should I be upset with my friend for taking a job I had applied for?

A reader writes:

I need help deciding if it is appropriate for me to be upset with a situation that occurred. I have a long-time social friend who happens to be in the same VERY niche area of work as I am, but for different companies. We talk frequently and meet up one or two times a month socially. I recently was recruited for a position at a large company, which I’ll call Company X. I wasn’t looking for a job per se, but I decided to interview anyway, and I mentioned to my friend that I would be interviewing at this company. After the interview process, I was offered the position but the compensation package was not enticing enough for me to leave my current position and Company X was not willing to meet my request. I mentioned to my friend this outcome.

Three weeks have gone by since this all took place and I had dinner with the friend last night. She mentions that she quit her job and her last day is in a week. After some prodding, she indicates that she has a new position at Company X. It is unclear to me if she accepted the same position that I applied for or another within the same department. She did not apologize for not mentioning it sooner.

Given that I told her I was interviewing at Company X and the department that we would work at Company X is only 20-30 employees, should she have told me? I feel that she was working with more information than I had and possibly even took the same job I applied for. Do I have a right to be upset and feel betrayed? Should I tell her I’m upset?

Did your friend apply before or after you turned the job down? If it was afterwards, then I don’t see any betrayal here since you’d already decided not to take the job — but it’s definitely weird that she didn’t mention it to you, and that she was evasive when the topic came up at dinner. In that case, it’s the sneakiness that’s the issue, not the fact that she applied after you took yourself out of the running … after all, she didn’t “take” a job from you; you’d already decided to turn it down.

But if she applied while you were still a candidate, then she absolutely should have talked to you about it up-front. Sometimes friends do go after the same job, but they should be transparent about it and it sounds like she was sneaky, the opposite of transparent.

Moreover, if you’re very close (which I can’t really tell from your letter), a close friendship might dictate that she not compete with you at all. (A more casual friendship might not.) Although since you’re both in a field that you describe as “VERY niche,” it might be hard to avoid this at times.

As for what to do now, why not just ask her about it? Say something like, “Hey, I got the sense that you weren’t comfortable telling me that you’d taken a job with Company X. What was going on there?” If she’s someone who generally operates with integrity and this was a one-time fluke, she’ll probably welcome the chance to discuss it. But if she bristles or gets evasive again, well, at a minimum that tells you that you might not want to mention job leads to her in the future — and it might say something worth considering about the friendship too.

{ 70 comments… read them below }

  1. Katy O*

    It’s really none of your business what she does to secure a job and/or advance her career. If she applied for the job only after you mentioned it to her I could see you being a little upset, but ONLY if you had not been offered the job in the first place. You refused the offer so you have no right to be upset about anyone taking the position. Doesn’t matter if she didn’t tell you. Obviously, she doesn’t feel you are good enough friends to discuss it with. I suggest you let it go and move on. Next time, keep your job hunting progress to yourself if you don’t want any more competition. Just my opinion…

  2. Diane*

    I don’t see a reason to be upset, since she didn’t poach your job–you turned it down. Realize that some people are less comfortable sharing information about job searches than others, especially until they know the outcome. If it’s an otherwise pleasant friendship, let it go. If you wish your friend shared more in general, say so.

  3. Suzanne Lucas*

    I think being upset about someone applying for a job you turned down is 100% irrational behavior. Therefore, I suspect she didn’t tell you because you have a history of reacting irrationally to things.

    Niche, in my book, means it’s specialized and small which means that there aren’t a huge number of opportunities available. If your friend was at all interested in changing jobs, she would have been a fool to overlook this potential job. And, furthermore, you should have said to her, “Hey, I turned down this job at Company X, but if you’re interested, I’ll be happy to give you some insight based on how my interview went.”

