someone is deleting my work, the best time of day to quit, and more

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

1. Someone is deleting my work

About every two weeks, somebody deletes a large part of my work. I don’t know who’s doing this, how, or why. I have to use a program that won’t allow me to retrieve earlier versions of text files, so I can’t get the deleted text back. I’ve started keeping a back-up text file, but even that has its problems – it’s not really compatible with the other program.

By the way, there is no chance that I’m accidentally deleting my own work. I’m very good at using this program. Also, the deletions happen while my work’s being reviewed by a couple of other people. They blame nebulous computer issues and don’t seem interested in looking into it more or fixing the mysterious computer problem. This is extremely frustrating.

What else can I do about it? Or, how can I move on to another job without burning any bridges here? I love every other part of working here, but when my work disappears and nobody seems to care, I don’t feel that what I’m doing is valued/valuable.

Do you have an I.T. department? As soon as you’re done reading this answer, go there immediately and tell them what’s going on, and enlist their help in solving it.

If it helps, it’s far more likely to be user error than maliciousness. I mean, yes, it is possible that one of your coworkers is regularly and systematically sabotaging your work, but it’s way more likely that one of them is misusing the program without realizing it. Your I.T. people should be very concerned about this and should track down the problem. If they’re not, then you need to raise this with your manager, explain you tried enlisting I.T., and ask for help in brainstorming what else you can do.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. When is the best time of the day to quit?

When is the best time of the day to quit? I have been talking to another company and if everything goes well at our meeting tomorrow, I want to talk to my boss on Wednesday. However, he is in the office kind of sporadically, so I never know how long he is going to stay. Is it a bad idea to talk to him as soon as he comes in (and then having to work there for the rest of the day) or should I wait until towards the end of the day? Is there a standard “time” for this kind of talk? I have never had to do anything like this before, so I am a bit clueless.

Well, first, do not resign until you have a formal job offer. Not just a conversation where everything went well, not even a conversation where they say that they’ll be making you an offer soon. A formal job offer, that you have accepted, and a start date.

Once all that happens, talk to your manager. Time of day doesn’t really matter. I have a personal preference for hearing that kind of thing in the morning, because that allows me to immediately start doing all the things I’ll need to do when someone resigns, whereas if I hear it late in the day, I might have to wait until the morning. So if you can do it in the morning, it can be a kindness … but the exact timing isn’t really a big issue. In fact, it’s more likely to be determined by when your boss can meet with you.

3. Is my manager getting ready to fire me?

My supervisor keeps trying to force me to train multiple other individuals to do parts of my job (even though it doesn’t impact them at all) but won’t allow me to be trained on other tasks that do impact my job because “we already have someone who does that.” For example, he wants me to train five people how to run the website even though that is my main responsibility. But he won’t allow me to take a records management course because it wouldn’t be fair to XXXX. Is he setting me up to fire me?

Maybe. Or maybe something else is going on. What kind of feedback are you getting from him? (And if you’re not getting any, ask for some. Always, but especially since you’re worried about what’s going on.)

In any case, I’m a big believer in just being straightforward about stuff like this. Say something like this: “I noticed that you’re having me train all the account managers in how to run the website, and I wasn’t sure if it indicated any concerns about how I’m doing it. Can you share your thinking with me so that we’re on the same page?” (Of course, if you ask, you’ll need to be prepared for an answer that you might not like — but it’s generally better to know than to not know. And you might find out it’s something else altogether, like that your manager got chewed out by his own boss the last time you went on vacation and no one was covering the website.)

4. My second job is requiring hours that conflict with my first job

I currently work a full-time position for one company. Recently I took a second part-time job, which is “requiring” that I work on Black Friday, a minimum 12-hour shift. My full-time job is open that day and I am required to be there also. Also, I have availability to only work on Fridays after 5 p.m. What are my legal rights, and is this “requirement” from my second job a breach of policy or law? I don’t feel this is right and would like to know my rights as an employee to both of these employers.

No, that’s perfectly legal. Each of your employers can require you to work whatever schedule they want, and they’re not required to accommodate the agreement you have with a different employer, or even to always adhere to the hours you originally said you were available to work. And if you’re in retail (which it sounds like you might be from the Black Friday mention), it’s pretty common to be expected to work during major shopping periods.

You can certainly try pointing out to your part-time job that you have a full-time job and told them this from the start. They might have simply overlooked that. But if they won’t budge, then you’ll have to decide if you want the job under those terms or not.

5. Should I drive my transcripts 40 miles to be considered for a job an HR person is blocking me from?

I applied for a job in August the day it was posted. The requirements were someone with a Masters or JD, submission of an electronic transcript, etc. I have a JD and was qualified for the job, but both my undergrad and law school did not offer electronic versions of the transcript. I know that a sealed transcript is considered official, so I submitted a written paragraph as an attachment that explained this situation. I even offered to drive the 40 miles to the job location and hand deliver my official transcripts if needed.

Fast forward to now, November. The job is re-posted after they did not find a qualified applicant and no one was hired. I call HR and ask them how may I re-apply and/or update my application. I have now opened the sealed transcripts and scanned them to a jump drive, now verifying my education experience. Since then, I have been working now for 2 months as a voluntary intern in the field and have practical experience as well. I wanted to update my application or re-apply so that my new resume, transcripts, and references will support my qualifications. HR stated that the system will not allow me to re-apply because without my transcript and without verifying my education earlier, I did not meet the qualifications. The only advice she gave me was to next time make sure that all of my materials were complete. She added that even if this job were re-posted in a year, I would still be unable to apply.

This is a small university with one person working currently in the department where I am applying. I want to drive 40 miles to the job location and physically deliver my updated resume, official and sealed transcripts, printed application, and references. This would give me peace of mind to know that my file was not passed over due to a technicality. I have no problem with being passed over for a job, but I find it unsettling that I was labeled as not meeting the requirements of (Masters or JD), when I indeed possess a JD. Is my plan a good or bad idea? Any advice? Or am I better off not working for this company?

I wouldn’t drive there, because it sounds like this HR person will block you from applying anyway; her objection wasn’t that you couldn’t get her those materials now (since you can), but rather than she has already disqualified you and isn’t willing to reverse that.

