can employers blackball you from your field, logos on your resume, and more

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

1. Can employers blackball you from working in your field?

Can you be blackballed by HR if you left a position under unfavorable conditions? I know that when I was working with organizations in my field, we would go to conferences or have networking events where “things” would come up that seemed that they could hurt the person being referred to. So I wondered if HR people talk to each other that way and make statements such as, “Oh Jane Doe! I would be leery of hiring her!” or other things that would inadvertently spread like wildfire through the community effectively blackballing Jane Doe.

Yes. People talk, and they talk about employees and job candidates — just like they compare experiences with software, vendors, managers, or companies. This is one reason why reputation matters so much.

It’s pretty unusual for this to result in someone being blackballed from an entire field, though, unless that field is extremely small.

2. Putting company logos on your resume

I was working a career fair for my company and one resume that I will never forget had a small picture of the logo of the company she worked for. She shared with me that she picked up the style from a marketing major she had met. I told her how much I loved it and that I would totally implement that technique into my resume.

I recently uploaded my resume onto my school’s career site and the person who reviews resumes prior to allowing them to be posted kicked mine back telling me that the logos looked unprofessional. Is it indeed unprofessional, is it something that should only be used at career fairs to stand out, or is it just one of those things that some people will like and others will not?

I’m sure some people might like it (you did, after all), but in general, no, most people will not think logos belong on a resume and many will find it a little tacky looking. The resume is about you, not your employers, after all, and so logos there are out of place. (Moreover, you probably can’t even use those logos without the company’s permission, as they’re typically copyrighted or trademarked, which will be a strike against you in any field where you’re expected to care about things like that.)

Even aside from that though, I’d have to ask why you want to do this. Your resume should stand out because of your qualifications and accomplishments, not for any other reason.

3. My new job wants to pay me under the table

I work for a local business as a marketing assistant. On my first day, the manager asked for a bunch of information to “give to his accountant” so he could pay me. While I’m used to retail/customer service where there’s a ton of paperwork, it seemed reasonable to me. Today, he basically said he was paying me under the table.

I’m not really comfortable with this, since I’m assuming I could possibly find myself in hot water tax-wise. I know I can’t exactly convince him to pay me on the up and up, but I need this job badly. The pay is decent, but more importantly, I desperately need the experience, being a recent graduate. I know other people who have worked for small businesses and got paid under the table before, but they were happy about “not getting robbed by Uncle Sam.” I’m not sure how to handle this, but I can’t quit (not without another job lined up, at least). I’m also concerned about all that sensitive information I gave him. What should I do?

I would say this: “My understanding is that we could both get into trouble if we don’t report my wages, and it also means that I won’t be paying into Social Security or Medicare, which could affect my ability to collect in the future. I think we’re required by law to do this on a W2 and take payroll taxes out.”

By the way, is he not reporting the wages at all (“paying under the table”)? Or is he paying you as an independent contractor? The latter is legal in some cases, but probably not in yours. But in case that’s what he’s doing, here’s different advice on handling that.

4. Can a former employer disclose why you were fired?

My husband (soon to be ex) had a VP position and got fired for dating a coworker on a lower level. He has been job hunting for 2 months and has hd no response, not even one interview. Is the former employer able to disclose why he was fired? Or to disclose the fact that he was fired? Are there hidden ways they disclose such a fact?

Yes, they can disclose that he was fired and why he was fired. However, I doubt that’s what’s happening here, since most employers don’t check references until much later in the hiring process. If he’s not getting interviews, it’s more likely that the problem is something else (his resume, cover letter, fit for the jobs he’s applying for) or that it’s simply a reflection of the overall competition in his field (lots of qualified candidates and fewer openings).

Of course, if he’s in a small field and people are familiar with him, it’s possible that his reputation is keeping employers from calling him for interviews — but that would be pretty rare.

5. What does this email mean?

I don’t know how to interpret this email from an employer: “Just wanted to let you know we haven’t come to a decision yet, but didn’t want you to think you were forgotten. Hopefully after the holiday we’ll be able to move forward again. Thanks for your patience!”

Does this mean the company is no longer hiring for this position? I’m a bit hesitant to ask the hiring manager because I just sent a “thanks for letting me know email” already. My boyfriend pointed out the ambiguity.

I don’t see ambiguity here, and would love to know what your boyfriend is spotting. The email says that they haven’t made a hiring decision yet but hope to move the process forward after the holiday. (Actually, I see some ambiguity about what holiday they’re referring to — Thanksgiving or Christmas and New Year’s?)

The exception to this would be if they had earlier told you that they were considering not hiring for the position at all. If that was the case, then it’s more likely to refer to that (but I imagine that you would have mentioned that if it were the case).

{ 156 comments… read them below }

  1. jesicka309

    #5 I’m guessing the ambiguity is coming from the “moving forward again” section. It’s as though they’ve “stopped” hiring, but hope to “move forward” again after the holidays. But they probably didn’t intend for it to sound that way.
    It could just mean that they’ve paused the hiring process for the holiday break, but that doesn’t mean they have stopped hiring altogether. The office is probably closed, or the hiring manager is on leave.

    1. LisaLyn

      Yeah, I would bet that it’s just that a lot of people involved with the process are taking time off for the holidays and there is just no way to get things moving until they all return. I think the person who sent the email is being very courteous and doesn’t want to leave anybody hanging.

      1. PPK

        I agree. My first read is that someone on the hiring end is probably frustrated that their company stalled out on the hiring process (people going on vacation, maybe year end/quarter end budgets) and sent out an email.

    2. OP #5

      Right. My boyfriend thought “hopefully” and “move forward again” sounded like they weren’t sure if they were hiring for the position any longer. Alison’s right though – no one mentioned that they were considering not hiring for the position. I’d been burned in the past before by getting pretty far in the interview process then having the rug pulled out from under me by an employer telling me they decided not to hire for the position. I think my boyfriend was trying to protect me from getting my hopes up again.

      1. AB

        I don’t see much space to speculate based on the message’s content. To me, the email is very clear. Like AAM said, the timeline may be ambiguous (which holiday?), but it’s kind of a moot point. If I received an email like this, the only conclusions I’d make are:

        1) I’m still considered a viable candidate (unless they are lying in the message, which is unlikely).

        2) Nothing has been decided yet. The final decision is still undefined, and the choices at this point could be not to hire, start interviewing from scratch, keep me under consideration in case our first choice doesn’t accept the offer they are thinking of extending, treat me as their first choice candidate, etc. There’s just not enough information to tell.

        3) They don’t yet when they’ll be moving forward with a decision, but they are hoping to do so after “the holiday”.

