does it matter who you report to, I don’t want to hear about my friend’s mistakes, and more

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

1. Why am I hearing how my friend is messing up at work?

I recommended a good friend for a job at my company in a completely different department from me. He’s now been working there for a year. He’s in his mid-20s and is a good worker although he lacks experience. He was tossed into a job that he wasn’t qualified or trained for and given no leadership or supervision.

His boss (not my boss – again, separate departments) pulls me into her office last week and tells me my friend has made a mistake that cost the company thousands of dollars. Later, my friend’s coworker comes and tells me directly that my friend is “a fuck up” and she’s recommending that he be fired.

I didn’t want to know any of this and I’m confused and upset as to WHY ON EARTH I would be told. I’m not a supervisor or a person in authority. First, is this normal? Should I have been told this? Second, what am I supposed to do with this information? I wish I could un-hear all of it.

No, it’s not normal.

It’s possible that they were venting to you, without thinking through the fact that there was no reason to do it and it would put you in an unfair position. It’s also possible that they each felt like they should loop you back in — like, “That guy you recommended? Not the right one for the job!”

I can imagine a situation where if I were considering firing someone who a colleague had recommended, I might feel like I should loop them in on where things stood — just like you’d do if you weren’t hiring them at all after a colleague’s recommendation. I might feel like it would be helpful to seek their input — sort of like, “Here are the problems I’m seeing. I know you know him well. Do you think my assessment is off-base / is there a different perspective I should be taking?” But that would be a much more nuanced conversation than “This dude is a fuck-up” and doesn’t sound like what’s happening here.

Really, it just sounds like your coworkers are frustrated and venting in the wrong place. If it happens again, I’d say, “I feel like I’m in an awkward position hearing this. I’m assuming there’s no role for me to play here…?” and wait to see what they say.

2. Does it matter who you report to?

I had a great phone interview recently for a newly created communications manager role with the hiring manager, who is also the head of the department. When I asked if the position would be reporting directly to him, I was told that decision hasn’t been made yet. It may end up that way or it would report to the project manager who has been in the department longest. I was a little disappointed as part of the attraction to the job was the opportunity to work directly with the director.

Am I looking at this the wrong way and does it really matter who you report to? I think my chances of making it to the next round are pretty good. Is there a way to address this concern should I continue in the process?

I should probably mention that my current job is structured in a similar way which I don’t find appealing as I find it limiting, but the place I work at is also a mess with a slew of issues so not sure it’s fair to use this job as a comparison. I am anxious to leave, but don’t want to end up in a similar situation, and also don’t want to pass on what may end up being a good opportunity.

Hell, yes, it matters! Your manager has a huge impact on your day to day quality of life at work and is one of the biggest factors in whether you stay there or move on.

However, you can’t really make them decide this faster than they’re going to decide it. The most you can really do is to ask about it in the next stage and mention, politely, that the opportunity to work with the department head was definitely a draw for you. For example: “You mentioned when we last talked that there was a question about who this position will report to. I’ll admit that I was particularly drawn to the possibility of working with Cordelia. If it ends up looking like the role may report to Falcon instead, I’d love the chance to talk more in-depth with him and learn more about him.”

But I’d continue on in the interview process and gather as much information as you can. If they make you an offer and it turns out that you’d be reporting to other person, not the one you hoped to report to, it’s reasonable to ask to meet with that person to learn more about their working style (if you haven’t had a chance to talk substantively with that person by this point). And of course, you can always turn down the offer if you don’t think the job comes with a manager you want to work for.

3. Should I get a retroactive bonus?

The company I work for has a policy where if you work six days in one week, you get a $100 bonus. However, this was originally stated to be only for one department, as they do not get paid overtime. I do get paid overtime, so I wasn’t eligible. I accepted this and continued working six days a week. But then I learned that my department at another location WAS getting paid that bonus. Upon learning this, I went to my manager, who is also the manager at the other location. He said he was unaware and would look into it. I was informed that it was an oversight, and that starting the next week, everybody would get the $100 bonus.

I asked if that meant I would get my retro pay for the 8-9 weeks I had worked extra days, and was told no. Can they do this? Obviously my branch made a mistake, shouldn’t they be obligated to pay me the $800-$900 I feel they owe me?

They can do this. They’re only obligated to pay you what their agreement with you says they’ll pay you; what they’ve agreed to pay others (in this case, another team) is irrelevant. You agreed to one pay arrangement, which they fulfilled. Then you successfully argued for a different pay arrangement, which they’ve agreed to going forward — but they’re not obligated to do it retroactively. That’s true even though they’re telling you that they should have offered it to you earlier — the fact that they didn’t offer it earlier is the part the law would care about.

4. I was rejected but want to reiterate my interest

I had an interview about a week ago. The interview went great, almost to the point that i thought i got the job. The interviewer mentioned that the reason why I was called in was because I have the experience and most college students do not.

The job is still open; it looks as though the job has not been filled. But just yesterday I received a letter that said another candidate was selected for the position. How can I reiterate my interest in a polite, professional manner with out sounding like I didn’t get the point?.

I can only think of one reason they chose to pass me up: I mentioned I would attend school in the evenings if I got the job. Should I just call?

