I received a networking email from a stranger who’s job searching for her husband

A reader writes:

I received an odd email from an alum of my university (“Jane,” a stranger to me), asking for help finding her husband “Bob” a job in my state, where they were planning on moving. The email was bcc’ed, so I assume she searched for “wide job field” and “state” and sent an email blast to everyone she found.

Bob works in field related to mine, and is also an alum of my university and a stranger to me. Ordinarily, I would be inclined to try to help someone who reaches out through my alumni network, at least with advice or job search leads, sometimes even by passing their resume on to my boss. But I’m not accustomed to receiving networking emails from strangers on behalf of their spouses, and it struck me as so bizarre that I didn’t respond.

Well, another alum, “Rick,” a friend of mine, got the initial email, corresponded with Jane for a bit, recognized that Bob’s field was closer to mine than it was to his own, and sent my name and email to Jane. (Which is fine, I’m not upset with Rick.) So then Jane emails me more personally, asking me to review her husband’s resume, giving me her husband’s name and contact info, asking for connections to jobs, recruiters, etc. In her email, she included the history of correspondence with Rick, and I noticed that all the emails come from her email address, even one that appears to have been written by, and is signed by, her husband Bob.

As it happens, my company has a position open that Bob might be qualified for, that we’ve had trouble filling. But I am so put off by a wife conducting her husband’s job search that I’m hesitant to pass on his resume to the hiring manager, because I have serious reservations about Bob’s judgment. I can’t think of a reason why Jane would be reaching out to strangers on Bob’s behalf, or conducting Bob’s job search, or even be copied on emails having anything to do with Bob and his career — or at least not a reason that didn’t reflect poorly on one or both of them.

Am I completely off-base here? Is there something I should do that I’m not thinking of?

No, it’s quite weird.

If Bob weren’t an alum of the same school too, this would make a little more sense since it would be odd for Bob to directly use an alumni network that’s intended for alumni of a school he didn’t attend. But even then, the way to handle that would be for Jane to just make the introduction and then bow out — not be the one who’s asking for people to review Bob’s resume, supply job leads, connect them to recruiters, etc.

But given that he’s an alum too, this really indicates a lack of understanding of professional norms and how networking works, and it reflects awfully poorly on Bob, who appears to have no interest in his own career.

The letter-writer told me she wrote back to Jane and said this:

As someone working in industry, I wanted to let you that your husband’s job search will be much more effective if he is the one sending his resume out to potential employers, contacts, and recruiters. Secondhand resumes are often very quickly dismissed, even if the candidate is well qualified. It’s so far outside professional norms for a person to be conducting their spouse’s job search for them that it will probably limit his effectiveness and the number of people willing to assist or offer contacts. My recommendation would be to let him do the legwork himself in order to avoid sending up red flags to potential contacts.
Best of luck,

I think that’s a great response. It’s helpful — even if it’s not the kind of help they were seeking — and it lays out why you’re not comfortable passing on his resume. It also doesn’t close the door to Bob contacting you directly, without Jane’s involvement, if he wants to.

{ 294 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    It looks like Bob is also an alumni of the same university, so using his wife to tap into the alumni network doesn’t seem to make sense.

    1. Frozen Ginger*

      Came here to say this. Unless Jane has more connections to these jobs/people/industries (which it appear she doesn’t), it’s suuuuuper weird. Though I’d honestly be too curious not to ask why Jane is doing this all on Bob’s behalf.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I occasionally get spouses/parents calling me for information (I work for a staffing agency) and it is always off-putting. Like… are you going to go to work for them too?

        1. agatha31*

          I got *one* call like this while helping answer phones at a staffing agency. It was the kind of thing I just took messages for and passed on, but what I liked about it was that the wife *told* me, outright, why she was doing the contacting: her spouse worked in the oil fields, which is long and exhausting, and means he’s regularly not available for long stretches of time. She was doing an initial reach out because they were thinking of moving to our province (and she called us directly, not a mass email) in order to find out about local job availability, salary expectations, and any other tips we could provide, and *then* her husband intended to reach out to us in person if they both felt it was worth pursuing, for us and for him. It was really professionally done, I was super impressed by the way she handled it, and I made a note of it to the staffer I passed the message on to. And also, though usually I didn’t bother, I was able to give her some personal experience as to local living expectations, etc. It was a really nice conversation!

        2. Sk*

          I’ve worked with a lot of former business owners and freelancers. Many of them who are now coworkers will occasionally say “My husband/wife helped me with this.” And it’s a definite work task – often one that’s handled by me or other departments that they don’t want to deal with. I think it’s quite weird!

          1. Trudy*

            I feel like it’s one thing to do the work yourself and maybe ask a spouse to look over it, for an extra pair of eyes (assuming you don’t work in a super confidential field), but it’s odd to bring up at work because the coworker is the person hired to do the job.

            I once went into my old job on a weekend and saw a new coworker’s partner in her office with her. It’s adjacent to mine, so I could hear their conversation… and he was definitely helping her do her job. It gave me a weird feeling and definitely made me question whether she was capable of doing the work on her own, without help from her partner (who was not employed at our institution).

      2. Anon for my overall great husband's protection.*

        My husband is awesome in so many ways. But he lacks motivation to do things himself sometimes. So I admit, I’ll search and apply for him, draft e-mails, etc. always with his permission and knowledge. I would never reach out under my own name, however, unless I had a connection that he lacked. Even then I leave it as a brief introduction and the forwarded resume. In this case, with him having the same alum list,she likely hasn’t thought the implications through yet.

            1. Adereterial*

              I have done this for my husband… 3 reasons.
              1: I’m objectively better at it – it was my job for several years and then I moved on to managing those doing the same role. I know what I’m doing and what works.

              2: He sucks at it – utterly and completely. He’s fine in interviews but the act of putting that stuff down on paper is not in his skill set and he gets so stressed doing it that it was just easier for me to do it, rather than trying to help him do it himself with the angst and arguments that causes. He’s dyslexic, for context, but not severely, but it does play its part in his frustration and procrastination.

              3: Last time he needed to do it he was working hellish hours and was basically commuting, working, eating and sleeping – no time for anything else. So I drew up a resume he was happy with, a cover letter I could tweak, and sent the emails. Any testing I made him do himself.

              I’d do it again, if it needed to be done.

              1. MoreNowAgain*

                I’m with Starbuck on this one. I would be livid if I found out after hiring someone that their application documents were written by their spouse. Regardless of their performance after being hired, it feels deceitful to me.

                I guess I just don’t understand the justification of ‘I’m better at it than my spouse’. The application documents should be a reflection of the employee’s abilities not only in regards to skills they are describing, but also the documents themselves. We all have strengths and weaknesses – just because you may be better at writing etc. than your husband, doesn’t mean you should be his stand in. I think one of the reasons it bugs me is because it’s dependent on the argument of ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’, which in this context – again – seems deceitful.

                Perhaps I’m just old school when it comes to this kind of thing.

                I’m not going to touch the learning disability portion of your comment other than to say that this feels very much like coddling to an extent that can hold someone back from learning the work arounds and coping mechanisms necessary for them to be independently successful. I’m by no means an expert, just speaking from experiences with my own learning disability.

                1. agatha31*

                  I thought about this a lot, because I certainly agree that sometimes people are better at some things than others. Like, I am god awful at interviews. I finally figured out that my problem with this is that there’s “helping”, and then there’s “doing”. You can only do one of those things when it comes to this task. If you’re doing it for someone else, you’re not helping them. If you’re helping someone else do it, you’re not doing it for them.

                  Of course that applies to almost anything in life. Yes, there are certainly ways of compromising and saying “I hate doing the laundry and you hate the dishes so let’s each do the one we don’t hate in exchange”, but each of you *still needs to know* how to do the laundry and dishes, for so many obvious reasons – the best reason being that if you get sick/leave/die/travel, the other person *still has to do that stuff*. It’s going to be much easier on them (and you, if it’s anything other than ‘dead and don’t have to care about it’) if the situation is “hate this job but know how to do it” vs. “hate this job, am experiencing a sudden lack (varying in severity from ‘inconvenient’ to ‘fucking awful’) in my life, and also have to figure out how to do it.” On their own if you’re dead or in a coma or some shit, or lucky you, if you’re sick or on vacation, with a lot of phone calls or down-the-hallway-hollers of “I PUT ALL YOUR BRAS IN THE DRYER ON EXTRA HOT TO DRY THEM FAST AND THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE DRYER I THINK!”

                  And that’s for skills that can be easily learned by asking “anyone who’s ever done them” (i.e. most people probably have a plethora of neighbors/friends/relatives/sometimes even the ability to google search it/whatever), vs. “skills that take time and effort and more people don’t know how to do than do.” Doing something for someone, as you point out, does them a huge disservice at least in the long run of learning certain necessary life skills.

                  In my own experience, short-term this could hurt as well. I have seen resumes for all sorts of jobs, from labour to administrative to professional. I have discussed them with the people responsible for combing through them for the work they’re looking to cover. Let me tell you, the laborer resumes can be … fascinating. I’ve seen handwritten-in-pencil-with-lots-of-scribbled-out-corrections resumes handed in- and they *still get jobs*, because the employers know that having a beautifully presented resume isn’t what counts. They’re looking for training, experience, specific skills, references, reliability. They don’t give a shit if you can’t spell a word in your job title. But if an employer *is* looking for communication/writing/presentation skills, and the communication and documentation are written by *somebody else entirely who’s way better at it*, that’s going to show up hella fast once the work begins. Any resume reviewer worth their salt is pretty much going to be guaranteed, at this point, of comparing ‘before’ and ‘after’ and coming to the conclusion of ‘someone else’s work’. And that means at best, spouse starts out on the wrong foot of “wow, they looked WAY better than this on paper” but more likely “wow, they didn’t even do their own application work, and the skills represented in that documentation aren’t theirs. What else might they think is okay to pass off as theirs in the future?”

            2. Triplestep*

              How would anyone know if they were hiring a job-seeker who is this unmotivated? I don’t think Anon is signing her own name!

              1. Anon for my overall great husband's protection.*

                Definitely not. All things go from my husbands account. When he’s in the job he works like a dog. But like Adereterial said. I am better at these things than him, and we work as a team.

                1. Starbuck*

                  But presumably not while at work, right? Not being married, I still find this a very strange practice. It feels dishonest and unprofessional, somehow.

                2. Tuesday*

                  Yeah, to me that’s what’s especially weird about this whole thing. I’m sure people edit or even straight up write their spouse’s resumes, cover letters, and networking emails for them all the time when one half of the couple is significantly better at writing than the other. But most people would know to then sign the actual job seeker’s name and send it from the job seeker’s email.

