printing your resume at work, updates, and more

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

1. Fired for printing my resume at work

Can my boss fire me for having my resume in the documents at work and copying it on the company’s copy machine with the intention of faxing it?

Yes. In general, using your company’s resources for your job search is seen as a very bad thing. It’s not that you can never job search; it’s the doing it on the company’s time (and with their equipment) that offends.

2. How should I interpret these post-interview emails? 

I interviewed for a position 3 weeks ago. This week the interviewer emailed me to ask if I was still interested in the position (citing a slow hiring process) and then again to ask me a question that he said wasn’t asked during my interview. I replied to both emails and am not sure where I stand or what this all means as no offer has been made. It feels like I’m being interviewed again via email and I’m not clear on the timeline.

If I’m understanding correctly, he reaffirmed your interest and asked you one additional question by email. That’s not interviewing you all over again; it’s just a normal continuing of a conversation that’s in progress. If you feel like you really need to know more about their timeline, I’d wait a week or so and then send a short email asking about it.

3. Listing a certification that I’m working toward but don’t yet have

I have a question regarding adding certification on resumes. Currently, I am logging my work hours for my PMP certification (Project Management Professional) from PMI and do not have the certification. Some of the jobs I am looking at specifically state that the employer is looking for someone who holds a PMP. Is it a good idea to state the hours I’ve logged in required areas on my resume or cover letter despite not having the actual certification? If so where is the best place to mention this?

I’d instead note when you expect to receive it and roughly how far into you are. For example:
PMP expected September 2014 (two-third completed)

4. Update: Should I let a company fly me out even though I’m unlikely to accept their offer?

Here’s an update from the letter-writer wondering whether it’s wrong to let a company fly you out on their dime if you know you’re unlikely to accept the job:

I decided not to visit Company A even though I had time to visit them. I really liked Company B and their offer was considerably better than Company A’s. I don’t regret my decision. I thanked Company A’s HR manager over the phone and left it on friendly terms. I think I would have felt more uncomfortable had I made the trip.

5. Update: I’m meeting my interviewer at a coffee shop — how does this work?

Here’s an update from the letter-writer wondering about how to handle an interview at a coffee shop:

I greatly appreciated the answer and the responses I received. The interview went very well. I arrived a few minutes before and the two people I was meeting with were already seated with drinks. I believe they were having their own meeting before I got there. People were right. It was obvious who I was supposed to be meeting with. They were the nicely dressed people who kind of jumped when I opened the door and eagerly turned to look. I was the person pausing at the door looking at all the tables.

The interview was fantastic. One of them ended up getting a second round of drinks about half way through (the interview went on for close to three hours – it turned into a brainstorming and ideas session around that half way point). They had a few more interviews to do, but called me about a week later to offer me the job. I am thrilled.

I really enjoyed the slightly more relaxed atmosphere of the coffee shop interview. Even though it was pretty quiet, the slight level of distractions made it easier for me to remember to pause and think before responding to their questions. The interviewers were also very happy for it to be a two-way interview. They encouraged me to ask the questions I had (quite a list since it’s a start up) and gave thoughtful honest answers. I am looking forward to working with them.

{ 123 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ah, maybe it was supposed to be “intention of.” OP, I’m going to change it to that; if my correction is incorrect or changes your meaning, let me know.

  1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    So, Alison’s advice is spot on. You Do Not Use Company Resources To Job Hunt.

    But more importantly… it is 2015, why do you have to fax your cover letters? Is this still a thing that employers ask for?!

    1. katamia*

      I applied to a job a few months ago that wanted me to fax my resume and cover letter (I never heard back, but it was a kind of position I basically never hear back from). I’ve also seen a few postings for others. At this point, my best guess is that either someone at that office is really old school or it’s like the green M&M thing on some band’s rider list when they toured–if they showed up to a venue and the M&M’s were the right color, it was a good sign (because they followed instructions), while if the M&M’s were the wrong color, then they expected problems.

      1. katamia*

        Oops, looked it up and apparently it was brown M&M’s and not green M&M’s, and it was Van Halen.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      While I mostly agree its inappropriate I do think firing them over it was a bit extreme. Also, does the view change if they didn’t actually do it on work time? For example, I don’t have a printer at home and have once emailed things to my work address to print at work. This wasn’t job search related (it was related to a hobby of mine and was only 2 pages) and i first checked with my manager that it was ok.. I was told it was fine as long as it wasn’t excessive and i did it at the end of the day. But the point is that just cause its being printed at work doesn’t necessarily mean the op was job hunting on company time. Ps apologies for poor typing, I’m on my phone.

      1. fposte*

        They’re still using company resources, though. Even companies that don’t mind you printing your personal stuff may balk at funding your search for another employer. (I’m also not clear about the fax–was that the office’s too? And if not, why not print the doc wherever the fax is?)

        I suspect the firing wasn’t simply about printing a personal document but also being halfway out the door–they figured there wasn’t much point in counseling an employee who’s about to leave.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Yeah, the company resources thing is the problem. It’s just disrespectful. It would be like saying to your wife “Listen, I know you’re working two jobs to support us, you’re cool with me spending $1000 a month to buy my mistress some lingerie and hang out in a hotel with her right?” Essentially, you’re asking for someone else to fund an activity that is counter to their own interest. It’s really not fair. Job hunt and send your resume on your own time and with your own resources.

          1. the gold digger*

            Yeah, but if the choice is between funding a husband’s mistress and funding a run for public office, I vote for the mistress every time. Less expensive, less time consuming, less stressful.

