I’m supposed to fire my husband’s ex-wife

A reader writes:

I have recently been offered and accepted a job I am so excited about. It is an associate VP level for a solid company that has truly invested in this area of the business. I have been working a long time to get to this level of position. I gave notice at my current job, and yesterday was my last day, I am taking a week off before starting my new position.

While interviewing for the new position, the SRVP mentioned one of my potential direct reports, M., had only been at the company for three weeks and they were discovering she is a bit more “self-taught” than she and her resume indicated, and that I would likely need to give her a lot of coaching/direction and possibly let her go. She mentioned this because if she is going to be go, they want it to be in her 90-day probationary period, which would give me about a month to assess and coach her.

When I went for my second interview, it really was just so I could meet all team. M. happened to be on PTO that day, so I didn’t meet her.

Today my SRVP was in town and asked if I wanted to meet at the office and go to lunch since she will be back at her home office on my first day. Over lunch, she mentioned again that M. was not able to do the work at the level they were expecting, and she feels strongly that M. is going to have to go. As we returned from lunch and were saying our goodbyes I noticed through the glass doors some of the people I had met who would be on my team, and saw another woman walking with them.

That woman is my new husband’s ex-wife.

As soon as I got home, I did a little digging, and she is M. She is the person who will be reporting to me who is “self-taught.” I know her entire resume is a lie — my husband told me, and I know her job history has been a lot less stable than her online resume and LinkedIn profile indicate.

What do I do? I don’t think it is appropriate for me to be the one to coach her, manage her, and certainly not fire her. I would be 100% able to give her a fair shot, but if I do have to let her go, it is going to be perceived as some sort of … crazy new wife thing!

What and when do I tell the SRVP? I would be willing to postpone my start date by one week, but beyond that…? I don’t think it is fair to show up on day one and have M. find out then I am her new boss, and I don’t want to be the one to tell her.

Oooooh.

Tell your SRVP today. Like right now, within the next hour.

You definitely can’t be the one to fire M. — there’s way too much potential for drama and for you to perceived as a vengeful ex-wife.

So call your new boss and explain the situation. Say that you put it together after seeing M. there the other day, and that you realize this complicates things. Then say something like, “Because of the complicated personal relationship, I don’t think I should be the one to let her go if that’s what needs to happen. If things are at the point where it’s clear that’s going to be the outcome, would it make sense for me to delay my start date by a week so that can happen before I start?”

If your boss tells you she thinks you can handle the situation and it will be fine, say this: “I appreciate that, but given the relationships involved, I think M. would perceive the decision as personal, which could cause problems for the company,  and it could poison the well with my new team. I want to make sure the decision to let her go can’t be seen as a biased one.”

It’s likely, though, that your boss is going to see this as you do and will want to avoid the drama of the new wife firing the ex-wife. Just lay it out clearly, do it right away (so she doesn’t wonder why you waited to raise it), and be clear about how you’re proposing handling it.

Frankly, this would get even more complicated if M. weren’t going to be fired and if you were walking into a new job where, surprise, you’re managing your husband’s ex-wife. That could be unworkable for a bunch of reasons. Either way, the best thing you can do is to alert your new boss ASAP and figure out what makes sense from here.

{ 286 comments… read them below }

      1. Harper the Other One

        Yep, write this in something fictional and people will complain it’s way too unrealistic.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot

      OOooohhhh yeeeeessssss.

      I was already feeling a gut punch just reading the title of this post. I can only imagine the dread the Letter Writer got hit with when she figured it out.

  1. Mystery Bookworm

    In a lot of ways, I think it helps to think of these situations in terms of how it will look to other co-workers. They might not have the insight to understand how M is struggling, and if OP starts right away and soon after has to fire her, it will make it that much harder to gain their trust. Perception matters, even if we wish it didn’t.

    I don’t think this should jeapordise your role, but it sounds like the SRVP needs to handle this, not OP.

    1. Snowglobe

      Yes, and I think that is probably true even if there wasn’t a personal relationship. If a new manager comes in and fires an employee right away, before there’s been any chance to actually get to know the employee’s work, it will seem like a power play to the rest of the team. They gave no way of knowing that the new manager was directed to fire employee by upper management.

      1. Mystery Bookworm

        That’s an interesting point. Obviously, it all changes if people know (and perhaps are troubled by) the difficult co-worker, but if it’s someone who’s reasonably well-liked with a role that doesn’t allow others to have insight into their difficulties, there’s definitely a perception issue, even without the personal connection.

        I wonder if that would be a case where some extra coaching and maybe some transparency would really be helpful, again, if only to make sure you’re sending the right messages to the rest of the team.

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.

          If she talked her way into a job without the necessary skills and education, then it’s fair to assume she’s pleasant and possibly downright charming to coworkers. There hasn’t been enough time for her work to affect theirs, either. She’s still in probation.

          1. SusanIvanova

            Usually the co-workers figure out that someone put all their skill points in bluff before the managers do, so if the managers are saying this after 3 weeks, she’s been a *major* drag on productivity.

        2. designbot

          That’s a good point though—if her work is obviously bad, then it could actually send a great message to the rest of the team that the new boss takes no BS and is willing to do what it takes to build a strong team. There’ve been some folks I’ve worked with, that if a new boss came in and immediately fired them I’d be cheering from the sidelines.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        That is actually a really good point. I wonder if it would be worth OP mentioning that to SRVP as well.

      3. Animal worker

        Agreed. I came into my current position, and the first week I was here an employee needed a discipline action and suspension for something that occurred before I started. My bosses kept me out of it completely, as they didn’t want my first real interaction with this employee to be a meeting where she was given a suspension. (To not potentially derail, it was for a safety-related violation, and a suspension is normal in this instance in my industry)

      4. Parenthetically

        Absolutely. Apart from the interpersonal drama, having a brand new manager come in and fire someone as practically their first action isn’t exactly going to leave a pleasant taste in people’s mouths.

      5. GreyjoyGardens

        I think this is a very good point. If the first action of a new manager is to fire someone, that will get them off on the wrong foot with everyone else (unless the fired person is widely disliked). And if word gets out that M. is New Boss’s ex-wife, that will just make the optics worse. Never underestimate the rumor mill.

      6. Batman

        Yes, this is what I was thinking. If I had a new manager come in and fire someone, I would be wary of her. Since I don’t know what was going on behind the scenes, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that she’s and unfair and ruthless manager.

        1. Traffic_Spiral

          Huh, I’d think “ah, they got the shit assignment because they’re a newbie.” Like, unless I specifically know it was his/her idea, I’d assume that they probably didn’t have the clout to fire someone but also didn’t have the clout to get out of having to have an awkward conversation.

          1. Wintermute

            I would agree with your interpretation.

            My first assumption would NOT be that this brand new boss somehow had the political capital to burn to get someone fired out of process in their first week on a new job, my assumption would be the outgoing boss had let a problem fester and the new boss got stuck cleaning up the mess. I would also presume the situation may have something to do with why ex-boss is now an ex-boss and not “current boss”.

      7. WellRed

        Yes. I also found it odd that so much has been said about needing to let this employee go before the LW even starts. If she’s that bad, just do it.

        1. Kristin (Germany)

          Absolutely right! If they know they have a problem, they should solve that problem without complicating things for their new hire. Far better that she start with a clean slate and a position to fill where she can be involved in the hiring and training from the beginning than to have someone that they already know needs to be let go and within a relatively quick time frame by a brand new manager. Just deal with it and be done with it, and that’s setting all the potential drama with the personal relationships aside.

        2. Genny

          I think it made sense when LW started the interview process. The company was still on the fence about M, so I could see them bringing LW in and letting her determine whether or not M was worth the time and effort to train. As the hiring process progressed though, it sounds like it became increasingly clear that things aren’t working out with M. At that point, SRVP should just do the firing herself, but I can see getting stuck in the (erroneous) mindset that you told the new hire the decision to retain or fire M would be hers and not wanting to go back on that.

      8. Kes

        Yeah, I think firing straight away risks looking like it’s not about the performance, and then when you add in the personal connection here… it could easily look like there is another reason why she’s fired, and it’s because OP doesn’t want to work with the ex-wife.
        OP needs to explain they just discovered the connection. Since SRVP already knows they need to fire M, they should go ahead and do it themselves.

      9. Harper the Other One

        This happened in a place I worked. It was a family run business where they were playing catch-up to how big it was and had just hired a Human Resources specialist for their 6-store chain. Task #1: fire the newly promoted (and first female) assistant manager who they’d discovered was doing fraudulent returns onto her own credit card.

        Which of course wasn’t told to anyone (I only found out by chance.) So all anyone knew was that this HR person had come in and fired a long-time and well-liked employee in her first week. Guess how much anyone wanted to deal with her.

        1. Cafe au Lait

          My sister-in-law had to do something similar. A small but growing green energy business hired her as the sole HR manager. While making sure they were in compliance my SIL discovered several employees who had felonies on their records. Her second week on the job she had to call those employees into the office and fire them.

          That and several other things made her flee for a better paying, less stressful job within a year.

