recovering from a mistake at work, when your company forces you to lie, and more

by Ask a Manager on July 7, 2013

It’s short answer Sunday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Interviewer wants to know why I’m thinking of leaving my current job so soon

I recently interviewed for a company that I’ve aspired to work with for many years. The interview went well and after asking for feedback the interviewer agreed that I did well. Later that day, the recruiter who scheduled the interview contacted me to ask further questions, why I’m leaving my current role. After coming into contact with the recruiter the next day, she articulated to me that the interviewer and her were discussing my candidacy and that he needed further information as to why I was leaving my current role so soon (I’ve been employed there for 3 months).

My response was that it has been one of my long term goals to work for their company and that once I’ve accumulated the appropriate experience I would advance towards my goals. I also mentioned that there is no issue with commitment to a company and that I haven’t been interviewing elsewhere as I’m focused on realising my goal.

Is it a good sign that they are interested in further knowing about my candidacy?

Well, they still considered you a viable candidate after the interview, but they’re concerned that you’re thinking of leaving your current job after only three months, which is a very short amount of time. When you see someone leaving a job after only three months (assuming it wasn’t intended to be a short-term contract job all along), you worry that they (a) don’t stick with commitments, (b) are too quick to give up when something isn’t exactly as they’d hoped, or (c) aren’t succeeding at the job. So they’re looking for an explanation that assuages those concerns.

2. I made a mistake at work — how do I recover?

I’ve been at my job for a little over a month. It’s an organization I admire and I enjoy the work a lot. I’ve been enthusiastic and prided myself on my follow-through.

Well, tonight I made a mistake. It’s not a huge mistake but it was a dumb, rookie-type mistake that I should be beyond (given that this isn’t my first job out of college or something). Basically, I was unclear of exact procedure, didn’t think things through, and used bad judgement. Now I know the exact procedure, I understand why it’s in place, and the thought process I should have been using that would have led me to take action earlier. If definitely won’t happen again! I offered to help rectify the situation any way I could and my supervisor said no, she’d take care of it.

What do I do now? We had a text message exchange and I apologized several times. But I also may have been initially defensive because I didn’t realize I had made a mistake. I started over-explaining instead of just saying, “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” Lesson learned–when receiving unexpected criticism via text message or email, let it sink in for a few minutes before responding.

I was out of work for a year and I’m terrified that I have just torpedoed my chance to establish myself as a dependable employee and win the respect of the management. At worse, I’m scared I’m going to get fired over this.

Go talk to your manager and say something like: “I wanted to tell you that I’m taking that mistake very seriously. It happened because of X, and I’m going to do Y in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” And then do that, and move on.

People make mistakes, even silly ones. The thing most managers care about is that you’re taking it seriously, get that it’s a big deal, and have a plan for avoiding it in the future. Show her that those things are true, and you’ll go a long way toward easing any worries this raised for her. (Also, read this.)

3. My employer makes me lie to companies we purchase subscriptions from

I work for an energy management company. We use energy industry data, such as for natural gas, power and oil, in analysis we perform on behalf of our clients. I am in charge of subscriptions to resource companies who provide said data. I have been doing this job for 12 years and all of that time, I was “encouraged to be a team player” and pursue the minimum number of subscriptions to this data, even though most of it is shared among 200-300 employees, via our internal database, in Excel spreadsheets, etc.

I struggle each day with our persistent breaches of contractual obligations. I elevate my concerns constantly but most fall on deaf ears. Those who are sympathetic do not have the power to make changes. I am at the point where I fantasize about secretly telling our reps what we are doing with the data. We have only been “dinged” one time by a company and it was for a small fine….but we were recently acquired by a very large, global company, and our illegal use is no longer small potatoes.

It would be easy for someone to say that I should quit if I am not happy, but in this job market, I cannot afford to lose this paycheck nor the flexible schedule.

You really have three choices — stand on principle and refuse to do it (possibly saying, “Now that we’ve been acquired by XYZ, I really think we need to be more careful about this than we have in the past”); accept that doing it this way is a condition of the job, and decide if you want to remain in the job under those conditions; or tip off the companies what your organization is doing and hope they’ll take care of it for you. The first is the most principled stance, but the second and third may be more practical in your particular shoes.

4. Employer wants me to present on my “expectations for the future”

I have recently been short-listed for a tenure track position at a high level research institute, and was asked to present myself in front of the commission. Among the points I should cover are my “expectations for the future,” but I’m not really sure what they mean by that. Is it in reference to the expected salary and working environment? Or is it how I would envision my future career (in terms of achievements, publications, etc.) if given the opportunity to work and grow there? I’m a little bit confused as I don’t know in which direction I should focus my presentation; taking the wrong one would certainly be quite embarrassing.

I’m pasting the relevant part from the original email for your reference: “In the first 20 mins you present yourself in front of the commission. You should introduce yourself, your career profile, your professional achievements (with particular emphasis on the scientific and technological ones) and your expectation for the future.”

It’s very confusing wording, but I would assume that they are not looking for a presentation about your salary expectations and desired working environment. It’s more likely that they want to hear about your professional goals and plans for the future.

5. Listing internships on my resume that I’ve just started

I have recently gained two remote internships/volunteer opportunities in my desired field. The first one I started at the end of May, and the other I am starting this week. I am looking to start sending out my resume for in-person fall internships. I am wondering if it is alright to add these two internships on my resume, even though I only have one month experience for one, and am just starting the other.

Sure. Just make the starting and future ending dates clear, like this:

Chocolate Teapot Intern (June 2013 – September 2013)

6. The name of my degree sounds like something different than it really is

I got my undergrad a few years ago, back when hybrid majors were considered “cool” and universities everywhere were implementing them left and right. I went to a very well known school (Georgia Tech) and got a media degree, focusing on television production/editing and writing. The problem is, the name of my degree is ridiculous: Science, Technology and Culture (frequently shortened to STaC). Nobody knows why, but Georgia Tech gives all of its majors techie names, even when they don’t need them. So now, even though my degree really IS a media degree and I’ve spent a few years now working in the media industry, people see the name of the major and assume (quite logically) that it’s some kind of science degree. When every job wants a degree in media, journalism or something similar, this is a problem.

I’ve tried adding the college within the university that the program was in, but its name is equally long and cumbersome: the Ivan Allen School of Literature, Languages and Culture. Listing both out seems to just confuse people, and it turns what should be a quick bullet point on the resume into a paragraph.

I’ve tried just changing the degree title on my resume to say “Communications and Media,” but since the school is well-known for its history as an engineering school and doesn’t have a degree with that actual title, I think people probably think I’m lying. I’ve tried adding “Communications and Media” in parentheses after the title, but without an explanation, it makes no sense. It just sounds like a random string of words that have nothing in common. How do I list my degree so that people see I really DO meet the minimum qualifications?

