getting a friend fired, employer is controlling workers’ LinkedIn accounts, and more

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

1. Employer set up LinkedIn accounts for everyone and won’t release control of them

A few years ago, my husband’s employer set every one of their employees up on LinkedIn. To my knowledge, the company never gave the employees their passwords.

My husband is unsatisfied at his job for too many reasons to name here and I’ve been encouraging him to give LinkedIn a try to reconnect with former colleagues and assist him in his job search. He asked the current office manager how to get access to his account, and she said she had no idea what happened to the information (she was not the person who set this up back in the day) for everyone’s logins and couldn’t help him. A former employee told my husband that he recently tried to get access back now that he has left and the company is refusing to assist him.

My suggestion was to try to sign in and get Linked In to reset the password and see where the email goes. His concern is that if it doesn’t come to his email account (or even if it does), it might be a red flag that he is job searching. If the employee set up the account, is it technically their property? Any thoughts on how to get around this roadblock?

I think he should try your suggestion of resetting the password and seeing where the email goes. If it goes to someone else and they ask him about it, he can say that he wants to flesh out the account because he’s been getting lots of connection requests from professional contacts and/or because he wants to join some of the professional groups at LinkedIn to build his industry knowledge.

But beyond that, he could also simply contact LinkedIn and explain the situation. I’d bet it violates their terms of service to set up accounts using other people’s identities and refuse to release control of them. (In fact, yes, I just checked. It violates their terms of service to “create a member profile for anyone other than yourself (a real person)” and to “use or attempt to use another’s account.”)

2. Can I report my friend for helping me lie on my resume?

I have been unemployed (or on extended maternity leave) for four years. I was restructured forcefully from my former position at 34 weeks pregnant. It was a difficult situation, but I am doing my best to put it behind me.

This is now my situation. I know it sounds insane. Approximately seven months ago, I had a best friend who changed my resume for me. She wrote it and put on it that I “worked” for her company. At the time, I was uncomfortable, but I was desperate for a job so I went with it. I didn’t have much luck with this resume, so after a conflict with her, I have elected to stop using it. She told me at the time if anyone found out that she would be fired. Is this true? I no longer use the resume, but due to some extremely poor decisions she has made, I feel like her boss should know what she’s up to.

Yes, she absolutely could (and should) be fired for doing that. She mis-used her position with her company and showed an astonishing lack of integrity.

But … hold on here. The two of you were co-conspirators in this fraud, and it was for your benefit. You’re at least equally to blame here — and probably more to blame because you’re the one who was trying to get a job by lying about your background.

It sounds like you’ve had a falling-out with her and want to get back at her for your own reasons. Doing that would make you a crappy person, and you don’t want to be the person who does something like this. You must resist the urge, no matter what she’s done to you.

3. How can I ask an old manager who I’m out of touch with to be a reference?

I left my previous job four years ago. Although I am friendly with one of my ex-colleagues, I have not kept in touch with the management team. How would I ask my ex-manager/ex-department head about being references on future job applications? I don’t know how to word this request.

(I can get references from my current employer, but the culture in my profession is to have references from your current and previous job.)

“Hi Jane, I hope you’re doing well! I’ve been (brief update on your life). I’m now starting to think about moving on from my role with (employer), and I was hoping I’d be able to use you as a reference for the work I did for you. I’m looking for jobs doing ____, and thought you’d be able to speak about my work in that area. Would it be okay to list you as a reference?”

You don’t need to fill in tons of social details first — just a brief, polite “here’s what’s going on with me, hope you’re well, and now down to the reason I’m writing.” There’s nothing rude about the fact that you’ve been out of touch or that you’re writing with a specific request. Requests to be a reference are totally normal, and they don’t require tons of social cushioning. Be friendly and straightforward about what you’re looking for.

4. Sales jobs when you have a bad product

I just started a new job a few months ago in advertising sales. I like the company and my bosses well enough and they have a huge network of advertising options for customers. There is one problem though; I hear on a daily basis from past customers of my company (who are now customers in my territory) that they were not happy with the results of their past advertising campaigns with us, that they didn’t get anything near their return on investment, and that there are many other advertising options out there that are cheaper and yield better results. So basically, I’m selling a bad product that is priced too high.

I want to do well in my new job but at the same time I feel bad when I close a sale because I know the customer probably isn’t going to get out of it what they are expecting. I also deal with some independent artists, musicians, and writers who just want to give visibility to their work and who have extremely small budgets. I know closing deals with them is also not going to yield the results that they want.

So I feel I am trapped between trying to bring in sales for the company who signs my paycheck, and a sort of moral obligation to those who want to purchase advertising with us that aren’t going to get what they paid for out of the advertising. What is your advice to someone who is a sales person, selling a bad/overpriced product?

Look for a job selling a different product. I know that’s more easily said than done, but not only can you not stand by what you’re selling, but you know that you’re selling it to people who really can’t afford a bad investment. You sound like you’re too ethical for this, and rightly so.

5. Can my company deduct sick time by the hour rather than the day?

I’m a salaried, exempt worker at a company based in Oregon. My company has a policy of requiring us to dock our sick/vacation time on an hourly basis. So if I take an hour or two for a doctor’s appointment, they deduct those hours from my sick time. This is company policy.

I thought if you are exempt, an employer can deduct sick/vacation time by the day only. I mentioned it casually to HR, asking them to clarify. They said if there is a company policy in place, they can deduct by the hour. Can this be right?

No law prevents employers from deducting sick or vacation time by the hour or requires them to only deduct it by the day. They can make it a one-to-one trade, or require to always be used in half-day increments, or hell, require it to be used in five-minute increments. So what your company is doing is indeed perfectly legal.

{ 349 comments… read them below }

  1. Laurel Gray*

    #2: Go back to your old resume and move on. It’s super petty to report this ex-friend on something unethical now that you two are not on good terms. To say your reason for wanting to tell her manager is because “some extremely poor decisions she made” is also a bit unfair and ridiculous since you went along with the dishonest resume (a very poor decision) out of desperation by your own admittance. Had you two never had a falling out, and that resume landed you a great position, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Really not trying to pile on, I just think this is an issue where you realized you did something wrong, you correct it and move on without making waves.

  2. A Dispatcher*

    #2 kind of reminds me of when we get calls that your drug dealer ripped you off, the prostitute didn’t render services paid for, the car you traded for drugs wasn’t returned at the agreed upon time, etc… yeah, the other party is clearly in the wrong/committed a crime, but…

    Though LW #2 technically hasn’t even lost anything/been harmed by this shady business. She was the only one who stood to gain from this fraud and the friend took on a significant risk. I don’t know what this conflict between you two was or what these bad decisions she’s made are (or if they’re even at all work related), but this just seems like sour grapes and vindictiveness at this point. Things may have been different had you wanted to report her offer to falsify work records immediately and without agreeing to it, but even then it would be a delicate situation. Now, it’s just a giant cluster you-know-what.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      I love to hear from my friends husband who is a cop about calls where someone was cheated in a drug deal, etc. He has some good stories as do many other cops I’m sure.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        Here’s one for you then (my favorite in the drug deal ripoff category that I have personally received):

        A man called very upset because his bank account had been cleaned out. I started asking all our normal questions about whether he had talked to his bank yet and gotten any paperwork, if he had any suspect information, etc etc. He’s really shady about a lot of the details until I finally get it out of him that a few days ago he was looking to score some drugs, didn’t have cash on him and didn’t have a ride to the ATM, so he gave his dealer his ATM card and his PIN (omg!!!) with the understanding that Mr. Dealer would only take out the agreed upon amount. Kids, don’t give out your PIN # to anyone, but especially not drug dealers.

    2. Liane*

      Alison, please make sure this one goes in the Jerks category.

      OP#2, take Laurel Gray’s advice above–“Go back to your old resume & move on.” Or, better yet, get a new, non-fiction resume & move on.

      And maybe think about this: What if you’d gotten a job based on this dishonest resume and your ex-pal told on you?

      1. Natalie*

        I think Alison avoids tagging letter writers with Jerks. I guess maybe that guy with the sexist window decal on his truck…

        1. Katie the Fed*

          yeah I think she generally tries to be nice to the people who write in. The commenters, on the other hand…

            1. GOG11*

              I think Katie the Fed meant that sometimes the commenters aren’t so nice to the letter writers.

              1. Jazzy Red*

                I’m laughing at this one!

                Alison is even always nice to me, and I don’t always deserve it!

    3. Susan*

      I agree with everyone, but I think in terms of how these questions are not just for the person asking but also for everyone else in the ether, I found it interesting to hear how certain Alison was that this was a fireable offense. I don’t spend too much time thinking about plagiarizing resumes, but maybe it will deter someone out there that she didn’t even have to pause and think about it!

    4. cuppa*

      Not trying to hijack the thread, but I’m very curious how those types of calls are handled. Do they pursue both crimes?

      1. fposte*

        It’s not a crime to fail to deliver illegal products, though. And generally, if somebody doesn’t deliver on what they’ve been paid to do, that’s a civil action rather than a criminal one anyway. (I don’t think you’ll get much farther suing a drug dealer in small claims, though.)

        1. Natalie*

          Actually, from what I recall (from The Wire) selling fake drugs is a crime in some jurisdictions. So if you called the cops because your dealer gave you baking soda instead of cocaine, they might be charged with something. It’s just that you might be, too.

          1. De Minimis*

            This reminds me of the classic COPS episode where the police were called about a crack deal ripoff, they go to the suspect’s house and she says [with great indignation] “I don’t sell crack, I’m a prostitute!”

          2. fposte*

            Oh, good point–if there are laws specifically forbidding the fake activity, that could indeed get you on hot water. But in general, you’re not in hot water just for failing to deliver something illegal despite getting money for it.

          3. LBK*

            Ha, I just watched that episode a couple days ago and was thinking of it while reading this thread. Also when Bodie wants to file a complaint against the police for violating the Hamsterdam truce.

            1. A Dispatcher*

              Awww Bodie – is it sad I was as “proud” of him as McNulty when he used contrampment/entrapment re Hamsterdam.

              1. Vladimir*

                Yes, Bodie one of my fav charaters. I was plesantly suprised when I saw the same actor in homicide life on the streets, sprusingly playing drug dealer. Both great shows.

                And it is not suprising that selling fake drugs can be crime. While soda wouldnt do harm, some other substances can kill (much faster then drugs)

          4. hellcat*

            Yeah, I’m a criminal defense lawyer, and at least here in my state, they can charge you for delivering/selling a “simulated” controlled substance. I’ve only seen that charge as part of a sting, though. No dissatisfied customers calling the cops!

        2. Evan Þ*

          Now that you mention it, I wonder if the courts in Colorado and Washington State have started to see those suits.

          (Though, I suspect, legalization would’ve brought in a wave of more ethical drug dealers.)

          1. Dan*

            Surprisingly enough, now that it’s legal, to the vast majority of WA residents, nothing’s changed. We haven’t fallen into the sea, descended into anarchy, or turned into a bunch or stoned goofballs. Our children are no more delinquent and/or disobedient than they were before. Our roads aren’t any more cluttered by DUI drivers. However, grocery stores can’t seen to keep Twinkies from flying off the shelves.

            Weird :-/

          2. Clever Name*

            I’ve actually been really impressed at how CO is handling the implementation of legal marijuana. The state health department has a campaign to educate adults to keep kids from having access to pot (duh, but some people have to be told these things), the stores I’ve driven by seem to be normal and not shady looking at all. State legislators are working on establishing criteria for DUI. (Although, I did see someone smoking pot as they were driving the other day, which is not just a bad idea, but I’m sure is still illegal).

        3. Omne*

          Unless you live in Texas where apparently it’s perfectly OK to shoot and kill a prostitute who takes your money and then doesn’t deliver the illegal service. The defense contended that it was considered theft under their rather bizarre lethal force laws. The jury agreed.

      2. A Dispatcher*

        For the first two types of offenses (assuming there was no injury, use of force, use of weapons, etc*) lot of times we will kind of gently suggest over the phone, hey are you really sure you want to meet with the police on this and sometimes people take the hint. If they don’t the police tend to do the same thing upon response. The drug trades on cars we take seriously though because often those cars are not just being borrowed as a ride around town but rather to commit crimes.

        *In that case the issue is more with the menacing/assault/robbery/weapons charges etc and not so much the petty crime or civil offense.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I can’t remember if I’ve asked you this before, but I wonder if you’d be up for an interview about your job, for publication here (like the ones I did last year with the arctic circle lab worker and the former brothel receptionist)? I have so many questions for you! (No pressure though if it’s not your thing.)

          1. A Dispatcher*

            I do remember Alison and my apologies for not getting back to you. My commissioner would not agree to a formal interview unfortunately but did state I could keep posting here as long as I followed our normal privacy guidelines we are to abide by when speaking about work outside of the LE community.

        2. A Dispatcher*

          …and I gave away my name I use when I don’t want to be tagged as a dispatcher when I give out too many personal details! Ooops. None of you all saw that/will remember it right, hint hint.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I fixed that for you, on the assumption that you’d prefer it switched. (Let me know if you’d actually want them all here switched to the other one.) And that totally makes sense about an interview, and now I do remember you saying that earlier!)

            1. A Dispatcher*

              All switched to A Dispatcher for this thread/comment section would be fantastic, thank you so much!

    5. Ed*

      The question I would ask OP is would she make a call to turn in some random person she found out did the same thing? I highly doubt OP would even consider doing that, though they should if they are actually that outraged about the lack of ethics involved. That tells me she’s doing it to punish her friend (or ex-friend), not to “do the right thing” or help the company.

      In addition, I would personally only turn in a co-conspirator if I was willing to publicly announce my part in the act. I’m sure OP wouldn’t want to volunteer to their current boss that they had previously lied on their resume. Even though it wasn’t on the resume that got OP this job, it would still make them look a little untrustworthy.

  3. Lulubell*

    Re: #1, can’t he just set up a new Linked In account with a different email address? If he’s looking to move on, he’s not going to want his LinkedIn connected to his old job, anyway. Am I missing something? My LI has always been connected to my personal email account.

    1. Al Lo*

      My company had a situation where we need to get back control of our website domain on LinkedIn to set up a company page. A former employee had used his work email to set up a company page for his consulting business, which meant that we couldn’t set up our page. All this to say, I went through the support/ account conflict resolution department, and they resolved it within a couple of days. I’d still recommend going through that department, even if he wants to ultimately change the email to something not associated with his former company, so that the whole account is under his control.