          1. JSPA

            I’m frankly pretty distressed at the assumption that people who had completed their punishment and were apparently successfully employed and not causing problems “had to” be fired.

            Especially given how much light has recently been shown into the hidden world of false confessions, bad convictions, planted evidence etc. Presumably the full exonerations from the innocence project are only the tip of the iceberg, as they have very limited resources and generally only take cases where people are incarcerated for very long times on particularly flimsy evidence. (“362 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 20 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 14 years in prison before exoneration and release.”)

            I can see that a solar installer (e.g.) might not want to put together a team of all-ex-felons with keys to a client’s house (whether because of liability or “optics.”) But not being able to have ex-felons in the business–period–seems like massive overkill.

            1. restingbutchface

              Agreed. Your example about home installations is a good one. I imagine they were fired for not disclosing their records but the chances of getting hired with a record are so slim I understand why people don’t. Now they have a record and no references from their last job, which is exactly why people go back to illegal ways of making money.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood

              I hear you. I hope it’s a simplification of the situation and that there’s a specific *type* of offender that is permanently excluded from specific jobs. Daycare centers exclude convicted child molesters. Truck delivery companies exclude multiple-conviction drunk drivers. These are logical, related exclusions.
              But a hard line would exclude those on the gray edge. I can easily imagine someone convicted on a three-strikes-and-you’re-out for small amounts of marijuana possession now living in a state where it’s been legalized. Maybe give them a longer probation period, maybe set up an actual job contract where they sign off that they will be immediately terminated if re-arrested on related charges or if they show up intoxicated, but dang. There’s got to be a way to reintegrate people.

    2. Amber T

      That’s a really good point. It sounds like the managers have plenty of good reasons to fire her (and I’m sure her coworkers are probably really frustrated with her too), but if new boss came in and one of the first things they did was to fire someone (even if it was well deserved)… it just seems like New Boss is jumping the gun, what else might she judge things seemingly too quickly?

      And yeah, that added mess of it being your husband’s ex wife… would you just be firing her because you don’t want to work with her? (Of course, no – I mean that might be the perception, especially of those not affected by her work) Definitely better coming from the SRVP all around.

    3. A person

      Yes, perception matters here. The other staff members could still find out about the relationship and assume the probationary employee was fired as a condition of the OP’s hiring (they’ve already met her.)

      If the OP can provide the SRVP with any factual information about the probationary employee’s entire resume being a lie, that would be grounds for immediate termination at a lot of employers. I didn’t get the impression that the company knew about the extent of the falsification of the employment history. The coworkers would definitely understand someone getting fired because they lied about their credentials.

      1. NerdyKris

        I’d worry that information she gained from her husband about the ex wife’s job history would be seen as biased. I don’t think it should be brought up, since it’s second hand information being filtered through his new wife. It would cause the exact same drama as OP firing her.

        1. Blue

          I agree. There’s no need to open that can of worms, anyway, if she’s clearly not operating at the level the company is expecting.

        2. myswtghst

          Agreed. In a situation like this, it’s reasonable for the company to let the employee go during her probationary period for not meeting her goals. If they wanted to confirm her resume was accurate, they could have reached out to references during the hiring process (or could even do so now, honestly). But using information gotten third-hand from an incoming employee who got it from a mutual personal relation who is unlikely to be 100% unbiased (and most likely did not work with the ex-wife) is not a good look.

      2. myswtghst

        “The other staff members could still find out about the relationship and assume the probationary employee was fired as a condition of the OP’s hiring (they’ve already met her.)”

        Ooh, this is another wrinkle that hadn’t occurred to me. I don’t know if there’s any way to avoid the office chatter completely, but it would definitely be beneficial for the SRVP to not only handle the firing, but also to think long and hard about how it’s communicated to the team, to minimize the speculation.

    4. MLB

      It seems like they’re using the OP to do the dirty work that they don’t want to handle themselves. It’s pretty crappy to inform someone that you just hired that they will most likely be responsible for firing someone that they will only work with for a month. I would have pushed back on that regardless of knowing the person. That adds a whole new layer of complication.

      If there’s no way out of this, I would meet with my team shortly thereafter and explain the situation to try and get ahead of any gossip/damage done by the new manager coming in with guns blazing.

      1. Troutwaxer

        If your new management is unwilling to fire the woman before you arrive, maybe the way to handle this is to ask various of the ex’s coworkers to help with her training/coaching, and as those coworkers complain to the OP that she is not ready for her duties, the OP can rotate her to a different coworker. Then when she’s made the rounds and everyone knows why she’s a problem she can be fired. But you can’t walk in on the first day and shoot one of their coworkers in the face.

        1. designbot

          that could work if she had the time, but it sounds like she’s getting a one-week window to do this in.

    5. TootsNYC

      I think there is still a real risk that our OP will be seen as having said, “get her out or I won’t take the job,” which is another kind of drama.

      I’d be asking that senior management to make it really clear, at least to Ex-Wife M., that this is a result of M.’s problems.

      1. DeepThoughts

        I agree with this TootsNYC – this is a great point. M is on her way out. Other employees will find out that the OP is the new wife and will asume that the OP had a hand in removing her. If I were OP, I would try to delay my start date until the ex is out of there and then wait a week, is possible.

    6. Polymer Phil

      A relative of mine was once instructed to fire an employee on his first day at a new job. I agree with the other commenters – the upper manager who made the decision should own it and not hide behind someone else. I also agree that this could cause a perception that the new manager fired the person on a whim rather than under orders from his own boss, and make the entire team fearful.

      1. Toxic workplace manager

        Phil, where I work, it’s not unusual for the new manager to fire someone immediately, often the employee who served in the temporary manager role during the job search for the permanent manager. This eliminates a resentful rival and sends a message to the rest of the team that the new permanent manager is to be feared. This is supposed to keep them in line. I’m keeping an eye on the job market so I can exit if possible, but it’s hard to find a new job, and it’s difficult to know if the job I’m moving to will be any better.

    7. Anon for this

      This is a great point. When I was hired as a manager at OldJob, one of my peers who was the former manager of one of my new direct reports was pressuring me to put this person on a PIP immediately. I did not because I didn’t feel I had enough information to put her on a PIP. If a person’s job is on the line, I want to be 100% confident that I am doing the right thing as a manager. I did, however, start having performance discussions with her and made it clear that a PIP was within view if things didn’t improve.

      I did end up putting her on a PIP and eventually had to terminate her. I don’t regret my decision to wait since, in the end, I felt the process was the right thing to do rather than blindly carrying out someone else’s wishes. And even now, I would still be leery about being hired as a manager with my first order of business being to terminate someone. Perhaps this isn’t a red flag at the VP level – I wouldn’t know.

  2. UnderwaterOphelia

    Whoa! Like AAM said, this would be even worse if M. wasn’t going to be let go and you had to manage her. On the subject of that, I wonder what would have to happen if M. was staying on? Would the advice change?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      It reminds me a little of the letter about the woman who had a one night stand and got pregnant and her baby daddy’s ex wife became her boss specifically to make her life hell.

      If M wasn’t performing poorly, I would think that OP should request to have her moved under another supervisor. Or at the very least, have M and OP sit down with HR and have a frank conversation about everything and see how M feels. It doesn’t sound like there is an acrimonious relationship between M and her ex and M may not even know who OP is (though if OP has hubby’s last name, that could be a big clue).

      1. CommanderBanana

        Oof just came here to say that!

        I think the LW is best off just being completely honest with her new employers and letting them decide how they want to handle it.

    2. ChachkisGalore

      I’m really curious about this too. If it’s a large enough company I’d say simple – just move her to another reporting line. How would you handle the situation in a company that so small that it just isn’t possible though?

    3. VivaL

      Yea, typically companies have policies against this kind of thing. The employee would simply be moved under another manager. It works on paper, but in practice only sometimes works (because the employee sometime is still directed by the conflicted manager/that manager has most of the interaction and insight into the employee’s work). It can work if done properly (no damage to employee or manager), but that’s usually easier in larger companies.

  3. Amber Rose

    I don’t understand people who lie on their resume. Do they really think nobody will notice that they don’t actually have the skills, knowledge and experience they need?

    That aside, LW jump on this one ASAP. Personal drama is a terrible way to start a new job.

    1. Erin

      I’m realizing this is more common than I thought – the lying on the resumes I mean. It’s very bizarre. And I would imagine stressful, to know that realistically you could be exposed at any time.

      1. Amber Rose

        Not just that, but the stress of just sucking at your job. It’s a painful, self esteem crushing experience to take on a position and realize it’s a bad fit, why would you do that to yourself on purpose?

        1. SierraSkiing

          I think people who do that fall into a couple categories:
          1. the cynical type who believes that everyone lies on their resumes and that all companies exaggerate their job requirements. So when they lie, they’re just “playing the game”, and everything will be fine because the companies were exaggerating their job requirements.
          2. The arrogant type who think they’re so smart that they can teach themselves anything, so they’ll get caught up to the new job before anyone realizes they lied.
          Both types tend to be wrong.

