my boss wants me to do something skeevy, an undeserved free lunch, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss wants me to do something skeevy

As part of our link building strategy, my boss wants me to email bloggers and webmasters pretending that I am a random person who is a fan of theirs and has discovered a broken link on their site. I am to tell them that I found a great article (on our own site) and try to convince them to link to it. In short, I am to pretend to be someone else who is recommending our company/our site. This would entail using a fake gmail account with a fake name.

I don’t feel comfortable doing this. I see it as lying and I think it’s deceitful. I also think it’s unnecessary and that we can have the same success presenting ourselves as the creators of the content and asking them to take a look at it. In the end, it comes down to whether the owner of the site thinks our content is good enough and worthy of linking to, not who the email is coming from. Aside from that, I’m not convinced that this isn’t illegal, under the light of Canada’s new anti-spam laws.

My bosses say that it’s just part of marketing, that I should leave my morals at home and stop being stubborn about it. They don’t even want me to try any other approach, as they’re convinced it’s not working. I tried to reach a compromise but they wouldn’t hear it. They want me to do it by pretending to be someone else. I’ve been yelled at and treated pretty badly over this issue.

What should I do? Should I suck it up and do it, but feel bad about myself? Or should I be true to my conscience and refuse to do it? What could be the consequences of refusing to pretend to be someone else?

Ha, your boss is ridiculous. Not only is this ethically shady but it’s not going to work. As someone on the receiving end of an awful lot of emails like this, I can tell you that they’re transparent, annoying, and ineffective.

However, you’ve already pushed back and your boss is telling you to do it anyway. So this is now part of your job — and your boss can require it just like she can require any other responsibility. You, in turn, can decide you don’t want the job under these circumstances — although in general it’s better to find another job before you pull that particular trigger.

2. I’m getting an undeserved free lunch

I work at a law firm, and am probably what you would call an honorary member of the document drafting department. My job is to email clients and escalate matters when we need documents back quickly. I don’t do any drafting, but I’m still included on the group email and I sit in the same area.

Recently there was a push to clear out our backlog, and the lead partner said he’d take the department out to lunch if we succeeded in doing so. Well, because of the department’s hard work, it got completed in less than a week. Last week I received an invite email to the lunch from someone who isn’t an attorney, but still high up and could probably fire me if she wanted. It’s scheduled for about a week from now.

I feel really awkward being invited and probably going to the lunch. My position being what it is, I did nothing to help with the project. I’m afraid that my coworkers will be a little bitter that I’m literally getting a free lunch out of this. I’ve considered explaining to Boss Lady that I don’t feel comfortable going to the lunch, but I don’t want to be difficult. Should I just go anyway?

(For some background, my coworkers rarely speak to me as I was a little isolated from them for about a year and I half, so I don’t really have a relationship with anyone in the department except for the team lead. There will also be a lunch for the entire division for a similar reason, which I feel much less guilty about going to.)

Your coworkers would have to be extremely petty to care that you’re included in the lunch. But if you’re worried, email her back and say, “I’d love to come to this — but I want to be up-front that I didn’t work on the backlog, so if this is only to thank people who did, I probably shouldn’t be included. (But if it’s not restricted to that group, I’d love to attend!)”

3. When should I ask about my internship turning into a regular job?

I am 2 months into my 4 month internship in the HR department of an IT department. I am finished with University and took this internship as I had no job after finishing school :) I would love to work full – time for this company but at the beginning of my internship, my manager would hint at the temporary nature of my position by saying “at the end of your internship….”. (when I interviewed for this position I was told that there is a possibility that it could translate into a permanent position).

My manager will be back from a vacation this week. Is this a good time to ask her if they intend to keep me on in a full time/permanent role? Or should I wait to ask her one month before my internship ends?I have no work lined up after this internship is over and I’m scared she will say no.

My title is L&D coordinator (Summer Student) and I perform a lot of work that the L&D coordinator (full time employee) used to perform. She has been given a different set of duties. I perform he work she would do when she joined the company a year ago. This employee is excellent at her job and I am somewhat intimidated by her. I have had a few minor hiccups at this job, and while I am not as good as she is, I am very hardworking and always willing to learn. What do you think my chances are of landing this job?

“There’s a chance you could be hired on after your internship” doesn’t mean “that’s likely to happen.” To the contrary, it means “assume this will only be an internship and nothing else unless you hear otherwise.” You should be proceeding from that assumption that that’s the case, which means lining up work for once your internship is over. You can certainly let your manager know now that you’re very interested in working there full-time once your internship ends and ask what your chances of that are and what a timeline for a decision might look like, and you can check in again one month before your ending date — but meanwhile you should proceed as if it’s not happening and job search accordingly.

4. I’m getting mixed messages about a possible promotion

I have worked for my company for about 6 months, and although I like my current position, I think that I can learn more and be more of an asset in a management position in a different department.

In March, I was approached by my boss’s boss about expanding my role and taking on more of a managerial role in another department. Although I felt uncomfortable about him approaching me without speaking with my boss first, I told him that I was interested. The following week, I spoke with the Director of Operations and she explained that they would prefer to have a formal posting for the position in June and if I am still interested at that time I am more than welcomed to apply.

So, I applied in June and have yet to hear back. I even saw that they posted the job on Indeed. What should I do? I am very confused considering that I was initially tapped for the position.

Why not talk to your boss’s boss again, since he initially approached you about this? Let him know that you applied for the role and are very interested and that you’d love to talk with him further about where he sees your role in the company going.

5. Can I reapply for the job that just rejected me?

I applied for a job that I was qualified for although it is not in the same field. (I would be moving from Human Services to Manufacturer but doing the same job.) I went through the interview process and was told on the third interview that I was going to get an offer. Well, I got a “thank you for applying but no” email.

A day after the email, the job is posted back on their website. Should I or can I reapply? I really wanted this job and would be great fit for it. And if yes, what should be my cover letter say?

No, you shouldn’t reapply. It would be one thing to reapply a few months down to road — but not this soon. They know you’re interested, they’ve considered your candidacy, and they decided to reject you. You can’t change that by turning around and reapplying — and it would look a little weird to do that. Your best bet here is to move on, although you could certainly try again after some time goes by.

{ 199 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    ‘You are welcome to apply’ is just zero encouragement at all. No one says that to anyone they want to hire. That is what you say when you don’t want to be honest (and rarely do people doing hire want to be honest especially with an insider.) If they wanted to hire you,they would be saying things like ‘We hope you will apply’ or ‘let me encourage you to get an official application in.’

    Definitely go back to the person who originally encouraged you because it is possible that person really is interested.

    For the intern. If they want to hire you, you generally know that. Vague possibilities have no meaning. Probably they are not intending to hire you, but it is still a good idea to sit down with the boss and express your interest and ask if there are likely to be opportunities at the end of the internship. Sometimes, they just don’t have it on their screen — but they do know your time frame and if they aren’t making it clear they hope to hire you, chances are nothing is happening.

    I have hired in situations where we went back to square one and have had the rejected top candidates immediately re-apply. It is frankly embarrassing. A year later — sure. But right after not being hired, it should be clear that they considered you and don’t want to hire you.

    Just reading these questions makes me so glad I don’t have to do this anymore — either hiring or looking for work — it is really a soul sucking process. Hope things look up for all of you.

    1. Felicia*

      I’ve actually reapplied 7 months after being rejected and got the job, but that’s because in those 7 months I’d gained more skills and experience. If nothing’s changed then they’ve rejected you and applying again will look weird.

      There was another time 6 months after I was rejected – the hiring manager told me to reapply, I wouldn’t have seen or reapplied otherwise – and i got rejected before an interview.

      That was upsetting.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was once asked to apply to a professional organization and then rejected with along tendentious letter about what I needed to do to become eligible for their wonderfulness. Yeah, being asked to apply and then summarily rejected does burn.

        For a job to be specifically asked and then not interviewed would put that organization on my ‘avoid list’.

      2. KrisL*

        Maybe the hiring manager told you to re-apply, then got deluged with applications. Maybe the manager thought you were a good fit, but a better candidate applied.

    2. Sunflower*

      I disagree with the part about ‘you are welcome to apply’. I was in a different department in my company before my current job and was approached by a couple people about applying when this job opened up. I was really interested in the job but everyone who spoke to me about it was constantly reassuring me that I should apply if I’m interested in and didn’t want to pressure me if I wasn’t. When you are approached, it’s different than going on your own to apply to internal jobs. I think everyone wanted me to know that I was welcome to stay in my job if I wanted and they weren’t trying to push me out or anything.

      1. Youth Services Librarian*

        I don’t ask people to apply again unless I mean it – and I’ve had people apply multiple times and finally get a job. I just have more qualified candidates than positions. Just this year I’ve hired two girls who applied six months to a year previously.

