employee is using the wrong title, dismissive and contemptuous interviewer, and more

by Ask a Manager on July 18, 2013

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It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. What to do when an employee starts using the wrong title

I am interested to know how would you deal with the following situation: The employee, X, reports to the manager Y. Recently, X has altered the title in the email signature from Administrative Specialist to Administrative Coordinator, without informing Y.

The HR file lists X as Administrative Specialist, not Coordinator. X sends emails both internally and externally, on behalf of the company.

Should this be addressed by Y in any way, and what would be the best way to approach it?

Yes, you have to address it! (I’m assuming you’re Y, for the sake of this response.) What if X started using CEO as her title? Titles aren’t up for grabs; they’re negotiated and/or awarded.

Go to X and say this, “I noticed that your emails recently have said administrative coordinator, rather than specialist. How come?” If the answer is anything other than that it’s an odd mistake, then you say, “While your job is specialist, that’s the title you need to use in your emails and other places.” You say this in a nice, even sympathetic tone, but you do need to say it.

2. Interviewer was dismissive and contemptuous

Today I went in for a second round interview at a fashion company with a VP. I met with HR last week, and the interview went very smoothly. I was very interested in the position, and it seemed as though my experience was a good fit for what they were looking for. However, when I greeted the VP this morning, she responded by icily sizing me up with a smug look on her face and not even saying “good morning.” When we sat down in her office, the first words out of her mouth were, “I’m not sure why HR sent you to me.”

Naturally, I was quite taken aback by her dismissal. Things didn’t get better as she proceeded to ask me questions about my experience and subsequently interrupt me to explain why I wasn’t qualified. It felt more like an attack than an interview, ending with her nearly avoiding shaking my hand as I walked out the door.

While I’m disappointed that I (clearly) didn’t get the position, I am relieved that I dodged the bullet of that woman being my boss. My question to you though: is it worth mentioning this woman’s behavior to the HR director, with whom I have a good rapport? I felt like I not only wasted my time, but also that I didn’t stand a chance to exhibit what I could bring to the position since I was put on the defensive from the start. Would this be helpful for the HR person to know so that they don’t waste other people’s time, or should I just say “good riddance” and forget the whole thing?

It would be helpful for the HR person to know, yes, but it risks being unhelpful to you, because too many employers aren’t open to this type of feedback about their interviewers — and will often give their interviewer (who they know better than you, after all) the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re the one who’s being high-maintenance. So if you think you might ever apply for a job again there (under a different manager, obviously), I’d just drop it and move on — especially since it’s not your responsibility to point out or fix whatever problems they have over there, and definitely not if it comes with a potential cost to you.

3. Why don’t I want to take this new job that I was previously excited about?

I have a pretty good job at present, but am considering accepting a different job I have been offered. A few months ago when I applied for the new job, I had a number of reasons why it would be fun, adventurous, challenging, and a great opportunity for new experiences. Yet, now that I am on the brink of having to say yes or no to the job, I seem to have forgotten all the reasons why I wanted it in the first place, and I see only the great parts of my present job. And to be honest, if I found out at this minute that the new job was no longer available, I would be relieved…..what is wrong with me?

Maybe you don’t want the job. Maybe you got a bad feeling about the manager or the work or the culture. Or maybe you do want it, but you’re afraid of change. Or maybe you’re just happy at your current job and don’t want to leave.

4. Should I really submit my parking expenses for reimbursement?

I’m an attorney for a small law firm within a couple miles of downtown. Part of my job is going downtown for various court appearances. This happens often, and each trip costs anywhere between $3 to $20 for parking. This probably totals about $100 – $200 a month.

We don’t have a written policy on expense reimbursements. Before I started working here, my boss said that the firm doesn’t reimburse for mileage when it’s just driving a couple of miles to the courthouse downtown, but they will reimburse for mileage when I have to travel to courthouses farther away–say, in the next county–and always will reimburse for parking. I’m fine with the mileage thing, but am now getting ready to submit my first reimbursement request for parking expenses.

This is where my question arises: My boss buys the office lunch and snacks often, probably once or twice a week. In the short time I’ve worked here, she has also paid for membership dues, continuing education courses, and a trip to a seminar. The point is, what she spends on these things that I benefit from is probably more than what I spend on parking. So my question is, do you think I would now appear to be greedy, nickel-and-dime-y, or overreaching by asking for reimbursement for the parking expenses? Might an employer think, “Well, the cost of the free meals, etc., she gets already more than makes up for the parking costs”?

Nope. At least no reasonable employer would. You’ve been told they’ll reimburse those expenses, so submit them. The fact that your employer also covers training, food, and other items isn’t relevant; it’s not either/or.

Remember, the general principle for thinking about this stuff is that you shouldn’t pay for the business’s own expenses. That includes travel costs like parking, employee training, and lunches that are apparently meant as morale/camaraderie boosts.

5. Would I be eligible for rehiring after quitting without notice two years ago?

I quit my job over two years ago with a great company because my boss and I couldn’t get along professionally. I was always professional and did my work properly. Always arrived on time and left late to complete my work. It got to a point where I felt that nothing I did was good enough for her and my job was on the line. There was one instance where I came into work and someone from my job approached me and told me to be careful because there were talks about letting me go. I was very upset after hearing this. I ended my shift for the day and went home. From there, I sent an email resignation letter to my boss and copied HR. In my letter, I was very professional and told them that this resignation letter was effective immediately while explaining the cause as to why. I did not give two weeks notice. I was an “at-will” employee. Do you think I would be rehireable for the company?

No.

You left without giving notice and didn’t even bother to return to the office to wrap up your work — in nearly every context, that’s seen as unprofessional and would prevent the employer from re-hiring you in the future.

6. Should I do something special for a departing long-time employee?

I have an employee who has worked with our organization for the last 12 years. He has only worked under me for less than a year and I was not the person who hired him into the position. He was inherited. Regardless, should I do something special for him upon his departure? Is it my place to do something and to what magnitude?

What does your organization usually do for departing employees? Card? Lunch? Any sort of recognition? I’d take your cues from that, but if nothing else, I’d circulate a card for people to sign and tell him how much you’ve enjoyed working with him (if that’s in any way true), wish him well, and (if you want) encourage him to stay in touch.

7. Adding a single class to my resume

I have my bachelor’s degree and I also recently took one graduate-level class that is very relevant to my job search. After completing the class, I decided to put graduate school on hold indefinitely while I work on studying for a certification. How do I put this one class on my resume? Do I specify that it was graduate-level? Or should I just mention it in my cover letter?

You could add it to your education section like this:

Great Figures in Chocolate Teapot History (graduate level course), Teapot University, 2013

I’d only do this if it’s truly likely to strengthen your candidacy, though, since otherwise individual classes aren’t generally that significant on a resume.

{ 152 comments… read them below or add one }

Cube Ninja July 18, 2013 at 12:27 am

Apparently #2 managed to score an interview with Miranda Priestly. :)

Joking aside, sorry that happened, but it’s good that you’re seeing the positive in that you aren’t going to end up with a bad fit for a boss.