        2. Anon Accountant*

          I was thinking along those lines that may have been the final straw or they may have thought well s/he’s almost out the door so why try to see what we can work on to make OP happy.

      2. Graciosa*

        I think the key difference is that you checked with your manager that it was okay.

        I’m fairly rigid about not making personal use of company resources, although I realize it’s not always the mainstream view. If I didn’t have a printer and needed something printed, I would go to Kinko’s (now Office Max) to have it printed. This actually happened to me a couple weeks ago when my home network connection to my printer was down. It was 12 cents.

        I know that there are people who will immediately respond along the lines of “If it’s just X, the Employer shouldn’t think it’s a big deal.” The thing is, that is *not* the employee’s decision to make – just like you don’t get to decide it’s no big deal to borrow your neighbor’s car because it’s just a quick run to the corner and no big deal. If it doesn’t belong to you, just ask.

        And to try to limit the number of tomatoes I have to duck, I will add that I would have given permission for a couple pages as well (without bothering with the after-hours restriction) so I’m not actually an ogre – as long as I’m asked.

        1. NewishAnon*

          In some offices it would just be plain old silly to ask for permission. Once you’ve worked at a place long enough you can usually tell whether that sort of thing would be allowed or not without asking the direct question. Presumably OP has been there for a while since he/she is job hunting. I don’t think it’s right to job hunt on company time but I also think its a bit ridiculous to expect employees to specifically ask if they can print off a few pages of something personal at work.

          1. Claire (Scotland)*

            I mostly agree, but I do think there’s a significant difference between printing “something personal” and printing your job search materials.

          2. Amtelope*

            Yeah, I think it’s specifically printing out your resume at work so that you can job hunt that’s tacky. I wouldn’t ask permission to do that, I just wouldn’t do it. But most people at my job occasionally print out personal stuff, and it’s not a big deal as long as it’s not something that would look bad for you if someone saw it.

          3. Graciosa*

            As I said, I know I’m fairly rigid about respecting other people’s property (including the company’s), but it’s better to ask and be told it’s okay than to not ask and find out it wasn’t.

            If it’s consistent with the company culture to do this routinely without asking, the manager can say so, which would mean it’s really only one request – unless the employee’s view is not the same as the manager’s, which is good to find out.

            1. shellbell*

              I think it is far better to fit in with the company culture than to ask even when it is clearly ok. It comes across odd and it makes it seem like you are unable to pick up on this cultural cues.

              1. Graciosa*

                If you want to ask in a way that will avoid a charge of being culturally clueless, I would frame the inquiry as “It seems like the company doesn’t have any problem with X from what I’ve observed, but I just wanted to confirm that with you to make sure there aren’t any special restrictions I haven’t picked up on.” This makes it clear that you have observed the culture but are still validating your conclusions with your boss before acting on them.

                Really, though, I think this is a phantom issue and should not be treated as an excuse for not asking. Normal bosses don’t get mad about being asked a simple question about the right thing to do in the office. They do get mad if someone does the wrong thing after never asking and then tries to excuse it by claiming “everyone else was doing it.”

        2. Just Another Techie*

          You know, it’s never occurred to me not to use the office printer for occasional personal use. Not excessively, but every once in a while, if I realize I’ve forgotten to print out sheet music for a voice lesson after work, or if I want to spend my lunch break proof-reading a something for a friend, I’ll just use the office printer. And as far as I know, my colleagues all do the same. I wonder if it’s a tech-industry thing? I’m pretty sure the occasional printing costs the company far less than the really nice lab notebooks they provide us, and that we burn through pretty quickly.

          1. Cat*

            Not just a tech industry thing. Everyone at my law firm does it too. It’s completely non-controversial.

          2. Observer*

            It is pretty normal, but there are exceptions. Using a color printer is one of them – it’s actually much more expensive to print with color and the “only a couple of pages” per person can add up pretty quickly. (I’ve seen the bills. We’ve made some changes.)

            And, printing job hunt materials is another one – one that should be blindingly obvious.

      3. Remy*

        In some professions, just getting wind that you’re job searching or interviewing elsewhere gets a person fired — even if all of it is done on personal time and not using any company resources.

      4. Kay*

        I think the printing it with the intention of faxing is a bigger deal than having it in your documents on the computer. There are plenty of non-job search reasons to have a copy of your resume on a work computer. I like to keep mine regularly updated and I know there are plenty of industries where you might submit resumes of your employees in order to gain contracts from clients (especially government contracts). Is either of these things a fireable offense? Sure… most people are employed at will. Honestly, I think if I were the boss, I would be sure to start looking for a replacement if I saw one of my employees doing something like that. That may mean that while I wouldn’t directly fire the person for that action, if I found a replacement before they found their new job, they might end up being let go for someone who was enthusiastic about staying in this job.

        1. abby*

          I also like to keep my resume updated, but it is on my computer at home and that is where I update it.

          Regarding the professional resume submitted with proposals, that is usually an entirely different resume than the one used for job searching, and completely appropriate to keep and update at work.

      5. INTP*

        Limited use of company printers etc with permission is usually fine. I’ve never worked anywhere that someone would get fired for printing something off or taking home a pen and sticky pad or something.

        However, there tends to be an unofficial rule that you don’t get caught job searching at work. While at any given time more people than not are probably at least open to another job, you put people in an awkward position. They don’t know if you’re actively seeking to leave ASAP or if you’re just passively hearing out recruiters and might not leave for years. If they are your manager or manage a team that you’re on they might feel like they have an ethical obligation to disclose that you’re looking or start looking for a replacement ASAP to minimize disruption to business (even if that means firing you before you’ve found another job). It’s just common sense and standard procedure to keep your job search to yourself unless you’re in a situation where your boss would expect by default that your career plans will take you elsewhere sooner rather than later. That means being discreet about it at work – don’t correspond with recruiters on your company email account and certainly don’t print your resume at work.

