I was fired for forwarding resumes to myself, asking not to telecommute, and more

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

1. I was fired for forwarding resumes to myself

I’d like to get your opinion on an incident a few years back in my first internship out of school. I had just completed the four-month contract, and my boss couldn’t have been happier with my work. He got me a one-year contract in a higher paying role, still reporting to him, and I ended up taking a two-week vacation overseas between the internship and the contract start.

In the last week of the internship, my boss received a message from the security department, informing him that they had discovered an email I had sent out externally one month prior. This email contained several attached resumes from prior applicants to the company, which I had found stored (improperly) on a shared network drive. They were simply emailed to myself. As for the purpose, it was truly just my own curiosity of wanting to peruse them at my own leisure. I somehow believed that having that extra resource on hand would benefit me down the line, and my curiosity just got the best of me.

It was a very stupid lapse of judgement on my part, which I regretted almost immediately afterwards. I regretted doing it so much that I deleted them from my email before even looking at them. I admitted this to my boss when he first approached me. He seemed genuinely shocked when I admitted to doing it, and although he had a serious talk with me, he agreed that it should not be an insurmountable situation.

However, I received a call from my boss during my vacation that the resume situation had been escalated, and as a result, my one-year contract was rescinded. This was a pretty difficult call to hear, especially since I still had a good week left in my trip. Long story short, when I returned, my boss was exceptionally gracious to me on a personal level, agreeing to serve as a positive reference for my applications and expressing general regret that the situation had happened as it did. Although I was still quite rattled from the experience, I did my best to convey my apologies for putting him through everything as well, since the situation clearly came about as a result of my own actions.

This incident is now a few years behind me and I have been able to move on, but what is your opinion about the way the organization handled it? I guess maybe I’m looking for validation that my boss’ position was more reasonable than the higher-ups who (it seems) made the ultimate call, but what would you have done? For a bit more context, the organization was a medium-sized financial institution.

I don’t think they erred in rescinding the job offer. You breached those job applicants’ privacy for your own curiosity, which raised concerns about your integrity and ability to handle confidential information properly. Is it a huge outrage? No, not the hugest. But it’s enough of a red flag that I can see why they didn’t want to embark on a longer employment relationship with you once they learned about it at a time when it was particularly easy to cut ties with you.

2. Asking to work from the office instead of telecommuting

Today I was thrilled to receive a job offer letter in which all looks good, even though I haven’t had the chance to discuss it with HR. The work and pay all look on point. Another wrinkle is that I am currently unemployed, having left a toxic work situation two months ago under a mutual agreement. My previous job lasted less than a year, so I’m eager to have a new position to add to my resume. I hope to stay in this new position for a couple of years, at least.

One thing gives me pause: Everyone in the position I’ve been offered works remotely. I have worked from home before and don’t do well with it. I am much happier, and at least as productive, if I have an actual office to drive to each day. It may be relevant that I have a diagnosis of major depression, which I’ve managed well without special work accommodations – just supervisors who are understanding and aware.

My house has a good room for a home office, but my husband telecommutes for his job and can’t change that. Our productivity would suffer if we were in the same office all day. The company that offered me the job is based within easy commuting distance of my house. How would I check into the possibility of working there, at least a few days a week, without making unreasonable demands? I’d be happy with an ancient desk stuck in a broom closet if it meant seeing my coworkers regularly. How do I watch out for my mental health without making a bad first impression?

Ask! You could just say, “I know this is typically a telecommuting position. I’ve worked remotely in the past but have found I really do well when I can interact and collaborate with colleagues some of the time. Would it be possible for me to work out of the office at least a few days per week?”

3. Shouldn’t hiring managers give interview candidates more personal rejections?

I’ve got a question for you. I have a strong opinion on the matter but I don’t have any experience in hiring to know if I’m completely off-base or what. I’ve been looking for a new job for a few months now and I’ve gotten interviews, but I’m noticing that when I get rejected, it’s usually by way of an auto-generated email from the company’s HR system when my application is marked as “not hired.” This usually happens several weeks after the in-person interview

Is there some kind of etiquette for rejecting candidates? My opinion as a professional who’s been on many interviews is that if a candidate can take an hour or two to come to an in-person interview for the job, then the hiring manager, upon deciding who to make an offer, should call the other candidates and let them know that “we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate but it was nice to meet you and I wish you luck in your search” or something like that. I’m not suggesting that the hiring manager personally call every single applicant, but for most of the positions I apply to, I honestly can’t imagine there being more than 5-10 interviewees coming in. At the very least, write an email that isn’t a template. Am I crazy or have the people I’ve been dealing with just been rude?

It’s not generally considered rude to send rejections by email, and form rejections are pretty standard too. Certainly if the hiring manager had a particular rapport with someone, it’s nice to personalize the email, but it’s very, very common not to. And really, it’s impossible to write a rejection letter that will please everyone; for example, some people complain about the kind of language you suggested because they think it’s insincere. (I think that’s silly, but really, people complain about pretty much every rejection wording out there.)

And while you’d prefer a call, loads of candidates actively don’t want to be called with a rejection. People often get their hopes up when they see the employer calling, and then they need to manage their disappointment professionally on the spot while the other person listens. Most employers prefer email too, because some candidates try to debate the decision or push for feedback that the hiring manager isn’t prepared to give (often for the reasons here).

4. I’m being skipped during introductions on conference calls

I have been at my company for around five months. I am a project manager and started out on an account halfway through the project lifecycle. During client calls, the presenter will mention everyone in the room, but always skip over me. It has happened numerous times. I figured that the project was already halfway in and they didn’t want to introduce new team members to the clients.

I am now on a new client and have started from the start, during our first client call. Same thing — skipped over during intros. Not only is this degrading, as It shows I am not really part of the team to the client, but also internally how will I ever gain any respect when I need to interact with many members on a daily basis?

Speak to the person doing the intros. Say something like this: “You’ve been skipping over me when running through attendees at the start of client calls. I want to make sure that the client knows I’m on the call — could you make sure to mention me?”

It’s likely that this is just something like old habit, and explicitly reminding the person to include you will solve it. If it doesn’t, though, then just speak up at the end of the list of names and say “And this is Jane — I’m on too.” (Don’t do that if this would be a hierarchy violation in your office, but in most offices this would be fine.)

{ 468 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, I’m the kind of person who’d prefer an email to a phone call. Especially if I weren’t prepared for the call (I’ve been rejected via phone before and it suuuuuuucked).

    I don’t know if this is in any way helpful to you, but I think it might help to attach less personal investment into communications in being rejected. A form email, as long as it’s not overly perfunctory, is (imo) a completely appropriate and ok method of communication. I don’t think phone calls significantly change the relationship between the employer and the candidate in this context.

    But it sounds like you feel that an investment of time on the part of the candidate merits greater investment in an employer’s parting communications. I like to think of the employer’s rejection as closing out the hiring process for that position. That makes it feel less personal, and it makes me feel less upset about receiving a form email rejection.

    Reply
    1. Paul

      I agree. And I think it’s important for people that are upset about the method a company used to remember that not everyone prefers the same method–and frankly, an interview doesn’t constitute a major relationship. They won’t know, and I don’t think it’s really rational to ask, exactly what form of communication and just how personal a rejection any given candidate is wanting.

      I really hate that companies frequently just never respond at all, but it’s bordering on absurd to expect them to suss out the ideal way to tell each individual candidat ethey weren’t hired.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        I’m shocked that this is such a common experience among people on here as I’ve never not been informed of a rejection. Is it more common in the US?

        Reply
        1. Look What You Made Me Do

          It’s VERY common in the US to not hear back at all if you didn’t get a job, even if they explicitly told you at the interview that they would tell you no matter what.

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          1. Joan Holloway

            This reminds of an interview I had a few years ago. It seemed like we had great rapport, and they said they’d get back to me in two weeks. They replied to my “thank you” email even (I know this doesn’t mean anything in terms of being offered the job, but it adds to why I felt so baffled later).

            After two weeks, I followed up, and never heard a single word back. They knew I had come out of state for the interview as well, which made it extra annoying that they couldn’t simply reply and say I didn’t get the job. In the end, it all worked out for the best because I love where I am now! But at the time, when I was new to the working world, I was pretty incredulous about it. While I still believe candidates should always be notified (I have zero issues with form letters; I just like to be notified!!), I have obviously learned that the situation I experienced is not an anomaly.

            Reply
            1. Amber T

              I totally understand not informing everyone who sends a resume in that they won’t be interviewed hired. But yeah, when you get interviewed, especially at final round interviews… just send SOMETHING out. My first real job interview for work after college (I interviewed during my final semester)… the in person and phone interviews went super well, met with everyone in the department, was told it was between me and another candidate, I’d hear back from them in a week… and then nothing. I followed up with an email the following week and a phone call the week after… nothing. I was introduced to the hiring manager via a personal connection of a professor of mine, and that professor took it upon herself to call her contact (I didn’t ask her to, just told her that I hadn’t heard back when she asked). Finally I got a quick email of “You were not hired for this position, thanks for applying.” Just… ugh. How hard would that have been to send out after the other applicant accepted the job (two weeks prior)?

              Reply
              1. ThatGirl

                About 10 years ago I went through a phone interview and two in-person interviews for a job I was definitely interested in, and then like six weeks after the last interview I got a form postcard in the mail letting me know I wasn’t hired. Thanks.

                Reply
                1. Bleeborp

                  I don’t believe I’ve ever interviewed and not received a rejection…eventually. Like months later, sometimes a letter but usually an automated email. I was steady interviewing for 5 years (had 2 part time jobs, needed 1 full time gig!) and while I found the whole process punishing, the means of rejection was not a concern to me.

          2. Snark

            I feel like it’s most common to never hear back from an application or a preliminary phone screening. I usually hear back from actual interviews, even if just a form email.

            I think OP’s beef with not getting a personal communication is somewhat misplaced. I’ve had enough candidates want to litigate their own rejection that sometimes a “good luck in your future endeavors” form letter is just better for all involved. But if you interview, you damn well better get an actual rejection.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              Yeah. The thing is, the candidate feels it personally, but their part of the interaction is actually less than the hiring managers’, especially for in-demand jobs. From the job seeker’s view, it’s a 1:1 interaction. From the hiring manager’s, it’s a 1:15 or 1:115, not even counting all the resumes weeded out by HR or an intern.

              It sure would be nice to get a personal interaction, but consider job application like going through a tollbooth. Sometimes you have an awesome interaction that makes you smile all day. Mostly you have a fairly robotic interchange.

              LW, please reset your mind because your strong conviction isn’t really matching reality, and it will just make you angry. Which people pick up on and makes it harder to get a job.

              Reply
        2. T3k

          Yep, pretty common. What’s funny in my experience is that I’ve gotten more notified rejections from jobs I didn’t get interviewed for than the ones I actually talked to (and even then if I hadn’t followed up with most of them, I doubt I’d have heard anything back).

          Reply
          1. Lily Rowan

            Yeah, in my experience from the hiring side, it’s because HR sends out the form rejection to the immediate no’s (noes??), and the hiring manager really, really intends to send a thoughtful note to the people interviewed, but never gets to it.

            Reply
            1. Gadfly

              I’ve always assumed it’s also about not eliminating options if something happens to the candidate they chose. And then it just is too late by the time they know they don’t need a plan B

              Reply
        3. SchoolStarts!

          Common in Canada too. “We’ll be in touch in two weeks…” and then you never hear from them again.

          The stupidest time that happened was when I was one of four. They winnowed down a “zillion candidates” to four, interviewed four and I can only assume they picked one. But with only three to break the bad news too, why not make the effort of at least an email?

          Reply
        4. Oryx

          Oh, yes. One time, I only found out I *didn’t* get a job because my friend in the same field announced on Facebook that she did.

          Reply
          1. MakesThings

            This is brutal, and a similar thing happened to me (a friend spotted another person updating their Facebook info to include the place were I interviewed).

            Reply
            1. MHR

              I was once at a birthday party right after receiving an offer letter for a position I was temping in. I was temping in an admin role that was to become an HR role. I was in a conversation with a woman about my new job, as she was an Admin who was job searching as well. She mentioned that she had just put in an application that she was really hopeful about and how perfect it would be for her for multiple reasons. She mentioned the company name and I was caught off guard and said “oh, that’s the position I was just hired for.” She was very upset for the rest of the party.

              I feel bad, but my understanding was that the ad on indeed had not yet expired and she had never had any communication with the company besides submitting her resume. Made for a pretty awkward party!

              Reply
              1. Bartlet for President

                This is why “apply and then forget about it until they contact you” is such good advice. I wish I had found this blog in college (or, received that advice somewhere) because it would have saved me so much heartache and frustration. I built up so many jobs as “perfect fits” based on a job description, but didn’t necessarily get interviews for them.

                Reply
          2. Hey Karma, Over here.

            I found out I didn’t get a job in my community because the hiring manager told a neighbor who’d asked about my status. As in, “Karma said she interviewed with you. How’s that going?” “Oh, we hired someone else.”
            I bumped into neighbor a couple months after the interview and that’s how I found out I didn’t get it. “I’m sorry you didn’t get the job.”
            “Well, I’m happy someone let me know.”

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          3. Specialk9

            Wait. People put on Facebook where they work?! O_o

            I hope they post it right next to the announcement that they’ll be out of town on these dates.

            Reply
        5. MegaMoose, Esq.

          In the US legal market, it is somewhat rare but not unheard of not to hear anything back after an interview. Rude, but not shocking.

          Reply
          1. DCR

            This has not been my experience. I’ve never heard back from at least half a dozen government and in-house positions I’ve interviewed for

            Reply
        6. JN

          Yes, it’s extremely common to never hear anything back at all on an application if you’re not selected for an interview–though some places will send out the form letter or email notification of that eventually. I’ve found that the places I’ve interviewed at would send some kind of rejection notice, though the method (letter, email, phone call) has varied.

          Reply
      2. Annonymouse

        Also, as Alison pointed out, with a call or any more personalised rejection can lead to arguments from the candidate.

        Interviewers don’t have time for that or have to justify their decisions (unless it’s clearly discriminatory).

        Sometimes it’s a rejection that’s going to be unhelpful/too personal and better not to go into:
        You dressed like a stripper
        You weren’t smart enough
        You didn’t communicate clearly or give coherent answers
        There’s something that just wasn’t right when we met you that we can’t put our finger on. But that’s a no.

        Plus having to do that for your interview pool? Yeah… not the best use of company time. Having to review the notes, compose a personalised email, send it and deal with the fallout from 3 – 9 people? No thank you.

        Reply
        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

          And sometimes the answer is, you’re wonderful, but the other candidate was just better.

          People forget that other finalists in the room are typically just as talented, it just is educated, or just as well suited for the position.

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          1. Escapee from Corporate Management

            +1! I am amazed at the number of people who didn’t get jobs who cannot conceive that they are competing against other talented, smart, personable candidates. Especially at senior levels.

            Reply
          2. Annonymouse

            Exactly.

            From the outside you have no idea what the other candidates in the pool look like. Some of them could be Hawking level smart, Wozniak level technical talent and innovative and Alison Green level people and management skilled.

            So a rejection of you are great but our hire was Awesome – a once in a lifetime kind of employee you don’t pass up though fair can still get argued with.

            I work in a niche industry and have a rare combination of skills and extensive experience. If I get rejected for a job in my industry I can’t really believe there are many more qualified candidates than myself out there. But I thank them and move on thinking:
            “Wow. Who they hired must be famous in our industry and amazing/be a stronger match/have some skills I don’t.”

            I really can’t see what people hope to get out of arguing a job rejection.

            “Well we were going to go with a candidate who had the strongest skills match for what needed, but hot dang! Your complete rejection of professional and societal norms, inability to handle rejection and feedback, combativeness and willingness to waste our companies time show how wrong we were in rejecting you. Welcome aboard!”

            Reply
    2. Misteroid

      I was rejected in person once! That was super fun. (Not.) It was for an internal position at a tiny company, so it made more sense for my supervisor to tell me why I didn’t get the role rather than email or call me later, but it was super difficult to remain neutral during the conversation when I just wanted to crumple up.

      Reply
      1. cuz

        Yeah, I was passed up for an internal position and they told me in person and I cried! Normally that isn’t my response to rejection, but this was a redundancy situation so the stakes were higher and I genuinely thought I was the better candidate, so I was shocked. I ran into one of the other panel members a few weeks later and he pretty much said they thought I was overqualified and would be bored, but it doesn’t make you feel too much better when you’re the one losing your job.

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      2. SchoolStarts!

        Yes, me too. It. was. awful. I still don’t agree with their reasons seven years later but the sting is less now as I’ve since demonstrated to myself that I was capable of all they needed and more…but to different companies. At the time, it was a real blow to my self-esteem.

        Reply
      3. RabbitRabbit

        I found out during a division meeting; my grandboss – who was one of my interviewers! – offhandedly said they had pulled the position and were reworking the job title and duties. I had to sit there and be calm while processing that.

        I transferred out of there just over a year later, to another manager in a different division, same department. It was a very wise move for many reasons.

