my friend is angry that I can’t help more in her job search

A reader writes:

How do I align a friend’s expectations of how I can help with her job search with how much time and support I can ACTUALLY provide?

I’m a career bureaucrat. Most of my connections are in government and nonprofit industries. My friend is miserable in her job, and has been for a while. She never hesitates to tell me how much she wants a new job, and constantly has applications and interviews lined up (but never gets an offer). She uses her whole network (friends, family, professional contacts) to try and get job referrals. My network will typically yield government and nonprofits (which she doesn’t want because of “low pay” even though government can pay just fine if you find the right role).

She gets frustrated and mad at me that I won’t “shake my network harder” to find the tech and corporate jobs she wants. When I tell her I’ve reached out as much as I can but have no leads, she tells me that I’m not trying hard enough.

I’m at the point where I’ll tell her I can’t help any more … but I know what it’s like to be in her position and WANT to help. Thanks for any advice.

You’re being too accommodating to someone who’s not treating you very well!

You’ve offered her access to your network. She doesn’t want what you’ve offered. She wants you to magically offer her something else, which you can’t. You’ve told her that you’ve done as much as you can, and she told you that you weren’t trying hard enough. That … is not really up to her to say. It’s your network, your time, your efforts, your sense of how much more is possible.

If she thinks there’s more you could be doing, she should tell you specifically what she’s hoping for. “Shake your network harder” isn’t that. It would be one thing if she were asking, for example, for an intro to Rupert Bumblesplat at Company X. But “there’s more you can, I don’t know what it is, just do it” isn’t reasonable.

And getting angry at you that you’re not doing more is over the line.

Frankly, even if there were more you could do, you’d be entitled to decide you weren’t comfortable doing it. Your reputation is on the line when you vouch for someone to your network, and you get decide when and how you’ll let people borrow that reputation.

How close a friendship is this? If you’re not close, I’d seriously consider distancing yourself — not because she’s asking for your help but because she’s being a jerk about it.

If you are close, it’s worth sitting down with her and saying, “Okay, tell me specifically what you want me to do that I haven’t done yet, because I can’t figure out what other help I can offer. Are there specific people in my network you’re targeting, or what specific things would you like me to do to help?” Unless that clears it up (or even if it does, frankly), you also probably need to tell her that it’s not okay to accuse you of not helping her when you’ve done as much as you can come up with, and that it’s not okay to be angry with you for not having the sorcery skills to conjure up the exact sort of contacts she wants.

Lots of people struggle with job searches and ask their friends for help and don’t berate them and get angry at them when jobs don’t materialize. I’d take a look at what else might be going on with her or the friendship.

{ 238 comments… read them below }

  1. Blushingflower*

    There are also other ways to help with a job search beyond “shaking your network.” If you’re up for it and genuinely willing, you could tell her that you don’t have any leads but you’re willing to review her resume/cover letter or do practice interviews or whatever other support you might be able to lend that isn’t just introductions or job leads.

    1. Introvert girl*

      This. I checked my friend’s cv, suggested some changes and talked her through it. I also sent her a link to askamanager :) With friends there comes a moment when you have to tell them this is all you can do to help. You’re not their private job counselor nor their therapist. And neither should you be.

      1. esmerelda*

        Yes, I love that you mentioned referring people to askamanager! I genuinely love referring people here and do all the time. My friends are probably tired of hearing me wax poetic about what I learned today from AAM. But on a more mischievous note, I kind of want OP to refer the friend to AAM the next time she says “shake your network!” Maybe she’d read this letter and realize the error of her ways and apologize to OP and their relationship would be repaired. I do like fairytale endings :) Either way, hope we get an update on this one!

    2. Loulou*

      Good point, but if OP tells their friend “I’ll look at your resume” (implied, one time) they should be aware friend may hear “I will review every app you submit, even at a day’s notice.” I’ve known enough grifter friends who want to trade on my connections all day long, to offer this warning!

    3. anonymous73*

      While true, based on the way this “friend” is treating OP, I wouldn’t do one more thing to help her. It’s okay to be frustrated with your situation, and I would even say it’s okay to lash out at friends and loved ones sometimes if it’s followed with an apology and acknowledgment of the way it was handled. But it’s 100% not okay for OP to be her punching bag on a continual basis, especially when she’s asking for help.

      1. Blushingflower*

        Yeah, this is why I said “genuinely willing”. I think it would be completely okay for OP to be like “I’ve done all I can to help you with this, I’m done.”

      2. FrenchCusser*

        This is not a friend, this is a leech.

        I’ve had few of those, nice people tend to attract them. Good boundaries, my people, good boundaries are a necessity.

      3. Beth*

        Agreed. Even assuming OP’s friend is a good person generally speaking, this job hunt is clearly leading them to act in ways that are hurting their friendship. OP should be looking for a way to gracefully step out of the target zone–not volunteering to enmesh themselves further into the job hunt.

    4. JayNay*

      Oh no no no, do not offer more help at this point. This person is acting really ungrateful and it sounds like OP is exhausted already. It’s time for some well deserved boundaries.
      If this is a good friend, a conversation along the lines of “I’ve done all I can, and frankly this constant pushing is making me not want to spend time with you” is in order. The friend might be frustrated, but it’s her career and her job, and therefore her responsibility and not the OP’s.

      1. Yessica Haircut*

        I absolutely agree. At this point, the friend’s behavior has pushed beyond what even the most good-natured people would (or should!) be willing to put up with. I hope that the friend is a normally reasonable person who’s behaving out of character due to extreme desperation and stress.

    5. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Is the idea that you can “shake a network” to discover secret job openings?

      When I was job searching, it never occurred to me to look anywhere other than Indeed. Why would a company looking to hire someone not make the job posting easily findable by everyone?

      1. LeftAcademia*

        Sometimes the positions are very hard to fill. I have landed my current job, because someone from my network recommended me to the company (and the company to me). The job was not advertised anywhere, but is a perfect match for both sides. Six months later, our company has tried to fill a similar junior and senior roles in our tiny department through a public job posting. Although there were some applicants, both roles remain unfilled.

        1. Blushingflower*

          Yeah, Indeed or whatnot are good places but it can be very hard to know what you’re looking for, and not all companies advertise on all sites. Having friends tell you about openings at their companies and submit your resume on their behalf can very much benefit your search! I got my job because a friend referred me; said friend recently got a new position because another friend referred them.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I think “shake it up” means realign what you are asking your network, OP! Don’t just ask friends what jobs they know of, OP should push her friends to also LOOK for openings in their networks. Shake it up, as in, get these people on board looking for positions for me.

        1. The OTHER other*

          Yeah, this is not how people network. I am not going to do more work than the person asking for help. I’m not going to push friends for a job for someone they don’t even know.

        2. JB*

          1. The letter does not say ‘shake it up’, it says ‘shake [LW’s] network harder’, which doesn’t mean anything like that.
          2. What you’re suggesting would be an even more bizarre and friendship-challenging request. If a friend expected me to get my work connections ‘on board with’ actively finding a job for friend, we’d have to have a SERIOUS talk about how both professional and human relationships work.

        3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          No, that’s not an appropriate ask of one’s network. And it’s grossly wrong to expect someone else to ask that of their network for you.

      3. Guacamole Bob*

        My government agency posts jobs on its website but leaves it in part up to the hiring manager for the role how much external advertising to do for it, and where. The HR recruiter will usually recommend posting it on the common sites like Indeed, but there’s also often a key word of mouth component where people email alumni and industry groups and other professional contacts to advertise the position because the role is highly specialized. Indeed may seem like a waste of time for the more niche roles.

        I’ve seen other government agencies that don’t post roles on common job boards. Another case is that some private sector firms have a kind of rolling/always open process where if a good candidate comes along they’ll be able to find a spot for them – I’ve seen this in consulting and law. Sometimes they’ll be actively recruiting and post on boards, but sometimes it’s more passive.

        There’s also the fact that job titles and descriptions may or may not do a good job of attracting the right candidates. A personal connection can sometimes point someone to a job posting that wouldn’t necessarily have pinged as a good fit if they’d been scrolling through general listings.

      4. JB*

        Sometimes the position isn’t open yet, but it will be in the future (planned expansions, retirement, etc.)

        Sometimes the position IS posted but the way HR insists on posting it makes it almost impossible to find; or it’s such a niche position that the people with applicable skill sets don’t know what it is/to look for it at all.

        Sometimes there isn’t a position now, but they’d be willing to consider creating a position for the right person.

      5. WantonSeedStitch*

        There are always people who seem to think that when another person can’t give them what they want, it’s because they’re either not trying hard enough or are deliberately holding out on them, rather than accepting that what they want just isn’t there. I’ve had this happen with clients–“Oh, you can’t find that information? Are you sure? Can you try looking in [place]? Is there anything else you can try? Oh, you did that, and it wasn’t there? Are you sure? I guess we’ll have to have our OWN people look for it.” (Amazingly, their own people never find it either.)