    1. Kimberlee*

      I agree completely. I suspect that the only reason she didn’t mention it sooner is because she would be worried you’d be upset. And you are. So, really, she was right to be sneaky. I think you should tell her that everything is cool between you (because it totally should be), and then continue on your merry friendship where you both have jobs you like. No problem!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Suzanne and Kimberlee, would you feel differently if the friend had applied for the job before the OP decided to turn it down? I couldn’t tell from the letter what the order of events was.

      1. bob*

        No, it’s everyone for themselves! I have several friends that I have to compete with for a job right now in my “niche” industry and it really is everyone for themselves. One of those guys is even one of my references but we all understand how bad the job market is right now so there’s no problem between us and may the best geek win.

        1. Anonymous*

          I worked in a very niche industry for a long time as well, and it was quite common for people to be secretly working on obtaining new positions–even to the point of keeping those efforts quiet when other people were discussing their own attempts. Frankly, I don’t understand why the OP is so bent out of shape–my coworkers and I were always really happy when someone we knew suddenly snagged a good position even if we would have liked it, because we knew that now we had an “in” at that company. In fact, the most common goodbye was “Good luck, and if they are hiring more people, think of me!!!!” I suspect the OP’s weird possessiveness about a position she turned down anyway is one reason the friend didn’t feel comfortable discussing whatever interest the friend had in regards to the position. If I had turned down a position in my niche field, and if there was no major negative reason (ie a fraudulent company), I would have immediately told my friends about the job. “Hey, this wasn’t right for me, but maybe you’d be interested!”

      2. Suzanne Lucas*

        Yes, if OP said, “Hey, I’m interviewing at company X or position Y!” and the friend immediately submitted her resume, that’s a little suspect. In that case the friend should have said, “Oh wow, that sounds like a great opportunity. I think I’ll throw my hat into the ring as well.”

        But, even so, the OP stated she wasn’t really looking for a new job–the interview was more of a “let’s see if there is any possibility” thing, so it’s not like they were both actively seeking employment.

        I just cannot imagine being upset over my friend pursuing and taking a position that I did not want. Maybe I’m too nice. Who knows?

      3. Long Time Admin*

        OR, what if the friend had applied first, but didn’t say anything?? Some people don’t talk about their job search plans so as “not to jinx it”, or just because they like to keep things private. And if the OP had gone off on her before over other matters, it would make sense for her not to mention anything.

        1. wits*

          These were my exact thoughts, too. If the OP & the friend are in a small, niche industry, I can see why the friend wouldn’t tell her anything b/c she doesn’t want it getting back to her current employer that she’s job searching

      4. Kimberlee*

        Hmm, I mean, I think it does make a difference, since if a friend and I were applying to the same job I’d want to know, but I honestly think that if I didn’t find out about it until after the fact, I wouldn’t ask. I mean, I’d probably be super curious, but if I’d already rejected the job and found out she got it, I think I’d leave it at that! Everyone is happy. Maybe it’s easier said than done.

    3. Anon.*

      Suzanne, It’s really HARSH to say the OP is 100% irrational, not to mention kinda mean. I’ve been enjoying your blog (thanks to AAM links) but I’m totally turned off by this response from you.

      1. Suzanne Lucas*

        This is what I wrote: “I think being upset about someone applying for a job you turned down is 100% irrational behavior. ” I stand behind that statement. I did not write, “The OP is 100% irrational.” I’m not trying to be mean, I’m pointing out that mature adults don’t get upset when someone else wants what they rejected.

        I suppose to be nicer I could have written “IF you are upset about someone else applying for a job you rejected THEN that is irrational behavior BUT IF you are upset for a different reason THEN you are not COMPLETELY irrational but only PARTLY so because you rejected the job, remember?” But the flow isn’t there.

        If the real reason for being upset is the lack of telling, I still think that’s a bit whacked but not 100% irrational–as I said to Alison when she asked if that changed things.