      1. the gold digger*

        The woman my husband hired to run his first campaign for public office was also working for another candidate, Beth. (Not for my husband’s opponent – for a candidate in another district.) The campaign manager, Sue, set up Beth’s campaign website under Sue’s name.

        My husband fired Sue and Beth tried to fire Sue. (She was useless – if you ever run for local office, unless you are super rich, don’t hire a campaign manager. Do it yourself.)

        Sue threatened to take down Beth’s website – two weeks before the election.

        That pretty much killed Sue’s career as a political consultant. My husband, his friends, and Beth’s friends all quietly spread the word about Sue.

      2. Sharon*

        The nonprofit I volunteer with was founded by two friends. One of the friends registered the website domain under her business name instead of the nonprofit’s name. She registered it several years in advance. Now that we’ve had a falling out and she’s spun off her own nonprofit, we can’t change our domain registration. We’ve been asking her ever so sweetly to re-register it but she has a track record of dragging her feet for months on the tiniest requests. She tells us she’ll look into it and then silence. The icing on the cake is that she’s in another country so even taking her to court will be expensive and awful.

        Never, EVER allow people to register/create business-related things under their own personal or other company names. I don’t care if you’re bestest buddies, there WILL come a day when you are screwed.

    2. BRR*

      If somebody searches for him they won’t know which to contact. As Al Lo said, contact LinkedIn and change the email on your old account or have it deleted then start a new one.

      1. LBK*

        I’d think the more recently updated one that probably has a picture and a more complete profile would obviously be the one to look at, no? I can’t imagine the one the company established even has anything on it except maybe the current position.

        1. Puddin*

          Agreed. The LI savvy people will more than likely easily ascertain the ‘correct’ profile. However, because the company violated the LI T&C I would actively work to remove the old one. I would not wait to put up the new one though.

          And personally I think it is totally whackadoodle for a company to setup LI profiles for their employees. I get why some manager would think it is a good idea – making sure the company is ‘properly’ represented blah blah blah. But it really is a violation of boundaries and ethics.

          1. LBK*

            And it doesn’t make sense to me at all in terms of the purpose of LI. AFAIK most people just use it for job hunting (or recruiting if you’re in that field). If anything it seems like a creepy attempt to monitor if any of your employees are looking for a new role.

            1. Maris*

              It depends. In my field its become the more modern version of sending our clients resumes for the roles we staff that they have a say on. Our company would never control the profiles – we just encourage all our employees to have one.

        2. BRR*

          I agree that any competent person would figure it out. But I would rather just be safe than sorry. Like if a recruiter messages the wrong profile.

            1. Karowen*

              This is what I was going to say. There is a salesperson at my company with a very unique name who has multiple profiles and there’s no hiding it. He’s one of our best salespeople, but our business is based in technology and computer understanding. If I were a prospect, I’d absolutely think twice before doing business with a tech salesperson who can’t figure out how to delete a LinkedIn profile.

              In my mind, it’s the same as having a profile with no picture – It’s not a big deal, but it looks sloppy and, all other things being equal, I’m going to go with the person who has a picture or who only has one profile.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            If you think even the best company only has competent people in every HR and hiring manager position, think again. :)

        3. manybellsdown*

          And also, you’ll be linking to the page you’re actually using if you’re including it in application materials. There’s dozens of people on LinkedIn with my exact name; somewhere I’m applying won’t know which one is me without a link.

  4. Kat*

    #2-Reporting your “friend” will make you look far worse than her. You both were a party to this lie, but she took professional risk to help you, and you turning around and reporting her will look like you are trying to screw over someone who went out on a limb to help you. If you were truly concerned about the ethics of her actions, you would have said no when she offered, and reported the dishonesty then. Pettiness is never a good look for an adult.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Exactly! I can see it going in the direction of “Boss, I had no idea Lucinda was going to lie and say she worked here. I’d never advise someone to lie on a resume or agree to vouch they did”.

      Sorry OP2. Not to scold you but you did have the option to say no. I understand feeling desperate but… Chalk it up to something you’d never do again.

      1. cuppa*

        I might be missing something, but I’m still having trouble seeing where the friend can get in trouble here, unless she listed herself as OP2’s supervisor or a reference or something. I would think it would be pretty easy to deny that you had anything to do with a friend having your company on your resume unless your name or position was somehow involved.

        1. LW #2*

          I was supposed to use her (and only her) as a reference for this fictious resume. That way no one else at her company would find out.

          1. Rose*

            Ethical issues aside, this would be very easy for her to lie about. She could just say she never agreed to it. You, on the other hand, submitted documentation of it when applying for jobs. There is huge potential for backfire, too. No one who hears about this would ever hire you.

          2. Sadsack*

            How could you use only her as a reference? What if a prospective employer were to do an employment verification?

            1. EvilQueenRegina*

              Also, it could be difficult to guarantee that no one else would find out. Say a prospective employer called the friend for a reference but the friend was out and someone else took the call. Not everyone is discreet, I know I’ve taken calls before now from people who have said something like “It’s about a reference for Persephone Mulberry”. The person who took the call could so easily say to the caller they had no knowledge of you and/or mention it to management or HE, and it would all come out anyway.

          3. Observer*

            No, that way it was less likely that some one would find out about it. Once people see a company name on your resume, they generally see nothing wrong in reaching out to other contacts at (or formerly at) the company in question. And, employment verification doesn’t necessarily go through the official reference, either. There is no way you could guarantee that no one else at the company would hear about it.

  5. HQB*

    #2 – A practical point to consider is that right now, this person has an incentive to keep this whole thing a secret. If you reveal it, then she will have to face some consequences, but she then won’t have anything to lose from using it against you in return. So, quite aside from any ethical considerations, pursuing this could very easily harm you as much as or more as it will harm her.

    1. Felicia*

      Another related thought, the friend can just say the OP made the whole thing up and she never told anyone to claim they worked with her and would never have vouched for the OP. I mean I believe that the OP and their friend were in it together, but if this fake resume never yielded any results, then there’s no proof that the lie wasn’t 100% the OP’s idea.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. It’s something that would’ve come up in a reference check for the OP if a company contacted the prior “employer” for a reference and the lie could’ve been exposed and the OP would’ve been out of the running for the job.

      2. Sunflower*

        That’s a very good point. Who would you believe in this situation: a person who has a job and only has things to lose by doing this or a long-term unemployed person desperately seeking a job?

      3. Tenley*

        The OP also comes off sounding “insane,” to use the OP’s words. It’s such a nasty, transparent, adolescent – type move.

  6. Andrew*

    #5 – I fail to see the problem here. I would rather lose just one or two hours for a doctor or other appointment than have to take the whole day off.

    1. Zillah*

      I think the issue may be that the OP feels like missing an hour for a doctor’s appointment shouldn’t require a deduction in her sick time.

      1. INTP*

        This. And the OP has a point if, like most salaried workers, they often work an extra hour or two with no expectation of extra pay or comp time. A lot of companies do have systems like the OP described but I don’t think it’s ideal management when you’re dealing with salaried workers who are expected to work over 40 hours a week all the time or be available to work an extra couple of hours on a regular basis to nickel and dime them for sick time when they need to work a 6 or 7 hour day for a doctor’s appointment. (If these are employees who get comp time for every hour over 40 or just never have to do overtime, then that’s different.)

        1. cuppa*

          I am exempt and salaried, and we have sick time by the hour. But we also can flex hours over 40, so I think it works out either way for us.

          1. INTP*

            That seems fair IMO. Either way is fine (accounting for every extra or missing hour versus being flexible about working a few extra or fewer hours) as long as it applies to both sides. Just don’t expect your employees to work 10-12 hour days or Saturdays as needed and then charge them an hour of PTO for going to the dentist.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          I’ve been in this situation. OP, any possibility that your immediate supervisor would let you head off to the doctor/dentist without formally taking time off? I had a boss who let me do that, provided I worked late or worked through lunch to compensate. (I often worked through lunch or worked late anyway, and he knew it.) HR wouldn’t have approved, but I loved that boss.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Once upon a time, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I had just started in the working world, it was usual for an employer to ask you to take half a day if you had a doctor’s appointment. There wasn’t all of this coming and going and coming again that you youngsters are used to. ;)

      But….that was a long time ago. The standard expectation that I’m used to now is that exempt employees can, say, tack on an extra half hour to lunch and take their “lunch” at the time of the doctor’s appointment.

      As a manager, I would have a problem with someone who (more than once) scheduled doctor’s appointments during work hours + took an hour lunch + checked out of work at the same time as everybody else. But, that like never happens. What has happened is people stuck in a waiting room texting me “this is taking way longer than I thought, I’m just going to take a half a day here”.

      Docking an hour PTO for an hour doctor’s appt encourages clock watching, IMHO, costs to the company without benefits.

      1. Rebecca*

        I’m non-exempt, and my company requires us to use PTO/sick time in 4 hour increments, same as vacation time. My doctor’s office opens at 7 AM, so I rarely miss unless it’s an emergency. If I have a dentist appointment, I try to make it for 8 AM, first appt of the day, and the other 4 days of the week I come in early to make up the time if my manager approves it. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn’t, and I’ve had to use 4 hours PTO when I was short 1 hour on my time card. I wasn’t happy about that. I did sit down with her and ask what the policy for 2015 will be, as if this is the case, I’ll make appointments for early Friday afternoons and at least get some enjoyment out of the 4 hour PTO burn.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          So, I was just thinking about this. In your above scenario, do you then get paid (assuming a 40 hour week) for 43 hours? Or are the extra 3 hours just…poof? That would massively suck.

          At my company we request PTO in whatever increment we think we’ll use, but we’re only actually charged with whatever amount is needed to bring our paycheck up to 40 hours.

          1. Natalie*

            Not sure about Rebecca, but my company would pay for 43 hours. I often end up getting paid for 40.35 or something because I worked some weird amount of hours and then took a few hours of PTO.

          2. Rebecca*

            I got paid for 43 straight hours, no overtime. But I was in the office for 39 hours of work time, and lost a half day of PTO to make up that one hour. I wasn’t happy about it.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Yeah, we also only do PTO in 1/2 day or full day increments, but we’re flexible with amounts smaller than that, exempt or non exempt. Both groups tend to “make up the time” same day, but we don’t have very specific rules about it and we haven’t had any abusers that come to mind at all. I have problems but this is Not A Problem.

        3. The Cosmic Avenger*

          That really sucks that she won’t let you know ahead of time, because at least if you knew ahead of time that you were going to be docked 4 hours you could, you know, actually take four hours instead of one.

          I guess if she remains evasive/unreliable you could start scheduling 2-3 appointments (medical/dental/vision checkups) for one morning and actually use the 4 hours, or like you said, take a Friday afternoon off once in a while.

        4. INTP*

          That policy is a good way to make sure employees don’t try to schedule their appointments for minimal disruption to the company. If I have to burn 4 hours of PTO anyways, I’m going out to breakfast or shopping after my dentist appointment, not back to work ASAP!

          1. Rebecca*

            Exactly. That’s why I sat down with her to find out what the policy is currently, as I have a dentist appointment in March scheduled for 8 AM. If I have to use 4 hours PTO to cover the hour or so I’ll miss instead of making up the time the other days of the week, I’ll reschedule to a Friday at 1 PM and at least have most of my afternoon and a longer weekend as a benefit.

      2. LBK*

        As a manager, I would have a problem with someone who (more than once) scheduled doctor’s appointments during work hours + took an hour lunch + checked out of work at the same time as everybody else.

        If they use PTO hours for that appointment why does it matter? Or are you saying people who just go for an hour without taking PTO? Wouldn’t charging by the hour actually fix this problem?

        I guess I’m in agreement with Andrew – I don’t see how this is a negative rather than a positive. It seems like a complete waste of PTO to require me to use any more time than I actually need to go to the appointment.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Oh if they are using PTO, enjoy the dentist appointment. I was talking about people being able to take a bit of extra time on top of lunch so they don’t have to take PTO. It’s not usual for anybody I work with to take PTO for a doctors appointment under 2 hours.

          1. LBK*

            Ah, okay, that makes sense. I agree that if you’re not going to take PTO and you’re going to take a lunch in addition to the appointment, that’s with the understand that you’ll be making up the time in some way.

        2. Us, Too*

          If we’re talking about exempt employees, I wouldn’t have a problem with this provided they got their work done. If they did get their work done in that time, I’d be inclined to assign them more work or promote them since they clearly were super productive.

      3. Stigg*

        I rarely have a week in which I work 40 hours or less, so when I have a doctor’s appointment I just go. I never claim sick time for that because I don’t owe them any time. My boss has never asked me to.

        For my employees, I know who is working and how many hours, so they rarely record time for appointments. Usually they book their appointments early or late and work from home before or after, and even if they’re not, the company is still getting their 40 hours they’re paying for that week.

        This just seems fair. Sick and vacation is to record time that the company is paying for that you are not working. If you’ve already worked 40 hours, why would you need to account for time away from the office once you’ve given them what they’ve paid you for?

        My team works very hard and my company definitely comes out on the winning end of the hours worked vs hours paid for thing. Because of the way we handle this in my department, my team doesn’t mind answering a call for help on their off hours or staying late to help someone else meet a deadline. They know they won’t get nickle and dimed by me. I only hire responsible adult professionals, so I treat them accordingly.

        1. Mabel*

          This is how it’s done at my office, as well. Sometimes I have an unexpected need for a few hours off for an appointment, and I always offer to make up the time at the end of the day (or later in the week). My boss says I shouldn’t worry about it because s/he knows that I’m already going above and beyond every week. It’s really great to be treated like an adult professional! (I’m not looking now, but when I think it’s time to move on, this is one of the reasons it’s going to be hard to find another employer that I like as much as my current one.)

      4. Elysian*

        “As a manager, I would have a problem with someone who (more than once) scheduled doctor’s appointments during work hours + took an hour lunch + checked out of work at the same time as everybody else. ”

        I could see that being a problem if it was consistent. Frankly, I’m in the same position as the OP – I’m salaried and we’re docked by the hour for sick time. As an employee, it just sucks nuggets to work 75 hours in week 1 without OT or comp time, and then in week two when I need to take an hour off to get a flu shot or something, be told “That’ll be one hour of PTO from your bank!” Plus, we only get 10 days of PTO. It’s not that much.

        If you have abundant PTO its not that big a problem. But when I am so overworked that I desperately need a vacation, and have to decide between using my limited PTO on a vacation or making a doctor’s appointment (because – guess what! – being incredibly overworked has negative effects on your physical health!) that is just sad and demoralizing. Like AAM said though… not illegal.