That’s annoying, and I don’t have a good answer for you. I’m hoping others who have struggled with this might…?

Meanwhile, though, you should contact your school, and possibly that department, and explain what problems this is causing for you. They should be aware of the real-world problems they’re causing for their graduates by naming the degree like this.

Bookmark and Share

{ 111 comments… read them below or add one }

Meredith July 7, 2013 at 9:03 am

#7, I have an idea, based on my own experience as an American Studies major focusing on blah blah blah, and since you even say you focused on “television production/editing and writing.” What if you listed it as:

Major: Science, Technology and Culture (Focus: Television Production/Editing and Writing)

Or! You could even try (Focus: Communications and Media) if you don’t want to get that specific. That way, it’s not a meaningless string.

Reply

Meredith July 7, 2013 at 9:03 am

I mean, obviously, #6.

Reply

LP July 7, 2013 at 9:09 am

Yep, this is along the lines of what I was going to suggest :) It would give some more context.

#6 I am also a Georgia Tech alum who graduated from the same college (Ivan Allen). My degree at least has what I studied in the name (History, Technology and Society) but even with that I’ve explained what it is many times.

Reply

Nora V. July 7, 2013 at 9:40 am

#6 – Just say your degree is in “Media (or Media Studies, or Media Communications, etc.) – STaC Program.” That is exactly correct. STaC absolutely IS a degree in Media Studies.

Reply

Kerry July 7, 2013 at 10:34 am

That’s what I would do, too: “Media and Communication – STaC Program”.

Reply

Anonymous July 7, 2013 at 11:41 am

But just listing “STaC program” at the end doesn’t really solve the problem, it’s pretty much the same thing. I think this would only work if it’s a well known program in the industry, but obviously it’s not if it’s causing problems for the OP.

Reply

Jennifer July 7, 2013 at 11:58 am

Yeah, and I’ve been told enough times to SPELL OUT ACRONYMS unless they are something that everyone in your field knows, so putting “STaC” is just going to get them wondering what that means.

Reply

SCW July 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I think they aren’t saying to use the acronym on the resume, just using it here rather than spelling it out each time they refer to it.

My sister told me that for my resume, but I told her things like BA and MLIS don’t need to be spelled out because they are well known in my field.

Reply

Jennifer July 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I think this sounds great. Just put a parenthetical explanation of what the degree actually is about.

Reply

Pussyfooter July 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Yeah, I agree with Jennifer.
Something like “Science, Technology and Culture (Georgia Institute of Technology’s media degree)”
Don’t be scared of just adding a little heads up in the resume; I can’t list my weird experience without a double subheading and parentheses after one of them.

Reply

Victoria Nonprofit July 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Yeah, I do this, for both of my degrees (BA – Geography, Master of Public Policy). Neither is confusing, but neither does much to describe what I actually studied. People think geography is about memorizing capitals and rivers; I actually studied urban design. In grad school, I studied the civic sector and democratic development (think Bowling Alone), not How a Bill Becomes a Law and What Bill Should We Pass?

Reply

Chinook July 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Slightly off topic but still degree related – I one day want get a theology degree from a particular school because then I can say I have a “Masters of Divinity” which to me sounds all powerful and could only be trumped by a “Masters of the Universe” card carrier.

I do recommend writing out degree abbreviations, though. Saying I have a B.Ed. is not always obvious to others and, upon quick reading, may look like I bought a piece of furniture from my university.

Reply

KellyK July 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Definitely a good idea. I have a similar problem in kind of the opposite direction–my degree is more “sciency” than you’d think. It’s an MS in English, which by itself gives you the impression that it’s literature or creative writing, but *all* of my classes were tech writing. So, to make sure anyone reading my resume realizes that I was studying HTML, usability, and software documentation rather than Chaucer and Shakespeare, I always list it as Master of Science, English (Concentration in Technical Communications).

Reply

Anon July 7, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Sigh I also majored in Technical Communication and no one seems to ever know what this is…. all they see is “communication.”

Reply

Jessa July 7, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Exactly what I was going to advise also. That’s really all you can do is stick parenthesis directly after the degree and be explanatory. That and/or hit it all in the cover letter.

Reply

Jimbo28 July 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

My degree is in “English and American Literature and Language” which I have no problem shortening to “English.”

Reply

The gold digger July 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm

But which Taleo insists is “English studies.” Because adding “studies” to a major gives it legitimacy.

Reply

Felicia July 7, 2013 at 11:34 pm

My degree was in Media studies which Taleo also doesn’t recognize as real, so I often put communications. I also did a combined degree/diploma program where I earned them both simultaneously over 4 years (this is becoming increasingly an option in Canada, but quite new). Taleo sometimes doesn’t recognize that two credentials with the exact same starting and graduation dates as possible, though even with a regular resume, people don’t quite understand the concept unless they’ve been in school when it was offered (last 5-10 years or so), so I always have to explain.

Reply

Chocolate Teapot July 7, 2013 at 9:03 am

For Question 1, I wonder if it’s simply a case of timing? In other words, it just so happened that the interesting position with Company of Choice (I am making a conscious effort to avoid the phrase “Dream Company”!) appeared when OP1 was only 3 months into their current job.

Even so, I think the onus is on the OP to emphasise why they would be right for this particular role and that they are not a job hopper.

Reply

Anonymous July 7, 2013 at 9:25 am

#4 – is this for a university in the UK? Your use of ‘commission’ makes me think that. Either way, I concur and think it refers to your goals for the future. Often they want to know what your next research project is

Reply

fposte July 7, 2013 at 11:24 am

That’s my thought. I’m not hard science and I’m in the US, but here it would mean “Tell us where your research is going and what partnerships/funding relationships you envision.” Basically, it’s a long-term question about what you’re going to do for them.

Reply

Jo July 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Probably not – because we don’t have tenure over here AFAIK :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lecturer

Reply

fposte July 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Yeah, it sounds not-US in some ways and very US in others, so I didn’t want to assume either way.

Reply

periwinkle July 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm

“Basically, it’s a long-term question about what you’re going to do for them.”

Exactly. The commission isn’t there to negotiate your benefit package. They’ll want to know what lines of research you intend to pursue, how your research forwards the goals of the institute, what kind of grants you can bring in, how often you hope to publish (or at least submit), and so forth.

Reply

AdjunctForNow July 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm

If it’s anything like an American University, they want to know how you are going to bring in money.

Reply

TheSnarkyB July 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Yeah, I agree but I think this is a sticky one. They could mean how you’re going to bring in money by researching… Xyz
Where XYZ = tell us what the future of the field is, or what the future of this technology is.
This is complicated, and you’re right, it could be embarrassing to get it wrong, especially in the direction of talking about yourself if that’s not what they’re expecting. Can you go back and clarify?