        If the company contacted the OP and not the friend, I can see the friend being embarrassed to say she was pursuing this. And even if the headhunter contacted the friend as well, as she watched the OP go through the interview and get the offer, she probably felt stupid for not getting an offer. The friend knows she is second choice for this company and even though she wants the job, it’s kind of embarrassing to be second choice to a company. Maybe that’s why she didn’t bring it up. She’s embarrassed.

        1. Gary*

          Yeah, but the OP’s question was about the friend not telling him. That’s it! It had nothing to do about the job and wanting it after the friend took it. The stuff about being irrationally possessive and greedy was all dialogue YOU (and other commentators) voluntarily added and then attacked him for.

          Furthermore, supposing that the OP has “history of reacting irrationally to things” also seems way out of line to me (which added probably to the fact that other commentator found you to be mean). It seems much more likely to me that the friend decided to be more self-centered in a job search rather than think of their friend’s feelings.

          I honestly think everyone is hating on the OP because in this economy some people are still getting recruited, getting offers, negotiating compensation, and yet still turning jobs down. Don’t hate on the OP for that!

  4. himekaya*

    Could it be the case that the friend was interviewed for the job after your previous meeting but before this current meeting that upset you? Also, was she actively looking for a job or was she approached by Company X and decided to take the offer?
    If it was Company X approaching her around the time you turned down the offer, then it’s likely that things moved very quickly and the interview/offer/etc could have occurred within the 3 weeks between your two meetings, depending on how urgent the position needed to be filled.
    Also, I agree with Kimberlee’s statement; your friend may have been looking for an opening in the conversation to break the news to you gently.

  5. EngineerGirl*

    Oh, Yikes. How utterly dysfunctional. You’re trying to decide if you should take offense or not? Really? Her job pursuits are her business unless she shares them with you, and she obviously didn’t. You don’t have an automatic right to that information. You don’t know when or how she learned of this job. You don’t know if she was recruited either. In fact, there is a lot of information missing. How can you possibly make a rational decision on it? On top of that, you rejected the job! At that point you have absolutely no more claims to it. Your actions are wayyyy out of bounds, I’m afraid.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      I just couldn’t leave this alone. I’m a somewhat older person (old enough to use the term “girl” as an alternative to “woman”). May I offfer some advice to the OP? Given the choice to take offense or not take offense, choose the latter. You will live a much happier life. Really.

  6. Sydney*

    I agree with most of the other commenters that this is completely irrational and self-absorbed.

    If you had lost the job to the friend, you being upset would be *understandable*. But even so I would suggest you just take some time to deal with it yourself and get over it. You have absolutely no right to stand in the way of your friend’s career pursuit.

    Not to mention this is a job you didn’t even want. Plus there’s no indication in your letter that your friend didn’t already know about the job even before you told her. You say you both work in a VERY niche field so it’s likely she already knew about the job. She may have already applied when you were interviewing, but just didn’t want to say anything – to avoid the awkward future conversation of “Oh I got the offer yesterday. I’m so happy but feel bad that you lost to me!”

  7. Anonymous*

    I think the attitude of the OP here is likely why the friend didn’t mention it and is in general evasive. A job you didn’t look for, weren’t, interested in, and rejected went to someone else! The shock.
    Your friend has no obligation to share every detail of her life with you and has no reason to based on your reactionary attitude toward the little she did. She had no reason to appologize. What would she be appologizing for? Sorry I got a new job? Sorry you rejected a job you didn’t want?
    Try being happy for your friend for getting a new position she is happy with and that you are in a job you enjoy enough and get paid enough at to be happy to stay with. You should tell her, “Congratulations on your new position! I’m excited for you and hope you are happy there.”

  8. Karyn*

    So let me get this straight. You interviewed for a job at Company X, when you weren’t really even actively looking, decided you didn’t want said job, turned it down, and now are upset that your friend got a job at Company X, which may or MAY NOT be the job you turned down, and didn’t mention her interviewing at Company X to you?

