my friend hates me for “stealing her job”

A reader writes:

As recent graduates, my classmates/friends have begun the job search. One friend who majored in the same major as me applied for the same positions as I did (without prior knowledge or consultation of each other because we kept it private). In this poor economy, jobs are hard to come by. Afterwards, we grew close as we began helping each other with tips on how to send our resume to the right people, tips on resume writing, etc. I was called for an interview for one of the places I applied to and the interview went great. My friend calls me on the same day and I found out she interviewed at the same place and that because there are 2 positions available, she hoped we would both get the position. She loved the place. I liked it too but I was still hanging on to the hope that my top choice would call me back. But after some thought, I realized that the company has a lot of good qualities and that it would be a great fit for me.

Human resources called me the next day to schedule a meeting for the following week, and in that meeting, they offered me the position. I asked my friend if she had been contacted by HR but she hadn’t been and did not get the job, but she expressed that she was happy for me and that I deserved it. However, I noticed that after that, she’s been ignoring me and giving me the cold shoulder. I found out that she spoke with a mutual friend behind my back and said she was mad at me that I stole her job, even though I knew how much she wanted the position.

My dilemma is that I feel that I did not steal her job because it wasn’t my decision for the company to contact me and hire me, but yet I feel so bad that she thinks this way of me. The company offered 2 positions and I took one of the positions and the other one is fair game and they did not choose her, and I don’t think it’s fair for her to hate me for it. I’m afraid she has been telling other mutual friends that I took her job opportunity. Other friends tell me she’ll get over it once she finds a job, but I don’t want to be remembered as “the person who stole her job” to her. Do you feel that I stole her job? I don’t know what to do to salvage the friendship, especially since she doesn’t even want to talk to me. Where did I go wrong?

You went wrong by having a ridiculous, immature friend.

Of course you didn’t “steal” her job. You were both open about the fact that you were both applying there, and even if you hadn’t interviewed for it, there’s no guarantee that she would have gotten it. It’s not like the jobs was hers until you came along; she had other competition as well.

Besides, you can’t call dibs on a job, and I doubt that she’d feel that she had “stolen” your job if she had received an offer and you hadn’t.

And don’t worry about her telling mutual friends that you stole her job; if she does that, she’s just making herself look ridiculous to them (assuming that your mutual friends have more sense than she does).

Also, realize that it’s a very good thing that you didn’t both get jobs there — this is not someone you want work with, because all signs are that she would saddle you with her junior high politics in your new workplace.

In sum, you did nothing wrong, she is ridiculous, and congratulations on your new job!

{ 100 comments… read them below }

  1. Sean*

    She’s being ridiculously immature. Especially given that there were two possible openings, not just one (though even if there had been only one, you still didn’t “steal” the job, you earned it). All I can say is you more or less have two possibilities. 1. Just not bother in salvaging the friendship. If the person was that much a friend, she’d have been happy for you, not jealous. or 2. Just be patient and wait for her to cool down.

    It sucks, but you shouldn’t make any strides to salvage, it’s up to her because she’s the one being ridiculous.

  2. ChristineH*

    I know you said that she doesn’t even want to talk to you, but have you specifically tried to address the issue? Perhaps an email saying that you think there might be a misunderstanding (probably not, but it makes less accusatory) and could you two meet for lunch to talk things over?

    I’m probably grasping at straws here…just want to be sure you’ve tried everything. It sounds really petty; as a new grad, she may not truly understand how this whole job search thing works.

    Congrats on the new job!

    1. OP*

      I actually noticed a change in her behavior during a get-together with a bunch of our classmates. She was avoiding me and she wasn’t speaking to me much. I took her behavior as someone who was disappointed for not getting the position. It probably made it worse because other people were congratulating me. I privately told them to not congratulate me in front of her out of respect for her. I acted normally and friendly around her the whole time but she acted a little ‘off’. But I had no idea that during this event, she spoke with someone and told them how she felt I stole her job (until recently). Which I thought was baffling because she had told me she was proud of me and was happy for me that I got the job previously. When I tried to talk to her online, she would cut the conversation short. I also emailed her links to positions that she might be interested in but she has never emailed back. My other friends said that she’s just mad that she hasn’t landed a job yet. I don’t want to push it so I’ll just give her some time to cool off. Thank you for your input. And thank you for your congratulations :)

      1. Flynn*

        she spoke with someone and told them how she felt I stole her job

        Just jumping in as devil’s advocate; if that’s pretty much all she’s saying, that she FEELS that way, it may simply be that she really does feel that way and probably knows she shouldn’t, she’s just explaining why she’s a bit down in the dumps about your job/ is having trouble interacting normally with you. If that’s the case, she’ll probably get over it – if she’s not outright accusing you (in person/behind your back to *reliable* witnesses), then she may just be generally griping about a job she felt was hers, and job searches suck and it would have been perfect and ‘what if’ you hadn’t applied, and not really considering how it sounds.

      2. Anonymous*

        While emailing job links seems harmless, if not helpful, it may be rubbing salt in the wound for her. Same with drawing attention to her NOT getting the job by asking others not to mention it around her. Again, it seems like the nice thing to do, but she may be finding it irritating.

        I would step away from all things job related in the friendship and just let it blow over. Sometimes in situations like this, being “nice” can just come off as condescending to the other person. (Insert something about roads to hell and good intentions here)

    1. Alisha*

      Yep, I do not like having friends who use relational aggression against me in hurtful ways in my life. Surprisingly, this has tilted 65%-35% in favor of guys, but that’s a result of my profession and hobbies being male-dominated. However, it does go to show that anyone is capable of it, and it’s hurtful and friendship-destroying no matter who’s doing it.

  3. Anon*

    Besides the reasons mentioned already, your friend is dumb for acting like this because you are now a connection in the industry. What if the other new hire doesn’t work out or another position otherwise opens up? Or, you get a call from a headhunter at another company a few months down the line? You are now going to think twice about referring this friend.

