update: my friend fabricated his resume and now wants me to be his reference

Remember the letter-writer a couple of weeks ago who friend asked him to be his reference — and then sent him the totally fabricated resume he’d used? Here’s the update.

I responded to the hiring manager. I was going to ignore the reference request, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it was the right choice. Bad for friendship, bad for this person trying to get a job, but for the universe as a whole, seemed right. I’m also in an industry where everyone is maybe two Kevin Bacons of separation from each other. So while it’s unlikely this would reflect poorly on me, it’s possible if the friend kept using that resume that it would hit closer to home.

I stayed light with detail, but explained the job on the resume was made up. I gave a link to my website (the one that shares the name of the imaginary company he said I run) to prove that there is no such company by that name. I said I would’ve been happy to give a positive -personal – reference, but obviously not after this. I did not hear back from the hiring manager.

I responded to my friend’s resume/CV email simply saying, “Wow.” I hoped this would trigger some kind of jolt of common sense. He responded rambling something about how he didn’t want it to look like he had one employer over 10 years and he’s overqualified anyway but figured it wouldn’t hurt to use me as a reference. He apologized in a snarky manner and said he wouldn’t use me a reference again. I did not respond.

The friend later emailed and told me the company said I gave a horrible and “borderline derogatory” review. He said he didn’t think helping him get a job would piss me off so much, with more snarky apology. I did ask the hiring manager not to share my comments. I hoped they would tell the friend something generic like “not a good fit” or “found a better candidate” or whatever. That makes me want to call the hiring manger and rip her a new one for lack of professional courtesy, but I’ll just let it go away.

Could this all be over-blown and too drastic of measures? Maybe. Was this worth (most likely) losing a friend over? Maybe not. That friend didn’t seem to think twice about stomping on my integrity, so maybe that says it all.

At this point, I am occasionally debating writing the friend to explain my side, but I don’t know if it’s worth digging at the wound any more. It’s someone I really only know via email and I don’t really want to get into the discussion of them backpedaling on their intent with this whole thing. I think in the end, this friend and their potential job are just going to vanish from my life.

{ 147 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed*

    WTF, hiring manager! Almost makes me wish your friend had gotten the job – sounds like they deserve each other.

    1. danr*

      Why do you think that the friend was honest about what the Hiring Manager said? He’s already know to wildly exaggerate.

        1. jamlady*

          As the hiring manager, I think I might have mentioned something like “after reviewing blah blah we noticed some serious discrepancies blah blah” and then the OPs friend (not really though) probably knew that the OP told the hiring manager the truth and went off the crazy rails again.

    2. Rose*

      I wonder if she just told the “friend” that OP admitted the job was made up and he took it from there or became argumentative.

  2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    Don’t be so sure the hiring manager actually gave the negative feedback to your friend. He already faked a job I wouldn’t be surprised if he suspected you were honest about the falsified job and accused you to see your reaction. Regardless it sounds like a friendship you’re better off without.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, it’s very possible the hiring manager just said “Based on the response from the reference you supplied, we are withdrawing our offer” or whatever, and this “friend” may have interpreted it however they wanted.

      1. Rose*

        Ya that was my first thought too. Or even just “falsifying your resume is a very serious party foul” or something to that effect.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Annnd if the employer did say that it’s not a huge leap in logic to know that someone gave a negative reference. How negative? Enough to motive potential employer to close the door on their application.

    2. Annalee*

      Yeah, your “friend’s” reaction to you tells you whatever was left to know about their integrity. The whopper on their resume wasn’t a temporary lapse in judgment. They don’t have a problem telling substantial lies. I’d be highly suspicious of anything they tell you.

      I’m especially suspicious since what they relayed about their conversation with the hiring manager sounds fishy. It’d be really weird for a hiring manager to tell your friend that you gave a “borderline derogatory” reference when what you actually did was tell them your friend lied. There’s nothing ‘borderline’ about that.

      The defensiveness and snark may be a cover for the guilt they’re feeling over their behavior, but if it is, that’s theirs to work out. This is someone who: 1. is willing to tell substantial lies, 2. gets defensive when caught, and 3. you know primarily via email, which makes it even easier for them to fabricate information they give you because it’s harder for you to get reliable background and context. From the way you’re talking about this person, it doesn’t sound like they’re worth the energy it’d take to not just explain to them why this was messed up, but to re-establish trust if they ever do apologize.

      1. Been There - Done That*

        People like this do not feel guilt. Sounds like something a former friend of mine asked me to do, though not to the degree of faking a whole job. As I got to know this person better, I realized that the reason he always had to ask his friends and family to lie for him on personal and professional references is that he burned every bridge he ever crossed. He was emotionally immature and a narcissist, who blamed others when things weren’t to his liking. I don’t believe the hiring manager said anything. The so-called friend probably figured it out, and made that up;- notice how vague it was.