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melissa July 18, 2013 at 1:54 am

that was EXACTLY my thought.

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Cat H July 18, 2013 at 3:00 am

Mine too!! I knew someone would get in there before me!

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Bryan July 18, 2013 at 7:31 am

I’m so mad somebody to it before me.

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Cruella Da Boss July 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

I was just about to say I thought I saw a movie about this.

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Lizzie July 18, 2013 at 8:50 am

A thousand girls would kill for that job!

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Heather July 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

+1 hahaha

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Not So NewReader July 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

HR probably already knows this interviewer is a dingbat and HR is just praying people will get through the interview and manage to keep all their body parts.

Sometimes people know there is a dead elephant on the dining room table but there is nothing they can do about it. They have already tried. Maybe that was why HR was so nice to you.

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Poe July 18, 2013 at 10:50 am

I am going to use the phrase “dead elephant on the dining room table” at least once today. +1

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Jazzy Red July 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm

It should be “dead elephant tap dancing on the dining room table”.

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Melissa July 21, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I thought the same thing!

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harryvi July 18, 2013 at 12:31 am

#5 You just got played. I don’t know anyone in the right mind would resign like that just because someone ‘thinks’ you will be let go. I agree with AAM, the one who is unprofessional is the OP.

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CoffeeLover July 18, 2013 at 12:57 am

It was the straw that broke the camels back. I don’t think OP resigned purely based on someone thinking she will be let go. It was wrong for her not to give two weeks notice, but we shouldn’t judge her reasoning for wanting to resign in the first place.

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Annie The Mouse July 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

It’s possible that the OP got played (I’ve certainly seen it happen, more than once) but I agree that it could have been the last straw. I could also see her chances at working there again being a little bit better than you might think. If the boss was that difficult with the OP, there’s no reason to think he would be any different with his other employees, even provoking others to quit. If that’s the pattern, management might well have realized that he, not the OP, was the problem and at least consider her if she applied again.

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The IT Manager July 18, 2013 at 1:55 am

I don’t think #5 got played, but she acted unprofessionally as her very last act at the company and it will be remembered. Even though you were very professional 5 different ways in everything leading up to point, you went out with a flaky bang.

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AdAgencyChick July 18, 2013 at 6:16 am

Totally. Sorry, OP #5, you were not “very professional” in your resignation letter, no matter how politely you worded it. “Very professional” would have been giving notice and working with as good a grace as you could muster through that notice period.

Also, AAM, how about a “post your best resignation stories” post? I’m sure we’ve got a few.

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LisaLyn July 18, 2013 at 8:09 am

That would be an awesome thread.

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Construction HR July 18, 2013 at 9:47 am

I have an entry.

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EM July 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

I’ve got a pretty good one too.

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tcookson July 18, 2013 at 11:12 am

+1 Curious to see whether the comments on this skew toward “Best of . . .” or “Worst of . . .”

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AdAgencyChick July 18, 2013 at 11:12 am

Oh, I think we all want to hear about the crazies.

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Elizabeth West July 18, 2013 at 11:46 am

LOL–we all seem to have a coworker/manager in that vein. A Native American friend of mine has a signature line that goes, “I am Lakota. Whatever doesn’t kill me makes a funny story!”

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Chinook July 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I have a resignation story that shows me not in the greatest light but I am dying to tell because, while it was unprofessional, it was the sanest thing I ever did.

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SW July 19, 2013 at 9:19 am

That’s a great idea for a thread!

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BCW July 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

Not to try to argue that what the OP did was smart, but I always find it funny that professionalism when ending employment doesn’t go both ways. If you are an at will employee and a company even suspects wrong doing, they can terminate you on the spot, and they are perfectly within their right. They can even make you leave that day if you try to give 2 weeks notice. Heaven forbid an employee exercise that same right though, then they are considered unprofessional.

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Ask a Manager July 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

I think here it could easily go both ways — if a company fired you on the spot without any warning and with no severance and then reached back out to you about a job in a couple of years, as if everything was fine, would you be interested? I think most people probably wouldn’t be.

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Rob Aught July 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

Not to mention that in places I’ve worked where the management did not conduct themselves professionally could never retain their best people.

Imagine that.

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BCW July 18, 2013 at 10:10 am

Well I agree in this instance that the bridge is burned, and if a manager reached out after doing that to an employee the employee wouldn’t be receptive either. I”m just saying in general, people tend to look at any employee leaving without notice as unprofessional, however managers do that all the time and its considered “doing whats best for the company”.

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Jamie July 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

Companies can certainly fire people in unprofessional ways – the consequences of acting badly are just different and less personal. The company may have issues retaining good people, but they don’t need a reference from this one employee to put food on their table.

The fall out for unprofessional behavior is more immediate and acute for the employee…but that doesn’t mean that anything goes on the other side under the umbrella of professionalism.

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Chinook July 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Companies that act unprofessional, though, can also hurt their income stream because employees are potential customers, know potential customers or will work for potential customers. The accounting firm I worked for would get my recommendation for audits and bankruptcies (and a glowing one at that – I loved those departments and their professionalism) but if anyone wanted to use them as accountants, I would tell them to look elsewhere.

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Jamie July 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I totally agree – I’m just saying the punishment isn’t as immediate and personal as burning a bridge with a reference you need to get another job because you’ve got a mortgage to pay.

But unprofessional companies absolutely pay the price long term – with employees and customers…no question.

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AdAgencyChick July 18, 2013 at 10:29 am

This.

Just because they can do it, doesn’t mean they should. And just because you can do it (quit without notice), ALSO doesn’t mean you should.

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Jazzy Red July 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Ever since I was laid off the first time, I’ve had no qualms about leaving an employer with short notice.

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Vicki July 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

They dont need to suspect anything. They only need to not like you or declare you “no longer a good fit”.

I was part of a reorganization that put me into a team where I didn’t fit. The manager agreed and suggested I “needed to find something else” inside the company. Then my job was eliminated. At least I got severance, but I got no notice of how long I had to “find something else.”

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Jessa July 18, 2013 at 10:29 am

#5 I’m with everyone who says nope I seriously doubt you could go back and it’d likely look bad if you tried. I am not sure if you got played or not, but whether the rumour was true or not you didn’t handle it properly. Even if you wanted to leave absent the rumour, you should have given proper notice and wrapped things up right.

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LoriM July 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

Regarding number two, that’s par for the course in the fashion industry. Not everyone is like that, but many are. Signed, a recovering fashion publicist.

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Mimi July 18, 2013 at 1:09 am

#1: what’s the difference between an administrative specialist and an administrative coordinator? I’m just not seeing the benefit to switching one title for the other…

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PEBCAK July 18, 2013 at 1:27 am

My first thought was that she’s job searching and seeing a lot of postings that want experience as the latter.