    1. perrik*

      +1 to this. A classmate and I both interviewed for a great paid internship. She got it, and I’m still looking. It happens. I’m still going to be a knowledge resource for her, and she’s now a contact inside the field for me.

      Sure, I was disappointed, but I wasn’t going to take my disappointment out on *her*. I just ate (too many) potato chips and then got on with job searching.

      1. Anon*

        I get a lot of headhunting calls, and when I tell them I am not looking, without a doubt, the next thing out of their mouth is “do you know anyone who is?” Now, this obviously isn’t as common for recent grads and what-not, but you are wise to continue a mutually beneficial relationship with your friend.

  4. qwerty*

    I can’t imagine men doing this: “You stole mah job!”, “Should I feel guilty for getting the job?”

    They’d never feel apologetic for succeeding in any kind of competition. Neither should the OP. The friend is being childish. And mutual friends will see this very clearly too.

    Congratulations OP!

    1. Tamara*

      You obviously know different men than I do. A lot of the men I know would be just as petty, if not worse! You absolutely right that the OP shouldn’t feel apologetic though. I’ve lost friends over less, just because of childishness. I will say that in some cases, the friendship has rekindled after some (or a lot of) time. It’s rarely because of anything that I do to reach out though – people just need to time to either come to terms with the situation, grow the heck up, or forget why they were mad in the first place.

  5. Liz*

    I think people are going to pile on your friend – rightly if “She stole my job” was the whole conversation.

    I do think you should be wary of third-person reports, though. And, in this economy, with all the pressure on everyone to find a job, of course she will feel weird about talking with you for a little while.

    Here’s background for my perspective:
    Last year, a “friend” of mine told me she didn’t know anyone at a company where I applied for a PERFECT job, where I really wanted to work, and where she had mentioned being close friends with the hiring manager. I thought I’d been mistaken in hearing her say she was friends. Until three months later when SHE INTRODUCED ANOTHER FRIEND TO THE HIRING MANAGER AND GOT HER A JOB. Quickly, easily, just like some perfect story of networking kharma – they pulled the other friend in for an interview the next day and hired her via phone at the demanded salary before she even got home.

    If I didn’t care so much about finding a job it would be a, “Well that person obviously doesn’t like me much or want to share her network. I guess I won’t network with her.” She didn’t owe me anything.

    But um, and I’m not necessarily proud of this perspective, it currently ranks in my head as one of the meanest things anyone has ever done to me. I can barely look at her, and she would likely say I “pulled back.” It also really hurt to be around the friend who got the job, and who, understandably, told and retold this great story about our oh-so-helpful mutual friend over and over and over….

    So maybe try to understand how your friend feels here too. It’s not easy to be in her position. And you don’t know what she really said.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Your friend lied to you — which is really crappy to do to someone, and I don’t think you should have any qualms about how you feel about her now!

      1. Liz*

        Thanks :) It really hurt.

        I also corrected the hiring manager/head of HR mistake further down in the thread!

      2. Anon*

        Is it crappy? What if the friend in question didn’t want to make the introduction because she wasn’t willing to put her rep on the line for this person? I’m sure there is a more straightforward way to tell someone that, but lying to spare someone’s feelings is acceptable in many situations.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think yes, it was crappy — because chances were so high that Liz would know she was lying or realize it later, and so she was setting up a hurtful situation. It would have been far kinder to be honest.

          1. Anon*

            What do you think is a good thing to say in that situation? I have lots of dear friends who I wouldn’t recommend professionally, and if the scenario came up, I’d really be at a loss.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              You can always just pass the person’s resume along with an explanation that they’re a friend but you don’t know enough about their work to vouch for them. Or, if you DO know enough to know that they really wouldn’t be a good hire, then you can be honest — either with the person you’re sending the resume to, or with the friend (“they’re really looking for someone with a background in X” or “I don’t think this one is quite the right fit” or whatever the issue is). Or, if you’ve never worked with them, you can fall back on that — “I can pass your resume along, but I’m a stickler for not recommending people who I haven’t actually worked with.”

              I just wrote all that out and then realized I have a post on it:

              1. Anon*

                But if I say “I don’t recommend someone I haven’t worked with”, and then later do just that, as happened in Liz’s story, I’m still caught in a lie.

                I agree what her “friend” did was pretty shady, but I think this is a difficult situation to navigate, and someone caught off-guard by a request could easily say the wrong thing without necessarily having malicious intentions.

                1. Liz*

                  Her intentions aren’t why it hurt. It hurt because in lying about an uncomfortable topic, she pushed all of the discomfort and embarrassment of the situation onto me, when I’m already completely exhausted and consumed with the job search.

                  If you’re tying to come up with a way to justify doing this to someone (not saying you are necessarily) please do NOT put someone else trough this. Even if I were a terrible candidate for every job I asked about, it doesn’t help and really hurts to be treated this way.

                2. fposte*

                  I’m still thinking of the complexities, though, because I’m not seeing a lot of outs for the contact in this situation either. Yeah, it sucks that she lied (presuming she did and that it wasn’t a situation that changed). But if I’d be in this situation, I’d have really been hurt by the fact that she wanted her company to hire the other person and wasn’t interested in her company hiring me, and that would be true no matter how she conveyed it and even though I understand that that’s an appropriate and fair call for her to make. Can you think of a way for her to have handled it that would have made such a disparity friendship-preserving to you?

                3. fposte*

                  Sorry, I phrased that last bit badly–I meant “that would have allowed you to preserve your friendship despite the disparity?”

                4. Liz*

                  Fwiw, if someone else is in this position, I would have stayed friends with her if she had been honest. I didn’t think she owed me a networking opportunity, and all I asked was if she could give me someone’s email or suggest a contact she knew.

                  It wasn’t a big deal until I realized she lied, she continued to ask for favors, and she set up mutual friend with a job.

                  The only person she made things easier for was herself. And she continued to ask me for favors.

