delaying a start date, resigning at the wrong time, and more

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

1. Is a start date two months out unreasonable?

I recently decided to start interviewing for a new position. I’m looking for something at the Director or above level, and, yay, already have a bunch of good prospects on the horizon.

Given the role I’m in right now, I’d need to give at least a month’s notice to successfully transition my projects, and since it’s summer, I’d really like to take a substantial vacation. Is it unreasonable, once we start discussing start dates, to suggest a start date in August? I’m assuming any job offers I get will happen in June (so, finish current role mid-July, relax four weeks, start new job mid-August).

I’m also just considering giving notice in June without a job (yes, there is backstory), spending a month winding things down, and then taking the rest of the summer off, except for some job hunting.

Director level? Totally fine. As positions get more senior, it’s increasingly common for people to have start dates a bit further out and for employers to be totally okay with waiting a bit. It would be really short-sighted to lose your top candidate for a director role by quibbling over a month or two, unless there were really unusual circumstances requiring an earlier start date (which they’d explain, and then you could decide if you wanted to accommodate that or not).

Frankly, asking for a start date two months out often isn’t a big deal in more junior positions either. It can be, but it depends on the role and the organization.

2. Were my graduate degrees hurting me?

When does the number of degrees I have on my resume start looking like a bug instead of a feature?

Back in my accounting/finance days, I used to apply for jobs all the time. I got some bites, but not as many as I expected for the amount of experience I had and the things I’d accomplished. I have a bachelor degree in Psychology, a master’s in Accounting, and an MBA. I put all those on my resume because I was proud of them and because they were relevant to the positions I was applying for. I’ve since left that field to do something completely unrelated, but did having three degrees on my resume hurt me such that I wouldn’t even get a call?

At the height of my desperation to get out of my last job, several people suggested that I take one of the master’s degrees off my resume. Would that have helped me?

Maybe. If you’re applying for jobs that don’t relate to those degrees, graduate degrees can hurt you because many employers will think you don’t really want the job you’re applying for, since it’s not what you went to school for. They’ll assume that you’ll be dissatisfied and leave as soon as something in the field you studied comes along. That concern can end up being a reason they don’t hire you for the same job you might have been a strong candidate for before you got your graduate degree. This becomes much less of an issue as you put more time between you and school, but it’s a very real issue when the degrees are still pretty fresh.

But it sounds in accounting and finance, those degrees were relevant, so I’d guess that the issue wasn’t the degrees but rather your resume or cover letter or that you weren’t applying for jobs that matched your level of experience. Or that you were simply applying during a bad job market, which would be the case if you were applying for jobs from 2008 onward.

As for the question you opened with — when does the number of degrees feel like a problem — a masters in accounting and an MBA isn’t a problem. You often see those two degrees together. If then went on to get another master’s, or if the first two were in unrelated fields, some hiring managers will wonder if you really know what you want to do, why you’re pouring all this time into schooling if you don’t, and if you’re kind of love with academia in a way that means you won’t thrive in the work world.

3. Would it be wrong of me to leave right after we landed a big contract?

My company was just won a rebid for our contract. The transition period is major: We have to rewrite all of our standard operating procedures, have weekly meetings with partners, and hire new staff. Everyone’s excited about the new opportunity. There’s going to be a *ton* of work, and I’m an integral part of it.

But the thing is, I’m ready to leave. I’ve been applying for jobs and have gone on three interviews in the past 6 months–I declined to continue in the interview process for the first two (neither felt like the right fit), and the last company just told me they’ve decided to change the scope of the role and need time to re-evaluate candidates. The HR manager encouraged me to keep following up.

To make things worse, I don’t have the best relationship with my boss. We recently fell out over some office gossip. I love my teammates, though, and certainly don’t want to leave them high and dry during such a critical time. But I’m having a hard time imagining a long, grueling summer working on an enormous project I have no interest in anymore with a boss I don’t want to work with anymore. Would it be wrong of me to continue to search for–and hopefully land–a new job right now?