      5. the gold digger*

        In my first two corporate jobs, I don’t even think we had defined sick time. If you were sick, you didn’t come to work. If it got to be a problem, your boss handled it. I have taken only two sick days in my corporate career, though, so perhaps there was more to it.

        But as far as doctor appointments – I just went and then I came back to work and there was no PTO involved. I also did not get paid extra for the evening hours I spend in airports or the weekends I spent at trade shows. I do think it is petty of companies to charge people for a few hours here and there, especially if they are good people. And super especially if they ever do any work travel. If you are not going to pay people extra for having to travel and work longer hours, then don’t charge them for going to the dentist twice a year.

    3. BRR*

      Me too. I don’t think it’s a problem as much as the OP just checking. I usually end up taking a half day and enjoy the extra time or the entire day off and schedule two but somehow other errands get done because I need to fill the time in between the two. One time I got three in but that was an accomplishment so difficult I don’t know if I could do it again.

      1. C Average*

        Yeah, I just take a day off, too. Even though I feel like I take adequate time off, it seems like I’m perpetually capped out on PTO and have even been scolded about not making good use of that benefit. So, with my manager’s blessing, I simply take the last Friday of every month off, and try to make any appointments I need to make on that day.

    4. Adonday Veeah*

      #5: Here’s how it works. If you’re an exempt employee, you must be paid for a full week if you work any time at all. Your company is allowed to recoup unworked time from your pto/sick/vacation bank if you have it available. If you don’t, they have to eat that unworked time. You probably already knew that.

      In a “good” company, if you’re working more than 40 hours a week, the odd hour here and there is overlooked. But if you’re the type that is outa there right on the dot no matter what, and you take your full lunch hour every day no matter what, your manager can (and should) deduct your time off from the appropriate bank. They’re not getting full value from you, so they need to recoup your time away.

      If you do regularly work more than 40 hours, and they’re still dinging you for time off, you just work for a company (or manager) with a crappy policy.

      That said, a company that will ding you for 4 hours when you only take 1 should be taken out back and shot.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        While the company would have to “eat” the time, they could discipline you, including firing you, for using more time off than your allotted, right?

        1. Elysian*

          Yup. They could fire you the next day if they wanted to, but still have to pay you for the time they “ate”.

      2. Aunt Vixen*

        Every company I’ve ever worked for where I’ve been exempt has had the option to do a payroll adjustment if a person missed work with no leave left in the bank. (“Payroll adjustment” was the exempt/salary term for “leave without pay.”) Maybe because we were contractors, and once they’d already paid us all the time we didn’t have to bill to the customer, the next hour of unbilled-to-the-customer time was coming out of our pocket and that was okay somehow? We were employees of the contracting company, though, not independent contractors.

        1. Elysian*

          I think they can only do a full day’s (or more) deduction, and only pursuant to a ‘bona fide plan of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness’ – aka if you’ve exhausted your leave bank, and then take a sick day, you can be docked it. I don’t think you can do partial day deductions for sick time the same way.

          This DOL Wage and Hour letter actually explains things pretty helpfully:

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            You may be right. I never did get to that point – my HR office was groovy enough that they kept track of how much leave I owed and just charged me for it as soon as I accrued it. (This was in a time when I came in with a home-for-three-weeks diagnosis in writing, and then several months later my dad became terminally ill – so I had legitimately used up all my accumulated time more quickly than one expects to. Not, that is, a case of my being profligate with random absences.) I think the adjustment would have been a pain in the ass for them as well.

        2. Adonday Veeah*

          I don’t know how it works for contractors — maybe it’s different. But it’s not something that can normally be done for an exempt employee. Only under very limited circumstances (FMLA comes to mind) can they dock your pay for missed work if you do any work at all during the week. Again, it may be different for contractors, but it might be worth your looking into.

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            I was an employee, not a contractor. I worked for Entity X. What we did there was contract work for clients, but I wasn’t an independent contractor; I was an employee of X.

  7. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    #4 First off, absolutely what Alison said, get another job. You won’t be successful selling a product you don’t believe in if you’re a normal person with half a moral center.

    While you are waiting for that new job to come through, let’s pull this apart for a sec:

    I’m not clear if you have a bad product pushed by unethical people looking to get over, or if you have a complicated product being sold to unsophisticated people by someone previous who overpromised returns. If it’s the latter, there’s a job that you can salvage out of this while you’re working on getting a new one.

    What happens when you explain the problem to your boss?

    If you hear back, ” don’t worry about it, we just want to get the first contract, we don’t care if the customer is happy, just find more customers” – bad product. Or “eh, here’s some smoke and mirrors spiel you can tell them to get them to sign up again” – bad product.

    BUT, if you hear back “okay, that’s rough. Here are some case studies and numbers to back them up of situations our product has been successful in, why don’t you use these as models of customers to go after who will be successful” maybe not bad product. Maybe not bad product and bad management but bad sales rep before you who pushed crap on whomever would sign and wasn’t trying to sell solutions.

    (Sales buzzword! “selling solutions” It makes me barf a little that I just used that but it actually works in that last sentence, doesn’t it?)

    It is very hard to make a customer happy when you are selling advertising. People spend $500 with the expectation that they will get at least their $500 back the first go round and it just doesn’t work like that unless you catch lightening in a bottle. If your pitches are designed to promise that kind of easy money, if your management requires those pitches, customer’s expectations will never be met.

    So: who does the product work for? How was it determined that the product worked for those people? Pull apart the actual cases and learn them inside and out. Then find customers who match the customers that the product worked for, help the new customers set up effective campaigns, help the new customers interpret the results. It’s possible the problem is the customers being targeted rather than the product itself.

    (But, get another job. Advertising is the roughest sell to make people happy there is. Try copiers or something. ;))

    1. YourCdnFriend*

      This is all really great advice.

      One more scenario that may be playing out: are the people who are complaining about it being a bad product legitimate or are they doing it strategically for a better price?

      I used to work for a trade pub and we had companies aggressively berate our pub in meetings in hopes that we’d drop our ad rates for them. It was such an obvious strategy that we never balked and they continued to purchase advertising with us.

      Doesn’t sound like the same scenario but it may be worth considering.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        **Everybody** thinks they pay too much for advertising. Buy me a cup of coffee sometime and hear me go on about it. I’ll complain about every single venue and vendor, from online advertising to the arm and leg the mail list people want, but, as you wisely point out, I do continue to purchase whatever is effective.

      2. Natalie*

        Our tenants do the same thing. They’re dead silent, no complaints for 4.5 years, and once we discuss renewal apparently our building is cold and dirty, they hate our maintenance guys stupid face and the holiday candy we gave them sucks.

      3. Writer of #4*

        Hi guys thanks for the feedback.

        I do not think at all that my company is underhanded or purposely misleading customers. On the contrary. We are always told, if pushed on the matter, to tell customers that we can’t promise any kind of results. In meetings when we do discuss customers who feel like they did not get their monies worth, they do point out that sometimes the product being advertised isn’t a good product, isn’t an in demand product, or even their creative ie how their ad looks could even affect the response they get.

        One guy I spoke with told me he can buy google ads for 14 cents CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions). Our cost is around $8. There’s no way to compete with that type of price even if I was given permission to lower it. Nor can we compete with how Google targets their ads. They get a way better investment by going with someone big like Google than with us.

        1. E.R*

          It sounds like your company and boss are reasonably ethical, and I agree with Wakeen’s Teapots advice above. I’m a director in advertising sales too, so I’m sympathetic. Do you have any customers that are happy with your product? If so, what do they like about working with your product or your company? What are your company’s plans to compete against Google Adwords? Do you have a good amount of experience in advertising and / or sales to understand the whole picture, in all its nuances? How do your other sales colleagues feel about this product and its future?

          Ultimately, if you can’t find satisfactory answers to these questions, and suggestions from other commenters, then you should leave not because the company is unethical (its not unethical, per se, to have a product that isn’t competitive), but because they will not be in business for long enough to want to build a career there. Good luck!

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Okay but CPM is critically dependent on audience target. Spending $8 a thousand on highly qualified buyers is better than spending .14 a thousand on 58,000 unqualified buyers. Believe me. I’ve done facebook advertising. Best way in the world to see how 100’s of thousands of impressions means nothing. :)

          If you don’t have a substantially different audience target to offer, yep, people would be nuts to spend $8 CPM with you vs .14 with google. Bear in mind that google throws a lot of crap against the wall in the their CPM advertising business vs targeted search marketing (which is my bread and butter). I’d never spend money on that particular product of google’s but I might entertain a high CPM for a highly targeted audience.

          That said:

          $8 CPM is rich. That is some sticker shock right there. There better be some good benefit selling with that one.

          1. Writer of #4*

            We definitely do have the targeted audience and in my discussions with customers I do play up that angle. But the guy who mentioned the Google ads said he’d rather roll with it because 1. They can get it much cheaper. 2. He’s worked with Google and knows that if anyone searches for anything even slightly related to his product their going to get hit with his banner.

            1. Lamb*

              (I know I’m late to the discussion but)
              A lot of good points have been made. Some of these complainers may be doing it to try and get a lower price or that (imaginary) VIP service from you that makes your ads more effective without them doing anything differently. But also, some of them might feel they have to justify to you why they aren’t buying again, and having worked in sales “it doesn’t do what I paid for” is a pretty tough objection to overcome.
              It might help with your conflicted feelings to find out your customers’ expectation when you sell to them, and before that to have an idea of what your advertising does on average and what an above-averagely successful campaign could do for them and if there are any tips you can give your customer for getting there (check spelling? make sure they include a phone number in their ad? Include business hours? If there’s a common treand in successful or unsuccessful ads, sharing that can take you from being “some ad seller” in their mental file to being “my ad seller who really knows their stuff”)

    2. Puddin*


      In addition, you might be calling only the prior customers who did not renew. If that is the case, your complaint percentage will be much higher than cold calling or ‘normal’ renewals.

      Finally, when you do switch jobs – whenever that it is – selling products is usually easier for most folks than selling services, keep that in mind. The most despised companies – insurance, cable/cell, attorneys, etc all sell services. [No disrespect to those of us in those industries, just going by generalized survey results.] The satisfaction rate is lower because the sales item is intangible. Its just a human behavior thing.

    3. hayling*

      “a complicated product being sold to unsophisticated people by someone previous who overpromised returns.”

      This. My SO works for a company that sells digital ads (although he his not in sales), and the buyers really don’t understand the product at all.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Well done, WTL!
      My first thought, OP, was have you defined your target market to sell to? It sounds like the market is not described clearly enough. The ads will work for some but not for others.

      My second thought is that people expect miracles and complain when the miracle does not happen. “I didn’t get one call from the last ad I placed with you!” hmm. Economic slump? Bad ad? Crappy product/service? Did you have a dial tone or did you forget to pay the phone bill again? There are a thousand factors to consider.

      Lastly, we have a place here that routinely advertises for sales people to sell advertising time on air (radio). I have noticed that they never take down their employment ad. It has been years now- that they are constantly looking for sales help. It’s rough work, I mean really rough. And you have to have really thick skin because the complaints come in at a steady pace and the kudos are few and far between.

      I have to thank you for asking the question though. My friend took out some advertising a while back and it did not go well. I now have a much better idea of how to talk to him about that experience because of the conversation you have sparked here. I think I can come up with some ideas on how he can be more strategic with his advertising dollars.

      1. Ad anon*

        I firmly believe that radio advertising works, when it’s done right. But, wow, I have a lot of sympathy for the radio sales guys who have to go out there and sell air.

  8. Apollo Warbucks*

    #2 there’s nothing to be gained from drawing attention to the laps in judgment you and your friend had.

    There’s a legal doctrine that says you have to have clean hands before they can seek a legal remedy from the courts, I think the concept applies here too, you played a part in the actions of your friend so you can use it against them now, just because is a convenient stick to beat them with.

    Think yourself lucky you didn’t get a job based on the lie or you could have been fired, and Im sure that if you try and turn your friend in, to an impartial observer you’ll look just as guilty

  9. Apollo Warbucks*

    #5 I thought that the whole point of being except was there was some flexibility in working hours.

    It’s slightly different for me in the UK as my employment contract states the number of hours I must work each week, and also that I don’t qualify for comp time or overtime pay, but I can always take off an hour or two in the day and make it up later, I couldn’t imagine being told use my pto for an hour and not laughing on my bosses face.

    As an exempt employee im betting you regularly put in over 40 hours a week and your company seriously wants to charge your pto by the hour, what’s up wih that? And how does it work, if you work extra time on the rest of the week and take off early on Friday do you still get charged pto for it or do you only get charged where you have not worked 40 bourse that week?

    Could you talk to your boss and ask them to stop the dumb nickel and done policy, and treat of as adults that very occasionally need to attend to personal matters in the working day.

    1. RO*


      As an exempt employee, there are weeks when I have worked 70+ hours and have been told that it is what I get for being exempt. When they changed the policy that you could not schedule a doctor’s appointment during work hours even though most of the doctors were located on campus. My manager was essentially asking those who lived an hour away to come in on their day off despite living in a high traffic metro area. What struck me with this (and other incidents) is that people are so defeated and they were ok with it.

    2. brightstar*

      I’m not OP #5 but I’m an exempt employee. The way it works at my organization (and of course it varies from organization to organization) is that we only get charged for PTO if we do not work a full 40 hours per week and we have an entire pay period to adjust our schedule to avoid taking leave if we choose to do that.

    3. The IT Manager*

      That’s the effect, but that’s not exactly the law.

      If LW works at least a little bit of the week, she gets her salary for the week. She’s not hourly and isn’t paid by the hour, but the company can still track hours and require that anything less than 40 hours a week requires the LW to take time off. If she doesn’t have PTO or SL the option to take unpaid time off doesn’t seem to be on the table so then the LW goes into debt with PTO. And additionally she could be fired for “excessive abscenses” so to speak. Of course an at will employee can be fired for anything so that’s legal.

    4. LBK*

      Shockingly, there are exempt people who don’t work 60 hours a week. I only work 40. Maybe a few times a year there will be a busy week where I have to work an extra hour every day, but there are reasonable jobs that give their employees adequate resources to accomplish everything within a normal full-time schedule.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        It’s the same with me, I don’t have to work much over time either. If the OP is using PTO to just make their minimum hours for the week surely they can make the time up another day that week.