Reply

tcookson July 7, 2013 at 3:08 pm

They want to know how you’re going to contribute to raising the profile of their program (with money as a subtext that needs to be alluded to just short of indirectly; i.e. refer to the caliber of your research, and lead them to inferring the money part).

Reply

tcookson July 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

At least that’s how I’ve seen it work in tenure-track recruiting at my university. They want to know that the person has a well-considered research focus, that they can generate pedagogy rather than simply follow that of other instructors, and if that their research shows promise of being able to pull in some grants.

Reply

Anonymous July 10, 2013 at 3:53 am

Thanks everybody for your comments, they have been very helpful!
The interview was for an Italian research institute from the north-east (the German speaking/bilingual part of the country). I had the interview a few days ago, and when it came to presenting my expectations for the future they asked me rather directly: “do you prefer a stable position (i.e. tenured researcher) with limited research freedom, or a less stable one (i.e. postdoc) where you are free to carry out research as you like?”. Apparently this is what they were aiming at. In the end I kind of opted out, since none of the two are what I’m looking for right now (in Italy we say that “I want a full keg and a drunk wife”)!

Reply

Elizabeth West July 7, 2013 at 10:30 am

#1–I might get flamed for this, but in this economy, it seems employers should realize there are a lot of people taking short-term placeholder jobs because they need the money. How long do employers expect people to commit to these jobs? Do they expect them to lose out on a better opportunity to give the crap job at least a year or more? There is no commitment to employees. At-will employment means they can let us go for any reason, but also that we can leave for any reason, doesn’t it?

#3–illegal use of data

This one is going to bite the OP in the ass no matter what. Either she’s forced to act unethically on a daily basis, which for an ethical person, would cause lots of stress, or she’s going to lose the job if they find out she squealed, or she’s going to lose the job if she refuses to play ball. I would start looking, as in yesterday.

Reply

Ruffingit July 7, 2013 at 10:45 am

Completely and totally agree with both of your points and I think #1 particularly deserves discussion. There are some jobs where it doesn’t make sense to stay for a year. Placeholder jobs is a good way to describe them. Staying in those jobs when you have the opportunity to move on to something else makes no sense at all.

Reply

Chinook July 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I would even spin taking a placeholder job as a sign that I am willing to do what needs to be done to survive, don’t believe I am owed a Jon (I.E. Not waiting for the perfect one) and follow up that my intention with the interviewing company is not to move on until after X years/ever.

Now that I think about it, that is how I am spinning it because I am looking for an employer that will let me be there until I retire.

Reply

Cathy July 7, 2013 at 10:52 am

#1 – but is it a crap job she’s in now? She says she’s using it to “accumulate[d] the appropriate experience” to advance towards her long term goal of working for this other company. What jobs can you do for 3 months that give you enough experience to make you more valuable in your next, more desired job?

Maybe my perception is colored because of my field, but it generally takes about 4 months for a mid-level software developer to reach his maximum productivity at a new job; longer for a junior person. We’re not paying him less for those first few months, but he’s giving us less output. If I was interviewing someone and he told me he’d gotten all the experience he needed from his previous 3 month job and now he was looking for the next step in his career, that would definitely be a red flag.

Reply

Ruffingit July 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

But she didn’t say she was using CJ (current job) to accumulate the appropriate experience. She said that “My response was that it has been one of my long term goals to work for their company and that once I’ve accumulated the appropriate experience I would advance towards my goals.”

I read that as saying she wants to accumulate the appropriate experience to advance toward her goals and that is why she’s leaving CJ. She speaks of accumulating the appropriate experience as something that she wants to do, not something she’s doing now.

I get the feeling that CJ is a placeholder job, but even if that isn’t the case for OP #1, I think Elizabeth West’s point is still an excellent one for discussion. When you are in a placeholder job, how can you move on to something better when you have been in placeholder job for a limited duration?

Reply

fposte July 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

From a hiring perspective, I still see the problem–I don’t want to hire somebody who thinks about our positions as placeholders, and I really can’t trust assurances that they’re not. I think if there’s an obvious disparity between the placeholder job and the sought job you have a better chance of a short-term jump being noncontroversial (waiting tables and working retail are, fairly or not, usually pretty explainable as placeholders when you’re moving to a corporate position). If there’s no such disparity in the OP’s case, though, I thought the answer seemed a little vague and evasive (unless it’s a short-term job, a three months’ term is indeed a lack of commitment to a company–maybe a justified one, but that’s what they want to know). If it’s that you always dreamed of working at Teapots Inc. and knew you couldn’t pass this chance up, then make that absolutely clear.

Reply

Cat July 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

I agree. And the other part of this is that while the applicant may think Teapots, Inc. is her dream job, the current employees of Teapots, Inc. know exactly what AAM is always saying – that, whether they like the place or not, it’s flawed like anywhere else and may well be fatally flawed for the applicant. If she’s (a) shown she’s not someone who sticks out situations that aren’t exactly what she wants; and (b) has built Teapots, Inc. up in her mind as the be-all-and-end-all of companies, I’d consider her a pretty high flight risk.

Reply

Lindsay J July 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Yeah, my take on her answer was that she had always dreamed of working at Teapots, Inc. (and maybe even had previously applied to Teapots, Inc and been rejected for lack of experience) so she worked at “Teacups and Teapots” to gain experience. Her career progression lead her to apply for and get a new job at “The Teapot Company” .

Then three months after she started her job at The Teapot Company a rare position at Teapots Inc opened up. Since this is her “dream job” she applied at Teapots Inc even though there isn’t anything wrong with The Teapot Company and she hasn’t been there anymore, since it might be years before another position at Teapots Inc opened up.

So I don’t think she necessarily viewed her job at The Teapot Company as a placeholder. It’s just bad timing.

Reply

Jennifer July 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Yeah, I interpreted her response as something along the lines of “I’ve already learned everything I wanted here after three months,” and that sounds impossible/like complete bullshit, and even I would smell a rat about someone who said that.

I would assume that if you are jobhopping after 3 months, either your job is very limited or there is something really bad going on there. In which case, she needs to be fudging her explanation along those lines, rather than using this response that sounds even fishier.

Reply

J July 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Hopefully it’s worth mentioning, as I’m the original poster, I’ve worked in the industry where I’ve interviewed for for 1 year, marketing. The position I interviewed for is also a company I had worked for in sales for 4 years (well before my cj) . So now that I’ve accumulated the marketing experience, not sales, I’ve reapplied to that company and was lucky enough to make it to that stage of interviewing.