    6. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      Does the OP’s friend think that a network is like a magical tree – shake it hard enough and dream jobs fall from the branches like apples??

    7. Smithy*

      For friends who are otherwise reasonable – and I say this because I don’t think the OP’s friend right now is being reasonable – I actually think that resume/cover letter and interview help is often the better route for friends. I’ve had a few situations that have served well to remind me that I often really don’t know what my friends are like at work.

      I’ve only managed to have any impact on my professional reputation once – and it was really minor and rather early in my career, but it’s just a good reminder. Seeing someone you care about hate their job and struggle to find a new one are absolutely terrible and the impulse to help is completely normal. But those lines between recommending someone to your network, and helping identify job postings, work on materials and prep… careful.

  2. FD*

    Assuming you don’t just want to African Violet, I think I would maybe use a script like this. “I understand you’re frustrated at your current job and really want to get out of there. I understand how overwhelming your job search is probably feeling right now. That being said, however, I feel that I’ve reached the end of the help I can provide with the connections I have. I think it would be best for our friendship if we kept things on a friendship basis rather than a networking basis going forward.”

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      And since your relationship with this friend is personal rather than professional, I think you get to bring in your emotions. Tell her you feel hurt when she accuses you of not wanting to help her enough. Tell her if you feel like her job search has taken over your conversations in a way that leaves your own needs unmet. If she cares about you as a friend more than as a potential job lead, she will want to know you feel that way so she can stop hurting you.

      1. Persephone Mongoose*

        Crossover term from Captain Awkward, basically a token you give to someone as appreciation of a friendship that no longer brings you any joy since there aren’t protocols for friendship breakups like there are for romantic ones.

        I can’t link here, but if you go to captainawkward dot com and search for “Reader Question #5: How do I deal with a clingy friend who tries to make over my life?” in the archives, you’ll get the full context.

        1. FD*

          Correct, I think the term originated because while African Violets are common gifts as plants, they’re actually really difficult to keep alive due to having specific needs. The idea is that by analogy, some friendships are too much work to keep alive and should be allowed to die of natural causes.

          1. quill*

            The african violet of dead friendship, aka some plants do not flourish as advertised.

            (I guess other friendships are like a particularly unkillable spider plant?)

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think it was quite that complicated (although that is an excellent addition)! It was from this post:


            Unfortunately while our culture provides many scripts for breaking up with romantic partners, it has no template for ending friendships. There should be a ritual.

            “Dear Friend, please take this African Violet as a symbol of the close and wonderful friendship we once shared. Please enjoy it in good health, and if you are having a problem or just want to chat, please call someone else from now on.”

            1. FD*

              Wow, I would have sworn there was something about it being for that reason in the original post but apparently not!

              1. Flower Market Boyfriend*

                My experience with African Violets is that they are ridiculously easy to keep alive. I had dozens of them at one point.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  I have come to the conclusion that African Violets don’t like treated city water. I killed them for decades until I moved to a house with a well. This one is 3 years old.

                2. Trillian*

                  Regular spattering of toothpaste. We had an African violet by the bathroom sink when I was a kid. The leaves had little white speckles, but the plant went ever on.

                  Of course it’s also possible the reason it went on was the bathroom was the one room in the house that was actually warm, due to its heated towel rails. British housing.

                3. linger*

                  The plant as a whole can be finicky, they need light but not too much, they hate being touched, but on the other hand, as long as there is one healthy leaf, you have a reasonable chance of successfully cloning the plant before it dies.

                4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  my mother used to grow them and my brother couldn’t even sleep in his own room at one point because they were everywhere – it must have been the sunniest bedroom.

      2. Kelly L.*

        From Captain Awkward. The idea was that we don’t have a social script for breaking up with a platonic friend, and the African violet was a hypothetical “parting gift” for that sort of ritual.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          My mother grew African violets. Fuzzy little whiners you had to give more attention than a cat with a kidney problem.
          One molecule of water on a leaf, and mildew would hop a jet to come infect it.

          1. sofar*

            I didn’t know that! I suppose this makes it a perfect metaphor for an extra-needy friend! “Here, care for this plant, and you will know why I am exiting your life.”

    2. Koala dreams*

      I agree with this. If you want to keep the friendship, stop talking job searching with this friend. Focus on other things.

  3. Sue*

    Yeah, she sounds like an exhausting user. I hope it’s just her frustration talking. Otherwise, this seems like an unhealthy “friendship”.

  4. The OTHER other*

    Ugh, I get your friend’s frustration, being stuck in a job you hate is terrible, and job searching is HARD. But it is not OK for her to make this all your responsibility. You can offer her your contacts but you can’t create relationships/jobs you don’t have. It would not surprise me at all if her attitude is coming off as off-putting in interviews and getting in the way of her search.

    I would 1) outline what you can and cannot do, maybe express sympathy but be clear. You can introduce her to people you know, you cannot magically get to know people to introduce her to. 2) get her a copy of Alison’s book How to Find a Job. I gave it to a friend and it really helped her improve her resume/cover letter. Tons of good stuff there.

    1. The OTHER other*

      Oh, and forgot to add—one of the first rules of networking and especially job hunting is not wearing out your friendships/network. You need to be very appreciative of any help you are given (seriously, many people don’t even say “thank you”!). Getting mad at people trying to help her is a sure way to drive that help away.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      And refer her to AAM in general! Sounds like she could use the help since she’s getting interviews but no offers

  5. Hope this Helps*

    What Alison said. I would also argue that someone being this unreasonable with a friend about helping her get a job might apply that same questionable judgment to her work, and thereby threaten the reputation of the OP who went to bat for her.
    Walk away.

    1. Willis*

      THIS! Is this even someone whose work the OP has any sense of? If not, I would be pretty done with helping her on her job search and just let her know about relevant openings I may hear of going forward.

    2. Yessica Haircut*

      Agreed! This interaction is such a red flag that, personally, it would prevent me from ever being comfortable throwing my name behind a friend’s job candidacy.

    3. Essess*

      This was my gut reaction too. Her lack of acknowledgement of the help that she’s already received, and her rudeness and demands when she is requesting favors does not give me a good feeling about how she will treat coworkers or any people that I connect her to within my network. I would worry that she would severely burn my reputation or my bridges based on her behavior.

    4. tangerineRose*

      Yes. She might not be a good person to vouch for. Based on how she gets angry because she thinks a friend isn’t helping “enough”, I wonder if some of her misery at work is self-inflicted.

    5. Just wow!*

      If she is hired by someone you recommended her to, her behavior will reflect on you. I damaged my professional reputation with an important client once by recommending someone who turned out to be a flake.

    6. JB*


      People who do amazing work and have excellent professional boundaries can have long and frustrating job searches, for sure.

      But that in conjunction with how she’s treating LW make me think perhaps there’s a reason nobody wants to hire this friend.

        1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          And as someone who works in a Job Center, and gets paid to take on the more complicated of our dear darling job seekers … yup, venting is a well tuned muscle.

          And my colleagues would be handing off this one to me in a heartbeat. I specialize in “Hot Mess” and “Oh Honey” — not sure which one she’d be, but she’d get one, maybe two solid appointments of making sure she had the right resume, and the right job search steps and networking tools, and that’s all I’d do unless there was something new to talk about. If the job seeker can’t compromise or adjust their strategies/expectations, and the employers aren’t walking up to her front door with roses and chocolates and big fat signing bonuses, there’s only so much a third party can do.

          When these folks come back over and over asking for the same unobtainable magic, I simply tell them what we talked about last time and have them tell me what they have done with those suggestions. If they haven’t acted on their to-do list, then I just give them the list again, and tell them good luck and I can’t wait to chat with them when it’s done.

          (Which is not to say that I’m jaded and uncaring. I love these folks. I just don’t believe that I should work harder on their job search than they do.)

          1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

            I think your last sentence is especially poignant here. This *friend* seems to think she is owed her idea of the ‘perfect dream job’ but isn’t willing to put in the work to get it herself. She’s asking her friends to do more of the legwork here than she is.

          2. Gobbo McGobberson*

            You shouldn’t have to work harder on their job search than they do!!! This is an *excellent* sentiment.

          3. tangerineRose*

            “I just don’t believe that I should work harder on their job search than they do.” This! Good for you for helping and not codependently helping.

    1. Anonym*

      For a second I though American Job Venter was a support group or subreddit for people to express their frustrations with job searching or work in general. It seemed plausible.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      [Nature documentary announcer voice]

      Here we see the American Job Venter in their natural habitat: an online forum. This common species has been thriving in the 21st century as ecosystem pressures have caused other species in their niche to decrease and changes in modern culture have created additional habitat. Once found primarily in bars, the American Job Venter now can expand through a wide variety of online venues.