Nope. You can’t be expected to time your job search so that your leaving lands at the ideal time for your employer. There are some exceptions to this, but you usually know when you fall in the exception category; for example, if you’re an event planner with one big event a year, you don’t leave right before that event, and if you’re working on a political campaign, you don’t leave a few weeks before Election Day. But generally, you leave when you leave. If you had to wait for a good time, many people would never be able to resign.

Speaking of which…

4. Attending an all-expense-paid training right before resigning

I have verbally accepted a job offer at a company in NYC. HR has told me they are awaiting the approvals in their system before a background check is conducted and a formal offer is generated. They have told me to not resign until I have the formal offer in hand, which I would agree with under normal circumstances.

The problem I am facing is I am scheduled to go on an all-expense paid training in about a week and a half for my current job (my current employer is located in Florida). I am worried that I will not receive the formal offer in time to cancel the trip and training. My current employer will be charged an $800 late cancellation fee if I do not cancel on the next business day. Furthermore, I could potentially not receive the formal offer until the week of the training or just after. I am worried about burning bridges by going on the all-expense paid training and then resigning immediately after. I have communicated this issue to the new company in NYC but they have not been able to offer a solution or speed up the process. Any thoughts on what I should do and when I should resign?

Proceed as if you don’t have a job offer — because you don’t. You absolutely shouldn’t resign until you have a formal offer with the contingencies (like the background check) removed; otherwise you could find yourself having resigned from your current job and with no new job to go to. The new employer’s HR person gets that, and that’s why she clearly told you not to resign until you have the form offer. Listen to her.

Yes, the timing may end up not being great for your old employer because of the dates of the training. This stuff happens, and there’s no way around it. Training cancellation fees, paying to train people who leave shortly afterwards, and the like are part of the cost of doing business. Your old employer will be fine (in fact, this is so common that they probably won’t even blink over it).

5. My reference asked me to help him fill out his reference questionnaire

Thanks to your help on resumes and cover letters, I’ve progressed to the final stages for a new job! I’ve been with the same company for 11 years (my entire career) and under the same manager for the last 5 years and had a difficult time coming up with references. I pulled three together, contacted all of them, and got their go-ahead to list them. They were all contacted last week by email with a list of questions (15 or so) and two got back within a few days. I had one email me today saying he had a hard time getting around to responding and that it feels like he’s the one interviewing with all the questions. He then asks me to put comments after the questions and I’m afraid that I’ll be filling in my own reference. Any suggestions on how to proceed?

Ugh. It’s such a bad idea to send references questionnaires to fill out. Half the value of reference-checking comes from actually talking to people, hearing their tone of voice and where they pause and where they seem uncomfortable or especially enthusiastic, and being able to ask follow-up questions. Employers are forfeiting all of that with this approach — and it’s all less considerate to your references, because it’s more work for them.

But that doesn’t help you. As for how to proceed, I’d do what your reference is asking — it’s not that different from drafting your own letter of recommendation (which the referrer then hopefully modifies), which is a pretty common practice. And really, employers are setting themselves up for this by going this route.

{ 54 comments… read them below }

  1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

    For no. 4, would you feel better about it if you looked at the training as an opportunity to gather information that will be helpful for your successor? Good notes, outlines, materials etc that could be passed down to the next person to do your job would have value, I’d think.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I think that’s a great idea or maybe even discretely ask the training provider if the course is transferable to another person at a later date so the replacement can attend the course after they start.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I was thinking that if this really was sitting poorly on OP4’s conscience, they could suggest to their manager swapping with someone else on the team who hasn’t done the training. “After reviewing all the rewrites/new work/deliverables deadline from this new project, I think this may not be the optimal time for me to participate in the training. Perhaps it would be better if Wakeen was sent instead?”

