I hid my law degree from my employer, asking people to knock before entering, and more

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

1. I hid my law degree from my employer but now want a promotion that would require it

My dilemma is I didn’t list my law degree on my resume or application for an administrative assistant in a hospital ethics and compliance department. I had practiced law in past, but my main law firm work was as a manager at two law firms so I didn’t disclose that I practiced law. I was hired and have done an excellent job but never disclosed my lawyer past. I have worked in job for 10 months, and a compliance specialist job is now being recruited in the same department. The department is small — only six people — and I have gotten to know everyone well. Should I disclose my J.D. to my boss, the chief compliance officer, while seeking the compliance specialist job? I don’t know if she will be angry or consider my prior omission to be unethical or to make me untrustworthy.

My reason for not previously disclosing the J.D. is that I was getting no responses to applications (even for non-lawyer legal jobs at law firms) and I was getting desperate. I moved with husband to this area due to his job transfer to a military base here. I was well-qualified for available jobs I applied for and only when I left off my JD did I receive several interviews. I never want to work in the legal field again but find compliance extremely rewarding and interesting. The risk, I think, Is losing the job I have now because of hiding that part of my past. How likely do you think that is to happen and do you think it is worth the risk for the chance the job?

It’s not unethical to leave a degree off of your resume; a resume is a marketing document designed to present your strengths, not an exhaustive listing of everything you’ve ever done. It would be pretty unlikely that your manager would fire you from an an administrative assistant job that you’ve done well at for 10 months just because she didn’t know about your law degree earlier.

I think it would be fine to say to your manager, “Hey, you probably don’t know this, but I actually have a J.D. I leave it off my resume because I don’t want to practice law again, but I’m really interested in the compliance specialist job and wonder if you think it would be worth me throwing my hat in the ring?”

2. Telling a job applicant that I don’t want a LinkedIn resume

I was recruiting for an upcoming assignment, and one of the people who emailed to me wrote, “My resume can be found here” and included the URL for his LinkedIn account.

That’s great for reading, but I like to print people’s resumes out and keep them in a folder to flip through later; I just find that my brain works better with that format. Printing out the LinkedIn resume is going to result in an awkward-to-file, awkward-to-compare document. How rude is it to ask for him to send me a Word or PDF document?

Not rude at all. I sometimes have people do this send a link to a Google Doc, and I just write back, “Thanks so much for your interest. Can you please submit your resume as a Word or PDF document so we can get it in our system?”

I don’t know why people think this is a good idea to do. There are so many reasons for people not to submit stuff this way — the ones you described, plus that fact that it’s hard/impossible to get linked stuff into an electronic applicant tracking system, plus the fact that the linked material could change in some way in the future and you wouldn’t know it (and it could be after you’ve sent it to a colleague to review, for example).

3. My name is almost the same as a senior manager’s at my company

I’ve got a name that is relatively common – it’s not unusual to find someone with my first name or last name. My first name, however, has a particular unique spelling (like Rebeka instead of Rebecca) and my last name has lots of different variations that are all fairly common (think Olson, Oleson, Olsen). I’ve had to correct people my whole life to the point that I specify the spelling right away without even thinking about it, and I’m never offended or upset by it – I even turn it into a joke about my creative parents.

Last year, I took a job with a very large company with multiple sites across the U.S. and abroad. There is someone here with the same name as me – the common spelling of the first name, and a common variation of the last name – if I’m Rebeka Olson, she’s Rebecca Olsen. I have never received any communication (email, office IM or phone calls) in mistake for her, but I have heard from other people that they accidentally contacted her instead of me. It causes me to miss meetings, lose communications about projects, and generally miss communications, most often with internal customers who don’t know me well. It’s frustrating, and I don’t know how to combat it.

On top of that, Rebecca Olsen is at a senior leadership level and works at a completely different site from me. It’s highly likely we would never meet. If she were on the same level as me, it might be a different case, but I wonder if I can even broach the topic directly with her. I’d like to apologize for any inconvenience, and possibly alert her to the fact that any emails or meeting requests she gets are likely meant for me. I’m a big fan of just being friendly and handling the issue matter-of-fact, but I’m not sure exactly what to do here. My manager was sympathetic but didn’t seem to think it was a big deal or that I should contact the other person. What do you think?

I don’t think it’s a big deal, and I definitely don’t think you should apologize to her — you haven’t done anything wrong by being named what you’re named! I think apologizing could come across as a little obsequious. But it would be fine to just send her a casual email that says something like, “Hi! We’ve never met but we have similar names, and I think you’ve probably received a bunch of misdirected emails that people meant to send my way. I just wanted to introduce myself and tell you that if you forward that stuff on to me, I’ll see what I can do to ensure people get my contact info corrected in their mail programs.”

The fact that she’s senior shouldn’t put you off; it’s a pretty normal work thing that you can handle in a matter-of-fact way, and she will probably handle it like a normal person. (But if she doesn’t, then you can distinguish yourself as the reasonable Rebeka Olson.)

4. Bragging about disputing unemployment claims

Quick question about something I saw on a LinkedIn profile that disturbed me. I was reading a profile of a VP of HR and saw this bullet point under her accomplishments for a previous position she held as an HR manager: “Successfully disputed over 82% of unemployment claims.”

It struck me as odd that she’d be proudly displaying the fact that she’d fought and beat a high percentage of ex-employees’ claims for unemployment. Is this typically something HR people are proud of? It seems rather vicious. I know the person who owns the profile and it has me wondering.

Ick, yeah, it’s pretty off-putting. It’s true that employers want to successfully defend against unemployment claims that they don’t believe are valid — but that’s rarely going to be 82% of them (and if it is, something really odd is going on at that employer). So yeah, she’s basically bragging that she kept a bunch of people from collecting benefits that they were probably entitled to. And on top of that, she’s tone-deaf about how it will sound (and possibly has only worked places where they’d think this was a good thing).

5. Asking people to knock on my door before entering

I am new in the role of management. The staff used to knock on my predecessor’s door but not mine. I can sometimes be on the phone or in a meeting or even on my lunch. And yet staff walk in without knocking and it gets annoying. I feel if I raise this, it will sound petty. But I do need to ensure my privacy. Because the office is shared with another, they feel this is not important. How do I ask without being petty?

It’s not petty to ask people to knock. Just be direct and straightforward: “Hey, would you mind knocking before you come in? Sometimes I’m on the phone or in a meeting where I’m dealing with something sensitive. Thanks!”

And if they forget — and people will — just remind them. Don’t take that as a sign that they’re disrespecting you or anything like that.

{ 332 comments… read them below }

  1. Polka dot bird*

    LW3 – the same thing happened to a friend at work, and his more senior namesake was fine with it and would just forward on my friend’s emails to him. He was accidentally invited to a social event and jokingly RSVP’d yes when he forwarded it on (he lives on the other side of the country). Don’t worry about it.

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      In my Civil Service days, the address book for the Department of Education included anyone who’d ever even worked for them – but if you spent 2 seconds you could spot which John Smith you wanted, as it gave job descriptions, addresses, brief duties etc. Didn’t stop people sending things about horrible child abuse cases that needed urgent action to me occasionally, rather than the other One Of The Sarahs who was a lawyer in a completely different site. I would email her immediately, and let her know – especially when it was urgent couriered document packs. I’d be super friendly with the “you might want to ask them to send it to you directly, and also just alert them to the confidentiality breaches they’ve committed” – at least it meant that no one ever did the same thing twice!

    2. Liana*

      One of the doctors I work for has the exact same name as someone else in the hospital (an analyst, not another MD), except two letters in his last name are swapped – think “Wiesz” vs. “Weisz”. He regularly gets confidential emails sent to him, it’s pretty frustrating. Luckily, he’s good about immediately forwarding it over to us.

      1. TootsNYC*

        In those situations, i wonder if it would be a benefit to have a specialized email address for those confidential emails, if they can be grouped in any way. Maybe that doesn’t work because it’s not tied to a person, but it might be worth considering.

      2. irritable vowel*

        There used to be a police detective on our campus with the same last name as me, and for a while someone else in the campus PD kept sending me “perp reports” and all kinds of confidential info about investigations in progress. It was obviously a case of just typing in the last name and choosing the first option that came up. You would think that someone in that line of work would be a little more circumspect.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I have moderately common last name and a first name that starts with A, so when I started at a giant company that included every single employee in the US in the email address book, I got included in a lot of mistaken messages where people were used to just picking the first name that came up after typing a few characters of my last name. The worst part was that it was almost always a big group message, so while I could forward it to the intended recipient and let the original sender know about the mistake, I couldn’t get out of the original email chain and would be receiving reply-alls about it for days.

          The other annoying one is that my work email is First.Last at company dot com, but my personal email includes my middle initial, because someone else got to First.Last at Gmail before me. My father keeps getting confused between the two, and worse, giving out the Gmail address of the other person instead of mine. Once I realized what was happening, I sent her an apology message and said “If you get any messages that don’t seem to be for you from people with the last name of [my very uncommon maiden name] or [my mother’s family’s also uncommon name] could you please forward it to me? Thanks”

          Luckily she was pretty gracious about out it but I was pretty irritated at my father about the mess and confusion he caused, and I still occasionally have relatives that say “I tried to email you, didn’t you get my message?”

      3. bearing*

        I went to engineering graduate school with another woman who had the same first name as me, and our last names were near-anagrams of each other. I got her grades one semester. I was very disappointed to realize that they weren’t mine and I had to give them back.

    3. Debbie Downer*

      I have a very common name. Common first name plus common last name equals very, very common name. I get a lot of emails for someone with my name in accounting. I reply to the obviously confidential ones (social security numbers and payroll) with a “not meant for me”. I just delete the social invites. I sometimes feel bad that this other person is probably missing out on cake in the break room, but people need to check the address book more closely before they send. My address isn’t even in the same Department.

    4. jhhj*

      In the earlyish days of super common email, my small undergrad department gave everyone their own email address at the subdomain including undergraduates (so you’d be like flastn@teapots.school.ca), and of course just added numbers for duplicates. One of the undergrads had the flast1 address and a prof had the flast address and apparently the prof got constant inappropriate emails.

    5. Rat Racer*

      In my company, which is huge, there are multiple people with the same last name. One thing I’ve seen people do is put their department in parenthesis around their name in Outlook, e.g. John Doe (Accounting).

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        I came to say the same thing. First off, this is very common in big companies and most of us just flip the email to the correct individual. And check with your IT department as they could probably add a department to the internal display name associated with your email address.

        As a side note, I used to have an individual with the same last name and a similar first name but different gender (think Denise vs. Dennis) only while I am US based he was in Europe. My friends accidentally invited him to weekend event via email which he accepted and joked that he would bring us gifts. Because I work in HR and he was in Tax we would both occasionally get confidential emails for the other person. When this happened, we would flip it to the right person cc’ing the original sender so that they knew they got the name wrong.

    6. starsaphire*

      I’ve been there too. My company had a Jane Smyth, and as Jan Smith, I got her messages and she got mine aaaaaall the time. We also worked in different buildings on opposite sides of the City.

      We met early on because she made a point to seek me out and introduce herself, and for years we joked that I owed her bagels every time someone sent “Bagels!” or “Cake!” to her instead of me, because she was too far away to enjoy them. (As a higher-up, she never let me pay this “debt,” obviously.)

      We made a point of forwarding emails and voicemails, especially as hers were often sensitive and mine were very mundane, and I simply made a point of not reading any further on an email that was obviously hers. It was simple and quick, and she made sure it was light-hearted as well.

      Unless your Rebecca Olsen turns out to be a Nellie Oleson, you should be fine seeking her out and introducing yourself, either in person or by email. :)

    7. Ife*

      I have a super-uncommon name — I’m pretty close to 100% confident that there is no one else in the world with my first + last name. But my first name is common, so even I have occasionally gotten emails meant for “the other {first name}” because people just chose the first autocomplete suggestion and didn’t read the full name! Which is to say, I don’t think you can guard against this sort of thing happening entirely; hopefully you can just reduce the number of “repeat offenders” by addressing it with them when it happens.

    8. justsomeone*

      This happens to me allllll the time! There’s a person in HR/Payroll with the same first name and last initial as me and I get his emails allll the time. Usually sensitive stuff. I forward and CC the original sender. What’s worse though is that I get calls for him to, that usually start with someone’s very personal life story before I can get a word in edgewise to apologize and say “You wanted Person in HR, I’m Person in Other Department.” I’m working on getting our receptionist to screen the calls by asking if the caller wants Person in HR or Person in Other Department because usually they think I’m the one in HR because I’m the female.

    9. Sadsack*

      Maybe you can have your name distinguished from the other person in your email system by having your department or some other identifier after your name so it is clear which of you is being addressed. For example, “Jones, Sadsack (Purchasing)”. I would contact IT or whoever is appropriate. It shouldn’t be a big deal.

    10. Bunny*

      I’m a reporter. I have a relative who is a senior police officer in the same officer I cover. Occasionally, the media person for the police department will send me something that is meant for HIM.

      I have been told I will be arrested if I run anything when that mistake is made. I am assuming this is a joke.

      Point is, this happens, and it’s okay. If someone has a problem with something you are not doing, what are you supposed to do?

    11. No Longer Lurking*

      I had a similar issue at my previous employer. We were small enough that [First Inital][Lastname]@company.com worked rather well as a naming scheme; so far as I know my name caused the only collision in my decade there.

      A more senior person in a different department had the same first inital and (v common) lastname as me. This led to external customers who knew our naming scheme to occasionally send her emails meant for me. She was pretty good about forwarding them to me in a timely manner, but occasionally with our different schedules, and her business travel, let the odd time-sensitive email fall through the cracks.

      I solved the issue as best I could by always throwing in a little joking mention that my email address was a bit unusual when first talking to external people. “Oh, make sure that if you’re emailing me that it’s to [First Inital][Middle Inital][Last Inital]@company.com. Someone manged to snag [First Inital][Lastname] before I got here!” It reduced the misdirected emails down to one or two a year.

  2. Looc64*

    If I were the senior person in 3, I would be relieved to find out why I was getting a bunch of email that didn’t apply to me.

    1. Mookie*

      She’s probably figured it out by now, but I agree that it would probably save her a bit of grief knowing the LW was on top of it.