No, they’ve already made a decision about your candidacy, and they decided not to hire you. And it sounds like they’ve hired someone else. (Ads frequently stay up longer than they should, often long after a hire is made, so I wouldn’t read much into that.) You can’t reiterate your interest without sounding like you didn’t get that point. All you can do here is move on and focus on other openings.

5. Update: My GPA was low in law school due to family health issues

You answered my question about excusing my low GPA on a cover letter (#4 at the link).  I have since graduated, passed the bar, and managed to find employment.

Did some employers ask for transcripts? Yes. Usually, I included a caveat with the transcripts, or I explained it in the cover letter.

I ended up getting a job with a firm through my network, and they didn’t ask for grades during the hiring process. They were way more interested in my resume, and how much practical experience I had with law practice, rather than my academic achievements.

Your answer was thoughtful, and the comment feedback from the readers was much appreciated. I think that explaining the grades up front was a good move, as it prevented me from being shut out of opportunities during the hiring stage – the positions weren’t good fits for me, but at least I had a chance.

{ 82 comments… read them below }

  1. Steve G*

    #2…Is the PM a PM of Communications as well? Either way, it looks like they care more about giving the PM management experience than your well-being.

    I went from reporting to a VP at one company to reporting to a “Director” at a much smaller company (he wouldn’t have even been a Supervisor at the first co), and he was 5 yrs younger than me and had 3 years less industry experience and less industry exposure and less industry relationships, and that was one of the reasons I left after a few months there. The VP at my first company was a big-picture guy, and the few times we had to discuss HR issues (i.e. $), he had weight to throw around. The director at the 2nd place didn’t have weight to throw around because he didn’t fill the Director “shoes,” so all we ever discussed was stupid minutia (“why were you 2 minutes late,” “did you do that ($20) thing?”, ugh…..). I was always thinking “why are you asking me stupid questions, I’ve done many technical things you don’t even know, can’t we talk about those for once?!?!!”

    Yeah, it makes sense to have a senior staff member mentor you. But how will that relationship look when you leave the nest and perhaps outshine that person?! They should definitely have you reporting to someone more senior in terms of rank…

    1. Beezus*

      I don’t know that we know enough to say who the OP should definitely be reporting to, or to say that having the PM manage her would just be done to give him management experience. Maybe the director is super busy and wouldn’t be able to mentor her the way the role needs, or maybe he needs to limit/reduce his direct reports.

    2. MK*

      One, I think it’s a given that the company cares more for the big picture, as in what is best for the company as a whole, than any given employee’s well-being. The hierarchy structure is determined by what will work best overall, not what will benefit the employee.

      Two, it’s not a general rule that the more senior your supervisor the better you will be. Or that a person with less technical knowledge than you is unfit to be your manager.

      Three, while your manager may well have been a disaster, it’s pretty obvious that you went into the job thinking that being managed by them was beneath you, which I don’t imagine helped the relationship.

      1. LUCYVP*

        Agree with this and want to add –

        It also depends on the department size and structure. I am a manager and officially report to my Department Director, but our hierarchy is flexible enough and we are a small enough org that I can comfortably walk into the office of my boss’s boss and ask for guidance.

        Sometimes the person who is officially your supervisor isnt the only person who will be mentoring you or working with you.

      2. some1*

        Right, and reporting to someone who is younger and has less years of experience is only going to become more common as the years go by. You should probably learn to accept it.

      3. steve g*

        I didn’t think them managing me was beneath me, but when you go into a job and realize your industry specific technical skills, computer skills, and relationships with regulators, channel partners are all at a higher level, it can be very disappointing. I didn’t know there was an age difference (not that it matters, but….) or a skill gap until a few weeks in.

        This wasn’t a steve’s attitude problem, the main one being that he was afraid to delegate non-clear-cut longer term projects. I found in my previous jobs reporting to higher level people that they delegated more difficult “higher level” work.

        There was also the awkwardness factor of passing along issues and decisions that you could totally handle because you’re manager is basically the same level as you

      4. steve g*

        Mk, how is it “pretty obvious???” I barely met my future boss before I started and didn’t realize he knew less than me until a few weeks in, as per my comment below. We talk a lot about assumptions on this page…..why is it ok for you to assume I went into that job with a bad attitude (based on nothing)? it was actually pretty painful for me to realize it wasn’t going to work out and having to job hunt again.

    3. OP #2*

      Hi, I’m the one who asked question #2. Yes, the PM is a communications PM. That person has been in the department the longest so as a result of seniority, if the director decides he can’t take on another report, that person is next in line. Much of what you described I’ve been through as well. That’s why I’m concerned about the structure. Alison already addressed why it does matters in her answer, but I’m also seeking a role where I can be part of the conversation and bigger pitcure. If it reports to the director, it tells me something about what type of role it is and how much influence one can have with it. I mean this in regards to level of responsibilities and being part of the process rather than just being given a list of things to do. To me, if it reports to the PM, the access has been taken away and everything you do has to go through this layer. Also as you mentioned, having a mentor is important. Reporting to someone with the same level of experience as me, or less, does not help with growth. At my last job, I was a one-person shop and my boss oversaw a number of departments. He was not a great manager, but because he had weight in the company, I was able to get things done and learn along the process. I also had autonomy. Maybe this role is more of a parallel move than I had hoped for. Since it’s a newly created one, I thought it could go either way. You can never really tell by titles alone. I understand they’ll ultimately do what’s best for them, not me.