                  I think it’s normal to help your partner with things like this, but it is weird to not have them be part of the process at all–or at least appear not to be–as is the case with Jane and Bob.

                  I hope there’s an update to this. I’m really curious if/how Jane will respond to the OP’s reply.

        1. Look What You Made Me Do*

          Anon, I kind of get this, but I’m side-eyeing your husband so hard here. Does *anyone* like the drudgery that is updating resumes and emailing and filling out applications? No. But he’s an adult, so he should do it himself.

          This is why we have men who can’t even figure out how to run the dishwasher when their wives aren’t around. LOL! So funny! /s

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            This reminds of an interaction I had recently with a colleague regarding paperwork. His excuse was that I should just do it because it’s annoying to him to file it; this after a bunch of other excuses (the target kept moving until the truth came out).

            Just because some task is boring and not fun doesn’t mean you should be off-the-hook from doing it.

          2. Anon for my overall great husband's protection.*

            Given my husband does more than his fair share of the housework, etc. That’s not an issue. He knows how to do it. it just causes him a lot of anxiety and makes him overwhelmed. in our marriage we are a team.

            1. MoreNowAgain*

              To me this feels like someone taking the SATs for a significant other because…teamwork. No. Still dishonest.

              1. Beehoppy*

                That seems like stretch to me. Taking the SATs measures how much knowledge you gained in high school that you will need to succeed in college. In many jobs, the skills that you need to craft a good resume/cover letter are not necessarily ones you will need to perform the job well. It’s also a service you can legally hire someone to do for you.

        2. Snarkus Aurelius*

          Seriously you’re enabling terrible behavior. He’s a grown man, and he’s failing to do one of the most basic adult skills. You doing it for him doesn’t help either one of you.

          I lack motivation to pay my bills, but, trust me, no one will do it for me so that’s why I do it.

          1. Anon for my overall great husband's protection.*

            If my husband fails to advance his career and income it affects our entire household. I know once he is in a job he works his butt off, but applying to new jobs is overwhelming to him. I do this for the same reasons that Adereterial said earlier. Is he capable of it? Yes. Am I better at it? Yes. Does he take on additional tasks to offset the work I’m doing on his behalf? Yes. We treat our married life as a team- Doing these things for him is beneficial to our household as a whole.

            1. Floundering Mander*

              My husband is on the autistic spectrum and has some anxiety issues, so I can totally understand why something like this works for you. Fortunately for me I don’t do anything work related for him, but anything that involves calling a stranger on the phone is my job unless it’s absolutely necessary for him to call. Sometimes I even have to sit down next to him and literally hold his hand while he makes phone calls.

        3. taco_emoji*

          Judgemental AAM commentariat strikes again!

          You do you, Anon. If this works for you and your husband, and if he’s great at these jobs despite not being great at *applying* for them, then this is a positive situation for all involved.

        4. Anomanom*

          This actually explains SO MANY THINGS I see after we hire some managers at my company. We’ve been trying to figure out if they had an admin in their previous role and just weren’t used to having to deal with administrative tasks themselves, or how they got through the hiring process with the terrible follow up and email skills we see upon hire. The idea that spouses are getting them through the administrative part pre interview hadn’t crossed my mind until now (also single mid 30s and used to dealing with everything myself).
          I don’t say that in a mean way, just a lightbulb moment.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Most boxes are gone, but the work with the new house is unending. In the future, I am going to live in a shoebox. More to the point though, yeah, it’s left my brain pretty frazzled.

          1. M-C*

            Don’t think it’s too late to get rid of stuff that you now think you should have done before moving! If you want to live in a shoebox, every present and future opportunity to lighten up is welcome. Better ditch it now than store it till the next move..

            But also get some rest :-). And thanks for keeping us going while you toil endlessly on the new house.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              After I moved I unpacked so many items that I was like, why on earth did I pack and move this stupid piece of crap I don’t even like? (ANSWER: Because I had massive decision fatigue and was just hurling everything I owned into moving boxes by the time I got to this stupid piece of crap I don’t even like.)

              We ended up repurposing a couple of moving boxes as second-wave goodwill boxes. That and my SO and I were combining households so we eventually had this conversation that went “So I have nice kitchen stuff and you have the cheapest kitchen stuff you could buy at Ikea…. can I goodwill literally everything that came from your kitchen?” and he put aside like three things and let me box up the rest.

          2. Hellanon*

            That’s the decision fatigue – *everything* is active decision making, both the process of moving and the first couple weeks/months in a new place. Especially if you are doing any renovation projects at the same time…

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes! It’s horrible. I really just want to have numerous open threads about my move and adjusting to a new house so you all can give me advice and commiseration, but I still have a slight grip on reality and realize I cannot.

              1. LBK*

                FWIW if there is an easy way to start a temporary side blog about it I would totally read/comment on it (am I remembering correctly that you did something like that with your foot issues, or did I make that up?). I have multiple nightmarish moving stories so I can commiserate!

                1. SarahKay*

                  Yep, your site, why not go for it? If people aren’t interested they can, you know, just not click the link :)

              2. V*

                Right there with you. I just moved and as much as I love my new place, I am overwhelmed by all of the decisions it requires. Even unimportant, easily-changed decisions like which kitchen drawer to use for utensils and what utensil tray to buy for it have me wanting to curl up under the covers with a cup of tea and hide. On the bright side, I’ve been super productive at work because it is giving me an escape from home-related decisions.

              3. Anancy*

                I moved a year ago and STILL feel frazzled by it. So I’d be totallly up for a moving open thread. Also: it isn’t just the work of making decisions, it’s the work of remembering where things are in the new house.

                1. SarahKay*

                  Oh, yes, I hate the not knowing where things are. Or rather, I do know exactly where they are…if I was still in my last house :(

              4. Old Admin*

                Why don’t you do a Friday thread exclusively on your move?
                I just moved myself and have all dorts of experience to share and commiseration to give! :-D

              5. Nonprofit pro*

                Considering how often people move for work I think it would actually be pretty helpful and still in line with the mission of the blog. I am considering a job shift that would possibly include a relocation package and I have no idea what that even means. An open thread would be helpful for establishing norms around this.

    2. OP*

      Yep, both Bob and Jane are alums of my university: Bob in a field related to mine, and Jane in a field unrelated to mine. Both are strangers to me.

      1. LBK*

        The way they’re going about this is totally weird and inappropriate but FWIW, I don’t know that being strangers necessarily matters – I think that’s kind of the point of alumni networks, that you don’t necessarily know the people but by nature of having gone to the same school that forms a connection. But I’ve never leveraged mine, so people who have more experience with that can feel free to disagree.

        1. fposte*

          I’m reading the OP not as being surprised at being contacted by a stranger but at identifying the fact that there’s nothing–acquaintanceship or alumniship–that she shares with Jane that she doesn’t share with Bob.

          1. OP*

            Yep, that was what I meant. It would be fine if I knew Jane, and she was passing on her husband’s info, or if Bob was a stranger, but reaching out to me directly via the alumni network, but having a stranger reach out to me on behalf of another stranger, both of which have access to the same alumni network–that strikes me as weird.

            1. yasmara*

              It IS weird. Your response to Jane was great. I’d be interested to hear if Bob does follow up with you after all this.

              1. Starbuck*

                My guess is that “Bob” might start following up with people, but it will still be the wife doing the work.

            2. Where's the Le-Toose?*

              Definitely agree on the weirdness aspect of Jane’s emails and equally agree OP that your response was great!

      2. Catalin*

        Yeah, one stranger vs. another stranger is NOT a valid networking maneuver. If Jane knew you, it might be slightly different. It should/could have gone like this in that case:
        Jane: Hi OP! We’re moving to your area and my SO Bob is in your industry so I thought I’d introduce you.
        Bob: Hi OP.
        OP: Hi Bob (leaves Jane completely out of correspondence at this stage).
        Jane: (disappears into woodwork so Bob can be a professional in a professional setting).
        Bob: (is a professional).

      3. Jerry Vandesic*

        Any chance that you met Jane sometime during your time in college (did you overlap)? Maybe the same class, spoke at a party? Could she be remembering you but not vice versa?

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          Wouldn’t she have mentioned that in her first email, though? “Hi, I’m Jane! I don’t know if you remember me but we took Professor Smith’s first-year Italian class together freshman year.”

          Even then, though, if I thought I had a tenuous link to another alumna of my college who might not remember me, I’d just leave out that part and rely on the alumnae link – maybe just bring up that we overlapped.

        2. OP*

          Nope, we didn’t even attend at the same time. Also, her first email was bcc’ed to a bunch of people, so it wasn’t a personal reaching out to a casual acquaintance, it was just an email blast to a bunch of strangers.

      4. Optimistic Prime*

        This makes it even more weird, because Bob is closer in field to you and is the much more logical choice to do this.

  2. TotesMaGoats*

    It appears that both Bob and Jane are alum’s of the OP’s university. (2nd paragraph, first sentence)

    However, it’s still super weird for Jane to be doing this and not Bob. I like how the OP responded.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      That’s what I thought too–that Bob, Jane, and the OP are all alums of the same university and OP doesn’t know either of them.

  3. Naruto*

    I wonder if they’re one of those couples with a shared email address. Still weird and no better, if so.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I know some shared email addresses, and it’s a family email–mostly used to coordinate kidlings and their various events, maybe some extended family things like “Dear kids and grandkids, having a fabulous time windsurfing across the Pacific.” It seems a practical way to pre-sort mine/yours/ours. But it would be super weird to use the shared family email for anything work related–that’s “yours” in screaming red neon.

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        We have one shared and two individual accounts. We use the shared one for bills and whatnot and the individual accounts for everything else.

        That said, if I ever apply for another job, I might use the shared account anyway. I happen to really like the name on my individual account, but it is quirky, and it could be too quirky to go on a job application. Maybe I’d have to get a normal-sounding one? But hopefully it won’t come up.

        1. Elizabeth*

          A lot of email services (like Gmail) allow you to receive/send from multiple email addresses—so you could hook up a more “appropriate” name and still have access to it through your quirky account. It’s what I do. Something to consider!

          1. Chicklet*

            Just be careful how you do this. I recently got an e-mail and the “from” line was “[quirky gmail address] on behalf of [Person’s Name] .” The professional address was listed in the signature It might not be a big deal (I’m laid back and this person’s quirky address made me giggle), but you never know how people will react, especially depending on what the quirky address is.

            Basically, I’m saying e-mail with caution. Oh, and if you are using a shared account, make sure the other person doesn’t accidentally delete something important! Even the most responsible person can go on autopilot from time to time.