        1. Another Job Seeker*

          My thinking here is that if the project deadline makes it a bad time for Kat to go to training, it also means that it is a bad time for her to leave. Might be better not to shine a light on that. Kat, I hope that you get the job and your current employer is understanding about the training.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            The advice I’ve often seen here is: you don’t owe your company/co-workers supreme and undying loyalty — staying on to make others feel better/help shoulder the weight of a toxic environment when you’re miserable is not a good idea. So, my line of reasoning is, if she doesn’t go on the training, she is around to work on the new documentation or whatever is required of her job in the event this other offer does come through. Sure, she doesn’t want to work on it but if she can give herself a good swift mental kick in the pants and start it, then when she does leave, that will be in much better shape than if she had gone off on the training and she might be able to leave sooner/there will be less to do before she has to leave. If the offer does come in, it may also be easier for her to do the final negotiations if she’s not so far away. And if the Boss is all blindsided, a quick explanation (if required) about how long job searches take/the uncertainty of it all until the offer is in your hands should be enough. Unless the Boss is also the owner, they should have a fairly good idea of how job searches go.

            FWIW, I was on a job earlier this year and a few days before we were supposed to leave, word came down to take out X from anywhere they appeared as they had just left the company — I would guess rather abruptly since it wasn’t too much before then that I had been given all their information, the badges had already been printed. As this was a National Sales Meeting, if they had gone on it, come back and turned in their notice, I think that would have been a Bad Thing Much Looked Down Upon. Granted, it was more strategic and probably information competitors would have liked to have known about, rather than a general training thing.

            1. Another Job Seeker*

              Sorry – I think I should clarify my comment. I agree with the recommendation that Kat should leave when she is ready. I just meant that if she indicates to the company that she does not want to go to training because of a time-consuming project, her company might object to her leaving (assuming she receives the position she is seeking and resigns) and say that their objection is based on the project. As in, “you didn’t want to leave for a few days of training because of the project — but you are willing to leave your position and take another one. What about the project?” Of course, I have no way of knowing whether they would actually say something like that. Just wanted to raise the possibility.

    2. Kat*

      I am the OP of question #4. That is definitely a pretty good idea. The training is more a general knowledge class whereas my day-to-day responsibilities are more focused on a somewhat unrelated area and probably wouldn’t use this type of knowledge. But I guess it wouldn’t hurt to keep the notes handy for the next person.

      As far as resigning, I guess I knew deep down I will have to wait no matter what until I have a full written offer signed. I think I just needed the reassurance from Alison and you all. Thank you!

      1. Mimmy*

        I think waiting is the only option you have, unfortunately. As any regular AAM reader knows, hiring can sometimes take much longer than anticipated. When I hear “waiting for approvals”, I know I’m in for a wait since people could be on vacation, call out sick, get tied up in other things, etc.

        Good luck!!

      2. BW*

        If your company really was worried about you leaving before they got value from training you they would put some kind of restriction like if you leave within 6 months of the training you must reimburse $xxx to the company. This is somewhat common in many tech companies when you go to training for a certification.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This is really only reasonable if the training is solely for the employee’s benefit rather than the employer’s. Otherwise it’s penalizing people for doing their jobs, which often includes attending trainings.

          1. INTP*

            And is a great way to make sure most of your employees aren’t willing to go to training, because they’d be financially trapped – which no one wants even if they aren’t actively looking.

  2. The IT Manager*

    LW#5, is this a federal government job? The gov’t used an email survey for my references when they hired me.

    I had been in the military so my references were familiar with the gov’t and they responded to the email quickly. I didn’t have to assist them with the writing of it, but one sent me his response so I could see what he said.

    And in your situation, I think your best bet is to do as your reference and jog his memory. Think of it like getting recommendations for college from high school teachers or providing memory joggers for your yearly performance report for your boss.

  3. Puffle*

    #5 I don’t really see a problem with you filling in the questionnaire and having the referee check it and make edits. It would be one thing if you wrote the answers and sent it off in his name without consulting him, but since that’s not the case I’d just do what he’s asking.

    Srsly though, I hate it when companies do stuff like this, it’s just plain inconsiderate, and you risk having referees turn around and say they don’t have the time, or decide they’d rather not act as a reference in future if this is what will be asked of them. A reference check should be a 15 minute phone call or something, not a written assignment.

