Out of the blue, HR suddenly sent a message to everyone to share their education credentials (degrees/certs) ASAP for the "gathering employment data"

Is there any way to tell what prompted the request? Is this kind of request common and is it a cause for concern?

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    It could mean anything from "HR was feeling especially jobless that day" to "HR needs data to fire people". We cannot know for sure what they must be thinking. You stand a better chance of satisfying your curiosity by asking HR or someone in the company, than a bunch of random internet strangers. – Masked Man Aug 22 '16 at 17:29
  • @MaskedMan Agreed, but I believe the question is generic enough that it can be given meaningful answers beyond the obvious. I've also made an edit to improve the main questions. (I was on the fence as to whether this was off-topic but my comment was growing too long and was more of an answer so I figured I'd post it.) – Lilienthal Aug 22 '16 at 17:31
  • Thank you. I wasn't quite sure how to phrase it to be general enough to fit here. – Force Flow Aug 22 '16 at 17:33
  • My solution to this problem...I don't have a degree. :D – Chris E Aug 22 '16 at 18:00
  • super common when HR is asked to provide a list of people with XYZ cert and has no such list. The original request might have been for a bid, for a grant application, to join programs that require you to employ some number of people with some cert, etc. Common as dirt and I would never be concerned about it. Just give them the data (including "nothing" if that's your answer) and think no more about it. – Kate Gregory Aug 22 '16 at 18:14

The only way to know for sure is to ask HR. This kind of request is fairly common, especially in consulting companies, but there are many reasons why they could be asking. In consultancies it would be a sign that there's an important bid coming up where they want to get the right certificates lined up. In other companies it could be for some other strategic decision. The fact that it's urgent tells you something but not a lot.

Not many, if any, of the possible reasons should be a cause for concern unless you lied about your education or certification. RichardU raised the possibility of a reorganization which would be a cause for concern but I wouldn't expect this kind of request in such a situation.

  • As far as I'm concerned, mine is legit. Although the idea of hunting for people who did lie is an interesting idea, although all new employees go through a background check of some sort. – Force Flow Aug 22 '16 at 17:34
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    It could also be because HR realized certain things in their systems were undocumented because of <reasons>. Maybe someone lied on their credentials, maybe some pay grades are affected by education, or maybe a new manager/director decided this was important. Lots of potential reasons here. – enderland Aug 22 '16 at 17:35
  • @enderland Agreed, but Richard covered that in his answer and I wanted to avoid stealing it. :) – Lilienthal Aug 22 '16 at 17:36
  • @ForceFlow I think you might have mistakenly commented on my answer, did you mean to comment on RichardU's answer? – Lilienthal Aug 22 '16 at 17:36
  • It was sort of a combined response to both comments. – Force Flow Aug 22 '16 at 17:40

Usually, this indicates that a reorganization is coming. Get ready to interview for your own jobs.

Either that, or they are under some sort of audit or found someone lying, and are looking for others.

  • @LaconicDroid the lies was a separate statement. I said audit OR found someone lying. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 22 '16 at 17:50
  • That's what I get for not paying attention. Deleted. – Laconic Droid Aug 22 '16 at 18:45

In order to approach this in a calm manner, I often find it helpful to separate the data from the interpretation.

What is the data? Statements of fact:

  1. HR is requesting education credentials
  2. HR says they are "gathering employment data"
  3. You (do/do not) have education credentials

What is the interpretation? Statements of conjecture:

  • Your education credentials are not good enough/will be used against you
  • You are about to be jobless
  • You are about to be (reorganized) placed in a job you don't want
  • You are about to have a bad time

The interpretations are NOT SUPPORTED BY DATA, are they?

There is something else in those interpretations: fear. How do we conquer fear? Not by ignoring it. Not by giving in to it, but by mitigating it as best as possible. Let's look at each one of these:

Fear: Insufficient Education Credentials

Solution: Take classes/training

Fear: Job Loss

Solution: Establish an emergency fund now (see: The Richest Man in Babylon for how to do this), work your network, start looking for a better job

Fear: Unwanted job

Solution: Use it as a learning opportunity (what can you learn from a new job, even a bad one?), plus you're getting paid to do something until you can find a better job

Fear: Bad time

Solution: All bad times are temporary and are perpetrated only by your own attitude. Wait it out and things will change. Or make a change yourself.

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