            1. Elizabeth*

              Definitely double-check that your “reply from” address is correct, but I’ve use Gmail and my addresses have never shown up the way you’re describing. Something to look into with your service of choice for sure!

              1. Glenn*

                Email configuration issues can be complex. In particular, Gmail sometimes (maybe always, now?) sends mail in a way that _most_ receiving software displays as you expect, but certain software (Microsoft Outlook, in particular) displays in the ‘on behalf of’ style instead. So don’t be certain you’re not getting hit by this too.

        2. many bells down*

          Yeah, we have a shared one for things we both need access to like bills and rent and the kids’ school stuff. I’d never use it for job searching. I have like 3 personal email accounts I could use.

          1. Kathleen Adams*

            Yeah, I think if I ever have to apply for jobs again, I’ll just get another personal account. The quirky one isn’t embarrassingly quirky – it’s a sort of pun on my general grammar geekiness – but I figure it would be better for a potential employer to know me a little better before realizing “This is the sort of person who puts her geekery right out there in her email address for God and everybody to see.”

            1. Floundering Mander*

              It’s probably the easiest solution. I have I think 12 different email accounts but I check them all with Thunderbird or an app on the phone/tablet, so they all come in to the same place and it’s pretty easy to keep track of.

    2. Mouse*

      Wouldn’t the emails be signed from Bob, then? It sounds like the issue isn’t just that the email account name is Jane’s or joint; the emails themselves are from Jane and presumably refer to Bob in the third person. In that case, I’d probably find a shared account even weirder and more of an indication of boundary issues than if they just came from Jane’s email address.

    3. OP*

      Nope, they both have separate email addresses. Bob’s is listed on his resume. But all the emails come from Jane’s email.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Even with a shared email address, the situation would be odd… but it’s extra odd that he has his own! On his resume! Being emailed to you from her email address.

        Haha. People.

        I’d love to see her/his/their response to your email, OP! (if they respond)

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This was my guess, too. Although most of my friends have individual accounts, many of my friends who are much older have only one email account, and oftentimes it’s in the name of the spouse that relies on email more frequently (e.g., a friend who sends all her emails from her husband’s account and doesn’t have an account of her own and doesn’t want to get one because “everyone knows” she can be reached at her husband’s account).

  4. Hills to Die on*

    I would look at Bob as sort of a man-baby or too lazy to conduct his own job search. I know it’s judgmental, but I still wouldn’t want to work with him.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t think it’s judgemental. SOMETHING is very off here. Either he’s a baby (man or woman is not relevant); Jane is a control freak with boundary issues; or they have a relationship that is so tightly intertwined that they present as one even when it makes no sense. NONE of these makes for good employment material, so I’d be very reluctant to go further with this person.

      This would be equally true if John were doing this on behalf of Jane.

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, my inclination is towards Jane way overstepping her bounds here rather than Bob having a hand in directing Jane to job hunt for him. But an email like the OP’s should help curb that.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Humans, including potential employer humans, judge other humans on things. It’s a baseline human trait, and why we send thank you notes after interviews and are careful not to mix their and there in the cover letter.

      Expecting to not be judged on your choices when applying for a job is beyond bizarre.

    3. Infinity Anon*

      The other possibility is that the wife is unhappy with the way he is conducting his job search and took it upon herself to do this, without him knowing or agreeing. The OP said that all the e-mails from Bob came from the wife’s e-mail address, so she could be writing those tool. Still a red flag, but it might not be Bob’s fault.

      1. BRR*

        I’m thinking it’s a toss up right now between he’s lazy or she’s over involved (and he may or may not know about what she’s doing). Either way it’s a turn off.

      2. oranges & lemons*

        I think there is also the (terrible) possibility that Jane is really controlling and Bob either doesn’t know what she’s doing or is afraid to stand up to her. This isn’t directed at anyone in particular, but I do think the genders make a difference in how people view the situation–if the genders were reversed I think more people would jump to “controlling” rather than “lazy and unmotivated.”

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Agreed. My FIL is in such a relationship. People always tell me, “Well, he chooses to stay with her, so he must get something out of it.” But I think if we flipped things around and made him the controlling one, people would be much more sympathetic to his wife.

          1. Former Employee*

            If you read Hax’s column, then the answer is that it’s the same for both. I think it might be different if physical abuse were involved where it was a 5′, 100 pound woman being abused by her 6′, 200 pound (all muscle) body builder SO.

    4. Spinach Inquisition*

      The interview scene from Step Brothers immediately came to mind.

      –> Hello Ms. Lady!

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        I don’t know this reference but I have a colleague who I work with infrequently who calls me “Miss Lady.” Why?????

        1. Spinach Inquisition*

          LOL, I won’t link here – but just google “Step Brothers interview” and you’ll get a whole slew of crazy videos from the movie. Brilliant, really. John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell are national treasures. :-)

          Don’t take the “Miss Lady” thing personally… it’s a funny scene. And will clear up the whole Pan/Pam dilemma.

    5. Courtney*

      My take was more that maybe Jane suggested using the alumni network, Bob was hesitant and wanted to look on his own before reaching out to strangers, so Jane decided to “help” and do it anyway. I could be off base too, but that’s the guess that popped into my mind while reading.

    6. Bye Academia*

      I wonder if Jane wants to move and Bob doesn’t. Perhaps Bob is happy with his current job in his current location, so he’s not doing much to job search. And Jane hopes that if she helps him get a job in the new state, he’ll be more amenable to the move.

      I know this is speculation, but in my experience, exchanges go better if I assume the kindest possible explanation for crazy actions.

      1. OhNo*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who was thinking this.

        Frankly, it seems like all of the communication with the OP is coming from Jane, so I would just assume that Bob isn’t actually interested. It’s not unlike things we’ve seen before where a kid complains about all the (terrible) things their parent is doing to “help” them find a job they don’t actually want.

    7. T3k*

      I was just thinking this. It sprung to mind of someone I know who’s married but her husband has been unemployed for the past several years, refuses to get a job, and tells her “to not stress about money” while she’s selling off valuables to make ends meet, though I don’t think she’d try this person’s approach.

      1. CMart*

        Ah yes, the age old “things will work out” privilege of refusing to do emotional (or actual) labor while someone else runs themselves into the ground making things “work out”.

        Stressed out about not having money? Just don’t worry about it and you won’t be stressed anymore! It works for him, clearly.

    8. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Yes, Jane shows up for the interview while Bob waits in the car with the window cracked down an inch.

    9. Allison*

      This is where my brain went as well, due to the man-babies I’ve lived with in the past (roommates, not boyfriends, thank god) and due to having just read The Second Shift, the idea of a woman handling aspects of her husband’s job search doesn’t shock me. She may see it as falling under general household management, or supporting her husband’s career.

        1. Saccharissa*

          Huh? This isn’t “sexist rhetoric”. We’re talking about a specific cultural narrative: women being expected by society to take care of all the unpleasant aspects of a man’s life, and the men who take advantage of this opportunity to never grow up and take responsibility for themselves. It happens way too often, but no one here has said that all men are like that.

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      There are other possibilities other than lazy or a “baby”, but which may not be any better. Bob may have mental health issues like debilitating depression or anxiety hindering him job searching on his own.

      All speculation of course and probably not something the OP would want to get involved in.

      1. Tuesday*

        But whether Bob is lazy or childish or has debilitating anxiety, Jane should realize how negative it looks to be conducting the entire networking process on his behalf. She’s neither trying to hide it (which wouldn’t be hard!) nor providing an explanation for why she’s doing it.

  5. Havarti*

    I’m confused. The letter says both husband and wife are alumni so there’s no benefit in Jane doing the work if Bob has the same sort of access to the university. I’ve seen this sort of behavior in the past but it’s typically mothers trying to get their sons a job. She probably wouldn’t stop meddling even after he was hired. Bullet dodged.

  6. Jaguar*

    As an aside, it’s really irritating to read someone screening say “we have a position open, we’ve had trouble filling that position, this candidate seems like a promising candidate for this difficult-to-fill position, but [small thing was done wrong in applying]. Pass.” It flies in the face of the narrative employers try so hard (and so badly) to promote that:
    a) There’s a skills gap and we just can’t find qualified people.
    b) All that’s important is how well someone can do the job.

    1. Colette*

      Well, “candidate got someone else to apply for him instead of doing it himself” is not a small thing to get wrong. Employers rarely want to handle someone so disinterested they can’t be bothered to apply.

      1. always in email jail*

        ^This. It’s a large enough red flag to move someone out of the “qualified” category in my book. And I don’t think anyone has ever said how well someone can do the job is the only thing that’s important. There’s also their ability to function within workplace norms. You can be the best accountant ever, but if you show up without pants and make people uncomfortable you aren’t suited for the job.

        1. Spinach Inquisition*

          “…if you show up without pants and make people uncomfortable you aren’t suited for the job.”

          I read this as the best pun ever. Touche.

        2. CMart*

          Am accountant who loathes pants. Still wore them to interviews, as I counted on the fact that it would be rather taxing for my interviewers to reconcile my credentials with a lack of material items.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I filled out online applications for my dad because he’s not computer savvy. But those were actual forms, not writing cover letters or soliciting help or whatever. He was the one doing the actual job searching.

      3. HRJeanne*

        Absolutely this. If you can’t even take the time to inquire about a position yourself, you are not interested or engaged enough to work for us.

    2. KR*

      Well, if Bob doesn’t recognize how much this is Outside of Business norms it kind of raises the question of what other business norms he may not know or follow and how that will impact his work. Also, companies typically don’t like spouses being over involved with the employees work so I can see why OP wouldn’t want her name associated with a potentially bad hire for a company.

    3. Brigitha*

      Ok, but This doesn’t feel like a small thing though. Bob hasn’t even had any direct contact with the recruiter because so far the spouse is doing all the communicating.

    4. Havarti*

      I think it does sort of tie into b. though. Say Bob was hired. Would Jane step away from the situation or would she continue to contact the company on his behalf for every little issue? Does Bob really want to work there or is this strictly Jane’s idea? I’d argue that having your spouse involve in your employment at this level does affect how well you can do your job.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Everything about this screams “Bob has no interest in applying for jobs and won’t, so I’m doing it for him.” It’s really hard to picture Bob being a pleasure to work with or supervise, whether the reasons stem from crippling shyness or aggressive lack of interest or something else. That’s not a small thing.

        You can maybe pull this is you really are a rare hothouse bloom so brilliant companies will fight to have you writing/researching/thinking in a back room somewhere with no one to bother you, but… sounds like that’s not our Bob.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          I mean, even if you assume absolutely nothing from the interactions, there’s also the non-trivial problem that you still have zero information about Bob.