    1. UKAnon*

      I think we discussed the other day that this is actually the most common way of doing things in the UK and a phone call for a reference might seem… a tad out of place. If OP is outside of America then this could be a perfectly normal part of the culture; and it isn’t odd for references to want you to help jog their memory to fill out written references in my experience either.

      1. fposte*

        I’m curious–are you saying it’s normal to have written references, or it’s normal to have a specific questionnaire?

        I had to fill out one of those once for a student worker who just wanted another part-time summer job. How on earth do I know what his biggest challenge was?

    2. OP#5*

      Upon closer read of the email my reference sent me, it does appear that the company tried to call him and he just never replied to the voicemail. So, in that respect I don’t blame the company for sending the email. And I know my reference doesn’t reply to voicemails in general and specifically asked for an email. But it ended up that the day after my reference asked me to fill out the form for myself, I received an email from the company letting me know they had filled the position already. Going forward, I’ve learned that he may not be the best reference since he didn’t return the call or fill out the email form.

  4. New grad*

    Alison, most of your advice is intended for readers in more senior-level positions and those earning a relatively high level of income, isn’t it? I am a new grad and some of your writing just isn’t quite in accord with what I’ve experienced. On the other hand, my situation isn’t very common.

    1. You said above that it’s reasonable for a junior position to have a starting date two months out. You’ve stated elsewhere that it can take months or years to find a job. You’re talking about corporate jobs, right? Maybe in the suburbs? If both of these were true for my situation, I’d be homeless right now. (I live in a highly urbanized area of the West Coast and found a job 10 days after I looked for one. Of course, the associated income was probably a small fraction of that of your typical reader, but then again I am young and single, so my expenses are low.) If an organization gave me a starting date two months out, I wouldn’t even consider the job. I wouldn’t necessarily even be able to.

    2. Does your advice of giving at least 14 days’ notice apply to everyone in every situation? I gave that amount of notice when I worked at an American retail chain, and it made sense in that situation. But I deal with recent immigrants from particular non-Western countries, in which harsh criticism at work is the norm and workplace rights are essentially non-existent. In each case, I am verbally abused regularly until I threaten to resign, after which the abuse vanishes without a trace for a while and then slowly comes back until the process repeats. Even if they did think I was doing a good job, they probably wouldn’t bother to give me any sort of positive reference, and I wouldn’t believe them even if they were to say they would (backstabbing is common). If there’s basically no chance of getting a reference, should I even bother to give notice? Lately, I haven’t been doing that in situations like these. I also work for very small companies, and I presently have no coworkers whatsoever.

    Admittedly, some of the above work also took place in the aforementioned non-Western countries.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. I’m talking in the post about the candidate/new hire asking for a start date two months out, not the employer. Most employers are happy to have people start within a few weeks if they’re willing to (although of course there are exceptions).

      2. You should always give two weeks notice (minimum) because it’s the professional thing to do, unless you’re in an unsafe or otherwise truly intolerable situation. However, if the employer then treats you poorly, it’s perfectly reasonable to leave more quickly. I’ve written more on this here:

      I wouldn’t say that my advice is all geared toward senior people/high incomes levels at all. But yeah, I have no expertise in dealing with work situations in non-Western countries and my advice is really geared toward the U.S. (and any other countries where people find it applies).

      1. M-C*

        Actually, new grad, you should adapt AAM’s otherwise very good 14-day advice to the country you’re working in. In France for instance giving less than a full month’s notice would be positively scandalous, no matter how trivial the job. 14 days is the norm in the US, I’m sure there are variations in every country, and for that matter in every field (US academics often give 6 months or a even a year’s notice). What I’d advise is observing behavior around you – when someone well-liked and respected leaves, what notice do they give in general? Don’t count the ones escorted off the premises for gross misbehavior :-). And you can still leave sooner if your notice only triggers harassment.