                  She should have taken the risk that I would not like hearing her opinion, and quite honestly, since I’m still polite to her even after multiple lies and awkwardness, I don’t think I could be considered someone who has to be treated with kid gloves. Obviously some people might be touchier. But in that case, why would you be working to preserve the friendship?

                  Bottom line: I might not be someone she respects professionally, but I am a good friend. If she couldn’t trust that, it is on her.

                5. fposte*

                  I think in this particular case the question is complicated by the fact that your friend is overall being kind of schmucky. But I also think that, in a general sense, it’s helpful to understand that the person who’s being asked of the favor has emotions and awkwardness to negotiate as well and is usually being presented with a situation that s/he didn’t initiate. And unfortunately, one friend’s expectation that a hard truth would be told doesn’t necessarily mean that the other friend shares that expectation or can trust that a hard truth would be accepted. That’s kind of a management-level expectation for a relationship that’s personal and not managerial.

                  So I think your friend is overall being clueless and inept in ways that make a complicated situation worse, Liz, but I also think that it’s tough to get out of even a best-case version of this situation without unpleasantness for both people.

                6. Liz*

                  I think that if your friend would make it awkward to say no, then that isn’t your problem. But what you’re saying is that you would feel awkward saying no, and that sounds like a wider problem.

                  And, if your friend would make a terrible employee and doesn’t know it, then that actually is your problem. Say something! If the friend can’t hear it, at least you gave him or her a chance.

                  Unemployed people spend a lot of time wondering what it is about is that makes no one want to hire us. Basically you are saying some momentary uncomfortable feeling surrounding having to say no to someone makes it ok to leave that person in a bad position.

                7. fposte*

                  I’m saying that friends don’t owe us because of disparities between us. Whether they’re employed and we’re not, rich and we’re not, possessed of a car and we’re not, good at a job and we’re not. And also that we don’t really know our friends’ emotional lives well enough to know if they would only have “momentary emotional discomfort” or not. It’s really not a given that the unemployed person is suffering more than the employed person on any particular day or in any particular situation, or that who’s suffering more actually ends up being the deciding factor in what should have happened.

                  I get that being unemployed sucks, and that it can makes you feel horrible in some terrible eroding ways; and, as I’ve said, I think your friend has dealt with this badly. But I think the basic situation of this–that a friend didn’t think you were a good candidate for this job–is painful and tough no matter how it’s handled, and that even with a friend who handled it with truth, it’s going to result in anger and a knock to the friendship.

                8. Liz*

                  Based on what you typed, I do not think you are reading what I wrote fposte. I clearly said ” I did not think she owed me a networking opportunity ” and I said it multiple times.

                  I certainly never implied that the employed owe the unemployed. I do think that a person who has trouble saying “no” has larger issues that should NOT be pushed onto unemployed friends.

                  I’m not sure what you’re arguing for here, but is sounding like, “employed people should get away with being rude because bein polite would be uncomfortable and the unemployed kind of had it coming anyway.”

                  I hope that isn’t what you mean. So please clarify in a way that admits that saying “no” is just something adults have to learn to do!

                9. Liz*

                  PS – do you realize that every time I say “I would be fine with the truh (just no more favors)” and you respond “You would have been upset with the truth anyway” YOU ARE CALLING ME A LIAR.

                  That is rude. It is not at all warranted by anything I’ve said. And it seems to be based on you opinion of the unemployed.

                  Please think about how these assumptions that you are showing could be impacting your friendships with unemployed people, rather than assume we are just not able to understand how hard it is for you. You are not being fair or compassionate , so if this happened to you I. Some other context there very well might have been more going on than “that unemployed person just got upset for no reason.”

                10. fposte*

                  Honestly, I think we may not be able to meet wavelengths on this one, so I think it’s best just to move on. But I definitely support your replacing this person with a better friend.

                11. Liz*

                  You live in Seattle, don’t you :) I do think that the ability to say “No, I don’t want to, or can’t, do that for you” is a basic grown up skill. I admit I can’t really relate to the mind set that, to me, seem to be saying, “I want to say no because I dont’ want to do it. But I also don’t want to face any negative repercussions for saying no.” This has been driving me batty since moving to the PNW :)

                  Anyway, again, if this person is a friend there shouldn’t be any serious negative repercussions, beyond a little awkwardness while it’s sorted out.

                12. Anonymous*

                  #1 – Don’t hate on the PNW, we’re wet and soggy, and no one knows our pain. :-)

                  #2 – I was recently put in a similar situation. I could see that there was no way out; all options had negative repercussions. I decided to offer honest feedback; we’re no longer friends.

                  It’s not anyone’s fault, but it sucks just as much.

                13. Liz*

                  That is too bad, Anonymous! Your friend accepted the risk of hearing a “no” when he or she asked for a favor. I’m glad you didn’t lie to protect your own feelings – at least you did the right thing.

                  And networking in the PNW is like dating in junior high, at least for me :) It is non-verbal, caste-driven, and you get stood up a lot by people who can’t use their words!

    2. Anonymous*

      I think the entire situation is crappy, no matter how you look at it. Even if the friend was uncomfortable in introducing Liz for whatever reason, she should have spoken up. That might have made things a bit easier. Even so, to introduce another friend a few months later – regardless if that person got the job – is troubling too. But now it leaves Liz in an uncomfortable position because Liz doesn’t know why her friend brushed off the in-work friendship to her but made it greatly usable to another friend. I understand Liz’s reaction, but I think, too, Liz should have put it on the table and make the woman react a little bit – since after all they are friends.

      1. Liz*

        I did ask her what happened – the whole sordid story (the info I have anyway) is typed out farther down in the thread :)

        1. Alisha*

          Liz, I’m really sorry. My husband and I have been encountering some of this too on our ill-fated job searches. We live in a small city where you really do need to know someone to get a foot in the door, an as transplants, even after living here for quite a few years, we are not on the inside circle. So I understand how you feel. (My experience reminds me of Piper’s job search earlier in the year…so much so that I wonder if it is the same city!)

