A reader writes:
I just got a networking call from a friend and former colleague about a job that he’s interested in. He thought I might have some insight into the company and/or know some of the people who will be involved in the hire. I didn’t have a lot of information to give him, but said I would send an email of introduction and inquiry to one of the key people involved, with whom we’re both acquainted but who I know slightly better. (Yes, this is within a relatively small universe.)
It turns out, I hadn’t known the position was open, but am quite interested in it myself! Would it be completely obnoxious to apply? Should I tell this friend if I decide to do so?
Obviously, I’ll follow through on the introductory email in a non-sandbagging way.
I think you’re perfectly entitled to apply yourself, but you should tell your friend that you’re doing so. Not only is being transparent the right thing to do, but you’ll spare yourself all sorts of potential awkward ramifications of not telling, like getting the job and having to tell him then, by which point it’ll be clear that you kept it from him earlier, or him getting the job and hearing after he starts that you applied too. Tell him now; it’s the decent and straightforward thing to do.
You don’t need to make it a big Thing. Just say something like, “Hey, I’m thinking about throwing my hat in the ring for this too.” And then bcc him on the email that you send to your contacts about him so that he sees with his own eyes that you were generous about doing it, despite your own interest in the position.