        But I’m sure AAM would second me in saying that you should always try to give proper notice, unless your safety’s at sake, no matter how it may seem to you that you won’t get a referral. Referrals don’t only come formally from managers, and you may well come across a co-worker in the future, even on another continent. If you’re the only one doing the right thing in a situation, other people will notice, and it may well be helpful in the future in ways you cannot even imagine. Better to cover yourself.. Search this site and you’ll find many examples of this being discussed by AAM. In fact, if you’re working in this kind of environment, I’d suggest to take special pains to connect with the decent coworkers outside of work, on Linked-in for instance, or individual clients who appreciate you, that’ll be the most useful to you.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      Hanging out here quite a bit, I’d say that the breakdown’s roughly: 1/2 brand new/early career, 1/4 mid career and maybe 1/4 senior level career (maybe, that might be too much, shift a bit to mid-career).

      On the topic of needing jobs quickly, good heavens, I have been there. When I read about new grad job hunts here I flash back to me, when I needed my first job and I would have starved. I mean, literally. I had my first (crappy) job within 2 weeks of leaving college. No support system, no income, no choices.

      Reading here a bit more, you’ll start to get a vision for what a career looks like when you can build to actually have some choices. The part where you’ve had to desperately find work *now* and the part where you’ve had an unusual number of abusive situations, they’re related. Choosing a job should be choosing, you interviewing and deciding on the employer every bit as much as they are deciding on you. You don’t get that when you’re desperate and have to take the first thing that comes.

    3. BRR*

      I’m a recent-ish grad, in the work force for two years, and I feel the advice is applicable. There was a salary survey of readers last year where you can see people of certain titles make and while that doesn’t provide the exact breakdown of readership they definitely weren’t all high.

      1) It’s a job search can take months or years, not that one definitely will. My husband has been looking for two year, the best he could do is a crappy retail job

      2) What Alison said.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I think this is key: right now a job search _can_ take a long time, but it doesn’t always.

        What Wakeen said above about how having to rush to new jobs making it more likely to end up with crummy ones is true, too. When I found myself in that situation, New Grad, I started temping. Often my temp jobs would turn into long-term assignments, if I liked them. If they turned out to be abusive or unpleasant, I could report them to my agency and take a new role!

    4. Tigress*

      I have been reading Alison’s blog for several years now, and I first started when I was in grad school. I don’t think there are words for the ways she has helped me get my act together and mature as a job seeker and as a professional. I have learned so much about common mistakes (I was making lots of them) and how certain behaviors are perceived from the employer’s side by reading about it in Alison’s posts and readers’ comments. I think this blog is the best possible resource any new grad could use when launching into the job search, and later when surviving and excelling in the work place. It’s part of my daily routine to make breakfast and read AAM. I honestly believe it has made me a better person in so many ways, not just as a professional.

    5. Tau*

      +1ing the other comments from someone who just finished their PhD and is starting their first ever full-time job in a month. Alison’s advice has been hugely helpful, even if some of it isn’t entirely applicable to the UK.

  5. Degrees*

    I’ve often wanted to leave my grad degree off of my resume (based on everything I’ve read here), but the thing is, LastJob required at least a Masters, which I’d assumed most people in the general public realize. (Higher Ed). I’ve wondered if it’s been hurting me when trying to venture out, though.

    I do connect transferable skills in my cover letter and explain why I’m looking elsewhere. I did fix up my resume to highlight my accomplishments- which btw, made me feel awesome! Maybe I’m just trying too hard to read the tea leaves…

    1. Carrie*

      I’ve done the same when trying to leave the education field. I explained in my cover letter why I was pursuing other opportunities because I felt like my master’s in education was holding me back. I’m still in education, though, so my search continues. However, it is really irritating that, as Alison stated, that some managers might assume one isn’t serious or will become dissatisfied. I mean, if I am enthusiastically applying for the job then I am clearly very interested! Some jobs I have applied for also only required a BA….I assumed many managers thought that since I had a Master’s I’d expect more money, but again, if the job description lists the salary and I’m ok with it…..???? I found this to be a very frustrating part of my job hunt.