      Watch as they engage in a display of the enchanting behavior for which they are named: flailing their arms while making specific-yet-implausible suggestions of what their boss can do with some aspect of their recent workflow.

        1. FD*

          See those tiny pieces of paper carried by the American Job Venter? That is called a resume and it’s the way that the American Job Venter advertises its fitness to others. It’s like you walked into a bar with a written list of all the reasons that someone should [beep] you.

          (Jerry, are you sure we should be telling people that? I feel like we’re going to give people bad ideas. I don’t care what you’ve read on Reddit, it’s not a good idea!)

          At any rate, the American Job Venter gives this piece of paper to multiple people until one of them accepts them and then they exchange a bunch of pieces of paper. A lot of trees die. But the American Job Venter don’t care.

  6. Batgirl*

    She’s the very definition of someone who thinks the world owes her a living! Do not recommend her; her entitlement and rudeness will play out in any job she gets and it will affect your reputation. Save your help for someone more grateful.

    1. Distracted Librarian*

      Yeah, that’s the impression I get also, and I suspect her attitude may be the reason she isn’t landing a better job. I do understand that having a job you hate can mess with your head and give even the nicest of us a bad attitude, but her approach seems over the top. She doesn’t need access to your network, OP, and if she gets it, she’ll damage your reputation. She needs more help than you can give.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      That was my thought too.

      “…constantly has applications and interviews lined up (but never gets an offer)”

      Something is up with how she comes across professionally…. uncross the streams, OP.

  7. MysteriousMise*

    Shake your network harder? Wowsers.

    I’d be shaking my head harder and moving to a grey rock position with her.

    Unless she’s one of your more super best pals who’s usually otherwise reasonable, walk away.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I did not build my professional network to shake it down, even for my own career plans. If someone insisted I shake my network harder, especially after all the other unrealistic requests, I’d go grey rock without a problem.

      Come to think of it, I actually have.

      1. Despachito*

        “I did not build my professional network to shake it down, even for my own career plans.”

        This should be carved in stone!

  8. Res Admin*

    I’d get her a copy of Alison’s book then respond to future requests of help with “I haven’t come across anything I think you would like.” Possibly ask a question or lend a sympathetic ear (for a very short period of time). No way would I put my reputation on the line for someone who behaves like that. Too big of a chance they will act like that on the job as well.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I might possibly talk up a few “opportunities” I’d “heard” of, like the poorly paid position she’d be wildly overqualified for, or the position that involves far more travel than she could possibly endure, or the glamorous position as Miranda Priestly’s PA, or a position that’s open again for the third time in five years because nobody can hold it more than a year without having a nervous breakdown. Get her to realise that no, there are no dream jobs to be had by shaking my network.

  9. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Dear OP:

    Kindly, I must inform you, this person is NOT your friend. Stop replying to her. You don’t need this source of stress in your life.

    Detective Amy Santiago

    1. Loulou*

      Don’t think we’ve heard enough to make such a strong statement. Some friends are great in one arena and then megamooches in another. Op should proceed with caution not be rash.

      1. Gobbo McGobberson*

        If said person is willing to be an ash-hole about job searching and tell their “friend” that “you’re not working hard enough for me”… How many more bad examples are needed before we have proof that they are a bad friend? A person don’t get to be a jerk to someone — to the point where the OP is exhausted and doesn’t want to help anymore — just because they’ve also put a bunch of “good” friendship tokens into the relationship. If a person is treating you badly they’re treating you badly, full stop.

        1. Loulou*

          Well I believe in extending grace to friends in difficult circumstances, same as I’d hope a friend would to for me. Nobody’s perfect. Op doesn’t need to put up with bad treatment of course. But better to set a boundary than go scorched earth.

          1. Gobbo McGobberson*

            Hah, I guess my own recent experience with a toxic friendship is causing me to lean toward the scorched earth route… sorry about that.

        2. Gerry Keay*

          This isn’t a court and we’re not a jury and it doesn’t particularly useful to litigate whether or not this person is a good friend based on maybe 150 words, especially given that “good friend” and “bad friend” do not have universal definitions.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Tep. I had a friend that was laid-off in 2008 when finding a job became a cutthroat event. She asked me to find the contact list of my company’s HR teams so she could cold call/email them. It was way out of character of her. I didn’t get her the list, stepped back for a while, forgave her for overstepping, and we are still friends.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          But I think the stepping back was probably key to maintaining that friendship, as it might also be for the LW.

  10. Marillenbaum*

    Would it be the worst thing in the world to say, as kindly as you can manage “I’ve done my best to help, but you’ve been acting like a jerk to me, and I’m going to have to stop now”? I get that OP wants to help, but it honestly sounds like this person doesn’t really want the help OP can offer, because the jobs they know about aren’t in sectors she wants. If she’s generally a reasonable person, it could be the wake-up call she needs to start behaving like it again; if she isn’t, then it’s as good a time as any to start putting some distance between them and you.

    1. Yessica Haircut*

      I totally agree that this style of response would be completely reasonable. The commentariat here is accustomed to scripting professional responses to strange situations, but this is a personal friend, not a professional contact. This IS a scenario when you can have the, “hey, you’re being a jerk and hurting my feelings” conversation that you could never have with a work colleague.

      1. LC*

        Hard agree with you both! So much of what I’m seeing feels fine in a prefessional context (super understandable, because of where we are), but you’re friends. Not work friends, just friends. Please be honest with her about this. Not only the professional stuff (she’s not doing herself any favors with how she’s treating her network and it’s very likely that her attitude is coming through in interviews) but also the friendship stuff. Whenever I’ve been an ass to one of my friends, I was too wrapped up in whatever was going on with me that I didn’t realize, and I was so absurdly greatful that he told me so I could snap myself out of it.

        If you tell a good friend that they’ve been acting like a jerk and hurting your feelings, that friend will be horrified and work toward improving (hopefully, both her behavior toward you and her general approach to job hunting and “networking”).

        And if she blows a gasket at you? Well, doesn’t seem like the kind of friend you really want around.

    2. JB*

      Agreed, this is the best approach.

      Maybe with some time, you can both regroup, re-set expectations, and you might be able to help in other ways (like looking over her resume or helping her practice for interviews, like others are suggesting). But I’d really set that hard boundary first.

      You deserve basic human respect, and your friend has forgotten that.

  11. DW*

    So she “constantly has applications and interviews lined up” and yet she never gets a job? So she’s qualified enough and a promising enough prospect that employers are willing to invest time in talking to her…but no one is willing to give her a job. That right there is a red flag. I know (very well) that you can interview tons and not get any offers, but combined with her attitude towards her contacts, I’m thinking the problem in her job search is more about her than her network.

    1. AGD*

      This was the sense I got as well. She doesn’t need more ways of getting job interviews – she needs those job interviews to go better.

      1. quill*

        Yeah. Either she interviews badly or something is coming up post-reference check. It’s POSSIBLE she’s missing some non-obvious qualifications, but I’m leaning towards does not interview well.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’m wondering if practice interviews would be way more effective help friend. I also wonder how friend is performing in interviews.

      3. JB*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s applying for jobs she’s not qualified or suited for, as well. Her job-hunting methods sound…scattershot.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      +1 here.

      If this is how she treats a friend, I imagine she could come off quite entitled in an interview and may not have great references.

    3. Willis*

      I agree. Or the slew of interviews that go no where could be the result of all the favor-asking. If someone gives you a meeting only as a favor to someone else and without a real position to offer, it’s pretty unlikely to go anywhere.

    4. TryingHard*

      Unfortunately being frustrated by current job can really derail an interview. She needs to learn to detach from current job. It might help her be better okay (just roll with it) with her current job and be in a better head space.

  12. The New Wanderer*

    I would not be surprised to learn that your friend is not getting offers because her general bad attitude (that you’ve experienced directly) is bleeding into her interviews. Your friend is miserable at her job, frustrated at the job search, and showing it by being unreasonable and demanding.

    Personally, I would not ask her for specifics on how you can help, and just decline to help any further. I understand being sympathetic and I don’t know if this is worth ending the friendship over. But it’s not mentioned whether she has expressed appreciation for any of the efforts you have put forth on her behalf, or actually understood the “limitations” of your network as you’ve explained them. She just expects you to make getting her a job easier somehow. At this point, she might be a risk to your professional reputation if if turns out you are able to refer her to someone.

    1. Kitano*

      Yea, this is my bet too. I had a coworker/roommate (bad combo, I know, but I’d just moved to the city and needed a place ASAP) who made her angst about her job one of the core tenets of her entire personality. You literally couldn’t talk to her without her finding a way to insert some complaint about her job or just how depressed she was in general. I felt for her, and tried pretty much everything I could do to help her out, but the complaining and dismissing of any advice she didn’t already want to hear led me to have to distance myself. Tbh, it seems like she was either critically depressed or had a massive victim complex that stymied any attempt she made to improve her life.