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CoffeeLover July 18, 2013 at 1:34 am

If that were the case then she could just change her resume and linkedin. Maybe she thinks it more accurately reflects what she does? It sounds more awesome :P? I don’t really know what the difference is between the two titles. For what it’s worth, at my company position titles aren’t that regulated. I mean its an issue if you make your title something it obviously isn’t, but people don’t really care/notice stylistic word choices.

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WorkingMom July 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

Related to this… I have many coworkers who use different “more senior” sounding titles on linkedin, which are not actually their titles. In some circumstances, they give themselves a job title that’s several pay grades above their own! Obviously I would never say anything as a mere coworker – but I just can’t imagine having the guts to “up” your position a few notches when you are connected to people in your own office! Anyone else see this too?

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Jessa July 18, 2013 at 10:31 am

Exactly, if you think the title is wrong, go to your boss and get it changed, a lot of times they’ll do that especially if they don’t have to hand out money as well.

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Jamie July 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

I can’t imagine why anyone thinks this would be a good idea. People who work with me, including my bosses, have seen my Linkedin profile. I’m pretty sure if I promoted myself to Jamie – President and Reigning Special Snowflake they’d notice and say something.

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FreeThinkerTX July 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Ha!! I own my own [very] small business, and think I’ll update my title on LinkedIn to this!

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Anon July 18, 2013 at 11:53 am

Yep, I work on a very small team of Office Assistants in a student-worker position, and my coworker’s LinkedIn title is inflated. I wish I wasn’t so irritated by it.

There are indeed levels that correspond to pay grade for our position (I, II, III), but he’s a level I and his LinkedIn says “Senior Office Assistant,” ostensibly because he is in his senior year of college. I can’t tell if he just doesn’t understand that your graduation year has nothing to do with your job title, or if it’s intentional and he’s counting on being able to say “but I AM a senior, and I AM an office assistant.”

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Jazzy Red July 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm

That will go over well in an interview!

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Melissa July 21, 2013 at 11:51 pm

I have a colleague who does this on LinkedIn. The title she has given herself describes what we do, but it drastically bumps up her title grade/responsibility, even making her appear to have a degree that we don’t have yet (which is a requirement for the jobs we want to get). The thing is, if she ever got an interview and someone took a peek at her LinkedIn they would immediately know she didn’t do what her title says and it might be an issue, so I’m not sure why she does it.

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LisaLyn July 18, 2013 at 8:12 am

Where I work, coordinator is the “senior” title.

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KellyK July 18, 2013 at 8:25 am

That makes sense. “Specialist” is what usually gets tagged onto entry-level positions to make them sound slightly better, while “coordinator” implies that if you’re not directly supervising people, you’re at least *coordinating* multiple people’s tasks in some way. (I think my company called project managers “project coordinators” at one point, possibly to distinguish them from managers and supervisors.)

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tcookson July 18, 2013 at 11:22 am

At my state uni the titles we have for admins are: Service Assistant I (our receptionist’s title) or II, then it goes to Administrative Specialist I, II, or III (I’m the department head’s assistant, and I’m a III), then Administrative Support Supervisor (who may or may not supervise a small staff), then Project/Program Specialist, who may assist a more senior Project/Program Coordinator. Then there are Directors (but by the time they’re directors, they’re not really Admins anymore).

For the e-mail signature, most of the admins use the more informal “Administrative Assistant” instead of the actual job title, but on our business cards, we use the formal title.

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LMW July 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm

At my old job it was the reverse (coordinator was entry level, specialist was higher…apparently because they thought you needed experience in order to be a specialist in something)

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Jamie July 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I’ve never worked in a place that used either title, but from an outsider’s point of view specialist seems like it would be a higher level to me.

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Jazzy Red July 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm

“Specialist” really isn’t special. The former classification would have been “clerk” (generally speaking).

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Jamie July 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I so wish someone would have said exactly this to Phillip Shepard on last season’s Survivor. Specialist indeed.

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Chinook July 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I think that Philip Shepard was playing everybody with his “specialist” title. From what little I know of how the military/government works, I thought that meant that he was experienced at his trade but not competent enough to get promoted to something more managerial or with more responsibilities (sort of like DH’s previous title of Intelligence Operator). It sounded impressive to an outsider but to those in the know it means you do the grunt work while others make the decisions (DH said he felt more like a walking wikipedia and less like James Bond)

Jamie July 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I love you for getting my reference and for giving me additional interesting information on top of it. And your DH has it dead right – Wikipedia for sure.

Melissa July 21, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I would love to get hired as a walking Wikipedia, at least initially, lol.

tcookson July 18, 2013 at 6:33 pm

One of our high-tempered professors was standing, by chance, behind the receptionists’ desk when some poor innocent delivery guy walked in. Seeing her behind the desk, he asked her for to sign for the package he had brought.

She fixed him with her most withering glare, drew herself up to her full 4’9″ height, and screamed, “Do I look like a CLERK to you!!??”

Somehow the story doesn’t tell the same way when you substitute “SPECIALIST!!!” . . .

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Jamie July 19, 2013 at 10:12 am

How rude! When my mom was dying someone from her church came to visit her. I hadn’t seen this women since I was small and back then she was Mrs. Whomever. My mom was in and out of consciousness and my siblings and I were all sitting vigil trying to be polite to everyone for her sake (none of us are really “people” people) and so I said, “Hello, Mrs. Whomever. Thanks for coming.” Her reply?

“Excuse me, it’s Dr. Whomever. I have a PhD.”

Good for freaking you, sorry for not keeping tabs on the educational and career milestones of every one of my mom’s friends I met once when I was 8. If you are speaking in italics you’re being too snotty – that’s my rule of thumb.

Melissa July 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Also Jamie, typically PhDs don’t socially go by Dr. It’s only MDs that do. PhDs that demand to go by Dr. in social situations are usually extremely petty.

Editor July 22, 2013 at 12:50 am

@Melissa — Every school superintendent and administrator I’ve ever met used “Dr.” if they had a Ph.D. Of course, flaunting the title is common in academia. A lot of ministers seem to emphasize the Ph.D., too.

Felicia July 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I’ve applied to jobs at different companies that were Communications Specialist, Communications Assistant and Communications Coordinator. All 3 were advertized as entry level jobs, 1-2 years experience required. I think titles vary by company,, and for things like that, the titles don’t have too much meaning until they have words like Director or Manager in the title.

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Anonymous July 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm

How do people feel about Linked In headlines? Do they need to match your title? For instance, suppose my title is Senior Chocolate Teapot Manufacturer III, but my headline says Teapot Manufacturer. Or you work in an industry that has colloquial expressions that are more familiar to most people – “banker” versus Vice President of Customer Relations at a bank. What do people think about those changes to your title – deceptive or no?

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Kou July 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm

That’s what I was wondering. If it is as LisaLyn says a more senior title, then she should have a conversation about it.