        Regardless of what’s really happening with the hiring company, the best strategy, always, is to mentally move on, as recommended by AAM and many commenters in this blog. Never get your hopes up even when the message says, “We love you and are fighting really hard to send you an awesome offer next week! Stay tuned!”. Because even in such cases, there’s no guarantee of a successful result. I know it’s hard sometimes to let it go, but the best thing to do is to treat this as a past event, and focus on your future applications. Then, if you get the job, you can be pleasantly surprised.

        1. OP #5

          Thanks for the perspective! I’m really trying to push this job out of my mind, but with the holidays around the corner, it’s hard to hear from friends and family how the job hunt is coming along, any leads, yada yada yada. Plus, as everyone’s has mentioned, people are in and out of the office, so I feel like hearing back from the employer is going to be an extra exercise in patience. :)

      2. Brett

        Just to check, this is not a public employer is it?
        Waiting until after the holidays has important budget implications for the public sector. (It could for the private sector too, but much more so in the public sector.)

  2. MR

    For No. 4: It sucks that your (soon to be former) husband cheated on you. This situation is not as uncommon as you may think and his shenanigans may be playing a part into hurting his job search.

    After all, when things like this happen, word travels fast. Because he was involved in a situation like this, companies may not want to have someone with this type of history involved with their company. They don’t want to deal with the problems it brings.

    His best bet may be in looking at jobs outside of the industry he was in, as word of his (perhaps) quid pro quo is less likely to be known. He may want to play it up as looking for a change of pace and looking to expand his horizons. He won’t remain unemployed forever, but it will be a challenge in landing something new.

      1. Meg

        Mutually separated or not, it’s still considered “adultery” (at least in some states). I was dating a military serviceman who was in the process of divorce who got married in NC and his soon-to-be ex-wife moved back to NC, and NC was handling their divorce, and in NC, you have to be separated for 1 year before you can file for divorce. Despite the mutual separation, she still tried to sue me for “alienation of affection” and “criminal conversation” (basically having an affair with a married man). But because I didn’t live in NC and nothing between him and I took place in NC, it didn’t apply.

        ANYWAY – point being, whether it was mutual or not, until the couple is no longer married, it still counts (legally) as “adultery” in some states, and adultery is cheating.

        1. Meg

          Also, if something should ever come of that legally, it will show on public record, and will be seen in a background check when going through the process of hiring.

        2. Daisy

          “Adultery is cheating”. Disagree. Adultery is a legal term and I don’t think it’s synonymous, personally- after all, you can, in colloquial usage, ‘cheat’ on someone you’re not married to. It implies behind-the-backness. I didn’t say it wasn’t adultery, just pointing out that we don’t know he ‘cheated’ (and therefore whether there’s anything to commiserate with the OP about).

          (though I did not realise adultery was still a crime in some US states. That was an exciting google!)

          1. fposte

            Yes, I’d agree. Cheating is about breaching your agreement with your partner. If you’re married and poly, for instance, that may be legally adultery, but it’s not cheating.

            1. some1

              A co-worker of mine has been purposely not divorced her husband who she split up with in the mid-2000’s. They live apart (him with a girlfriend, and she has relationships, too).

                1. TL

                  If they’re happy (and honest with their partners, who are okay with it) then no harm, no foul.

                  Some people stay married for non-romantic but important reasons i.e., my uncle re-married a wife who was diagnosed with cancer so she could seek treatment under his health care.I’m pretty sure nobody in that marriage cared if they were monogamous or not, but I think he did the right thing.

                2. Anonymous

                  Well, I still say shame on them for having a girlfriend and her for having outside relationships. That is low standards in my book. If you don’t want to honor your marriage vows then you divorce. I would not want to be the girlfriend in a situation like that. What good is that?

                3. TL

                  Reasons to date someone still married (but is honest with you and their spouse): 1) marriage is not the end game to dating for everyone. 2) marriage is just a piece of paper to some. 3) the marriage will end when they are best able to, giving your life with them a better start. 4) You enjoy the person’s company/love the person and want to be with them and can do so without hurting anybody.

                  Whatever their reasons, if they’re honest about it, I don’t think they have anything to be ashamed of. Marriage means lots of different things to different people.

                4. some1

                  “Shame” anonymous, I actually agree that I wouldn’t want to be the GF, either. Not because I necessarily want to get married, but I don’t want to be serious about someone who’s finances and credit are legally tied up with someone else. If he wants to be serious about me, he should sever all ties with other women (financial, legal or otherwise)

                  That being said, I’m not in a position to judge other women who make a different choice.

              1. Anonymous

                Well, in answer to your question Julie maybe because there is a right and wrong. No, it does not personally affect my marriage (I have been married over 30 years) but society as a whole is changing. I don’t believe in a good way. I have known other people get so hurt over things like this. Why do this to another person? I would never want to be someones second fiddle. I am worth more than that. Every one is worth more than that.

      2. annie

        I would venture to say that even if they were separated or had an open marriage, this sort of stuff still does not belong in the workplace, particularly when its between a bigshot and a lower level worker. Regardless of anyone’s personal morals, I think it would be fair for someone he has worked with to express their feelings regarding his unprofessionalism on that point, as well as any additional problems it may have caused the company.

  3. Confused

    #2 Logos on your resume
    I once read a book (Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0) that strongly suggested doing this. It was a while ago but I think the idea was: a company logo would catch someone’s eye in a stack of resumes (vs only writing it out) and make your resume stand out.
    I did a quick google search after I read it and found most people think it’s gimmicky.

    1. PEBCAK

      Yeah, it’s the type of thing I’d pull out of the stack and show my coworkers so we could all have a good laugh.

      1. Anonymous

        Yes. That is truly funny. Someone trying something that does not work well. Ha Ha Ha. So stimulating. Very very funny.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit

            Yikes! Was *that* really necessary? C’mon, folks, it’s the holidays – let’s be nice to each other!

            (And I’m on Anon’s side here: Laughing at someone’s mistakes – and inviting others over to join in the mocking? Not something to be proud of.)

    2. Bryan

      To me it makes it look like it’s stealing the idea from Linkedin, where it will do it automatically if the company has a logo uploaded to the site.

      1. Jen in RO

        Yep, I thought of LinkedIn straight away too. I like how it looks on LI, I’m not sure it would look as good on a CV (but I don’t find it very gimmicky either).

    3. College Career Counselor

      Glad to see the career services office flagged it for the OP! ;-) I see the appeal (visually arresting!), but definitely gimmicky.

    4. Anonymous

      Yeah I had a friend who was doing this. I told him to try his resume without it. (It wasn’t a bad resume overall.) After he got a couple interviews. I can’t say for sure that it was removing those but that was the biggest change. So my anecdote says skip them.