So it might be a lost cause. But before you conclude that, I’d try emailing all your materials to the hiring manager directly, with a short and cheerful (not irritated) note explaining the situation. Be as brief as possible — two sentences, max. (Example: “I’d love to be considered for the X job, but because my law school transcript wasn’t electronically available when I first applied in August, Lucifer Bigglesworth in HR has told me I am permanently ineligible. However, I’ve since obtained electronic transcripts, and I’m hoping you’ll consider me a candidate.”)

This way you might be able to bypass this awful HR person who doesn’t understand that the goal of her job is to hire the right person, not to throw up bureaucratic and unnecessarily rigid roadblocks.

{ 167 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    On #5–is the scan enough, or do you need to make sure you’re still armed with a sealed transcript, and if so, do you have another? I know on the admissions side most places won’t rely solely on a self-scanned transcript, and this institution doesn’t sound like it cuts job candidates any more slack.

    1. fposte*

      Argh, forgot to say–in my experience,”electronic transcript” means an official school transcript and wouldn’t cover a self-scanned one, so I might make sure my wording wasn’t accidentally deceptive there.

      1. Anonymous*

        But how can there be an “official” electronic transcript? Transcripts are official because they’re printed on special paper and have a raised seal, and I don’t see how an university can produce an official copy electronically. In either case, it should be fairly straightforward to verify this with the institution itself, and I can’t imagine that they don’t do this anyways, so it really does seem like an unnecessary hurdle.

        1. V*

          Some schools actually are transmitting official electronic transcripts now; I was a little thrown off the first time one was sent to me. Both times I’ve received one, I was given an automatically generated password in my email that was used to open the transcript.

          I would hope the schools have the capability to send a hard copy though.

        2. fposte*

          Transcripts can be officially electronically generated, too; they would be appropriately marked and perhaps required to come directly from the school (as the paper transcript might be, sealed or no).

          I think the HR person is off the rails (all she had to do was ask the OP to have his schools mail her the transcripts, if that’s what she wanted). But I want to make sure the OP avoids any pitfalls in the recovery here.

          1. YoTeach*

            Yeah, this person is definitely off the rails. I applied for (and got) a job at a college where I am teaching. For me, they asked for an unofficial transcript with the application, which I submitted electronically and then they asked that an official transcript be mailed to the main office of the college. I had my university mail the transcript directly to the main office and all was well. That HR person has a serious problem if she permanently blocks people from ever applying again simply because they didn’t attach their transcripts the first time. WTF??

            1. Limon*

              Agree, I also teach at a local college and the transcripts are really the smallest part of the whole process.

              Snail mail or email, the uni’s can get them where they need to go for the official copies.

              As an aside, I will say that small colleges can have a very ‘unique’ political environment that doesn’t always follow even it’s own rules so don’t take it personally if they don’t interview you. Where I work, the minimum requirement to teach is a master’s and it must include graduate level courses in the area you teach. This is across all the consortium of colleges in the organization. No exceptions!!! this causes great grief for hiring chemistry lab instructors, for example. One of the full-time faculty members has a BA in biology, and a M.Ed. A master’s in education is not the same as an advanced biology degree no matter who does the HR evaluation. Fair? no, of course not. But there it is.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      I was wondering if a self-scan was OK too. Although it sounds like the HR person is creating artificial roadblocks to the process – once again demonstrating why people hate HR. Why, oh why, can’t good HR people peer pressure the idiots?
      I like emailing the manager. That person needs to know what HR is doing

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I know. This would royally tick me off. And I don’t get what this accomplishes, beyond making this HR person feel somehow validated by improperly wielding her power.

      2. Nikki T*

        And she’s also creating failed searches…does she does that with every opening? Wonder if the hiring managers have wondered why it takes so long to find at least marginally qualified candidates…

      3. Bean*

        As an HR student, I really think there needs to be some sort of “I swear I’m not a blubbering idiot” test. I promise that the majority of my class would fail the test…some of their ideas of what they will do once they get into their career make me cringe.

        We are not allowed to discriminate based on race, but a classmate of mine is convinced that they can get away with it by not even interviewing people with “black names”

        *face palm*

        1. The Clerk*

          Well, they probably can get away with it, that’s the thing. The manager at one of my jobs has never managed to hire anyone over 25 (or males of any age), which sounds like a huge lawsuit invite *if* he interviewed older people and then didn’t hire them. But when you look at the names of the girls he hires, you realize that he’s looking for Breannas and Jasmines and Kaylas, names people just didn’t give their kids until fairly recently. It’s hard to pin stuff like that down. So your classmate isn’t so much “blithering idiot” as “conniving asshole.”

        2. Melissa*

          Sadly, this is the exact reason my mom told me that she vetoed my dad’s first three choices for names and why they gave me the name they settled on, as well as my two siblings’. I’ve heard so many young black people say their parents told them the same thing.

    3. Elysian*

      I’ve always sent a self-scanned unofficial transcript, unless an “official transcript” is specifically requested. My school even has a special formatting for unofficial transcripts that makes them easier to scan, just for this purpose. If it might be a problem, you can always add at the end of your cover letter something to the effect of “Enclosed is my resume, writing sample, and an unofficial electronic transcript. If you require an official transcript, I can have my school forward a sealed, official transcript to your preferred address.”

      Official transcripts cost me like $8 a piece – I’ve never had anyone require one until the very final stages of the application process. Maybe its because I apply for law jobs (and sending in a falsified transcript could get me severely disciplined by the Bar) but everywhere I’ve ever applied has trusted (with the potential to verify) my unofficial transcript.

  2. Seal*

    #5 Official electronic transcripts are those sent directly and securely from the institution to your potential employer; they generally replace a sealed envelope transcript. Scanning your official paper transcript and sending that is not the same thing; it most likely will be rejected because it does not have some sort of official seal or digital signature from the institution. I am surprised that either school you attended, especially the law school, cannot issue electronic transcripts; I have degrees from 3 different schools and have always gotten electronic transcripts when needed.

    That said, the hiring manager is a moron. Of all places, a university should be able to accept official paper transcripts and not penalize candidates who prefer to or have to submit them that way.

    1. AdjunctForNow*

      I have transcripts from three universities, and none of them do the official electronic ones, even though two are major state schools.

      THAT SAID, I am applying to lots of academic jobs, and they ALWAYS accept a scan in the preliminary application, with the note that I will have a sealed transcript mailed to the school if we reach a stage where they need to verify it.