      2. Artemesia*

        There is a big difference between telling someone they should apply and ‘you are welcome to apply’ when they ask. ‘You are welcome to apply’ is code for ‘we have to legally let anyone apply.’ It is not a welcoming response (although others may find you exactly right if you do apply — but based on that phrase, I would assume nothing)

        1. Felicia*

          What I got was “here is this job posting that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, you should apply for it” which is different than you’re welcome to apply imo. In the first case, I had not made any inquiry about a job so the employer was initiating it (which made the resulting lack of interview sting), and in the second case, it’s the person who wants the job initiating, forcing the employer to respond in some way. They may just think that’s polite. Kind of like after an interview where the employer says “you’ll here from us either way.” which actually means ” If you don’t get the job you’ll never hear from you again” which happens all the time.

          1. Hanna R.*

            I’ve been invited to apply for a position where it was listed very inaccurately (wrong title) and that was because they really wanted me to, and I got it, but “you’re welcome to” sounds like “we won’t be offended if you do”. :-)

            1. Artemesia*

              What is the alternative when someone inquires to ‘you are welcome to apply’? They can either say something that implies that is a great idea and they hope you will apply OR they can say ‘we wouldn’t hire you, you’ve got to be kidding.’ ‘You are welcome to apply’ is code for that.

              I used to get inquiries all the time from people I knew we wouldn’t hire — people we knew and perhaps even thought well of, but would never hire. If I knew them very well and trusted them I would say ‘You are welcome to apply, but I think it is a long shot because they are specifically looking for (X)’. If I didn’t know them well or trust them well, I would say ‘You are welcome to apply.’

              1. Sunflower*

                IMO the OP should not think she is getting an interview or the job just because someone reached out to her. I don’t think by saying ‘you are welcome to apply’ that they are already rejecting her though.

              2. fposte*

                I admire you for calibrating your code that finely–I mostly boilerplate that kind of response, so “You’re welcome to apply” could mean anything from “I don’t remember you” to “Yeah, you came pretty close.”

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I agree that if someone is being thoughtful about it, that’s what “you’re welcome to apply often means.” But I’d strongly caution job-seekers about assuming that’s always the case, because sometimes people speak without thinking or are people who aren’t sensitive to nuance like this. Sometimes it really does mean “and you might be a strong candidate” or even means nothing at all, either way.

    3. Michele*

      I am going through a somewhat similar situation with a company I really want to work for. They flew me out a couple of weeks ago to interview and HR called me yesterday to tell me that the position went to an internal candidate but everyone wanted me to know that they loved me and that they think I would be a great addition to any product development team. In turn HR asked me to apply for the 3 open positions that are currently posted and to let her know once I completed the on-line application so she could forward everything to the hiring managers. So of course I went immediately on-line and applied.

      1. KrisL*

        Good for you, Michele. I had a co-worker (he eventually moved to another state and took a different job) who applied for 3-4 jobs at the company before he got a position. He was encouraged by management to keep applying because he was a good fit, but the first few times someone else just had better qualifications.

  2. Lizzy*

    1.) I am a fitness blogger and I see this strategy all the time. Most bloggers are savvy enough to see through the gimmick. If the product is good enough, many bloggers would love to be approached by the company itself rather than this deceptive roundabout way to get their attention. I don’t know why companies still need to do this. If your boss and company are convinced this is a great strategy and are berating you for seeing it differently, start looking for a new job.

    1. Felicia*

      I’ve approached bloggers on behalf of the company itself, and it’s usually worked great

    2. Another blogger*

      Yup, I have a blog in my field that is relatively well known for being a niche field. I get these spam emails all the time. I ignore them completely.

      When people are honest and send me relevant pitches, they get a response back. Even if it’s no, thanks. Sometimes I will point them in the direction of another blogger who is a better match if the opportunity seems legit and I think he/she may be interested. I’d be impressed by someone who tried to cultivate a real relationship with the blogger(s) in question. More time consuming but more productive.

    3. AB*

      I once had a lonely little blog out there that got a tiny amount of attention beyond my own friends and family. I mentioned a product in a post and was tickled pink when the company commented on my post and tweeted a link to my post. I was more than happy to tweet/ post/ mention the company without them even asking me.

      I would suggest that you go back to your boss with a counter strategy rather than out right refusal. See if you can’t either come with some researched numbers in hand, or at least suggest a trial period. Instead of asking bloggers to link to you, comment on their posts (as an actual company, not a fictional character) and show them the love by tweeting or otherwise helping them to get attention. You can do a side by side test by doing what your boss suggested as well. Track the analytics and see which is more effective. It will not only appease your boss and keep you from being insubordinate, but will get your point across a lot better than telling your boss his idea is stupid.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Absolutely. I have used this technique with different types of problems and had it work very well with stubborn bosses. OP, you offer an idea that get results, you might get off the hook.

        1. Big Tom*

          But the OP mentioned that they already tried compromising and discussing other methods. The management doesn’t seem to be open to negotiation at all.

  3. Peep!*

    Situations like #1 piss me off. I mean, really — do they think people are so dumb that they won’t see through it immediately? And if I was one of the recipients, I’d be irritated and go the complete opposite direction.

    It reminds me of how when you’re a pre-teen or teenager, and you think you’re sooooo sneaky and pulling something over on your parents. Yeah, that never works. (I thought I was being smart in high school — my mom unplugged the internet during finals so I couldn’t get online. It didn’t matter that I unplugged it again when I was done — I didn’t roll it up the same way! Foiled. :P )

    Or like, one of my interns thinking I wouldn’t know when she was suspiciously silent and unmoving when she was supposed to be writing things down on paper and organizing files. Hello, just because you hide your phone behind a pile of files, I can tell when you’re not doing work.

    1. Valar M.*

      Had an intern like this. So irritating. I also wanted to say Hello – I’ve done jobs like this in the past, so I know exactly how long it should take you, and how much of it should be done by the end of the day if you’re working efficiently.

  4. kas*

    1. That is not a part of marketing and such a ridiculous idea. First of all, what random person would go through all that work to convince someone of that? Your boss is something else.

    5. Way too soon to re-apply. Unless I receive a personalized email encouraging me to re-apply, I wait a whiiile before applying again. I feel like it comes across as almost desperate in a way.

    1. Hanna R.*

      Yes, I’d be afraid they’d think I was sending resumes to every ad that came up without reading it and that I didn’t even remember applying the first tiem.]

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        And that is EXACTLY what I think when I see people reapply. So in addition to whatever reason I rejected them the first time around, I then add “not detail oriented” to my mental list.

    2. Jennifer*

      I assumed in the case of #5 it was one of those “we didn’t really like any of the candidates we got” issues. OP should definitely not apply there again if they didn’t like him/her the first time.

  5. MMouse*

    1.) Allison is right.. your boss sounds ridiculous, but it sounds like you’re going to have to grit your teeth and do it. Maybe somewhere down the line present a metric to your boss? “Out of the fifty bloggers I’ve emailed, one has responded.” Then offer an alternative, like a trial period in which you email bloggers as a representative of your company. See if the blogger response is better that way.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Perfect advice.

      Don’t spend your time worrying about the ethics or legality of this. This is so common. Your boss is mimicking the actions of teeming thousands.

      What it is is: dumb. Dumb waste of time.

      MMouse’s advice (along with Alison’s of course) is perfect. Do the dumb exercise, including the amount of time you spent.

      Unfortunately, asking for links as the real you is also a long road. We recently created some valuable content (stop motion animation educational video), reached out to 50 people with whom we had some sort of relationship and who were 100% right for this content, and got 2 links back.

      We were hoping for a faster return but the return rate there is probably about what we should have expected. SEO takes so much time and money. If it could be accomplished by telling somebody in the office to send off a bunch of fake emails, everybody would be a the top of Google. (Wait, how would that work?)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


        What we should have done was rented audio visual equipment and set the video up on a loop at the themed trade shows that we went to this summer, and asked for links in person. Unfortunately, the circuit is almost over and we’ll have to wait until next summer to do that.

        If this gives you any ideas for alternate routes to suggest to the boss. Emailing people for links is really just done to death.

      2. Jessa*

        I would worry about the illegality. I have a feeling a boss like this would respond to a case where they’re sued for spamming someone against the Canadian spam rules, by saying “OP did that all on their own, that wasn’t OUR idea. Blame OP, fine OP, etc.”

    2. Raupe*

      Do you know any bloggers personally?
      You could set it up so that you e-mail them with your fake persona – and they send you a reply along the lines of “this is transparent, why did you not approach me in a straightforward way, etc.”
      Then you can show these responses to your boss to try and change their mind – and it would be quicker than running a real “A” vs “B” test.

      There is a risk this could backfire if your boss argues that it is all your fault for not being convincing enough as your fake persona, so it might be a good idea to get the wording of your request okayed by them first.