          I try to look at it as, for every job that I don’t get, I am freed up for a job that’s a better fit. It’s hard to remind myself of this sometimes, and some days are better than others, but I try my best. (It helps that my husband is in the final stages of closing a job offer on the E. Coast and we are moving in the fall!)

        2. Anonymous*

          I just read it, and I cannot even begin to think of an explanation for why the woman is the way she is. I really would keep her at arm’s length minimum. Don’t tell her anything personal you would normally tell friends and be polite in the company of others. I really don’t trust her just solely based on what you are saying here.

          I really don’t think it has anything to do with your professionalism or if she has an issue with your work ethics. She has something brewing for whatever reason, and I think it’s best to steer clear. Once they start acting like that, you never know what’s the true person they are. I think it was good for you too not to extend that recommendation at your volunteering gig. Even though you aren’t getting paid for it, you still can get recommendations from those people, and you don’t need her nonsense ruining that.

          Chin up. Forgive but don’t forget. You are only holding yourself a prisoner if you stay mad at her. Take it as a life lesson, and you’ll go further than she ever will. Your other friends might start seeing through her too eventually, and you just need to remain the better person (ie remaining polite, albeit distant, etc).

          1. Kristinyc*

            One time when a position was open at my office (the same position as mine – the person would be working with me very closely), I had several friends ask me about it. One of them was an obvious choice for the position, and I recommended her for it (and she was hired, and has worked there for 3 years now!).

            For the other friends – I found a way to steer them away. This was a marketing writing job, and one friend was more marketing/design oriented, so I just told her that the job had absolutely no design, and she’d hate it (which was true).

            I think in this case, the person could have said, “I think you’d be great for this position, but I’ve already told my other friend I would recommend her.”

  6. K Too*

    You didn’t “steal” anything. As recent graduates, you are learning how tough the job market can be. Luckily you were able to get a position and congrats to you!

    Give her some time to cool off. Has she ever acted out this way in other situations? Leave her alone while you take some time to get settled in your new gig. Once a month or so has passed, reach out to her so that you two can talk it out (if you think the friendship is worth keeping). Don’t apologize for accepting the position or apologize for the fact that they offered you the job. That’s how the job market works. It’s competitive and both of you were up against many candidates. Confront her and say that you’ve heard about her comments and it bothers you. Ask her why she feels like you “stole” the position when the offering was really in the prospective employers court.

    Sometimes employment situations can do funny things to friendships. You two are young and still have a lot to learn. Eventually she’ll have to get over it. Good luck and congrats!

  7. Liz*

    Just to be clear, the other friend and I did not apply for the same job.

    And I can’t entirely explain why this bothered me so much. I think the dishonesty of “I don’t know anyone there but I will definitely keep you mind if I meet someone…” was a lot of it, and maybe she knew something about the job I didn’t. It just really, really hurt and still does all these (unemployed) months later.

    1. Liz*

      I just mixed up hiring manager with the head of human resources – an AAM board rookie mistake!

    2. K Too*

      Liz, I can understand how you feel. It sounds you probably questioned to yourself many times over, “why did my “friend” not pull through for me?”

      I had a work situation that bothered me with a “friend” but it’s different. My friend luckily got a job about 6 months after we were laid off and called to tell me about it. I congratulated her and was truly happy for her. We even spoke about meeting up to celebrate. After that, communications stopped.

      We all get busy, but I was somewhat peeved when 5 -6 months later I received a random e-mail saying she hadn’t heard from me in a while and then went on to say how busy she was with her job.

      I started feeling as if that e-mail was sent not out of concern, but out of guilt. I was still unemployed at the time. After I responded communication stopped again and we haven’t spoken since.

      Sometimes life happens that way. As I’ve heard many times before, you will find out who your friends really are when unemployed.

      1. Ali_R*

        This reminds me of friends with children now = (in)compatible life phases; albeit employment seems much easier to transition in and out of!

        When a person is job hunting that seems to be pervasive and dominate their world, understandably so. Or perhaps in this case, the new job culture is dominating her world?

        What was the relationship based on? Your former employer, mutual job search or an outside interest of kittens and … (insert Alison’s benign hobby example).

        I guess I am wondering, what is the commonality? Tap back into that if you are truly interested in resurrecting the relationship, if not be sure not to throw the contact out with the proverbial bathwater.

        1. K Too*

          Former co-workers that were both laid off at the same time. We had many outside activities together when we worked together. The industry that we’re in can dominate our world. I was peeved by the e-mail because it was written as if I just disappeared when I was always around. I started having more of a rough time dealing with unemployment as the year went on, but I still continued to be an active person and communicate with people.

          I haven’t written this person off per se, it’s just that things cooled down tremendously. I also had another former co-worker (more of an acquaintance) do the same thing, but she got back in contact with me once she saw I had a new job on LinkedIn. Since then communication has fell off. All good though.

          People can get “funny” when it comes to employment situations.

    3. Data Monkey*

      Did you ever try to address it with her? Sounds like this warrants a conversation esp since it is still bothering you. Could it be that she didn’t think you were a good fit for the job and didn’t know how to be honest and address that with you?

      1. Liz*

        Ok, longer version of the story: It actually happened again with another mutual acquaintance at another job – I think people higher in the thread said she obviously doesn’t think I’d be a good professional recommendation, and I guess that’s true, if not easy to hear :)

        Anyway, in the month after that happened she kept asking me if she could help me with my job search, and explicitly offering to introduce me to people (weird, I know – based on other interactions with her I think she was just using job questions as an excuse to collect gossip). So after a couple weeks I said something like, “I noticed that twice you said you didn’t know anyone at a company where I wanted to work. I wasn’t sure what happened. I didn’t want a recommendation that wasn’t freely given. So I haven’t been asking you about jobs because I wasn’t sure you felt comfortable recommending me.”

        She kind of freaked out and told me that she “forgot” she knew the person at one place and that she “only just met” the HR head at the other. Neither of these things are true, according to other people and statements she’d made earlier.