But maybe she’s been called coordinator so many times she just went with it and it may or may not even know if it carries more weight. There are three titles I could have at work and people use them interchangeably because the stratification is a little murky and they don’t really know (or care) which one makes sense for me. Furthermore, these kinds of titles aren’t really universal, so a coordinator one place might be in a totally different spot than a coord in another. I’ve used the wrong title before just because everyone else was already using it in a conversation and it stuck in my head that way.

If Y’s change isn’t actually significantly grabby, it seems like a non-issue.

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Ursula July 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm

In the company for which I work, there are three levels of Administrative Specialist, all of which are non-exempt. The next level up is Administrative Coordinator, which is an exempt position. Coordinators generally support directors and such, and have more things for which they are wholly responsible. The real benefit is the extra week of vacation as an exempt employee, but someone may want to look as though they have greater responsibility.

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Ruffingit July 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Coordinator makes it sound like she coordinates the administrative team, as in she’s a supervisor of some kind. Specialist makes it sound like she’s one of many admins. That’s my reading on it.

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Darcie July 18, 2013 at 1:21 am

#5 Sorry, but what the heck were you thinking? You quit a job instantly after hearing a rumor about being let go? Without even discussing it with your manager, or at least sleeping on it? It sounds like it wasn’t working out overall at that workplace and you may have been close to some sort of breaking point, but the scenario as you described makes you seem impulsive and emotional.

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Ruffingit July 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Agreed. I have left a couple of jobs without notice before (handing in a resignation letter effective immediately), but those were places where my sanity was on the line. And, in both cases, the businesses ended up failing (small biz in both cases) and in one of the two, the principle owners were sued successfully by clients. Not something I wanted to be associated with and something I could totally see coming. In the other case, the business closed due to extremely poor management and the manager was maligned endlessly both from previous employees and clients on message boards having to do with the industry.

So there are cases where you need to go, but in general I wouldn’t suggest doing this and I certainly wouldn’t suggest reapplying. Chalk it up to bridge burned, lesson learned and move on.

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EngineerGirl July 18, 2013 at 1:34 am

#2 – I’m so glad I went into engineering and left junior high behind!

# 4 – yes, submit even if you don’t get reimbursed. That way they have “actuals” for the true cost of the business. Since they said you’d be reimbursed, take them at their word.

# 5 – you were played. That company is dead to you.

# 6 – so inherited employees have a lesser value than chosen ones? Or you only treat “certain” people well, and only if you know them? You are the persons manager, and you need to do for them what any other employee would get. What kind of message do you want to send to the people remaining?

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EngineerGirl July 18, 2013 at 1:41 am

# 6 – And by the way – take some time to ask around about the employees accomplishments. That way you can make a proper farewell speech. If older managers are around then encourage them to come to the farewell too .

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Nikki T July 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

I took it to mean she may have felt a little awkward celebrating a long-time employee that wasn’t really long-time ‘to her’. She was tossing the idea out there, figuring some sort of acknowledgement is in order…

If that makes any sense…

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Jessa July 18, 2013 at 10:33 am

Thank you for putting this this way, I was having a hard time figuring out why I thought #6 sounded awkward. I don’t THINK what was meant was that inherited people are worse than ones you pick yourself. Maybe that’s it though, that because they only managed them for such a short part of the long career in the company it feels weird to be the one to get up and go Shuvon has been so wonderful these past 30 years. Maybe OP 6 can enlist someone who has been on board for more years? Someone who can speak to “all these years our department has worked with x department and Shuvon has been there to help?”

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Jamie July 18, 2013 at 11:46 am

I don’t think any slight was intended on inherited employees, just concern that perhaps it might not be their place to do so – maybe if the person who hired them on is still there it would be more fitting for them.

Either way I didn’t read insult at all.

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Daisy July 18, 2013 at 9:13 am

I took her to be asking whether she should do something more than usual if someone’s been there a really long time. That said, yeah, I thought the stress on him being ‘inherited’ was a little off. So what? Managers change all the time.

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Jessa July 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

#4 also, you’re an attorney, they’re billing clients for this stuff, so definitely submit. They’ll reimburse you if they say they will because it’s a pass along cost.

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Ruffingit July 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Yes exactly. I worked at a law firm where clients were billed for parking. It’s part of the cost of handling their case.

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Jen in RO July 18, 2013 at 2:00 am

#1 – This happens all the time in my company and it’s normal. People get promoted, but their official listing in the directory doesn’t always change, so they might be Associate Chocolate Teapot Maker but signing their emails with Chocolate Teapot Maker Team Lead because *that* is their job.

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Sissa July 18, 2013 at 4:06 am

Here, too. We apparently have a system for the HR to divide us into categories for payroll purposes, but our titles might not reflect what we’re doing. My title is Chocolate Teapot Specialist but I’m more of a Chocolate Teapot Designer, Maker and Fixer-upper. Occasionally I also troubleshoot the production lines that produce the ingredients for chocolate, strawberry and vanilla teapots. Oh, and I make sure the products are packaged and presented in a decent way.

Misleading titles are misleading.

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Sharon July 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

Yep and sometimes they don’t make any sense within the company either. I used to work for a large corporation that had a huge number of available job titles. Just in my department we had two groups of people: one with titles of software engineer and the other had titles system engineers. Now, in the general IT world those are two different jobs. But in this department we all reported to the same manager and all did the exact same job with the same responsibilities. We also got paid the same relative salaries (I noticed when I did some project management and had to include cost of salaries in the budget). Why we were divided like that made no sense nor was it ever explained or changed.

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Jessa July 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

Also it IS possible that the person was handed the other title to shut them up about a raise in pay at some point. I am assuming the opposite of Alison here that the OP is not the employees direct supervisor, because geez, if it’s their direct report that’s pretty easy “hey employee, fix this.”

I mean how does the OP know that Y does not know this? Also I’ve seen people use informal titles that do not match their HR files as well. I know when it became common to call people assistants instead of secretaries, many people just started substituting assistant into their titles. So Executive Secretary because Exec Assistant. Or Coordinator or whatever fit what you were doing. Because most places started to feel Secretary sounded dated and sexist.

Now if there IS an existing title one does not fudge oneself INTO it. THAT is a no-no. You don’t call yourself the Executive Assistant to the Teapot Coordinator if they already have that person.

I’m just not sure of the motive of the question. Is this person playing off that they have more authority? Are they trying to look self important? Trying to steal work from someone else? It seems slightly petty unless there’s more to the story that I don’t see?

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Lindsay July 19, 2013 at 3:25 am

Yeah, at my last job there were three of us in the same position performing the same exact tasks, and each one of us had a different job code and title. Made no sense whatsoever.

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AnotherAlison July 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

I actually have two titles. Our system is set up to have the official corporate titles that dictates salary bands, performance review skill requirements, and training requirements, and then an actual descriptive title that reflects what we do day-to-day. I suppose I could use either title, and my corporate title would be more impressive, but extremely misleading.