      1. Jennifer*

        Electronic transcripts are a work-in-progress thing, and not that many places have them yet. My job is working on it.

        But really, I think it sounds like the HR person hates the OP for whatever reason, and just doesn’t want to give them the job opportunity. The transcripts sound like an excuse to me.

    2. Elysian*

      Wow – I didn’t know electronic transcripts were such a big thing! Of the 4 places I have done coursework, none offer electronic transcripts. Like I said about, my law school has an actual “unofficial” version of the transcript, which they will print out for you (for free). They don’t put it on the special transcript paper, because when you scan the official transcript a big “INVALID” or something splashes across the page and makes it hard to read. The unofficial version that the law school gives is supposed to be scanned and sent out.

    3. tcookson*

      We’re in the process of collecting official transcripts from faculty who don’t have one on file in their personnel file, and several of them have ruined the official-ness of theirs by opening the sealed envelope before handing it to the dean’s assistant. To be official, the transcript has to be presented to the recipient in the original sealed envelope from the issuing institution. We accept electronic copies, too, which come via email from the issuing institution, which we can tell because they come from a “.edu” email address at that school.

      This HR person is getting some sort of weird kick out of being overly bureaucratic.

      1. Anonymous*

        >which we can tell because they come from a “.edu” email address at that school.

        That can be faked fairly trivially. If you can’t establish that it came from an university’s mail server (not just the “from” address), or that the email is digitally signed by the university (with a “known good” key), then the electronic evidence really isn’t that strong.

      2. Evan*

        >which we can tell because they come from a “.edu” email address at that school.

        That doesn’t even need to be faked. I still have a “.edu” email address at the school I graduated from, so I could mail fake transcripts all day from there. Unless you recognized my name, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was me and not a professor or a person in the records office.

    4. Anonymous*

      I just checked, of curiosity, my undergraduate and graduate schools (from which I graduated 10 and 8 years ago, respectively). Neither does official electronic transcripts. Current students or students who have attended since the most recent version of their online system can generate unofficial electronic transcripts but official versions are still mailed and sealed, for current students, recent alumni, and long-since-gone alumni. They’re both pretty large (20k-30k student population) schools, too, one public and one private.

      Seems very strange to require official electronic ones at the initial application stage. Bureaucratic and pointless.

      1. OP #5*

        Alison thanks for the advice. Thank you all for your responses thus far. It helps to know that I’m not the only one who thinks this process is unnecessary. My next step is to contact the department head and his boss directly (probably via email but not sure yet). I did directly email the department head and likely decision maker about one month after initially applying. He forwarded that email to someone in HR and they responded with a one sentence email: “The committee is still reviewing applications and has not yet reached a decision.” Due to the transcript hangup, he may have never even reviewed my file or recognized my name other than that follow-up email I sent. I have to think emailing all my materials to the department head and CCing his boss would prevent my email from again being forwarded to the apathetic HR recruiter.

        Whether the problem is with the online filters or human error via HR, the whole process has failed both the university and the candidates. FWIW, I interviewed for a job in the same field with the same title a month ago. No transcript needed, over 186 applicants. I am certain that there was not a shortage of applicants both qualified and unqualified, for the job in question. I was very shocked to see the job re-posted due to lack of interest/qualified candidates.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t know that I’d cc: the boss–unless that person is involved with the hiring and the position, that looks a bit like a pre-emptive “I’m telling!” strategy. That’s not a sure thing–it depends on the department and the position being hired for–but I’d consider it.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It wouldn’t necessarily prevent them from forwarding it, but it’s your best chance here. I wouldn’t cc the hiring manager’s boss though, not unless the hiring manager is very junior (which she’s not if she’s a department head). Otherwise you risk alienating her.

          But I really wouldn’t show up in person. That’s going to seem odd. At some point, you can’t force this to work; you can only take reasonable steps (emailing the hiring manager) and then move on.

          1. Green*

            I would also note for OP #5 that “good judgment” and “ability to work out conflicts” are pretty much the two top things employers look for in attorneys, after the JD.

            I know the job market for lawyers is really tough right now, but you need to follow Allison’s advice and not try to force yourself into this role. You should also follow the more general advice of applying to a position and then “forgetting” about it and moving on. I was coming from a top firm and just did a round of job applications: 150 applications later, I had 5 great job offers (one that I accepted that was pretty close to perfect!) and 145 rejections. Becoming this emotionally invested in a particular job listing is going to bum you out and distract you from what you need to do.

            1. OP #5*


              Great advice. I have generally applied and added the name of the company to a word document and moved on. Then as I hear back I scratch out or update the process of each application so I can know what is still out there and what has been rejected. It may sound like I’m emotionally invested but I don’t really feel that way about this job. It’s just that when you’re unemployed I feel you need to leave no stone unturned and not have any regrets about the process. I’m in no position to be picky but there are other institutions where I would prefer to work. I would ideally like to turn my volunteer position into a full-time work but I cannot afford to wait for the time when that comes although there has been mention that the time could come sooner rather than later.

        3. Frances*

          #5 – I worked in academia for 8 years and our HR department was notorious for misinterpreting the proper procedures or just flat out not knowing the policy and saying “no” instead of bothering to look it up. (To be fair, this was partly because they were in a near constant state of reorganization, which resulted in such “efficiencies” as assigning a rep to a graduate school with no training in faculty or postdoc  appointment policies.) I would actually go ahead and create a completely new application in their system again, because she might be completely wrong about how it actually works. (And then do what Alison said and reach out to the hiring manager, don’t show up in person.)

          1. OP #5*

            Thanks…. Alison you’re right. Although he would usually be involved in the interview and hiring process it wouldn’t look good CCing him. Frances, I tried to complete a new application and username. Unfortunately you have to enter your SS# when u select username and password. The system links each SS# to a specific application. My social is in the system and linked to that “unqualified” applicant.

            1. Woodward*

              Put the 111-11-1111 SS# with a note on it that you’ll submit your number farther along in the process. That might be weird in this case since you have already applied. Just an idea for the future.

            2. Limon*

              I would let it go. They don’t want you, if they did they would have said: we would like to meet you.