      6. Parcae*

        Very early on at my current job, my boss asked me to update my resume and send him a copy. (This was not weird in context; we’re a non-profit and sometimes have to submit staff resumes as part of a grant application.) I spent a few minutes adding my new role and editing the rest of the document for length, then emailed it to him, remarking that it felt very weird to work on my resume at work.

        Later in his office, he asked me– with a very puzzled look on his face– why it would be weird to update a resume at work. I tried to explain that it felt like I was job searching, which would obviously be bad! He Did. Not. Get It. It was my first clue that New Boss was, well, clueless about some workplace norms. Thankfully, his cluelessness hasn’t had any real negative impacts, but I’m sometimes tempted to send him an anonymous link to this site.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’ve seen jobs that require application by fax or in-person drop-off only (when of course they work limited hours, like 9-12 and 1-3, so good luck finding any already-employed people), and jobs that required an actual mailed letter, and jobs that required me to send a list of three references and said “References will be checked prior to interview” so basically nothing surprises me any more.

    4. azvlr*

      If you have to fax, you can do an email fax for free. Do a search online as there are several services. No more paper. Yeah!

    5. INTP*

      Not sure about faxing, but as an HR assistant I had to post jobs with a request that interested candidates snail mail their resumes when we already had an H1B candidate in mind. So when I see any sort of burdensome or outdated process mentioned on an ad, I tend to assume it’s that situation.

    6. Beancounter in Texas*

      To me, it’s a red flag if a job posting requests resumes via fax. I prefer working in a paper-less (and technology-more) office. So, I suppose it’s also a big flag for those who don’t prefer technology.

      I once had CLs & resumes faxed to me for an online only posting and it wasn’t that resumes were required to be emailed or submitted online, but the faxed ones stuck out, they were easier to triage and I ended up hiring someone from the faxed group.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I also hate the lack of security that comes with faxes. Unless the recipient has their own machine in their own office, anyone could pick it up (every office I’ve ever worked in has one fax machine in a common area – no-one has their own). The recipient’s machine could run out of paper and it might take days for anyone to notice, or your resume could get lost in all the fax spam that still comes through to many machines, or someone in the sending office could print out a “sent faxes” report to check that their own fax had sent properly (this is the only way to do so from some machines) and notice a colleague’s fax from earlier that day and start asking questions…

    7. Ed*

      We recently implemented a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) system at work. A DLP system monitors your company network (how deeply and which parts varies widely based on how it was implemented) typically for things like social security numbers and credit card numbers being moved around in a non-secure way (like a non-encrypted document containing a SSN being copied to a USB drive or a CC number being entered into a non-secure web site). It is actually a little shocking how much it finds. Anyway, without getting too deep into DLP, I noticed one of the categories we could monitor was “job search”. We don’t monitor this category so I can’t say exactly what it looks for by I assume people filling out online applications, documents that look like resumes, etc. The program is very intelligent and knows the difference between different types of documents.

      Also, when we upgraded our web filtering program I also noticed one of the new categories was “job search”. We don’t block this category but any manager could technically ask for a report on one of their staff if they suspected anything. Though, for the record, no place I’ve ever worked has actively looked at where people go on the web without a reason to run a report.

      So don’t assume leaving your printed resume on the shared printer is the only way you can get caught job hunting on the clock.

  2. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 To me the purpose you were using compamy resources is immaterial, and personally I don’t think you did much wrong, it’s a minor use of company resources that would not have caused any hardship or inconvenience to the company and I think sacking you’ve is a massive over reaction and is really petty.

    1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I think there’s a difference between minor use of work resources for personal reasons (e.g. printing out your home loan contract at work) and using the same amount of resource for personal reasons that will ultimately cause direct inconvenience to the employer (like getting another job). And there’s a difference between using company resources in a Fortune 500 company and using company resources in a tiny non-profit.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Losing the employee can’t be that much of an inconivenece if they sacked the OP, and that just adds to my perception of pettiness.

        I agree with your point about context it’s different to use a large corporates resources compared to a non profits but, I think the minor use of resources is either acceptable or it isn’t.

        I’ve carried out job searches at work using the phone, Internet and printer. I drew the line at using company time for interviews (which I could have done easily enough when working from home) It just seems to me like the OP was treated a little harshly give what they actually did.

      2. DontAskBrad*

        I’ve worked in non-profits of various sizes for my whole career and in my experience using some company resources has never been a problem. Generally speaking, people who work in non-profits get paid below market for what they do and put in a lot of their own time and resources. Not one of my employers has ever had an issue with this. I realize that every place of employment is different, but I don’t really matters whether its non profit or for profit.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s that you’re job searching at work, while they’re paying you to focus on work for them. It’s adding insult to injury when you use their equipment to do it.

      It’s the kind of thing that’s only done by people who are totally checked out or utterly unconcerned about how they spend their time at work, so it indicates a problem well beyond what the facts of the situation might indicate in a vacuum.

      1. Dutch Thunder*

        Would it change your perception if they’d printed it out during their lunch break? I’m with Apollo in that ithe printing strikes me as a fairly immaterial use of company resource. If they also spent hours job searching and applying for jobs while they should have been working, I completely agree. Just printing a sheet of A4? Not sure that’s a sackable offence.