      Not the most above-board ways of dealing with this, of course, and you might want to start looking for an environment more in tune with your values anyway.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        So – pretend to do the task as assigned in order to show that the task as assigned, which involves pretense, is a bad idea?

        I think I agree with you that it’s not above board, and I don’t really see how it makes a convincing case that deception and subterfuge are not okay.

        1. Sarahnova*

          That’s not “pretending” to do the task as assigned. It’s actually doing the task as assigned, because the boss is the boss and gets to tell you what to do even if you don’t agree, but also collecting some evidence to try and change the boss’s mind further down the line.

    3. Jennifer*

      It’s completely stupid, but it sounds like this is the hill they will fire you on if you don’t give in NOW. Period. Logic and reason aren’t working here. It also probably won’t get you say, arrested for transparent spamming, so it won’t really hurt you other legally or something like that.

  6. GrumpyBoss*

    1. when your moral compass points in a different direction than your employer’s, the only recourse is to find a new job.

    1. Mike C.*

      If there is a significant divergence, one should report the employer to the relevant authorities on your way out.

      1. Felicia*

        I’m not 100% sure, but I think it is quite possible that this is illegal under Canada’s new anti-spam laws anyways, so I would report them right away. I would totally refuse if my employer asked me to do something illegal. It definitely had something about not impersonating someone else in a commercial email in there.

        I think this is one of the few “is it legal?” questions where it’s actually not. It’s a new law, so I’d read up on it and bring it up in a way like “I’m not sure if you realized about this law that’s in effect as of July 1, I’m sure you didn’t mean it and don’t want to be fined” type thing.

      2. GrumpyBoss*

        Agree – but this guy just sounds like a knucklehead. Unlikely any of this is at all illegal. Inefficient and stupid, yes. But if we started hanging managers for being inefficient and stupid, there wouldn’t be many left!

  7. Eudora Wealthy*

    #1 I disagree with everyone so far. Sadly, this sockpuppet BS does happen a lot. It is common. And I have *seen* it work numerous times. Is it ridiculous? Yes. Is it embarrassing? Yes. Is it illegal? Possibly in some places. And it makes me want to stab the perpetrators in their eyes with an icepick. It is what it is.

    #4 Is the OP sure that the employer listed the job on Indeed? Most of the jobs listed on Indeed seem to have been scraped from employers’ websites by Indeed. Your employer might not even know Indeed did it. Genuine question in my mind.

    1. straws*

      #4 – Yes, the last job I was hiring for, I considered posting on Indeed and while I was deciding I found out that it was already listed. It’s entirely possible they don’t know.

    2. Jamie*

      You need to do it well, though, and that’s where so many fail.

      I’ve been commenting here for years, mostly on topic, pretending to be a reader only interested in the conversation but that’s all part of my long term plan. At some tbd time in the near or far future I’m going to use the fact that you all think I’m a real person with no ulterior motive to try to sell you all knock off coach purses and viagra.

      I’ve put a lot of time into this, typed the equivalent of several books to earn your trust…so I expect a lot of orders when the time comes.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


        Playing the long game!

        (I really spit my afternoon Diet coke on that one)

      2. periwinkle*

        I’m terribly disappointed. All this time I’ve assumed that your long-term plan involved world domination. Or cupcakes. Or world domination via cupcakes.

        1. Jamie*

          I have to fund that with something – coach purses and viagra are my investment capital.

  8. West Coast Reader*

    1. I learned the 3 ways to respond to shady situations at work in my Corporate Social Responsibility course: a) blow the whistle, b) do nothing, or c) get yourself out.

    1. Jennifer*

      Hah, they offered a class in that? I thought those methods were just good common sense.

      Though realistically, I wouldn’t blow a whistle on anyone no matter what they were doing because in the end, I’m the only one who’s going to lose all employability.

    2. The one with the skeevy boss*

      Thanks for this! It’s also the conclusion I came to. Unfortunately, a) is out of the question, as the company is small, and my two bosses are married to each other and there’s no one above them. Hence no way to blow the whistle within the company.

      I can’t really do nothing, either, as I really care about my conscience.

      So I guess looking for a new job is in the works.

  9. Luxe in Canada*

    #1 Not a lawyer, but: yes, it does look like it violates the new anti-spam law. Not just because it’s using deceit, but it also omits information that must be included on each marketing email. You’d need to clearly identify who you are (your company, not necessarily you personally, though maybe that too), but also your mailing address and phone number, and you must include on each message a way to unsubscribe to stop receiving new messages. Your boss is asking you to violate a lot of these requirements. Here is a link:

    Find a new job and get out, but… I’d talk to someone in your provincial EI department to see if you can get unemployment insurance for quitting a job that is asking you to break the law. I don’t know if that’s a route you’d want to go down, but it might be handy info to have in your back pocket. You’d lose your reference, but you might decide that it is the right option for you.

    But before you hit the nuclear option, explain one more time to your boss exactly why it violates the anti-spam laws, why it is not good marketing strategy, and what better marketing looks like. And polish up your resume anyway, since you deserve a better boss.

    1. Another Emily*

      +a billion

      I cam here to say basically this. You nailed it. OP, your last ditch attempt to salvage this situation could be to point out to your boss that this would be breaking the law. Maybe she’s not aware of the new anti-spam law? She doesn’t sound like the most internet savvy person out there. However, I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you caved in on this given how horribly you’ve been treated. (I probably would. But you sure do deserve a better job than this!)

  10. Anony Mouse*

    #1, if your boss is doing “real” marketing, you should suggest an A vs B strategy. This is when you try both methods simultaneously to see which one tests better. Group A can be the fake strategy sand Group B would be your honest strategy. I suspect that the outcome might be illuminating to your boss. Email marketers use this all the time when trying to fine tune their methods.

    If that doesn’t work, do your best to move on fast. You are going to be miserable there. Good luck!

  11. Denise*

    Re: #1 “leave my morals at home…” Yikes. That coupled with being yelled at and over a bad strategy anyway…sounds like a new job search is in order.

    1. Ethyl*

      Yeah “yelling” — i.e., any kind of raised angry voice — is just such a red flag for me. That is not how normal, functional workplaces deal with issues.

  12. nep*

    Yeah — that boss lost me at ‘leave your morals at home’. Big yikes. What kind of person is OK saying that to an employee?

    1. JoAnna*

      Agreed. They’re basically saying they want unscrupulous employees working for them. WTF?

    2. Moose Tracks*

      Why stop at morals? Why not throw in your integrity, about half your dignity and a pinch of self-respect. Yikes, what a jerk.

      1. The one with the skeevy boss*

        Thanks for making me giggle! I suppose they do expect those too, from the way I’ve been treated over this even though I’ve been doing so much (and still am) to move the company forward.

    3. Jamie*

      Yeah – ages ago at a temp job I was asked, “playfully”, if I wouldn’t mind dropping my ethics at the door.

      Total red flag.

    4. The one with the skeevy boss*

      My friend told me jokingly to take something from the office and then when asked about it, to let them know that I’ve followed instructions and left my morals at home :))

      But in all honesty, it was a wake-up call for me when I heard those words – a wake up call telling me to get out as soon as I can because our values are not aligned in any way.

    5. KrisL*

      The “leave your morals at home” really got to me too. You don’t want to work for someone like that.

  13. Sue Wilson*

    1) Talk To A Lawyer Immediately:
    I looked at Canada’s Anti-Spam Laws and this is what they say:
    To send a commercial electronic message to an electronic address, you need to have the recipient’s consent, to identify yourself, to offer an unsubscribe mechanism and to be truthful.

    Consent: You must have a form of valid consent.
    How can I obtain express consent?
    What’s the difference between express consent and implied consent?
    Identification: Clearly identify yourself and your organization. You must include your mailing address. You must also include a phone number for accessing an agent or a voice messaging system, an email address, or a web address for you or the person on whose behalf you are sending the message.
    Unsubscribe mechanism: Provide an unsubscribe mechanism that is functional for 60 days. See examples of acceptable unsubscribe mechanisms.
    Truth in advertising: Your messages must not be false or misleading. They must not have false or misleading sender information, subject matter information, URLs and/or metadata.

    I doubt your employer can ask you to do something illegal, so you need to talk to a lawyer.

  14. Gonzo*

    #1 – I don’t feel comfortable doing this. I see it as lying and I think it’s deceitful.

    Well, it’s both. But if you’re like roughly 98% of people, you’re frequently deceitful if it benefits you and you think no one will find out. In this case, the problem is that the lie is really, really obvious and you’re worried about looking like an idiot. We’ve all gotten enough eyerolly spam to not want to be associated with the recipients’ feelings of “Did they seriously think that would WORK?”

    The boss’s “Leave your morals at home” response was probably prompted by irritation that he knows you’ll lie for yourself, hell, maybe you’ve lied to him and he knew it even if he didn’t say anything. So he’s angry that you’re choosing something he wants done to take a stand over. Rather than make this an argument about morals/ethics, just make sure you set up the account and send the emails from work (don’t even log in from home) so that if it’s a spam issue it’s never tied to your own IP. The emails won’t work, and this “strategy” will die pretty quickly.