    5. NylaW

      This used to be a thing a few years ago in the IT world, where everyone would have logos from all the certifications they held on their resume. If you have the cert you were allowed to use the logo for certain things, like resumes, but I’m so glad this fell out of vogue. It comes across as incredibly pretentious to me.

      1. Julie

        I forgot all about this. I have an ancient MCSE (NT 4), and I had the MCSE logo on my web site and my business cards. I’m pretty sure I never put it on my resume, though.

    6. Mike C.

      I could imagine someone copy/pasting a bunch of logos and nothing lines up and a few of the logos are stretched out and pixelated and so on. What a mess.

  4. LondonI

    #2 – I work in Intellectual Property so I know something about this. Do not put company logos on anything unless you have express permission from the company to do so. It could be considered trademark infringement. In this case it may be unlikely that any of your former employers would take action against you, but there would probably be grounds for doing so if they wanted to.

    There are usually strict rules regarding use of logos. For instance, there may be a requirement that there is a certain amount of white space around the logo itself, which may not be possible on a text-filled CV or resume. There are also rules surrounding the exact shade of logos (Pantone numbers) and you should not replicate the logo incorrectly.

    No matter what country you are in – do not, do not, do not do this unless you want to lay yourself open to potential Cease and Desist letters (or more) from your former employers.

    1. LondonI

      I just reread my message and thought I should reiterate the point that even if you replicate the logo perfectly, with the requisite white space and correct use of either the TM or the registered trademark symbol (r in a circle) etc. then you should STILL not include the logos on your resume/CV without permission.

      It is the ownership of the mark that is important, not just the accuracy of the replication.

      1. Tina

        Thanks for that helpful info.

        Some very large, well-known companies come to our campus for on-campus recruiting. At least one of them this semester told us we couldn’t the logo even for purposes of signage to direct the candidates to the interview room (we could list their name, but not use the logo). It would never have occurred to me that would be a problem, since we were using it for their benefit while they were here, not our own. But, now we know!

    2. Anonymous

      Thank you for posting this. For jobs in my area (law and contracts) a logo would definitely be a major red flag – not just that the resume was gimicky and lacked focus, but that the applicant did not understand basic rules regarding the use of IP. Use of a logo would move this to the “never in the lifetime of anyone I have time to warn before I die” category of resumes.

      I realize that’s probably not true in most fields – but I will also point out that as a trusted advisor within my business, I sit on a lot of interview panels for positions not in my department. No one with a logo on his or her resume is getting hired for any of them.

    3. Stryker

      I would make the argument for logos, simply because if you’ve worked at a well-known company, a quick scan of a resume with famous logos or brands there can make a more immediate impact than words alone. (Of course, every hiring manager is reading every word of the resume, including the company names, so this should be superfluous.)

      That said, I’ve never done it for the reasons LondonI brings up. Thanks for the clarification! :)

        1. AdAgencyChick

          Agree. If I saw logos on a resume, I’d think, “Whatever for?” I mean, unless the resume is for a graphic designer whose skillz are so awesome that she’s managed to convince every company she’s ever worked at to let her do their branding.

          And even then I’d rather see it in her portfolio.

          If a hiring manager is too lazy to read company names, she’s too lazy to be a hiring manager!

      1. Anonymous

        But it isn’t your brand, it belongs to the company. You are stealing if you use it without their authorization.

        The focus of a resume is you, not the company you worked for.

        If you use someone’s trademark without authorization if demonstrates bad judgement. And no one wants yo hire someone with bad judgement.

        1. Jaimie

          +1 It is bad judgement. I’m really surprised to see this, particularly from the person who originally told the OP about it. People in Marketing should be well versed in logo usage.

          1. Aimee

            There are lots of marketing jobs that wouldn’t really have anything to do with how the logo is used. I only know how my company’s logo should be used because I run all of my presentations through both our legal and branding teams to make sure I’m doing it correctly. Not everyone does that, and I see a lot of bad usage.

            Plus, marketers are kind of infamous for going around the rules if it makes the message more effective (also not something I’d do. It’s much more satisfying to come up with an effective message with the additional challenge of all the rules and legalities). I agree that using logos in a resume is gimmicky, but I can see where some marketing people think it would work.

          2. Editor

            I worked at a university in a department that regulated the use of the logo. What was really amusing was that the people in charge had serious doubts about whether logos made a big difference in marketing, particularly in marketing corporations; there were some studies he cited and some expensive redesigns he was unimpressed by. There’d be at least one or two rants a year on the topic from the director. He thought businesses should go with a well-designed logo and refrain from tinkering with it.

    4. A cita

      Yes, exactly.

      Besides, there’s no way to reproduce it exactly anyway. You wouldn’t be able to get information on how to use the logo (placement–there are often rules on where it has to be placed on materials as well, space around it, the Pantone color, etc) without getting permission first since the company’s marketing/design team would have that information.

      This is definitely trademark infringement.

  5. Anne 3

    # 3 definitely talk to your employer. I’m also worried how this would affect your insurance situation if you were injured on the job. Anyone have an idea?

    1. Becky

      IF the employer carries Workers Compensation insurance, OP would be able to make a claim against it, but it would be a big hassle (proving you are an employee, not an independent contractor). Also, if OP is the only person working for the company there is a good chance the employer doesn’t even carry Workers Comp coverage (if he’s viewing OP as not an official employee and doesn’t want coverage for himself). In that case, I think most states have recourse through the state, but I don’t remember if that’s true everywhere (and if it is, I don’t think it’s easy to get/deal with and it probably doesn’t cover stuff as clearly as Work Comp).
      That is my recollection from working with that kind of insurance.
      If OP does get injured on the job, they will have to tell the hospital if it is work related, and it will come out and be a problem for the employer.

  6. Tina

    #2 When I list my certifications, I have “Teaco Certified Teapot Expert” with the Teaco certification logo next to it. (Obviously Teaco gave me permission to use their logo when I passed the exam.)

    I used to have only the title and the date I received it, but then worried that employers skip that part of my CV because it looks so bland.

    Do you think this also gimmicky/unprofessional?

    1. MJ of the West

      Yes. Having the cert (even top-level industry certs) can matter, but you shouldn’t build an identity around them.

      When I see this on resumes, it makes the candidate seem less accomplished because they feel they need to rely so heavily on the cert. Or, worse, that they regard attaining the cert so highly that nothing else on the resume matters as much.

      A simple “TCTE #1234” in a Certifications section will suffice.

      1. Tina

        I agree that certifications shouldn’t be the focus/only thing on the CV. I list my last three jobs (they are also my first three), my two degrees and then lastly my two certifications.

        Each job and qualification has more detail and achievements, but since certifications only have the year I received them, they look quite dull without the logos. I am worried that they are easy to pass over and miss.