        1. Snowglobe*

          It wouldn’t change my perception. It’s not a matter of cost, it’s a matter of principal. Since we like to use the job searching dating analogy, imagine if your boyfriend came to your house and used your computer to check his account.

          The only exception I can think of is if you are applying for an internal job posting.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            My reading of this is more like I see you’re going to dump me so I’ll get in first to end things

            1. azvlr*

              That’s what I getting, too. Being fired for job searching is a rather petty thing for an employer to do.

              I feel readers are making all kinds of assumptions about what really happened here including the fact that OP was actually fired and that they were actually job searching. Nevertheless, the advice about using company resources for your own job search is still valid.

              I’m going to make one more assumption about the OP that may or may not be true – that there were other performance issues that preceded the job search. Since the romance was clearly already over, the employer broke it off first. This is not petty. This is smart business.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s not firing the person for job searching; it’s firing them because they’re clearly incredibly checked out already if they’re openly conducting a job search from work with work equipment. This is something that engaged, competent people with good judgment just don’t do. They just … don’t. So if you see it, it’s a pretty shocking thing. It would be like if you were in a work meeting with someone, their phone rang, and they said, “Oh, I have to take this — it’s a job interview.”

                There’s nothing wrong with job searching while you’re employed; pretty much everyone does it at some point or another. But high quality employees do it with discretion and judgment. This is the opposite of that.

                Would I fire someone for this? Nope, not unless I was already going down that path anyway. But it would absolutely change my opinion of them, and I’d start keeping a watch out for other signs of disengagement and poor judgment and am pretty confident I’d find more. (And those might lead to a parting of ways, depending on what they were.)

                1. jamlady*

                  Absolutely. You’re not there to waste company time for your personal business. You’re being paid to work. I would be shocked if I found a good employee doing something like this. It’s very disrespectful. People move in and out of positions and companies all the time – even people who are happily employed will keep their eyes open – but you do the work for that on your own time.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s not “I’ll dump you before you can dump me.” It’s “ah, I see that you have real engagement and judgment problems, and now I’m going to act on that information.”

        2. Oryx*

          Even if it is just a single sheet of paper, it’s still using company resources to do something that goes against the company’s interest.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            And it shows willingness. Yes, that is judgey. But the fact remains that some employers are judgey. There are bosses out there that will say “If you are willing to do this then what else are you willing to do?” It’s good to be aware of that possibly and aim to be transparent in your actions.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        It’s absolutely insulting to your employer to be slacking off when they are paying you to work and surly that’s the same no matter the distraction.

        If the activity is impacting work it should be stopped, if not then I don’t be see the harm. Especially when people don’t job hunt often it simply can’t be the case that it’s costing the company much in the way of productivity or cash.

        There might be some cultural bias skewing my view as in the UK you’d never be sacked for something like the OP described.

        1. MK*

          You seem to think that, if the activity is stopped, end of problem, but it’s not that simple. An employee who apparently thought it was ok to spend company time and resourses on an exit strategy might stop if told so, but there is a serious attitude problem there that needs adjustment. And if it’s someone on their way out, why spend time and energy on them?

          I am sure it wasn’t very convenient to fire the OP (if that’s what happened). But I think the manager was wise to spare themselves the effort to make them meet the professional expectations required and focused on finding someone who would focus on the job.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            For me to sack someonr the behaviour would have to be outrageous and I don’t see taking a few sheets of paper and sending a fax as that bad.

            Of course employers can restrict the use of company resources for personal reasons of they chose to, it they should do so consistently.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              You’re looking at this as “should you fire someone for using 2 sheets of company paper?” And of course not. But that’s not at all what this is about. It’s about judgment, respect, and willing to adhere to conventional professional norms. (Maybe the UK has different norms about this? I don’t know! In the U.S., it is Not Done.)

              1. Apollo Warbucks*

                I’m fascinated my your stance in this, as I’ve seen other advice and comments you’ve given saying that employees moving is a cost of doing business and companies deal with it and cope and sometimes employees have personal things to deal with.

                I’ve never seen it as a big deal to do minor admin for job searching at work (like a 5 min call to arrange an interview, but I’d not spend 30 min drafting a cover letter) and I’ve used my work email address too, it’s never put employers or recuriters off dealing with me. To me it’s similar to making a phone call to the your kids school, the doctors or vets and falls under the category of personal stuff that needs to be done in normal working hours. The employee shouldn’t abuse it but, sometimes for convenience it needs to be done.

                That said if it violates professional norms where you’re working that’s a different matter and it’s foolish not to follow them.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  But I think you’re missing what I’m saying here: It’s not about discovering the person is job searching. I would never take this stance if the employer found that out in some other way. It’s about a very specific behavior that (at least in the U.S.) is widely considered incredibly wrong and disrespectful to do at work.

                2. Apollo Warbucks*

                  Thanks for clarifying that and explaining why it looks unprofessional. It still seems odd to me, but the context for the firing is much clearer after reading your comments.

              2. Ruth (UK)*

                Hello, in answer to wondering if uk has different norms.. I honestly am not sure really. Id say the attitude towards it would be the same or similar but not the action. I very highly doubt it would be legal to fire someone in the UK over it. Unless they’re on a 0 hour contract and you simply stop giving them shifts.. But I doubt you could actually fire them.

                I think this was my reason behind finding the op’s actions inappropriate but still finding a firing to be an unreasonable response..