    3. Beezus*

      Depending on what the OP specifically asked, the hiring manager may have also thought she was in the clear to call the applicant out on the lie without specifying how she knew. If she didn’t realize the OP had already ripped his friend a new one, she might have thought the info could have easily come from elsewhere – like researching the fake company name, or visiting the website the OP directed her to, or speaking to another reference who was aware of the applicant’s current employment. I’d have a really hard time not laying into an applicant for that level of temerity – the OP did, too – so if she thought she was in the clear to raise the issue without outing the OP, she might have gone that route.

    4. INTP*

      I agree. He likely had a suspicion that the reference is why he didn’t get the job, and confronted you about it. At the worst, the manager or HR contact probably said something like “It’s been brought to our attention that some of the information on your resume was fabricated” or “After checking your references we will not be moving forward” or “The reference check brought up some major concerns” and he has blown it out of proportion. Rejecting a normal candidate for normal reasons is sensitive enough, no one would want to bait a person who clearly has no understanding of (or inclination to practice) acceptable behavior by describing such a reference unless they were really bored and felt like provoking a shtstorm.

    5. Rahera*

      Exactly. I would take his report of what the hiring manager said with a huge pinch of salt.

      I really admire your integrity in this very sticky situation.

    6. Ann*

      Yes, I imagine the hiring manager might have simply told him that they had learned that he lied on his resume and he made up the rest.

  3. SB*

    Wow, what an idiotic hiring manager, and honestly, good on you for doing what was right. Too many people (myself included) would have taken the easier road and politely declined, but this is probably best for the guy long-term and the world in general.

    1. annonymouse*

      We only have the liars word that the hiring manager said that.

      This guy was willing to lie about the OP and to the hiring manager.

      What makes you think he’d be truthful now?

      It makes no sense for the hiring manager to say it is a derogatory review – it makes the hiring manager seem disgusted with the OP instead of the liar.

  4. fposte*

    I think any friend that needs to have your side explained here is definitely somebody who can vanish without much loss.

    But seconding Katie on the hiring manager failure here. Geez, people.

    1. itsame...Adam*

      I think the word friend should’ve been replaced with the word acquaintance. Otherwise this is a situation where I would have just refused to give a reference and moved on with my life.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          But you didn’t have to maaaaake shit up
          Make a job that never happened and that we were colleagues
          And I don’t even know you well
          But you said I supervised you and that feels so rough
          No you didn’t have to stooooop so low
          Have your friends as a fake reference and then give my number
          I guess that I don’t need that though
          Now you’re just somebody that I used to know


    2. annonymouse*

      The hiring manager would probably know better and if it was truly defamatory then the former friend could pursue legal action.

      I’m more of the opinion they said something like:
      “It has come to our attention after checking your references that there are inconsistencies between your resume and actual work history and as such we will not be continuing with the interview process with you.”

      Does it hang OP out to dry? Yes.
      The “friend” can put 2 & 2 together and make grudge.
      Unflattering? Yes. Negative? Sure. But derogatory? There’s no way the hiring manager would say that without wanting to be called as witnesses to the “friends” lawsuit.

  5. AdAgencyChick*

    OP, don’t waste your pixels. Any explanation you give to this guy is going to fall on deaf ears.

    The hiring manager sucks and should have at least been more general — “After speaking with your references, we have concerns about your candidacy and we will not be making you an offer” rather than characterizing your response in that way.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      Yes–do not go down the road of explanation, because no explanation is needed for any reasonable person. It will only result in more unresolveable drama.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right. He is going to take an explanation as if you were launching an offensive. His backlash will not be nice at all. This is going to get uglier. OP, he is showing you his true colors. Time to move on.

    2. snuck*


      If he comes to you in five years time, apologises, says “I was an idiot”… then you can shrug and say “Yup, it was a pretty stupid thing to do, hope things are different now”…

      But aside from that I’d have zero to do with him.

      And his comment about a “borderline derogatory” reference suggests that he didn’t get from the hiring manager the full story, because a full disclosure (like you made) isn’t borderline…

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    There’s only one justification for responding to this guy: if he understood his transgression, acknowledged his wrongdoing, and sincerely apologized to you.  Clearly he’s not going to do that so there’s no point in wasting any brain activity on this futility.

    There is one upside to all of this.  He -clearly- knows what he did was wrong or else he wouldn’t have reacted so rudely and defensively.  Bonus?