        What’s really funny is that months later I overheard her telling a friend to ask me to help her get on a board at an organization where I volunteer. When he did ask me for help, oh THAT conversation did not go well at all! I mean, if you can’t recommend me for a job, ok, that’s your opinion. But it came off like she was pretending she would recommend me so she could ask me for favors later!

        Anyway, having typed all this out, no wonder she makes me feel like crying every time she opens her mouth :) We know a lot of the same people so I just try to be polite, but that is one relationship that job considerations really made a mess of!

        1. Liz*

          This whole thing is really embarrassing :) I swear I have nice, supportive friends who tell me the truth. This is just one of those weird things that happens sometimes. I didn’t know how to handle someone who obviously is going to keep lying if I confront her again, so I just let it fester. I’m sure there are probably better ways to deal.

          Bottom line for the post though: I wouldn’t necessarily fault the OP’s friend for feeling weird about the job situation, and we don’t know that the third person accurately reported the “she stole my job!” conversation.

          Jobs bring up complicated emotions for people!

          1. Data Monkey*

            Oh, yikes. Yea– you did what any reasonable person would do. After those past experiences with your friend (and I use that term loosely), it sounds much easier to be polite, but to not engage.

            That sucks though and I am sorry she can’t be straight forward and honest with you and perhaps herself. I definitely would be very cautious around her as well. And I am extremely surprised she is trying to ask you for favors. That is ballsy!

          2. AMG*

            Liz, have you considered the possibility that she is jealous of you? Maybe you were a great fit, but you offended her in some way without realizing it, maybe she feels bad for the other friend and thinks you will land on your feet, who knows whats going on in her head. But my initial reaction is that she is threatened by and/or jealous of you.

            1. Anonymous*

              I think jealous is more likely because the woman keeps on lying and then wants to use Liz to get into another company where Liz volunteers. She sounds like a user who doesn’t know how to reciprocate or at least tell the truth if she has reservations.

          3. AMG*

            As for the OP, maybe her friend is embarassed or on the defensive, especially if the friend told a lot of people how much she wanted the job. Wants can bring out the worst in people. :(

            1. OP*

              AMG, yes you’re probably right that she’s on the defensive because she’s disappointed. But I just wish she’d understand that I did nothing dishonest to get this job. I have a good resume, cover letter, was able to present myself as a competitive candidate during the interview and that was it. I understood that she really wanted this job but we applied/got interview independently and not to mention that the hiring decision making process was not in my control. I believe that there is a good fit for everyone and I hope that she finds hers as I have found mine. Thanks for your input!

    4. Anonymous*

      The lying and the unknown is what’s bothering you. Totally understandable. You need answers, but you just need to go about the right way of getting them, if you will ever get them.

    5. Alisha*

      @Liz: Just curious: Would you feel less hurt if someone was straight w/ you and just said, “I’m sorry, I don’t feel comfortable making that connection for this particular job?” I would for sure.

      Also curious: Are you native-born to your city or not? In my region, this makes a huge difference because people begin forming their networks as teens!

      1. Liz*

        I would not have thought much about it if she had said something like “I don’t want to use my network for you and I don’t think you’d be a good fit.” I am NOT a native of this town and I’m from a pretty direct place. I definitely would have stopped considering her for favors or networking though.

        I think that is what rankles, after having typed this out today. I realized that she totally set it up so that she could keep asking me for favors but I would never ask her. She also put me in a position where I would feel less valued than the other friend, but would never be able to articulate why or ask for better treatment.

        At best, it is passive aggressive and manipulative behavior. No wonder it bothered me for months. I don’t think she is mean or intended to be hurtful. She was just self-involved to a degree that – even after working in politics – I find really bothersome.

  8. May*

    This reminds me of when I was in high school and I applied to the same college as my friend. She had been dying to attend this school for years – whereas I just applied because it was nearby. We both came from lower-income families, and knew that we could only attend if we got scholarships.

    I ended up getting a full ride, and accepted. She got a “half”-ride. (Even paying for half at this school was outrageously expensive). She wouldn’t speak to me for months. Even though the school gave out 6 full scholarships that year, I felt guilty for a long time. And just when I stopped feeling guilty over it, she dropped out because she couldn’t afford the loans anymore. I know it’s not my fault, but I do feel like her life could have turned out differently if only I hadn’t applied to the same school she did.

    1. Anonymous*

      And how would your life have turned out had you not received that scholarship? Don’t feel badly; take pride in your achievements.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      You are assuming that she would have been awarded the scholarship if you weren’t. That may not be true. And while she didn’t get a full scholarship at that school, did she try to get one somewhere else? Or how about filling in with other scholarships? There are multiple small ones out there that will pay for books here, room and board there. What about cutting down the course load to work part time? Loans aren’t the only soultion. Really, there are too many variables to say how the situation would have turned out if your friend got the scholarship.

  9. K.T.*

    This happened to former classmates of mine. A professor in the department told the class about a job opening. 2 classmates of mine (both good friends) were interested and knew that each were applying. They agreed to go to the interview together (it’s a rural town, so I guess that isn’t weird, although coming from a big city, I always thought it was). So imstead, one of the friends calls the manager and was able to set up an interview. She went by herself and got the job. The other friend never even interviewed.

    When I was asked what my take on this was, I don’t blame the first friend to set-up and interview without the other person’s knowledge. It is after all a job, and she was “smart” to do that.

    1. Anonymous*

      In my opinion, that’s borderline backstabbing. If the one wanted to go alone, then she should have been upfront and honest, especially if they were scheduled to go together and the company knew it. If I was in the company and saw that two now became one, I would have been questioning the situation. If they were friends, then to a degree it shows disloyalty.

      Disclaimer: I’m basing my opinion on what you wrote because it seems like there could be more.

      1. Anonymous*

        I don’t know of any company that would let them interview together by their own choice, do you? The company sets the interview policy, not the job applicant! They probably made the naive assumption that interviewing together was an option when it wasn’t. Then, only one of them got invited to interview, and that one also got the job.