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      4. Steve

        I was rejected in person once for an internal promotion and I was fine with it. He personally thanked me for applying, which I thought was nice. I asked for and was given valuable advice about what I might have done differently. I appreciated being told face to face instead of by email or phone.

        Just goes to show, different people prefer to be told different ways.

        In truth, I found it more annoying that they “re-used” the results same round of interviews when another spot opened up a few months later. I wasn’t given the opportunity to put the advice into practice.

        Reply
      5. Your Weird Uncle

        When I was leaving one of my jobs, one of the applicants to replace me was internal and we knew she really wanted the job. She wasn’t hired, and they sent her an email explaining this, but then the hiring manager, my former boss, took her out to get coffee and to talk about her professional development for future roles. I thought that was a really nice way to handle it; giving her the initial word privately let her absorb the bad news, while still allowing her the courtesy of a personal discussion and offer of help for her ongoing career.

        Reply
    3. MillersSpring

      I am a hiring manager, but my company’s recruiting team in the HR department handles applicants, so I expect them to reject candidates. I assume some kind of form email is sent.

      Rejecting candidates can be fraught with peril, so I’m happy it’s in the hands of the recruiting team. I’m swamped, and it’s their bailiwick, not mine.

      Reply
        1. hbc

          Agreed. It’s definitely worth finding out what they do and on what kind of timeline, just so there isn’t bad information being handed out. For example, if they keep the runners-up in limbo until the new person’s first day, you don’t want to be saying “We should have a decision next week.” Maybe internally the decision was made, but from outside the time spent crafting the offer, negotiating, doing the background check, and waiting out the notice period all looks like you lied about the decision timeline.

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          1. NotAnotherManager!

            My office is similar, and I just don’t make timeline commitments and refer candidates to HR on timelines because they know better where things are in the process. Not every hiring manager has time to handle or manage that process on top of everything else I’m supposed to be doing, and that’s the whole point of having an HR recruiter. I know mine very well because I hire between 5 and 10 people a year, and I’m comfortable with and confident in her ability to manage the process. She’s also very concerned with being respectful of candidates’ time and feels strongly that everyone should be notified of their application status.

            Reply
      1. Liane

        And form rejections should also avoid phrases like “Your skills were very impressive…”
        Seriously, there is a local hospital I have applied to a number of times. (They encourage this.) A few months ago they changed the form emails to that and when I get one I always think, “If I was so great, I would have been asked for a phone interview at least.”

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Eh, you’re reading too much into it. I reject people all the time who have impressive skills; they’re just not as a strong a match for this particular position as I need (or maybe they could be but a dozen other people are stronger matches).

          Reply
          1. SarahTheEntwife

            Or sometimes someone’s skills are impressive, but not actually quite what you need the person you’re hiring to be impressive in.

            Reply
    4. Five after Midnight

      The below is based on my current job hunt – 5 months and still nothing: ugh!
      I don’t mind an email at all. I can file it away with the application and/or interview notes and consider that particular job opportunity closed – nothing personal. Emails are especially common, but not a given, with larger companies (think sophisticated HRM systems – yeah, I know it’s an oxymoron) when your application gets rejected w/o an interview invitation.

      However, after there is an interview, the rejection practices start to diverge. The good and even average recruiters (I don’t work with bad ones) will generally make a phone call and provide additional feedback that led to rejection; they will be a lot more forthcoming about the specific reasons for why you, the applicant, were not “the chosen one”. And, almost always it will be a particular experience or knowledge that other have and you don’t, although occasionally they will be brutally honest about you blowing a question or two.

      The companies, when they respond (“when” not “if”, since in my case they all have done so far), it is invariably by a form-letter email which says “we have decided to move forward with candidates who more closely meet the needs of the role” or something very close. This has been the case across the board regardless of size or industry. Again, it’s not personal, they are following their process, and I didn’t make to the next stage. I would not really want to get a phone call with a post-interview rejection, because by this point phone calls have been established as positive signalling and seeing a familiar number on caller id but getting a rejection is a double-whammy (you get a high from seeing a number and crash double the height to the disappointment of rejection).

      Where I do draw a line and think the hiring manager, or at least HR, have a higher obligation is when there is post-interview communication indicating you are likely to get to the next round. Just this Wednesday, I got rejected by a successfactors.com form-letter after getting several personalized emails from HR saying things like: “very positive feedback from your interviews” and “you are one of the top candidates”. I would have gladly (read: disappointingly) accepted another personalized email or, in this case even a phone call, saying: “sorry, but here is where you felt short”. The form letter approach in this case was not cool. But, you know what? As much as I’m ticked off by their lack of decency and professionalism, this indicates that people in this company are just cogs in a giant machine, and that I’m probably better off not working there as the “proper procedures” would strangle my individualism and creativity.

      Reply
    5. Collarbone High

      I once got a rejection call that woke me up (I worked nights at the time). I’m sure I left a terrible impression because I was struggling just to shake off the Ambien and form coherent thoughts, let alone process the information and be gracious about it.

      Reply
    6. Tuxedo Cat

      I prefer email too, because I don’t have to react to someone in real time and worry about how my reaction would come off.

      Reply
    7. Ellen

      “I like to think of the employer’s rejection as closing out the hiring process for that position.”

      This is how I look at it, too, though late last year/earlier this year I experienced a funny version of this. I interviewed for a job I was quite excited for back in November. (I recall that my first interview was just a couple days after the US election!) I went through several rounds of interviews and in early December I was offered the job. The offer ended up being for a bit less than I expected, which wouldn’t have been a big deal except that the benefits were a lot worse. I went back and forth with them for a while and ultimately ended up regretfully turning the position down.

      THREE MONTHS LATER, I received an automatic email rejection from them for the same position. I guess they’d finally hired someone and closed it all out.

      Reply
    8. Anony

      A call would be so awkward! Best case scenario (for a rejection) as far as I’m concerned is a personalized e-mail but I’m not insulted by a form e-mail.

      Reply
    9. Florida

      I’m the opposite. If I invested a lot in the process (i.e. got to the final round), I think that warrants a phone call. I don’t expect a phone call, but I always appreciate it when I get it. However, I can see from the manager’s perspective why they usually email. It’s easier, less time investment, less chance of argument, etc.
      If I was rejected very early on, I expect nothing more than a form letter, if that.
      I always say that good news comes by phone, bad news comes by mail (or email). That’s true in more than job offers.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        That’s actually why I prefer email to a call. I remember being called and thinking I got the job, only to find out that I didn’t get it (and I really really wanted it—I’m normally good at handling my emotions, but I teared up during the call, which was horrifyingly embarrassing).

        It’s kind of like the “big envelope” vs. the “small envelope” in college admissions. I like to know what I’m getting into ahead of time, and if I don’t have a preexisting relationship with the interviewer or organization, receiving a phone call screws up my expectations about the content of the call.

        Reply
        1. Oryx

          Ah, yes. I remember getting SO excited at seeing the phone number on my Caller ID and having a really, really difficult time containing my emotions.

          Reply
    10. la bella vita

      I was rejected once by phone and it did not go well. I was already pretty emotional because I was unemployed and really thought I was going to get this job – after the phone screen, they physically brought me in four times for different interviews, including an Excel skills test in the second round that I nailed. I was obviously disappointed when I didn’t get it (side note: I think it’s so inappropriate to ask someone to physically come in to your office that many times unless they are your top choice and it’s a “don’t screw up this last conversation” formality). The HR woman assured me that everyone really liked me and that my references were great and that if they would have loved to have hired me except the other person had a really specific experience that I didn’t. What made it go sideways (not horrible, but not great either) was that she slipped up and told me that they checked my references *after* they gave the person they ultimately hired an offer, just in case they turned it down. Some of you may disagree with me on this, but I blurted out that I thought that was completely inappropriate – I’m not crazy about checking references as anything as other than a last step before making an offer if all goes well, but I understand the argument for doing it if you have two candidates that are too close to decide between otherwise and need those conversations as a tie breaker. What I thought was inappropriate was wasting the time of my references when they already had an offer out, “just in case” – the interview process had dragged on for about three months, so it certainly wouldn’t have killed them to tack an extra day or two onto the process to check my references later had the other candidate turned them down. I didn’t actually hang up on the woman, but it was close – as she was sputtering out how that’s what they always did, I managed to get out “okaythanksforlettingmeknowbestofluckbye” before melting down. Luckily, another offer in a better industry with better pay came along a few weeks later.

      Reply
        1. la bella vita

          Of course. If I had been in my right mind, I would’ve just thought “WTF who wastes their own and other people’s time like that?” With that said, that’s exactly why you shouldn’t reject people over the phone – it’s not fair to make a candidate who has put a ton of time and effort into interviewing with your company (and probably sees the number and thinks they’re about to get great news, because who calls with a rejection?) have to process the rejection in real time on the phone with you.

          Reply
  2. Kit

    I’ve never received any kind of notification of rejection. I’d be thrilled with a form email. (And by thrilled I mean disappointed but glad on some level to have closure.)

    Reply
    1. Laura in NJ

      Me, too. I’m lucky to get the standard “received your application” response. Ten times out of ten, I never hear back. And it’s getting frustrating.

      Reply
    2. MashaKasha

      Same here. With a few exceptions where the company called my recruiter and told her, “we’re not going forward with Masha”, only form of rejection I’ve ever received from a job was radio silence. See also: dating.

      Reply
  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#1, how would you have liked the organization to handle it? How lenient do you think they should have been?
    I’m curious because it sounds like you understand why what you did was not ok, but there’s a little bit of hedging on the taking responsibility part (e.g., stating that you found the resumes in an inappropriately stored location suggests that your actions were justified or excused). I’m not saying that to attack you, but to get a sense of where this activity reads on your “this is not an appropriate thing to do” meter now that you do have greater experience (I think making a mistake like this in one of your first post-college jobs is reasonable, but of course it would not be if you had the experience you have today).

    As Alison noted, this isn’t the hugest deal, but it’s still a pretty big one—it could easily rise to the level of termination at all of my post-college jobs. And indeed, we found an intern trying to access a locked part of the drive to review resumes from candidates we’d rejected for a staff position, and we terminated that intern after a rough disciplinary conversation. Our field (law) is a little different because of how we treat confidential information and its relationship to your baseline competency to do your job, but I bet there are common security and confidentiality and judgment concerns in finance and other fields as well.

    Reply
    1. AcademiaNut

      I can see the three different viewpoints here, and understand what’s behind them.

      The LW is looking at it mostly from the perspective of her intent. She wasn’t deliberately looking for confidential information, she was interested in it from curiosity, rather than malicious intent, and she realized that it was a bad idea before being caught. So from her perspective, it was a dumb thing to do, but not really that bad.

      The IT people (and probably upper management) are looking at it from the perspective of her actions. She discovered improperly stored confidential information, and instead of reporting it, she emailed it off-site for her own benefit, and was caught well after the fact. This is definitely a big thing, and could easily warrant firing. From their perspective, without knowing her motivations, it was a major problem, and it wasn’t worth continuing to employ her.

      Her immediate boss is in the middle. He recognized that this was a major breach of ethics and potentially a firing offence, but had known the OP long enough to judge it was a one time lapse, rather than a sign of more serious issues, and was willing to go with a stern talking too, close monitoring in the future, and a second chance.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        Sure. The problem, though, is that LW sees Boss’s Viewpoint as objectively more reasonable than Upper Management’s Viewpoint – to the extent that, years later, it’s still bothering her and she wants validation that she and Boss were right and Upper Management overreacted.

        Reply
        1. INTP

          The LW is probably thinking in terms of harm done by her specific actions, and her own potential to do harm in the future. No harm was done, her email wasn’t hacked, she did nothing with the information in the resumes. She learned her lesson and won’t do it again, so no future harm, and she’s still the same high potential employee as she was. This is a pretty common perspective for new graduates that are used to being in academic environments where everyone is invested in your potential and it takes a lot of messing up to be written off entirely.

          The company as a whole, though, is thinking in terms of more global issues. They’re a financial institution, so security is even more important for them than most. From their perspective, it’s better to err on the side of being excessively strict about these issues, because it costs them less to risk a few good employees than a few data breaches. So I think the company’s actions were totally reasonable, but LW isn’t being egregiously self-focused for not getting it or anything. She’s just naive, and it’s a lesson that takes most of us a few years of working to grasp.

          Reply
          1. BethRA

            The issue for the company, though, is whether they can trust someone’s judgement and integrity based on a security violation. I realize LW wasn’t being malicious, and I don’t think she’s a bad person, but if she still doesn’t understand why this was a fireable offense, I’d say their decision not to trust her judgement was warranted.

            Reply
            1. Annonymouse

              Also after emailing and deleting them OP never thought of informing someone about the improperly stored information and getting that fixed.

              So for IT and upper management the problem is two fold:

              How can we trust OP with confidential information to not use it for their own benefit or to handle it right in general?

              And if OP knows something is wrong or needs to be fixed, why don’t they come forward and get it repaired?

              Both of these can cause problems and cost the company money. The first one is obviously more problematic.

              Also people can’t read intentions – they can only see your actions and what that potential is.

              Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Sure, but the OP now has a lot more experience and is still minimizing their actions. That’s why I’m pushing back and asking how they would assess the situation now that they’re a “seasoned” worker.

            Reply
          1. Specialk9

            I initially thought she had been sending her own resumes to herself. I didn’t get why she was fired. I’ve done that plenty. But other people’s resumes?! Eek!

            Reply
            1. Esme Squalor

              Same! I thought they fired her because emailing herself her own resume indicated she was job hunting, and I was fully prepared to be on her side. But when I realized she exploited a security gap to access *other people’s* resumes in order to give herself an informational leg up on landing a full time contract?? Nope nope nope. You’re getting into corporate espionage territory at that point.

              Reply
              1. sstabeler

                to be fair, I interpreted it not as seeking an informational edge on landing a full-time contract, but more “this is what other people’s resumes look like”

                also, I think the reason they brought up that the resumes were inappropriately stored in a shared drive is making it clear this was not the OP going looking for the resumes- which would DEFINITELY be an immediate firing offence- but these resumes were stored in a folder the OP legitimately had access to. My personal opinion is that NORMALLY it would be an overreaction to an incident that’s more youthful stupidity than anything, but since it was a financial institution, it’s not really an overreaction, since a similar level of screwup with financial data would expose the company to legal liability.

                Reply
        1. Wintermute

          I think what AcademiaNut is trying to say is basically a modified form of a legal intent argument. There’s no crime without mens rea– the “guilty mind” (well there IS now in the US, but that’s a legal travesty for another discussion). So the lack of intent means there was nothing wrong.

          And that’s one way to look at it, sure.

          But I think you raise a good point too, and so do the big bosses when they make the argument, though without stating it in a formal manner, “curiosity versus fraud isn’t a question of no-intent versus intent, it’s a question of motivation. The reason for the intent is irrelevant, the intent that matters was intending to send off confidential documents the company was sworn to protect to an unsecured external e-mail address. They surely meant to do that, the reason they meant to isn’t what we’re worried about.”

          Reply
          1. Mookie

            Well, but the LW did intend to do something in addition to satisfying her curiosity. She said she “somehow believed that having that extra resource on hand would benefit [her] down the line,” which, if I’m reading that correctly, means she wanted to mine those resumés for content or contacts or something. I’m not sure whether she told her boss this, so he and the big bosses may not have factored it into their decision, but intent was there and that’s part of the problem because her behavior doesn’t line up with her present remorse. Although she immediately regretted forwarding them to herself, she sat on the privacy breach, thereby enabling more people to access the applicants’s personal information, until she was forced to cop to it and not of her own volition. She protected herself at the expense of others and demonstrated that she’d be willing to flout security protocols, and conceal doing so, if she thought doing so would benefit her. The low stakes of it almost makes it worse, in my eyes, because it was inevitably going to be found out at some point.

            And this was as an internship in finances. Honestly, my mind boggles that her boss felt this shouldn’t affect her contract.

            Reply
            1. Karo

              FWIW, I read “somehow believed that having that extra resource on hand would benefit [her] down the line” to mean something more along the lines of formatting and how to properly write a resume, not actually stealing other people’s data.

              Reply
              1. INTP

                I interpreted the same thing. Maybe also looking at people’s career trajectories, how to get to the positions she wants to be in. Early in my career I had a job that involved looking at dozens of resumes per day and it *did* benefit me in terms of seeing patterns, good and bad career moves.

                Reply
              2. Tuxedo Cat

                That’s how I saw it. I’m currently going through how to word some things on my CV. I’m using publicly available CVs, though.

                Reply
            2. Escapee from Corporate Management

              This is the crux of the issue. If a friend gave LW her resume to review and benefit her, that friend made a conscious decision to share confidential information. In this case, the job applicants did not give their consent for such use and had an expectation that their resumes would be used only by the company. LW’s actions violated that expectation without consent. The intent is no longer a factor once that occurred, as the company could see a reasonable risk that LW would repeat that action.

              Reply
          2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

            She intended to read the resumes and use them for various career purposes. Curiosity would mean opening and reading them at work, sending them off-site for use later is a different beast.

            Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            As a science person, I’m pretty sure “as a scientist, I am naturally curious about everything” would not fly if OP pulled this for a research position, either. Nor journalism, think tanking, and the hundreds of other careers where “curious” is considered a plus.