      1. OP #2*

        LucyVP, I do agree that it all depends. That’s why I didn’t want to discount the role because you never really know. Titles only mean so much. However to expand on why this matters to me, in my current job, I was hired by a director to establish and manage communications for the office. Her job was comprised of other areas, not just communications, so I saw it as a great opportunity. She ended up leaving two months after I started. Instead of replacing her, the office was restructured and they hired an associate director to work above me. When that role was posted, the job description was exactly mine. So I went from reporting to a director to someone a level below (with less experience than me, mind you), and it has had an impact on my job. I went from being involved to being in this weird chain of command I am not used to. The level of work I’m doing has also diminished. If this structure had existed when my job was posted, I would not have applied because I was looking to “move up” so to speak. Basically the job I’m doing now is not the job I accepted. This is why I’m looking after a year and half, and I’m trying my hardest to avoid landing in a similar mess.

      2. Chris*

        I’d be concerned about this as well. I have had the experience of having someone with a similar experience level as a supervisor and, frankly, it was terrible. I am a “learner” personality, I like to be stretching into more difficult work regularly, and she had no avenue for me to grow within my position. She created a layer between me and management, so it felt like I had no one to advocate for me when opportunities came up. And, I felt it was pretty clear that she didn’t want me to grow my skills beyond her. Certainly a big part of this issue was her supervisory style, but it was the first time in my career that I’ve truly been miserable in a job, so I’ll be avoiding the situation in the future.

        1. OP #2*

          Yes this is exactly it. I have found that reporting to someone who is more of a colleague doesn’t help with growth. Nothing against the person, but if all he/she is doing is organizing projects and managing flow, but doesn’t have the power to make decisions, it’s inhibiting. I guess it ultimately depends on your work style and what you want out of a job.

      3. steve g*

        “Being part of the conversation…” yes…that can be hard to describe here, but I was definitely part of the conversation when I worked for the SVP. I think the biggest reason was that his gauge of “this is too hard for a lower level employee to do” was really high, as was his mistake-tolerance threshold. He only thought in big ideas and #s

  2. Anonymous Educator*

    #4: I can only think of one reason they chose to pass me up: I mentioned i would attend school in the evenings if i got the job.

    It’s not really up to you, as the candidate, to decide on reasons they’d hire someone else. You have no idea what goes into their hiring decision. All you know is you. They know their entire candidate pool. This isn’t like college admissions where there are “safety” schools and “reach” schools. There is no safety job. There is no job you are guaranteed to get unless you screw up. If there’s only one position open, they will hire whomever they think is the one best candidate. You can be absolutely amazing, but if there’s one person they view as a better fit / more qualified, you lost out. You didn’t have to “mention” anything in particular to not get a job.

    1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

      The hiring manager also said that op4 was called in because “most” college students don’t have the same experience. That doesn’t mean op4 was the “only” one they were interviewing with that experience. Some or all the candidates they interviewed may have had that same experience, even though most people don’t.

      I used to work in a pretty specialized field and one thing I learned job hunting in it is that when you have specialized experience it can make you feel like you’re special when you’re really not. There’s another dozen of you applying for the same job because other special people are searching for similar job postings.

      1. Kate M*

        I actually read that statement to mean “we usually hire people already out of college since most college students don’t have this experience, but since you do we thought we’d give you a chance.” Meaning that the OP is up against people out of college with experience as well. I could very well be misreading that, but maybe the OP could re-look at that statement to make sure they understood what the interviewer was saying?

        1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

          I guess I don’t really see the difference. My point was that since the hiring manager used the word “most” that means OP4 wasn’t the only one with that experience and the other candidates probably also had it. Pretty much just as you said, except without a specific mention of whether those candidates were in college or not, which the letter doesn’t specify at all. Seems like we said basically the same thing in different ways.

          Since OP4 seemed genuinely surprised to not get the job I assumed he was placing some importance on that statement as if it meant he was somehow ahead of the curve. But I could be wrong about that.

          1. Kate M*

            Yeah – I think it could be read one of two ways. The way I thought the OP was interpreting it was that they always interview college students, but OP is unusual for a college student because he has experience, thus putting him ahead of the curve.

            I thought it could also be interpreted as “we never interview college students, we always interview people with experience, but since you have some experience we thought we’d give you a chance.” Meaning that of the people they interviewed, OP would probably be at the bottom of the pile.

            It really doesn’t make a difference at this point, but I just thought it was something to consider in case the OP had misunderstood what they were saying.

            Even if it were the former, though, it still never means anything. I went for an interview once, and they specifically told me “you are our first choice for this position.” And then I never even made it to the second round. So yeah, never take what interviewers say as gospel.

            1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

              I can see what you are saying. I guess when I initially read it I assumed that it was in the context of candidates being other college students. My take away wasn’t so much about who the other candidates were and more about the perceived importance OP was putting on the comment. I’m with you that you never take anything as gospel.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      Yeah, you really never know. They could have hired the owner’s son, or they might think you’re SO talented that you wouldn’t be happy in the role. It doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on you so it’s best to just move on and not think about it.

    3. Jen S. 2.0*

      They’ve told you no. That means there’s no way to get to a yes.