    Am I missing something? Isn’t it entirely possible that your friend was already interviewing at the time you started interviewing? Or isn’t it possible that she is going to work in an entirely different position than the one you interviewed for? I know my company does tons of hiring, for tons of positions, all at once. It’s more than possible that your friend interviewed for a different position in the same company. You have no way of knowing because your friend didn’t tell you any details, which is entirely her right. I often don’t broadcast the details of my job searches to anyone except my fiance, primarily because no one else really cares – at least, no one else SHOULD really care enough to be bothered by my potential employment with another company.

    If, as others have said, the friend applied after you told her about the position but before you turned it down, then yes, you could be miffed. But from the tone of your letter, you’d already rejected this job and are now trying to call foul on your friend for daring to take an opportunity you didn’t want. Again, am I missing something?

  9. Alan Ng*

    I also think it is a bit strange that the OP is upset that her friend is taking a job she turned down?

    The title of the article is a bit misleading since it would mean betrayal if the OP had applied directly. However, from the article it seems she did not apply through the normal channels, but was headhunted, but hey that really shouldn’t affect things!

    Either way the OP didn’t want the job so I’m not sure why think back and be bitter about it now?

    Keep the friend, be happy for her, keep the networking contact, since she says it’s a niche field and you never know when the karma might be returned!

  10. Catherine*

    I think that this “friendship” has deeper problems. Neither person seems to trust the other and communication sounds guarded to the point of being almost non-existent. For example, the reader says, “It is unclear to me if she accepted the same position that I applied for or another within the same department. ” Is that not a natural next question to ask, out of wanting to know what’s going on in your friend’s life, or even just out of curiosity for yourself? I think the job issue is almost beside the point here, but I agree with AAM’s advice.

  11. Phyr*

    Since the OP was offered and turned down the position there is no reason for them to be upset. If anything they are making it awkward for the other person because the other person might have only gotten the job because the OP turned it down.

    Personally I think the OP is looking into this too much.

  12. anon-2*

    This reminds me of the old “Fox Trot” comic gag, where a less-than-attractive guy asks Paige to the prom each year and she turns him down. Then finally he doesn’t ask her — but she learns he now has a girlfriend, and her ego is bruised.

    She “confronts” him – and gets the reply = “Egos heal.”

    If I turned down a job, but a friend of mine later applied for it and took it, I’d be happy. Is this like the junior high mentality = “I don’t like that guy, and if you do, I’ll be upset!”????

  13. Ask a Manager* Post author

    This is so interesting to me — that everyone is reading the letter differently than I did. I read it as not being clear about whether the friend applied for the job while she was still in the running or not. Everyone else seems to have read it as the friend applying after she turned it down. My take was that it would be reasonable to feel irked if her friend didn’t tell her that she was applying, if it happened before she turned it down. No?

    1. Anonymous*

      What if the friend had applied first and had actually sought the job out and gone after it and then found out that OP was recruited and offered the job and turned it down?

      If I found out a social aquaintence had been recruited for a position I was excited about I might not be too enthusiastic to tell them about it.

      I think that even if the friend found out about the job from the OP, the OP in this situation still has no reason to be irked. OP turned down the job.

    2. Anonymous*

      I think the key point is that the OP approach this employer – the employer approached them. That is a signifigant point in this situation, as many people are pointing out.

    3. Jamie*

      If she applied before she had turned it down, then yes, irked would be reasonable. It would also be another reason the friend was reticent to discuss it, as she would know she was second choice.

      But I am reading this as the offer was made, rejected, and then the friend pursued it. In that case it is irrational to think any job you even considered should be off limits to your friends.

      Friendship is important – but so is the ability to earn a living.

      1. Matt*

        For me, it is irrelevant whether the friend applied before or after the OP turned down the position. The point is the OP turned down the position. They did not want the job. They get no say in who gets the job at that point. At my current job, when I applied I asked the recruiter for permission to pass the job info on to a friend who I thought would be a great fit. And as it turned out, they had multiple positions. But had they not, I would have been thrilled for my friend to get the job, even if I did not. This was also in a “niche” market.

