It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…
1. My friend tried to get me to lie as a reference for him
Recently a friend (now ex-friend) used me as a reference for a director position. He lied and said that I was his former boss from a previous job! I have never been his boss or manager for any job. I only know him personally and know he is a good director from what he tells me, but I also know why he was fired from his last job. He was let go for having sexual relationships with some of his employees. I know he lies about all sorts of things too; for example, he told me he attended USC and played football for the Trojans. I checked, and he never went to USC or played for the Trojans. When I asked him later to tell me what university he attended, he said UCLA, and then I found out later that he never went to either and does not have a degree at all!
He called a week ago and told me to look out for a call for a job reference. I was upset and told him not to use me as a reference and that it would be a lie, but he still went on to tell me what to say about a certain position he had from 2000 to 2013 at a certain company and that he had already given my name and number and a letter from me that he typed up! I asked for a copy of the letter. He emailed it to me with the old company name that he worked for, stating that the company had long gone out of business and that the owner died and that I was a direct manager, and it had me stating that he was a great manager and listing his job and duties! So I called that company directly that was suppose to be out of business, only to find out that they have never employed him, and they are still in business and the owner is still alive kicking and well! I’m so pissed off!
So I get the call from the job he is seeking, and my question is… how do I handle it? I advised the reference checker that I will call her back, but I need to figure out how to tell her not to hire him and that he is a horrible person and a liar. I have been told to call her back with the truth. What do you think? Is this illegal and can this come back on me since I have my own job and a small company? All this is a personal train wreck waiting to happen. What can be done to make him stop and can I make him stop or seek an attorney for him to stop?
Call the reference-checker back and say this: “I’ve never worked with him. He asked me to lie for him and I said no, so I have no idea why he gave you my name anyway. He showed me a letter that he forged that said it was from me, giving a reference for him, so I need to let you know that if he shared that letter with you, it’s a forgery. I didn’t write it, I can’t attest to his work, and I’m horrified that he’s using my name like this.”
You don’t owe your friend any warning that you did this, but just on the principle of thing, I’d let him know once it’s done — “Bob, I told you I wouldn’t lie for you. I don’t know why you gave a reference-checker my name, but I told her the truth — that we’ve never worked together and that your claims that we had were lies. I want to be very clear that you need to stop telling lies involving me, and if you continue to do it, I’ll continue to be very clear with anyone who contacts me. Also, you are a crappy person.”
As for contacting an attorney to force him to stop, it’s an option but I don’t think you need to spend the money on it. He’s going to figure out that doing this will hurt him, not help him, because you’ll tell the truth.
2. More bad reference behavior — this time from a manager
I’ve been with my current job for about a year and a half. Things were great for the first 90 days, but then my manager really started to show her true colors. Don’t get me wrong, she’s brilliant at certain aspects of her job, but she really sucks at managing people. Her mood is always unpredictable, she’s demanding, micromanages, never has any good feedback, and her tone is so harsh that she might as well add “are you stupid?” on to the end of every question or comment.
I was planning on sticking it out for another few months before starting to look seriously. However, I was approached by a recruiter with a large company about a position that they thought I would be a good fit for. After a very lengthy and intensive interview process, they made me an offer, and I accepted. My current company requests four weeks notice, and even though I would have preferred to give two weeks notice, I did give them the requested four weeks.
Today is the start of week three and I received a call this morning from my new employer saying that my current manager had reached out to them and given me a poor review. I was really surprised by this, because even though I don’t care for her management style, we get along fairly well. Fortunately, the interview process with the new company was so extensive, they did not give her review of me any weight whatsoever. They even acted like she was looney tunes for reaching out to them in the first place.
After finding this out, I don’t want to stick around. Is it appropriate for me to cut my notice short, especially since I’ve already put in two weeks of my four-week notice, or should I just suck it up and finish out my time? I’m really tempted to go into her office today and say that today will be my last day with the company. I hate to burn bridges, but I find her behavior really unprofessional and even if I wanted to work for that company again, it sounds unlikely that they would rehire me.
Rather than do something that they can cast as you behaving badly (“she gave us four weeks notice and then suddenly left after two!”), I’d rather see you take some action that has a good chance of getting your manager in trouble, and that’s to tell HR what happened. I’d go to your current HR department and explain that your new job contacted you to say that your manager called them out of the blue and said negative things about your work. Make sure to stress that her call to them was unsolicited, not in response to a reference check, because that’s what makes this so outrageous. Say these words: “This company didn’t contact Jane. She went out of her way to call them up and badmouth me once she learned I’d accepted a job there. I’m concerned that she’s actively trying to interfere with my employment and my business relationships. This could get the company in trouble for tortious interference, and I don’t think either of us wants that.”