              I worked at a college with fantastic results and excellent evaluations. When I tried to apply for the full-time position that had been open for over two years, they would not interview me. Multiple college people spoke on my behalf, incredulous that my background and experience and popularity would not even get me an interview within my own department.

              HR told me that I needed two years of full-time teaching experience, and since I didn’t have it I would never be considered for the position. But – the woman I would have replace did not have ANY college teaching experience and had been a fulltime faculty member for several years.

              As an aside, one of the instructors said that being ‘too popular’ was not looked on as a good thing and feathers of other females were ruffled.

              So remember, it’s not always you and even tho you are a great candidate, you are not the right person for that environment. Keep the faith, and keep looking for that place that really loves what you have to offer. And don’t take it personally when yo are rejected.

    5. cecilhungry*

      My undergrad doesn’t have electronic transcripts, but they will send a paper copy directly to whoever you want them sent to. I’m surprised most places (that don’t have electronic ones) don’t do this. If I have to send a transcript (rarely, but it happens), I append a note to my application stating that the transcript will arrive in the mail in X days.

      Did the OP simply not send any sort of transcript at all, just “Yup I have one, trust me”? Because that seems weird. Why all this driving 40 miles? Why not just mail it in? That option still exists you know.

      1. fposte*

        I wondered about that as well. Most universities are pretty organized with requests to send transcripts, and often have an express delivery version if you’re in a hurry.

      2. OP #5*

        Hi Cecil,

        thanks for the response. I can hand deliver the official transcript within an hour of its request. No mailing service can do/offer that. It was to show a sense of urgency and offer a quick solution to any concerns. I ordered 4 official transcripts each from my undergrad and law school prior to the job search to be equipped and prepared. Having either of my schools mail official copies of my transcript would still leave my online application incomplete. The only way to have my online application submitted is for it to be “complete. ” So I HAD to attach “something” in the electronic transcript section. This is where the note saying “it will arrive in one hour once requested.” I don’t find this much different than your suggestion that it will arrive in X number of days. I’m not sure this HR dept could handle materials for a single applicant being submitted in various forms.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The thing is, though, that while you feel a sense of urgency, they don’t (and not just because the HR person sucks; this would be true of any employer in this situation). So it still doesn’t make sense to drive it there.

          1. fposte*

            I also would just have had it sent without waiting to be asked, since they clearly wanted a transcript and otherwise wouldn’t get one. (I’m presuming you didn’t scan the ones you had then because they were the only ones you had and you didn’t want to break the seal to do it, yes?)

            However, it’s a moot point since it sounds like it wouldn’t have helped you here. It was reasonable to expect them to be able to deal with a common transcript form.

        2. Schuyler Pierson*

          We used to share a suite with the Registrar at the university where I work. One thing you may want to take into consideration is that you will likely NOT receive a transcript and be able to deliver it in one hour if you’re asked for it, unless you’re printing an unofficial copy. The folks in these offices aren’t sitting there just waiting for a student to walk up and ask for a transcript so they can print one on the spot. It’s going to take 2-5 days for that to be ready for you, most likely, depending upon their turnaround time. Might as well have them send it directly to where it needs to go, unless they charge for every address one is sent to.

          Just something to think about in the future.

          1. OP #5*

            Thanks Schuyler

            I attended an out of state undergrad and an in-state law school. I have 4 sealed unopened official transcripts from school in my possession that I requested months in advance. I would have no turnaround time as I don’t need to order the transcripts, it would be simply delivering them. But I understand what you’re saying.

    6. Judy*

      The PE licensing board in my state only accepts electronic transcripts now. I sent with my application packet sealed copies of the official transcripts, and received notification that I needed to send electronic ones only.

      From what I can tell, one school (large state U) emails a signed pdf. The other school (smaller private but well known U) uses a transcript clearinghouse company, and it seems that the receiver gets a link, and they have to download it. I received an email when they downloaded the transcript.

      1. Elysian*

        Interesting – I’ve used transcript clearinghouse services, and while the requester gets an electronic copy, the school still sends a paper copy. I presume the clearinghouse service scans the document and then just sends it to the requesting organization. I suppose that’s more official than if I were to scan it, but I think ultimately its still coming from my school by paper.

  3. EngineerGirl*

    #1 – I’ve had this happen twice in my career. In one case it was not understanding the impact of what they were doing. In the other it was sabotage from a peer that wanted me to look bad (he actually got in and edited a report I did and put mistakes into it – this was the days before tracking usernames)
    Elevate this immediately to IT and your manager. Either it is a training issue or something else. I would specifically mention that the deletes occur when others review them. Ask this as a clarification – like you’re confused what is happening.
    It’s possible that some sort of backup snafu is going on, since it is happening every 2 weeks. But you’d have to be pretty inept these days to do that.

    1. Jessa*

      Yes but either way if there is no real way to make independent back ups IT is not doing something right. And going to IT and telling them x is happening, without supposition as to how, will actually let the OP find out if they are making an unintended mistake or if someone else is.

    2. Jen in RO*

      It’s not directly related, but I have a story about an ex-coworker when it was definitely malice and not incompetence. We were supposed to put all the release notes written by Friday 4 PM in a document. On Friday at 4 PM, both my team lead and I checked and a certain release note, that was supposed to be written by Coworker, was not there. We drafted the document without it. On Monday morning, Coworker comes to Team Lead all angry that she did not include his note, and shows her that the note did exist in the system, supposedly written months before. Since it was definitely not there on Friday, we enlisted IT for help and they checked the database. Turns out that Coworker had found an old release note (drafted months before) and had changed the content to make it look like it was the new release note (and to show the boss that Team Lead was incompetent and/or had something against Coworker). Unfortunately for Coworker, our manager was already aware of his awful performance in all areas, and I’m pretty sure that this was the stunt that sealed his fate: he was the only one laid off from the team, a few months later.

      1. tesyaa*

        I’d say that’s not malicious (he didn’t do it to make someone else look bad), but incompetence (he did it to cover his incompetence).

        1. Colette*

          It sounds to me like it’s both, and I’d lean more towards maliciousness, because the coworker proactively started complaining about how her notes were not included.

          1. tesyaa*

            Probably he was proactively blaming someone else in order to cover his own behind. Nasty and unforgivable, yes, but not the same as deliberate sabotage.