        Maybe the friend was afraid of how OP would have reacted and so did not say she was interested. It was not a betrayal of a friendship and I really think the OP who could not come to terms with the company X about a salary was secretly hoping that they would not find someone as spectacular as the OP and would then recontact with a further offer. I think this is more a pride thing on OP’s part because they told OP that he or she was not worth what was being asked for.

        For OP, I have a word of advice: Remember that pride is a sin. and “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Is your friendship really worth losing over your pride about getting what you wanted as a salary from Company X? If you cannot have joy for your friends when they have success in their life, how can you expect them to have joy when you have success in your life?

        1. Anonymous*

          Totally agree with Matt.
          OP is still gainfully employed and did not want the position. To me it would only qualify as something to get irked about if she was not hired for the position and then found out her friend was offered the position (and still, that annoyance shouldn’t last for more than a few days as it’s ultimately up to the company who they hire). It really doesn’t matter if the friend applied, before, during or after the OP’s involvement with the company when she did not accept the job offer.

          Knowing why she didnt’ accept the offer, and knowing that she has her own job in place, I would think she’d be a bit happy for this friend, especially in this economy, that the friend does indeed have a job.

    4. dianamh2008*

      Since the OP wasn’t actively looking for a job, but was recruited and since the friend shares the very niche area of work, I’m inclined to think Company X did the recruiting with the friend, too. If that is the case it isn’t really betrayal even if they were interviewing around the same time.

      Does the three week interval indicate anything? I’ve seen so many comments about companies not responding after weeks or months and “how much follow-up is too much” that I’ve come to believe that three weeks sounds awfully fast in a hiring process.

  14. Joey*

    Isn’t this like being upset when your friend starts dating the guy/gal you turned down? You can’t call dibs on somebody you rejected.

    1. wits*

      No, it’s like you telling a guy friend about pursuing a woman and then asking her out. As far as you know, he only knows her to say hello. Then, for whatever reason, you decide you don’t want to to see her again. After that, you find out your guy friend is dating her. You wouldn’t be upset at your friend for dating someone you are no longer interested in, but I think most people would wonder why the friend never mentioned that he was also interested.

  15. Jamie*

    Maybe she didn’t tell you because you had already turned it down, and was perhaps embarrassed that something that wasn’t good enough for you was acceptable to her.

    That’s not logical, but feasible.

    Either way in most niche industries people can’t afford to burn bridges with their network over ego.

    I don’t understand why anyone would be upset over this.

  16. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to be upset over the friend TAKING the job — but not TELLING her is weird, especially if the process started before the OP was out of the running.

    1. Catherine*

      It’s a little weird to me, too, and it certainly wouldn’t fit in with the kind of openness I like to maintain. But I’ve also been around plenty of otherwise-perfectly-nice-to-work-with people who seem to feel very shy and nervous about this sort of thing.

      My main concern would be whether a friend hadn’t told me because she felt uncomfortable competing with me directly (no big deal) or whether she was afraid that I would deal with the situation unprofessionally (either a big deal for me to resolve or a big deal to resolve in the friendship). The fact that the poor communication is going both ways in this relationship makes me think that this is not just about the job.

    2. Anonymous*

      Only if the friend is someone who talks about those things. Some people you simply can’t get 10 words into a “conversation” with. Some people aren’t interested in sharing things like job hunt stuff because they are worried they’ll seem over enthusiastic, or they don’t want to jinx it. This would only be weird if it was out of character.
      I have close friends who I haven’t shared any of my job hunting ups and downs with. It might be unusual for you, but it might not be unusual for the friend in this case. If it was out of the ordinary then that might be a concern, but simply because your friend felt like they couldn’t be open with you about it.

    3. Anon.*

      YES. THAT. Everyone is totally attacking OP – some really strong language and kinda ‘hatin’ on him/her. Usually (usually) the comments on this blog are so refreshingly non-combative.