      2. k.k*

        This reminds me of the letter where someone was cc’ing their mom on work emails, or other letters about overly involved spouses and family members. Having your spouse conduct your job search seems like all but a guarantee that you’d be hearing more from them if he was hired.

        1. Anon for my overall great husband's protection.*

          Not necessarily. After application I am out of the picture except as a presence at social occasions where I have been invited. I have my own career to worry about. I don’t have time to babysit his.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yeah – it sounds like either he doesn’t know (possibly because he doesn’t want to move), he knows but doesn’t care enough about how it looks or he knows and thinks this is a reasonable way to conduct business. Any of the above aren’t *necessarily* a “do not employ” but are huge be very careful flags!

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yeah—this isn’t OP being unreasonable. OP’s concerns are all valid and, in my opinion, could raise significant problems. If someone is behaving way outside of professional norms, that’s not a “small thing done wrong in applying.”

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Agreed. Small things could include one or two typos in application. This is… not small.

    5. Observer*

      This is nor even remotely a “small thing”. I can think of several explanations of this behavior and NONE would be something I would want in a responsible position:

      1. He’s got issues- immaturity, anxiety that keeps him from functioning, whatever. These issues may be legitimate, but whatever they are, if they are keeping him from doing his own applications, then you have to doubt his ability to keep up with the day to day stress of work.

      2. Jane is a control freak who inserts herself into every and all aspects of John’s life. Do I need to explain why any employer would want to stay faaar away from that?

      3. This is a JohnAndJane situation where they are SOO intertwined that for them “We” and “I” are synonymous even when it’s not appropriate, including the workplace. From the point of view of the employer, it’s much the same as #2, except that it goes both ways and is probably more consensual between the partners. Not something any reasonable employer is going to want to deal with.

      1. Jaguar*

        You don’t know any of that. You’re presented a picture with missing parts and drawing in what you want. You can’t move from a position of ignorance to a position of knowledge without new information. It’s literally introducing bias into the situation.

        1. Anna*

          Yep. That Jane is contacting people for Bob is so far outside the norm, you can decide to not engage with him based on that alone without filling in the blanks with a bunch of speculation.

        2. Observer*

          We have enough information here to raise significant concerns. And the most likely explanations are all things that should concern any reasonable employer.

          What information would lead you to an explanation of this very odd behavior that would NOT be a concern for a boss? How likely do you really think this unknown explanation might be?

          A reasonable employer doesn’t have to look for every possible albeit extremely unlikely possibility for a decision to be reasonable. They only need to take the information that they have and look at the most likely scenarios unless there is a compelling reason to believe the most likely scenarios are in fact not the case.

          1. Terra-cotta*

            Plus, there are so many eager, self motivated job seekers out there who conduct their own searches that involvement in this quagmire can be avoided.

        3. Optimistic Prime*

          That’s what hiring is about. Even if you bring someone to your workplace and interview them for an hour and you’ve got their resume and cover letter and all that, you are still hiring them with missing parts and drawing in conclusions based on what’s presented to you. Unfortunately, we haven’t devised a way to mind meld with other people and get all up in their thoughts, feelings, and motivations with 100% accuracy – so we’re left drawing conclusions and making judgments based on people’s outward behavior.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          You’re presented a picture with missing parts and drawing in what you want.

          This is a totally normal thing when presented with an application or resume–it’s a small glimpse with many missing parts that we tentatively fill in with speculation based on what’s concrete. If the questions your application raises are off-putting, expect people to decide not to push farther and see if you’re really as weird as they are thinking.

          So don’t send your resume printed on aluminum foil; don’t send a $20 ripped in half and offer to give them the other half during the final interview; don’t carry on all communication in the persona of your beagle; and don’t have your spouse or parent or third cousin visibly handle all the communication on your behalf.

          1. Sigrid*

            I would really like to get an application from someone applying as their beagle.

            I mean, I wouldn’t hire them, but I’d love to get that application.

            1. Gadfly*

              I used to get magazines as my basset hound, is that close enough? (It helped narrow down where the “pre-approved” credit cards and such junk mail came from)

        5. Akcipitrokulo*

          OK – let’s pin down the possibilities.

          He either knows she’s doing it or he doesn’t.

          If he doesn’t know – that’s a red flag because he has an over-involved, possibly controlling spouse, and may not want the job at all.

          If he does know – he either approves or doesn’t.

          If he doesn’t approve, then over-involved and controlling spouse who is sending out applications against his wishes.

          If he does approve, then he seriously doesn’t understand basic workplace norms.

          The only way that this is not a huge warning sign is if the husband has a disability which hinders his applying on his own – but at the very least you have to explain that up front if you’re writing on behalf of someone else. And even then – they are doing the applying, you are only doing the admin work – so it should be from him.

        6. Akcipitrokulo*

          “You’re presented a picture with missing parts and drawing in what you want.”

          There are limited possibilities.

          Let’s start with the first yes/no option – He either knows she’s doing it or doesn’t.

          If he doesn’t know, that’s an issue. She’s overinvolved and possibly controlling. And you have no idea if he’s even interested in moving (either job or home).

          If he does know – then he either approves or doesn’t.

          If he doesn’t approve, we’ve got someone applying against her husband’s wishes. Definitely controlling and he almost certainly doesn’t want the job.

          If he does know – he either thinks it’s normal, or there is a reason such as disability, or the above example about husband’s working with little/no access for applications for her doing the legwork.

          If he thinks it’s normal, then that’s a huge sign he doesn’t understand basic working norms.

          If there is a good reason, then it needs to be stated up front; and if the writer is acting as the admin due to a disability, then the communication does not come from them! They are just doing the practicalities.

    6. LBK*

      Being able to follow professional conventions is a pretty important part of general job skills; if you can’t even handle a standard hiring process, I’d consider that a skills gap.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, this IS a gap in what’s required to be an attractive candidate. You can’t just consider hard skills when deciding if you should hire someone.

    7. BRR*

      I can see where you’re coming from and partially feel this way too but as others have said this is so far outside professional norms and while Bob appears to have the skills on paper, it shows zero effort on his part. Nothing stops Bob from applying from the job, it just isn’t being referred to him.

      1. Jaguar*

        I’m just skeptical of jobs that are described as difficult to hire for. If the job is something highly coveted that many people can qualify for (a marketing intern, or whatever), sure, obviously you want to give a lot of weight to soft skills. But if you’re rejecting someone for a a job you supposedly need and supposedly have trouble filling because the wife reached out, I question how badly you really need that position filled. And this is to say nothing about “difficult to find people for” is lipservice to enable H1B visa abuse.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          Just because we badly need someone doesn’t mean we should make a bad hire to fill the spot with any warm body. It can actually be a lot more expense and damaging to hire someone who is a bad fit for the position (hiring, covering relocation and sign-on for the new employee, training them – only to turn around and have to do it again when they leave or get fired; plus the lost productivity or potentially bungled tasks/products/whatever because the person isn’t well-suited to the work).

          Moreover, I will say that I do get kind of irritated when people group things like communication and interpersonal relationship building as “soft skills” that are secondary. Communication and interpersonal relationships are CORE to my job. They’re not the technical skills you need, but my time absolutely will not hire someone who’s a genius at the technical side and is bad at the communication side (and have actually turned down candidates who had this combo). We kind of operate as in-house consultants and building trust and understanding how to communicate our findings and work in appropriate ways are super, super important. If someone displays an egregious lack of knowledge of the basics in that area…they’re not a good fit. We’d do more damage to our brand and the trust in our team than we would if we simply left the position unfilled for a few more months until someone truly good comes along.

          1. Infinity Anon*

            Also, “difficult to hire for” and “desperately needs to be filled” do not always to together. Maybe it is a difficult position to fill but they can get by for a while with the position vacant. In that case, being picky makes sense.

        2. Colette*

          Should hospitals hire surgeons without a medical degree?

          How about surgeons with an excellent degree who can’t communicate with their patients or other medical staff?

          What about a surgeon with an excellent degree who communicates well but only shows up every 3rd shift?

          Does the answer change if it’s hard to hire a surgeon at that hospital?

            1. LBK*

              I think you’re confusing “hard to fill” with “desperately need to fill”. They aren’t the same.

              1. Mookie*

                Yep. “Hard to fill” reads to me as “absolutely needs to be the right person and we’re willing to wait until we find them because this position is WORK.” Bob is not that person and there’s no reason to beat around the bush about it.

            2. Akcipitrokulo*

              Maybe… if really desperate… but one of first questions would be “Why on earth did your spouse contact us and not you?”

              I’d do that on phone interview to respect his time because if it’s not a *really* good answer (“I was in hospital/on an oil rig and know it wasn’t a good plan…”) then the interview is probably ending there.

              1. bK*

                Well it is pretty blasé to blast an alumni network in this manner. I don’t see this leaving a good impression on many people.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I find this line of argument really confusing. Being able to conform to professional norms is often an important and necessary criteria in hiring. If Bob isn’t doing that, why should OP lower their hiring standards simply because the position already has a small pool of applicants?

          This isn’t really a letter where we have to blame one party or the other, but even if it were, I don’t think OP is the right person to “blame” for this situation.

          1. LBK*

            Right – I’m not following the logic that if a job is so hard to fill, you should be so desperate that you’ll basically take anyone remotely qualified. That’s usually the exact reason the job is hard to fill: because you don’t want to just throw anyone into the role, you want the right person.

            This feels like it’s related to the common fallacy in tech that coding skill is all that matters and caring about anything else is just being picky/caring too much about emotion/etc.

            1. Elfie*

              Yeah but I kind of get what Jaguar is saying. Besides, they’re not saying you should HIRE Bob, just maybe interview him if you really need someone in that position. If you’re not getting stellar applicants, you lower your expectations. If you’re not getting applicants who conform to professional norms, maybe you interview someone whose wife reached out on his behalf. Or maybe you at least consider interviewing them, if you’d have interviewed them if they were the one who applied. At least that way you do get more information about Bob and you can make a more informed decision. What about a phone interview? Doesn’t even have to cost money! Now, if you’re absolutely not willing to settle, and you can get by without someone in the job, sure, chuck his CV. But other than potentially a bit of wasted time, what harm is there in having a conversation with him?

            2. Akcipitrokulo*

              So much this – I work in tech and we have a great team that does very good work… but the coding skill isn’t the most important. If you’re reasonably competent, you can learn the stuff we do. If you’re an arse, you’ll cost us more than you’re worth in an upset team and people leaving.

        4. LBK*

          A lot of times throwing a warm body into a role doesn’t serve you better in the long run than leaving the position open and waiting for the right candidate. New employees are always a drain on productivity when they start; in most jobs you don’t start to make up that lost productivity until around the 6 month mark, and if someone ends up being bad, all you did was slow down your other employees for 6 months while they trained/helped a bad employee.