        Seems very, very weird if it actually played out as described instead of this way.

  10. Xtra*

    You didn’t steal anything. At the same time, your friend may be feeling very depressed at this point and just needs to vent a bit with other people. And you can’t be sure if she even said exactly what the third party reported. The best thing would be to have a chat with the friend after a little time has passed. Give her some time to breath and then invite her to have dinner with you or something like that. Don’t make a big deal of it, but do have a chat.

    Look, we are human and in the heat of the moment we can overeact, have meltdowns, bitch, etc. I clearly remember one time when I felt a girl I knew “stole” a guy from me. I was really mad at her and thought the worst about her and eventually we had a chance to spend some time together, and she was really nice. I also got over the “stolen” guy and simply realized he wasn’t for me. But, boy, for a while there it was tears and punching pillows. You’re recent grads so I assume you are around the same age I was when “stolen” date drama took place for me. It’ll pass!

    1. anonymices*

      +1. This behavior, while not super, is pretty typical of the maturity level you find in a person that age. We were all there once. Most of us survived.

  11. EngineerGirl*

    OP, You didn’t steal anything. In order to steal somthing, the other person actually has to own it. And your friend never owned that job, ever. The company owned that job and was free to give it to whomever they wished.

    There are other problems with her logic – the assumption that if you didn’t apply then she would get it. In truth, it is just a possible that a 3rd person would have been hired.

    You behaved correctly in this. You both applied without knowlege of the other. Niether of you trash talked the other in order to get the job. No underhanded movings going on. You both competed fairly, and you were one of the people selected.

    I suspect your friend is deeply hurt right now, and having a hard time even looking at you. Her attitude is spiteful. I hope that this is just deep deep hurt Vs exposing who she normally is. I would suggest giving her a cooling off period so she can get her head back in place. Tell her you’re sorry that she didn’t get the job there (NOT that you are sorry that you go the job and she didn’t). Then offer to look for more openings for her.

  12. Another Emily*

    Your friend was understandly disappointed when she didn’t get a job at a great company. What’s not understandable or acceptable is her nasty reaction towards you getting the job. Your friend has shown her true colours here. It doesn’t feel good to have someone angry at you, but I think the end of this friendship is a positive thing; would you really want to be friends with someone as mean and petty as she is?

    In your shoes I’d be sad (for a bit) that my friend wasn’t who I thought she was, but I wouldn’t be sorry the friendship was over.

    Congratulations on the new job. :)

  13. sab*

    This mindset is so baffling to me. Why in the world is it “stealing” with the OP never even owned the job to begin with? I was in a similar boat about a year ago where my friend and I applied for a job that turned out to be 2 positions. We knew the other had applied and were crossing our fingers that both of us would receive offers, but it never even crossed my mind to blame my friend when she received an offer and I did not. Job hunting makes for strange behavior, that’s for sure.

    Congrats on the new job, OP! I hope you and your awesome friends have a chance to celebrate. :)

    1. OP*

      Thank you for your input! Similar to you, if my friend were to get the job and I didn’t I would be disappointed but I would not blame her for it. I would just continue the job search. Thank you for your congratulations :)

    2. Anonymous*

      This. I actually had property stolen from me recently (confirmed stolen, not lost), and the sense of violated-ness is far beyond how I felt when my friend got a job that I wanted. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was happy for my friend.

  14. Anon*

    The letter writer shouldn’t feel guilty but – assuming not much time has passed – she also should have some compassion for her friend. She might be a terrible person, I don’t know, and obviously she’s dealt with this at best immaturely (though if they’re recent graduates she might in fact be very young). But yeah, sometimes when your friend gets something you desperately want – whether it’s a job or a guy you’re in love with or a baby when you’re dealing with infertility or whatever – it can be frigging hard to interact with them for a while. And so you withdraw from them. It’s temporary and it’s pretty human. Obviously better accompanied by a kind explanation, but since the friend probably feels guilty about being petty herself, it’s not surprising if she found too hard to give but punted.

    And no, she shouldn’t have bitched about it behind the friend’s back, but is there anyone here who hasn’t at some time made some ill-advised, completely unfair comment along those lines? For all we know, that’s all it was; she was upset and venting and said something stupid. And the mutual friend was then even dumber for repeating it. The ball’s in the friend’s court to make thing right, but there’s no reason to assume from what we read that she’s a horrible person who’s been railing about this constantly.

    1. Jo*

      This is the perspective I would take. The friend built it up as her dream job and is now really disappointed and feels weird around the OP. She was probably just venting and will be over it soon. The mutual friend should have kept her mouth shut. I always wonder when 2nd hand info gets passed along, what was the whole actual conversation. We have no way of knowing.

  15. OP*

    Thank you Alison and everyone for your input and advice. I really appreciate it. It’s my first job ever so I was very excited but only to have it be dampened by this incident. I, too, agree her reaction was petty and unbecoming of her. She’s actually a very nice person and is skilled on her own right; but perhaps her qualifications did not match what the company was looking for. I’ve tried sending her links of positions that I thought she might be interested in but she didn’t email me back. I’ll do what most people have suggested which is to let her cool down before I talk to her again. And if we don’t remain friends, I hope to at least have a civil relationship with her with no hard feelings. We’ve been in school together for so long and I really don’t want to burn any bridges. Thank you again!

    1. Anonymous*

      Enjoy in the delight of being hired! Celebrate with family and friends who want to share in the delight. Don’t let one sour grapes ruin it for you. It’s understandable that she’s upset and jealous, but she has to understand and realize she will need to move on and seek employment elsewhere. This economy doesn’t help her situation much, but instead of making up a left-field accusation, she should be celebrating with you and asking you for pointers. You could be that insider she needs to know in case you hear something that fits her perfectly.