    Really, he’s not asking you to give fake Yelp reviews about mom-and-pop competitors that could lose them money, or fake headhunting to make employees at competing firms quit for nonexistent positions. There are worse things than sending fake emails no one will take seriously.

    1. aebhel*

      But if you’re like roughly 98% of people, you’re frequently deceitful if it benefits you and you think no one will find out.

      Seriously? Speak for yourself. Maybe you’re a chronic liar, but that doesn’t mean that everybody is.

        1. Honest Abe*

          If I say I always lie then am I being truthful or lying?

          Either way it signals that you should get out of that situation because, like above, you now know that you don’t know when your boss is lying or not. And that is not just restricted to this situation but to all interactions in general.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            If your boss will be deceitful in dealings with vendors and customers and outside clients, he will be deceitful in dealings with employees as well. Deceit in the business world is a hard habit to confine to one sphere.

            1. The one with the skeevy boss*

              The funniest part about this is that one of our company values is “Transparency in our communication.” :|

    2. Chinook*

      “But if you’re like roughly 98% of people, you’re frequently deceitful if it benefits you and you think no one will find out.”

      Umm…then I must be related to and work with the 2% because the majority of people I know aren’t like this (or are very good at it). Or maybe it is because lies are always found out in the end and, thus, not worth the risk.

      “Really, he’s not asking you to give fake Yelp reviews about mom-and-pop competitors that could lose them money, or fake headhunting to make employees at competing firms quit for nonexistent positions. There are worse things than sending fake emails no one will take seriously.”

      Here you are just weighing monetar outcomes and ignoring the value of a company’s reputation. Even if the blogger doesn’t know the OP wrote the email, any goodwill and trust the company has with the blogger will be eroded by using this type of tactic. And goodwill and trust are harder, and more expensive, to gain back than to maintain.

      1. Fee*

        “Here you are just weighing monetary outcomes and ignoring the value of a company’s reputation. Even if the blogger doesn’t know the OP wrote the email, any goodwill and trust the company has with the blogger will be eroded by using this type of tactic. ”

        Unfortunately this is a pretty standard attitude for managers who know they should be “doing” digital marketing/social media but just don’t get it: quantity not quality. At OldJob it was constantly “how do we get thousands of likes/followers/retweets?” but whenever I wanted to actually engage usefully with the followers we did have e.g. through social media customer service, they baulked. I confess I had mentally checked out a while before I left the job so from time to time I’d give answers like “Um, give away a Lexus?!” We were a government funding agency. :)

      2. OP*

        Wait, You don’t lie and nobody you know lies? I find that extremely hard to believe? Have you even read anything on the subject? People lie that they were in traffic when they really overslept, they lie to get out of social situations, lie that they were never told something or never received a call or a bill in the mail, and that’s just little things. But then they also can lie to themselves and think they don’t do it so often. It doesn’t sound true to others whenthey staunchly deny lying because it couldn’t be true that they always tell the exact truth.

        1. Hanna R.*

          Sorry, I’m not the OP! The name was still there from the last post I commented on.

        2. aebhel*

          I don’t lie regularly, no. I’m not saying I’ve never lied, but I don’t make a habit of lying every time the truth might be inconvenient to me and I don’t have a lot of respect for people who do.

          How hard is it to just admit that you overslept or you’re not in the mood to hang out?

          1. Hanna R.*

            How hard is it to just admit that you overslept or you’re not in the mood to hang out?

            It’s not hard when you’re at home thinking about it but when you’re right there and really think you might be fired or lose a chance at promotion at work, or you don’t want to “hang out” with your mother in law on Christmas and hear all the ways you’re treating her son bady, you will tell lies to protect your job or sanity. It’s not something other people get to hand-wave away and say that wasn’t worth lying about. Only the person involved knows that.

            1. aebhel*

              Okay, but the reverse of that is that there are people who will actually generally tell the truth in those situations. I know, because I’m one of them, and I find it really irritating when people are all, “oh, come on, like you wouldn’t lie about that.”

              No. I wouldn’t. And maybe that’s because I’ve never held a job where one minor screw-up like oversleeping would get me fired, but there it is.

              1. Hanna R.*

                Ah, then I see we’re going to have to agree to come from different directions. You’ve had a very good hand dealt to you and I am glad for you that you can live such a virtuous life as a result. I hope you will come to show compassion for others who have bad circumstances they have to handle as best they can.

                1. aebhel*


                  Well, I guess I’m sorry your life is so terrible that you have to lie constantly just to get by. There. Does that count as compassion?

                2. Cat*

                  I’m frequently dishonest and I’ll defend it to the death. Sorry, I’m not really sure how life would be improved by:

                  “Wow, that haircut is terrible.”

                  “Yikes, you’re pregnant? Poor kid!”

                  “I don’t have plans but your parties always suck so I’m going to sit at home and watch Netflix instead.”

                  “Thanks for cooking dinner for me and all, but yeah, this just confirms you’re a terrible cook.”

                3. Chinook*

                  “I don’t have plans but your parties always suck so I’m going to sit at home and watch Netflix instead.”

                  See, the difference between those like you and those like me is that we don’t go into the details or feel the need to justify the whys when we are in awkward situations. If I say I have other plans, no one needs to know that those include staying home and playing with my cat. Or, if they are a terrible cook but I value their freindship, I will risk a bad meal for that friendship or offer to bring something with me. If they ask why, I will tell them that their cooking leaves room for improvement.

                  And trust me, I have had some horrible situations that lieing would have made easier in the short term but the long term repercussions weren’t worth it. At the same time, I do get that there are valid reasons to lie (if a lie gets me out of being harmed in some way, I will absolutely do it). But using it as my defualt strategy to get out of awkward situations to me just seems like a disservice to everyone involved.

                4. Cat*

                  Chinook, I think we’re just defining a “lie” differently. For me “I have other plans” when what I mean is “I don’t have specific plans but I don’t want to go to a party” is a lie. I feel totally fine about it, but I don’t think it’s honest. I’m not turning down an invite because I’m busy; I’m turning it down because I want to go even if I do come up with something other to do that night.

                5. aebhel*

                  I don’t see any reason to volunteer negative assessments of everyone around me, but that doesn’t mean I have to lie about everything.

                  You can thank someone for the effort of cooking an unpalatable meal, you can keep your mouth shut about a bad haircut, and, at least for me, ‘sitting at home and watching Netflix’ IS a plan. And yeah, I have told people, “you know, I think I’m just going to hang out at home tonight,” and it hasn’t lost me any friends. Maybe I just have thick-skinned friends?

                  Honestly doesn’t require blurting out whatever hurtful thing pops into your head at any given moment.

                6. Valar M.*

                  Agreed on the no one needs to know what the plans are. You’re assuming that the default is: sitting at home is not a real option, when for many people it absolutely is. I will say I have other plans – and if pressed for those plans, which rarely happens, I will say sitting at home because I am tired/not up to it/want to spend time with husband/cat/couch/etc. All of those would be true statements.

                7. Fabulously Anonymous*

                  Let me help:
                  “Wow, that haircut is terrible.”
                  Not a lie: “I noticed you got your haircut.”

                  “Yikes, you’re pregnant? Poor kid!”
                  Not a lie: “Congratulations.”

                  “I don’t have plans but your parties always suck so I’m going to sit at home and watch Netflix instead.”
                  Not a lie: “I’m sorry, I can’t make it.”

                  “Thanks for cooking dinner for me and all, but yeah, this just confirms you’re a terrible cook.”
                  Not a lie: “Thanks for cooking dinner.”

                8. Cat*

                  I guess I don’t think honesty is so valuable that I need to monitor every social interaction to make sure I don’t express an iota more enthusiasm than is strictly honest. So I’ll say “congratulations – I’m so happy for you” or “that sounds like fun but I can’t make it” even if I’m not or it doesn’t.

                  Honestly I suspect most people do this; when they don’t it’s pretty obvious that they’re trying very hard not to compliment whoever about whatever.

                9. fposte*

                  @Fabulously Anonymous–“I see you got your hair cut” without a compliment is sort of hilariously horrifying to me. It sounds like something somebody in The Office would say and then follow with total silence :-).

                  I’m more toward Cat’s and Jamie’s side on this, I think, in that I don’t think truth matters for its own sake, and the person who says “I see you got a haircut” isn’t on any moral higher ground than the person who says “Cute haircut!” and doesn’t mean it. Integrity is not a simple “Have you ever lied? Y/N” binary; it’s about how you treat people and how much they can rely on you.

                  (Additionally, I was just reading Dan Ariely’s The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, and it sounds like our views of our own honesty are pretty unreliable anyway.)