      They’re certain enough about that no that they have put it in writing and sent it to you. Calling them, reiterating, asking again, asking differently, or whatever will not help adjust that no. They have hired someone else, and even if they just told you that to cushion the no, the fact remains that they’ve decided not to hire you.

      As mentioned upthread, just because *you* can only think of one reason they didn’t hire you, that doesn’t mean there weren’t 5. Further, many times the reason they didn’t hire you is that they preferred someone else (possibly for a very minor reason, but still). They don’t have to choose you out of the 5 equally qualified candidates, and they have decided not to do so. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, that you didn’t interview well, that you weren’t qualified, or that you weren’t a very close second. But they had one job to give to one candidate, and they have decided that you, great though you are, aren’t it. They chose one of the other equally great people. Nagging them? Not gonna change that. I know you thought you had it, but…what you think isn’t the deciding factor in whether you get the job. Unfortunately, your opinion is not the one that matters.

      It sucks. A whole lot. But this is how job-searching goes a lot of the time. If you’re lucky, it goes this way a few times and it goes the other way a few times…but it DOES go this way a whole lot of the time. The earlier you accept this, the better off you will be as a job-searcher.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        About the only thing you can do is to reply to the rejection with a graceful note – something like, “Thank you for considering me for the position. I enjoyed talking with Steve Interviewer and finding out more about Company. I wish you all the best, and would be interested if other positions open up in the future. Warmly, Me”

        This still doesn’t change anything about the fact that you didn’t get this job, and it still doesn’t mean you’ll get a job with them down the road – but if you do apply for another job with them later, someone might remember you as the person who was professional and friendly when you were rejected before. And that’s a good impression to make on people.

  3. Ali*

    #4 reminds me of me for a job I didn’t get that I had a phone screen for six months ago. I interviewed with the company recruiter and she said I had great transferable skills, she’d recommend me to the hiring manager and she’d be back in touch. I got rejected later, and when I asked for feedback, she said “The hiring manager wants someone with more experience in X.” I noticed the job was refreshing on boards for months after that, and the description resurfaced again on a staffing company’s website. I’m not sure if they hired someone (the company’s website doesn’t have the post up) or if they forgot to take it down. It stings, because this is a great employer and I’d like to work there, but at the same time, I don’t bother reapplying since nothing has really changed since the interview I had. I still don’t have the experience in X, and if the HM is still being picky, then I wouldn’t get another shot regardless.

    1. Nan*

      I wouldn’t assume that the HM is being picky simply for wanting someone with more experience in X. Recruiters often are not in sync with the HM about exactly what the role needs and it sounds like this one misjudged initially.

    2. Judy*

      If it’s a role that there are several people doing, I think you should apply again.

      For example, the companies I’ve worked for have had 10 to 100 software engineers. They use the same job description for all of them, even though the large companies have several groups with different managers. During this round of hiring, we may be focusing on X because that’s where our group is weak. They may have filled that role, and are more open to someone who is not as strong at X.

      1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        Yup. My company (also a software company) uses the same job title for various roles. My title has little to do with my major priorities. I was also hired at the same time as another person, specifically to work together, who has a hugely different background than I do. We have the same title and the do the same job, but they wanted a diverse skillset for the team. Had I applied for this same title another time I probably wouldn’t have qualified. This time I did.

  4. Hal*

    I asked question #1. Thanks so much for your answer! I did go to my boss about this (my boss is my friend’s boss’s boss) and said I was uncomfortable. I was basically told “sorry about that but keep it confidential.” I also said that on the limited projects we had worked on together my friend was reliable and efficient – which he has been. I guess that’s all I can do. I don’t want my friend to know that I know. I can imagine that would be embarrassing for him – his boss and coworkers going on about his mistakes to other departments. I’m a little resentful that this situation has been handled so unprofessionally – I had a lot of respect for my friend’s boss and coworker before this. This has soured me a little.

    1. MK*

      They were certainly unprofessional in their manner, but I think you take the “this has nothing to do with me” view too far. Recommending someone does mean associating yourself with them and it’s not crazy that you will hear about it, if the one you recommended turns out a bad fit.

      1. Cheesecake*

        Whenever a team member screws up it is partially boss’s screw up for hiring the wrong person or not training enough or not giving enough support etc. It looks like they are trying to put a blame on someone and it is stupid to put it on OP. OP only proposed a candidacy, they interviewed him, they made a decision to hire him, they kept him for the whole year. You are associated with the person you recommended and people might ask you for advice from time to time, but you are in no way responsible for him or his performance.

        1. Sunflower*

          SO true. Yes OP recommended him but the boss hired him. When I recommend someone, I most certainly am not giving a guarantee of success. Esp. when so much of job success depends on organizational fit which is something a past co-worker in a diff. company might not be able to speak on.

      2. LBK*

        If someone you recommended is fired, I don’t think it’s unusual or out of line to tell you about it afterwards, mostly as a heads up that you probably shouldn’t recommend that person for a job again. But doing it while the person is still there is baffling to me, as is doing it in such a non-constructive manner (calling him a fuck up) – what is the OP supposed to do about it? The friend isn’t their child that they can take home and scold. It’s not their problem.