      Look at this way too: You can email her with job options. But don’t do it looking for an answer; just do it for the sake of helping her. If you seek something besides that, then you are not emailing her for the right reason, even if it’s just for her to say thank you. If you feel you must confront her on the situation, the whole “you stole my job” bit, do so without backing your way in with postings you’ve found. Maybe, to some degree, that might be adding salt to her wounds right now too.

      You’re going to have to let her cool her heels and come around on her own time if ever. In the meantime, take the higher road and just keep your work life off the table if you and your friends, including her, are getting together.

      Good luck on this situation, but more importantly Congratulations and Good Luck on the new job!

      1. OP*

        I didn’t think of it in a way where I may be adding salt to the wound. I just wanted to help her… but thanks for pointing that out and giving me a different perspective. I’ll definitely just give her some space. Thank you and everyone else for your well wishes :)

        1. Xtra*

          I think you are adding salt to the wound. It would be like a friend who is pregnant while I struggle with infertility sending me links to infertility treatments. I don’t need to be reminded about that.

          Giver her time and then reach out. Invite her to a movie after some times has passed, etc.

          We through a grieving process (as weird as it sounds) when we don’t get a job we really need or want. She’s probably not in the final stage of it.

  16. Steve G*

    Fortunately this type of thing should happen less as you get older (in my industry energy/utilities it does anyway). As you get older you’ll develop your own niches and professional persona. Jobs will come up but you won’t even bother applying because they don’t fit your niche. Then suddenly a promotion or new job will come up that fits you to a tea. But right out of college, everyone is cut throat and fighting for the same jobs, and you all look similar to potential hires. Rest assured that this type of competition goes away…

  17. Amina*

    While I agree your friend is being silly, I can understand how she feels. Back in March, when for various reasons, work stalker being the main one, one place I applied to seemed so nice, had one of the interviewers tell me I had it in the bag, while their HR told me everyone had loved me, only to find someone else from my current office had got the job.

    So, did he steal my job? Nope, still got the job I have. Did he interfere with my hopes for quali work and relief from a current crappy sitch just by being in the candidate mix. Yes. Do I loathe him for that? Yes.

    So this friend, while you didn’t steal her job – you didn’t go in undermining her when she actually had it so she’d lose it specifically to you all soap opera style – sounds hurt and angry and stressed to me. And yes, her trashing you can hurt you with others. But there are always other friends, other activities etc ( even if jobs themselves are hard to come by). So, forgive her, keep busy and everyone will move on before you know it.

  18. Sarah G*

    A very close friend and I both applied for a position with THREE openings. They were hiring 3 people for the exact same position because it was a new program, and we were completely with each other. Like the OP’s friend, she was initially enthusiastic about the possibility of us both getting hired. After the first interviews, long before decisions were made, she did a complete 180 and couldn’t handle the competitive circumstances. She ended a wonderful friendship over this. I did get the job (yay!), and it’s been an amazing opportunity.
    I lost her friendship and was very hurt, but clearly dodged a bullet because I wouldn’t want to work with someone so emotionally immature. And we’re both in our late 30s, so youth isn’t the only factor here. If she would’ve gotten the job over me, it would’ve stung for a minute and then I would be happy for her and move on. Envy is a funny thing and unfortunately some people, due to their own insecurities, feed envy until it becomes destructive.

    1. Sarah G*

      “We were completely *open* with each other.” I left out a word and am now one of those post-posting correctors. :)

      1. Sarah G*

        I should add that we both were already employed, and this job was one of two for which she was interviewing at the time; she said that if she got offered both, she wasn’t sure which one she’d take. Whereas this was my dream job and I wanted it very badly. She did in fact get the other job but it didn’t change things between us.

  19. Chocolate Teapot*

    It’s easy to feel bitter in these circumstances. Especially after recent graduation and everyone going off in different directions.

    I broke off contact with a friend when she quickly found a job after graduation and I took some time (and temporary contracts) before I had a permanent role. It wasn’t that I was particularly jealous of her, more that I wanted to concentrate on my own job-hunting rather than hear about how everything was going swimmingly for her.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, sometimes it’s not simply a wrong vs. right thing; sometimes situations make it hard to maintain a friendship, and it can be hard to realize that your friend is struggling with the friendship if you aren’t.

  20. Elle*

    I’m a big fan of AAM but I’m surprised at the tone you is taking here. Yes, the friend is being immature but she is young, disappointed and probably scared. Job hunting sucks and the economy is not exactly good. The third party report (which may or may not be accurate) of bad behavior is not enough to tear this woman’s character to shreds in the way you are doing. There’s no evidence that the OP’s friend is going around assassinating her character, other than a bit of venting to another mutual friend.

    The OP’s follow ups make them both sound young (and a bit dumb). The OP is continuing to send job links to her friend which is just rubbing salt in the wound. Congratulations to all the perfect people on this thread who have always reacted perfectly in the face of adversity. The rest of us mere mortals understand what it’s like to job hunt and feel some compassion for this girl, especially since the job was her first choice, and was the OP’s back up choice.

    1. OP*

      It was not my friend’s first choice. She just happened to like it once she got the tour of the facility just as I had. I sent her links before I found out she was really upset with me. I sent them because prior to the incident, we used to help each other with the job search in such ways. Young, dumb or not, I posted a question wanting advice. There’s no need for such a sarcastic comment especially not directed toward all the people on this thread who just wanted to share their opinion and advice for me.

      1. fposte*

        But I do think there’s validity in the point that you don’t actually know what your friend thinks–that it’s all been second-hand.

        Give her some time. There’s nothing you can do to fix the situation either way, and after a little space you may both be in a place to do some repair. And in the meantime, tell your other friends you really don’t want second-hand stuff about this passed on to you–that it’s between you and her, and you’ll sort it out when it’s appropriate.

      2. Elle*

        Honestly, the more you post, the more defensive you sound. I guess neither you or your friend take bad news particularly well.