          1. tango

            Or the 3rd type. Those who lie but don’t care to really learn or perform but hope the company because of whatever reason won’t fire them after all. I’ve been at AAM long enough to see plenty of letters from workers who say why won’t my company/boss fire their crappy coworker who sometimes has been at the company for years. We see situations where the coworker is clueless they’re crappy (arrogant or delusional thinking they’re wonderful) but also where they know they’re crappy but just don’t care. I figure it’s their value system to do as little as possible and/or not accurately, etc, and stay and collect a paycheck as long as possible.

            1. Autumnheart

              The terrible coworker combined with the company who, for some reason, won’t fire that person, but anyone who complains will be labeled a “troublemaker” and get canned themselves. Companies can be as crazy as families, even big companies.

            2. Gatomon

              Maybe when we see the 3rd type fired they are still looking for that magical company that can’t let them go.

              I think there may be a 4th type as well: people who truly believe they are that good. They don’t believe they are actually lying on their resume, and they believe they have and/or can perform at that level.

          2. Lehigh

            I imagine there are few this this category, but I knew one guy who lied about a degree that he, realistically, did not need (but that the company was requiring). He could do all the things, and by the time his boss realized he’d lied on his resume he’d already proved himself at the job and was not let go.

            Think of all those jobs that require a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position.

            1. SarahTheEntwife

              Yeah, I’m more sympathetic when it’s jobs that require a degree for nebulous Reasons but they’re really using it as some sort of proxy for maturity/intelligence/social class.

            2. Lucille2

              He was lucky though. I worked for a company who hired someone external over internal candidates because their degree was specific to the role. It was found out soon after this person didn’t actually have a degree and was terminated immediately for lying on their resume. Maybe this guy would have thrived in the role or disaster was avoided. Who knows? If the company did nothing, that would have sent a pretty bad message to all those internal candidates.

              1. tangerineRose

                I don’t remember the details, but I think there have been some high profile firings of people who lied about their credentials.

          3. myswtghst

            I think you also get a bit of the Dunning Kruger effect happening, where people over-inflate what they’re actually doing (or capable of doing) without any malicious intent because they lack self awareness. Sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know, and while I definitely fall into the “err on the side of caution” group, I know not everyone does.

          4. Rumbakalao

            I’m surprised no one has mentioned the type that fudges their resume in a desperate attempt to get hired because they really need a paycheck and lying seems like an easier way in.

      2. GreyjoyGardens

        There was a letter way back when asking if it was OK to use one of those “Fake references” services. Most of the commenters said “OMG no it’s never worth it to lie, be honest!” but there were a couple of commenters who thought their use of fake references was justified for Reasons.

        I think some people just don’t have much of a moral compass, but others defend their choices as the only thing they could possibly do under the circumstances, whatever those may be. Not saying that there were, objectively, no alternatives, just that the person couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see them.

        1. many bells down

          My ex claims a couple of professional licenses and a bunch of classes/certifications that he doesn’t have. He’s pretty good at talking his way into jobs; he’s very charismatic and a con artist. He doesn’t keep them, though.

          1. Not Australian

            My ex tried to sweet talk his way into a job as a graphic designer using someone else’s work as an example. I wasn’t remotely surprised (or, indeed, sympathetic) when he didn’t get it. Apart from anything else, he was assuming his interviewers wouldn’t recognise the work and know who the real artist was – which displays a certain level of contempt for their intelligence/experience.

        2. Irina

          Certainly I think there was a lot more to what people were saying, GreyjoyGardens. Have you ever heard of people being in desperate situations or ones that the qualifications didn’t matter? I am not going to get into an argument about that, but the only reason you can consider is that people don’t have much of a moral compass?

      3. Jack Be Nimble

        A friend’s ex’s resume was 80% transparent lies by volume and he was shocked (SHOCKED) that he wasn’t getting any interviews. You just have to roll your eyes.

      4. NW Mossy

        It seems to be a symptom of short-term thinking, in my experience. When someone’s focus narrows so much that Getting The Job is basically all they see, it can appear rational to do whatever it takes to achieve that objective without much thought to what happens after that.

        As faithful AAM readers, we know that this is a Pyrrhic victory, but out in the wider world, some people do struggle to see the forest for the trees.

        1. GreyjoyGardens

          I think you have it exactly right. Coupled with the fact that many people can’t ride out an extended period of unemployment, the short-term gain outweighs than the long-term consequences.

    2. Amber Rose

      Uh, I worded that poorly I realize. What I mean is, day 1 of your new position is a bad time (the worst time?) for personal drama to spring up at work. You don’t want that to be people’s first impression. The sooner you talk to someone higher up about this and come up with some sort of plan, the better.

    3. Mystery Bookworm

      I imagine they see people getting away with it (either because those people were hired at dysfunctional companies that never fire anyone, or because those people are spinning tall tales). This allows them to see it as normalized and they assume we’re all doing it, and they’re just the unlucky ones who got caught.

      1. Magenta Sky

        I suspect they also rationalize themselves into believing they’re not lying, only emphasizing the best points, just like everybody else does.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

          I think this is a big part of it. They don’t know what they don’t know and so they think they ARE “expert” at it.

          1. Emily S

            Yes, and/or they overestimate how easily they’ll be able to pick it up on the job, because they’ve learned other skills on the job before, so surely they can learn all skills that way.

              1. Magenta Sky

                If you believe you are competent, even an expert, then anyone who disagrees with you *must* be incompetent. It’s a perfectly logical line of reasoning. Wrong and silly, but logical.

          2. JSPA

            I’ve met people who refuse to believe that other people had done any of the things on their resumés. If you can’t believe that other people actually work hard at their degrees and at work and thus have something to show for it, it’s a small jump from “many people oversell themselves slightly on their resumés” to “everybody makes up or hugely embelishes most of the facts on their resumés.” Even worse, if people with this mindset know just one person who got away with it (or says they did)–save your breath trying to clue them in.

        2. ginger ale for all

          I used to take checks at the library where I work at and I would have to see a drivers license. I am 5’8. You would not believe how many times I was taller than a man who would claim on their license that they were 6 foot tall. Some people will lie and think no one is going to call them on it all the time. I did once remark that I would have never believed that he was really 6 feet tall unless I had seen it on his dl. The guy didn’t even bat an eye and said that he was. I said it was weird that I was only 5’8 and that it looked like we were the same height. He shrugged and left.

    4. NotAnotherManager!

      This is where I am – I hire for some very specialized positions, and you either know how to work them or you don’t. There is little room for on-the-job figuring it out.

      That said, we also ask a lot of scenario-based questions during interviews so that people can detail how they use these skills and ensure they understand them. You can often tell from these sorts of questions who’s BSing something and how well they understand it – many specialized people have questions about how you handle a certain aspect of the job, usually because they’ve been burned by it being done poorly elsewhere.

      Someone in comments on another post within the last few months suggested that interviews were not a good way of telling who would be good for a job and that hiring off of resumes was a better way to go – this is exactly why that suggestion struck me as absurd. If no one’s digging into what’s on your resume in an interview, it’s much easier to end up with candidates who lie on their resumes and waste months figuring that out, terminating them, and starting the hiring process all over.

      1. Magenta Sky

        How useful the interview is depends entirely on the nature of the job. In retail, the interview is everything, because where you’ve worked before tells the potential employer nothing. Retail jobs are so highly variable, from company to company, from store to store, from shift manager to shift manager, that “employee of the month 18 months in a row” is exactly as suspicious as “fired for cause” – which is not at all.

        The interview, however, is a chance to sell yourself, and if you can sell yourself, you can sell anything.

      2. Snow Drift

        So if you know the job or you don’t, and can’t ever learn on the job…how is there anyone capable of doing it?

        1. ArtsNerd

          Outside training and certification? It doesn’t seem as though NAM is referring to entry-level tasks — I can imagine plenty of specialty roles where you’ll want to hire someone with lots of experience in your small company, whereas maybe they earned that experience in a bigger company that invested heavily in professional development.

        2. Emily S

          You would either learn from a colleague or be sent to training – but there’s a big difference between a role where the company has budgeted staff time or professional development funding for a person to be trained, and one where they expect the person to come in already trained.

          There’s definitely an argument to be made that companies aren’t invested enough in training and don’t offer enough roles where training is included in the budget. But as long as they keep being able to hire candidates who don’t need training, there won’t be any pressure for them to create roles that include it.

          A lot of what I’ve learned on the job has resulted from cross-training and peer learning. I’m taught how to cover for a colleague when they’re out, or they teach me how to do some small routine software task myself so that they won’t have to keep doing it for me. This also gives me access to systems that I’m able to explore at my own pace and gradually figure out, at a much slower rate than I would with proper training, but let enough time pass, and I’ll absorb quite a lot. Later on I’m able to put on my resume that I know how to do those things even though I never went to a course or had more than a brief 3o or 45 minute training session here or there with a coworker who would have really described it more task-specific like “let me show you how to do X” instead of “let me train you in X.”

