Dear Sam: I
worked for 23 years for a well-known company until 3 years ago when I
and 99 others were asked to take early retirement. I was off for 3
months when I found a new temp-to-perm position. After 18 months I was
promoted to an administrative assistant position with the idea I was a
potential permanent hire. I really love the work I do and I enjoy the
team I work with, but I am finding that another person in the
department keeps taking credit for what I do. I am worried that if this
continues, the company will not see the value in bringing me on as a
full-time, permanent employee, and all this work and time will be
wasted. I really need to work full-time, and want to establish a career
with this employer, but I am not sure if I should start seeking
employment elsewhere. – Ruth

Dear Ruth: While it never hurts to
be prepared for situations outside of your control by updating your
résumé with this most recent position, I think you can take steps to
salvage what you have going for you with your current employer,
especially as you enjoy your work and those you work with.

documenting everything you do and trying to facilitate transparency of
your actions to make sure those around you, specifically your
supervisor, are aware of your contributions. You could do this in an
informal capacity with weekly email updates to your supervisor and
peers on projects and tasks you are working on or have completed. You
might introduce this by telling your peers and supervisor that as you
support multiple departments within the organization you thought
emailing a “weekly update” would make sure everyone always knew the
progress you had made on projects and tasks, especially important as
you are part-time and not always available to respond to such queries.
This will ensure that everyone is aware of your contributions and
hopefully show the person that is trying to take credit for your work,
that he/she will need to make their own contributions from now on.

Sam: I was recently laid off after spending 7 years with the company
and am concerned about listing my boss as a reference. To put it
politely, my boss was dysfunctional at best and seemed to be battling
substance abuse. I know from reading your column that you are never
supposed to badmouth a former employer, but my worst fear is that a
prospective employer will call to get a reference, speak to my former
boss, and not know my side of the story in terms of who he is and how
he acts. I am not the only person in this situation; everyone who was
laid off is concerned that when reference checks are performed, our
responsibilities and accomplishments will be news to him.

clients and vendors can attest to our plight, and vouch for us, and
several said we can use them as a reference. But still, one
conversation with Mr. Wonderful and future employers are not likely
to give us a second look. Is there a way to spin this? – R.S.

R.S.: What an unfortunate situation to be in. Could you use peers or a
different supervisor as references instead of your boss? That’s a
pretty common strategy and can ensure you have the best
reference/recommendation possible, completely bypassing him and the
company as a whole. As you mentioned former clients and vendors are
also willing to serve as references, list them to provide third-party
validation of the claims on your résumé. You may also want to start
requesting written letters of recommendation as a backup. You probably
don’t even have to mention this situation to prospective employers,
just create a reference sheet and list the titles the reference
providers hold/held. So, if using a client as a reference you would
list his/her name followed by his/her title and a note saying “client
with ABC Company).

If you are ever asked why your boss isn’t
listed you could say, “unfortunately all the employees who were
downsized, and actually those that are still employed, were perplexed
as to who to list as a reference as our official boss was an absent
supervisor so he would have no idea what any of us did, where we went
above and beyond, and quite frankly, we were all concerned he would not
know who we were due to some health concerns he was battling that
impacted his ability to function. Hence listing several other reference
providers who can attest to the work I performed.” Hope that helps.