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Seeking Deserved Acknowledgement Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

Question: The analysis database I have worked on is used as a base for a larger project. The presentation of the material whose major components comes from my work is given to someone else because he wants to include this project as part of his report. No other good reason is offered. I cannot help feeling the credit is taken away from me. Is it selfish to feel this way? After all we all are working for the same corporate goals.

Shawn C., Truro, Nova Scotia
Dear Shawn,

Don't you hate it when someone else takes credit for all the hard work you've done? It's kind of like being told that you don't really matter, when in fact if it weren't for you the person stealing your thunder wouldn't have a hook to hang their hat on.

So don't beat yourself up too badly for feeling ''selfish' about this. Truth is that, even though you are right about your contribution being part of the overall corporate effort, and by doing your best you yourself are showing how worthwhile you are as an employee, in the long run you will need to get your name in front of the decision-makers where you work in order to be considered for raises and promotions.

And when you think about it, isn't this exactly what the person who is ''borrowing' your work is doing for themselves?

Which means you'll want to consider some strategies for sharing the limelight in the future. Here are some suggested ways for doing just that.
  • If The Person Is Cooperative: You haven't stated here whether the person who is using your material is a peer or someone higher up than you. If it's a peer -- someone at around the same level as you -- your task is to let them know you would like to be included in the credits for the overall project. It could be as simple as having them add your name to the front of the document as a co-contributor, or being cited somewhere as the database analyst for that specific material.

    If you are dealing with a supervisor, or someone else above you, things could be a bit more delicate. You'll want to ask for credit as well, but you may need to persuade the person that by including your name in the document, it shows senior management that the person is a team player, and is someone who is confident enough in their own work that they can graciously acknowledge the contribution of others.

  • If The Person Is A Dork: Worst case is that you'll hit a brick wall and be told to take a flying leap. Hopefully in this case the person you're dealing with is at around the same level as you. Then you can let them know that you may have to escalate your squabble to your supervisor. This could well induce the ingrate to back down.

    But if the resistant person is your boss, then your options are more limited. Taking things above his or her head could make things dicey. Arguing with him or her might cause more pain than it's worth. Therefore accepting their judgment on this call might be your best tactic for now.

Ultimately you will be forced to decide if toiling in the dark without a great deal of thanks is tolerable over time. If so, and this makes you a star in your boss's eyes, than so be it. If not, and you are looking for more recognition, you may just have to search for a new position where your efforts will not go unacknowledged.

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