      3. fposte*

        I can see this if the person was presented as something they weren’t, or if they’re generally trying to get more info to understand why this person doesn’t seem to be able to complete stuff. But it’s really pretty unusual to go back to a recommender, and the only time somebody did it to me it was clearly an employer who had a bit of a screw loose.

        I don’t think they’d be coming back to the OP if he weren’t a fellow employee, and maybe they need to think about what they’d do if he were an off-site recommender and then do that instead.

    2. Jeanne*

      I think it’s standard manager not being a good manager. Instead of taking the time to think through the whole situation and make a plan, he took his frustration out on you. The coworker probably took his cue from the manager. Of course if the manager thinks it’s ok to complain to you, then the coworker would too. They may not have expected anything more than you saying you agreed the mistake was horrible. Worst case, the manager hoped you would tell your friend how angry everyone was and he would quit. But I doubt it.

      You have the right idea to stay out of it. But it may be worth being a little forgiving. It sounds like the mistake affected a number of others and emotions were running high.

      1. Anna*

        Except that the only reason they were talking to the OP is because the OP knows the guy. Emotions would still be running as high if the OP and the guy who made the mistake didn’t know each other, and neither one of those people would have thought to go to the OP to complain. And that’s exactly how they should have approached it. And then there’s the whole underlying thing about complaining to the guy’s FRIEND. Who does that?!

  5. Shell*

    I have to admit I’m a little curious at how OP#1’s friend got a job he wasn’t qualified or trained for. Was it purely based on the strength of OP#1’s recommendation? I’m assuming OP#1 knew that the friend wasn’t qualified on paper (since she’s with the company and presumably knows what the position entailed in order to make a recommendation), so it seems like a bad recommendation too.

    The company is expected to vet their hires thoroughly so that’s on them more than the OP, but it really shouldn’t have gotten this far.

    1. jmkenrick*

      I don’t know if I’d agree with your presumption. At a larger organization, it’s really not feasible for someone to know all the nooks and crannies of another role. In fact, even within my department their are certain specialized roles that I could’t speak to. A recommendation can mean a lot in terms of culture fit, general attitude, office etiquette, reliability, etc., but it’s on the hiring manager to truly know what the role needs. I don’t think the letter tells us enough to say that it was a bad recommendation.

    2. Cheesecake*

      The company is indeed expected to vet their hires. Then why are you blaming OP for bad recommendation? It is not as OP is a new manager who brought a bad employee in without consulting with anyone.

      No serious company would hire someone “on the strength of recommendation”. To me it doesn’t really matter if a person is recommended by an employee or external recruiter; when recommended from the inside i’d just hear much more personal info on candidate and be more prepared. I won’t put this candidate as my top 1 just because of recommendation, let alone hire him on the spot.

      1. Shell*

        I did specifically say this was more on the company than the OP. But I wouldn’t recommend a friend who had no direct experience to a position UNLESS I specifically qualified the recommendation as such. “John is a great worker; he has no direct experience with teapots, but I’m sure with some training he’d be a great addition to your team.” Presumably one wouldn’t give a flawless, glowing, “he’d be a rockstar from day one” recommendation when you know your friend doesn’t have direct experience, right? If one did give such a glowing “rockstar from day one” recommendation while knowing the applicant doesn’t have the qualifications on paper, I think it’s fair to say that that would be a bad recommendation because it’d be setting up unrealistic expectations.

        So the situation is either bad recommendation + company didn’t do due diligence = company at fault, OR qualified recommendation + boss mishearing + company didn’t do due diligence = company at fault. Either way the company is more at fault, and I specifically said as such in my comment. But if it was the former situation (which was what I originally assumed), I think the OP should’ve known better. And if that was the case, I think it’s fair for someone to mention to the OP that the recommended hire wasn’t doing well–not EVERY TIME, maybe, but once or twice or after the employee ended their employment.

        It could very well be the OP did give a qualified recommendation and the boss somehow mishears it completely, in which the person doing the hiring is on the hook. But I’m baffled someone could hear a qualified recommendation and somehow translate it to “rockstar from day one”. I’m not saying it wouldn’t happen, but I’d find it baffling.

    3. hbc*

      My guess is that OP/Hal thought that Friend would be a good fit with some training and supervision, based on what he knew about the position. It sounds like the Boss took that recommendation to mean “He’ll hit the ground running with no guidance required, despite the fact that his resume says there’s no direct experience and the person doing the recommending isn’t privy to all we do here.” Not a good way to handle a recommendation.

      Though honestly, this kind of complaining sounds more like in-the-moment panicking about one big mistake, and maybe things have been mostly fine until now. Hal might ask them about Friend in two weeks and their opinion will be glowing based on Friend’s action that particular day.

      1. Cheesecake*

        I think so too, but are they going to run venting to OP every time Friend does something? This is ridiculous. I have a friend in the org. also in very different dept so we never worked together. I know his boss quite well too. So once the boss approached me asking advice how to “bring him to the next level” as he seems not willing to progress in his career. So he did not come to me venting “omg he is so lazy and reluctant to change!!!…and he is your friend!!!”. You need to know who to vent to … and how

      2. sunny-dee*

        I agree about it being an overreaction to a mistake, especially since the friend has been there for a year.

        And I wouldn’t even necessarily assume the friend wasn’t qualified just because he wasn’t properly trained. Frequently, processes and resources are special to a company or even department. I mean, just something like Excel can be insanely complex — you could be an Excel expert and still need a lot of training in some complex calculations that some department is running or a pointer to what reports they need and when.