        1. Anonymous

          As a hiring manager, I’m impressed by content and accomplishments, not logos. The purpose of a resume is not to avoid looking dull, it is to make me want to interview and hire you. You need to showcase your accomplishments rather than third party graphics.

          If you’ve caught my attention with your accomplishments, I’m going to read your resume closely enough to pick up on the extras, like certifications or a particularly good school. Without these, I’m not going to waste my time because of a gif or jpg – although I would probably interpret one as an indication that my instinct to dismiss you was the right one.

          If you want to get hired, do yourself a favor and stop talking yourself out of following the advice of people who hire – forget the images on your resume.

          1. hamster

            Well, not exactly true. My manager who hired lots of people for very tehnical specialized positons was impressed by certification and experience in a field. You could just say
            firm- position- skills -certification and that would have been enough. it is hard to find people with the right mix of tech skills ad it is, if we started screening for persons who wrote CVs that high-light accomplishments we wouldn’t hire anyone. So anyway, i’d take this with a grain of salt. The major accomplishment would be something like ” i kept the system up and running , discovered and fixed tons of shit ” anyway . Plus , some companies just spell respect. For example in my firm if is see. “Big position maintaining critical systems” at “huge bank/ATM company” most hr managers would be impressed and ask the guy/girl for an interview

        2. CAA

          The amount of info you describe fits on a one page resume, therefore your certifications are the last thing that the reader sees and will be fresh in her mind. You definitely don’t need a logo to make them stand out.

          The thing is, with or without a logo, optional certifications are rarely as important as the candidate thinks they are. In software development, they might be a tie-breaker for two very equal candidates, but I’d never hire one over the other just because of a certification.

          Some of my company’s jobs do have required certifications, such as PMP. In that case, the hiring manager is looking for it on the resume and discarding those that don’t have it. The other situation is a required certification that we’ll pay for if you don’t have it when we hire you. We have one role like that, and if you already have it when you apply it saves us about $1000, so managers do look for it when hiring for that specific role.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          What everyone above said. You’re focusing on the wrong things (“they look dull without the logos”). I’d say to listen to people who hire, read the advice here, and try to get a feel for what hiring managers are looking for (it’s not graphics to catch their eye; it’s content). I think right now you’ve probably got a slightly off understanding of what your resume should do and what would make it strong.

  7. hamster

    Some certifications have their own logos , they let you download them from the company website after passing. In that case, they explicitly let you use the certification logo anywhere you want on your resume, office etc. Is this useful on a CV? perhaps for an entry level/ new grad type.

    1. Chinook

      If you have express permission to use the logo for a certification, maybe you could use it as part of your stationary for your cover letter (maybe in the footer). This is how companies use that tpe of logo.

      As for risking it being overlokkedm rest assured that, if it is a requirement, they will be looking for it. If it isn’t, your cover leyter would be the perfect place to highlight it oin passing (ex: as a Teaco Certified examiner, I am trained to look for details).

      1. Anonymous

        I like the cover letter example – that’s a much better way to showcase an accomplishment. I don’t like the idea of putting it on your stationery, which I think should reflect you and not the certification authority, but the text of a cover letter is a great place to highlight a relevant credential.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Nope, not useful on a CV, resume, or cover letter. It’ll look gimmicky. A plain old text resume and cover letter works just fine for a reason; it’s because hiring managers want to see the content, not graphics. You don’t need to liven it up with graphics. And you can’t cover up weak experience with graphics; hiring managers are not stupid. Your experience and skills are either what they are looking for or they are not; a logo will have no impact on that (but it might make them roll their eyes at best or discard you at worst).

      1. CEMgr

        And text search engines in resume tracking systems will be looking for text reflecting the certification, not a logo, unless they are much more clever than such systems usually are. So you need the full text in there any way, making the logo redundant.

  8. Jen in RO

    I’ve read this a couple of times and I don’t really get it: “So I wondered if HR people talk to each other that way and make statements such as, “Oh Jane Doe! I would be leery of hiring her!” or other things that would inadvertently spread like wildfire through the community effectively blackballing Jane Doe.”

    Duh? I mean… of course people talk, why is this a question? (Sorry OP, I don’t want to be mean, but it sounds naive.) Even in a country where formal reference checks are extremely rare, informal ones are done all the time! And that’s why you should try really, really hard to leave a good impression on your ex-coworkers/bosses, because you never know who knows who.

    1. Jen in RO

      Though I have to add that, unless the community is extremely small and well-connected, it’s unlikely that a person would be completely unable to get any job… it would just get more difficult. I work in an industry that’s still small around here (a couple dozen people in my city) and there are a few people I would recommend against… but, since most companies only have 1-2 people with this job title, it’s unlikely that HR in BigCompany1 knows HR in BigCompany2, so even though the worker bees know that person X is bad news, this info might not get to the decision makers.

      1. KireinaHito

        I don’t find that OK. Just like medical doctors are not going here and there talking about their patients, HR people shall be expected to be discreet and delicate when talking about the people they’ve interviewed.
        And of course, I know people talks, and I also think the best advice is to maintain a good reputation.
        But is not because I think a good reputation is important, that I automatically say that is totally OK to talk about people you don’t really know like if you were talk about “software”.

        1. Jen in RO

          I’m not talking about people they interviewed, I’m talking about people who worked in the company. If you know what Employee John was fired for never finishing his work and yelling at people, wouldn’t you tell someone if they asked you?

        2. hamster

          Medical doctors treat you with confidentiality , as well as priests but you are in a way “their clients”. HR and/or your ex-colleagues have no obligation not to be truthful with information about you.

          1. Tina

            There’s a big difference between doctors/medical staff and other types of professionals. Doctors are legally required to maintain certain confidentiality standards.

            The fact is, networking and talking to other people about mutual acquaintances is a common occurrence. It can help weed out candidates that may not be a good fit for your own office. I’m not talking about gossip for gossip’s own sake, but honest feedback about your own experience with someone (and not just hearsay).

          2. Chinook

            Priests and doctors are also answerable to “higher powers” for any ethical breaches – doctors to their certification body and priests to their superiors and, well, God.

            H.R. doesn’t have mandatory certification like professionals such as doctors, nurses, engineers and teachers and can’t have their right to practice pulled (which in my mind is what qualifies someone as working in a profession (whereas most of us have a career). These professionals have a clear code of ethics and responsibilities because of how they work. H.R., on tjhe other hand, is responsible to the company it works for and I would think it would be in breach of their responsibilities to not find out why a potential employee was fired elsewhere.

            1. Anonymous

              Excellent point.

              The focus of some of these discussions seems to be on why it might not be “fair” to an individual who is looking for a job to have potential employers discover information about him.