                1. Not telling*

                  UK, and much of Europe, has much stricter laws about terminating or laying someone off–and about assisting people in finding new employment. In many situations, if a position is being eliminated, the employer can only actually let a person go if they can prove that they have exhausted all possibilities for transferring them to another position (and paying for any necessary training). In all but the most egregious for-cause terminations, the employer usually has to give the worker substantial notice so that they can look for a new job. (The intent of all of this is to minimize the burden of sudden unemployment on social services).

                  So yes, I would say in much of the world, it would be pretty common to see people handling job searches at work. If they are being given months of notice that they will lose their job, and there is already no work to be done, then it wouldn’t be odd that people might spend their time looking for a new job.

                  But as AAM says, this is a US thing. If you aren’t originally from the US, be warned–looking for another job on your employer’s dime is taboo in the US. Even more so than putting your marital status on your CV!

                2. Cath in Canada*

                  I’d guess that this would vary more between individual offices than between countries. Having worked in various places in the UK and in Canada, I’d say that it would be seen as just fine for some employees in some circumstances (e.g. within academia, where it’s expected that grad students and postdocs will move on after a few years – it’s just part of the deal, and trainees job searching at work is totally normal), but totally not OK for others (e.g. permanent staff within academia, and everyone in most other places).

        2. INTP*

          In the US, with our at-will employment, many, many people DO job hunt often. If you wanted to, you could spend your entire workday job hunting. Job hunting is a time consuming endeavor with a lot of researching and personalizing of resumes for each position. It’s also common for people to job hop a bit, and in companies with high turnover the average employee might stay less than a year, engaged in an intense job search for the last few months of their tenure. So if employers were just totally fine with people job searching on company time, they really could lose quite a bit of productivity. (And if they’re not fine with it, they have to be willing to fire over it, because what other leverage do you have over an employee who plans to leave soon?)

          As a result, it is just considered common sense here to not get caught job searching at work. Really, someone might feel it was an ethical dilemma if they caught a coworker job searching even accidentally, but doing it openly at work is something you just do not do, period. It’s customary to the point that most people know better than to even search for job postings on their lunch break or use their company email account for corresponding about jobs – printing off a resume on a work computer is something someone would only do if they lacked any professional judgment at all or were totally checked out of their job and didn’t care if they got fired that day.

          I’m not familiar with work customs in the UK but I know that in most other developed countries people are not fired, nor do they choose to resign, from their jobs as freely as in the US, so I would suspect its’s a cultural difference. Also, this might not apply to a few specific types of jobs in the US, like ones frequently occupied by people during 1-2 years between undergrad and grad school where no one stays long term.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            Many people change jobs in the UK too, and I’m not suggesting a free for all where people job hunt when they like instead of doing their actual work, just they can make some discreet personal calls, send some emails or use the printer and if they don’t do their work it’s dealt with like other performance issue.

            It’s common sense not to get caught job hunting here as well, it could be very awkward to have your boss find out you were looking elsewhere.

            It’s hard to get fired in the UK, pretty much the only way to guarantee getting fired is to punch someone, steal something or sexually or racially harass another individual and even then you’d leave the office without out being fired, you’d be sacked after a HR investigation and have the right of appeal. As for resignations, people resigning from their jobs all the time for lots of different reasons. Although it can be illegal for an employer to force someone to resign.

            1. TheLazyB*

              Hahaha. My husband got sacked for being chronically understaffed. He kept telling management that he could not physically do all the work he had after two members of staff left, and raised the fact that he knew he couldn’t even keep up with what needed to be done given the circumstances. And then they suspended him and sacked him. It was withdrawn on appeal and changed to a final warning (but by then he’d found another job).

              The irony was he was about to start job searching. If they’d waited a couple of weeks they would have still got rid of him and saved themselves a hell of a lot of paperwork.

              And we’re in the UK.

              1. TheLazyB*

                Came back to state for the record: a the woman who fired him told him after firing him that he’d been treated abysmally and he had her sympathies. And b, she was just fired too.

      3. Green*

        Two things:

        Most companies allow some incidental personal use of their resources (mine has a policy explicitly allowing it). Printing up 500 lost dog posters isn’t incidental; printing your tickets to the musical later that night is. And unless you’re hourly, the company really doesn’t have any way of knowing what’s “their” time or “your” time. I answer emails from home for work, I take short breaks during the work day to check my bank accounts, etc. “Job searching” is a rude use of that time, to be sure. I also pretty frequently check on major industry websites for jobs for friends trying to break in; it’d be crappy of my employer to assume I’m job searching without discussing.

        Sounds like LW 1 actually was job searching, but there are plenty of reasons to print out your resume, and employers shouldn’t assume it’s for another job (although that’s probably the most common usage). Non-profit board applications, volunteer and leadership positions in the community, and professional awards, panels or conferences often want your resume. I keep mine on my work laptop for just that reason.

        1. BananaPants*

          Yeah, I’m in a graduate program (paid for fully by my employer) and part of the grad school application included submitting a copy of my current resume. We’re also trying to get me onto an industry-wide committee and a resume is part of that process, so I have a copy of my resume on my work computer and have printed hard copies on work printers. Now, if I’d printed 50 copies it might have raised some eyebrows – but one or two copies, and for the reasons I had to print them? No big deal, at least not where I work.

      4. Elysian*

        I don’t think I agree that is only done by people who are “totally check out or utterly unconcerned.” I wouldn’t put those labels on someone who might be browsing competitors websites or job boards on their lunch or coffee break. It isn’t great judgment, but I don’t think it necessary affects their ability to do their current job. They might go hand in hand, but they don’t have to, in my opinion.