    4. Ellie H.*

      I understood “He was tossed into a job that he wasn’t qualified or trained for and given no leadership or supervision” as being that OP#1 recommended him for a position he or she knew of that was available, based on his or her limited knowledge of the department/position in question and more extensive knowledge of her friend as a good worker (albeit lacking experience). Instead, the company put him into a somewhat different role than she had expected it would be, without the training or supervision which one would expect for someone of his limited experience. It’s possible that they misconstrued the recommendation as much stronger and more confident than it was and made this decision because of that (and it’s possible that the OP#1 was overly glowing about his qualities – who knows). I wouldn’t assume that this is a problem that is directly because of an over-generous recommendation, we just don’t know, and my impression was that the OP#1 feels he was put in over his head through no fault of hers.

      Also, he has been working there for a year, and the instigatory event seems to have been this one quite costly mistake. It’s not completely evident (from the evidence we have) that there is a pattern of lousy work, he could be being termed a “fuck up” because of this one serious error, which may or may not be a reflection of his general capabilities.

  6. Carpe Librarium*

    #4. If you were really drawn to the company, you could consider a brief reply to their letter. Something along the lines of:
    “Thank you for updating me on the status of my candidacy for Teapot Engineer. I very much enjoyed meeting with [hiring manager] and learning more about Chocolatea Potty Ltd’s commitment to no-drip spout design.
    I wish you the best with your new hire, and will definitely keep an eye out for opportunities to work with all of you in the future.”

    1. UKAnon*

      ” Chocolatea Potty Ltd’s commitment to no-drip spout design”

      I have *so many* questions right now… The possibilities are endless.

    2. Judy*

      We’ve had several posters who sent something like that, a quick thanks for interviewing me, remember me later note. I can vaguely remember at least two of them ended up getting a job offer later when the first hire didn’t work or having their resume forwarded to another manager for another position.

  7. DM*

    #1 Yes, I assume it’s because you recommended the good friend, which is one reason I don’t recommend friends or relatives unless I am absolutely positive they are the right person for the job (i.e., they have a long track record of doing great work and are easy to work with). But, Allison is right, it’s not your role, so a little polite pushback is appropriate.

    #3 As a person in management, let me just add this is a pet peeve of mine. I do understand (as someone who might have benefited from retroactive pay or bonuses), the frustration, but on the flip side, management does something nice for you (you’re getting overtime and a $100 bonus on top of that, which the other folks aren’t getting). The appropriate response is “thank you” not “but, but, but…I want it all retroactively.” Paying a bunch of employees retroactively is harder on a business than making a decision going forward that they can budget for, and getting the sense employees are not happy even though they are getting extra money is demoralizing to management (and makes employees look like whiners). I know that sounds harsh, but if I were the employees NOT getting paid overtime, I’d be quietly looking at the ones who get O/T and a bonus and thinking, “What the heck?” Next, these folks will be going to management asking for a BIGGER bonus, when, in reality, no one is required by law to get any kind of a bonus (other than being paid O/T for nonexempt) and management is already doing something above and beyond. It’s this kind of thing that makes employers NOT want to go the extra mile.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      On the flip side, it sucks when everyone else with your job title gets something that you don’t because of someone else’s mistake/oversight. It’s not greedy to feel resentful when you “earned” something (even if it’s a perk) but don’t get to receive it through no fault of your own. Nor does it make someone a whiner to ask for retroactive pay.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Exactly. This sounds like a miscommunication of of the new pay structure and that the OP should have been receiving the bonus all along. In that context, I’d absolutely ask about retro pay and also be bummed if that were refused.

  8. Ethyl*

    I took a job that was reporting to one manager, and after about three or four months they restructured and I was suddenly reporting to a brand-new manager. The new manager and I were just a super bad fit, and had I known that I would be reporting to her in three months instead of the manager I did interview with and that I had a terrific rapport with, I wouldn’t have taken the job. That reorg was one of the main reasons I left that job after only 18 months.

    So yeah, it definitely matters!

    1. Ethyl*

      Alison, when I posted this comment, I got a notification that I was posting comments too quickly, but this was my only post today. I’m using Chrome on a Windows machine if that helps?

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, I just got one that said my comment appeared to be spam and was blocked. Also Chrome on Windows.

        1. LBK*

          Although I see from the other thread that Laura is still tinkering with the site in the wake of the downtime this morning, so I’ll just assume this was a residual effect – disregard!

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The site was down a while this morning and there are some hiccups while we’re getting it back online. Should be back to normal now or soon.

    2. Judy*

      I get all of that, but I’ve yet to have a job that my manager didn’t change. I’ve yet to have a manager for more than 2 years (except that one really bad one), and I’ve been working in corporate environments for over 20 years. My last job was 13 years and I had 7 managers (including the bad one for 4 years). The one before that was 8 years and I had 5 managers.

      You need to be screening as much for the culture of the workplace, how everyone is, compared to screening for a particular boss.

      1. Ethyl*

        Yeah, but if your manager changed to someone who was terrible or abusive or you just couldn’t work with, you may still be looking to leave. Who you report to does matter, whether it’s at the very beginning or several years down the line.