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Jamie July 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

I have two also – one that’s more accurate of the global scope of my job and that’s what’s on HR or Linkedin. But I prefer the one I use which is why I never changed my sig tag or business cards…because it’s less stuffy and fits me like a favorite pair of Levis perfectly broken in.

We’re not a real title based place so it doesn’t matter internally. Internally I answer to “Jamie,” “the IT,” or “Policy Wonk.”

I know they mean the last one with nothing but love.

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Elizabeth West July 18, 2013 at 11:53 am

There can be discrepancies in title–mine is different in HR /on the system than what my boss wanted my email to say. But it sounds here like X is trying to make it sound a little bit higher-level (because she changed it without informing anyone). I’m curious as to what is behind it.

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Sabrina July 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

#6 I think it’s nice you want to do something for someone who’s been there such a long time. I left a company after 10 years and didn’t get so much as a “Don’t let the door hit you…” when I left. And yet, that was the best job I’ve ever had.

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Windchime July 18, 2013 at 10:17 am

Yeah, I got a happy hour that was a small gathering of friends at a bar. But I had to work on a project until the last minute, so most of them headed out to the bar as I was still hauling boxes out to the car, alone. I was so happy to get out of there that I didn’t really care, but I had been at that company for 21 years (in many different roles).

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tcookson July 18, 2013 at 11:31 am

Our office practice is to have a faculty/staff lunch at a restaurant for departing employees. So there was one admin who had been there for a very short time, and she wasn’t working out. Her boss wanted to let her go and hire someone else. Everybody knew that she was being let go, but her boss still threw the typical farewell lunch, where the story was that she was “moving on to pursue her education.” It was a little awkward, but hey — it was a free lunch 0_0

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Elizabeth West July 18, 2013 at 11:52 am

I used to work for an ad circular that threw potlucks for people who quit (gave notice, etc.). I got a huge potluck when I left. It was awesome.

When I was between jobs later, I ended up temping there part-time for about six weeks while someone was on maternity leave. That’s where I was on 9/11.

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Brandy July 18, 2013 at 8:43 am

#1- if you are NOT the manager of the Admin Specialist/Coordinator, you don’t say anything. If you can’t help yourself, maybe say something like, “hey, noticed the title change! Did you get a promotion?!”

FWIW, I have my direct reports change their titles all the time. What goes in the system officially can be anywhere from correct to WAY off base. As an example, I used to be in product marketing. But I worked in product. But I wasn’t a product manager (in the sense my company used it). So I had an “official” title of Mrg. of Business Analytics. I didn’t work in BI at all! But it was the only title in product that didn’t imply product management within my salary band—I couldn’t use a title with “marketing” in it without getting lumped into the marketing group. My email and biz cards all read “Product Marketing Manager.”

In that same role, I changed my title several times–my boss and I talked about it, but it was typically because it went from a product strategy to product marketing to portfolio management….all with the same “official” title behind the scenes.

In this case, I think Admin Specialist sounds sort of weird. Makes her sound like a Super Admin. She could have changed it to “coordinator” not because of any implied status, but simply because Admins tend to coordinate things, not specialize in them! :)

Now, my

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LisaLyn July 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

No, OP1 can’t say anything to the person if she isn’t his/her direct report, but he/she could say something to the person’s manager. And should.

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Elaine July 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

But, would the admin’s manager actually be CC’d on some of those emails? Or is it just happening on emails on which the manager is not CC’d?

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Ruffingit July 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Even if the admin’s manager is CCed on the e-mails, it’s quite possible she’s not seeing the title change because she’s not looking at it. When I received e-mails from colleagues, I looked at the content of the e-mail. Their signature with name, title, etc. was just skipped over because it’s not pertinent to me and I see it all the time. I wouldn’t notice a change in it unless someone pointed it out to me.

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Construction HR July 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

I’ve got 20 bucks on “OP is not Y”.

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CoffeeLover July 18, 2013 at 10:03 am

+1

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Elaine July 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

+1

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Meg July 18, 2013 at 9:56 am

All the admins in my department (and for the most part, throughout the company) have Administrative Specialist as our title. It’s generally used as a way to fancy up entry level positions. Most people roll their eyes at it, as everyone knows that it’s still entry level and we’re pretty much admin assistants.

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Kou July 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm

All the admins, to my knowledge, also have this title in the system but actually have different duties and use different working titles so we know who’s actually doing what.

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Dee July 18, 2013 at 8:59 am

#5- I seriously doubt the OP was always professional prior to her extremely unprofessional exit. OP should take this as a lesson learned the hard way. Unfortunely, depending on the industry (some industries are small and word travels about employees from one employer to another), the OP may have seriously damaged future prospects from other organizations besides her former employer.

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EM July 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

I agree. I think that not getting along with one’s boss is unprofessional. You don’t have to like your boss, and you might even hate your boss, but nobody should be able to tell from watching your interactions.

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A Teacher July 18, 2013 at 10:39 am

I think that makes sense most of the time, if you’ve had a truly horrible boss that same boss probably doesn’t act professional with her employees so there’s only so much control you have with how professional your interactions occur. Let’s just say I’m a person that left a company with only 6 days notice–I couldn’t give notice before the schoolboard officially hired me because I worked for a company that would fire you if they thought you were even thinking about leaving. The supervisor that I had at the time is still there in the exact same position–no upward movement because she’s refused to get additional education that she needs and doesn’t have as much field experience as even an athletic trainer with 3 years of practice. She’s still a tyrant from the friends I have working there and she still likes to wield her little bit of power over people. Most people arent’ very nice to her and probably aren’t what you consider “professional” with her because as my one friend said “if you get called stupid and screamed at enough you kind of start to respond in kind or you shut down.”

My main manager told me “I would never work in my original field again because he would ensure it.” Yep, that didn’t happen. As Alison says, if that particularly company were to call me up I’d say “NO” in a heartbeat. They don’t have a great reputation and while they have some excellent and really nice employees the culture is pretty toxic and turnover is really high. When new grads ask if I recommend the company I say “no” and I explain why.

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Kou July 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Agreed. All my managers that were high school type passive aggressive and snippy had the nothing-being-good-enough angle as the main issue behind all the other issues. Working under people like that seriously clouds your judgement because you’re just surrounded by poor decisions.

OP doesn’t sound like she handled it well but I’m very open to the possibility that her manager was the issue and she crumbled under it. Not a fabulous mark on your career even if you’re not at fault, but I reserve harsh judgement. Plenty of otherwise good employees have had a crazy job at some point that sucked them into bad behavior. I’ve resisted it in the past but I’ve seen it happen to good people many times.

I’m also open to the possibility that OP is exceptionally sensitive and overreacted to the whole bit. Who knows.

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Observer July 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

I have to agree with your first two sentences. No matter how she worded the resignation, walking off the job that way IS unprofessional. Not understanding this, and that’s what comes across with way the situation is described, indicates that the OP may not quite get just what “professional” means.