            I agree with Wintermute’s distinction on intent, too–if she had somehow accidentally included them in a file (so sent them offsite without realizing it) then she’d have a leg to stand on re innocent intent. If someone deliberately removes confidential information for their own use, though, then I think it’s very realistic for companies not to get enswamped in a discussion about what they hypothetically think they might have done with the information in future, and how bad that would have been.

            Reply
            1. Trout 'Waver

              My comment was in response to Ramona’s comment that “mere curiosity is not such an innocent thing” only. I’m not saying curiosity should be completely unchecked by laws, privacy, or norms. But it is completely innocent to be curious what qualifications successful candidates have. The action of inappropriately accessing people’s resumes is the not innocent part.

              Reply
          2. moss

            No, you don’t. You want your scientists and engineers to understand the law, internal company security practices, and the principle of confidentiality. This would be a very serious breach in my scientific industry. OP, your company handled it appropriately and you are minimizing a big problem.

            Reply
          3. MegaMoose, Esq.

            I thin you’re being a little pedantic here, though – I feel you have access to confidential information, it doesn’t matter how curious you are, you still must not access that information for reasons outside of your job needs. Curiosity maybe a great quality in a police detective, but there have been scandals over police accessing driver license data for personal reasons, and rightly so. When I worked for the courts, we were expressly told that using confidential databases for personal reasons would result in firing, no matter how innocent the motives.

            Reply
          4. Danger: Gumption Ahead

            But you want them to also respect data security and not steal other people’s work or institutional information.

            Reply
      2. WhirlwindMonk

        I think you’ve put it very well, and because I agree with everything you’ve said, I actually come down on the side of LW and Boss. Because Boss has both the authority to fire LW and the relationship with LW to make a judgement call based on past experience, it should be Boss’ decision. That’s part of the point of having managers, right? So that Upper Management doesn’t have to get involved in every disciplinary issue. If they don’t trust Boss to handle these things well, then they shouldn’t have Boss in a manager position. Barring other information not in the letter, I think Upper Management should have trusted Boss to make the call that this was a one-time lapse of judgement that doesn’t warrant firing, especially given that it happened while LW was an intern and still learning professional norms.

        Reply
        1. PB

          I can see where Upper Management is coming from, too, though. When you move up in the ranks, you have to be more stringent about managing security and privacy. This issue was major enough to ping on their radar. Managers do exist as a layer to handle day-to-day decision making and disciplinary issues. From UM’s perspective, this wasn’t day to day.

          Reply
        2. Trout 'Waver

          I think you have to take the timing into account also. If the LW was already a full time employee, the response may have been different.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I think that’s true. This was an easy juncture to decide not to go forward with a hire, rather than a firing of somebody already in place; it was also harder to justify hiring somebody when you have this knowledge about them.

            Reply
            1. WhirlwindMonk

              I’m honestly not a big fan of this logic. If something is a firing offense, then it’s a firing offense. Shouldn’t matter how hard it is or how much paperwork it is. I understand there are times where companies can’t always do that, because they think it’s more trouble than it’s worth to fire that overly-litigious 70-year-old who takes six times longer than anyone else to finish his work and refuses to fully transition over to the current industry tools (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything, *grumble grumble*), but that should be the exception, not the norm. Saying, “Well, if it were three weeks from now, we’d actually have to do paperwork to get rid of you, and that’s just not worth it, but since we don’t, get out of here” just feels kinda off to me.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                I get what you’re saying, but I think it’s human nature, same as the way it’s easier to break up with somebody when you’re not sharing a household.

                Reply
              2. JB (not in Houston)

                I dont’ think fposte is saying it’s just a more difficult process, though that’s part of it. But when you are weighing the pros and cons, if the person has been working there for a while, you have all this information about the person on the pros side, assuming they are good employ, including their level of integrity and handling confidential info. Plus, you’ve invested in training them, and it’s a pain to have to train a new person, and now they have institutional knowledge. You have all that weighing on the “don’t fire them, discipline them” side. But when there’s already a natural end point on the relationship, and you have not yet started all the training that goes into a new person, it’s much easier to pull the trigger on firing.

                There are some actions that almost always merit automatic firing. But there are a heck of a lot of offenses that *could* merit firing, but don’t necessarily require it, when considered in light of everything else you know about that person and what you’d lose by firing them. That’s when this kind of timing issue comes into play.

                Reply
              3. Trout 'Waver

                I really think it’s just a low sample size effect. If you only know a little about someone’s work, a serious lapse weighs more heavily than if you know a great deal about someone’s work. In that former case it is tougher to tell if the lapse will be repeated or not.

                Reply
              4. Elsajeni

                But it also wasn’t exactly a firing — the OP finished out her internship, they just rescinded the offer of a longer-term contract that hadn’t started yet. A firing offense is a firing offense, but a “let’s not hire you after all” offense isn’t necessarily a firing offense for someone who’s already established in their position.

                Reply
          2. INTP

            This too. An internship (if the company actually hires their interns) is basically a long job interview. It doesn’t take much to mess up that interview.

            Reply
        3. MegaMoose, Esq.

          I think that’s a good point, but I don’t think the higher ups were out of line either. I see rescinding the job offer as a rebuke to the manager as well that data security needs to be handled more strictly. It’s important to allow managers authority, yes, but that shouldn’t mean that their decisions can’t be overruled on rare occasions.

          Reply
        4. neverjaunty

          Every disciplinary issue? No, but they are likely to get involved in issues that are serious. Amd we don’t know to what extent Boss’s decision was subject to approval from higher-ups.

          Reply
        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I don’t think this is upper management getting involved in every disciplinary issue—this is about internal security protocols and practices regarding confidential information. Literally every organization I know would fire OP (or rescind the offer to hire) based on their conduct, regardless of whether they had the additional information that OP’s manager did. I suspect the manager was willing to vouch or overlook the situation because of OP’s naivete/newness to the profession.

          But internal data security and the confidentiality of HR hiring processes are big picture, organization-level policies that likely cannot and should not be suspended based on OP’s intent or the manager’s perception of the “hugeness” of the violation.

          Reply
        6. always in email jail

          I disagree, even as a manager some things rise above your level. However, the boss still had the power to provide her with a positive reference, speak to things she’s done well, maybe soften the story of why she was let go, etc. when future employers call for a reference. That’s a huge thing

          Reply
      3. the gold digger

        He recognized that this was a major breach of ethics and potentially a firing offence

        After a guy in my group (R&D) quit at my company, they discovered he had downloaded information from the secure server. (We do sign confidentiality agreements at this company, so it’s not like he didn’t know he shouldn’t do that.)

        They sent the police to his house to confiscate his computers. I haven’t heard any updates, but my guess is that the company is very willing to prosecute.

        Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            It’s a server that encrypts confidential information, e.g. the credit card numbers given you by customers.

            Reply
            1. Jessica

              We have one for transmitting information from vendors. Let’s say Apple is going to launch a new iDoodad and they’re giving us all the graphics and product information to build a mini-site that talks about it. All that information is highly confidential and proprietary, so we need to be able to track who is accessing that information, to make sure it doesn’t get leaked.

              Reply
      4. Specialk9

        The OP gives the barest lip service to knowing what she did was wrong, then comes out with this doozy of an actual question: “what is your opinion about the way the organization handled it? I guess maybe I’m looking for validation that my boss’ position was more reasonable than the higher-ups who (it seems) made the ultimate call, but what would you have done?”

        OP, you need a serious reality check. This is ‘groveling on your belly, and learning hard lessons without even a whiff of excuses’ territory. Not even a whiff. And right now you have a hot air balloon worth of excuses.

        Reply
    2. The IT Manager

      Also the LW only confessed when caught. Despite saying that she realized it was wrong and deleted the resumes without reading, she made no effort to “make it right” by informing her boss and others about the improperly stored files. This makes her look guilty.

      Reply
      1. moss

        Exactly this. If you’re nosing through directories and find you have access to something you shouldn’t, or even if you discover resumes stored in your project directory, the correct action to take is notifying IT. It’s NOT correct to appropriate the files for your personal benefit.

        Reply
    3. Engineer Girl

      I’ll be really blunt here. OP, you tried to utilize others personal data for your own personal benefit. Self dealing and all that. It would be a problem in many jobs but in finance I see it as a deal breaker.

      Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          Over here in the UK it would be illegal in almost any profession, as we have strict data protection regulations.

          Reply
          1. Akcipitrokulo

            Yep – I don’t think any individual has ever actually been prosecuted – but it’s in the act as an option!

            Reply
        2. Czhorat

          They’re a financial institution. That means that there is much more important and sensitive data available. It is unsurprising that a firm in that sector would take a hard line on this kind of action.

          Reply
          1. Solidus Pilcrow

            This. I’ve worked with a few different financial institutions, and they’ve all been adverse to risk, mindful of data/information security, and concerned with personal integrity (and avoiding the appearance of impropriety). The OP opened the org to risk, violated data security, and diminished her personal integrity.

            Reply
        3. Liane

          And in those fields intent probably wouldn’t matter. When I edited medical transcriptions, making sure the doctor and patient info in the header matched the dictation was VERY important since* Transcription Company sending Dr. Welby’s transcription to Dr. McCoy would be a HIPAA violation by itself. Yes, even if Bones didn’t open and read it.

          *among other things

          Reply
      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        Yeah, I am jumping on the blunt train. LW, you stole other people’s data and intended to use it to advance your career. Rescinding the job offer was an appropriate response.

        Reply
      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        It would definitely be immediate termination in the financial institutions that I’ve worked for. For that matter, it wouldn’t surprise me if the person that saved the files to the wrong location (if they know who it was, which I’m assuming wouldn’t be difficult for IT to determine) didn’t have a serious conversation or even potentially let go as well. Confidentiality/secure data is a huge in finance.

        Reply
      3. Shadow

        I see the issue differently. A very basic requirement for this job is that the person needs to be trusted to work around sensitive and confidential data. It makes no sense to hire someone who you know first hand has recently broken that trust.

        Reply
    4. Lisa B

      I think the other thing to keep in mind is exactly what got forwarded – don’t just think of it as resume samples to look at, but people’s personal information was in there- their addresses, phone numbers and e-mail information. That’s personally identifiable information, PII, and the IT team was fantastic to catch that someone was forwarding PII outside the network. Yes, that should be a fireable offense.

      Reply
      1. Shamy

        I was thinking about this as well. So many applications ask for social security numbers too. If the applications were somehow attached to the resumes, that is even more risky. I refuse to put down my social security number on applications, but I bet a fair number do. Even without that, as you said, PII, there is a lot you can do with just someone’s name and address.

        Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Given that this was a financial firm, it’s also entirely possible that forwarding company files to one’s personal email is alarming enough to merit firing. The content of the files not actually matter as much as the data security breach.

        Reply
      3. always in email jail

        YES. This was peoples’ personal information, that could be used to steal their identities etc. The company only has OP’s word for it that she didn’t use it for nefarious purposes, and unfortunately she’s already shown herself to not be trustworthy by committing this transgression in the first place.

        Reply
      4. Eloise

        I’d be livid if I was one of those people and for some reason found out that someone had found my resume and forwarded it to themselves for their own personal use.

        A resume is a very personal document, not only in that it includes personal information, but that I have spent time crafting it for very specific audiences. I don’t want others viewing it that I didn’t intend to to begin with (although acknowledge it as a possibility whenever you forward a document in an e-format), but someone else taking it for their own personal use without asking just seems like such an obvious violation to me.

        I know that OP did delete them immediately, but this would definitely be a fireable offense in my eyes if I was in upper level management.

        Reply
    5. Rusty Shackelford

      (e.g., stating that you found the resumes in an inappropriately stored location suggests that your actions were justified or excused).

      It took it to be limiting the scope of the OP’s actions… i.e., I took something I shouldn’t have taken, but at least I didn’t go someplace off-limits to look for it. (Which helps… a little? Maybe? Kind of like saying “I won’t go through your drawers looking for jewelry, but if you leave it on your dresser I can’t make any promises.”)

      Reply
    6. Kathleen Adams

      I’ve read letter #1 a couple of times, and I’m still not sure what the OP was hoping to gain from those resumes.Theories propounded by other AAMers include (1) mining the resumes for contacts and so on and (2) a desire to look at different real-life examples of resumes.

      I wonder if it was just simple curiosity? You know, who applied and what their qualifications were? If the OP had just taken a quick peak, I would say this was probably the most likely reason, but of course he or she went well beyond that.

      I guess it doesn’t matter much since although the first reason is the most…shady, none are adequate reasons for what I agree was a fairly serious violation. But I can’t help but wonder. It just seems so odd to me. I could understand taking a quick peak, I guess, but actually going to the trouble of bundling several of these together for later perusal (even though the OP later regretted this) seems like more than simple curiosity.

      Reply
      1. a Gen X manager

        Totally agree, Kathleen. Something in the explanation doesn’t feel authentic / logical, and you’re exactly right that a “quick peek” would still be wrong, but could be much more easily explained as having done it impulsively out of curiosity. The actions of downloading and forwarding externally is far more egregious and the explanation doesn’t at all align with the actions taken by OP.

        Reply
      2. Kathleen Adams

        Yeah, I agree. But hey, we all have a tendency to try to paint ourselves in the best light, so I imagine that’s what the OP is doing here.

        Reply
      3. BethRA

        I’m not sure what the OP hoped to gain, either, but I suspect the major issue for the company was not her intent, but her judgement. If it happened here, even once we ruled out fraud or criminal intent, we’d be less concerned about why she did it, than that she thought it was ok to do in the first place.

        Reply
        1. Kathleen Adams

          Oh, I agree. I don’t know that it would be a fireable offense here – I imagine it would depend on the manager – but it would definitely be considered Not OK.

          Reply
    7. Moi

      I’m having a hard time seeing this as such a terrible thing, but it’s probably industry dependent. Did the OP receive any sort of training on confidentiality and protecting PII? Was (s)he told that resumes are considered confidential? If not, I’m not sure this is a firable offense. She accessed documents that were available in a shared folder.

      I’ve been a hiring manager in the past and taken personal inspiration from the resumes I received – there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve also sorted resumes from my personal computer while teleworking. In my line of work the lines between “personal” and “work” emails/computers/networks are blurred.

      Reply
      1. a Gen X manager

        But OP KNEW that it was both information they shouldn’t have access to in a location they shouldn’t have access to and instead of reporting this to IT, OP took advantage of the opportunity for personal gain (and still didn’t report the IT gap!). This is not a training issue, this is an integrity issue.

        Reply
      2. Kathleen Adams

        I don’t really think it’s industry-dependent. I think it’s just that different people view this in different ways.

        But in any case, it’s clear that the OP knew it was contrary to the company’s practice, so that in and of itself was enough to make it subject to disciplinary action.

        Reply
      3. Snowglobe

        If OP works for a regulated financial institution, then they almost certainly were trained on this. I’ve worked in finance for over 20 years, and I am still requir d to take annual training on privacy, which includes privacy regulations, as well as ways that you can inadvertently compromise customer privacy. There are clear rules like never putting sensitive information in the trash, never using personal computer to conduct business, never putting sensitive attachments on an email that is sent outside the company without contacting IT first. All new employees take this training, including interns. I’d assume that OP would know that if they found a list of client names, addresses and phone numbers, they shouldn’t send it to their personal email. I suspect that it was that this was not client data that made the OP think this was ok. But it is still company information, and it still should be treated as confidential.

        Reply
        1. Snowglobe

          Also! If OP works for a bank, then the bank may be required to notify its regulators about this, and make be required to notify the people whose resumes were sent out that their personal data may have been compromised.

          Reply
        2. Rejoice Instead of Financing

          EXACTLY! Even if LW didn’t receive the full gamut of privacy and information security trainings as an intern, the annual mandatory reviews of policy in the intervening years should have at least informed them that this is taken very seriously in the industry.

          Reply
      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I don’t know that this is industry-dependent—what OP did would be a big deal in every industry I’ve worked in (academic research, international development NGO, community-based and community organizing nonprofits, legal nonprofits/law, government). I know this is a rookie mistake, but this is also something that should not require training on confidentiality and PII for a person working at a financial firm to understand that sending corporate hiring documentation to your personal email is usually not ok.

        I also think there’s a major difference between someone who is authorized to review resumes (a hiring manager) “taking inspiration” from documents they’re required to review versus someone unauthorized sending themselves documents for a personal benefit with no business purpose.

        Reply
      5. Observer

        The scenario you mention totally does not apply to what the OP did. These were not documents that she was working on, or supposed to see at all, much less working on them from home. And, at a financial institution, mailing documents to your private email, even so that you can work from home tends to be a major no-no. Work from home is over VPN on the company server. And work from home also tends to be severely limited. That’s something she should have been totally aware of.

        Reply
      6. JS

        Same. Its a shared folder its up for everyone to see. To be more the fireable offense is uploading company documents to a personal email when they didnt have a business reason. But I dont think LW should be fired for just accessing them unless its a highly regulated industry with rules for everything.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          She didn’t just access them- she sent them out to her personal email. THAT is what got her into trouble.