    Don’t be so sure about that hiring manager either unless you actually talked to her about what she said.  There is an excellent possibility that she did keep the rejection vague, but this guy is still mad at you for calling him out so he responded with the “borderline derogatory” comment.  Because you don’t know for sure, I’d give the hiring manager the benefit of the doubt.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Maybe a another reference gave a derogatory one and he assume it was her due to their conversation . I can’t imagine this guy having any good references.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Good point. Someone willing to lie about his employment could very well exaggerate the hell out of what a hiring manager actually said to him.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        He could not make up a larger lie, he was not around the HM long enough. OP, take satisfactin in knowing that you made your point- bull’s eye on this one. You will never have to go through this again with this person.

  7. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I was going to say that I’d be pretty upset at a hiring manager telling someone I gave them a “horrible and ‘borderline derogatory’ review” when they should have actually been thanking you for telling them the truth, but the other commenters are right in that this might not be what actually happened. He’s already proven himself dishonest.

    You did the right thing.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Yeah, if he’d lie about an entire job, I think he’d also lie about a few comments from a hiring manager….

  8. NickelandDime*

    I don’t believe him either. He knows he did something shady, it didn’t work out, and now he’s lashing out, as typical with people like this. Whatever. I wouldn’t respond at all and would just delete him from my contacts. Tag his email address so it goes straight to trash, where it belongs.

  9. eplawyer*

    This is not a friend you need.

    I doubt the hiring manager said anything. Or maybe the hiring manager felt like you did and was caught in the middle. Neither you or the hiring manager are at fault here. The guy who fabricated his resume is.

    Then his complete refusal to acknowledge this was not the smartest idea he ever had by saying “ehh, I’m overqualified anyway” goes a long way to explaining why he is having trouble finding a job. Again, his problem, not yours or anyone else’s in the universe.

    Thank your lucky stars you have nothing more to do with this guy or his drama and move on.

  10. TotesMaGoats*

    I’d say that this person probably wasn’t a friend to begin with and it’s a case of addition by subtraction. Sounds like a source of drama no one needs in their life.

  11. Yaaaas*

    Actually, I don’t think you were really in the right for just reaching out to the hiring manager. If you didn’t plan on giving a good reference – for obvious reasons, of course – you should have just told the guy that you wouldn’t give him a reference and that if approached, you would tell the truth about your work history with him and left it at that. Going around him without telling him was literally going out of your way to ruin someone’s professional reputation. While he obviously was wrong to falsify information, there might just be more to his story that you don’t know and you didn’t give him a chance to explain either.

    The guy probably would have had a hard time anyway getting a job with his sort of behaviors, but I don’t think it’s right either for you to be the one that makes a decision on behalf of the universe or karma or whatever.

    Whats done is done though so just ignore him and put it past you.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Did you read the original post? The job-seeker didn’t ask if OP would be a reference. The job-seeker submitted OP as a reference to the employer (or maybe the employer found OP based on the info on the resume and contacted OP under their own power), and OP reached out to the job-seeker then. The job-seeker then sent OP the resume with the lie that they had worked for OP, in an industry that’s fairly tight-knit. This employer wasn’t in that industry, but this could’ve absolutely damaged OP’s reputation.

      The job-seeker didn’t ask OP to lie for them and then OP told the employer that unrequested – the OP was put in the employer’s question-sights by the job-seeker lying to the employer about their work history, claiming it was with the OP, and expecting the OP to back that up.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You seem to have missed the original letter, linked at the top of today’s post, which stated clearly that the hiring manager already called the OP for a reference:

      “I got a voicemail today for a reference check on a former coworker / casual friend. I had no idea this call was coming, but I’ve been in management for a few years and get these often enough, so it’s not a big deal.”

    3. Abyssal*

      Well, bear in mind that the OP was approached — the whole thing started with a voicemail from the hiring manager asking for the reference. So responding was not “going around” the job-seeker — it was doing what references are supposed to do, which is provide a reference. If a hiring manager called one of my references and happened to get their voicemail, I really hope the reference would call back!!

    4. Charlotte Collins*

      But if the “friend” used the OP’s name and website as part of his fabricated work history, I think she has a right to tell the hiring manager that wasn’t correct. With what sounds like a fairly small industry, the OP has to protect her reputation, and that means that if someone is giving false information about companies, etc., she’s associated with, she has every right to correct it. Otherwise, you could also state that the “friend” is going out of the way to ruin her professional reputation.

    5. IT Kat*

      Not sure if you’d noticed in the original post, but OP *WAS* approached by the hiring manager, before he even got his “friend’s” request to act as a reference. So OP wasn’t “going around him without telling him” and since he was approached by the hiring manager, he “tell the truth about [OP’S] work history with him”.

      Your comment seems a bit condemnatory when OP was doing exactly what you’d suggest he should have done…

    6. sunny-dee*

      Except that the OP *was* approached by the hiring manager. They had to return the contact, but still — the friend had sent out the resume and the OP was approached to give a reference. The option was not to respond, but as the OP said, the hiring manager could just call again or a different one could.