      5. Boo*

        This is all really interesting. I have to put my hands up and say I spent pretty much all day, every day in my last job looking for something new, and when I wasn’t doing that, I completed three online courses to beef up my CV. Was I checked out/unconcerned? Hell yes I was – I was being made redundant, I was terrified I’d end up homeless, and it was a completely hellish dysfunctional workplace where I despised every single member of senior management. They’d taken my mental health and self confidence, in return I put in the absolute minimum work required and focused on escape.

        So yes, I agree with Alison, it’s probably a sign of deeper problems, probably both with the employee and employer and it is a bit inappropriate. However, I agree with Apollo Warbucks that firing the employee is well over the top. But then, I am also in the UK, and companies here seem generally much more relaxed about employees doing the odd few personal things at work, using work resources. It’s also way harder to get fired here than it seems to be in the US. And I’ve worked for public, private and voluntary sectors.

    3. Remy*

      I know lawyers who have been let go immediately when their firms found out they simply were interviewing elsewhere. Sacking someone because they went a step further and actually used company resources to job hunt elsewhere? Uh, YEAH. The person being petty in that scenario is the employee who thought Oh No Big Deal.

    4. MK*

      A petty reaction might be fitting to an employee who is commiting petty theft.

      Look, when you use work resourses for personal things, you are appropriating said resourses for something they are not intented. In the case of job searching, you are doing so knowing fully well not only that you don’t have permissio, but also that probably you would not be given permission if you asked, which means you are doing it against your employer’s wishes. And you are doing it instead of focusing on work that they paid you to do. And you are doing it with a goal that goes against the employer’s interests, their losing an employee. And, frankly, it’s just plain tacky, like going on a date and flirting with other people over your date’s shoulder.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        What the OP described would not met the legal definition of theft in the UK.

        When I said it was petty made the assumption that the use of the materials would have been ok for other reasons, so the firing is retaliation for looking to leave not because the employer had a problem with the use of the materials itself.

        If the OP knew they were never meant to use at company resources and still did then the firing has a different motivation, and I’d agree with that.

        1. MK*

          No, I know it’s not legally theft. But I think it does feel similarly shady to take and/or use something that isn’t yours, when you know the owner will disapprove.

    5. Fucshia*

      Apollo, would it be okay in your company to be working on a for-profit side business in a related field with company resources? Like, if the OP worked as a window painter and also had their own side business painting windows, would it be okay to print out and ad for the side business at your other job?

      That’s how I see this. It’s not just a personal appointment set up. It’s a money making venture that directly conflicts with the other business.

      I probably wouldn’t fire them for it either, if it was a one time thing. But, I would let them know it is not permitted.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I’d have to check but I’d guess there’s a clause in my employment contract that prohibits that. But I don’t think the two things are comparable, one is directly poaching work from your employer and having them pay for the privilege, whereas what we’re talking about here is someone looking for a new job, that doesn’t neccesarily follow there’d be a loss to the original firm.

        My point of view is based on the fact that the OP would have been allowed to make the copy / send the fax for another reason, so sacking them is an over the top reaction to them doing something they might reasonably be expected to think was ok.

        All I can say is in the UK the OP wouldn’t have ever been fired for their actions, but from what people have said, the situation is very clearly different in the U.S.

        1. Dutch Thunder*

          Perhaps this is cause I’m also in the UK, but the two things are very different to me too. It’s one sheet of A4. There is no proof the OP has been job searching during work hours, he could well have written it up at home and spent ten seconds hitting print during his lunch hour. Ten seconds he could have also spent gossiping with Marjory from accounts. What’s next, getting sacked for using a company issued pen for writing your interview date in your personal diary?

          If your company is ok with you printing your electronic boarding pass or returns label, this shouldn’t be a big deal. If they are very clear that printing anything personal isn’t allowed, then printing your cv would obviously also not be ok.

          As this person’s manager you’d obviously want to have a chat about why the person is looking to leave. But I wouldn’t fire them over one print job.

          1. Fucshia*

            That’s one of the great things about this site. It’s followed by people around the world so we can get to learn a lot of different viewpoints!

          2. M-C*

            Come on, I’ve worked in Europe too, and nobody would use company resources to job hunt unless they were invited to do so (like laid off with several months’ notice, and told specifically to use company resources). The UK is on another continent, not another planet..

            1. Dutch Thunder*

              Different enough by the sounds of it.

              I’m not saying it wouldn’t be ill advised, but you wouldn’t be fired over it.

              “Using company resources to job hunt” sounds like someone spending hours looking for and applying to jobs on the company’s time. Yeah, that’s obviously not ok. The print job from the OP’s letter wouldn’t get you fired though.

  3. Hazel*

    Similar to #3, I had a resume with an anticipated graduation date for an advance degree and certificate when I applied for an internship that was a requirement for the degree. Due to circumstances that were out of my control I was one requirement short of finishing the certificate when anticipated but completed the degree as planned. Shortly after graduation, I applied for a full time position with the internship department and provided a fully updated resume with the anticipated date moved forward on the certificate. I don’t think the supervisor ever looked at it and I heard her on multiple occasions referencing the certificate as part of my qualifications- even after correcting her. I think it makes sense to put an anticipated date on the certification for #3 but I’d recommend proactively communicating to your boss down the road if your timeline happens to change.

  4. Buu*

    For #1 I avoid anything to do with job stuff on company computers as I just assume anything I do on work computers/ printers can be read. If you need to do stuff in the day a net cafe or a library are a better bet. In fact I’d ere toward the library as it’s easier to explain your presence there if you run into someone from work. Depends on what is near you though.