        1. LBK*

          My thinking is that if I don’t feel that I actually need to work a full 40 hours to accomplish everything I need to get done – ie I can take 2 hours of PTO to go to the doctor’s, not stay 2 hours late and still complete everything I need to do – then this policy is beneficial to me by not making me waste time off.

          If, however, I have to spend those two hours working anyway because otherwise my work is incomplete, then I agree I don’t want to use PTO for it. But I’d like the option.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            It’s is definitely convenient to be able to take PTO in small blocks of it convient to the employee, I just don’t like the idea of the company chipping away at the PTO and leaving the employee with less of a benefit to use for a break from work not just running errands.

      2. Koko*

        Same here. My whole team is exempt but barely anyone works more than 40 hours regularly. There’s a busy season for us where I pull 50-hours weeks for about 5 or 6 weeks, and maybe a dozen nights the rest of the year I do a couple hours of work from home on occasion to meet a deadline.

  10. Carrie in Scotland*

    OP 2 – I am not at all sure you have fully put whatever happened with your maternity leave behind you – at least, this is the feeling I from reading your letter. I agree with what all the other posters have said about your situation and friend but the good thing is, is that obviously you read AAM, so look through the archives and give Alison’s advice re: resumes and so on a go (because it sounds as if you are still looking).

    Also: if I am correct in how I read your letter, as mentioned above, this WILL be coming across at interviews, so please bare that in mind. Perhaps trying some techniques about letting things go might help you? (resources can be found online, I’m sure or through therapy/counselling).

    Good luck!

  11. Cheesecake*

    I know it is not what we do here, but it so hard not to pile on OP #2. You basically used your friend, knowing that it is fraud to your benefit, when you didn’t get the result and fell out with her, you decided to have your revenge. If you are making such decisions in personal life, i can only imagine your work ethics. Move on, put everything behind you and focus on job search. But i won’t be honest if i wish you “all the success in job hunt”, because i personally don’t want to work with you.

    1. Nervous accountant*

      Yep. To be fair I guess I had a few friends who had their own side businesses who were willing to let me use their company on my résumé (back when I had no experience)….although I’ve never gotten a job w the false resumes, eventually I dropped them and im glad. But this is just kind of mean and…well bitter. Someone stuck their neck out to help you and after some conflict you want to get them fired because you can’t find a job yourself? I wouldn’t want to work or be friends w that kind of person.

    2. BRR*

      I say we do tend to pile on or have in the past which is why we have to be very careful to not do it.

      I think your position might be a bit extreme, we’ve all made mistakes and being unemployed can put people in a very desperate situation. I do think it’s very wrong what they did and blame it 100% on their friend and want person vindication but this one thing doesn’t make the op a bad person and also don’t mean they’re a good person who did one thing wrong, we don’t know them other then this letter. Having been in a place where I was unemployed after my first job with my UI about to run out, it’s very stressful and panic inducing. Not to justify this action but just to see where the op is coming from.

      1. Cheesecake*

        I agree: being unemployed is a dark scary period. Under stress and panic I can see how OP agreed on “amending” her CV and i honestly don’t blame here because yes, being jobless sucks. We all been there.

        What i see as absolutely out-of this world wrong : someone stuck their neck for you and now you want to bring them down, as Nervous Accountant said. I don’t think being unemployed can trigger this. To me it is “backstabbing” and this is a character trait.

        1. BRR*

          Ahh I didn’t read all of Nervous Accountant’s post. The CV is panic. The backstabbing is a character trait and the only thing it will do is get their friend fired when they tried to help you.

            1. BRR*

              I want to retract my comment. Hearing further details I’m sorry this is happening to you. Best of luck in your job search!

  12. Some*

    #4. Is it really a bad product? I work with clients a lot and they are always complaining about something. Doesn’t matter what if it gets them a discount or more work done for what they already paid. If your product were that bad they probably would have moved on and found another company. Also you are new and they know it, they are trying to get the upper hand on you :)
    My suggestion is talk to your colleagues and also try to see the product for yourself. A customer complains, go and find out what they requested and what it was delivered (see if it satisfies all the requirements and if it looks good). This way you will build your confidence in the product and you will be a better sales person.

    1. Cheesecake*

      My thoughts exactly. I am not sure it is a bad product as, say,a batch of malfunctioning vacuum cleaners. If OP likes selling advertisement as such, s/he should understand why customers are complaining (and we know, they complain all the time – it is normal) and come up with a solution. It is easy to go with wrong media spot. My friend used to have a billboard company and half of clients had no idea about how to market their products. They thought “well, it is big and visible” and put wrong adverts at wrong locations. Obviously it was expensive and obviously the ROI was next to 0. Is it a bad product? Absolutely not.

      So maybe you should provide some of customers with complete marketing solutions”what when where” or partner them with marketing consultancy or whatever other option. But if you just don’t like this field as such, you should definitely move on

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Your billboard example reminded me of an interesting IRL scenario. There is a McDonald’s billboard along my drive home, which, seeing as it’s a fairly major evening commute artery, make sense.

        Except that the billboard is a half a mile AFTER their location, which makes me laugh and shake my head every time I see it. How much return on their investment do you think they actually got from that placement?

        I’m not sure exactly how billboard sales works, but either way: if the McDonald’s owner paid for billboard space and THAT’s where the agency decided to put them, they’d have a right to be pissed, I’d think. On the other hand, if the owner went to the agency and said “everybody in town drives by that billboard, I want THAT board” – I hope that the salesperson would try to point out to them why that positioning wouldn’t get them the return they’re looking for. IMO, that’s part of an advertising salesperson’s job.

        1. Cheesecake*

          Well, i am not a mkting guru, but i understand if you are big as McD you have an agency dealing with everything marketing-related, as a McD marketing manager you don’t go to a media spot provider.But as an SME or an individual you can just go to,say, billboard company and place an order. But obviously billboard company is not responsible for your media strategy. That is what some customers don’t get. My friend had a photographer, wanting to place advert on billboards in towns to help attract these people to the city to make a sort of “big city trip portfolio” for them. Yeah, right, on a billboard, good luck.

          I keep seeing these billboards promoting fast food chains…after the physical restaurants. Is it sort of a reminder to stick in our heads, “i didn’t go today but i will tomorrow”?

          1. Cheesecake*

            What i forgot to say, salesperson do give advice and point out things, but customers don’t listen because they obviously have the whole strategy right and the reason it did not work is THE billboard itself.

        2. HeyNonnyNonny*

          As someone very susceptible to ads, this would fill me with rage– I’m driving along, minding my own business, and then McD fills me with a craving for food that I cannot get to! Noooooooo!

        3. VintageLydia USA*

          This happens FREQUENTLY in the rural area my mom and MIL both live.
          “Eat at this AWESOME AUTHENTIC SOUTHERN DINER!!!! It’s only NINE MILES /i/BEHIND/i/ YOU! Turn around NOW! :D :D :D :D”
          BTW it’s never anywhere near an intersection where you can safely turn around.

        4. Koko*

          Ah, but nobody is looking for direct conversions these days. A similar scenario – you’re driving around in your car, hear a commercial for McDonald’s on the radio…but there’s no McDonald’s anywhere near you! Was the radio commercial a total waste of money because you didn’t buy McDonald’s within 15 minutes of hearing it? Most marketers these days know (or hope they know) that the more times you hear that McDonald’s commercial, the more likely you are to get McDonald’s the next time you’re deciding where to go, or the more likely you are to stop at a McDonald’s the next time you pass one. Very few people see a billboard and immediately make a purchase as a result of it. The goal is increasing brand visibility and keeping your brand top-of-mind for your potential customers. They will look at metrics like, “During the 1 month we ran that billboard, how did sales for restaurants in that market do compared to the previous month? Compared to the same month last year? Compared to restaurants in a similar market that didn’t have a billboard running?”

          1. fposte*

            “Ah, but nobody is looking for direct conversions these days.” Is this one of those ways meatspace is different from online? It seems like targeted banner ads are all about direct conversions (though since I’m not familiar with much marketing theory, I may be misunderstanding direct conversions, too).

    2. Writer of #4*

      Thanks for the feedback.

      The product I’m selling is overpriced and doesn’t have the same reach as other places customers can advertise. Something I probably wasn’t clear on in the article is, most of the people I’m talking to haven’t bought in a long time. I’ve only made a few sales since starting. A lot of the feedback is from customers who tried advertising with us and didn’t get a good enough response.

      I sold an ad to an artist last month with a big sale on their product, which linked to the sale on Amazon and they didn’t sell even one item. Another customer told me they can buy ads with Google for 14 cents per 1,000 impressions and our price is $8. It’s hard to compete with that, no matter how good of a salesperson you are.

  13. Alistair*

    #5: You use the words “deduct” and “dock” and I don’t quite understand what you mean by that. Do you mean your PTO and sick time are being used by the hour? Isn’t that a good thing? If I have a 2 hour doc appt, I only use 2 hours of sick time, rather than a total of 4 hours that an auto half day usage would be. You’re saving your sick time, right?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I don’t see it as a good thing at all, the employees are almost certainly putting in more than 40 hours a week so to take PTO from them by the hour is unnecessary as the company is getting more time and work than they are paying for, on the other hand if the employees are not working a 40 hour week let them make the time up another day (assuming that they are not in California or another state that mandates that over time is calculated by the day) taking PTO for short absences is petty short sighted management and will only server to piss people off. Letting staff have the flexibility and freedom to have the odd hour here or there out of the office for personal errands will buy a lot more goodwill compared to the actual cash value of the PTO.

      1. Alistair*

        I wonder if I’m getting my own wires crossed here. I have two different pools of PTO – vacation and sick time. They accrue and hold over at different rates. Is that unusual in most jobs? Is there one pool to take from? If I need 2 hours to go see the doc, I take 2 hours from sick time, and only have to work 38 to get a full 40 hour week. Is that also unusual? (Please note, I’m seriously asking. I’ve been in one professional job since school, and truly don’t know if I have something special here)

        1. Liane*

          All of those you asked about depend on the company policy. That said, in the USA at least, it seems more companies are going to a single PTO pool.

          1. Graciosa*

            I actually loved when this happened at a previous employer. They added a fair amount of time to the PTO bank (above vacation) when they made the change so that employees would be comfortable that they had enough time available for illness. I am (thankfully) fairly healthy, and so the end result for me was close to six weeks of vacation every year.

            Six weeks! I’m getting dreamy eyed just remembering.

        2. Sunflower*

          In the US, when it comes to doctors appointments(approx 2 hours or less) during the day, most companies don’t require you to take any official time off. Most will let salaried, exempt employees leave for a couple hours and trust they come back and make up the work.

          1. Liz in a Library*

            I’ve been exempt in my last three jobs, and none of them have done this. My husband’s current company doesn’t either, and I don’t think his last one did. So there are at least some companies that require sick leave to be used for appts during the work day.

            1. fposte*

              Our policy changed while I was working here. It used to be a quarter of a day had to be taken, I think, but now if it’s under a quarter of a day it doesn’t need to be booked.

        3. The IT Manager*

          That’s how it works for me at a federal government agency. Luckily for me sick leave never expires. We are encouraged to use it for our own medical appointments and that of family memebers or family members’ care when they are sick.

          1. Hlyssande*

            I’m envious that yours doesn’t expire. Ours is a use it or lose it 5 days’ worth a year.

            Which still boggles me why coworker mcjerkbutts is sooo proud that he hasn’t taken a sick day or used any of those 5 days in 10 years. Whyyyyy? If it were one bucket of PTO I’d understand (less sick = more vacation).

          2. VintageLydia USA*

            This was super handy when my mother (a long time government employee who NEVER gets sick) when she had heart surgery. She had to be out a bit longer than expected (well, what SHE expected. Her doctors were right on target) but she was able to be paid during her entire leave.

        4. Beezus*

          I have vacation time. My employer does not require me to use PTO for infrequent sick days or medical appointments, I am just out and I get paid as normal. I am salaried exempt and work plenty of overtime, and they’re not losing out on this arrangement. I am expected to work from home while sick if I am able, and to schedule appointments in the least disruptive way possible. People who abuse the policy don’t last long, but from what I have seen it is usually addressed with them from a performance standpoint rather than attendance, unless it is incredibly egregious.

        5. Apollo Warbucks*

          Sickness and vacation treatment varies so much be employer (and depending on the state you are working in) there are a number of different ways it can be dealt with, I know some companies merge the both types of PTO and other have separate pots.

          I still think its poor form to make people book the odd hour off, it adds extra admin for the business without them gaining much and as an employee I’d feel like the firm were being petty towards me, if I was expected to cover infrequent small absences with PTO, when I always work more than my scheduled hours.

        6. fposte*

          It’s pretty common. I suspect it’s more common in states where vacation time has to be paid out at employee separation, because they have to keep the accounting separate, and in government jobs, where reason for absence can get ridiculously granular.

      2. LBK*

        I think this all functions under the assumption that the OP is working a 50+ hour week. If, like me, they’re actually working a normal human schedule of 40 hours, this is a great policy. I would much rather stick to my normal 8:30-5 schedule all week, be able to make appointments as needed and only spend the PTO for the time I’m away from work. It would be a complete waste for me to have to take any additional time, like an automatic half day or full day.

        Now, if I were regularly working an extended week I can see your point. But I don’t think it’s safe to assume that.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Even if they are only working 39 hours, let them make the hour up on another day that week if its practical to do so.

          1. Hlyssande*

            But if they don’t want to make it up, they should have the option to take the one hour of PTO. I like the policy this company has.

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              My comments were on the basis that the OP disagreed with the policy, but you make a good point if the employee is happy to use their PTO in hour chunks and the company are happy to do the admin for it then there’s no reason not to.

            2. LBK*

              Yes, I think this is what I was failing to make clear – I don’t WANT to have to stay in the office until 7 to make up for the 2 hours I spent at the dentist. I want the option to just use 2 hours of PTO without having to waste a full day of it and then still leave at 5 that day.

              1. Christina*

                I understand where you’re coming from and I agree. I’m exempt and I can only take vacation or sick days as half or full days. I get 15 sick days a year–I wouldn’t mind taking half of one for a doctor’s appointment and coming in or leaving at noon.

                But my manager (not the organization mind you, just my manager) requires that for any sick time for dr appointments, the entire half day has to be used for the appointment. Unless you’re going in for testing or your doctor is really, really slow, who has a 3.5 hour dr appointment? Otherwise I have to make up the time that day–I can’t even spread it out over the week. It’s a pain and makes me want to lie, book a half sick daym and say the rest of the time is for recovery from the appt.