    7. AnonInSC*

      The OP was responding to a request from the hiring manager – how is this “just reaching out?” Nothing indicated that the OP approached the hiring manager out of the blue to sabotage a job search. And the “friend” didn’t let the OP know/ask the OP to be a reference until the OP kindly reached out to the friend after receiving the reference request. So OP responded to a reference request with factual information. That’s fair.

        1. Yaaaas*

          Ah, I read the post a couple weeks ago and seemed to have remembered it backwards. Teaches me to respond without reading the original posting again on these follow-ups! Thanks for the corrections, all. Lesson learned.

    8. Viva L*

      I kind of agree with this. If he was simply a bad employee, the advice would have been to contact him and simply tell him he doesn’t want you to give him a reference. He could then contact the hiring manager with another reference, and straighten out his own mess with the hiring manager.

      I don’t think it was bad to tell the hiring manager that you couldn’t confirm his work history, etc. Obviously, you don’t want lies out there about your company/employees. But a simple correction of the info was all that was needed from you (and let them infer that he lied, and deal with it with him) Did you leave a message? An email? This is definitely a phone call sort of conversation. I hope that this doesn’t affect you any more, regardless!

    9. Anon the Great and Powerful*

      This friend ruined his own professional reputation by fabricating his resume. It’s not the letter writer’s fault.

    10. Rae*

      I totally disagree-in today’s market you can’t be too careful about your own job. The OP felt that this was part of ensuring his own job safety and that’s an important part of the puzzle.

      Not only that but the company the “friend” referenced was fake…many companies publish bios or CV briefs so clients can see who they work with. The OP does have a right to defend his business where it may be cited? And furthermore what if the current employer felt entitled to intelectual property? (for instance a retired webpage design) Things could get strange.

  12. Rae*

    Are you really sure the hiring manager told your friend what you said? To your friend, having a hiring manager simply indicate, “we checked your reference and you lied” could very well be horrible and borderline “derogatory”.

    The guy sounds like a total jerk, and even nice people, when pushed by jerks are going to be honest. The simple fact that your friend has deemed himself overqualified is just ridiculous. Only a hiring manager can make that decision. Even if I were to go back to my entry-level cafeteria job I had in college I would not submit with the air of being overqualified. Not only that, but you can be qualified and be a bad fit.

    I’m sorry you lost a friend over this, but I think you should be happy you did before something really bad happened.

    1. I'm With Phyllis*

      I personally can’t stand the term “overqualified” no matter who uses it. I understand the need for it in the recruitment world, but ugh. I once took a job that I was actually way underqualified for, hated it, and wanted to go back to something more my speed – but I kept getting branded as “overqualified” which was so frustrating! Plus I’m so not qualified for many, many jobs that others might term more “menial” than mine – because I don’t actually know how to do them.

      Sorry – went off on a little tangent there. But I totally agree with your points!

  13. Allison*

    “He said he didn’t think helping him get a job would piss me off so much”

    I . . . what?

    OP, you may have lost a friend, but you lost kind of a crappy friend. Anyone who ropes you into this nonsense, expects you to play along without even being asked, and then gets all snarky when you don’t play the stupid game is not someone worth being friends with.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      If I were the OP, I’d be glad that I only know the guy “via email.” He must be a real piece of work in person.

    2. A Bug!*

      Yeah. It’s not “helping him get a job” that’s the problem. It’s that he assumed that OP would lie on his behalf and didn’t even have the courtesy to give a heads-up in advance let alone actually ask. And then to get high and mighty over it afterward as if it’s the OP who crossed a line?

      It’s just a catastrophic failure of integrity all the way through that I wouldn’t cry over losing this particular friendship.

    3. manybellsdown*

      Yeah the “friend” is trying to make it out that OP did something wrong and underhanded. To make it OP’s fault, and not the fault of Fakey Mc Fakerson there. It smacks of Forced Teaming.

  14. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    I agree that we don’t know what actually happened in the conversation between the hiring manager and your friend. It sounds like maybe the hiring manager could have been more diplomatic, but if your friend straight-up asked “What did (your name) say in my reference?” and the manager kind of hemmed and hawed, your friend could have extrapolated from that to “bad reference.”

    Dictionary dot com defines “derogatory” as “tending to lessen the merit or reputation of a person or thing.” Your reference wasn’t derogatory in and of itself; your friends behavior lessened his own reputation.

    Your friend has revealed himself to be a not-very-honest person who doesn’t own up to his own mistakes. I would say you haven’t lost much if you’ve lost his friendship.