            1. Jen in RO*

              I don’t know, it was probably a bit of both, but definitely more towards incompetence. I think that in the end he realized that, if he didn’t find a scapegoat, the manager would mark him even lower in the performance review, so he tried to blame Team Lead. I remember this because we were so shocked that someone would be so sneaky!

            2. Colette*

              I’m pretty much of the opinion that once you start modifying old files in the system to make it look like you did work that you didn’t do, it’s deliberate (and worthy of immediate termination). I really don’t see the angry confrontation as anything other than an attempt to get the team lead in trouble, because the coworker could have instead waited until someone asked why her work wasn’t done, then been shocked and concerned about it, and it likely would have been harder to track down (and easier to blame on system/upload errors). It also would have been easy to say “I wish you’d said something on Friday, something must have gone wrong with the upload” if the goal was just to hide that she didn’t do the work.

              1. Jen in RO*

                I just realized I contradicted myself between my first and my second post. To make it clear, it was incompetence at first (he forgot/wouldn’t be bothered doing the work on time), then malice (he tried to blame someone else). And you are spot on, Colette, blaming the system would have worked, since it was notoriously unreliable.

                Unfortunately the firing procedures were really drawn out in this company (and there is no “at will” employment in my country), so we had to deal with the guy for a few more months. Our manager was in the process of documenting for a future firing, but our company got acquired and they laid off the low performers in the process. (The layoffs were not officially related to performance, but if you need to lay someone off it will obviously be the worst person on the team.)

                The coworker lucked out, in the end – he got 3 months of severance pay and at the end of those he managed to get a job with another large corporation. I’m keeping him as a LinkedIn connection to make sure I never end up working with him again! (He was unpleasant from both a personal and professional point of view.)

    3. #1 OP*

      I’ve gone to my manager several times, and to the people who review my work. I haven’t been able to get in touch with IT until recently but I’ll try it today.

      It’s not exactly every two weeks… Just usually once or twice a month. Some variations in it, like timing, are what made me believe that a person was doing this, instead of the “computer issues.” And I’m good with this program and I can’t figure out how it could do this.

      1. fposte*

        And to be clear, this is in shared space on a remote server, not something that saves to your hard drive? And you can’t just save a copy of the file locally as a backup? (From what you’ve said I’m thinking it might be a database or something big that you can’t just slap onto a flash drive, but local save might still help you.)

        I’m very curious about a workspace where you can’t get to IT for weeks. That’s not a good plan, and I don’t like the sound of how they’re running their tech.

        1. Zahra*

          Hey, at the very worst, you can take some screenshots and save them somewhere safe so you can :
          a) Prove the work was done and/or
          b) Re-enter the information

          P.S.: Starting with Windows Vista (I think), there’s a capture tool (in Accessories) that allows you to frame the exact area that you want a screenshot of. So much easier than a full print screen and then trimming the image.

            1. Judy*

              Yes, if you screenshot something, and then the next day when it’s not there, screenshot again. That will give IT times that they can check the system against.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            The Clipping tool. I love it. It’s allowed me to spam my online friends with nutty Doctor Who screenshots. :) Although at work, we use Snagit, which I love even more.

        2. #1 OP*

          Yeah. I can’t save locally.

          I can copy-and-paste into a Word file for back-up, but that wrecks the formatting.

          About the workspace – I wasn’t given much training. I have had to figure out a lot of things like this in my free time.

      2. LisaLyn*

        Hopefully you can verify with IT what is happening. Or at least they can figure out who is in the system for sure when it happens. Good luck! I can only imagine how frustrating that would be!! Argh!

        1. #1 OP*

          He has emailed the people who review my work to ask what’s going on. I’ve talked to them, too. They say computer issues are causing the deletions.

    4. Lynn Whitehat*

      I worked at a place that had issues like this. It turns out that some people thought they were looking at a local, personal copy of things, so they were free to remove anything that didn’t apply to them. They didn’t understand that they were looking at THE copy on a central server.

      1. Windchime*

        Are you working with a source control program, like Source Safe or Team Foundation System? That’s almost what it sounds like. We’ve had a team member in the past who didn’t fully understand how these operate, so he would always forget to “get latest” and then check his (old) code in over the top of the current version. But at least that’s usually recoverable to a certain extent.

        1. Jen in RO*

          This sounds very likely (and like something a certain ex-coworker of mine would do! she would also be oblivious to the fact that she’s causing all the trouble.)

        2. Lynn Whitehat*

          Yes, that’s exactly what it was! We had our own home-rolled GUI on top of CVS (don’t ask). One of our new hires didn’t understand at all what he was looking at and thought it was just a file manager. “I don’t need this, I don’t need that, delete delete delete”, and he was removing it all from version control.

  4. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, but is there a way to protect your work in a read-only format? Or, is there a way to sit with the people reviewing your work, and make sure they know how to use your program? It could be done in a friendly/non-confrontational way, by saying something like, “Hey, do you mind if I sit with you while you go through this? I’m still having issues with losing data, and it’s driving me nuts. I’d like to watch the whole process once from start to finish, to see if I can figure out how it’s happening.” It’s a nicer way of saying, “I want to track down the nitwit that’s deleting my work and have a word with them.” And if someone acts squirrelly about having you there while they use your program, well, that’s useful and interesting information to have.

    I really hope that this is just user error/ignorance, rather than a deliberate attempt at sabotage. If I found out I was somehow blowing away someone else’s work, I would be horrified. And probably offer to buy them lunch or something as a way to make up for it.

  5. RetailForever*

    #4. If you are working in retail and they require you to work on a holiday but you want/need to keep both jobs – look into possibly using a personal (holiday, sick, etc) day for your full time job in order to work your required black friday shift. If it’s possible then you could end up earning almost 3 days pay (sick pay, 8 hour regular, and 4 hours overtime).

      1. Sourire*

        Absolutely. HORRIBLE idea. Especially because I’m guessing this second job is retail, and it’s actually highly likely OP could run into his/her boss and/or coworkers while they shop.

        I’d try talking to boss and job #1, explain the situation and see if they have any flexibility for you to take that Friday off. Also explain you expect this to be the only time this will interfere with your first job and that if conflicts come up again, you understand you will need to leave the second job. And you NEED to actually mean all of that. You full time job (which I assume makes you more money and gives you your health benefits) needs to take priority.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          “Especially because I’m guessing this second job is retail, and it’s actually highly likely OP could run into his/her boss and/or coworkers while they shop.”