          Anyone who did that in our organization would get their heads handed to them. Even people who had legitimate access to the documents.

          Reply
    8. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Speaking from the world of finance, security and confidentiality are paramount.
      Intent is irrelevant. “I just wanted to see…” Nope.
      And the nature of the materials is irrelevant. Company documents don’t leave the building.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        Any number of scams start off with the steps:
        1) Find someone who has the information you want.
        2) Convince them that your interest in that information is pure curiosity and definitely nothing bad.

        Companies have every reason to snort and dismiss “But my intention was not to use the information I stole in a bad way.”

        Reply
    9. Artemesia

      It does seem like a bigger deal to me than to the OP as well. We once had an intern send inappropriate comments about clients to friends and the business not only terminated him but our entire access to this important business site for internships. We were lucky to be able to save sites in the same city as word travels fast. This kind of breach of trust is an enormous big deal and the OP is lucky she didn’t get dinged so that she was unable to find a good job and move on. Our Intern felt only misused and abused by his termination and felt his actions were ‘no big deal’ and ‘just a joke.’

      Reply
      1. Hey Karma, Over here.

        That is what I was trying to articulate. Thank you. This. LW still does not understand the gravity of this action. LW, you found confidential information that was not related to your work and sent it outside the company.
        Yes, it’s a rookie mistake. But I really think LW should be more of, “I can’t believe I thought this was OK” and less “It really wasn’t OK, but no harm done.”

        Reply
      2. JS

        I think it all depends on the industry. I’m in advertising and sales teams and client services talk shit about agencies in internal meetings allllll the time. Never on an email or in front of external people and never anything discriminatory, (more like they are being a b****). But if it was intern texted his friends about a his frustrations is different than, intern accidentally sent company wide email complaining about the client. Its only a big deal depending on the scope it was broadcast but if he was just overheard by the watercooler than yeah it seems ridiculous to be fired for that.

        Reply
    10. Bostonian

      I did not interpret the OP bringing up where the files were stored as a way to get out of taking responsibility. I took it at face-value: “here is how I found the information, to let you know I wasn’t looking for it/didn’t breach some secure file to take it”

      Reply
    11. JS

      I honestly don’t even think it would be a big deal at my job. I’m not in a legal or medical industry but if someone came across in files they had access to, hacking/using someone else info is a completely different story, they wouldnt be fired from it. I’m actually shocked and think its so weird that someone would get fired from it LOL.

      Reply
      1. SpecialK9

        Those of us who are trained on private data don’t find that to be very LOL worthy. It makes me feel slightly ill, actually. We have so few protections of our private data in the US, and to hear that actual companies could be so careless with PII Data entrusted to them. Ugh.

        Reply
  4. Ramona Flowers

    #1 I’m a bit concerned that you think your boss was the one being more reasonable. You accessed confidential information improperly (the fact you found it stored improperly is beside the point) and forwarded it to yourself, potentially to use for your own benefit. While working for a financial institution, who would be rightly concerned about something like that.

    I’m sorry you lost your job, and glad you’ve learned from it, but they were right to fire you.

    Reply
    1. MadGrad

      The reasoning stood out to me too. LW, resumes obviously tend to contain a lot of personal identification info and have specific job information. Without a better reason than “curiosity” as a defense, I’d be considering all the sketchy things you could be doing with that kind of information (fake identification, lying on your own resume, contacting these people for some weird reason). I have full faith that you weren’t into any if that, but I’d definitely agree with the termination just considering how shady it sounds.

      Reply
      1. Moi

        But she could be doing all this from work anyway, without forwarding it to her personal email. Employees are generally trusted not to do illegal things.

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          OP may have had the same outcome if they did this from work, though. That was certainly what happened with our intern who tried to access candidates’ resumes/applications on our shared server.

          Reply
        2. Observer

          There is only so much you can protect yourself from, that’s true. But you don’t fail to take action of what you DO know because maybe there is a similar risk somewhere that you don’t know about.

          If you found an outlet that had a problem with it, would you say “don’t bother calling the electrician” because “there could be other outlets that have problems”? If you are really worried about that, you try to figure out how to find the bad outlets without blowing the building up or shutting it down. But, you DO NOT refuse to fix the outlet you know is bad.

          By the same token, you don’t fail to limit unnecessary access and dissemination of files and data because even with the limited access someone might abuse it.

          Reply
      2. Fine Dining Porkchops

        I’m still confused as to how the LW thought information gleaned from the resumes would be valuable. I must be missing something.

        Reply
        1. Anna

          Some folks addressed it further up. OP could have used them for ideas on formatting, or possibly looked at their career trajectory and the kinds of positions they took on as they moved further along in their work. There are legitimate reasons to take a look at the resumes if you wanted to review them. There isn’t really a good reason to take it a step further and email them to yourself outside of the company system.

          Reply
        2. Kathleen Adams

          I don’t get it either. I’ve read the explanations provided by other AAMers, but of course they are all speculation since the OP doesn’t say. It just seems so odd and unnecessary to me.

          Reply
    2. JamieS

      I agree the higher ups made the right call but I think in any situation where one side wants someone fired and the other doesn’t the person who was or will be fired would consider the side who didn’t want him fired to be the more reasonable one. That’s not to excuse OP but I don’t think it’s all that concerning OP considers the boss who didn’t want OP fired to be more reasonable since most people would feel the same way in most circumstances.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        The problem is that she didn’t actually learn from this. I did some dumb stuff as a fledgling worker, but I learned lessons. Sometimes easy and sometimes hard. So long as you learn from being a dumbass and are not trying to make excuses like this LW, we’d all be like, darn, hard lesson, but sounds like you learned something important. With the excuses, instead we’re saying, dude, not good, this was really serious and it’s not ok that you are still justifying.

        Reply
    3. difft

      I’m really surprised at the responses to #1. Resumes are marketing documents and I wouldn’t have given a second thought to who I sent them to unless the sender had specifically asked it be kept confidential. The information is publicly available on LinkedIn, business cards, company bios etc. I guess it’s good to know others don’t see it how I do.

      Reply
      1. Brock

        I don’t know about the US, but in the UK, CV-type information is definitely personal data and covered by the Data Protection Act from the perspective of any company holding it for processing (and pretty much anything is processing according to the Act). I have to review data protection principles every year as mandatory training, and I would bet the vast majority of people in any major corporation in the UK do, too.

        Also, there are still plenty of people who try to keep their personal information minimal, and don’t post their CV information on LinkedIn and don’t have the sort of job that will show up on public company bios (and a CV would likely have much more information than the latter), and so forth. You can’t just decide a CV is public information.

        Reply
      2. Czhorat

        The specific resume you send to a form is for the purpose bof applying for a specific job and possibly tailored to that set of job requirements. It’s reasonable to assume to that it will be shared within the firm to make a hiring choice; it is not reasonable to assume that it is public and that it would be shared for purely personal reasons. If you are already employed then your might not even want the tract that you applied to be public.

        This wasn’t bad the way stealing social security numbers is bad, but is still wrong. It also raises larger issues of trust.

        Reply
      3. Feo Takahari

        I had the same reaction. I can’t think of anything I would put on a resume that I wouldn’t want the entire world to know. Maybe if I’d taken that sales job at the sex toy shop?

        Reply
        1. Sarianna

          At a time when I was struggling to make rent, I once turned down a job doing phone domination (kinky phone sex) in favor of a second part-time retail job.

          I have no clue how I would have ever managed to put that on a resume. Not that I was thinking that at the time, mind…

          Reply
        2. Brock

          Not everyone wants what you want.

          Not to mention, what about the obvious metadata that these particular people were applying for a job at this particular company? I should hope that most people here would agree that the bare fact that one is jobhunting is sensitive data that one doesn’t want made public.

          Reply
          1. difft

            A resume isn’t evidence they’re jobhunting, unless it happens to say “submitted for job application at X company, 08.09.17” on it. If I had your resume, even if it’s an obviously recent version, all it proves is you keep your resume updated. Many people do this and keep them publicly available online.

            Reply
            1. Brock

              But in this case, it was emailed to someone’s personal email, a person who clearly has no clue about data sensitivity. Why should I trust what he or she is going to do with that knowledge that X and Y and Z are or have recently been jobhunting?

              And just because lots of people don’t care if their data is public, doesn’t mean that everyone thinks so – including the law, in the UK.

              Reply
              1. Anna

                And frankly, the majority of companies in the US who don’t want the potential liability of information sent to them getting out of their control.

                Reply
            2. Falling Diphthong

              Everything about the assumption of oodles of publicly available online resumes to peruse at your leisure with no legal exposure makes swiping the confidential set from work weirder, though, not more understandable.

              Reply
            3. Kate 2

              Actually it is, if the resume includes the job they are currently at, which is standard to include. You can’t just leave that out, especially if you have been working at that company for a while and there would otherwise be a gap of years since the previous job.

              Reply
        3. Mookie

          I had a few of those on my resumé when I was younger. Well, not sales, because like most fun things they sell themselves. I just rung them up, really.

          Reply
      4. LittleRedRidingHuh?

        Thing is, in most European countries ,especially Germany, CVs look vastly different to US ones – here we still include info about marital status, date/place of birth, number of children and religion. Back when I started my first job in the 90’s I even had to list my parents and their occupation. It’s all changing now towards the more anonymised (for lack of a better word) CV, but many companies still insist on the old style CV.

        Reply
          1. Brock

            So if you’re in the UK, read up about the Data Processing Act before you get yourself or your company into trouble. Try ico.org.uk.

            Reply
              1. Brock

                Sorry – Data Protection Act. No, the Act is about how companies must treat people’s personal data, which definitely includes CVs (even without the more detailed type information mentioned above as more typical in Germany). Companies can’t normally even keep CVs submitted to them past “the the statutory period in which a claim arising from the recruitment process may be brought”. So anyone handling anyone else’s data at all in the course of a his or her job in the UK needs to know about this.

                Reply
                1. Akcipitrokulo

                  I’m kind of a fan of the DPA ;) I’m in QA so that does come into my job too… and our DPA officer is *very* good!

          2. LittleRedRidingHuh?

            It is weird, I agree, but unfortunately this is how a lot of companies in Germany still operate. Stuck in the Backstreet Boys era wanting it “That way!”

            Reply
            1. Myrin

              Although I gotta say, I’ve only ever listed Geburtstdatum und -ort out of all the things you’ve listed and I’ve been asked for an interview everywhere I’ve applied so far in my life; I wonder if I just lucked out – or maybe wowed them so much with my otherwise incredible CV, who knows! – or if many really don’t care either way but people keep doing it because it’s taught that way in school and by one’s elders and then it kind of keeps reinforcing itself.

              Reply
              1. gwal

                Kudos to you for getting an interview for every single application you’ve ever submitted–how many has it been? That’s an amazing record

                Reply
        1. Essie

          I can guess why a company would want to know most of that info (not justify, but guess) but why on earth would they need to know about your parents’ jobs? Does that mean they discriminate against orphans?

          Reply
          1. LittleRedRidingHuh?

            It was to establish if you came from a solid background, not that this would mean anything. My Dad’s a session musician, but far more down to earth than the neighbourkids’s Dad, who happened to be a police officer. It always rubbed me the wrong way to put my parents on my first C.V.

            Reply
        2. Specialk9

          That makes me feel a little sick, the thought of having to put age, marital status (!!), children, religion (!!!!!!) on a CV. Especially in Germany. As a Jew. That just seems… Unwise.

          Reply
        3. Tyche

          Sincerely it seems to me quite strange. In Italy the only thing you be asked to write in a CV it’s your date of birth, you never mention religion or children. People used – many years ago- to write down the marital status, but now I think it’s illegal or at least not requested.

          Reply
        4. Phoenix Programmer

          Eww! My parents are alcohol and drug addicted felons …. Yet I am a dedicated scolar who has never been drunk or even tried cigarettes and have saved the companies I’ve worked for hundreds of millions of dollars…..

          Reply
      5. difft

        Just to add – in yesterday’s column about forwarding the CEO’s relative’s resume, no-one mentioned resumes being confidential, seems odd contradiction to me. LW only had CEO’s word that it was okay to send out.

        Reply
        1. PB

          In that case, they were asked to forward a resume for the purpose of job hunting. There’s a big difference between having your resume forwarded because you asked (or a contact asked on your behalf) for it to be forwarded, and having someone find resumes in the wrong place and keeping copies secretly for personal gain.

          Reply
        2. Solidus Pilcrow

          It’s not so much the content of the documents that mattered – it could have been recipes the team was sharing or it could have been the credit card info for all of Home Depot’s transactions – it’s that they 1) didn’t report improperly stored data, 2) took data from the company that wasn’t hers to take, and 3) used company resources to commit the breach.

          Reply
        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          There’s a distinction between authorizing someone to share your resume (or asking them to do it) and accessing an HR document that has been submitted. It’s not that the resume is inherently confidential; it’s the way the resume is treated after it’s been submitted, who has proper authorization to read/forward it, etc.

          Reply
      6. Akcipitrokulo

        From UK point of view – it’s illegal to do that with simple personal information, but this isn’t just personal – it’s personal and sensitive. So it would have my DPA officer tearing what is left of his hair out!

        Reply
      7. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        Once a resume arrives at a company, it belongs to the company, and generally becomes confidential HR information. This is a big deal because instead of telling the employer that she found improperly stored confidential data, she stole it.

        Reply
        1. moss

          Yes! She “found” it which means she was poking through directories she had no business being in. She discovered documents that she thought would benefit her personally and she emailed them to her personal account. She’s lucky, really, that she was ONLY fired.

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq.

            I don’t see how we can assume she was poking around where she shouldn’t have been – she could easily have been in that directory for legitimate business reasons and noticed the files saved out of place.

            Reply
              1. Anna

                Just to echo Megamoose, Esq. you have no actual way to know how unlikely it is that she found files in a weird place and decided to send them to herself. It’s a huge assumption that seems only to be brought up to make what OP did THAT MUCH WORSE!!! We don’t really need to do that.

                Reply
          2. SSS

            She said it was on a shared drive. A shared drive is a storage location that is open to users in the company…. hence… “shared”. Anything stored there is expected to be safe to be be accessed.

            Reply
            1. Anna

              Yep. On our shared drive if there are folders to be shared between specific staff members, they’re locked to everyone else. If she was able to get into the folder containing the resumes, chances are it was all right for her to be there.

              Reply
          3. Observer

            In the US, there is really not anything else that could have happened to her. I could just see any law enforcement agency just rolling their eyes if someone tried to report it.

            It’s really important to not exaggerate the seriousness of an action. What the OP did was wrong, and it was not unreasonable to fire her. But criminal charges or a lawsuit? No.

            Reply
            1. SpecialK9

              Respectfully, that’s just not true. Data security is a huge deal, and can take down big companies. Nobody can afford to just shrug and oh well away the repercussions of lax days security… Especially not financial institutions!!

              As to police laughing at a report, I assure you the Feds won’t be laughing, nor will the bank. Anyone who stumbled on sensitive PII data, left unencrypted and in an open shared folder, could contact the FDIC about a Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act violation. You could contact the FTC with a data security violation complaint, https://www.ftc.gov./complaint. Even better if the actual compromised resume owner found out and made a complaint.

              Reply
      8. Runner

        Well, keep in mind too the field here is finance — pretty much everything is supposed to be on lockdown. Sending any file to a personal email is pretty much Not Done. There are plenty of scenarios in other fields where this one lapse in judgment by a stellar intern wouldn’t lead to rescinding a contract. But especially in finance, there really is almost no way, for future liability purposes should there be more lapses but with actual money or who knows what, the company could knowingly keep on board the employee.

        Reply
      9. Antilles

        First off, people usually list their full name, home address, cell phone number, and personal email on their resume. It’s true that research on the Internet could probably get you all of this in about 2 minutes. But it’s still not exactly ‘public’ information either.
        More importantly, it’s not really about the *actual information* taken as it is about the general situation. OP found information that was improperly stored that she had no business purpose in being able to access. And she copied it to herself, without telling anybody. For all intents and purposes, this is no different than if she’d found HR’s office left unlocked and copied a few documents. The fact those documents are basically worthless doesn’t change the fact that “OP took advantage of a security breach”.

        Reply
      10. PB

        It isn’t all necessarily publicly available. I don’t have a LinkedIn profile. My business cards and company bio only list my current role, not my former roles, education, or any of the other information on my resume. In addition, at a minimum, a company having a resume signals that the person was looking for another job, which is information they might not want given out. Anything pertaining to a job search should be confidential.

        Reply
      11. That Would Be a Good Band Name

        It’s way less about the data and more about the act of taking it. Sure, I have linked in and I don’t think there is much on my resume that isn’t on there. But in finance, keeping information secure is pretty much the first responsibility of your job. This called that into question is a HUGE way.

        Reply
          1. Moi

            Wait…people take things from jobs all the time for their personal benefit. For example, if my workplace had a really great non-proprietary Excel template for managing tasks, I would have no qualms using it for my personal household management.