          The last person I worked with who got fired was so bad that even when she was finally gone, it took us months to unwind all the bad work she’d done – no doubt in my mind she was a massive net loss to our overall productivity. We would’ve been much better off just being shortstaffed for the ~9 months she was there.

    8. Optimistic Prime*

      Well, I’m not sure if employers – good employers, that is – actually try to say b). I know in our hiring, we weigh more than just the core mechanics of the job; how someone fits into our culture and interacts professionally with others is also important. Our job is in a relatively small field and you want to make sure our team puts the best face forward to others in our area. Not to mention that interpersonal connections are a very important part of the job as well, and if the first impression that we’re getting of someone is that their spouse needs to do all of their pre-hire legwork…that’s not a good impression.

      Having your spouse do all the talking for you is not a small thing.

      1. Elfie*

        Unless your spouse is hard of hearing and can’t use the telephone, like my husband. I am way more involved in his job than I would like to be, but there you go, he CANNOT use a telephone. And I type most of his emails because I’m a much quicker typer, and he suffers from severe anxiety – and I know at this point I’m seriously projecting, but I’m not over-controlling and want him to have no autonomy, and he’s not a giant man-baby who is too lazy to do the work for himself. However, he is now too ill to continue to work, so he’s trying for ill health retirement, which isn’t Bob’s situation at all, and I’ll stop projecting now. But maybe, just maybe, there’s some kind of disability at play which wouldn’t stop Bob from doing the job (or wouldn’t stop him doing the job without accomodations).

    9. Jaguar*

      I’m trying to see the point of view presented by people here that this is disqualifying, but I can’t manage to arrive at a place where everyone who would be good at a job and a good employee knows that they should be the only one visibly conducting their job search and thus anyone who doesn’t know that is a bad prospect a priori. It strikes me as some Jane Austen-style social moors stuff: the whole list of things you need to know to be a member of society and God help you if you didn’t learn all of it.

      1. Colette*

        Well, it’s possible that someone who doesn’t know they should search themselves would be good in the job – but it’s more likely that the reason they’re letting someone else do the searching would also hurt their ability to do the job.

        “You need to do your own work” is not really an obscure idea.

      2. Thermal Teapot Researcher*

        I don’t think that you are wrong necessarily, this could just be a case of someone who is a spectacular person and employee who just happens to not be knowledgeable about the finer points of applying for a job. It’s not an impossible scenario.

        Having said that, every time I have had a big-hearted boss, who was totally committed to improving the world through a boat load of empathy, benefits of the doubt, and second chances for the downtrodden or unknowing, I have yet to see that magical scenario where the new person rose to be a good (hell, even decent) employee. I sure that it does happen, I just haven’t seen it. In my experience, red flags are usually red flags.

        You could make a case for hiring people who are unqualified, or ignorant of professional etiquette, because it is the right thing to do for society/the world/humanity, and while I think that would be a worthy discussion, it’s also hugely macroscopic. On the micro level were the OP is operating, it’s many times better to have no one in a role than to have someone who makes work difficult for others around them because they lack basic professional boundaries.

        1. Gadfly*

          I’m not sure apply yourself is a ‘finer point of applying for a job’ for much outside of entry level. It is one thing to open doors wide at entry points where people would then gain the opportunity to learn those finer points. But higher levels are harder because they tend to require a knowledge of a whole lot of those norms.

          Some of this does easily turn into classism (like Jane Austin’s manners) and culture-centeric issues and gender issues and can be taken too far very easily. But there is a level of expectations I think it is fair to expect people of certain career levels to have as a common ground and applying for yourself is one of them.

          1. Thermal Teapot Researcher*

            I am actually agreeing with you. It is possible that Bob just didn’t know this one thing, but I very seriously doubt it.

        2. Jaguar*

          Yeah, I’m not saying don’t treat it like a weird red flag that you want to get addressed to your satisfaction when vetting the candidate, but the question seems to be “should I even bother interviewing this person?” Since the applicant has the skills for a job that the letter writer has found difficult to fill, it’s baffling to me that people take the answer “no.” Like, if their resume said they lived 200 km away, you’d want to address that as well since it’s also a huge red flag, but presumably you wouldn’t just throw out the resume in the case of a job that’s hard to fill (and thus presumably aren’t swamped with applicants to choose from).

          1. LassLisa*

            I took that as, “Should I even bother interviewing this person, since I don’t have any evidence he’s actually applied?” His wife is interested in Bob having this job but there wasn’t much evidence that Bob was.

      3. Misteroid*

        I’m not really sure that “conduct your own job search” is some kind of secret hidden knowledge. In fact, I think it’s common sense. Sure, it gets confused because there are a few situations where it’s okay for spouses/friends/family members to make connections for you (like when they’re passing along your resume to one of their contacts), but they don’t actually do the work for you. In fact, I would think “do your own work” should be patently obvious to anyone trying to get a job.

        1. Jaguar*

          It is for me and for people who think like me. You shouldn’t be trying to select people who already think like you, though.

          My point is that I don’t know what could contribute to this choice. It could be one of all the worrying things people have brought up, but it could also be a perfectly understandable reason as well, and my failure to imagine a reasonable explanation shouldn’t be held against the person. That’s textbook bias.

      4. Akcipitrokulo*

        It’s pretty basic you don’t get someone else to do your homework. That’s kind of something you learn in primary school.

        As I said above – if I’m *really* needing someone I might give a phone interview – but they need a bloody good excuse to have done it.

        If it’s “I’m so sorry – my wife got over-excited and jumped the gun, but I am really interested and it’ll never happen again!” then we can talk.

        I could go with “Really? That’s not a thing?” if they convinced me that they were willing to listen and take a telling if needed – but would be weighing the cost to the business of effectively teaching someone the basics against what they could bring.

      5. Erika Otter*

        Don’t know if “social moors” is referring on purpose to a moody English atmosphere, or is a mistake for mores – but I love it!

  7. chelle*

    If she’s going to go this route of doing all the leg work for her husband she should at least use his email address so it doesn’t raise all these red flags. But for prospective employers it’s probably better that they know what they are getting into.

  8. Bobbin Ufgood*

    My mom ran into this situation as a hiring manger before she retired. Just like here, the applicant’s wife was running the process. The whole thing went down in flames. It is, indeed, a serious red-flag. The wife corresponding rather than the applicant was not the only, nor was it the most serious, violation of professional norms. There were also multiple secret attempts to circumvent the hiring process entirely and weird pressure tactics around the pay negotiation, and probably other stuff my mom couldn’t tell me.

    1. nonymous*

      I can see how some clueless sheltered people think this is how it works.

      When my mom was first hired (1985) at Dad’s OldEmployer it was totally through the good ‘ol boys network. –
      no interview. And then when that department consolidated several years later and her position was eliminated and she found a new position in a different department, he expressed genuine surprise that (a) she was able to find a position and (b) she wasn’t fired for incompetence within 6 months. When I was a teenager, my first part-time job (1998) was working for a friend of my Dad’s, with no interview (it turned out that Dad promised his friend that I would train over the summer with the front counter lady that was retiring and would start working full time in the new school year. I was 16, so um, no?).

      Anyways, Dad was from a gendered era before computers and it’s my understanding from the stories I’ve heard that it was pretty common way back in the day (think 80+ years ago) for a new employee to meet their boss on their first day on the say-so of a friend of a friend. But for the life of me I can’t image where/how this practice would continue in the 21st century.

      1. Anon for this*

        My spouse was (and sadly still is) terrified of interviews. His first career was a massive mistake that he only went into for the money and the way it ended (leave or we fire you) really knocked his confidence. He was out of work for six months making zero effort to job search before his father got him a job in the same firm as him. We nearly lost our home and it wasn’t enough to get him searching. That was 2007 and he still works there. He’s now got prestigious qualifications, skills/responsibilities three levels above his pay grade and he’s on £10k less than to local average for his grade. They just offered him a promotion with a £5k PAYCUT and he still makes no effort to leave. He’s convinced that he cant get a job without the old boys network but he has no one left to move him on. It’s frustrating, not yet to the point that I’d do what the wife in the letter did, but I can see WHY she might have done it, and I can attest that interview-free hiring is still a thing in some places :/

        1. Kira*

          My spouse is also very nervous about applying for jobs. The last few positions had specific terms (five years, then two at the current place) and approaching the end of the term and the need to start searching is a rough time for us.

        2. Gloucesterina*

          Interesting, anon for this. I’ve never thought about how the old boys’ network can also harm people who benefit from it.

  9. Slow Gin Lizz*

    This is a very interesting issue. My mother writes all of my father’s correspondences because he has dyslexia and English is not his first language – he can read just fine but writing is very difficult for him. However, she always uses his email address, not hers, so that no one can tell that it’s not him writing his emails (similar to how an exec admin would write an email using the boss’ email address). Fwiw, my father is an engineer in a field where he doesn’t need to write, so this doesn’t affect his work at all. (And he’s just about retired anyway.)

    This *could* be a similar situation but it doesn’t really sound that way and, again, she should be ghostwriting his emails using his account, not corresponding on his behalf using her email account.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Also, Mom is very adamant about Dad asking all work-related questions himself. That is, if he asks her to ask his company something, she says no, he has to do that himself. I’m sure she was always that way but she once had an employee whose husband would always ask the company questions about his wife’s paycheck, etc., and they refused to answer those questions and got really tired of him asking.

    2. LizB*

      A former coworker of mine was absolutely awful at written communication – rarely responded to emails, wrote really confusing messages when they did respond, couldn’t seem to accurately comprehend any even slightly complex paragraph. It was a huge obstacle to their job performance. A while after they left and once I had been promoted into a management position myself, I asked their former manager what other qualifications or skills had convinced the manager to hire them. Apparently throughout the recruitment and interviewing process, this coworker’s communication had been stellar — prompt, well thought out, grammatically correct and clear. Literally in the email where they sent in their signed offer letter (which in my organization means they couldn’t be let go without a long disciplinary process), all of that went away. Now I really wonder if they had someone else ghostwriting for them during that whole time.

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        I actually helped hire a *reporter* one time – as in, had a degree in journalism from an accredited university – who turned out to be a lousy writer – sloppy, poorly organized, poor speller, etc. He must have been heavily edited all through college.

  10. Mildly Anonymous*

    So, a confession, I reached out to someone on LinkedIn on behalf of my husband over the summer.


    The reason I did it instead of my husband was because the someone in question was a former colleague of a friend of mine – so the connection was through me, first. And I didn’t just say “hey help my husband get a job,” I asked if he’d be interested in connecting with my husband and letting them discuss things.