The position I hold currently has been 3 months but I’ve worked in marketing for 9 months prior to my current job. I’ve noticed in my experience in marketing that 1 year experience is usually the minimum experience requirement but surely my 4 years of sales for that company complemented my current marketing experience.

Reply

Cathy July 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Thanks for explaining a bit more. If I’ve got the timeline straight, your resume looks something like this:

Company X – Sales – 4 yrs
one or more other jobs in Sales or some other fields
Company Y – Marketing – 9 months
Company Z – Marketing – 3 months

Now you want to go back to Company X in a Marketing position.

I think you do have to explain why you’re leaving a substantially similar position after only 3 months, especially if you were also only at Company Y for 9 months. (It’s not entirely clear from your post whether you were actually at Y longer but doing something else prior to the Marketing gig.)

I think the most convincing explanation is going to be some combination of “I loved it so much here at X and have been looking for an opportunity to come back in a Marketing position” and “things aren’t working out very well at Z, because [the position isn't what I was led to believe it would be], [the culture isn't a good fit], [or some other bad thing].”

The problem here is that you look like you’ve treated Company Z badly. It’s expensive to hire and train a Marketing person and now that you’re just barely getting to be useful and are almost worth the salary they’ve been paying you, you’re bailing out and expecting them to start over. You have to make it clear to Company X that you’re not going to do the same thing to them, and “I was just using them to get enough experience to be right for you” does not come across well.

Reply

Cathy July 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Regarding how to move on from placeholder jobs …

I hire people who’ve been working in unrelated or minimally related jobs for short periods all the time. If I have a programmer who was laid off and took a job in tech support, sysadmin, retail, etc, it doesn’t matter at all if he’s only been there 3 months. It’s nice if he explains in the cover letter that he took this job to make ends meet while continuing to look for a software engineering role; but honestly the average programmer’s resume and cover letter are so awful anyway, I just have to read between the lines and figure that out. For new or recent grads, it’s extremely common to get resumes full of short term jobs overlapping with or immediately following their school years.

If your placeholder job is actually in the same industry and relevant, then I do think it’s much harder to move on after a very short stint. If I get a resume from someone who’s been a developer somewhere else for 3 months and now they’re applying for one of my positions, I want an explanation for why they’re moving on so soon. If I have a lot of candidates, they’re far more likely to get an interview if they give me that explanation up front in the cover letter, otherwise I’m going to interview the people who don’t look like job hoppers.

Reply

J July 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Details! (always good)

Current experience is marketing coordinating, the job at company I recently interviewed for is communications (arguably closely related to marketing) but responsibilities differ.

Reply

Elizabeth West July 8, 2013 at 11:26 am

It may not be a “crap” job, but most of us have to take those in order to live.

Reply

EngineerGirl July 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I strongly disagree. The OP states that she is using the job to gain experience, so it is hardly a placeholder job. As a potential employer I would be concerned about this – that the employee is only “using” the company for her own benefit (gain experience) Vs being in the job for mutual benefit (both the employer and employee).

And can you truly gain all the experience needed in 3 months? Answer: No. So OP is being blind that while learning about the major components of the job she hasn’t learned about the nuances. So OP is not exercising good judgment there either.

I understand that this job is one that is strongly desired, but taking it after only 3 months in the other tells me that she’s unwilling to commit unless it is convenient for her. That isn’t the definition of commitment. I’d give the OP a chance to explain, but under normal circumstance I’d run from this one, especially if there are other candidates.

Reply

Lindsay J July 7, 2013 at 10:59 pm

I don’t think she necessarily thinks that she learned everything she needed to know about the job in three months. I took it as she has been in the industry for awhile – (and maybe had applied at New Company previously and had been told to come back when she needed more experience). So maybe she worked at Old Company for three years and gained some experience, then her career progression lead her to apply and get hired at Current Job. It just so happened that after three months at Current Job, a rare position at New Company opened up, and she applied and got the interview.

So she might have 3 years and 3 months experience or something, not just 3 months.

Reply

Elizabeth West July 8, 2013 at 11:43 am

This is a good point. However, it occurs to me that what she wanted to learn from Current Job might be something that she knows will be somewhat limited, meaning she won’t be any further along if she stays a year. I think those things are not only field-dependent, but employer-dependent too, because some employers are limited in what they can offer vs. others (because of size, funds, etc.).

Reply

Cat July 7, 2013 at 10:31 am

Given how often humanities and social science majors are told that finding a lucrative and satisfying career would be incredibly easy if only they had a science degree, I find it kind of darkly funny that OP #6 is running into trouble because people are assuming she has a science degree.

Reply

FiveNine July 7, 2013 at 10:57 am

I will admit it made me raise an eyebrow. Maybe the OP has a genuine concern, especially if a somewhat recent grad. But my experience in the media field is that (1) at a certain (early) stage almost no employer cares what your actual degree is if you’ve got any experience at all in the area and (2) anything in your background that looks more high-tech, whether it really is or not, is likely to get you noticed faster in this Internet era than if you list a classic communications degree with no specialized experience.

Finally: Honestly, this is a communication issue and presumably the OP will be addressing it with media specialists. Isn’t the cover letter one of the most obvious places to deal with this is a straightforward manner?

Reply

Jacqui July 7, 2013 at 10:53 am

#6 – On your resume, I don’t know what to suggest, but one thing is very important to remember – on any sort of background check form make sure you list the degree exactly as the school issued it to you.

Reply

Tony in PA July 7, 2013 at 10:54 am

Making mistakes – If you’re not making mistakes then you’re not doing anything. Everyone makes mistakes. The difference between good employees and bad employees is what you do after. How you recover is critical. Own your mistakes and do your best to repair them.

Stealing subscription data – I say “stealing” because that’s exactly what your company. They’re committing a crime and they’re making you complicit in it. You need to get away from these people and blow the whistle on them.

Reply

Chinook July 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I agree that that #3′s company is stealing when they lie/manipulate the number of users. It is a type of piracy. The company needs to see these subscriptions as a legit office expense just like the computers being used to read the data.

And, since they just acquired a larger company, odds are good that their sales people are going to be expecting an increase in subscriptions and will start to investigate when there isn’t. I would recommend that the OP ask TPTB if they want her to continue living about the data theft (and depending on the culture of the business, she may even want to use those words) and point out that they may lose access to them if caught.

Reply

EngineerGirl July 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm

There are making mistakes and there are making mistakes.

Forgivable mistakes:
Making bad judgments due to misinterpretation of data
Trying to follow unclear/ambiguous process (your mistake)
Making “best guess” judgment when you don’t have all the data

Unforgivable mistakes:
Not following process
Systemic sloppiness
Ignoring advice / counsel of those who have more knowledge than you
Not learning from your mistakes (this is a form of sloppiness)
Not asking questions if things are unclear

Go to your boss and work with her to clarify the procedure so that no one falls into that trap again. Listen to what she has to say. And next time someone says “you made a mistake” don’t get defensive. Instead say “please show me what you are seeing”. They could be misinterpreting things. But you could be too.