        3. NotAnotherManager!

          If I’m hiring for a highly-specialized position, yes, it requires a certain skill set already, particularly if someone is expected to train the less experienced staff. Someone who lies about their qualifications is unlikely to meet the demands and expectations of that type of job. If I’m hiring for a mid- or entry-level position, then we expect to train them on some to all aspects of the job and are looking more for an interest in the area or transferable experience.

        4. Autumnheart

          You learn the skills in school or through self-directed learning, then you apply for the job and bring your portfolio to the interview.

    5. Less Bread More Taxes

      Sometimes it can be a misunderstanding, particularly with hard skills. “Proficient” can mean wildly different things to different people. “Three years experience” can vary widely as well depending on what work was completed in that time and what the guidance was like.

      In fairness, it doesn’t sound like that’s the situation here, but I think a lot of the time a poor fit can be the result of a hiring manager not fully understanding a candidate’s capabilities.

      1. Antilles

        This, or that they’ve done individual pieces of the work but not a total start-to-finish. Or they’re overestimating their abilities. I designed a Teapot Spout for project A, a teapot body for project B, and the lid for Teapot C…so I know Teapot Design.
        Except that’s not actually true, because “individual discrete tasks” is not the

        1. Antilles

          EDIT: “Individual discrete tasks” are not the same as the entire project – because the details of how various pieces and parts fit together is crucial.

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

        Agreed, also could be the “You don’t know what you don’t know” It’s the weird place that you have to be advanced enough in something to understand how much you need to learn. Or you are the ‘expert’ where you currently are, but you wouldn’t be with other people. (sort of like being a big fish in a small pond). Or in the case of one of my interviews you have the base skills but not the flavor of what the company wants.

        I once had the weirdest interview for a data analyst role. I met with the hiring manager, then 2 of the team members for the technical portion of the interview. So me and the two tech guys were talking and they were asking me fair questions… what scripting software I was comfortable with, what middleware I had used. When I answered that I didn’t have a lot of experience using either, they kind of looked at me like I was a big faker. I had to back up and explain that all of the scripting I’d ever done was either directly into the SQL plus client or the vi editor in UNIX, they were stunned. We then spent the next 15 minutes or so talking about the differences and me explaining how our setup was at my current (and at that time only) company that I had been an analyst. I gave examples and anecdotes, they asked a ton of questions.

        After we had talked a little more, we all met back up with the hiring manager and had a weird debrief all together. At this point I knew I didn’t have what they were looking for, (Although I have no doubts that I could have learned it) so I said something to the effect that I appreciated their time but I was pretty sure we had a skills mismatch. The HM asked what I meant and one of the guys agreed and said that it was clear that I knew what I was doing in my environment and laughed when he said he didn’t think he could script in the vi editor, but they needed someone with a different focus.

        All in all it wasn’t a bad interview.

      3. Is It Performance Art

        Yup, my work is hiring for a technical position and we need someone with skill X. We have a lot of people who put that skill on their resumes when their experience with that skill is someone with skill X telling them exactly what to do and the person never understanding the skill. We also have plenty of people who put it on their resume when their only experience is a class they took 10-15 years ago and they’ve forgotten it all, but are certain they’ll re-learn it it in their first week.
        There are some places that would be fine, but not my workplace. I think there’s also some wishful thinking about how much they know and understand.

      4. Kat in VA

        I thought I was a very good executive assistant. I mean, I know all the software and I’m good at managing people’s time, right? I’ve been doing this a long time, granted with a long hiatus, but I’ve always done this kind of work, so how hard could it be to get back into it?

        Now I’m fighting a HUGE case of imposter syndrome at my current job. The only thing keeping me from giving up is sheer stubbornness and realizing that every EA job is different. I’m really good at soft skills like people / emotions / time management / being the right hand and or extension of boss, that sort of thing.

        But staying on task and staying organized, reports, that kind of thing? HELLISH. I mess something up EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

        It helps that my bosses and coworkers are awesome, the company is really good, lots of perks, good pay…but…

        I’d be lying if I thought I wasn’t screwing it up, every day, despite overwhelmingly positive feedback. How can people think you’re a rockstar* when you feel like such a f***-up all the time?

        *that’s not a humblebrag, coworkers and my bosses say all the time YOU’RE SO GOOD AT THIS and YOU’RE DOING GREAT and SO LUCKY TO HAVE YOU and stuff like that and inside I’m just quailing, waiting for the day that I’m found out for the crappy EA that *I* think I really am.

        Oof. Thank you for the download, I guess I needed to get that off my chest. I hope I didn’t hijack too much.

    6. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

      I’ve seen it in fields that require professional experience even for junior positions. Lots of people do it to get their first job, and then offer to be false references for people desperate start somewhere. Of course, listing an admin position at a mom-and-pop shop that went down is way different than an internship at Google, but you get the idea.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        Honest confession, back when I started my career in the US, I ended up having to tweak my resume in order to get interviews. It was back in the 90s, before the H1B/offshore wave, and employers and recruiters all had a strange idea that life in countries outside the US should work exactly like it does here. I had listed my entire work history on my resume for my first job: the CS degree, four years of work in the field, a gap when I had my oldest son and lost my job as a result, six months as an admin assistant, a year as a technical translator (because the few IT employers in our small town that had openings, also had a bizarre policy of not hiring women, and my family needed money to, ya know, eat). My first boss was an immigrant himself, and didn’t bat an eye at it. He then changed jobs and took me with him, because he liked my work. But when I started looking sometime after a year in job #2, I ran into people who were not immigrants, and who would ask me questions like “WHY did you take an office admin job when you had a CS degree and experience?” and then never call again. I had the educational credentials, current experience in the field, past experience in the field, and I still could not get even an interview because of that. Not even because I had a gap (a gap would probably have been better), but because I’d worked in a wrong position some years back and that apparently blacklisted me from everywhere. So I edited my resume, changed a few dates, took the office admin job off the resume entirely, changed the tech translator job to a developer one at the same (software) company, and got hired. Changed my resume again six years later to take the Home Country experience off it entirely, and continued my career, with an accurate resume this time. What on earth was I supposed to do when I was having every door closed in my face just because I had had the gall to want to put food on my son’s table six years prior?

        1. Gaia

          I think removing the admin job is fine (most people don’t include every job – and certainly not shorter tenured ones). But changing dates and changing the title from tech translator to developer is a different beast entirely. People justify lying on resumes for a lot of reasons, but that doesn’t make it okay.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

            Would totally agree if this was a US job. But, when the employer turns you down as a developer candidate because “we don’t hire women as developers, company policy”, then brings you on anyway as a translator, and then five years later you find yourself on the opposite side of the world talking to people who’ve lived sheltered lives and refuse to understand any of that, it comes down to, do you want your career to end right here a couple of years after you started it from the ground up, because people are narrow-minded and don’t believe that other cultures exist; or do you do the thing that you don’t tell anyone about until 20 years later? I did the thing. Like I said, this would’ve never happened now, because the exposure to and the awareness of other cultures is so much higher now.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

              On second thought, I probably would’ve listed it as a gap now. Two maternity leaves back to back, “you know how long they are in Europe”, yada yada yada. (which would even be actually correct, I somehow remained formally employed and on maternity leave at my very first job the entire time. I was just asked not to come back from my (unpaid) maternity leave for as long as it was legally allowed, which would’ve been up to six years per child. So yeah, would’ve probably gone with that if I were to start over again. It’s more socially acceptable here anyway.

              1. JSPA

                A gray zone would be, if they hired you as technical translator, but regularly used you for developer tasks as well (which strikes me as likely; an older relative ended up regularly involved in higher level production and marketing decisions despite having “only” a technical translator title). Ideally you could list “official title” and “actual role” under the same bullet, and address the culturally-imposed title limitations in your cover letter.

        2. VivaL

          I wouldn’t consider this lying (albeit if the dates were inaccurate maybe so) just marketing yourself better. A resume is a marketing document, and if changing titles/taking some experience off makes it more understandable to hiring managers (*especially* in the case of international differences in job descriptions) then you have crossed any ethical lines, imo. Good for you.

          1. Wehaf

            This person claimed to have been a developer, not a tech translator, for one of the positions in question. If I apply to a job as a chef, and claim I was a sous-chef at my last job, instead of waitstaff, that’s lying. So is this.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

              But, are a sous-chef now, were one in your previous job, and had been one at your first job out of school, wouldn’t it seem patently unfair if everyone ignored that experience and latched on that one time five years ago?

              1. Rusty Shackelford

                You’re still not talking about the same thing. This about someone who was never a sous-chef at all, not someone who has that experience but also has waitstaff experience and decides to leave it off their resume.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

                  Ah, if you mean OP’s husband’s ex-wife, then yeah.

                  As far as my story goes, I was definitely a sous-chef, before, during, and after.

              2. legalchef

                It’s definitely unfair… but that doesn’t make you being a sous chef during the time in question true.

            2. Wintermute

              But what if the company has a policy of hiring only men as hosts and you did a job that on paper was a lot like a host role but they called it wait staff? That’s the sort of grey area we’re in here, I think. They gave her a very junior title for the actual work because company policy was blatantly discriminatory and that was okay where that was. You can’t expect a US hiring manager who has had EEOC branded into their brain to internalize the idea that they could have a blanket policy that “women will not receive senior titles”.