      1. Degrees*

        Thank you for sharing your experience- it really is helpful to know I’m not the only one in this boat! As nice as commiserate money would be, I’m really more interested in expanding my horizons for various personal reasons at this stage. Exactly- as you put it, we wouldn’t be wasting their time if we weren’t genuinely interested. Best of luck to you, and thanks again! :)

        1. Carrie*

          Best of luck to you, too! And yes, while extra money is always nice, some people are genuinely searching for more fulfillment at work!

    2. JenGray*

      I just want to give people a heads up when considering leaving an advanced degree off of your resume- part of my current job is working in HR and I completely understand not wanting the degree to hold you back (I have been in the same situation) but if you leave a degree off of your resume than companies may consider that lying and could fire you for it. It would be the same as not disclosing a conviction (if asked, I know companies are moving away from that) or saying you had a job title that you didn’t on an application. I know they aren’t the same thing and some managers won’t care but it’s better to address it in your cover letter than leave it off because the perception will be if you lie about something like education what else are you lying about.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s not lying to leave a degree off a resume. If you’re filling out an application that specifically requires you to list all education, then possibly (but still really, really unlikely to result in firing), but definitely not on a resume.

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    #5, have you asked the company if they’d be willing to call your reference instead?

    There’s one large firm in my industry that insists on sending out a 15-question email to references. But they do understand that this can be a pain in the ass for the references, so the email contains a line saying to please let the recruiter know if you would prefer a phone call.

    If you let the hiring manager or recruiter know that your reference would prefer a phone call and they say no, I think you’re 100% in the clear to fill it out yourself and run it by your reference as he is suggesting.

    1. Brit Brat*

      I’d check with the referee first before offering a phone call as an alternative. It may not be typical to do references by phone, depending on where you are located, and the fact that they found the written questions onerous doesn’t mean they’d necessarily prefer a phone call.

  7. ComputerGeek*

    #4. Just be honest.

    If anybody asks after the fact, just tell the truth. “I was very close to getting an offer, and I tried to speed up the process, but I couldn’t get it in time to give notice any sooner.”

    Rational people are going to understand. I was scheduled to take a trip, and ended up giving notice a few days before I was to go. I said I’d do whatever would be most helpful. I would go and represent the company’s interests, or I would quickly transition knowledge over to a colleague. I think the latter made more sense, and my boss agreed. He was happy that I gave him a choice, and he trusted me continue representing the company’s interests. I didn’t have any bad blood. It was just time for me to go. Three years later, I still meet up with my former co-workers and boss once or twice a month for lunch. As far as I know, there are no hard feelings on either side.

    And if they’re not rational? Don’t worry about their opinions.

    1. Kat*

      I am the OP of question #4. I am glad to hear the situation worked out with you. I have a great relationship with my team and an even better relationship with my current manager. I know he will accept my decision and realize it is the best thing for my career. That being said, I just wanted to make this process as painless as possible for them. However, it seems this is out of my hands and he will just have to understand the tough decision I had to make going on the training.

  8. Green*

    For #2, I’d give an exception for some of the professions on number of grad degrees. In law, it is not uncommon for people to go into law school with Master’s Degrees or PhDs or to complete a dual degree in an elite program (JD/MBA or JD/MA) or to subsequently get an LLM (only do this for an LLM in tax or if you’re a foreign lawyer, but that’s a different post). With law, liberal arts degrees don’t hurt as long as your most recent degree is law. Liberal arts degrees in languages are great. A strong background in science (including PhDs), accounting, or business can also really help you.

    There is a tipping point, but seeing three to even five (relevant) degrees on a resume for a top tier lawyer wouldn’t necessarily be off-putting since many people go to law school as a second career.

  9. Mimmy*

    #2 – When I was job searching more actively, a job coach suggested I leave my Masters degree off my resume (I was about 2-3 post-grad). Her reasoning was, IIRC, that employers would feel they’d have to pay me more as someone with a Masters. I strongly disagreed because I felt like it’d be deceitful, especially since you have to include all education when you fill out the actual job application. Plus, I worked hard for that degree, and I felt like eliminating it from my resume invalidates that.