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Not So NewReader July 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

OP #5. My heart goes out to you. I have seen this technique used so. many. times. A rumor of firing someone gets put out on the gossip line. This helps the manager to avoid that nasty task of having to fire someone in person. It’s a ploy that works.
Yes, it takes nerves of steel to work through that 2 week notice period- but do it anyway. It’s only 2 weeks. Going the other way by just walking out- that is something that haunts you for decades if not a life time.
Basically, you said “I am done with you people, forever.” And they responded back “We’ll be okay here without you.”
There are other fish in the sea, OP. The glass is always half full, OP. Someone, somewhere will appreciate your abilities.

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FiveNine July 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm

It’s easy to see the advantages to doing this: Having an employee leave of her own free will without giving notice should generally free the company from having to pay unemployment (and maybe severance). And my God — I’m sure there are employees with agendas who would love to instill paranoia in a rival, especially at workplaces that are in the midst of layoffs or “restructuring,” etc. Because as bad as voluntarily leaving is, and ESPECIALLY without giving notice, I think people generally would prefer to not to have to tell a prospective future employer that they were fired.

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B July 18, 2013 at 9:29 am

#1 – If you are not the title-changers boss then let it go. It does not effect your work or what you have to do. A lot of times people change titles because it clarifies things.

As PP said if you absolutely must say something because it is killing you then you can say congrats on the promotion. If you are the manager then sure, say something if you must, but really does it effect that much of her work-product.

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Ramona July 18, 2013 at 9:30 am

#2 – Same thing happened to me, but not in the fashion industry (in higher ed). The HR person liked me a lot and spoke high praises to me to the hiring manager. The hiring manager was pretty dismissive of me and kept mentioning that the HR person thought I was really good (I think he was questioning why she said that). This situation probably isn’t uncommon, especially if it’s for a huge company and the HR person doesn’t know the hiring managers well.

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Ramona July 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

Also #2, I wouldn’t say anything to HR. I didn’t and they referred me to another position at the company because they were so interested in me.

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Ann O'Nemity July 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

For #7, I could see the benefit of adding an individual class to your resume if you’re in a field like IT and want to indicate that you’re staying current or if the class adds something unique to your qualifications.

On the other hand, I don’t really see the point of adding the class to your resume if the grad-level class is very similar to the classes you completed in your undergrad program. If anything, this could even make it look like you started something and didn’t finish it – the same effect of a very short-term job.

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Jessa July 18, 2013 at 10:51 am

I get the opinion that the class might have been some kind of practical thing. With an experience component, like a lab or a practicum, in which case I would totally list it.

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AnotherAlison July 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I have selectively listed non-degree graduate level and post-bacc classes I’ve taken, when it makes sense. I am in engineering in a non-tech role, but have some recent grad courses that could show I’m still in the engineering game if I applied for a role that was more technical. I also took a post-bacc sequence for medical school in my late 20s (never applied or took MCAT), and would only include for more bio/health science type jobs. . .can only think of one time when including those made sense.

I doubt my courses do much for me, but at least they help explain why I might be applying for a particular job not directly related to my current job.

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COT July 18, 2013 at 10:10 am

#3: I think this is pretty common when you’re leaving a job that you’re fairly happy with. The unknown can be scary and your current job seems safe and comfortable in comparison, even if it’s not entirely satisfying. When I was recently in that situation, my heart sank when I got a job offer. It forced me to make a decision about just how good my current job was, and it brought up all sorts of fears about a new job: what if I don’t like it? What if I’m terrible at it? What if my current job really is about to become what I want it to be? Am I foolish for giving up the good job I’ve got? I got caught up in the weeds of little things (like whether the dental insurance was equivalent) rather than focusing on the big questions about what I wanted to do with my career and how to get there.

I almost didn’t make the leap, but I ultimately did and I don’t regret it. You may choose otherwise. Maybe you’ve realized since you applied for the new job that you’re happy in your current place. Or maybe the interview process has given you better insight into the new job and it’s not as perfect as you initially thought. That’s okay; people turn down job offers all the time. But take a good long look at yourself first. Is this just fear of something new? Don’t let that stop you from making the leap to something that sounds really promising.

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FreeThinkerTX July 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I’ll also add that my mom and my boyfriend-of-ten-years are both bi-polar. It’s *very* common for either of them to get very excited about a new something, then completely forget why they were so excited about when it comes time to execute.

They make very different decisions when they’re on a manic upswing than when they’re stabilized. Don’t have any clue if this might relate to you, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

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Julie July 18, 2013 at 10:14 am

To echo what others have said about #2, we have a VP like that (not fashion, just very demanding). We all thought her last assistant was a saint for staying as long as she did and she was never really replaced because the woman is too hard to please.

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periwinkle July 18, 2013 at 10:21 am

#4: “My boss buys the office lunch and snacks often, probably once or twice a week. In the short time I’ve worked here, she has also paid for membership dues, continuing education courses, and a trip to a seminar. The point is, what she spends on these things that I benefit from is probably more than what I spend on parking.”

And you think this is all coming out of her pocket? Professional development like continuing ed and seminars? Business expenses. Lunch for the staff? Business expense. The professional development benefits the company as well as you, because it means you have additional/improved skills to use at work, and you’ll be more likely to stick around (hiring is expensive!) because you feel valued by their investment in you.

Submit those parking receipts. They are a business expense that benefits the company.

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Cat July 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

Agreed; it’s standard for law firms to pay bar dues and CLE course fees because those things are necessary in order for their attorneys to practice law. It’s less of a perk and more of a business expense.

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Loose Seal July 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

They are a business expense that benefits the company.

You are presumably going to the courthouse to do something on behalf of a client, who is being charged for it. I would assume the client’s fee covers your time, the parking fee, and leaves plenty for the profit of your firm.

*Not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once…

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Adele July 18, 2013 at 11:17 am

I’m a lawyer and this is true. The clients are charged these expenses.

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Contessa July 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Yes and no. My firm reimburses me for mileage, tolls, parking, etc., but it is not always passed on to the clients. Some clients have billing arrangements where they don’t pay for local travel, and when a case is billed on contingency, we may write off expenses if there is no recovery.

But, OP #4 should definitely not be eating his/her parking costs. Submit the invoices/receipts for reimbursement, make sure they get assigned to the right case(s), and then check how/if they should be billed when billing time rolls around.

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Blue Dog July 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

You are over thinking this. Just say, “To whom do I turn parking receipts?” Or “Is there a form for reimbursement?” My guess is that there is a sheet you fill out to which you attach your receipts. You would probably also identify the client/case so that the costs can be passed directly through.