      I was an early adopter / beta accountholder of a now ubiquitous free e-mail service, granting me the luxury of a very tidy address (firstnamelastnamet@thingie.com), so I’m endlessly receiving e-mails from people around the world hoping to talk or sell something to Their Mookie and I’ve always done my damndest to forward those that look important to these other Mookies I’ve had to track down and to inform Mookie Friends of their mistake. When I was a graduate student in history of X, I was forever being button-holed by students of history of Y because there is a well-regarded Mookie who is the living end where history of Y is concerned and, given that our name is actually comparatively uncommon, everyone I met assumed there was a familial connection I was trying to conceal and were skeptical when I corrected them (including some faculty!). Every year the Mookie list grows longer, though, and if the subject-lines are any indication, as a whole we’re a load of fuck-ups compared to the historian: Mookies not paying their tax, Mookies launching MLM “businesses,” Mookies being invited to BYOB baby showers, Mookies being chided for forgetting important squash tournaments, Mookies repeatedly missing dental appointments.

    2. LQ*

      Yeah, very much so. Especially if the name is different enough that when I search Olsen in the directory I don’t see someone with a similar name. Knowing who to send those things to would be good.

    3. OlympiasEpiriot*


      LW #3, please know that the other person being senior should be no barrier to you speaking or emailing her about this.

    4. themmases*

      I get a fair amount of personal email meant for someone else, and I would look a lot more kindly on them if they just contacted me themselves.

      If it’s a really large company, this person may not even know who all these emails are meant for which would explain why she’s apparently not forwarding them.

    5. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      I have a first name that is extremely uncommon in my generation, but two gens up is very common. I never knew that until I entered the workforce. Everywhere I’ve worked, more often than not there is a senior person with my same first name. I never apologize for having the same name; that’s bananas. I just forward the Important Things their way and they do the same thing for me.

      1. Koko*

        I had the opposite of this experience. My name is very common in my generation, I was always one of two or three in my classes growing up in school. Since entering the working world I’ve only rarely worked with someone who shares my name because there’s a much wider diversity of ages represented!

  3. Ultraviolet*

    #5 – I don’t think it will sound petty if you ask people to knock first. I’m projecting here, but is there any chance that the reason you feel like it might be petty is that you’re worried that not knocking is a sign they respect you less than your predecessor? If I were in your shoes, that would be crossing my mind. But I’d advise myself/you to try to table that thought until you’ve told them to knock and given them awhile to get used to that and plenty of reminders when they forget. It’s just too crazymaking to worry about it before then (absent other signs of disrespect, at least).

    If I’m understanding correctly that you share this office with another person, it might be useful to see whether they’d be willing to ask everyone who comes to see them to knock too. Depending on how much overlap there is between people who come see them and people who come see you, your staff could be getting mixed messages about whether to knock on that door.

    (Alison, it’s not clear to me how the letter linked from #5 impacts your advice here. In that letter you’re advising someone to accept that their boss doesn’t knock or avoid interrupting them, especially since it sounds like they spend a lot of work time talking about personal stuff. Is there a lesson there for OP5? Their situation seems a lot different since they’re the boss.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh, it doesn’t impact the advice — just a related situation. In that situation, the person was annoyed by her boss not knocking, which (as you note) is a very different thing from a boss wanting to ask her staff to knock.

      I’m trying to get better about including links to related posts.

      1. Ultraviolet*

        Thanks for explaining that! I guess I was expecting the linked answer to reinforce or elaborate on what you were saying here, but it doesn’t. (Not that it’s inconsistent or anything! Just different.) So I ended up confused.

        I see now there are several linked letters throughout the post! Maybe now I can give the “Surprise me!” button a break and click those.

        1. Daisy*

          Oooh I didn’t know there was a surprise me button! I’ve been on an endless loop of the ‘you may also like’s for the last couple of months, but I feel like some letters come up all the time and I never see others. This is a game changer!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Right up at the top. It was a reader suggestion a while back, and it was a great one! There’s also a link to the full archives up at the top too, organized chronologically.

    2. Christopher Tracy*

      #5 – I don’t think it will sound petty if you ask people to knock first. I’m projecting here, but is there any chance that the reason you feel like it might be petty is that you’re worried that not knocking is a sign they respect you less than your predecessor? If I were in your shoes, that would be crossing my mind.

      I would probably think this too knowing me. But after reading the letter and thinking about it a while, I think it could also be that they find the OP more approachable than the predecessor and this is why people feel free to pop in her office all willy nilly. I know I sometimes barge into my former manager’s office when I want to say hey (and she’s free to kick me out whenever she feels like it), but I also have a ton of respect for her as well and would hope she never thought otherwise. She’s just very laid back about most things, so the formality of knocking sometimes escapes me.

      But yes, OP, you can absolutely ask people to knock without sounding petty. It’s your space, and you have a right to be approached in whatever manner best makes sense to you.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I was thinking that OP is more approachable than the old manager or that something different in her dynamic with the team makes them feel comfortable with entering without knocking. I agree that it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with respect or lack thereof, and that OP can simply ask that they knock.

    3. Smiling*

      One of our bosses actually has a “no knocking” policy. We’re supposed to walk up to the desk and wait to be addressed. The thought is that knocking demands attention and is therefore rude.

      1. Hermione*


        At my last place of work, there was this (genuinely nice) guy whose personal space bubble seemed to be just a little bit smaller than my (admittedly large) personal space bubble – the type of person to stand just ever slightly too close to you during a conversation. There was a solid 6-7 feet between my door and the edge of my desk, and he had a habit of coming right up to the edge of my desk, often relatively silently so as to not interrupt my train of thought until I was a break-point. Scared the crap out of me on several occasions.

    4. Nervous Accountant*

      I’m just wondering why they would have knocked for the predecessor and not for their current boss? That seems strange to me but maybe I’m missing context here

      1. Ultraviolet*

        Yeah. My best guess for an innocuous explanation is that not many people in the company/building prefer knocking, so people knocked for the predecessor but thought of it as her personal preference, not as a thing you should do for the Teapot Manager. So when OP moved into the role they stopped knocking, because they didn’t realize she would have the same preference. Or maybe it’s just that when OP was in a non-management role, no one knocked on their door before entering and they were fine with that, and no one has realized that OP might prefer knocking like the person they replaced did.

  4. L*

    Does the advice to #1 still apply if there was an online application form that asked for the highest level of education?

    I am applying for jobs that fit my skills/experience/career interests, but I have a grad degree that makes me “overqualified.” I get the advice to just leave it off a lot, but I’ve been afraid to do that when so many online systems explicitly make you agree that you haven’t omitted anything from your education or employment history.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      The application is different than a resume. The resume is a marketing document that includes relevant but not all info. The application specifically asks for highest degree and you should answer honestly. If you don’t list it then it is fireable. Usually only HR sees the application where the hiring manager sees the resume.

      1. Moral panic*

        I somehow just can’t equate listing a lower level of education as fireable. Yes it is dishonest and looks bad on you bit I would not want to work for anyone that fired me for not revealing that I had extra qualifications…

        1. Florida*

          I don’t think you would normally be fired for this. But if a company wanted to get rid of you and needed a good excuse*, they could use lying on the application as their excuse.

          *Legally, you don’t need an excuse to fire someone, but sometimes the company feels better if they have an excuse.

          1. Jadelyn*

            It’s a CYA – if you fire someone with no documented reason, it’s legal under at-will employment doctrine, but they can come back and claim it was for protected-class reasons. If you have a reason and documentation, it protects the employer somewhat from fraudulent vengeful claims by ex-employees.

        2. Graciosa*

          I think the person would be fired for lying rather than for having extra qualifications, and in this case the position is in the compliance department.

          I don’t actually think integrity is optional in any position at my employer, but if someone wanted to argue that it was, I think the fact that this job is in compliance would make it harder to justify.

          Understand I am responding not to the left-it-off-the-resume scenario but rather the lied-about-highest-education scenario as these are totally different things. I don’t think leaving the J.D. off the resume has ethical implications, but lying on the application does.

          1. themmases*

            I agree and I was wondering about that as I read the letter. Every application I’ve ever filled out ends with a confirmation that the information provided was true and complete. It doesn’t really matter if the information withheld could help you or hurt you (although withholding it definitely sounds like the latter), what matters is that you said it was true. Especially in compliance!

            I am not even sure if many hiring managers read the online application when they already have the resume. At any rate I’ve had to put stuff down in the application that was definitely not resume-worthy (admitting to being fired from a job in college, the semester in a grad program I decided not to finish) and never been asked about it in an interview.

        3. Anna*

          I don’t see it as dishonest at all. If there’s a really good reason to include it (as others have mentioned, in public sector jobs it relates to your pay grade) but if it has nothing to do with the role you’re applying to do, I can’t see it as anyone’s business.

        4. FriendofaTG*

          I just read into the issue of wrongful termination lawsuits, and from what I found the issue is whether or not the lie/omission led to being hired when you wouldn’t have if they had known otherwise up front. Unfortunately leaving off work history or educational credentials they ask to not appear “overqualified” could be construed to be a material omission. On the other hand an employer would likely face issues and you’d have a defense if they’re just trying to find any “technical” error or flaw on your application to get you out.

          1. Lacey*

            I 100% agree with this. The fact that she wasn’t having luck with employers until she chose not to tell them this means that those employers were almost certainly taking that variable into account when they hired her. Her not being honest with her employer almost certainly influenced their decision.

            Having a law degree is a pretty big thing not to disclose about yourself, especially if you’re working for someone long enough that you might rate a position. There’s a huge difference between admin work and being a licensed lawyer. They’re going to want to know why she didn’t tell them before, and what else she isn’t telling them, and I think they’d be right to do so.

            I also think it’s kind of hysterical that her current position is directly related to ethics.

            1. Lacey*

              Ack- the 2nd sentence of the 1st paragraph should instead state “when they chose not to hire her,” and the 1st sentence of the 2nd paragraph should say “promotion”, not position.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        I agree that the application is different than a resume, but my experience as either the hiring manager or a member of the search committee is that I’ve seen both the resume/cover letter AND the application form. This has not been the case when I’ve merely met with the candidate as part of a larger group or on my own; then I just got the resume/cover letter. If it’s me, I leave it off the resume, but put it on the online application form, just so I’m not accused later of having lied by omission.

        Those online application forms do annoy the hell out of me, though. If it’s not taking over an hour to complete, it’s the anxiety they induce (“OMG, I can’t remember the exact ending date of a job that I had 30 years ago”) with the “Any discrepancy in your application can and will be used to disqualify your candidacy and/or result in your termination” language.

        I get the record/gate-keeping function of an online application, but man, it’s obnoxious on so many levels.

        1. FriendofaTG*

          As I said in my comment above I don’t think you need to worry about a technical issue like the ending date mentioned above (just give an estimated date if you don’t remember). Now if you omitted an employer altogether, or stretched a beginning/ending date to cover up a period of unemployment, that’s a different story (in other words misrepresenting yourself intentionally and trying to give yourself an advantage under false pretenses).

    2. Anna No Mouse*

      Certain organizations, especially in public service, have very specific rules around what kind of degree gets what level of salary. If they don’t pay you for the degree you have, THEY could get in trouble with the unions, etc. I wouldn’t leave it out of an application, but maybe off your resume, if it’ll do more harm then good.

    3. INTP*

      It’s a fireable offense technically – lying on an application almost always is.

      However, I personally don’t see that as a big deal, in the absence of union/government jobs with special rules about what you get paid for your degree, and I think whether you actually got fired for it would depend on how much your manager liked you and your work in the first place.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It depends on the specific wording on the application. It’s true that you shouldn’t lie on an application (whereas omission on a resume is not a lie), so you’d want to look carefully at exactly how they phrased the question there.

  5. Guava*

    I knock even when my supervisor’s door is open, haha! IDK, I guess I just find it rude not to knock.

    Hopefully it’ll just take a couple of weeks to get everyone into the habit of knocking, OP#5.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Me too, and not just for my supervisor. I find it’s a great way to give the person a chance to say whether they can or cannot chat right now, as I’m not usually on an urgent mission. (If there is a crisis, I’ll often tap on the door, take a step or two in, and give a one-sentence summary of the crisis as soon as they look up.)

      1. wet gremlin*

        Same. Even if the person works in a cubicle, I knock on the “doorjamb” before poking my head in. Everyone appreciates having their space respected, and it’s so easy to do.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have a sign with the Gates of Moria on it that says, “Speak friend and enter or knock if I’m wearing headphones.” People still come up behind me and scare the hell out of me. I wish there was a way to reconfigure my cube so I was facing out instead of in.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Maybe one of those fisheye mirrors would help?

            I mean, assuming there’s no way to magically get people to suddenly start reading carefully and acting with forethought.

            BAHAHAHAHAhahah….I crack myself up sometimes….

        2. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Same here. I don’t like to startle anyone…we all have enough stress as it is.

      2. Moral panic*

        I do the same. I’ve walked into an office before and just started talking without realizing my boss was using his bluetooth for a call! A simple knock gives him the chance to raise a hand if he is on a call.

    2. MillersSpring*

      Could the OP and their office mate agree to sometimes lock the door during these times that require privacy?

    3. LQ*

      Yeah I always knock on the door frame to get my bosses attention. Though weirdly because of desks and such I now sometimes make eyes contact before I get the the door and so then I don’t knock. I do always ask if he has a minute though. It’s a little weird though, because I don’t do it with everyone, I’m trying to wrack my brain to think about when I do and don’t knock. I think generally it is, if you’ve already acknowledge me I’m not going to knock. So eye contact or a hello as I approach means I won’t knock.

      1. Sally Sparrow*

        Most CWs in cubes face out instead of in, so I am am usually making eye contact first.

        I did develop the habit of verbalizing “knocking” in lieu of actually doing it to CWs when their doors are open or if they have a cube and I haven’t made eye contact. I found I am too timid of a knocker. Though now that I think about it more, I don’t do it to everyone with open office doors.

    4. hayling*

      Right!? I don’t always knock if the door is open, but I pause at the doorway before barging in.

  6. Tommy*

    #4: Hmm… maybe the candidate meant that of the unemployment claims being disputed, she was successful in 82% of them? If so, it’s pretty sloppy wording, but it might be worth inquiring about.

    1. Smithy*

      That makes so much more sense, but in the realm of LinkedIn – but based on the interpretation here I wonder if this is just something where the tone makes it better to say in and interview vs. having written out.

      I used to recruit study participants in a children’s hospital – so going into hospital rooms with ill kids and their parents, explaining the study, and seeing if they were open to participating. No matter how valid and beneficial the study and how strong the oversight, my percentage of successful recruitment is not something I would ever want to be seen as bragging about. I would just be too nervous about a written statement not reading as “I am effective and sensitive to family’s needs and explaining the study” but rather “I manipulate and bully parents of ill children into participating”.

      If the case is that the very important language of “claims being disputed” was left off – then that just is very sloppy – but I think around issues like termination and unemployment – I would want to eliminate any chance of not appearing properly sensitive or empathetic. And in a resume bullet point, that strikes me as a challenge.