(Tortious interference is a legal cause of action for intentionally damaging someone’s business relationships. Note that I’m not a lawyer and can’t say if you’d actually have a case, but this is a reasonable concern.)
If your HR people are any good, your boss is going to be in some serious trouble and be told never to do that again. Meanwhile, you can also say to HR, “I gave four weeks notice because I wanted to leave on good terms, but this is making me reconsider how comfortably I can stay here. I think I’d like to wrap up this week instead — any objection to that?” (If you want, you can just announce you’re doing that, but I like the idea of you having the moral high ground here, while your boss has none.)
3. I followed terrible advice from a career counselor
I went to a career counselor after applying to my dream job. I fell into the category of people who didn’t know how to follow up. The career counselor advised me to email about a window of dates I had available to interview, with the intention of forcing them to notice me and interview me. I did so and heard nothing back. He then advised that I send a paper copy of my application to the office with a handwritten letter asking to be interviewed. I did, and I heard nothing back. Next, he suggested I have a reference email on my behalf to explain how great I am (I felt too weird about my previous actions to do this). Finally, I reached out to a distant connection at the company, and she told me they already hired someone. She offered assistance on my next application, but now I am paranoid that someone at the company explained to her I was that crazy over-eager person who wouldn’t stop contacting them because I haven’t heard anything from her since.
After reading your blog, I feel I should have trusted my instincts and not taken some of these steps. The frustrating part for me is that this is my dream company. I want to work for them so badly, but I feel I was one of those aggressive, annoying job searchers who I disliked so much when I was on hiring committees. Is there any way I can do damage control? I’m in a catch-22 of looking crazy for overzealously following up, but also having a deep desire to explain to them “that’s not me, I’m not that annoying person!”, which of course, they have no reason to believe.
Your career counselor should be barred from the profession, if only there were such a mechanism to make that happen. His advice, as you’ve figured out, was really terrible — not just unhelpful, but actively harmful. (Feel free to send him this post.)
Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much you can do at this point. Reaching out again, even if only to explain what happened, will be yet another contact; it’s already too much, and you don’t want to add more on top of it. Depending on your relationship with your connection there, you could possibly explain to her what happened and that you’re mortified, and perhaps she would of her own volition clear your name, but if she’s only a distant contact, that’s probably not feasible.
At this point, I’d say to let a couple of years pass and then try again. If it helps, read this about dream jobs in the meantime.
4. Can I get in trouble if I leave work early to avoid the snow?
If I leave work early to try to get home ahead of the snowstorm, can I get in trouble? Complicating matters, my manager is on vacation so I can’t ask him.
It totally depends on your job and your company. At lots of organizations, it would be totally fine to do this without clearing it with anyone because people are trusted to use their own judgment on this kind of thing. At others, it wouldn’t be, especially in roles/companies that tend to operate with rigid rules and hierarchy. And of course, if you have a job where others count on your presence in the office (like a receptionist, for example), you’d want to at least clear it with someone before you leave.
If you have a more senior colleague with good judgment, I’d ask that person what they think. Or, if there’s someone covering for your boss while he’s away, you could check with that person too.
5. How can I confirm I’m really still confirmed to teach a class this summer?
Over the past year or so, one of my former professors has been indicating that she’d like me to teach as an adjunct professor. I pulled together a course syllabus for her, which she submitted to the administration as a proposal. The last time we spoke, she happily told me that the course was approved and would be on the schedule for summer 2016 as an elective. She even went as far as to tell me what my salary would be.
This conversation was early in the fall 2015 semester. Since that time, we’ve only had one brief conversation about needing to catch up in general, but our schedules haven’t aligned. I’d really like to reach out to her in the next week or so, prior to the spring semester. I’d like to understand exactly when they are planning this class (there are 3 separate summer sessions, and classes can be on any day except Sundays), and to ask her about shadowing her spring classes in preparation for my class.
I feel weird writing this note–while she verbally told me that the course had been approved, the lack of follow up details makes me a little worried that circumstances may have since changed. A single elective class taught by a new adjunct is hardly a priority on anyone’s calendar, and while I adore and respect this teacher, I could see her forgetting to let me know if circumstances changed, as she is always busy with many department details. Can you recommend a good way to inquire about the class without sounding too presumptuous in case circumstances have changed?
It’s fine to assume that it’s still on — that’s not presumptuous! She told you it was on, and isn’t likely to take umbrage to you assuming that, even if things have changed and she forgot to tell you that.
I’d say this: “Hi Jane! I want to confirm that everything is still a go for my class this summer. Assuming so, is there a time I could talk with you (or someone else, if there’s a better contact) in the next couple of weeks to get more details about scheduling. I’d also love to shadow your spring classes in order to prepare for my own, if you’d be open to that.”