            3. Anonsie*

              I think they’re feeling they shouldn’t have to deduct any PTO for a missing <2 hours for an appointment as it will chip away at your PTO bank here and there. I've never worked somewhere that didn't require you to use PTO or make up the time for even just 10 minutes missing, but many companies just allow you to have that time essentially for free as a perk.

              The folks who are aggravated that this person can't get this perk are coming from several places considering this employee is exempt: 1) They may be working well over 40 hours without additional compensation on a regular basis, or at least are expected to be able to do to if needed, so taking PTO time for a missing 30 minutes or something seems like unnecessary nickel and diming of the employees. 2) It's not unusual for exempt employees to be allowed to come and go more loosely than hourly employees; some places don't even track hours worked. So being required to add on some time to your work day when normally you would be able to just go home when you were wrapped up really would be a change of pace that seems like a penalty for nothing.

              Whether it sounds reasonable not depends on your own experience with what is typically expected of exempt employees, and that varies a lot.

      3. De (Germany)*

        ” the employees are almost certainly putting in more than 40 hours a week”

        Why do you assume that? If I were in a 40-hour contract without overtime pay* I am not sure I would do that on a regular basis.

        (* the concept of exempt/non-exempt does not exist in the same way in my country)

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I assume that most non exempt employees some overtime, as I have seen it in every job I have had, the comments and discussion I see on this blog also make me think it is very common for people to do at least a little overtime, I am also assuming that it is just the occasional bit of time off that is being requested.

          The concept of exempt/non-exempt does not exist in the UK either. I have a contract do 37.50 hours a week, I often end up doing over time to make it up to 40 hours a week, my contact says I can not claim overtime pay or comp time for extra hours, but I do have a better holiday entitlement that those that can claim overtime or comp time.

          As for why I do extra hours sometimes it’s convenient for me to stay and finish a job rather than leave it for the next day, sometimes the work load is high and its the only way to stay on top of things, mainly it’s just what needs to be done to deliver a good service to the people in the business I support and a I feel I gain more out of the over time than it costs me to do the extra hours.

        2. Anonsie*

          Because exempt here is very often not “40 hours but no extra for overtime” it’s “stay here as long as you have to stay here to do what needs to be done.” That very often means very long work weeks.

          The people who are classified as exempt are generally classified as such because their jobs necessarily go over 40 hours, so paying them overtime is not considered reasonable as it’s less overtime than it is regular needed time.

        3. INTP*

          Employment contracts with a strict limit to hours are very rare in the US. Usually you just have an offer letter with an estimated number of hours (if you have anything) and a clause that more may occasionally be needed during times of business need (and exempt means that you are exempt from being paid overtime for hours worked beyond 40 per week). And then the way it works in most companies, in my experience, is that those times of business need happen every week, though there are some exempt employees who really do just work 40 hours or get comp time if they work overtime. In general, it’s not advantageous to the business to classify you as exempt if you aren’t going to be working more than forty hours on occasion as the exempt employees often have higher benefits and PTO packages. They are allowed to classify anyone as non-exempt and pay them overtime if they wish, but there are requirements to who can be classified as exempt and it is usually for higher level positions.

      4. fposte*

        You’re mixing categories of worker there, AW. California doesn’t mandate OT pay for exempt employees and in fact nobody legally requires that; that’s only for non-exempt. Exempt employees do, however, pretty regularly work more than 40 hours a week (as we delved into on that recent subthread).

        You’re still more on top of the US’s complicated employment laws than most people who are actually in the US :-).

    2. skyline*

      At my org, as an exempt worker, I only have to deduct paid leave (sick time, vacation) for full-day absences. It’s nice not to be nickled and dimed for one or two hour appointments. Our vacation is paid out upon separation, but our sick time is not. We’re encouraged to accumulate the latter in case of medical emergencies and serious illness for ourselves or our family members. I like having 7-weeks of accumulated sick leave as an extra insurance policy.

  14. Persephone Mulberry*

    I wonder if OP#5 is confusing a “rule” about how PTO can be applied with the rule that exempt people who work any part of a week need to be paid for the entire week?

    1. fposte*

      That was my thought, especially with the word “dock.” But docking is about losing *pay*, not leave hours. Leave treatment won’t turn you non-exempt, and in most of the country the law doesn’t care what the employer does with leave at all.

  15. Purr purr purr*

    OP#2: your friend tried to help you out of a bad situation and now you want to put her in one by mentioning it to her boss? Walk away from that situation. Your friend is better off without you.

  16. some1*

    #2 There was obviously a serious falling out between you and your friend if you’re considering this. I’m guessing she is just as angry at you and if you try to mess with her livelihood she could very well retaliate tenfold. In other words, don’t get into a pissing contest with a skunk.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      I love this quote. “don’t get into a pissing contest with a skunk”. The next time I’m getting myself into a lose-lose battle with someone over something silly I’m going to think of this and stop myself from engaging further.

  17. plain_jane*

    #1 – if your husband is currently receiving the emails with the invitations to connect then a simple password reset request should work. And then once that is done, he should update his profile to be an email account that he controls. And tell all the coworkers that he likes to do the same thing. Linked In is part of keeping touch with _your_ professional network, not your work’s.

  18. Celeste*

    #2: You and your ex-friend are both very fortunate that the resume trick didn’t work out. Employment history fraud is very easy to pick out, and you both would have been worse off upon discovery. You were both in the wrong, even if you think you had good reasons. Your job is to get yourself hired, not get somebody else fired. I hope you won’t spend any more of your valuable time on a failed friendship or revenge fantasy. Go be awesome instead!

  19. Anon Accountant*

    OP2- Are you still seeking a job? Have you contacted previous managers or coworkers to meet for coffee and catch up with them? Let them know you are seeking a job? What type of position are you seeking? Would local professional organizations help you such as a chamber of commerce, young professionals groups, etc.? Have you had interviews recently? If not please check the archives under resumes and cover letters then update your resume and cover letter accordingly.

    Sorry for the interrogation but my intentions are to help, I promise. Some advice a college career counselor gave was to set aside 1 hour per day and decide to work on resumes; the next day work on cover letters; when satisfied that your resume and cover letter are excellent and represent you as best as you like then move on to job postings.

    Job search and apply for 1-2 hours and then stop. Focus on positions you are qualified for and meet at least 80% of the qualifications for. Hope this helps!

  20. Riri*

    Re: #1. , how would you prove that your friend said it was ok for you to claim that you worked for her employer?

      1. LW #2*

        She wrote the resume under the guise that I was doing consulting work for them. She told me that it would work, but not to mention to anybody what she did as she would get fired. (Another note: she works in Talent Acquistion)

          1. LW #2*

            Yes she did. However, the consulting was just me giving her ideas on how to improve her company’s profile and website. I wasn’t even paid for them (not that I expected to be), I was just being nice and trying to help her out of a jam that she couldn’t figure out.

  21. LW #2*

    Alison asked me before this was posted to come back and chime in.

    The situation is a pretty terrible one. I agree I should never have agreed to let her rework my resume. It was 100% wrong of her to do that. I have no intentions of using that resume again. What I didn’t mention is that a) she owes me $900 that she refuses to give back (related to her job – money for a company business trip that I was asked to go with her and I couldn’t go after money was paid… Her company paid her back but she refuses to pay me back my money on the basis that she doesn’t feel she has to) b) she is a negative person and she has been telling me ever since I’ve met her that my current situation is my fault and I deserve every bad thing that has ever happened to me because I won’t listen to her ‘career advice’ and continue using the resume she wrote (and was sending out to people without telling me). I want you all to know that I am not going to do anything about this. I do agree that it’s lucky that the work of fiction didn’t work. And for that I am profoundly grateful.

    Follow ups to a couple of questions:
    Yes I am still searching. As a matter of fact, my search is going better without using the fiction resume. Carrie from Scotland, yes I have been in therapy for a few months (which she told me wouldn’t help). I have not had an interview since November.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Your friend is not a friend from what you’ve posted here.

      Again, good luck in your job search.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        That’s right. She’s not your friend. She’s not healthy for you to know or be around. What you’ve got here is an expensive lesson in interpersonal relationships. Block her number from your phone, block her on all your social media, pretend you never knew her (which means no longer explaining “But she did this” and “But I believed her when she said that”), kiss the nine hundred bucks goodbye, and move on.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          Agreed. It sounds like it was worth $900 for OP to get this toxic person out of her life. She’s not your friend, likely never was, and you need to cut your losses and skedaddle. OP needs to take some responsibility herself, but getting rid of this person is a first huge step.

          Karma will get her soon enough.

    2. fposte*

      I was surprised to read “I agree I should never have agreed to let her rework my resume. It was 100% wrong of her to do that”–I was expecting you to acknowledge that it was 100% wrong of *you* to do that. But I’m glad you’re moving forward, and I think moving forward would include letting anything to do with this person go. She’s taking up way too much of your mental real estate.

      Thanks for the update, and I hope you’re having a good time with the toddler!

      1. LW #2*

        I also agree that it was wrong of me to agree. The way she put it is that it was foolproof. I sound like a teenager, “peer pressure, blah, blah… bridge jumping…” But she was very persuasive, in a used car salesman kind of way.

        1. Joey*

          I’m getting the sense that you’re really not taking full responsibility for it. Saying how persuasive she was is sort of insinuating that you shouldn’t be blamed because she was so good at fooling you.

          Think about this. You are in complete control of your resume. You had the power to leave it off or put it on. Choosing to put it on your resume is completely on you. She didn’t hold a knife to your throat. You did it yourself.

          Look, I’m not meaning to harp on you, but this is so so important to finding and keeping a good job. You absolutely have to own mistakes that are within your control. No manager wants to hire someone who points the finger at others when something goes bad.

          1. LW #2*

            I take complete responsibility for agreeing to it. I should have never ever agreed. She basically painted it as if I don’t do this (let her rework my resume and add her world-wide known, very large company), I was never going to get a job again. That I had to let her do it to help me.

            Before the resume change, I had 9 interviews (over two years), no offers. After the change I had 3 interviews (over 6 months) no offers which she chalked up to me doing something wrong in the interview. In one case, I was interviewed as filler. She told me multiple times that I needed to change everything about me to get a job and that everything was my fault.

            1. Sadsack*

              I have to point this out, you are writing that you never should have agreed, when what you probably should really be stating is that you never should have done it. You are still deflecting responsibility be using the word “agreed.” If I were an employer or any other interested party, this is how it would seem to me if you were telling me the story. Just something to consider.

              1. fposte*

                Right, the OP sent that resume out herself and went to interviews based on it. That’s not agreement to a friend’s shadiness, that’s active deception.

            2. fposte*

              But you’re a fully grown adult, and she’s not the queen of the world. There’s no reason for her opinion to matter more than anybody else, or even at all, but you decided that her take, complete with lies, was the one that you needed to follow, even with feeling isolated and uncertain after being out of the market for a while. My concern here is that you’re going to be just as susceptible to the next person who tells you what you have to do, whether it’s a clickbait blog post with dumb ideas for how to get your application noticed or the next friend you make.

              So maybe think some about why you were willing to tune out all the other reasonable information that’s available to focus on hers, and how you can avoid being vulnerable to that kind of deafness (and maybe also that kind of friend) in the future. It’s our own job to make ethical and correct decisions whatever our friends say.

              1. fposte*

                Sorry, a phrase went in weirdly there–I meant that I understand you were probably feeling isolated and uncertain after your work separation and being out of the market.

              2. catsAreCool*

                “So maybe think some about why you were willing to tune out all the other reasonable information that’s available to focus on hers”


            3. NewishAnon*

              Even if she pressured you to let her change your resume and you didn’t have the courage to stand up to her, you are still the one that chose to use it when you applied to jobs. You absolutely could have just applied with your honest resume and she never would have known.

              1. LW #2*

                Up until last month, she was still sending out my fiction resume to people, without me knowing. I would only find out when I would get email auto-replies or screening calls for jobs I never applied for myself. When I asked her about it, she said that someone had to do it, as I was no longer doing it myself. (I took a two month break from applying to anything to try to get my head on straight) I have been using my honest resume for about three months.

                1. fposte*

                  Which sucks, but you still sent the resume out too, right? And went on interviews without clarifying the misstatement in your resume? (If I’m wrong and you didn’t, it’s a different matter, of course.) The error between you two isn’t a zero-sum game; it’s not like you’re more off the hook the worse she gets, because you still did the same thing regardless.

                  On the other hand, her still sending the resume out is not only batshit but asking for big trouble for you. It won’t be solved by telling her employer anything, so it doesn’t change that, but I’d touch base with your attorney and ask about the cost (usually pretty low) of sending your ex-friend a cease and desist letter. This is a problem.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  LW#2, your friend is giving me the creeps. I don’t know what her game is but this is the type of thing you don’t just WALK away from, but you RUN away from.

                  This type of manipulation and head games is not acceptable from anyone- I don’t care who they are.

                  I see the $900 as being a way to keep you engaged and keep you going back to her. Don’t fall for it. I am guessing you can probably use the money, so that is the bait. Don’t take the bait.

                  Your friend is a very toxic person and she is pulling you down, making you less than. Friends should lift us up, help us to grow and become more. This woman is far removed from what a friend should be.

                  Okay, moving forward, you have found this site. Stick with Alison, read her advice, daily if you can. Apply it to your job search. If you have time, read the comments and chat with people. Seriously. Hang out with positive people who are working on improving their work situation in an ethical manner. I think you will find this site helpful in so many ways.

                  I wish you the best, OP.

        2. NewishAnon*

          But you’re not a teenager, you’re an adult. It doesn’t matter how she phrased it to you. You knew it was wrong at the time and still agreed to it. Stop blaming her and accept some personal responsibility for the situation.

          1. LW #2*

            fposte i can’t seem to reply to your last comment so I will do it here. I sent the resume out from June to beginning of September. I then reverted back to my original resume from September until mid October when I stopped applying completely until 2 weeks ago when I restarted my search on my own. She started sending out my fictious resume from beginning of October until last month (December). The interview I went on in November was from using my real 100% me resume. I told her to stop applying for me and at which time she told me I was an ungrateful bitch. I doubt she will send it out again, as the last recruiter I spoke with (that she applied to with a referral from her) was none too happy when I explained that I had no clue what she was talking about and and that she would talk to Friend’s name here.

            NewishAnon, I have accepted my part in this. I was 100% wrong for a) agreeing to it b) going along with it and c) letting it continue for the time it did and using it.