            Reply
            1. PB

              But resumes are proprietary, at least everywhere I’ve worked. To us your example, taking a great non-propriety Excel is one thing. Taking a proprietary template for your personal use is problematic. If you then tried to use that proprietary template to network or get another job, then it’s a much bigger problem. We don’t know that LW was going to do that, of course, but the fact is, she took confidential information for future use. Whether or resumes, intellectual property, budget documents, internal communication, or whatever, the facts remain.

              Reply
        1. Decima Dewey

          Recently I was accidentally emailed an attachment that contained confidential information not intended for my eyes. The attachment was meant for someone in HR who had the same initials as my real name (think Decimus Davis instead of Decima Dewey). The higherup sending it had had to email me about another matter that same day, so when she typed a few letters in the intended recipient’s first name, Outlook suggested me as well as Decimus, and the higherup clicked the wrong line. Higherup quickly sent another message saying she’d meant to email Decimus. I deleted all messages containing the attachment, then deleted them from my deleted messages. I did the same when someone else cc’d on the original message sent another attachment related to the first.

          Just because you can find information doesn’t mean you should. Theoretically I have access to all sorts of information on library patrons, including birth dates, addresses, what they have checked out currently. It’s been made clear that unless I’m renewing a patron’s books, forgiving a fine, etc., this information is none of my business.

          Reply
      12. Tuxedo Cat

        My CV is up online publicly, but for me, I would want the fact I applied to a job at x company to be confidential. I also recognize that not everyone has CVs or similar info up for public consumption.

        Reply
      13. neverjaunty

        Regardless of whether you or I think they are super private, the LW’s company treated them as confidential information not to be emailed offsite for personal use. The LW knew that and did it anyway; that’s the issue, not the inherent objective privacy level of certain documents.

        Reply
        1. Moi

          I’m not sure that the LW “knew that” though. She didn’t seem to know it when she made the original choice. She only felt wrong about it after the fact. I guess my point is that interns do not always get proper training on these things. It’s rare to have access to confidential information before entering the working world.

          Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            Respectfully, it’s pretty clear from the OP’s letter that she knew she shouldn’t have done it at the time but allowed curiosity and self-interest to briefly overwhelm her better judgment. I understand the impulse to be forgiving of the LW, but why turn this around and blame her former employer (which is really what ‘failure to train’ implies)?

            Reply
          2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

            Even the high school kids who work part-time as tellers or file clerks are coached heavily on keeping things confidential. You don’t access files you don’t have a reason to access. You don’t talk about work outside of work. You are monitored constantly to be sure that everything you are accessing is above board (which is why IT found what they found – they regularly monitor and vacation time is when you do the deep dive into what people have been doing). I’ve worked for three financial institutions, they all worked the same way. It’s heavily covered in the interview process and you sign documents that state the legal ramifications of not keeping information confidential. If it were a different business type, sure, I’d give more leeway since it was an intern. But finance? Confidentiality is huge and well covered.

            Reply
          3. krysb

            I would assume that, as a finance company, the first thing they preach is confidential data and work product. She probably even has a confidentiality agreements. Those things are big hints that nothing from the company, including third party resumes, should be forwarded from the company for her personal use. I didn’t work with confidential data before entering the legal field, but it was pretty obvious.

            Reply
          4. Super Anon for This

            Even interns at financial companies are given long speeches and lots of training about the importance of privacy and security and respecting confidentiality. In the interviews and on the very first day, says she who works in finance.

            Reply
      14. a Gen X manager

        difft, Resumes almost always contain “non-public personal information” (there’s a law: Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) and must be treated as confidential by employers. The fact that this is a financial institution which deals with non-public personal information day in and day out is particularly problematic.

        Reply
      15. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Remember the letter where OP had anxiety and opened their coworker’s paycheck in order to find their home address, deliver the paycheck, and ask them if they were mad at them?

        Ostensibly the home address was on the coworker’s resume, or it was stored in a different location. That address might also be publicly available. But accessing a document you are not authorized to access for the purpose of reviewing information you have no permission to review is a big, fireable problem.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Exactly. And if I remember that letter correctly, they fully owned up to their own actions as wrong, instead of trying to justify them liked this LW.

          Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            To be fair to the LW, it’s not that she’s minimizing her actions so much as she didn’t think she should have been fired.

            Reply
      16. NotAnotherManager!

        My personal contact information is not publicly available. It’s on the resume so that a potential employer can contact me; it’s not there for public distribution or publication.

        Reply
      17. Specialk9

        I certainly don’t put my phone number, home address, and email address on my LinkedIn site. All of which, btw, are PII Data. I would be stinking pissed if someone stole my PII Data.

        Reply
      18. Observer

        For one thing, not everyone has all of the information on their resume on Linked In, even now, and this happened a few years ago. For another, the issue is not so much the resumes per se, but that she forwarded documents she wasn’t supposed to have access to outside of the company. That’s generally a big fat NOPE when working in companies with serious security concerns. The default is that you do NOT send documents. You need to justify what you send, not what you don’t send.

        Reply
      19. BananaPants

        Exactly. Folks are beating up OP#1 so much that you’d think she’d bitten a coworker or shoved someone in front of a moving vehicle.

        Everyone in my organization with the time and inclination can access the folder on the shared drive with our intern applicants’ resumes, which we obtain from career fairs. There’s no real expectation of confidentiality when you’re handing out pieces of paper with personally-identifiable information to any employer representative who will take them.

        Reply
        1. Observer

          You are making a lot of assumptions that are not supported by the letter. One is that an intern in a financial firm could fail to be aware that these places are hyper focused on not sharing data of any sort. And in fact, the OP makes it clear that she DID know. Secondly, there is no reason to think that these were resumes only culled from Job Fairs. Lastly, whether there is a legal expectation of privacy for any resume, it’s clear that smart companies DO keep this information confidential for a number of reasons.

          The OP is not a monster or anything like that. She hasn’t done anything monstrous, either. But she DID do something that legitimately calls her judgement in questions, at minimum, and it was not unreasonable for the company to decline to hire her.

          Reply
      20. OP

        I have to agree with this, I’ve never really considered the idea that resumes are private, personal, restricted, anything like that, and if I saw it was stored on a shared drive it wouldn’t even strike me as odd.

        Reply
    1. OP#4

      It was on two different accounts with two different teams, but the main Account Director handles both accounts. So not sure if they comes down from her as everything has been under her umbrella. I talked to another person on her team, and he mentioned she would ALWAYS get skipped over him as well during the calls – and it was very frustrating – as he interacted with the clients very regularly.
      Skip forward to last week – and now this person who would also get skipped over was running the calls… and sure enough he did the same thing and DID not introduce me. I mentioned it to him and he basically brushed it off.

      Reply
        1. OP#4

          “There is so much going on” was his response. It has been a busy time with the client – but these have been even smaller meetings : Client/1 Account/ 1 Creative and me.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            That is so weird to me. If he’s got so much going on, why not just make a roster ahead of time with everyone’s names, and tick off who’s present as you do introductions?

            Reply
          2. Sarah

            Are you talking during the call? Whose mysterious voice do they think this is? If you’re just observing/taking notes/etc. I can see not doing the introduction, but it’s very odd if there’s suddenly this extra voice on the call!

            Reply
      1. a Gen X manager

        OP4 What a crappy situation, BUT what an opportunity to stand up for yourself! I suspect that if you follow the advice that you’ll also gain (additional) respect from your co-workers (and likely increased self-respect, too).

        Reply
      2. Jesca

        This is so weird to me. Why would you not introduce everyone in the room? It has been my experience and opinion that you treat virtual meetings just as you would in-person meetings. And it would be so weird and awkward to exclude someone during an in-person meeting.

        Reply
        1. Anlyn

          Most calls I’ve been on have always asked “is there anyone I missed?”, since it’s easy on virtual calls to get confused as to who has dialed in already and who hasn’t, especially if there’s a lot of chatting at the beginning.

          I’ve been skipped on dozens of calls and it doesn’t bother me personally; if I need to speak up during the meeting I usually preface with “this is Anlyn, here’s my issue…”.

          Reply
      3. Flossie Bobbsey

        Re: the guy who used to be skipped who now skipped OP #4. Maybe he feels like having your name announced is something you have to earn with seniority. If he couldn’t be introduced as a junior person, neither can anyone else. If you’re introduced even though you’ve only been there five months, he may somehow see it as a slight to him, since he was skipped when he was in your place. Just a theory. People are strange sometimes. His explanation that there was too much going on to introduce you is much flimsier than my theory, in my opinion.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          What a weird situation. I was wondering about gender, but if the other systematically ignored person was a guy, then nope. OP, this is not normal behavior.

          I’m wondering if you could really sweetly put the introducers on the spot, in front of people, right before the meeting. “Hey, don’t forget me on the intro last time! I felt like a ghost in the room.” (Big smile, with genuine eyes)

          Then do that every single time. Start calling yourself Jasper if the ignoring keeps happening.

          And consider talking to your manager.

          Reply
  5. Ramona Flowers

    #3 All other things aside, I just wanted to say that the interviewers have taken that time too. In your example, that’s up to 20 hours spent interviewing, plus time to read applications and then review and discuss afterwards. If you’re thinking about the time involved, it’s worth remembering there’s a time commitment on both sides. Realistically, someone who’s been away from their day job interviewing ten people may not have time to also make ten phone calls.

    I’ve been rejected by phone and it’s kind of excruciating.

    Reply
    1. SusanIvanova

      I’m reminded of the phrase “‘No’ is a complete sentence”. I’d assumed that when I got an email to set up a phone interview it would be “yes”, because for a rejection that “no” is all you really need, so I spent a whole day thinking I had the job when I didn’t :(

      Reply
        1. SusanIvanova

          And to top it off, they didn’t even know why the hiring manager had rejected me! So there was nothing that I couldn’t have got from a “sorry, no” email.

          Reply
      1. Allison

        Did they actually say it was an interview or did they just email you to schedule a call? I’ve heard of people doing that.

        Reply
    2. WhirlwindMonk

      That’s a false equivalency. Interviewing people IS the interviewer’s day job. They are getting paid to be there as a part of their job. While I agree that I don’t want a phone call, I do think that if your job responsibility involves interviewing and making hiring decisions, the least you can do is put some sort of effort into making your rejections not be blatantly obvious form letters. Maybe you still use form letters, maybe you take two minutes to write each one personally, whatever, but you really shouldn’t be sending out stuff that looks like that one telegram from Catch-22. And you ABSOLUTELY shouldn’t be sending out nothing at all, which in my experience is even more common than a form letter.

      Reply
      1. Trout 'Waver

        I agree with this.

        Also, there’s the power disparity. I think how people act when they’re in a position of power or authority shows the true quality of their character. Taking 30 seconds to personally e-mail each of the 3-10 people who took a day off work or whatnot to interview with you is a simple and easy kindness.

        Reply
        1. Purplesaurus

          It really speaks to how pervasive this is that I agree with you, but I never actually expect that simple kindness from interviewers.

          Reply
        2. Observer

          A phone call does not take 30 seconds, though, and that’s what the OP really want, although she would apparently settle for a personalized email. Bit, that’s a lot of time out of someone’s day.

          An polite email? Absolutely! But it’s perfectly fine for it to be generated by the ATS. If your ATS doesn’t do that, then a template is just fine.

          Reply
          1. One of the Sarahs

            I don’t even understand what a personalised email would be in this scenario. “I was really interested to hear about your experience at Chocolate Teapots Inc, but ultimately there was a candidate with stronger skills than you”?

            Otherwise it’s just a form email with your name at the top that could have been written and sent by the hiring manager’s assistant.

            Reply
      2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

        I send a cut-and-paste email to everyone I reject (there are different templates for different stages).

        Honestly, I don’t think getting into a personal reason why you were rejected is actually helpful. And quite often brings another candidate, which is not fair to the person I hire.

        Now if someone responds to my email and asks for specific feedback, I will try to provide helpful tips and pointers. But some people don’t really care about my opinion once their rejected.

        Also, when I’m in an interview process all of it is done in addition to my day-to-day duties. Yes, finding the right person for my team is part of my job, but it’s above and beyond so when I’m in a hiring period, I’m easily putting in 10-15 extra hours per week.

        Reply
          1. Triplestep

            I agree. I was rejected by a company with an overseas head office. I did not make it past the Skype session with the recruiter (which in itself was an ordeal to schedule) because the hiring manager was looking for specific experience I did not have. (Reading my resume would have determined this pretty easily.) I’d initially been told I’d hear from their US office next, but then played phone tag with the recruiter’s assistant in Europe before we finally connected and she awkwardly delivered my rejection. An e-mail would have more than sufficed.

            Reply
      3. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        I interview people in addition to my day job, sometimes as a hiring manager, sometimes as part of a panel. Even for our HR staff interviewing isn’t their only responsibility. We use form letter rejections for everyone except internal candidates because none of us have time to write 5+ personalized notes. Especially when you are trying to catch up on the backlog of work that stacks up after giving 10+ hours to interviews.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          I think personalized notes would basically end up as a “We appreciated your ____” sentence in the template that gets filled in with “Excel expertise,” “energy,” or “cool shoes” anyway.

          Reply
          1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

            If I ever did them, they’d be form letters with the last sentence changed. Odds are I will never have time to do them, though. Our office does 2 interviews, so if I am hiring I lose approximately 40 hours that I need to catch up on after selection and 20 if I am on a panel. Between discussing who to interview, the interview, and then who to move forward with for round 2, round 2, and final selection, I would estimate 3 hours are invested in the finalists and 2 in the first round. It is a lot of time to be away from normal duties.

            Reply
      4. the gold digger

        Interviewing people IS the interviewer’s day job.

        I am not defending not notifying candidates, but – interviewing people is not the interviewer’s day job if the interviewer is the hiring manager. In that case, the interviewer still has to do her day job when she’s done interviewing.

        I do get annoyed if I hear nothing at all, but I don’t mind a form email. No is no. My feelings are not that tender.

        Reply
        1. NotAnotherManager!

          This exactly. Interviews mean that I have to fit 8 hours of work into 7 to accommodate them (and probably a short-staffed 7 hours, since I’m hiring). I don’t mind doing it, but it’s a means to an end. I do not have time to send everyone a personalized rejection letter, nor, I think, would HR want each hiring manager sending their own letter nor would it be worth the productivity hit to management if that was required for every hiring process. It’s a minimal return on investment, too, to go from notifying everyone of status (which we already do) to personalizing each rejection, even just for candidates we brought in, particularly since there is NO consensus from candidates about what they would prefer to receive.

          Each spring, I hire 3-7 people, depending on the year. I interview 15-30 people, out of the (literally) hundreds that apply. This happens in the middle of my annual reviews for 30+ people, and my regular day job doesn’t necessarily slow down to accommodate either process. Personalized responses to every single rejected candidate wouldn’t be an easy lift for me.

          Reply
      5. Specialk9

        It’s just not worth getting mad, because it will still happen, and you’ll be perceptibly annoyed, and that’s not going to help you get hired.

        Reply
    3. Jana

      I agree that the interviewers have invested time in the process as well as job candidates. However, hiring is part of the interviewer’s job. It may not be among average day-to-day duties, but it’s not outside of the overall scope of job duties for the interviewer. I also don’t think rejections by phone are great idea for a few reasons, not least of which is that I can imagine it would be unpleasant to get a call from someone I interviewed with, thinking I was getting an offer, and then being rejected.

      Reply
  6. Junior Dev

    #4 are you a PM with a team where everyone else’s role is more “technical”? I wonder if they’re not really considering you part of the group because of that.

    To be clear: if that is the case it is crappy. But it’s not a terribly uncommon dynamic.

    Reply
    1. OP#4

      Nope, we are mostly creative and account on this client. And they will introduce everyone on the creative team – which could be upward of 5-6 at anytime in the call.

      Reply
  7. Elizabeth West

    #2, I like going to the office for similar reasons. I get stir crazy when I’m stuck at home all day, it exacerbates my depression too, and I find it’s easier for me to concentrate sometimes if I’m actually AT work rather than around a million distractions at home or about to fall asleep because it’s too quiet. Ask. I hope they are okay with it and can work that out for you.

    #1–Ouch. Yeah, it was reasonable to fire you for this. But you lucked out with your boss–many would not have been so gracious.

    #3–Nah, I don’t care if it’s a form email. I don’t expect anything for a mere application, but if a company ghosts me after an interview, they go on my shit list. I’m unlikely to apply there again. I do NOT want to be called–that happened once on my last job hunt, and it sucked for the very reason Alison said. I got excited when I heard “Hi this is Patty from FerpaDerp Enterprises,” and then she said I didn’t get the job. Womp womp.

    Reply
    1. Chocolate Teapot

      3. Elizabeth is right. That has happened to me as well. I answered the phone with my best chirpy professional phone voice, since the HR person sounded chirpy too (so I thought it was good news) and then got the rejection. Then if the HR person says something like “I hope you are not too disappointed”, how are you supposed to respond to that?

      When I have worked with recruiters, I have been informed of rejections by phone, but then it is the recruiters who have been the main contacts.

      Reply
      1. Wintermute

        I may be petty but I’d respond “well normally I would be, except for the horrific things I overheard while I was in the (interview room waiting/lobby/restroom)” and then when they naturally press say “oh I wouldn’t feel right gossiping, plus I wasn’t supposed to hear any of that I’m pretty sure… oh those poor people in (department here).”

        that should keep them guessing for a while.