                10. Reader*

                  This is for Cat – you posted –
                  “Chinook, I think we’re just defining a “lie” differently. For me “I have other plans” when what I mean is “I don’t have specific plans but I don’t want to go to a party” is a lie.”
                  Miss Manners does not define this as a lie. You have other plans. They are to not go to a party. Plans do not have to be a specific activity.

                11. Fabulously Anonymous*

                  “I see you got a haircut, how do you like it?”
                  “I see you got a haircut, what made you decide to go short?”
                  “I see you got a haircut, how’s it feel to have less hair?”
                  “I see you got a haircut. I’ve been looking for a new stylist. How do you like yours?”

                  There’s simply no reason to lie and say it’s cute if you don’t think it’s cute. Yes, I was being short in my original response, but as I hope I demonstrated that there are many ways to follow up on the statement without lying.

                12. Cat*

                  Eh, if someone I know got a haircut that they’re clearly happy with that I think is hideous, I don’t usually feel the need not to compliment them on it. They’re happy, I’m happy they’re happy, they deserve to feel cute. It’s all good.

                  Now, if I’m a stylist prepping someone for an important interview, that’s different. If a close friend asks me for constructive criticism, that’s different. But I guess I don’t hold honesty in high regard for its own sake in situations like that.

                13. aebhel*

                  I don’t really work very hard to avoid lying, though. In most of those situations, it just wouldn’t occur to me to lie about it, mostly because it wouldn’t occur to me that someone would be upset by the truth.

                  I do actually object to complimenting (especially enthusiastically complimenting) things I don’t really like, though, because I’ve had people do that to me and I always feel really stupid and self-conscious when I find out later that they were lying to avoid hurting my feelings. I’d much rather people tell me that my haircut looks like I skinned a Muppet and am now wearing its hide if that’s what they think than say “Ohhh, your hair is so CUTE like that, I love it!”

                  Another example: I love garlic. I will put garlic in almost anything I cook. A friend of mine tried some lasagne I made and almost spit it out. “Oh, my god, that is WAY too much garlic.” I don’t agree with her assessment, but I’m glad I know, because otherwise I would have kept offering her food that she hated. You know?

            2. Colette*

              If you’re going to be fired or lose a promotion at work because of something you’ve done, you’re not really helping yourself by lying about it. People have a lot more respect for “I’m sorry, I screwed up, here’s what I’m doing to fix it” than they do for people who lie and refuse to accept responsibility.

              Similarly, if you don’t want to get together with someone, you can simply decline – “I can’t make it, but have a good time!”

              1. aebhel*

                This. If you were going to get fired over being late to work once, lying about it is not going to fix the problem.

                1. Lisa*

                  Yeah it won’t fix it, but there are bosses that want a ‘valid to them’ excuse. If there are issues with the boss / employee relationship, then ‘traffic’ vs ‘overslept’ won’t harm the relationship more.

              2. Chinook*

                “People have a lot more respect for “I’m sorry, I screwed up, here’s what I’m doing to fix it” than they do for people who lie and refuse to accept responsibility.”

                Yup, yup, yup.

                The best boss I ever had told us he had no problem with us making mistakes as long as we keep makign different ones each time. But lieing to cover it up will make him wonder what else we are lieing about.

                As for why I don’t lie in general, my first job interview after high school was for a live-in exchange program that had a full day interview where they wanted to see how we interacted in a diverse group. They pointed out that we could lie and be on our best behaviour and lie about our willingness to compromise all day to get into this program but that we wouldn’t be able to hold that lie for 9 months and, as a result, would probably crash and burn (which would suck because you would be doing so in the backwoods of some third world country where travel home could take a few days). This advice has stuck with me – better to be myself and fail in the short term because I don’t fit in with those around me than succeed on a lie and learn that I have wasted my time and energy in an environment that I am just not suited for.

                1. Purdykins*

                  This! I have found in my own life and especially in work settings that telling the truth, although sometimes really uncomfortable in the short-term, leads to much better outcomes in the long-term and actually increases my credibility rather than damaging it. I think a lot of people don’t realize that their boss/co-workers/people tend to appreciate honesty and can relate to not always being able to get things just right (although that doesn’t mean they will be happy about hearing the truth). With that, you can’t be an honest person at work and expect people to appreciate that if you are not honestly trying to do your job well and learn from mistakes and improve. I don’t think anyone in the above comments was meaning to imply that it is ok to be honest and a jerk/slacker at the same time. A truly honest person balances out the honesty about mistakes with honesty and integrity in how they approach their job/life.

                2. Jamie*

                  I agree with all of this. Well said.

                  On the subject of lying – I’m not going to pretend I’m above a little white lie for social reasons (cute shoes!) or privacy reasons (yes, I will look someone in the face and tell them I’m going to the dentist if it’s none of their business that I have an appointment at the gynecologist) – I lose no sleep over any of that.

                  But the big stuff – nah. If I f’ed up I’ll own it. Not necessarily because I’m such a paragon of virtue but a bad memory and expressive face makes for a lousy liar and more importantly…I’ve found that nothing gives you more solid credibility than owning your own mistakes. If people do that I give the benefit of the doubt when they say it wasn’t them. If they don’t…well, if nothing is ever your fault I assume everything is your fault since I don’t have time to learn how to tell when you’re lying to me.

                  So yes, there are times I absolutely look someone in the face and lie to them. If someone offers me a zucchini muffin of which they are inordinately proud I will unabashedly tell them it looks delicious and I’d love to try some but I just ate. Because I see no purpose is telling them that even though I missed lunch and am starving I would rather die of hunger than put that in my mouth.

                  What matters is can people count on your word when it matters. Yes, they can. So I sleep nights.

            3. Lisa*

              I agree with this, there are plenty of petty bosses and managers out there that add up little things you say and use those things against you in some way. And happy response people tend to be treated more favorably than others. Not like being honest means that you are debbie downer, but how many ‘how are you?’s expect a real answer than something like a generic ‘fine’ or a positive one like ‘doing great’. You don’t have to gush with every response and be fake, but positive responses don’t rock boats. Of course, I have always worked for small companies with only 1 boss, and one who thought if you disagreed with him that you were being ‘negative’. He fired people for being too negative – ie – disagreeing too much. So yeah, I wouldn’t contradict him even if he was blatantly wrong on subjects (work stuff) that I knew more about in order to keep my job. I would mostly keep quiet, but its hard to tell clients to do something that I know is going to hurt them or is just wrong but the boss said it so i have to move forward on it even if i know it is a bad strategy or literally the wrong way to do it and will hurt them in the end.

          2. ThursdaysGeek*

            I lie too, but really, really try to avoid it, and try to avoid it being easy or habitual. So if I have to admit I didn’t do something I said I would do, have to admit I messed up, I try to just do it and get it over with. In the long run, that really is easier. And when I do lie, I will often go to that person and apologize. That’s worse than just telling the truth to begin with.

            I’m married to someone who probably wouldn’t lie to save his own life, literally. (Using ‘literally’ in the literal sense, not in the not-literal sense.)

            1. Purdykins*

              This is in reply to Jamie above…
              I now wish my user name was “such a paragon of virtue”. That phrasing in hilarious!

        3. Felicia*

          I think the difference is the poster said “frequently deceitful”, sure I lie occasionally and i’m sure everyone does…but frequently seems a bit much.

          1. Hanna R.*

            I remember reading this one article that said they had participants in a study keep a lie journal and the average was 2 per day but that the numbers would be much higher in reality because obviously you won’t put really embarrassing lies or the situation that brought it about in there. And you know I don’t lie for fun but, I tell people they look great when they don’t or I’ll tell a client we’re having computer issues because I can’t come out and say my boss is hung over and can’t get their work done. I have to keep my job and not hurt my friends. I don’t try to make myself feel better by telling other peopel they’re wrong for lying.

            1. Valar M.*

              I don’t think anyone here was trying to make themselves feel better by telling other people they’re wrong for lying. I think they were saying that some of them really don’t lie that often, and that they take offense to the statement that 98% of us lie frequently. At the very least – it’s an overstatement. It’s an individual’s judgement call to make.

              1. fposte*

                I also think the term “deceit” doesn’t map exactly on to “lying”–to me “deceit” is more about harmfully misleading somebody than wishing somebody happy birthday when you don’t care if they’re happy.

                1. Valar M.*

                  Agreed. There is definitely a wide range (that I am sure is also varying depending on personal and cultural experience too).

            2. Jamie*

              I know some disagree with this, but all lies aren’t equal to me.

              I guess if I had to come up with a rule of thumb is I wouldn’t lie about something that was something I would be mad if I was lied to about.

              And I’m leaving it because that’s the most grammatically messed up thing I’ve ever typed unintentionally.

              But for me, I don’t really care if most people genuinely like my haircut, or shoes, so if you lie to me I’m okay with it – so I’m okay doing it.