Reply

SCW July 7, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I think that when someone is new there is a certain period of learning where you can forgive them for not following the process. I moved from one organization to another doing the same basic thing, but many of the processes and policies were just slightly different. That actually made it a lot easier to slip up, because occasionally early on I would confuse the processes. When I started my current position, I had moved from one location to another, and the little mistakes I made were because I assumed things were done one way system wide and everyone at the branch assumed things were done another way system wide. I figure if someone is new and doesn’t remember the procedure and shows good judgement that is forgivable and a learning experience!

Reply

EngineerGirl July 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Procedures should be unambiguous though. If that is the case then not following process is an issue. If there is ambiguity then please ask questions. And then work to make the process unambiguous. A lot of grads don’t speak up when confused then make mistakes.

Reply

EngineerGirl July 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm

And procedures are always written down. If they aren’t then do some value added work to write them down. “I didn’t remember” really isn’t an excuse.

Reply

Cat July 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I really don’t think either not following process or ignoring advice are always unforgivable. They’re mistakes sure. But unforgivable? Virtually everyone I know would be fired under that standard. Even good, competent people sometimes make avoidable mistakes and sometimes those even stem out of sloppiness and arrogance. It doesn’t make them irredeemable.

Reply

EngineerGirl July 8, 2013 at 3:03 am

The whole point of having a process is to make sure something is done a certain way. In my industry not following processes can be a fire-able offense, as it could result in destruction of high-value equipment or death (0r both). The whole point of processes is to prevent mistakes so willfully not following them is something that would be problematic.

And ignoring more knowledgeable people? Yes, that is a problem. If you are not going to follow advice at least give others a heads up about it so that they have a chance to convince you why your way won’t work. Maybe I’m ultra sensitive about it because we had some recent grads decide to ignore the process and ignore my advice. They thought that they knew more about technology than me because hey, old people are uncomfortable about such things, right? Except in my case I actually had real experience and they only had book learning. Because they chose to ignore both the processes and me we had bad code get out to a customer. It was an embarrassment to our group. And you know who had to work OT to fix it? Me. So yes, I was pretty miffed at that point. Especially when I found out that they skipped several steps that would have caught the problem. They skipped the steps because they decided that “they were too much work”. Yah, right. Too much work to do it the first time, so we get to do it a second time too.

Reply

Cat July 8, 2013 at 6:27 am

Of course it’s a problem and of course it can be fireable depending on the severity. What I took issue with was the usage of “unforgivable,” particularly stated as a blanket statement for every case of not following a process or not taking advice. I don’t think that’s true.

Reply

Maris July 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

The process I own/manage isn’t a ‘life or death’ so I tend to agree the ‘unforgivable’ items are little greyer for me than for EngineerGirl. I think my ‘unforgivable’ items are:

Deliberate flouting of the process (ie: I was advised, I was educated and I chose to ignore).
Anything that contributes to fraudulent numbers
Anything in our process that also violates the company’s code of conduct (which everyone is trained on). Both #1 and #2 could = #3 as well.
Waiting until I find the mistake (when you knew you’d made it).

Not getting better over time is usually the end of the road (after I’ve counseled, educated etc).

Reply

Anonymous July 8, 2013 at 9:11 am

In my business its sort of the opposite:

Unforgivable:
Making bad judgement calls due to misinterpretation of data
Making poor judgement calls when you don’t have all the data

Forgivable:
Not following process
Ignoring advice
Sloppiness

But then I work in a world of ambiguity where you rarely have all of the data you want and your success is based on your judgement and the outcome of your decisions.

Reply

Ruffingit July 7, 2013 at 10:54 am

#3: You’ve been participating in this illegal activity for 12 years. I am not trying to be harsh, but I’m just going to say this because I think it’s important that you’re honest with yourself – you traded your ethics for a flexible schedule and a paycheck. I am not judging you for that. We’ve all done things that were not ethically sound. That is how we learn where the line is for ourselves.

I bring up this point because if you decide to bring this to the attention of the new company that acquired yours, you will probably be asked why you participated in this for so long. So you should be prepared for that.

That said, I think your only recourse here is to tip off the companies and look for another job. I’d probably get another job before I tipped off the companies unless there is a way to do this with absolute anonymity and frankly, I don’t think that exists.

Reply

Jennifer July 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Yeah…honestly, I don’t think I would want to be a whistleblower. I would be far more worried about how it will mess up my career for life probably a lot more than it will mess up the company. If she says something on her way out the door, maybe, but these days we find out everybody about everything and she can’t count on anonymity.

Reply

Mike C. July 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I really hope you don’t work in any industries where lives are at stake.

Shameful, simply shameful. I’ve been a whistleblower, and it kills me to see posts like yours.

Reply

EngineerGirl July 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Yes. I’ve had to pay some heavy penalties for refusing to falsify data. Some of that is following me around to this day. And I would STILL do it over again.

OP, do you really thing that the company will back you up WHEN you get caught (it is only a matter of time, you know, and the odds go up daily). You need to go to your new company now and spill the beans.

Do you really think anyone will touch you ever again if this comes out and you were one of the ones hiding it?

Reply

Meg July 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Tbh this comment was unnecessarily harsh. Jennifer never said she would never be a whistleblower, just that she would never want to be one. It’s not shameful to be concerned about one’s own career.

Reply

KellyK July 7, 2013 at 7:00 pm

I agree. While whistleblowing is the most ethical choice, it’s not realistic to pretend that that won’t come back to bite you, or to not expect someone to be nervous about it. Finding another job and whistleblowing on your way out the door might be a good compromise between ethics and continuing to be able to buy food and pay rent.

Reply

Mike C. July 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Way to conflate “being concerned with one’s own career” with “being concerned with one’s own career at the expense of someone else’s life”. Oh gosh was I too mean? Was I too firm in expressing the idea that there are times when one should speak up when the lives of others are at risk?

What every happened to professional ethics? Do people like you simply not give a flying f**** about your fellow human being, and don’t mind seeing people hurt if it helps you make next quarter’s goal? Or do you think that nothing will ever go wrong and it can’t happen to you? Is there never a time you would be willing to speak up on behalf of someone else, on behalf of what is right and moral and ethical, or does money rule all?

You call me harsh? I used to work in food safety, where people died from eating otherwise perfectly healthy food. I now work in aerospace, and at least two people died in what is now looking like a perfectly preventable incident. If I know something, if I see something, I say something. If you’re too much of a coward to do the same in my shoes – for your career no less – then I don’t know what to say to you.