      We later had a massive falling out when I decided to move out with a “ridiculously short and &%^$@ inconsiderate” notice period of…90+ days. There are some people out there who just can’t be pleased because their expectations are calibrated completely the wrong way. I’m not saying your friend is this type of person, but if this story resonates with you, I hope you’ll explore those feelings further.

      1. Just wow!*

        3 days = “ridiculously short and &%^$@ inconsiderate” notice period
        90 days = “thank you for letting me know so far ahead of your moving out”

        You ex coworker/roommate was a massive jerk. You are a good human who did not deserve to be treated badly by her.

        1. Kitano*

          Thanks, kind stranger! I tried to keep it as professional as I could, but it taught me a super important lesson about boundaries between work and home life.

  13. ahhh*

    It almost seems like your friend just expects to have her dream job with amazing benefits handed to her. You’ve been given in the above comments lots of ways to tell her you can’t help her anymore. Maybe take her out for lunch or a coffee to “soften the blow”.

  14. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    I would go with a combination approach. Be “unavoidably work busy” for a bit but also ask your friend for what specifically more they think you could be doing to help them. And I would be a bit blunt in saying unless you can give me some specifics I can’t help anymore. They can be stressed or unhappy – but you don’t get help by taking frustrations out on the people you are expecting to help you.

  15. A Simple Narwhal*

    I’m going through something similar with a friend of mine. They lost their job and recently posted on social media that “bad friends say ‘sorry you lost your job’, good friends say ‘here’s a reference for a job at my company'” and I was like…sorry my company doesn’t have any openings? I don’t think that automatically makes me a bad friend.

    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t directed at me, but it’s hard to not see that and feel bad. Even if it was a misguided attempt to just thank all the people that have sent them job listings, there was a way to do it without putting down the people who didn’t/can’t.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      That’s a jerk move by your friend, posting something like that. “Bad” friends show sympathy to your situation? Talk about slapping the hands that might have helped you otherwise.

      1. Anonym*

        Wise friends don’t risk their professional reputations by referring unrealistic ungrateful people to jobs at their companies.

    2. H.C.*

      Ugh, I absolutely loathe that kind of social media guilt-tripping, which reminds me of all those MLM participants’ posts about how their social circles should support by their “entrepreneurial endeavors” by buying product X, service Y – or worse yet – join them as their downline.

        1. SJ*

          ding ding ding, I was about to comment on this if someone hadn’t already mentioned it. This feels like applying (toxic, relationship-ruining) MLM vibes to job searching… making the latter also toxic and relationship-ruining.


    3. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I work for a smallish place with low turnover. I can think of at least one person to whom I would pass a job opening if we had one at her level, but we don’t have any (she’s not trying to shake me down for a job or anything, but she’s at least sort-of-looking and we do in theory have jobs for which she would be eligible. But they’re not open right now. I can’t just pull this out of thin air.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Yeah that’s baloney. There are a million reasons someone might not want to refer a friend to the company they work at even if there are openings. Sheesh.

      1. quill*

        One of them being “I have no idea how to judge their field,” which comes up when your friend of a friend network is looking for jobs that have one word in common with your actual field.

      2. ThisIsTheHill*

        Exactly. I have friends that I adore that I would *never* want to work with for various reasons, & acquaintances that I would refer in a heartbeat if I thought they were the right fit.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          Same. There are some friends that are fine on a social level, but I would NOT want to work with them. Maybe they’re better at work…kind of like the thing Alison mentioned in response to a recent letter about being different in your own time than you are on work time…but I don’t know that are they are, I have no way of knowing since we’ve never worked together, and I don’t want to find out the hard way!

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Right? I am hiring, like I personally am a hiring manager for three openings and know of several more on my department roster. But unless you’re a certified medical coder with a certain level of experience, I don’t even have to get to the “can I work with this person” question because you’re not qualified for the openings whether I want to work with you or not.

    5. Anon for now*

      Ugh. I hate that. Where I work referring a friend for a job opening doesn’t help that much. Because our applicant pool is very deep and we have a good reputation of being a good organization to work with. So for many of us even if we put a good word in, it isn’t going to help much. It may not even get that person an interview.

    6. RabbitRabbit*

      I can’t think of a whole lot of friends – other than friends I made through work – that I would actually *provide a reference for*. I mean, I don’t know what they’re like at work!

      I do know a couple I’d provide anti-references for, though.

    7. anonymous73*

      You aren’t a bad friend. I was out of work for 9 months recently and I know that if any of my friends had contacts or opportunities they would have forwarded them along or reached out to see if they could do anything. And I actually asked a few people if they had any connections I could reach out to. Your friend posted an insulting passive aggressive comment so people would lavish her with the attention she desperately craves.

    8. AnotherAlison*

      I have [more distant] friends and family who wouldn’t make great employees. I wouldn’t refer them anywhere, even if they do need jobs.

      I did it once back 15 years ago. My husband sold his business and his admin was looking for a job. I sat by an EA at my newish job and she pulled some strings to get her an interview and offer and then this chick turned it down. Not for another job, just didn’t want it. No obligation to take it, of course, but sticking my neck out for people rarely pays off.

    9. Orange You Glad*

      Yep, and when my company does have a lot of openings, it’s for entry-level customer service type positions that most of my friends would be over-qualified for and probably be insulted by the pay. I don’t bother sending them out because they are not relevant to their careers.

    10. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yeah that’s pretty passive aggressive.
      (I often think people get accused of being passive aggressive when they’re just trying to correct someone’s behaviour while remaining polite, but this really truly is passive aggressive)

    11. LCH*

      I sent a friend a link to a job in my field because I knew she’d never see it during her search. Not my place of work or a place where I knew anyone. She asked if I’d be a reference. I said no since I wasn’t even sure what I could say. “Hi, you don’t know me, but we are in the same field and here’s a person I’m friendly with but have never worked with.” ??? Curious if there is something more to be done in this situation.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Nope! What you’ve done is already plenty helpful, you don’t need to do any more.

        And if you’re friend is anything less than politely thankful, then your friend needs to learn professional (and societal) norms.

        1. LCH*

          she seemed fine! I just worried she was secretly resentful or something. mostly because I was so surprised she asked to begin with since we have no working relationship.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Haha, sorry, I think this letter biased me towards assuming all people are awful in the face of help.

            Clearly, I need to recalibrate! Your friend sounds like a decent human being, which I think most of us are.

  16. Sunflower*

    We all want that magical job to land on our laps with no effort on our part, but this isn’t the movies. Sometimes we’re stuck in a job we hate to pay the bills. Sometimes we have to take a low paying job to get our foot in the door.

    I would pull pack from your friend or tell her to pay a professional job agency. You’ve done more than enough with giving her your time and resources and she is ungrateful for it. Telling her about open positions or recommending her for a job is one thing, but she wants you and all her other friends to do the work for her.

  17. Rainy*

    Maybe because I just watched LuLaRich, but this sounds like the personal version of the MLM full-court press, complete with “the product isn’t failing you, you’re failing it”. It sounds exhausting, and I feel for the LW.

    I agree that now is the time to be “very busy with work” and unable to help, just for your own well-being.

    1. mcfizzle*

      Oh I know what I’m watching tonight – that sounds absolutely fascinating. Someone once had a comment about how MLM’s have probably done more to harm female friendships in the last couple of decades than almost anything else (maybe not politics).

  18. bookcase*

    I don’t know if it is a new thing but friend expectation seems to be growing? Or maybe just more reported on? Maybe in replacement of family with so many now not getting along with families.

    Why do people expect so much from friends? My friendships are basically catch up, hang out, goss and that’s it. I don’t really expect them to do anything for me. Yet we have this person who wants someone to job hunt for them and we have of course women getting married who expect their bridesmaids to devote 1.5 years towards their every need. Birthday’s in some circles now require a $100 gift. It’s out of hand.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think people are desperate because so many jobs vanished or became dangerous/miserable due to COVID.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Agree. This pandemic has hurt every level of society and the economy. People are miserable, help networks are stretched and worn, and there’s seemingly no end in sight.

        OP, ask your friend: do you really want my help or do you just want to vent? If it’s the latter, no need to sacrifice your contacts. If she wants help, please consider the suggestions here to forward her links to this site, offer practice interviewing, and go over her resume with her. I think these last two are where she truly needs help. Skip the networking; you can help her without sacrificing your own good reputation.

    2. Loulou*

      Wow, this comment makes me sort of sad…many peoples friendships extend beyond catching up and exchanging gossip. It’s not strange at all for people to expect more of their friends and vice versa. What IS weird is to expect your friend to do the impossible, which seems to be Op’s situation.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        Yeah, I’ve generally seen a trend towards the mindset of “your friends aren’t your therapists and therefore you should never ask for anything from them ever and expecting anything at all is actually toxic” online in recent years and it just makes me so sad. (I know that’s not what bookcase is saying, but feel in the same lineage of thought.) We’re social creatures by nature, we literally evolved to rely on each other.