  15. dawbs*

    I’d lay money on the possibility that former friend is playing his odds and deflecting responsibility at the same time.

    You responded with the patented ‘wow’, which lets him know you think he’s behaving very badly. Lets say hiring manager says the perfect thing, “after speaking with your references and further review, we’re afraid this position is not a good fit, best of luck, blahdeblahblah”.
    Former friend knows you were one of those references. He also seems to think the fault for his joblessness lies outside of what he does, so rather than look at the reality, he makes a (reasonable) guess that you were involved, says that you were outed by hiring manager, and hopes that you’ll now back him and accept all the blame for his continued unemployment and feel guilty–AND be pissy w/ hiring manager and never consider outing someone again..

    1. Allison*

      How much you wanna bet this guy made a passive aggressive Facebook post about how he’s broke and about to be homeless because his “so-called friends” are screwing him over?

      1. Imaginary Manager*

        That almost makes me want to go on Facebook to see if you’re right… almost. But I’m sure you are.

        And I agree with this and all the other comments about the whole hiring manager involvement. It is entirely possible the hiring manager said nothing specific to my friend.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I think this was the kind of “friend” that you’re better off without.

          Good for you for sticking with integrity – you did the right thing.

  16. Annoy Sumo*

    I’m not sure I fault the hiring manager here. From the hiring manager’s POV, how are they to know that OP wasn’t a disgruntled ex-manager trying to sabotage an employee who dared to leave a toxic workplace? I think they did the right thing by following up with the applicant to see if there was another side of the story.

    1. Anna*

      IF the hiring manager did give the questionable friend any kind of information, they could have definitely done it without naming names or even in more general terms. “We are concerned with one of your references and would like to hear your side of it. How did you leave Company X?” That would have covered vague references, derogatory references, “nobody here worked with him” references.

    2. Abyssal*

      Well, they reached out to the OP as a reference, for starters.

      Point the second, the OP gave them some solid information to show that the job-seeker was lying. That’s more than just “disgruntled ex-manager.”

  17. James M.*

    So your “friend” expected you to compromise your integrity and professionalism to cover for his deception, and responded with acerbic snark when you decided not to meet his expectations. If you want more of the same from him, by all means try to explain your position to him. People like that are not known for their compassion or equanimity.

    1. Kristine*

      As a matter of fact, OP, you can probably expect even more emails from him trying to assign blame and provoke more guilt from you. If you get them, do NOT respond. Please do not, and consider not responding to this person ever again, on any subject. The lack of even any shame at this deceitful behavior speaks volumes.

      1. Imaginary Manager*

        Thanks. Haven’t heard anything since the day after the original post ran here, but if I do, I have no desire to respond and keep this circus going.

        1. OldAdmin*

          The entire affair reeks of nutcase and/or sociopathic behavior.
          I am a little worried the “friend” might actually visit you at work or at home, and really go nuts.
          Please be aware of your surroundings.

    2. sam*

      not only that, he expected the OP to compromise their integrity without even asking first!

      It’s one thing (still a wrong thing) if two friends agree to be each others references and “burnish” a resume. This guy was doing it without even cluing in the OP!

  18. Debbie Mills*

    Wow. Both of them sound like jerks. Assuming your “friend” is telling the truth (which might be a stretch at this point).

    I too have a dishonest friend who I recently broke off ties with. Your best bet is to move forward and ignore all further contact he tries making with you. Even if he seems honest or apologetic at some point, it’s probably not worth pursuing. If they haven’t changed, it just means more of him using and lowering you.

  19. Jenn*

    A true friend would have never put you in this position. I agree with some of the others that the “friend” could have made up that the company said you gave him the derogatory review since he made up details on his resume. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

  20. Charby*

    Agreed. The only person who is really to blame is person who 1) lied about his job history and 2) involved someone in his lies without even getting their permission or even letting them know what’s going on.

  21. abankyteller*

    The hiring manager may have said that to your “friend”, but since this “friend” is already a proven liar I’d more quickly assume that he just fabricated what the hiring manager said.

    I use “friend” in quotes because he’s not one. Cut the losses from your life, OP. His presence in yours is not a good one.

  22. Three Thousand*

    If the hiring manager actually used the words “borderline derogatory,” and all the OP did was lightly inform them of the facts, then they’re being pretty unfair to the OP.

    On the other hand, I can see a situation where the hiring manager tried to give a diplomatic non-answer like “not a good fit” and the “friend” pushed for more information and got her to crack and admit that the OP’s information had made her decide against him. At that point I can imagine an employer thinking, “fuck you, scumbag” and trying to get him off her back by deciding not to sugarcoat what she now knew. After all, the candidate now had no chance of being hired by her, and that was directly as a result of what the OP had told her, so in a way the information she got from the OP was “derogatory” to the candidate, even though the OP’s account had actually been factual and dispassionate.