    So yeah, degrees on resume is definitely a tricky thing. On the one hand, you want to highlight your most relevant background, but to leave off a GRADUATE degree, regardless of relevancy, just doesn’t feel right to me. My education section is now further down on my resume than it was back then, so maybe it doesn’t matter now.

    But I digress. OP2, your Masters seem to complement each other, so I’d leave them on your resume.

    1. leisuresuitlarry*

      The fact that the complement each other is one of the many reasons I always refused to take either of them off my resume. There was also the question of which one I would take off if I did. Frankly, I’d have been far more inclined to take off the Bachelor’s degree since it was the one that was out of the norm. But even there, having a Psychology degree could come in handy for the types of jobs I was doing (internal audit). I could take off the MS Accounting, but then it looks like I obviously left it off my resume because without it how did I get the CPA – you have to have a certain number of accounting classes to qualify for CPA.

      It’s all moot now anyway. I switched careers to web development, for which none of these degrees or certifications mean anything. Although, at my first department meeting when I was introduced to everyone my new manager made a point of telling everyone that I was the most educated person they’ve ever hired into a Junior Developer role.

  10. OP#5*

    I replied upthread, but wanted to clarify some things. After sending my question to Alison, I reread the email from my reference and in the email to him (from the hiring manager), she mentioned that she had called and left a voicemail originally. So, the email reference came after the voicemail that my reference never returned. And when I asked my reference if he was willing, he specifically asked that the hiring manager email him. So – he didn’t return the call and then did’t answer the email. The lesson learned from here is that this reference may not be best for the future.

    I did end up answering the questions to the best of my ability, but 2 hours after I emailed the answers to my reference, I received an email from the hiring manager letting me know that they had filled the position. Thanks for answering my question, Alison!

    1. JMegan*

      Aw, that’s too bad. But yes, you have definitely learned something valuable about that person’s ability to be a reference. Good luck with the rest of your search!

  11. OP#1*

    I’m the first LW! Thanks for the reassurance, Alison.

    It’s been so long since I negotiated from the applicant side, I’d forgotten how nerve-wracking it is and how you second-guess everything you and your potential employers do. It’s been calming to read AAM and remember that everyone goes through this!

  12. Sooo Not Fiona*

    Tangentially related to #3, has anyone seen Pitch Perfect 2? There is a scene where the boyfriend (Jesse) tells the main character (Beca) that she has given 3 years of her life to the Barden Bellas and it’s OK that she’s moving on. This is in reference to her getting an (unpaid) internship at a recording studio to start her music producing career. And therefore spending less time on Bella stuff. I wish I could find the exact quote, in the theatre I was like “that’s me! I need to move on! I shouldn’t feel guilt about moving to a new company!”

    You know you are stressed when you find meaningful career advice in Pitch Perfect 2.

  13. BananaPants*

    Re: #2 – I had never considered that having multiple degrees might be a liability when looking for a job. My current employer pays for 100% of higher education expenses, regardless of whether the degree/major is related the employee’s work. So there really isn’t a reason to NOT go to school.

    I have two master’s degrees (one in management, one in engineering) and am getting my third in a very small engineering specialty. I plan to be DONE with graduate education in my field for good once I finish this master’s program but if I remain with this employer I envisioned getting an associate’s or master’s or two in totally unrelated fields that have always interested me. I wouldn’t put them on my resume but I assume I’d have to list them on any job application that I’d be filling out.

    1. Artemesia*

      The world is full of people who are ineffectual and keep getting degrees thinking it will set them up in a successful career. Sometimes degrees are helpful in opening doors especially when they provide skills not acquired any other way. But multiple degrees hints at ‘professional student’ who either doesn’t really want to work or who has been unsuccessful at obtaining or completing work due to personal issues and who is looking for a magic key.