        1. Despachito*

          I think this is a question of sound boundaries.

          Because it IS true that you are not your friends’ therapist, and there are definitely limits you should ideally both be aware of.

          Having a friend occasionally vent to me about bad boss/problems with kids? No problem at all. This is something all of us need and sometimes do.

          But serving as a target of lengthy rants on an ongoing basis? No, thank you, and I think both friends should be aware of this.

          I have a friend who suffers from depression, which means bouts in her life when she becomes obsessed with her fears. I am happy to talk to her now and then and try to dissipate her worries as much as I am able to, but there is no way I could (or should) replace her therapist and her medications, nor does she want me to.

          And I also consider any help from my friends as a very special thing to be grateful for, not something I am entitled to (so if they say they are not able to help I definitely am not offended). And if they need something I am almost always willing to help, partly because they do not ask for it very often.

          This is not to say we do not/ should not do things for each other, but rather to say that certain moderation in what we are asking for fosters the friendship.

        2. Meep*

          Yeah, it just seems so sad to me too – it’s not enough that we’ve atomized our support networks to the point that extended family is nonexistent, now we shouldn’t have a friend network either? Who do you talk to about the hard things, then? Your spouse? That’s a good way to overwhelm someone to the point of divorce. No one at all? A paid therapist? Your cat?

          I have the kind of friends who would bail me out of jail if needed (thankfully, I never required that kind of assistance, nor have they – but I know they would). I am blessed and fortunate to have these people in my life. And yeah, I’ve listened to plenty of rants from them over the years as they went through various hard things. They listened to me, too, as I went through various hard things.

          That said, none of my friends would ever get angry at me for not pulling a job out of thin air. The real problem with OP’s “friend” is not that she asked OP for help, but that she was ungrateful for the help OP was able to provide, and angry that OP was unable to do the impossible. That’s not being a good friend, or a friend of any kind. But this situation is not an argument for never, ever, ever asking your friends for anything more serious than inconsequential banter over coffee.

          1. Despachito*

            “Who do you talk to about the hard things, then? Your spouse? That’s a good way to overwhelm someone to the point of divorce. No one at all? A paid therapist? Your cat?”

            But this is the very same problem with the friends – there is indeed a risk of overwhelming them with the hard things, and I think we should be aware of that. If I need something only now and then and reciprocate, there is much greater chance that if I need help I would be helped than if I steamroll the friend with my needs requirements.

            Not wanting to digress too much (and knowing I am perhaps too much reserved in this matter), I think that the problem with the OP’s friend is that they want to squeeze OP for help to the point it is unpleasant to the OP, AND they are deeply ungrateful.

            If I help someone, it should feel good – like “I am doing something for a person I care for”, not be frustrating like “I am bending over backwards and still get scolded that it’s not enough”

    3. R O U S*

      I mean, you chose you friends so it’s absolutely up to you how much emotional investment you are looking for but my close friends and I: help each other move, take each other to the hospital, help with job searches, do grocery shopping, help with divorces/breakups/etc, and are on call for funerals and natural disasters. We also gossip, get drinks, go out, vacation, hike, and volunteer together. Especially if your family is small or lives far away, they can’t do everything.

      “Not getting along with family” is not a new thing: some families are happy and others aren’t. Mine are awesome but when I moved states away for work, I had to create my own network.

      1. Mannequin*

        I don’t have family anymore because my parents were older and everyone from their generation had passed away, my only two cousins became adults when I was still a child and I never was close. I have some relatives in another state I haven’t seen since I was in grade school- at least 45 years. My brother is a ‘bad seed’ and we are long estranged. My husband and my chosen family are all I have.

    4. anonymous73*

      If that’s what you want from your friendships cool, but don’t assume everyone feels the same way. I have many friends who I consider family and I would do anything I could to help them, and they would do the same for me. But they also wouldn’t berate me after I tried to help them because I wasn’t helping them enough.

      1. Willis*

        I don’t think this question really has anything to do with friends or family either. This person’s behavior would be just as unacceptable if it was a spouse or sibling rather than a friend. Just a few days ago there was a post about a spouse relying too much on an OP for job search assistance.

    5. Despachito*

      “Why do people expect so much from friends? My friendships are basically catch up, hang out, goss and that’s it. I don’t really expect them to do anything for me. ”


      I am of course willing to help if any of my friends happens to need something, and vice versa, BUT I have NEVER felt I (or the friends) are ENTITLED to the help, and I would never want them to do anything which would be too demanding for them, much less throwing a hissy fit if they don’t perform to my satisfaction.

      I must confess that if any of my friend acted like OP’s “friend”, I’d be disgusted, and I very likely would stop considering this person a friend at all.

      I understand that being jobless must be very stressful but you can’t cure your stress by “biting the hand that helps you”. And I wonder how much of the “friend”´s inability to get work is caused by her attitude.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. My friends have been there for me in the past, and I’ve been there for them. This doesn’t mean I’d expect the impossible from them, nor do they expect the impossible from me.

        In the LW’s shoes, I’d definitely disengage from the “friend”. She’s expecting the impossible and she’s rude about it as well.

    6. Sharpieees*

      I had a friend ask me to look over her resume and cover letter, but when she sent them to me, they were barely more than some rough lists and outlines. She asked if I could “improve” them, but she clearly expected me to do the work for her. I flat out told her no. I just didn’t have the brainpower, which was the truth. I was already overworked and stressed. She wasn’t sympathetic at all. She ALWAYS expected everyone to drop what they were doing and help her. Plus, when she was taking a class, she once asked me to look over an essay she was about to submit. She got angry because I pointed out a few spelling and usage errors. She said that she gave it to me to read, not criticize. She submitted an essay to her professor with the word “witch” instead of “which”. Grades aren’t more important than egos I guess. No way I was touching her resume with a ten foot pole.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Yeah, I had a friend – more of a frenemy – in high school who was like this. I wouldn’t say she was a bad person, just very, very entitled, and weirdly enough it seemed to work out for her. I think people were so taken aback by her chutzpah that they would say yes to what she asked.

        It’s a pretty minor thing, but she was perpetually broke and we were out at some event and I bought her dinner, and she complained when I handed her her food because the restaurant had made some mistake with her order. No thank you for buying her dinner (and I was also a broke college student at the time) because she just assumed I’d be happy to do it.

        Funnily enough the last time she contacted me was to ask if I knew anywhere that was hiring.

    7. Me and My Five*

      Depends on what you mean by friends. I have an inner circle of friends that I can rely on in any circumstance and they can rely on me… my five.

      Then there is an slightly outer group of friends that we exchange help when needed. However, it is likely to be a slightly less quick response and can become exhausted. For example, I took a friend from this group to the hospital but eventually got tired of doing all of the aftercare for her injury and required her kid to help out.

      Beyond that are the people that I like to see, and who I would help out on a random basis, but wouldn’t call them at midnight with car trouble.

      Maybe I am more open to treating my friends as family, since my family is far away and will mostly likely mutual ghost after my mom passes.

      1. Despachito*

        “However, it is likely to be a slightly less quick response and can become exhausted. For example, I took a friend from this group to the hospital but eventually got tired of doing all of the aftercare for her injury and required her kid to help out.”

        Wow, this was a very generous thing for you to do, if the friend had her own family able to help her!

        (I would never expect a friend from my inner-most circle to do this for me, let alone a friend from a more-removed circle, if I had my own family to help me, I’d turn to them first.

        I can imagine a friend taking me to hospital but I’d consider this to be a big enough favour. Requiring her to do the aftercare…I frankly can’t imagine that. I think you were VERY generous to do what you did, and I find it strange the kid wasn’t her first person to turn to for help.

          1. Despachito*

            Fair enough.

            But, given that MMF had to ask the kid in the end, I assumed the kid was old enough to help.

          2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

            Or whether the kid had to come in from out of town while MMF was already on the scene, was working more hours than MMF, etc.

            Considering family (especially across generations/locations) to be a more relevant source of help than close friends who are peers is certainly common, but not necessarily logical.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, and it also depends on how close you are to your family. In my family we’re geographically close (live in the same city), and I call my mom about once a week and text with my sister a few times a week. My parents are still managing very well on their own, they’re in their mid-70s. If it becomes necessary in future, I’ll happily go to the store for my parents if necessary, take them to appointments, etc., but I draw the line at intimate nursing care. I’ll help pay for a caregiver/nurse if necessary, but I don’t think I could change their diapers or help them shower, and I hope I won’t have to find out.