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Lisa July 18, 2013 at 10:24 am

#1 – This happened in my office. Basically, this guy let’s call him Joe, was hired to be a Chocolate Teapot Maker. There are several people on his team that are Chocolate Teapot Makers, Sr. Chocolate Teapot Makers, and Asst. Chocolate Teapot Making Planners. Any who, there are Chocolate Teapot Makers that have been itching to become Sr. Chocolate Teapot Makers and even have impressive clients that buy their Chocolate Teapots including the Queen, the Obamas, the Dalai Lama, and Pope Francis to name a few. You get the point, some Chocolate Teapot Makers are pretty damn close to becoming Sr. Chocolate Teapot Makers based on their impressive client list. Joe who is definitely NOT a Sr. Chocolate Teapot Maker (questionable teapot handle and spout craftsmanship), but changed his email signature to say that he is.

Well the other Chocolate Teapot Makers are mad, but MORE mad that the Director of Chocolate Teapot Making is LETTING him keep his Sr. title. Seeing how Joe is now considered a Sr. is making the other workers who were happy before feel like they are completely under-valued, but worse seeing that Joe is valued to keep his title despite his not-so-great-work is killing their productivity since apparently crooked or straight teapot doesn’t matter to get ahead so they don’t put in as much effort anymore to get it right. Everyone is losing and now once happy employees are considering quitting because letting this guy do this makes them question all decisions management is making (raises /promotions) as not based on good work and its starting to look like the women are the ones being told to wait on the Sr. title but the men can just take it.

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Lisa July 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

I forget to mention the Director admits that Joe is not a Sr. and there was no promotion, he is a new employee, and his offer letter definitely did not say Sr.

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Jessa July 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

This does happen, however it is very unlikely that this is the issue with the OP in this thread. This is a particularly egregious bit of garbage that does go on in some places. However, I think the OP above would have been far more … specific about the issues if this was the complaint. I am not however sure about how one actually DEALS with this kind of absolute garbage discrimination when it does happen.

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Anonymous July 18, 2013 at 11:47 am

A variation of this happened a place I worked too. A woman was demoted (rightfully so) but continued to use her former, more senior title. It killed morale, multiple staff members complained, to their boss, her boss, HR, etc., no one made her stop until it was noticed she was using her incorrect title in a bio on an upcoming national conference’s website. Unbridled, delusional narcissism is one helluva drug. :)

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nyxalinth July 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

#2 Happened to me, though not in a fashion setting. In 2004 I interviewed with a small brokerage firm. They wanted someone who would take incoming calls for one of the brokers to handle clients’ questions and issues.

HR? Loved me. Other ladies in the same position? Loved me. Guy I would be working for? Loved me.

Office manager? He could hardly hide his contempt. During our interview, he would look at me, look at my resume, and do that smirky head-shake/I don’t believe this crap half chuckle.

I didn’t get the job. I don’t know what he was looking for, but I obviously wasn’t it.

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Andrea July 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

Sounds like you dodged a bullet to me. I’d guess he had a preferred candidate, or wanted a certain look, or was just a plain and simple jerk. In none of these cases do you want anything to do with him.

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nyxalinth July 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I’m picking he was a jerk. I looked much the same as anyone else there, and if he had a preferred candidate, he could still have been nicer!

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Chinook July 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Sounds like HR and the others were trying to find someone to fit the overall culture of the brokerage firm and the office manager didn’t like the fact that you were more like them and not going to be easily used as one of his peons. I have noticed that, when an office is going through the transistion from toxic to healthy, this is sometimes done through hiring and if the person who is at the centre of the toxicity has any control, they often try to stop any “healthy” hires.

You definitely dodged a bullet.

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nyxalinth July 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm

That makes sense to me, and yeah, I agree.

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Anonymous July 18, 2013 at 10:44 am

I work for a tiny teapot company with no real title, sometimes referred to as Chocolate Teapot Processor, but I wear so many hats I’ve had to alter it. When dealing with execs and other agencies, I use “Chocolate Teapot Operations,” otherwise I wouldn’t be granted access to the higher level reports, etc. that I need to do my job. That’s the problem when it’s a tiny company and you do everything from make copies to write policy.

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AP July 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Agreed, titles need to reflect the higher level of job that you do or occasionally clients, vendors, and other outsiders won’t take you seriously, especially at a small company where you might also be answering the phones or taking lunch orders. I was in this situation once but just mentioned to my boss, “Hey, I don’t think clients are cc’ing me on things I need to see, probably because they think I’m the receptionist or something, can I start using this other [impressive] title?” He said “oh yeah totally” and it really did solve the problem.

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Anonymous July 19, 2013 at 9:10 am

Yep, that!

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The Other Dawn July 18, 2013 at 10:53 am

#5: Yes, it was unprofessional to just up and leave with no notice. I definitely wouldn’t give any consideration to someone who did that were they to apply for a job here in the future. But what bugs me more is that OP just took the word of a co-worker and didn’t think to discuss it with her manager. It was an impulsive, emotional overreaction.

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Brton3 July 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

To #2: this may sound childish but honestly I would have given that interviewer a big piece of my mind before walking out. You already go through so much during a job search, and when it becomes clear that the interviewer is an unprofessional idiot and you aren’t getting the job, I think it’s fair game to call her out on her unacceptable behavior (because that behavior is unacceptable no matter what “power” she thinks she has) and give yourself a tiny measure of satisfaction. Just my unprofessional two cents.

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Steve G July 18, 2013 at 11:39 am

#2 I would tell the HR lady, but also that goes with the territory in “glamorous” industries because they are so competitive, right? I work in a nitty gritty industry and am glad I don’t have to deal with that BS, when I interview the people are nice and respectful. I think the HR person needs to know that you were dismissed as a waste of time. It may be normal in Devil Wears Prada, but is really rude in the real world.

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Elizabeth West July 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

2–rude VP

Don’t worry about telling them; I’m sure they already know. If she’s like this with candidates, I guarantee she’s like this with current employees.

#5–not eligible for rehire

OP–Why would you want to go back? Because you need a job? If you were unhappy then, you’d be twice as unhappy now–because you bailed on them, they would be breathing down your neck if they rehired you. I would just move on (and next time, give notice). If you have a concern like that again, go to your boss and calmly ask about it. The truth will set you free.

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Brett July 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I am curious on just what rules apply to title enforcement?

As an example, my title is, roughly paraphrased
World Teapot Systems Programmer and Analyst/ Teapot Systems and Structure Designer / Social Media Teapot Officer

I really do not like using that on all my correspondence, and it never ever fits into drop downs.

So I use the (paraphrased) title WTS Programmer. And in informal settings with colleagues, I simply use Tea-Evangelist, which is not an official title for anyone, but considered a standard identifier in my field to reflect your general academic leanings.

Should I be using my full title in correspondence? Should I drop using the informal title in communications with colleagues? (One of my big concerns about my full title is that, as far as I can tell, I am the only person in the world with that title too so it makes it extremely easy to find more detailed info about me that I don’t necessarily want people to easily find.)

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Nancypie July 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I am so glad you asked this. I don’t use my title in my email signature, I just list my department, which is a specialty that people can infer scope of responsibility from. I do use my actual title in official correspondence, such as letters.