    3. OP #2*

      Yes, this happened to me too! I realize people come and go and restructures happen. However if the result is the job you accepted ends up not being the one you’re performing, it’s a major disappointment. That’s why I’m looking to leave my current job so the last thing I want is to get myself into a similar situation. If I can control it at all, I will. And that means not pursuing the job I had the phone interview for if I think it could happen again.

  9. LBK*

    #3 I think we need clarification here – was this a company policy change or just a change at your location? If the company as a whole issued an official policy change 2 months ago that said you were supposed to be getting the bonus but your office didn’t follow that directive for whatever reason (didn’t realize it applied to your location, assumed it was being paid and didn’t realize it wasn’t, etc.), I’d say you’re absolutely entitled to retroactive pay. That’s a payroll mistake that needs to be corrected, not just a nice thing your location’s management is deciding to do.

    If this is something the other location decided to do on their own and then your location just decided to follow suit, though, then I agree with Alison that you aren’t entitled to the bonus retroactively.

  10. brighidg*

    Now in the right post!

    #1 – I don’t think they’re venting. I think they expect OP to discipline/advise their friend so they stop screwing up. Also, given the comments about lack of training, they were probably hoping OP would take care of that too.

    OP – tell your friend to start looking for another job, asap.

    1. Three Thousand*

      I read it as them saying, “Nice job recommending this douchebag. I’ll be sure to take all your suggestions extra seriously from now on,” as kind of a warning to improve their general judgment of their friends’ professional qualifications.

      1. Anna*

        Except that clearly they thought he was qualified enough to be hired over a year ago. The OP’s recommendation isn’t what got the friend hired, even if it helped move his resume up the list.

        1. Three Thousand*

          I don’t think they’re justified in blaming the friend; in the end it’s their own fault for making a bad hire. I’m just saying I think that’s what they’re getting at, deserved or not.

  11. John*

    About #1, I basically agree with Alison, but jeez, the writer did recommend that person for the job. The writer also says that the friend “wasn’t qualified or trained for” the job the writer recommended him for. Of course, people shouldn’t be held responsible for a recommendee’s poor performance, and it is odd that people have told the writer about his screw-ups–I’m not denying that. But my point is that I think it is a very good idea to be careful who you recommend and for what job. Don’t recommend someone for a job they are not qualified for or are not a good fit for! Just because you like a person and think they are a good worker, that doesn’t mean they are right for the job. When you recommend someone for a job, your name is associated with that person’s performance, rightly or wrongly, and your reputation is at stake. Recommending someone is not a neutral act. I want to be clear, I’m not saying its right that these people are laying this on the writer’s lap; I’m just saying that people shouldn’t be casual and careless about recommendations. They mean something in organizations.

    Another thing, the writer says there is no supervision or leadership for the friend’s job, but his boss is now on the warpath? Sounds like the real issue lurking in the background here is managerial. But again, if the writer knew this was a problem position or problem unit, why recommend a friend for it. Doing so is sort of setting everyone up for failure, embarrassment, and repercussions, isn’t it?

    1. sunny-dee*

      I think the thing here is that the friend has been there for a year. If it had only been a couple of months, then chasing Hal down and saying “thanks-no-thanks” for the recommendation makes sense. But the guy’s been there a year. That’s way past any probationary period and enough to get a read on his culture fit and work ethic and to work with him on any performance issues. It sounds like the friend made a serious mistake which may ultimately be a management failure (poor guidance or poor training) rather than a true hiring mistake and the manager and coworker are simply flipping out.

    2. Anna*

      Based on the OP saying that her friend was “tossed in to a job he wasn’t qualified for with no training or supervision,” it actually sounds like the recommendation was for a different position, not the one the OP recommended him for. So this is still not the OP’s problem. I doubt the OP was “casual or careless” about recommending their friend. The OP has knowledge of this friend’s work ethic and output. It sounds to me that what was casual and careless was how they placed the friend in a role he wasn’t suited to.

      1. Anna*

        I meant to say, it sounds like the friend ended up in a different position than the one he was recommended for.

  12. the_scientist*

    Alison, I was having issues accessing the site all morning- I kept getting “server is not responding” messages on Chrome and Safari, and then for awhile could load the main page but no comments!

    Regarding letter #1: the OP says that their friend was “tossed into a job he wasn’t qualified or trained for”. I didn’t at all read that the OP recommended an unqualified, unsuitable friend. What I got was that there was a bit of a bait-and-switch on the part of the employer, and that once OP’s friend was hired, the job duties changed to something they weren’t experienced/knowledgeable/trained in. Frankly, I think blaming the OP is misguided here- the blame rests squarely on the employer, who hired a junior level employee for a position he didn’t have adequate experience in and then refused to provide training or supervision for. The employer is the f*ck-up, not the OP, and not the OP’s friend.

    If I was the OP, with the knowledge I have about my employers now, I’d be considering looking for a new job. The dysfunction may be unique to that one department, but given that OP #1 was basically told “deal with it” re: their discomfort with being drawn in to something that doesn’t concern them, I somehow doubt that’s the case.

    1. John*

      There’s no evidence of bait and switch in the original posting. The writer said he/she recommended the friend for a job, a job the friend was unqualified and untrained for. The poster never said anything to imply that the job he/she recommended his/her friend for and the job the friend got were two different things. Where do you read that that job duties changed? Did I miss that, or is that an assumption?