  23. Ruffingit*

    Definitely don’t bother replying to explain your side or anything else. This guy is not deserving of that. Your time is better spent elsewhere like counting your blessings this person is out of your life.

    1. Charby*

      I don’t even see how OP could “explain herself” without sounding either sarcastic or incredulous. Who uses someone as a fake reference without warning? Even if the OP was willing to lie, how was she supposed to know what to lie about?

    2. Shannon*

      Trying to explain the OP’s side would be like trying to explain nuclear physics to a toddler. The reference seeker is not in a head space right now where they can wrap their minds around why people wouldn’t want to lie. Maybe one day he will get it, but, that day is not today.

    3. Not Myself*

      Agreed with the caveat that OP should keep an eye on this ‘friend’s’ online presence to see if he is still claiming the false work history as true. If anyone else ever calls for a reference, be brutally honest and consider getting a lawyer friend to draft a cease and desist on official stationary.

  24. Kara*

    So am I the only one who thinks that while the job seeker “friend” was way out of line, the OP didn’t really handle this well either?

    Sending a one-word “wow” email is just oozing passive-aggressiveness. And the communication with the person requesting the reference seems to be kind of the same, unless there’s more detail we’re not hearing.

    IMO, either ignore the requests entirely or respond to them with calm professionalism.

    1. Almond Milk Latte*

      Yeah, that “wow” was a bad move. If I were the OP, I would’ve responded with an “Are you effin’ kidding me?!” instead.

      No, but seriously, I think you’re right Kara.

    2. Adonday Veeah*

      I disagree. I think it struck just the right chord with the “friend” as evidenced by his reply. I mean, really, what else could you say?

      Latte, what’s the difference between a reply of “Wow” and “Are you… etc.”? They ring the same for me.

    3. rPM*

      Hm… I get where you’re coming from, but personally I don’t really see the “wow” email as passive-aggressive. I’m imagining someone approaching me in person and saying, “Hey rPM, I listed you as a reference for X job. And by the way, here’s my resume where I said that I was your employee for several years (even though of course you know that’s not true).” I do think Alison’s original suggested response is better: “Obviously I can’t attest to this because it’s not true. I’m not sure why you thought I’d be comfortable doing that.” But I think a simple “wow” and walking away would also be appropriate in a situation where the other party is acting so far outside of the norms of basic integrity and professionalism.

      1. Kara*

        In person a “wow” and walking away is one thing. Sending a one word email .. that’s passive-aggressive.

        1. Imaginary Manager*

          I kind of agree. I think some of this was discussed in the original thread, but from my standpoint this had escalated way beyond a straightforward response. If the friend had emailed me and said “Hey, will you say I worked for you for the last 5 years?” I would’ve responded in a diplomatic fashion and said how I won’t do this and why and blahblahblah.

          But to bypass the asking part of the song/dance and going straight to fabricating absolute spaceballs level nonsense seems to defeat any hope of having a logical conversation about the whole thing. So “wow” and drop the mic probably gets the point across as well as anything else. And *might* eliminate any ways to twist my response into something that allows the lies to continue.

          And ignoring, per the recommendation of many on here, didn’t seem like a good route as the hiring manager already reached out and who knows how many other jobs this resume was sent to.

          1. Lefty*

            Hey there, OP… just curious if you’ve blatently told (preferably in email) this “friend” to not use you as a future reference? I’d hate to think that he’ll continue to pass your name along, but I also wonder if he may have done so already. At least a very clear “do NOT continue to list me as a reference” would give you something to stand behind if this ever goes further. I’m not sure if it would be poking a proverbial bear, but it would give me a level of comfort in knowing that I had such a statement in writing.

            1. Lefty*

              Just saw that he says he won’t use you as a reference again, so my point may be moot anyway! Apologies for that.

    4. Artemesia*

      Wow is the perfect response to this jerk. The other alternative is to carefully explain why he is a jerk totally lacking in integrity. Wow, does that just fine here. perhaps ‘Resume? WOW. would have worked even better.

      1. Kristine*

        I think “Wow” was brilliant. It also parallels some advice Allison has given (Say, “Wow,” and walk away) to respond to other inappropriate behavior. It’s concise and to the point, a stationary point around which this deceitful person is dancing, and a Rorschach in which he obviously sees himself.

      2. So Very Anonymous*

        Agreed re “Wow” being appropriate. The “friend” is the person who’s loaded the bridge with dynamite by creating a false resume, implicating the OP in the lies, and then listing the OP as a reference. That’s not just “just go along with this to get me a job,” it’s also “lie about your own experience to get me this job.” The “friend” knows what he did. That bridge is going to get burned no matter how OP finesses it. And honestly, if it’s that small of a field, doesn’t OP need to distance themselves from a “friend” who’s willing to make it look like the OP is going along with these lies? I don’t see how the OP should be expected to step in and fix the “friend.” This is not someone you want to be associated with.