              Because I trust that can depend on my family in a pinch, I haven’t been motivated to develop the sort of friendships that become the chosen family of those who aren’t close to their family of origin.

    8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      There are friends, who you catch up with now and then, and then there are the good friends who’ll put you up if you need to leave because your BF just showed a violent streak, or who’ll go out of their way to help you when your life falls apart.
      Maybe you have family you can count on, bookcase, it’s not the case for all of us.

  19. Dust Bunny*

    Your friend is being absurd on a number of levels, starting with trying to squeeze corporate jobs out of someone with government-and-nonprofit networks.

    This sounds like someone whose resume and interview skills need an overhaul but instead of doing that she’s beating up her friends.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Yeah, I’m really curious what the friend thinks OP could be doing given the kinds of professional connections she has. Walking around asking coworkers if they have friends and family with connections in the private sector that might be good fits for the friend? I wouldn’t even do that for my own job search, much less for a friend who’s work I couldn’t personally vouch for.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      And I actually found my current job through a friend, but she knew me through channels that were relevant to the kind of work we do. I wasn’t pumping a librarian for corporate job leads.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Actually, now that I think about it–this friend contacted me about the job. I was sorta-looking but I don’t think I’d even told her. The previous person retired and she thought I’d be a good candidate and sent me the information.

    3. allathian*

      Yeah, she sounds really unpleasant to be around. I’ve been unemployed before, and at one point I was pretty desperate to get a job, any job. But I didn’t berate my friends for failing to help me get a job… One of my friends helped me with cover letters and a couple more sent me job ads, and I actually got a job thanks to someone I knew from volunteering in college. We didn’t really hang out much outside of the volunteering gig, but she knew what I was like to work with and put in a good word for me.

  20. MishenNikara*

    If she wants something specific in a government job she can get herself on just fine (assuming US of course)

  21. Anon for now*

    I suspect if this friend is this aggressive and entitled around her friends, then it’s likely she’s either got a reputation in her industry that is following her, or she isn’t performing well in interviews. She sounds desperate. And desperation of that kind is really apparent in an interview and super off putting. I feel for the friend as it stinks to be unhappy at your current job and feel like you will never find anything else that is acceptable.

    And I think you can say that, and ask more specifically what type of help she is looking for as recommended. She either wants helps no one can truly give her, or she is taking her frustration out on her friends making them feel as they are expected to fix her situation.

  22. Erin*

    Why are you friends with this woman? I know I would slow fade if a friend treated me like her personal recruiter.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Been there, done that.

      Couldn’t handle dealing with someone who on one side of his mouth was constantly in search of a “better job” (in his eyes, that means $20 an hour) with absolutely ZERO marketable skills outside of obtaining a HS diploma about 20 years ago, all while from the other side of his mouth, spouting off about how the current movement to increase the minimum wage is socialist and people should be paid what they’re worth. It was constant, and due to legit reasons, I had to be within earshot of this human at minimum 4 hours a week of my “free” time. It was exhausting and I decided I didn’t have to waste my free time listening to him b!tch about socialism while asking my help with his (sad to say really really slim resume…there’s only so much I could do with it the time I did help him with it – fixed grammar, gave some pointers on formatting) resume and cover letter.

      Also sadly, I’m not the only one in that group (those with legit reasons why we had to spend time with him – nothing nefarious, has to do with extracurricular activities) who has put him on mute. A local trade had a hiring fair, another friend offered to help him study for the entrance test. Never responded to the friend in the trade who’d offered help. That job would have more than quadrupled their family income. But the dude would rather whine and complain.

  23. Mental Lentil*

    constantly has applications and interviews lined up (but never gets an offer).

    This caught my eye.

    If you look over to the right (desktop view), Alison has an entire category called “Interviewing” that has 496 posts.


    Tell you friend to start reading those, and not get back to you until she does. I guarantee you if she can get interviews, she can probably get a job after reading and absorbing all that advice.

    1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      You have a very good point. If she constantly has applications and interviews pending, then that’s where the issue is. If she looks good enough on paper to get an interview but never gets past that, then that is obviously where the problem lies.

    2. Thursdaysgeek*

      I’m a bit surprised Alison didn’t say that. Perhaps it was so obvious she didn’t feel it was necessary? But it is very good advice, obvious or not.

    3. Kella*

      I agree that this friend might find those resources helpful but assuming OP hasn’t already passed them on, I want to caution the OP against thinking too much in terms of finding what her friend’s “real” problem is in finding a job. That’s making finding her friend’s job OP’s problem to solve. Instead of brainstorming solutions, OP should get clear on what they are okay with offering in terms of help to their friend, offer that, and then hold firm on boundaries. If OP is okay with sending on articles or just the overarching recommendation of reading Ask a Manager, awesome, they should do that. But if OP’s friend comes back with, “I don’t want to read through all that. Which articles are the good ones?” or any other version of “Do my work for me”, OP needs to be ready to say no.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        But if OP’s friend comes back with, “I don’t want to read through all that. Which articles are the good ones?” or any other version of “Do my work for me”, OP needs to be ready to say no.

        Yep! I run into this all the time on the internet. “Where can I find X?” You can find it the same place I would find it: at the other end of a google search. (However, if you instead ask what’s the best source for X, that is a different question, and probably the start of a good conversation.)

        At least Alison’s page has a short summary after each title, so it’s not hard to shuffle through those and figure out which ones would be most relevant to OP’s friend.

  24. Sylvan*

    Tell her she’s not trying enough. She needs to find her own jobs instead of getting people to do it for her.

    No, don’t actually do that. Kidding.

    1. Sharpieees*

      It’s not an untrue assessment though lol. Difficult message to both deliver and receive, but it’s what the friend has failed to learn so far.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I actually think that’s a very reasonable response. Then again, I’m a bit of an ass when people try to use me without my consent.

  25. anonymous73*

    If she’s a true friend and you wish to continue with the relationship, have a very direct conversation with her. Tell her that you’ve done what you can and she wasn’t satisfied with the results. Then ask her SPECIFICALLY what she expects you to do. If she can’t provide more details, tell her you are unable to help anymore. If she does give you something, decide if you’re willing and able to do what she asks. Be honest and if she can’t take it, it’s okay to let go of the friendship. People aim their frustrations in the wrong direction sometimes – none of us are perfect. But it’s not okay to be berated by someone constantly who is also asking for your help.

  26. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    I’d bet cash money that you and others have done way more for her than the call of friendship deserves and that this person is just angry that someone won’t “just give her a job”. I’ve seen this a lot of with people my age and who went to colleges like mine. We’ve been told that the way to get a job is to network, but we’re not really taught *how* to network and a lot of people just assume it’s asking people we know if they can get us a job. Combine this with the whole “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” advice that’s given out to job seekers, it adds up to people just expecting to be spoon-fed leads on jobs or handed an amazing well-paying job on a silver platter with very little work on their part.
    You’ve done enough. Tell this “friend” to back off and that she’s seriously damaging her credibility with you.

    1. AKchic*

      A few years back, my soon-to-be ex-husband got fired from his job. As usual, when he lost a job, he decided to coast a while until money gets so tight that he couldn’t ignore the fact that I couldn’t support a family of 6 on my income alone, not with his spending habits (even if I had gotten a better job a few years earlier).
      He wanted out of retail. Physically, he needed to be. He was one test shy of a college degree (that he never told me about, and after so long, he’d have to retake the entire three years, because of course it was a horrible for-profit degree mill. Had I known at the time, he’d have had the money for the test). I had a friend who had an opening in the area he studied in. My STBEH could learn on the job. My friend tried to coach him for the interview, gave him all of the information he’d need to review for the interview, offered to do mock interviews with him, etc. Did he take ANY of the advice and help? No. He tried to treat it like any other retail sales interview. A cakewalk interview and he *bombed*.
      I have only helped him find one job since. A retail position, with the understanding that it is the absolute last time I will ever help him, and I did it more to help a friend who needed to fill the positions quickly. I fully expect him to be unemployed by the end of the year, though.

      Some people just want others to hand things to them, and make life as easy as possible for them. Some will act like they are trying, but really they just want things given to them outright (I know a few people like that, it gets to the point where some of us won’t even answer their open-ended questions on social media).

      I’d recommend keeping this friend at a distance.

  27. 1234*

    If she is looking for help in getting her foot in the door at tech companies, ask her to look into a company called WorkWell.

    At the end of the day, it is not your job to “shake your network” to magically get her a new job. I would be kind but firm and say “I’ve already offered all the help that I can regarding your job search. I do not have more time or resources to give.”

  28. Sharpieees*

    I don’t really understand people who expect others to do all the heavy lifting to solve their own problems. It’s often a thankless endeavor too. Usually they end up wanting you to do much more work than they made it seem and/or they end criticizing whatever result you give them. I’ve learned to politely back out of any of those requests.