    Now, even with that, it sort of ended up backfiring, which is a whole other story … but in my mind it made more sense for me to approach him and say “hi, I know so and so, she said you might be willing to connect with my husband who is in the same field as you” than for my husband to do it out of the blue.

    In this case, for sure, I can’t even see the logic there unless the wife was all “OH LET ME HELP HONEY” and just sorta steamrolled over her husband.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      I think it’s perfectly fine to make those sorts of connections – my spouse and I are both attorneys, and I’ve made a couple of networking contacts via a former colleague of my husband who is very prominent in the local legal community. Once that particular contact reached out to my husband to ask if I’d be interested in connecting with the husband of a colleague of his, if you want to get really attenuated. I think the difference is that (1) there are still personal contacts in each link in the chain, and (2) all spouses were looped out once the initial introduction was made.

    2. Infinity Anon*

      That is similar to what Alison was talking about in her answer. You connected them and then let it go from there.

    3. cleo*

      My husband and I have done that for each other and it’s worked well. Honestly, there are times when it’s a little easier to network for someone else. But always, once the connection is made, the connector steps away.

    4. CM*

      That would be fine for an acquaintance, so it’s fine for a spouse too. That’s pretty much what LinkedIn is for.

  11. misspiggy*

    The level of judgement here is quite interesting for me, because my husband’s mental health issues mean he cannot bring himself to apply for jobs. He can’t see himself in a positive enough light to suggest that someone should employ him. Yet he has received promotions and enthusiastic feedback from all levels wherever he has worked.

    I’ve put together all his job applications, resumes and letters of application, subject to his review – if I hadn’t done that, he’d be unemployed. I’ve used his email address, for all the reasons discussed here. But I’m surprised people would assume that a reluctant applier always means a poor employee.

    1. Justin*

      I think that something like that is always possible, but that Jane should realize how it looks – because most of the time it’s not that.

      And if it’s something like that, she can say that in response to what she received.

    2. Sadsack*

      You help him with the application process and drafting correspondence, but they are being submitted in his name and he would be the one to talk on he own behalf should he get a request to interview, correct? I think that is a lot different than having someone else do the speaking for you, which is essentially what the wife in the letter is doing.

    3. k.k*

      The fact that you used his email address is a HUGE difference. I assume your husband knows you’re doing this, since he gave you access to his email. This eliminates most of the red flags shows in the letter (husband not knowing that having a spouse communicate for your is outside of business norms, spouse being pushy and overly involved, husband not even wanting a job).

      1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

        Agreed. The application and communication appeared to come from your husband, misspiggy. I think that’s the main difference. If you were searching on his behalf from your own account, people would question if he would be capable of doing the job.

        1. fposte*

          The other thing is that in misspiggy’s case (her husband truly wouldn’t do any of this on her own) the choice is husband for sure getting no job vs. him having an application package that raises questions. Number two is the clear winner there.

          (Does this mean you’re writing his cover letters for him in his own voice, though? I’d be pretty unhappy to discover somebody else had written an applicant’s cover letter.)

          1. SomeoneLikeAnon*

            People pay a service to write cover letters and resumes in their voice. That’s socially acceptable. I don’t see how that’s different than having a friend or spouse write a cover letter or resume.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              It’s socially acceptable, but it shouldn’t be unless the prospective employer knows they’re dealing with, say, a temp agency that will do that. Bringing an actual money transaction into it makes it even more unfair, given that people with more means can partially “buy” their way into a job.

              People: as they taught you in middle school, do your own damn work.

            2. The OG Anonsie*

              I wouldn’t say it’s socially acceptable any more than those services to write your kid’s college admissions essays is socially acceptable. It’s sort of a shadow business that exists, but if you use it you tend to keep it a secret and largely pretend that the work is your own and you just had them “edit” it for you.

              I have some friends in this business and it’s always characterized as editing but the unspoken thing is that they’re really rewriting the whole thing for you and calling it editing so as to skirt the fact that this really isn’t considered to be on the up and up.

    4. fposte*

      It doesn’t have to always mean it–a significant correlation is enough for it to be a problem. And I think there’s a significant correlation here.

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        The thing is, as someone put it much farther down the thread, there is no job search unless the person who wants the job is at least involved in the searching.

        Look at it this way: Employers want someone who wants the job. That’s one of the minimum requirements. If all of the initiative is coming from someone else, how can they tell if the person actually wants the job?

    5. Temperance*

      I have to admit that I would judge someone harshly for not bothering to apply on their own – I would honestly be more judgmental towards a man who was forcing his wife to do the legwork, because men who treat their life partners as personal assistants irk me like nothing else. No one likes applying for jobs, and no one likes writing cover letters. (Okay, there’s probably someone out there who does, but not the majority of us.)

      I would feel tricked if I chose to interview an applicant based on their materials and later find out that they weren’t the person who did the work. I might also assume that the person is less competent than their materials indicated.

      I struggle with anxiety and mild depression, and I understand how hard and paralyzing it can be to take steps like this. I still don’t think it’s acceptable, though.

      1. LizB*

        Yeah, I agree with this. I also have anxiety and depression and can absolutely relate to the paralysis those conditions can bring… but then your first priority needs to be finding treatment that will bring you to a point where you can apply for jobs on your own. Having someone help you once so you can get a job and not starve/have health insurance for treatment? Fine. Your partner doing all your applying for you multiple times (which it sounds is the case here)? I do judge that. Besides, misspiggy’s husband is clearly able to present himself as a viable candidate in interviews, if he’s been getting hired; can’t whatever coping strategies he uses then be applied into the earlier steps of the process as well?

    6. Triangle Pose*

      I am struggling to find a way to describe this situation as anything other than fraudulent… I evaluate applicants based on their application materials. If someone else prepares those materials on the applicant’s behalf with his sign off, I am prevented from properly evaluating the applicant compared to the applicant pool. If someone can’t bring himself to take the basic and necessary steps to become an applicant and instead signs off on a third party preparing those materials in his place, I don’t want to hire him. Your post is a reminder for me to be extra attentive for this in the hiring process. Even though he’s had stellar reviews and promotions, I would feel lied to as his employer.

      1. Emilia*

        I agree, and I’m surprised there are people who thinks this is the better option somehow.

        It sounds like a tricky situation. Sure someone could be great at the job they do and have great work ethic, but unless they’re /so/ good they get scouted they still have to go through the interview process, which requires a whole other set of skills. As someone who gets anxious easily I wish I could have someone else handle that part of the process for me, but I certainly don’t expect employers won’t judge for me if they found out.

      2. The OG Anonsie*

        I can’t help but agree. Coaching and assisting someone with any kind of disability through the application process is dramatically different than saying they’re full on not capable of doing it and quietly handling the whole thing yourself. Aside from how I would see this as a potential employer, it sounds like an extreme disservice to the person you’re trying to help.

      3. B*

        Hmm, I dunno, there are a lot of services that assist with job applications to various degrees. It seems like it’d only be fraud if what was on the job application was incorrect information.
        I agree it’s a bit of a red flag if someone can’t manage to do their own application materials but can also see someone just having trouble with that one specific thing and being fine otherwise.
        (and heck yeah I hate applying to things but I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone write my app for me; back in college days I would have my parents read over my app for proofing though and my spouse and I now give each other’s apps a onceover)

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      No I wouldn’t say that :) it can happen, and I’ve had my other half sitting beside me deciding on what to say in both directions – it’s the coming from the spouse as if they are the lead in the situation that’s the issue.

  12. Jeff*

    Jane mentioned that they’re in the middle of moving. Without knowing what field Bob works in, is it possible that Bob is swamped wrapping up work where they currently are and Jane is trying to be helpful while finding him leads on jobs where they’re moving? Having just finished selling a place and moving myself, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed fast. For me, I would still do those communications on my own rather than relying on my wife, but Jane might be trying to ease some of the load by helping him find job connections. If that is what’s going on, it’d be helpful for Jane to say that’s the reason she’s communicating instead of Bob. If they’re recent graduates though, that weirdness may not be evident to them. On its face, it seems really weird that Jane would be job searching for Bob, but I wonder if there’s something else going on.

      1. Jeff*

        Ah, well, in that case, nevermind. I guess it still could be Jane trying to be helpful, but yeah, it seems really off-putting that he’s not doing this himself.

  13. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    I have to wonder if moving to the state is Jane’s desire and Bob won’t agree unless he has a job before moving. And he doesn’t really care about moving, so he isn’t looking. So Jane is looking for him, hoping he’ll land a gig, so he agrees to the move. It doesn’t excuse this out-of-the-norm behavior, but might explain what is happening.

    She should have just presented the results of her search to Bob and had him send out the emails. Hell, she could have even drafted and sent the email from his email address and then just been on him to respond to anyone who replied.

    OP, since there might be an understandable reasoning behind it, perhaps having a discussion with Bob himself should happen before you decide if it is worth passing on him or not?

    1. Observer*

      All of these reasonable explanations still raise some pretty big red flags for an employer, though. If you were doing the hiring, would you want to be in the middle of someone’s family drama?

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        Oh I totally get OP passing. But if his role truly is hard to fill and Bob looks good on paper except for this, perhaps talking to Bob is better than passing outright. I don’t know.

    2. OldJules*

      I agree. He probably doesn’t want to move. My husband works in a nearby city and I’ve been sending him opportunities in our resident city. He isn’t applying. But that is a relationship issue, not a work issue. I’d reach out directly to talk to the candidate anyway. It’s not his fault that his wife does the networking for him. For all you know, he doesn’t know.

  14. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    I do like how OP responded to Jane. Having a spouse job-search is a huge red flag and I would not follow up with that individual either. Making an initial connection and bowing out as Alison said is fine and normal; following up repeatedly and taking over the search is not a good thing. I would have to start questioning Bob’s attitude and skills: does he rely on his subordinates to communicate outside the department? Does he delegate a large number of duties that maybe shouldn’t be delegated? Is he going to bring home business and have his wife involved in his work life to an interfering extent? The entire situation brings up serious issues. I work in an office that requires both public disclosures and transparency as well as classified information. I can speak with my spouse regarding certain issues, but I’m certainly not discussing protected information like FOUO or giving details on locations I may travel to. I would question if Bob is going to be able to protect proprietary information or if he will think nothing of passing it down to his assistant or direct report to handle what they may or may not be supposed to know. Is his wife just a strong personality and taking charge or is Bob a pushover? That really affects his ability to do some types of jobs.

  15. HardwoodFloors*

    What if Bob is working and his employer doesn’t know that he will be moving on?Maybe Bob has to move to be near a family member in crisis but he doesn’t want to get dumped from his job prematurely. If his employer got wind feelers were sent out Bob could say he wasn’t searching for a job.