          And it would be called “comeuppance.” OP, definitely don’t lie!

        2. Anon*

          The OP could just take a vacation day without needing to explain much more to the employer. It’s not really anyone’s business why she’s taking vacation and I’m sure no one would be surprised she’s taking the day after Thanksgiving off. Agreed that sick leave is not appropriate.

          1. Sourire*

            Very true. However, OP stated first job required him/her to be there as well though, so I don’t think this is a case where personal or vacation time would be approved without much question, especially considering it’s only a week away at this point. Depending on his/her employer though, I do think it could be reasonable to explain the situation and see if that makes a difference.

      2. Sourire*

        Also, many workplaces frown on taking a sick day on a Monday/Friday, let alone a major holiday or the days surrounding it (particularly when it’s a pattern). It also usually means you lose any holiday pay you may have been scheduled to receive. My job has a policy where if you use unverified sick time for the working days adjacent to the holiday, even if there is a weekend in-between, you lose the holiday pay even if you work on the holiday itself.

        1. CAA*

          When you say “lose the holiday pay” does that mean you get straight-time pay for the actual hours worked on the holiday? Or no pay at all for that day?

          1. Sourire*

            I would still get straight time pay, just not extra holiday pay. I work a 24/7- 365 type job (like nursing, law enforcement, etc), so I don’t get holidays off unless they fall under my normal off-days rotation, therefore I often work on holidays as part of my normal 40-hour workweek. However, I also get 11 days extra days worth of pay a year in my check as holiday pay, and that would be what I would lose if I were to take unverified time off on or adjacent to the holiday. I hope that makes sense. Nothing shady where I’m not getting paid for time worked.

            I also get time and a half if I am physically there and working Christmas day, New Years day and Thanksgiving day, which is nice.

            1. Del*

              I got the same thing when I worked in the call center. It made working holidays really nice, actually — 8 hours of holiday pay were automatically entered into the system, and if I worked the day as well, it meant that 8 of my working hours (out of a 10-hour day) were automatically overtime.

              Butt in chair for 10 hours on a day when almost no one was calling worked out to 22 hours of pay. Sweet spot in an otherwise awful job.

              (On the other hand, if I didn’t work the holiday, because we only got 8 hours of holiday pay, I’d lose 2 hours’ worth of pay. Less shiny, that.)

      3. FiveNine*

        Not only that, the retail job probably will have zero sense of loyalty to OP, who sounds like a new part-time and maybe even seasonal employee. There is nothig here worth risking that first job.

      4. KellyK*

        Definitely. If your current job is okay with you working the part-time job, they might be willing to give you a personal/vacation day for it, but it’s a gross misuse of sick time.

        1. RetailForever*

          Just to clarify – I wasn’t suggesting they lie and say they were sick when they clearly aren’t. I only mentioned sick days because many companies have different policies and some I’ve worked for use sick days and vacation days interchangeably. Other places I’ve worked call them “personal” days.

          I also said “look into possibly…” meaning I don’t know her full time work situation or any of their policies or if her boss would let her take a day off on a friday/this close to the day/etc.

          I don’t see the harm in asking. The worst that can happen is their full time boss says no.

  6. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 like others have said start with IT and see what they can do to track down the problem. Recently at work some one trashed a load of data that only 6 people have access to it was a really careless mistake but nobody was owning up, IT tracked down the time the error was made and then got a list of people connected to the database at the time , which promoted the external developers we use to own up.

    Also check what audit trail is in the software or against the file its self, can you see any information there that helps, like the date and time it was modified or accessed.

    I hope you get to the bottom of it as it must be frustrating to have to redo work.


    …when I first applied in August, Lucifer Bigglesworth in HR has told me I am permanently ineligible.

    I don’t know about this. Suppose you get hired you already have one person you don’t get along with from get go. Lucifer is in HR, he might make your job a living hell. I’ll move on.

    1. fposte*

      Even in a small university, it’s not likely that the OP would deal with Lucifer unless the job is actually in HR.

      1. ChristineSW*

        Giggling because now I’m picturing us using “Lucifer” as the pseudo-HR name. Thanks Alison!!

  8. AdAgencyChick*

    #2, your parenthetical note about “then having to work there the rest of the day” makes me wonder whether you are planning to quit without notice, because after all, no matter what time of day you quit, you have to work there for another two weeks (or whatever notice period you give), right? If that’s the case, please don’t do that! (Unless your company has a history of not letting people work out their notice periods or there’s a seriously toxic environment going on, of course.)

    As a boss, I too would rather hear in the morning. That way I can start having the necessary conversations with HR and my manager right away, instead of having to stew about it overnight.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I agree. Sounds like the LW is planning to quit and have it be her last day. That is generally not a good idea. Two weeks notice is standard and so one-day notice will mark you as unprofessional among those at your old job. Even if you expect to be asked to leave the moment you give you notice, you should give two weeks notice and let your boss mkae that decision for you.

    2. Jubilance*

      Devil’s advocate here – perhaps the OP knows that her workplace is the type where anyone who resigns is immediately walked out, or she knows she’ll be walked out immediately because she’s going to a competitor. I know that happens at my current workplace – if you resign and say that you’re going to a competitor, you’re immediately escorted out and you don’t work the normal two week notice period. In that case it’s not really a quitting without notice because the company is requiring that you leave immediately.

    3. some1*

      “instead of having to stew about it overnight”

      Stew about it? Your employee is leaving the company for professional reasons; you’re not getting dumped by your boyfriend the night before the Prom.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I wouldn’t say stew, but there’s stress involved with someone leaving and a lot of work you want to do as quickly as possible. So it’s helpful to be able to launch it immediately, rather than know you need to and not be able to until the next day.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit*

            I don’t know about Alison, but for me resignations ARE emotional. At best, it’s a bunch of new work that just got created. At worst, it’s someone you’ve been mentoring and grooming, who does exceptional work, who will be difficult to replace.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, I wouldn’t say they’re unemotional, in some cases. It’s not that you’re at home fuming, but it can certainly be frustrating/disappointing/etc. Obviously you wouldn’t take that out on the person or anything, but certainly you can have feelings about resignations. (I would say, though, that those feelings will be there no matter what time of day the person resigns. The advantage of it being in the morning is that you can get to work on the practical parts.)