              You raised a much more important point – it is HR’s job to find out about applicants before they are hired (and become a potential liability to the company if they repeat behavior that got them fired before). There are actually lawsuits about this against companies that do not have disciplined hiring practices designed to identify and avoid these types of employees.

            2. TL

              And doctors, at least, can’t (aren’t supposed to) make moral/personal judgments that affect whether or not they treat the patient, whereas a hiring manager should do so.

        3. fposte

          And even just in interviewing, I think also that discretion and delicacy is something you’re hoping for rather than something that is a genuine expectation of the position. Interviewing isn’t a confidential situation, and it’s a bad idea to expect that it is.

          That doesn’t mean it’s okay for a hiring manager to spend their days mocking failed candidates by name to the world at large, or to chase them around taunting them. But if you let slip in an interview that you were just busted on a DUI and I know that you’re interviewing with my colleague in deliveries, you bet I’m going to tell my colleague about this.

          1. Jen in RO

            And even minor things, like you had a resume written in Comic Sans or printed on pink paper or full of spelling mistakes. You might not like it, but people will hear about it.

        4. Ask a Manager Post author

          Medical doctors are there to serve you, and protecting your privacy is in your interests. Employers are there to further their own interests, and sharing information about candidates serves that purpose. Two different things.

        5. KireinaHito

          I think you’re taking it a bit wrong, guys.
          The situation of protecting your company from a bad worker is of course not quite the case I was talking about. Of course I totally agree with the fact that part of the job of HR is to protect the interests of your client/company.
          But if you are to talk about someone, you should at least have a reason (preferably a good one), try to be discreet and delicate (mainly because you’re talking about a human), and focus your comments in what is really important for the other party to know.
          The example of the OP is pathetic because it looks like it’s just chitchatting. You don’t know if that person who was terrible for your company is going to be excellent in the next one, that is up to the new company to decide. If you just destroy the reputation of someone in an informal chat without a powerful reason you’re not helping anyone, you’re just been an ass.

          1. Colette

            So if someone gets fired for stealing/not showing up for three weeks/assaulting someone and you mention that to someone else, you’d consider that being an ass? What if the person you mention it to is a close friend who is thinking of hiring them? Why would your loyalty be to the person who got fired?

            I’m sure we can all think of former (or current) coworkers who we’d never want to work for again, even if they didn’t get fired – why would it be wrong to say that to someone else?

            1. Tinker

              I think it’s a bit of a stretch to go from “you should have a reason… try to be discreet and delicate… focus your comments in what is really important” to that mentioning that someone assaulted someone else is being an ass.

              It seems to me like there’s room to draw a line somewhere between “gossip and speculation” and “I personally witnessed them committing a felony” that permits mentioning egregious and unambiguous problems but also encourages being conscious of the impact of one’s words and the importance of not using them lightly.

              1. Colette

                I agree that you should be mindful of what you say – especially since you’re talking to someone you don’t know well – but I also don’t think that your loyalty should be to your colleagues. And if you’re talking to someone you are close to, failing to say something will have a negative impact on that relationship.

                I also don’t think that something like “Wakeen is really good at presentations, but struggled with analysis” is ever inappropriate, if it’s true. Helping Wakeen find a job he can excel in is in everyone’s best interests.

                Now if the comments were about things that were totally personal and were never brought in to the office, that’s different, and I agree it’s irrelevant, but anything work-related is on the table, as far as I’m concerned.

              2. fposte

                So what kind of gossip and speculation are people actually encountering that’s problematic? Maybe I’m not running into the kind of talk that’s eliciting reminders to be more responsible.

                My disagreement with KireinaHito’s position is that she seemed to be coming from a place of silence as default and professional obligation in hiring and supervision, and prioritizing avoiding damage to the job-seeker above other responsibilities.

          2. Jen in RO

            I think you mean that people should not gossip unnecessarily, and I agree with the sentiment… as long as you agree that this probably does happen in the real world. If someone is trying to interview/hire my ex-coworker from hell, I will definitely speak up, even if I’m not asked. I don’t care if I “ruin” his reputation – he ruined it himself when he behaved like an ass for two years. I will not lie, but I will not withhold things either.

            1. KireinaHito

              The case of someone stealing, not showing up or assaulting someone are some of the situations when I would certainly talk even if not asked.
              And I’m also not talking about loyalty. My loyalty is totally with my clients. That is out of discussion.
              But Jane got it right. I don’t think it’s fair, useful or of good taste to gossip unnecessarily.
              I have been in the situation before when they were interviewing and ex-colleague of mine in my work, and the guy was an awful developer and a worse person. The only thing I have said is that “I did not feel comfortable I recommending him, because his performance when we used to work together, 2 years ago, was poor, and he needed constantly help of others around him, so I would not trust him to work on his own”. That’s it.
              I don’t have to tell people that he eats super stinky egg sandwiches; that he’s a paranoid who is afraid of white BMWs; that he carries his gun all the time to protect himself about a killer that is following him; or that he had a ghost at home who drank his whiskey every night. That is not relevant! It’s only gossip! Plus he might be under psychiatric treatment now and be a totally different person.

              1. Jen in RO

                Well, it’s only gossip if it didn’t impact work. If it did impact work (e.g. people were afraid to come to talk to him), then I think it makes sense to disclose it.

              2. Colette

                But “his performance when we used to work together … was poor, and he needed constantly help of others around him, so I would not trust him to work on his own” would definitely hurt the person you’re talking about, and it’s the kind of thing the OP is likely referring to.

                However, the other pieces (paranoid, carries a gun, etc.) are also things that are reasonable to share, because they speak to how he is to work with and, by extension, how successful he would be.

              3. Cat

                I’d want to know if someone I was thinking about hiring had a history of carrying a gun into the workplace, especially combined with a history of paranoia.

              4. fposte

                Seconding Colette’s point. The stuff you’re dismissing here is the stuff that’s really important to know, and the notion that somebody might be different now would logically also have to apply to total screwups.

                And it would apply to people you talk about *positively.* That’s one thing I think you’re not considering–that most of this casual sharing is about how good people are at stuff. If the casual sharing is inappropriate, then out goes the casual good reports as well as the bad, and I don’t think you want that.

              5. Lindsay J

                That stuff is relevant. It speaks to how he would be to interact with on a daily basis as a coworker. All that stuff also makes it sound like he could be a legitimate security threat, and I would argue that somebody who knew of his issues and didn’t tell a potential employer would share partial blame if there was ever a workplace violence issue involving this individual.