Reply

Meg July 7, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Holy crap you need to calm down. I think we’re just reading it differently. I read her comment more as “I hope I don’t have to be put in that position because it would be difficult”, not “I would never be a whistleblower”. Calling me names is completely unacceptable.

Reply

Mike C. July 8, 2013 at 1:20 am

I’m not speaking about the OP, I’m speaking about whistleblowing in general, and specifically in cases where [b]it’s really important to say something[/b] or people will get hurt or people will die. Some people like yourself make light of this issue but what I’m trying to express is that not everyone works at DunderMifflin where safety doesn’t mean much and the most dangerous thing you come in contact with is toner.

That’s why I said, “I hope you don’t work in any industries where lives are at stake”. Because some of us do. Some of us are alive today because someone raised their hand and said, “There’s something wrong here”.

Reply

KellyK July 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Oh gosh was I too mean? Was I too firm in expressing the idea that there are times when one should speak up when the lives of others are at risk?

Considering that neither the OP, nor Jennifer, nor Meg mentioned a situation where lives were at risk, nor even *implied* that they would stay silent in that kind of situation, yes. Yes you were.

Reply

Cat July 8, 2013 at 12:36 am

Yeah, I’m as against software piracy as the next girl, but I’ve yet to hear of it being lethal.

Reply

EngineerGirl July 8, 2013 at 12:54 am

I’m not sure its software piracy. It sounds a lot worse than that. And the company has been fined once (if there are fines then some sort of regulatory thing is going on). Yet in spite of this they continue to do it.

I can see Mike C’s point though. You can’t see all the strings attached to this. You can’t say that the effects of the bad practice are minimal. And staying silent is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Mike C. July 8, 2013 at 1:23 am

Funny, EngineerGirl seemed to get my point exactly.

Reply

Forrest July 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

With the tone you’re using and responding with comments like this, you do your own point a lot of disservice.

Trillian July 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Regarding the length if time, I think that could be defended. The OPs understanding of the environment and its norms will have developed with experience, and the norms and environment themselves have changed, with greater sensitivity around intellectual property and data protection now, and large companies held to a different standard than small.

A bigger company will have a compliance or legal department. If you have not spoken to them, then they would be the people to approach. But frame it as a question of risk, not as an ethical or moral issue. You want to act in the best interests of the company, not police behaviour. Ask the question – Does this practice expose us to risk? If there is a risk, what needs to be done to mitigate it? – and let *them* answer it. If there is a risk, compliance will be on it, giving you reasons if you have to restrict circulation, or request an increase of budget for new subscriptions. If they say there’s none, then you have an immediate quandary as to what your conscience allows, and probably closes off the anonymous whistleblower route. But the seed has still been planted, and may lead to new policies later on.

Reply

Chinook July 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I agree that the OP can explain why she has changed her mind about the ethical issue. A small company can fly under the radar but a big one won’t because of the potential $ amount at stake. I remember being told about illegal photocopying as a teacher that bigger school divisions can’t get away with it because the money at stake if sued is worth it for the publishers but, for a small division, the money being lost is not worth the effort.

Reply

Chinook July 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Also, is the larger company subject to outside audits? If so, this type of discrepancy will be caught.

Reply

Kris July 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm

If OP is the one person responsible for maintaining these subscriptions and the vendor relationship, and suddenly it becomes clear they’ve been tipped off then it would probably be very hard to continue working there. Even after moving on, it could impact the type of reference that would come from the management team. As unethical as it is, I agree that OP’s position is a bit more complicated since they’ve been participating in the deception for so long.

Reply

EngineerGirl July 8, 2013 at 3:12 am

Yes, OP will get a bad reference from that team. Yes, it will follow OP around. But better a bad reference than going to jail (good luck getting hired after that!).

There are consequences for doing the right thing. And OP’s reasons for staying silent (flexibility, paycheck) are weak. If it is paycheck, then get another job. And I’ve been in that position – where I was the only breadwinner for my whole family, and they were doing everything to take me out. Trying to get me fired for cause so I would lose my pension, destroying my reputation, sabotaging my work and records. You still need to so the right thing.

Reply

Mike C. July 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

I just can’t believe we have to argue things that most kindergartners would understand intuitively.

Reply

Jubilance July 7, 2013 at 11:25 am

#3 – if you’ve been acquired by a larger company, does the new company have an Ethics hotline that you can call? You may be able to leave an anonymous tip about how you’ve been instructed to act unethically & allow higher ups to address the problem without putting your job on the line.

#6 – I’m a fellow Tech alum :-) I think the reason why Ivan Allen has “techy” sounding degree names is that Tech was really founded as a school with a purely technical focus. The Management College and Ivan Allen weren’t included until much later. I like the suggestion one of the other commenters made about putting your emphasis in tv production in addition to the full name of your degree. Then again, considering this is a resume, do you really need to even include the full name of your degree? Can you just list that you have a BS/BA along with graduation year and Georgia Institute of Technology?

Reply

E July 7, 2013 at 11:47 am

So on the topic of question #6, where degrees/ job titles aren’t descriptive of what the actual work was. I had a job for almost 5 years where I got the most substantive experience for my field, before going on to earn a master’s degree in the field. However, a lot of that job was dysfunctional. Included in that dysfunction was lack of any feedback, or any real guidance at all on my performance- basically being ignored by upper management- I think I talked to my boss’s boss 5 times total in all of my years there.

The job actually changed from one department into another a few years into the job, although the job itself didn’t change much. It was just that the department changed reflected better the work I was doing, and that field is what I pursued my master’s in, and is what I’m currently job searching in. My problem is that I don’t think my actual job title ever changed. So when I completely reformatted my resume, I changed the job title to a generic, industry-speak kind of job title that better described my job responsibilities. My duties/ achievements stayed that same. But now that I’m getting interviews, I’m terrified that I’m lying on my resume, and will be caught and have a potential offer rescinded. Is this possible?

tl;dr- if a job title on your resume doesn’t exactly match the job title the employers lists you as having, is that cause for retracting a job offer?

Reply

Felicia July 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm

My friend had a very weird very non descriptive job title that didn’t really describe what she was doing, so she asked her manager if she could put a different title on her resume. I think what matters in terms of references, and what the reference will know you as. If you say you’re a Chocolate Teapot Maker, and your reference thinks you’re a Vanilla Kettle Designer, then that’s a big difference, but if its just vague/ hard to understand, as long as the job duties are the same it seems ok. I also know someone who’s current title is technically Marketing and Customer Experience Ninja, but she intends to change ninja to assistant when she’s ready to move on to a company that’s not so weird.