              But I don’t appreciate being lied to about the important stuff so I won’t do it to you. Lying about work stuff almost always makes something harder for someone and that’s just rude.

              But the little white lies – that’s no different to me than saying I’m fine when someone asks how I’m doing – or when I ask and don’t really care. It’s just a social convention – not a quest for truth.

              1. Valar M.*

                Very true. Especially the “how are you doing?” bit. Saying fine is just the culturally accepted response. Launching into a spiel about how you had food poisoning, your cat died, and your boyfriend left you that week would be very awkward in many situations. I’d venture most people who ask “how are you?” don’t really want to know either. Is it telling a white lie? Maybe, but, I would not define that person as a “liar” or purposefully deceitful.

        4. Chinook*

          Actually, I don’t lie regularly and usually they are white lies that ease a social situation without making it worse for the other person (i.e. does telling them that I truly hate the way their food tastes going to help either one of us?)

          I know it sounds hard to be lieve and maybe I am in the 2% and I have defintiely paid for my truthfulness, but I am inherently lazy and learned early on that it is more work to remember which lies were out there so I don’t contradict them than it is to just tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. Plus, I grew up in a family where the lie always got you the bigger punishment than the actual bad deed and you were told as much.

          That being said, I do often keep my mouth shut when I can’t say anything good, which is a lie of omission, but I don’t think that is the type of lies everyone is talking about.

        5. Fabulously Anonymous*

          I have never done any of those things. IMO, the only people who believe “we all lie” are the liars. And Dr. Gregory House.

          1. fposte*

            But also the researchers who actually study what humans do and not just what we say we do.

            1. Jamie*

              I find such studies absolutely fascinating…and would be terrified to participate.

              I don’t think anything good will come from my examining my own hypocrisy too closely. :)

              1. fposte*

                A point that intrigued me–the only group that doesn’t regularly overestimate themselves is the clinically depressed, which led Ariely to suggest that a certain amount of self-delusion is necessary for psychological health. I can totally buy that.

                1. Jamie*

                  I read his blog post on this since you posted it and I’m going to pick up the book. And absolutely I can buy that, too…I’m pretty healthy from a mental stand point and you should see how awesome I am in my own head.

                  Don’t talk to others about me or form opinions based on observations of my behavior – you’ll like me a lot more if you just see me for who I am in my head.

    3. Sadsack*

      “…maybe you’ve lied to him and he knew it even if he didn’t say anything. So he’s angry that you’re choosing something he wants done to take a stand over.”

      Making some strong assumptions and accusations, there, aren’t you?

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        The leap from “I don’t want to do something irritating, unethical, and stupid” to “well, then YOU must have been lying at some point!” is a long one.

    4. The one with the skeevy boss*

      I disagree with the first part of your comment. I haven’t lied to my employer. In this case, lying would probably benefit me a lot, as it would

      Would I lie for example if the Nazis would knock at my door asking me if I’m hiding any Jewish people in my house? Yes! But in most areas of my life I try to be as transparent as possible, and try not to take advantage of others’ good faith.

      I do agree with the IP address part. I’m working from my personal computer, do you think it could be tracked back to me?

  15. Chinook*

    OP #1 – my understanding of Canada’s new anti-spam laws is that this is illegal but that fines won’t be levied in the first 2 years to give companies time to adapt (because it is strict and not well advertised, companies may honestly not be aware that they are breaking the law until it is pointed out – I will post an info link for those interested) AAM has recommended in the past to point out law breaking to the boss in a manner that is not accusatory but shows you want to protect the company.

    1. Chinook*

      Here is a link to fast facts on the law

    2. Brett*

      Yeah, this is a no brainer violation of the Canadian anti-spam law for a Canadian company. Wonder if OP’s boss is well aware of this, and that is part of why the boss is so adamant that the OP must send the emails.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Mmmm, sending an individual email to an individual recipient, asking them for an individual link, is probably not covered under the sweeping legislation (even if you are using a fictitious name). Spam legislation is meant to cover mass emails. Even the new super broad Canadian laws.

        Not a lawyer and not insisting this is definitely the case, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a clear case.

        1. Chinook*

          Accoring to the government website “use of false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services;” goess against the legislation, which is exactly what OP’s boss is asking her to do. While “spam” usually refers to mass mailings, the government decided to use it as it refers to all unwanted commercial email (which is why they are giving it a 2 year break in period). The example cited in the news as being illegal is a car dealership emailing you after a test drive unless you gave them explicit permission to contact you.

        2. Privacy Lawyer*

          Not legal advice, but I do think even individual e-mails can be covered by CASL. I am not aware of any exceptions in the law for messages just sent to one person. This is also not really “individual” e-mails because it is a program of the same or similar crummy fake e-mail being sent to many bloggers with whom there is no personal relationship. Whether anyone would actually prosecute this is another matter, but it’s still deceitful and unethical.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Hey, an actual lawyer! :)

            Yep, not debating the ethics part, nor really debating anything at all other than thinking that tackling the problem with “hey this is against the law” isn’t likely to be effective vs letting the plan fail, which it will.

            Interesting, btw. I looked up the definition of CEM (commercial email) under the new Canadian law and wow is it broad. While it doesn’t seem logical that a reader contacting a Canadian Alison through the “contact us” link and asking for any kind of business benefit from her through that link would be considered spam and subject to fine, it just might be. (surface reading of definition of CEM only)

            1. Chinook*

              “While it doesn’t seem logical that a reader contacting a Canadian Alison through the “contact us” link and asking for any kind of business benefit from her through that link would be considered spam and subject to fine, it just might be. (surface reading of definition of CEM only)”

              For the record, I have looked long and hard for a Canadian Alison and she just doesn’t exist (darn it).

              As for whether or not someone would prosecute, I am positive that there are going to be people out there who are going to truly enjoy taking spammers to court just for the satisfaction of wasting said spammers time and that there will be plenty of people cheering them on.

          2. The one with the skeevy boss*

            Thanks for your comment. Yes, the law does apply to individuals too, since there are two sets of fines, one for individuals and one for businesses. (It’s $1 mil for individuals, and I think over $10 mil for business)

        3. SuperAnon*

          I haven’t read the text of the actual law, but the “fast facts” explicitly states the new law prohibits “use of false or misleading representations online in the promotion of products or services” which to me is exactly what the OP is being asked to do.

          If they’re sending 50 messages rather than 5000 they might fly under the radar, but it doesn’t make it any less illegal. Not that the OP’s boss appears to care.

        4. Jaimie*

          So just to be clear: it doesn’t matter if the sender is in Canada, what matters is if the recipient is in Canada. And you can email people individually, but only if they’ve conspicuously published their email address, they haven’t stated that they don’t want to receive marketing communications, and the material is relevant to the person’s role. You also have to have gotten the address manually, and not thru harvesting software.

          1. Chinook*

            “. And you can email people individually, but only if they’ve conspicuously published their email address, they haven’t stated that they don’t want to receive marketing communications,”

            Nope, you have to specifically ask them if they want marketing communications. It is an assumed no marketing communications, not an assumed yes.

            But you are right – the sender doesn’t have to be in Canada, just the recipient (though I don’t know how you would prosecute someone outside the jurisidiction).

            1. Luxe in Canada*

              Not a lawyer, but I read the consent section differently. The way I interpreted it, I could send a marketing email to Alison, since her contact info is posted publicly and conspicuously (implied consent), but I couldn’t send a marketing email to you unless you gave it to me (express consenting to the possibility). But I gotta represent myself honestly and give you and Alison a way to opt-out of future communication.

              I think we’ll get more publication with FAQs and examples in the future, but I’m getting my interpretation based on the Express Consent Versus Implied Consent fact sheet on the CRTC website.

              1. Luxe in Canada*

                Sorry, not sure if I made this clear — the implied consent of publishing your email address on a website or blog looks to me like it does have an implied yes to relevant marketing communications unless they specifically say not to contact for that reason. I feel like I lost half my point in getting into implied vs express consent.

            2. Cath in Canada*

              It’s actually been really amusing getting all the increasingly desperate “please consent to us sending you more messages before the law changes! Pleeeeeease!” emails from various companies and organisations over the last few weeks :D

              1. JMegan*

                I’m a big fan of this law so far. Nope, I don’t want to be on your mailing list…seeya!

                There has been a lot of criticism about the law, some of which centres on the broad definition of “spam.” It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in the courts in the next couple of years.

                In the meantime, OP, I still think it’s reasonable to use this as your bargaining chip. Regardless of whether or not the law actually works in the long run, it seems pretty clear that he’s asking you to violate it as it exists right now. Hopefully the “I don’t know if you know this, but there’s a new law…” approach works.

                And I agree with the others who say it’s time to get your resume in order either way.