      Whether your multiple degrees are hurting you in this process or not will depend on your field. Is the niche engineering degree necessary? Could you not master this specialty without additional academic work? If not and it is a requirement for what you want to do, perhaps it will not be a detriment. I’d be a bit nervous though if I were getting this degree to ‘get a job’ rather than advancing in a job I already had.

      1. Green*

        I think if you’re working at the same time, it’s less of an issue (especially if you want to stay in the same field you were in previously). But if I’m just getting a degree for my own personal enrichment, I don’t know that it goes on a resume. There are lots of personal accomplishments we have that are fulfilling but don’t really need to go on a resume.

  14. Artemesia*

    #3 Your business would drop you in an instant if it were in their interest to do so. I can think of a recent situation where a friend landed a big contract but the organization decided to downsize and eliminate the office in city X where friend worked and s the big contract was switched to the central office and all the people in city X let go. I can see loyalty where a boss has gone out of the way to be loyal to you e.g. giving an extended leave when you had medical needs above and beyond the norm or whatever. But business is business and it is unwise to let loyalty to peers or concern for the current employer to mess up your own future advancement. They drop you when it works for them; you drop them when it works for you. None of us is irreplaceable.

  15. JMegan*

    #1, this is a Very Big Deal. Public records – including those created in email – belong to the state, and must be stored in a way that maintains government transparency and accountability.

    I can’t speak to your specific jurisdiction, but the Ontario government is working on legislation on this very issue, after some big blowups with a previous government. The TL;DR is that the gov’t made the decision to close several gas plants, and then deliberately deleted all the records associated with this decision. (Links to follow).

    In the US, there was also significant fallout when it was discovered that Hillary Clinton was using a gmail address rather than a .gov email when she was Secretary of State.

    Do you have this request from your manager’s manager in writing? Probably not, given the nature of the request. But you should definitely document everything you’ve told us above, including dates, the fact that the request was made multiple times, and your own discomfort. Take that information to this person’s boss, or to your state’s ethics or fraud reporting organization. Trust me, they’ll want to know about it. Good luck.

    1. JMegan*

      Gas Plants:
      (skip down to “The Cover Up Discovered” for details about the records)

      Office of the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Report on the Gas Plants:
      (long, but very important reading if you need to convince yourself or anyone else that this really is a big deal!)

      Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act
      (Government’s response to the above.)

    2. JMegan*

      Good grief, clearly I should never post first thing in the morning. This should be on Tuesday’s short answer thread.

  16. Amanda2*

    Question about #2…

    I have 2 master’s degrees in my current field, and have been wondering about leaving one or both off my resume for a job search for a new job. Next year, I will be looking for entry-level jobs in a new field that I will be entering (midlife career-change). I fully expect to be taking a large pay cut to enter my new field as well as starting out with entry level jobs that do not require any advanced degrees. I need to do this to acquire training and experience in the new field. If employers see the 2 master’s degrees on my resume, I am concerned they will not consider me for these entry-level jobs. But, isn’t it dishonest to leave them off? What if I get the job and then down the road it comes out I have 2 masters degrees that I didn’t disclose?

    1. LeisureSuitLarry*

      Op#2, here: this was my situation exactly. I quit a field I had been working in for 11 years to take an entry level position in something completely different. My new education was an 8 week bootcamp, which I did put on my resume, but I left the degrees on there so they would know that I had some formal education. Frankly, I don’t think it would be a problem for you to put less degrees than you have on your resume. They might be pleasantly surprised that they had someone more degreed than they thought. I also took a pay cut to get in my new field, but fortunately the earning potential is higher and the pay cut want so low as top put much of a cramp in my lifestyle. Good luck in your new career.

  17. Joan*

    Related to #1 how do you address needing a later start date in a final interview? I have one next week and because of relocating and an already paid for trip, my start date is going to be up to 2 months later than their perfect scenario. They already know the perfect scenario doesn’t work for me and are interviewing me despite knowing I’m not moving until a month after what they’re looking for. It’s a mid-level role if that makes a difference.

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