        Seriously though, you’re right HR would just be setting up people for frustration and to have to try to not burn a bridge or sour a potential professional relationship while facing a sudden infusion of disappointment and frustration along with potentially anxiety, fear, insecurity, and a whole host of other nasty emotions and that’s just cruel.

        Reply
        1. Koko

          If someone said that to me when I was giving a rejection call, I wouldn’t even press. I would just assume they were whining about sour grapes and awkwardly say something to end the phone call before I wind up being subjected to a rant about why this person didn’t want us anyway.

          Reply
    2. Cookie D'oh

      2 – Same here. Working from home full time would also negatively affect my depression. Luckily I have the option of working from home as needed, but the majority of time I come into the office. That said, I’m usually a hermit on the weekends. I like having that separation of the home and work places. Hope it works out for you!

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        You could get a Workbar subscription – they’re workplaces inside some Staples stores, with coffee and such. I’m sure there are other kinds of rental office space, that’s just the only one I’ve been in.

        Reply
  8. Sensual shirtsleeve

    #3 These days I expect a phone call if I’ve got the job or an interview and an email if not. So I see an unknown or even recognise the number and hope it will be “you’ve got it!”so that’s pretty unpleasant emotional whiplash if they’re calling to reject me. I’d rather get this kind of bad news by email.

    Reply
    1. T3k

      I’m so used to getting rejections (none by phone though) that when my recruiter emailed to ask if we could talk for a few mins. I started worrying it was to reject me, so imagine how surprised I was when they offered me the job xD

      Reply
  9. Word Turner

    #3) I prefer form rejections because it feels like the rejection is less personal that way. I know it’s not personal regardless, but something about seeing a short message that was clearly sent to a bunch of other people as well makes me feel like they aren’t rejecting me personally and individually but are, instead, accepting somebody else who was more qualified or whatever, and I can feel a sense of solidarity with the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other people who are getting the same e-mail I got. It makes me feel less alone, too. All of us who are continuing on our job searches having gained a little more practice at this cover-letter-writing and talking-in-interviews activity.

    Reply
  10. The IT Manager

    Definitely ask; it can’t hurt to ask. Realize they could say “no” because they’re not prepared to support you working from the office with space/desk/ etc. Also keep in mind if your entire team is virtual (letter wasn’t clear to me) that going into the office may not get you the interaction you’d like. You’re co-workers will still be on the other end of the phone and the people you see won’t be people you frequently work with.

    Reply
    1. Cookie D'oh

      That’s my situation. I’m come into the office, but the majority of the people I interact with are in India or in other parts of the U.S. I’m usually on the phone for a good part of the day. There are people that sit near me, but they are not on my team. I still like coming into the physical office because it’s a better setup than home and I like having a work only space.

      Reply
    2. Risha

      I had a job once where I had a formal telecommute set up for Fridays. I eventually stopped coming into the office except for special occasions, though, since not one person I worked with or reported to were in the same state as me, so there was no one other than my in office friends to notice!

      Reply
  11. Wehaf

    For #2, if working from the employer’s offices part of the week is not an option, does your town have any co-working spaces available? I know several self-employed people who rent desks/space in co-working offices and really like the arrangement.

    Reply
  12. JamieS

    This might be a little out there, and I’m not sure it’d change how OP should approach the issue, but I’m wondering if OP #4 has a name that the person making the introductions can’t pronounce so they’re avoiding saying OP’s name.

    Reply
    1. Sarianna

      This came to mind for me as well. Like, they’ve only seen OP’s name in text and aren’t sure how to pronounce it, or just don’t remember how, and/or are afraid of screwing it up because it’s unfamiliar or they know they have issues.

      As an example of the last: I literally had to say ‘Penelope’ like fifty times in a row correctly while reading it in text to train myself to say it right, because I first came across the name it was in text with no audio context so for years I had associated an entirely wrong pronunciation. And yes, this came up because I started working with a Penelope and didn’t want to embarrass myself.

      Reply
      1. hbc

        Did you think it roughly rhymed with cantaloupe too? I had a Wakeen/Joaquin thing going on with Penelope for a while. I’m pretty good on it now, but I think I’m screwed if a Siobhan comes into my life.

        Reply
          1. Small but Fierce

            Siobhan is pronounced like “shuvahn?” Wow, I always thought it was the prettiest name whenever I saw it spelled out, but I never knew how to pronounce it. That’s good to know!

            Reply
          2. The IT Manager

            It is only because i watched the entire series of Twenty-Twelve which had a character named Siobahn that I have learned how to say it.

            It’s ridiculously how far away the pronunciation is from the spelling.

            Reply
            1. NotThatGardner

              i mean, to be fair, that’s because it’s a gaelic name anglicized without the accent on certain letters, so … the spelling and pronunciation are not that far away, they just are in english.

              Reply
            2. Rusty Shackelford

              It’s ridiculously how far away the pronunciation is from the spelling.

              If one speaks Irish/Gaelic, it’s probably pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. ;-)

              Reply
            3. JamieS

              I thought it was pronounced Si-vahn which I think is impressively close considering I’ve never heard it pronounced before.

              Reply
          3. hbc

            Yeah, that information is lodged in my brain, but it’s not automatic. I’ve been around enough Seans to read it as “Shawn” rather than “Seen” on first pass, but Siobhan has a couple of steps. “Suhban” -> no wait that’s not right -> oh it’s that pretty sounding Irish name that doesn’t look right to me -> “Shuvahn”. It’s a guarantee that poor Siobhan would get a few times of me pronouncing her name with a B and writing her name as Chevonne (my first instinct on spelling when I initially heard the name).

            Reply
      2. Specialk9

        The OP said that the guy who skips her said he used to get skipped, and brushed her off when she talked to him about it.

        Reply
    2. OP4's wife

      It’s a super common, easy to pronounce first name. Our last name is slightly harder but most people just mispronounce it because it’s very similar to a common last name.

      Reply
    3. Cookie D'oh

      I have a difficult to pronounce name, so I don’t mind if people ask me how to pronounce it. When there were substitute teachers in school and they had to call roll, I always knew when they got to me because they would hesitate for a minute to figure out how to pronounce it.

      Reply
    4. BadPlanning

      I was thinking the same — they either can’t remember the OPs name or aren’t sure how to pronounce it and are unfortuantely just avoiding the situation.

      On a side note, I have been on calls where I’m naming everyone in the room and have blanked on people I know and work with everyday. Stupid brain!!

      Reply
  13. Engineer Girl

    #4 – just keep inserting your name after the introductions. “And Jane Doe too”. If the person keeps forgetting it will become a joke – on them. It’s important that your name get on the attendance list so you can be shown to be doing your job.

    Reply
    1. a1

      I was going to suggest the same thing. I’ve done this a few time – “and [my name], I’m part of X team (or I do X)..” Eventually people get. Often quicker than eventually. And the client notices, too, so if you get left off they’ll start commenting (not snotty, more fun like).

      Reply
    2. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)

      That makes me think of tv show credits with the final actor’s name set a bit apart, like “and (name)” or “and featuring (name)”. I like it. :D

      Reply
  14. MassMatt

    #1–you knew what you were doing was wrong, you say yourself it was a lapse of judgment, though I don’t believe you deleted without reading–you read enough at least to decide to email them to your own account. The employer is rightly concerned about such confidential info being sent offsite, as others have mentioned. On top of that, didn’t you have better things to do than search for inappropriately stored resumes and send them to yourself?

    #3–You yourself say there are likely 5-10 candidates–that’s a lot of phone calls, especially when multiplied by many positions, and to what purpose? Many candidates will get hostile, argue etc (as mentioned on this site). These calls are not going to make the rejection less painful (been there!) they can only lead to liability for the hiring company.

    #4–I also wonder if it’s the same person skipping you in the intros, and how often this has happened. Have you said anything so far or just let it go because you’re newish? If you haven’t spoken up at all this is likely to continue. If you are skipped, introduce yourself, for most that will be a cue to the introducer. If it happens with the same person again then bring it up with them. If it continues beyond that you are dealing with a jerk.

    Reply
    1. Lady H

      Hey now, there’s no reason to call the LW #1 a liar. Also, we’ve all made mistakes, there’s no need to be unkind about how the letter writer spent their time. I know I’ve managed to be unproductive in all sorts of bizarre ways at various times!

      Reply
      1. Bookworm

        Yes. It’s best practice to take letter writers at their word. I suspect OP #1 is going to be taken to task in the comments section here enough without us assuming dishonesty.

        Also, FWIW, I believe part of why OP #1 mentioned the improper storage is to indicate that she stumbled upon the resumes during the course of normal work rather than searching them out. We have no reason to believe she was specifically looking for them.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          The proper response would be to immediately contact HR and IT with a link to the improperly stored data. I would also let my manager know what had happened.
          Emailing company data off site should not even be on the radar.

          Reply
    2. LW #1

      As some people suggested in other comments, I absolutely stumbled upon the resumes accidentally on a shared drive that belonged to team, so I wasn’t directly poking around somewhere I shouldn’t. Hence the “improper storage” comment. And ya, I did open them briefly on my work computer, but after sending them out, I absolutely deleted them from my email account (I think I even did so right from my work computer seconds or minutes after sending).

      Reply
      1. Mookie

        I mentioned it above, but, if you’re willing, can you explain what you wanted to do with them? You referred to them as an “extra resource.”

        Reply
        1. WhirlwindMonk

          Obviously I’m not LW, but my very first thought was trying to see how professionals in my field formatted their resume. That’s not a skill that’s taught most places, and any regular reader of AAM knows how bad a lot of the college career office resources can be, so I can easily see an intern wanting to see what people actually successful in their field do.

          Reply
          1. PB

            This was my first thought, too. I’ve learned a lot about writing resumes from reading other people’s resumes. It’s a completely different experience than reading sample resumes online.

            Reply
          2. Rusty Shackelford

            And yet the LW had already scored an internship and a job without any help from those resumes, which may not have even come from successful applicants…

            Reply
            1. WhirlwindMonk

              “I successfully did this once, therefore I cannot improve and have nothing more to learn” is not a particularly great attitude.

              Also, “This doesn’t make perfect, airtight sense, therefore there must be some other motive” is pretty lousy logic. People make suboptimal decisions all the time.

              Reply
              1. PB

                I definitely agree with your first paragraph. I’m 10 years into my career and in my third professional position. I’m still learning how to write a good resume, and probably will be until I retire.

                Reply
              2. Rusty Shackelford

                Also, “This doesn’t make perfect, airtight sense, therefore there must be some other motive” is pretty lousy logic.

                {shrug} I don’t think that’s what I was saying. We were just indulging in some speculation as to the LW’s plans for those resumes.

                Reply
          3. Amy

            That was my assumption too. A neighbor gave my husband a copy of his resume to use as a template when applying for federal jobs because what they are looking for is different than the standard advice. Once you’re in the workforce for a while it’s easy to forget how hard putting together a resume from scratch is.

            Reply
          4. Amy

            That was my assumption too. A neighbor gave my husband a copy of his resume to use as a template when applying for federal jobs because what they are looking for is different than the standard advice. Once you’re in the workforce for a while it’s easy to forget how hard putting together a resume from scratch is.

            Reply
          5. Kaybee

            One of my very first jobs post-college was an admin position in HR in my “dream” industry (which is another story – I could have used Alison’s advice about “dream jobs” back then). The organization was expanding like crazy then, and over the course of my time there, I saw literally thousands of resumes and cover letters. Seeing those, and which ones resulted in interviews (from entry level to senior positions), was hands down one of the most useful exercises in my career, period.

            I don’t condone OP’s accessing information she wasn’t supposed to and sending it to an insecure account, but I am puzzled by folks’ not understanding how that could be useful to her. I’ve had a lot of resume and cover letter writing workshops foisted on me (typically as part of school, once when an organization was doing mass layoffs and was providing these services as a kind of benefit), and nothing has ever been as remotely helpful as actually seeing a diverse array of those documents for myself.

            Reply
      2. moss

        If the team is involved in interviewing then they may have had the resumes to look at before the interviews. It doesn’t sound like it was really your call to decide if they were improperly stored… and if they really were you should have notified IT. I’m wondering what red flag made IT look in your email to find you had sent them out. You made a mistake and the firing was justified.

        Reply
      3. Falling Diphthong

        I am not an IT person, but your last sentence absolutely sounds like something that would excite an IT person looking for data security breaches.

        Reply
      4. Engineer Girl

        I’ve accidentally encountered improperly stored private data myself. My response, as stated in another post, was to immediately notify HR and IT. I also emailed my manager.

        The minute you sent that info outside the network you opened the company up to hacking and data theft charges.

        Deleting it does no good. That information has already made its way across multiple servers as it made its way to your home address. Every time it hits a server it makes a copy.

        Also – The data was improperly stored on the work computer. What makes your home computer and email proper storage?

        You took a bad problem and made it much worse.

        Reply
        1. One of the Sarahs

          +1 I’ve found improperly stored info too and reported too. It was really appreciated and I generated good will for myself.

          Reply
    1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      Me too, especially if I saw mishandled data, didn’t report it, and then took it for my own use. Luckily internships are for screwing up and learning, and that is what happened here.

      Reply
  15. Caitlynn

    For wanting to work in the office, I like the suggested phrasing because it doesn’t suggest you work badly at home, just that you like coming in to the office. I’d avoid implying that you don’t do well working from home because WFH is an option you might potentially want to take more advantage of later.

    Reply
      1. Sarianna

        I would think not, as that is more a family matter than a work matter. Not having a totally suitable home office space due to noise/space constraints/whatever issues have arisen from sharing space which cannot be resolved is the issue in terms of work.

        Reply
    1. MommyMD

      I would not imply at all that I have issues working at home. The offer may be rescinded. On the other hand, if working at home is truly untenable the OP probably needs to look for an office-based job and pass this one.

      Reply
  16. KR

    I wonder if the skipping introducer doesn’t know the OPs name. I know I’ve done some verbal gymnastics to avoid letting someone know I forgot their name.

    Reply
      1. Amy

        Agreed, I am terrible with names and have never had anyone react badly to “I’m sorry I am terrible with names can you remind me of your again”

        Reply
    1. PB

      This might be possible. I’ve forgotten the names of friends before, which is very embarrassing. But, if this is the case, I’d hope that they would have remembered to look it up or ask eventually.

      Reply
  17. Patchedup

    #3 Honestly I’m just so grateful to get form rejections as opposed to just wondering whatever happened after that interview that I take them however they’re offered. Applicants are generally treated like crap by potential employers.

    Reply
    1. Jana

      True. I get that hiring for a position is a long and time-consuming process for the employer. It’s also a long and time-consuming process for the candidates (not to mention it can be an anxiety-ridden process as well). I don’t mind form rejections because at least then the employer has taken the minimum amount of time to let you know the results. When you’ve invested time, money, and energy into interviewing for jobs only to hear nothing, the employer is sending a clear message as to how little they value candidates. I know OP is hoping for more personalized responses and I don’t think that’s out of the question for candidates who are in the final 3 or what have you.

      Reply
  18. Fresh Faced

    OP#3 I get what you mean, though I’d be mortified if I got a phone rejection, I am somewhat put off if I go through phone/ in person interviews or tests only to get the same form rejection letter than if I had failed after my initial application. For me something that would fix this level of “coldness” (That’s not the right word but I can’t think of a better one atm.) would be to just add a line saying that if the candidate wanted feedback on their application, not to hesitate to ask. That gives people the choice to delve into a more personal rejection for the sake of improvement or to just move on.

    Reply
  19. Laura

    #4, steer far, far away from currently fashionable victim words like “degrading”. Cersei*’s naked ‘walk of shame’ was degrading. Forgetting repeatedly to introduce you on a conference call is not. If I were your colleague or your manager and you used this word to describe your experience I’d see it as a big red flag.

    And yes, just talk to the person doing the introductions!

    * My autocorrect tried to make this “Cerise”, which I find amusing. But my autocorrect thinking I was wrong is not it degrading me.

    Reply
    1. Justme

      If the OP feels degraded by being repeatedly forgotten in work settings, who are you to tell her that her feelings are invalid?

      Reply
      1. nutella fitzgerald

        Seriously. Let’s be realistic about how words can have different applications to different settings; there isn’t one word that specifically refers to the situation of being degraded in a premium cable drama. (Though maybe there is in German?)

        Reply
    2. Laura

      Hah, Wilder Ways, now I’m going to nitpick your use of ‘nitpicking’! A nit’s a tiny little thing, hence its use in the compound word. But coming across as a dramatic victim at work is not a tiny little thing at all, but a potentially career-threatening big deal, and will impact very negatively on the person doing it. Which is why I’m advising a less dramatic, more professional choice of words.

      And Justme, if #4 truly does feel degraded by someone forgetting to say she’s in a meeting a few times, they genuinely need professional help and I really hope they get it, because their internal balance is very off. I really hope this isn’t the case, though, and they’re just using a word they think is equivalent to ‘criticised’ or ’embarrassed’. It isn’t.