    2. neverjaunty*

      That’s still a weird thing to brag about, though. That an unemployment claim was disputed doesn’t make it frivolous.

      1. Tommy*

        Maybe it’s like being a criminal defense attorney who brags about how many people they’ve gotten off. Potential clients will see that favorably (if I’m innocent and I see that, I want that person to defend me, and the fact that they have defended guilty people is not a principal concern of mine—I’m not trying to get any guilty people off). But outsiders might say, “But some of those people were probably guilty!” Also true.

        1. Unemployment Guru*

          In my opinion it really depends on the industry. I worked for a pretty large restaurant franchisee and almost all of our unemployment claims came from people who had quit. We fought every single one of them because you aren’t entitled if you quit. They were big on that when I was hired because they had had HR people in the past not fight them and they would have people showing up on unemployment for months that should not have been entitled to the benefit. So I guess I don’t see this is as off-putting without knowing more about the industry. In high turnover industries, it is a big deal for a lot of employers, because many people get mad, quit or walk out, and then think they should get unemployment. In addition, even people who would not show up for work repeatedly were the other large culprit of filing for unemployment. Again, in those situations, it wasn’t about who was right in a termination, it was about people not showing up for work or quitting and then wanting the benefits.

    3. newby*

      I was thinking the same thing. Saying that when they dispute the claim they are successful 82% of the time could actually be something that she wants to brag about. It is awful wording if that is what she meant.

  7. Queen Gertrude*

    To me, this doesn’t only reflect badly on the person, but her previous employer as well. If I was researching this company and came across this information I would immediately stop pursuing them.

    1. Summertime*

      I’d be curious to know if there were industry specific issues at play, particularly combined with the advice people get about always filing for unemployment when leaving a job, so the UI office can be the one to determine you are ineligible instead of the individual opting out on their own.

      Example: I basically was this person a couple jobs ago. Everytime an unemployment claim was filed by one of our former (or current) employees, the employer has to respond with information. In our particular industry, the employees did not work during the summer and were particular excluded (state statute) from collecting unemployment during the summer if they were expected to return in the fall. Yet, (current) employees would still file for UI benefits and I would still have to respond/dispute on the grounds the employee was expected to return (based on their indication of returning or lack of resignation). So, I bet that I successfully disputed over 80% of the UI claims against my company.

      However – if I were to put it on a resume, it would be something like “Successfully reduced employer’s UI rates through consistent and timely attention to UI claims.”

    2. Adonday Veeah*

      As an HR professional, I don’t think it reflects badly one person. But I agree with Tommy above, who suggested that what she meant was she was successful in 82% of the claims she contested, and was just clumsy about her writing.

      It is an HR professional’s responsibility to help the company be successful. Contesting frivolous or unworthy unemployment claims can help with that, because the number of successful claims equates to higher unemployment premiums.

      If I were hiring an HR Director I might be impressed by this. Although I would clarify, given what was actually written, that she was not trying to deny benefits to those who had legitimate claim, and was focusing instead on bogus claims.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        “I don’t think it reflects badly one person…”

        I don’t think it reflects badly ON THE person. Sometimes my fingers are faster than my brain.

      2. Stephanie (HR)*

        As another HR professional, I second this sentiment. A surprising number of UI claims are from employees who either resigned or were let go for cause that would make them ineligible for UI benefits. Contesting these claims is difficult because (in my experience) the hearing officers tend to be biased/sympathetic towards the employee, and there is more burden on the employer to provide proof than the employee. I’ve heard bald faced lies come from employees over and over again trying to get these benefits when they aren’t entitled to them.

        While these are generalities (and certainly not meant to be anti-UI in any way), the point I’m trying to make is that winning an UI case is difficult even in the most straight-forward circumstances. Being able to successfully fight UI claims is a valuable HR skill, and not an easy one to develop. HR doesn’t tend to spend resources fighting a claim they don’t think they’ll win, so fighting to deny someone benefits they should get, as others are reading into the situation, is not likely to be any significant portion of that stat.

        While her wording wasn’t great, coming from the same field, her stat is impressive, and I get why she would want to brag. I would have reacted positively to seeing it, not negatively. But maybe the take-away here is the disparity in how this stat is viewed by those in the field vs. out of the field. The things I’m describing above are nuances that aren’t generally thought about, known, or understood outside of the field.

  8. SusanIvanova*

    #3 – At a large enough company, even rare names will have overlaps. The other Rebecca probably didn’t realize the invites weren’t for her, just declined them as irrelevant – another thing big companies do is send out too many meeting invites and emails :) – but once she knows she has a double, she’ll probably double-check invites to make sure it’s really her. That’s what I did when I found out I had a double (we shared an unusual first name and last initial), and it only took a few “hey, I think you meant the other Susan, she’s singalls” for the people sending things to fix their address books.

    1. Anonintheuk*

      My last name is very common in English speaking countries, my first was top 10 in the UK for most of the decade i was born in. Obvikusly, when i worked at a national firm, there were 2 of us.

      Whoever made the distribution lists could not get this through their heads. I missed internal meetings, and worse still, when she sent an angry email asking what was going on, I was called in to be reprimanded. Still, at least this made leadership force a change.

      1. Alli525*

        Yikes, you got reprimanded by the distro list manager for her own incompetency? That’s… concerning. She sounds like she was a treat to work with.

        1. anonintheuk*

          Reprimanded by my manager for being rude to the distro list manager. Which I wasn’t, tempting though it was.

          1. TootsNYC*

            What you mean is that the OTHER Anonintheuk was the one who was rude to the distro-list manager, (since she had also missed internal meetings) but YOU got reprimanded for it.

  9. Almond Milk Latte*

    #3 – There were at least 4 of me at my last company, all in vastly different roles. We solved it by having IT change our email display names from Smith, Jen to things like Smith, Jen (Job Title) and Smith, Jennifer (Location)

    1. GingerHR*

      Similar at my very large corporate. The name will come up as Smith, Jen (Central Finance) or Smith, Jen (Business Unit).

    2. Elizabeth West*

      People here add letters to their emails. If there are two people named Susan Delgado, then for example, one will be something like SDelgado and the other would be SuDelgado. Or whatever is necessary to differentiate them. And you can always look them up to see what department they’re in.

      The only time I’ve ever run into someone with my exact name is on Facebook. I friended someone in Yorkshire and she has a friend who has my exact English surname, spelled the same and everything, and goes by the same nickname! It’s pretty hilarious when we talk to each other on a post and it’s just the same name repeated over and over again.

      1. TootsNYC*

        That’s not as helpful as the (job) solution, because they’ll still both pop up, and people might not remember which one is which.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is true–but at least we have the option to double check. Also, can’t you turn off autofill in Outlook? I seem to remember hearing somewhere that you can.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Oh–do you and Yorkshire Elizabeth West do that on purpose sometimes? I would, so much!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          LOL no but the first time I saw her on the other person’s feed, I was like, “Hi Elizabeth!” and she was like “Hi Elizabeth!” LOL and then we friended each other, haha.

      3. Emilia Bedelia*

        One of my cousins used to be in a Facebook group titled “My Name is Common MaleEnglishName”. Just 50 or so people with the exact same very common English name :)

  10. Christopher Tracy*

    OP #1 – What you did wasn’t unethical. If you claimed to have a degree that you didn’t actually have, then you would have been unethical. Let’s face it – that JD probably would have kept you from getting the job you have now because rightly or not, hiring managers would look at it and think you really wanted to be a practicing attorney and were just taking a stop gap job until you could find a job lawyering.

    I am, however, impressed that your JD never came up in the ten months that you’ve been in your current position. I work in risk management/insurance with a bunch of lawyers, and they looove talking about law school and their degree. Even though most of them are no longer actively lawyering (e.g. not in-house or corporate counsel) and are in compliance, auditing, claims adjusting, etc., that JD is in their signature line on emails or on their letters and definitely on their business cards.

    Good luck with the compliance gig if you end up applying! I too find compliance fascinating and hope to move into that role and/or more of a risk manager function someday (I do some risk management/assessment now, but more claims stuff these days), and those careers are perfect for people with legal backgrounds (former paralegal here).

    1. MK*

      That’s the only thing that concerns me about the OP not telling them she has a law degree (or any other really). Leaving something out of your resume because it’s irrelevant is perfectly reasonable, but going on for months of conversations in which it would be natural to mention without doing so? It could come across as a bit off. I work in a courthouse, in a position that requires a law degree; it’s not required for the court clerks, but some of them do have one too. I wouldn’t expect them to divulge the information, but if, say, we have been discussing our university experience and they didn’t mention it, I would find it weird. Or, if I had been explaing things they already knew to them, under the impression they were a non-lawyer, I would feel really awkward.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Your last line made me laugh because an AVP in my current company almost did that to me when I was in my company’s corporate training program. His division deals with liability issues, and one day we were in his office with two of his reports discussing a case, and he was about to explain some piece of case law to me, but one of his reports stopped him and said, “You don’t have to explain this to her – she was a paralegal.” His eyes grew wide and he asked if that was true, and I laughed and said yes because I assumed he knew that since it was listed on the resume that my training program director sent to him prior to my arrival in his division. But yeah, if he hadn’t almost made that mistake, I don’t know that it would have come up in conversation.

        Then again, I also had weird experiences with people at my company who saw that I had a legal background and just assumed I had a JD and didn’t sit for the bar (not even), so they didn’t explain things to me that they probably should have. But whenever the conversation would turn to school and where I went to college, they would quickly learn I went to journalism school, not law school. So yeah, that was the thing I found interesting about OP’s letter. She has worked somewhere for 10 months and never mentioned her advanced schooling. I know that for my little paralegal gig, people at current company asked how I got into it and why if I wasn’t a lawyer or going to school to become one at some point, so I would have thought OP’s manager would have asked the same thing about her managerial stints at two firms.

        1. MK*

          I have taken to asking some variation of “Do you know about x-legal-concept and how it applies in the work I am assigning you?”; after all, if they know it is the issue, not how (law school or long experience or whatever).

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            That’s a good question. I ask that when I’m training people because I don’t want to bore them with information they already know.

          2. Chinook*

            “I have taken to asking some variation of “Do you know about x-legal-concept and how it applies in the work I am assigning you?”; after all, if they know it is the issue, not how (law school or long experience or whatever).”

            Thank you for doing this. I have worked in too many places who saw me as “just an Admin. Assistant or Receptionist and yet had so many people surprised that I could create and conduct useful and interesting training sessions and edit documents swiftly and minutely. When they comment on my abilities being so shocking, I point out that I do have a Bachelors of Education with an English Major/English as a Second Language Minor and years of experience teaching ages 7 to 67.

            Why o why do people insist on thinking of us lowly support staff as uneducated and unworldly? Maybe we took those jobs because we like to eat or because we like the fact we can leave the stress at work at the end of the day?

            1. Elizabeth West*


              I have two degrees–one in English and one in Criminology, I’ve written five entire books, and studied opera for four years. All filed under “things people don’t know about me.” I answered the phone for a living because I also like to eat and don’t want to live in a cardboard box!

    2. Liane*

      There are lots of jobs, even high level, in these areas where you don’t need a JD. Or maybe the OP’s colleagues follow the old rule still advocated by Miss Manners that it is rude to mention your advanced degree all. The. Time. :)

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Oh, I know you don’t need a JD to do compliance work, but most of the people who do at companies around me have one. And someone should really tell my colleagues about the Miss Manners thing, especially since they sound silly going on and on about their degrees when, like, 900 people at our company have a JD, lol.

    3. neverjaunty*

      That’s a really good point. It’s not that the LW has a JD, it’s that she actually practiced law and was a manager at a law firm. That’s a little different than failing to mention a particular summer job you had in high school – it’s omitting a pretty significant part of her career.

    4. Case of the Mondays*

      My concern is that they don’t want JDs because they will be looking to move up even if to non-lawyer roles. They likely would have been looking for a candidate without much upward mobility for an AA position. They might be annoyed that you want to move out of that role. Some jobs in some organizations are meant to be “dead end” jobs and they want low turnover. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask but I think you are right that they might be annoyed. Not fire you annoyed. Just annoyed.

      1. bkh*

        Our admin is worth twice her weight in gold, and we hired her specifically to be an admin. There’s a lot of knowledge, training, and experience that goes in to that role. As a firm, we cannot function well without someone excellent in that role and any turnover is incredibly painful.

        If, after 10 months, she said, oh, yeah… I’m actually a CPA, and I want to run our tax department, we’d be somewhat put out because that means we’re going to lose her. Either she gets the position, and we have to train an admin, or she doesn’t and leaves, and we have to train an admin, or she doesn’t and stays, in which case our faith and trust in her is seriously diminished and have to seriously consider if we retain her as an employee.

        1. JessaB*

          On the other hand when you have admins that are worth their weight in gold, you need to be paying them in gold and giving them gold standard benefits. The way to keep them in place is to make sure they don’t need to move up somewhere else.

          I know admins that make more than junior partners because the senior partners would lose their minds if they lost the admin. I know admins who have their own admins to do the scut work because they’re more important than that.

          When you interview for such a person, that needs to be made clear, that you want someone in place who is going to STAY in place. Otherwise a lot of people have been trained to believe admin is a step stone to something else up stream.

          There are a bunch of people who want to be professional admins. When you’re interviewing you need to separate those out into the pile of people you want to hire vs the ones that thing it’s a place to learn enough to get a promotion somewhere.

        2. Observer*

          You would really consider firing someone who is “worth twice her weight in gold” because she had the temerity to want to advance her career? Wow!

          Do you at least pay her what she is worth? Because, if you don’t you aren’t going to be able to keep her even if she doesn’t have an advanced degree in something or other.

          1. bkh*

            No, they’re not advancing their career (removing gender). They were hired to be an admin, and that’s what we need them to be. There are people who grow into the CPA role, who start at a firm knowing nothing and work through the program to finally arrive at their designation. That describes my own path – and at a former firm, I found myself being stuck as a bookkeeper. I wanted to be an accountant, and the only way to do that was to go somewhere else. But if they are an external hire, and they truly wanted to run our tax department, they should have applied to the firm as a CPA.

            Because of that lapse in judgment, I can’t be sure of their other judgment – are they going to think, well, “I’m a CPA and I know that it should actually be X, instead of Y” and make a change to a client file or a tax document? What if they’re wrong? What if we get sued? What if there are professional repercussions and the partner loses his CPA designation? There goes the entire firm, down the tubes.
            There’s hyperbole in there, however, that is a consideration we make for every person we hire. Can we trust them to not overstep, and how do we prevent them from overstepping?

            The admin is the last person to touch any file, and our trust in them is absolute – they track, sort, assemble, and deliver. Any failure or lapse in what they do results in penalties and interest payments we’ll have to make, as well as lost clients, which we may not recover from.

            Yes, career growth is good, however, if what they want is Y, have the skills to do Y, then I feel they need present them self as Y capable from the outset so that I can have all the information to make my initial decision. Yes, the resume is a marketing document, but it needs to contain all the relevant information. I’m going to be open and honest about what the role entails, and the growth they can expect. I need to know what they’re looking for in the role and what growth they can expect. Any gaps should be identified and discussed during the hiring process.

            And like so many of the issues Alison deals with, it’s all about setting expectations and following through. If, when the admin was interviewing, we had a conversation about their CPA, why they are looking to be an admin and not a CPA, and what we were expecting in terms of commitment to the position, that’s different. I would say that I didn’t think this position was a good fit for them, and that they should look to do Y. If I found out 10 months or 4 years after hiring, I would probably thank them for their time and hard work, give them severance, ensure that they qualified for unemployment, and give them a good reference.

            The question of retention and pay is, I think, outside the scope of this. Suffice it to say that if I have a good admin, I’m going to do everything in my power to keep them in that role and any reasonable request will be considered. But if that’s not the role they want, then as painful as it is, I’ll find someone who does want the role.

      2. Anon Moose*

        I get that, but with increase mobility, I think employers should expect high turnover in those jobs if there isn’t a way to move up. You’ll likely have to hire every 1-3 years unless there’s something else keeping that person there.

      3. TootsNYC*

        We used to have editorial assistants who were getting their foot in the door. Then one moved up, and we got a company-admin-pool person as a fill-in. It went so well that we advocated for her to be permanently assigned to us.

        She was just better at admin stuff!

  11. Christopher Tracy*

    Regarding OP #3 – Something similar happens to me at work. I have a very common last name and my first name starts with the first letter of the alphabet. There’s a woman in another division in another state whose emails and documents from our company’s internal document system keep being sent to me by mistake because she shares the same last name, and people are hurriedly trying to send her stuff and aren’t looking at who they send it to. They get to the common last name, recognize it as hers, and put it in the To field not realizing they’ve chosen the A name on top and not her name directly below me. I don’t know if it happens in the reverse, but I do know that it bugs me that people don’t pay attention before pressing send (especially since her name starts with an R and not an A) – my inbox in both Outlook and our document system is full enough with nonsense items. I don’t need more clutter.

    That said, I delete what doesn’t pertain to me or forward her whatever needs a response. If she apologized to me, it would be a little odd since it isn’t her fault other people in the company can’t or won’t proofread.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I have the same not-super-common first name as one of the wives in the family that owns our company. (Wakeen Jr.’s Wife.)

      I get some hilarious emails from family members who work there, because of Outlook prefill. I’ve been asked what I should get “my husband” for Christmas, told to be home at XYZ time because Wakeen was having filtered water installed for all of the family members on such and such a day, informed of sad passing of family pets and once sniped at by “my husband” for not cluing him in to my job search. :-)

      I love this.

      I just email back “not the right [first name]” with a smile.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        and once sniped at by “my husband” for not cluing him in to my job search. :-)

        Ha! Nice.

      2. Chinook*

        If I were you, I would be tempted to have a form email available with the response “The Wakeen Jr.’s Wife you are looking for is in another castle” or “This isn’t the Wakeen Jr.’s Wife you are looking for.”

        But then I am a geek to the core.

    2. SophieChotek*

      and she will probably handle it like a normal person. (But if she doesn’t, then you can distinguish yourself as the reasonable Rebeka Olson.)

      And love this…sounds like in your case, Christopher Tracy, you handle it in a very nice manner

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        I try, but these people sometimes work my last nerve, lol. I’ve told them a million times – I’m not R! And still I get her stuff. *sigh*

        1. Perse's Mom*

          If there are specific repeat offenders, can you set up some kind of Rule in Outlook to help deal with it? I wouldn’t set it to just automatically forward things to her, though, because that doesn’t deal with the root problem (the offenders not bothering to pay attention).

          If the guilty parties have no reason to ever email you personally, or there’s something included across all these emails (R’s name specifically, maybe), you could probably get it to auto-reply to the sender and then auto-delete.

          On a really cranky day, I would be inclined to simply say, “I’m spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with emails intended for R despite repeated reminders about the situation. Going forward, I will be treating these as spam and deleting them.”

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            And I can’t believe I never thought of setting up a rule for this. It’s been so long since I’ve done this, though, that I’ve forgotten how so I’ll have to Google it. Thanks for reminding me this can be done!

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Ugh, there is a guy in Chicago who has my same last name (very common) and first initial, so our Gmail IDs are almost the same. I cannot tell you how much email I get that is meant for him. He is apparently very active in his church and whoever set up their email distro list had my email address instead of the other guy’s. And I guess didn’t know how to fix it because I kept getting the group emails even after replying several times that I was not the R the email was intended for.

  12. super anon*

    there’s someone else at my company who has the same name as me but spelled with an additional letter. she’s occasionally gotten emails for me and she forwards them on to me when it happens. i’ve yet to get an email for her, but if i do i’ll do the same in return. i was glad when she got in touch with me to let me know that there might an issue so i knew to be aware of it.

    definitely reach out to her, i think she would appreciate it.

  13. Collarbone High*

    I agree #4 is off-putting. It’s weirdly gleeful.

    I also have an irrational hate for constructions like “over 82 percent.” So, it’s 83 percent then? “Over 80 percent,” fine, but if you’re not going to round, then just say the number.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I actually changed it from a round number because someone emailed me and pointed out that with the correct number in there, the person was googleable (that doesn’t look right … able to be Googled) and I felt obligated to try to guard against that. But otherwise, yes, agreed!

      1. Not my real name*

        FYI, it’s still google able with a tiny bit of Google-Fu. (The person is a woman who works at a university, if it’s the same person.)

        1. Georgia Peach*

          Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like if she’s advertising as something she’s proud of on Linked In, it’s game to talk about here.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, I don’t know how to solve that now that the letter is up and has been quoted all over this post. I certainly hope people will resist the temptation.

    2. Gaia*

      I know Alison did this to protect their privacy but I also know people who really do this and it drives me insane. “Over 82%”? Just say 83%. Argh. Pet peeve moment.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yep. Or they’re trying to spin 82.4% for all it is worth. (Although hopefully one doesn’t dispute unemployment claims, or deal with them, in numbers that make a partial percentage point relevant.)

      2. TootsNYC*

        It always reminds me of this:

        If Spock was so smart, how come he never learned to round off?

        Kirk: What time is it, Spock?
        Spock: It’s 11:59 and 42 seconds.
        Kirk: It’s NOON, Spock, it’s NOON!

  14. Sue Wilson*

    Hey Alison, OP1 mentions that she also didn’t put law degree in the application. Does that change anything?

    1. Kasia*

      I doubt it. An application and a resume aren’t legally binding. It would be different if she said she had a law degree but actually didn’t, or if the application specifically asked if she had a law degree and said no.

        1. Kasia*

          Then I guess I’d feel a little iffy about leaving it off if I were to OP but I totally get why she would.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, I talked about this above too — it depends on exactly how the application question is worded.

          On the other hand, I don’t think you’re going to get fired over it and can explain if asked that “law was wrong for me and I don’t consider that part of my professional qualifications.”

  15. nofelix*

    #4 – I think that “Successfully disputed over 82% of unemployment claims” could be a badly written way of saying that 82% of the claims the employer challenged were successfully disputed. So it’s not 82% of ALL unemployment claims. Agree it’s a red flag though; being unfeeling and a bad communicator are a poor combination.

  16. Susan*

    Re: op 1

    This situation is why I don’t tell people to leave off important degrees. I’m an Employment Counsellor. There are other ways to emphasize relevant skills for a different job. e.g. In the summary section, category headers, a professional tag line. I do sympathize though.

    1. IT Kat*

      ….except that generally, resumes shouldn’t have summaries, “categories”, or tag lines. Maybe I’m mis-envisioning what you’re describing, but resumes should be a listing of positions with accomplishments, and maybe hard skills for certain technical fields (such as IT, where it’s important to know which software one has experience with). That’s also the type of resume that’s suggested by AAM.

      At most, I’d expect an applicant to outline in their cover letter why they have a degree that has zero relevance to the job they’re applying for, but honestly I see no issue with leaving it off.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Oh, I definitely use a summary section. At the top, highlighting the key messages I want a reader to take away from the resume. (Pretty sure AAM approves, based on previous advice!)

        1. IT Kat*

          Hmm, I hadn’t gotten that impression from previous AAM advice, or from her books! We must be interpreting something differently.

          1. Judy*

            Alison has reviewed my resume, and I have a summary section. I’m pretty sure what Alison is against is objective statements.

            SUMMARY: “Teapot engineer with 15 years experience in chocolate, vanilla and orange cream segments. Responsibilities included design, analysis and quality approval.” is OK, it’s about you. It’s a short summary of the rest of the document. Mine is 3 sentences long and really just gives an overview about the rest of the resume.

            OBJECTIVE: “Looking for a challenging senior role in Chocolate Teapot engineering in the quality approval function.” is not OK, it’s an objective statement.

            1. IT Kat*

              Ah, gotcha. I was thinking “summary” was another way of saying “objective”. That makes sense to me!

    2. Cookie*

      I don’t understand why, the issues isn’t skills it’s perception that she’ll be bored/searching. If she left her advanced degree on her resume, she may have been viewed as overqualified and never gotten this job in the first place. And if anyone asks about it now that she’s applying to the compliance dept., it makes sense to say that she left it off as it wasn’t relevant to an admin asst. position. Best of both worlds.

      1. Allison*

        Right. My company is hiring for a legal-type role right now, only the hiring manager explicitly DOES NOT want someone with a JD, possibly because that would make them too expensive, but I’m sure it’s also because she doesn’t want someone who will get restless and ditch us in the first year when they find an opportunity to practice law, or start trying to claw their way into a corporate lawyer position because that’s what they really want to be doing.

        1. JD, Not Practicing on Purpose*

          But does she realize the number of JDs actively looking to leave the practice of law? Because they finished law school and realized they hated practice? Or the ones that were meh about practicing and would really dig the legal-adjacent field without the stress of billable hours.

          Funny enough, not everyone who graduates from law school actually likes practicing law. In some cases they are only doing it long enough to pay off their debt.

          1. Allison*

            Well, she doesn’t want me to source any passive candidates with JD’s, but you’re right, if someone applied with a JD and said in their cover letter they were done with being a lawyer, they should be considered. After all, the recruiter working on this role used to be a lawyer and AFAIK she’s done with that career path too.

        2. Debbie Downer*

          And this is why Alison doesn’t recommend advanced degrees unless necessary. Companies don’t even want lawyers for their legal compliance roles.

        3. neverjaunty*

          While I don’t blame your hiring manager, there are a LOT of people with JDs who want to get out of the rat race and would be happy to have legal-related job with a decent quality of life.

      2. Judy*

        Yes, but it’s 10 months and she’s now looking to move into a role that requires her JD. Exactly what they would have been afraid of.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          But is this the sort of job where you would expect to move up? That would make a difference, I think. Some entry-level positions have no upward track, but others can and do.

    3. Kasia*

      Actually I think the OP’s situation is a perfect reason to leave it off. If she had included the law degree most employers would probably toss her resume pretty quickly as she is applying for an admin position. My thought as an HR recruiter would be that she’s desperate for money but would leave as soon as something more aligned with her law degree came up.

      1. Recruit-o-Rama*

        Which is kind of what is happening. While it’s easier/faster to find an admin vs. a compliance officer, the compliance officer probably has a much lower turnover. Finding a professional, quality admin who will STAY is what is hard. A good admin is pure gold and having to replace one after 10 months because she omitted her advance degree ( and obvious desire to move into a different role) would really set me off as an internal recruiter. I would expect that an admin would eventually want to move up, but after 10 months is so annoying. I wouldn’t call it unethical or a lie but I certainly wouldn’t trust her as much as I did before.

  17. Perpetua*

    Just in case someone is not familiar with it, LinkedIn has a “Save to PDF” option, when you click on the little downward arrow in the top part of the profile (under the name, title and the summary of current/previous employer/education part). In that PDF, there won’t be a photo, the list of connections or things like that, and it will be no more awkward-to-file or awkward-to-compare than any other individually formatted resume you might get (unless you have a strict template for people to use), and you can put it into a system as well.

    It does require an additional click or two, but so does writing an e-mail asking for a Word or PDF document, so if someone is okay with a LinkedIn profile being used as their “official” resume (and they obviously are if they’re the ones linking to it and not providing a different document), this seems like the faster solution.

    1. Colette*

      Deciding not to consider someone who doesn’t play by business norms takes no effort.

      It may be easy to save as PDF, but it’s reasonable for the employer not to want to do that. Candidates shouldn’t be asking for special favors (such as requiring the hiring manager to go to a web page and save the information) right off the bat. I’d be alert for other signs that they’re willing to inconvenience others because it’s more convenient for them.

      1. SlickWilly*

        It’s an interesting double-standard. Businesses change their application process all the time, trying to adopt new application tools and filter processes and so on, and applicants have to adapt and join hundreds of different application sites and so on. But if the applicant uses a well-established professional web site such as LinkedIn, this is considered lazy and “not playing by business norms”?

        1. Jadelyn*

          *Using* LI is not what’s “not playing by business norms”. Applying by saying “go look at my LI page” rather than sending a resume is what’s “not playing by business norms”, and frankly when I’ve got 20+ open positions I don’t have time to go log in and download someone’s page, so anything that doesn’t have a resume attached is getting sent to the circular file with no further consideration.

    2. IT Kat*

      The formatting is still a bit odd, though (for instance, mine comes out as 5 pages)…. And honestly it’s not too much to ask for a candidate to have a traditional print-ready resume that’s easy to ready and scan.

    3. Gandalf the Nude*

      If it’s that easy to save the PDF, the applicant should be doing it herself, not adding work for all the hiring managers. Also what IT Kat said about formatting. It just seems kind of lazy on the part of the applicant.

    4. Joseph*

      It might be easy for HR, but I can’t understand an applicant wanting to do this (or the similar equivalents, like when people send Google Docs or text in an email or so forth).

      You’re already up against several (dozen?) other candidates for each opening. You’re actively looking for work, presumably because you’re either unemployed and/or not fully happy where you’re at. You find a company which looks interesting and a position that’s a good match for your skills.

      And then you’re going to completely roll the dice on how the resume ends up looking on their end? If you’re not using the standards of either Microsoft Word or PDF, you have no idea how it’s going to look on their system. Particularly after they email it around.

    5. finman*

      The only thing I have an issue with in Alison’s reply was on google docs. While people are able to go to a library to complete a resume using Word, anyone with a computer or phone and internet can create a google doc. Microsoft Office is an expensive purchase for someone who only uses the occasional word/excel file at home. Google Docs are easy to print by someone receiving the link, but don’t always download into word format nicely. The use of google should open up resume creation to more people.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Links from unknown accounts may or may not be scrubbed out by IT filtering, or may be rerouted to a spam folder. So the link might not even make it.

        In addition, the google doc can be changed after the fact, which makes sharing resumes more difficult.

        Microsoft makes a free Word document reader. So you can save your google document in .doc format and check in Word to make sure it displays properly.

      2. Chinook*

        “Google Docs are easy to print by someone receiving the link, but don’t always download into word format nicely.”

        I get that not everyone can afford MS Office but they should find a way to meet blanket professional expectations. At the very least, Google Docs allows you to save a document as a .doc and be attached to an email. And it is not often that a resume is just being used once. If you are job searching, it is worth it to take the time to find a library or other public place to do this. This type of expectation ranks right up there with showing up to an interview in clean, professional looking clothes.

        1. finman*

          It was once professional blanket expectations that people wore a suit every day, women were expected to put up with sexual harassment, etc. Professional norms change, and in this case I think it makes it easier for more people to create a professional looking resume vs the old norm.

          1. Colette*

            Here’s the thing. When I apply for the job, I know I’m interested in it. The hiring manager has no idea whether she’s interested in interviewing me, and the harder I make it for her to figure that out, the more likely she is to decide the answer is no.

            If you don’t think it’s s good use of your time to send in resumes, and if you’re getting good results with sending links instead, you’re free to do that – but for most people, it will get them nowhere.

          2. Candi*

            For those reading through the comments:

            LibreOffice is a free (but they like it if you donate) program that can duplicate much of what Office does. It can also save in .doc and .docx, and export a document as a .pdf. I use it when I beta read for people who have various editions of Word, and there’s never been a problem on either end.

            For those who can’t afford office, and for who Google Docs may not work, it is an option to consider.

        2. Meg Murry*

          You can also save a Google Doc into a PDF and send that as an attachment – which I would recommend over as .doc, because sometimes formatting gets screwed up when going from Google Doc to .doc to whatever version of Office the hiring manager has on their computer.

          I always default to PDF over any other format, unless another file format is specifically requested, because it is the format most likely to look the same on screen and printed to recipient as the format I see and intend to send (although you should view the PDF yourself before sending, just in case something went goofy with tbe conversion, but it’s likely to be what you expect)

      3. Kyrielle*

        There are also third-party products that work with the Word document format – Open Office for example.

      4. many bells down*

        Google Docs will allow you to save a file as a PDF, so it should be fine to use it and just convert it to the proper format. I believe you can also convert to .doc but I usually just go with PDF.

      5. Jadelyn*

        But you can export your google doc as a PDF or .doc format, so why are you going to roll the dice, as Joseph said, on whether a link makes it through my spam filters and all that?

        There’s also OpenOffice or other free Office-type alternative programs. I get that we need to make it accessible for people who don’t have a home computer with MSOffice, but there are options other than “link to google docs”.

    6. OP #2*

      I didn’t know about that!

      Since there was no direct request for a resumé, I don’t need to worry about “failure to follow directions.”
      I’m not sure how much I care about not “playing by business norms.”

      I’ve been wondering if what happened is that he heard about the opportunity (it’s a short-term gig in the immediate future, and the people who applying for this are freelancers, so things are moving somewhat quickly–or perceived that way; plus it’s not going through HR, which everybody knows), and he’s not at home and therefore doesn’t have access to the resumé saved on his own computer, so he sent an email from wherever he’s working right now.

      That’s an argument for keeping a resumé online in Google Docs–and you can download as a PDF, and then upload a PDF, so you don’t *have* to worry about it being editable. And once you’ve downloaded the PDF to whatever computer you’re using, you can attach it to an email. I don’t know if he could do this on a library’s computer, but if he’s working at one of our counterparts, it would be OK to do there, I’m almost certain.

      1. PollyQ*

        If you’re using Google Mail, you don’t even have to download it — you can just attach directly from Docs. And even if you have a non-gmail account, you can still use Google Mail as the front-end for it.

    7. Recruit-o-rama*

      As a different perspective, as long as the LinkedIn profile is as complete as your resume, I don’t mind it instead of a word or pdf doc. I never print resumes anymore. All of our applicants are filtered through recruiting so I turn these online profiles to printable docs for the hiring manager of they ask for it and I remind them that it’s 2016, it came in an online format and to ignore the formatting. My industry is not the kind of industry where this would matter much so other people may feel differently, but that’s my take. In fact, our ATS allows people to upload directly from LinkedIn if they want, instead of uploading a doc. On the other hand, if your profile on LinkedIn is incomplete, that’s a different story.

      1. KimmieSue*

        Another recruiter here…and I completely agree. I recruit in technology. I’ll take a profile, a bio, a resume, a name and title on a napkin if the prospect is qualified and in-demand. Unfortunately, most ATS application processes are slow and frustrating for candidates who are otherwise busy, possibly working and wanted by other companies. I’d do anything to make their experience as smooth and easy as possible.
        Certainly, at the point of an in-person interview, I’d request a more formal resume. But for job consideration and initial phone conversations, LI profile works great.

  18. Patrick*

    I agree that OP #1 didn’t do anything wrong here, but just to play devil’s advocate the situation could be spun as the exact reason employers don’t want to hire people with advanced degrees for certain positions.

    10 months is not a long time to be in a role so to me this seems like one where OP is going to have to think seriously about office/company culture and probable reactions. I know companies that would be perfectly fine with this, and companies that have been burned by too many admins immediately wanting to changes roles once they have their foot in the door. In general I think trying to change roles/applying or asking for a promotion in the first year has a decent risk of coming off poorly, but again YMMV based on company culture.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      True. My company allows us to post for internal opportunities once we have been in our division for at least a year. After a year and one month in my previous position and division, I began posting for internal job opportunities and ultimately was hired into a new division with a higher title and more money at the year and four months marker. 10 months is a little premature at some companies, yes, but it never hurts to ask her boss how to proceed if she’s truly interested in the compliance job. And really, if her company was concerned about the foot in door thing, what should have given them pause about hiring OP for the admin role was that she had been a manager previously. Her advanced degree wasn’t on her resume, but I’m sure the managerial stints were, yet they hired her anyway. It’s possible her manager hired her with the intent of one day moving her into a compliance role given the law work. Again, OP won’t know unless she asks.

    2. Mike C.*

      I’m not seeing the harm here at all. If she is hired, that means the employer was able to fill a much higher position at little risk to the company due to the fact that she had already been there 10 months and they knew what they were getting.

    3. Liana*

      I have an extremely limited knowledge of what goes into being a compliance specialist, but I was under the impression that it can be a difficult role to find qualified people for. If that’s the case, the manager might be happy that she has someone already qualified and excited about the role? I think you’re right about company culture – some might be happy that they already have a candidate in the office, and some might not be, but I don’t think there’s any harm in the OP bringing it up to her manager. It shows that she’s interested in staying within the office for awhile, even if it’s in a different role.

    4. Pwyll*

      I certainly agree that 10 months is pretty short to be seeking a job change. (And I say this as someone on month 10 of a new position who is also seeking to escape. Oops.)

      That said, similar to Liana, I would think it easier to replace administrative staff than it is to fill compliance specialist jobs. And I’m not sure it hurts to bring it up to the manager in a small department. I’d probably say something like, “Hey, I saw we were seeking to hire someone in the Compliance Analyst position. Based on my experience here so far, I find that really interesting. I’d love to talk about whether there would be a path for me to move into that position in the future.”

    5. Development Professional*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. The reason no one wanted to hire her for an admin job/position that didn’t require a JD was a concern that she’d be looking to move on to something higher up as soon as possible. And lo and behold, that’s what’s happening here. If I just spent all that time training you and now you were looking to move on (frankly, for any reason) I’d be pretty annoyed. Go ahead and float the question as Alison suggests, but I think you should be prepared for a negative response.

  19. Liane*

    #4 just reminded my of Good Friend’s story about a high-ranking (I think) HR person at his job. He said when he started there that she introduced herself to him and added, “I’m the Dark Angel of Unemployment.”

  20. Red*

    #3: a reasonable Other Person will totally go along with Allison’s suggestion.

    An unreasonable person – like, say, RJones @ old job vs my RJones2 @ old job – will not contact you at all, but every time he gets an email intended for you, will respond to the sender with capslocked tirades about their professional behavior peppered with !!!!!! and ????????? and !?!?!?? In which case it’s very clear to everyone which RJones they would prefer to deal with :-P

  21. MechE31*

    At one of my last jobs, a technician friend of mine and the CFO had identical last names and first names that differed by 1 letter (think John vs Jon). The technician friend of mine got a lot of misdirected email, including some that he classed as very sensitive information. The CFO also regularly got email for the technician.

    Their system was forwarding the email to the intended recipient saying wrong person and copy the sender so they get the message. It worked pretty well, but some people are just dense…

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Something similar happened when I worked at The Real Office – we had a handyman with the same first name and a very similar last name to our chief executive. The handyman, who came first in the address book, used to get lots of the chief exec’s emails. I never found out if the chief exec got anything meant for the handyman.

      At the same job, I sat opposite Cersei Lannister who was constantly getting email meant for Tyrion Lannister because her name came before his in the global address book and people would just look at the last name and not notice the first. A couple of years later, Tyrion Lannister got fired over child porn allegations. Lucky for Cersei she never got THAT by mistake!

  22. Jen*

    #1.- I’ve actually hired for this role before. Do you have any prior compliance experience? Is “specialist” total entry level at your org?

    Compliance specialists I’ve hired in the past have a JD and experience OR years of experience (my roles are JD preferred, not required). I’d make sure you are qualified as a candidate outside the actual JD before bringing it up.

    Assuming you DO have experience, Allisons suggestion is great. If you don’t, why not bring it up anyway if this is an area that interests you. Tell your boss/coworkers that you have a JD and have always been interested in compliance (if true) and see if you can start to dabble in projects to get you exposure so you can eventually move into a compliance role.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I really think it depends on the organization. Our compliance specialists are entry level and no one in the department has a JD (but the dept. head is an expert in our industry). We do have a separate team of attorneys who sign off on the compliance work but they are not part of that division.

  23. mazzy*

    #3 linkedin resumes – I wouldn’t bother, I’m 99 percent sure linkedin sends “applications” from people that never applied. I’m recieve dozens of “applications” from people in unrelated fields in distant states with no cover letters, which has convinced me that they are sending matches as applicants. So I stopped posting there since it’s 495 dollars, and most applicants seemed fake.

    #4 not good to write in profile, but it can be a thing in some industries (though I’d never write it!). We have a call center with no cold calling, commissions paid monthly, where the avg rep makes close to 40k. Not bad when you’re 22 and don’t want to go to college. Yet half of the people we call (who applied) hang up, find an excuse not to interview, or don’t show up for the interview, and the company has a good rep so that isn’t the reason. Then a good half drop out in a few months after making no attempt to make it work (not being able to deal with angry customers or not wanting to do basic outbound calls to existing customers to verify information). Half of these dissappear then apply for unemployment. It would be wrong to NOT challenge it. Due to the number of applicants that seem so hostile and unwilling to answer basic questions or show up for interviews, we’ve surmised that we just get applicants that don’t really want to work. My favorite from this month was one applicant who said “that’s on my resume, I’m good, either you hire me or don’t” then hung up a few seconds later. Another told us she left her last two jobs with nothing lines up because someone cursed in her presence but not at her.

    So I wouldn’t assume someone who regularly fights unemployment is fighting valid claims. It’s just not something you put on your profile!

    1. Kyrielle*

      I don’t know – you may have “reached out to them” by paying. I get sponsored inmails trying to recruit me for positions fairly often, and some of them clearly didn’t read my LI, because they’d know I was a laughably bad fit for their position if they had. But if I were trying to get out of a current job (thanks, happy where I am) or unemployed…well, I might still be tempted to apply. I think it’s as easy as a button or two.

      And when I was searching, my search would turn up things that were…a dubious fit at best, as well as ones that were a good match. Their algorithms are designed to cast a wide net and let the user narrow it (which is probably a good idea for job seekers, so they don’t miss anything).

      Kind of like they make skill endorsements meaningless by how easy they make it and how much they prompt, the same thing may happen to applications through there.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      #4 – when someone is young, lives at home, and has no obligations (if they have no college, they’re not carrying loan debt, in all probability) — they have more choices and can keep looking.

      Also – in some areas – having call center experience can be DESTRUCTIVE to one’s future career. Having that on your resume can typecast you.

      We had a family dispute a few years back. My niece had just graduated from college with what was a useless degree on face (theatre arts). Her mom wanted her to work close to home and there was a financial center nearby with a call center. “Why not work there? And (other things – you can babysit your younger siblings, etc.)” – I advised = STAY AWAY FROM THERE. The company I was working for had one of those call centers and it was a dead end job – AND – no other financial firm would hire you to do anything else after that.

      It’s a job that is dead end – but not only does it have no future – it CAN destroy your future. “But… but… working experience! Paid working experience!”

      Yuh, it’s like a young girl who wants to make it big in movies, and decides to take an X-rated movie role. She’s having “paid experience” but it won’t help her career in movies going forward. Long story short….

      She went into Boston, became an admin assistant at a major financial firm. Better money, better career path, no restrictions. And she met a wonderful guy there – who is now her husband and she’s enjoying life as a full-time Mom.

      1. PollyQ*

        I’m confused — are we talking about the kind of call centers where customers call up for help, or the outgoing cold-call “boiler-room” ones? I could see the second being problematic (although so bad as to torpedo a career?), but I’m not seeing the issue with the first.

  24. PeachTea*

    For #4 and as the person who disputes unemployment at my company, I would almost bet she means 82% of the claims that she disputed, not 82% of claims that were filed.

    The percentage of claims that I’ve won is definitely on my resume (I’ve only ever lost one). It’s an important number. It affects how much you pay in employment insurance, not to mention the obvious amount that your account is charged for the unemployment benefits themselves. But I haven’t protested every claim that came through the door. If they deserve unemployment, we don’t protest. If they don’t though, I see no reason to not be proud of your success rate in those cases.

    The most common claim actually comes from people who resign then for some reason claim unemployment. It boggles my mind. All I have to do is scan over their resignation letter. We’ve had quite a few who resigned because they were moving and couldn’t find a job after the move then filed. That’s not a valid reason for my company to pay benefits or higher insurance premiums.

    So long story short, I would bet she just used poor wording.

    1. Feo Takahari*

      What would the proper wording be? Resolved over 82% of unemployment disputes in favor of the employer?

      1. PeachTea*

        I think something as simple as “won 82% of unemployment claims protested.”

        I doubt I’d put the percentage on my LinkedIn though. I’d probably go with a more general wording acknowledging that handling unemployment claims was apart of my duties.

    2. RunDMC123*

      I agree! I also dispute unemployment at my company and we get the craziest claims; employees that were terminated for misconduct, quit after a few weeks, stop reporting to work. By winning all of these disputes, I have lowered our overall State Unemployment Tax rate. I take great pride in that for my small business employer.

      Unemployment is there for a reason and great when deserved but like so many other things, gets taken advantage of if not monitored.

      1. OP #4*

        Thanks to all who responded, especially the HR folks. I can agree that this was a poorly worded accomplishment but now I have a better perspective on why it was included in the profile. Fighting insurance fraud, if this is what was actually meant, saves everyone money in the end.

          1. Abcdez*

            This. I used to work at a company where the HR guy would, completely unsolicited, brag constantly about how he contested EVERY single unemployment claim–clearly trying to preemptively intimidate people from filing if they ever found themselves in that situation. Finally one day someone asked him how often he was successful in contesting those claims, and his reaction was amazing–he turned beet red and walked off. So much for that tactic!

            1. Candi*

              This seems like a really good way for the UI dept to start side-eyeing every contest he files -even if it’s valid this time!

      2. Construction Safety*

        We had a guy who claimed that we didn’t tell him that if he didn’t come to work, we would terminate his employment.

        Same guy didn’t come to work on Saturday (OT day) b/c he was watching his child so his wife (also our employee who was scheduled OT to work for us) could work a shift at Cracker Barrel. Together, they lost +$450 for her to work one shift at CB (notwithstanding the cost of child care)

      3. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I had to testify in a dispute once. One of my employees resigned. She averaged about 30 hours a week (full time for our company was 35+) and would call in sick to at least one shift a week. So I had already written her up for attendance when she resigned. Then she filed for unemployment. What?! She got rejected, then appealed and that’s when I had to testify. The person from the unemployment office (can’t think of their title) kept asking the former employee if she was a full-time or part-time employee, the former employee kept responding “full time.” No, she clearly wasn’t. Then she said she was let go because she couldn’t work all of her shifts. No, you resigned. We have your resignation notice right here (employees did it online) and you specifically stated that you were resigning to care for your family member. It was so bizarre!

    3. Mike C.*

      It also affects how screwed people are after they’re fired, and has knock on effects in the local economy. Please don’t act like this is nothing more than “a cost to the company”. Also, don’t forget that the employee paid into that as well.

      I understand some file for dumb reasons, but there are tons of companies out there who contest UI out of spite.

      1. Construction Safety*

        It may vary by state, but employees typically do not pay into UI, it is a cost borne solely by the company.

        1. baseballfan*

          yes, it’s a common misconception that employees pay into UI. It’s not like Social Security. Keeping the claims process honest benefits the companies and the economy. It benefits everyone except those attempting fraud. So thanks to those who are diligent in protecting the process and protecting the deserving beneficiaries.

          1. Anxa*


            Then what was that UI tax I had withheld on my W2’s for all those years!?

            I always thought it was going to UI.

            1. Anxa*

              I checked and can confirm that I was paying UI. And of course, most people I knew growing up lived in the same state, so most people I knew paid into UI.

              We also paid into family leave, disability, and workforce development.

              So I guess it’s a common misconception that employees DON’T pay into UI.

              (In fact, I was so used to paying into UI that when I didn’t see the those deductions on my paychecks in my new state, I figured I was ineligible. Kind of like how I didn’t get to pay into SS during my college jobs but I also didn’t pay SS tax.* I mean, I still wouldn’t qualify for it because I’m part-time and people don’t get straight up laid off but get their hours reduced)

              1. Anxa*

                *Of course those jobs where I made the most amount of money in life don’t count toward my SS… figures

              2. fposte*

                Would you be willing to say what state and what the tax was officially called? I’m wondering if they screwed up and were witholding FUTA tax from employees, which they’re not supposed to do.

                1. Anxa*


                  I think the abbreviations changed over the years, but something like SDI/SUI/FLI or UI/FMLA

                  I don’t remember seeing it listed at FUTA.

                  It was always a small amount, though (I never made more than $15k a year)

              3. baseballfan*

                I don’t know what state you’re in, but this is definitely not the norm. Employees contribute (minimally) to UI in three states.

                So yes, it is a common misconception that employees do pay into UI. Employees do not pay into UI, except in the three states that are exceptions to this general rule.

                1. Anxa*

                  I disagree. It may be a common misconception that most employees in the US pay into UI, but employees in the US do pay into in some states. NJ and PA are populous states; it’s not insignificant. And if you live and work there, it’s the norm for you. Also, I’d hardly call a ~25% amount minimal (AK).

                  What is kind of funny about this, is that I did have the misconception that it was normal to pay into UI across the US, but I’m from a state where most do. I figured that maybe my current state just didn’t charge, charged only people making over the FPL (not me) or didn’t charge those that were ineligible workers (maybe me). Of course, I never really thought about it, but that must have been how I subconsciously explained away its omission on my W2s. If people nationwide in the 47 no-pay states carry the misconception that they pay into it…where does that come from? If you never see the bill, where do you get they idea that you pay into UI?

        2. CMT*

          They may not pay directly, but it’s definitely going to affect their salary. Just like any tax — you can make suppliers or consumers actually pay it, but who ends up with the burden depends on the elasticity of your supply and demand curves!

      2. Gaia*

        My former employer disputes every single claim. Every time. They are quite proud of it. Part of the reason they are my *former* employer.

        1. Anxa*


          One of my employers burned through employees in a high-turnover, seasonal establishment. They fought pretty much every claim.

          One of the larger ones my friend worked for takes you off the schedule every few months to make it more difficult to establish eligibility. At week 18 you’d just stop getting hours, and after a few weeks get a call back to put you on the schedule.

          1. Katie F*

            I don’t understand how that company would keep employees, since… wouldn’t they just go find a different job during those few weeks?

            1. Anxa*

              Some would of course. But I don’t think they really cared. In fact, I think they sort of embraced the high turnover because they didn’t have to worry as much about stressing their relationships with their employees. There was a lot of management-via-screaming there.

              It was a burn and churn system, and if some of your suspended employees couldn’t find jobs in that meantime, they’d of course be willing to come back since they needed the work.

            2. Anxa*

              (Also, this only ‘worked’ because a lot of the workers didn’t have consistent employment in the preceding year)

              It always seemed super obnoxious and kind of pointless. Her stories always put my griping into perspective. I honestly doubt it saved them a penny; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost them money, but it did help to maintain an adversarial relationship with their employees.

      3. LBK*

        I don’t think that really applies to what PeachTea is saying, though – I don’t get the sense that her company contests UI out of spite, and her point about the financial aspect is perfectly valid. The company shouldn’t just be handling out UI benefits willy-nilly to anyone who applies when they don’t actually have a valid claim.

        1. Mike C.*

          I’m trying to express to PeachTea why so many would find such a statement distasteful.

            1. PeachTea*

              Nvm. I read incorrectly. But still, I think it’s incorrect to assume this is common. Protesting valid unemployment claims is not common.

              1. Mike C.*

                Wouldn’t this depend on how the labor board/court/regulatory body for a given state decides things?

                Here in WA you’re going to be awarded UI unless there’s a very good reason not to, but in other states it’s trivial to make the former employee jump through a ton of hoops and never be awarded anything.

        2. PeachTea*

          This is my point exactly. I don’t deny that there are some companies out there that protest every claim, valid or not. Mine is not one of them. But I also think it’s a mistake to paint companies out to be the villain in unemployment claims when I’d say the vast majority of companies do the right thing.

          And Mike C, I don’t know where you live, but I’ve never paid into UI as an employee nor known anyone who has. That’s definitely not a common thing.

            1. PeachTea*

              Sorry! I didn’t see your other response until after I posted this! I need live updates! Haha

      4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Yeah, I noted that I had a friend who was let go (cutback) from a big-box store, then went to file unemployment and the company claimed “he was released for cause.”

        OH? The company had employed a firm specializing in suppressing unemployment claims. Yes, there are companies that exist that do that.

        After eight months of refusing to come clean – the company finally did, claimed, “oh there was a mistake” and he collected eight months’ checks, retroactively. But – he was in a state that is not employee-friendly. No doubt, they wouldn’t pull that ***t in Massachusetts.

    4. LQ*

      For people who are reading this please realize that it is not up to the employer to decide if you deserve unemployment. You can always file, even if your employer tells you not to. In some states you would be able to get benefits if you move and can’t find a job depending on the exact circumstances (move with a spouse, move for military, it depends on the state). Employers can protest claims, but they don’t get to decide, it is based on the law.

      1. PeachTea*

        In those cases though, at least in my state, the employer would not pay any part of the benefits. The state would pay the claims so I would still have to protest my company’s part.

    5. neverjaunty*

      But nobody can tell from your resume that your company only disputes what it believes to be frivolous claims, as opposed to any and all claims – which, as you probably know, some employers believe saves money even more.

  25. FoodieNinja*

    My cousin (through marriage) and I work for the same place, but in very different roles. Our names are also very similar – for example, I’m “Alice Jennifer Jones” and she’s “Jen Alice Jones.” I get email and meeting invites for her periodically, and it’s become a fun joke at family gatherings.

  26. Catalin*

    Oh, Rebbeka, I smell what you’re stepping in. My multinational company has a Catalin FakeName with an email address just one letter off from mine, and she’s in a completely different continent! When I accidentally receive something of hers, I reply to the senders just to let them know. They’re usually very grateful and most don’t make the same error. It can be tough at the beginning before people’s email programs start auto-filling correctly, but the issue should eventually even out.

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      This has only marginal application, but one time I started getting emails from a group of soccer (football) referees in England announcing meetings and trainings. Meeting on Tuesday in the back room of the pub, we have a great speaker lined up, chip butties to be served as refreshment, bring money for the raffle.

      I tried a number of times to tell them they had the wrong Adonday Veeah, I was middle-aged woman in America who knew nothing about football, much less how to referee it. I received terse responses about how important the messages were and how I needed to receive them. They are now on facebook, and yes, I’ve been invited to join. I may just do that — I kind of miss those emails.

  27. Sydney Bristow*

    #2: Not to mention that it’s a bad idea to click a link in an email from someone you don’t know. My firm is constantly reminding us not to click links in emails because of major cybersecurity concerns.

    1. OP #2*

      Interesting! I wasn’t that worried; he was responding to an appeal I’d sent out to my contacts, and one of them would have sent it on to him.

      of course it could be malicious, but I think the odds would be pretty slim.

      1. KimmieSue*

        Hi OP2 – Not trying to to sound snarky, but if you reached out to your network for referrals – why would you then require folks to apply? Seems like you are the solicitor here and would take the referral in any format?

        1. OP #2*

          Not to be snarky in return, but even if you asked someone to refer a candidate, and even if I called the candidate first, wouldn’t the candidate need to apply? How else would I know they’re genuine interested?

          In this case, I’ve reached out to people I know to say, “I need someone–tell anybody you know.”

          So they’re not coming in completely cold; they’re emailing to say, “This person you know told me you have an opening and I’d like to apply for it.” But they have to contact me w/ their credentials–I don’t know anything about them; I didn’t even know they existed until they did. That’s “applying,” in my mind. But it’s not quite the same as spam, so I’m not worried about their link.

          There isn’t any “application process” except emailing me about themselves, and sending me a resumé. Which most of them do–this is the first time I’ve gotten a simple LinkedIn link.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ah, so that makes a difference here. If you’re soliciting for referrals, that’s different than someone just applying on their own. In that case, I’d look at it, and if you think he’s very promising, minimize the number of hoops he has to jump through. If you think he’s so-so, at that point you might thank him and point him toward your regular application process.

        1. OP #2*

          Well, the “regular application process” is sending me an email expressing interest and giving their credentials, usually a resumé. Which he may think he’s done, but I’d rather have it in a document I can print out more easily.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            And that’s totally reasonable. If he’s a stellar candidate, I’d say, “Any chance you have your resume in a Word or PDF, which will make it easier on our end?” So it’s more about continuing the conversation that just funneling him into your application system — because someone stellar is someone you want to woo and lower barriers to entry.

            If he’s not outstanding, then it would just be, “Thanks so much. I’d love to have you throw your hat in the ring. We ask for a resume in Word or PDF and a cover letter. Looking forward to receiving it!” (Again, this is for people you recruit from your network, as opposed to general applications.)

  28. The Cosmic Avenger*

    We apparently got another [RealFirstName] at my company recently, as I’ve gotten a couple of emails from people in other divisions that left me puzzled. However, confounding things the first couple of times was the fact that it’s not a huge company, and I had done a little work not too long ago for the division involved, specifically with one of the senders. However, the email seemed totally unrelated to my consult. I waited a few hours or a day to see if maybe the sender or at least one of the recipients noticed, but I didn’t get an “Oops!” email, so I asked if this had to do with teapot strategy (what I consulted on), and then they said “Oops!”.

    I think this is the first time I’ve ever had another [RealFirstName] at the same company at the same time, though! It’s pretty uncommon.

  29. AshleyH*

    No 4: ummmm is that me? I’ve got my unemployment win ratio on my resume and LinkedIn from Old Job (and it’s actually in the 90s!). I worked in corporate HR for a seasonal retailer (the fact that it’s a seasonal retailer is very obvious by the name) and that was one of my performance metrics so to me it shows I was good at my job. I had a high win ration because the vast majority of our employees weren’t eligible for UI since they were seasonal but would apply anyway.

    Should I take it off? I mean I got my current job with it, and it even came up in my interview….

    1. Pwyll*

      This is an area where it’s best to know your industry. I think it sounds generally out of touch, but at the same time, if it’s common in your high-turnover industry for HR folks to have formal performance metrics regarding the ratio of UI claims, then it probably won’t hurt when applying to jobs in that same industry.

    2. Debbie Downer*

      I think if you make sure to indicate that it is a percent of “disputed” claims then you should be fine. People here are pointing out how if it isn’t phrased correctly, then it looks like you are disputing legitimate claims and winning.

    3. Anon Moose*

      You could keep it on a resume where people would understand context/ look on a high metric with approval. But on a public profile where people outside the industry look at it would be possibly less advisable.

      1. CMT*

        But those people aren’t ever going to be hiring her (if she stays in the industry), so why would it matter?

    4. Abcdez*

      In addition to what others have said about making sure you specify it was the percentage of disputed claims (assuming that’s what you’re reporting, and that you didn’t just dispute everything?), it’s worth noting that in some states, seasonal/temporary employees *are* eligible for UI, so the fact that it’s obvious from the retailer’s name that it was seasonal doesn’t necessarily change how this looks to people.

      And it seems potentially pretty grotesque to make that a performance metric, since presumably you didn’t have control over the actual validity of the claims, but I digress.

  30. Lily in NYC*

    #3 – My sister is the #2 at a large federal agency and there’s a junior employee there with the same name (and it’s not a super-common name). My sister heard that the employee kept getting teased about it (in a lighthearted manner) so my sister called her up and asked her to lunch. They took a photo at the lunch and posted it on the internal blog and made a joke out of it and it got a good reaction.

  31. lblonde*

    I have the same issue as #3- same first name, one letter different in our last name, and if it happens to us we just forward it on and include the sender, adding in a little note that it was to the wrong person. We work in different offices but see each other once every couple of months, and when we do we just laugh about it.

    Once my own sister who works for the same company even sent me an email that was meant to be for the OTHER Monica. I called her so confused about the email, and then she realized her mistake.

  32. Construction Safety*

    Way back in the earlier days of email and autofill, it would fill in the names of outside contacts as well. We had a new sales engineer and when she typed in “Wilson” meaning to send the proposal to ‘smaller customer’, it first autofilled with a Wilson from ‘huge customer’. Unfortunately, both Wilsons were in charge of purchasing and the smaller customer appeared to be enjoying better pricing because of items currently under agreements elsewhere. ‘Huge customer’ threw a fit (because they could) and threatened all of their business, so the company adjusted their pricing, thus costing $$$ (millions) over the rest of the contract.

    1. TootsNYC*


      I have to manage my auto-complete carefully. I don’t have those risks, but I can mean to send something to Production and get Protomastro instead because I’m used to typing “Pro” and hitting return, and

      I’ve even had to create new “people” in my address books because typing “Chris” gets me a list w/ my person last, and “Wilson” gets me a different list w/ my person last, so I made a fake person named “CRW” and gave them Chris Wilson’s email address.

      I’ve ended up coaching people elsewhere in the company how to do that sort of thing (plus, Outlook offers a little X to the right of an auto-complete address, and if you click it, the software won’t suggest it anymore).

  33. Gaia*

    Oh man, LW3. I feel ya. We have a client that has the same exact name as one of our account managers. Last year one of the support reps accidentally emailed the client instead of the account manager a list of contacts to follow up on. Luckily our client took it with great spirit and wrote back asking “I’m game – who should I call first?” The support rep was mortified but all’s well that ends well.

  34. baseballfan*

    #2 – LinkedIn isn’t a resume. My LI profile is more robust than my resume and a little more casual in its format/language. It’s written in first person as if I’m talking to someone, and has more details.

    If a candidate gives a link to someplace a resume is saved, that’s still not following instructions if they were asked to submit a resume. But the URL to one’s LinkedIn profile is even farther from following the instructions. I would write this candidate off right away, most likely, since they can’t be bothered to follow instructions and since apparently they do not have a resume.

    #3 – I used to work for an accounting firm with someone who had almost the same name as a very senior partner. From time to time he accidentally received some very sensitive communications. That wasn’t on him, though – in that situation all you can do is forward the info and notify the sender so they don’t make the same mistake again.

    1. OP #2*

      OP #2 here.

      There really weren’t any instructions, so that’s not a factor.
      And his format is a quite reasonable format for a resumé.

      It’s just that I prefer to print it out. I can write on it; I can file it and pull it out later; it’s all for my personal preference.

      I think that’s why I felt hesitant; it seemed sort of selfish, like “I don’t like the way you made it look; do it MY way.”

      Someone else included a PDF of his resumé AND the LinkedIn link, so I wondered if this guy didn’t have it worked up as a regular document, and whether it was kind of rude or selfish to ask for it.

    2. SlickWilly*

      I think some hiring managers need to shed the “I’m too busy to bother” attitude when it comes to LinkedIn and other forms of online resumes and think about what they are missing out on–a wealth of information about a person’s professional history, education, networking, and interests, all in interactive form. The static resume is easy to put in a file and compare against others, but what else does it really have going for it?

      I got my last two jobs through LinkedIn and will plan to do so again when the time comes. I also hired one of my best employees through LinkedIn. I realize that some people get annoyed by e-mail notices they get from LI but it’s not hard to manage that stuff.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        When you have loads of good candidates, what’s the incentive to do something for an unknown candidate who’s flouting convention and which will be a pain for you? If you have a really hard-to-fill role, then sure. But most are in the first category, not the second.

        1. SlickWilly*

          That’s a fair question. My point was that it was not really a pain (just click a link) and through LinkedIn I struck gold, so going ever slightly out of my way had a big return. “Your mileage may vary,” but don’t you think trends are moving in this direction and away from the static resume? If so, it could pay to get ahead of the trend.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think that’s the trend, although I do think there are a lot of companies that want you to believe that’s the trend because they’re trying to sell alternate application technology.

            It’s not that clicking a link is a pain; it’s that you then have other work to do to get the person into your application system.

            1. Recruit-o-Rama*

              I do think it’s the trend, although it won’t change overnight. There are a lot of bugs to work out in the system. I’m not selling alternative application systems, I’m trying to cast as big of a net as possible and being picky about format just makes my pool more shallow. I suppose it really depends on your industry but in my industry, it really doesn’t matter if someone can format a word doc properly, at all. I guess I think it is worth really putting some thought into whether or not it really matters or if you might be missing out on some really great candidates just because their resume isn’t formatted the way you like it. I mean the general you, btw, not actually “you”. I think there is something to this discussion and we all may feel differently about it in 5, 10 or 15 years the way we feel differently about email and cell phones now versus 10, 15, 20 years ago.

              1. OP #2*

                well, I don’t really want to miss out on him. I just want to email and say, “Do you have that in a Word doc or PDF, so I can print it out easily for my files?”

                And I worried it would be rude.

                1. Recruit-o-Rama*

                  I’m sorry, I was sort of just discussing the topic in general. :-).

                  I would ask if he has his resume in a more traditional format, it’s not a weird or rude request at all, I do it all the time and have never had a candidate do anything other than say “sure! No problem!”

        2. Anonnynonymous for this one*

          Thank you! We’re recruiting for a hard-to-fill-with-specific-skill-set position now. We ask for a cover letter addressing three specific questions (and whatever else they’d like to tell us) and a resume highlighting pertinent experience saved as one doc with a specific naming structure and emailed to a specific email address. This is a job requiring extreme attention to detail and directions and frankly, asking for the application this way is part one of the screening process. 90% of the applicants miss the application directions which are listed in both the first and last paragraph of the job description. I still respond to and review every single application but the truth is the ones who follow the application directions are the ones who have the best chance of moving forward because they are highlighting the experience we’re looking for and paying attention to details–something our picky clients demand.

          I understand the job search process is frustrating and time consuming but those of us trying to fill positions aren’t psychic or omnipotent–we ask for information the way we do because this is the process that helps us find the best candidates.

        3. Marty Gentillon*

          Except by being picky here, you are influencing the kind of applicants who will progress further.

          From the applicant’s point of view, LinkedIn has many advantages as a resume format. Linked in provides a good introduction to my skills, includes recommendations, and endorsements. What’s more, I have to keep it up regardless as it is some of the most effective advertising that I can have. When a company will take it, why not use it? If, for some reason, they need the word document, it isn’t hard to ask for it.

          1. KimmieSue*

            Agree with Marty on this point as well.

            Additionally, when recruiting for a hard-to-find skill set, you should also consider how many other companies are looking for the same or similar skill set. Before you add hurdles to your application process, you might want to see how many similar jobs are currently open in your market. For example, I just did a simple search for “java developer” in Dallas, TX (not my city). There were over 400 job postings. If I want those potentially qualified candidates to consider my opening, I’m going to make it as easy as possible for them. If the application process takes them more than a few moments or clicks, they likely will move onto the next one.

        4. KimmieSue*

          AAM -Is your advice to OP2 the same, if she was soliciting referrals from her network? Maybe I’m missing it but doesn’t sound like these are actual job applicants but people responding her network outreach?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Nope, that changes it! I actually just responded to her about that above. (I said: “Ah, so that makes a difference here. If you’re soliciting for referrals, that’s different than someone just applying on their own. In that case, I’d look at it, and if you think he’s very promising, minimize the number of hoops he has to jump through. If you think he’s so-so, at that point you might thank him and point him toward your regular application process.”)

            1. OP #2*

              I don’t really understand how that changes anything, that I asked my network to spread the word about this job.

              It certainly doesn’t change what I find easiest to use. And it doesn’t change the dynamic that if I find it annoying to look at his resume on LinkedIn only, I may just go with some other person who was ALSO referred to me.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Well, some of this depends on the job. If it’s a senior-level or in-demand skilled job, you want to make it as easy as possible for good candidates to get in your process as you can. That’s especially true when you’re leaning on your network to help you find people, because you want your network to continue referring people to you (which they may not do if their friend tells them, “well, I contacted her but she just sent me a link to the online application, and I’m perfectly happy where I am so I didn’t follow up”). Using your network is more like recruiting — you’re going after people who are passive candidates who might not have any incentive to jump through hoops until they’ve had a chance to talk to you.

                On the other hand, if it’s a lower-level job where you have lots of good candidates, you may not even need/want to activate your network to help out at all.

      2. OP #2*

        The vast majority of the time, I don’t need that much information.

        And it’s actually a lot of work to sort through that much volume.
        I also feel a deep distrust of most of that stuff; I don’t consider it to be credible. i’m not sure I can articulate why–maybe it’s the former high-school classmate turned lunch lady who I haven’t seen in years but “endorsed” me for my skill in a field she’s never worked in.
        Maybe it’s all the people who send me link requests that i know nothing about, which leads me to think there are lots of people who use it indiscriminately.

        Maybe it’s because the people that I *do* hire who are really, really good and who had tremendous value to my operation don’t actually put that much stuff up on LinkedIn.

  35. shep*

    #5 – I’m sure this is very much down to office culture and may be a Thing That Is Not Done at your office, but at my office, it’s very much the norm to put signs on our office doors. Mine just says “Please come in!” (or “At lunch”), but there are people who put things like “Please knock and wait for a response, as I may be in a meeting.”

    Of course, I could also see how signs on office doors like this would be viewed as perhaps a touch childish, or unprofessional, or just plain unsightly/unnecessary when really, all you should have to do is request this of your team.

    But it does work pretty effectively at my office, so I thought I’d toss it out there. :)

    1. ModernHypatia*

      I have a glass sign holder held to my door by suction cups that I have a series of rotating signs for – they include “I’m at lunch” and a note of when I’m usually back, “I’m at a meeting”, “Please come in – the air conditioner’s on”, “Out of office” (with info on how to get help with questions) for when the door is closed but I want people to come in.

      They have the basic message in a couple of words in large white type on a dark coloured background (different colours, so if you know my signs, you know immediately which is up.) with further details (like who to email or what number to call for the other space I might be in) below in smaller (but something like 24pt font) black text on white. They work pretty well, and they look very professional: I get a lot of compliments on them.

      (They are not as fully accessible as I’d like: I work in a special library at a school for the blind, and I haven’t figured out a way to do braille versions in an obvious location, though the signs are otherwise designed to be easy to read by someone with vision impairments but some usable vision. But this is a special issue that doesn’t affect most people.)

    2. TootsNYC*

      well, it’s a lot of work to get up and put a sign on the door for a 7-minute phone call 3 times a day.

      1. shep*

        Well, I meant just more along the lines of a semi-permanent sign that says, “Please knock,” with phrasing seasoned to OP’s taste.

  36. Anxa*

    Most applications I’ve submitted have made you list any job you’ve had in the past 10, 15, or 20 years and all schools attended. It’s amazing how powerful the shift to this style of application can be in influencing behavior; there was a time in my life where I welcomed all sorts of new experiences and had an attitude that someday you could always change course. Now I have to try to balance wanting any one job with trying to keep my Permanent Record in shape. Sure, there are some jobs when you can still get by on just submitting a resume and cover letter or have more forgiving online applications, but they seem to be getting fewer and further between as time goes on. It would be one thing if the application was just a more standardized way to submit your candidacy information than a resume/cover letter, but they seem to be contracts as much as anything.

    I was sure that that was at the core of the question. But perhaps that’s a question that’s better answered by corporate HR workers and employment lawyers.

    OP, do you remember the way the prompt for education history was worded? Do remember if there was a prompt when you submitted the form that asked you to confirm the completeness or truthfulness of the application and how that was worded?

    1. Tommy*

      But usually those blurbs (which resemble what you find on government documents, *sigh*) would be boilerplate in some Applicant Tracking System, not written or thought up by HR. It seems like it would be so far removed from the actually employees of the company, that upon hearing that OP has a law degree, their mind would not jump to: “Wait, I don’t remember that on the application. Didn’t we have a legally-binding statement there about the application being complete?”

      I would think that the people who get fired over that kind of stuff are almost always because they specifically added something significant that was false (not lied by omission) and there was some motivation to get rid of them anyway.

      1. FriendofaTG*

        I agree with what you said there! Sometimes the issue goes a step further, when an application asks a question (sometimes unintentionally phrased as such) that on the surface looks innocent – but for certain people could elicit irrelevant information that could be used in a discriminatory matter. My suggestion in those cases is if possible to come up with an “alternative” response which answers what they have a valid reason to know without lying/omitting what is truly relevant or divulging the irrelevant sensitive information (example say something like “none which would be relevant” or “no others which would be relevant” after listing what is relevant) – or if you can contact HR beforehand and ask in a manner that does not give out the sensitive info at that point, ask if you need to provide such (irrelevant) information.

        For examples of what I’m talking about, look at the open job-related topic from the first weekend of this month when I talk about a transgender job seeker (link below, who transitioned before adulthood), or consider an application that inappropriately asks for all organizations the applicant is a member of (which could result in discrimination issues if construed to mean organizations that indicate a protected status and aren’t relevant to the job – what they want, and should ask for, are job-related or professional organizations).

      2. Anxa*

        I think you make a really great point. I really appreciate that perspective.

        I am still skeptical that it’s non-binding and just an afterthought. But I haven’t ever hired anyone nor do I work in HR. Nor have I ever gotten a job through one of those systems (thank goodness my employer was a late adopter). Over the years I’ve become disabused of the idea that most companies are very deliberate with their application systems and materials, but I still overthink this stuff. So it makes sense that they aren’t really looking at what their applicants are seeing. Or maybe they notice it, but can’t amend the language in parts of their system.

        That said, as incredible as AAM is, I sometimes wish there was a version for lower-skilled (or otherwise unattractive) job searchers or an Ask An Applicant Tracking System.

        1. FriendofaTG*

          What you could do if you have to deal with one of those systems in the future, and feel that something they are asking is not relevant for the job, is to take my suggested ask-HR strategy and ask if you really need to complete said questions for the position you’re applying for. If they admit it’s a boilerplate system and say that the questionable question(s) do(es) not need to be answered for the position then you’re off the hook. (On the other hand if you ask them numerous questions about the process it may be different than with a single issue like my transgender friend at the link in my above post.)

  37. Jubilance*

    #3 – I once worked with a guy who had the same name as someone else in the company and it became a big headache for both of them. The problem was the way the company assigned their email addresses. The first guy got George.Wilson@company.com while my coworker (who joined the company later) was given Wilson.George@company.com. I think later on someone realized this was a stupid convention and they started using initials or numbers to differentiate email addresses instead of reversing the format. Anyway, half my coworker’s emails went to the first George Wilson, who got really annoyed with forwarding them and became hostile. I’m not sure what he expected my coworker to do, it wasn’t my fault that people were selecting the wrong George Wilson from the address book.

    #4 – I wonder if this is a case of someone trying to give quantifiable accomplishments and not understanding that everything shouldn’t be quantified. They may think “hey I need to get some accomplishments with numbers on my resume” and went for the low hanging fruit. It’s still icky no matter what though.

  38. TootsNYC*

    From OP#5:
    Because the office is shared with another, they feel this is not important.

    Actually, if the office is shared with someone else, they may feel it’s INTRUSIVE to knock.

    The knock will be heard by both parties, and both people will interrupt what they’re doing to see who it is.
    That may feel really rude to them.
    But if they step up to your desk, then their body language tells your officemate that she can keep working and ignore them.

    That might be the thing to fix–or maybe, every knock is for you, and nobody knocks when they come to see her?
    Maybe you need a wireless doorbell with a light that blinks on your desk. (All the ones I see have big lights, sorry to say.)

    1. Meg Murry*

      What I’m not clear on is whether OP#5 moved into the corner manager’s desk (and is sharing with the same person) or if the former manager was in a different office (alone or shared with someone else).

      I wondered if OP’s officemate had told people in the past that they didn’t need to knock, whereas the former manager had made a point to tell people to knock. I’ve worked in some offices where people have said “I keep my door shut because [it’s loud in the hallway/the heating system is screwed up and it stays more comfortable with the door closed/I don’t like the smells coming from the lunchroom/etc] but you don’t need to knock.”

      Unless OP’s officemate minds knocking, OP needs to just let people know “hey, I need you to knock and wait for me to respond before you walk in.”

  39. AFT123*

    Oh, obsequious! Good word, Alison! I had to look that one up, and also discovered Google shows me how to pronounce it. Thanks for the expanded vocab this morning!

  40. Tommy*

    I share a last name and first initial with the CEO of the mega-corp I work for. Since he leads tens of thousands of employees around the world, and I … don’t, I’ve certainly never gotten any mail for him, but a funny situation has occurred a few times.

    Say the CEO is Tim Jones and I’m Thomas Jones. On my team, we have another guy named Tim Stewart. People apparently add Tim Stewart and then me to our long To or CC lists in Outlook, which causes the following to appear:

    “…; Stewart, Tim; Jones, Thomas; …”

    Just seeing what looks like “Tim Jones” after sending an email to the team has sparked audible panic in some of my teammates quite a few times. I always get a kick out of it. :-)

  41. burningupasun*

    OP #4 – At my previous job, I was the assistant for the HR Manager. On top of being a particularly nasty, awful person in general, she prided herself on having NEVER lost an unemployment case and used to constantly brag about it just like the person you saw on LinkedIn. (Kind of almost wondering if it IS her, but I doubt it.) It was pretty awful, tbh.

  42. JC*

    #3: I don’t have the same situation as you, but I have a common first name which means I get email for other people with my name (and they get mine) all the time as people start typing our names into the To field and click on the first address that pops up. For a time one of the people who shared my name was the assistant for a senior exec, so I’d get all kinds of things meant for that exec.

    I think it would be great to reach out so your namesake knows where to direct emails she gets that don’t seem to be meant for her. But definitely no need to apologize! And if you get things you think are meant for her, just very matter-of-factly forward to her, copying the person who sent it, with “I think this was meant for you.” (I’d copy the person who sent it so they know it got to its intended recipient if they notice the mistake later, and also so you don’t inadvertently end up copied on a long email chain that isn’t meant for you.)

    I believe I read a New York Times story recently about a male-female married couple with similar names who met because they kept on getting each other’s email at their huge company!

  43. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    What’s the deal with employers fighting unemployment claims? They make it sound like they’re the ones personally cutting the check, which isn’t the case. As I understand it, unemployment is basically like an insurance they pay the premiums for. A claim doesn’t increase their premiums ((having *lots* of claims does, which is exactly right, because high turnover is often the sign of a crappy employer who needs to change their ways). This phrasing “They don’t want to have to pay unemployment” is misleading. The amount of your unemployment check doesn’t come from your last employer; it comes from the pool of premiums paid by all employers in the state.

    Can someone PLEASE explain this attitude to me? I just don’t get it–apart from pure meanness.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      I agree, I wasn’t really aware it was something that could be contested. I’ve only ever applied once though, and ended up not needing to receive any checks, so my experience is very little. I thought it was federal money, isn’t that what some people always complain about?

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        It’s state money, but yeah. It’s really very little skin off the employer’s nose (and in fact many industries, such as call centers, just chalk it up as part of the cost of doing business.) *what* is the *deal*??

      2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Oh, and, it’s not “our tax dollars”. It’s *unemployment tax dollars*, which are not paid by the general public. They’re paid (as I understand it) by *employers*. An employer with a lot of claims gets their premiums bumped up a bit, but the cost is nothing like them actually paying out the actual benefit amounts.

        Am I misinformed??

        1. Murphy*

          I’m not American, so this is a genuine question on my part.

          Do employees not pay anything into the Unemployment system in the US? In Canada both the employer and employee pay EI (employment insurance, which is what it’s called here) premiums. They come off our paycheques (to a maximum of $955.04/year – it’s 1.88% of your salary to a maximum of $50,800 for employees – employers pay higher premiums – 2.362% to a maximum of $1,337.06/year).

    2. OP #2*

      I had always thought that unemployment claims didn’t cost the company money.

      Do their “insurance rates” go up if they have a lot of claims? I didn’t think that was what happened either, but you’re saying it does. But I’d think they’d have to consistently have LOTS of claims before it mattered much.

      And in a planned-out restructuring, that increase in claims would be part of the whole formula, wouldn’t it?

      1. Koko*

        A small company can also see their premiums jump when someone claims unemployment, because going from 0 to 1 employee out of 5 claiming unemployment means you went from 0% to 20% in a single year. There’s no provision in there to cut small companies a break because the benefits are funded by payments the company makes that are relative to the size of the staff. So a small company is only paying 5 persons’ worth of unemployment and that means that now having to cover benefits for just 1 person is a big chunk of those premiums. If it’s 2 people, the premiums are going to skyrocket because the UI office has to assume that you need to be paying enough into the system to support 2/5 of your staff going on benefits.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I’d think that an employer would have an obligation to the group to contest unjust claims, just as there’s an obligation to report insurance fraud, because it dig into the pool available for all of the just claims. But I wouldn’t think that there’d be a goal of denying so many of them.

      I guess at a place w/ lots of seasonal workers, it would be different–you could end up with a lot of claims, enough to bump your rates up, year after year, and that might make enough of a difference that you’d want to bat them back.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        No, places with seasonal workers don’t do that in fact, because it’s seasonal work and you’re laid off at the end of the season. That’s “lack of work” and they absorb that as a cost of doing business. (If they had to physically pay out all those benefits, yeah, but they don’t.) Obviously it doesn’t bump their rates year after year because plenty of places do this as their business model (think Harry and David during Christmas, or an Oregon golf course in the summer, or any temp job where you leave at the end of your assignment.) (remember, the folks getting the unemployment aren’t sitting around, they’re required to “Actively Seek Work” and they have to prove it weekly or the check gets yanked.)

        You’re right that fraudulent claims should be disputed, (that’s pretty much what the distinction of “fired for cause” versus “laid off” versus “quit” is all about and why we have the concept of “constructive discharge”) but what I’m asking about is the popular framing. Over and over I hear “The employer doesn’t want to pay this worker’s unemployment.” I feel like we need to push back against this framing; it miscasts what’s going on.

        If the employers were truly being so sorely victimized by OMG “having to pay unemployment”, you’d see them trying to police their ex-employees’ work searches, trying to prove they aren’t Actively Seeking Work so they can stop cutting those checks, or trying to help find them other work (ditto). Instead what we see is the employer only disputes the initial claim.

    4. PeachTea*

      This is 100% incorrect. Companies pay part of the claim. The unemployment insurance does not cover the entire claim. Our account is charged our ‘portion’ of the benefit and then the state pays the rest. Then to top it off, our UI premiums could go up.

      Unemployment claims 100% cost the company money. It is not a free service. I promise you.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        See, that makes sense. I never assumed it was a free service. (TAANSTAFL, y’all!) I just never understood why they get so EXCITED about it. I’m going by how it was explained to me when I lived in Oregon, so I don’t know what differences there may be from state to state.

        What you’ve described is like a co-pay, right? How long do they have to pay that? For example, if I get laid off and get benefits for two months and in the third month I get another job and then get laid off from that and then in the fifth month I get another job and get laid off a month later (which can totally happen, by the way, this is not a hypothetical example), does the first company keep paying that portion or do they stop after I got the first job?

        (The only employers I ever saw who made a big deal out of “beating” unemployment claims were abusive to begin with, and had a lot of constructive discharges and lied in the unemployment hearings. So that colors my perspective a bit.)

  44. Bowserkitty*

    #4 – one of my closest friends at OldJob has the EXACT same name as another girl there, and it isn’t even a common name in the area. The other girl had been there for years, so when the new one got announced with her photo on the internal website I thought to myself “Wow, she’s really changed since I saw her last year!”

    To make things more coincidental, they both went to the same high school and were close in grade numbers. To this day she’ll send me screencaps of people messaging her questions for the other girl, and she always politely responds that they must want the other one instead.

    The other girl has never done her the same favors, sadly!

  45. I'm Not Phyllis*

    OP1 … I have master’s and have left it off pretty much every job application ever! My master’s has nothing to do with my field of work and I’m a little superstitious about it. When I was unemployed, I never heard anything back when I sent out resumes that included it but as soon as I took it off I got calls all the time! I tend to think of it as tailoring your resume for the job you’re applying for. If it’s not relevant, for a position, I don’t include it.

  46. DCompliance*

    OP1- It’s very common these days to leave off/not mention degrees that are not relevant to your current role. I didn’t use my “Esq.” until I moved into my compliance position.

  47. Another HR Professional*

    I do not think #4 reflects badly on her at all. If terminations at her company are a result of progressive disciple, clear policies, frequent feedback and opportunities to improve prior to reaching the termination stage, then something like 82% of claims SHOULD be defensible. People are usually not eligible for unemployment if they could have taken actions to not get themselves fired. Really what she is saying is that most of the unemployment claims are defensible (meaning well documented and deserved) and she is successfully defending them and saving the company money.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In most states, you’re eligible for unemployment if you were fired in the way you described unless you committed some sort of malfeasance or broke company policy. If you were just bad at your job but made a good faith effort, you’re usually eligible. Varies by state, but in the majority (and in all the states I’ve dealt with), that’s how it’s worked.

    2. Abcdez*

      There are definitely states where someone whose termination was the result of “progressive disciple, clear policies, frequent feedback and opportunities to improve prior to reaching the termination stage” could be 100% eligible for UI. So no, she’s not necessarily saying anything about how deserving the terminations were–this could easily just be a reflection of how much of a burden it is for the claimant to support their case when an employer contests.

  48. Catabodua*

    Oh goodness do I have a name story!

    At FormerWorkplace the supervisor I had didn’t like me. It was obvious, but I had no idea just how much he hated me until this happened.

    A person in a different department tried to email me to get me to provide some specific information. She actually sent the email to someone else with the same first name as me. When I didn’t respond she sent follow ups which were increasingly nasty and started copying people on them on up the food chain.

    I only found out about it because my supervisor pulled me into a meeting with HR to write me up. I was like “What email?” Supervisor threw a piece of paper at me and said “this one that you’ve been ignoring!”

    I looked at it, and said “I’ve never gotten this.” Supervisor exploded and started detailing all of the various ways I sucked. I handed it to the HR person and said “I am not Barbara Smith. That is who has been getting these emails.”

    The HR guy really looked at the printed email, got red in the face, and said to Supervisor “She’s right, she’s not on this email.”

    I was so furious about it. Not only did the person who was trying to get a response from me never just, you know, call and ask about it but not one person as it went up the chain did either. The fact that it got to the point where my supervisor felt it was more appropriate to let it get to a point where he could write me up vs walking the 10 feet from his office to my cubicle to ask me about it let me know just how happy he’d be to have me gone.

    I got my resume updated and got out of there as fast as I could.

    I also asked Barbara Smith why she never forwarded the email on and she just said it’s not her problem to make sure emails got directed to the correct person. So glad I got out of that place.

    1. Janice in Accounting*

      Wow. How awful! You’d have thought that at the very least Barbara Smith would have gotten irritated at all the emails and said something just to get the emailer to leave her alone.

  49. Em Too*

    I work for a pretty large organisation. Most people with a common name have a line in their email sig to remind people: Please note that I am John *Tomas*, not John Thomas. Usually in big, bold letters.

    It only happened to me when I changed to my married name, and things got sent to the only remaining UncommonMaidenName in the organisation.

  50. TootsNYC*

    I had some guy’s freelance payments get coded to the wrong SSN because there were three Jim/James/Jimmy Wolfe’s in the system. Nobody found out until one of them got a check he wasn’t expecting–and the 1099’s were wrong too, because it went back several months. And *my* Jimmy Wolfe had been inquiring about his missing checks in a patient manner.

    Now I highlight his SSN and write: “please check carefully, there is more than one Jim/James Wolfe in the system”

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