    1. No gifts*

      If that is the case then Bob/Jane has done a poor job of weighing the risks/benefits of this strategy. Possibility your employer might find out you’re searching (a normal risk faced by lots of people) vs. guarantee of looking like you have boundary issues and/or no understanding of professional norms? Having your wife handle your search is NOT the correct answer.

    2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      She is job searching in his name. She is cold-calling (or cold-emailing) the Alumni list from their university, sharing Bob’s interest, and that could certainly get back to boss.

  16. OtterB*

    I did a lot of background work when my husband was job searching, but that was limited to web searching and proofreading when he requested. I could see making the initial contact if the spouse has some connection, but then the conversation should be handed off, as someone else suggested.

  17. JTHMeow*

    My MIL does all the job searching in the household for my FIL because he is….well let’s say…challenged with technology. I do believe in the correspondence she pretends it is him doing the job searching. Still bizarre on their end and also in this situation as well especially as she is presenting herself as the one doing the searching.

  18. Multiple Emails*

    I have a bunch of email accounts on my iPhone – several of mine, my husband’s, and both of my kids, kinda all grouped together in one place. I’m not sure how I set it up that way. Every once in a while, when I go to compose an email, somehow the “from” email address has switched to one of the other accounts. I can see how it would be possible that I could be sending out emails for a whole week with my husband’s email account as the “from” without me even noticing. Not that this is what’s happened in this case, but I offer it as a plausible explanation.

    1. OP*

      Except that the content of all the emails is stuff like “can you look at my husband’s resume (attached),” which makes it clear that she’s the one doing the searching on behalf of the husband.

  19. Half-Caf Latte*

    This reminds me of the letter from the archives where the husband wrote an email to the wife’s nurse manager informing them of his/”our” decision for the wife to resign within the 90 day probation period.

    There was a lot of discussion of concern for abuse, and I get that limiting her ability to independently earn a living is a known abuse tactic, whereas in this case the wife is seeking employment for the husband, not preventing it.

    I can’t help but wonder if roles were reversed and Bob were reaching out on behalf of Jane, however, if people wouldn’t be saying that he seems controlling/this was a concern for abusive behavior.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think so. That kind of abusive control is more of a concern when someone is interfering with the spouse’s employment, not just networking on their behalf.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t think I would read it as abusive if the roles were reversed. I would think it demonstrated a lack of appropriate boundaries, but generally trying to increase someone’s economic opportunity in this way isn’t seen as classically abusive. If Jane were trying to force Bob into another industry, or try to get him to move locations, or any of a bunch of other things, then I think it could edge closer to abusive. But in this case we don’t have enough information about potential “other things” to know if other control issues are at play.

    3. OP*

      I’ll admit, when I got the emails, I showed them to two other guys (my husband, and a male colleague), and both of them had the same response: “Wow, that’s really weird. It’s like ‘blink twice if you need me to send help.'” So, FWIW, that’s exactly the reaction a couple of people close to me had.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I thought there was the possibility for controlling/abusive on the letter this morning about complaining to his wife’s employer about stuff. (Though cluelessness seems more likely.)

      Regardless of gender (and my default test is to make everyone a same-sex couple), a spouse trying to intervene negatively in the employee’s job comes across as trying to exert economic control. A spouse trying to find their partner a job is sort of the opposite–they are trying to increase the person’s economic power while the would-be employee drags their feet.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      I think I’d be just as leery of a husband applying for his wife. I’d be like “does she actually want a job? Does she want to stay at home or keep her current job, and will she resent being here if we hire her?”

  20. Case of the Mondays*

    When a friend of mine was going through a divorce, I helped her apartment hunt. She was working long hours and I had some free time. I knew her criteria and her deal breakers so I would look online, call people with initial questions and set up appointments. I don’t like pretending to be someone I’m not so I would do it under my own name and be open that I was helping a friend with her search. People were really put off by it. I got a lot of requests for more information. I don’t know what nefarious thing they thought was going on? Maybe they thought I was a disgruntled roommate looking to rehome her? Some were understanding when I said she had a ton on her plate and I had free time and was just trying to get through the filtering phase and that she’d be at the view and application phase. I think people worried she was disabled or mentally ill or something.

    1. BPT*

      Honestly that would be kind of a red flag to me for many of the same reasons this situation is. It would make me wonder why the actual applicant can’t contact me herself. Most people are busy but moving takes time and effort. Is she so busy that she’ll forget to pay rent? Is she incapable of using the internet? Why do I have to go through someone else just to get to the applicant? I live in DC so the housing market is insane. So if a landlord or roommates advertise an apartment, they’re going to get 50-100 applicants minimum. There’s just no point in going through an extra layer of people to try to get to the actual applicant.

      What you did for your friend is really nice and I’m sure it helped her in a difficult time, but I can see why it raised flags with those on the other end.

    2. Jess*

      I did that once for a friend in a similar situation. I opened all my communications with, “Hi, this is Jess Smith calling for Andrea Jones. She’s interested in the apartment you have available and has a few questions….”

      I never got any pushback though. I kind of assumed people thought I was her personal assistant.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        “I kind of assumed people thought I was her personal assistant.”

        Bingo. If you’re going to do this as a favor for a friend, this is how you do it.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          A family friend once had a disciplinary at work (which wasn’t his fault and did get cleared up). He wasn’t in a union (we have… talked… about that omission since ;) ) and my spouse got on his suit and went in to support him. Just moral support was what he intended – but manager assumed he was friend’s lawyer :)

    3. Temperance*

      There are a bunch of real estate scams out there, so I would assume that it mgiht be one of them.

      1. AW*

        This would be my initial thought.

        Even in the kindest scenario, I’d be worried that I wasn’t getting accurate information about what the friend really does and doesn’t want.

    4. a different Vicki*

      My girlfriend helped me with my last apartment hunt, but the email I sent about the apartment was basically “we’re planning to relocate to your area soon, and are interested in this apartment. Can I have a friend take a look at it for me and let me know if she thinks I should see it in person?” They said yes, and when my girlfriend she said she thought we’d like it, I made an appointment to look at the place myself, gave the landlord references, and signed the lease myself.

      So, straightforward, and I realized that they might say “no, we’re talking to principals only,” but I didn’t want to buy a plane ticket based on a few photos and a paragraph of text in a Craigslist ad.

    5. Recruit-o-rama*

      I would not have talked to you about your friend. I ALWAYS find it extremely off putting to be contacted about an open position by anyone other than the interested party. Every interaction with a potential candidate is a metric point in the final decision.

      Background research online? Yes. Proofreading and refining resumes and cover letters? Yes. Interview research and prep? Yup, all day long.

      Calling for your friend? Nope. I would have told you to have your friend call directly. I’m happy to respond to questions about our open positions, but directly, not through an intermediary.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Interesting. Do you generally require resumes and cover letters as part of the application process to move into one of your “open positions” (which I assume is how you refer to your rental properties, since that’s what the comment you’re replying to was talking about)?

    6. Allison*

      Yeah, I get why that seemed helpful, but by doing that you made your friend look like someone who wasn’t capable of running her own search, and it may have made people wonder what else she might have trouble with. It would have been better to hunt for leads and send them to her, and let her deal with the landlords, potential roommates, realtors, etc.

    7. ThatGirl*

      A friend of mine helped me out when I moved some 400 miles, because she was in the metro area I was moving to, and she was invaluable in looking at apartments in person for me. I don’t think anyone gave her side-eye for it, and I actually did the applying and deposit.

      1. pineapplesquid*

        Someone very kind just did this for us; we were looking for a place in a small town about 700 miles away, so a current employee did some research and visits for us. A couple of people were mildly confused until I explained, but honestly it was just fine with all of them and I think it was perfectly reasonable. We did the actual application and deposit, too, of course. I just couldn’t see us spending a lot of money on plane tickets when there might only be a couple of places in town available at any given moment (oh, small town joy).

    8. Not Who I Think I Am*

      When I was relocating to the town I grew up in after many years, I asked my mom to drive by an apartment complex I had called about, because that part of town was a sand dune when I had lived there before, and I wanted her judgment about the safety of the neighborhood. She took it much further, and was accosted by the manager when discovered wandering the grounds. The manager remembered my name, and so my mom got a tour of the apartment before I did, and it turned out OK — I got the apartment. But I was mortified! One does like to make one’s own first impression.

    9. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’d say there are two very acceptable reasons to have another person do an apartment hunt: 1.) you’re the principal’s personal assistant, lawyer, business associate, agent, etc. or someone willing to play that role for the apartment search, 2.) you’re in a different location and you want a pair of eyes on the ground in the property before you rent it.

      Neither of those apply to job searches.

  21. JarofBees*

    Ugh, the family applications. Just had a “did my (adult/ professionally licensed) daughter get this job?” email from a Dad this morning and had to tell him that SHE would be notified when we knew something.

    That said, filed under “there’s always a field with an exception”, in physician recruiting there are a TON of spouses who handle the application process and it’s not unusual at all. Lots of fields have shortages and in small family practices, the spouse is often an office manager as well. The recruiters I see working with physicians would be so glad to hear from anyone who is tangentially related to a neurosurgeon or a psychiatrist working in rural zones, that they will talk to the spouse up through interview scheduling and the first time they speak to the doc is the day of the interview.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      My dentist has his wife do all of his personal and professional correspondence. I found this out when I was in his chair having a cleaning and it came up that his daughter was in my son’s class at school. I asked if he ever thought about donating to our PTO fundraiser, he said he’d get back to me, and two days later I was contacted by his wife who I had never met. She said everything for their office and family went through her because he was too focused on his patients. In that situation, I didn’t think it was weird. The letter writer in this case doesn’t seem to be recruiting medical professionals though so I don’t think the exception applies.

      1. Bellatrix*

        Yeah, but that’s genuinely different as they’re sponsoring PTO at a school that *their* child attends. It’s normal that both parents will be involved in their kids’ education and that they’ll share information each one may acquire individually about that. Job searching just isn’t something you do with a spouse the same way you conceive, have and raise a child with them.

    2. The OG Anonsie*

      Oh you know, I had totally forgotten about all the spousal intermediary stuff I saw when working with doctors but you’re right. There really is somewhere for everything I guess.

      1. Yams*

        I actually know a lot of people who graduated college with only rudimentary reading and writing skills. I’m pretty sure I went to college with someone who was holding a book for the first time based on how terribly she read. I mean, I know kinder-gardeners who speak and write at a higher level. Well, I guess technically it was functional illiteracy, but, potato potato.