      This should not be that big a deal. Someone above suggested making an “and me, Jane Doe!” joke out of it, which is the perfect, light, way to handle a happily minor, non “walk of shame” problem.

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Eh, it’s not “Oooh, I forgot to mention Cersei was in the meeting.” It’s more like “Here’s a list of all the people involved in this project.” Oops, Cersei must not be one of them. It’s really more of a problem than you’re trying to make it out to be.

        Reply
        1. Justme

          Agreed. The fact that it has happened MULTIPLE TIMES while in conference calls is absolutely absurd on the part of those in charge and introducing the participants.

          Reply
      2. MegaMoose, Esq.

        I think nit-pick was correctly used here is to indicate that you are reading a great deal into what was probably a casual word choice, and thus distracting from the actual question posed.

        Reply
      3. Sue Wilson

        So let me get this straight. You were told the commenting rules, and you decided that you were going to double down on violating them. That’s an interesting strategy.

        Secondly, there are absolutely contexts where people skipping over you in introductions is degrading (and context where such an action is meant to be, for example racist contexts where this is an actual noted racist tactic), and your lack of knowledge of them and refusal to acknowledge that there are contexts where it is possible doesn’t mean you asserting that they don’t exist or that someone who has experienced them needs professional help is good or appropriate enough advice to violate commenting rules.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          It’s weird to rule out the use of ‘degrading’ for situations that fall short of public nudity while your children are murdered and you commit incest and there are zombies. I’m pretty sure the word’s common usage is not nearly so narrow.

          My thesaurus says “intended to make a person or thing seem of little importance,” which would encompass failing to introduce someone in a zombie-free gathering.

          Reply
        2. Specialk9

          Yeah, not cool Laura. It’s absolutely degrading to be pointedly and publicly ignored. Your insistence that one must be paraded naked in the street (!!) in order to get to use the word degraded is absolutely fricking nuts.

          Reply
    3. Zip Zap

      I think it’s a context thing. Having been on a lot of conference calls, I’ve seen (er, heard) people being left out in a passive-aggressive way. More often than not, it’s just a mistake. But it could be degrading depending on who’s doing it to whom and why.

      Reply
      1. Laura

        Well, if people now think it’s okay to use the word degrading to mean ‘behaving a bit rudely, maybe even on purpose’, we’re in Humpty Dumpty land. Obviously it’s not good that it’s happening repeatedly, but a light touch is always better.

        I’m still going to make the statement that using words that make one sound like a dramatic victim is not a good professional way to behave. I doubt anyone will disagree that it’s better to de-escalate, where possible, than to escalate.

        Reply
        1. Rusty Shackelford

          Well, if people now think it’s okay to use the word degrading to mean ‘behaving a bit rudely, maybe even on purpose’, we’re in Humpty Dumpty land.

          LOL. Or maybe, just possibly, people don’t agree with you that this is simply “a bit rude.”

          Reply
          1. Justme

            Degrading does mean humiliating (Yes, I looked it up from Merriam-Webster). And it is humiliating to be repeatedly left out of introductions, because it starts to show that you don’t matter to the people doing the introductions.

            Reply
        2. Hiring Mgr

          Speaking of Humpty Dumpty, i never felt it was fair to blame the horses for not being able to Humpty together again…How would a horse know how to do such a thing, especially with its hooves?

          Reply
        3. MegaMoose, Esq.

          I agree with your last statement, except I don’t see why we should hold letter writers to professional standards in their communications with Alison.

          Reply
          1. Laura

            Good point. I tend to feel though that once people start to overblow their vocabulary into unnecessary victimhood, they’re not going to be able to keep a clear boundary between work and home life. I have a Judge Judy test on this – she’d laugh you out of court if you tried to use the word ‘degraded’ to her about being repeatedly left off meetings introductions, and tell you to take it to Dr Phil. And even he’s pretty hard on people who love casting themselves as victims!

            Reply
            1. Jay

              So Judge Judy and Dr. Phil are the authorities here?

              You have violated the comment policy, argued with the people who called you on that, and now you are projected a truly absurd amount of judgment onto someone based on a your mistaken assessment about one word in a letter to an advice columnist. And you’re citing as an authority reality TV starts who have made a fortune by (wait for it) actually degrading people.

              That’s some kind of something right there.

              Reply
  20. Lizcat

    #4 you have to be careful because some entire companies are telecommute. I seek WFH out because my migraines are weather-dependent, so I need to be able to set my schedule. But coworking spaces are a great idea!

    Reply
    1. Colette

      And if the rest of the team telecommutes, she won’t have any colleagues in the office to see face to face – it may only be people she never works with.

      Reply
  21. EleonoraUK

    For #5 – I don’t know how closely you work with the presenter outside of these calls, but is there any chance the person doing the introductions doesn’t know your name?

    Reply
    1. Interviewer

      I was thinking maybe the presenter has no idea OP5 is on the call. Like, he’s not in charge of the calendar appointment invitations, didn’t check the list of attendees, doesn’t realize your role involves you being on that call – it feels like something is missing. It’s just so strange to skip the name every time! I feel like giving him the benefit of the doubt there that he doesn’t even realize you’re on the phone.

      I wouldn’t speak up during the next meeting – I’d go speak to him right before the next scheduled call to say, “Hey, I noticed you keep skipping me in the intros and I wanted to make sure you knew I’m dialed in for these calls. Can you include me on the next round of introductions?”

      Reply
      1. Trig

        Hm. I was picturing a “everyone’s in the office but they’re calling the client, who is remote” situation, where the presenter’s doing a “these people are in the room with us” thing. Which does make it ridiculous that the presenter is skipping OP5.

        But if it’s more like you’re describing it’s less unreasonable!

        (My company uses a web conferencing service that either lists everyone in the web meeting, or has you record your name as you join. But occasional a group will be in an office on the call, so they’ll describe who’s in the room if it’s relevant. Of course, these are internal-only meetings.)

        Reply
          1. Specialk9

            OP has said in the comments that they talked to the presenter and asked them to introduce the OP, and he blew them off.

            Reply
  22. Colette

    #3 Let’s say I’m a hiring manager who finally is able to hire. I spend time coming up with a job posting. I review resumes. I do first interviews, come up with skills tests, and do second interviews. I make an offer and finally succeed in hiring someone. At this point, I’ve spent probably 20 – 25 hours on the search, which is time I’m not spending doing the rest of my job. I still have to reject the unsuccessful candidates and make arrangements for my new hire to start (find a desk, get a computer, let security know, notify payroll, etc.)

    If I send a form rejection to the unsuccessful candidates, it will take 5 minutes. Personalizing them just a little will take an hour.

    And my priority is to get my new hire set up, so I hang on to the rejections until I have a free hour. (I could fit the form letter in, but I don’t have an hour to personalize.)

    They sit, because other, more important things come up. And eventually I decide it’s too late to bother, and no one gets a rejection at all.

    Reply
    1. Trout 'Waver

      Sending rejection e-mails to the people who made it through two interviews and a skills test can’t take more than 5 minutes, can it?

      Reply
      1. Colette

        Personalized ones? Sure it can. You have to pull up the resume and your notes and compose a unique note. If you’re doing that for 5 or 10 people, it could easily take an hour.

        Reply
        1. Shadow

          Anything can take more than an hour of you try hard enough. All it takes is a simple line or two to give a little personalized feedback. That doesn’t require any extensive thought or review.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I think the whole point if the OP is she did want some significant thought going into the responses, and that was even before we got to the issue of feedback, which is something that really should take extensive review. (And we wouldn’t give it unasked for in any case.)

            Reply
              1. fposte

                But it’s a genuine expression even if it’s a rubber-stamped form letter; like it or not, most candidates really aren’t going to be remembered in great dimension as individuals come rejection time, so a personalized letter would probably be less genuine, rather than more.

                I mean, I think silence and obnoxious responses, either obnoxiously terse or obnoxiously twee like the one a couple of weeks ago, are bad and avoidable. But a polite and courteous template seems pretty sufficient to the task to me.

                Reply
                1. Shadow

                  Depends.

                  A form letter that sounds automated or a mass email like it’s addressed to “dear applicant” doesn’t sound real genuine.

                2. fposte

                  If you’re saying that it’s just as easy to have a narrative template that sounds like a nice human as a two-word response, I agree; I don’t think that’s any more genuine, but it’s more pleasant to receive.

          2. Colette

            But you have to remember who they are before you can do that. Typically you won’t want to reject candidates until you have made an offer and it has been accepted, so it could easily be a week or more since you decided who to hire (and, by extension, who not to hire). The odds are you won’t remember enough about a candidate to write a personalized letter after that time – you’ve talked with them twice weeks ago, remember.

            Otherwise, you might as well send the same letter to everyone.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              The other thing is that I do individually compose rejection letters to candidates my unit has had a prior relationship with–but they could still be from templates, really. If you’re not comparing your rejection to other people’s, it’s not always possible to know that what you got was personalized. Even if you include feedback it’s going to be fairly generic: “You’d be a stronger candidate with two more years of experience” vs. “You wave your hands really weird when you tell your duck anecdote.”

              Reply
              1. Colette

                And there’s only a few ways to say “we’re not hiring you”.

                But the more complicated you make the process, the bigger the chance that you’ll get no notification at all.

                Reply
  23. KAG

    #3) I have no problem with a form rejection email. I do have a problem with it not being sent from a real email address. When I got a rejection email (clearly a form email, but whatever, I get it) purportedly from the hiring manager (or whomever) for one position, I spent some time drafting an email back, thanking them for their time, etc, etc.

    When the email bounced back, I was livid. So, naturally, I derived the real email address of the person who purportedly “sent” the email, forwarded my gracious email and then excoriated them for using a bot.

    TL/DR: Form letters are fine, but send them from a real address that goes to a real person. Pissing off the people who will take the time to write back with a polite “thank you” after a rejection is probably not the way you want to be perceived.

    Reply
    1. Ruh Roh, Raggy!

      Being the kind of person who excoriates the hiring manager for part of the hiring process is probably not the way you want to be perceived. Never mind that as hiring manager, they are almost certainly following a process that they don’t control.

      Reply
    2. Detective Right-All-The-Time

      This type of response/reaction is exactly why we use a no-reply email address to send rejections. There is literally no way of knowing what will make a rejected candidate livid and cause them to lash out. For you, it was a no-reply email. For someone else, it’s the lack of personalization/form letter. For someone else it’s that we used a particular word or phrase that they find grating or ungracious. We cannot please everyone, and we try to protect our hiring managers/HR Business Partners from being “excoriated” by candidates for rejecting someone.

      Reply
    3. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

      This is probably why they use a bot–so that people can’t reply. Not everyone’s reply to rejection is nice. Personally I’d rather make it slightly harder for a person to receive nice feedback than easy for them to get vitriol.

      Reply
    4. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      Your excoriated someone because they didn’t use a real email on a rejection letter? If I were in their shoes, that would just validate why rejecting you was a good idea. It is a rather disproportionate, unprofessional response.

      Reply
    5. High Warlock of Queens

      Good job proving they made the right decision in not hiring you! You’ll be legendary in that company as the biggest bullet they ever dodged.

      Reply
    6. Observer

      In Friday’s open thread we have someone who DID send rejections from a “real” address – and got a response claiming that the rejection was racist etc. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to this?

      There are a lot of people who don’t handle rejection well. There is no reason why a company should have to subject themselves to that if they can avoid it.

      Reply
  24. Recruit-o-rama

    It’s not just the confidentiality issue of resumes, although that is certainly important. Resumes are expensive commodities in a lot of cases. Consider this potential scenario.

    1. Recruitment firm A sends a candidate to Company A for a position with a salary of $100K. This is potentially worth $20K to Recruitment firm A who has a pretty common 20% placement fee.

    2. Employee if Company A sends the resume to Recruitment firm B who places the candidate with Company B and receives a $20K placement fee.

    3. Recruitment firm A hears about it and now Company A is on the hook to pay $20K to Recruitment firm A because the contingency agreements are pretty clear that any action by the company or employees of the company that results in placement of the candidate means the fee is owed.

    Access to resumes and resume databases can be very, very expensive because some types of positions are difficult to fill so resumes are worth money in a lot of cases (not all cases) and what you may have inadvertently done is send your self tens of thousands of dollars worth of data and property that is not yours. Regardless of your intent, that’s pretty serious, especially, as Alison said, if the company sees you as someone who they can easily cut ties with because you had not yet started. I’m sorry that you learned this lesson in this way, but to answer your actual question, no I don;t think they over reacted.

    Reply
  25. Matt

    #3: I can’t imagine *any* situation in which I would prefer a phone call over an email.

    OK, maybe if someone had died, and even then I’m not sure.

    Reply
  26. Lucille B.

    OP #2, I would be worried too, especially about this: “One thing gives me pause: Everyone in the position I’ve been offered works remotely.” Depending on how the office is structured, would you even have a team to work with when you go into the office? Just getting out of the house daily does wonders, but I would also make sure that you will be able to interact in a meaningful way with the people who do work out of the actual office.

    Reply
    1. Christy

      This. My team is all remote, so when I’m in the office it’s often a ghost town. It’s way less lonely at home, actually.

      Reply
      1. Lucille B.

        Honestly, I mostly just cash the checks. I don’t actually attend the board meetings unless I need to shame Michael for purchasing too many whistles.

        Reply
    2. logicbutton

      I’m on a team like that – the office I nominally work out of is one of the company’s hubs, but my specific team is mostly based in other places, and the few of us who are based here prefer to work remotely. (Last year they made it official and repurposed our cubicles, which was fine, but then this year they stripped the commuter cubes for parts, making it inconvenient for us to come in ever. But that’s another story.) The person who most recently joined the team did ask if he could work from the office part of the time and was given his own cube, but last I heard he’d pretty much stopped coming in too, possibly because he’d discovered how proactive you really have to be about socialization with people you don’t work with directly.

      Reply
  27. nnn

    OP #2: Depending on the nature of your work, another thing to ask for/about if you don’t get an immediate and enthusiastic “Of course you can work in the office all the time!” is whether they sometimes need in-office/on-site coverage. And, if they do, you can be the first to volunteer.

    I’m on a team of teleworkers, but sometimes we have specific assignments that need to be done in the office or at the client site for logistical reasons, and none of us are particularly fond of the idea of having to wake up early to put on pants and makeup and blowdry our hair and commute during rush hour. If we had someone who was actually enthusiastic about doing the on-site work, the team members would be bending over backwards to keep them, even though management’s official policy is that all work locations are interchangeable.

    Reply
  28. Shadow

    Op this is a better way to think about it: if copies of the resumes were sitting around the office where they shouldn’t have been and you, while no one was around, made copies of them, quickly put the originals back and stuffed the copies in your backpack. Would that be forgivable?

    I think it can sound less serious because copying/takinfg electronic files only requires a few clicks

    Reply
    1. Sue Wilson

      Honestly, if I them immediately shredded the ones in my backpack because I realized it was wrong? Yes, I do think that’s forgivable.

      Reply
      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        Technically this was more shredding them after you took them home, since the e-mail went from the corporate server to a private e-mail account.

        So would you feel that taking the resumes home and then shredding them would be acceptable? Obviously it is forgivable, because intern, but something can be forgivable, unacceptable, and fireable and, to me, this situation checks all the boxes.

        Reply
  29. Rusty Shackelford

    For #3: please, please don’t ever call me to reject me for a job, unless it’s to say “because we decided you’d be much better at this other position we have, and we’d like to make you an offer.”

    Reply
  30. Madame X

    For #3: What is a personalized email or phone call to from a company who has decided to NOT hire you suppose to accomplish?

    I’ve received a lot of rejection emails during my job searches and I cannot imagine that it would feel any better to get a personalized note rather than a form email, because the result would be the same. I was not offered the position. The only instance I can think that a personalized email would be beneficial is if the hiring manager is encouraging me to apply for another position at their company that the believe I am better suited for.

    The only thing I expect from the companies I apply to is to inform me of their final decision. Ideally, I could also get some feedback as to why, but I understand that may not always be possible.

    Reply
    1. Shadow

      You wouldn’t appreciate the hiring manager taking the time to send a personal thank you note more than a faceless form email

      Reply
      1. hbc

        I guess I would appreciate it if it managed to show that I really made an impression on them. But if they’re doing it for every interviewed candidate, how much of an impression could we all have made, and how likely are they really to have something unique to share that would actually make me feel good?

        I’d put it in the same camp as them giving me some swag or a lead on another job—awesome if it happens, but not necessary.

        Reply
      2. SarahTheEntwife

        If it actually made some sort of personal connection I’d appreciate it, but I don’t in any way expect it and I’d rather just be notified as soon as possible than have the interviewer take more time coming up with some “personal” anecdote to add to the note.

        Reply
      3. Kathleen Adams

        Look, all – all – a rejection letter is supposed to do is tell you that, for whatever reason, the company decided to hire someone else besides you. All you can realistically expect it to be is polite, reasonably prompt, and that your name is spelled correctly in it. If it includes a sentence or so that clearly indicate that it’s been personalized, that’s a nice bonus, but it doesn’t really mean anything except that the letter writer is a nice person who happened to have the time (and the necessary knowledge) to add a line or two to her standard rejection letter. That’s it. It doesn’t validate you as a person or anything, so why worry about it?