              1. media monkey

                Agreed. I recently interviewed someone for a junior manager role who had a lot of experience but had just moved to the UK from a country where women would not have been allowed to manage men and there were no other women in her office. I really liked her and wanted to give her the chance but my boss overruled me.

        3. deesse877

          Yeah, people know that folks immigrate to the US for more opportunities, but they don’t put 2 and 2 together to realize that lots of places **lack professional jobs and chances for advancement** completely. I wouldn’t have felt great about it, but I would have done the same in your position.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

            Thanks. Like I said, those were the 90s and a lot of people seemed to not know that other countries existed. It is very different now.

        4. The Man, Becky Lynch

          This isn’t only for immigrants sadly.

          I’ve seen many people disregarded completely if they’ve taken filler jobs in between :(

          It’s about it the person hiring is still in touch with their common sense. I’ve worked for small self made people, a few are immigrants others are just former working class who developed a business of their own. Each one has a lot more understanding of things like “oh you have a record because of something that happened at 19? Whatever.” and “oh you waitressed between jobs? Good. You’re willing to do anything necessary to take care of yourself.”

          It’s privilege that makes people turn off their minds to certain scenarios and work gaps.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

            Agree. In this economy, I would not be shocked or surprised at people taking filler jobs. You’ve got to feed yourself and your dependents, if you have them. Good for these business owners. (One of the many reasons I like and support small businesses.)

          2. TardyTardis

            I had a fun job delivering phone books between one real job and another real job (though I did well enough that the marketer said she’d hire me again)–but I didn’t list it (though I mentioned it in an interview, and they took it as a sign of Gumption).

      2. Elizabeth West

        That is so annoying. “Must have 5-10 years’ experience or a demonstrated portfolio” and it’s junior, entry-level.

        Or “Must have worked in this exact industry, have six clearances, and know every single version of CMS / UX [or whatever] platforms, expert AP/APA/MLA/Chicago/AMA style guide knowledge, all industry regulations in the universe, and Agile startup corporate family atmosphere,” also junior entry-level.

        Pay is well below market or it’s contract. Always contract. And if it’s contract, you can’t be remote even if the job is totally doable remotely–“Local candidates in [extremely expensive area] only.”

        /rant over

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          I have seen “must have 7 years experience with platform X” where platform X would be 4-5 years old.

          Never applied to any of those. Life is difficult enough without having to work for a deranged, hallucinating employer.

        2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

          In my case was the candidates must be 18-21 y.o. with minimum 3 years of professional experience, which I don’t need to say it’s impossible (unless you worked part-time somewhere so shady it won’t give you a reference).

      3. animaniactoo

        Yes. My dad dressed up the amount of experience I actually had in an office on my first go-out-and-get-my-own-job resume. But nothing about my skills or knowledge was fictionalized. I could do data entry. I did have a typing speed of 105 wpm. I did not have 2 years working full-time in his former out-of-business company. I did, however, have a reference available from his business partner stating that I did, and had spent weeks here and there helping out and had spent enough time in business environments not to be completely clueless about how to act in an office.

    7. MsChanandlerBong

      I do recruiting for my company, and people lie on their resumes all the time. I guess they figure it doesn’t really matter if they get the job (a freelance position, so not a high-stakes full-time job) and can hang on to it. And they’re partially right. We don’t do background or reference checks since the freelancers work from home and have no access to company systems or property, so if someone comes on board and then does a good job, we have no reason to start questioning their resume info. It’s only when people come on board and do a terrible job that we start asking questions. I recently paid to verify someone’s degree because I couldn’t believe that someone with a master’s degree could possibly be such a poor writer. But it checked out! I ended up firing him because I called the last employer on his resume, and they had never heard of him. The HR guy even went through their 1099 records to make sure the guy wasn’t a contractor who just didn’t indicate that the position wasn’t a full-time one. Nope. He literally put down a place where he never worked.

    8. Greg

      Worst part of it is, once you put that first lie on to your resume, it gets harder and harder to take it off. That’s why you end up with those people who have been working somewhere for 20 years and it suddenly comes out that they never got the degree they claim to have received. It’s a very dangerous path to go down.

      1. Oranges

        Sometimes it’s something like I did all the work for the degree (took and passed all the classes) but for some reason (eg. life circumstances) I didn’t go through the hoops to get the little piece of paper. I don’t feel bad claiming that degree.

        1. Autumnheart

          I’d go through all the hoops and get that little piece of paper now, presuming life circumstances don’t prevent it. All it takes is one phone call to the university to find out you don’t actually have it. Reputation wrecked.

          1. Greg

            Right, this isn’t about passing moral judgment. If you have something on your resume that’s not true, do whatever you can to make it true before someone decides it’s a fireable offense. And if you can’t make it true, then take it off. It’s not worth it.

          2. boop the first

            There’s a time limit… you can’t claim credits after they expire so you’d have to act pretty fast!

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        In my field, all past experience rolls off the resume after 15 years or so. Age discrimination is rampant in the field and I’ve been advised by many people over the years not to keep any past jobs on the resume from 15 years ago or more. Agree that a degree is a different story.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It enrages me but it also means I’ve got a great introduction to most jobs now. “I understand I’ll need to prove to you I can do these things, I look forward to doing so.”

      If I got a bonus every time a boss said “Holy sht, you are a unicorn.” I would have that solid gold toilet by now.

    10. WifeAVP

      OP here, it happens ALL the time in my field. People think that knowing how to use the software is enough- but I need them to know models, theories, philosophy, and design. I can teach people to use the software, I need the other stuff more than I need the software knowledge.

      1. animaniactoo

        Yeah, I can see that – for me, it would be learning Blue Cherry and being able to plug the right data into the right places, but I wouldn’t claim forecasting skills from that – that requires more knowledge of how markets react to various pressures than I have.

    11. ginger ale for all

      I am currently watching season 15 of Hell’s Kitchen and you can see a contestant Jackie (from New Jersey) who must have inflated her resume and she is struggling to be more of a chef rather than just a good cook. It just came out in the episode that I watched last night that she only had been cooking for three months before coming on to the show. She is competing against people who have years of experience. Three months cooking and she thinks she can win that show. THREE MONTHS!

  4. BetsyTacy

    Oh wow. Yes. Elevate this immediately and use Alison’s script.
    This is a situation you want to remove yourself from as much as possible.

  5. jb

    Alison is spot on. A good SRVP will absolutely understand. Also, this is in no way central to the reasons they hired you, so it won’t be a big deal.

    That said, there’s also a good chance that the ex-wife will blame you once she hears where you are working now, regardless of what happens. But that’s unavoidable and not your problem.

    1. The Original K.

      I think this is possible too, particularly if Ex-Wife feels cornered. She might feel cornered because of her exaggerations coming home to roost and that might cause her to lash out. But there’s nothing the OP can do about that – OP should 100% put this in the SVP’s hands.

    2. Catwoman

      Yes, but having this handled before LW starts also gives SRVP a chance to do lots of documentation about the problems they are having with M so that if she comes back trying to sue, then everything will be documented.

    3. WifeAVP

      LW here. I called my SRVP yesterday afternoon and we had a good talk. When I told her M is my husband’s ex-wife her response was “NO f’in way!!”
      We have postponed my start date for another week so that they can deal with the situation before I arrive. I told the SRVP I could wait for an additional week if she felt that allowing more time from M being let go and me starting would be better for the team. She will let me know later this week.
      To answer a few questions posted: I did not mention to SRVP anything about what I know about M’s resume or skills, I do not want there to be any perception of malice or motive.

      M is still in the 90 day probationary period. They wanted me to evaluate her skills to see if she could really do the job. They have never had that position before, and the people who hired her didn’t really know what to look for, or how to evaluate someone’s skill level in that kind of job. She taught herself to use the software, which isn’t that hard to learn, but she doesn’t know the theories, models, or the fundamentals of the work- she can technically use the software, but that’s it.
      When I am hiring for the position I provide the candidate with an assignment which should take about 35 minutes to complete, and have them bring it to the interview.
      SRVP next steps are flying back into town today to meet with HR and to come up with a plan. I think they have enough information on their own and because it is still their 90-day probationary period they won’t need a formal PIP, they can just let her go. I asked several times if she felt like they would want to keep M on, and she reassured me that from what she has seen M does not have what they need in that role. Her work to date has left a lot to be desired.

      I am sure it will come out sooner or later that I now work for the company she was let go from, I am keeping a tight lip about the whole thing to any friends who also know her. Hopefully, she wasn’t at the company long enough to make any good friends. I have also blocked her from LinkedIn, as she looks at my LinkedIn often and reads my professional blog (I am assuming because she has been trying to break into my line of work.) I am feeling a bit of anxiety about what kind of drama she could cause, either personally or at the new job. She isn’t crazy by any means, but she has shown some boundary issues over the last few years.

      I am so thankful I saw her before I walked in on day 1, can you imagine how even more awful and awkward that would be!
      Thank you all so much for the comments and support, I will give an update after I start the new job if anything else comes up.