              6. annie

                I think it depends. I used to work with someone who was a mean bully. He was eventually pushed out, but there wasn’t any “incident” or “firing” that I could officially point to if someone asked me. But, if asked I would (and have) said that it was a very difficult working experience, that I had never before nor since dealt with someone who treated people so meanly, that he poisoned the office, that things were discovered after he left that put the company in a bind, and that I would never want to work with him again, and would resign immediately if he was ever rehired. It’s been my experience that people who have bad reputations also are very arrogant and think that no one would ever say anything bad against them, or that the people who would are such peons that their word does not matter.

                In my case, within a few years, I had no less than three of these unofficial “so, I see you used to work with Mr. Smith” conversations about my former coworker – from what I heard, he is still looking for a new job. I cannot feel bad about that, because he created his own reputation. I do feel good that I have helped to save of my three respected business contacts from hiring someone who was so awful for my company.

                1. Colette

                  That’s just it – I don’t think the onus is on you to keep quiet to protect someone who has consistently made bad choices and destroyed his own reputation.

          3. Meg

            The issue here is that yeah, it’s kind of a dick move to say something, but there’s nothing to hold HR legally accountable for it. Sure, it plays into questionable ethnics and “doing the right thing,” but you’re relying on a conscience, and not the law to prevent people from talking… which we all know it’s better to err on the side of caution and assume that things will get said, so keep your reputation clean.

            1. fposte

              I think a dick move is to volunteer something with a name attached for no purposes other than mockery. But I think you can talk about trivials without a name, and I also think you can warn somebody about something non-trivial with a name if you know it’s relevant.

              1. HR lady

                I agree with fposte. As an HR professional, I don’t approach other HR professionals with gossip about named employees. But what’s pretty common is for another HR person to call me and say “I see that Joe Doe used to work at your company. What can you tell me about him?” In that case I’d give professional, relevant information (if I have it – sometimes I didn’t know the person well enough).

                I find this to be fully ethical (as long as I’m honest, of course). And I’ve called up people in my network to ask the same kind of questions. As AAM has said before, there’s no law that only people who were asked by the candidate to be references can serve as references. And I agree — I don’t think there should be a law to prevent this.

          4. Lindsay J

            Yes, but that company needs the relevant information to decide, and when you’re in a hiring situation usually be best predictors of future behaviors are past behaviors. This is why most interviews focus on behavioral questions and why interviewers want to know what you have done vs what you will do. This is the whole point of reference checks.

            Usually – unless it is just an issue of bad fit either with the specific position or the specific company – somebody who was terrible in one company is going to be terrible in another. John Smith who was abrasive, closed minded, and never bothered to show up on time at company A is most likely still going to be the same person if hired at company B. And even if he has turned over a new leaf, he’s still more of a risk for me to hire than Tim Jones who has a demonstrated reputation for being polite, professional, and prompt in their past positions.

            I’m not saying that people don’t change, and I’m sure there are some people who completely turn themselves around between one job and another. However, when you’re making a hiring decision you’re judging people who are usually similarly qualified and who you don’t know a lot about, and I feel like it is irresponsible of a hiring manager to not find out and take into account anything they can about a candidate’s past behaviors.

            If you don’t want your reputation destroyed, don’t behave in a way that would destroy your reputation if others found out about it.

            (Note that I am talking about the disclosure of factual information here. Somebody who outright lies about a person is obviously an ass.)

            1. Julie

              I have been asked several times during reference checks if I would hire someone back. (I always thought the answer to that question was a good measure of how well the person was regarded at work.) Fortunately, I’ve always been able to say “yes” to that question because I’ve only been contacted about people I agreed to be a reference for, and I would love to work with them again. I have worked with a few people who had various “issues.” In those cases, the seriousness of the issues dictates whether I speak up without being asked. There are some people I don’t want to work with again, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do fine in a different kind of work environment. One person who worked for me was absent a lot because his/her parent was ill, and s/he lived about an hour’s commute from the office. It was a problem because everyone else had to cover for her. But, s/he was great at doing the actual “meat” of her/his job. So in that case, I wouldn’t talk about the person without being asked, but if I was asked my opinion, I would mention everything – the good and the bad.

        6. Jamie

          As others have said, the confidentiality thing doesn’t apply outside of very specific circumstances, clergy and medical professionals being two great examples.

          And we can’t forget that it cuts both ways – sure, people can say unflattering things (as long as they’re true) but they can also chime in with how awesome someone was. I’ve interviewed people who were very impressive, but didn’t have x that the hiring manager needed…but if asked would talk about how great they were and wish we had a spot for them.

          You don’t want people to have to keep those thoughts to themselves.

  9. Frieda

    #2: regarding using logos to stand out, I think some people take the idea of “catching someone’s attention in a pile of resumes” a bit too literally. I don’t think most hiring managers literally spread out a pile of resumes on their desk and pick the one that visually stands out the most. (At least I hope that isn’t common practice.) Having a resume stand out means that your accomplishments stand out and are presented neatly, so that when someone scans the page quickly they can see that you are worth taking a closer look at.

    1. Jen in RO

      That’s a very good point! (Though, in some professions, presentation is also important. I’m not talking about graphic designers necessarily, but if you’re going to be in any kind of written content creation position, I would expect your resume to look good. Not colorful, but well aligned, well structured, with a pleasant font, some well-chosen headings etc.)

    2. Anonymous

      I don’t know specifically about hiring and resumes, but certainly in these days of information overload many many people look through things at a glance before moving on, and that “hooks” of all sorts – words, images, design (as appropriate) increase attention. We may think we don’t get influenced this way, but we do.

        1. Anonymous

          Bingo.

          Logos on a resume would be a big disqualifier for me (if it even made it to me and wasn’t screened out before then, which I hope it would be if my team is properly trained).

          1. Anonymous

            ” big disqualifier”

            So if someone was better in everything else on their resume, but had logos, you’d rule them out completely and hope your team tossed them earlier. Interesting.

            1. Anonymous

              My field is law and contracts (I’m also anonymous at 8:53a above), and understanding the basics of IP is part of the job. A resume that violates trademark law is not coming from someone who is “better in everything else” in my field.

              However, I do want to be clear that it would be a big disqualifier even in other areas. Yes, I do toss out resumes with logos even for positions in other departments (I sit on a number of hiring panels). We have plenty of applicants who rely on accomplishments rather than graphics. We want to hire people of substance, and have no problem finding excellent applicants who present themselves appropriately.

              I have to say I have never encountered the situation you posited – an applicant who is superior in every other way except for the use of the logos. Instead, we have found a very strong inverse correlation between the use of logos and the quality of the applicant. I’m perfectly willing to keep playing those odds.

              1. Anonymous

                “We want to hire people of substance, and have no problem finding excellent applicants who present themselves appropriately.”
                So again, logo + excellent substance means disqualified?