      1. Glor*

        I absolutely love “power cycle” because it’s gotten into the public’s lexicon enough that cell phone support can use it and be reasonably sure that nearly everyone will understand. It’s certainly better than “soft” and “hard” resets, imo.

      2. TL*

        We say “cycle the power” and it’s now my go-to line when I call for tech help. As in, “X is the problem. I’ve tried A, B, and C and I cycled the power on both the machine and the computer and it still doesn’t work.”

        Which usually gets a technician or support person out :)

      3. Anonymous*

        Power cycle isn’t just someone giving it an official name. That’s been what that process is called for decades.

    1. tcookson*

      “have you tried turning it off and turning it on again?”

      Also a line from my favorite Big Bang Theory episode ever, in which Howard goes to the ER because the computer program has frozen for the robotic hand grasping his penis . I love the ER nurse in that episode!

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        that made me laugh too, when the nurse got on the loud speaker to call for some assistance, and attracted loads of attention to the situation.

        1. Cassie*

          They had it on Hulu (the free version) for a while – not sure if it’s still up.

          The first time I watched the first season, I was a bit “meh” about the whole thing. I knew it was supposed to be funny but I didn’t find it all that funny. Then over the summer, I watched the entire series and loved it. So you never know!

      1. Jen in RO*

        I’ve watched bits and pieces, but never the entire show. I didn’t find it funny the first time, but my boyfriend keeps quoting it to me so I tried it again and I found it much better. Apparently I’m the kind of person who would send an email about a fire in my office…

        1. JessB*

          I recently started watching The IT Crowd again from the start, and was surprised by how different the early episodes are from the later ones- they definitely hit their stride later on. The early episodes are still great, I think, but it might be worthwhile skipping ahead and then coming back to the earlier ones.

    2. #1 OP*

      Haha! Yep, and I’ve tried looking at the file from other computers, too, in case the issue came from my own computer.

  9. ConstructionHR*

    “Once is happenstance.
    Twice is coincidence.
    Three times is enemy action”

    Auric Goldfinger

    1. fposte*

      Or somebody really bad with the application. I did something like this to myself several times before I learned the difference between adding to a spreadsheet and overwriting it (on an original Macintosh 128 in 1984, so we were all trying to figure this stuff out then).

      1. Adam V*

        At the same time, if I were looking at a file and suddenly it got deleted, or large swaths of it disappeared, I’d be mortified and call over the original writer right away and say “I’m afraid I might have done this by accident”, or at least “I was just looking at this a second ago, and now it’s gone”, instead of making her find out on her own later.

  10. Cruella Da Boss*

    #3 I would not panic. Here at my company, we train everyone on staff to do parts of others job, so that we have an automatic fill-in for vacations and other absences. That keeps things rolling and important job functions don’t fall through the cracks just because someone is out. I would think that this is done pretty much everywhere.

  11. Anonymous*

    I work on my company’s internal and external websites. Last time my coworker and I who are the only 2 who know the site had a day off at the same time our boss was severely admonished by HIS boss even though nothing happened that day that was an issue. Just the fact that we were both out of the office on the same day. (As a note my org would not call people in on their day off.) So it could easily be something like a company website is a very important thing and if it goes down or needs to be changed at the last minute you can’t be the only person to be able to do it. Not because they want to fire you, but because they want the website to keep running.

    There are many reasons to not want to train you on other tasks too. Be direct and ask but nothing here says your boss is trying to fire you.

  12. Anonicorn*

    OP #1 – This works for me on our shared drive (which is backed up), using Windows 7:

    1. Open the folder where your work is saved.
    2. Right-click > Properties
    3. Previous Versions Tab
    4. Wait for it to load with a list of backup folders sorted by date and time (ours goes back ~ 1 month). Your old work *should* be in there. You can open these folders and copy/paste files back into the “real” folder.

    1. Anonymous*

      > (which is backed up)

      The versioning is a great feature, but it definitely has to be turned on first! It certainly doesn’t happen on every drive by default, but I agree it’s worth it for OP to look into it.

    2. #1 OP*

      The program does have a “previous versions” option, but it only works before the whole reviewing process is finished. Sadly not using MS Word. :(

  13. John*

    #2 — another vote for first thing in the morning. It has the feel of the resignee wanting the boss to know immediately (yes, I realize that offers can be made/accepted during the day).

    End of day feels like you were sitting on it.

    Besides, the moments post-resignation can be awkward. You don’t want to go home on an awkward note for you, your boss and, assuming they are still around to learn the news, your co-workers. Better that you push through that awkwardness right away, getting to the business of ensuring everything is in order for a smooth transition.

  14. Rebecca*

    #3 – at my first job, I was selected to train as a “backup” to someone in my department. He wasn’t very forthcoming with training, and while I learned some of the steps to his job, I didn’t know all of them. This was all framed under “Oh, we need to have at least 2 deep in case of a sudden accident or illness”. Fast forward 2 months. I had taken a long holiday weekend, and when I walked into the office, I didn’t even have time to sit my purse down and my manager told me the company had left “Joe” go, and starting today I would be absorbing his responsibilities. Yeah, that was fun, especially since I didn’t know all the steps. Thank goodness for an understanding IT department and other people who filled in the blanks.

    2 years later, I get called into my manager’s office. “Rebecca, we’re going to start cross training Jane for your responsibilities, you know, in case of sudden accident or illness”.

    Started the new job search that day, and was out of there within 4 months (on my terms).

    I’ve always been very leery ever since of cross training mandates that seem to come out of the blue.

    1. Anonymous*

      The most telling part of this is actually that “Joe” wasn’t forthcoming with his training of you. That tells me he was someone who might not have been good at his job (part of which is doing things like training others when the company tells you to do that).

      I’ve had crosstraining result in promotions more than firings. Train someone else so I can be promoted kind of thing.

      1. Zahra*

        I had a job where we cross-trained once a year, more or less. So when my manager asked me to cross-train a colleague, I didn’t think twice about it. However, I had difficulty scheduling time with her to do the actual training.