I see that many people at the (large) company where i work do use their titles, but generally, I don’t see what it adds. If somehing in someone’s correspondence makes me wonder just who they are, I can click on their name in Outlook and see their title. And the higher up the food chain you go, titles aren’t used in signatures. You don’t see a company wide email from the CEO followed by his/her title. Most VPs don’t include titles either.

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Tiff July 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm

#1 – I’m in the exact opposite of this. My position is considered to be a “senior specialist” but the work I do is clearly that of a manager. Other people in my department who do similar work are afforded the title of manager. My boss refers to me as the Blankety-Blank Manager on outside communications. When asked what I do, someone else would say Tiff manages the Blankety-Blank program.

My business cards, however, say specialist. So does my email.

I am wondering, when listed on my resume would it be ok to call myself a manager?

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Ask a Manager July 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Nope, not as your title. Because if they confirm it during a reference check, it’ll look like a lie. Instead, I’d try to see if you can get your title changed to a more accurate one.

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Tiff July 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Thanks for the quick answer – I was thinking the same thing and really hoped you’d veto me.

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Jamie July 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Have you talked to your boss about a title change? Because if she’s already calling you a manager of her own volition in communication it seems like a easy conversation to have. Not all title changes are big old promotions with raises and private bathrooms (I’m still waiting for the promotion that comes with a private bathroom. I secretly want Jack Donaghy’s office.)

Some title changes are just that, clarifying and giving a more accurate name to what you already do.

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Tiff July 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I’ll see if we can do something about the working title, but I’m a public employee and everything comes with about a million miles of red tape. We all essentially have 2 titles: one for classification purposes and one that is our working title. I’m going to try and get my working title changed.

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Anonymous July 19, 2013 at 9:11 am

I agree on that, in fact I’ve made sure my boss knows I’m using the different title. He doesn’t mind because he wants me to keep on doing the work that requires a higher title.

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2 cents July 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

#7 – I would phrase the graduate class as this:

Univeristy of Education, Anywhere, USA – currently pursuing MBA, Emphasis on XYZ (specific area of study that benefits your career or covered by the single class)

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Anonymous July 18, 2013 at 8:52 pm

That’s assuming OP is pursuing a grad degree, which doesn’t sound like the case from the way the letter was written.

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Greg July 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

#2: I might say something to HR, but don’t make it sound like a complaint: “I was disappointed, because I thought you and I had hit it off so well, but I guess she wasn’t as impressed by me. In fact, she said she wasn’t sure why you had sent me to her.” If the hiring manager is known as being a particularly brusque interviewer, the HR manager will get the message. And if not, she won’t, but you’ve put it out there in a less confrontational way. By the way, that last line is important. Stick to facts, rather than opinions (“she was rude”, “I could tell she had already made up her mind about me”). Also, this shifts the dispute to one between HR and the HM, rather than between you and the HM.

It is risky, and you really have to judge the situation based on what you think HR will do with the info. Done right, it could garner you some sympathy points with HR. Done wrong, it could hurt your chances of working for that organization again.

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HR Competent July 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm

#2- Speaking as and HR Manager I’d appreciate if you spoke up about this. If the interview was poorly coordinated I would want to know so correction can me made.

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Cassie July 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Re: #1 titles – one of the managers switched her title in her email sig to a C-level exec. She just unilaterally decided to do this and nobody said anything. (We’re a university so we don’t have “C-level” people except a CFO at the school level).

My job title is one of those ambiguous titles that have people asking “what’s that?”. When I was coordinating a program, I would put “Official Title — Program” because I didn’t want to call myself a Coordinator (although I was okay with calling myself a “coordinator” with a lower case “c”).

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Anony1234 July 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm

#2

Wow. I have written a couple of times on here about a second interviewer who treated me the same way, but my first interviewer was in the room so he didn’t put him down in front of me (although I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall if something had been said).

There wasn’t an HR so I couldn’t go through those channels. Instead, I used my “thank you” note to refute his dismissal claims even though I had dismissed the job in my mind. It was the only way for me to say what I wanted to say in the interview because he had his mind made up before I walked in the door and nothing I could say he’d take and he interrupted at times. So, I got in the final word more or less when I wrote that note, giving my answers again. Maybe others would say he got his last word in with my rejection email but actually my first interviewer sent it instead.

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Emily July 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm

My Dad, at his job for 24 years, decided halfway in that he preferred the title director to manager and ordered his new business cards accordingly. A few years later, after the company changed hands at least once, a performance reviewer looked at his file and said “I see here you received this promotion…”

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Editor July 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

#2 — Miranda Priestly, yes, but remember what the business is — fashion. What was OP wearing?

My guess is that the applicant had on clothing from a rival, clothing that needed tailoring, clothing three years out of style, the wrong shoes, dated accessories, or some other item that set her off. I wouldn’t be surprised if a VP at a fashion business would expect an applicant to show awareness of the company product by wearing something from their lines or else something that conveyed an acute sense of fashion.

If that’s the expectation, but the job isn’t something where the person would expect to necessarily be aware of clothing (IT at a fashion house, for instance), then it would have been a kindness for the HR rep to ask a couple of questions such as “Are you familiar with our product?” and “How often to you wear items from or shop our collections?” as a hint.

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Patricia July 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

#4 When you’re travelling to the courthouse for appearances on behalf of a client, those costs are attributable to the case and should always be billed to the client. Costs to a client are always referenced in the initial retainer agreement the client signs. Perhaps your firm’s retainer letter need to be revised.

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Matilda81 July 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm

#2. I think that contemptuous interviewers often act this way toward candidates who intimidate them. This seems to be a problem among insecure middle management who view certain job candidates as potential threats to their own jobs. Recently, my husband’s two year contract position ended at what is considered by Forbes to be the most desirable company to work for in the world. While he applied for internal full time positions, he also applied to smaller companies. In one series of interviews, which included the CEO, the VP, and one district manager something interesting happened. The CEO and the VP were very enthusiastic and even went overtime with his interview. Then the district manager, who was immediately rude, set up an imaginary sales scenario in which my husband was told to pretend he was selling a mattress. (This is a software company). Since my husband immediately started focusing on the mattress qualities, but did not pantomime to indicate that they were in a mattress store, the interviewer questioned his ability as a salesperson. The interviewer also gave feedback in which he said that my husband failed to ask certain questions when indeed he had asked those very questions. The interviewer did not even really listen to the candidate. At the end, he told the candidate that he had no place in sales and would never be successful. My husband replied, “My experience and accomplishments indicate otherwise. Thank you for your time”. Even though my husband had set sales records during his current and former employment, none of that mattered because he failed to say,”welcome to the mattress store” during an imaginary scenario. My husband ended up getting full time eemployment, and a major promotion at his current job. Had he received an offer, he would have turned the job down. However, I think this is a great example of what happens when you have an insecure person in middle management. Other examples include managers who flat out say they don’t like to hire ivy league educated candidates. Many of these people are hurting their companies.

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