                “I have to say I have never encountered the situation you posited – an applicant who is superior in every other way except for the use of the logos”

                Sure. And if it’s inherently disqualifying that doesn’t matter – toss it. They’re out no matter what.

                “I’m perfectly willing to keep playing those odds.’

                Right – toss it. Don’t read it.

                1. Colette

                  I’m not sure why you’re so invested in this. Several people have said here that when they do look at resumes, they find that the people who have included logos on their resumes are less attractive candidates, on average, than those that haven’t.

                  That’s good information to have, both if you do include logos on your resume and if you don’t.

                2. fposte

                  I think you’re ignoring the point the other anon (again, you folks really can’t just pick an identifying pseudonym?) is making. In her area of work, you can’t have a logo and “excellent substance,” because employing a logo demonstrates a significant failure of understanding.

                  In other cases it may be seem arbitrary and capricious, similar to the way there’s no quantifiable reason to resist Comic Sans and, for that matter, CVs written in crayon. But the fact that these conventions exist make these considerations non-arbitrary–the more knowledgeable candidate abides by the conventions, whereas the candidate who flouts them is either less knowledgeable or less interested in following conventions and dictates. Which may be cool in some positions, but I doubt trade law is one of them.

                3. Elizabeth West

                  Using a logo without permission violates copyright law. I would consider it unlikely that the person got written permission from every company whose logo (s)he put on there. Doing that doesn’t give the best impression.

                4. ExceptionToTheRule

                  The analog would be a graphic designer whose resume is done in Comic Sans. It clearly shows poor design skills, why bother with the rest of it?

                  People draw lines in the sand about any number of things based on their knowledge of their business, their experiences, and what they want to see in a top candidate. They’re entitled to do so, as long as those lines aren’t about a protected class. If the lines the hiring manager feels are important aren’t important to you, then you’re also better off as it would likely be a bad fit.

                5. Frieda

                  But even if, for the sake of argument, we assume that a highly qualified candidate would include logos on their resume, it doesn’t necessarily follow that disqualifying someone for that is a mistake on the part of the person hiring, if they have more than one qualified candidate (as is almost always the case).

                  This sounds to me like a mistake people often make when thinking about the college admissions process, which is assuming that when given a pool of applicants for a limited number of positions, that it is easy (or even possible) to rank all of the candidates sequentially. As in Applicant A is the best, Applicant B is the 2nd best, and so on. If that were the case, denying the slot to someone higher in that ranking in favor of someone lower in that ranking would be considered unfair.

                  But in practice candidates can’t be ranked this way, because some factors are subjective, and because candidates have a mix of desirable traits but few meet all of your requirements exactly–or multiple people meet all of your requirements. Instead what usually happens is that applicants are sorted into two or three piles: (1) definitely qualified and (2) definitely not qualified, and sometimes (3) possibly qualified. (The third group is only relevant if the number of open slots is greater than the number of people in group 1).

                  Now, if you are hiring for a single slot you only need to look at group 1. If the initial sort was done well, then as far as you know any of the applicants would be successful in the position. But you have to start culling the list somehow, so you have to start making decisions based on criteria other than direct qualifications. Some of those criteria may be major issues (negative reference check) and some may be minor (used logos on a resume implies they don’t understand professional norms), but that doesn’t mean that the hiring manager is making a bad decision.

                  Which is a long-winded way of saying that disqualifying someone for using logos on their resume makes perfect sense from the perspective of the hiring manager. It might seem unfair from the perspective of the applicant, but hiring isn’t about the applicant’s perspective. As an applicant you need to think from the perspective of the hiring manager, because they are making the decisions.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yep, an influence but not a positive one.

          For whatever it’s worth, when I’ve seen candidates use graphics, etc., they have never been particularly strong candidates. Not once. The candidates who do this tend to be the ones who are weaker in other ways too. So first, it’s worth thinking about why that is, and second, you do not want to be affiliated with that group in employers’ minds.

          1. Julie

            I agree with Alison. When I got the MCSE certification, I used the heck out of those graphics (which I had permission to use)(1) because I was proud of my accomplishment but also (2)because I didn’t have a lot of experience, and I was hoping the certification would help compensate for that. I don’t have the certification logos on my business cards any more because I don’t need them any more.

  10. Cat

    My objection to the logo thing would be less that it’s a violation of the companies’ intellectual property (it’s not my job to enforce trademark law in idiotic circumstances) and more that it gives off a strong whiff of corporate tool. Your resume should be about selling you, not reinforcing the branding strategies of your former and soon-to-be-former employers. I don’t want candidates who think that the names of their previous employers are the most interesting or should be the most prominent things about them.

    1. Jen in RO

      And working for a big company doesn’t really mean you’re better than someone working for a small company. My ex-coworker from hell got a job with Oracle… and from what I hear, he’s still a rude slacker.

      1. hamster

        Still, it depends. Some companies are renowned for efficiency. If that guy will work there for 6 years, despite being a slacker , people will be impressed by his experience. Not saying it’s fair, just how it works.

        1. Jen in RO

          Yep, you’re right. One more reason why references are so important… it’s so hard to get fired from a big company that many subpar people stay on for ages.

  11. some1

    “Of course, if he’s in a small field and people are familiar with him, it’s possible that his reputation is keeping employers from calling him for interviews — but that would be pretty rare.”

    My last company was in an industry that is incredibly small, gossipy and incestuous in my area (less than ten employers, and almost everyone has worked at more than one). When I was laid off, I called a former co-worker within half an hour of getting home that day and she already knew.

    If someone at VP-level was fired for this in that industry, it would spread like wildfire.

    1. Nodumbunny

      Yes there are two people in my industry who had very public extramarital affairs and they are now radioactive. Eventually everyone will forget but it’s only been a couple of years. They’ve both had to change industries or take much lower, less visible jobs.

      1. Anonymous

        And they should be unhireable. A vp thinking its ok to have an affair with someone s/he’s in charge of is just gross.

  12. E.B.

    Thank you for answering my question Alison!

    You know, he didn’t really specify, but since I’m part time that could be the case. However, I’ve been out due to surgery. He said he would send my check to my house so I wouldn’t have to worry about picking it up, but it hasn’t arrived yet. The office is only a town over from mine so it shouldn’t have taken this long.

    Sigh. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

  13. Liz

    Not so much in response to any particular question today, but rather to the response in #4 that “most employers don’t check references until much later in the hiring process.” I have been applying for jobs since February, and 4 times out of 5 my references tell me they’ve been contacted by the company before the company even contacts me! Submitting references during the application process is getting to be the standard I gather.