        When the department was downsized (and I was let go), one the first thing I said to my manager was that the training wasn’t finished and I’d take a few minutes with her to go over the parts I hadn’t covered with my colleague. Actually, I would have been fine coming back for a day to complete the training and make sure the transition was smooth. The powers that be decided against, though.

      2. Jennifer*

        In my office, you get cross trained because they want to transition you into another position, or someone else is being transitioned into another one and then you’ll be moved into theirs.

        Part of my difficulties at my current job is that I am the one person who changed jobs in the last year who HADN’T been doing the new one part-time before I got moved into it. It’s very frustrating.

      3. Sourire*

        Or maybe Joe had been in the same place as the OP once, and knew that the writing was on the wall so he was slowing down the training and not giving Rebecca all the info he thought she needed as an attempt to retain his job for as long as possible while searching?

        Not the best plan, but I can easily imagine it.

      4. Mike C.*

        Or maybe “Joe” just sucked as a trainer? One’s ability to perform a job and one’s ability to teach that ability to others aren’t always the same.

        1. Anonymous*

          I agree that that is possible. But if part of your job is to train someone and you suck at training then you suck at that part of your job. (I think a lot of people get told to train others without any idea how to do it and often when they suck at it it isn’t really their fault, but if it is your job, and you suck at it, then you suck at your job.)

          1. IronMaiden*

            If people have to train others they should be given training in training so they don’t suck at that part of their job. It is unreasonable to expect people to do it without training.

    2. Jubilance*

      Interesting. I’ve always worked in laboratory environments, so cross training was done as a way to maintain coverage in case someone was out & immediate testing needed to be done. You may not be an expert but at least you can run the equipment and interpret the results for an urgent request that came through.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The one lab job I had (materials testing), I learned how to do water pH tests for the same reason. Some clients always showed up with a sample in the afternoon after somebody had left and those needed to be done immediately. I didn’t interpret results, just noted them for the tech to handle the next day.

        I was the receptionist/office clerk/Igor–I washed glassware and cleaned the refrigerators too. Sounds crappy, but I LOVED that job. It really bummed me out when they closed down and I got laid off. :(

    3. kelly*

      Part of my job description is website maintenance. I’ve been at my current job for almost 6 months and I still haven’t been given access to the website. The whole university library website is going to be redesigned in the next academic year and that would be something I would like to be in the loop on. My boss and the reference librarian, who has been handling it for years now, when she’s really the back up person for. My position is supposed to be the primary person, and I don’t know how she got to be the primary person for the website. My theory is that my predecessors didn’t want to do it or she was really insistent that she do it, so my boss ignored our position descriptions and gave it to her. She was supposed to train me on it, but used that time to “train” me on reference databases, which IMO was a waste of time.

      I think she won’t give it up because if she didn’t have the website and the new website project, she wouldn’t have enough to do to keep busy and justify her full time faculty position. Her position could easily be a half time appointment or done by a paraprofessional FT at a three-quarters of her salary, but she makes sure she goes to enough meetings and is on committees to keep her full time position.

      1. Anonymous*

        My first thought is – how often do those job descriptions get updated? If that person is good at it, and she has time for it, then why are you begrudging her working on it? If you don’t have enough work for yourself – that’s a different issue. Find something else to do.

    4. some1*

      This was my first thought when I read that letter, too. The LW is coming from a background of being let go after cross-training her co-worker(s), or seen it happen to someone else, either at this company or someplace else.

      1. Rebecca*

        In my case, my manager used nearly the exact same words to me as he did “Joe”, and I remember thinking where have I heard this before? Uh oh!

  15. JC*

    #5- As a young attorney I sympathize and understand your frustration. It took me 11 months to find a job, but eventually, I found a good one. This HR person is being a boneheaded moron, and probably doesn’t want to hire you anyway for some silly reason. I would suggest moving on. You’ll find something good.

  16. PPK*

    OP #1. I’m not sure what sort of program you are using. Is it possible to do a Save As and share on your local drive? Can you look up and see if the program has an type of username/versioning options (or ask the IT)? Do you know if there are rolling back up kept (like 2 weeks of daily backups)? At my job, Important Things are all versioned — so you can always look back and see what’s changed and by who and when.

    Do you know who else has access to the same files? If so, you could casually poll them and mention that you’re having problems and have they been having similar problems. You might discover some odd quirk of the software/network that everyone knows to work around. Or you might ferret out a person doing something stupid — like “Oh I work on my local copy and then copy it back to the main server” — but never checks if someone made additional changes in between.

  17. J*


    As an HR professional who works in higher ed, this story makes my heart sad. I can assure you that not all HR folks are this incompetent.

  18. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    I will never understand HR people who don’t welcome qualified applicants. Even if her ATS sucks and won’t allow for duplicate candidates, I would imagine that she has the capabilities to log into her own system and manually add your transcripts. What a load of crap. Of course there could be some other reason you are not being considered and she is just giving you a BS excuse so she doesn’t have to get into the “real” reason with you. Good luck. I would certainly try the hiring manager route and see if it gets you anywhere.

    1. OP #5*

      Yes a tough pill to swallow. The initial requirements were just education specific, which I met. The re-posted preferred qualifications were “JD with some experience in the field” (which I satisfied thanks to my volunteer internship work over the past few months). I guess not allowing people to re-apply or update applications is an assumption that the candidate has done or is doing nothing to make himself a stronger candidate in the meantime.

  19. Lee*

    “HR stated that the system will not allow me to re-apply because without my transcript and without verifying my education earlier, I did not meet the qualifications. The only advice she gave me was to next time make sure that all of my materials were complete. She added that even if this job were re-posted in a year, I would still be unable to apply.”

    This is a tech issue…not HR. The computer system is programmed to not let individuals reapply if they do not meet the qualifications initially. HR simply stated what the computer system is designed to do, which probably aligns with their hiring procedures.
    And HR was directly contacted by the seemingly qualified candidate insisting they can now “verify” their experience/education in a second round, 4 months later? And they had to repost the job due to lack of qualified candidates in the first place?
    I might be hesitant as well.

    1. Dulcinea*

      But OP also says they were told that they are permanently blocked, even a year later…A person who actually IS unqualified now (because, say, they haven’t completed their degree) could easily become qualified within a year…so this is a serious system flaw.

    2. Anonymous*

      “This is a tech issue…not HR.”

      Right, ’cause the IT department just does whatever the hell they feel like.

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