Reply

Rana July 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

“Marketing and Customer Experience Ninja“?

Oh, good lord. What a thing to do to one’s employees.

Reply

Felicia July 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I believe her supervisor’s title has the word guru in it. I think that company thinks they’re being cool or something:)

Reply

Chinook July 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm

“Marketing and Customer Experience Ninja“? Do they sent their salespeople into people’s homes at night and threaten them with throwing stars if they don’t sign the new contract? Do the halls outside their offices have squeaky floors so no one can sneak up on them when they are on a sales call? Do they send out a pack of them to stealthy cut off all access to their services if they find out a user is living about their number of users ( in which case OP #6 may really want to report the issue)

Reply

periwinkle July 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm

At one job I had the same generic title (Administrative Assistant) as several other people in my department. None of us were functioning as AAs. For that job, my resume lists the official title followed by the functional title that actually described what I did.

If your official title was Teapot Coordinator but you actually spent your time researching chocolate sourcing, revise your resume to list “Teapot Coordinator (functional title: Chocolate Analyst)” as the title for that position.

Reply

Editor July 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I think this is what Alison has recommended before. It makes sense to use an industry-standard title and then put in parentheses whatever foofy imaginative title was actually used. Then there’s no lie about the title but the actual work isn’t obscured.

Reply

Treece July 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm

#3. I was in a situation where management was doing something unethical which involved money. I couldn’t live with it so I called the company 1-800 number to report what was happening. Do you have this option? It allowed me to stay anonymous which was important to me. This also caused everyone in the department (myself included) to be written up. I then had to explain that I was the one who reported the issue so that I would not be written up. I was uncomfortable with the people who knew after that but I felt better. And oddly (or not so oddly) I was fired 6 months later for a very obscure reason. I’d never been written up or in trouble before that and it was something many other people were doing.

This was my experience and of course all companies will not react the same way. But be prepared for the company blaming you for doing something you knew was wrong for 12 years. My manager told me I had to do this unethical thing so I felt I did not have a choice. As we all know life is not fair.

Reply

Not So NewReader July 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm

This is about par for the course. I hope OP takes note here.
OP, if you do report the problem officially, then expect some nit-picking thing to come between you and your paycheck later on.

I have had this happen and seen others go through it, too. My best advice to OP is extract yourself from the situation. Find a new job or move to another department whatever you have to do to protect your own financial well being.
At some point in the future you may be able to safely report the situation.

I was kind of thrown by this answer initially. I felt that ethics issues should be defended. But seeing how this plays out time and time again, I have changed my mind. Currently, a friend of mine took on a huge problem at work. (Very similar to a work problem that has been in the news.) Well, now he has been unemployed for a bit. And the problem he was targeting is STILL going on!
OP, take care of yourself and your household first. Get yourself to a different place and then decide if you still want to fight this fight.

Reply

AB July 7, 2013 at 3:08 pm

“It allowed me to stay anonymous which was important to me. ”

Since the OP has been raising the subject with management, I don’t think it will remain anonymous — it should be pretty clear to everyone who reported the issue.

I think it’s a very difficult position to be in, especially since the OP has been condoning the situation for the past 12 years. I agree with the comments saying that regardless of what he/she decides to do, it’s a good idea to start looking for another job asap.

Reply

EngineerGirl July 8, 2013 at 12:51 am

Its standard to have some form of retaliation. Worse, it is usually HR that does it, because they see you “hurting” the company by raising the issue (Vs the harm that was occurring by the unethical practice).

It’s important to look at this in the long term of several years. Yes, you are hurt in the short term for reporting it. Especially since “shoot the messenger” is normal. But years down the road your reputation for honesty is intact. The unethical people will have torpedoed themselves. And the ethical people will remember you for doing the right thing. Yes, some people will avoid you for being a squeal. But those are people you don’t really want to work with any way.

Reply

Anon July 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I just went to the GA Tech school website and there’s no mention of this STaC program. It looks like they changed the name of the OP’s degree to Literature, Media and Communications (http://www.gatech.edu/colleges/). Maybe the OP can just use the new degree name instead?

Reply

PL July 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

That’s not the name of the degree, that’s the name of the school. the OP might still be able to use that somehow though.

http://www.lmc.gatech.edu/school/history.php

-Georgia Tech (University)
–Ivan Allen (College)
—School of Literature, Media and Communication
—-BS in Science, Technology and Culture

Reply

Sarah July 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I’m OP 6! It looks like LMC is a new school that encompasses both STaC and CM:(http://lmc.gatech.edu/undergraduate/stac/courses/mastercourselist.php) When I graduated, it was just STaC within Ivan Allen college with no particular school within it- can I use the new school title in place of the degree name even though it wasn’t around at the time? Also, if anyone was interested in STaC as it’s currently being marketed, here’s a recent page: http://lmc.gatech.edu/undergraduate/stac/ It’s changed a TON in the few years since I’ve graduated – there wasn’t a “law focus” at the time, just medicine, media (the one I did – scroll to the bottom paragraph), and general.

Reply

jesicka309 July 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I’d say go with whatever is written on the certificate you got when you graduated – that is the official qualification you picked up.
I’m in another country, and have one degree (and in the process of getting another). On their own, they some across as extremely generic – my majors are what differentiates them. I list them as:
Bachelor of Communications (Media)
Bachelor of Business (Marketing)
That’s what they’re officially listed as online though – your uni seems to be more complex! Maybe putting your major in a bracket next to the official title would get it in there though, and help dispell any confusion as to what you studied. My business degree takes majors in anything from tourism management, to human resources, to information technology – I need to show my major in a way that emphasises my actual learning without fudging my degree. :)n Good luck!

Reply

Anonymous July 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm

So you actually have a Media Studies Option listed on your transcript? If so (or conversely, if it’s policy that there are no options listed on transcripts, so no one would have it officially listed), get that on your resume! “B.S. in Science, Technology and Culture/Media Studies Option”

Reply

Amber July 8, 2013 at 4:53 am

I don’t know if your school handles colleges the same way but I graduated from UC Berkeley, College of Letters and Sciences. I never list “College of Letters and Sciences” on a resume, I only list UC Berkeley.

So you might want to simply say:

Georgia Tech
B.A. in STaC (Media: focus on tv production/editing and writing)

Listing it like that is truthful while fully explaining what it is.

Reply

sch July 15, 2013 at 11:53 am

Hi Sarah–
I’m another Sarah and also a STaC alumna– class of 2000. What’s funny is that as I read your question, I was thinking, hmm, this sounds like a question that I’ve encountered with my degree… how funny to find out that it’s the exact same degree!

You’ve received some good advice here, and I’ll just add that I usually list it on my resume as Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, BA in Science, Technology, and Culture. It’s always been a conversation-starter (“Wow, that sounds really unique, tell me more about that.”) and has never been problematic.