    Also, unrelated, but I have to get this off my chest:

    One thing I have to say to anyone giving out a PDF to applicants is make sure the other person can save to the document!!! I just lost hours worth of work on an application that I couldn’t save, all because of an automatic update/restart on my computer. GRRRRR!!! I had 7 out of 9 pages filled out. I don’t care as much about filling out my work history again, but I had answered some of the short essay questions and now I have to try to come up with them again. Savable PDFs!!! Please!!!

    1. Nodumbunny

      I will give you an idea we learned the hard way during our (ongoing) college application process with my oldest – write your essays in a word processing program, edit and polish them there, then cut and paste into the application.

    2. Jeanne

      Sorry about your application debacle! On your first point – I hate to say it, but I’ve found this true too. I’ve had people that have worked for me leave and apply for other jobs, and the company to which they applied calls me to talk about their candidacy before the applicant knows they are even being considered…

  14. Anonymous

    I can’t imagine putting a logo on my resume. Unless maybe I was some fancy designer and my job was making logos.

  15. HR Comicsans

    Blackballed- My industry is pretty tight and former employees have accused me of blackballing.

    Thanks for believing I have the that vindictive power, but truth is I never got a call on either of them.

  16. Jesse

    #4: It could be that your soon-to-be-ex husband is purposely sabotaging his resume/cover letter in effort to appear “poor on paper.” This way when you go before a judge, and he is order to pay child support or alimony, the overall amount is lowered. Or you take a lower payout amount.

    Then after all the dust has settled, and amounts have been paid, he’ll suddenly get a new job that has awesome pay and benefits.

    Talk to your lawyer about how to protect yourself. Don’t believe everything that your ex is saying, because it might not be true. After all, he cheated on you. His word isn’t that trustworthy, and his actions speak louder than anything he could ever say.

    1. fposte

      If his salary changes radically, though, she can always file a request for modification, and in the meantime, a wage will be imputed.

      1. Jesse

        Yes, but that time and $$$$$. Often times it costs more in lawyer fees than just to give up and move on.

        1. fposte

          Asking for a wage to be imputed is just part of the process–it doesn’t cost extra.

          Modification requests based on salary increases are pretty easy to file on your own in many jurisdictions–just get the right forms.

    2. some1

      You’re assuming tons of things here. We don’t know:

      – that he didn’t have the LW’s permission to see other women

      – that kids are involved

      – if kids are involved that the LW is seeking custody or support of any kind

  17. Cara Carroll

    #2 I don’t really understand why you would want to put a company’s logo on your resume that you plan on leaving. However, I am all for people having *personal* brands. I have a logo on my resume but it is MY logo that I had made to market ME. I remember my current manager mentioning she really liked it. It is fairly small it is only at the top of my resume, it is actually my initials, and of course I do not use it in place of spelling my name out or anything. I think of it like my personal stationary. I also use it and the exact format of all my contact information on my cover letters too. I feel it give me consistency and again a personal brand. I also use those same palette of colors on my business cards, and any other place I can.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I know that many on AAM aren’t fans of the personal branding wave, but I am also a fan. It’s not something that replaces qualifications and skill and effort, but I think that overall it’s a positive movement.

      1. Cara Carroll

        Yes I agree it is no replacement for skill. But personal branding in a small dose it can just make a candidate memorable not necessarily better, just memorable. And it also must be simple and professional, so no hot colors but more light natural tones. If the logo is done professionally then if done right it will not be distorted regardless of the size. As stated previously, I put it at the top of the resume (not in the header) so I do not think too much could go wrong like if say the image was placed in the middle of text. Branding isn’t for everyone but for those who aren’t afraid to show a little creativity it can be the right thing. I am not a follower and I am not afraid to let it show!

    2. Editor

      The last place I worked dealt with some third-party software that emailed me the resumes of candidates. The formats bore no resemblance to nice resumes — it was clear line breaks had been changed and stuff just looked weird. It happened with every resume.

      When HR chooses a crappy interface, no amount of formatting or logo placement will improve the type of email I saw. Sigh.

  18. AVP

    Well, #1 is an interesting topic – can you guys think of any mistakes in your field that would be so bad no one would ever hire you again?

    In my field (film), there’s one that’s been an urban legend since at least the 1970’s: losing the day’s footage before there’s a back-up made. Someone supposedly did that (in a cab) and then had to change her name and move to another city. In this internet-connected day and age, I don’t think even that would work – you would need to move countries to get away from it.

    I do know of someone who managed to leave an actual film camera (incredibly expensive) in an unlocked car on the day before the shoot. No one who hears that story would hire him, but I don’t think anyone is going out of their way to call around and warn unknown people about him – so he’s probably fine (and won’t make that mistake again!)

    1. Jamie

      Well, #1 is an interesting topic – can you guys think of any mistakes in your field that would be so bad no one would ever hire you again?

      In my branch of IT – ethical issues and not following protocol so you had no back up to recover in case of disaster. Mistakes you can recover from, even if it sets you back a ways, but lack of trust either because you’re shady or sloppy when it counts…I don’t know how you bounce back from that.

      1. Julie

        I had a colleague once who was buying products from the company store, then using the company’s mailroom to ship them out after she resold them online. Another guy stole a couple of laptops but didn’t remember that there are security cameras on all floors of all company buildings. Both people got fired, but I don’t think criminal charges were pursued. What were they thinking?!

        1. FRRibs

          An old employer of mine installed security cameras around the site’s perimeter and covering the parking lot from multiple angles; the installation took a week, with logoo’d vans parking in plain sight and the cameras in very open and obvious areas. The first day they were operational an employee drove a fork truck with an entire pallet of product up to his vehicle and loaded up.

    2. CAA

      Hacking. There’s a guy in this city who went to jail for hacking into and defacing the website of one of his former clients. The news articles about the arrest and trial are near the top of the list if you Google his name, and there is no way any agency will ever hire him.

      At my current job, anything that causes you to not get or to lose a security clearance means we have to let you go.

  19. Tara T.

    In #3 above, unless you want to have to fill out Profit & Loss and other business owner forms when you do your income taxes, and unless you are REALLY a business owner of your own business, you can fill out IRS Form SS-8 with your tax return. It is a form that says your employer misclassified you as an independent contractor instead of an employee. Employers can really get into hot water when they evade taxes by pretending their employees are independent contractors when they are not. They will be audited and fined! What they are doing it WRONG! It is ILLEGAL!

  20. S

    Putting logos of the companies the applicant used to work for is one thing (very bad idea, for reasons explained by previous commenters in the above). But lately, I’ve seen quite a few applications that had OUR logo on them. Quite presumptuous. Also a very bad idea.

    And I’ve had two cover letters in script form this year – they read like a fictional job interview for the position, featuring me and the candidate. Also a bad idea.

    There seem to be a few dumb application writing trends around… Did I miss something?

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