor (he never apologized nor even admitted to it) and I became aware that he was accepting gifts from clients (in violation of company policy). I shared my concerns with HR, but asked that they not fully investigate the issues as I wanted to give the supervisor the opportunity to redeem himself. The supervisor somehow became aware of my concerns and the next thing you know I’m on a PIP.
How should I proceed? This is clearly an abuse of authority. Is there any legal recourse (the insult and the gifts are documented)? I would prefer not to go that route, but I do have to look out for my interests.
I don’t see any legal issues here. It’s illegal to retaliate against an employee for engaging in legally protected activity (such as reporting harassment or discrimination), but retaliation for other things isn’t illegal. More specifically, it’s not illegal to retaliate against an employee for reporting something that isn’t illegal but only against company policy. (I’m assuming your company’s gifts policy falls in that category; if your manager was actually breaking the law, then this answer would be different.)
It sounds like your manager was a jerk and your HR department chose not to stop him, which is unfair but not illegal.
6. How long should I pursue an employer who reached out but now isn’t getting back to me?
I am currently employed in my first job out of college, but searching for a position in my desired field. I got an email on Wednesday, January 16 regarding a position I had applied for. The email informed me that I had been selected to interview for the position, and requested my availability for that week and the following week (which is actually now this week.) Still with me? Great!
I replied that to the email that evening after work stating that an afternoon time slot would work best if possible due to my work schedule. I also told her that I could arrange to come in Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of the following week (aka this week).
Fast forward to today, and I still have yet to hear anything back from the recruiter. I should also note that I called the office last Friday afternoon and left a message for the recruiter as well, but still, nothing. I guess my question is, how long do I continue to pursue this opportunity, and how do I go about doing so? What else would you do if you were in my situation? This position happens to be the one I was most excited about applying for, so I am a bit hesitant to let it go too quickly.
I would send one more follow-up email and call one more time today, but after that, it’s in their court. They might have ended up moving forward with different candidates, or they might be disorganized and taking longer than planned to get back to you. Your best bet is to mentally move on after making that last contact today, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they do contact you.
7. Mentioning in an interview that I’ll need time off for my wedding
I recently moved to a new area to begin grad school and have been searching for a job. I am engaged and the wedding date is within the next six months. Is it appropriate to tell the interviewer I need time off for that? We had to book the trip a year in advance so I wasn’t sure where I would be at the time. I realize this is putting the cart before the horse in an interview but it’s my wedding…
Don’t mention it in the interview, not unless you’re directly asked if you’ll need any specific time off in the coming months (unlikely). Wait until you have a job offer, and at that point you can negotiate the time off as part of your overall negotiations. It probably won’t be an issue at that point, but it’s a little weird when candidates bring this kind of thing up before there’s even been an offer. Bring it up when it’s relevant to them, which is when they’re planning to hire you. (But definitely bring it up then — don’t wait until you start, like some people do, not that it sounds like you would.)