      1. MLB

        Glad it seemed to work out, but I’m not really sure how they felt it was appropriate for you to come in as a new manager and evaluate one of your subordinates within a month to possibly fire her during her 90 day probationary period. Her being your husband’s ex just adds another layer of complication. If she was a complete stranger, asking you to be a part of their plan would create serious trust issues within your remaining team. I know if my new manager came onto the job and fired someone in such a short period of time, I would be extra cautious and worry that I might be next. I’ve been in a job where they brought in a new CIO for the sole purpose of weeding out the herd. I managed to survive it, but large majority of management was either let go or strongly urged to resign. Once he was done, he moved on to a new company to do the same.

        1. Aurion

          I definitely see what you’re saying, but it sounds like the company had recently created this teapot painting position that M is occupying, and there isn’t anyone who can properly evaluate what a teapot painter should do. They can tell M isn’t a good teapot painter, but they don’t know what a good one should look like. And OP has the experience to tell them how to evaluate the quality of the paint, etc. It sounds like M is so far off the mark that she can’t even colour within the lines let alone know when to use the glaze vs the stain, hence the willingness to let her go early, but I can see a situation where if OP has the experience and knowledge the SRVP would want OP’s full evaluation before keeping/axing the employee.

        2. Kes

          I mean, I agree it’s not ideal and creates a potential perception problem, but it sounds like nobody in the org had the skills to properly and fully evaluate M which is why they wanted OP to do it, to validate the concerns that were already arising. I don’t think that’s really the same as bringing in someone just to fire people – they’re bringing on OP for the skills she has that they didn’t already have in the org, which is the same reason they had hired M, and because they’re trying to add and grow that area.

        3. Hey Karma, Over here.

          Can’t support this enough. Maybe it’s because I’m not management, but “let’s bring the new person in to review our problem employee, because fresh eyes/outside perspective is what this situation needs.” is really disingenuous.
          It’s more like, instead of giving honest feedback, as in “you suck at this so much that we think you lied on your resume and in the interview,” they want to go with, what is it? new broom sweeps out old problems?
          They have a probationary period for a reason. Use.

      2. Kes

        Nice, it sounds like both you and SRVP are being reasonable and doing the right thing, and you should be in a good position as a result (and you can help them hire someone to replace M who actually will have the skills they need). A good ending all round (except for M, obviously, but that’s what comes of pretending to have skills you don’t really have).

      3. Damn it, Hardison!

        Yay, a good update! So glad your new SRVP is being supportive and understood why it would be a bigger issue if you had to deal with the employee/ex-wife. Good luck in your new position!

      4. Detective Amy Santiago

        I’m so glad that SRVP reacted reasonably. Please send in an update once you start and let us know how everything goes!

      5. Hey Karma, Over here.

        I’m sure they are, too! And by bringing it up, geez, talk about proving yourself the first day. You haven’t even started yet and you already shown professionalism and good judgement.

        1. WifeAVP

          Aww thanks so much. In all honesty, my stomach is in knots and has been since Friday afternoon. I worry that she already knows I am the new hire and will cause problems when they go to let her go…

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl

            I wouldn’t be surprised. However, it sounds like your new leadership has your back. It’ll be fine. :)

      6. Holly

        Not sure what anyone else thinks about this, but I think you definitely have standing to share what you know about her resume! They can do their own research to find the lies to back up your statements – it would be worrisome if they end up not figuring out a basis to let her go, when you had information to back up their concerns.

        1. Bulbasaur

          I think OP’s instincts are correct on this one. This will likely come out sooner or later, or there will be rumors. Perception will be incredibly important. If the OP has any influence whatsoever on the decision, no matter how valid the reasons, it runs the risk of being misinterpreted.

        2. Totally Minnie

          But why bother sharing that information when the company has already decided to fire M? There’s no reason to do that now.

    4. Bostonian

      Yeah. It’s definitely 1000 x better that OP ISN’T the one firing her, but it might still look suspicious if M is let go right before OP starts.

      I have a feeling M already knows who is getting hired (OP’s name had to be on interview schedule/materials), which is why she conveniently took a PTO day on the day of the interview.

      1. WifeAVP

        UGG I thought about it, but I didn’t want to ask the SRVP if my name had already been announced. I again, thought it was better to be as neutral as possible. Although I would love to know, I don’t want to ask. I am sure after it all gets resolved SRVP will tell me.

        1. feministbookworm

          Yeah, I think it’s possible that even with M gone before you get there, news of the situation may get around to your new team. While people who worked with her closely may have seen the writing on the wall, it seems likely that they’ll all be watching you closely for signs that you’re vindictive or prone to cause drama. Can you spend some of the extra time you have before you start brainstorming small ways to counterbalance those potential suspicions? Obviously you don’t want to go overboard, but looking for small ways to show that you have good boundaries and are fair with people might help.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        why she conveniently took a PTO day on the day of the interview.

        Ooh. That’s an interesting twist I hadn’t considered.

      3. Jess

        Yep, makes sense to me that’s why M took the PTO day. If I was new on a job and my ex-husband’s new wife was being interviewed, I’d take the day off. Best case scenario, no encounter and she doesn’t get hired, and no one at work knows a thing. All the showing-up scenarios are less desirable, even if everyone’s on their best behavior.

  6. Syfygeek

    Holy crud monkeys! I’d hope the OP could mention the ex’s resume is only loosely based in reality. If the company went back and found the ex lied on her resume, that gives them just cause to fire her. And I hope the OP updates us!

    1. Just Employed Here

      I don’t think the OP should get herself involved even by mentioning that. M can’t handle the work and is in her probationary period, that’s enough.

      1. Holly

        I disagree if there’s any concern that there’s not sufficient basis to let this person go. It’s odd if she’s coming in as a supervisor, has key knowledge that can be verified, and doesn’t share it.

        1. StressedButOkay

          There’s a really fine line OP has to walk here, though. If the only person who can verify her knowledge is her husband, some might see it as being flawed information or, worse, someone – either her or her husband – being vindictive. Even with the information they company has on hand about M, anything that can’t be 100% confirmed by a third, neutral party is best left off the table.

    2. Bee

      I don’t think she needs to – they already know M isn’t up to snuff, and that really is bringing personal drama into it in a way the OP should shy away from. It’s not like the OP knows this firsthand, after all, and “My husband says she’s a liar” sounds like the kind of divorce drama you should take with a grain of salt. (Clearly it’s true, but it would carry no weight if she were actually good at the job.)

      1. NerdyKris

        Right. It would be the same problem as disciplining her. The information is second hand and filtered through a source that would be assumed to be biased.

    3. Hey Karma, Over here.

      OP does write that they touched on how the resume is questionable at this point. I think the less said the better.
      SRVP’s response, the blurt, illustrates that she recognizes what a big deal and potential mine field this is. Let M go. Bring OP in. Move on.
      In the great scheme, M was an employee for less than three months. She lied about herself. Wasn’t the first. Won’t be the last. Nothing to see here, folks.

  7. Zombeyonce

    Oh wow, this is such an awkward situation! As Alison said, it could come back to bite you as far as your new team is concerned (if they don’t know about her performance problems) if they find our your relationship to her and think you might be personally vindictive.

    I really hope your new boss sees it this way, too, and does the firing. Really, it’s been their problem and it seems unfair to bring someone on and expect them to fire someone almost immediately if the coaching they’ve been doing already hasn’t been working. Even if you didn’t have a relationship with her, it wouldn’t look great for you.

    While I hope your new boss doesn’t shirk disciplinary action, I would keep an eye out for this sort of thing (passing off things like firing when it’s really on them). If there’s just a very short time and it’s so bad, they should have just let her go already without trying to hold off on more coaching from a brand spanking new employee who is still figuring out their job and their people. Hopefully this was just bad timing for everyone.

      1. Zombeyonce

        Aw, thanks! It was a dream Halloween costume I came up with one year and I have loved it every since.

  8. Drew

    This would make such a delicious workplace comedy premise. But as a real-life situation, yeah, you can’t be the one to fire her. Hope to hear that everything got resolved!

    1. WifeAVP

      I am sure someday I will be able to laugh about it, but right now I just want to throw up. Or drink a lot.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        May I suggest going and getting a nice massage? Like book 2 hours at a spa that plays whale songs backed with a flute.

      2. President Porpoise

        I don’t see why you can’t do both – one can certainly help with the other. :) Seriously, though, you’re doing great.

  9. Where’s my coffee?

    I have been in the situation of being asked to investigate and terminate my spouse’s ex. Be upfront and recuse yourself; people understand avoiding a conflict of interest and/or the optics involved. Good luck!

    1. Catwoman

      Yeah, that’s been my experience too. I was working retail in a service role a few years back and my ex’s brother came up in my service queue. I mentioned it to my manager and he was immediately reassigned to another technician none the wiser. Good managers know how to deal with this sort of thing.

        1. SophieChotek

          Me too. I already want to know “what happens next”…Hope it is resolved peacefully…like M is let go before OP ever manages her. (Could M ever think OP made her (M’s) firing conditional on being hired? Hopefully not. At least good management should be able to shut that one down.)