        The fact is that unless (as other people have mentioned) the message is personalized to say something like, “We’ve offered position A to someone else, but we’d love to have to apply for position B, which has a higher pay scale,” anything besides promptness and politeness means nothing. Companies have to decide who to hire all the time, so no matter what, the rejection letters are going to be at least somewhat standardized. If you can accept that and not take it as a sign that they have no respect for you as a person or something, you’ll be much happier.

        Reply
      4. Bea

        The only time I appreciated a rejection was when the recruiter/consultant used it as an opportunity to offer to network with me since I was her first choice but not the boss’s first.

        I was then offered the job a couple months later. Had I been available I would take it but nope happily employed by then.

        I don’t need personalized feedback from a stranger. I didn’t get the job because I wasn’t their choice, they don’t owe me their point of view and I truly don’t want it.

        What gets me rejected one place got me hired another place and I’ve only had 2 short term jobs. Short term because I quit due to the owners being asses. I didn’t need to polish myself so I could work for someone that doesn’t click with me.

        Reply
  31. Hello patriarchy

    #5 I’m confident you are female or a person of color. Happens all the time. Good luck finding a non sexist/racist company.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I think even if it’s influenced by sexism or racism the OP can do something to improve the situation, though; that’s not a reason just to give up and accept it.

      Reply
  32. Managed Chaos

    Regarding rejections, I think it would be nice to get a personal e-mail. However, I can see why companies do it as a form e-mail/letter. Whenever things are personalized, it opens up the door for a lot more human error. The company wants to limit the language used to what they approve to make sure nothing is in there that makes the hiring process look suspect.

    Reply
      1. Shadow

        Ah but all applicants are not treated equally. Those with better qualifications get better treatment a lot of times.

        For example I will make it a point to connect on Linkedin when I tell someone we thought highly of them even though for whatever reason I didn’t hire them this time. Because there are some candidates I might hire consider hiring in the future.

        Reply
  33. Allison

    #3, when I’m rejected for a job, all I want is the knowledge that I’m not getting a job. A personal email from the hiring manager (who’s also usually a recruiter to some degree or another, because I work in talent acquisition) is great, but I don’t hold that as the standard. A diplomatic, well-written form email is perfect. A call doesn’t make me think I’ve gotten the job, but it’s unpleasant, and it’s awkward for both the caller and myself, and I like being able to process my disappointment in private.

    I also see nothing wrong with a rejection being sent from someone in HR, or from a “no-reply” email address. Honestly, I think most people who get angry about the way they were rejected are just upset that they were rejected, and want someone specific to direct those emotions at. I say most because sometimes rejections are handled poorly and it’s okay to be extra upset when that happens.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      This is me, too. As long as the rejection is professional and not bizarre, and I have no prior connection to the hiring manager, form-letter emails are fine.

      A personalized email is something designed to be kind / preserve a connection. If there’s no prior connection, there’s not really anything to preserve; most hiring processes don’t involve enough one-on-one conversation to form any lasting connection.

      Now, if the boss I worked for over ten years in two different positions rejected me with a form letter, I might be a little sad/hurt. That would be about it, but from someone who knows me that well, I’d expect a little more personalization. (Not necessarily feedback – but something like, “I’m sorry you weren’t the top candidate – I’ve liked working with you in the past and hope you’ll apply if we have another opening.” Assuming that we had a positive work dynamic in the past, of course.)

      But otherwise? Form letter away.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        Right, or if someone I’ve known for a while referred me to a company and I didn’t get hired, I might want that person to say something to me, if they don’t I might wonder if I seriously mucked up the phone screen and made that person look bad.

        Reply
  34. Bea

    I received two rejections from the same place from someone who made it clear their candidate pool was slim pickings. Thankfully both are emailed since how awkward a second email would be.

    I was grateful to have dodged that bullet, the vibes were all bad anyways.

    This was during my relocation which means I didn’t invest a couple hours, I invested two days and a drive made 8hrs in an icestorm. I still don’t want a call!

    Reply
  35. Not really a waitress

    You get form rejections? I would kill for this kind of closure. I had one company call after a several hour long face to face interview. I have had a few companies respond to a follow up email (post f2f interview) but several companies won’t even respond with a sorry we have gone a different direction.

    Reply
    1. Jana

      Agreed! One place I interviewed three times, completed a 2-hour skills assessment, AND was told I was one of the final two candidates…then nothing. No responses. With the (seemingly increasing) number of employers who leave you hanging, I appreciate an email rejection, no matter how impersonal.

      Reply
  36. Emi.

    For #3, it sounds to me like the LW didn’t even get a boilerplate “we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate but it was nice to meet you and I wish you luck in your search” email–it was a “Your application status has been updated. Previous status: applied. Current status: rejected. Please do not reply to this email” email.

    If that’s right, I agree that it’s pretty cold (especially on USAJobs, where it doesn’t tell you your updated status and you have log in to find out, so thanks for that, USAF), but not worth losing any sleep over.

    Reply
  37. Bookartist

    #4 A useful tactic may be to frame it as a transparency issue. Doesn’t everyone want to know who is on a call so no one is confused later by an email that says “As we discussed in-meeting this morning…” ?

    Reply
  38. FormerOP

    Hi OP#1, I totally understand your curiosity about other people’s resumes! Long ago, at an internship I had to file paper copies (reasons I am not longer an ingenue…) of lawyers’ resumes. It was super interesting to see where people had gone to school, how long it took to make parter for different folks, who switched to in-house, etc. But like a commenter said above, there is a big difference between looking at the papers that I needed to file and making a photocopy and taking that copy home. I think in the future, it is a good idea to not email anything to your personal email. I’ve spoken with IT folks about the topic and it almost always looks bad to email files to your personal email. Sure, there are sometimes innocent explanations, but it is best to err on the side of caution for corporate security, especially for certain industries, and it sounds like you’re in one of them. Best of luck for the future.

    Reply
  39. Janice

    #1 That kind of thing is taken very seriously at those places (and rightly so) The last financial institution I worked for (large-sized, global, US based) outgoing emails to a private email with or without attachments would not have even made it past the firewalls. You could not even copy/fax or print a document signing on to the copier/printer/fax. (Which, by the way, also maintained a log of who did what.)

    Reply
  40. Essie

    #4 Not only is this a bad idea from your point of view, I’d also be unhappy about it from the other end of the phone. I would not be comfortable having certain kinds of business discussions without being informed of everyone who is hearing me, and I would seriously question the professionalism and judgment of a person who didn’t understand the importance of that.

    Reply
    1. OP#4

      Great point! I plan to bring this up, as well.

      I did mention this to my supervisor weeks ago and he said he would go and talk to the Account Director. If he did, it didn’t change anything.

      All great advice so far.

      Reply
  41. Jana

    OP #1: I think rescinding the job offer was reasonable. Your boss knew you better than HR & the “higher-ups” and so may have had a better understanding of your intent. However, it’s important to bear in mind that, when applicants send their resumes, they are providing a wealth of personal information. The idea that that information would be used for reasons other than considering those applicants for a position is disheartening. While your intent wasn’t malicious, you apparently took others’ personal information because you felt like doing so. There are people who might do that with malicious intent, so I can understand why an organization would err on the side of rescinding the job offer.

    Reply
    1. Shadow

      There is one question you should always ask yourself bfore you access any data/info at work: do i have a business reason to access this information? If you can’t answer yes then you shouldn’t be accessing it

      Reply
  42. JN

    #2: Did the job posting say anything about the job being a telecommute position? Was that aspect mentioned during the interview? Was there no tour during the interview? It’s hard to fathom that the company would wait until an offer was made to say “By the way, this is a remote position.” It’s in the company’s interest to be up front about that and ensure that the candidates being considered, and the one getting the offer, are up to that type of position. But regardless of when OP learned of the structure of this position, they shouldn’t say yes if they don’t really feel they can handle working alone and self-directed.

    Reply
  43. Willow Sunstar

    #1 I can understand. If you’re a contractor of any kind, you are generally at the company’s mercy. Companies can, and will, fire temps at the drop of a hat. This was using internal resources inappropriately, and you probably got private information such as addresses, phone numbers, etc. that weren’t supposed to be yours. In future, I would advise just doing a Google search on sample resumes. There are tons of resources on the Internet available for free. Locally in your area, there are often job search groups that can provide resume advise as well for free or at least, minimum cost to the unemployed.

    Reply
  44. evandsp

    Re #3: When I (as a hiring manager) interview someone in-person, I always send a personal email myself once the hiring process is concluded to those who weren’t selected. It takes all of three minutes each for no more than 3 or 4 candidates and after all, the interviewee took time to come in. From a basic manners perspective, I don’t think it’s appropriate to send form rejections to candidates who interviewed in person.

    Reply
    1. Kathleen Adams

      That sounds very nice, and if it works for you, go for it. But I don’t personally object to a form rejection, so long as it’s polite and reasonably prompt. I mean, unless the hiring manager has a real connection to these candidates, any personalizing that is done is going to be pretty superficial anyway, so a form rejection wouldn’t bother me at all.

      Reply
  45. OP #2

    Thanks to all who have weighed in! To clarify: Having a physical office forces me to leave the house and gives me a firmer boundary between home and work. This helps me stay sane.

    I did ask about the possibility of working from the physical office on occasion. I basically said, “I have worked independently before and do fine with it, but I find that it also helps me to have the option to have another office to go to. My husband also telecommutes and we were talking about how it would be if we were both in the home office at the same time …” To which my prospective supervisor said, “Oh, that makes sense.”

    Long story short, they’re open to me coming in and there’s a place I could sit. Others in my position go there on occasion so there is space. Those who work there all the time aren’t in my position but I’m fine with that. The hiring manager said everyone in this position figures out what works for them, which is fine by me.

    I accepted the offer.

    Reply
  46. JN

    #3: While I don’t like hearing “no” any more than anyone else does, I do appreciate it when an employer takes even a minute to send the form email or letter. Any answer is better than nothing. I know it’s an investment of their time to do so, but I also made the investment of prep time, actual time, plus use of PTO and travel, so getting closure on a position I interviewed for but didn’t get is appreciated. I’m more understanding of places not even doing that much if I’m a candidate that didn’t make it past the application consideration stage–though I have gotten a few “thank you for applying, but…” emails. I do realize that these people have other job responsibilities beyond just interviewing candidates, but it’s a nice professional gesture to acknowledge the time and effort the candidate put into applying and interviewing, even though they weren’t the person who got hired.

    I much prefer getting rejections in an email, even if it is formulaic, over phone calls. I got a phone rejection after a teaching interview once and I seem to recall having to fight a bit to retain composure for the rest of the call. I also just got a voicemail rejection for another job last week (didn’t answer the call because I was getting ready for work and also wasn’t 100% sure about whether I’d accept the job–ideal location and pay, just not my preferred segment of my career field). And I was pretty disappointed a month or more ago when another prospective job’s area code popped on my caller ID–only to be disappointed when it was a spam call (they’d said the candidate getting the offer would be called; didn’t say during the interview how the rejected candidates would be notified). Then again, that job wasn’t very responsive unless I’d reached out to them first, either after the phone interview or the in-person interview, so the fact that it took 6 weeks and 2 follow ups to get that rejection email didn’t surprise me too much, though a leadership change just when I sent my first follow up could have contributed, and they did respond promptly to the second query I sent.

    I’d also love feedback on how I can improve, but understand why employers can’t/won’t give that–and understand that it’s not necessarily a case of me having said or done anything wrong, just that another candidate might have been better in some way.

    Reply
  47. some follow up necessary

    Earlier this week I actually got a phone call from a hiring manager… to let me know I am not getting an offer. And yeah, that really wasn’t necessary. I definitely got my hopes up when I answered the phone, so it was hard to hold back my disappointment. He was very nice though, and offered me some kind words about my strengths and said they were going with someone with some specific experience relevant to the position that I don’t have, but encouraged me to keep applying since he thought I was very qualified for work there.

    On the other hand, I also interviewed for a promotion within my work team, with the second interview with my manager and our department head two weeks ago, and haven’t heard a thing. And there’s some internal pressure to get this position filled so I believe that the decision has already been made. It definitely feels pretty awful that my manager is not being direct with me – what are they hoping, that the person hired will start, and HR will send me a form letter, and my manager will never have to tell me they went with someone else to my face?

    Reply
  48. AnitaJ

    #3, I understand where you’r’ coming from, but this jumped out at me: “I honestly can’t imagine there being more than 5-10 interviewees coming in.” Just because you can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. There could be dozens or hundreds of candidates, and it’s a huge amount of work to close them out. I agree that the candidate experience should be as respectful as possible, and my biggest frustration is anyone wasting my time, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. I think remembering that might be helpful.

    Reply
  49. Anonymous for this

    OP #1, it worries that you still don’t seem to accept the magnitude of your error. It’s unfortunate you were fired, and I feel genuine sympathy for you, but accessing confidential information so improperly really was grounds for termination. It’s OK to forgive your younger self for this huge lapse in judgment, while still recognizing that this was a Really Big Deal and the company probably did make a good call.

    I do think it can be easy for people who are still early in their careers to underestimate the imprudence of confidentiality in their roles, especially without training. In my first job out of college at 22, I worked in the offices of a university, and I was one of the few people who had access to private student records. I needed it for one extremely specific job function, but no one trained me on FERPA when they gave me my credentials. I just thought of it as one more online space I accessed for my job, no different than our file archives or content management system, both of which were totally fair game for digging around in. I would access student records constantly out of curiosity. I’d see what academic program someone was in after meeting them at a party. I’d look up a student employee’s home address because I couldn’t place their accent, etc. Looking back, I’m MORTIFIED that I did this, and I’m damn lucky no one ever noticed, because I could have been fired, and for good reason. I had no clue at the time that what I was doing was improper. I guess what I’m saying is: there but for the grace of God go I. What you did (and what I did) was extremely inappropriate and logical grounds for firing, but just take it on the chin as a learning experience, move on, and don’t do it again.

    Reply
    1. anon for this one

      You’re really lucky no one caught you. My spouse works at a university, and an employee was fired for looking up a student’s records. Apparently they have a system that pinged when he accessed them!

      Reply
      1. Anonymous for this

        Yes, I’m very lucky. It was a few years beyond that when I retroactively learned about FERPA and had more experience under my belt when I realized how inappropriate my usage was. It still makes my heart speed up just thinking about it.

        Reply
  50. LiveAndLetDie

    OP3: Spending time going through applications, screening resumes, scheduling and executing interviews, all of that is additional work on top of their actual jobs. Depending on the market and the type of job they’re trying to fill, they could get anywhere from a handful to hundreds of applications, and they could see any number of candidates face to face. Some even for multiple interviews! Getting a rejection email may feel impersonal but it is sometimes honestly the only way that a hiring manager can feasibly get the message to the folks that need to hear it.

    Personally speaking, I wouldn’t expect a personalized rejection letter unless I’d gone through multiple rounds of an interview process–at that point you can be confident that you were part of a significantly narrowed field of candidates and that the hiring manager considered you very seriously. But I would not be surprised by a boilerplate rejection letter after one interview.

    Reply
    1. LiveAndLetDie

      I should have specified hiring managers in that first sentence. Most folks doing hiring/onboarding aren’t people whose job it is to exclusively do hiring/onboarding all year round, I think a company would have to be pretty sizeable to have constant onboarding needs year-round.

      Reply
  51. Grecko

    For #2, should the writer bring it up before or after they accept? I would be concerned that I would make them second guess offering me the job if they thought I wouldn’t do well working at home.

    Reply
    1. Esme Squalor

      It’s a bit buried now, but this letter writer came in the comments with an update that she asked the company about the situation, and they told her she’s welcome to come in the office, so she accepted the position.

      Reply
  52. DataQueen

    #4, it sounds like it’s in mixed company and so there’s no issue of age or gender here, but I just wanted to commiserate on a similar situation that happened with me recently – In a series of client meetings, the SVP (male, older) was going around the room introducting the team. “Older Man 1 is Director of Blah Blah, and Older Man 2 is Associate of Blah Blah Blah, and Older Man 3 is Associate Director of Blah.” When he got to me, he said “And DataQueen here is our Teapot Diva!” He actually said Diva. I’m a Director. But I’m a younger woman as well. I might have brushed it off if i had a good relationship with the guy, but this guy has a reputation for being a jerk, so i mentioned it to my manager in our next meeting. She put stop to that ASAP. So it sounds like this isn’t discriminatory, just strange, but if you feel like it could be, speak up!

    Reply
  53. Stephanie (HR Manager)

    OP #3 – Another note that a lot of people may not realize is that there is a liability to companies to do this. Applicants can sue employees for discrimination, and providing a reason why a candidate was not selected can give an applicant ammunition in a law suit. (And this isn’t a case of if they were innocent, they have nothing to hide–it costs quite a bit to litigate a lawsuit when you are not at fault, and many courts are employee-friendly.) The form letters are not only convenient, the language as been screened by someone proficient in HR law, and HR strongly discourages personalizing them because of the liability it poses.

    Reply

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