    5. Ad Astra*

      It’s not how I would handled it, but it’s one way to go. I think it would have been better to say “I’m not willing to lie for you, and you’ve put me in a bad position by assuming that I would.” A lot of people here are arguing that she doesn’t owe her sketchy friend an explanation; I say you should (almost) always tell people why you’re unhappy with them, even if you have no intention of engaging any further.

      1. Kara*

        I think it would have been better to say “I’m not willing to lie for you, and you’ve put me in a bad position by assuming that I would.”

        Yup. Exactly.

        Anyone who is clueless enough to send the OP a copy of the falsified resume and then just blithely assume that she’s going to go along with it isn’t going to get anything from a passive-aggressive “wow” email. They’re going to feel they’re the injured one – as is what happened.

        I’m not saying the OP owes the lying friend an explanation. I’m saying that if she really wants to not get dragged into shit (now or later), a straight-forward one line comment like the above is the better way to do it than to invite a “What’s your problem” response from the so-called friend.

        Also, IMO, given that she says there’s a whole 2 degrees of separation thing going on in her industry, I would think the best thing for HER reputation would have been to pick up the phone and call the person requesting the reference. That way she could have explained briefly and professionally that she was very sorry – she had agreed to give a reference, but she wasn’t aware that the job-seeker was falsifying/exaggerating his credentials until just now. That makes it a personal discussion between the two, not an official response to the reference request the way an email could be.

        1. neverjaunty*

          This kind of person is going to feel like they’re the “injured one” no matter WHAT the OP does. How could you say I was asking you to lie for me?! How dare you think I put you in a bad position, look what YOU did to ME?! etcetera, ad nauseum.

          Yes, I’m sure the OP could have done other things. What she actually did is fine, given that this person is a dishonest jerk.

    6. Rat Racer*

      Yes – that’s exactly what I was thinking. Something about the OP’s tone in this narrative doesn’t sit right with me – but without knowing any details other than the OP’s side of the story, I can’t really put my finger on why.

      1. Artemesia*

        If someone pulled this crap on me, my tone would be a lot less charming than the OPs. I might even help a friend with a small fudge although nothing this egregious, but they would have to enlist me in that first not just assume they could pump up their resume without discussing it with me first.

    7. Kadee*

      No, I felt the same way. Obviously in the scheme of things, it was the friend’s transgressions that were the greater wrong. That said, I don’t know why the first step wasn’t simply reaching out to the friend and saying “Hey, you falsified this resume. What gives?” OP could have told the friend that they weren’t going to lie and that this was unacceptable assuming there was going to be no good reason as to why, such as misunderstanding or a poorly created resume that inadvertently confused the reader. If the OP wanted to provide the negative reference, certainly that would be fine too, but I think the OP should have gone for a more neutral tone than it sounds like was achieved. “The resume that Wakeen submitted indicated I own this business and that I supervised him for ten years, but that is not the case and that is clouding my perception of this candidate at this point.” Maybe that’s what happened, but the tone to the letter makes me wonder, along with the statement about providing “proof” to the hiring manager as if the hiring manager was judge/jury to some case rather than someone just trying to assess a potential candidate for a job opening.

      If the hiring manager told the friend about OP’s feedback, one of the reasons may be that OP came across as a bit emotionally charged and the hiring manager may have simply wanted to figure out what was going on, i.e., why would this candidate give this person’s name as a reference when the reference seemed pretty hostile? I’m not even sure why OP cares that the hiring manager might have said something since OP herself contacted the friend with communication that indicated she wasn’t happy about any of it.

      In the end, I think OP did the right thing generally speaking. I only mean this as constructive feedback, even if the OP and others disagree with it.

  25. Ad Astra*

    I’m having a hard time gauging just how close this friendship was before the incident. I would never do this to a close friend, even if I were upset about the fabrication. But I’m thinking maybe the OP is using “friend” for lack of a better term — perhaps more than an acquaintance, but not someone she hangs out with regularly?

    It’s clear this friend just doesn’t get it. And there’s nothing wrong with working for the same employer for 10 years, so it’s really unfortunate that he went to such drastic measures to solve a non-problem. If the friend makes contact again, I think OP should explain the kind of position he put her in by asking her to vouch for a falsified job history. His comments make it sound like he truly doesn’t understand why anyone would refuse to go along with this.

  26. KG212*

    I’m not sure that the “friend” understood what he was being called out for due to his saying he “wouldn’t use me a reference again” instead of really addressing the lie.