      I don’t see anyone blaming the writer, and I think that the organization has some real problems, but I do think the writer should take recommendations more seriously and not recommend friends for jobs they aren’t qualified for and that are in departments that are known to have poor management.

      1. the_scientist*

        But there is no evidence of what you suggest, either. The OP says her friend was “tossed into” a job. That heavily implies that the position they ended up in was not what they originally anticipated. So yes, an assumption on my part, but it is also an assumption to say that the OP recommended someone wholly unqualified.

        1. John*

          It’s not exactly an assumption, it’s what the posting says. He lacked experience, he wasn’t qualified, he lacked training. That’s what it says, right? If the writer can provide more information about what “tossed into” means in this context, that would be great. But the posting is pretty clear, in my mind, that the writer recommended someone who lacked qualifications, training, and experience. And in a department that is poorly run–again, this is stated directly in the original positing.

          OK, let’s say you are right. Even if the job the friend got was different than the one the writer recommended him for, this is merely confirming something that the writer already knew beforehand–that he/she was recommending someone for a job in a badly run department. Why do that? Seems to me like that sets everyone up to fail and look unprofessional.

          1. the_scientist*

            No, that’s not what it said. The OP said the friend was early career and lacked experience- nothing about qualifications. Early career= limited experience. Anyone with a brain can understand that, and anyone who is responsible for hiring should be able to recognize the limitations of someone who is still early career. Then OP said that the friend did not RECEIVE training or supervision, and was “tossed into” (how can you possibly require additional clarification on this word choice?!) a job that he wasn’t qualified for. This is a wildly different scenario from the OP recommending a friend for something he was wholly unqualified for, and even if that WAS the case (OP’s letter does not support this chain of events) it’s up to a hiring manager to vet their hires carefully.

            Moreover, the friend has been there for A YEAR. If he was truly unqualified for the position he was first hired for, it would have been apparent within a couple of weeks….not after 365 days, which lends credence to the assumption that something, somewhere along the way shifted. Is it really so hard to believe that an employer would suddenly ask an employee to take on something they had no experience with and didn’t offer proper training? I feel like this is like, a weekly thing on AAM, so I hardly think it’s unheard of for this to happen.

            And nowhere does the OP say that she knew the department was poorly run when she initially recommended her friend.

            But you seem determined to assign blame to the OP here, so I’m going to stop responding now.

          2. Anna*

            It’s not stated directly like that at all. To quote: I recommended a good friend for a job at my company in a completely different department from me. He’s now been working there for a year. He’s in his mid-20s and is a good worker although he lacks experience [1]. He was tossed into a job [2] that he wasn’t qualified or trained for [3] and given no leadership or supervision.

            [1] Lacks experience in general. Which is true of anyone fairly new to the workforce.
            [2] “Tossed in to a job” pretty clearly says to me that the job he was asked to do was not necessarily the job he and the OP thought he’d be doing.
            [3] His credentials were not misrepresented so after he was moved in to the position he had no real qualifications to do, he wasn’t offered training to make it easier to work in this role. It’s not that the OP recommended someone without training; it’s that the position the OP’s friend was given didn’t come with the training he would need.

            Basically, if you hire someone who is coming in without the training you need, it’s entirely up to YOU to provide that training. Unless you suck as a manager and even then it’s still your responsibility, but you probably don’t realize it.

  13. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Yes, the site was down a while this morning. It should be back to normal now or soon.

    You can always check the AAM Facebook page to see what’s going on when that happens — I’ll usually post about it there. (Although this morning I was asleep for the first few hours of it and had no idea. Fortunately the wonderful Laura Moore who handles lots of my tech stuff had spotted it and was working on it.)

  14. Mockingjay*

    #2: Yes, it matters!

    During my interview for OldJob, I met with Tyrion Lannister, who was the position’s manager. Great guy – erudite, had specific plans to implement for future, and possessed work ethic and organization skills similar to mine. My interview lasted several hours – the most enjoyable one I ever experienced. Couldn’t wait to start work.

    First day, I find out I actually report to Tywin Lannister – Tyrion was his deputy. Tywin, the old goat, had been with the company since the beginning of time – he was set in his ways, refused to implement modern technologies, and was beyond sexist. My position had been vacant for a year because he kept scaring off potential employees (red flag, I know; they claimed they were looking for the right fit when I asked). They finally made him stop interviewing, which is how I came on board.

    Working for Tywin was a nightmare. He killed every innovation, had to personally oversee every piece of paper, and transferred friends from other departments to “support” him. He was a workaholic – minimum 12 hour days. We all felt guilty for leaving after 9 hours. This was the one time I job-hopped – I lasted 4 months.

    I implore all hiring managers – don’t lie or be vague about the reporting chain to interviewees. Knowing who we will interact with is a large factor in a job decision.

    1. OP #2*

      Thanks for sharing! What an unfortunate situation, but glad you made it out. I am glad I asked during the phone interview because better to know ahead of time rather than later, and I’m thankful the director I spoke with was honest with me about it!

  15. charisma*

    I really hope OP from #1 writes in with an update on that one. I am super-curious how s/he handles this and what comes of this.

    also, wow. so inappropriate. I feel so bad for OP.

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