          1. Slow Gin Lizz

            She commented, “WifeAVP”, on jb’s comment above! I’m glad, because I was also really wanting an update on this one.

  10. Health Insurance Nerd

    What an unholy professional landmine! Echoing everyone else here saying that you cannot be the one to fire her (which I think you already know), but hopefully your new company also sees the bees nest that this could be if they try to force the issue. Please please please send an update!

  11. Marthooh

    I know her entire resume is a lie — my husband told me, and I know her job history has been a lot less stable than her online resume and LinkedIn profile indicate.

    Should the OP pass on this information to the SRVP? It would help them get rid of a poor performer, but if there’s no documentary proof, it looks like vindictiveness.

    1. Parenthetically

      Yeah, I go with definitely not. OP has no reason to know this apart from her relationship with her husband, and has only the proof of his word. That’s going to sound like gossip to go to her boss with it.

    2. Magenta Sky

      And it would add nothing to the process, since they’ve already decided her work isn’t up to the standards they require. Were I the SRVP, it would make me wonder about the new hire that she even brought it up.

      1. LadyPhoenix

        OP is trying establish that she does not want a conflict of interest coming to into play when it comes to firing M.

        Telling the corporation things based only on the world of M’s EX husband is not angood way to establish neutrality.

        1. Autumnheart

          And it sounds like people are figuring it out about M without OP getting involved. I’d consider this a case of “You reap what you sow” and marvel at how small a world it is.

          The longer M tries to go on with the fictional resume, the more word is going to get out in that industry, so hopefully this is as close as LW has to come to dealing with it. If, heaven forfend, this situation comes up again, then OP already has the background to say, “M was terminated just before I was hired because it was found she didn’t have the theoretical and practical skills for the job.” Voila! Professional and accurate without having to bring the personal relationship into it.

          1. Recent Anon Lurker

            The only thing I would do differently (just me though) would be to say “M’s employment ended just before I started here. Would you like me to transfer you to HR/SVP who was there who could possibly give you more information?” This way I’m completely recused from the situation.

    3. Anon for this

      I disagree – I think OP could mention the possibility of the falsifications if she could keep the statements factual and neutral. Example: “I assume M.’s employment history was verified before an offer was extended? There appear to be some discrepancies between her online resume and Linkedin (or whatever you could factually say here). ” Lying about one’s qualifications would surely be grounds for immediate termination – even if the employer already has the probationary period and bad work quality as grounds, this sort of egregious behavior would be the nail in the coffin and could speed dismissal up significantly.

      1. EddieSherbert

        I still think it’s unnecessary – OP was already told that they will “most likely fire her” before OP has even been actually “introduced”/seen her work/trained her, and that firing will have to occur during OP’s first month of work!

  12. Anon Paralegal

    OP, please send in an update when you can! I really want to know how the company handles this.

  13. Sara without an H

    Yes, I’d opt for telling the SRVP at once. And, given that there seems to be plenty of evidence that “M” is a bad hire, I don’t see any reason to wait. The SRVP can let her go now, while she’s still on probation, and let OP fill the position after she’s on board.

    1. ArtsNerd

      Right! While this is awkward, I think OP is actually in a really good spot because it’s clear that M.’s employment needs to be terminated completely separately from and outside of OP. For example, the SRVP might not know for a fact that M.’s resume is inaccurate, but it seems like they’re coming to that conclusion pretty quickly — and that’s grounds for termination under any situation without a lengthy coaching coaching process.

  14. Yikes Dude

    Just think how horrible it would be if they had not independently come to the conclusion something was off about the resume and you actually did have to blow up her spot. I mean, I’m sure no matter what she’s going to be convinced for the rest of her life that you did this to her, but at least this way you know that’s not the case.

  15. Sara without an H

    Round 2: If I were the SRVP, I don’t think I’d wait and make OP fire M, given that they already have, apparently, ample evidence that M can’t do the job. I don’t think it’s fair to a newly-hired manager to tell her, “Oh, while you’re getting settled, can you fire M this week? She’s not working out, but I didn’t want to get my hands dirty by firing her, so I waited until you got here.”

    1. Cautionary tail

      I once was offered a managerial job where my first duty was to fire most of the people on my new team, then build a really cool organization after being the hatchet man. Cuz the big boss didn’t want to do the firing. I looked at this as an impossible task and just said no. I am glad I didn’t take the job because they went out of business a few years later.

      1. Magenta Sky

        I had an assistant manager who fired two people for me within minutes of arriving on his first day. Literally walked into the store, put on his vest, and took the first guy (who walked in right behind him – late, as usual) into the office and fired him.

        But that was an assistant manager, not store manager, and it fit his management style pretty well to be Bad Cop to my Good Cop (he’d been trained as a hatchet man by his previous manager, and firing people was just another part of the job to him). There were other unusual aspects to the situation, too.

        In this case, making the LW do the firing would, IMO, set up her up to fail with the team. I’d take it as a red flag.

    2. the_scientist

      Agreed, I’m giving a fair bit of side-eye to the senior VP here for making it the OP’s responsibility to fire M in the first place. As others have mentioned, the optics of a new manager firing an employee within their first week on the job (even if the team is aware of performance issues, even if it’s a justified dismissal) are TERRIBLE. Given that the SVP knows there are significant performance issues, I’m also confused as to why they were so insistent on coaching as a first step- it’s not like this is a long-time employee who is struggling with a new aspect of their role, this a brand-new hire who clearly doesn’t possess the skills to do the job. OP, you obviously need to be transparent about this to the SVP but I would treat this as a caution sign moving forward.

      1. WifeAVP

        LW here– The department is pretty new and they are having some growing pains. A lot of the current team has grown into their positions that 10 years ago they could do because they were SMEs, but now my line of work is something that is highly skilled and to be competitive you not only have to be a SME for the company you need to be an expert in what we do.
        I will be coaching and evaluating the whole team’s skills and helping them get up to speed with skills they need to have. For some that will be external training and some of it will come from me. It is a small team right now, but the plan is to grow the team by 25 people over the next year. I did the same thing at the last two companies I have worked for. It is a common problem — “SMEs can do this job”, then they realize to be competitive and to change with the times, SMEs are often not enough. It is a really exciting challenge.

    3. Marthooh

      What OP actually said was that according to SRVP “…I would likely need to give her a lot of coaching/direction and possibly let her go.”

      So it’s not “Fire M!”, it’s “Deal with M!” — and OP is uniquely positioned to be aware that firing is almost certainly necessary.

    4. ArtsNerd

      I agree with this, but I didn’t get that from the letter. More that SRVP was saying, “as you enter this job, there’s one new team member you’ll need to keep a close eye on and quickly, because she may or may not be the right fit so we need to figure that out in your first couple of months.” And then, as SRVP got new info / percolated on the situation, was updating OP that it was clearer that M does not, in fact, have a future in that role. SRVP probably wasn’t actively thinking about pawning the task off to OP to avoid doing it themselves. Just one of those situations where the timelines are inconveniently synced.

      1. WifeAVP

        OP here. ArtsNerd is right. They hired her for a job they have never had anyone doing before, so they don’t know how to look at what she is doing and evaluate it to see if it is just learning curve or if she really doesn’t have the skills. It is common in my line of work- people think they need Position X, but don’t really know what that means.

  16. Hyacinth Bucket

    Since all the other comments are so on-point, I have nothing to add except a request that we get an update on this situation when the smoke clears.

  17. Nay

    I just read this title and was all *Michael Jackson eating popcorn meme* Not to make light of the stressful situation, but please update us!!!

    1. Murphy

      These are my thoughts exactly. I don’t want to make light of it either, but WOW!

      Alison’s advice is spot on. There’s really no other option.

  18. CBH

    I think that(hopefully) op and those involved will handle this in the best professional matter.

    Does anyone else question the company in that since before day 1 they seem to be indicating that OP will be firing someone as their first official act. I almost feel like another higher up is trying pass the buck.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      I appreciate the candor and transparency. That seems better than pretending through the interviews that everything and everyone is wonderful. Sounds like the SVP was warning the OP that there was a problem employee, but initially planned to let the OP judge, coach, and handle it. As things continued to deteriorate, the SVP kept the OP in the loop.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        I should add, if the SVP thinks termination is necessary at this point, they should just go ahead and do it. No reason to waste the OP’s time on it, or put them in the position of having to fire someone practically on their first day.

    2. WifeAVP

      OP here. It actually isn’t weird at all in my case. This department is fairly new, it was built by people who don’t really know my line of work, and is fully staffed by SMEs, which isn’t really good enough anymore to stay up to date. It has been part of my job at the last 2 companies I have worked for. My job is to evaluate the current talent, assess their skills and get them up to speed through training or possibly transition them into different positions, and build a skilled team. She was the only new hire in that team, everyone else has been there 10+ years.

      1. CBH

        Thank you for clarifying OP. It saw your update and it seems like your boss and team are on board with what is the best solution for this scenario. In all the chaos that got lost in the thread….. Good luck with the new position!