    1. Artemesia*

      I’m having trouble seeing making up a company out of whole cloth being something this guy wouldn’t remember and be darn well aware of when he didn’t get the OP’s support.

  27. Sonya Mann*

    On the bright side, you kept your integrity and did the right thing. You lost a relationship, yes, but it sounds like it was a pretty toxic one under the surface. I hope you feel good about your own behavior, because it sounds like you were careful to treat everyone with respect and honesty, even when they didn’t treat you that way. Strength of character is meaningful and the benefits will come back to you someday :)

  28. Fitz*

    That hiring manager is ridiculous, but your friend is even worse. I don’t even know that you should have to “explain your side.” He compromised your friendship by asking you to lie for him. He’s the only person who owes anyone any explanations and he’s already rationalized his behavior so there’s nothing you can really accomplish by pointing out what he did wrong.

  29. Wow!*

    When did “Wow.” become a passive-aggressive way of saying “F*ck you.” instead of an expression of genuine surprise?

    1. TootsNYC*

      Oh, and: When did “Wow.” become a passive-aggressive way of saying “F*ck you.”

      Since sarcasm. First known usage 1550.

      1. Wow!*

        I don’t think it’s being used in a sarcastic way. When most people deliver “Wow.” it’s not with mock surprise, but rather a serious disapproving tone, which is totally out-of-character for both the standard use of wow and the sarcastic use. I guess if anything, maybe it’s sort of a high-brow equivalent to “I can’t even”? Is there a term for this category of slang?

    2. Creag an Tuire*

      Probably at the same time “with all due respect” stopped being used to precede anything genuinely respectful.

  30. gsa*

    If the comments to date don’t explain it, do this: walk away from the situation and don’t look back. You did what you thought was right; anyone that doesn’t can pound sand, as far as I am concerned.

  31. Charisma*

    And here I really want the OP to be a real “friend” and send this person a link to this whole thread so that they can get a clue to just how much they are NOT pulling the wool over on us, and maybe they’ll dig deep and really read this website and learn a thing or two. Dust themselves off. Then get back out there with their head on straight. Or is that just too much to ask?

  32. anonforthis*

    I had a good friend like this. I still have an (unsolicited) fake LinkedIn recommendation on my account from her. (I was able to hide it, but not delete it.) She fundamentally didn’t understand how to navigate the world without some kind of angle or scam up her sleeve. I enabled her for too long, but in the end, I walked away. Anyway, I think you did the right thing, OP. Maybe it will help this person out in the long run.

    1. Artemesia*

      Yes what is it with these linked in endorsements. I have all sorts of people who barely know me endorsing me for stuff I don’t do — although none of it is something I couldn’t do if called upon.

      1. UK Nerd*

        LinkedIn frequently greets me with “Does Wakeen know about spout sculpting?” when I log in, with a handy button to press. I can see why a lot of people just click on ‘yes’.

      2. anonforthis*

        Worse still, it was actually a written recommendation and not an endorsement. She thought it would be helpful to me to pretend we worked together at one of my previous employers and that she knew my work. Cray-cray.

  33. Nobody*

    For what it’s worth, “derogatory information” is a very commonly used term in background checks to describe any negative information uncovered about the subject. Perhaps the hiring manager referred to “derogatory information” discovered through references, and your friend misunderstood the use of the term.

    It’s also possible that the hiring manager felt that it was necessary to follow up with your friend to give him a chance to explain himself before rejecting him, in case it was one of these situations where the ex-boss was crazy and gave bad references in retaliation for employees leaving. Maybe she called and said something like, “I’m curious about this job you listed on your resume at Wakeen’s Teapots, Ltd. I called your manager and she said that this company doesn’t exist and you never worked for her. Can you explain this?”

    1. Thinking out loud*

      This was my thought. Allison often says that she’d give someone an opportunity to explain, so I can definitely imagine the manager saying, “I spoke with OP and he was unable to give you a good recommendation. Can you tell me why that might be?”

  34. Jen*

    Heck, I’d send him a response with nothing in it except a link to the original AAM post, so he could see how literally hundreds of people sided with you. It can be really impactful to hear something from many sources instead of just one.

    Does he deserve any explanation? None whatsoever. But man…if ever there was a clue stick, that would be it.

  35. Mel in HR*

    I feel like at this point any explanation to the friend will sound like guilt when that is not the case. Cut your ties and keep moving on. AND as an HR person/reference checker, thanks for giving an honest reference. So many times I get blocked by people afraid to say anything negative. I sincerely hope the hiring manager didn’t reveal what you said as that is soo wrong.

  36. Buu*

    This person is not your friend, they pushed you into lying for them and then blamed you for them them not getting the job.

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