  29. MistOrMister*

    I had a friend who found some stray kittens. She asked for my help finding them homes and I asked the people I knew who I thought were open to pets if they were intersted and they said no. Told my friend, sorry, I don’t know anyone who wants them. She stopped talking to me. I reached out to confirm was she really ending the friendship over that and she said yes, I was not empathetic enough about something important to her and we could no longer be friends. Looking back I saw a lot of other signs of selfishness on her part – I would assume OP’s so-called friend is the same and might not be a huge loss. Anyone who gets mad that you dont fix all their problems is usually not someone who will keep friendships on an even footing.

    1. quill*

      Unfortunately, there are often more kittens than kitten-seekers, but it strikes me that your friend should have contacted literally anyone with actual animal rehoming experience.

    2. tangerineRose*

      Wow! I wonder what she expected you to do? What you did seemed reasonable and more than a lot of people would have bothered with.

  30. CAinUK*

    “I shook my network harder, but the only jobs I found required self-awareness and emotional maturity so it doesn’t look like you’re qualified.”

  31. CommanderBanana*

    Your friend is being a jerk. If you’re looking for permission to recuse yourself from her job search, consider it granted!

  32. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    If you can’t find jobs to apply for, either you want a job that no one needs to fill or you don’t know where to look. (if you’re in active job mode, you should be applying to at least 1/3 of the postings you see that you’re 70% qualified for, and searching every day. And you’ll find more leads if you’re using more sources.)

    If you’re not getting calls for interviews, it’s your resume/application process. (The number I pull from my hat is 12 apps = 1 interview. Your mileage may vary.)

    If you’re getting interviews and no offers, it’s your interview skills. Fix them or fix the gaps that are being uncovered when they ask questions. (my number from a hat — 7 interviews = 1 offer).

    If you really want to get results, you demonstrate grace, humility, and willingness to help. You also let everyone know what you offer, and what you’re looking for. You then step to the side and allow your network to want to help you. Allowing a connection to be the hero is a magical thing.

    Demanding that your connections do the above work for you will cost your reputation and guarantees that you will get exactly what you put into it.

  33. HS Teacher*

    If there is someone I have worked with or have a decent friendship with, I will allow them to use me as a reference. That’s about the extent of what I will do to help someone get a job. OP, this person is not being a friend to you; she’s using you.

  34. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    “constantly has applications and interviews lined up (but never gets an offer).” Maybe the help she needs is interview tips or a look over her resume, or practical advise if the jobs she’s going after are within her reach. But if she’s being snippy with you or you are just done anyway feel free not to offer.

  35. Kella*

    Let go of the goal that you need her to stop being angry at you. You can’t control that. If you want to maintain this relationship and offer what help you do have, simplify your conversations with her as much as possible. Stick to, “Here’s what I can offer: There’s X or there’s Y.” When she says “I don’t want that because blah blah blah blah” just say, “Okay, that makes sense. Well, that’s what I found. I’m sorry there aren’t more options available. Good luck on your search!” When she says “You aren’t trying hard enough!” return to, “I can offer you X or I can offer you Y. Are you interested in either of those?” and then when she says no again, back to, “Okay, then it looks like I’m not going to be able to help you, good luck.” If she says, “Why can’t you just [impossible or unreasonable demand]?” you can say, “I’m sorry but that’s not something I can help with.” Don’t respond to the emotional stuff or the manipulation or try to convince her to not be upset. You could maybe escalate to, “It sounds like you want something that I don’t have. I’m sorry but I can’t help you with that,” but honestly, I’d separate out her feelings and your responsibility as much as possible.

    1. Despachito*

      You are much kinder than me. My idea, after what the “friend” is pulling, would rather be “go pound sand”.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, me too. Given the way this “friend’s” been behaving, I wouldn’t want to help them even if I could.

  36. Leslie Hell Knope*

    What puzzles me most is that the friend isn’t interested in the industries where LW has connections. If you want a job designing teapots, your llama groomer friend probably can’t help you much, no matter how well connected. How can friend not comprehend the simple concept of “work in X = professional network (mostly) also in X”?

    1. JB*

      Humans are still animals, and our baseline isn’t really logic and reasoning.

      Friend is unhappy at her job. Friend sees that LW is happy at their job. ‘A good job’ is a resource, and ape instincts say that friends and allies share resources. So why isn’t LW sharing the ‘good job’ resource with friend? (Ape instincts don’t understand logistics like ‘a good job for LW might not be a good job for friend’, or any other realities about job searching that means it can’t always work that way.) So friend starts to feel bitter and resentful. It feels to her like LW is holding back that resource.

      And some people just don’t have the experience in emotional regulation to move beyond that.

  37. The Smiling Pug*

    This whole situation reminds me of a couple that I had the misfortune to interact with many years ago. When I helped them out with a one-time financial thing, they took that to mean “YOU SHOULD NOW FUND MY ENTIRE LIFESTYLE,” despite both of them making more one welfare then me at my regular job. When I lost my job, they still expected me to pay for stuff. I laughed, told them to go pound sand and went no-contact. So, I feel for you, OP. I really do.

  38. Palliser*

    I agree with those who suggest OP should put up some tighter boundaries around making work-related offerings to friends. I had a former colleague turned friend who asked me for help after a layoff and I invited him to a few networking activities. Nothing really panned out as his expertise was a bit too far out of my network. Years later we have fallen out, and I learned recently that while I thought he had been laid off, in actuality he was caught selling used computer equipment from his company on the side, even though he made upwards of 200K per year and was in charge of their information security. He was fired and had trouble getting work for years afterwards because background checks always brought the crime to light. Now he works for a foreign corporation and I suppose that worked out because they didn’t do the same background check. Anyway, thank goodness I didn’t bend over backwards to promote him although he was certainly looking for that. You definitely don’t want to expend your capital on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

  39. Despachito*

    This site has introduced to me the notion of “burning social capital”, and I love it, because I think it is spot on.

    I consider my friends primarily the bunch of people I like to interact with because we are on the same page, have a similar sense of humor and basically have fun. I do not “have” them to help me.

    We may ask each other an occasional favour, but I always think twice before doing that because I do not want to overdo it and “overstay my welcome”. And these are things like asking them to look for our pet once a year for two weeks (which I consider a big favour and am very grateful for). Never would I imagine to become angry if they said “no”, I’d just find another arrangement. I feel that if I asked too much the scales would tip against me, and there is a risk I’d be viewed as the moocher. I’d very likely feel that way if someone did that to me.

    I also think that under normal circumstances (i.e. no tragedies/disasters), a normal person should be able to resolve most of their own life without a lot of help, especially if that help implies a major effort on the side of the helper. So if I lose a job, I’d consider fine to ask a friend “I am looking, can you please tell me if you know of any opening that might suit me”, or “could you please proofread my CV”, but I’d certainly NOT expect them to “shake their networks” or bend over backwards for me.

    1. allathian*

      This feels very familiar.

      In some circumstances it’s normal that one friend temporarily needs more support than the other. I’ve been the recipient of such help when I was depressed, and I had a standing appointment with a friend to get me out of the house at least once a week for something that wasn’t absolutely necessary, like shopping for food and other necessities. But when I got over the worst of it and found myself enjoying life again, I was really grateful to my friend and told her so.

      I’ve also quit being friends with people who were either unable or unwilling to reciprocate. I don’t do one-sided friendships anymore.

    2. JB*

      ‘ I feel that if I asked too much the scales would tip against me, and there is a risk I’d be viewed as the moocher.’ – For stuff like asking your friends if they can pet-sit? Really? Gosh.

      We have friends pet-sit all the time. We pet-sit for them all the time. Right now we’re housing a friend’s snake for a few months. We help friends move.

      I just can’t imagine mentally tallying things up that way, or expecting that my friends are doing the same to me. If someone oversteps their boundaries (as with LW’s friend) that’s a totally different situation from ‘asked me to pet-sit more than twice in a one year period’.

      Just saying, you might want to re-evaluate how much help your friends are willing to offer. I’d bet they care about you more than you seem to think.

      1. Despachito*

        No, not for asking for pet-sitting once. But I do recognize my notion of boundaries (i.e. what is fine to ask and what would be too much) is somehow blurred, and if in doubt, I tend to err on the safer side.

        A fear that I am going to become a burden somehow has been sort of my problem for my entire life. I am aware of it and trying to tone it down but it keeps rearing its ugly head from time to time. Work in progress…

    3. Robin Ellacott*

      I think it depends whether you know they would do the same (or equivalent) for you – whether you ever ask them too or not.

      I’m about 9 years older than my bestie and am therefore further along in some areas like career and financials, so I’m the one getting the pricey tickets or helping her with work stuff, but when I broke my wrist she kept me company in the ER for hours, and she’s moved various large items for me in her truck. Nobody needs to keep score. But if either of us thought the other was mooching, the dynamic would be very different.