      Not this time. Back down people.

  17. Cruella*

    As I am reading this, both individuals work in the same industry doing similar things. Perhaps Company X recruited several candidates for the positon and once OP mentioned it, the friend was uncomfortable discussing that she would be interviewing for it too.
    Once OP mentioned that she turned down the offer, that left the friend free to accept it.

    Is this really worth loosing a friend over?

  18. Marie*

    From Cruell: “Is this really worth loosing [sic] a friend over?”

    (Spelling should be “losing”.)

    No, it wouldn’t be worth losing a friend over this, but it sounds as if the OP and this other person weren’t very friendly to begin with – otherwise, they wouldn’t have been so mistrustful of each other. In any case, it’s time for the OP to chalk it up to experience and move on.

  19. Marie*

    Should be “Cruella” – unfortunately, there’s no way to go back into a previous post to edit.

    1. Cruella*

      LOL! No offense taken! BTW…This happens to me all the time. That’s one of those “three fingers pointing back.”

  20. saf*

    My bet – the friend was uncomfortable talking about it once she knew that the writer had turned it down, because it made her realize that she was the second choice for the position.

  21. OP*

    Thank you all for the feedback. I am the OP and I think you all have given me lots of perspective on this issue.

    I didn’t provide information about how she found about the job or when she applied because I do not have that information. When I asked over dinner, she avoided providing me those answers. Based on her avoiding the question and also consider the timing of my offer, I would probably venture that she applied while I was still a candidate and before I turned down the offer. Perhaps even, Company X and I couldn’t agree on compensation because they had another candidate (my friend) willing to work for less.

    REGARDLESS, I can agree with those that posted that I should not be upset that she applied to the Company and took a similar job or even the same job. I can understand that in this economy and given our niche field, this should be considered par for the course. You are right that I turned it down and I don’t own it.

    I was hurt that she did not tell me that she was applying to the same company and/or job. But, from reading your comments though, I realize now that most people would keep the information regarding their job interviewing confidential and the norm would be to not share details with others, even friends that you normally tell other things to. Just because I share job details should not mean that others have to also.

    I guess I can only be upset with myself. In the future, I will be much more careful what details I share with others regarding jobs.

  22. Anon*

    I don’t think that’s really what you should be taking away from this. It might be better to resolve to work on the communication between you and your friend. Like AAM said, next time you see her just ask, “Hey, I got the sense that you weren’t comfortable telling me that you’d taken a job with Company X. What was going on there?”

  23. Anonymous*

    Going to add in a couple cents here.

    I got the sense in the original post and then again quite strongly in the follow up post that the job suddenly looked shinier after someone else expressed interest and that there’s a tinge of jealousy here. That the OP feels like she was used. You turned down the job. Seriously. Think that through for a second: YOU TURNED DOWN THE JOB. This isn’t about your friend misusing you. It’s not about any sort of manipulation here. You’re looking to blame your friend for something that is totally on the up and up. It’s actually quite strange…I’m unsure as to why you’re upset. You clearly state why you are but it’s totally nonsensical.

    I also get the sense (as mentioned a few times by other commenters) that the OP likely is possessive or takes things very personally and may have a history of being irrational. Since this frustration and defensiveness is totally irrational.

    Since the OP was contacted BY the company, why is it so out of the realm of possibility that they uhm, may have contacted like, other candidates in this niche area? I know I’m being snarky here, but I have a really tough time with people who behave irrationally. And like victims.

    1. Gary*

      I think lots of commentators read the question wrong IMO: “Given that I told her I was interviewing at Company X and the department that we would work at Company X is only 20-30 employees, should she have told me? I feel that she was working with more information than I had and possibly even took the same job I applied for.”

      I read the question to be about the IMBALANCE OF INFORMATION. At no point does the OP lay claim to the job — so where are you getting irrational and possessive? It doesn’t even say that the OP really wants the job now more than before.