            1. Sadsack*

              All of your posts are about how you got suckered into doing this dastardly thing, when the fact is that you voluntarily prepared and submitted a fictitious resume. I understand that you were desperate for a job, but the fact remains that you did what you did. Stop saying what you agreed to – say what you did! It is very difficult to have sympathy that I would normally have for someone in your position when you obviously cannot take responsibility for your own actions. All of your admissions have been that you “agreed” and “went along with”. You have to get it in your head that what you did was stupid and could have really hurt your career. End of story. Your friend’s actions are despicable for sure, but that does not exonerate you at all. The tone of your posts here truly make you seem like you do not understand this, no matter how many times you claim to understand.

            2. fposte*

              Okay, if her sending out your resume stopped, then great, you don’t have to engage with her any more.

              I didn’t say this before because I assumed you’d done this, but it turns out you haven’t. Block her on Facebook, block her email, block her phone number, delete it from your contacts. If she calls, *hang the hell up*. You need to make an active choice and perform specific tasks to break contact with person. She can’t say crap to you for an hour if you’re not on the other end of the phone, but you’re still hanging on the other end of the phone. Put it down.

              1. fposte*

                P.S. You’ve mentioned thinking of yourself as kind, and kindness isn’t what’s going on here. Staying on the phone isn’t kind; it’s not a virtue but a mistake. Don’t make that mistake.

    3. BRR*

      It’s great getting some more details. This person sounds terrible. I understand a lot more why you would want to notify her boss of what she did. What is hard sometimes is being the bigger person. In this case that involves not letting their boss know. While it might feel gratifying (and I LOVE holding people accountable) from an outsider perspective it speaks far better of your character to not let her boss know.

      1. Nichole*

        I agree. One of the hardest Adult Facts for me to process is that just because someone is wrong doesn’t mean that they will see justice, and definitely doesn’t mean that it’s my place to ensure that they’re punished- especially when I think someone is a horrible person overall rather than a basically decent person doing something I disagree with. It can be a hard thing to accept that bad people generally punish themselves and let it go when you just *know* you can make them pay. The truth is, though, people like this are adept at making themselves look like the victim when someone tries to hold them accountable, and in these situations it will only draw attention to the poor decision the OP made without the ex-friend learning anything except how to better cover her tracks.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Karma. I suspect this manipulative behavior is normal for OP’s friend. At some point it will bite her, HARD. But right now, OP needs to focus on her own setting and getting herself on firm ground. It’s not up to OP to “fix” the friend, because of OPs own stuff.

          I hate it when this happens. I want to fix all the wrongs in the world. Unfortunately, that is not even close to realistic. The best I have been able to extract from problems is a higher awareness of how to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future and the importance of being that solid, ethical person, myself. Yeah, all I could do was fix ME, where I needed fixing. And we are all a work in progress, OP. Think of yourself as older and wiser for having gone through this crap.

          It would not surprise me to hear that you ditch this “friend” and shortly after you find yourself with a new job. We drop off that negative in our lives and sometimes doors fly open for us.

    4. illini02*

      Thanks for the clarification. However… it still seems petty. Even if she did write it, and owes you money, and is negative (although to me that is neither here nor there), YOU are still the one who chose to use it. I’ve had many friends offer to rewrite my resume, and sometimes they sucked. If they did, I didn’t use the resume. But once you sent it out to even one person, you are just as guilty as she was. You are bitter, and I’m not saying it isn’t warranted, but what you are considering doing is revenge, plain and simple. Try to color it any other way, the point is, you are trying to get her in trouble and it gains you nothing. Let it go and move on. If $900 is what it costs to get a bad person out of your life, its probably worth it.

    5. Cheesecake*

      Uf, what a case. One thing i don’t get is WHY did she agree to help you (and harm her) if she truly believes you don’t worth it? I won’t lie about employment, not even for my bestest friend in need, there are other ways to help.

      Harming someone will never solve everything.You should tell her you found a job so she stops sending out your (her?) CV. Then simply cut contacts with her. Disappear. Losing $900 is bad, but losing a job because of fake CV or your mind because of a negative influence is worse.

        1. Cheesecake*

          True, but this is very harmful for the “friend”. It makes no; sense why would i pressure someone (who is not willing at all) into something that brings me nothing but headache and possible termination?

          1. Kai*

            Oh, agreed. The “friend” sounds super controlling and manipulative; combined with her constantly telling the OP that she’s not worth it, I would bet it was all part of a plan to undermine her in a serious way (undermine doesn’t seem like a strong enough word). Especially if she kept sending out the fake resume without the OP’s permission (?!). Yikes all around.

          2. Elysian*

            My guess is ego. The lengths some people will go to to make themselves seem Big is astonishing. If this had worked the friend would have been able to gloat about how awesome she was to get OP the job and the OP would have “owed” the friend as long as she worked at the company. And if it didn’t work, its all OP’s fault and the friend is a martyr for trying to help. Win/Win when you’re a narcissist. Maybe I’m extrapolating too far from my personal experiences, but my dad would do something like this for this reason and in his mind it would make total sense.

        2. LW #2*

          She did. She basically painted it as if I don’t do this (let her rework my resume and add her world-wide known, very large company), I was never going to get a job again. That I had to let her do it to help me.

          Before the resume change, I had 9 interviews (over two years), no offers. After the change I had 3 interviews (over 6 months) no offers which she chalked up to me doing something wrong in the interview. In one case, I was interviewed as filler. She told me multiple times that I needed to change everything about me to get a job and that everything was my fault.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            She preyed on your insecurity, OP. Dump her, cut off all contact, and forget about telling her boss anything. You need to move away from any association with this person completely.

          2. NewishAnon*

            OP, I don’t say this to be mean, but to help. If you’ve had 12 interviews and no offers you probably are doing something wrong during the interview. Or maybe you’re just not doing great, which is really what you need to be these days to get a job. Your resume isn’t the problem because you’re getting interviews. You should brush up on your interview skills. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Interviewing is tough and most people need a lot of practice for it.

            What your friend said and how she put it is ridiculous and mean. Completey unconsteuctive and unhelpful. And most likely untrue. I seriously doubt you are unemployable and hopeless. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the advice at its core and try to figure out how to interview better so you do get the offer.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Your friend is acting like a fool. I want to use stronger words….

            She is not God. She is not in control of your destiny and she most certainly has no control over who hires you. Additionally, she lacks the insight to even understand the hiring process.

            There is something so wrong with her telling you that you will never get a job again, I cannot even put into words how wrong that is.
            Every time you write something about her this story gets worse and worse. I cannot/won’t type on this screen what I think of your friend. I believe her advice is what is preventing you from getting a job.

            1. hildi*

              Agreed. OP2 mentioned elsewhere that she is a magnet for people like this because she’s so kind and I’d say that’s right on. What I’d also say, which is probably a little bit harder for OP to hear, is that she’s likely attracted this person because OP probably has some chinks in her confidence and that is nectar for toxic people like this. I’d actually say that “friend” also has a breathtaking lack of self esteem, too; it’s just that hers is manifesting differently.

              Friend is feeding her ego by preying on you. But why the need to feed the ego? Because she is so incredibly damaged and hurt and messed up on the inside that it’s the only way she knows how to make herself feel better. I actually have a great deal of empathy for people that behave so terribly like this because I cannot imagine the pain they are so desperately trying to cover up. One saying I heard somewhere that has stuck with me (actually I think I saw someone comment here with it one time): “Hurt people hurt people.” Someone that’s whole and healthy has no need to destroy another person. Toxic behavior always comes from a place of hurt, I’d argue. However, empathy is not condoning. She’s 1000% in the wrong as has been well established.

              I know you’re going to a counselor and my comments here are just as much for my own entertainment (I love a good behavioral analysis), and I’m not trying to replace your counselor’s suggestions (or act like I know anything at all, really). I imagine you will explore that topic, but if the counselor doesn’t bring it up, I’d urge you to explore how your own self-esteem or lack of confidence or past hurts causes you to respond to friend this way. And maybe you don’t have any of those issues with confidence and stuff. I think that a toxic person is incredibly good at what they do and they slip in and take over with a reasonable person not even realizing it sometimes. But you two were each playing a role and you were each getting something from this relationship (mentally or emotionally), whether you were aware of it or not. It seems obvious to me what she was getting from it. The question to maybe explore is what you were getting and how that translated into you letting her do and say what she did. Perhaps that will help you gain control over here when she pops back up (cause she probably will) or to avoid a person like this again.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                We do tend to draw people. And if we don’t like what we are drawing that is a huge problem. Decades ago, I felt that I drew needy people. Someone with lots of problems.
                It took me a bit to figure it out. I started going with two things- one, check to see if the person is helping themselves in any manner and two, for myself, to hand out fishing poles not fish.

                This really ticked off the leaches in my life and they gradually fell by the wayside.

                I also decided that I could spend huge amounts of time figuring out why I am like this OR I could just cut to the chase and find an action plan. I was lucky in that I was eventually able to clearly identify what I was doing wrong which coincided with my action plan.

                OP, once you decide to get rid of that flashing neon sign that screams “vulnerable”, you will succeed. Decide. Then stay on it for however long it takes to make the change. We are talking a quality of life issue here, OP. This will be time that is a good investment.

                1. hildi*

                  I’ve long thought I’d like to meet you for coffee, NSNR. You have such wisdom in your answers.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                PS @ hilde. Please write your stuff- as Alison is asking. I think this was mentioned before- but got lost in the shuffle? Not sure. But the stuff you are saying isn’t just good work advice, it has applications to life in general.

                I think it will make one of Alison’s classic posts- one that people will reference for quite a while.

          4. Liza*

            “That I had to let her do it to help me.”

            Girlfriend. I have been where you are. You didn’t “have” to do anything. This “friend” (really she is someone you should flee from) is a narcissistic psychopath. What these types of people do is target vulnerable, passive, friendly, non-confrontational and easily controlled people like yourself and make them their bitch. They are not normal. It’s hard to come to terms with the idea that people like that exist in the world, but they do. What the other commenters point out is right. Why would she go to such great lengths to do something for you if everything you do is awful and it’s all your fault and you are terrible? Answer: because she wants someone to control. It might be a personal drive for her, it might be because she is jealous of you (does she have kids, is she married? etc.) or any reason at all. It doesn’t matter. Trying to dissect her motivations won’t get you anywhere. You need to own your own actions, realize that she caught you in a vulnerable spot and you fell prey to her claws, and that you have the autonomy and power to get out. Realize that you deserve better treatment that this from anyone you honor with the title “friend” and CUT. HER. OFF.

    6. Celeste*

      Wow, she sounds like pure poison. If $900 is the price you have to pay to have her out of your life, so be it. Your life is only going to be better without her toxicity. I’m glad you’re seeing a therapist; this was a bad experience, and you do need to recover from it. I hope you have an interview at the least very soon!

    7. Beezus*

      She sounds like a genuinely terrible person. I would torch the relationship completely. You need to be done with this person. Get her out of your life and out of your head.

    8. Syler*

      I think you should really think through what it is you are considering doing. This is a purely punitive action. You stand nothing to gain from reporting her except extracting revenge for the money she won’t pay back, being treated poorly, etc… This person is not a good friend – you should definitely remove this person from your life. Don’t talk to her, don’t email her, just write that whole thing off as a life lesson.

      I think though that behavior such as trying to get someone fired purely as an act of revenge is something else you should remove from your life. I am trying to be helpful without being critical because I think this is really important, but I can’t think of a more gentle way to say this. If you are behaving the way you have described, you are a magnet for people like this. Water seeks its own level as they say. I urge you to (especially in your professional life) focus all of your energy instead on being the best person you can be. Don’t engage with negative destructive people as it will fuel the same qualities in you. You will have a hard time ever getting anywhere following that path.

      Find one of your friends that has qualities you admire, that is pleasant to be around, and spend more time with her/him. Try to be the person you would like to attract as a friend. Engage only with those that help you to stay positive and working toward your goals. Do things that make you happy and make you proud of yourself. You will find that you will attract more quality people this way. I think this will also aid you tremendously in any job search as these things tend to shine through. I’ve interviewed a lot of people and some of them have been very qualified, but didn’t get hired because they were just completely unlikable. I didn’t want them on my team. I’ve met a few that I wished so badly were qualified because they just had personal qualities that I know would be of great benefit to my team. I would have hired them in a minute if they had the skills. I was recently able to hire someone that had the winning combination of both skills and wonderful personal qualities. I have noticed that we’re all more positive since he has come on board.

      So much of what happens going forward is entirely up to you and the choices you make. Good luck with everything.

      1. fposte*

        Good insights. It also occurs to me that wanting to retaliate against this friend and emphasizing how much the friend’s influence was the motivation here are all part of the same problem that got the OP into this situation–it’s still giving the friend way too much influence on her life. Take your power back by making her insignificant.

      2. LW #2*

        Thank you for your advice. Since this whole mess started (I’ve been dealing with it for about a month), I have stopped and actually thought about who I want in my life, and it’s definitely not her. My hurt and my feelings over this whole thing definitely colour how I think. I am normally a very rational, very pulled together person (believe it or not, it’s one of the things that people say about me, along with “she is one of the kindest people I know…”). I am a magnet, you are 100% right, for people like this. It’s something that I have struggled with. It’s something that my therapist is working on me with right now. Her influence was negative and destructive on me and now that she is gone, I can see the path that I was on was only going to end badly for me. I have found friends that support me and don’t make me feel like I am a terrible person who deserves everything that has happened to me, as she told me for an hour yesterday on the phone. No one deserves to be treated like that ever.

        1. fposte*

          Okay, I’m sorely tempted to use all caps here: Why are you still talking to her? And why did you stay on the phone for an hour if it was so awful?

          You have the power to make this stop, and you’re not using it.

          1. LW #2*

            I hadn’t spoken to her in a month and she wanted me to come to her house (uh no!) and talk things through. I refused, wanted to meet in a coffee shop instead. After an hour, I hung up on her.

            1. hildi*

              Aw, LW#2, I feel for you. You’re in the throes of mothering a little person (which is enough to make you think you’ve lost your mind) and now you’ve got this person you’re allowing to keep taking up your brainspace. I’m not really saying anything new because fposte is carrying the torch brilliantly here, but the thing is that this person WILL NEVER CHANGE. Giving her second chances to explain things, to “talk things through” will never mean an equal or fair conversation. As a people person I understand the propensity to think that a person can change, or to give them another chance, or to think it’s the kind thing to do to keep engaging.