    1. BRR*

      I read about a copier that was purchased from a hospital and it had patient information on its hard drive. It’s just a word of warning to not print anything sensitive at work in general.

  5. A Kate*

    I think #1 depends a lot on company culture and the specific situation. If nobody at work knows you’re planning to leave, and you’re applying for a job with a competitor, stay far, far away from using work resources to apply.

    If your supervisor already knows you’re leaving (say you’re applying to grad schools and have talked to him/her about it, or your position was grant-funded for a certain amount of time) and you work in an environment where occasional printing for personal reasons is common, I see nothing wrong for staying after work one day to print/and or scan an application (provided it’s not 30 pages long).

    Sounds like the OP’s situation more closely matches the first case, so I can see why the company reacted as it did. But I can also see why commenters with experience similar to the latter situation don’t see it as a big deal.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Almost every time I’ve left a job, I’ve let my employer know I was looking. Even then I would still consider it in poor taste to use my company’s resources for my job search (printing résumés, using the company email address as my contact)… not that I’d expect to be fired for doing it, but it is still in poor taste and just… awkward.

  6. Lia*

    What about using the company email on resumes?

    I have seen numerous resumes (from friends and job applicants alike) using their work email as a contact email, rather than a gmail address or some other free site. My personal feeling is no, you should not use your work email there, both because it COULD get intercepted, but also because it at the least implies job searching on company time.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I agree. It also telegraphs to the new employer that you could do the same thing to them in years to come.

      My husband impressed an interviewer because of his UNwillingness to interview on company time. He scheduled an interview for after work hours. The interviewer read into that gesture a lot about my husband’s ethics. He told my husband, “We, now, know how you will treat us, if for some reason you ever decide to leave.”

      1. the gold digger*

        Yeah, but someone could take an afternoon off for interviews, too. I would rather schedule something just for after hours because I do not want to use vacation time on interviewing, but I would not assume someone was acting unethically for interviewing between 8 and 5.

    2. MK*

      Also I cannot see the reason for using a work email. I mean, I suppose people do the printing-copying-faxing from work because they don’t have access to equipment at home. But it takes seconds to get a free email address and you can use it from any computer. Why use a work email that could be discontinued at any time?

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It looks TERRIBLE to the employer they’re applying with. It’s usually an instant rejection from me, unless there’s some extenuating circumstance.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      It doesn’t just look horrible, but you don’t have control over your company’s email. If you are still looking for a job as of October 10, and your employer terminates you on October 1, there are still copies of your résumé out there with your email at your former employer’s, so if potential new employers try to contact you there, they will be unable to reach you.

      1. Dutch Thunder*

        Using the current company’s email address is much worse than the print job to me, cause it implies you have no intention of conducting your job search in your own time. Of course, I’m OCD and don’t use my company email address for anything personal, friends don’t even have it. I seem to be the only one among my friends with this policy though…

        1. Marcela*

          I don’t understand. I’ve had access to my work email 24/7, from the office and at home, even more, from my smartphone. What makes you think I read my work email only from my office, so my job hunting is done in my company’s time? (I’m not trying to be sarcastic, but I can’t find a more friendly tone to ask my question… I’m asking of curiosity =^.^=).

          1. Amber*

            Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, that’s the impression it gives. If I’m screening applications and someone does this, they are not getting invited to interview.

    5. INTP*

      It wouldn’t send up a huge ethical flag to me – occasional personal correspondence during the day for most exempt workers is not a big deal and there’s no guarantee that someone doesn’t have their Gmail open at work during the day or isn’t emailing from their phone. However, it does make me question their common sense and judgment. It’s not something that a person who is savvy with common sense would do.

    6. Not telling*

      Yeah, no.

      In the fax machine situation, I could ALMOST understand the motivation, since it can be hard to find a fax machine these days. It’s not like people have them at home. I still think if you really want the job you should make the effort to find a fax on neutral territory, but I can understand why maybe someone thought they could just use the office fax on the sly.

      But email? NO WAY. Anyone can get a free email address. There is absolutely no reason to use a work email other than laziness and a lack of respect for your employer.

  7. Sandrine (France)*

    As far as OP 1 goes, I happen to think it’s a pretty ridiculous reason to be fired for. I mean… printing one page or two ? Really ? Unless the company was down to the last ink cartridge and couldn’t print the last page of a life saving contract that would win them thousands of dollars I really, really don’t think a firing is warranted.

    If this was the first time, I’d just take the employee aside and mention this isn’t something to be done there.

    But still. The OP does not give us any contest so I’d assume this is a “first time” thing and I’d say OP was right to be looking for another job if this is the over the top reaction she gets o_O .

    1. MK*

      Eh, I don’t think the OP was fired (if it happened) for copying their CV. It was ptobably a combination of “spending time on your job search instead of focusing at work” and “there is no point in addressing this if you are going to leave soon anyway, let’s cut it short”. I don’t think it was a huge overreaction, unless the OP was a stellar employee.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think this is a “looks like we’re both done with each other, so let’s just admit it” action.

        1. Dutch Thunder*

          It seems like an overreaction though. Perhaps the OP was approached by a recruiter for something they perceived to be their dream job (even if the AAM crowd know those don’t exist). Not otherwise job searching, pretty happy at the current job, but approached about a brilliant opportunity.
          Of course, they may well have been miserable and dying to leave, but that would be the topic to focus on, not the job searching as such.

    2. M-C*

      Sandrine, it’s hard to fire people in France, and ANY use of company resources can be used to achieve that. I’ve heard of someone who was fired for putting company water into his car reservoir, and another who was fired for recharging his phone with company electricity. Those are extreme examples, about people who’d have been fired long before in different countries for more solid reasons of professional deficiencies. But don’t think you’re immune..