      It sounds that the source of the problem is the SECRECY the friend maintained. I think anyone would be irked by friends that keep things from them — especially things that could affect your decision making. Say it was different jobs, and the OP took one job and the friend took another — why would it be fair for the friend to assume that OP wants to work in such a small environment with a close friend. Given all the petty things that go on in the workplace, who wants to work with a good friend anyway?

      If the OP is asking for advice on how to react, they don’t sound like overly emotional and crazy hysterical. It sounds like careful consideration and asking legitimately for advice. A real victim would sit around saying woe is me and do nothing.

      1. Nikki*

        Even with the secrecy, what’s up with not being able to ask, “hey, why didn’t you just tell me you were up for the job?” The OP went straight to crazy (not really, but that’s what most of the commentors seem to have gotten from it) instead of just asking.

        If my friend had behaved that way, I would have asked why she didn’t tell me about it sooner!

      2. EngineerGirl*

        Secrecy or discretion? There seems to be some implication that if someone volunteers information to you, that you are obligated to give the same level of information back. That isn’t true, even in friendships. And may I point out that the level of friendship was quoted as “long-time social friend”, not “close friend”. The level of intimacy expected may not be appropriate. And I want to point out that there are too many data points missing for the OP to determine if something was amiss. Going to the friend and asking “Why didn’t you tell me?” might be the first step to cleaning up this situation. But the OP needs to stop jumping to conclusions and start information gathering before any action can (or should) be taken.

      3. Matt*

        I think you are incorrect in your view of the thoughts of the OP. OP wrote:

        “After the interview process, I was offered the position but the compensation package was not enticing enough for me to leave my current position and Company X was not willing to meet my request. I mentioned to my friend this outcome.”

        Notice the “not willing to meet my request” part. Basically, it was all about money and benefits. Because company x would not cough up the dough, OP turned down the job. Now the friend has the job and OP is regretting his decision.

        That is my take on it.

  24. Anonymous*

    I can’t believe most of these comments. You are assuming the worst in the OP — that he or she is angry and bitter that they didn’t get the job.  The post doesn’t say that at all – at least not the way I read it.

    It sounds like the friend was shady and sneaky.  It seems pretty normal to say “hey I’m applying for that same job” and the friend did not do that – probably because the friend knew they were being a bad friend by applying. Seems like the OP is upset the friend wouldn’t be more open.

  25. KL*

    Well, if your friend had applied first, and then you mentioned it to her that you were interviewing at the same company, wouldn’t her first reaction be, “Omg, I applied there too!” It seems to me that she applied after you mentioned it to her, which is definitely a bit unfair being how dishonest she was.

    1. Nonie*

      If I had a whacko, irrational friend, I’d keep my mouth shut and not tell her I applied there, too.

      1. Anon.*

        That’s just mean and uncalled for. Perhaps you have kept that remark to yourself (and shut your own mouth). You contributed nothing useful or even kind to this thread.

        What is UP people? Full moon coming? Stock market pissing everyone off? AAM usually has very intelligent, non-combative, RESPECTFUL responses. This one is just full of unproductive, unwarrented attacks on the OP.

        I’m pretty disgusted with you nasties.. The tone and comments of many are really over the top/out of line. I love this blog both for Alison’s spot on advice and the usually wonderful commenters. Today, not so much.

  26. Cassie*

    My initial reaction was that the OP was too sensitive. If she didn’t want the job, why does it matter who does?

    And now I find myself in a similar situation. About six months ago, there was an opportunity for a part-time, special projects position. I applied for it and accepted the offer even though I wasn’t really interested.

    Well, fast forward to last month. I decided to resign from the special projects duties, namely because I felt I wasn’t well-suited for it, I was doing a mediocre job, and it was making me miserable. (I still have my full-time position, as I have been doing both for the past six months). This was fine with the bosses and the position was reopened.