It also sounds like the degree has changed quite a lot. I graduated in one of the first years of the program, when there were no concentrations and the class offering was so limited and the program so new, we had a required minor just to get enough hours to graduate. I would also classify the degree that I received as more communications-related than anything.

Reply

Brett July 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm

#3
One really important aspect here is that this is not just a database that is being illegally shared, but an energy industry database.
These data tend to have some very serious controls on them, even if not Classified, and those controls are backed up by federal law with criminal penalties. The DOE might be a resource here, and you might want to seriously consider it because if someone else becomes the whistleblower, you might be facing serious trouble as the primary distributor in the company of the data.

Reply

Cat July 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Or if people are seeing it who aren’t supposed to due to their role and using it to the company’s commercial advantage, this could lead to market manipulation charges.

Reply

Cat July 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm

(Also I would expect this to be a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issue rather than a DoE one and FERC does have an anonymous tip line. So if this is something beyond violating a software license that’s an option – albeit one that could come back to bite you if the company is implemented).

Reply

Kinrowan July 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm

For #3 – I also deal with database subscriptions. Are you the one who signs the contracts? Is there a lawyer or legal team involved? If they are not, I would involve them. If they are, I would tell them that actually so many more people are accessing the data. If you are signing the contracts – are you a lawyer? I used to sign contracts and am not a lawyer and despite the increased bureaucracy, I worry less now that our lawyers are looking these other. But also lawyers don’t like to know that there might be a breach in contract that might cost the company (and/or yourself depending) a lot of money. I would also keep all correspondence in writing (you telling the lawyers everyone has access to a database when only a few should). Higher-ups will listen to lawyers even when they won’t listen to others, especially if damages could damage a company’s bottom line. I would bring it up next time something needs to be signed.

Reply

E July 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm

#6

I sympathize! My Master’s degree name has ‘and/or’ in the middle of it, which honestly makes my resume look like I’m midway through editing it.

#1

Your explanation sounds good. Based on your description of the company, it won’t be the first time somebody has said they’ve a longstanding aspiration to work for them and jumped at the opportunity.

Reply

Laura July 7, 2013 at 9:15 pm

#2: I’m a big proponent of just being honest in situations like this.

Go to your boss and first apologize for getting too defensive. Then explain how happy you were to be hired, that your first reaction upon learning that you made a mistake was to go into panic mode, and then promise that it won’t happen again. I think most people appreciate candor, and in this economy, everyone can empathize with these sentiments.

A few years ago I worked on a huge project, which was staffed with quite a few contractors. One day I was talking with a few of them about something, and I said something about Phase II of the project, and the next stage of the implementation. They immediately perked up and started asking questions about it, were they taking resumes yet, when would their contracts be extended, and so on. Only natural – in contract work, having your next gig lined up is critical. I realized I had maybe really stepped in it, so I immediately went to my boss and told her what happened. It turned out to not be that big a deal, but she really appreciated me coming to her and being honest with her.

Reply

voluptuousfire July 7, 2013 at 11:55 pm

OP#7…I was meant to graduate with a degree in communications with a focus in media studies and just as I graduated, my school’s cinema and communications programs merged and I ended up getting a degree in Media Culture and Cinema Studies. I just put Bachelors in Media Culture (Communications) and I’ve had no problems. When filling out online applications, I usually just put Communications. No one’s questioned it.

Reply

Anonymous July 8, 2013 at 12:04 am

I’m surprised they didn’t let you graduate with the program you started in.

Reply

voluptuousfire July 8, 2013 at 12:20 am

It’s an odd situation. I had to take an incomplete in a senior semester internship because the internship started later than expected. Between getting the final paper in and other issues with the course, I didn’t get my actual degree until a full year after I completed my coursework. It stinks because it looks like it took me 6 years to graduate school when it took 5.

Reply

Anonymous July 8, 2013 at 12:14 am

#6: Is that the name of your actual degree or the major? If it’s the latter, you should just write “BA/BS, Year” and media studies as your major. Many schools will only confirm the degree conferred and years of studies when doing background checks (due to privacy concerns, I assume) so this may not be an issue. My school also gives weird and unnecessarily long program names, so I’ve taken to shortening it to something that employers will recognize (i.e. Communications).

Reply

KM July 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm

#2 — Honestly, I’d say don’t bring it up again unless your manager does, or until you have a scheduled check-in or something. I understand that you feel shame and anxiety and you want to sooth those feelings by getting reassurance that you’ve been forgiven, but, if you’ve already apologised “several” times, I’d let it rest at least until you calm down.

I say that with the caveat that I have no idea what you actually did, and if you burned the store down or something, maybe you shouldn’t stop apologising, but I think in most cases it’s better to step back and make sure that you’re not just continuing to apologise in the hopes of making yourself feel better (and therefore placing the burden of your emotions on your manager). If she’s already dealing with your mistake, it might not be helping her to get a text saying “sorry” every five minutes, you know?

#6 — Don’t straight-up change the name of your major. Most people probably won’t know the difference, but you’re right to think that it looks suspicious if someone notices. Do tell the University that the program name is causing confusion — often Universities will change program names if it becomes clear that the credential isn’t recognised, so you’ll be doing other students a favour.

In the meantime, I would suggest some combination of: a) casually working it into your cover letter that you studied TV production, etc as part of the STaC program at Georgia Tech, b) just adding a note to your resume on the line below your degree name and graduation date that says “Note: STaC is Georgia Tech’s Media and Communication program and includes the study of XYZ.” If someone scans your resume and stops short at STaC, the explanation will be a millimeter away.

If you’re forced to enter your degree name into an automated form, I’d go with what others have suggested and just add a bracketed explanation at the end like “STaC (TV Production).” If you get an interview, you can explain that the automated form didn’t really allow you to be more specific. People will understand that, because automated forms are evil.

Reply

Shiah April 17, 2014 at 7:57 pm

My husband has been a very loyal employee for the company he works for. He has been there for 7 years and has worked the long hours with fabulous results. His work has always been of high standard. Last super bowl an overage order was accidently placed by a coworker. Since there is massive product during that time anyway, and no one told my husband about the possible overage, so he was not looking for it. Long story short…there ended up a $400.00 overage. Now they are acting like it is a federal case. This has happened before with, with other employees in the past, with no serious issues. My husband loves his job. He checked the hand book and saw that he can offer to pay for the overage and bring down the bottom line. He did that at the meeting today. He can ask for an a non involved 3rd party to help him keep the job if he suspended. We are just sick over this.

Reply

Leave a Comment

If you'd like your picture to appear next to your comments, just upload a picture at Gravatar.

Previous post:

Next post: