did candidate invent his alma mater, coworker doesn’t want me to lift things, and more

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

1. Did my candidate invent his alma mater?

I’m leading a hiring process for a role we need filled urgently. I did a phone interview today with a solid candidate. This role is specialized, but doesn’t have an educational requirement. Nonetheless, I was impressed to see that this candidate had a particularly challenging master’s degree in the field. When I complimented him on it, he sounded awkward and said he’d started on that degree, but shifted to another program after an extremely difficult class. At the time, I thought he meant a concentration within the degree, and I asked him back for a second interview with the team.

As I was sending his resume to the team, I started thinking more about the degree, and googled it. The degree he mentioned does exist, but it isn’t a concentration — it’s a completely different degree. Also, the university he listed … doesn’t seem to exist. Like if Oatmeal University were a well-respected major state university, he wrote “Community Oatmeal University.” There is a community college in the same city, but that’s not what it’s called.

I don’t know what to think. We can’t hire someone who would lie about their credentials, but if he were lying, why would he immediately change his story in the interview? And why not pick a real university? But I have an equally hard time believing it could be an honest mistake. Who doesn’t know the name of the university where they got their master’s, or even the name of the degree? He’s fairly young; the degree would have been in the last 5ish years. At minimum, that’s a serious degree of sloppiness we can’t afford in a new hire.

Is there a third possibility I’m missing? Is it actually normal for people to be vague about degrees on their resume? (Am I the weird one here?) I’m not even sure how to go about asking him without accusing him of lying. This candidate is otherwise on our shortlist and I would hate to reject him based purely on this if there’s a reasonable explanation.

No, this is weird. Is there any chance that Oatmeal University does have some kind of separate program attached to it, like an extension school or something similar? It’s worth finding that out — but even if that’s the case, it sounds like he knowingly listed a degree that he doesn’t have.

The easiest way to resolve this is to ask him about it! You can even do it before the next interview if you want to. Get in touch with him and say, “I’m running into some confusion with your master’s. Your resume says your degree is in X but at your interview you said you received the degree in Y — can you explain why your resume lists X?” If it’s still worth talking after you hear that answer, you could also say, “I wasn’t able to find any reference to Community Oatmeal University online — what can you tell me about it?”

If he’s not lying and this is somehow an innocent mistake, he should appreciate the chance to clear it up. If he is lying … well, this is what happens; people will ask him about it! So I wouldn’t tip-toe around the fact that right now this doesn’t make sense.

2. Colleague doesn’t want me to lift things but it’s my job

I work as an archivist and records manager. I’m the only one in this role. I enjoy the variety; I might be doing a variety of desk-based information management, research tasks, or I might be moving boxes of papers around. All of these tasks are a very normal part of an archivist’s job.

Recently a senior colleague, Jennifer, is concerned every time she sees me moving boxes, and insists she will help or gets other members of staff to help. She’s also said repeatedly that I “shouldn’t have to do this” or even “shouldn’t be doing this.” She’s not my boss but she is senior to me and in HR so health and safety do come under her purview.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but Jennifer’s concern is misplaced. I use equipment such as a trolley when appropriate; I dress for physical activity, in supportive shoes and clothes I can move in; and I have 15+ years of experience of manual handling, have had training in it in previous jobs, and do weight-bearing exercise in my off time (so I lift with good form). I know my limits and do organize others to help me if I need it.

I’m concerned that if they’re volunteered ad hoc, other members of staff (who all have more desk-bound jobs) are more likely to hurt themselves “helping” — they may not be wearing suitable clothing or feel they can say no. And I don’t think the work gets done that much faster. We don’t have multiple trolleys!

I’ve assured Jennifer that I’m experienced, trained, and observing safety procedures, but it doesn’t seem to help, and every time this comes up it bothers me more. My own boss, Marty, seems unconcerned, although he’s mostly remote and doesn’t see it so often. If I shouldn’t be doing it, who should?

Could there be an element of sexism? Or does it just seem incongruous that a professional role has a physical aspect to it? I’m a cis woman (as is Jennifer), average height and stocky with a decent amount of muscle — but I don’t look like an athlete. Should I seek to update my manual handling training just so I have a piece of paper to show? It’s not mandatory but I might be able to organize it. Should I ask Marty to talk to Jennifer (I’m reluctant)? Or what else can I say to indicate to her that I’ve got this?

I’d bet it’s gender-based. If it were just “a professional shouldn’t be doing physical work,” she presumably wouldn’t be rounding up other professionals to help you (or maybe she would — maybe she thinks the burden should at least be shared).

Try saying this next time it happens: “This is part of my job and I enjoy doing it. I don’t need or even want any help!” If she rounds up help anyway, say cheerfully and firmly, “No thanks, I’ve got it.”

If it still happens after you do that a few times, at that point you should say to her, “I’ve noticed you get alarmed when you see me moving boxes. This is part of my job, and a part I enjoy. Is there something specific you’re concerned about?”

And if that doesn’t solve it, have Marty intervene — at that point it’s reasonable for your boss to tell her to stop interfering with your ability to do your job!

3. Interview anxiety that I can’t overcome — what are my options?

Thanks to your amazing advice I can write fantastic cover letters and applications, but I’ve been in the workplace for 10 years now and I am still in an entry-level role because no amount of advice, preparation, practice, or support is helping me overcome my significant interviewing anxiety. Please trust me when I say that I cannot get through an interview without completely blanking out — I cannot explain things coherently or even read a prepared script/notes that are in front of me. Even when I have an understanding interviewer, I’m constantly coming at the bottom of the pile, despite having some fantastic skills and experience in my field, which I only got into because of two internships that were easy to get into). I’ve also had a lot of interview experience, and have lately been asking for questions to be written out for me on the day, which has helped a little bit, but my interviewing has barely improved at all despite clocking up a lot of interviews (and I make sure to only apply for jobs I’m truly interested in).

I’ve already given up on trying to pursue a career in my chosen field. Are there any fields I can get into without a formal interview or is there anything I can do to plan my life around being entry level forever? This is not me being dramatic. Please believe me when I say this is increasingly becoming my only option, I simply cannot face interviewing anymore and it’s the only option for the jobs I’m qualified for.

I don’t know of any jobs you can routinely get without an interview (although readers might — please share in the comments if so), although in some cases once you’re already working somewhere you can get promoted without formal interviews. And occasionally you might luck into a situation where you get hired by someone who knows you without a formal interview process (but that’s very much a crapshoot and also tends to only be very small organizations).

But … have you sought treatment for the anxiety? That’s where you’re most likely to see improvement, I’d suspect.

4. Should I schedule a special meeting to resign?

I am expecting a phone call with an offer for another job later today. Assuming we come to terms and I accept, I will be resigning from my current job at the beginning of next week.

That also happens to be the day I have a regularly-scheduled one-on-one with my supervisor. Should I resign in my one-on-one, or should I schedule a separate meeting? If I should just use the one-on-one, do I give my supervisor a heads-up earlier in the day? I just feel like it would be so awkward to sit down, run through our normal lists of to-dos, and then say, “Oh, by the way, I’m handing in my notice.” But I also can’t guarantee I could get another time on her calendar that day.

No need to schedule a separate meeting; do it in your one-on-one. And do it at the start of the meeting, not the end, since it may affect the projects you’re about to talk about. At the start of the meeting, say something like, “Before we begin, I have some news to share that may affect the rest of what we’re about to talk about. After a lot of thought, I’ve accepted another position and my last day here will be (date).”

{ 526 comments… read them below }

  1. Polecat*

    I wouldn’t have ever been able to Interview for jobs without anti-anxiety medication. It’s not the right answer for everyone, but without it I would also be pretty much unemployable. I suggest seeing a therapist about the issue and exploring whether medication is an option. Seeing a job counselor and doing practice interviews is another option. I don’t think you should throw in the towel so quickly. I did a ton of therapy and other stuff including mindfulness meditation and learning mindfulness techniques. I never got rid of it but I learned ways to manage it so that I could sometimes get through interviews and actually get hired! I know

    1. Mid*

      Just be sure to test out the meds before an interview! A friend of mine was trying a new medication and had a poor reaction, to the point where she was asked if she was drunk in her interview.

      But yes. I wonder if OP has bad anxiety in other areas as well? Or if it’s just job interviews? That would be something worth bringing up with a professional as well.

      1. Hats Are Great*

        When my doctor first prescribed me Xanax for panic attacks, she specifically instructed me to take one one evening when I was at home and had nothing in particular to do, so that I would know how I reacted to it (if it made me fall asleep, if it made me spacey). She pointed out that anxious people get anxious about taking new medications, and that “in the midst of a panic attack” is not the right time to worry about “but what is going to happen if I take this pill I’ve never taken before????”

        This turned out to be excellent advice that really ratcheted down my anxiety (about … taking anxiety meds) and I suggest it to all anxiety/panic folks who have a “sometimes” medication.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I love this advice! The only thing I might add is to have a trusted friend (/partner, etc) on hand whose job is to talk to you and see if you come across as… in any way out of it or off.

          The first time I needed to take an anxiety med (I didn’t *need* to, but they provided the prescription) was for dental surgery where they already required me to have a ride home, and I didn’t *care* if I was loopy in a med chair, so I went ahead. No side effects, thankfully, but still one of the better not-at-home places I can think of to try it. (I think I’ve used one all of two other times since.)

          1. Gumby*

            Even when I did need one for a root canal (tried without, didn’t get past the prep stage), my endodontist had me take one the night before to see if it affected me and if not much, then take 2 the following day before the procedure. Which I did, but even so she had me take a third because two didn’t have much of an effect either. Three did the trick though I could tell it made her nervous. She made sure I was never even approaching alone; someone was within 5 feet of me at all times even when I was just sitting in the chair waiting to go. Oddly, knowing she was nervous did not make me at all nervous at that point…

      2. Max Floof*

        Came here to add a similar comment. I’ve been underemployed for over 10 years largely due to underestimating my skills and severe blanking out during interviews. Over the last few years I’ve done a lot of work on my anxiety, including meds (which I fought for years). Dear lord it’s made a huge difference!

        I start a completely new, fully remote and in a completely new field today, thanks in large part to the meds I’m now on that have managed my anxiety. I never realized how bad it really was until recently. (Echoing that meds are not a catchall…. after years of trying without them and a lot of trial and error, they’ve helped me.)

        Op3… you can do this.

        Ps (this blog is a huge reason why my career is where it is today, thank you everyone!)

      3. COHikerGirl*

        I can react strongly to some meds…I always have to test safely first! Just did it last night with migraine meds. Always when I have nothing to do for the next 24 hours and with someone there (my reactions can be dramatic sometimes…my body is extra). Anxiety meds can definitely have weird side effects, so those should definitely be tested…whether they are immediate acting or a daily med.

        If it’s something meds could work for, OP, they can make a world of difference. Scary, but worth it. Wishing you luck on this journey!

    2. Oatmom*

      Please talk to your doctor. Medication was life-changing for my daughter. She also benefited from therapy, but it was like night and day for her. She now has a customer-facing job and is doing really well at it, while before she could not even imagine getting through an interview.

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        It’s truly astonishing how well that stuff works. Makes an enormous difference in flying for me.

        1. tessa*

          I take an anxiety medication that has been life-changing. The one drawback – or is it? – is it numbs me to everything. We lost our family cat a few months ago and I still have yet to weep because though I was sad about it, of course, the tears simply wouldn’t come. Overall, though, I am very glad to be taking the med.

    3. A. Person*

      Something else that might be helpful is asking for an adjustment when invited to interview. I’m not sure about the US, but where I am mental health conditions including anxiety can be considered disabilities for which reasonable adjustments should be provided. For anxiety this could include something like being provided the questions and recording a video response instead of doing it live, for example (or something else you think would work for you, like being provided the questions ahead of time or a less-formal interview setting).

    4. Seal*

      Anti-anxiety medications are the only reason I’ve been able to have a career. I suffer from severe performance anxiety, to the point I lose the ability to speak. When I finished graduate school and started job hunting, I realized I had to get this under control and sought help. The meds were a game changer for me; I still take them as needed.

    5. JM in England*

      Whenever I’ve been job searching, first thing I did was go to my doctor for a beta blockers prescription. First started using them to get through my driving test when I was 18.

      1. Emdash*

        I second beta-blockers. Beta-blockers have been a life saver and game changer for me. I also like that I only have to take them as needed. It calms my body down a lot—o used to have full-blown panic attacks before interviews.

    6. twist*

      Dear #3 OP — This. Absolutely this. I had been trying to get past a stuck point in my career at my company for seven years, doing all sorts of interview prep, mocks, discussions with leaderships, etc. I routinely got interviews (I write a good cover letter, and my performance ratings were consistently high), but my mind would just go blank in interviews, and if I used notes, it would go even worse.

      It wasn’t until I talked to my doc and he prescribed me a low dose of Xanax for specific situations that I started to make progress in interviews, and was able to learn to slow down my brain enough to do a reasonable job formulating answers. And even more, how to recognize when I was off-track and bring it back around.

      Also, I hate that this is true, but when you struggle with interviews, it can be about who you know. I started in a new role last week, and a big reason why I did was because I had been working with the person that was leaving. Their support meant that the awkward parts of the interviewed were bolstered by a known tract record.

      All this said — I really wish we’d come up with more alternative interview processes.

    7. Sara without an H*

      Ditto to all of the above. OP, please talk with your primary care provider about this as soon as possible. A combination of medication and talk therapy did wonders for me.

    8. Dona Florinda*

      I second this! For me, years of therapy and a combination of meditation + chamomile tea did wonders for my interviewing skills.

      OP, I was an absolute mess in interviews so I feel you, but professional help really, um, helped.

    9. Anxious Annie*

      Beta blockers are a game changer for anxiety related to public speaking and performance, I have no doubt they could help with interviewing too. Medication is a fantastic idea. Also exposure therapy is helpful for this type of anxiety. Obviously, therapy is expensive, especially with an entry level salary, but it would be an investment in their professional development that might end up paying for itself.

      1. JM in England*

        Their effect on relieving performance anxiety is a major reason why beta blockers are a banned substance in many sports.

        1. Galadriel's Garden*

          There’s a debate around whether or not they should be banned substances in the performing arts as well, specifically in classical music – if you take one before an audition, is that cheating? What about before a concert or a solo? It’s a fascinating topic since the arts are so subjective.

          1. tessa*

            Gee, didn’t know. Interesting. Thank you for sharing that info., Galadriel’s Garden.

      2. irritable vowel*

        Beta blockers work great on the physiological anxiety response (shaking hands, inability to speak, etc.) but they don’t have a mentally calming effect the way benzos like Xanax/Ativan do. (I took beta blockers for many years for public speaking anxiety – I was still nervous but it didn’t show.)

        1. Emdash*

          A doctor once told me that beta blockers calm your body so your mind then follows suit whereas many medications for panic disorder or anxiety calm your mind and then your body takes notice.

          I think treatment options may depend on the type of anxiety too—I find mine is more situational or specific (job interviews).

          Anxiety—whatever type it is— and panic attacks are both awful though.

    10. Hopeful; Ex Librarian*

      my anxiety medication has been life-changing and i’m gonna second everyone else who’s suggesting to look into it. it’s not a quick fix and it also does not make anxiety go away completely (so you still have to manage it), but it really helps. as does therapy.

      what also helps me, as someone who gets anxious during interviews too, is reframing (therapy!) them as more of a conversation. i’m interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing me, for better or worse.

    11. Rain's Small Hands*

      We have a few consultants working through us that don’t interview well (or at all). They are very high level developers though – and that skill set is in demand. My business partner – who does recruitment and sales – places them with people she knows who is willing to take them on basically on her say so for a trial (everyone gets paid). Because these guys are good, they tend to stick once they get into a placement, but she is up front with our clients – “Dan doesn’t interview, but he’s great, and here are some references you can talk to.”

      But that is pretty useless for the LW since they are in an entry level position and problem don’t have a skill set so in demand. So yeah, medication can help a TON. And yes, try in out before hand. And if its benzos, they should be used SPARINGLY since they are horribly addictive and withdrawl is horrifying.

      1. Canadagoose*

        Actually. trials of entry level work could be easily arranged through a temp agency! It depends on the field, of course, and there may still be a conversation to get through with the agency. But that is much more about matching you with the right placements. Temp to hire is not an unusual career path at some big organizations.

    12. quill*

      The interview itself isn’t a problem for me but meds have certainly de-complicated the process of obtaining, and then showing up for an interview. No longer am I afraid of google maps! I can actually do a thing the same day as the interview!

    13. Lea*

      I feel for the person with interview anxiety! I hate it!

      I lost a job once I was highly qualified for because of it (they hired an unqualified person who later left due to poor performance) and it made me so irritated I left the department altogether!

      With preparation I’ve managed to make it through them but it’s not something I’m great at. I think they are often a poor representation of peoples ability to do a job. But I guess we’re stuck with them?

      Idk getting older helps, not caring too much can help and interviewing with people for whom the interview is a formality since they know they want to hire you helps as well.

      Totally agree about the anxiety meds though. This sounds like anxiety

    14. Rosie*

      Yup I always do lots of practice with someone else to get my answers down (and say them out loud until it’s second nature, particularly for interpersonal answers. Technical I’m always better at which helps for sure) but I pretty much always have to take a low dose of anxiety meds before an interview anyway

    15. Eponin*

      I also came here to add a similar comment. I have fairly severe social anxiety, so things like presentations and job interviews are miserable for me. I also have been known to not only blank out on how to answer something, but to find that at the end of a presentation or interview, I don’t even remember what I said, I was so anxious. Having a medication I can take at the time made a world of difference. For me, Ativan takes the edge off and makes it so I can think. I might still be a normal level of anxious in an interview (who isn’t?!), but I can function through it, and the last time I interviewed (internally, but I had to go through the whole process), my coworker said I sounded really prepared and did great. Chatting with your doctor or therapist is a great idea, as they’ll have a good idea if medication is something that might help you and will know which one might work best.

      Good luck!

    16. Jessica Fletcher*

      Same here. Taking a low dose prescription anxiety med is the only thing that prevents me from having visible anxiety symptoms (like shaking, how fun!) during certain situations. I feel prepared and know I can do it, until I get there and have symptoms. Public speaking, interviews, leading some meetings.

      There’s nothing to be ashamed of, OP. Medication might be the missing link to help all your other prep fall into place.

      If you have health insurance, you can call Member Services and ask about mental health/anxiety benefits and providers. Your PCP might be able to give recommendations, but check that your insurance covers them, first. If your company has an EAP, they might have services, too. You might even get a few therapy visits free (mine covers 6).

    17. Cat Tree*

      Over the years at different times I’ve had cognitive behavioral therapy and medication to treat anxiety. Both were extremely effective! I like to mention the CBT option because sometimes the anxiety itself makes it hard for the person to take medication. There’s so much help out there. After I got treatment I was amazed at how great I felt without constant anxiety, because the anxiety was so normal for me. If I had known how good it could be, I would have gotten treatment years earlier.

    18. Picky*

      CBD, if easy to get in your state, can be really helpful. Also, it may sound like overkill, but ativan. Your doctor can give you a prescription for two pills: one to take the night before so you sleep, the other for the day of the interview. You should only get the exact number you need because that stuff is super addictive. My doctor leaves the Rx with the receptionist, I go in and pick it up on the day I need it, take it straight to the pharmacy to get filled. Never have spares in the house, and never double dose.

    19. fleapot*

      Another option for OP might be beta blockers, which I know some performing artists use to manage anxiety on stage. The idea is that they lessen physical symptoms, making it easier to self-regulate, but don’t produce the kind of grogginess or disinhibition that might be associated with something like Xanax. They can be a better option if you’re, say, a musician playing technically difficult repertoire that requires a lot of focus/precision—or, possibly if you’re doing a job interview.

      That said: I do have a musician acquaintance who once almost fainted before a recital after taking a beta blocker. Her blood pressure apparently is on the low side anyway, and the medication dropped it a bit too much. There’s obviously no one-size-fits-all option!

      (And on that note: Polecat, and others who have mentioned other meds, I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting that this would be a better option in general than whatever anti-anxiety meds you use! I’m also really aware of the stigma that can be associated with some psychiatric medications—including some that make my life bearable!—and don’t want to suggest that there’s anything wrong with taking Xanax if that works for you. Just mentioning it because I think this option is a bit of a niche solution for specific kinds of situational anxiety.)

    20. Mia*

      This is the most important advice I think. The description sounds like severe anxiety and LW deserves to be treated because it can be life-changing! Hearing they’ve given up on a dream because of this is so sad. For me, daily meds (nothing controlled, just normal meds) keep my anxiety under control. I still feel it and I think therapy would help most, but I can keep myself together now where I couldn’t before. I know it’s stupid expensive in the US to see mental health, but even my pcp is comfortable prescribing my current meds, which might be a cheaper option. I hope they seek some help and can overcome enough to get the job they really want and are qualified for!

  2. Catgirl*

    Is Oatmeal University in another, non-anglophone country? Maybe something is getting lost in translation.

    1. SemiAnon*

      I had a friend who had trouble getting physics internships in university, due to terrible marks in PE in high school. His high school transcripts were in French, and “education physique” was confusing people.

      But as Alison advises, asking is by far the simplest approach. If there is some sort of translation issue or misunderstanding, it will be cleared up quickly, if the guy made up a degree or university, he’ll have a much harder time coming with a plausible story.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Gotta say, while I don’t expect physicists to be fluent in French (back in they day they had to be able to read German, but I doubt that has been true for decades), “education physique” should be within their limits. Yes, I get that they are thinking the “physique” part means physics. But the rest of the transcript should clarify this.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Or, say, an International Guide to Admissions. When I handled international admissions it was pretty easy to look up a class if I wasn’t 100% positive what it translated to.

        2. Beany*

          I was reading a thread recently about the non-negligible cost of applying to multiple graduate schools in the U.S. (in Physics, as it turned out), and someone on the university end was justifying at least part of the cost on the need to translate/validate transcripts from overseas institutions. I wonder whether they didn’t have someone knowledgeable about it for the internships.

          [My own undergraduate background was at an Irish university, so language wasn’t the issue, but there was still a huge gap between the Irish and US grading systems (Irish universities didn’t use GPAs at all, for instance).]

          1. pancakes*

            My US undergrad college didn’t / doesn’t use GPAs either. They give written evaluations instead. That’s definitely not common here, though.

      2. Ariaflame*

        What’s a physics internship? I don’t think the universities here have them. Unless it’s like the summer scholarship I did.

    2. tamarak & fireweed*

      My first thought is that universities do rename themselves, and degree programs even more often. My own graduate degree, which I only received in 2017, is by now somewhat renamed (From Llama Physics / Instrumentation concentration to Llama Science / Llama Physics, instrumentation concentration) and will now (hopefully! I approve the changes they will be making) become something like Animal System Science / Llama Physics, Instrumentation concentration, or maybe … well, you get the idea.

      I would not go at it with the attitude of “I’m suspecting they lied” but with an open mind. And it may also be something slightly dumb as in, they needed to finish up getting the resumé ready and just flubbed the name of the degree or institution. In this case, to me that would be something I’d advise a junior candidate to correct, but wouldn’t keep me from hiring them.

      1. Tertia*

        My first thought is that universities do rename themselves

        Yes. Don’t get me started on The University System Intermittently Known As SUNY.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Same state, different university. I went to a place that offered a program for returning students. That program had its own name. It gets confusing for people unless I explain. Worse, the program was canceled about ten years ago. HOWEVER, I can produce a diploma with the name of the actual university on it. So my degree is real and official, I did everything necessary for compliance (and then some).

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Lowell Normal School became Lowell State Teachers’ College, which became Lowell State College.

            Lowell Technological Institute merged with Lowell State College (and a private hospital nursing school) and became the University of Lowell. Which became the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

            Whew.

            1. Flash Packet*

              One of my regional universities has a similar history of evolving names:
              Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute
              North Texas Normal College
              North Texas State Normal College
              North Texas State Teachers College
              North Texas State College
              North Texas State University
              University of North Texas

            2. Elizabeth West*

              My private alma mater was Greendale College when I started. Halfway through, it became Greendale University and all my shirts were obsolete, lol.*

              *no paintball wars, sadly

        2. COBOL Dinosaur*

          It’s not SUNY anymore? I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh 20+ years ago but live in the midwest now. I still have it as SUNY on my resume though.

          1. Tertia*

            Plattsburgh and some other schools still use the ‘SUNY Location” form, but others have dropped it. For example, Binghamton University, Stony Brook University, and the University at Buffalo.

          2. doreen*

            It’s still SUNY but some of the locations have changed name/rebranded. For example, “State University of New York at Binghamton” is still the formal name and presumably appears on diplomas and transcripts and such , but for most purposes , the institution uses “Binghamton University”. The first time I heard it, I thought “Binghamton University” was an entirely different institution , like SUNY Buffalo (legal name is State University of New York at Buffalo ) is an entirely different institution from Buffalo State College ( which is also part of SUNY and is legally named State University of New York College at Buffalo”).

          3. silverpie*

            The major campi don’t use it anymore, but many of the smaller ones (including Plattsburgh) still do.

          4. Nephron*

            And if I was handed a resume with something now SUNY I would think that was the fake. I would check, but I know SUNY.

        3. J*

          My employer contracts with SUNY and in the term of some contracts it turns out some campus locations have new names, or new common names, or other oddities. It makes trying to manage our files and deadlines very complicated. I’d complain more but my own undergrad had 10+ names in their 100 year history.

      2. rudster*

        This definitely does happen. In the intervening 25-30 years, my own Master’s program no longer exists at that university, and my Bachelor’s was switched from a BS to a BA, moved to a different college at the university, and completely revamped. Somebody just googling the university/college websites to find information about my degrees could easily conclude that I was lying about both.

        1. Alternative Person*

          Yeah, my MSc was only offered by my uni for a couple of years and the faculty has been through at least one merger/name change since then. Plus the whole place renamed itself just before I joined, though if you search for the old name, it shows the new name within the first couple of results. Adding in all the partner schools, outside programmes and other initiatives, it can get very confusing very quickly. Not to say that’s whats happening here, but it is the kind of thing I could see someone calling the university over.

        2. Lora*

          OP1, definitely ask! Though the story when you get it could be embarrassing – two of my colleagues (a brother and sister) went to a religious school of their parents’ choosing. The sister transferred to Big Famous School halfway through her program; the brother stayed at Religious School. About five years after he graduated, Religious School was found to have been embezzling/mis-using funds and the church shut it down, and when the brother tried to get a copy of his transcript for graduate school he was told “sorry everything’s a mess, you probably won’t be able to get it any time soon the way they shut everything down in a hurry”. He’s always in a tough spot for background checks as a result, has to show his diploma.

          1. MsTick*

            Yes, I was wondering about closed down campuses or a university that merged with another- my own first university no longer exists as it has merged.

            The easiest way to clear this up, surely, is to ask to see a transcript/ degree certificate/ diploma/ whatever the piece of paper demonstrating degree award is called in OP’s country?

            1. Evelyn Carnahan*

              Yes! A few years ago, the public university system in Georgia started merging colleges and universities. I know so many people whose college or degree doesn’t exist anymore. It can be hard to find this information if you don’t know what to look for, even from state to state (assuming this is in the US).

      3. Barbara Eyiuche*

        Yes, I taught at a somewhat obscure university that renamed itself several years ago, and it is hard to find proof of its former name online. Not helped by the fact that it is in a different country.

        1. Yods*

          I have that problem myself.
          The university I went to merged and changed its name after I graduated. And it doesn’t help that I’m an immigrant. So now I have to keep explaining that the university that is mentioned on my degree (that no-one has heard of) is now actually university with a completely different name (that no-one has hear of).

          1. All anon*

            I really wish they would pick a name and stick with it. Not this rebranding nonsense.

        2. Plantfan*

          I wonder if the solution is to list the degree as granted from Teapot College, now known as Teapot University. This is my situation, but since the names are close I just use Teapot University on my resume. However, if the names are very different, the above wording may make sense.

          1. Despachito*

            This is a very good idea. My university department has changed its name since I studied there, so anyone could assume that I was lying because the department mentioned in my resume does not exist anymore.

            (If someone is in doubt, I’d be grateful for them to ask because I would have the chance to easily clarify and prove that the Llama and Camel Grooming Department name was dropped by X year and it was renamed as the Department of Groomology)

          2. Despachito*

            This is a very good idea. My university department has changed its name since I studied there, so anyone could assume that I was lying because the department mentioned in my resume does not exist anymore.

            (If someone is in doubt, I’d be grateful for them to ask because I would have the chance to easily clarify and prove that the Llama and Camel Grooming Department name was dropped by X year and it was renamed as the Department of Groomology)

            OP, please, definitely ask!

          3. Irish Teacher*

            My little college was thinking of doing this, since it has postgraduate programmes and apparently that make it a university (in Ireland anyway; I know the UK defines these things differently and I’m not sure about the US) but the majority of people figured it’s been college for 100 years; let’s not change it now. So the powers that be gave in on that one.

            1. Cj*

              Where I went to college, it was originally a teacher’s college, then State College, when I went it was a State University , now it’s University of State – City. Each name change has increased its prestige, but it could get confusing if you don’t list the current name in your resume also.

              1. Cmdr Shepard*

                I had a very similar situation with my school. At one point my supervisors boss was reviewing my resume for a billing rate purposes, and questioned where I went to school. This was after I had already been there for 5 years. They asked me if I wrote down the wrong name of the school.

                My school is a “city name state college”, part of the state wide university system, but there is also a bigger “university at city name” that is also part of the same state wide university system. I think I had it listed on my resume as “state wide university system city name state college.” The big boss thought I was trying to say I went the the “University at city name” and wrote it down wrong. From this specific city most people have heard of the “university at city name” but have not heard of “city name state college.”

                I tried to explain that my college was also part of the state system. I think I just ended up saying I went to “city name state college” and dropped trying to explain it was part of the same state system.

                It took a little back and forth

              2. Irish Teacher*

                Coincidentally, my little college was originally, and is still primarily, a teacher’s college. However, some time in the 90s, it added a general liberal arts degree and then started adding post-graduate courses, again mostly in the education area. And I think it may have added a degree in education and psychology or something like that since I left. So it’s no longer JUST a college of education, but it’s kept the name for historical purposes.

              3. VanLH*

                Sounds like Massachusetts. Bridgewater Normal School to Bridgewater State Teachers College to Bridgewater State College to its current name of Bridgewater State University.

            2. Bagpuss*

              Happened to my sister – she went to WellKnownSpecialistCollege but then it became BrandNewUniversity, and BrandNewUniversity is what it says on her degree. When she was first applying for jobs she put it down as WellKnownSpecialistCollege (Now BrandNewUniversity) as she knew people in her field would know (or know of) the college and its reputation, but would need to check her qualifiction with New University. Now, she just puts New University because it’s long enough ago that people are less likelyto remember Old College (and using that would potentially date her !)
              I’ve not had to apply for a new job in a while but the University I did my post graduate course at only offered that for a period of about 3 years – and I did get question about it when I was applying for jobs about 3 years later, as on the face of it, the course I cliamed to have done didn’t exisit..

            3. londonedit*

              In England, broadly, ‘college’ refers to post-16 education rather than to university (which is post-18). Colleges traditionally offer A levels and vocational courses at post-16 level as an alternative to doing two years at a school sixth form before university/work, whereas universities traditionally offer degree-level study and postgraduate qualifications. However a lot of colleges are now becoming ‘university centres’, meaning they also offer degree-level courses that are accredited by a traditional university, as well as access courses designed to prepare people who haven’t done A levels (the traditional route to university) with qualifications that will then allow them to access degree-level courses. Often the courses are part-time so they can form part of a work/study programme or apprenticeship, or so that people can fit studying in around other commitments (degree courses at traditional universities are usually full-time for three years, unless you’re doing something like medicine or architecture).

              1. Irish Teacher*

                That’s interesting. Here, post-16 education is just part of secondary school. Our equivalent of the A-levels, the Leaving Cert., is simply done at school.

                There are some colleges a bit like you describe that allow adults to repeat their Leaving Cert. there or do it for the first time if they dropped out of school early, but for the most part, secondary schools take students from 12 to about 18.

                Colloqually, universities are all colleges. We apply to college for our degrees. My little college did give advice once to those doing a year abroad that if you were studying in the UK for a year, don’t say you’re at college or people will think you are under 18.

                1. londonedit*

                  Yep, here you can either stay on at school to do your A levels if your secondary school has a sixth form (some sixth forms also offer vocational qualifications too) or you can go to college for two years to do the same thing. Colleges sometimes also have a broader range of subject options than sixth forms do, and there’s also the fact that they feel a bit more grown-up than staying on at school does. In my year at school, out of the people who stayed on post-GCSEs at 16, most of us stayed on at the school’s sixth form to do our A levels, but a significant percentage decided to go to the college in the nearest bigger town.

                2. Beany*

                  It doesn’t help that both in Ireland and the UK, universities are themselves made up of “colleges”, like University College Dublin being part of the National University of Ireland, and Trinity College Dublin being part of — the *only* part of, to my knowledge — the University of Dublin.

                  Though I attended UCD back in the 1990s, and I know it went through all kinds of name tweaks since then.

              2. LZ*

                In Canada, broadly a “College” is an institution that grants 2-year diplomas and a “University” grants 4-year degrees. Institutions often change their names when they start offering 4-year degree programs, for example Alberta College of Art and Design became Alberta University of the Arts. Confusingly Olds College, for example, offers a Bachelor of Applied Science – Agribusiness degree although it’s a 2-year and not a 4-year program.

                1. Canadian*

                  Just to make it worse, this isn’t exclusively true in Canada.

                  Firstly, Ontario colleges grant diplomas, certificates, and 2-year degrees. But Ontario recently passed legislation allowing certain colleges to grant certain four-year degrees.

                  And University of Toronto is a collegiate university, so there are multiple Colleges which don’t usually grant degrees or certificates themselves, but exist primarily as administrative units that are sometimes but not always associated with specific academic disciplines, and may have academic programs or institutes that are run by the college. Some colleges operate at more of an arm’s length from the University than others – Victoria University at the University of Toronto, Wycliffe College, and Emmanuel College, for example.

                  And that’s just Ontario. Quebec with all its CEGEPs is even worse in some ways!

                2. Kings, never Dal*

                  Mostly, yes, but it can be more complicated. On the east coast there are a number of universities founded before the vocational college/4 year degree granting split who just added a university onto the name (see University College of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the University of Kings College).

              3. Catgirl*

                Where I’m from “college” is understood to mean “community college”, you don’t say “going to college” when your school is a university. I remember wrangling with someone on a scholarship committee because an applicant was studying for a BA at a religious university named Oatmeal College, so this fellow insisted it must be a community college. I had great difficulty getting him to understand that “college” can also mean “specialized university “.

                1. Canadian*

                  Same here; I was “at university” when I was doing my undergraduate degree at an institution that granted advanced degrees; I was not “in college”. My partner, however, did an apprenticeship programme at an institution that did not grant four-year degrees, let alone advanced degrees – he was at college. The terms are really not interchangeable where I live.

                2. Nina*

                  To make it even worse, in my country we don’t have community colleges as Americans understand them (we have polytechnics which I guess are like American technical colleges, and universities that do all levels of education from three-month diplomas through to full PhDs), and ‘college’ almost always means a high school.

          4. Sylvan*

            That’s what I did when I was a new graduate. I transferred from college A to college B, and I still had a few A-related things on my resume when A changed its name. (Some 10 years later, only my B degree is on the resume.)

          5. The older sister*

            My college was part of a state university with multiple colleges at its main and satellite campuses; it had its own faculty and degree requirements but you could take courses at other campuses and some students at other colleges without living quarters (like engineering) lived in our dorms. My diploma says “Big State University” and in a slightly smaller font below “Different Name College”. Since then, the university has reorganized the liberal arts programs, faculties, and degree requirements into a single College of Arts and Letters. Because there is little name recognition for my college anymore, I always put “Big State University (Different Name College)” when stating my education.

      4. Staja*

        So true – or, in the case of my program, we majored in “Interdisciplinary Studies”, but since that’s pretty ambiguous, I put that my degree is in Organizational Studies, since that was my concentration.

        It’s not a lie, but anyone searching online for my school won’t see it as a valid program.

        1. PhyllisB*

          My son went for a chemical engineering degree that he didn’t finish. He came back home and finished at the local branch of his university. His degree is listed as Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Math, Science, and Chemistry. When he went to an employment agency for jobs, he was told this was A BS degree and he could never do anything with it.

      5. DrunkAtAWedding*

        I feel for OP1 because my mother changed my name three times when I was a kid, and I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop on those three deed polls. It just feels so dodgy, even though I have all my documents and I can explain it all. I don’t know what it is, but I’m willing to believe there could be a totally innocent explanation.

        1. Pisces*

          I know a dual citizen who has two legal identities in his non-birth country, because of a quirk in the law and the way he was registered as a citizen.

          I don’t know if it presents any day-to-day practical challenges. But he did say there’s no legal way to kill his other self. :)

        2. Flash Packet*

          In my lifetime I have been legally known as:

          Firstname BirthCertificateLastName
          Middlename BirthCertificateLastName
          FirstInitial Middlename BirthCertificateName
          Firstname StepDadLastName (who never adopted me; this was pre-computers)
          Middlename StepDadLastName
          Firstname Middlename MarriedLastName
          FirstInitial Middlename MarriedLastName
          Middlename MarriedLastName
          Firstname Middlename BirthFather’sLastName
          Middlename BirthFather’sLastName
          FirstInitial Middlename BirthFather’sLastName

          Oh, and all the school records from when I had Step Father’s last name have my birth month as August (so I could be bumped up a grade) when my real birth month is October.

          I’m in the process of getting a passport now, and the 5-7 weeks “expedited service” that I paid for is rolling into its 12th week.

      6. kathy*

        I use the old name for my university degree program – the name that it was under when I attended. It was more relevant for my specific specialty than the new name. But anyone who googles my university wouldn’t see that name any more.

      7. Delta Delta*

        I just found out the college within my university renamed itself a few years ago AND stopped offering undergraduate degrees. So, while my piece of paper says “University of Desserts, Bachelor of Science,” my transcript says “University of Desserts, College of Lemon Bars, Bachelor of Science in Crust Management.” If you were to try to call the College of Lemon Bars, you’d learn it’s been renamed The College of Citrus and only offers masters-level degrees in Curd Whisking and Baking Design. It’s almost as if I can’t have existed there.

      8. Baby Yoda*

        My college became a university after I graduated and I can never exactly remember the lengthy new name.

        1. pancakes*

          There are probably a number of people in that situation, but wouldn’t you double-check on it if you were updating your resume? Rather than risk getting it wrong? Apparently there are some fields and some places where competition is low enough that seemingly getting your own education history wrong results in a phone call rather than in your resume being put in the No pile, but I’ve never had the feeling mine is one of them.

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            My college also became a university after I graduated. My degree, transcripts, etc all say College. They don’t say University. So if I’m asked to produce proof… they need to match. So I keep it as College on my resume.

            1. pancakes*

              You could put it in a parenthetical if you want. It’s not quite the same thing but I legally changed my first and last names between college and grad school, and have never run into problems clarifying that. This is what registrars are for.

          2. Cmdr Shepard*

            Obviously employers can make just about anything a requirement they want.

            As OP said they see this as an attention to detail kind of thing even if the person didn’t lie. But is keeping up with various name changes/degree program changes really gauging a persons true attention to detail, or a different relevant skill set?

            I think there is a difference between saying you graduated from say Harvard when you actually graduated from State university, or even state university at city 1 versus state university at city 2.
            But if someone has one their resume “university at city 1” or even “city 1 university” but the official name is “state university at city 1” I would not think that is something to make a fuss about.

            1. pancakes*

              Of course there are differences between deliberate misrepresentation and poor phrasing. We don’t know whether the candidate’s school changed its name at all, though. A number of commenters are talking about their own experiences with that, but the interviewer hasn’t asked for clarification yet. If that turns out to the case and if that type of error doesn’t seem like a big deal in their line of work, sure, that’s their call. None of us have visibility into that at this point.

              1. Cmdr Shepard*

                You are right, my main point and I don’t think I was clear on that was for OP to really think if the mistake made (IF there was one) is really something indicative of the candidate and the skills needed or lack of for that role.

                Is something like saying you have a BS in political science when your school actually offered it as a BA? For a teaching job where degrees are important sure, but if it is a role where they just want a bachelors degree in political science but the they don’t differentiate between BA/BS I don’t think it really matters.

            2. Despachito*

              “But is keeping up with various name changes/degree program changes really gauging a persons true attention to detail, or a different relevant skill set?”

              And should it be required at all?

              My certificate says “Llama and Camel Grooming Department at the X university”; in the meantime, the university renamed it as the “Department of Groomology”, but am I really at fault if I do not look it up to find out the name has changed?

              And also, if I write that I graduated from the “Department of Groomology”, I would be lying because I didn’t – the name at the time was “Llama and Camel Grooming Department” and this is what is on my certificate.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            That could actually be the rational explanation. I doubt it given OP’s characterizatin of the candidate’s mood when it came up but, if all OP did was google the school and it say they don’t offer the degree, it could turn out if they’d called the school, the school would say “we don’t offer that now but we did 5 years also.” The weird naming thing is a little more odd since OP said it was a well-respected major university and if the name had changed recently, that’d probably come up in a search. Unless they’re assuming the candidate’s age based on looks, and this school with the name that’s similar to but not the same as the one they were looking up may have existed a while ago and offered the degree in question but no longer does or is no longer called that.

        2. kittycontractor (new job new username!)*

          Same, sorta. My community college, which I graduated from +20 years ago, is now a four year college with a different name. It happened a long enough time ago that most of the fka notices don’t pop up on a search.

        3. Catgirl*

          In Ontario a university decided to rename itself because it had been named after a Very Bad Dude, so it temporarily called itself X University until it picked a new name. Seriously, “X University”. I don’t believe it was for very long, so it probably wasn’t an issue, but imagine applying for jobs with a resume saying you have a degree from X University. (I’m sure such graduates just used the old name instead of that.)

          1. Canadian*

            It was for less than a year, and they announced their new name (Toronto Metropolitan University) in April 2022.

            (No one likes the new name. Regressive whiners complained about anything paving over the precious legacy of old Egerton and there was much handwringing about the Woke Left, and liberals and progressives generally felt it should have been give a name related to the Indigenous peoples of this area – a popular suggestion was Tkaronto University, but for whatever reason the administration didn’t go for it.)

            1. Catgirl*

              It’s not a particularly inspired name but it will do. As for changing it in the first place, god forbid we disassociate ourselves from someone who COMMITTED GENOCIDE.

          2. FloralWraith*

            To be fair, “X University” seems to have been a temporary name used predominantly by student groups and academic groups, not officially by the university administration.

      9. k*

        This absolutely happens. My undergraduate degree program has been cut at my university (along with several other liberal arts programs at the liberal arts university. It’s been a rough few years.). I’m sure it won’t appear on the website soon. This is something I hadn’t even considered being an issue for graduates. My field requires separate licensure and official transcripts to be submitted for employment so it likely won’t be an issue for me, but it could for many.

        1. Howard Bannister*

          My undergraduate degree program was cut when I was in year three of it.

          They grandfathered me through and in the year that I graduated with the degree they no longer offered the degree.

          Then a few years later they changed the name of the college.

          It’s never been a problem for me — I got hired fairly quickly to a job with an institution that I’ve stayed with for seventeen years — but I could easily see somebody giving my resume some side-eye.

      10. WillowSunstar*

        That was my thought also. I went to a university that renamed itself, and have to remember now when looking for jobs to use the new name, not the one I knew it as. You could try googling the name to see if there are any old news articles about the school changing names, or even calling the school to talk to them. Usually there’s at least one or two employees who have been there for years and still remember the history.

        Yes, the candidate could have lied. Some do. However, it could also be an honest mistake.

      11. Beth*

        Definitely! My specialized professional undergraduate degree, which was rare to begin with, is no longer offered by my university and may not exist at all any more. Fortunately, I’ve never been in a position where I had to defend its authenticity — but I suspect that an internet search would not support it at all.

        It’s a shame; it was a superb program and I’m very proud of the degree.

      12. Reality.Bites*

        Ryerson University here in Toronto recently renamed itself due to the person it was named after.

        They renamed it “Toronto Metropolitan University” which is a pretty boring name, but there’s also a University of Toronto and a major supermarket chain called “Metro,” which could otherwise be a handy shortcut for the unwieldy name.

        1. Nessun*

          That was what came to mind first for me. (Have to say, while I completely understand and back the reason for changing, the new name is incredibly underwhelming and generic.)

          1. Worked in IT forever*

            Yes, I agree with your comment in parentheses. It makes total sense to change the name, but that’s the best new name they could come up with?

          2. Reality.Bites*

            Indeed. When OP mentioned “Oatmeal University” I thought, “Still a more exciting name than TMU”

        2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          This is what immediately came to mind for me as well. Canadians outside of Ontario or who aren’t following PSE or reconciliation news might be familiar with Ryerson but not its recent name change, so I could see this situation happening.

          (And let’s be real, there are probably still hiring managers out there who don’t realize that Ryerson ever became a university at all, which is another issue altogether.)

      13. aunttora*

        Yes, this. I had a certificate from community college on my resume for years. I wasn’t aware they had rebranded themselves at some point, and one application was rejected because the community college I listed didn’t exist. I was also flagged as ineligible for hire! Joke’s on them though, a couple of years later I applied with a new resume, not including the certificate, and was hired.

      14. PhyllisB*

        Yes, degree names (and colleges) do change. When I first attended college back in the early 70’s my area was called secretarial science. The college was Podunk Junior College. I didn’t finish, and when I returned in the early 90’s it was to Podunk Community College and the degree was called Business and Office Technology. Now it’s called Applied Science. And if THAT’S not confusing enough, my husband went back to get more units in in electronic and communication studies, and his degree is also called Applied Science. Meaning an interviewer couldn’t look at the degree title and know what it’s in. Also to make things MORE confusing, they changed the grading scale. For ages it was a three point system. In the 90’s they changed to a four point system. So if you had a split transcript it was hard to interpret.
        All this is to say, if you really think this is a good candidate, question them closely.

      15. Antilles*

        It’s true that degree programs or even universities rename themselves, but personally, I don’t get that impression based on this right here:
        “Nonetheless, I was impressed to see that this candidate had a particularly challenging master’s degree in the field. When I complimented him on it, he sounded awkward and said he’d started on that degree, but shifted to another program after an extremely difficult class.”
        In other words, his resume claims to have a Master’s in Llama Physics, but then when OP complimented him about it, he said he couldn’t hack it in Llama Physics and instead swapped to Llama Science. That’s not a degree program changing its’ name after he graduated, but that he’s knowingly claiming the wrong degree on his resume.
        And that also shades my perception on the university name being simultaneously wrong.

        1. EPLawyer*

          That was my impression too. His resume said he had degree A, which impressed OP. But then when asked he said no he doesn’t have that degree. So something is up.

          This is one of those, yeah a degree is not required and he is a strong candidate, but if he will lie to get the job what will he do when he has the job. Explore this a little more, but keep what he has already said in mind.

        2. Empress Matilda*

          Yeah, this is where I land as well. Universities and programs change names all the time, and if that’s the case I wouldn’t fault the candidate for stumbling over it. But it doesn’t sound like that’s what happened here. If he swapped programs midstream, that’s not the same as the program changing names after he graduated. Also, it’s not clear to me if he’s even graduated. If his resume says Masters of Llama Physics, and his words say “actually I changed to Llama Science” – did he end up getting the Masters of Llama Science?

          Absolutely, you should give him the benefit of the doubt on the name change. But don’t discount the fact that you’ve *already* looked into it, and your search results are *already* not adding up. Your Spidey Sense is tingling for a reason – don’t ignore it!

        3. Myrin*

          Yeah, I get that people are enthusiastic about sharing ways their universities/colleges/schools changed their entire name/setup/degree course but from everything in the letter that seems incredibly unlikely, nevermind like a bit of a red herring for the exact reason you state.

          It would be one thing if he’d spent a significant amount of time studying Llama Physics before switching to Llama Science and listed that on his resume to explain what would otherwise be a gap, but ended up not mentioning that he hadn’t actually finished his Llama Physics Master’s. That could easily be a mistake – maybe he reformatted his resume and accidentally deleted a line, maybe he thought it would speak for itself, maybe he didn’t think of it at all – but to not even mention the programme he allegedly shifted to?

      16. Missy*

        Yep. I went to (City Name) Junior College which then became (city name) College and then (Region of the state) College. I still list it as the Junior College name, because that’s what my AA is from, but if you googled that school name it wouldn’t exist.

        I also went to a different school for my BA that was, at the time, part of a larger university but then spun off into its own school. My degree is from the schools name but my transcripts are kept at the larger university that it was part of at the time. It created a huge issue when I was getting investigated for my bar clearance.

      17. Gothic Bee*

        Yeah, it’s not uncommon. I work at a university and because of program changes we sometimes have students graduating with a degree that doesn’t technically exist anymore (usually it’s changed to a slightly different degree with different requirements), but because they started the program they finish it out. So if you were to just google what’s available at the university now, it wouldn’t come up.

        Other anecdotes I have:
        – Several of the schools at the university I work at have undergone name changes in the past 10 years or so.
        – A different local university changed their name a few years ago.
        – At a different university I attended, the degree program I got my master’s in doesn’t exist anymore at all because they downsized their graduate school.

        It’s incredibly common, so Google isn’t the best form of confirmation on this even if the degree is relatively recent. That said, I definitely think the OP should look into this further because even if it’s a weird issue where the program doesn’t exist anymore or something, they should have a relatively reasonable explanation.

      18. Blarg*

        I’m thankful that my masters program can’t pick a name. Cause the exact degree I graduated with annoys me. They were trying to — for some reason — have one program with two tracks. So ended up with Llama Leadership, with either a concentration in Admin or Education. We hardly had any overlapping course work — very different programs and I did not go to grad school to learn to be a “leader. They’ve changed the name a couple times so I just use Llama Administration on my resume. Much easier.

      19. Puffs*

        Something similar happened to me: my graduate degree program title was new at the university when I attended and then the program ended up being reorganized the following year into a different format and title.

        I think in the LW’s case, the thing that sticks out is that the candidate’s seems to have described things differently in the interview vs. how it’s listed on their resume. I agree it makes sense to just go into the request for more information as just that and not immediately assume there’s some deception intended–especially given that LW seems interested in the candidate!

      20. Lizzianna*

        This is a plausible explanation.

        I went to a well known (at least in my field) state university that’s not going to change it’s name, but my program has evolved over the last 30-40 years, it’s been called Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, BS in Interdisciplinary Studies, it’s hopped between the different colleges (Forestry, Agriculture, Science), and the emphasis varies from everything from Environmental Economics to Marine Biology (you can also get a biology degree with an emphasis in Marine Biology…). So the way my degree was described when I got it, or even what it was called and the way the program is described on the website now may not match at all.

        I care less now because I’m far enough out of school, but when I was a new grad, I included a short blurb that described my concentration of study. I could imagine a similar situation at a less-well known university and an alum who hasn’t necessarily paid attention to the program after they graduated.

      21. That Coworker's Coworker*

        I have two degrees from two separate divisions of a university that now has a different name. And so do its divisions. And the degrees offered are no longer the same. I also have a credential earned from the adult community education division of a large state university – but neither the certification program nor the adult education division exist anymore. Everything is listed correctly and truthfully on my resume. Nonetheless I’ve had suspicious interviewers, and a coworker who is certain that she’s right about my degrees (but she’s wrong) on the sole basis that her child applied to that university recently (but I graduated more than 25 years ago). Just please be very, very sure you know what you’re talking about before you base any decisions or opinions of this candidate on misinformation.

      22. A Genuine Scientician*

        I have had multiple departments/programs/majors rename themselves either while or shortly after I got a degree.

        One of my undergraduate degrees says on the diploma Psychobiology. It was renamed a year later to Neuroscience.
        My MS is listed as Biological Science. I can’t remember whether it was Biology at the time I applied, or if it became Biology 6 months after I graduated.
        One of my PhDs is listed as Zoology. The department was in the middle of a name change as I was graduating; it is now Integrative Biology. The other one is listed as Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior. That program has since renamed itself Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior.

        Prior to this morning I hadn’t even thought about whether someone might consider that a red flag.

      23. L'étrangere*

        Yes, universities do rename themselves, merge with others etc. But a simple phone call to the registrar of the likely university should be able to clarify this in a blink, and should also provide clarification of whether the candidate attended/graduated or not. The person concerned usually must be the one requesting full transcripts, but simple verification is open to anyone. Failing that if the degree is recent you can just request transcripts from the candidate “since you are a recent graduate”

      24. Elisabeth*

        Yeah, I called my university a couple years ago to get advice when the school I graduated from changed its name from something like Llama State University College of Teapots to the Sansa Stark College of Teapots at Llama State University. They told me to use the new name, but also seemed confused as to why I was asking.

    3. Myrin*

      I feel like that would be such an obvious explanation that OP would’ve mentioned it.

        1. Loulou*

          This is pretty rude to OP! Seems like this LW is trying to give applicants the benefit of the doubt and really think about if there’s any explanation they might not have considered.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t disagree that that’s what they want to do. I think they’ve taken it too far.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              They haven’t even done anything yet other than write in for advice; how can they have taken anything too far?

    4. Phil*

      So, when I started studying, I was at a church-run creative arts college, accredited through a college called Southern Cross College. There is a major university in Australia called Southern Cross University. I had my full-time student welfare payments cancelled twice because they checked on my enrolment status at the wrong university. SC College eventually renamed itself to Alpha Crucis to avoid confusion, but because it was a new change I ran into still more headaches.
      On top of this, this was the first year
      the church college was offering a degree-level course and it wasn’t quite fully accredited. So despite studying for a Bachelor of Creative Arts, I ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Theology, majoring in Film Production (that combination also seemed to raise some eyebrows applying for work).
      I say all this to say, give him a chance to explain himself. It could well be a bizarre set of circumstances. The worst it’ll set you back is the length of a phonecall.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Phil, I’ve experienced something similar with a small religious college and a large university with the same names. I went to the small one, we only had 2 chemistry professors at the time. Since I have also changed branches of Christianity from the small one to the large one, I have to be clear about which one.

        For me, it only comes up socially; employers are more interested in my work history and/or my MS which is from a large university in the South.

    5. cncx*

      I did one year of undergrad in a French university, and in any other situation i would take it off (my BA is from a known American university), but it is added weight to my language competence. This university has changed named in the 25 years since i went there and the degree program no longer exists. So this was my thought too, maybe it was another university
      Also, the American university where i got my BA, my degree program is now a BS, which also doesn’t help. Lucikily its reputation has gotten better since i graduated and i’m pretty sure i got at least one job based on my undergrad program’s current glory :)

    6. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      My condolences. I have what could be translated as a Bachelor’s in Programming from Technical University A. The thing is, Technical University A has a unique system, and the program exists at secondary locations accross the country for people that can’t afford to move to the Big City to pursue a Masters in Engineering. The thing is that not every HR person knows the difference (despite being a well reputed university), which caused some tensions with some HR people that ranged between surprise (“I didn’t know this university was at that city”), suspicion (“I’ve never heard of this Bachelor’s before”) and rude denial (“This degree doesn’t exist, Technical University A has only Masters in Engineering”). As far as I know, no other classmate was in this situation. But most of them inflated their resumès with experience at places that don’t exist, so I take their opinions with a grain of salt.
      OP1, please talk to the candidate and contact the college if you think is necessary.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      I would tell the candidate that the company does education and background checks as part of its offer process. It pays off to have a company do that service – they know what they’re doing, can tell you if the organization is accredited, and they can (usually) get the check done quickly. (It sometimes takes longer for an overseas degree.)

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        We do checks, and it helps our contractors to know what checks are going to be required (for us, it varies by client). I’ve had consultants pull back when they know there is going to be a drug check for instance – they know they smoke weed and it really isn’t worth going further. (Fewer and fewer clients are caring about cannabis.)

    8. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      reading all of these replies about schools changing their name or their degrees makes me think there must be a way to contact the school and find out. I can understand that it may be hard to find the info by googling but surely there should be a way to contact the school

      1. Mike S*

        I think that at a lot of places, HR will contact the school to verify their degree. I know they did at my last job, because I went to a smaller school, and the conversation amused the HR person. (Who then told me about it during the onboarding.)

      2. doreen*

        The problem is that to contact the school, you need to know the current name. If I saw a resume that said someone graduated from the College for Human Services in 1991 , I wouldn’t even be able to find the institution’s phone number without knowing the current name (Metropolitan College of New York).

        1. pancakes*

          That’s why people sometimes list the location as well. Fwiw, I opened a browser I’m not logged in to anything in, and did a search for “College for Human Services” NY. It’s among the first half a dozen hits. It appears to be currently going by Audrey Cohen School For Human Services & Education. Both the program page and the “About” page talk about the history of the school as Metropolitan College a bit, which is good for students to know but also seems like basic SEO for an organization that’s changed its name.

          1. doreen*

            I got similar results – but I don’t see how one could know that the short description in the search results that starts ” The Bachelor of Professional Studies in Human Services program at Metropolitan College of New York ” refers to the College for Human Services when other colleges in the search results have similar descriptions for their programs. Sure, if you know the current name is Metropolitan College of New York or that a former name was Audrey Cohen College you’ll find it. But without one of those two names, I don’t see how you could know it was now Metropolitan College of New York rather than one of the other colleges in NY with human services programs listed in the search results if the institution even still exists.

            1. pancakes*

              Someone looking at your resume is going to have a name to start with, even if it’s not the current one. They’re not starting with nothing. If they have the location too, even better. For candidates in this position, adding a parenthetical seems like an easy way to minimize confusion.

      3. JustaTech*

        That’s assuming the school is still around. Colleges do close, even ones that had been around for decades, and it can be a huge PITA for alumni to prove that they graduated from Now Closed Lutheran University.

    9. Sara without an H*

      Hi, OP#1 — It’s possible that the university has undergone a merger, as previous posters have described. But what concerns me is this:

      When I complimented him on it, he sounded awkward and said he’d started on that degree, but shifted to another program after an extremely difficult class. At the time, I thought he meant a concentration within the degree, and I asked him back for a second interview with the team.

      This is the part that, for me, would require explanation. There’s a significant difference between changing concentrations within a program and changing to a completely different one. If possession of that master’s degree is what would make you hire this person, then it’s important to know what exactly the degree covers.

      And yes, candidates do sometimes claim degrees they don’t have. I’ve seen it done.

    10. Emilia Bedelia*

      My first thought was that his resume was written/heavily edited by someone else and they bungled the reference to his degree/school.
      If he’s truly a very entry level candidate, it’s definitely possible that a friend or career coach told him something like “Don’t worry about the complicated explanation – no one will care about the degree and it sounds the same anyway” and he believed it. Or, they edited his resume and he sent it out without really knowing what was on it (also a red flag, but not unprecedented).

    11. Artemesia*

      I know someone who is a student at Harvard — turns out, he is in some sort of on line certificate program that Harvard runs. It is possible that Oatmeal University has some sort of community outreach programs. But you need to get precise details on his program so you can determine if he actually has this degree and this place exists. I suspect he is gilding some sort of on line program.

      1. Parakeet*

        Online doesn’t necessarily mean less legitimate or rigorous – there are plenty of schools and programs where the online or hybrid version gets you the same degree as the in-person version. But what I think you’re getting at is that it could be an extension school (or some other program with different admissions standards than the main university, like an edX degree or certificate). In that case, that still doesn’t delegitimize it, but the name should be written properly. I know that Harvard, for instance, has guidance for students/alums on the Extension School’s website about how you can and can’t list Harvard Extension School degrees and certificates on your resume. And if it’s not completed yet, that should be indicated (“expected August 2022” or “completed partial coursework” or whatever).

        1. One of Mabel's girls*

          Then there are on-line colleges that are little more than a way of separating aspirational but gullible folks from their money. I had the distinct displeasure of working more than a year for an organization that runs a heavily- advertised for profit university with on-line programs with limited in-person learning. Through my position, I learned that around 95% or better of the faculty are part-time adjuncts who have no leeway to divert from rigidly defined curricula. “Recruiters” are just high pressure sales people who prey on people who don’t think they could be admitted to a better school. The education is an extremely poor value for its very high tuition and fees, the bulk of which are paid via GI benefits and student loans. It makes a lot of money for its stockholders by delivering poor education.

    12. DRH*

      Maybe it’s my career field, but is it not entirely reasonable in the hiring process to ask for copies of transcripts? This could easily clarify the name of the institution, degree conferred, and the courses taken, especially if there is a feeling that the interviewee’s story isn’t consistent

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’m from a place where people are required to send their certifications along with their initial application to a job, so this problem literally couldn’t exist here unless actual forgery was involved, but I got the feeling from the comments that that’s not done in the US at any stage of the process? Only because nobody mentioned it, though, so maybe I’m misinterpreting the “rules” around this.

        1. doreen*

          In the US – and I’ve had jobs that required verification of college degrees. But they didn’t involve attaching transcripts with applications. In fact, they wouldn’t accept any verification from the candidate – they wanted to obtain transcripts/verification directly from the school which the candidate had to authorize. And as best as I remember, I signed the authorization forms at the interview so they wouldn’t have received the information until after the interview. And that’s for jobs that verify degrees- my guess is that plenty of jobs where a degree is not legally required don’t even bother to verify. About 15 years ago, a admissions dean at ( I think) MIT was fired because it was discovered that she had lied on her resume about having degrees- the information wasn’t checked then because she was being hired for a secretarial job that didn’t require a degree.

  3. Anxious? Me?*

    LW3, anxiety is awful (don’t ask me how I know), and Alison is right — please consider getting some treatment. Even a couple of sessions with a therapist can make a lot of difference. The hardest part is getting to the first appointment.

    Of course, if that’s not in the cards for whatever reason, there are other resources that can help (books, workbooks, websites, apps).

    FWIW, I’ve gone from so nervous I shook to merely having butterflies when it comes to interviews (and other things, but that’s beside the point). That kind of change won’t happen overnight, and it’ll take effort, but it can be done.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I agree that the LW should absolutely seek treatment for their debilitating anxiety.

      1. Viette*

        Seconding this so much. I feel like any time a person is completely wrecked in the face of a common situation that seems not to seriously faze others,* it’s worth investigation.

        *not like “how come everyone else doesn’t seem to give a **** about an issue that’s very important to me!!”; like “how come everyone else gets in the car and goes to the grocery store and I’m having a panic attack in the driveway??”

        1. Liz*

          Honestly, this is such an important question to ask oneself, with kindness and without judgement. As both a psychologist and person with mental health issues myself, so much can be learned from stepping back and looking at our own stressors and triggers and asking “what’s going on for me here?” So many of us lack self awareness in this area, or we try to tough it out, or see ourselves as helpless/useless/just not trying hard enough. But help exists, and often the first step is recognising that there is a difficulty – a treatable, manageable difficulty – and none of us have to go it alone.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          To be fair, a great number of people have a much higher level of stress doing a job interview vs. going to the grocery store. (Although, going to the grocery store NOW can be over the top, too.)

          I think it is important that OP knows and hears us saying that interviewing is not a walk in the park to begin with. While it’s true that some people can walk through interviews like it’s nothing, it’s also true that Alison has dedicated a huge chunk of time on this website talking about how to ace an interview. And that is because many, many people have some level of concern about interviewing. OP, you are not alone as a good number of people understand that facing an interview have varying levels of concern.

          I do have one tip. When I was applying for a job that I felt was not right for me, my stress levels went very high. (There were two sources of stress: the interview itself AND the nagging feeling that the job just was not for me.) Make sure when you do apply that you are applying for something that you honestly believe you will have success at once in place.

          1. Observer*

            To be fair, a great number of people have a much higher level of stress doing a job interview vs. going to the grocery store.

            Yeah, but the question is NOT, as @Viette explicitly points out, “why don’t people get stressed”, but “why do people manage this while I can’t?” That framing is useful in several respects.

            Firstly, it’s more likely to be reflective of the real world. And that means that someone gets a better handle on whether something is a real problem that they should try to find a solution for or not. If you can’t manage a triathlon, that’s not a big deal and outside of the world of athletics, no one would say it’s an issue you need to address. But if you can’t make it up one flight of stairs that is an issue that needs to be addressed. And if you can’t walk a distance that most people can walk (say 3-4 city blocks), then that’s generally an issue that should be addressed. “Not getting stressed by an interview” is doing a triathlon. “Not being able to get through an interview” is more like “Not being able to walk 3 city blocks”.

            Which leads to the last issue. By focusing on the functional issue, *you can avoid the blame game. No need to think about “why am I weird” or “what is the matter with me” etc. It’s not about who you are but specific capabilities you need to function in the world in a way that works for you.

            *you in the generic sense no a specific person.

    2. Cats Are Really Fuzzy*

      Same I have very severe anxiety but I can manage to get through interviews. Please seek treatment! Things can get better if you work hard at it.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, 100% seek some treatment. I thought breaking into hives and nearly throwing up before casual social events was normal and you know what? It 100% wasn’t. Finding the right fit for you can be tough, but so many of these things are treatable and there are management techniques that can help, along, of course, with medication which can also help.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yes, treatment for anxiety can help. Here’s a success story. My friend changed careers by going back to school and despite working full-time, she got excellent grades and all that remained was taking a test to get her professional license. She was crippled by test anxiety and failed, then she’d postpone taking it because she was so nervous. She studied a lot and even took a test prep course, and still failed again even though she had done so well in school. What eventually worked was seeing a therapist for a few sessions and developing skills to prevent her anxiety from taking over during the test. She passed the test immediately afterward.

  4. Lingret*

    OP 3: Definitely follow up on Alison’s advice on anxiety.
    Please also consider Toastmasters. Or a community college speech class. Or one on one tutoring. Or perhaps a theatre class or local/community theatre group. First do costumes or set building – behind the scenes to start with. Maybe eventually you’ll want a very brief role.
    Good luck!

    1. InternetRando*

      1000% plus one on the treatment for anxiety. And another thing to consider is if you graduated from a university that had career services, ring them up and see whether they offer any ongoing support to alumni. I would heartily recommend doing practice interviews as much as possible – maybe even do a practice interview the day before the real interview.

      Also, I think disclosing up-front something like “I want to say, before we start, that I am so excited about this opportunity that it’s tipping over a bit into anxiousness, and I would appreciate some grace and time to think of my answers.” (I have an auditory processing issue and I’ve found that mentioning it at the start of an interview or high-stakes meeting makes me so much less anxious about it and results in a lot less progress.)

      And the final thing I would say is that you might also find a professional coach helpful. I would also recommend a coach who is neurodivergent because they will be able to understand your predicament will be able to offer more concrete advice than just “fake it til you make it”.

      I’m just an internet rando, but you are in my thoughts – I also struggled in my early career for the similar reasons. It’s definitely something you can overcome with work and patience.

    2. tangerineRose*

      Toastmasters can be very helpful. If you check out a group and don’t like it, try another group. Many Toastmaster groups are very encouraging and supportive. People usually join because they’re afraid of public speaking.

      Also, there’s a Table Topics that is great for interviews.

  5. Person from the Resume*

    LW#1: All signs point to him lying about this degree and university. He already awkwardly admitted to lying about his specific degree.

    … this candidate had a particularly challenging master’s degree in the field. When I complimented him on it, he sounded awkward and said he’d started on that degree, but shifted to another program after an extremely difficult class.

    By all means ask him and offer him the opportunity to explain in case is it is just a misunderstanding, but don’t tip toe around it. I recommend calling him and asking before the next interview to not waste your time assuming he doesn’t have a good explanation/answer.

    1. Mid*

      Depending on how slow the hiring process is, it could be that he was enrolled in Baking Physics when applying but finished his degree in Cookie Baking before getting an interview. It’s a long shot though. I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt before calling them liars. If he is a strong candidate, then degree might not really matter.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        the degree would have been in the last 5ish years.

        Seems unlikely given the way the LW worded the explanation of the timeline, but maybe. That’s why LW should ask.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          It could also be a case of he started the degree one semester or so before the degree underwent changes. If that is the case the university may have allowed him to finish under the old degree or change to the new degree. And if he did opt to stay with the old degree it may be harder to confirm with a quick internet search.

      2. Allonge*

        Asking him is giving him the benefit of the doubt. And the degree might not matter but the fact that he lied (if he lied) does matter.

        There are probably some reasonable explanations for what happened, but that is on him: if tehre aws a university name change or programme change or whatever, he should be able to explain.

        1. tamarak & fireweed*

          This can be:

          – A program or institution name change situation
          – A flub, in which the candidate got bad advice, or failed to check the exact name of their degree on the resumé, maybe because of time pressure or otherwise
          – A lie

          I would always suggest interviewers keep an open mind and ask unbiased, open questions as long as reasonably possible.

      3. Esmeralda*

        The degree might not matter, but lying would. Agree strongly — benefit of the doubt, call him up.

      4. Omnivalent*

        This person made an important representation on their resume they later admitted was untrue. The OP is past the point of whether this was a misunderstanding or a name change. The remaining question is how big the falsehood was.

    2. MK*

      Yes, the question isn’t “is he lying?”, he has already admitted to lying. Listing a degree you started but didn’t finish on your resume isn’t an honest mistake.

      1. SemiAnon*

        It *is* the kind of thing that people can realize is inaccurate, but can argue themselves into believing that it’s just rounding their experience up a bit and isn’t really that big a deal.

        1. pancakes*

          It is a big deal for people to play mind games like that with themselves about their own qualifications, though.

        2. Omnivalent*

          In other words, it’s the kind of lie people can persuade themselves is minor. It’s still a lie.

      2. tamarak & fireweed*

        Lie is such a judgemental word… there are many reasons for inaccuracies on a resumé. Not all are lies. An interview process isn’t a police interrogation.

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          Listing a degree you started, but didn’t finish can be an honest mistake. I once had to explain to a hiring committee that I didn’t have a degree I should have had per my resume (expected graduation date X), because of a health situation and their hiring process taking over a year. Of course, higher education is notorious for that sort of thing. I agree that it is unlikely based on this letter, but going into the conversation assuming best intent is usually a better way to proceed than to assume otherwise, particularly when the LW has all the power here.

        2. Social Commentator*

          I agree that not all inaccuracies are lies, but only if they are genuinely made in error. What’s flagging for me with this candidate is not the two discrepancies (incomplete degree, wrong degree) but his dodgy response when questioned about them.

          1. Venus*

            There is also a lot of gut feel to how the person spoke with the OP, and that is info we are missing that may be influencing the OP, as it should.

        3. biobotb*

          But listing a degree you didn’t get, and omitting the degree you did get, isn’t just “an inaccuracy.” He didn’t accidentally forget which degree he got.

      3. MsClaw*

        Yeah, I’m honestly not sure why OP is still talking to this candidate. If I have a Masters in Chemistry but put on my resume that I have a Masters in Electrical Engineering — that’s not a mistake; it’s a lie. OP seems to be trying to find a way to make this okay, probably because there’s an urgent role she needs to fill on the team. But I cannot imagine there’s anyway to spin ‘I put a degree I don’t actually have on my resume.’

        1. tamarak & fireweed*

          But if you’re on a path towards a degree in Environmental Science / Conservation concentration, and your degree rejiggers and at the last minute you’re sorted into Natural Resource Management / Environmental Conservation concentration, and you’ve always had on your resumé that you’re studying in environmental science, and think of yourself in these terms, and somehow you don’t correctly change the degree to the (very close! not really distinguishable for the outsider!) label you DO in fact get, and you’re a still-half-scatterbrained new graduate who basically doesn’t know what’s expected to be i-dotted and t-crossed exactly right and what can be handled with creative presentation… but you feel self-conscious that you may have gotten it right — then you may just exactly present as the person in the letter.

          If they have the actual skills and an actual degree of the correct level (which the OP writes is an optional extra in this case, for an impressive candidate) then I’d be very generous with new-to-the-workplace jitters and oopses.

    3. TG*

      Agreed. I’m not sure why he tried to put it on and then explain it but all around red flags

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I was reminded of the person three-exclamation-points shocked that the company was calling her fake references, at the companies where they were supposed to work.

        BUT it could be there is some reasonable explanation, from name changes to typos, so go in with that expectation and a chance to explain.

      2. alienor*

        Sounds like someone who got advised “just say you have the degree to get in the door, and then they’ll be so impressed by your interview that it won’t matter,” only now they’re finding out that it does matter. Sort of related to the old “pound the pavement, call every day, send them a pizza so they remember you” kind of stuff.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Yeah, if the fake degree sold them on hiring you, um, well….

          As someone who verifies things like this, I smell a rat. I’d call the Oatmeal School and check, but this guy sounds like he’s hedging/lying from his behavior.

          As an FYI, one of my degrees from my alma mater is “outmoded,” i.e. changed from BS to AB since I graduated, but I could easily explain/cite why if I had to, not hedge like this guy is doing.

          1. Anonym*

            Yeah, my undergrad degree is from a university that has since changed names, but a quick internet search of the old name would make that clear immediately. Especially given the candidate’s age, this explanation seems on the unlikely end of the spectrum. (I may or may not have yet updated my resume to New Name Uni (formerly Old Name Uni), now that I think about it…)

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Considering the bizarre (to put it nicely) job seeking advice sometimes given to new grads searching for jobs it could be he has an explanation, but the best thing to do would indeed just be to ask about it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I go a very different direction with this and it kind of makes lying a secondary issue. He should be able to explain and fill in the blanks. Ideally, he should have done this preemptively knowing that an employer would ask.

      Above I mentioned the program I used to get my degree. I am able to explain that I used the program and how the program worked. I am also able to produce a diploma from that university.

      Here’s the kicker: It takes some organization skills to have the ducks in a row. If he hasn’t got stuff organized just to get an interview, then what is day-to-day work going to look like? In thinking of things this way you don’t even have to figure out if he is lying. If you see a major flag on an interview, it probably won’t suddenly get better once employed- this thought goes both ways. It works for the candidate and it works for the employer. You have a flag and that may be all you need to know. I know I worked at putting together how I would present my degree in a concise and logical manner. It’s pretty normal for employers to say, “hey what’s up with this here?”.

  6. Siege*

    Op1, this absolutely and completely does not sound like your issue, but colleges do sometimes change names. Several of the two year colleges in my area started offering four year degrees and dropped the Community from their name. So my awarding institution “no longer exists” for a prof-tech degree. I believe there’s been a four year that changed names due to the namesake being a person no one would want to name a university after any more.

    But coupled with the shiftiness, this is not your problem, and a competent person who really has the credential will figure out how to indicate the name change. And if you Google “West My City Community College”, you’ll be redirected easily to “West My City College”, so it really doesn’t sound like that’s the situation, but it’s a thing! I expect it to be a thing that happens more often in coming years, due to honorees who were not great people.

      1. Aimsley*

        Not necessarily. I worked in marketing at a college and I was stunned at how inaccurately even academia can come across online. Google–and any web search prover– are not in the business of accuracy. They share information provided to them. If no one bothered to upload information about that name change in a valuable way, you may never stumble across it.

        1. Allonge*

          Uh. I know people can be incompetent but that is really bad though: would it not be in the best interest of the college to make this kind of information readily available? It impacts everyone who got a degree under the old name, this is not a weird one-off situation.

          I graduated in Europe and there was a name change of the university in the years I was a student there: my hard copy diploma has both names, never mind the internet.

          1. tamarak & fireweed*

            You really can’t expect that.

            Also, even in Europe, you frequently have graduate students work at Prestigious-Institute-X and getting their degree from Nearby-University-Y – and then they are not 100% sure how to put it on a resumé, especially if they think that it’s in their interest to put the prestigious institute forward rather than the blander university.

            In Germany, the highly regarded Darmstadt University of Technology was for a long time very proud to call itself Technische Hochschule Darmstadt even during the time when a TH was a step below a TU. Then later they ended up taking the Technische Universität title. My peers graduated before that moment and have the TH on their diplomas. An ignorant interviewer could not know the whole story.

            And in the US, I’m aware of one public university system that keeps integrating their community colleges with a university, and then making them independent again. Currently they’re officially part of the university, but have a name of their own. It’s a mess…

            1. Allonge*

              That was not my main point, sorry. I know it can be a mess, and that names of insitutions and programmes change often in the grand scheme of things. I would not at all be surprised to find an ‘old’ name on a diploma or CV.

              I would just expect that in most cases, this is something that is not erased from history (at least the university names) on the internet. So if I google for whatever reason [university name on CV], I would expect find out what it’s called now. And maybe even the other way around, with some internet research skills involved.

              Even more to the point though: OP’s job candidate should have this information if not readily available, at least accessible – he went to [old university] and should be able to figure out that it’s now called [rebranded university] if he is asked about it, or explain that there was a change in the programme or whatever.

              1. Artemesia*

                tell him you always check degrees during the hiring process so need to know the name of the college and degree.

              2. tamarak & fireweed*

                I think the best thing is still to ask the candidate rather than go sleuthing.

                Because that’s what it takes – if you Google ” Technische Hochschule Darmstadt” you’ll find tons of pages for ” Technische Universität Darmstadt” and have to read down a history page or Wikipedia to figure out that they renamed themselves in 1997. If you don’t, and you know that a TU is more prestigious than a TH, you may come out of it with a suspicion that the applicant tried to fudge a diploma. It’s not precisely erased from the internet, but it’s getting buried in current info.

                1. pancakes*

                  “and have to read down a history page or Wikipedia” – Yes, of course it’s going to be a problem if the person looking for information isn’t willing or able to actually read what they find. If they only have the time or inclination for a quick skim they’re probably not taking in all of the information available to them. I’m not sure why the employer or hiring manager would expect to be fully informed if they’re not reviewing their findings.

                  I do think it is important for candidates to understand that probably no one is going to take more care in understanding what they have to offer and presenting it clearly than they are themselves. Someone trying to understand your educational history should be able to get that info from your resume or CV. They shouldn’t have to do research to see what’s going on with the school names not corresponding to current names.

          2. EPLawyer*

            Academia is not very smart some times. They don’t think of things like that all the time. They just think, okay, we won’t do a major new run of stationery but just order as we run out. Other times you get a particularly savvy person on the comittee and they think of things like that.

            My law school, a lower tier one (well out of the T14), has the best domain name. Because a trademark professor saw what was coming and grabbed it quick. This was YEARS before I went there. It still is a crappy actual website because no one puts any effort into making it good. They got the legal part right (grabbing the domain name) but the execution they failed on.

            1. pancakes*

              That’s one of several reasons people try to avoid lower tier schools if they can. Commenters here are generally fond of the idea that fancy schools are a waste of money and that no one sensible actually cares about this stuff, and it’s often an oversimplification.

      2. TrixM*

        Not necessarily, with the new name. I know, because my degree came from an institution that was rebranded from a technical college. If you Google the old name, sure, that comes up associated with the new name.
        But it sounds like qualifications-padding at best, even if the institution is legit. Definitely worth a couple more questions.
        As someone who struggled to get in the door at one point, it’d be a shame if an otherwise-qualified candidate shot themselves in the foot with panicky exaggerated education claims – of any of their other experience claims would be called into question as well.

        1. TrixM*

          Oh, and prompted by another answer below, my degree course no longer exists either, but the institution has a new one with a very similar name. Just one word different, a close synonym with the same initial letter, just to make it incredibly confusing!

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        Sometimes. I work for a very large hospital in a top 4 US city that changed its name within the last decade or so. The front page Google results if you search on the previous name (which is similar to but not quite the same) do not mention a name change, and pulls up mainly old webpage database compilations, lawsuit results, etc., plus the new hospital name’s main page link without any previous name mention.

        If you do type in “(old hospital name) name change” along with all of that, then you’ll turn up articles on the change.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Wouldn’t you just list that on the resume though? Like “graduated from Oatmeal University (now Toast University)”. It’s possible that didn’t occur to them so I’d give the benefit of the doubt, but it’s worth looking into.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        My university changed name from when I graduated, so I have a reference to this on my CV.

      2. tamarak & fireweed*

        If you’re experienced, yes. But for a newbie it takes a few iteration of editing one’s resumé, and it also takes some conversations about how to do this right, to get it right, IMHO.

      3. Rainbow*

        I guess you could, but you might not. My first job was with a large company, well known in my field but you could perhaps be forgiven for not knowing them, and has since changed its name. Since I was contracting for another company, and they’re pretty well known, I still write “Toasters Inc, on behalf of Teapot International in Crumpetville, UK” instead of “Toasters Inc (now Oatmeal Trading Firm)… [etc]”. I feel it’s okay…

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This I can see going both ways. A really experienced candidate that knows that the change could cause confusion will make sure to reference the change. But a less experienced candidate, or even one that has left the area and doesn’t know about the change will probably not make any mention of the change.

        I think calling and having a frank conversation with the candidate is pro slay the best starting point.

      5. shower thoughts*

        If you knew, probably, but how many people go around googling their former universities to see if they have changed names? I graduated 15 years ago, I aggressively unsubscribed from all alumni mailings (I already gave you 4 years of tuition, quit asking me for more money), I would have no idea if my university has changed names since then.

        1. Chapeau*

          So this! I didn’t much care for the place then, and I like it even less now!
          It was grad school, and I worked on the campus, so my tuition was included in my benefits. But I didn’t work for the school, I worked for a federal program that was based at the school. My feelings about the school were ambivalent at best.
          And the institution has changed its name at least twice in its existence, so there’s that part too.

    2. RC Rascal*

      My college no longer exists and has been rebranded as a successor institution. It was a change hard fought by alums and the school has done everything possible to wipe the predecessor from existence. Even LinkedIn forcibly changed the name and I can’t even manually type in the name of the correct school. Very frustrating because the alums do not recognize the successor institution.

      Name changes happen.

    3. Someone Not New*

      Or, like my alma mater, it both changed names in its history and did not survive the recession of 2000s.

      Granted, you can Google my school and readily find this information both on Wikipedia and on the website of the university that bought the campus to operate as a satellite campus. You can also find me in the “Closed University” chapter of the New University Alumni organization.

    4. daffodil*

      This discussion has led me to update my resume to include the current names of institutions and departments that have changed names since I graduated (I only have 3 degrees but two involve name changes somewhere!)

    5. I Wore Pants Today*

      Ohmigosh I probably should Google my university! I went to Western Llama State College but it’s become Llama State University – Llamaville. As of 2012 my degree still existed. Probably should check on that.

  7. Jennie*

    Re interview anxiety. It’s absolutely worth getting professional help to address the anxiety if that is at all available to you. I found it easiest to start by having a conversation with my primary care doc. We checked a few things to make sure it there wasn’t a medical issue contributing to the anxiety and then I started seeing a therapist and it’s been absolutely amazing how many positive changes have happened in my life because I addresses the causes of the anxiety and built a toolkit of techniques that I can use in the moment. It’s hands down one of the best things I could have done for myself.

    1. NoviceManagerGuy*

      I absolutely agree with your advice here but I want to say that anxiety is a medical issue itself! And medicine works for many people.

  8. FH*

    LW1, I am frankly astonished at how often my own students incorrectly identify the name of their own degree on their resume (I do a big rant on this and yet…). Much less frequently, they misstate the name of the school. So, there is at least a possibility that this person didn’t know how important it is to get the EXACT NAME of the school and degree correct. Best to just ask for clarification.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I coordinate a conference which has about 50% academic attendees and it’s amazing how many different ways people will enter the name of the exact same institution. So the candidate simply messing up the name isn’t impossible.

      1. Still Anon*

        Let’s be honest, I graduated from formally “Important Person University Teaville and Coffeetown”. Several decades earlier they had been “Important Person University Teaville” and most of the courses are in Teaville, so they are still known as “Teaville”. They also go officially by “IPU Teaville and Coffeetown”. Whenever I had to fill out stuff with my university in it I put in all variations. When someone asks me today, my answer is “Teaville” as this is the common way of saying it.

        To make things even more funny, Coffeetown also has another Higher Education School (offering mostly different programms), and there is now also a way less prestigious Private University Coffeetown which is in fact offering the same courses as Teaville.

        1. Still Anon*

          To make it clear, I did not put all the variations into one document. I wrote “Teaville” into one and into the next one I’d put “Teaville & Coffeetown”, and the next one ” Important Person University” etc which (while not exactly looking very clever now as I write this) worked out fine over the years.

          So I completely get how one could put a formally incorrect name on something. I do have it correctly on my redume though.

      2. Ariaflame*

        If their institution has changed things on a regular basis it can be hard to remember what department/school/college you’re under, and if they change the name of the institution itself well…

    2. Certificate*

      I agree with FH.

      You shouldn’t rule out the possibility that your candidate has the right qualification but just didn’t explain it properly.

      So I would suggest that you ask to see the certificate, just on the off chance that this occurred.

      But I really think the most likely outcome is that your candidate won’t be able to produce a certificate.

    3. Fikly*

      Reminds me of a thing I saw where someone was attending a conference, was affiliated with two different universities, and got asked via email which of the two affiliations they wanted listed on their conference ID. They replied, “probably x university” and then when they arrived, got an ID that had their name, and “probably x university” listed as their affiliation.

    4. MsSolo UK*

      In a previous role which involved including academics on a professional register, the frequency with which I had to correct the name’s people submitted for the universities they actively worked at was ridiculous (especially my alma mater, which was University of X, not X University, which is in Canada).

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Getting the name wrong can even create genuine ambiguity. For example, the University of Ottawa is a large research university in Canada; Ottawa University is a small liberal-arts college in Kansas. In the U.S., most sports fans are aware that there’s both a University of Miami in Florida and a Miami University in Ohio. There’s the University of Pittsburgh (est. 1787) in PA and Pittsburg State University (est. 1903) in KS. Then of course there are schools like Cornell College (Iowa), Georgetown College (KY), and Berkeley College (NY), all near-namesakes to famous universities. (I wonder if the sports teams for the similarly named schools have ever played each other. Miami (FL) vs. Miami (OH) seems the most likely.)

        Name ambiguity can also happen in programs or schools within universities. For example, I’ve been to conferences where professors from the same law school would list it as Numinor University Law School, Numinor Law, Numinor Law Center, and other variations I’m probably not remembering.

        1. londonedit*

          Here in the UK there’s also a King’s College London and a King’s College, Cambridge. One is obviously slightly more prestigious than the other (though KCL is still a very good university!) If someone simply put ‘BA (Hons) History of Oatmeal, King’s College’ on their CV there is a chance that a hiring manager would glance at that and think ‘Ooh, King’s Cambridge?’. And then it’s feasible that they could look up courses at King’s College, Cambridge and discover that hang on, they don’t offer a BA in History of Oatmeal, and then they’d wonder what was going on. Of course, if someone *did* just put ‘King’s College’ on their CV without clarifying whether it’s London or Cambridge, most people’s first assumption would be that they were trying to fudge where they went to uni and make it look like they were an Oxbridge graduate without *technically* lying.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Yeah I originally wondered if the person in the letter was basically doing this, but then the bit about the degree on the resume not matching the degree they said outloud makes it worse and less plausibly an oops.

        2. Deanna Troi*

          In Pennsylvania, there is a California University of Pennsylvania and an Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Here people routinely say, “I went to California” or “Indiana” and it is understood that they mean “of Pennsylvania.” The first few times I heard this, I thought they were from the other state, and people thought that was funny. If they actually went to a school in California or Indiana, they would need to specify that, because at least in my industry, most people default to thinking of the in-state universities.

      2. Arizonan*

        I’m from Arizona, where our two most well known universities are University of Arizona and Arizona State University. The major professional organization for my field offers student memberships, and it was extremely annoying how often people at the national org would be like “so you go to Arizona State?” And I’d say “no, University of Arizona” and I’d see this look on their face like, is that not the same thing?

  9. nnn*

    I don’t think it changes the advice, but my first thought with #2 is to wonder if it’s age-based.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      “Recently” makes it sound like this is new behavior from Jennifer, so my first thought was she thinks LW is pregnant for some reason.

      1. JSPA*

        Came here to say exactly this.
        OP, you shouldn’t have to say, “it’s not like I’m in a delicate condition,” as goodness knows, pregnancy and manual labor have been treated as mutually compatible for most of human existence. But, “my actual doctor says this job has been excellent for my health” might work?

        BTW, this doesn’t necessarily imply that she’s reading “a couple of pies extra” as “showing.” There’s such a pile of outmoded language around early pregnancy that its very easy for someone (you or someone else) to answer some twee doublespeak in the affirmative. She thinks your baguette in the bag is a bun in the oven is a pregnancy, because you didn’t want to set something heavy down on top of last tuesday’s lunch.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        That was my thought too! Especially since Jennifer is offering to help herself, and it’s a recent change in behaviour.

        Maybe she heard some rumor that she mistakenly thought was about you, or she saw you rub your stomach, or she’s a loon and just randomly got this idea in her head.

        1. OP2*

          I don’t think she’s a loon. She’s otherwise sensible and straightforward (which makes her harder to just dismiss). It’s just this one thing.

              1. I should really pick a name*

                Otherwise rational people can have biases that they’re unaware of.

              2. Observer*

                Well, she’s still being wrongheaded. That happens even with generally rational people.

                But it does make it harder to deal with. On the other hand, you’re still better off with a boss who is generally rational even though this is making you (justifiably) nuts.

                1. OP2*

                  Yes, that’s it. She’s not my direct boss, but she is someone I have to continue to work with, and would like to stay otherwise on good terms with. So I’m grateful that she does seem otherwise reasonable.

      3. OP2*

        It’s “recently” as in “since the return to in-person working”. I don’t believe Jennifer ever saw me in person before then.

        It didn’t occur to me that anyone would think I was pregnant but I’ll consider it.

        1. DataGirl*

          if you are visibley female and even vaguely of child bearing age you will eventually run into people thinking you are pregnant for any number of things: refusing an alcoholic beverage, being slightly ill/hungover/ tired in the morning, putting on a couple of pounds, speaking about kids/ babies… there’s always someone out there whose mind jumps to “pregnant” at the slightest change. This might not be what’s going on but it might be worth working into the conversation that you are not, to see if that changes her attitude.

          1. Parakeet*

            A decade ago at a family reunion, I was lounging against the side of a car, leaning back. I’d had a bit of weight gain, which I was pretty sensitive about at the time, and I also have rather poor posture due to chronic medical issues, that can make my abdomen protrude a bit if I’m not paying attention. My severely developmentally disabled brother, after staring at me for a minute, asked if I was pregnant, and because I was already feeling self-conscious (the reunion was for the side of my family that’s mostly quite thin and serious athletes, as opposed to the side that is lumpier, and my being lumpier was new), I started loudly berating him for asking, though he didn’t mean any harm by it (I apologized to him later for snapping at him). My mom was nearby during this exchange and just about died laughing.

            So yes, when I read LW2’s letter, this was the first thing I thought of. This and wondering if there was an age difference that might lead to the coworker being excessively solicitous.

            1. OP2*

              I doubt age is a factor. I am the younger, but only by a few years – not enough to be a candidate for mothering!

              Sympathy with what happened with your brother. Sometimes things just hit a nerve…

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Someone at a church picnic/canoe race event once assumed I was pregnant because I was crocheting. And I was a bit of a chubby teen at the time. They asked me if my husband was in the race, and I naively answered, “I’m not married; I’m in high school.” They gave me massive side-eye when I helped load a bunch of chairs onto the back of a truck.

            Y’all, I was literally just trying to learn to crochet. -_-

            1. Bébé Chat*

              I love to crochet and knit, and very often people assume it’s for my imaginary baby. Nope, juste for myself !

      4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I wondered if she recently had to go on a manual handling course and is being over zealous about the “rules” for getting help with loads. In my experience those are often geared toward people who are not so strong.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      LW2, Former archivist here. My reply to a similar situation was “It’s in my job description.”

      1. OP2*

        I have said this to her… and honestly I’d have expected that to cover it.

        When other coworkers comment that I have a lot of boxes there, or it looks like hard work or whatever, I generally say “Well, it’s all part of the job,” or “It’s a change from sitting behind a desk,” and that’s the end of it. But they’re not senior staff.

        1. Batgirl*

          Those sound like much softer versions of “It’s in my job description”, though and I wonder if a touch more direct might be in order. Something like “It’s actually a part of my job to do this, so while this is very well meaning of you, I don’t actually want other people doing my role.”

          1. OP2*

            That was kind of my point – that usually I don’t _need_ to go beyond the soft version. But it’s worth trying the more direct version again. I have said that it’s part of my job description and I have tried to demur when offered help, but I might not be being clear enough there.

            1. Colette*

              You may need to be really direct. “This is part of my job. I do not need or want help.” – with no softening (smiles, kind tone).

  10. ToTiredToThink*

    LW2: Early in my career I had an older female co-worker who would refuse to let me lift things because she was under the (mistaken) understanding that lifting things could harm the uterus. My co-worker had legit said she was done having children so it was ok if her uterus got messed up. Seriously. I’ve gotten the impression over the years that this isn’t an uncommon (mis)belief…

    1. CaptainLaura*

      OMG yes, this happened to me once when I was helping someone move! The person’s mom got all freaked out about my uterus falling out and made me sit down and put my feet up.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        This is a thing people were legit worried about not that long ago. I know a runner in her 70s (maybe?) and when she started running (not sure how long ago but probably when she was in her late 20s/early 30s) “they” (I’m guessing the men who organized all the races) for realz used to tell women that their uteruses would fall out if they ran. My eyes cross when I think about this. It’s possible that “they” didn’t actually believe this at all and that they were just using it as an excuse to keep women out of their races, but I’m sure at least some of “them” really did think it was true.

    2. Jackalope*

      When I was younger I had this problem ALL THE TIME. Everyone thought I was a dainty and delicate flower because I’m female and short. One time I actually had someone try to stop me from carrying a folding chair. Just a basic folding chair! And I had someone else actually tell me I was too dainty to be doing whatever manual labor I was working on. It was so frustrating. I know my own body, I know my own limits, I’ve got this. Thanks no thanks.

      1. OP2*

        Jackalope, that’s exactly how I feel! But it’s so weird to talk about bodies at work that it quickly gets very awkward even to say, “Actually, I am pretty strong…”

        1. JSPA*

          Talk attitude, not body.

          “I’m into the physical aspect of the job.”

          “I took this job because I actively welcome the mix of mind work and free workouts.”

          “You couldn’t know, but archivists want to do their own lifting–its part of the job we prepare for and take pride in, and it’s part of how we safeguard our materials.”

          Honestly, I wouldn’t want a random person shoving around archives (nor glassware, nor temperamental equipment). “It may not look it, but this is a specialist task, and I’m the trained specialist” is a necessary message to deliver, before someone yeets a box of unstable film reels or decaying mirofiche.

          1. OP2*

            Lucky for me, I don’t have any unstable film reels or elderly microfiche here! Glass slides are the most delicate thing I’ve come across.

            But yeah, the principle still holds… these things are my professional responsibility.

      2. Dona Florinda*

        I once heard a (petite) coworker cheerfully refuse help by saying “don’t worry, I lift 100 pounds everyday at the gym” with a smile when someone offered to carry her new chair for her.

        1. Mf*

          I totally use this tactic! I’m petite and pretty small, so I always, “This is exactly why I work out, so I can lift heavy things!”

    3. turquoisecow*

      I used to work at a supermarket and one of my coworkers had a customer get angry at her for making bags heavy because the customer was “of child bearing age.” Not pregnant, but I guess capable of being pregnant? My coworker, who had a child and had worked as a cashier while pregnant, was completely flummoxed on how to deal with that complaint.

      1. KateM*

        I mean, for me carrying my usual heavy grocery bags while pregnant was a fast way to possible/actual pregnancy loss, but that was during actual pregnancies.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          If I remember correctly, not carrying more than 10(?) pounds while pregnant is the current general advice. Now, like a lot of pregnancy advice, it is on the very cautious side (because pregnancy loss is a complicated thing and different bodies react differently to stuff).

          I’ve always thought it a bit unrealistic for most women who, say, already have another small child, live in a building without elevators, need to do life stuff like grocery shop etc. Unless it is actually medically indicated for a reason, in which case, no choice but to work around it somehow.

          1. KateM*

            I am pretty sure I lost one pregnancy to lifting my 10mo baby, too, but it was outside-of-norm lifting (a mom-and-baby group exercise). And my husband did all our grocery shopping after work during our first successful pregnancy; during later pregnancies, when I shopped I did pack lighter bags and cart them to car (or, if had a small child, used the stroller baggage hold).
            But yeah, I figure if I had lived a couple centuries ago and had to carry around pails of water etc, I would have been considered barren because none of my pregnancies would have made it far enough to even be detected with what was available back then.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            That advice as a generic caution is so discouraging–no one is to lift her toddler?

            As speculated downthread, I suspect the detail is that lifting a 30 lb object associated with childrearing or homemaking is fine for the uterus, but lifting a 20 lb object associated with paid work is too dangerous.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              Oh, a lot of pregnancy advice is very discouraging and limiting. And contradictory. Remain active every day! But no lifting, jumping, or anything with danger of falling! Eat healthy, but nothing on this long list! Don’t neglect your toddler, but don’t lift her or get exposed to her germs! Screw all of that.

            2. Observer*

              I suspect the detail is that lifting a 30 lb object associated with childrearing or homemaking is fine for the uterus, but lifting a 20 lb object associated with paid work is too dangerous.

              Nope. This advice is given to mothers of young children ALL THE TIME. I’ve always wondered at OB’s who dispense this advice but can’t even be bothered to at least link to some resources for help because I know of many women who have asked their doctors what they are supposed to do about their toddlers and have been told to “figure it out.”

          3. anonarama*

            Current advice is to do what you have normally done (exceptions like horse jumping and alpine skiing) as long as it feels fine and wait until later to start adding weight at the gym or taking on new vigorous hobbies.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I mostly remember that pregnant women in my country are not allowed to do work where they regularly have to lift more than 5kg (10 pounds). I think I also read that somewhere as advice to the women themselves.

              I also read the thing about continuing regular physical activities as before. There’s a lot of contradictory advice out there.

              1. throwaway*

                I strongly suspect that if your body is used to doing certain activities, continuing to do those activities will be OK unless there are other risk factors or until the baby is big enough to trigger contractions. I achieved my highest squat weight (165lb) was during my 1st trimester. I quit the heavy lifting (and ab exercises) during the 2nd trimester but continued to do cardio and body weight exercises throughout. The kid was born exactly on time at 8lbs, is now 6, and reads at a 5th grade level. (That was my highest squat weight, because I stopped having time to exercise at that level after my kid was born.)
                I suspect the 10lbs advice is for people who are sedentary for whom 10lbs would be a lot of weight, or for people who are unusually sensitive. But pregnancy advice for mass consumption is often written for the worst case scenario, and there are good reasons to write it that way.

            2. Chestnut Mare*

              Oops. My mom downhill skied while pregnant with all of us, and I jumped my horses until I got too big to get into two-point, which was also around time it got difficult to dismount my 17+ hh warmbloods.

          4. Laney Boggs*

            Yes that’s so cautious its useless, for exact reasons you said. My friend’s kids are 19 mo apart- there’s no way she could have just, not picked up her one year old for 3/4s of a year, even logistically.

        2. JSPA*

          Oh, it can be a reasonable concern, whether for pregnancy or any other reason. There are days I can lift 60 lbs with one hand, and days when 8 lbs is a challenge.

          But unless you have strong reason to believe that the person in question has no way to communicate–like, words, writing, hand gestures–the default isn’t “pack light based on the presumption of possible pregnancy.”

          “Do you want me to pack light or heavy”–that’s fine for anyone.

    4. TrixM*

      I was outright denied a job 20+ years ago because of “heavy lifting” – but in that case, it was outright sexism. Also pretty amusing in the end because I ended up working for a similar company and did deliveries of the “heavy items” (standard-sized boxes of letterhead paper) to the original company.
      In any case, because of that experience, I’d get pretty irked about some trying to curtail how I did my job, unless there was a specific issue (like needing to complete the org’s own manual-handling training or my not following their H&S procedures).

      1. Rainbow*

        My male friend got only just turned down for a job that required a lot of heavy lifting – he was #2 in consideration. I heard later from an insider that because he’s a bigger guy, they were concerned about his physical capabilities. I’m sure they didn’t turn him down just for that. But if they had bothered to simply ask “are you ok with doing this”, he could have given examples etc. Dude was actually really strong, and it irks me that they assumed.

        1. Nameless in Customer Service*

          That is infuriating. I’m glad your friend has you in his corner at least; a lot of people wouldn’t understand.

      2. OP2*

        Yes, I also feel irked and I think it IS because the issue hasn’t been specified as needing to complete training or a risk assessment, just vague discomfort with the idea.

        I don’t think any sexism is outright here (maybe subconscious) and this is coming from an otherwise reasonable person. I think she has the best intentions.

        1. Angstrom*

          Assume good intentions. Jennifer is probably thinking “ I wouldn’t want to/couldn’t move those boxes myself, so you must not want to/shouldn’t either”.
          A lot of people don’t understand that physical work can be a nice break from a desk job. You might try a cheery “No worries! This is less than I do at the gym!”

          1. OP2*

            I’m sure you’re right about the good intentions and also the motivation. And that’s a great line to use! So long as she doesn’t come back and say “But we’re not liable if you hurt yourself at the gym,” or something…

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              A good response then might be that they’d be worse off if someone was doing it outside of their job description and got hurt.

            2. Dr. Vibrissae*

              In addition to Allison’s suggestions, maybe it would help to bring up possible liability issues from pulling in non-trained workers to lift things that are not part of their job description.

            3. Corporate Lawyer*

              Another version of this that I use from time to time in similar situations is “I lift heavy weights at the gym, so I don’t see any reason I shouldn’t do so in real life.”

              Also, the broken record technique might be your friend here: “Thanks, but I’ve got it. … Thanks, but I’ve got it. … Thanks, but I’ve got it.” over and over again every single time.

        2. Anon Archivist*

          Apologies if you addressed this further down in the comments, but when Jennifer sends people to help you, are they usually men?

          I ask just because that’s something I’ve definitely witnessed as an archivist, even in spaces where the majority of workers and supervisors are women. You’re hired with the expectation that you’ll be able to carry out all of this physical labor, but if there’s a male-presenting person available, supervisors will want to use them instead. >_<

          1. OP2*

            Anon Archivist – no, it’s not usually men, come to think of it. But I’m not sure I’d read too much into it because there just aren’t a whole lot of men working in this area of the building.

          2. All anon*

            I can’t stand when they shift all the heavy lifting or dangerous work to men just because they are men. It’s probably one of the few times a wage gap is justified or should be argued for because this is not equal work.

        3. learnedthehardway*

          I would ask her about it. As in “Colleague, you’ve mentioned several times about being worried that I am lifting things. It’s part of my job, I’m trained for it, and capable. Is there a specific concern that you have that I should be aware of?”

          See what she says. Could be her second-cousin twice removed, who looks sort of like you, slipped a disc in their back while lifting boxes, and she’s worried you’ll do the same.

          1. EPLawyer*

            This is actually the best solution. Op you’ve said she’s not a loon and otherwise a pretty reasonable person. So have a conversation with her. Point out clearly this is your job and having untrained people do it doesn’t really help. Then ask her what her concern is.

          2. Sara without an H*

            This. OP, you know her better than we do, but maybe it’s time to draw out what, exactly, is bothering her?

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I…guess that makes more sense than the belief that wearing high heels would make a woman’s womb fall out, but only slightly. I seem to remember a weight lifter having that happen, except on the other end (male weightlifter).
      Still though…wow. They do realise when you lift a box you’re not giving birth, right?

    6. nnn*

      I’m idly wondering if people who think lifting things is bad for your uterus include lifting children in that assessment. Because parents spend a lot of time carrying children around, and many people have more than one child!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        /start sarcasm
        Well now because women are especially built for caring for children. An inert box is much more dangerous than a wriggling child that doesn’t want to take a bath.
        /end sarcasm, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was somehow the reasoning.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          yes, obviously, lifting children, laundry baskets, and buckets of water inside the home isn’t dangerous! It’s only suitcases, computers, and boxes of documents in public that are the problem. Not sure if it’s the content or the public part that makes it so, though.

          Also, men can’t care for children – it will make their balls shrivel up. And since balls are more important than uteri, well…

      2. OP2*

        My mom did! My eldest wasn’t quite walking yet when I got pregnant with my second. She fretted about whether I should lift him. There was no option.

        So yeah, I have experienced “protect the pregnant woman”. It hadn’t occurred to me it applied in this case, maybe because it seems a long time ago? I haven’t been pregnant in this role, and don’t intend to be.

      3. Observer*

        I’m idly wondering if people who think lifting things is bad for your uterus include lifting children in that assessment.

        Yes, they actually do. And it’s that whole issue that makes me very skeptical about the wholesale advice about lifting that you hear so much of.

    7. DyneinWalking*

      Ah yes, the uterus, aka the magical organ that gets broken if you so much as think about doing men’s tasks that every other organ, including men’s exposed tender spot, can deal with with no problem……..

    8. FashionablyEvil*

      So, this used to be a very common medical belief—part of the reason there was no Olympic women’s marathon until the 1980s is that people didn’t think women should run long distances or their uteruses would fall out. The intersection and misapplication of biology, gender, and social expectations for women are deeply rooted and truly bizarre.

      1. mreasy*

        And wasn’t this why certain events in ski jumping weren’t open to women until the 2000s?

        1. Jay*

          It was the original reason, or at least part of it. Over the years, I think it became an entrenched belief among people simply because it was tradition. “Women just don’t/can’t/shouldn’t do that.” It’s partly what I’ve heard called “benevolent” sexism – the part of sexism that leads to people trying to protect and take care of women. It’s still harmful to people of all genders for a variety of reasons, and it’s somewhat harder to call out than straightforward “you can’t do this because you’re a woman” sexism. At least for me.

          1. FashionablyEvil*

            Totally. And some people interpret benevolent sexism as chivalry, so calling it out can definitely feel weird.

        2. Delta Delta*

          I went to high school with a classmate who legitimately believed women weren’t allowed to do pole vaulting because it causes breast cancer. She said this directly to me. In 1995.

          1. pancakes*

            This helps explain some of the weird hostility and fear those of us who’ve been treated for it sometimes encounter. We have a very, very, very long road to better healthcare ahead of us in the US with education being as poor as it is.

          2. Jean (just Jean)*

            That’s impressive misinformation!
            /start sarcasm
            If the breasts move rapidly through the air (except when onstage at a “gentleman’s” club) their cells are likely to undergo mutations and/or uncontrolled growth?
            /end sarcasm

          3. Emmy Noether*

            That… where the fork did that idea come from? I can sort of see the link between lifting and the uterus dropping*, but where’s the link between pole vaulting and cancer??

            * lifting heavy things with bad form and a weak pelvic floor can contribute to a prolapsed uterus, as my pelvic floor reeducation classes taught me – do your pelvic floor exercises everyone!

          4. nnn*

            I really want to know why just breast cancer, as opposed to any or all other types of cancer!

            1. pancakes*

              It doesn’t matter. Probably some nonsense about femininity, despite the fact men get breast cancer as well. People who believe that health works the same way they think prosperity gospel does will always come up with some reason or other why people in poor health supposedly deserve it. The reasons themselves are not important. Their disconnect from reality is what’s important.

    9. Juneteenth*

      That’s just ignorant. I’m older and never thought or said such a thing. Folks should mind their own business.

      OP, let it be known that your productivity is being harmed by the concern trolling. You have enough sense to know if you need assistance moving or lifting something. Does this person hover over everyone? Good Luck!

      1. OP2*

        I don’t know if she hovers over everyone, but it would be interesting to find out.

        And yeah, my productivity is being harmed, if only by the time taken out of the process to have conversations about it.

    10. ladyme*

      It’s not entirely a misbelief. Heavy lifting is a risk factor for pelvic organ prolapse, BUT it takes a LOT to do it and it’s really no different than the risk of any other kind of injury. So it’s still sexism at the end of the day. Just wish more people knew that was a real thing. In any case, if logic was involved, high heels wouldn’t be allowed in the workplace due to the risk of injury.

    11. Girasol*

      People are weird about their prejudices. I started at Big Company years ago as a material handler and moved into admin support briefly before ending up in IT. In materials I could lift 60 lb cartons and hand stack 200 lb boxes (using leverage.) No one ever commented on it. As soon as I got the admin job, though, whenever I lifted something bigger than 10 lbs, some woman would run up and say, “Ooh, you shouldn’t do that! You should have a *man* do that! Get a material handler!” I would have to say, “But I am a material handler. You know that!” Then they would look all confused. It was like with the title change I’d become one of the gals and turned frail. It was funny to watch.

      1. OP2*

        I am rolling my eyes for you. That’s so ridiculous!

        It’s maybe weird for me because when I’ve been on teams made up of other archivists, I’ve rarely _had_ any male coworkers, and I’ve generally been one of the taller stronger ones. In no previous job has anyone wondered if I can manage a load. So it’s peculiar to be assigned “delicate” status this far into my career!

    12. BokBooks*

      Lifting things… like the babies and kids that come through the uterus?? Good grief.

    13. JenAnn*

      Prolapse definitely is a thing, but generally happens during or after childbirth. Signed, mom of four

    14. Nanani*

      Thanks, ancient Greeks, for your epic troll across millenia.

      But yeah I’ve also had well-meaning older women be like “Don’t lift that” and then flag down a male colleague with the same job as me.

      It’s worth pushing back on, especially since L2 is literally employed to lift some things.

  11. Worked in IT forever*

    You’re right about institutions’ names being changed. An example: Ryerson University, in Canada, was recently renamed to Toronto Metropolitan University because of issues with the man (a person named Ryerson) that the institution was originally named for. And IIRC, Ryerson University was originally a polytechnic institute and later became a university.

    But these kinds of name changes would easily turn up in a Google search. Also, if you got a degree or diploma before a name change, it would be easy to note the new name in parentheses on your resume.

  12. Jessica*

    LW3, the advice about anxiety treatment is probably better, but if you’re not willing or able to pursue that, and are so desperate you’re thinking “I’ll just be entry level forever,” think about temping. Signing up with the temp agency might not involve an interview, and if it does, maybe that would be less stressful since it’s not a real job interview. Once you’re on their roster, in many cases there’s no interview for a temp position, they just get a request and deploy whoever they have on file who seems suitable.

    I’m not as bad off as you, but I am terrible at interviewing and loathe it with every fiber of my being. I got my current job (in which I run my department and am respected and successful) through temping. A temp gig with this department led to my getting hired for real when they had a vacancy, and later promoted when someone above me retired. There were interviews for both the permanent jobs, but they were a formality; the key thing was that they already knew me from the temp role and already knew I was doing a great job and they wanted me to stay on.

    I think there are lots of people like me and probably you, who would be great at actually doing the job but awful at interviewing for it. Temping can be one way to bypass the part you’re bad at.

    1. A. Person*

      Another option might be freelancing (in some industries) or running your own business. You could combine it with entry level work especially when you’re getting established – a lot of creatives work part-time in entry level roles while doing their creative stuff on the side. It might not make you rich, but if your concern is being bored out of your mind it might help.

      1. Katie Impact*

        I’d second this; it’s worked for me. I am also hopeless at interviews and have found work as a freelancer with small digital media publishers, where a decent portfolio or a referral from somebody who knows your work is generally good enough to catch people’s attention. Some companies require proficiency tests before they’ll sign you up, but I personally find those a lot easier to handle than interviews.

    2. TechWorker*

      Also entry level jobs with some progression opportunities – which I guess is difficult to know from the outside – but some places do interviews for internal promotions and others do not!

    3. healthcare admin*

      Seconding this. I’m bad at interviews because of autism (and it’s harder to get accommodations for because it’s not “I have flat affect” it’s “I can’t talk myself up because, for instance, it’s impossible to say if one person would be the best hire because ‘best’ required a whole host of factors I don’t have access to/the future is inherently unknowable”), and I got my current new perm job through temping. Once I was in it was very easy to prove myself, and while I did have to interview for this position, it was just a formality. The downsides are, of course, bad pay, limited to no health insurance, my temp agency was a NIGHTMARE, but if you can swing that temporarily, or you’re already dealing with it? It’s worth a shot.

    4. Working Hypothesis*

      My own two cents, if LW3 is looking for an industry where they can settle down into a single job:

      Massage therapy does do interviews, but they’re fundamentally very little of what decides whether or not you get a job offer in most places. They talk to you so they can tell you about the place and answer your questions, but most clinics select their employees based on the hands-on test. I don’t know whether LW has any easier a time using their hands while they’re being evaluated for a job than they do talking while they’re being evaluated for a job, but I know that I do!! I gut my way through the interview even knowing they’re 95% informational… and then I get into a massage room with someone on the table, even if the person on the table is testing my skill to see if I can have a job I really want, and my hands take over. They know what to do even if my brain doesn’t.

      So that or any other industry which evaluates based primarily on testing instead of interviewing might be a solution for LW3, if they have less trouble acting when they’re being examined than talking when they’re being examined.

      A caution, however, about my own field in particular: only try this if you are comfortable talking with strangers in contexts which are NOT job interviews!!! A massage therapist has to do an awful lot of talking to their clients — before, during and after the session. Every time somebody new walks into your studio, you’ve got to take the lead and guide the conversation. So it’s a good field for people who have a specific anxiety around job interviews but not so much for those who have anxiety around talking to strangers in more general ways. Although it does have the enormous advantage for those of us with some lesser but still existent social anxiety that almost everybody who shows up in a massage studio is going to be glad to see you! Since most people who get massages enjoy them, even if they’re primarily going for medical treatment reasons, it is incredibly easy to please then if you’re even basically competent. It can help to know, especially when you’re new in the field, how easy it usually is to make your client happy.

  13. SpatulaCity*

    I’ve seen a lot of colleges in the US change their names or rebrand. For example, in 1991 the University of Lowell and Southeastern Massachusetts University came under the University of Massachusetts banner, becoming UMASS Lowell and UMASS Dartmouth. (And they’ve had other names previously.). In 2003 Southern Maine Technical College (SMTC) changed it’s name to Southern Maine Community College (SMCC), but locals still give directions to SMTC and not the new name. Worcester Polytechnic Institute recently changed it’s name to just WPI, because the college’s name didn’t translate well outside of the US where a “polytechnic institute” is more of a trade school than the university that WPI more closely resembles.

    1. MK*

      Yes, but in those cases, if you google X university that has changed its name to Z, you will get first page results saying “Z University, formerly known as X…”, if not an actual article about the name change.

    2. Delta Delta*

      Giving directions to a place under its former name is peak Northern New England. Bonus points if the directions reference landmarks that no longer exist.

      1. Lora*

        Oh my. I moved to New England before mapping software was really a thing, and Mapquest was still pretty new. The unmarked roads, the twisty roads that cross state highways several times over at different angles, the Lovecraftian horrors that threaten to devour your mind if you stop to ask for directions…

        On the subject: a lot of colleges and universities simply no longer exist. Burlington in VT, Antioch in Ohio, several women’s colleges have shut down. Some shut down in a fairly orderly way and transferred students to other schools to complete their studies, others didn’t.

    3. anonymous73*

      While a name change is possible, a google search will usually provide you with information on that. The college I graduated from is now a university with a completely different name. To me the way he responded when asked was a little squirrely and more concerning, which would make me think he’s trying to pull a fast one. I still have the original name of the school on my resume, and if anyone asked about it, I would mention the name change not dodge the question, because I have nothing to hide.

  14. Azith*

    OP1, there are a variety of possibilities for this that have nothing to do with the candidate being dishonest or hiding something. Universities and colleges rebrand, and can also be known by variations of their official name, or even a nickname. As Alison said, it could also be a satellite campus, or offshoot of the main school; both these often have different names, or are known by a different name, than the “main” school.

    As for the name of the degree: schools literally change these all the time, and they can also be referred to by different names, depending on the focus/major of a person’s degree, or when they started or completed it. If it helps: the name of my first university degree changes drastically during the four years it took my cohort to complete it. The name of the degree changes literally once a year, and has changed again at least three times in the 15 years since. Ironically, the content and structure of the degree program remains almost identical, with a few updates due to chnages in technology and law, etc.

  15. MK*

    LW1, just another possibility about universities and name changes – some schools use different names for degrees that were earned part-time, even if the classes were not part of an extension school or night program. A friend attended “City-name University,” but because they were a part-time student their diploma and their transcripts say they graduated from “City-name University College” – the “close but not quite” of the name always comes across as suspicious when they put it on applications and makes their education an awkward subject for them in interviews just because it gets brought up a lot for being confusing. As other commenters have said your candidate’s caginess about their degree is super weird in any case but this is one possibility.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I’m not saying you meant this one, but the school formerly known as University of Maryland University College (now called more accurately renamed University of Maryland Global Campus) is not the same as the University of Maryland. It is a branch/“campus” in the University System of Maryland which has a bunch of University of Maryland [city name] campuses.

      A hundred years ago it started off as a night school and moved to distance learning and finally online. They heavily catered and advertised to military and provided a rather unique service before the internet made allowed lots of schools to support distance learning or just online learning for someone who is virtual but not very physically distant.

      I have a masters degree from UMUC. Funnily enough my undergrad (a public state university) also changed its name since I graduated. Going from all the universities in our system who aren’t our biggest one must be U of State Name- City Name to something more unique that more clearly describes the educational emphasis. This is its fourth name. But the former names in both these examples pop up fairly easily when you google and in Wikipedia. The school doesn’t hide it. They want to be found by people looking them up.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Interesting. I have a degree from University of Arkansas (it was a part-time online Masters program) and even though it was through our Global Campus it’s just a U of A degree.

      2. Johanna Cabal*

        I’m familiar with UMUC and its iterations.

        I always wonder how that translates for employers outside the state. I could see an employer in say, Wyoming, getting confused about UMUC or UMGC and its relationship to UMd.

    2. Brett*

      This sort of thing happens with Washington University in St Louis. If you earn your degree part time through professional and continuing education, your degree comes from University College at Washington University in St Louis.

      You attended classes at the same campus, in the same classrooms, in the same classes, with the same grading rubrics, as WUSTL grad students, but the admissions standards are much lower and you generally don’t do a thesis (or have a committee at all). Even more confusing, the University College is actually part of the College of Arts & Science, which includes the prestigious and competitive undergrad program. And it’s not new. It has been around since 1931.

      It is not uncommon for people who are not succeeding in a more traditional grad program at WUSTL to shift to the corresponding University College program. This is especially true if their main barrier is working full-time. The degree then comes from a different school, and often has a different major; exactly like the OP described where you now major in what would have been a concentration in the previous major. The coursework requirements are more focused, the thesis requirement is dropped, and there is no continuity to a PhD.

      But… it is still a WUSTL degree. The university makes it _very_ clear that it is still a WUSTL degree and that they treat it as such.

  16. Not Australian*

    OP2, I’m going with ‘everyday sexism’ on this one. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told “Don’t try to lift/carry that, you need a man to do it” – both by men and by women. I don’t want to derail here, but I loathe the optics of ‘asking a man to do it’ when I’m perfectly competent myself; the implication that even the weediest man is better than a strong woman is nauseating and has the potential to feed into harmful stereotypes we would do better to combat if we can. I think I might tend to be a bit blunt and just reply with “This is my job, and if I wasn’t capable of doing it I wouldn’t have been appointed in the first place” – but then I long ago ran out of f***s to give!

    1. TrixM*

      Totally agreed re the optics. Frankly, I’m stronger than some men.
      And it goes the other way – it should be fine for anyone to ask for assistance, male, female or whoever – if they feel they need it (and there’s no specific obligation for their role to handle x items, naturally).

      1. Chapeau*

        I laugh about it, but part of my job is setting up displays at community events, so I carry a lot of boxes of stuff. When my boss, who is a male elected official (and younger than I am, just for added fun) attends events with me, he insists on carrying the heavy stuff because he thinks it reflects poorly on him when I carry it.
        Of course the Tetris I have to play to rearrange the stuff he’s shoved randomly into my car so I can haul it all back in one load, plus unloading it all back at the office, is not “visible” so that’s okay for me to do.
        He acknowledges it, and agrees it’s stupid, but it’s a little game we play in public because of all the stupid sexism from voters about women carrying heavy stuff.

        1. Verthandi*

          I’ve got a funny story, too.

          Several jobs ago, while I was in my 20s and a martial artist, I built computers. I was also skinny and short. We’d assemble them, and run overnight testing on racks, and bring them to shipping in the morning after verifying no errors. One rack could contain up to 300 pounds of computers and manuals. I was bringing a rack to shipping, when someone from tech support was checking out the rebuilds. He saw me and charged over to the rack I was taking. He asked if I wanted help. I told him no, I had it, I do this every day, several times a day.

          He didn’t listen. He grabbed the rack away from me and all the open boxes of manuals fell off and scattered. I told him it was his mess, he could pick it up, and I went and hid in the women’s restroom for 20 minutes until the rack and manuals were gone.

            1. Verthandi*

              I think so. The mess was gone when I came out. Nobody else was going to pick up after him and I wasn’t coming out if the mess was still there.

          1. Not Australian*

            A friend and I were lugging a very heavy suitcase through Oxford once (long story!) from the railway station to the old bus station. We were taking it slowly, a few steps at a time, then rest. Along comes a man, “Oh, let me help you with that!” No, thank you, we tell him, it’s very heavy, and we can manage by ourselves. He insists. We shrug. He grabs the handle, lifts it, staggers three or four steps, drops it, shouts “I wish I’d never met you!” and speed-walks away.

            We did the same journey in reverse a week later, without incident.

            1. Nameless in Customer Service*

              His defeated exclamation really provides the perfect dollop of humor. I bet you wished you’d never met him either!

    2. OP2*

      I’m reluctant to be really blunt as Jennifer is an otherwise nice colleague whose opinion I respect, and we have no other conflicts. But I think I can probably say nicely that this _is_ part of what I’m paid to do, and ask what she needs to allay her concerns. I don’t mind filling out a risk assessment as someone else mentioned – that seems like good practise anyway.

      1. *daha**

        I would ask her “Are you being formal? Is this an instruction from Human Resources that my job description no longer includes physical handling of archives? Because if that’s what you’re telling me we should have a meeting to discuss it and determine the new procedures. I feel like you are questioning my competence.”

        1. OP2*

          I think I would consult my actual boss before that stage, since I don’t WANT the manual handling part of my job taken from me. Or to get fired…

      2. Mf*

        You could approach her as if she’s trying to do you an unwanted favor (which is more or less true anyway): “Jennifer, it’s so sweet of you that you’re always trying to help when you see me lifting things. But I don’t actually need the help and I enjoy the exercise.”

    3. Marvel*

      This was also my thought. I’m a bigger guy and I’m frequently voluntold to lift/carry things at work because people are concerned about my female coworkers doing it. This is patently ridiculous because I have a chronic pain condition and zero upper body strength to begin with; most of my female coworkers are much stronger than I am! But people get super, super weird about this.

      1. Saberise*

        This right there would be the biggest reason to me to put a stop to it. We’ve seen letters on here from people that are expected to do lifting for other people and they seem particularly upset when it’s literally part of that person’s job to do it themselves. It’s bound to lead to some resentment if it’s not stopped.

        1. Marvel*

          Oh, I do want to make it clear that I in no way resent my coworkers for this. They also think it’s weird and annoying, and usually we laugh about it after the “concerned” party leaves (in that vaguely-angry-but-choosing-to-laugh-instead way, because it’s ridiculous how often otherwise reasonable people think it’s okay to project their gender anxieties all over everyone else).

          I’m also trans, which means I’ve been on both ends of this, and they both suck. I’m not about to resent someone who didn’t ask for it any more than I did! But it’s worth putting a stop to solely because this type of nonsense perpetuates gender norms that do real harm to real people every day.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      I sometimes have that problem as well, since I am surrounded by men. I have no problem asking for help, if needed, but I, like OP2, enjoy the change of work to woman-handling something heavy.

  17. Caz*

    OP2, I wonder if Jennifer thinks you’re pregnant and is trying to shield you from heavy lifting for that reason?

    1. OP2*

      I think it’s unlikely, but I will take it under consideration! Maybe I’ll get the opportunity to drop a hint that my family is definitely complete, yup, no more babies here…

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        If you feel comfortable doing so, but honestly Jennifer can mind her own freakin’ uterus.

        1. OP2*

          Oh, there’s no way I’d bring it up unless the subject arises naturally (which it probably won’t unless a colleague is expecting a child or grandchild).

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think you need to try routes like that! Have the direct, straightforward response I recommended in my answer, and if that doesn’t work, have your boss intervene.

        1. OP2*

          I think that’s probably best, yeah. I honestly think the “suspected pregnancy” thing is unlikely, as well as nobody’s actual business!

  18. musicalmanager*

    OP3, definitely second the recommendation to consider medication for anxiety!

    But another thought is to consider somewhere like Amazon that uses a very structured interview process that can be studied for and gamed, in a sense (and they don’t mind/reward people who study the process and know how to answer the questions). It’s grueling but in some ways it’s easier knowing what sorts of questions are coming so you can prepare examples in advance, in the format amazon wants. Also it’s very easy to move around there without formal interviewing, and the promotion process also doesn’t have an interview component.

    1. Erin*

      The “gaming the interview process” is a really good point, and one worth putting some time into – I did practice interviews with my dad as a teenager, and have offered practice interviews to friends in the years since.

      It gives a lower-but-still-there level of anxiety, but with a friend you can take as many breaks as you need to; you can discuss your answers and develop them, and move over time from “natter about your current job over coffee” towards “full fake meet in an office wearing professional clothes, shake hands, get offered of a glass of water”.
      And if your friends are sufficiently savvy, they may well be able to draw out your expertise and skills to a greater extent than you realise, and you can rehearse specific responses to certain questions.

      1. Heather Pence*

        I would also like to recommend the “practice interviews” option. I offered to give a practice interview to my college graduate neighbor so he could try it out where there were no stakes involved. I also give him a list of sample interview questions to study. I did that too before my last round of interviews. It’s so much easier when someone says “Describe a challenge you overcame” and you have worked out your story while sitting in your own living room. I’m not saying memorize your answers, but if you have walked through the outline of what you want to say to common questions, the stress in the moment of the interview should be less. (And obviously +1 to all the folks saying work with a profession on anxiety and medication. Practice will only help in addition to that.

      2. Anxious? Me?*

        I found mock interviews to be a huge help. The people who helped me with those gave me some great feedback that helped me emphasize my assets and present my overall experience in a more positive light. The experience also just helped me get into a better state of mind about interviewing because there was no actual job on the line.

        LW3 mentions having gone to a lot of actual interviews, but having some practice where there’s less anxiety in play might help with desensitization (as always, have experts and not just internet commenters involved in the process).

  19. CatBookMom*

    For really studip reasons, I was short of a college degree by one point, several reasons. My graduating class was a long time ago, a small state college, but an issue for me and my accreditation in my field, back then. I finally fixed it, with a studip leftover class, at a school in a different state, at some time later. This stuff happens to people, for reasons.

    I don’t know if this is helpful to the LW or not, but she’s not new to these issues.

  20. Viette*

    OP 1, there’s absolutely no reason to shy away from asking him about this. Between his resume and the conversation with him, you can’t tell what’s going on. And you know he’s going to be ready to answer questions about himself, his qualifications, and his experience if he’s interviewing for a job!

    It might feel awkward to you because you strongly suspect he’s lying or incompetent, so you’re pre-emptively bracing for the ++discomfort involved in that conversation. Asking him about it is not accusing him of lying, it’s just letting him know that it doesn’t make any sense.

  21. Anastasia*

    I’m so sorry LW3—I have an anxiety disorder so I get the feeling. If you haven’t tried this already, I highly recommend therapy with a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. If you can’t afford therapy (which I know can often be the case with entry-level jobs), even just researching therapeutic methods for dealing with anxiety disorders may help. I’m sorry you’re in this situation!

  22. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    LW2, It’s bizarre that someone in HR wouldn’t know that one of the requirements for working in archives is the ability to lift X pounds (I think it was 20 at mine, but might have been more – it’s been several years). Maybe no archivists have been hired in her time there, so she isn’t aware of that as a standard requirement? That’s where your department head needs to step in and let her know it applies to any archivist, unless they’ve requested and recieved an accommodation that makes them exempt.
    I’ve seen 100-pound archivists carry huge Hollinger boxes with no problem, and I remember a tiny reference assistant carrying enormous bound newspapers – while she was wearing very high heels! – over her head, smiling the whole time and without a single OOF!

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      That’s true, but I also know more archivists than I care to count with bad backs, because lifting boxes of paper over your head is not always safe and often comes with unexpected strains. Even if you try to keep good form all the time, you sometimes are in a hurry and “cheat”. I think we all do. When I started seeing a personal trainer several years ago, I specifically wanted to work on my back strength, because I knew I needed to be safer in my box lifting. It’s a far more physical profession than most folks realize.

      However, I wonder if LW2 is specifically talking about large box moving days (like collection intakes or shifting projects), because they mention wearing comfortable clothing. If the concern is not “never lift a box” (impossible, that’s literally the job), but rather “wow, that’s a lot of boxes for one person to move, can I get you some assistance with that?” I don’t know if there’s anything LW2 can do to stop this, but I’ve found a cheerful, “No thanks! I like the physical labor days when it’s just me and my boxes” might help make people feel less guilty while seeing someone do manual labor alone. I know I get asked if I need help if I’m moving more than one cart of boxes around my library and a cheery, “Nope, just a quiet day with me and my boxes” generally works for me.

      1. OP2*

        AnotherLibrarian, this tends to happen for situations in between one box and moving day – if I have five or ten boxes to move, maybe. If it’s 50, I do gratefully accept help and would arrange it myself in advance.

        So I guess Jennifer and I have different thresholds for “that’s a lot of boxes to move by yourself”. Maybe that’s the problem.

        Five or ten boxes to move isn’t uncommon for me and I don’t always get warning, so I do tend to dress at the end of business casual that will allow me a bit of physical activity on any day.

        1. Mf*

          Your point about Jennifer having a different threshold is a good one. Maybe you could strike a deal with her: she’ll stop interfering if you promise to ask for help when you have to move more than X number of boxes.

    2. OP2*

      Snoozing, good point. Jennifer started here after I did, and I’m the only archivist in the company. So yeah, it’s possible she has never hired an archivist or needed to check this.

      I will check exactly what it says in my job description, but there is definitely something in there about manual handling as required.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I would also be clear about how long you’ve been doing the job without help, trouble, or injury. I *might* also ask what has changed that she’s now concerned about your ability to meet the demands of the role—it could be that she’s now seeing you in person (and is making assumptions or reassessing her prior comfort with your abilities based on something she’s seeing), has a better idea of how much the boxes weigh or how frequently you move them, is realizing there are gaps in existing safety policies, or something entirely different. It may be useful to get her to articulate what’s going on in her mind around this.

        1. OP2*

          Pocket Mouse, that is interesting.

          I think part of what’s changed is the resumption of “normal service” – I think it wasn’t so much that she was once comfortable with me doing it but now isn’t, as that she previously didn’t see it happening and now she knows how often I need to do it. She wasn’t here pre-pandemic.

      2. 'callaKid*

        As an archivist 30+ years in her career I cannot remember one job description I’ve applied for that didn’t say must be able to lift X amount of weight – usually it’s 40lbs, but sometimes I’ve seen lighter weights. It’s part of the job. Now, lifting that weight over my head (5′ 0”) would foolish – but there are helpful things around – ladders with box platforms and empty shelves near by. of course there are colleagues around always willing to help with the really difficult stuff. The LW’ers co-worker needs to chill out!

      3. pandop*

        Her not being used to it could be the key factor here. No one bats an eyelid here, but then again we are a library, so it’s part of everyday work for quite a lot of our staff – and we have compulsory manual handling training to complete every year (they revamped it this year – I now know how high I can lift a lion cub!)

        1. OP2*

          I need to know more about this lion cub. While I have had formal manual handling training I do NOT remember it being that entertaining!

  23. Tax Person*

    OP3, I was hired by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service without an actual interview. I applied online through the horrible USA Jobs website. It took like 3 or 4 months, but then I received an email asking me to come in to have my fingerprints recorded and a photo taken, followed by a formal job offer and instructions about where to show up for orientation. My experience was shared by almost everyone I know who works here, but things might be different for more specific and/or technical jobs.

    1. Fed*

      I also work for the US government. We can offer accommodations for interviews, which always have a set list of questions anyway. In this scenario, I could easily see us agreeing to a written interview, where the candidate is given the written questions and a certain amount of time to respond to them in writing.

    2. Civil servant*

      Yes came here to say something similar! Check out government jobs, including local and state. In NYC where I work in HR, many civil service titles go to hiring pools — no interview at all. Not sure if your anxiety applies similarly to testing — often they do require a test, and just rank you based on your test scores and the agency literally hires based on your number on the list. Occasionally the titles rely on just “education and experience” and don’t have an exam, if testing is also an issue.

  24. Ladybug*

    I absolutely hear you letter writer. This has been a huge problem for me as well, and it is heartbreaking. (1) propanalol, a beta-blocker helps for “situation anxiety” it slows your heart rate so you don’t get the physiological symptoms of anxiety. You take it about an hour before and it lasts a few hours (good for fear of flying or other situations where people are anxious) (2). I found *over* preparing was worse, somehow speaking off the cuff worked for me better, I was more anxious trying to remember everything I prepared. Best of luck, I’ve been there.

    1. Ladybug*

      Also to add, I had tried everything else, medication, practicing, career counselors, therapists, professional
      Image consultants, mind-body…it just didn’t work. Made it worse. The second thing is most of my jobs I successfully interviewed for I knew the people (professionally). They knew I was interested, they knew my work, so it was much easier than these “cold turkey” interviews. So if there is a position you want someday, start cultivating relationships with the people so *they* reach out to you when there is an opening.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      +1 for propranolol – it’s been literally life-changing for me and is very safe for many people, with the added benefit of a short half-life (ie it leaves your system within a day). Definitely worth asking your doctor about.

    3. londonedit*

      Yep, I took propranolol for a few months at the end of last year/beginning of this year thanks to a medical condition with racing heart rate and anxiety as some of its symptoms. Worked an absolute treat (within 48 hours my resting heart rate was down to 55 from over 100 and it stayed there!)

    4. Living for Laughs*

      +100 for propranolol. I have performance anxiety which at one point got so bad in my life it boiled over into social anxiety – I would start to panic just having a conversation (which is SO not like me normally). I did research and found propranolol and met with my doctor about it who agree. It is great because you only need to take it when needed, not daily. And for me it just feels like a calming comes over me. Since it is a beta blocker and works on your nervous system and not your brain chemicals, I just like how it doesn’t have any other noticeable effects other than feeling calm.

  25. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW4 I’ve been in a similar situation recently, and arrived at the meeting to see the other person with a pile of preparation. I think I opened with something like, “We won’t need all that” and immediately told them my news.

    In the end we did need some of it, to discuss managing the transition, so nothing was wasted.

    I think you should open with your resignation – assuming you are in a secure position to do so! – as early as possible.

    Best of luck!

    1. Squidlet*

      I agree! It would be really weird to spend 30 minutes talking about upcoming projects and then announce at the end of the meeting that you won’t be there for any of them.

      I’ve been in this situation, and I think I said something like “Before we get started, I have some news.”

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I recently gave my notice during a scheduled one on one too. I could have done it earlier in the day, but I knew that time was already blocked off that afternoon. Which worked out for the best so we had time to go over everything that needed to be handed off and go over any procedures that needed updates/review.

  26. Bob Howare*

    OP2: In the UK we would deal with this with a Manual Handling Risk Assessment. If you google the term you will find lots of information. Would it be worth completing one of these and going through it with Jennifer & your boss? It will cover the risks & mitigations, and you should be able to include the greater risks of untrained “help” from well meaning colleagues.

    1. OP2*

      A formal risk assessment is a great suggestion, Bob. I think it would help with my sense that I need to show some kind of official indication that yes, this is safe and has been fully considered.

      We should have this in place anyway, but if there is one it hasn’t been updated since pre-pandemic.

        1. Omnivalent*

          I think you are underestimating the lengths to which many people will go if it means avoiding a direct conversation.

          1. OP2*

            That, and I’ve tried to be fairly direct. I have said more than once that I’m trained and experienced, that I don’t need help, and that it’s my job to do it. I’m prepared to have one more conversation to see if I can get the message across, but after that…

  27. Squidlet*

    OP2, I’d schedule a meeting with Jennifer and tell her that you’ve noticed she seems uncomfortable with you lifting & carrying – and ask her what her concerns are.

    Since she hasn’t been specific so far, I’d guess her reason is either something she thinks is obvious (e.g. she thinks women shouldn’t carry heavy boxes) or something she doesn’t feel comfortable voicing (e.g. she thinks you’re pregnant or “not strong enough”). Then you can address her concerns head on and make it clear that you are comfortable and capable with this part of your job.

    Alternatively, or if that doesn’t work, speak to Marty more directly and let him know that it’s an issue in terms of getting your work done, since you can’t try to move a box without Jennifer interfering – and ask him to address it with with Jennifer or her supervisor. It’s *his* job to make sure *you’re* set up to do your job properly.

    1. Cheshire Grin*

      I had to do something similar at one of my old jobs. My department was located in the very opposite corner of the building from the mailroom/receiving docks. I did have access to a cart for the bulkier items, but mostly I just carried them.
      One of the fun things about me is that my face flushes very easily, especially if I’m walking fast. So, I could be carrying a stack of envelopes and my face would look like I’m struggling to carry 60 lbs. There were many offers of assistance, which only really declined once I explained my face thing to a few people and the rest had seen me trot by several times a day with various packages.

  28. katkat*

    For LW2, Is there a possibility that Jennifer thinks you are pregnant? She still sjoul have backed off when you said you are able to do it, but I think its less evil-minded than (pure)sexism.

    1. OP2*

      Katkat, I didn’t think so but am wondering now. I may drop a hint that my family is definitely complete.

      I don’t think this is on the level of deliberate sexism at all – maybe some cultural assumptions buried deep… She is otherwise very nice and reasonable, and I think this is coming from a desire to be helpful and lighten my load (literally!)

      1. katkat*

        Im sure you are right! I think people are often less malicious than might seem. :) Good luck finding a good way to work with Jennifer :)

  29. Marion Ravenwood*

    LW2: I agree with others suggesting maybe Jennifer thinks you’re pregnant, and would try and have a conversation with her about what her concerns are, then escalate to Marty if needed. Completing an up-to-date risk assessment could help with this too – if nothing else that just strikes me as good practice (assuming your company doesn’t do that regularly already).

    Also, I love that you picked Back To The Future names for your coworkers’ aliases.

    1. OP2*

      I think I’m gonna suggest to Marty we do a risk assessment even if this never comes up again, because it does seem good to have. In previous posts I’ve been part of a big team and it’s all been handled centrally but now that it’s just me, I guess I need to be more proactive about making sure these things are in place.

      As for BTTF… it’s one of my favorites and once I’d picked “Jennifer” as a popular name of around the right age, Marty instantly came to mind!

  30. Irish Teacher*

    This is probably trite and it’s unlikely to be much help, but I’ll say it for what it’s worth. I did an awful lot of interviews and began to see them as something that could only benefit you. The worst that can happen is you end up in the same situation you are currently in. The best is that you get a job you really want. I know anxiety isn’t always related to a fear of a particular negative outcome though.

  31. OP2*

    It’s not been mentioned yet – but I wanted to say, I think Alison is on the money when she says Jennifer is trying to be fair and spread the work of moving boxes around so I don’t have to do it all. She perhaps sees it as a more onerous chore than I do, and also (as someone else said) she probably thinks 10 boxes is a lot to have to move, while for me it’s routine.

    So I will try to take this perspective into account when/if the subject arises between us again.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Btw, I know you mentioned in one of your other posts that you don’t want to make it A Confrontation, so just wanted to recommend the cheerful, breezy tone, “Oh, this is all in a day’s work!” or, alternatively, the, “Oh, I’m sure you couldn’t have noticed, but you comment on/ask if need help with boxes frequently. I appreciate your concern, but I’ve got it all well in hand!” Basically, a light, cheerful tone and plenty of opportunities for her to save face.

      1. OP2*

        No, I don’t want to make it a confrontation – but I think it’s gone past the point where the light cheery tone and moving on will be enough. I’m thinking I arm myself with a risk assessment, and then if she raises it again I can say “I took your concern into account so I did X and Y – does that help?” As mentioned above, the risk assessment should be happening anyway, so even if she never mentioned it again it wouldn’t be wasted effort.

    2. Gnome*

      I had a situation where something I enjoyed about a project was something other people did not. Once I said something like, “I know lots of people aren’t a fan of X, but I enjoy it/find it helps me break up my day/find it kinda zen/wish I had more” people backed off a bit.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      If she’s having other women (including herself) help and not just men, it’s probably not sexism. Maybe she think you look particularly weak? … which RUDE. Best case she doesn’t understand this is part of your role, and thinks you always unfairly get stuck with this white collar office’s only manual labor.

      I’d be blunt because I am a blunt person (not even always on purpose but this situation calls for bluntness).
      – Moving and lifting archives and records is literally my job. It’s part of my role as Records Manager. It’s in my job description.
      – Is it in your job description? It’s in mine as Records Manager.
      – Please stop trying to do the Records Manager’s/ Archivist’s job or asking someone else to perform my duties for me.
      – I do not need help to my job.

      Alison’s suggestions are less blunt, but this may call for bluntness and ultimately returning the rudeness back at her.

      Try saying this next time it happens: “This is part of my job and I enjoy doing it. I don’t need or even want any help!” If she rounds up help anyway, say cheerfully and firmly, “No thanks, I’ve got it.”

      If it still happens after you do that a few times, at that point you should say to her, “I’ve noticed you get alarmed when you see me moving boxes. This is part of my job, and a part I enjoy. Is there something specific you’re concerned about?”

      1. OP2*

        I think it’s more likely to be the “why should you always do the manual labor?” thing than “you look weak.”

        It wouldn’t gel with the workplace culture to be quite that blunt but I can certainly follow Alison’s suggested script and see what results it has.

  32. Gnome*

    OP3 – My interview anxiety isn’t that bad, but what helped me was to go in thinking that I am interviewing them. Yes, they are going to ask me if I know about X or Y, but I think of it as business chit chat equivalent to the social “where did you grow up?” And “do you have children?”. However, I am going to decide if they get to spend more time with ME… so I’m asking things like “what are the most significant challenges you anticipate a successful candidate to be handling in the next year?” To decide if they are worth MY time.

    It isn’t perfect, but the change in focus has really helped me.

    Also, it really can help to practice. If you describe a project or experience a whole bunch of times, it becomes closer to automatic.

    Good luck, and please write back in after a bit to let us know how you are doing!

    1. londonedit*

      This is what I do – definitely remember that interviewing is a two-way street and you’re a professional person going into a professional business meeting. It’s not a pass/fail exam and they’re not going to deliberately try to trip you up (or if they do, you don’t want to work for them anyway!)

      The other thing I do is to try to get into character for the interview – for that morning/day/whatever I am playing the part of a confident and professional person who is getting ready for/travelling to/doing a professional business meeting. It might sound silly but it really does help me get into the right mindset. You can definitely practise doing this, too – even walking around at home, you can practise playing the part of a confident professional person who has all their ducks in a row.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I have a sword at home. Before an interview (or any other stressful appointment like with a notoriously fatphobic doctor) I walk round the house with it.

        Honestly works.

  33. SherSher*

    LW#1 – I got my degree from a now-defunct university that, as it turns out, may have not been fully accredited. I didn’t realize it at the time unfortunately. The name is similar to another university. (I am certain now that was by design.) At any rate, I tend to gloss over my credentials. And maybe that’s what this applicant has done/is doing. I feel like I earned my degree, but the fact that the university itself would be in question is very embarrassing.

  34. cncx*

    I mentioned this in an above comment, but i just wanna reiterate that it could be a
    i did a year of undergrad in france with a university that changed names.
    i also work a lot in french-speaking areas, and my american undergrad degree is not a one-to-one translation in french in terms of the same degree in french universities, so if someone translates from my french résumé back into english for my program and translates it one to one, they’re not gonna find it on google and/or think i’m lying. Think that a “teapot studies” degree is called “teapotologie” in french universities, but if you google “teapotology” you’re not gonna find it.
    Finally, and this is probably more important than cutting slack for changes in location or translation, I work in IT, and seeing the forms i see all day, it is unbelievable how many people make typos and half*ss forms. I say not to exclude that it really could be that his resume sucks in terms of formatting and he just wrote whatever in his degree column.

  35. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    Oatmeal University is where I got my dual Master of Breakfast Administration and Master of Farina Arts degrees.

  36. Too Many Words*

    Letter 1: A graduate from the degree program where I teach had a solid summer internship in his field at a manufacturing facility that was taken over by another corporation shortly thereafter. When job-searching in his senior year, he listed the experience with the dates and location, but only the current company name. He had a an excellent job-offer-on-graduation rescinded because HR attempted a routine credentials check and was told that he had never worked for the named company. They were not interested in any explanation. I hope that the problem would have been avoided had he written “Corporation X Llama Grooming Facility, Springfield Ohio (now owned by Corporation Y)” on his resume. But, perhaps not, as Corporation X no longer exists, so it would have depended on some extra effort by HR staff on both ends to verify his employment. He landed a job elsewhere and has had an excellent career, but it was a major let down at the time. TL;DR: candidates should prioritize being accurate on their resumes over saving space, but not all apparent inaccuracies are lies

  37. Mistakes were made*

    LW3: not knowing anything else about you, I wanted to tell you about this organization – it helps neurodivergent folks prepare for interviews – and also has an inside scoop on which companies will be more accommodating than others.

    https://specialisterne.com/

    I am also terrible at interviews and have always gotten jobs by making long-term connections in a low-level position (think moving from volunteer to staff to manager at a nonprofit or from student to adjunct to full time faculty in an academic setting or casual employee to full time employee where I was hired as a casual employee on the basis of a social connection) because I don’t interview well and hate the whole process. It’s not something that can be accomplished outside of niche situations and has been limiting in my career.

  38. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP3: Coming at this from the perspective of someone who a) used to drink booze before interviews to calm down (AWFUL idea DO NOT) and b) hired a DBA who absolutely could not handle a traditional face to face interview.

    For the DBA: he was, and still is, exceptionally panicked about face to face speaking. To this day I mostly communicate via email (although I got better results when I learnt some of his native language – polish – and attempted some pleasantries that way). He stated upfront that he preferred phone interviews and where he could send concrete proof of his skills. However, had he not been such a truly exceptional DBA I doubt I’d have hired him. Sad but true.

    For me: I can speak to a whole lecture hall of people, rock an interview but the entire time there’s a voice in my head saying ‘you’re useless, nobody likes you, you’re embarrassing yourself, you should just leave this planet’. The difference that medications and a lot of help have made is that while that voice is still there I’m well practiced at going ‘voice: who the **** cares what YOU think?’

    Not to say I’ve not done embarrassing stuff. I’ve messed up interviews, I’ve said inappropriate things, I’ve gone too far into my weird side and freaked people out but gotta say: years later? They are funny stories that make people on AAM laugh and that that makes me smile.

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      I try to take a similar attitude when I do something ridiculously embarrassing — at least those people who saw me will have a funny story to tell their friends later! Maybe THEY’RE anxious too and now they’ll have an icebreaker for later like ‘you’ll never guess what I saw someone do today!’

      Good job me, helping people like that. Ahahaha.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Another thing I do, which is a bit more specific since I used to do stand up comedy, is think how I’m gonna work the story of how Keymaster stuck a lipstick up her nose in front of the CEO into a routine that’s going to have people rolling off their seats in laughter.

        I don’t do comedy routines anymore but I still like to plan them out in my car on my own.

  39. Beth*

    LW3 – I agree with the other recommendations to explore treatment for your anxiety (and the recommendations to understand your reaction to any meds first before using them during an interview session). Also, you recommend only doing interviews for jobs you really want. How about also doing some interviews for jobs you don’t actually want where the pressure might feel less as a bit of exposure therapy? Also, if you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile set up where you’ve asked people to do recommendations for you, consider also doing that. Seeing personal testimonials from people who have worked with you previously can help employers get a good sense of your capabilities and could help them set aside the nerves they see when you interview.

    1. DuskPunkZebra*

      Yeah, lower the stakes! I got approached for a job and interviewed mostly to have options if my project’s contract renewal didn’t go through, and I did so much better with much lower anxiety because I wasn’t in active need of a job. I wasn’t intending to leave if I didn’t need to, but ended up taking the job because they could offer things the other job couldn’t.

  40. Lurking Tom*

    LW1: I got my Masters 20+ years ago now. Since that time, the school changed the name of the degree 3 times, changed names itself 4 times and closed entirely in 2019. On my resume, I still list the name of the institution and degree as they’re shown on my paper diploma, but I just Googled those things and you kinda have to go deep into the search results and use the right terms to get something to come up, and even then the “best” result I got (the only one containing both the school name and mentioning my degree program) was an archived press release about a visiting politician from an unrelated news source. So it’s possible that this is all just weirdness around changing names.

    The candidate should be able to explain all this clearly though. If not, that’s probably not a great sign.

    1. Emdash*

      Great points. I know some schools have closed as have departments. Or schools have similar names as other have pointed out.

      In reading the letter I wondered at first if maybe it was a typo or somehow maybe the bullet points on his resume listing his education messed up the name of the school but given the candidate’s reaction in the interview I feel clarity is needed.

      I often wish LinkedIn would confirm schools attended. I know a lot of that stuff is private or protected meaning you can’t Google to confirm a school attendance but I have seen a few instances where this happens—with graduate degrees.

      Could the hiring manager ask HR for input? Some states have laws where candidates have to sign off on background checks. Sometimes this is done during the application or after a first interview. I know background checks can be costly but if the candidate did really attend Oatmeal University than this would clear that up.

      I think Alison’s advice is spot-on though: to clarify it directly with the candidate. It strikes me as brazen if a candidate lied about a graduate degree and university.

  41. Hiring Mgr*

    I’m not sure if this is common at other universities but Harvard had a thing called the Harvard Extension school which is basically an adult learning/continuing ed program. It IS part of Harvard but as far as I know everyone gets in.

    It’s a long standing joke in the area that people would put Harvard on their resume for Education then in tiny font “extension school”.

    Who knows if that’s what’s up with this guy but it’s another possiblity…

    1. RuthieB*

      The Extension School is a rigorous program with adult students from around the world. They are only admitted as degree candidates if they earn at least a B average over three courses. Students are required to earn 16 credits from on campus classes as part of their degree. When Harvard went totally online because of the pandemic, grading switched to pass / fail EXCEPT for the Extension School. HU relied on the online knowledge of the ES to set up remote learning for the rest of the school. So anybody can get into the ES if they can do Harvard level work and no one gets in because their parents paid for a building on campus.

  42. Maude Lebowski*

    LW2: I am also a records manager – hi fellow information nerd! It’s common to have “must be able to lift 40 pounds” or whatever literally in our job descriptions, does yours say that? If so, maybe point out that lifting moderately heavy boxes is in expected of you in your role.

    1. OP2*

      Maud, I’ve checked now and it does not mention a minimum weight to lift. It does mention various activities that are impossible without moving boxes around, but it’s not as explicit as that. I think it should be, but it isn’t.

      1. Kit*

        You could always use this tactic when bringing it up with Marty and Jennifer – mentioning that the job description doesn’t include specific minimums might pair very nicely with the risk assessment, and make it a nicely matter-of-fact “Oh, this sort of thing is very common for archival jobs, but I thought we’d want to clarify it so that it’s included for the future!”

        Best of luck getting Jennifer to back off, this would aggravate me immensely if I were in your (sensible flat) shoes.

        1. OP2*

          This seems like a good plan for when we eventually get to that (as I think we should). Marty didn’t hire me either, so didn’t write the job description himself, but he’s generally open to considering suggestions.

    2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      When I worked in an archive when I was in my MLIS program, I had one patron (an older French man) who DID NOT WANT me to carry his boxes because I was a Lady.
      Patrons were not allowed to carry their boxes (for the protection of both the patron/us not getting sued for injuries, and the protection of the materials).
      I explained many times that this was my job and the rules.
      He straight up yanked the box out of my arms.

      1. OP2*

        That’s hilarious yet alarming!

        I worked one place where we were supposed to present and clear everything in the reading room using a trolley. I found it annoying at the time, but this was probably the reason why.

  43. crossing Ts and dotting Is*

    For LW#4: please make sure you have the job offer with all the details in a written letter before you resign your current job.

  44. Nobby Nobbs*

    LW 1, you’ve gotten a lot of ideas about how this could be an honest mistake rather than deception, so I’m going to skip over that and float the possibility that this guy could be lying his butt of and is, in fact, in town to sell you a phony boys’ band. Gary Conservatory, gold medal class of aught five… but the town wasn’t even built until aught six!

  45. JSPA*

    OP3: consider trades / apprenticeship. Depends on how you do with non-interview, hands-on tests, and spatial thinking. But you can pull down solid money, from the sorts of jobs that are darn hard to outsource. Whether you end up permanent journeyman level or work with a general contractor who can describe you to clients as, “bit odd, easily flustered, does great work,” that’s got the makings of a career you can not only live on, but retire from at a reasonable age. (IT can be similar, if you find your niche in a larger org that promotes internally.)

  46. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP1: there are partnerships where a community college and a 4-year university team up for any number of things. Part of it is a pipeline to get 2-year graduates into the 4-year university, especially to address things like disadvantaged communities, late-in-life college students, career changers, etc. They also will do cooperative things where CC students take/audit a class, attend a seminar, do internships, etc at the 4-year school but get their AS/AA from the CC.

    Maybe your candidate was at the CC and was trying to glom onto the prestige of the 4-year university. Which is, obviously, not a good look. Like the people who attend a weekend course at Harvard Business School and try to puff it into the next best thing to an MBA.

    Or, on the bright side, maybe the candidate just wrote down the pipeline thing confusingly.

  47. Sam*

    LW3: you mention you have experience interviewing but it seems like your experience is only in real interview situations. In addition to trialing medication, as others have mentioned, you may consider intensively practicing interviews with friends, family, or other job seekers. Before this year I would have said I was in a similar position as you. But while I prepped for my job search I did so many practise interviews that once the real interviews came they felt almost routine. I’m not kidding when I say I did two or three practices a week for three months. And I did get offers in the end!

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      I’m glad that worked for you! I get moderate anxiety around interviews and have found the idea of practice interviews with someone I know in my personal life even more stressful than a real one. At least with a real interview, if I doo poorly, I usually don’t have to see that person ever again.

      Practice interviews in general are a good idea though- educational institutions frequently have career centers with staff who can give you practice interviewing as well as feedback and coaching. OP, you may want to also apply for a handful of jobs you feel tepid about, as maybe the stakes will feel lower in those interviews. And remember interviews are about determining fit rather than passing judgment, and they’re as much for you to get a sense of the employer as they are for the employer to get a sense of you.

  48. WFH with Cat*

    #4 – I certainly hope you get a great offer! That said, I cannot help but add: Please don’t resign until you have a signed offer letter in hand. If you’re a regular AAM reader, you probably already know this — but we’ve all read the letters from people who accepted a verbal offer, gave notice, and then ended up with no offer/no job due to delays in background checks, unexpected changes to an agreed-upon salary, etc.

  49. Tib*

    Interviewing OP, have you seen any companies offering accommodations for the interview? I’m interviewing for software developer positions and I often see a link to reach out for interview accommodations. If you’ve seen that, try talking to some of those people. They may have some helpful ideas.

    Also be analytical and see if you can pinpoint the trigger for your anxiety. If you know the source of your problem you can practice with those conditions and try and avoid them when interviewing. Get creative (weird). This is a journey and the thing that works today will lead to tomorrow’s more “professional” version.

    Also most importantly, protect yourself. If you find yourself blanking, end the interview. Right then. Don’t try and power through. Promise yourself ahead of the interview that you will end the interview if you’re feeling like you’re going to blank and then do it. If the interviewer tries to accommodate you, tell them about your promise and you apologize but you need to follow through. I think you’ll get through this faster and happier if you show your anxious self that you’re on their side.

    1. Mf*

      Your point about protecting yourself is a good one. Why suffer through a bad/uncomfortable interview after blanking? Besides, realizing you can end a bad interview at any time is very empowering and might even help someone with anxiety feel less stressed.

  50. Radish Queen*

    Re: universities changing names – isn’t it responsible to update your resume to denote changing names of companies and also universities? For example, the specific facility from my previous employer was sold to another company after I left. So on my resume it reads: Llama Supervisor, Superior Llama Technologies – City, State (now Advanced Farm Animals). The same could be done for a degree or resume right? Ex: MS, Advanced Llama Grooming, City Tech College (now Community College of City – Tech Campus)

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I think so, but maybe he doesn’t know. Or maybe he got bad advice. I could see someone saying that you shouldn’t update your resume because if they ask for copies of your diploma its going to say X university instead of y.

  51. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    In regards to # 1 could you call the university and see if they have a specific branch that has the program? There should be some way to verify the person went there.
    I also think that maybe there was a change to a university or the community college name? For example, maybe they used to go by Oatmeal community college and because of the confusion with the university, they had to change their name? Something similar happened with my mom. She had gone to CITY community College. But there was also City technical school. This was back in the late 80’s early 90’s. In 2000 they merged to City community and technical college. But if someone was looking at her resume, and was not familiar with the college, they may not be able to find the college under that name.

    Another option is did the college move or get dismantled. I think of Globe University and how they just crashed and disappeared.
    The best thing is for the OP to talk with the candidate. And update us with what happened!

  52. Gypsy_AcidQueen*

    OP2, I am in the same field and have had similar issues. I think some people see us lugging boxes and think it’s “unfair” we’re doing “all that work” when it’s literally our job description we have to be able to lift 40lbs.

    I will say that my cohorts knew I had some VERY MINOR health problems and all of a sudden assumed that me lifting a box meant I was going to fall apart at the seams like a ragdoll. Maybe Jennifer is thinking the same way. There was also a large assumption they knew better than what my doctor and I had concluded (healthy repetitive motion was helpful for my healing process rather than letting it rest). I have honestly had to just “announce” that it’s box lifting time as to not surprise others and that I will ask if I need help (very well knowing I don’t need it).

  53. Missing mentee*

    OP3: if the idea of seeking help for anxiety is overwhelming, I highly recommend enlisting a partner or close friend to help!

    It’s deeply ironic that a lot of time, the process of seeking support for mental health requires a ton of legwork that happens to be pretty tough especially when your mental health is not great…

    Anyway, I’m handling the research, phone calls, scheduling, etc for my partner right now, and it’s going great: appointments are scheduled and paperwork is filled out!

    (Another starting point could be your EAP, if your company has one – they can help with setting you up with a therapist and typically pay for the first five sessions or so.)

    Sending my best to you.

  54. MissM1521*

    LW#1, we had a similar situation. Position does not require a college degree (yay HR for removing that!) but this guy said he’d graduated from Oatmeal University with honors. We got all the way through to an offer contingent on background check and when they couldn’t validate his graduation, we reached out and things got squirrelly from there. Long story short, he hadn’t graduated after all (with or without honors) and we pulled the offer.
    It kills me that this was a position that we’d deliberately removed the college degree requirement from, but you can’t hire someone who is willing to lie from the get-go, especially when they knew about the background check.

    1. DEJ*

      You would be surprised at how many people think they’ve graduated and realize later on that they didn’t actually complete the requirements, falling just one or two classes short. So while it’s possible that he outright lied, it’s also possible that there was a miscommunication or something fell through the cracks somewhere.

      I used to work at a University and saw plenty of instances where people didn’t actually know the name of their degree.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        This is why I made a point of completing all my undergrad graduation requirements before graduation. At my school you could walk if you still had one more class to complete over the summer. I didn’t want to get in a situation where I graduated and started a job but failed the summer class.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          My college withheld my graduation confirmation (and my diploma) because of a library book I’d turned in late. They had the book, but said I owed them the late fee. $4.46. I only realized something was wrong when I was applying for grad schools and one of them flagged that I hadn’t graduated. I paid that fee in pennies.

  55. Ana Gram*

    I do background investigations for a law enforcement agency and run into #1’s issue a few times a year. I always call the candidate and approach it with a “hey, I’m confused by this, can you clarify?” tone. We’re hoping to hire this person so we don’t want to be accusatory but we do need to verify if you’re lying to us.

    I’d say half the time, they have a legitimate degree and the resume was just sloppily written or used an old school or degree program or translated something oddly into English. The other half are diploma mills or just lies.

    Give the candidate a call and let them clarify.

  56. LCH*

    OP2: as a fellow archivist, is it possible HR just doesn’t understand your job requirements?? it sounds like you aren’t at a library or other place where they would be more familiar. i’ve definitely had initial interviews with HR for some places where they had no clue what the job actually entails. maybe show her the job requirements from other places (standard lifting of 40lb boxes, etc).

    1. OP2*

      I think this is very likely. You’re correct; it isn’t a setting where everyone automatically understands what I do, or not everything I do.

      I have said to her that this is very normal work to have, but it didn’t seem to sink in.

  57. Kayem*

    LW1: Is it possible the university changed the name of one of their schools? I have two undergrad degrees from the same university, under the same school. Right as I was finishing my second, the university changed the name of the school in their move to make it online-only, so one degree has the old name and the other has the new name, but they’re both from the same school.

    Alternately, is it possible it’s a for-profit school that got shut down or converted into a non-profit? A lot of those for-profit schools had names very similar to more prestigious schools.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Yeah, I did part of an MA at new degree program that was trendy at the time, and it could very well have been shut down by now for all I know.

      My husband also works at a public university that also runs some fee-based degrees, one of which is also about to be shut down.

      Programs and universities can come and go more quickly than people think.

  58. Alexis Rosay*

    LW3, my husband is also not great an interviewing (though nothing quite like what you describe). He’s only had career success getting promoted by people who have seen and like his work. After a very tough job search, he got into his employer when he was offered a temp position they were desperate to fill in short notice. Then he was able to work his way up.

    Can you target an employer that will have growth opportunities without needing additional interviews, and try to get in at the lowest level or as a temp?

  59. Michelle Smith*

    OP1: Think about it this way. You have other candidates on your short list. Wouldn’t you hate to hire a liar over someone else on the list who didn’t fake a degree? Ask him to clarify.

    OP2: It might be worth also telling the people who come over to help in a lighthearted tone that you’re not sure why Jennifer asked for them to come, that you would prefer to do it alone, and that you will speak with them directly if you need anything. Hopefully over time, people will start to ask Jennifer “Did OP ask for help? If not, I am going to continue doing what I’m doing.”

    OP3: This degree of anxiety is atypical. Some anxiety is certainly common I think, but completely being unable to function during the interviews is a bit extreme, especially given the fact that you are able to function well outside of them. I would suggest that you consider speaking to a professional about this and see if there is anything that can be done to help you. I know there are people who get anxiety medication for flying on airplanes, for example, so it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that this would be an option for you. For me (a person with more generalized anxiety), things like working with a career coach and having confirmation from her that despite me feeling like my answers are rambling and incoherent helped; not drinking any caffeine the day of the interview also helped. I felt like I was sleepy and moving through fog, and felt anxious as ever, but the interviewers reported to me that I seemed calm and controlled.

  60. Dust Bunny*

    Archives employee here: Literally the two primary requirements for my job were that I have a bachelor’s degree in something and that I be able to lift and carry 50 pounds up and down stairs/rolling staircases repeatedly. If you’re a “lone arranger” (one-person archives department) then you have to do the lifting yourself. I’m not a proper archivist–I was hired as an assistant to two older women, mostly to do their lifting for them.

    So if anyone is wondering, yes, it’s very normal for archivists and archives assistants to have this as a job requirement and, yes, it’s necessary. Boxes of books and papers are heavy.

    1. NeedRain47*

      It’s so normal for us (librarians and archivists) to be expected to sometimes lift and move things, it’s in pretty much every job description….. it’s honestly weird that someone in the LWs workplace objects to this so much.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I think there’s this idea that library/archives jobs are strictly desk jobs held by middle-aged women, so people who aren’t familiar with them are surprised at how physical they can be.

          1. NeedRain47*

            I’m a middle aged woman and I’m a cataloger which does in fact mostly involve sitting at a desk, LOL. I still have to lift stuff sometimes!

          2. Ali + Nino*

            Rather than sexism my first thought was possible ageism? I’m not sure how old Jennifer is but she clearly underestimates your physical abilities, perhaps that’s why.

      2. OP2*

        It really does seem weird as it’s such a basic task, and I partly wrote in as a reality check: would it seem as strange to the non-archives world? But it seems that yes, it’s just as weird, so that’s useful data to have.

        1. Evelyn Carnahan*

          Before I was a librarian, I worked in records management at a few different places. They didn’t have the same lifting requirements that my library jobs have had, or the culture of libraries where everyone knows that it can be a surprisingly physical job. I never had the issue you’re having, but I’m guessing that’s a big part of the issue? I don’t have better advice than Alison but I can commiserate!

          1. OP2*

            Yeah, I think it may all boil down to the physical side of the work being less normalised here because I’m the only one who does it. So it looks like I need to do some work to establish that yes, it’s a reasonable thing to expect someone in my role to do.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I think it just doesn’t fit the old librarian stereotype. It seems obvious to those of us who work in it, but it’s maybe a lot less obvious to the general public.

  61. Dust Bunny*

    OP1: This is weird. My first guess would have been that it was a sub-school within a larger university (Big Donor School of History at FancyPants University) but then references to it should have popped right up on an Internet search.

    1. works with realtors*

      The further out I get from finishing my degree – which was absorbed into a new department, then scrapped altogether within 3 years of graduating – the less I’m able to find it on anything that seems official or credible outside of a very outdated Wikipedia page that I hope never gets discovered by editors and “fixed.”

  62. NeedRain47*

    Re: LW#1, I come across schools (and businesses and other organizations) all the time that have changed names entirely, changed names slightly, changed names of programs, canceled programs, were subsumed under a larger organization… there are a ton of possibilities besides “this person is lying” so please ask them.

  63. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 = if you are a job applicant, as many have said – if your university changed its name or doesn’t exist, indicate it.
    There’s a college (literally) in my neighborhood that ceased to exist around 22 years ago. Likewise, some high schools closed, and don’t exist anymore – this is particularly common with girls’ parochial high schools. Clarify it on your resume.

    #4 – YES if your 1-on-1 is gives a two-week window, do it then BUT lead off with it. It’s fair, to give your manager a chance to reset, and, perhaps set up an opportunity for a counter-offer. But, if you definitely are going to leave, bring it up AS LONG AS it’s two weeks in advance of your departure.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      re #1 – I might add, in the Boston satellite city (outlying city) – SIX girls’ high schools have closed in the last 35 years, which could pose a problem for applicants who graduated from them – they can’t even be found on the internet – although Massachusetts state law requires school records archival for 66 years (at last check).

      My father was an elementary school prinicpal, and around 1985, a guy came in and needed his transcripts from 1930 for a job that required a security clearance.

  64. Johanna Cabal*

    Regarding high schools, I’ve always thought it was easier to lie about having a high school degree from a private religious school as it’s not uncommon for those to close due to budget issues or even merge with other private schools. I mean, if I was looking at a resume or job app and saw the candidate received a high school diploma from St. So-and-So High School or [Religious Demonination] Fellowship School in another state, I probably wouldn’t think anything of it.

    (Not condoning this but I’ve always wondered. My experience is that background checks for post-high school education tend to be more rigorous than high school.)

  65. christine*

    LOL I work in higher ed accreditation-adjacent stuff and I run into way more people who DON’T know the *official* name of their degree than who do. Seriously. It’s extremely common. Programs use shorthand all the time when advertising to students — it’s something we are constantly watching to ensure “truth in advertising” but you can’t always be present in a room when a faculty or staff member says the name of the degree. It’s also possible his program has been discontinued since he earned it, so it wouldn’t be on the website anymore. Would definitely approach him with grace to get clarification rather than assuming he made it up. It’s always possible he did but trust me — this is much more common than you’d think.

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah!
      I have a degree in “Biochemistry and Cell Biology” from state university.

      Years later, I interview a guy who has the same degree from the same school. Only, in an attempt to “wow” me, he explains that “Biochemistry and Cell Biology” is actually TWO degrees. He explained that he was required to take TWICE the number of classes one would take to earn ONE BA degree.

      He did not realize, and I certainly did not let on, that I have the same degree from the same school. Now, he may have taken additional classes beyond the requirements for the degree, but this is one degree.

      (yeah, I checked and the degree requirements hadn’t changed)

      Know your audience people.

      Unfortunately we did end up hiring him-for a temporary job. He carried out his assignments as instructed. So he met the job requirements. However, during this time, he did his fair share of ‘man-splaining’ and the like.

      I never did let on about my degree.

      I wonder if he goes around telling folks what he told me about his degree.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I came here to post something similar. I work in career services at a university and it is not uncommon for students and alumni to struggle with naming. We have students that transfer between schools and don’t know how to list that on resume, students who change majors but still want to show they’ve done the coursework, dealing with college or degree name changes, names that don’t make any intuitive sense, etc. In most cases, my advice is to use parentheses, e.g. Oatmeal University (formally Oatmeal Community College) or Communication Networks B.S. (Computer Science). In more complicated situations, it may be best explained in a cover letter.

      All this to say, I’ve seen so many people struggle with naming things on resumes that my first assumption is to give the candidate the benefit of the doubt and a chance to explain.

  66. Tara*

    LW3, all the other comments about addressing anxiety are probably more helpful, but also… manufacturing/warehouse jobs? At least where I’m at, there are multiple manufacturing-focused staffing agencies where, if you show up with a pulse and can pass a drug test, you can get SOMEthing. Work is rough, but the pay is actually decent-ish. I’m sure there are internal promotion opportunities from there, since their turnover is so high.

  67. Econobiker*

    I once assisted a great coworker (who was also a friend) who had a complete patchwork of class attendance at two different four year colleges and 2 community colleges all in different states. He’d partied too much as a younger man and then the realities of a working life and moving for jobs with eventually a wife and FIVE (yes 5) children didn’t afford much time for finishing at community colleges.
    When I looked at his fractured transcripts, I saw that if every class (that he had passed) would have transferred cleanly, he probably would have had an associates degree in business (less maybe one or two science/humanity classes which he had failed/dropped). We researched and reviewed for closed-down community colleges and out of business for-profit colleges to enable him to list an associates degree in liberal arts from a now defunct institution on his resume for the time period and geographic location that was realistic for his job history and descriptions. Was this ethical on his part? Absolutely not. But, for him, it was the better solution than listing and explaining 4 different learning institutions over the span of about 15-20 years without any degrees. And anyone reviewing and background checking his resume would have found news stories about the institution he named going bankrupt and closing.

    Again, completely unethical but it wasn’t my decision nor my resume. As far as I know, he’s got work and is still working as a shift supervisor at a larger manufacturing company and doing fairly well in it.

  68. Ewesername*

    LW3 – I can relate. I have some similar anxiety and interviews are something I dread. Something I did that helped was I researched common interview questions and how to answer them. (YouTube and skillshare have helpful videos)Then I wrote out my answers, rehearsed them, recorded my answers and listened to the playback while I was doing other things. Once I had the common questions down, I researched oddball interview questions and repeated the process.
    If there are any job hunting resources in your area, they may be able to help. I went to one that very happily repeatedly interviewed me until I got the hang of it. Failing that, are you able to ask a friend of a friend to help? It’s better if you don’t know the person well, so that you’re mimicking the social situation.
    Finally, one of the best pieces of advice I received was there’s nothing wrong with saying “hmm. I haven’t been asked that before. Could we circle that to that one? I need a minute to think on it.” Most employers are OK with that. If they aren’t, you probably don’t want to work for the anyway.
    Try not to beat yourself up too much. You’ll get through it. Best of luck in your job search.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I second the rehearsing and mock interviews for sure. Came here to say this very thing. And I definitely agree with trying to find treatment for your anxiety. Has made a world of difference for me. Best of luck, OP!

  69. Laura*

    LW3, I enthusiastically agree with others’ recommendations to explore treatment/therapy for anxiety. I will add, one type of treatment you might want to look for, especially if you don’t have the funds for long-term therapy, is EMDR. (If someone above already recommended it, I apologize—I didn’t read the whole thread). EMDR can be super effective for specific phobias and very specific anxiety triggers like this, and it can often make a big difference in a short time (say, 4-8 sessions, as opposed to months and months of talk therapy). Wishing you all the best!

    1. metadata minion*

      Seconding this! EMDR doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does, it tends to be downright magical.

  70. Professional_Lurker*

    Fellow 5’0” archivist here! Yeah, I’ve never seen a job description that doesn’t mention being able to lift 40+. It’s just what boxes full of paper weigh.

  71. tangerineRose*

    For OP3, are there any jobs in your current company that you would like to apply for? They might still interview you (probably would), but it might be easier if you already know the person, and they know you.

  72. Nicole*

    For no. 2, does Jennifer assume you are pregnant? There’s two reasons for my query – 1) you say this is recent either because she is a new hire or a change in habit and 2) she works in HR and could have been told someone else is and confused the two people. Sorry if I’m referring to a sensitive subject, I’ve just finished working with a pregnant coworker (she’s on mat leave now) and she wasn’t able to lift a lot from early in her pregnancy.

    1. OP2*

      I did consider it but no, I don’t really think it’s that. It is recent because she’s a new-ish hire and because non-remote working resumed not so very long ago.

  73. Degrees R Us*

    As somebody with multiple advanced degrees, I think my resume doesn’t lie about my second Masters, but also gives information that wouldn’t come up on a Google search. As in: State University – Masters of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (Education and certification in Educational Leadership). I don’t think if you look up the program, it even says anything specific about education and educational leadership. It’s a weird cohort masters that travels to schools around the world offering legitimate degrees to practicing teachers. But in conversation, I call it my Masters in Education, because really, what does Interdisciplinary Studies mean? It’s not like the Mals program at Dartmouth where you get to choose your own classes, I was on a set trajectory of classes.

  74. works with realtors*

    LW1 describes an actual work nightmare I have regularly – someone will think I’m a fraud because the graduate degree I have is no longer conferred, and the further out I am from graduation, the less Google-able the degree becomes. If someone were to call the university, I’m sure they’d have the record of it, but I don’t think people do that much anymore!

    Because of my own background, I wouldn’t jump to a “he’s lying” position – is it possible he is trying to clarify what his focus is? I often say my degree is in XYZ subject to highlight specifically my area of expertise, but also because, well, when you can’t look up the degree anymore easily it’s up to me to give you context!

  75. Elizabeth West*

    I actually hurt myself irreparably handling boxes at OldExjob—it wasn’t bad form, but repetitive motion over six years (compounded by heavy stuff at other jobs before that). When I got tennis elbow so bad I couldn’t move my arm, they paid worker’s comp for PT and let me order a sturdier hand truck, and some of the burlier men helped me with bigger boxes. But my shoulders will never be the same and I can’t just go get a warehouse job without risking permanent disability.

    I wonder if OP #2’s HR person is concerned about this. Maybe someone else went on work comp for similar reasons and she’s worried it will happen again. I guess the only way to know is to talk to her about it.

    1. OP2*

      I am starting to wonder. My duties aren’t that heavy but if it was a story heard at secondhand, the distinction might not be as clear.

      Or, you know, she just sees box-shifting as a chore that anyone would want help with. That’s also a possibility.

  76. Dawn*

    #3: As a fellow anxiety-sufferer (and other things; this might not even be anxiety specifically:) I know it’s tough but please, please talk to a doctor. You genuinely do not have to live your life with that voice in your head telling you that there’s no point in trying and you are doomed to entry-level positions forever.

    If you’ve got someone you trust with it, ask the people in your life to help you get yourself to seek treatment as well. It was life-changing for me to realize that I had friends who actually didn’t mind coming with me to the occasional doctor’s appointment, even if it was just to hold my hand and to make sure that I actually carried through.

  77. Sleeve McQueen*

    LW4 – yes please resign at the beginning of your meeting! I had someone resign at the end of training that had taken quite a bit of prep and I wouldn’t give them if they were resigning. Part of me was like “seriously, dude?”

  78. cardigarden*

    LW 2: I’m an archivist and Jennifer is being weird. Every single position description I’ve ever seen explicitly states “job requires the lifting of boxes up to 40lbs in weight.”

  79. metadata minion*

    Another possible university weirdness to add to the list — if you look up my BA degree, you will see that my alma mater does not have any coursework that subject (or at least, it didn’t in 2003-2006; there’s always a chance that’s changed!). This is because it’s in a consortium with two other colleges and it’s very common to major at one of the other two. As far as I know this is mostly a thing at the undergraduate level, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere out there there’s a similar consortial agreement for masters programs.

  80. Moonlight*

    Lw5 / op5 – something I’ve noticed that when jobs have absurdly long lists of “duties” some of them aren’t distinct duties. For example, imagine applying to be a receptionist and having them lost “must professionally answer phone calls, must promptly and professionally respond to clients who come in, must be able to take clients to different parts of the office, must be good at Microsoft programs, must be good at Random Client Management program” so it looks like there at 5 things when really those are just 2 things: “must be computer savvy, and must be able to respond professionally to clients on phone and in person.” As someone who his neurodivergent, those really long job ads are basically incomprehensible because I struggle to organise the information on my mind in a way that makes sense and thus can’t really figure out what I am responsible for, or what the job looks like, or where the balance of responsibilities are. But point is it might be worth your time to see if you can sort the job duties into different categories (eg are there 5 things that relate to how they want you to interact with clients, 5 things relating to how you’ll work at events, etc).

  81. Sequoia*

    LW1, definitely ask. Universities change names, degree programs, get closed or restructured, etc all the time.

    My mom has a graduate degree from a university that no longer offers any graduate degrees. About 10 years after she graduated they effectively sold off all their graduate programs to other schools. Oddly, student records went with the various graduate programs. So to verify her degree you’d need to call a different university in a different city than the one she lists on her resume.

    Likewise, all the community and junior colleges in our area have been changing their names over the last 10-15 years. They’ve also restructured departments, changed degree requirements, etc.

    That said, there’s a chance that this candidate was advised to stretch the truth on their resume. I’ve heard folks recommend putting “Attended X university”, “X university 1998-2001”, or just “X university” on their resume when they did attend but never graduated. I’ve seen similar when folks complete a non-degree/certificate program associated with a major university. Its shady and I recommend folks don’t do that when they ask for my help, but I’ve still seen recruiters recommend it.

  82. Zippy*

    #2 OP, I start sweating and turning red at the drop of a hat, even if I am doing an activity that is well within my physical capabilities. Maybe if you have the same problem, HR lady is reacting to this? Same advice as the other possible causes, but maybe you can stress, “I know it LOOKS like I’m over exerting, but I’m not…”

    1. OP2*

      I don’t think it’s this… at least I haven’t particularly noticed any flushing etc!

  83. Emdash*

    LW#3,

    I too have terrible interview anxiety. It is helpful to explore—ideally in therapy, but even with someone you trust if therapy is not affordable or available—the underlying causes. Sometimes my own anxiety is worse when I feel financial pressure or if I really want a job. Other times it is because I have memories of past interview anxiety. So trying to understand the root issue for me is instrumental because then I can work on countering that.

    I find preparing for them—Pomodoro technique, spread over time—builds my muscle memory. Committing CAR (context action result) examples more to memory. Listening to upbeat music before hand (cue Alicia Keyes “This Girl Is on Fire”). Visualizing the interview going well. Bookending they interview— texting/calling a support person (family or friend or therapist) before the interview and then after. Also practicing answers out loud, learning to pause And say “great question.” Even finding ways to politely ask for clarification if a question seems vague or really macro. Some libraries have interview coaching sessions.

    Beta blockers help me a lot and I only take them as needed. And last but not least: if you are getting interviews, that means they are interested/serious. Try to reflect, list and name all the great skills and qualities you have. It can help boost one’s confidence.

    I’m rooting for you!

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