              2. Luxe in Canada*

                Especially since most of them could legally keep sending me stuff anyway! My fave was MEC, which has at least three reasons to have kept sending me emails without a specific opt-in.

                Nice that these companies are trying to prove that they really-truly got consent, but I wonder how many would actually stop sending me stuff if I hadn’t opted in?

    3. Felicia*

      I was pretty sure this is illegal as well, so I’m glad I wasn’t misunderstanding the law since I needed to learn it for work. I think it’s a good idea to act like the boss had no idea it was illegal (maybe they don’t know) and point it out to them.

      1. Jaimie*

        The FAQs that came out yesterday were really helpful, if you need a clearer understanding.

  16. Ali*

    I am in a similar situation to #3 right now, as I’m hoping to talk to my internship supervisor in a couple weeks about staying on once things wrap up at the end of next month. But I’ve taken the advice here and am looking for a job as if I’ve already been told it’s not possible. Hopefully, OP3 is doing the same thing. I love my internship and want to get hired beyond that, but I know there may be some things in the way. Can’t hurt to ask though!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Count me, too. I’ve been trying to get a foot in the door with this organization/department for a while now – have had several interviews for different positions but nothing was quite the right fit. I know they’re shorthanded and there’s some reorganizing planned, and I’m fortunate to also have a regular job so I can sit tight while they shake things out – I’m just hoping my internship work is enough of a nudge! :D

  17. Sunflower*

    #1- I’m sorry your boss is putting you in this spot. What have you seen with the other marketing tactics? I agree that you should go along with it, report your results(most likely a failure) and see if you can sway your boss. However, with shady tricks like this, it’s never just one- the companies build their entire programs around these tricks. Don’t be surprised if you are asking to do other shady things somewhere along the line. Regardless, this line of thinking by them is very narrow minded. Part of marketing is being open to new things and it doesn’t sound like this is part of their plan. I would think about looking for a new job, especially since it seems like being with a different company would allow you to gain more skills and be a better overall experience for you anyway

    1. The one with the skeevy boss*

      Many thanks for your comment. Honestly, the best part about this is getting all the encouraging comments here. I am seriously considering looking for another place… I guess it’s time to go review all the resume and cover letter posts on this site :)

  18. patricia*

    #1 In the pre-spam era I worked for a boss who wanted me to call potential clients pretending to be someone who needed our specific tools, and ask
    “do you work with ___? I’ll only contract with someone who buys from ___.” I just couldn’t do it, I pretended to call for a few weeks but really just decorated the inside of file folders. Eventually my anxiety got the better of me and I stopped showing up for work and burned bridges with my temp agency. I ended up living in my parents basement for a year, I don’t recommend that route.

    Now I work for a research related nonprofit and we get emails like this all the time, which I promptly mark as spam, I’ll mark them as spam with more compassion in the future.

    1. Hanna R.*

      “do you work with ___? I’ll only contract with someone who buys from ___.”

      That sounds so…obvious. Yike. I could see someone saying they’ll only buy tools made in certain countries or use companies that aren’t notroious for labor issues, but to say you will only associate with companies that buy from one specific company it’s pretty obvious you’re paid to say it. I would have told the agency the truth so they’d know not to work with that company but I know when you’re stuck in that situation it’s easy to just run away.

  19. Sadsack*

    Regarding post no. 5, what about the following scenario: I applied to a job online, but didn’t get a call. I think I applied right before they took the posting down. Now I see a posting for the same position, but with a new req. number, so I think it may be a posting for an additional position and not that they are reposting the original position. I am planning to apply to the new position. Does anyone think there would be any issue with that? I don’t even know that they looked at my resume last time, they may have already had someone in mind by the time I applied.

      1. Felicia*

        I think it’s probably ok since you were not specifically rejected, so maybe they really had stopped looking at resumes by that time. I think in the OP’s case being specifically rejected is why it’s bad.

    1. Artemesia*

      If you were not interviewed, I don’t think there is a huge downside to this. The OP had just been rejected and the post was back up suggesting they had decided to do a new search. In that case, they KNEW the OP, had considered the OP and not gone forward. Even if they had a second position, they would have invited this person back if they wanted to.

      You may not get anywhere with a second application, but since you weren’t interviewed, it probably can’t hurt.

      1. Hanna R.*

        Well they might not necessarily have gotten back to the OP if there were a second position. Some companies there are different people in charge of hiring the different positions so person A wouldn’t know about a job person B was going to hire for. I’ve also been involved in a hiring process where it went on so long but the chosen person backed out in the end, and the second choice had moved on, and by then it was easier to repost than to go back through the slew of resumes and interview notes.

        1. Artemesia*

          If you really think that is the case, the thing to do is to call and say something like ‘I was interviewed for this position recently and noticed a new posting; I wondered if this was a new position and I should apply again or if it is continuation of the previous search?’ or something. Just reapplying is going to make you look like a doofus if it is the same position.

  20. Sadsack*

    No. 2, I think what AAM suggested is great advice. If you are able to attend the lunch, it may be a good opportunity to get to know your coworkers better.

  21. AmyNYC*

    #1 – can you approach them honestly? Say you’re from XYZ Teapots and would be a great sponsor/contact/resource/whatever based on the content of the blog

    1. The one with the skeevy boss*

      That’s what I told my bosses I’d like to do. They said it won’t work, because no one would want to talk to someone who is advertising their own content. But I convinced them to allow me to do it for two weeks while I research the new Canadian anti-spam laws, and then see what the results are.

      1. Mander*

        Seriously? Your boss sounds very clueless. I have a little blog (mostly just me talking to myself on the internet) but if someone were to approach me by pretending to have found a broken link and then trying to get me to link to some article of theirs I would pretty much delete that straight away. It’s completely transparent as spam. On the other hand, if you produce content that is related to what I write about then I would be interested to read it anyway, and might well be inclined to link to it without your company having to send me some stupid fake spam email about it.

        I really hope that you are either able to convince the boss that this deceitful spam-tastic approach is not likely to get meaningful results or else find a better job quickly!

  22. Clementine*

    No. 5: I had that happen a few years ago with a job that I was convinced was a perfect fit. It was a position that was out of state, and after multiple phone and in person interviews (me paying my own travel costs) I moved after being verbally told that the job was mine and I “Just needed a quick formal meeting with HR”. The HR meeting went well, but the next morning I got the dreaded form email. This really crushed me and I quickly sent a very polite, ‘thank you for the opportunity… any feedback… blah blah blah’ email. No response.

    Job was reposted roughly 2 weeks later. I emailed the woman who had given me the verbal offer to ask if I should sumbit a new application or if my prior application could be reconsidered. No response. I took this to mean I shouldn’t reapply- not sure if that was the right thing to do; however, over the next year or so I saw the same job posting come up and go down no less than 5 times. I also know (because of the nature of the grant) that there was only one (max 2) positions open, so I take this to mean that there must have been some type of extreme organizational-level dysfunction. Don’t forget that it’s not just ‘will they hire me’, it’s also ‘is this a place I want to work for’.

    Note: As a fun extra this position required a Master’s in Public Health or Policy, wanted 3-5 years of relevent policy and outreach work, required extensive travel in a rural area, supervisory experience and the salary was: $29,000.

    1. Hanna R.*

      Um, What kind of salary did they assume you were making during the 3-5 years of relevant policy work to pay for your masters? If you’re only now eligible for the large sum of 29000?

      1. Clementine*

        This was in a sparsely populated area in a very pretty area of the US where there just weren’t a lot of jobs. With a few years’ worth of wisdom behind me, I can safely say that I dodged a bullet.

        (Note to anyone pursing this kind of a degree- in the Mid-Atlantic where I live now, this position would probably be salaried somewhere in the $60,000-$75,000/year range.)

    2. Jennifer*

      There is a job I wanted and got rejected for. It was in a department I was temping for. I liked the work and the boss, but I assumed I didn’t get it due to lack of experience at it. But I can’t help but notice in the last few years since I applied that literally everyone who takes that job (they usually have 2 people doing it) finds another job within 1-2 years. And they all seem to quit within a month or two of each other. I don’t know what is so difficult about that job that everyone leaves it pretty quickly, but maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing I didn’t get it in the end.

  23. Hanna R.*

    For 2, I like the wording that you weren’t involved in the backlog but would love to attend otherwise. If she still wants you to go, at least if your co-workers say something you can tell them you double checked and must have been invited for the other support you’ve offered. Your co-workers might not notice but then again some people get resentful over something like that. Even if not for you, it wouldn’t be great for morale so you’d be helping to put a stop to problems with them feeling like the wrong people get recognized for work.

    1. hildi*

      I agree the wording is perfect for that one. You are still “coming clean” which will make you feel better and is a token of humility, I think, which can be important to people. But you are still showing that you are interested in attending, which is a generally positive attitude to have (particularly if the person took the time to invite you). I want to hear an update on this one!