  8. Dani x*

    What about phone screens? Usually they want them to happen during the day – is it okay to use your breaks to take them, or should you take a vacation day for them?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s fine to take some time off during the day (whether lunch or “I have a personal appointment from 3-4 that I’ll be gone for” or whatever) to do a phone interview; that’s pretty normal.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Sometimes it can’t be avoided. I agree you do show an enormous amount of integrity if you refuse to use company time to do an interview, but that’s sometimes just not possible. If things are too busy at work for you to take a vacation/personal day (or you’re out of vacation/personal days), and your potential new employer offers interview times only during business hours, you kind of have to do it during work.

    3. Not telling*

      If your company has any kind of flex time, try to schedule the interview for the beginning or end of the day. For example, my employer allows people to arrive as late as 10. So I could easily attend an interview, whether in person or by phone, at 8 or 9 and not attract any attention.

  9. Not So NewReader*

    Congratulations, OP 5. You researched well and delivered a good interview. Good on you. Thanks for the follow up- I love hearing these stories.

    1. M-C*

      +1! Very good to hear things went so well for you #5, and best of luck on the new job. Sounds like you’ll be in a great environment :-).

  10. PEBCAK*

    #3 Are you still logging hours to be eligible to sit for the exam? I don’t know that anyone would take “PMP in progress” seriously before you’ve passed the exam.

    1. PMP Anon*

      I assumed they were logging experience hours for the application, which can take years to accumulate. When I was job searching with plans to get my PMP in my next role, I discussed it during interviews as one reason the position interested me. The position I ended up paying for me to take a PMP bootcamp. PMI randomly audits applications, which can really delay you (I got audited and it took an additional month to get the written approval required by all my past managers!). I also know a lot of people who failed their exam the first time. Most people familiar with the certification don’t expect submitting an application or having a test date to mean your PMP is a foregone conclusion.

      I would mention it as a goal in your cover letter (with your expected timeline to complete) and bring it up in interviews, but don’t put it on your resume until you’ve passed the exam.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I was going to say the same thing. The hours the OP is logging aren’t part of a course requirement, like classes that count towards a degree – they’re the minimum work experience you have to have in order to be allowed to sit the exam.

      OP, if I were you I’d use wording more like “will be eligible to sit PMP exam by [date]” – that’s more accurate to someone who’s familiar with the process than claiming that your PMP is [%] complete just because you’ve logged that % of the required hours.

      Good luck! I passed my exam in December and it was Not Fun, but I’m glad I did it :)

  11. Ellie H.*

    Re. coffee shop, I remember some of the comments focused on anxiety over being able to find a table in a suitable location. I bet it’d be best if when inviting to a coffee shop interview, the interviewer would say something like “I’ll get there a bit early to get us a table, see you at 11” so the interviewee knows not to worry about it and to show up at the appropriate time.

  12. Swedish Tekanna*


    From my experience in the UK, I would say that it is pretty unusual to print your CV during work hours. Employers’ rules about personal computer use and printing vary quite a bit. Some ban it completely, some are more free and easy. Sometimes written conditions are put into your employment contract. On the other hand, a number of employers I have worked for have had a separate agreement regarding computer and internet use (which often includes fax and phone use) which you need to sign and return to HR or your manager. Either way, I would say it is pretty unusual to do anything job search-related in the office because most people would prefer to keep their job searches secret from the employer. Job searching itself would not be grounds for dismissal (although there are a few unscrupulous employers who would “fiddle” the redundancy laws: I used to work for an employment tribunal, and also witnessed a similar case at a separate employer), However, if an employer did know you were looking it could make for a very uncomfortable atmosphere to say the least, even if it was all being done outside. To actually do this stuff on the employer’s time and using their facilities would make most of them pretty hacked off.

    The only exception would be if you were working out a redundancy period, in which case the employer must, by law, allow you reasonable time off for job searching and interviewing, (NB the word “reasonable” itself is notoriously vague in law and there is a lot of discretion involved). Most reasonable employers would be OK about you printing your CV if you needed to.

    On the whole, job searching or writing CVs/resumes during working time (and using office equipment or materials) is pretty much not done in the UK, like the US.

    1. Swedish Tekanna*

      I should add here that although job searching (or anything related to it) on the employer’s time would not normally be grounds for dismissal, many employers would see it as grounds for a verbal or written warning, and an ethical employee would not want to do it, privacy issues aside.

  13. Stranger than fiction*

    Re: Using company printers/copiers most are networked these days and anything personal is going to be stored on their server for a period of time. People are naive if they don’t think about that. It thereby becomes their property

  14. RandomName*

    #3 I don’t know how your certification is structured, but for the CPA exam there are 4 parts, and when I was job searching while I was still sitting for it I listed each part and if I had passed it, listed “passed,” if I had scheduled it, listed “scheduled MM/DD/YYYY,” and if neither of those then, “expected to sit summer 20×1.”

    1. Lizzie*

      I did the same thing for my teacher certification exams, at the recommendation of a hiring manager in the field.

  15. OP #2*

    Thank you for answering my question, Alison. I was offered the position yesterday! Seems they were preparing to make a decision when they began emailing me.

  16. books*

    For the PM, if you’re studying for it and enrolled in a course, you could include that because it shows the employer you are serious about taking the exam. If you’re just logging hours (keeping track of hours spent on project management) in order to be eligible to sit for the exam, it may be something mentioned in a cover letter, assuming the job is heavy on project management.

Comments are closed.