              But when you engage, she’s in control. Period fricking dot. She’s driving the entire train and that’s not a train I think you want to be on. The person that is silent is the one in control (meaning you are not answering her calls, and if you accidentally do you hang up, you don’t respond to her baiting). She’s baiting you with words that are getting you to react emotionally. You are playing by HER rules right now and that’s damn sure not a place I think you want to be. You must not react in the way she’s expecting (which is to do what all the other commenters have said and disengage). You can do this. You’re a good person (and a mother now and let me tell you you’re going to need to shore up your resolve when your little angel hits preschool. I’m living that now and good god I’m learning some lessons on holding firm. lol).

              1. hildi*

                Clarification: the way you need to react is to disengage (which isn’t what she’s expecting).

                1. hildi*

                  HA! I have been teaching a Defusing Hostile Customers course pretty heavily in the last 9 months and I’ve really been wrapping my mind around and absorbing this concept of being baited into an argument where the other person has the upper hand and how to not get sucked into it. So I’m feeling passionate about the topic right now :)

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Hildi, you are so great at this topic (and at coming across as calm and non-adversarial in general, even in heated discussions) that I wonder if you’d ever want to write a piece for this site about what your secrets are! Or maybe about pitfalls you’ve noticed people falling into, and how to avoid them. Or something. I’m in awe of your ability to do it.

                3. hildi*

                  Holy smokes. Thanks, Alison. I just got done reading a comment on a class evaluation where someone said I need to better able come up with examples to questions in class and that it doesn’t appear that I’ve spent much time in the real world. My vent to my coworker was decidedly not calm! (Secret #1 – don’t lash back. lol). Yes, of course I’d love to try and put something together! Shall I email you?

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes, please do!

                  (And in thinking further on what I said above, it’s not just that you’re able to stay calm and non-adversarial in heated discussions. It’s that you also manage to come across as incredibly kind and likable, so that even when there are two heatedly different sides in a discussion, both sides will come away feeling good about you. It’s so impressive.)

                5. hildi*

                  :) I appreciate that. And without this turning into a big sloppy hugfest, the same is said for you.

                  On a related note, I’m so happy I have two daughters because I CANNOT WAIT to teach them how to be assertive, kind, and kick-ass women (and your votes of confidence here makes me think I’ll be able to do that! haha

                6. Tax Nerd*

                  Am I the only one that wants to take hildi’s Defusing Hostile Customers course?

                  Not that my clients get particularly hostile for all that long. If they do, I bill them for my time (the time on the phone being yelled at, the time cooling down, the time I spend discussing with my boss, and the time spent sending a defusing email). Once they’ve literally paid the price for , they usually don’t do it again. Or if they do, they become only a client my boss handles. Or we fire the client.

                  But still. Hildi’s course sounds like it’d be great, just for life in general.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Following what Syler said, waaaay upthread, OP, birds of a feather flock together. Always be careful of what the birds in your flock are doing- it will rub off on you. And this is just plain good, enduring life advice. When you are old and gray in a nursing home, don’t be standing next to the hysterical one who is throwing things- watch who you are hanging out with always/forever.

        We cannot make you stop all the different points of contact you have with this person. But we can tell you, that even ONE contact point will throw your life into disarray. I can almost promise you that. So you see her email, or you see her number on the caller ID it is your choice. You can answer it. Or you can decide that you want to build up your own life and your own thing. You cannot have both, you can only have ONE. We can’t chose that for you. We can only hope that you see the difference in the way we talk with you and the way she talks with you and you KNOW what the correct choice is here.

        1. hildi*

          “When you are old and gray in a nursing home, don’t be standing next to the hysterical one who is throwing things- watch who you are hanging out with always/forever.”

          Haha, love this advice! I am a bit of a Pollyanna in that I often can’t anticipate or think through how people would behave badly. So I’m totally curious why being with the hysterical, throwing nursing home resident would end poorly for me? I’m too naïve!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You could get hit with what they are throwing.

            A literal version of a metaphor.

            [Sorry. Now you want to throw something at me. I’m okay with that.]

        2. LW #2*

          I see the difference, I really do. I have blocked her from my phone, from Facebook, blocked her husband, anything that she can do, I’ve blocked it.

    9. Allison*

      Those all look like legit reasons to be mad at someone, and I can’t say I blame you for wanting to turn her in. But don’t. Cut ties, let her know why, but don’t tell her boss about the resume. I mean really, do you think she’ll be less like to screw people over if she’s unemployed?

      And for what it’s worth, plenty of job seekers have at least one friend or family member that gives them crappy advice, and then when the person decides not to act on it, they’ll tell the person it’s their fault for being unemployed because they didn’t follow the crappy advice. Granted, it’s usually not to the extent of handing them a fake resume and coercing them to use it, but still.

    10. Lizzy*

      Upthread a commentator had a saying about never getting in a pissing match with a skunk. With you revealing this information, I think it is more pertinent to continue your distance from this so-called friend and take this advice. I hope you take responsibility for your own faults in this situation, but this person sounds toxic beyond belief. I would never have advocated retaliation to begin with, but after what you revealed, you have further reason not to do this. If she was like this with you when you were allegedly “friends”, I can only imagine how she would retaliate once she got wind of what you did. Just move on and best of luck with your job search.

      1. The Strand*

        I cosign everything Lizzy has said here, as well as Hildi’s comments, which are so on target. Yes, you need to take ownership, but the most important thing here is to create distance between yourself and her, and continue getting therapy. Learning to take responsibility and being less passive will come as you start to advocate for yourself and protect your needs. It will help you be a better parent, friend, partner. You just have to differentiate between what is truth and what is bullshit. I would wager that this person in some way reminds you of someone else crucial in your life – maybe a parent – who treated you similarly, and that’s why she’s been able to control you so effectively and get your assent to do certain things.

        I say this as someone who had a few horrible people in my life as a teenager and young adult, masquerading as “friends”. One of them admitted to me that she had falsified a rape charge against a coworker she didn’t like; that was so brazen, so fucked up – it was enough for me to cut the cord – period. I never spoke to her again from that day forward. With some other people in my life at that age, it was frankly harder because their ridiculous comments about my being unworthy or – whatever – fed into my existing poor self-esteem and ideas about the way the world operated. Please try to take some of the more challenging comments and replies here in good grace as comments from people who are in a good space and see things more clearly than say, I did back then, or you may be seeing things now.

    11. neverjaunty*

      If she owes you $900, take her to small claims court. Seeking petty revenge through revealing something dumb you did? Bad idea.

      1. LW #2*

        Small Claims Court is what I originally thought of and then she told me that I would never win, that she had talked to a judge, a lawyer and that they agreed that I am up the creek for the money.

        Anyway, she’s blocked, and unfriended, and gone gone gone…

        1. fposte*

          But once again, why would you believe her about whether you could successfully sue her? Her statement about who she talked to is patently ludicrous, and it’s to her advantage to lie. I think it’s better for you to cut off contact than to take things to court at this point, but it seems like you’ve got a single-point failure tendency going on both with this friendship and the lawyer, where you accept what one person says without challenging it or checking it.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          There’s no reason to believe your friend about this. That doesn’t mean you should necessarily take her to small claims court, but she’s not going to give you a fair assessment of your chances.

          Can you afford to let go of the $900? If you can, do. Otherwise, if you know someone who will give you low-cost legal advice, ask that person about your chances in court—not your friend. (And yes, cut this person off and don’t speak with her!)

          1. LW #2*

            Truthfully I cannot afford to let go of $900. I’m going to think about my options for a couple of days, maybe going to court is what I need to do. As she so graciously put it over and over again yesterday, she has tons of money, she doesn’t need my $900, she just thinks I need to learn consequences.

            1. fposte*

              Okay, then do some research on small claims and statutes of limitation in your state, and remember that even if you win the court doesn’t do the collection for you, so you may still not get the money. So don’t sink tons of time in that would only be worth it if you got your money back.

            2. My two cents...*

              call a law school in your area. around here, it’s marquette university. they occasionally have law students that can help with some of this stuff. i’ve never had to call in, thankfully, but the professors at the nearby college i attended routinely gave this advice to students having issues.

              though if you don’t have the $900 documented in some way…like a personal check written to her…you might not have much to go on.

              if she has money, how’d she end up with your $900 in the first place?

            3. Bobette*

              You don’t by chance have any of her comments about owing you money in a text or email do you? If not, I would be tempted to try sending her an email that since she says she doesn’t need the money can she please you back because you really do. See if she slips and agrees in writing that she knows she owes you money. If you have any proof of her acknowledging the debt, that should get you a win in court. At least it does on Judge Judy :)

              1. LW #2*

                Sorry for the long delay in replying! I was making dinner and playing with my kids…

                I do have texts from her saying that she owes me nothing. I also have a reciept in my email from when I sent her the money for the trip. (i sent it via EMT)

            4. Not So NewReader*

              If the judge has had communication about this case out side of court then the judge MUST recuse themselves.
              You have to file the claim in the court that covers the specific area. But the judge does not have to listen to the case. The judge can recuse on the basis that s/he has prior knowledge of the situation and cannot maintain objective or the appearance of objectivity.

              You do not need a lawyer in small claims. You do need proof that you gave her the money.

              1. LW #2*

                Luckily I do have proof of my funds. I sent it via EMT.

                I’m going to go to Small Claims tomorrow.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Speak to the judge candidly. Ask if her is she has any prior knowledge of your case.

                  You are allowed to ask that question. As a courtesy, give her the background of “I was told that my opponent in this matter has already spoken to you.”
                  Be careful not to discuss the particulars of your case while you are alone with the judge, though.

                2. LW #2*

                  The judge that she ‘spoke’ to is a family friend of hers. So what she did was call up her friend, explain her side and ask him if I had a chance… I am 100% sure that’s how it went down. I asked her for the judge’s name and she refused to tell me.

                3. fposte*

                  And I’m 85% sure she never called anybody–a nameless judge who’s also a family friend and immediately responds to her call is the “my girlfriend in Canada” of legal arguments–and 100% sure it doesn’t matter if she did, because it has nothing to do with what would actually be presented before the court.

        3. LBK*

          That’s almost definitely not the case, at least from the research I did when I was looking into taking someone to small claims. It seems judges tend to side pretty heavily with the claimant as long as the story is reasonable and there’s no evidence to suggest it’s false. Even verbal contracts are enforceable, albeit more easy to contradict.

        4. neverjaunty*

          Of course she did. When you tell people you are going to sue them, they generally do not respond with “Please don’t do that! You will totally win!”

        5. Ezri*

          The key part of that is ‘SHE said’. If you were going to take her to court for the money, of course she’s going to say you don’t have a chance. You’ve acknowledged how unstable and toxic this person is, yet you seem to believe everything she tells you. That’s part of how she manipulates you – stop listening to her lying face and find your own lawyer!

    12. Lamb*

      I read all the way down, and I saw that you said you were going on that business trip so your friend wouldn’t have to go alone. What I don’t understand is
      1) what was the *business* justification for you going on the business trip? I can’t imagine a boss okaying bringing a friend on a business trip, especially with the company footing the bill
      2) you mention you did some unpaid “consulting” for her company; how much work are you talking about? Is there any possibility you actually were employed as a contractor and your friend did the relevant paperwork *and* collected your payment? Because that is basically the only way I can imagine her company sending you along on her business trip. I’m not sure the best way to find that out, actually, but since it would have tax ramifications it seems important to find out.

      1. Lamb*

        Also, maybe make a (maybe just mental) list of everything she ever told you and assume it is all untrue, because it sounds like she… doesn’t tell the truth… ever.

      2. LW #2*

        1) There was NO business justification, she did not want to go alone. My $900 was to bring the cost of the trip down for HER, as she went alone, anyway and kept my money.
        2) the ideas I gave her took approximately 1 hour of my time and they were all ideas that anybody that has any business sense who used to work in my field would give her (ie, advertise here). In fact, when I gave them to her, she said to me that she had no idea I was so smart! Ha!
        Her company had no idea I was even going until she ‘tried’ to cancel the trip.

        1. LW #2*

          Clarifying one point : I was there to bring the cost of the trip down for HER company, as her trip was supposed to be double occupancy and they didn’t want to pay that much for just her.

  22. Graciosa*

    Regarding #3, this is totally normal. Managers are used to getting requests for references from previous employees – there is no cause for angst.

  23. Allison*

    #4: Working in recruitment, we pay for special accounts on Dice, LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, etc. that we can use to post jobs and search for candidates. For some of these websites, the account manager insists on walking us through how to use these accounts and giving us tips on how to use them successfully – how to find great candidates, how to write good job posts, stuff like that. Why? Because they know part of the success of the product is contingent on how well it’s used. No matter how many people go to the Stack Overflow job boards, most engineers won’t apply to crappy jobs. No matter how many qualified candidates are on Dice, I won’t find them if I stink at searching.

    Pretty much every product, including stuff that’s supposed to make this or that task easier or “effortless” takes at least a little practice. OP 4, you should consider ways to counsel your clients on ways to achieve success with your product and see if that makes a difference.

    1. Cheesecake*

      I totally agree with you. In my opinion the willingness of a sales consultant to guide clients is based on how much the sales person likes and is interested in service/product/industry. If you like something, it is natural to go extra mile to make sure customers understand the greatness.Alternatively, maybe company needs a different strategy based on customer feedback. If you don’t – negative customers will take you over.

  24. David*

    #4: I really feel for you. Fresh out of college with a degree in advertising I took a job in the ad sales department for my area’s alternative newsweekly. It was the second largest publication in town by circulation and had some pretty strong recognition. As a free paper, it was entirely supported by advertising. Considering how long it had been around, I figured its reputation spoke for itself.

    Only, once I started working there, I learned that the circulation numbers were EXTREMELY inflated, it wasn’t supported by advertising so much as by benefactors who kept propping the place up (for 3 decades!), I was asked to enforce and collect on contracts that were either never signed by the advertiser or forged by my predecessor and that most of the potential clients were small businesses who could barely pay their rent much less afford a $10,000 full page ad (or even a $500 1/16). It was very difficult to sell this product, especially once I stopped believing in it, and my happiest day there was the day I quit.

    1. Writer of #4*

      Thanks David. Your situation definitely seemed worse than mine is. My biggest problem is competing with the likes of Google who can sell ads at 14 cents CPM and I’m selling around $8 CPM to a smaller audience. My customers just don’t see the ROI that they do from a bigger company like Google who has such a massive reach and low advertising costs.