  40. No Dumb Blonde*

    News flash: This friend will be miserable in any job. People who everything on everybody else tend to be miserable in jobs, and in life.

  41. Hippo-nony-potums*

    “You need to shake your network harder!” That’s what you say to your MLM downline, not your friend.

    1. Elijah Snow*

      Indeed! I feel like the behaviour of OP’s friend towards him is a pretty good indicator of why she keeps getting interviews that aren’t followed by an offer.

  42. Elbe*

    I’ll assume that this person is a decent friend and she’s being pushy out of desperation rather than a long-term lack of boundaries.

    Honestly, I’d start here “she wants a new job, and constantly has applications and interviews lined up (but never gets an offer).” Unless she’s applying to particularly competitive positions with a lot of applicants, this is a red flag. Maybe what she’s needs isn’t to find another open position, but help identifying where her interviews break down.

    Is she so miserable at her current job that she ends up bashing her company and coming across as unprofessional? Is her frustration in her job search bleeding over into her attitude during interviews? Is she exhausted and skipping the normal interview prep? Is her resume or cover letter a mess?

    Assuming that this person is otherwise a good friend to the LW, it would be worth digging into. If being pushy and entitled is normal for this person, however, the LW should just cut her losses and run. She shouldn’t put her professional reputation on the line for someone who doesn’t care about her.

  43. Jennifer Juniper*

    I’m guessing the OP’s friend is getting interviews but no offers because her entitled jerky attitude shines through in the interviews. An attitude adjustment on friend’s part is probably in order.

  44. Dancing Otter*

    So she doesn’t want government or non-profit because of what she considers low pay. Is it possible her interviews never result in a new job because she’s either asking for more money than the position (or her qualifications) is worth, or is only applying for positions for which she isn’t qualified?
    The interview stage is where unrealistic salary expectations would first become evident, and that’s where her applications stall out. Coincidence or correlation?

  45. Former HR Staffer*

    honestly, it sounds like she wants you to be her personal headhunter and set up interviews for her. and if she’s getting a lot of interviews, but no offers, take that into consideration. is she showing recruiters the same entitled behavior she is displaying to you? there may be a reason no one is interested, and you don’t want to hitch your wagon to that.

  46. Alex*

    I hope she doesn’t want a job as a manager, because she doesn’t sound super fun to work for.

    “We need to make magic teapots!”
    “Magic teapots don’t exist, we have only Muggle teapots.”
    “You’re just not trying hard enough!”

    I had a boss like this. I was required to give out teapots to anyone who asked. I could only resupply my teapot stash every three days, and could only get 10 teapots per resupply. My boss was irritated that I told him I could not give out five teapots every day. He told me to “plan better” and I should not ever run out of teapots.

  47. Just wow!*

    One way to look at this is that you are saving people you know and respect from having to deal with this obnoxiously demanding person. She sounds like a “choosing beggar” (Reddit has stories about people like your friend) whose treatment of you is outrageous. Please do not ever refer someone like this to work with me.

  48. LondonLady*

    I had a friend who was long term unemployed and super stressed / obsessed by her job hunt. I used to send her job postings I’d seen, to be helpful, and she would send back really snippy emails explaining exactly why these jobs were not right for her and describing, again, the dream job that was not materialising. It made me very hurt and frustrated at the time and when we spoke, I chose to just disengage from the job-related chat after her initial download. “Sounds stressful! Anyway, how’s the ballroom dancing?” She’s since found a job, and is back to her old self now.

    1. JB*

      I’d get irritated if a friend sent me job postings they’d seen ‘to be helpful’, too. My dad used to do this and as a result I no longer tell him when I’m job-searching. It’s not helpful, it’s obnoxious.

      1. esmerelda*

        Personally I can see it either way – when I’ve *asked* for job recommendations from friends and family and they send me jobs that aren’t relevant to me but I know they mean well, I just say thanks and move on. It doesn’t matter if the job is totally wrong for me and I’m not going to apply; they had kind intentions so no need to be snippy. But if it’s unsolicited? Yeah, I’d be a little irked if someone repeatedly sent me links to jobs that were completely irrelevant to me when I didn’t ask anyway.

        Also, using your network to help a friend is different than actively job searching on someone else’s behalf. For example, when a friend once told me she was looking for an HR position and asked if I knew of any leads, the next day I came across a social media post about an HR job opening in my town (something she might not have seen otherwise because she doesn’t follow Facebook pages related to my town, she lives in the next town over), I sent her the link. She said that was helpful and applied. What I didn’t do is go scour Glassdoor and Indeed for HR positions near her and then send her all of the ones I thought she should apply to. That’s too much and would be totally obnoxious. There’s a difference.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Um…wow. That’s certainly one way to react or think about someone who knows you are job searching and sends you job postings.

        Another would be to say, “Thanks!” and then delete the email/message (maybe 5 seconds).

        A third would be, “Thanks, but I’ve got some good auto-filters going for jobs, so please don’t send me any more :)”

        Personally, I prefer assuming good intent and incompetence, then communicating directly and openly, rather than wasting energy secretly being annoyed at my friends and family.

  49. esmerelda*

    I know you want to help, OP, I get that, but please be careful.

    I’ve had a friend who is scarily like this who would demand networking help and imply I wasn’t “invested” enough in her career (that wording should have been a warning sign – I was her friend, not her career counselor), but I’ve been there with the job searching and she was a close friend so I too wanted to help. Twice (at two different jobs over the years) I referred her to an open position at my company. She did get an interview from my first referral but didn’t get the position. That one was pretty rough luck – the position she interviewed for ended up getting eliminated due to a lay off that was announced during the interview process, so the hiring ceased. I sympathized greatly, but she blamed me for not telling her about the layoff, even though of course I didn’t know about the upcoming layoff when I referred it to her (clearly the hiring manager didn’t know either until half way through the interviewing process). She was angry and bitter and kept telling me she wished I’d never told her about the job – hard to hear when I’d stuck my neck out for her. She was completely out of line and I should have let it stop there… but I didn’t. (Ugh, don’t be like me!) A few years later she demanded referrals again so I gave her one at my next company. The hiring manager that time said they were hiring for an entry level position (so my friend appeared very qualified) but hired a seasoned industry professional. Again, I sympathized, (really, why do hiring managers do that?), but again I got blamed: “Didn’t you send the hiring manager my info like I asked you to?” “Yes, I did. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.” “How long was your recommendation letter? Maybe you didn’t phrase it right. I can’t believe you would do this to me. I wish you never had told me about this job.” Our close friendship suffered.

    Again, so much of this is my fault because I let the behavior continue – she also would do that thing that your friend does, OP, where she would get angry that I couldn’t offer her things I literally could not offer her. One time she begged me to refer her to an open position at my company, but we only had a couple part-time positions available at the time and I knew she was looking for FT. When I told her so, her response was: “Gosh, well, I’m over here unemployed and you could at least try to help me.” Blaming even before the referral stage is a red flag! Get out now.

    Now whenever I realize that someone is fully relying on me for help and not taking much responsibility for their own path, I back away. I learned that when someone appears to rely heavily on me for help, I will also heavily blamed if my help isn’t perceived as helpful enough. Please, OP, try to learn this lesson earlier than I did. Best of luck.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Ooof, I’m sorry, that situation and “friend” sucks.

      For what it’s worth, I think the healthful and appropriate response to you not being invested enough in someone else’s career:

      “You’re absolutely right!”

      Then turn your investment/interest in their career down to negative 5,000 and “couldn’t care less.”

  50. Nanani*

    Sounds like your friend expects jobs to materialize just by networking, and also thinks networking is demanding that friends do everything for them.
    That’s not how any of this works.
    You are 1000% justified in putting a moratorium on all “friend’s job search” conversation.

    If your friend dumps you for failing to conjure a unicorn, that tells you something about that ex-friend, and it won’t be about you.

  51. Dream Jobbed*

    Just a side note OP, may or may not be the case for you (or for this friend): I’ve had great angst in the past about leaving toxic friendships, but once I did the relief is overwhelming. Ended two this year of people who did not treat me well, even as I tried to help them. Let the toxic people go and focus on the ones who treat you like a true friend.

  52. Robin Ellacott*

    Ugh. I had this situation once and I eventually lost my temper and told them I didn’t think they understood how favours worked. I should have just been direct (I was young and more of a pushover back then) and said I’d done all I could, to the tune of many hours of hands on help, and it was upsetting being told it wasn’t enough.

    Ideally, if told this plainly they will apologize. I’d say, though, that LW will find they either flounce off and then stop with the demands without admitting fault, or they’ll get angry. If they flounce off, well you know some more things about your friend now, but the friendship may survive with a few bruises. If they get angry, this isn’t a friend, and probably isn’t a good employee either so best not to associate your reputation with theirs.

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