      2. OlympiasEpiriot

        SME? Software Maintenance Engineer? Surface Mining Engineer? (Something) Manufacturing Engineer?

        Sorry, that’s what comes to mind from my field.

        1. Observer

          Subject matter expert.

          In a case like this, it would probably be something like people who know everything there is to know about chocolate teapots, but now need to start learning about supply chain, regulatory issues and then add in stuff like adding “smart” capabilities and new manufacturing processes which require new technology skills.

        2. That Would be a Good Band Name

          Subject Matter Expert. At least, that’s how I’ve seen it used. I find the name a bit misleading as it’s someone that’s actually less knowledgeable about the subject than the person that normally does the work. They are more skilled than other employees, but not at the level of someone that would normally do the work full-time. For example, at my last job I was an analyst. I trained someone to be a SME, but they only did about 65% of what I normally handled. They could answer questions and do most of the day-to-day work but higher-level tasks either had to wait until I was in the office or passed to another analyst. SMEs were used when someone was going to be out of the office mostly, although a couple of departments were chronically understaffed and always had a couple of people trained.

          1. WifeAVP

            Yes, Subject Matter Expert. This of it like this– we are teapot makers. Person 1 makes gorgeous teapots, but now we are not only going to make gorgeous teapots we are going to design them and teach other people how to make them. Just because Person 1 good at making a teapot doesn’t mean they know how to design a teapot or teach other people how to make them. You need someone who not only understands how a teapot is made but understands design, how to use the design software, and understands how to teach people to make teapots.

  19. LadyPhoenix

    Un… why can’t the SRVP just fire M RIGHT NOW before OP comes in?

    But then again, I think this is a case where no matter what happens, this is gonna make Op look bad. If M finds out OP is coming in, prior or during the firing, then M is gonna think, “They are firing me because OP told them to!” Then M can spread it around and poison the well even BEFORE OP’s first day.

    HR and SRVP is gonna have to be very careful about this case and be the ones to step in and clear the air. Poor OP got struck with a case of “bad timing”.

  20. Worked in IT forever

    Someone might have made a similar comment already (if so, apologies), but I wonder whether firing the person will cause (unfair) legal issues for the company. The person might try to make the case that the firing was vengeful. Even though that’s not true, it could still involve cost and time for the company to fight it. That would be another reason to just avoid the whole problem and let someone who has work history with the ex-wife fire her, either before or after the OP starts.

    I’m not in the U.S., so I don’t know how much the U.S. legal system entertains these kinds of claims.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      I’m sure a contingency lawyer (one who works fee-free up front, but takes a piece of the action) might be willing to get involved here, merely because a suit would have some nuisance value.

      If the company has half a brain, they’d try to reach an arrangement with “M” with a package, neutral reference letter, and assist “M” in finding another job.

      There’s too much potential for a problem here.

    2. Arctic

      You are pretty much allowed to fire someone out of pettiness or vengeance (obviously not the case here but in theory) unless there is a contract or other limitation. You can’t fire someone based on a protected characteristic (age, race, gender, in some places sexual orientation, disability.) And you can’t fire someone in retaliation for complaining about discrimination or that the workplace is violating the law. And there are some obscure, minor limitations.
      But, otherwise, you are free to be a jerk. It’s just bad business to do so.

    3. Natalie

      In addition to what Arctic said (there’s little preventing them for firing her for vengeance, if that’s what they wanted to) they can also offer her a severance payment in exchange for a waiver of claims.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      In the U.S. you can be fired for anything that’s not considered discrimination. Being an ex wife isn’t a protected class.

      I’ve seen people fired for much less.

    5. LilySparrow

      Yeah, “I just don’t like you for personal reasons” is completely legal in the US. I’ve even heard of situations where personal animus was used as a defense against a discrimination claim. “I have nothing against (protected class), I just can’t stand you.”

      (That defense isn’t always successful, but I’ve heard if it being attempted several times.)

      1. Observer

        That claim gets used surprisingly often. It also often falls down because someone can show that the defendant somehow “Just can’t stand” people of >protected classprotected class<.

        1. Observer

          Oops, I messed up with the angle brackets.

          That should have been “Just can’t stand” people of **protected class** all the time, even though they formally don’t “have a problem with” people of **protected class**

  21. Ann O'Nemity

    Doesn’t M. know that OP is going to be her boss? There was a team interview with OP, so presumably OP’s name has been circulating. Even if M. missed the interview, you’d think she’d have heard the news by now.

  22. The Man, Becky Lynch

    My day has been so…wackadoodle today, this post fits my mood so well.

    Woah woah woah. I’m glad they have her pegged as incompetent before. That’s in your favor! So hopefully they swoop in to clean house first. What a world.

  23. ENFP

    I’m a little concerned that OP and the Ex might have the same last name? And it might not be a common name? Which then prompts questions from co-workers such as “oh, are you any relation to Ex who used to work here?” Even though Ex is a short-timer, please watch your back, OP, and be prepared for this question. Good luck!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I feel like if that was the case, someone would have asked OP about it during the interview process.

    2. WifeAVP

      Thankfully no we don’t have the same last name, she, my husband, and I all have different last names.

  24. agnes

    I read the post and didn’t know whether to laugh or be horrified. Saw the OP’s update. I’m glad it worked out. Oh my goodness, sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and say “really?”

        1. WifeAVP

          I will, I promise. My stomach is in knots about the potential drama. I probably need to stop reading the comments because people are coming up with even more possibilities than I had thought about it.

  25. VivaL

    Also I would *not* delay my start date and my income and benefits for this – that’s totally unreasonable. If this guy wants her fired, he should do it, and make it clear to staff that it was not your decision *at all.*

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      There are two political situations WifeAVP is trying to avoid. The ‘Fire my spouse’s ex before I work for you’ and the ‘I’m firing my spouse’s ex first off because I’m spiteful’. A delay can help that a lot, since they are going to take care of the ex before WifeAVP starts. That delay will help her new co-workers not see her as a spiteful person, and that is very much worth the cost of the delay.

    2. WifeAVP

      Oh I am totally willing to delay my start date to avoid this situation. I will even delay it by another 2 weeks if they want me to. There is no way that me managing, evaluating, and firing her can end well and not be perceived as anything but vindictive.

      1. Observer

        I totally agree with you. If you can afford to do this, it’s a small cost for your long term sanity (and career, to be honest.)

  26. The Original Karen from Finance

    Oooof. What a small world! I agree with Alison’s advice and wish you all the best, OP. Good luck!

  27. LGC

    Okay so I’m going full on galaxy brain here but…what if THEY KNEW M was your husband’s ex wife? (Or they guessed.)

    1. WifeAVP

      I talked to my SRVP and she did not know. When I told said “NO F’IN WAY?!” She was clearly shocked and even needed a few minutes to recover from the shock! M and I do not have the last name, and neither of us has the same last name of my husband.

  28. Noah

    Danger, Will Robinson. If M has a good relationship with some of her co-workers, she may find out that OP ends up there after M is fired. Then M may allege to her friends that she was obviously fired because of the relationship. And OP won’t even know about it or have any chance to mitigate that response.

    It’s still probably best to fire her before OP starts, but it is not so clear cut.

    1. WifeAVP

      My hope is that because she has been there for just a few weeks she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to build a strong friendship with anyone. But I am sure she will figure it out, she might even already know if they sent an announcement out with my name, start date, and reporting structure.

  29. Jordan

    I would add that you should inform the employer of the trumped up resume. If they need or want an excuse to terminate her employment before you start, that would give them something concrete that they can use. Of course, there may be blowback if it comes out that you were the one who provided that info, but if the info is accurate, you are not doing anything other than informing your (future) employer of something you were personally aware of that would affect their staffing decision.

    1. Fish Microwaver

      I don’t think that’s necessary. The employer already knows M is struggling in the position and has made the decision to manage her out. It would look vindictive if OPPORTUNITIES brought up the resume issues, which she found out second hand from her husband.

  30. Fish Microwaver

    I don’t think that’s necessary. The employer already knows M is struggling in the position and has made the decision to manage her out. It would look vindictive if OPPORTUNITIES brought up the resume issues, which she found out second hand from her husband.

  31. Been There, Done That

    Where are Alexis Carrington and Abby Cunningham Sumner?

    Jokes aside, as much as it sounds like a tv-movie dream come true, when it’s real life it ain’t so dreamy.

  32. Cringing 24/7

    Emphasize how negative the optics are to the existing team dynamics with you as their new boss (especially given that they already have a relationship with M and you’re new). The SRVP can’t deny the way things within a business hierarchy will actually *look* as easily as they can try to shrug off how “awkward” something might be from a personal viewpoint.

  33. Big Biscuit

    Maybe I’m not understanding, but it sort of reads like the OP is being asked to take on a HR type problem before she has even started the job! They hired the problem employee, they know she’s not doing the job, they should deal with it and let the OP learn her job first.

  34. Newp

    My XH’s new wife is a perfectly nice woman as far as I can tell, but if she fired me five mins after becoming my boss, it would be hard to convince me there wasn’t something personal happening.

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