      1. Joey*

        Don’t say that. That sounds like you’re trying to hide it. The best explanations I’ve ever heard for being fired were usually those that came out and said “fired”, recognized it was the right decision at the time, and have learned a lesson from it. The lesson is usually revolves around the idea that they would get a better idea of what they were getting into before they accepted jobs in the future.

        1. Cheesecake*

          I get how hard it is to say, but i so appreciate when people just say it without dancing around it. The more one tries to hide it the more interview will try to bring it up. Great advice!

          1. Joey*

            I almost always zone out when I hear people dancing around explaining a firing. Just say it for crying out loud. If you can’t come out and say it how can I ever expect you to be straightforward with me?

      2. Cheesecake*

        If you told me this in the interview i wouldn’t even make it to “i need to go fetch some water” and laugh on the spot. I’ve heard fair share of ways not to say “fired” out loud, but this one is something

        1. LW #2*

          Yeah it was pretty ridiculous but I never used it til I wrote this… :) Due to the terms of the court settlement from my former employer, I’m actually not allowed to use the word fired. This was her way of telling me to get around it.

          1. Cheesecake*

            I am sorry you had to go through this, it sound ridiculous. What are you supposed to say then? Are synonyms allowed?

              1. LW #2*

                There was a lot that my lawyer missed in getting me that settlement. I’ve been speaking with another lawyer about what my next steps are on that, since my former employer is continuing to bash me four years later but i can’t say anything about them.

                Yes my life is a messy state of affairs.

                1. Anon Accountant*

                  Is part of your settlement a lawyer providing a letter showing why you won’t have a reference from your prior employer? I’d read about a case where an employee was fired for refusing to do something illegal and sued the employer successfully. Part of the lawsuit settlement was the ex-employee received a letter stating briefly they wouldn’t have a reference from the prior employer, etc. It was a few years ago when I’d read that so the specifics aren’t coming to mind.

                  I’m not asking as to details of your employment separation or stating anything illegal happened but didn’t know if this was something that would be reasonable for your lawyer to provide in your specific case.

                2. LW #2*

                  I asked for a letter, but my lawyer refused to get me one, said it wasn’t a priority for me and that they would never agree to it.

                  I found out that they’ve been bashing me for four years and until it was confirmed i couldn’t do anything about it.

            1. Elysian*

              Can you go with “involuntarily separated” from the company? It’s still mincing words, but if “fired” is prohibited by your settlement, maybe there’s something you can use that isn’t “restructured forcefully”. Would just “laid off” be too much of a stretch?

              1. Natalie*

                That might read “layoff” to some people. It seems like the risk here is that a prospective employer will find out the OP was fired and think OP was trying to obfuscate rather than bound by the terms of a (apparently poorly thought out) settlement. I would probably jump to “massaging the truth” before I thought of legal issues.

                Then again, from previous conversations here I understand that employers can be wary of people who have been involved in legal action against their former employer. So mentioning the settlement might also be a problem.

                1. fposte*

                  What about “let go”? That reads as “fired” to me and it doesn’t use the term. I suppose it depends on the specifics of the OP’s settlement, too.

                2. fposte*

                  Oh, and if it’s just the OP who can’t use the word “fired,” that presumably means she’s allowed to confirm if the interviewer asks “Does that mean you were fired?”

                3. LW #2*

                  I’m not even allowed to confirm that I was fired.

                  Interviewer: Does that mean you were fired?
                  Me: I can neither confirm nor deny what happened at Company X.

                  If Company X gets wind of what I said, they could sue me. In their terms, the truth is slander or libel.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Eeeeek. That answer is such an alarming thing that if there’s really no other way to phrase it, you’d be better removing the job from your resume altogether, and focusing on getting your next role through networking (which might be the way to go regardless). But I’d talk to someone with some expertise about what your options are here, because that phrasing is absolutely unusable. If your lawyer is telling you to say that, your lawyer is totally out of touch about what will and won’t fly in interviews.

                5. fposte*

                  Well, hang on, if the company is determined that the OP couldn’t have been fired, what is it they’re wanting to claim happened? Is it officially a layoff, then? Or a quit?

                  How can they contradict her by saying she was fired rather than laid off/quit if the whole point is that officially she wasn’t fired? Can’t the OP just echo whatever the company party line is, seeing as it probably would be better for her anyway?

                6. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @fposte: Yes, the whole thing makes no sense. OP, that makes me think that you’re either not getting good and clear advice from your attorney, or you’re misunderstanding what she’s telling you. It might be really help things to sit down with her and getting much more clear on the questions being raised here! (Or even to talk with a different lawyer if you think the issue is on your lawyer’s side.)

                7. Elysian*

                  I agree with AAM at 1:21 pm – It doesn’t sound like you’re getting very good advice from your attorney, or you’re misunderstanding the advice.

                  I’ll add that this statement – “In their terms, the truth is slander or libel.” – seems out of sorts to me with the fact that you have a settlement in place. It just adds to my sense that there’s a misunderstanding somewhere. If the settlement says you can’t say “fired,” doing so wouldn’t be libel, it would be a violation of the settlement agreement. The repercussions of the two (what you could possibly lose by doing so, whether the company can even sue you, etc) are very different. It might be a good time to call your attorney up and hash out some of these details and make sure the two of you are on the same page, or to find a new lawyer, depending on your experiences.

                8. LBK*

                  The truth can’t be libel by definition. Libel means publicizing a false statement that damages someone’s reputation.

                  There is definitely a lot going on here that doesn’t make sense.

                9. Joey*

                  Op, when you learned that you couldn’t say “fired” didnt that raise the question about what you could say?have you asked your lawyer what you can say without violating the agreement?

                10. LW #2*

                  Sorry for the delay, i was playing with my kiddies and preparing dinner

                  To answer your questions: I have a crappy lawyer, he took the case bc my legal fees were paid by the company I worked for. He has been less than helpful since we got a settlement. He told me that I can say that I no longer work for the company. That’s it. The settlement terms state that I cannot say that I was fired, I cannot say that I was fired at 34 weeks pregnant and that I can only acknowledge that I no longer work there. Meanwhile they can say whatever they want. (The reason I was fired is that I wanted to come back after my mat leave at six months instead of the 3-4 months I initally said. I live in Canada, I’m entitled to a year. I also could not keep up with my 80 hour work weeks and when pressed they refused to offer me any assistance to do the three positions I was responsible for)

                  I am in the process of hiring a new and better lawyer (that I will be paying for!) but due to missing $900, I’ve had to save up for it.

                11. Colette*

                  @LW #2

                  If I understand your situation correctly:
                  – you were told you were fired when you were 34 weeks pregnant
                  – you believe you were fired because you wanted to take 6 months off. (I’m not an expert on Canadian maternity/paternity leave, but this was most likely illegal)
                  – instead of hiring an independent lawyer who would fight for you, you chose to go with a lawyer paid by your former employer (!)
                  – you cannot tell potential employers that you were fired or give any information about what happened. You chose to accept that agreement and did not try to understand what you could say or what they would say if they were called
                  – your friend told you you should falsify your resume, which you chose to do
                  – for some reason, you were asked to go on a business trip with your friend. You chose to pay her $900 for that trip, then chose not to go.
                  – your friend has not returned your money, but has told you that you cannot get it back in small claims court. You have chosen to believe her.
                  – you have since chosen to stop sending out the falsified resume
                  – despite the issues with your friend, you have chosen to continue contact with her, including hour-long conversations

                  Did you notice how many times I used the word “chose”? Those are all choice you have made.

                  Ultimately, what I see here is that you consider yourself a passive victim and think life happens to you. I agree with other commenters that that is an incredibly unhealthy attitude for you, as well as your children.

                  Take responsibility for your choices, and figure out how to make your life better.

              2. LW #2*

                To Collette
                I hired an independent lawyer who worked into the settlement that he was paid from the money I recieved instead of going through a lengthy trial that would have left me with very little settlement money
                Yes it is illegal to fire a pregnant woman. I sued them, we settled out of court.
                I asked for a positive letter of recommendation, he did not get it for me
                2 years later when I chose to start looking for work, I found out that the employer was saying disparging things.
                I could not go on former friend’s business trip because my three options of childcare backed out. She only asked me so that she would not have to go alone.
                As of yesterday afternoon there has been no contact. All forms of contact are blocked from her and her husband.

  25. Joey*

    4. Is it a product you don’t believe in or is it that you just don’t know how to respond to people who were unhappy with it in the past? There’s a big difference.

    1. Writer of #4*

      I suppose the product is ok, but has a limited reach, is more expensive than say advertising with a big company like Google, and they never seem to get much response. I sold an ad last month to an artist with an extremely cheap price on their product, it was linked to the sale on Amazon and they didn’t sell a single copy.

      1. Joey*

        Yeah it’s pretty hard to get enthusiastic about selling a lukewarm product. Much easier to sell for example a Toyota than say a Mitsubishi. No offense to Mitsubishi owners out there.

      2. MK*

        I really wouldn’t assume that the fault of your product, overpriced and ineffective though it may be. I notice that you mention independed artists, musicians and writers; I don’t know anything about artists or musicians, but if your customer is an author, the fact that they didn’t sell a single copy doesn’t mean much. Book advertising is directly effective only when the writer is well-known: I see that writer X, whose work I have read before, has a new book out, so I go and buy it. An ad that there is a book available from a writer I ‘ve never heard before wouldn’t make most people click the link, no matter where the ad was placed. And even if it did, there is a chance that people didn’t like the look of the art, or the sample chapter of the book. Also, there are a lot of free e-books out on amazon, so the cheap price isn’t much of an incentive; not to mention that there are people who are prejudiced against very cheap books or art, assuming it’s crap.

        I agree with the advice that you should try to get reliable data about your product’s effectiveness. It sounds to me like you are relying on empirical evidence from disatisfied clients.

  26. INTP*

    #1: If you do try the password reset and the email does not go to you, then whichever person is receiving the emails for your account probably has their email connected to many profiles. In that case, LinkedIn could figure out pretty quickly that something fishy is going on, so it would definitely be worth contacting them to let them know that your company has massive amounts of fake profiles which employees cannot gain access to, including the one under your name.

    In the meantime, make a real profile for yourself, fill out every part of the profile and make extensive use of keywords, and connect with as many people as you can so you show up further up in the results. If you’re job searching, it might be worth paying for a paid account until the fake profile gets removed so you can be sure to be above the fake account.

  27. HR Manager*

    #1 – That is an insane employer who wants to control an employee’s LinkedIn account. Given the other employee’s lack of success in getting help from the company – I would go straight to LinkedIn and inform them of what’s happening. LinkedIn should help you straighten this out.

    #4 – Is there some form of product management or product development? Even for ad sales, I assume there is a team that pulls together stats, campaign options, etc to pitch a plan for the customer — they whoever wraps this into the product should be listening to customer feedback and tweak if warranted. If not, then I would also take this to the boss and see if this sparks the boss to try to improve the results for the client. If that still doesn’t happen, then surely it is time for a new job.

  28. Cupcake*

    Just to clarify, your friend (foolishly) put her neck on the block to help you out when you desperately needed help, so in return you want to hand her boss an ax?

    1. fposte*

      Friend is turning out to be rather a psycho, so while I agree the OP shouldn’t retaliate, I don’t think this was just a friend misguidedly but nobly putting her neck on the block.

  29. Case of the Mondays*

    For number 1, it could be something innocent. We have had “social media marketing consultants” before that insist all employees have an account that will be linked to the company account. A lot of employees don’t care about making one so the officer manager just makes one for them that isn’t used and everyone forgets about it until that employee decides they actually want to use Linked In. Then they don’t want to tip off the boss by saying “oh, I want my account now.”

    1. Cheesecake*

      Really in this day and age employees don’t want to have a LinkedIn profile? Moreover, they let other make it for them?

  30. Blue_eyes*

    RE: #5. I had a job once where we got to take our PTO by the hour and it was really great. I worked as a teacher, so we had to be at school between certain hours (unlike other jobs we couldn’t make it up at other times, for obvious reasons). We only got 4 days worth of PTO because we also go school breaks so it was really helpful to be able to use it by the hour. For instance, one time my car got towed (not my fault, the city didn’t adequately mark the parking lots that were due for snow removal that night). I was supposed to be at work at 7:30, but the impound lot didn’t open until 8. I knew I could get my car and drive to work by 9:30 at the latest, so I only had to use 2 of my 32 PTO hours instead of a half day. We were able to do the same thing if needed to leave an hour early for an appointment or some such. In that situation, where we had very rigid hours that we had to be at work, the hourly PTO policy felt very generous. It might be more annoying though in a workplace where you could make up the hours at other times.

    1. Elysian*

      When I was a teacher we had to take either a whole or half-day. What you describe sounds way nicer! I just ended up taking the half- day for a just-after-work doctor’s appointment, and spent the time running errands or napping or whatever (and having to constantly make involved plans for the substitute). You school’s policy sounds way less disruptive to the kids than mine was.

  31. long time reader first time poster*

    #3 — if it has been a while since you worked for that manager, it might be helpful to remind them a bit of your duties and any successes you had. Something like “I’d love it if you could particularly speak to my skills in painting and polishing tea pots, as they are very pertinent to the role I’m applying for at Company XYZ. One project I was very proud of when we worked together was the Y2K Teapot Upgrade. As you may recall, I managed a team of twenty seven teapot polishers, and we got all the teapots polished on time, under budget, without any breakage.” That will help prompt the manager speak in specifics when providing any feedback about you. Most managers will appreciate the reminders!

  32. LP*

    #5 I worked for a private law firm that would deduct each minute that someone was late from their vacation time, even if you came in at 8:01.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I wonder if anyone totaled up the labor hours that were used up chasing that 1 minute of time. Am shaking my head. Just because people are educated does not mean they are logical.

  33. Anon Accountant*

    Wow. Was their turnover high? Because I can’t imagine treating employees who were otherwise excellent in such a manner without them leaving when they found better jobs. If tardiness was an issue then address it in a sensible way but to be so rigid sounds very unpleasant.

  34. Kaz*

    At #2: Wow! It does sound like you had a falling out with your friend and now you are trying to take revenge on her. What did she do? Murder your family? I can’t think of any valid reason to stoop so low by engaging in revenge politics. The best revenge is living well. Go on with your life and make new friends.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The friend killed a part of OP’s self-worth. Not murder technically, but it can leave a person feeling more dead than alive. Up a ways, there is quite a discussion on it.

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