    I found out today that a coworker, someone I consider to be a good work friend, the person that I frequently vented my frustrations to, has or is applying for said position. Now, I know that it’s none of my business who applies for the position, I relinquished it on my own free will but I feel somewhat betrayed. Not because my friend shouldn’t or can’t apply, but because he never told me.

    I haven’t talked to him since finding out but I will have to resist asking him “why didn’t you tell me?” I could just ask him, but I would rather not.

    I guess the bottom line is not so much the issue of having some kind of claim to a position, either one that you turn down or one that you give up. For me, it’s the sad realization that we aren’t as good friends as I thought we were.

    So lesson learned. Don’t vent about work to your coworkers, even if they don’t seem to have a stake in your matters.

    1. Suzanne Lucas*

      But why? If you are doing job A and I really want job A, why would I bring it up to you. It’s like saying, “Hey, when you die, can I have your piano?” Even if I really want your piano, it’s darn rude to bring it up.

      So when you decide to quit, your friend decides to through her hat into the ring. Unless you asked her repeatedly, “Would you want this job if I left it?” I see no reason why she should have brought it up.

  27. Patty*

    Full-time jobs in my field are very competitive — as a result, it’s often the case that friends apply for the same jobs — and when one of us gets the job, we’re happy for them (a little jealous, but still) and happy that another good candidate is out of the running for other jobs…

    This doesn’t seem to be the case in this situation.. and it seems very odd to me to be upset that someone else took a job you were offered and turned down. You didn’t want the job, she did and she took it. If you think she should have discussed it with you earlier you may be upset because you found out you weren’t as close as you thought you were… either way, you were offered the job, you declined it and your friend got it…

  28. femimommy*

    I’ve had similar situations. I once had a friend who competed for the same job and didn’t tell me. She had actually encouraged me to apply and said that she would write a letter of recommendation. At the last minute she didn’t write me one, and I found out from another person that she had applied. In this case, I had promoted her frequently and supported her business, and I really think that she shouldn’t have put herself in direct competition for a job at my institution that I had been working towards for 10 years (she was outside the institution). I ended my friendship with her because she wasn’t honest and open. However, I have had good friends and I both compete for the same job and we told one another about it–no problem. In this case, if the person turned the job down and she got the job after that, then I really don’t know what the big deal is….

    1. Anonymous*

      yeah, but she didn’t turn it down before the “friend” applied. that’s the big deal. no reason the friend can’t apply — but why not be more honest or open about it.

  29. Anonymous*

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter what the timeline is. The job was open for anyone to apply for. While it’s understandable that you would want to know if your friend was competing for the same position, it’s really no one’s business. In fact, it could make things really awkward. It’s possible that the friend was already in the process of applying, or it’s possible that the friend applied during or after the OP was recruited/turned down the offer. The fact is, it wasn’t the OP’s business and being a friend does NOT entitle her to this information. The friend did nothing wrong.

  30. KC*

    I had been in a similar situation as OP. I worked for this organization for 4 years, started out as a temp and ended as a part timer. During the last months, a full time position opened up. I was very excited about the opening and told my really close friend (who has worked in the past as a temp, but was a full time at a different company during the application process). I found out during the first round of interviews (from my manager) that my close friend had also applied and will also be invited for an interview. In the end, both of us lost out to someone with 5 yrs of industrial experience.

    Similarly to OP, I felt betrayed by my friend as she had not talked about applying to the position with me even though she knew I was applying for the position. I felt that since we are close friends, she should be open about it, and I would have been perfectly fine and probably supportive with her. I never confronted her about this for fear it will burn some bridges, but ever since the incident I have avoided talking to her and have only kept in minimal contact when we are going out with other friends. Now looking back, it’s probably better to find out she was not as trustworthy as I thought she was sooner then later.

    Lesson I learned from this incident is 1) to not talk about jobs openings until after the decision has been made and 2) to really look at who I consider as a friend.

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