      1. Hanna R.*

        Right, I forgot to mention that if she just said she shouldn’t attend, the boss might be offended. Maybe she thought including this person was really nice and it would be offending to say you shouldn’t have invited me.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yep, I agree. I like Alison’s wording; it gives the lunch planner the ability to clarify that the lunch is (1) only for the people who directly cleared the backlog, or (2) for the entire team who made this possible (directly or indirectly).

      Also, it’s not good for team building and morale to exclude support and auxiliary staff from celebrations. It will only do more to isolate the LW. Even if the LW’s work didn’t directly address the backlog, they are still assisting the team.

  24. AnonymousOne*

    #1 I can totally relate, as far as having a boss that insists on doing shady things. My boss is totally unethical and always taking shortcuts to get what he wants. He’s a life insurance agent, and he’ll often make up answers to questions that underwriters ask him about potential clients, especially if he has a high commission hinging on that client being approved.

    I called him out on it in the past and told him it was dishonest, and now he makes fun of me for being so “black and white” and “too ethical.” WTF? I didn’t know there was such a thing as “too ethical,” and yeah, frankly when it comes to wrong and right, I *am* black and white. He’s a total jerk and I can’t wait to get out of here.

    Just try to do as much as you can the right way, and don’t get stuck doing something you’re ethically opposed to unless your job absolutely depends on it (and YOU absolutely depend on your job). These people suck :/

    1. AnonymousOne*

      Also, I’d like to add, definitely start looking for another job ASAP. If people are shady about one thing, they’ll be shady about a hundred other things down the line, and you don’t want to build a career around people like that.

    2. chewbecca*

      This sounds like an insurance guy I worked for briefly. He had me make up an entire company complete with employee histories to see how the rates they gave me compared to another quote we had been given for a similar, real company. I felt kind of icky about that, but did it anyway.

      The final straw was when one of the insurance companies we worked with was offering a large bonus if we submitted a certain amount of companies to them for quotes (I think that was the situation, this was several years ago). He was one off, so he had his wife make up a company and ask for a quote. I brought up my concerns with my manager and he blew me off.

      I’m kind of ashamed to say that was the only job I quit without notice. I was only there a few months and got on with a temp agency immediately (this was pre-recession), so it didn’t negatively affect me, but I would never do that again.

    3. Episkey*

      Yeah, I worked for a health insurance broker for awhile and he did similar sketchy things. He would have us alter the quarterly Wage & Tax Form that was submitted to the IRS for unemployment purposes to make employees that were really full-time be shown as part-time so the company could still get a group health insurance policy.

      Health insurance companies have a rule that a certain percentage of full time employees must take the health insurance to write a policy — a lot of these employees didn’t make enough money to want to pay their premium portion so they would just decline coverage. But then the percentage wasn’t reached and the company wouldn’t have gotten a group policy, so he would have us do all sorts of “creative accounting” to make that percentage.

      It made me really uncomfortable and I’m pretty sure it would be considered insurance fraud.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Your boss makes up answers? Holy crap. When the beneficiary goes to cash that policy in and the lies come to light that beneficiary won’t get anything. OMG.

      Are you licensed? Gosh, I hope not. Some of this stuff comes with jail time.

      Just. Wow.

  25. E.R*

    #1 I dont think the new Canadian anti-spam law applies to this, if you are an “individual” individually “spamming” a corporation. That law is such a clusterfudge, and I suspect it won’t hold up constitutionally, but you could always lie to your boss and tell him this puts him at high risk of a $1 million dollar fine. Because your boss actively promotes lying and deception, this is perfectly okay :)

    But the big problem here is that your boss is unethical, doesn’t understand marketing, and doesn’t listen to reason. This is not a “nothing to lose” situation- those bloggers, who have a voice and an audience, will know exactly where the not-so-clever spam is coming from and could conceivably do harm to your company’s reputation (about as likely as actually getting that $1 million fine, but still, don’t mess with the media)

    At least if you have to do this, you get to make up a fake name, so it wont reflect on you personally. Sigh.

  26. De Minimis*

    #2–Hopefully no one will mind, and most reasonable people would not [especially if it’s something where a higher-up is footing the bill] but good on the OP for at least wanting to make sure it’s okay.
    People can get a little territorial about things like this…in my department a lot of us get annoyed because this one employee from another department always find a way to be in our area when we’re having a potluck. Our bosses always invite him to join us, even though he never brings anything and at least a couple of my co-workers are pretty resentful about it.

    1. Hanna R.*

      I don’t know, I think that’s reasonable to be at least a little resentful if someone comes to any event they didn’t contribute to (or to the work that earned it). But I’m territorial about the people in my team, so as a boss I wouldn’t be inviting others to an event I meant as a reward because if I lay out money or time for my people it’s usually a stretch for me. and I want it to really be meaningfull. :-)

      1. AnotherAlison*

        The thing about the OP’s situation, though, is that it sounds like she might be working independently and might not get a lot of other recognition. I work on a team of two, and we report directly to a manager who has about 10 direct reports from sales and the marketing manager (her team reports to her, abt ~10 more people). My coworker and I work on different things than everyone else, and our accomplishments are different — no one has a celebratory lunch for the two of us. We still get invites to a happy hour or whatever for celebrating specific accomplishments of others in our larger department. Unless the OP is getting other forms of recognition that others don’t get, like a gift card or something, when she does a good job, I think it’s kind to include her.

  27. Hanna R.*

    I just remembered what the first question reminded me of. Years ago I read an article on job searching that said you should look up articles on subjects relevant to the company you apply with and email one of them to the hiring manager, and by the way here’s my resume. This sounds like the same thing, hey you have a broken link and by the way here’s a new link in case you can’t find someone else to link to! You’re welcome!

    I’m picturing the boss as one of those bungler criminals from the very old cartoons with his mask on backwards. And if the best he can get out of it is a link on a blog, that makes it even sadder.

  28. anon in tejas*

    #2. Honestly, I wouldn’t really bring it up, and just go to the lunch. If you are getting invited for a lunch rewarding your group or part of your group for an accomplishment, I would take it in stride. I would be thankful, but not boastful, and properly credit those who did the heaviest lifting. It sounds like the offer for lunch came from someone higher up who probably doesn’t know (or care) about the ins and outs of who did the actual work to catch you up. I also work in an legal environment, and often times, there are a lot of tight deadlines, ego management, and dealing with emergencies. Take the free lunch. Honestly, it sounds like you are more so looking for an excuse/justification not to.

  29. Lisa*

    #1 – Link building is a legit tactic, just not this way. The amount of time spent doing individual emails just doesn’t prove to be effective. Tell your boss that, and that links happen faster on their own than this outdated SEO tactic and the weird factor of not saying you are from the company.

    Solution – Collect email addresses of current sites that are linking to you. Then send an email announcing new product, new content, new something. Offer easy to share options. might be skirting spam laws, but pre-existing relationship might make this ok. One email, more powerful and less time / $ wasting on indiv emails.

    1. The one with the skeevy boss*

      Thanks for the suggestion! I will do that.
      And yes, I too believe in link building, just not this way.

      1. Lisa*

        This works wonders for when you change your domain and/or do a website redesign. 301 redirects still work, but you could end up with even more links on top of old ones that pass value through a 301.

  30. Anon*

    I’m in a slightly different position as the OP in 5 and am considering reapplying. I submitted an application 2 months ago to a new organization created at a university. My application was under review and I recently checked on my status which now says the position was withdrawn. I hadn’t checked on my status in two weeks (moving and was out of town) so I’m not sure when it was withdrawn. I then came across the same position reposted on the university site – giving the date the job was posted by the school as 07/01. I’m not even sure they ever looked at applications from the first posting due to the short timespan. Should I forget it and reapply?

    1. fposte*

      I would reapply in that case. It was probably a funding/approval thing, and there’s nothing to lose here.

    2. AcademicAnon*

      If it was a non-faculty position at a university, I’d say reapply anyways. If it’s anything like the HR at my uni, they are there to facilitate hiring. Where I work someone contacts HR with a job opening, HR posts it and then HR forwards any resumes for people who applied (they *may* remove those that obviously didn’t meet the requirements, but it’s a good possibility they don’t, since there are a large number of jobs where HR knows nothing about the job and what is needed for it) and except to set up a background check and drug test that’s about it as far as HR’s involvement in hiring for a job. In this type of place if another job posting in another department opens up, even with the same requirements and description, HR doesn’t forward any resumes to the new hiring manager from any other listing, it’s up to the applicants to reapply themselves.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I was thinking about the IP address for her computer. If someone wanted to, could they figure out it’s her IP on all of those emails?

      1. The one with the skeevy boss*

        I read that the IP address is in the header of every email and that it can’t be removed or hidden. I’m not sure if this is true (the impossible to hide part).

      2. Valar M.*

        Definitely if she’s emailing the blogger through the website. Not sure about email to email.

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