  22. Interplanet Janet*

    I received a LinkedIn connection request from someone I don’t know, although in my industry. I accepted in the name of ‘networking’ and he replied with a business pitch for his wife’s business which I thought was odd. I checked his LinkedIn profile and there’s no mention of his wife’s business name on his profile. I promptly deleted the conversation without responding, although in hindsight, I should have responded if his wife wants networking opportunities she should be the one reaching out.

  23. Competent Commenter*

    I’ve received several emails (and had emails forwarded to me by others in my unit) from a small photography firm looking for work as an outside vendor. I do look for people like this so I’m a good prospect. But I get all the correspondence from the husband and the wife is the photographer. The husband doesn’t say in the emails that “we provide good service, doing x, y and z,” etc. He says that “she is a great photographer,” etc. I’m like, then have her email me herself, and I strongly implied that in my replies, as in, “Looking forward to hearing from her.” If the husband said he was the marketing arm and reaching out on her behalf it would feel different, and be fine. Plus there are other boundary issues, like (correctly) corresponding with me first and then when I said I didn’t need anything immediately, going to other people in my unit to ask who they should talk to, as though to get around me (sorry guy, I’m the only one here who would hire you). Anyway, you just don’t want to bring weird spouse vibes into your job or client search.

  24. PRGuy*

    1. I’m eager for the follow-up on this one, if there is any reply.
    2. I keep picturing Bob as Smiling Bob, the Enzyte spokesman…

  25. TurquoiseCow*

    I think I might have replied with something along the lines of:

    “Bob sounds like he has the qualifications we are looking for. Before I pass on his resume, however, I’d like to talk to the man himself. Can you tell him to call/email me/send a carrier pigeon/do something to communicate with me himself?”

    It doesn’t sound *that* different from what a recruiter does, technically. But even a recruiter would hand over the reins to the actual candidate at some point.

  26. Susan*

    On a similar note, I actually had a neighbor – whom I see only occasionally and almost always on walks with her husband – stop by alone one evening to bring me her husband’s resume. I had a lot of the same issues – and one more – which was that even if I was interested, how would I explain where I got his resume? I mean, she clearly didn’t want him to know she was giving it to me. (I’m not sure she thought that through.)

    My standard reply to people who are looking for some kind of inside track when I don’t feel comfortable providing that is to simply send a link to the company’s job opportunities page, along with a polite note indicating that they should feel free to let me know if they decide to apply. I usually don’t hear back. A lot of people seem to think that if they know someone on the inside they don’t need to work through the process; that’s simply not true in most companies of any size.

    1. SL #2*

      So true. The last time we hired someone that we knew from previous work, we put her through the full interview process, even though she was the only applicant we had, and even though we were the ones reaching out to her with the opportunity. Knowing someone on the inside gets your resume a second look, and maybe a quicker push to the interview stage, but it’s not like companies hire sight-unseen just because you know an employee there.

  27. Zip Zap*

    I think OP’s response to the wife was a good one.

    Looking at the facts, we don’t know anything about Bob except that he’s an alum of the same school. We don’t know why his wife is sending these emails out. We don’t know if he knows or what he thinks about it. We don’t know if he’s actually job searching.

    I think it’s best to take things at face value in situations like this. There are endless interesting possibilities and explanations for it all, but at the end of the day, Bob has to speak for himself. Effectively, there is no job search unless he’s the one conducting it.

  28. nonegiven*

    I’ll admit to coming up with DH’s resume for the job he has now. Neither one of us had any idea how to write a resume and it was dial up internet days. He did shop it around himself. He did interview, follow up with the phone later on and got the job.

    1. Planner Lady*

      Yeah, I work with my partner on writing his resume, but that’s because I’m much better at words, and he really struggles with the “selling his skills” aspect of it. But I don’t write any other parts of his materials and I sure as hell don’t contact prospective employers on his behalf!

    2. Zip Zap*

      If it’s an honest representation of his skills and background, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I got help from a professional resume writer once. I worked with her; I didn’t pass off someone else’s writing as my own. I just realized that resume writing was a weak spot and that if I invested in some coaching, it would pay off. And it did.

  29. Gazebo Slayer*

    Women posting on this page about how you do all your husband’s job application stuff for him: it is not fair to you for him to expect that, and not fair to his prospective employers that they unknowingly have to base their hiring decisions on samples of YOUR work, not HIS. It’s especially sad if he makes more money than you do.

    (Same goes for all the stories of family members who do the same.)

    A man who can’t be bothered to apply for a job, or can’t write or use computers well enough to qualify for a professional/office position, is not entitled to such a job because he happens to have a wife who’ll apply on his behalf. Employers are hiring him, not his wife. (Unless, you know, she’s applying in her own right.)

    It pisses me off to see a woman do the work and a lazy or incompetent man get the credit and the money.

    We don’t know whether the situation with Bob and Jane is that Bob won’t apply, that Jane is a busybody, that Jane wants to move and Bob doesn’t, or that Jane is controlling or even abusive. The above rant may or may not apply to them. But if you’re married to a manbaby, stop enabling him. For his sake, for your sake, and for the sake of his future coworkers and bosses.

  30. state government jane*

    It’s so shocking to see how many people write in with iterations of this! If as a friend or spouse or partner or whatever, you truly want to be supportive and help with some of the legwork involved in job-hunting, self-evaluating, requesting vacation, whatever–sit down with your person and help them write a script or make a game plan. There are so many problems/potholes created when people take Bob’s wife’s tack.

    As a side note: Wow, I needed a script like OP’s when roommate-hunting at various points through college/young adulthood… sooooooo many moms trying to find homes for their sons. Woman to woman, if your son isn’t capable of communicating with his own potential future roommates, how am I gonna trust that he’s gonna do his own dishes and pay the bills on time?

  31. Ramona Flowers*

    I once had a resume for a freelance job that someone sent in on behalf of a friend. It was the weirdest thing. It wasn’t a referral, it was just weird.

  32. KV*

    Oh boy. This calls to mind a friend’s mother who applied to colleges on my friend’s behalf (“just in case”), including re-purposing high school essays as her entrance essays. And then she was surprised when her daughter wasn’t excited about the acceptance letter!

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      …where do people even find the time to do that kind of thing, unsolicited? Like, there are a zillion things I’d rather do than apply for colleges on someone else’s behalf “just in case” in a way that actually harms rather than helps her.

  33. OP*

    Hi all! OP here! So glad to get your comments, and to realize I’m not alone in being totally weirded out by this whole exchange. Thought I’d clarify a few points and answer some questions that came up:
    1. Jane and Bob are both alums of my school, though not during the years I attended. I know neither of them, and, as far as I can tell, we don’t even have any contacts in common.
    2. I have no idea what’s going on in Jane and Bob’s relationship or lives that might make this make sense. Neither one of them has replied to my latest email.
    3. I’m not a hiring manager or a recruiter, and Jane wasn’t emailing me asking for a specific job with my specific company. It was just a general email blast asking for connections to companies, recruiters, advice, etc. If he or she had done enough research (Googled my name, found my Linkedin profile) and asked me about my company by name, or found the public job posting and asked me about it, I might have responded. But neither Bob nor Jane has applied to my company directly, so I don’t feel a lot of obligation to pass on a posting to the wife of a stranger who doesn’t get business norms. Nor do I feel comfortable sending on Bob’s resume to the hiring manager for the position, since I work with her closely and I don’t want to recommend someone that I both don’t know and that has sent up a bunch of red flags before even getting to the application stage.
    4. I think I’d feel the same way if it were a husband networking with strangers on behalf of his wife.
    5. Bob is not new at this. He’s been working at his company for 13+ years, in various roles. It’s not like he’s fresh out of college and has a good excuse for not understanding business norms or the concept of doing your own work.
    6. I’ll definitely send in an update if I get a reply.
    Well, that’s all that occurs to me now. Again, thanks for the great comments.

    1. Zip Zap*

      Wow. That sure is weird. I think the facts point to some sort of dysfunctional marriage situation, but it’s impossible to say.

      1. Zip Zap*

        On the other hand, maybe he’s out of touch with current hiring practices because he’s been with the same employer for so long.

  34. Hteb*

    I have a question based on the OP’s question – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too, OP!
    I was transferred to an international office by my company, and now my partner is job seeking in our new country. A colleague at my company asked me to pass on his resume as she had connections in my partner’s field. I did so, after speaking with my partner, but didn’t get him to address my colleague, or even copy my partner in when I emailed my colleague.
    Have I damaged my partner’s chances by handling it like this? If so, any advice on how I could have / should in future handle this situation?

  35. lurker 4 ever*

    I’ve been lurking this site for years, but usually by the time I have something to say, it’s already been said. I have a different thought on this situation.

    I’ve seen women do very similar activities like this for husbands. I’ve been doing domestic violence work at women’s shelters for many years and it may be that Jane could be the victim of financial abuse. There have been a number of cases I’ve seen where men are refusing to do the actual work required to acquire employment, but at the same time “blaming the job market” for their lack of attaining employment.

    * “You don’t understand my industry, you don’t send resumes, you have to network into it”* to get a low skill entry level position.
    * “I never check that email, and I want to make sure I get it on my phone right away right away”* on why he’s using “inappropriate words”@gmail instead of his “full name”@gmail account on his resume and to send resumes.
    * One I’m certain googled “what stops people from getting hired” and did all those things to avoid getting hired.
    * A few “change careers” but refuse to take anything below what they were getting in their established career, or going into incredibly difficult industries, or not getting education to get into that field (“I’ve got decades of experience as a chocolate teapot maker I had to do lots of math like measure ingredients, count boxes for shipping, add together invoices, so I don’t need to go to school to become an accountant, it’s just a difficult job market”*)

    There is nothing really that the OP can likely do here, but it may help explain the behaviour and raise awareness of financial abuse. The worst part is that when financial abuse is accompanied by other forms of abuse (emotional, physical or sexual), victims tend to think that its because he’s having difficulty finding work and that if he would find a job it would help his self-esteem so he wouldn’t be abusive, or they feel bad leaving him when he’s jobless. So they can become quite desperate to help him find work to stop the abuse or so they can leave him – the amount of effort Jane seems to be putting in reminds me of that desperation.

    There is an article about a woman who was a millionaire who’s husband destroyed her financially, not exactly the same thing I wrote about here, but along the same lines:

    *to preserve confidentiality this isn’t exactly how it went down, but very similar

  36. Candace Green*

    I work in academe, and we often are trying to recruit one spouse, and the recruiting department will ask other departments whether there may be a job for a spouse. This is not at all unusual within academe, perhaps because candidates are often moving from other states, regions, or even countries. I have myself moved thousands of miles, several times.

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