        “She loved the place. I liked it too but I was still hanging on to the hope that my top choice would call me back. ”

        This is from your post. She wanted it more than you wanted it. Stop backtracking to make your friend sound worse. Honestly, you sound like you are enjoying tearing her personality to shreds and trying to get other people to do the same. That hardly makes you a very nice person.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m not getting that at all from the OP — she hardly sounds like she’s trying to tear her friend to shreds. She seems genuinely concerned about the situation, although she has every right to have a real issue with her friend’s immaturity.

          1. Elle*

            What exactly has the friend done wrong? We have a second hand report from another “friend”? We have a friend who, in the face of losing the job she really wanted and, the OP admits, having to hear people congratulating the OP for that post, withdraws slightly to lick her wounds. Gosh, she sounds like a monster.

            The OP is posting to agree with every negative post about her so-called friend and react defensively to any suggestion to hear it from her friend’s side. Again, what is the value of tearing down her character and calling her names? So far there’s barely any evidence of her being shockingly immature or anything like she’s being portrayed in this comment thread.

            I would bet a lot of money that this post will eventually get into the hands of the friend, no doubt through a helpful third party “friend” and the OP will be able to pat herself on the back when her “immature” friend reacts badly.

            Look, I love it when you thoroughly tell off entitled job seekers or rude bosses. But this is a recent college graduate in a terrible economy who may or may not have vented about not getting a job that she desperately wanted. Are we all so perfect that we need to pile onto people who really don’t deserve it?

            It’s quite nasty.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, it sucks not to get a job that you want. But to give you friend who did get it the cold shoulder and to complain to friends is immature, plain and simple. And ridiculous. There’s no way around it; the friend’s reaction is unreasonable and unjustified. As adults, we’re called upon to be happy for others — or at least polite to them — when they get something that we didn’t. It’s going to happen throughout life — someone else will get married or have a baby or earn more money or get to take an exotic vacation that we can’t afford, and grown-ups handle this without freezing people out.

              1. Anonymous*

                When I didn’t have work and my friends had or were getting jobs, I distanced myself from them. Not because I hate them but because I felt ashamed. Not only was I ashamed, but I didn’t have money to go out with them. I didn’t want to tell anyone about this so I simply stopped talking to them. And yes, I did bitch about the situation with my spouse.

                It can be very hard hanging out as usual when you feel like a complete failure.

                1. Anon*

                  Agreed. Assuming the friend made an off-hand comment to the other friend, it’s the other friend who was really an idiot for repeating it. That’s the kind of think you just say “Yes, I know it’s hard,” and then forget. You certainly don’t repeat it to the person it was about unless you’re a drama llama.

  21. Liz T*

    I think there’s an impetus here to decide who was the “bad guy” in this, which is pointless. This is an unfortunate situation. Neither the OP nor hir friend is perfect. The friend was really disappointed about the job, and, needed some space and some time to vent (who knows for how long); the OP felt guilty and sought assurance, rather than advice, from AAM. In light of the recent post about a good manager being aware that we’re all humans with feelings and weaknesses, can we lay off both of them?

    OP, I wish you and your friend well. Jobs and friendships are both trying and rewarding, and it sucks to have feelings that you know are unfair and wish you didn’t have. I spent way too much of my 20s being furious at my friends for the stuff that made them human, and got a lot better at being a friend when I did the whole, “change the things I cannot accept, accept the things I cannot change” schtick. It’s easier said than done, but I heartily recommend it.

  22. khilde*

    My senior year of high school I was in an organization that allowed us to continue in our freshmen year of college as state officers. For the organization, it was a highly coveted position and there were several of us from my high school that ran for an office. One of my closest friends throughout high school also ran. I was selected for an office and she was not. She reacted EXACTLY the same way that your friend is. The situation hurt her, so she hurt me. I admit that I don’t recall being that terribly affected by it because I was starting out in a new chapter in life and saw her for what she was (we always had a tenuous relationship in high school – her true colors shone when I got something that she wanted). I truly understand the sting of not getting something you wanted and to have your friend get it. I understand why she acted the way she did, but I moved on. And our friendship just sort of fell apart. She also moved on with life and I moved on and I can’t say that I’m heartbroken. If this hadn’t happend I think something else probably would have that would have driven us apart.

    Ok, so all this long-winded story to say that sometimes (especially at your age, in your early 20s (I’m assuming)) friendships just dissolve over these types of “life moments.” You can try to salvage it and get it back – but if you don’t want to or she’s not responding, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with throwing in the towel, wishing her well, remaining open to friendship but moving on. Ultimately you cannot be responsible for her emotions.

  23. Tiff*

    Late to the party, but I agree with AAM. The friend sounds like the type of gal who called dibs on a guy in the cafeteria, then gets mad 2 weeks later if he asks anyone else in her circle on a date. OP, just be glad she showed you her true colors and move on. If it was just a temporary lapse in sanity she’ll reconnect and offer an apology for her earlier bad behavior. If not – you should still be greatful.

  24. Angie*

    I took my friend along with me to apply for a job, even did her application which she was less interested but acting like she was. She ended up getting hired and i didnt, my resume was outstanding and she only had one job in her life time. Im a bit bitter because i put in alot of effort in looking for a job while she worried about things she shouldnt. How should i trsat this situation

  25. marc*

    (Sigh) Your bleeding heart. Friends turn to enemies when a friend has something she wants. If you wanted her friendship you should have never revealed that you got this job. It is too late. Just hope she does move on (i.e. gets an acceptable job) and drops her grudge.

  26. Kayley*

    I came across as I am feeling conflicted regarding a good friend interviewed and accepted a job she knew I was interviewing for, but neglected to tell me until the hiring family told me they had met her. She then explained she didnt realize it was the same job I had been telling her about until the interview, which they interviewed me the same day. She lives in the same town as this job and I was/am looking to move cross country to the same town. I have another interviewed lined up in this town, but now feeling concerned about the move to the city. My friend is my only friend in this town and we would be living together – we had lived together before for 2 years and I know she an “alpha female” so it doesn’t suprise me much she would do this but it would have been nice to have a heads up if she applied. Any advice/opinions

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